Oklahoma @ Georgia Live Blog

As is always the case in the first week of the season, this is a meet of question marks. No question mark looms larger than Georgia’s new head coach, Danna Durante. It is the nature of the Georgia gymnastics program that Durante’s behavior in her first meet will be dissected to a preposterous degree. Her every bit of body language will be recorded and scrutinized, all leading to the inevitable conclusion that she is not Suzanne, and the results of this meet will be used to make sweeping, likely unfounded statements about the future path of the program. (By me? How dare you?) After Jay Clark’s first meet, when Georgia scored a low 195 to sneak past Stanford, the shouts of his inadequacy began and didn’t really stop until he was removed two and a half years later.

In today’s meet, falls won’t be conclusive or even particularly significant for me. It’s early. I’m more interested in lineups and team usage. Which gymnasts are in favor? Jay Clark gave Noel Couch a significant role, including anchoring floor. Does Durante feel the same way about her? Is Brittany Rogers ready? How much is Shayla being used (and in what positions)? Regardless of concerns about Shayla’s consistency, this team needs her. They won’t be successful if they bury her and simply anticipate this will be another year of the same. She needs to be deep on three events. 

For Oklahoma, freshman success will be necessary on the power events, so watch for Scaman and Kmieciak and their scores on vault and floor. They will be integral in taking Oklahoma out of the era of the Yhalf. Also, keep an eye on the first three workers on bars. Who is stepping in to take those open positions, and are they up to par?

This should be a delightful meet, and even though it is the first week of the season, it’s the kind of meet Oklahoma needs to be winning to raise its national standing and continue the argument that this team is title relevant.

The meets begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT, and follow here for live comments. If you subscribe, you can watch the meet on All-Access here.

VT: Davis, Persinger, Cheek, Rogers, Hires, Jay
UB: Cheek, Hires, Tanella, Rogers, Worley, Davis
BB: Cheek, Hires, Rogers, Tanella, Worley, Earls
FX: Earls, Tanella, Hires, Persinger, Worley, Jay

VT: Brewer, Spears, Kmieciak, Mooring, Olson, Scaman
UB: Clark, Brewer, Kmieciak, Scaman, Olson, Spears
BB: Kmieciak, Alexander, Olson, Brewer, Mooring, Spears
FX: Albright, Kmieciak, Brewer, Spears, Olson, Scaman

I’m pleased to see that Rogers is already in on three events and that Shayla is deep in the lineup on all her events. Noel Couch is nowhere to be seen. That’s probably a result of an injury, but there’s no telling the severity right now. Watch out for Tanella. When was the last time she competed three events? She made no lineups last season except for her last-minute substitute disaster on bars at Championships.

Four AAers for Oklahoma. Scaman is already anchoring two events (as is Jay for Georgia), and Kmieciak is showing all four routines. Their performances will be key, especially on bars where neither is as proven as on vault and floor.

Meet Judges  (Top)
 Event  Number  Name  Rating
 Vault  Judge 1  Gwyned Bius  National
 Judge 2  Augusta Lipsey  National
 Bars  Judge 1  Carole Ide  Brevet
 Judge 2  Jay Miller  National
 Beam  Judge 1  Carole Ide  Brevet
 Judge 2  Gwyned Bius  National
 Floor  Judge 1  Augusta Lipsey  National
 Judge 2  Jay Miller  National

Coverage has started, so the meet is soon to begin. Get ready. We’re meeting Danna who’s telling us about energy and being relaxed.

Scores here if you haven’t already found them. Kevin telling us about the schedule. Georgia really does have one of the toughest schedules this year, probably second to Alabama.

But what if I don’t want to commit to the G? Is that like a drug? I’m feeling a lot of peer pressure right now. You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do.

Warmups now. Hand injury for Noel Couch, but it’s not season threatening. Kevin thinks she’ll be an anchor in most places. She won’t. She’s a perfect early-lineup worker on three events.

Rotation 1:

Davis – UGA – VT – Very low landing and a step to the side. Won’t be a large score. (9.625)

Clark – OU – UB – a couple of late handstands and a hop forward on the double tuck. Just OK. (9.725)

Persinger – UGA – VT – much better than Davis, good distance, a little legs and piking, solid landing. Pleasant vault. It’s what we should expect from her, and she can improve on it. (9.825)

Ward (They said Brewer?, it all goes so fast) – OU – UB -she works methodically, but everything is pretty precise, another dismount of just a double tuck but it’s stuck. This is a strong early lineup routine but won’t be a major score. (9.800)

Cheek – UGA – VT – a single step back on the Yfull. She can do better, but this is a good January vault. A little direction issue as well. (9.825)

