Pac-12 Championships – Definitely Not a Live Blog

So, I’m just now getting around to watching the broadcast of Pac-12 Championships. I’m going to record my thoughts as I watch as if it were a live blog. I will be paying special attention to deciding just how insane the scoring was, which I will then compare to SECs when I watch that (tomorrow?).

Not in HD. I feel like I’m watching it through a sandstorm.

Our hosts are Amanda Borden and Some Guy #12. We’re starting with a recap of session #1 with some random routines from the four teams.

Aubree Cristello was by far the best scoring gymnast from the early session, but there are a number of deductions in her routine, namely a large lunge back on the double arabian mount, but her amplitude sets her apart from most of the other second-tier teams. She got a 9.850, which was too high given the deductions on the mount and the piking on the second pass.

Good difficulty from Cal’s Crawford for 9.875. They haven’t had big scores this year, but the potential for good performances is there under Durante more than it has been in a long time. For the most part, the routine composition is there even if the hitting isn’t always.

Beate Jones vaults a yfull. Pikes down, steps back, and lacks some distance. Goes 9.850, as does Fechter from Washington for a bar routine riddled with little deductions. None of the routines they’re showing are bad, necessary, but they are all going 9.850, which is a good tenth too high for all the leg separations and body position faults were seeing. We haven’t seen any actually clean gymnastics from this group. At events like World Championships, we always see the scores rise in the later sessions, and it looks like the judges backed themselves into a corner with their afternoon scoring, which explains some of the evening scoring.

Rotation 1:

Utah starts on vault. The last few times I’ve seen Utah vault, the landings have not been there, with most of the gymnasts incurring a tenth just for a lunge back. McAllister can’t do that because she doesn’t have the distance and amplitude of the others. Delaney gives them a solid vault, though, just a little piking down and a hop back. If she can maintain her body position the whole time, she could be an anchor for them in the future. Lothrop vaults her Omelianchik with a leg separation, lack of amplitude, and a hop back, so 9.900 is too high. I love this vault in general, but I’m not sure if it’s the right fit for her.

UCLA on floor, Zam is focusing on cleanliness instead of difficulty in this routine. A big of leg form on the mount and a little piking down on the dismount, which is not the kind of cleanliness they were looking for. Even though Zam looks a little less self-conscious with her movements than in the past, this routine is just sort of there. Nothing about it stands out. Peszek’s routine is growing on me. It’s more dynamic than it was later in the season, but she had a big bounce back out of her DLO. EHH has fortunately gone back to her all-star 2010 routine for good, but incurs a humongous deduction on her double tuck mount with an OOB.

Stanford is on beam, where they put up a whole team of 9.900s, which gave us our first opportunity to wonder about the scores. Pechanec is lovely to watch on this event and is quite clean except for a check on the side aerial and an awkward foot placement on her loso into the dismount. Alyssa Brown was extremely clean and gets the same 9.900 as everyone else, which is called not differentiating between quality of routine.

For OSU on bars we see Mak fall on her Bhardwaj, which is a shame because I love that skill. Amanda described the fall as “almost unexpected.” Stambaugh has a very nice Jaeger and a hop back on the dismount for 9.925.

So in the first rotation, we have visual evidence of what we all assumed, that the scoring was anywhere from .050 to .100 too high on every routine. However, I really enjoy Stanford’s line on beam, and we know UCLA can be much better than that on floor, so there is something to take from the first rotation.

Rotation 2:

Utah on bars. Lopez has very nice handstands, but needs to be sticking that landing on the DLO. It seems like it’s close to a stick. Next is Hansen, hmmm, what to say? She’s cleaned up this routine, but it’s not a 9.900, especially because she didn’t stick. In particular, I’d like to see the legs cleaned up on the pak. Dabritz does well, but I’d like to see a little more amplitude on the jaeger, which I don’t recall being an issue for her usually. Lothrop does an efficient routine with a missed handstand and hop on the landing, but it went 9.925. When Utah gets to Nationals, most of these routines will be 9.850, so there’s work to be done. We’re seeing way fewer stuck landings overall than I expected based on the scores.

