Today’s important action:
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT –  Georgia @  Michigan
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT –  LSU @ Iowa
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT –  Missouri @  Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT –  Nebraska @  Utah
We’ll start with Georgia, where word comes today that Shayla Worley is battling an injury, making my post from yesterday essentially moot. Awesome. Gina Nuccio is also out for this meet, and Kat Ding is limited to bars. After all the discussion about how healthy this team was this year, they’ve been bitten at the worst possible time. And now they have a two-meet weekend. Fun fun fun fun. The 4,5,6 performers on floor now are Box, Tanella, and Couch. Not what one would be looking for.
This meet is obviously about making do for Georgia, but our other top teams competing today will be looking to show finalized lineups in preparation for the postseason, which will give us an excellent opportunity to compare quality. Alabama is the most naturally talented of the teams competing today, but they have hit their potential only twice this season. Even though the score last week was fine, blowing the lead was not, so there is still something to prove today.
Follow along after the jump for all the nonsense from 7:00 ET / 4:00 PT
I’m really rooting for Michigan to have a strong performance this week. It’s been such a poor season for them so far, but they’ve recorded their two highest scores of the year in the last two weeks and still have a shot at being a #3 seed at a Regional (that’s actually a big deal, then they would potentially need only one implosion to sneak into Nationals). It’s still unlikely, but the nice thing is that they have no seniors, so no one is going out on this sour note.
We’re underway, and Christa Tanella has recorded a 9.875 on bars as leadoff. Does our famous Michigan scoring not extend to Ypsilanti? Noel Couch follows with a 9.775, to match Stephanie Colbert’s vault score. Michigan started with a score they hope to drop in Zakharia’s 9.650. Zakharia is not much of a vaulter, but such is the necessity of this season.
Big vault score of 9.925 for Zurales. This has been the event Michigan has been able to manage on the most this year. Over on bars, it looks like Georgia is going to be able to hold firm without Nuccio in the UB lineup, at least so far.
Another big vault score for Michigan, 9.925 from Sampson. They need to build up the advantage here if they want to have any hope of a relatively big score because the scoring pace will fall as the meet goes on. Unfortunately, now they will have to drop Sugiyama’s fall and count Zakharia’s vault.
Chelsea Davis converts again on bars for 9.925. How much will they be relying her on this event next year without Ding and Nuccio? Ding goes 9.950. Dear Judges on Sunday, we all expect you to go 10 for Kat on bars. You have my official permission to do so. No one will hold it against you.
Disaster for Michigan on vault. Two falls to end the rotation from Sugiyama and Miele. Uh boy . . . it could very well go down from here. Let’s hope not.
After 1 Rotation: Georgia 49.325, Michigan 48.500
Important strong start for Georgia. I expect them to be fine on vault as well. Beam and floor without Ding, Worley, and Nuccio will be the deciding factor. By the way, perhaps my most pleasant surprise of the season has been Kat Ding’s new ability to hit beam and floor. So refreshing.
Chelsea Davis starts vault with a 9.800, which is solid for her. She can sometimes go 9.850 with a stick, but that’s about her range. Fine for a leadoff. Hires will have the pressure today, and they’ll need something from Earls to make up for the lack of Ding. [Davis’s score has been raised to 9.850]
Persinger puts up a big 9.900, while Annette Miele has gone 9.525 on bars, meaning Michigan will be fighting against an early low score again. They can’t keep putting themselves in these positions.
9.8 range scores from Sampson and Sugiyama will keep Michigan afloat on bars. They don’t have big scoring potential much of anywhere, so they need to get a 49.1-49.2 to try to make up for vault. Kaylan Earls puts up Georgia’s third 9.800 on vault, so this looks like this rotation will go lower than bars.
Georgia got high scores from Hires and Persinger and a bunch of 9.800s to score 49.225, which is just OK. For this meet they’ll take it, but they’d really rather not rely on having Breazeal in the lineup. Still waiting on a score for Brittnee Martinez for Michigan, unless they just put up five this week, which would be another low point. If that’s the case, Michigan goes below 49 again. They had a shot in this rotation with 9.850s from Gies and Sampson. So yes, Michigan showed just five UB routines, spare a thought for the memories of Botterman, Wilson, and Sexton.
After 2 Rotations: Georgia 98.550, Michigan 97.350
Georgia is currently on 197 pace, but I think they’ll gladly take anything around 196.800. They’ll need something in the low 197s to challenge UCLA with today’s score, but they’ll have another opportunity on Sunday – though they will have to do much better in trying to drop an already high home score.
Gies starts Michigan with a 9.625 on beam. The struggle to drop a score begins anew. Strong start for Georgia on floor with 9.825, 9.875. This has been Persinger’s best scoring performance of the season so far along with last week. She’s starting to deliver. Box and Tanella will be the big question marks here. This is a unique lineup decision by Jay to put some of the bigger concerns at the end of these lineups. Perhaps he wants to keep his usual workers in the same spots, but it does kill score building.
Through three beam routines, Michigan has not gone above 9.700. The bad news just keeps getting worse. Now they’re hoping to score 195. Zurales is carrying this team singlehandedly. 9.900.
