BYU and the University of Utah have been rivals for as long as anyone can remember. No, it wasn’t an overtime field goal, or a 3-point buzzer beater fadeaway worthy of even Jimmer dropping his jaw in amazement that started this rivalry.
It stared in 1895 with America’s pastime, baseball. As the story goes, Utah and BYU met on the diamond for the first sporting event between the two schools. No one won this game, however, as the scoreless game ended when both teams erupted from their benches to brawl on the field. Thus, a rivalry was born.
Wednesday, the BYU men’s tennis team traveled to Salt Lake and beat the Utes, 5–2. Not only did this mark the team’s first road win of the season, it sealed BYU’s victory over Utah in the Deseret First Duel for the third consecutive year.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys,” BYU men’s tennis coach Brad Pearce said. “Rivalry matches are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting and to have them play as well as they did was just incredible.”
The BYU-Utah rivalry is one of the fiercest, oldest and deepest of rivalries in college sports today, but no one at BYU really needs to be told that. They know it well and show up in full force for every rivalry match to cheer on the Cougars.
The Duel was created in 2007 with both universities and Deseret First Credit Union. BYU won that first Duel, but Utah, not to be outdone, came back and won the 2008–09 title. The Cougars then won in 2009–10 and now haven’t lost the title since.
With its creation, an official series of 50 possible points allows one school to claim victory and superiority over the other for an entire year. The winner’s name is engraved in stone on large monuments on each campus to record in history which school came out on top, with bragging rights going to the students, faculty and alumni.
“Winning the Deseret First Duel over Utah is one of the goals we set for our athletic department each year,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in an email.
BYU and Utah compete in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s swimming. Each team that wins these matchups is also awarded a trophy.
This year the Cougars started out the Duel with a 4–0 win over the Utes in women’s soccer in front of a sold-out home crowd, giving BYU three points. The BYU women’s volleyball team quickly followed suit in a 3-0 sweep in Ute territory, earning BYU three more points.
Utah wouldn’t let that stand and handed BYU a devastating 54–10 loss in football that most BYU fans are still trying to forget. Football, being worth 10 Duel points, gave Utah a four-point lead over BYU.
BYU took the other 10-point contest by beating Utah in men’s basketball in the Huntsman Center, 61–42. BYU continued its winning streak, taking women’s basketball and men’s and women’s swimming.
The Utes finally put up a win in gymnastics to keep them in the running; however, the men’s tennis team ended the Utes’ hopes for a comeback. With a lead of 28–13, BYU will capture the Duel crown, no matter the results in the final three sports.
Holmoe praised the BYU athletes and said he appreciates Deseret First Credit Union for sponsoring the rivalry.
“I’m pleased that we captured the title again in 2012, giving us four victories in the past five years,” Holmoe said. “I’m proud of the student-athletes and coaches who helped secure the 2012 title.”
Just because BYU has won this year doesn’t mean the rivalry is over. Softball, women’s tennis and baseball — which started it all — still have to compete this year, fighting for team wins, team trophies and pride against Utah.
Two schools, 12 sports, one champion.