Live Blog – Georgia @ Alabama

As much as other gymnastics teams might wish they could create a rivalry like this, Georgia vs. Alabama remains one of a kind.  Even though it’s early in the season, this year’s edition still provides us with some intriguing story lines.  By all tangible measures, Alabama should be the favorite.  They are coming off a national championship, competing at home, and fielding a deeper and more accomplished squad. Certainly, a loss would be a bigger blow to Alabama than it would be to Georgia.

And yet, it cannot be easy to open a season with what feels like a must-win meet.  Now, it’s definitely not a must-win meet in the logical scheme of the season (Alabama could be horrible here and still do just fine for the year), but the Alabama/Georgia rivalry defies logical schemes.  That pressure to win will be heavy on Alabama, and if Georgia puts up the same kind of meet they did last weekend, they are more than capable of pulling this one out.  Georgia put up the highest score last week, and if they follow that up with a win against Bama away, you’ll need your telescope to view that inflated confidence level.
Gymnasts to watch (Alabama):
1) Ashley Priess – How much is she competing (word is 3 events tonight)?  How far along is she in the comeback?  Does her body look like it can withstand the season?  
2) Kayla Williams – I have a sneaking suspicion that Sarah will try to turn her into an all-arounder.  This is unwise.  She needs to be an important specialist.  How is vault?  Is it Kayla 2009 or Kayla 2010?
3) Ashley Sledge – Ashley was a hugely influential early-lineup worker on three events last year and is capable of 9.9s on those three events.  More attention will be paid to Priess, GSE, and Williams this year, but I have a feeling that as goes Sledge, so goes Bama.
Gymnasts to watch (Georgia):  
1) Shayla Worley – Mission accomplished for Shayla in the first meet because she stood up three events.  She desperately needs to do the same tonight so that we can transition to setting less condescending goals for her.  A 9.9 or two would be nice.
2) Chelsea Davis – The meet against Denver made it clear that Georgia needs to get her into the all-around.  I’d love to see her get in on beam this week and fully hit bars.  She was 9.8 last week with a nearly-over handstand.
3) Noel Couch – As critical as I am of Couch sometimes, she remains necessary to the team.  They will not be successful unless she is hitting all her events for 9.8s.  She has to set a consistent tone in order for the rest of them to excel.
After the jump, follow comments on scores coming in from around the country until live commentary on Georgia/Alabama (meet begins at 8:30 ET / 5:30 PT).
Michigan is soon to get underway against Ohio State.  They will be very reliant on a select few gymnasts to produce in the AA every week.  They have some definite talent but no room for injuries or lineup experimentation.

Michigan hits vault extremely well for a 49.300, led by a 9.900 from Joanna Sampson.  Ohio State went 48.525 on bars.  Bars will be interesting for Michigan as they lost nearly the whole lineup from last year.

Now it’s Ohio State’s turn to impress on vault with a 49.125, led by Alyssa Marohn’s 9.875.  Michigan got through bars pretty well with a 49.025, with everyone scoring between 9.750-9.850.

In the third rotation, Ohio State put up a 48.850 on floor to take the lead away from Michigan after a 47.750 on beam (falls from Zakharia and Sampson and a 9.450 from Miele in her debut).  After three rotations, Ohio State has 146.500 and Michigan has 146.275.

In a final result, Michigan sneaks past Ohio State by a score of 195.500 to 195.175 after a solid floor rotation featuring Natalie Beilstein’s 9.925.  Meanwhile, Florida leads off with a 49.200 on vault at home (Dickerson and Hunter lead scoring, Johnson is still not in the lineup).

Florida matches their vault score on bars with a 49.200, featuring a 9.900 from Johnson.  Mahlich also got in the lineup and scored a 9.750 after exhibitioning last week.

The feed has started for Alabama/Georgia!  Never mind, please ignore me, it’s the saddest, most upsetting dance contest in history.  Your time would be better spend planning your own funeral or counting the skin cells on your hand.

Pre-meet festivities with about 1500 little ones.

Oh god, now it’s the “Bama Gymjammers” — It’s like they want me to hate them.  Well…they’re really good at spelling…

(Florida just went 49.250 after they were able to drop a fall from Hunter)

Georgia lineups: Kat Ding’s game face…love.  I don’t know half of these freshmen.

Alabama’s video is not half bad except for the music choice.  Lineups: Announcing the GPA – I would HATE that if I were them, but love it because I’m not.  Introducing Sarah Patterson who is in full Lucille 2 hair — “I know that she is a brownish area…with points.”

Rotation 1: Alabama on vault, Georgia on bars:
Ashley Priess would wear a sombrero because she has a passion for Spanish culture…
Dear Alabama, when I’m impatient, the last thing you want to show me is children dancing.