Davis hits 9.750, and Box scores 9.800. Davis hasn’t looked secure at all on floor when I’ve seen her this year, and that’s about what we would expect from Box. It doesn’t help the scoring potential much, but they’re on track versus expectations. I don’t see Davis in the postseason six on this event.
Michigan finishes with a 48.725 on beam, meaning they have to go 48.925 (which they haven’t done yet today) on floor just to hit a 195. Meanwhile, Georgia manages to put up another 49.225. No one has been spectacular except for Ding on bars, but they are doing enough to still have a shot at 197, which I did not expect when the meet started. As long as they hit five routines on beam, they’ll take this meet any day given the lineup situation.
After 3 Rotations: Georgia 147.775, Michigan 146.075
Very unexpected fall from Noel Couch on beam, 9.150. She’s supposed to be the solid one. As a commenter just mentioned, Georgia has been extremely consistent this year, so this rotation will be an important test of their ability to handle competition adversity.
Moffat hits for 9.900. Clutch. She might just earn herself a lineup spot if she can do things like that. Still four more hits to go – Breazeal, Earls, Persinger, Tanella. The dream team. Breazeal did her job, 9.825.
Michigan has hit the first two routines for good scores for the first time today (9.800, 9.825 on floor).
We’re coming up on Alabama’s scheduled start time now, but the actual start won’t be for a while yet. We can probably wait for this meet to finish before shifting attention.
Michigan looks to be salvaging their night on floor. They just need one solid hit in the next two routines. Earls and Persinger have converted for Georgia, so it’s up to Tanella now. They need a 9.850 from her to go 197.
Georgia was so close. Tanella scores just a 9.425 on beam, which counts. Georgia finishes with 196.575. Michigan, meanwhile, has an excellent floor to break the 195 barrier, at least.
Final Score: Georgia, 196.575, Michigan 195.300
Alabama hosting Missouri soon to get underway now. Only major lineup changes for them are Frost coming back in on floor (unsure . . .) and Priess coming back in on beam (definitely sure). Surprisingly, Alabama still has a low home score on their RQS, so this is a prime opportunity for them to move up on UCLA.
Buh, by the time this meet actually starts, Utah will have begun. I also now make it a point not to watch anything that happens at Alabama before the meet begins because I don’t like horror films, so I’m just blindly waiting for things to get themselves going.
Ah, I see we’ve started. Alabama is playing their one song again, fine 9.8-level vaulting from Clark and Priess. Very weak vault from Sledge. Low with a lunge forward. They’ll want to drop that one. 9.725. I might have gone even lower.
Missouri is also happening on bars, but the form is extremely poor. This is not a #14 in the country kind of rotation. Though they are improving significantly as we go through the lineup.
Big hop back from Stack-Eaton. The landings really aren’t there today. All of the first four have incurred at least a tenth on landing. Gutierrez gets them on track, just a little body position issue. I assume the judges will go 9.950.
Milliner has her usual legs and a step to the side. It would be a 9.850 from me, but I’ll assume 9.900 from the judges. Let’s see. Yep. Good exhibition from Kayla Williams.
So Alabama goes 49.325 on vault, which is low for them especially at home. I think we saw about .100-.150 of overscoring overall, so nothing to get worked up about.
After 1 Rotation: Alabama 49.325, Missouri 48.475
Taking a break now, so talk amongst yourselves.
Update: Alabama was able to withstand a low score from Demeo on bars and score well again. They are on solid low-197 pace right now, but they will have to drop a beam fall from Gutierrez. I expect them to be able to do so. Just Stack-Eaton and Priess who have to hit now.
Over in Utah, both Utah and Nebraska recorded massive scores on the opening event, featuring a 9.950 on vault from Robarts and a 9.925 on bars from Giblin. It looks like the Utah judges have changed back into early-season mode.
Some nice individual passes from a few of Missouri’s floor workers. Stack-Eaton was extremely clean throughout her beam routine, as was Priess so this is going to be a big score.
Alabama will score 197 if they go just 49.000 on floor, so they have a big opportunity to zoom up in RQS. I expect the scores to go into the 9.9s frequently for this rotation.
Ultimately not as strong as we might have thought from Alabama on floor, with some 9.7s to lead things off, but they score a 197.175, which is respectable and will help their RQS.
Nebraska scores a colossal 197.600 with their seven competing gymnasts. I said early in the season that this was unsustainable, but maybe they are proving me wrong. Watch out for this group. They just ensured they won’t be overlooked. Utah also managed a hefty 197.450, and they probably would have won if not for a beam rotation that was just OK. Both teams will enjoy a little bump of momentum. We could see this meeting again at Regionals in just a few months time (though maybe not as this result should shoot Nebraska up more than a tenth in RQS so that they can challenge Georgia next weekend when Georgia is off).
Otherwise, not much else to report around the country. LSU and Stanford both scored in the lowish 196s, which should do little to advance their causes. I still expect both teams to make championships, but that’s about all. There’s a lot of talent on each team, but too many holes. I feel a bit the same way about Oregon State, so they need to prove themselves as legitimate spoilers for finals with a strong showing tomorrow.