Massive Friday Live Blog – Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Utah

Follow along after the jump from 8:00 ET/5:00 PT for live commentary on Florida @ Alabama and other national scores.

Florida/Alabama: Watch Live
Georgia/Utah: Watch Live

Of these four major teams competing tonight, Alabama is under the most pressure.  Remember, they are the defending champions.  Somehow, it’s easy to forget that.  If any of the other three bomb out, they still have at least one big score to fall back on.  If Alabama does, they will really suffer with confidence and rankings.  The performance against Auburn exposed the need for Stack-Eaton to be in that lineup for them to be truly successful.  Priess can’t carry them alone.  These freshmen need to start being more effective contributors, and the sophomores need to break out of their 9.800-9.850 range.

Utah is the #1 team in the country.  It’s been a while.  In contrast to some of the other teams and gymnasts (with Kytra Hunter the notable exception), Utah stands out because their freshmen have really stepped up to contribute big scores and lead rotations.  Georgia put together a good meet last week, but they still have a few more holes in their lineups than Utah does, which, combined with the influence of home advantage, makes me favor Utah.  Georgia and Florida are in similar situations where they both need to prove that last week is the rule not the exception.

Stuff and nonsense here:

Popping in with an update—beleaguered Michigan, with their 2 ¼ healthy gymnasts, scraped along to a languid 194.650 against West Virginia’s 194.000.  If they even had six bar routines, they could have managed at least a 195, but Zurales did only vault and floor.  If they had even a little depth, they would be a top 10 team.

If you ever want evidence that win-loss record is meaningless and should never be used to evaluate anything in college gym, know that Michigan is undefeated on the season.

We’re “thirty” minutes out from Alabama/Florida, but Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska should be getting underway “soon”—though remember that everything in NCAA gym happens 18 minutes late.  According to the lineups, Arkansas will be sending up only five gymnasts on floor.  This is troubling, but Grable and Pisani have been worth 1.5 routines this year anyway, so they may not notice.  On the other hand, Nebraska is finally fielding six floor workers, so it’s a February miracle.

Turned on the Alabama broadcast.  The cheerleaders are trying to tumble on floor.  Oh sweet heavens the form and the falls.  This is some Becky Cameron nonsense out there on the floor right now.

Oh good.  More dance contests.  Aren’t we having fun?  This is why I have trouble with some SEC meets.  It’s like they don’t trust the crowd to enjoy the gymnastics.

In tolerable news, Oklahoma and Nebraska are level at 49.225 after one rotation.

We had a tolerable vault with a good landing and just a little form to start from Clark to start for Alabama.

Priess is vaulting.  Hmmm, unexpected.

Ashanee had wonky handstands and toes as always.  Remember that time she got a 9.925 last week?  Didn’t stick the dismount, and she needs that to make the judges forget.

Good distance from Sledge on vault, but a low chest and hop back.  She can do better.

Kytra was pretty clean throughout her routine, one of her better ones.  Tried to hold on to the stick on her tuck full dismount.

Gutierrez sticks with a minor leg sepraration.  It will be telling what the judges do.

The DLOs aren’t quite in place for Florida tonight.  King a little short.

Really important that Stack-Eaton is back for Alabama.  Good vault with a slide back, a little body position that I didn’t like – but she had that on her 10 as well, so…

Macko is getting her bars back.  The handstands still aren’t quite there, but it will come.

Milliner sticks an excellent Y1.5, one of the best I’ve seen her do.  I could see 9.95 here.  The judges go 10, but she didn’t quite have the legs for it for me – it’s sort of like when Tauny Frattone sticks.  The judges judged themselves into a corner here after the 9.950 for Gutierrez, for me the vaults were essentially equivalent, but Milliner’s was more difficult.

Johnson performs her usual beautiful routine, but had to struggle to hold on to the landing, and that will hurt her.

I wasn’t paying attention to the scores until now that we’re in exhibition territory.  Alabama goes 49.600 on vault, which is colossal.  Across the board I think everyone was about .05 high, which is to be expected at home.  It was a very nice rotation that can get better.  Where do you go from 49.600?  Judging on bars appeared to be mostly appropriate, but Florida seem just a bit tight in those handstands, which prevented them from going higher.

After Rotation 1: Alabama 49.600, Florida 49.225
Vault hasn’t been the problem for Alabama this season, so we’ll see where they go from here on bars.  Florida needs to find some competitive 1st and 2nd vaults.  They can’t be scoring in the 9.7s.

Rotation 2
Good distance from Spicer, some leg separation and perhaps a slide back.

Really aggressive, strong routine from Sledge with a gorgeous DLO.  Have I mentioned how this shouldn’t be first?

