Red Rocks find their balance

S-Gymnastix Colby Patterson
Tory Wilson competes on the beam at the Huntsman Center against Oregon State last Saturday. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Tory Wilson competes on the beam at the Huntsman Center against Oregon State last Saturday. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Ever since Greg and Megan Marsden joined forces to become the greatest coaching tandem in college gymnastics history, the No. 5 Red Rocks have been nothing short of spectacular. Part of the Marsdens’ success is because they have split coaching duties between themselves and the other coaches on the staff.

One of the responsibilities Megan Marsden assumes is coaching the gymnasts on beam. Because of this, Greg Marsden has made a habit of leaving the competition floor during meets when Utah makes its way to that event.

“It started with Megan not wanting me to be over there interfering with her event,” Greg Marsden said. “I just always had the feeling that if I’m in the arena during beam, that they’ll look over at me at every little mistake and try to respond.”

Since this has been Greg Marsden’s ritual for so long, it was noteworthy last Saturday when he stuck around during the entire beam set against Oregon State.

“It really is less nerve-wracking being out there watching than it is standing in the hall somewhere not really seeing what’s going on,” he said. “One of the things we talked about was, for all of us, me included, not to approach that event differently than others. If I expect [the gymnasts] to make some changes, I’ve got to be willing to make some changes, too.”

Greg Marsden’s alteration seemed to work for the Red Rocks, as all six gymnasts in the rotation stayed on the beam for the first time since the season opener. Despite the success the team saw on the event, junior Georgia Dabritz said she didn’t even know Greg Marsden was watching her routine.

“He does the same thing he does in practice, standing over in the corner, not really paying attention,” Dabritz said. “I honestly didn’t notice him until afterwards. I looked over at him, and he gave me a little head nod, which means ‘good job.’ ”

Red Rocks conquer beam

Utah’s beam score against the Beavers, 49.175, was the team’s second highest of the season on the event. Led by Mary Beth Lofgren’s 9.925, which tied her career best, the Red Rocks won the event, besting Oregon State’s 48.875.

“It was really gratifying, and I was really happy for them,” Megan Marsden said. “There’s always pressure, but when you have an event that’s been sour for a while, there’s undue emphasis put on it. I really was pleased with how well they deferred that pressure as much as possible.”

Now that Utah has accomplished the goal of staying on the beam, gymnasts feel as if the struggles they’ve had on the apparatus are in the rearview mirror, and they are looking to get even better in the event.

“It was definitely a step in the right direction,” Lofgren said. “Obviously we still have work to do, but I think we’re excited that we are heading in the right direction. We are starting to figure it out and resolve the issues that we’ve had.”

Friendly competition

Up until last week against Stanford, junior Tory Wilson was the only all-around competitor for Utah. That changed when coaches decided to include Dabritz in the beam lineup, making her the second all-around gymnast on the team.

“I don’t think it ever hurts to have a little bit of friendly competition within your own team,” Megan Marsden said. “I do think they’re both very motivated people … I don’t know if they need this, but it certainly won’t hurt, and it could help them a little.”

Both Wilson and Dabritz have expressed that having each other as teammates has provided extra motivation to do well, while competing against each other in the all-around provides an additional thrill.

“I think it’s great because it doesn’t only give you that camaraderie,” Wilson said. “But we also push each other.”

g.adams@chronicle.utah.edu