Soon, Michigan will get underway visiting Minnesota and Alabama will begin at Penn State (along with Michigan State and Cornell).
If Alabama can hit bars, they have the potential to score exceptionally well and keep pace with Arkansas’s weekend-leading 197.225. This will be Alabama’s first road meet, and it will be interesting to see whether they can match their huge home score on vault and keep pace with UCLA on that event. However, the bars issue is most important because, like last year, this group really has no business making numerous mistakes on bars. While scoring in the 49.3-49.4 range that they will need to in the postseason could be an issue down the road, hitting six routines should not be. We saw way too many errors on handstands against Georgia. I’d rather them be short and take a minor deduction than go over and ruin the routine.
For Michigan, the goal should be putting up six usable routines on every apparatus, finding a group that can hit beam well, and trying to break into the 196 range. They have little depth, but I’d like to see some of it coming into play. They’ll need Annette Miele fully healthy and hitting well this year.
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All the best,
The Balance Beam Situation
Alabama begins on beam with Kim Jacob’s 9.750 and Milliner’s 9.850. Meanwhile Penn State starts slowly on vault with 9.625, 9.675, 9.750, and 9.650.
Note: No Gutierrez or Demeo on beam tonight for Alabama. Sledge and Clark are in. Kaitlyn Clark goes 9.600, meaning they are counting Jacob’s 9.750. Last week they were able to recover from some 9.7s to go 49.1. They’ll need big routines from Priess and Stack-Eaton to go higher (as they would hope/expect to do).
Penn State finishes well on vault with a 9.825 for Merriam and 9.875 for Musser to give them 48.775. We’ll keep an eye on Musser for the AA title battle tonight.
Sledge goes 9.750 just like Jacob, meaning that Stack-Eaton and Priess will need to average 9.875s to equal last week’s performance.
(Q: Does anyone have working live scores for Michigan’s meet?)
Stack-Eaton goes 9.500 and Milliner is the only one in the lineup who has scored well so far. They’ll go below 49 regardless of what Priess does, but she needs to limit the damage and keep them above Penn State.
9.775 for Priess – fine, but not what they needed because Penn State is in the lead after the first rotation. Scoring was never going to be as big for Alabama at Penn State as it was at home, but this is a weak start. More pressure on vault and floor now to make up for beam.
After Rotation 1: Penn State 48.775, Alabama 48.725, Michigan State 48.225, Cornell 47.200
Alabama will be putting up the same floor lineup as last week, including Lora Leigh Frost, who had a fall and didn’t necessarily look lineup ready. Still no Stack-Eaton here.
Penn State begins bars with a solid 9.750 and 9.800. Kim Jacob goes 9.800 on floor, which is around what she did last week and should be a good set-up score for the others.
Penn State follows with two more 9.750s from Stine and Welsh. They’ll need to rely on Merriam and Musser again if they are to get on 196 track, which should be the goal.
Sledge follows with a 9.800 and Frost recovers from last week with an encouraging 9.850, so they won’t have to drop her score again. (See, that’s what happens when I question someone’s place in the lineup. Therefore I will really need to question Mattie’s place in the floor lineup tomorrow.)
Penn State gets Musser to deliver again (seriously, where would they be without her?) and they go 48.975 on bars.
Michigan update: Solid vault for 49.075, disaster on bars (including a fall from Martinez, they cannot afford that from their best worker) for 48.250. More trouble for Michigan and no routines from Miele yet.
9.675 from Gutierrez on floor – an unexpected shame. A 9.825 from Milliner keeps Alabama on pace for 49.1-49.2 if they can get a good hit from Priess. Still, the big scores aren’t coming yet.
Uh oh, a fall from Priess for 9.225. Alabama goes below 49 again and are .075 behind Penn State. This is way more interesting than I thought it was going to be. Alabama needs a 49.500 on vault immediately.
After Rotation 2: Penn State 97.750, Alabama 97.675, Michigan State 95.875, Cornell 94.325
Alabama’s vault lineup also remains the same (why change after last week?) and once again will be Kayla Williams’s only contribution. It’s interesting to me that she hasn’t made floor yet. She was recruited for more than one event.
Alabama vault: Clark goes 9.850 and Williams goes 9.800. She has underperformed so far this season. They needed her to replace Hoffman on two events. There’s still time, but watch this space.
Sledge goes 9.925, the score she probably should have gotten last week, so Alabama is on their way to at least a bit of recovery here.
Michigan: trying to avoid counting a fall on floor from Zurales. 9.8s from Sampson and Sugiyama.
Gutierrez puts up 9.9, so they are pretty much on track from last week, though I would be very surprised to see another 10 from Stack-Eaton. And she goes 9.875, which is still strong and closer to what I expect from her on a weekly basis.
Milliner finishes with 9.875 for an excellent 49.425 rotation. They lose a little ground on UCLA here after two meets, but they should pull ahead of Penn State by a good margin going into the major question mark rotation. Alabama currently sits at 147.100 after three events, so a great bars could put them close to 196.500, but I think they’ll take anything over 196 at this point. Much like Florida, it won’t be a headline-making score, but it will be good enough for now (if they hit bars).
Michigan disaster: 8.825 on floor from Colbert, so they are counting another fall with two routines to go (and beam still to go). This could get very ugly very quickly.
Penn State doing their best to keep pace with Alabama’s big vault score, Bencsko goes 9.900 on beam.
Eeeek, Natalie Beilstein appears to have just recorded a 1.000 on floor. That’s an injury-and-couldn’t-continue kind of score. While it’s a disaster score-wise for Michigan, let’s just hope she’s OK.
Well, I may have spoken too soon about Penn State being well behind Alabama going into the last rotation. They just put up an excellent 49.250 on beam and trail by just .100 going into the final event. Keep watching these scores because this is getting good.
After Rotation 3: Alabama 147.100, Penn State 147.000, Michigan State 144.325, Cornell 141.150
(Oklahoma just delivered on bars for 49.375. It’s time for them to start getting into gear…this is a good start. I haven’t been convinced by their quality yet.)
Sledge opens Alabama’s bars with a 9.800. I still don’t like her leading off unless it’s absolutely necessary because she can score so well. Maybe it is absolutely necessary…
Alexin follows with 9.800 and Clark puts up 9.775. Good, fine, regular, which is what they need to get confident on this event right now.
Demeo picks up the pace for 9.850 – so they’re on solid 49 track so far.
Stack-Eaton 9.575. She is having a really rough day, her second score in the 9.5s of the night. Must hit time for Priess if they want to break 196.
Priess goes 9.850, so Alabama finishes with 196.175, having to count two scores in the 9.6s. It’s not a disaster of a meet because they didn’t have to count a fall, but they will not be satisfied. Work to be done. Penn State is still definitely in this for the win. Two big routines to come on floor.
A 9.825 for Merriam means that Musser needs just a 9.850 to give Penn State the win. Very doable for her.
Oooh, Musser socre on 9.750 on floor, meaning that Alabama just edges Penn State 196.175 – 196.100. Penn State should still be mostly satisfied, but they really could have won this meet.
Another final: Michigan 193.150, Minnesota 193.000 (Ouch.)
Alright, that’s it for me tonight. Enjoy the scores!