The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Monday Rankings

National Rankings – Week of January 16th
1. Nebraska – 197.375
2. Utah – 196.713
3. Arkansas – 196.550
4. Oregon State – 196.525
5. Alabama – 196.475
6. Georgia – 196.425
7. UCLA – 196.375
8. Florida – 196.100
9. Penn State – 195.950
10. Oklahoma – 195.925
11. Michigan – 195.500
12. Ohio State – 195.275
13. Arizona – 195.150
14. Stanford – 194.900
15. Illinois – 194.725
16. Denver – 194.463
17. Boise State – 194.400
18. NC State – 194.363
19. San Jose State – 194.300
20. Auburn – 194.288
21. West Virginia – 194.263
22. Missouri – 194.100
23. Maryland – 194.038
24. Minnesota – 193.938
25. LSU – 193.763

As always, full rankings at Troester

Not much can be gleaned from these rankings as they are the definition of a small sample size, with some teams having competed in only one meet.  Nonetheless, that will not stop me from over-analyzing them.

I’m pleased to see a team like Nebraska come up with a big score in the first week, if for no other reason than it expands the conversation about the top teams, which is always a positive.  Nebraska is to be commended for accomplishing this score of 197.375 with only seven gymnasts competing, a feat that is both impressive and unsustainable.  Five gymnasts competed in the all-around, and they couldn’t even send up a sixth on floor.  We always knew this team would be sparse, but they will need to get some gymnasts healthy and cultivate some depth to be able to sustain anywhere near that score.  Right now there is no room for error.

Another team I haven’t talked about much is Oregon State, and they put up a respectable 196.525, a school record for a season opener.  We knew they would be strong on bars, but they also hit beam with a largely unheralded lineup (except for Leslie Mak) and did not appear to be missing Ranzy on floor.  Freshman Chelsea Tang also provided strong early-lineup consistency by scoring 9.8s on three events. Getting hit beam routines from those who have been uncertain in the past like Vivian and Stambaugh will be crucial to success this year.

Stanford also opened the season this weekend by disappointing on the live scores front (ahem…) and putting up a depleted team that recorded only seven scores at 9.8 or above.  In particular, it appears they will need Shapiro and Hong most desperately in the beam lineup, since they are both capable of performing exceptionally.  This is another team with little margin for error in lineups.

Next week, watch for whether Nebraska can sustain their big score from this week or whether they will fall back to the pack (Utah has a bye, so their big score will sustain them for the week).  Also watch the results from Florida and Oklahoma closely to see when these teams start to round into form as everything is still a little unpolished and uncertain.  I saw the vault rotation for Oklahoma this week and wasn’t impressed by the amplitude.  There is work to be done to contend with the teams already breaking 49.5. UCLA and Alabama are in similar situations right now, with some hugely impressive rotations mixed with some glaring weaknesses.  Both teams are capable of performing poorly and still breaking 196, but I expect to see 197s before too long.  Alabama should be on an upward trajectory, and UCLA should take some confidence from the big beam score against Cal.

 

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