Ellis has a big step back on vault, but good enough form and direction.

Alexin rushes these handstands, which makes the routine look uncertain and sloppy.  No stick.

Ashanee’s usual vault with a big step back.  Important to have Johnson in this lineup with a nice vault, not her 2011 level yet, though.  The landing will come.

I’m not wild about the composition for Demeo at the beginning, but it’s an efficient routine with a hit jaeger.  Near stick on DLO.

Marissa King had a little hop on landing, and then did a major leap on her salute.  If they’re feeling picky, they could deduct for it, which would bring her way down.

Just a small step on the dbl arabian for Stack-Eaton – a good routine after missing last week with just one short hs.

Hunter has a Y1.5 with excellent form, a .1 hop forward on dismount.  The legs were better than Milliner, though.

Priess hits well to end things for Alabama, just a little piked on the DLO and a step back.

In all, this rotation was solid, but not the level of gymnastics from either team that we saw in the last one.  If Sledge were competing 5th, she probably would have gone 9.925.  They NEED those kind of scores in this rotation.

Both teams go 49.250 in this rotation, meaning our running total is Alabama 98.850, Florida 98.475
Alabama has the big guns in and they are going for that 197 mark.  I’m really interested to see who is the stronger floor team tonight.  That will be a big battle in April.

Rotation 3:
Great solid leadoff on beam from Jacob except for a seemingly unnecessary wobble on the popa and a step on dismount.

Ferguson leads off floor with a hit, energetic routine, very 9.800.

Milliner puts up another very strong beam routine, but she always looks scared to death when she competes beam, which takes you out of her routine.  Also, I hate that color lipstick, but mostly the scared to death thing.

Stageberg is a little low on her mount, but hits the second pass beautifully.  It’s good, clean, early-lineup gymnastics.  It’s not BIG, but it’s solid.

Sledge had some minor wobbles, and like Milliner, I’m not convinced that she believes on this event, but she hit well, so it’s a victory.

I’m not really feeling the dbl arabian for Marissa King, it’s a little low and looks like she stumbles out of it even when she doesn’t.  Poor second pass, low with a large step forward.  They’ll probably need to drop this.

Obviously a basic Miley Cyrus deduction during Gutierrez’s set on beam, but that was the biggest flaw in another hit routine.

Crazy cowboy and step back from Johnson on her dbl arabian, she did very well to even get that around to her feet.  She still has a little bit of elite disease where she only remembers to perform when she’s not doing a skill.

Thus far, Alabama looks like the better prepared team, which is accounting for the scores.  Another hit from Demeo (with another gainer full.  ugh, go away).  Even the gymnasts who look scared to death aren’t wobbling much.

Good secure tumbling from Dickerson, the most solid competitor so far.  We were never worried during her routine like some of the others earlier in the lineup.

Priess hitting beam.  Her L turn is very CGA.  And another hit from the gainer full sisters.  I have higher expectations for Alabama than that.  Is there any reason to?

Kytra just has another level of elevation, even more than power gymnasts like Dickerson.  When we talk about a distinctive quality – that’s it.  They’ve been working on her leaps.  Just a little low on her dismount.

In rotation 3, Alabama goes 49.425 and Florida goes 49.100.  Totals: Alabama 148.275, Florida 147.575. Both on a nice pace.  Alabama would have to go 49.500 on floor to match Florida’s season record to this point, which I don’t see happening, but they would need a notable mistake to prevent them breaking 197. Away from home, if Florida can go high 196s, that’s a very respectable score.  No shame in that even if they lose.  Alabama has a point to prove.  After this meet, I would like them to prove the difficult beam dismount point that they were trying to prove when they were training all those double pike dismounts.

Over in the land of Utah people, Georgia leads by a nose after the first rotation.  Highest scores are 9.925s from Dabritz on vault and Ding on bars – no surprise with either of those.

Rotation 4:
Stageberg hits to start.  The series+dismount combo is even more popular this year, but we’re seeing that it doesn’t quite work on everyone, just a little sloppy here.

Kim Jacob’s routine is very elite circa 2003, does anyone else get that feeling?  She usually leads off this rotation with a low 9.8, and this should be no different.

Florida getting in on the gainer full act with Spicer, this is what she was recruited for – solid early-rotation gymnastics and an ability to hit beam in all situations.

Good hit from Ashley Sledge, though I almost feel the same way about layout+layout middle passes as I do about gainer fulls.  Better than average double pike dismount.

Beam is still Johnson’s weak event, but she hits.  The team looks more confident than I’ve seen them lately on beam.  It’s not stellar, but it’s clear they’ve had more numbers.

