It begins. Because of the influx of freshman talent across the top teams, I’m much more excited for this season than I was for last season. After this weekend’s meets, I’ll probably be jaded and cynical about everyone again, but let’s just enjoy this moment while we can.
All eyes are on Rhonda this year after the disaster of last postseason, and she knows it. There is more pressure on Florida than any other team, including defending champion Alabama. The question coming from all corners is, regardless of talent level, can Rhonda actually coach a team to a championship? She hasn’t proven it yet, and in 2011 with her most talented team ever, she didn’t get close. On the positive side, she is willing to make significant changes to her coaching strategy, and tonight we will begin to see (and evaluate) how those changes are working.
I expect to see more lineup experimentation from Florida this season than we saw last year. That’s necessitated by having such a deep, talented team and the need to explore all options so that many gymnasts are comfortable competing by championship season. I hope Wang and Spicer get some opportunities tonight so we can begin to evaluate how useful they will be to the team. It will also be interesting to see how much the team is relying on Hunter this early and how far along Caquatto is.
(Live commentary after the jump)
If NC State can break 195, this meet is a victory. It’s not about the result.
Is there anything worse in the world than shots of the crowd at any event? I don’t want to have to look at this. Don’t wave at the big screen; it’s not a camera.
Florida lineups: Spicer and Hunter look nervous. For a second I thought Marissa King had a cast, but it was just wristbands. Phew. I’m a problem.
NC State lineups: They’ll be relying on Barr and Panza a lot this season. This is a pretty big team…they’re almost rivaling UCLA…19 people on the roster this season.
Rotation 1: NC State on vault, Florida on bars
Touch warmup begins, NC State in red with black shoulders. Wang and King on bars for FL, no Caquatto. Florida in the dark leo with the silver UF. Thank heavens it’s not Orangesicle Nightmare.
Marion – NCST – yhalf with huge leap forward and multiple steps, will score very low. (9.575)
Ellis – FL – jaeger – close, bail hs – ok, DLO with step back – fine opening for Florida. (9.750)
Fallanca – NCST – yfull, pretty nice for them, a little bent legs and step back, will score much higher. (9.750)
Wang – FL – clear hip, tkatchev, bail, near stick on the DLO, good start to her career, they should be pleased with that. A little form everywhere but solid. (9.750)
Ouellette – NCST – yfull, big bend in legs and step back, pretty nice height, though. (9.700)
[buffering, ugh – missed Marissa King on bars, she got a 9.8]
Johnson – NCST – (in for Williams who injured herself in warmups) yfull, same issues as the previous two with legs but a bigger step back so should score a bit lower. (9.700)
Dickerson – FL – tkatchev – big, bail hs, missed hs, stuck DLO, I expect this will be the biggest score yet. She has built-in deductions but hit to her capabilities. (9.800)
Ham – NCST – stuck landing but low chest, so shouldn’t be that huge on score – good improvement from earlier in the lineup, though. (9.875 – high)
Hunter – FL – they didn’t show it. Don’t they know we’re more interested in Florida? (9.775)
Johnson – FL – lovely Ray, stalder nice, little leg sep on bail, DLO stuck – easily Florida’s best routine. (9.875 – fair)
Barr – NCST – yhalf, a little bend legs and step forward. (9.825)
Spicer Exo – FL – tkatchev – fine, giant full, bail hs – short, tuck full – step back. This should be in the lineup soon. (9.650 – I think – seems low, but her bail hs was VERY short)
Rotation 1 – Florida: 49.000 NC State: 48.850
About what I expected from Florida. They don’t look particularly sharp on handstands and dismounts, as they wouldn’t with their training schedule. NC State is on track for a good showing for them. I wanted to see them at a 48.750 average per rotation.
Rotation 2 – Florida on vault, NC State on bars
No Johnson or Caquatto on vault for Florida. To answer the question, I wasn’t expecting Caquatto to be totally back from her ankle injury from the summer, but I haven’t heard of subsequent injuries.
Florida is showing tremendous height on vault in warmups.