On beam, OSU has Stambaugh who has made the lineup now after early career inconsistency. I wish she worked a little more aggressively, though. OK, one of the judges on beam gave Melanie Jones a 10 even though she had a clear balance check and a step on the landing. We need to make some optometry appointments now. 9.850 was appropriate. Leslie Mak anchors with a very clean routine, very confident performance.

UCLA on vault gets a stick from EHH. She’s perfect for this leadoff position because even though there are clear deductions in the vault, she can stick to get a big score from judges that are overly landing conscious (which these judges were), which bumps up the rest of the rotation. Peszek has a big hop back on her yfull, but Courtney gets a very nice stick. Frattone has a big leap forward. She needs to  be sticking every week, though. Zamarripa has a hop back on her yfull. Has she stuck it since her 10 at Cal in week 2?

For Stanford on floor, Ashley Morgan is aggressive, but her second pass is just layouts, so it doesn’t stand out in the way it might. It’s interesting how angle changes everything because in the original Stanford video of this routine, she looked very low on the dismount, but it looked fine here.

Rotation 3: 

UCLA on bars, MDLT didn’t hit her handstands the way she needed to and didn’t hit her landing either. She peaked at Championships last year and needs to do it again. Olivia Courtney was exactly the same, not great on handstands or landing. We get to see what happened for Peszek in this routine. Ooh, she really did land on her neck after peeling off the bars. That was a little scary but she’s fine. Zamarripa had a leg separation on the bail handstand and a weird stumble on her DLO. She can (and should) be going at least 9.900. Gerber has a big step back on her dismount, way too many dismount issues for this point in the season. Nearly everyone incurred a tenth.

On vault, Stanford’s Ashley Morgan does a solid enough yhalf. Ivana Hong sticks very nicely, a little issue with body position, but I love to see Hong scoring well in her first year. That’s a stuck landing, not these little shuffles we’ve been seeing all over the place.

Beam is where Utah had to count a fall and still scored nearly a 49, so we’ll see about that – except we won’t because the broadcast omits the falls. Showing the highlights isn’t the same as telling the story of the meet. We’re seeing so much perfectly fine 9.850 gymnastics from all the teams but not a ton to be enthusiastic about, certainly not as enthusiastic as the judges were that night. Big wobble for Lothrop on her side aerial, so I’m not seeing this 9.900 at all. Robarts finishes with a very clean performance.

Rotation 4:

UCLA finishes on the beam, Gerber is excellent except for a shuffle on the dismount, which is a bit unusual for her. Courtney looks extremely uncomfortable, which accounts for these two falls. Will she be in the lineup for Regionals? Baer is more reliable. Zam is very clean and sticks the dismount, but had two or three minor balance issues, so I’m not seeing 9.950. I should stop pointing it out because it’s every routine. We see EHH’s 9.975 (also posted above). She’s done much better routines, but she doesn’t get 10s for those, only the OK ones. Peszek has two notable balance issues and a hop on the dismount. I know the hands-free routine is a nice gimmick, but it also makes her dismount less stickable.

OSU on vault, the distance and amplitude isn’t there. This event really sets them back more than the others. When top teams go 49.500, OSU is happy with a 49.200.

Utah ends on floor, where they had four routines over 9.900. We see a bit of Kyndal Robarts’s routine. They’re sticking the passes they needed to. A little stumble on the triple dismount from Dabritz, but otherwise it was clean. Not Lothrop’s cleanest routine with a little lack of control on the middle pass and a very minor stumble on the dismount. McAllister has two nice passes but is awkward on the punch front in the middle pass.

Stanford ended on bars, where they just needed to hit to take the title, but they counted a fall to finish last. Ashley Morgan does a fine routine, but she has NCAA stuck her landings at this meet and will get deducted for it. We see Pechanec miss her Shaposh, which accounts for her low score (in the routine Stanford posted, we didn’t see the fall, so there was some question as to the score).

* * * * * * * * *

So there we have it for Pac-12s. In another world, none of these teams would have broken 197, or perhaps would have hit it exactly. As I mentioned, a lot of 9.850-level performances. Way too many landings were not stuck across the board with too much flat gymnastics. None of these teams should be that pleased with their performances. It will be fascinating to see how this compares to SECs in terms of both quality and scores.