Lots to care about in the gymnastics world this weekend. Today, we’ve got some great NCAA matchups between top teams and an important look at future competitors:
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT –  UCLA @  Georgia
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – Nastia Liukin Cup
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT –  Alabama @  Oklahoma
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT –  Oregon State @  Utah
First things first, UCLA @ UGA. Lineups tell us that Shayla is back on three events this week, Moffatt will be going on beam, and Box will be going on floor (no Nuccio on floor). Hit routines from this group will be paramount to complement our expected hits from the likes of Ding and Couch. We’ve also been given the UCLA lineups, but they always change, so it’s barely relevant. Of note is that Sam Peszek is still limited to just beam and that Kaelie Baer will remain in the lineup on vault and beam (change – no longer on beam). So basically it’s the same lineup as last weekend.
Follow along (preferably schizophrenically) with all the competing action after the jump from 7:30 ET / 4:30 PT
Things should get underway at the Nastia Cup within the next 10 minutes, and UCLA/Georgia should begin shortly after that. Can you believe it’s already the second to last weekend of the regular season for both of these teams? This season has FLOWN by.
On the snowboarding that’s on USN right before the Nastia Cup, there is someone named Stale.
At the Nastia Cup, we’ve seen a pretty nice Y2/1 from Charity Jones, a future Oklahoma gymnast. Well done, K.J. And in our nightly “Please Feel Old” alert, Tyus Edney’s daughter is competing here.
Some changes in the UCLA lineup: Peszek is in on bars for De La Torre (odd), and Courtney is in for Baer on beam (good change).
NC: clean beam routine for Lauren Ramirez, and coach Amanda Borden is bubbling over. And a nice DLO and clean overall tumbling from Casanova on floor. Michigan probably wishes they could just get her on a plane right now.
It’s a good event rotation for both UCLA and Georgia. Georgia should be able to build on UCLA’s bars, and UCLA should be able to build on Georgia’s vault.
NC: clean bar routine from Grace Williams with a few missed handstands and little else you can take. McMurtry with very powerful tumbling on floor and should score well save for an OOB.
Georgia will a good start on vault, sticks from Davis and Couch. EHH apparently had some dismount trouble on bars for 9.750. Noel Couch gets a 9.900, which should inform our perceptions of the scoring tonight.
Georgia will be dropping Earls’s score on vault. Larson gets a 9.825 on bars. These are OK scores for UCLA, but not what they would hope for. They’re going to want 9.875s+ from the rest of the lineup. And Peszek delivers with a 9.900 – so much for bars being the hardest event to get back with her wrist.
NC: Haven’t seen Beth Rybacki in a while . . . a fall for her gymnast Charlie Owens. After one rotation, Charity Jones leads after her excellent Yurchenko double full.
Huge score for Georgia, 49.450 on vault, led by 9.950 from Kat Ding. UCLA gets a 49.300, so they will trail, but that’s not a bad score for them. They would love to see anything over about a 197.2, so that puts them right on pace. This next rotation should show us some real strength for both teams. Keep an eye on what Shayla does. It will inform the whole meet for Georgia mentally.
For UCLA on vault, it will be important for Frattone and Zamarripa to figure out their landings, neither were great last weekend.
NC: Solid Y1.5s from Casanova to start the second rotation.
Baer starts UCLA on vault with a 9.800, about what we’ve come to expect from her. I still think there’s more potential in MDLT’s vault, but whatever. And EHH goes lower with 9.775, not a good start for UCLA on their best event.
Shayla’s bar dismount. It is its own character this season. 9.725. It doesn’t matter because Chelsea Davis goes 9.950 to match Frattone’s score 4th up on vault. She’s really starting to prove that bars is her best event. She’s setting up the scores for Kat. Let’s see if it happens this week.
Another 9.900 for Zamarripa. She really needs to figure out that stick so she can go 10 again. Unfortunately, Kat Ding also misses performing at her best level with a 9.850. There was a chance for the big guns there, and they didn’t really convert.
After 2: Georgia 98.825, UCLA 98.750
UCLA will need EHH in particular to step up her quality on her better events.
NC: Alex McMurtry, an excellent vaulter, scores 9.900 which will not be beat. She’ll have to convert on her weaker events to get/retain this lead, though. Nice potential from Nia Dennis on beam, just a little shaky. Good skill set and line.
Rotation 3: Georgia on beam, UCLA on bars
So Noel Couch’s scores go, so go the charitability of the meet. Noel goes 9.900 on beam as the leadoff.
Over in Oklahoma, Alabama is on near 198 pace and is well ahead of the hosts. This kind of score will help them gain on UCLA and Georgia, even with the big scoring we’re seeing here.
Georgia is going huge on the scores on beam, and UCLA is underperforming on floor. Frattone goes 9.725, which is not very considerate of her.
More trouble for UCLA. Mattie struggles on floor. Judging issue on this routine. 9.475. OOB and a composition question. You’ll never get to do a DLO if you keep up that kind of performance. Now UCLA will have to count Frattone’s low score.
No pressure for Shayla in this routine, as Georgia already has a massive beam score. And she hits. First score up to her potential in a while. Georgia will have a big lead going into the last event.
NC: Leader McMurtry just went on bars and had terrifying legs. I don’t except that lead to stay.
UCLA manages to salvage a 49.200 on floor, so not terrible, but it does put pressure on the beam rotation. Georgia leads 148.300–147.950.
NC: More pretty powerful gymnastics from Nia Dennis on floor. Watch out for this one. Nice DLO from Lauren Beers on floor as well.
Rotation 4: UCLA on beam, Georgia on floor
Floor: Shayla out, Nuccio in
Gerber starts with her usual solidity – 9.850 (9.900 from one judge). Will be interesting to see how Courtney does in her return to the beam lineup for the first time since the season opener. Just a 9.675. They’ll need to drop it.
Georgia continuing the scoring trend on floor. The way things are going, UCLA, Georgia, and Alabama could be very close in RQS come Monday. Zamarripa with a fall, and UCLA is just . . . off. We can look forward to a sighing, dismissive press conference this week.
NC: Some nice bars difficulty from Shchennikova.
UCLA would need a 9.850 from Peszek to hit 197. They desperately need a big hit from her.
Georgia won’t be able to hit that 198 mark, but we can probably expect a big home score from Couch, meaning they’ll go very high indeed.
Peszek saves UCLA a little on beam, so they end up with a 196.975. It would have helped their confidence to hit that 197 mark, but after all that lackluster, it’s their highest road score of the season, and they will go up .060 in RQS, which will keep them ahead of Georgia, but the gap is closing. Alabam looks on pace for a similar score to Georgia, but their RQS will zoom up as a result.
FINAL: Georgia 197.700, UCLA 196.975
In other news, Alabama ended up blowing their lead after Oklahoma came back on beam and floor. Oklahoma beats Alabama 197.300–197.150, but both excellent scores.
After two events, neither Utah nor Oregon State are standing out. Utah leads 98.300–97.750.
In a final at the Nastia Cup, Charity Jones is our surprise winner, followed by McMurtry and Shchennikova in second and Grace Williams in 4th. McMurtry likely would have won if not for some serious form issues on bars.