Spicer – FL – high yfull, low chest and sideways step. (9.700)
Williams – NCST – giant full late, tkatchev, straddle back, tuck full with step back – poor handstands but a good leadoff. (9.675)
Wang – FL – y full, lacking distance, low chest, hop forward – a little tight from the first two freshmen, to be expected. (9.625)
Yanchocik – NCST – very late giant full, wonky gienger, toe shoot, a little under on her DLO – more sloppiness than the previous routine. (9.600)
Ellis – FL – yfull, good form but fairly sizable hop back. (9.850 – a little high)
Ouellette – NCST – giant full – tkatchev, straddle back, this is better from NCST, DLO step back. Her form is a bit more precise and competitive. (9.750)
King – FL – tsuk full – MARRY ME – love it. almost stuck – tried to pretend. (9.775 – whatever, judges)
Harabedian – NCST – leg sep on giant full, close tkatchev, bail hs, toe shoot, DLO larger step back. (9.650)
Dickerson – FL – good power on yfull, but major hop back – needs time to practice and control. (9.750)
Panza – NCST – high tkatchev, bail hs – a little hip form, DLO – step back. Christine Still would call her an efficient little gymnast. (9.725)
Hunter – FL – lovely y1.5 in the air, largish hop forward, but should still break 9.8. (9.850)
We’ve finally had a Rhonda sighting. She looks resolute but unimpressed in a cream top.
Fincham – NCST – oopsie, huge mistakes, I don’t even know what happened – catches tkatchev, sticks dbl arabian dismount – too bad about the beginning, she screwed up her toe on-off. (9.250)
Shisler (who?) – FL – EXO – very average yfull.
Kronenfeld – NCST – EXO – giant full to tkatchev, overcooked handstand and came off, bail, handstand issues, but a cleanish, close DLO.
Rotation 2 – Florida: 48.925 NC State: 48.400 (Overall Florida: 97.925 NC State 97.250)
For Florida on vault, the early freshmen looked very tight, and the rest need to work on landings. Kytra was by far the highlight, and she will easily go 9.9+ later in the season with that very clean y1.5. They’re leaving lots of room for improvement – good.
Rotation 3 – NC State on beam, Florida on floor
Ugh, simultaneous competition for the last two rotations.
Fincham – NCST – wobbly wolf, loso series – legs and step back, switch split + tuck full jump, punch front – a little low, full turn – nice, front full dismount. Good start in that she stayed on. (9.525)
Ferguson – FL – missed beginning – big bounce back on mount, double pike middle pass, back 1.5 + layout. deductions on first pass but solid. (9.775)
Ouellette – NCST – bhs bhs loso – hit, poor splits on leaps, full turn, solid punch front, gainer full dismount. They should be pleased. (9.700)
[GEORGIA update — Ding goes 9.925 on vault – excellent.]
Spicer – FL – tuck full – little low chest but nice, front full + front layout, not wild about these leaps, dbl pike dismount – odd stumble back because she hit it, then lost concentration. This music… (9.725)
Barr – NCST – bhs layout 2 ft – nicely done but a little pike-y on layout, standing front – wobble, front full dismount with hop up. (9.600)
Stageberg – FL – pike full in – stumble back and OOB, she just did Alicia’s thigh rub – oh, elite…, whip double full, nice dbl pike dismount. A little posey, prancy for my liking. (9.625)
Ham – NCST – wolf full, saved series – she looked very off, off on her dance – uh oh, stuck front 1.5 dismount but low. That’s a shame. (9.000)
King – FL – shakin’ it like she knows how, back 2.5 – a little legs, front tuck to dbl back – a little low, very good on leaps – thank you, Marissa, excellent dbl pike dismount. I’ll need the DLO to come back. It’s a shimmy of a routine, but I like it. (9.850)
Fallanca – NCST – loso three series, looks on so far, upsetting split position, but fine straddle quarter, back 1.5 dismount with large step forward. (9.750)
Dickerson – FL – please pretend like you mean it, Ashanee, dbl arabian mount – very good, dbl tuck – a little low, I’d like to see her sell this a little more, good dbl pike dismount. This is solid for January – she will go 9.9+ later. (9.875 – high)
Panza – NCST – hits three series, a little wobble on full turn, aerial – pretty good, sticks gainer full. Unremarkable composition but a good routine. (9.825)
Hunter – FL – crazy excellent DLO, this is already the best floor she’s been given, which is saying nothing, 1.5 + lo + front pike – so easy looking for her, I hate this music, there’s not a ton of dance here, but it’s okay – dbl tuck dismount – too easy for her and it shows – uncontrolled step back. (9.900)
Jarred – NCST – EXO – nice illusion turn, this is a solid routine that could make the lineup later, she has a fine line. dbl full dismount – I like this routine better than most in the lineup.