Kmieciak – OU – UB – Fall on the Tkatchev to start the routine. Tough start to her NCAA career, but this is not her strongest event. Close on shoot to high bar, struggle in handstand, hits tuck full dismount. (9.200)

Rogers – UGA – VT – Good lift in her Yfull, step back, but she opens out of it better than the others so far in this lineup. This will be 9.9s once the landing comes. (9.850)

Scaman – OU – UB – Misses first handstand by a little, nice jaeger and bail hs, only problem is the handstands, near stick on the tuck full. Good hit, I’m happy with that routine. (9.875)

Hires – UGA – VT – Great stick. She doesn’t quite have the lift and distance as Rogers, but the landing was much stronger. Good form overall. Little to critique there. (9.925)

Olson – OU – UB – Great between the bars deltchev – a little break of form but I love the difficulty. One missed hs and a hop on the DLO full. Good routine but can be more refined as the season goes. (9.875)

Jay – UGA – VT – She goes for the 1.5, and I’m pleased to see it. A little step forward and some bent legs, but this will be a great anchor for them. (9.875)

Spears – OU – UB – nice first handstand, good height on jaeger but a little close. As a team they all need to continue working on these handstands, hop forward on the double arabian. Every single one of them missed the last handstand before the dismount. (9.875)

After 1 Rotation: Georgia 49.300, Oklahoma 49.150

Good first rotation. There’s much work to do for both teams, but Oklahoma seems to be in a healthy position on bars. I was pleased by the end of the Oklahoma rotation, with three routines that can be 9.9s once the handstands come. Hires and Jay were the class of the Georgia rotation as expected, and Rogers will get there. Rogers has the biggest flight, so she may have the highest scoring potential in a month or two. Davis didn’t look quite ready yet. When Couch is ready, I’d expect her to come in for Davis at the moment, but there may be a difficult decision to make there later.

Kevin Copp just got the crazy giggles about how terrible he is at advertising things. What is happening? I’m happy to see Hires and Cheek on bars as they both looked strong in intrasquads. Vault is the most important event for Oklahoma to show their development.

Rotation 2: 

Spears – OU – VT – Good Yfull (important upgrade for her) to leadoff. (9.775)

Cheek – UGA – UB – nice tkatchev, a little leg separation in a giant full, but otherwise this is a hit. Big distance on the DLO with a stuck (or near stuck) landing. Strong leadoff. (9.850)

Kmieciak – OU – VT – missed (9.850)

Hires – UGA – UB – a little lacking in amplitude on the jaeger and a little form on the bail hs, minor step on the DLO. Not as strong as Cheek’s routine, but she has improved on this event and she could potentially make the lineup as we go on. (9.825 – a bit high perhaps)

Mooring – OU – VT – Yhalf, major hop forward and a little lacking in dynamics, but it’s fine. (9.800)

Tanella – UGA – UB – good jaeger, she’s rushing this a bit and completing her straddles up to handstand late, hop after the double tuck. Since it’s just a double tuck, she needs to be sticking every time, but this is her usual 9.775-9.800 routine that we’ve come to expect. (9.775)

Olson – OU – VT – Yfull, we’re cutting to these very late. (9.675)

Rogers – UGA – UB – Love her jaeger, you can see the elite refinement in this routine. Flings that tuck full really far. Swims a little bit trying to stick and takes a step. (9.800 – it will be higher soon)

Scaman – OU – VT – 1.5 looked very good in the air but she took a major step forward. She needs to work on the landing, but it will come. (9.800)

Worley – UGA – UB -good on bail hs, nice tkatchev, clean overall, but let’s watch this dismount. Better on the DLO, with just a hop forward. They’re clearly working on that dismount, finally. She’s increasing her scoring potential. (9.800)

Price – OU – VT – she has to vault because Brewer has been removed. Just a handspring front pike – step forward. (9.625)

Davis – UGA – UB – lovely tkatchev as always, hits bail hs, handstands are the best so far, doesn’t really stick the tuck full but tries to pretend. Should be the best score so far. (9.875 – fair)

Jay is going to exhibition on bars. I was wondering about seeing her here. Leg separation on the shaposh, no shushunova, sticks tuck full. She should be in this lineup soon. This was better than most of the competition routines. (9.825)

After two rotations: Georgia 98.450, Oklahoma 98.050

Overall, I think the scores were appropriate and reflected the kind of January gymnastics we saw. It was all very 9.800. It’s nice to see Shayla looking more confident on her bars dismount. It may not be a nervous wreck soon, and she will have a higher ceiling if that DLO continues to improve. It was better but still needs work. I was not particularly impressed with Oklahoma’s vaulting, but they had a lineup change, which hurt them. Scaman will be a 9.9 when the landing comes. Olson must do better. She’s near anchor level at her best. Some of the amplitude is still not competitive with the best teams.

