Lots of important meets to follow tonight. I’m giving the edge for highest score of the week to Florida right now, since they are rapidly improving and are at home against SEC opposition. At this point, it’s almost like I’m rooting for crazy scores just so we can see how high they’ll go. You know they’re hoping for 198. You might be too.
In addition to our usual meets, Oklahoma will be competing in the Perfect 10 Challenge (like the judges do every week this year) and UCLA will be taking on BSU, Missouri, and Illinois at IGI Chicago Style. Oklahoma will be providing live scores as usual for their meet, but we’ll probably have to follow Chicago Style via telegram or something. “Dear Val – Stop. Don’t stop!” Last year, gymnastike did a live broadcast of the NCAA meet at Chicago Style. They’ve never tried again.
In the news, Brianna Brown of CGA has verballed to Georgia. This is not a surprise given the discussion a while back about Jay getting himself on board the CGA train in a big old way. Since Whitcomb, Jetter, and Williams were already spoken for, it was assumed he would be courting Brown and Hundley. Priessman is in a different boat since elite success in the next quad may alter her NCAA trajectory.
Follow after the break as we start with the Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas meets.
For Alabama, Lindsey Fowler is coming in for Lora Frost on floor, meaning that they are showing only two routines from freshmen (Kaitlyn Clark on VT and UB). Priess will not be competing floor, and Sledge will be anchoring that rotation.
Sledge starts Alabama with 9.800 on bars – for me it’s the 2nd best routine in the rotation usually.
Alexin scores 9.775 – we’ll be looking for who can get those 9.85s leading into the fianl two routines. They’ll need them eventually, but Clark goes 9.750 and Demeo follows with a fall – meaning Stack-Eaton and Priess will have pressure to go 9.9s to put up a solid rotation score.
Stack-Eaton goes 9.850 and Priess has a slight issue on her dismount – so this will not be a huge score. Well, we won’t see another 197.7 this week from them – unless they go, what, 49.550 the rest of the way. Who knows this year…
After rotation 1: Kentucky goes 48.775 to trail Alabama’s 49.000.
Over in Florida, Marissa King got a 9.725 on vault, so there’s no point to continue living. Alaina Johnson goes 9.950, so they’ll manage to get along somehow…They end up dropping King’s score and counting a 9.800 from Spicer. Everyone else is 9.875+ to give Florida 49.400 – putting them on pace for 197.600 if it continues, how pedestrian…LSU should be pleased by a 49.150 on bars – when they go positive on events other than vault, it’s a good day.
Kayla Williams actually came in on vault for Ashley Priess – she wasn’t on the original lineup because of a wrist injury. Clark and Williams both start with 9.750s – you know when you’re away from home. Sledge and Gutierrez go closer to what we usually expect from them – 9.850 and 9.900 respectively. If they want to go 197, they have to keep up those 9.9s for the final two.
(Okay, we have to talk about Ashanee Dickerson going into the 9.9s on bars for the second time in a row at home…)
Milliner doesn’t get the kind of score she got last week, so only Gutierrez goes into the 9.9s, and they total 49.100. They’ll have the clear lead, but they will have to step up the performance on the last two to be nationally competitive this week or to have a hope of hanging onto #2. Even away, 49.100 on their best event is not a great sign. After 2: Alabama 98.100, Kentucky 97.525.
Florida gets four 9.900s to go 49.475 on bars (what, only?) I might have been wrong, they’ll have to go around 49.550 to get to 198. Still, 197.5+ should be very doable with hit routines. LSU has a two event total of a very strong 98.450.
Over in Georgia, Sarah Persinger has a 9.850 on vault, which is the top score I can recall from her this year. Grable has a lower 9.750 on bars for Arkansas – it’s their most difficult event to score well, so they’ll just hope to get some positive scores at the end of the lineup so they can move on to stronger pastures.
Georgia records a strong 49.275 on vault, led by Ding’s 9.900. This is the pace they need to go over 197 this week (which should be the goal), but they will hope to go higher on bars, where they have a little more 9.9 potential. Arkansas has no gymnasts go higher than 9.800 on bars, this is the chink in their armor – 48.900.
Alabama starts with a 9.600 from Fowler on floor followed by a slightly below-par routine from Jacob with a struggle on the dismount, so she scores 9.700. (They are showing a lot of depth – 11 competitors today so far). Millner – 9.800, Gutierrez – 9.825. Just the one 9.9 routine for them so far tonight, Gutierrez on vault. REALLY important for them that Stack-Eaton has come back on floor.