Wang – FL – EXO – dbl tuck, 1.5 + layout, I like the music selection and performance here, but this routine probably won’t contend for lineup until there’s more difficulty, she presents with good face, though, good dbl pike. (9.800)
Rotation 3 – Florida: 49.125 NC State: 48.425 (Overall: Florida 147.050 NC State 145.675)
This has gotten a bit disappointing for NC State, lots of uncertainty on the beam, which I suppose is to be expected. Florida scored their best rotation on the floor, and they should be excellent here during the season when Johnson gets in the lineup and they are a little more perfected. Now on to the beam. Eek.
Rotation 4 – Florida on beam, NC State on floor
(GEORGIA update – Kat Ding is amazing again – 9.975 on bars in the opening meet. Possible home scoring, but she certainly has the potential to do it, so maybe not. They’re scoring very well so far, 98.475 after 2 rotations.)
Stageberg – FL – aerial + bhs – solid, bhs + bhs + layout full dismount – good start. She could be a nice nominee for leadoff for them this year. (9.800)
Marion – NCST – dbl pike – bounce back, layout + layout, dbl tuck – fall, it was never close. Rough situation for NC State. (9.125)
Spicer – FL – bhs loso – right on, gainer loso, exactly what she was recruited for, solid and consistent. (9.750)
Jarred – NCST – back 2.5 with uncontrolled step forward, L and illusion turns, she has excellent turning, front handspring + rudi, splits aren’t as nice as turns, front double full dismount. (9.825)
Johnson – FL – (9.750)
Ham – NCST – dbl pike, front layout + front full, dbl tuck with step back. She seems confident with her tumbling but is often low. (9.775)
Dickerson – FL – bhs + loso – bent legs, punch front – a little low, but not bad, little wobble on pike jump, stuck double back dismount. Rhonda is much more pleased than she was by this routine at regionals last year, we’ll say that. (9.825)
Ouellette – NCST – pike full mount – good difficulty for this team, rudi + loso, she’s a taller girl which helps her on elements like that, cat leap (why do they exist?), whip dbl full dismount – nice. This is a solid floor for them. (9.750)
Hunter – FL – she’ll need to work on her NCAA expression, sizable wobble on loso, double back dismount. (9.775)
Barr – NCST – DLO with leg separation, better leaps, front full + front layout – little bounce out, dbl tuckdismount – good, confident. (9.850)
King – FL – right on for her acro and series, she can be the solid anchor for this team if she hits to capability. It didn’t always happen at the end of last season. (9.825)
Panza – NCST – dbl pike – major bounce back, front full + front layout – good position, horrid leaps, rudi dismount – a little bit of leg form. This was not as strong as Barr’s routine. (9.800)
Mahlich for Florida and Harabedian for NC State are exhibitioning.
FINAL SCORES: Florida: 196.025 NC State: 194.675
All-Around: 1) Hunter – 39.300, 2) Dickerson – 39.250, 3) King – 39.250, 4) Ouellette – 38.900
Well, there will probably be some who will criticize Florida’s performance because the score is lower than we usually see from a healthy Florida in January. For me this is an average, but right on expectations, performance. They did not look particularly impressive on any apparatus, largely because of details. They will need to clean up the landings, which will happen over the course of the season, and get more numbers in with these routines.
It was nice to see some gymnastics from Spicer and Wang — they will not light the world on fire, but they can be solid when necessary. Great for Hunter to win the AA in her first meet. She will be a leader on VT and FX for them for sure. When Caquatto gets back and when Johnson gets into the AA, I’m sure we will start to see the 197s from them. They have left significant room to peak, which I suppose was the goal.
(GEORGIA update – Shayla hit beam for 9.875 and Kat Ding didn’t fall (It’s a January miracle!). Tanella got a 9.850 – okay… 147.600 after 3 rotations. They will be ecstatic if they outscore Florida, which they will if they hit floor.)
Georgia scores 196.525 in victory. That’s about expected for a home meet in this part of the season. Shayla hit her three events, and Kat Ding won her two best events. Kaylan Earls scored well in debut. Noel Couch won the AA. They should be very pleased with this as a starting point.