It’s interesting that Worley is not anchoring beam, but I assume they’re trying to protect Earls in that final position. The goal here for Georgia will be to get through beam with those same 9.800s we saw on bars. This is about finding a group of six to compete because there are open slots to be sure. I’m not expecting 9.9s.

Rotation 3:

Cheek – UGA – BB – good full turn, minor wobble on the three series, a little methodical/tight here. Switch side is strong, small wobble on aerial cartwheel, dance elements are the stronger part of the routine for her. Sticks a slightly staggered gainer full. Good start. (9.800)

Albright – OU – FX – front double full with slight lack of control but fine, second pass is strong, the choreography is so KJ. Perhaps plays a little better on a smaller scale, but it looks fun. A little bouncy out of the rudi. Fine routine. (9.775)

Hires – UGA – BB – Huge break on her layout, layout series and falls. No way to hang onto that as hard as she tried. Stumbles on choreography, oh dear, so very tight. Clean gainer full, but overall a miss on a routine that is not particularly complex. (8.975)

Kmieciak – OU – FX – good height on double pike, that’s the kind of amplitude they need from these frehsmen, gets her second pass around – from this angle it looked like she went into that front pike awkwardly but pulled it around with no problem. Good rudi to end. The power on the later passes needs to match the mount, though. (9.775)

Rogers – UGA – BB – LOVE that back handspring 3/4. It’s a great signature piece. This is a clean, confident routine, back handspring full to immediate layout full dismount. Good ingenuity, but I wonder about the connection. There was a definite pause. (9.750)

 Mooring – OU – FX – a little crossed legs on the mount but fine, a low chest on the double pike but strong landing to finish out the routine. Acceptable 9.800-level performance. Nothing perfect, nothing wrong. (9.850)

Tanella – UGA – BB – breaks her walkover/bhs connection with a wobble, gets the connection later on the side somi, though. Step on the gainer full dismount. This is another 9.7-ish performance from her. (9.725)

Spears – OU – FX – Love the choregraphy at the beginning of this one. Front double full to mount, cleanest, most refined routine from OU so far, very expressive performance with good line, bounces out of the rudi, but that’s the only notable deduction. (9.850)

Worley – UGA – BB – hits sheep jump, one of the few NCAA gymnasts who should be doing a sheep, his loso series – good full twisting bhs. Still the weakest part of the routine is the gainer full – stuck but slightly piked with a low chest landing, which there’s really no excuse for on a simple dismount. (9.900) Improve the dismount and she can get her 10. 

Olson – OU – FX – good dbl pike, this supposed to be one of those fun routines, which never appeal to me as much because I don’t know what fun is. A little bent legs on the front layout in the middle pass. She commits to this routine totally, so no complaints from me with the choreo because it’s not an “I’m having fun, right?” routine. Oklahoma should trim the deficit after this rotation. Good job. (9.850)

Earls – UGA – BB – great loso, loso series, she’s looking confident here, no problems so far. I was a bit worried about her in the anchor position because she struggled going up after a fall at Championships, but this is good. A big step back after double tuck dismount, but that’s all. (9.800)

Scaman – OU – FX – huge DLO with a somewhat low landing, but nothing problematic. I love a loso out of a middle pass, so she gets points from me. Good lift, dismounts with a hit double tuck. Great routine, needs a little work on landing positions, but I’m being picky. (9.875)

Breazeal is doing exhibition on beam, lifts well into her loso, very methodical work (that’s the nice way of saying unfortunately slow), doesn’t quite hit that switch split, low landing on the full dismount, but a good routine.   

After three rotations: Georgia 147.425, Oklahoma 147.250. This could go either way still.

I was pleased overall with Georgia on beam. Worley, Earls, Cheek, and Rogers all looked good with little bits that can be improved here and there. Hires was the weak link and looked very unsure of herself. Tanella is just a 9.7 at this point. Oklahoma looked strong on floor with a few routines that could go into 9.9s with time. Spears was the clear standout for me with a lovely routine, but Scaman will be a good anchor. 

They’re making us miss Kat Ding now with a montage. As if we needed help. This meet could use some Kat Ding, but it has been exciting. It looks like we’ll get a few more mid-196s from these two. Normally when meets are close, you favor the home team/team on floor going into the last rotation, but Oklahoma is such a strong beam team that it erases some of that usual advantage. This could get close.

For the person who asked about leos, I’m colorblind, so I usually try to refrain from commenting on leos to avoid embarrassing myself. No hideousness is what I can tell you.