Frost is low on her DLO mount but stands it up well enough.  She needs to commit to this routine a little bit more, it could be a fun one.  You could see that problem coming on the double tuck dismount, but she didn’t put a hand down.  It’s great that she has a DLO, but is this a lineup-worthy routine? (9.625 is high for a routine with those mistakes…)

Ashanee hits her dbl back dismount well (now that’s a beam dismount!) but still has a bit of sleepwalking disorder through her routine.

Milliner starts off with a very nice mount.  Good recovery routine, just a bit of an unexpected bounce back on the dismount, but she stayed in bounds.

Kytra’s loso series is floatier than most, she is really standing out as a star on a team of stars – I’m impressed so far, even if it’s not all there yet.  A big step back on her double back dismount, though, which will hurt the score.

Good hit from Gutierrez, she is performing confidently tonight in her landings.  Very tight form on her double pike dismount.

King had a wobble on her opening acro – I’m surprised at the lack of major wobble from both teams.  I guess I’ve been watching too much UCLA.  Spectacular double full dismount.  Even with the loss, this was a great night for Florida.

(Another sign I’ve been watching a lot of UCLA, I get mad at people for breaking character on floor.)

Priess finishes with another hit.  This was a very confident, efficient performance from both teams tonight.  They both accomplished the goals.  Florida had no letdown after the great score last week, and Alabama broke through with their own great score.  None of the gymnastics knocked anyone’s socks off, which is why the scores will probably go in the “Hrmmm” pile, but it’s very competent and going in a positive direction.

Yes, the scores definitely go in the “Hrmmm” pile.  Alabama records a humongous 197.725 for gymnastics that is great for February but will get better by April.  The theme of the season.

FINAL: Alabama 197.725, Florida 196.900

Now it’s time to check in with our dear friends Georgia and Utah.  Utah had a slight lead at the halfway point.  Apparently Shayla had an 8.600 on floor.  WHY did I miss that?

Nuccio coming up on floor.  Hits her DblA mount well.  Good hit to come back, but they’re not seeing the big scores on this event.

Lothrop anchors beam, and hits well.  Her biggest issue is that everything lacks a little amplitude.  Her dbl back dismount is nice in the air, but she lands low.  It’s 9.8 gymnastics that goes 9.9 because it’s last, it’s a savvy lineup order this year.

Couch anchors floor with her wonky-legged pike full, but a good hit overall.  You can see the relief from everyone that they don’t have to count Shayla’s latest work.  Georgia has their best rotation so far with a 49.300 after Noel Couch gets a…9.950…pardon?  I love judging.  It’s never boring.  She has enough built-in errors to make that impossible.

Utah is showing depth with two gymnasts hitting exos, but I don’t see Wilson in this lineup.  It’s not bad, just not there.

After 3 rotations: Georgia 147.750, Utah 147.650.  This is going to be good.

I like the way the PA announcer says “Timed Warmups Begin,” she sounds like a robot in some sort of sterilized health center in the dystopian future.

Good tuck full to start this routinefrom Tutka  – nice body position.  Unfortunate guitar miming in the choreo, and the 2nd pass was the weakest, but it should score well.  She tumbles confidently.

Couch did well to hit her series because she looked off just a bit in the air.  Slight slide on dismount.  This is what Couch does well – leading off with a hit – not getting a 9.950 anchoring floor.

Just a slight bit out of control from Damianova on her second pass, but this is another strong routine.  Stiff legged landing on the double pike with a shuffle was the biggest deduction in the set.

Not in love with Earls’s legs on her series, but she’s gaining her competition confidence.  Those legs are wild on the double tuck dismount, but it’s a hit.

Robarts cowboys her tuck position in the DblA but brings it around to land well if slightly low and has really flappy legs in the dismount, so this should score lower.  The double pike was nice. (9.875 is very high)

Kat Ding has a little wobble on a full turn and still looks a little uncertain even though this is her best beam season.  I’m starting to unlearn my instincts that she will fall on every skill.  Very close to sticking that dismount but she didn’t.  She wishes.

Dabritz is a little low on mount and steps to the side, but not a true error, but the second pass was short and she had a notable step forward – a larger error.  Impressive that she’s dismounting with a 3/1, but not her best work overall. (9.875 again, they’re getting the same charity that Couch did).

Wobble from Davis on her series – it’s so hard to hit that perfectly.  Another little issue on her aerial cartwheel and again on her front tuck.  Not major deduction on any, but she’s not confident with any of these acro skills yet.

Good landing on mount in terms of legs (I still have body position concerns) nice compact (well, it is Lothrop) dismount.  If the previous went 9.875, this should be clearly higher, though it’s not really that level of routine in the grand scheme.  (9.950 – can I write “See Me” on the judges’ papers?)