Clark – VT – nice yfull to start with small hop back – good debut (9.825)

Davis – UB – nice tkatchev as always, short on bail hs, near stick on tuck full dismount – solid start but not amazing. (9.725)

Williams – VT – good yfull – bad angle to judge a lot of issues, though – they’ll want her doing something more difficult because she will be expected to. (9.800)

Couch – UB – catches jaeger, bail hs, missing some hs, huge stumble back on double front dismount – major deduction. (9.550)

Sledge – VT – now that’s a yfull!  huge with stuck landing, great start for her (9.975 – well, it wasn’t that good, but it was excellent)

Tanella – UB – little close on jaeger, bail hs, stuck her dbl tuck dismount – they should not be putting up a dbl tuck dismount in a competitive lineup. (9.875 – Judges, we need to talk…no.)

Gutierrez – VT – great distance on vault with a step back – continuing the good vault form from last season. (9.875)

Worley – UB – ray – nice, good bail hs, good DLO dismount — one wonky hs, but otherwise strong. (9.875)

Stack-Eaton – VT – stuck yfull – very nice again – they have worked on these landings clearly. (10.000 – No.  It wasn’t that.  I guess someone really wants to beat Georgia.)

Nuccio – UB – close on gienger – that’s a shame, nice bail, stuck dismount – nice. (9.875)

Milliner – VT – solid form on 1.5 but a low landing. (9.875)

Ding – UB – perfect tkatchev, great so far through to pak, great dismount – this should score very well – not quite 10, but good. (9.875)  She looked like she wanted a 10 a little too badly on that.

Domier Exo – VT – handspring front pike – stuck.

Hires Exo – UB – piked jaeger a little close, goes over on her bail and has to come off the bars – solid DLO dismount.

Alabama goes 49.550, I guess they felt left out of the home overscoring conversation.  These vaults were excellent, but I would not have given anyone a 10 so far.  10 needs to be above and beyond — neither Sledge nor Stack-Eaton were overly amazing, they were just very good.  There will be a lot of discussion about these scores.  I would need to see another replay to judge adequately, but neither stuck out to me as 10-worthy on first viewing.  I’ll retract if I’m wrong.  Georgia goes 49.225, which is a good score, but won’t compete with what Alabama’s getting right now.

Rotation 2: Georgia on vault, Alabama on bars:
Davis – VT – (didn’t show it, thanks) (9.725)

Sledge – UB – excellent gienger, a little form on bail hs, that beautiful DLO with a larger step back (9.800)

Couch – VT – good y full with slight shuffle – that’s the solidity they need from her. (9.800)

Alexin – UB – shaposh to pak – great toes – dbl tuck with step back. (9.800)

Persinger – VT – little pikey on yfull with large step back. (9.650)

Clark – UB – good shaposh, leg sep on bail hs, went over on hs and had to come off – that’s a shame for her in her first meet – DLO dismount with hop forward. (9.275)

Earls – VT – Omelianchik – great distance and form but a step forward – if they can get her sticking this will be 9.9+ (9.800)

DeMeo – UB – way far away on jaeger and fell – you could see that coming – now Bama is counting a fall – this just got interesting.  Shades on 2011.  A little low on dismount. (9.150)

Hires – VT – good yfull in most of the ways – a little lacking in distance, but by far their best vault so far. (9.900)

GSE – UB – good ray to open, pak – nice, dismount with small hop forward – good veteran performance after falls. (9.875)

Ding – VT – nice yfull with step back – very good but she can be better. (9.875)

Priess – UB – over on her toe full but stays on, tkatchev to pak is nice, hits DLO dismount.  Just needs a few more repetitions it looks like. (9.875 – that’s an overscore)

Milliner Exo – UB – fingertipped her release but caught – over on handstand on her bail and came off the bars – I’m seeing a trend here. Fine dbl tuck dismount.

It’s like the beginning of 2011 all over again on bars for Alabama.  I’m wondering whether I missed something on Priess’s bars or whether the judges just thought she covered well.  At any rate, they had to count a fall.  Alabama goes 48.625 on bars for a 98.175 total.  Georgia takes the lead with a 49.100 on vault for a 98.325 total.  This is going to be very exciting.

Rotation 3: Alabama on beam, Georgia on floor:

Jacob – BB – hitting well through her loso series, she is right on this beam so far, great hit to open the rotation. (9.825)

Earls – FX – hitting so far ( I accidentally wrote “sitting” at first, that’s different) – not a fan of the music – dbl tuck dismount. (9.775)

Milliner – BB – walkover – nice, small wobble on loso series, why a close up of her face during her skills, camera people?  hits dismount – she looked a little tentative but hit. (9.700)

Davis – FX – good dbl pike mount, layout + rudi middle pass, way low on her dbl tuck dismount and lunges forward – did well not to fall on that. (9.600)

Sledge – BB – I’d like it if she could make this lineup this year, hits loso series, slight wobble on L-turn,= but pretty good on leg position, gainer full dismount with step – since it’s a gainer full, that needs to be stuck. (9.750)

Tanella – FX – hits dbl pike, she looks on so far with the tumbling, but I don’t dig anything about this floor routine for her – it highlights her spastic movement style, hits rudi dismount. (9.850)