Rotation 4:

Kmieciak – OU – BB – hits loso series, Kevin Copp just gave Carole Ide a shout out. I can see why she’s been assigned the leadoff spot, very confident work. Sticks double tuck with a bit of a low chest. Not a packed routine, but perfect for a leadoff with a difficult dismount. (9.850)

Earls – UGA – FX – Good double pike to start, bounces out of the 1.5 front a little on the second pass. Good double tuck. Should be a strong 9.800 leadoff. (9.850)

Alexander – OU – BB – she looked absolutely great here in the preseason, great split and straddle positions, good aerial + back tuck, no wobbles at all so far, great elegance and flexibility, gainer back tuck dismount but hops back when trying to salute. Good work. (9.800)

Tanella – UGA – FX – hits double pike, goes close to the line on the second pass but stays in. I can’t really take this routine, but she’s hitting. Ugh, miming a phone call. Sound effects and miming are my floor pet peeves. Front layout+rudi to end. Hit. (9.825)   

Olson – OU – BB – wonderful layout series, right on, wobble on front aerial, aeiral cartwheel to full dismount – stuck. Confident routine again, as we always expect. (9.850)

Hires – UGA – FX – This music is so familiar – what is it from? Low on the double pike and steps out of it – everyone is going for a layout + rudi today, a little pose-y and slow in the choreography, falls on double tuck dismount. She has looked off all day after vault. 

Clark – OU – BB – great beam choreography as always. We’ll have to find out what happened to Brewer, hopefully nothing serious. Sheep jump is fine, hits the side somi, eeeeee completely misses her foot on the dismount and lands it to her back but looks to be okay. Scary but no lasting damage. (8.875)

Persinger – UGA – FX – very low on the double tuck with big step forward, drops her foot on the leg-up double turn, but the idea and beginning were nice. Extremely low on double pike and just avoids a fall. She looks unready to compete. She doesn’t have these passes ready yet. Good illusion. Hits rudi dismount. This will be a very low score that has to count. (9.375)

Mooring – OU – BB – good loso series, uncharacteristic wobble on front aerial, hits 1.5 dismount. It was a little tentative overall, but a good hit for going after a bad fall. (9.825)

Worley – UGA – FX -bounces out of double pike but good amplitude and good to see her competing it. The landings aren’t quite there yet, but it’s important to have her healthy enough to compete this event. Bounces out of every pass. It didn’t look like she went OOB but it’s not a great angle to judge and the flag went up (?). Will be a lower score. (9.775 is too high, but she didn’t get the OOB deduction after all, which is the correct decision).

Spears – OU – BB – can comfirm the win with a hit, great Onodi+swing down, perfect on aerial walkover, she’s proving herself a strong heir to Ferguson here. Minor hop on gainer full dismount is the only issue. (9.875)

Jay – UGA – FX – Big bounce out of double tuck on the mount. Nearly goes OOB on the middle pass but stays in, traveled very far on that front tuck out of the pass, falls on the double pike dismount. Frankly, they look completely unprepared to compete on this event after a long meet. Endurance. Earls was the only one who brought it. (9.175)

Oklahoma finishes with a 49.200 on beam, which is appropriate and will go higher as we progress. Albright doing an exhibition on beam, good aerial, she looks more prepared than Clark and perhaps should have come in for Brewer instead, and as I say that she has a major wobble on the series. So there’s that. Good side somi. Good 1.5 dismount.

Final Scores: Oklahoma 196.450, Georgia 195.425 All-Around winner is Taylor Spears with a 39.375.

This was everything we would expect until Georgia threw the meet away on floor. These weren’t random falls. The meet could have gone either way before that. Oklahoma looked like their 9.875 selves on three events with a slightly disappointing vault rotation. The challenge for Oklahoma now will be finding those 9.9s. They had none in this meet, and that is one of the major concerns after the graduation of Megan Ferguson. Most of the weaker routines did come from people who were filling in for Brewer and wouldn’t otherwise have competed, and we’ll still have to find out what happened to her. 

For Georgia, vault was pleasing, bars and beam can come along, and floor needs a ton of work. The positive is that we did see the makings of a 197 team. Rogers and Jay will need time, but they both should be competing at least three events every week for high scores. I’d like to see some experimentation with the beam and floor lineups because I’m not sold on all of these competitors, but that’s what January is for. There is nothing dire about this performance, but some of those routines looked very December.

In the debut competition, Durante did beat Jay Clark by a few tenths, but I anticipate some criticisms of the team’s readiness based on floor.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow for UCLA/Southern Utah at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT. 

6 thoughts on “Oklahoma @ Georgia Live Blog”

  1. I was encouraged by the way UGA looked today without Noel Couch. She will add a great deal of consistency and probably replace Hires on beam and floor. That floor rotation is definitely not the 6 that will be competing in the post season. This team can contend for the super six.


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