Here we go. Bart, Kathy, and Suzanne were on hand as always to bring us the SEC Championships. I’m really impressed with how Suzanne has come along as a commentator. She always has insightful things to say, but she seems much more comfortable on camera now and less nervous than she used to. It’s definitely an acquired skill.
Reports are the everyone was just a little tight and wobbly across all the teams, so I’m interested to see how that played out in the competition itself. We had tennis run over into the original broadcast, so my DVR didn’t catch all of it. I may have to catch up with the end of the competition at some later point, but at least we know what happened.
We start with Florida on beam. Stageberg is a little tentative with a wobble on a switch split, but it was by no means a problematic routine. Alaina Johnson is much the same. There is no wow factor in this routine, but only minor deductions as well. These routines would all be getting a tenth higher at Pac-12s. Dickerson has a pretty significant wobble on her series, which accounts for her score. Not her most confident performance. Hunter would have been better on beam as an elite had she not needed to add in difficult dance elements that she was ill-prepared to complete, but she’s much better in NCAA. Good lift on her acro. Suzanne agrees with me. The switch side is not strong and emphasizes the weakness in dance elements. King anchors the rotation with an extremely solid performance. Based on the scores, this seemed like a weak rotation, but I was perfectly fine with the showing. It’s not nearly the disaster from last year.
Georgia has Chelsea Davis start on vault with just a little lack of distance and a minor hop in place. It’s a nice performance overall, especially since vault was her weakness as an elite. Perfect type of vault to have in the leadoff spot. Noel Couch follows with her usual stick. Has her air form improved a little bit this year? She still needs to get those legs together and get some more distance, though. Hires has a pretty significant bounce back for 9.800. The judges are very landing conscious. Kat Ding also has trouble controlling her landing and seemed almost taken by surprise that it wasn’t great.
Alabama on bars. This is the biggest question mark for them because of handstands at the beginning of the lineup. Kim Jacob continues this trend by missing a couple of handstands, but the DLO dismount is very nice. We see Stack-Eaton in split screen have a pretty solid bar routine with a step on the double arabian dismount, followed by Priess. I somewhat question adding the Markelov to this routine because she has trouble with the handstand right after it. A little piking and a low landing on the dismount as well. Fine, but not her best routine.
We didn’t see any of the Arkansas meltdown on floor, but we do see Pisani being excellent. Certainly could have won this event.
Yokay for Auburn on vault is extremely low on her handspring pike front half, nice to see that vault, though. Auburn is saved on vault by Guy’s good amplitude on her yfull.
“Kathy, I don’t know what Sarah’s doing on beam!” – Suzanne. Ha. Suzanne definitely likes to establish her beam lineup early and stick with it, like we’ve seen from Florida this season, but I am much more of a proponent of mixing things up. I think it’s a good decision for them to get Kayla Williams into the lineup because she’s solid and sturdy. Geralen looked very nice until a major balance issue on her walkover. Unexpected. Another wobble on her onodi. A very nervy routine. Followed by a really unusual error from Priess on her Korbut. Very strange mistakes but not something I would worry about if I were an Alabama fan. Fluke-y.
Courville on floor has an excellent double arabian, good position on her dismount as well. Nice routine. She’s followed by Hall. We’ve already been through it.
We start rotation three with the saga that is Shayla’s bar routine. She’s extremely close on her Ray, missed nearly every handstand after that and then does her piked DLO dismount with a step. Jay is so languid in the way he spotted her on her dismount. Chelsea Davis was going extremely well until a very low dismount. Love her tkatchev as always. Nuccio is excellent to follow. Ding has an uncharacteristic hop forward on her dismount.
Alaina Johnson on floor. I’d like to see her work on the cowboying of the mount, but everything else is nice until a major bounce back out of the double pike dismount. “Gives you a break from the honky-tonk.” – Suzanne. Dickerson has a little lack of control on both of her first two passes and a low landing on the last. Not her best. King is just a little short on her DLO and bounces back out of her second pass. A lot of struggles controlling the landings for Florida. Kytra also bounces out of her DLO, but the following passes are excellent. Florida can be much, much better than this on floor. They need to pull these landings together. Everyone had problems.
Moffatt on the beam for Georgia. She has very nice form, but I’d like to see her make a little correction on her switch side. Being as minute as she is, though, she does look a little rickety on some of her skills. Ding is very rushed in her routine and uncertain on a number of her skills. Calm down, Kat. Earls had a wobble and a big step on the dismount, so not quite the cleanliness Georgia would like. Persinger as well is quite tentative. She also doesn’t have a lot of amplitude in her skills, but she gets through it with no real issues. Shayla figured it out on beam, but she did look very nervous at the beginning and had to fix it. A few clear wobbly deductions there.
Now we get to see LSU’s vault rotation where judge #2 gave everybody a 10 (not really) (but almost). That judge really was just judging landings and not body position. Ashley Lee didn’t even really stick. Courville is excellent with a hop back.
Priess is very clean in her routine, which went 9.900. Suzanne wants her to up her difficulty, and it would be nice, though she won’t with her ankles. In scoring Priess and Hopfner-Hibbs this season, the judges have made it clear that they are OK with double tuck mounts. Alabama has not had the problems controlling the tumbling that Florida did. Geralen is very much in control of her routine as well – though would like to see the legs together on the front layout in her middle pass. Kathy has enjoyed going “Woooo!” tonight.
We see some bits of clean gymnastics from Auburn on bars.
Florida on vault. Spicer is clean in the air but can’t control the landing for 9.825. Ellis’s vault was equivalent. Dickerson has a hop in place and some wonky legs on the block. Kathy and Suzanne are pretending she stuck it but she didn’t. Johnson’s vault was the strongest so far, just a little piking and a step back. It’s a 9.900 that can go 9.950 at times. King goes up with an excellent Tsuk 1.5, and the commentators are spot on that she is not usually adequately rewarded for it, but she is here. Kytra finishes with a nice 1.5 with a step, so the 9.975 is mostly inexplicable. She’ll get a 10 for this vault before too long, though.
Sledge on vault for Alabama, with more landing issues like many of the teams have been having. Another bounce back. We could attribute this to podium, but it’s not an isolated incident. Alabama has been having trouble sticking for a few weeks. Geralen does a poor vault with a very low landing and a lunge forward. That’s happened a few times this year, and this is the last time they can afford it. Gutierrez makes up for it with a nice stick. Milliner finishes with a huge lunge forward on her Y1.5. They can legitimately go 49.500 on this event, but they were nowhere close to that here.
Kat Ding looks strong enough on floor, but I do think she looked more nervous than usual all night, which translated into some rushed gymnastics. Shayla looks fine on floor but is very low on her dismount. There’s very little tumbling in this routine with two passes that aren’t that difficult, but this probably her best effort choreographically.
We see some clean gymnastics from Morrison on bars for 9.850, but that’s all I have before the DVR cut off. I may try to find the rest of this at some point, but I probably won’t.
Overall, SECs was an equivalent meet to Pac-12s in a lot of ways, and if they had been scored by the same panels of judges, we would have seen very similar scores. I certainly don’t see that much of a claim for low scoring here. I think it was mostly accurate, just Pac-12s was very high.
Every single team in the country needs to work on these landings. No one is in postseason form yet. But I do think SECs had more highs (and more strange lows like Alabama on beam), whereas Pac-12s had more general lackluster gymnastics without the same peaks and valleys. I want to see some significant improvements across the board for Regionals.