DeMeo – BB – hits handspring mount, good walkover, big wobble on loso series but stays on, gainer full dismount with hop back. (9.725)

Nuccio – FX – dbl arabian mount with slight step back – she has the performance presence I like to see – ouchie, completely botches her dismount and has to take a fall.  Such a shame. (9.100)

GSE – BB – hits series, good walkover + loso, only a minor wobble on spin, held on to the sheep jump well, hits dismount.  Good not great routine. (9.850)

Worley – FX – good dbl pike mount – bounces back out of her rudi but stays in bounds, this routine has potential – I’m hoping it will grow on me – it’s not there yet, dbl full dismount – we still need to make that a 2.5 (9.775)

Priess – BB – confident sheep to open, walkover + korbut – nice, a little uncertain on L-turn but fine, she looks more prepared here than on bars – gainer full dismount (I’m seeing way too many of those today!) (9.850)

Couch – FX – puke full in – low chest but performed as usual, whip + dbl tuck is solid, this routine is such a gimmick which troubles me, dbl pike dismount is good – she hit the way they needed her to after some issues in this rotation once again. (9.825)

Gutierrez Exo – BB – off on her series, that’s too bad because I’d like to see her in this lineup – she has nice line and attention to presentation – although another gainer full.

Alabama takes the lead by .025 going into the last rotation, leading 147.175 to 147.150 after posting a 49.000 on the balance beam.  Georgia put up a 48.825 on floor.  The scores appeared pretty fair during that rotation – no routine from either team stood out as being particularly impressive.  Alabama should be the favorites to win from this point, going to floor while Georgia has to go to beam.

Alabama started off so strong on vault, but has showed definite need for improvement on the next two events (much like UCLA, though not as dire).  Bama fans have reason to be concerned that bars might turn into a two-gymnast rotation with no one else scoring big.  Georgia continued to show that floor is going to be an issue for them this season.  They’re just praying they get through six clean routines.

Rotation 4: Georgia to beam, Alabama to floor:

Couch – BB – (9.800)

Jacob – FX – very nice dbl pike mount, hits combo middle pass, posing with wrists, hit routine but a good leadoff for them because it doesn’t really stand out with tumbling or dance. (9.825)

Earls – BB – wobble on series but holds onto it, side aerial – good, a little low on dbl tuck dismount and takes a step forward. (9.750)

Sledge – FX – punch front trhough to dbl tuck – she knows how to sell her Bama choreography, just layouts as middle pass (we can upgrade that, right?  She’s too powerful for that to be her middle pass), high dbl pike dismount – a little over and has to take a step forward (9.875)

Ding – BB – (nervous time!) hits loso series, major wobble on full turn, front tuck is nice, she’s performing the hell out of this, nice dismount.  She hit a beam routine! (9.775)

Frost – FX – DLO – looked like it would be low but she got it around, front full + layout middle pass, dbl tuck dismount looked ust as low as the DLO but she couldn’t pull it around and put hands down. (9.350)

Tanella – BB – small wobble on series, hits onodi and sheep, gainer full dismount,
I have to give her some credit for hitting when they needed it all day, now if she would just calm down her movements. (9.800)

Gutierrez – FX – nice DLO to start, front full + layout, hits double pike – really composed tumbling overall from her.  She looks farther along than most of the others. (9.900)

Persinger – BB – this event shows off her line the best, good loso series, hitting both tumbling and dance elements so far with good show of flexibility – a complete routine, in other words — nice dismount.  Really nice routine. (9.800)

Milliner – FX – slightly short on dbl arabian but just a step back, layout + front full with bound forward, nice high dbl pike to finish (9.700)

Worley – BB – (they need a huge routine here) – full twisting bhs – nice, hits loso series, good onodi and hits gainer full dismount – big hit routine, but I hate that she downgraded that dismount.  Still that makes two hit meets in a row for Shayla. (9.950 – it was good but that’s a little high)

Priess – FX – high dbl tuck mount, front full + layout with slight bound forward, hits dbl pike to likely  give Bama the meet.  A composed routine but she can step this up to be the anchor later in the season. (9.900)

So Alabama takes the meet by just .150!  I’m surprised it was that close, but I suppose with Alabama and Georgia we always want the meet to be as close as possible.  FINAL: Alabama 196.475 Georgia 196.325 (as announced, the live scoring says 196.375 to 196.275, we’ll see)

Both teams went out hard and appeared to use up their best gymnastics in the first rotation.  Alabama’s vault was the only rotation of this meet that was super impressive, and while there was nice gymnastics all over the place, there is a lot to be worked on for both teams.  Georgia has to figure out that floor situation, and Alabama needs to get that bar rotation intact and get a little bit more confident on the beam and upgrade a couple of the floor routines.  Still, no reason for either team to be really disappointed in this meet.  There is plenty of time.

Heads up: Nebraska went 197.375 with FOUR gymnasts going 39.475+ in the AA.  I’m going to have to go through those scores soon.

5 thoughts on “Live Blog – Georgia @ Alabama”

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