Sledge gets the highest score for Alabama on floor with a 9.875, so they continue the trend and score 49.050 on floor. They will need a strong beam rotation to break 196.500, which is the bare minimum they will need to keep pace. With all the tightly packed teams, they could fall as low as probably 6th if they don’t record a good beam score.
Florida’s beam rotation is led by Kytra Hunter’s 9.925, so they maintain their significantly more astronomical pace, at 148.225. That means they would need a 49.550 to tie their national-leading score, which probably won’t happen, but they will be in line for best score of the week.
Over in Oklahoma City, Sara Stone leads the Sooners to 49.275.
Ack – Shayla has another issue on bars for Georgia (it’s always something), meaning they will count Tanella’s 9.750 – opening the door for Arkansas who scored 49.300 on vault. Kat Ding saves the day, so Georgia scores a respectable 49.175 and maintain the lead over Arkansas by .250.
Milliner hits solidly for 9.800, but Sledge has a wobble-factory routine for 9.650 — that’s exactly what we didn’t see from them last week, but Kim Jacob hits well for 9.850. That should provide necessary momentum. No wait, momentum halted (kind of) – Gutierrez has a big bend and scores 9.750, which will have to count.
Oklahoma scores 49.125 on bars, led by 9.850s from Olson and Ward. They are at 98.400 after two rotations.
The 9.700 from Demeo will also have to count, so Priess has to go 9.750 to make sure the team hits 196. She didn’t do it after an error on her full Korbut gave her 9.625. Alabama’s final score is 195.900 to Kentucky’s 194.700. A very disappointing road score for the Tide – they are yet to record a big one – and will likely see them fall in the rankings.
Insane score watch: Florida is already at 49.500 on floor with Hunter still to go. They will score at least 197.725 this week, and they will break their own record if Hunter goes 9.925.
AH! Hunter goes 9.975 (and breaks 9.9 on all three of her events)- so Florida scores 49.625 on floor and ends with a new season record of 197.850. We’re getting closer! And Florida still has home meets against Georgia and Utah still to come, so expect the scores to get even louder. LSU also records an excellent 196.750, their season high by far.
Over at Chicago Style, Zamarripa will not be competing vault because of the hard surface at this kind of meet. A prudent, if disappointing, decision.
Georgia effectively avoids counting a disaster from Davis on beam and gets Shayla to recover for a 9.900. Their total is another 49.175. They would need to be excellent on floor (not a given) to break 197. Arkansas is not having their best meet after Grable had an uncharacteristic 9.400 on floor. They will need to hit beam for 9.8s to stay above 196.
Without Zamarripa, UCLA goes just 49.275 on vault, which is quite low for them this year. MDLT will be returning to the bars lineup this week, which is an important step as she should be one of their 6 best. No Wong, and Whitcomb is still not coming into the lineup. (Also, you’ll be shocked to know, no Frattone or Baer either.)
While the 49.275 is low for UCLA, I would put my goal for them this meet around 196.700+ (enough to be their highest road score), and they are certainly on pace for that.
Over at Georgia, Kat Ding came in for the AA tonight (yay!) and scored a 9.750 on floor, which is sort of a mixed feelings score. It’s great that she came in (and scored 39.450 in the AA), but they need higher scores than that. For Arkansas, their oddly off night continues when Pisani has a 9.350 on beam. Florida will feel confident about moving up to #2.
Oklahoma avoids counting a fall on beam and scores an excellent 49.350 – Three event total is 147.750
Like Alabama, Arkansas has faltered on the road with a total of 195.875, going below 49 on three events. For having what seemed the whole time like an off meet, Georgia scores a respectable 196.725 with consistent performances on each event. (Kat Ding wins the All-Around with 39.450!)
Thankfully, we do have live scoring for Chicago Style. We won’t need those carrier pigeons after all. UCLA has another OK, but not so great rotation, scoring 49.175 on bars and falling back to the pack a little bit. They have no business making this meet close. Peszek has had two lower scores and probably won’t win the AA for the first time this season.
Oklahoma continues their extremely solid 9.875 of a meet, and they will definitely break 197. With Ferguson’s 9.95 on floor, they will score 197.200. So they are set for road scores (the only team in that position) and need to focus on a few more good home scores.
Still no Courtney on balance beam for UCLA, which is a shame since she was the only one hitting that well tonight. Wong and Baer still in the lineup, no Zamarripa here either.
Final update: Similarly to Georgia, UCLA appears to have an average meet by their standards, but they score well, recording a 196.850, which is a very helpful road score for them and is progress toward removing that 194.600 from memory.