Persinger hits as well – Georgia won’t win this meet, but they should be pleased with their trajectory.  Some performers just need a little more refinement to get those 9,825s higher.

Good hit from McAllister – I do love a layout stepout out of a twisting pass.  I don’t even know what to expect from the judges anymore.  9.95 again.  What could they do after Lothrop?

Shayla recovery time?  Stumble on her sheep but stayed on.  A little wobble on the onodi and not quite a sick on the dismount – a solid routine but not her best.

So, Utah gets a humongous 49.500 for what was ultimately a solid but pedestrian rotation.  Everyone was between .050-.100 high.  They outstrip Georgia’s 49.200 on beam to take the meet.

FINAL: Utah 197.150, Georgia 196.950

Even though I’m griping about a lot of the scoring (what incentive is there to be special if everyone is special?), I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen tonight overall.  These teams are hitting very solid February gymnastics.  They don’t look nearly as far away from top form as they did in January, and it’s a very encouraging trajectory for some greatness at the end of the season.  What’s more, it’s not just coming from the big three that we expected.  We could have a legitimate eight really good teams by championships time.

I’m very interested to see how Utah fares the next time on the road – where Lothrop and McAllister won’t be getting 9.950 on floor, that’s for sure.  It will be a test.

Rounding up some other scores:
Oklahoma was on great pace until they had to count a fall on floor and scores 196.475 to lose to Nebraska’s 196.750.  Arkansas did end up throwing in a 6th gymnast on floor, which they needed, and went 196.800 to beat Auburn by a point.

No one is allowing room at the top this week, so even though 196.475 isn’t a bad score, Oklahoma looks to be the one to fall this week (with UCLA still to come – and who knows how that could go?).  Certainly Alabama will move ahead of them.  Because of the way the scoring has been going, teams HAVE to score in the 197s to feel confident of their ranking positions.

Around the rest of the country, we’re seeing a lot of high 195s, which is good for the rest of these teams to somehow try to keep pace.  Notably, LSU scored 196.125.  They seem to be able to go consistently into those low 196s when they hit, and that’s such a dangerous score come regionals time.  If a top team doesn’t hit, LSU will be ready to snatch up that spot.

In Washington, the Huskies are being very 9.750 about everything (and now they will be counting a fall on beam) and Oregon State is being more 9.800 about things.  Oregon State is putting up solid scores, but it won’t keep pace with the top group where 196.800 is considered low for the week.

Oregon State continued having their very 9.800 meet and finished with a 195.975, which will see them fall out of the Top 8 sorority.  Washington scored 194.675 after those falls on beam and a lot of 9.7s.

10 thoughts on “Massive Friday Live Blog – Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Utah”

  1. The judges in Bama love to throw 10s for vault this year lol. FWIW though, I thought Gutierrez's and Milliner's vaults were both better than Sledge's and Stack-Eaton's from week one. Stack-Eaton was technically perfect, but it just didn't have the WOW factor that 10s should have, IMO.

  2. Yes, a top team having 4 gainer fulls is shameful at any point of the season. I say this as someone who loved Alabama's beam lineup by last season's end. Demeo will likely start doing a double pike soon, and Stack-Eaton will kick out one of the gainer fulls, but still…….

  3. A 9.95 for Couch on floor lol! It was a hit, but judges have gone crazy this year. Hell, at least it's been consistent for all of the top teams, so no one can cry foul!

  4. The floor judging at the Utah v. UGA meet was definitely off, but I think they scored Tanella, Earls, and Persinger about right — but almost all Utah gymnasts were a little high. I thought beam and vault were good, but the judges were generous on Utah's bars. They missed handstands and the judges didn't seem to notice and when you compare Utah's bars routines to UGA, UGA should have beat them on that event a little more than they did. Other than that, the scoring was fair and not as egregious as some of the UF/BAMA/UCLA scores we've seen thrown this year.

    Also, Milliner's vault was gorgeous, but definitely not a 10. BAMA judges seem to like throwing out at 10s for any vault that is stuck.

  5. I'm a Utah fan through and through but the judges got it wrong on both sides of the gym. I think the biggest robbery tonight was Kat Ding on bars. Go back and watch it on youtube and try to find a single error. I was cheering Utah on as loud as possible but I absolutely think she should have gotten a 10 for her perfect bars routine. What a shame. Still, Utah will hold the #1 position overall, on beam, and on floor so I'm not complaining 🙂

  6. Aynonymous can you tell me why you thought Tanella,Earls, and Persinger deserved thoses scores…I was just curious where you saw the deductions. Just seems odd They got the same exact scores.

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