UCLA @ Oklahoma in Review

A free replay of the UCLA/Oklahoma meet is available HERE. Excellent. What wonderful service you have here. I’ll be making notes about the meet as I go along as if it were a live blog. I’m very interested to see how I feel about this scoring and the quality of the teams. By all accounts it was the best meet for both teams this season.

I love hearing KJ talk. She has a way of speaking that’s very deliberate and confident but calming, which is a great quality in a coach. Although, someone should have provided Zamarripa pronunciation lessons to everyone. She’s prominent enough that there’s really no excuse for not caring enough to pronounce it properly.   

Rotation 1:
Oklahoma vault
1. Spears – Good height on yfull, pretty significant shoulder angle on the block, pikes noticeably to finish, sizable hop back. Fine start. 9.800. No Kelly Garrison, that was not stuck.
2. Mooring – Just a replay of the yhalf from the forward angle, minor hop forward. 9.900.
3. Kmieciak – Nice yfull, lands lowish, sort of crunched in the knees, but doesn’t step. 9.925.
4. Kanewa – Debut vault, good vault for her introduction, also comes in a little low like Kmieciak, hops in place. 9.925.
5. Olson – Very difficult to tell anything from this forward angle, but her vault appeared to have a bit more power than the last two with a higher chest on landing. Potentially a hop in place? I couldn’t tell. 9.925.
6. Scaman – Y1.5 that looked powerful, bent knees, a major bound out of it on landing. 9.850.

UCLA bars
1. Francis – Good shaposh form from this angle, clean bail handstand, hs before the bling full was a little short, but the blind full was more precise, stuck double pike, her best routine of the year. 9.800.
2. Courtney – Shaposh was clean, but she missed the connection into the bail, had to kch and it was very short, good stuck tuck full. She’s getting there. 9.825.
3. Larson – This high camera angle is awful. Nice first handstand, a little legs in the bail, tkatchev as usual. Misses last handstand, DLO to her knees. 9.150.
4. DeJesus – The gienger was a little close, but from this perspective (similar to the judges’ perspective) the crazy legs looked improved, nice bail, short last handstand, stuck tuck full. Very strong. 9.850.
5. Wong – Wonderful jaeger, bail is excellent, misses last handstand again, fine DLO – slightly piked, to stuck landing. Very good routine. 9.825.
6. Zamarripa – That was the best routine she has done this year. One judge originally went low, so I’m not surprised there was an issue that caused a Val protest. That absolutely would have been a 10 at UCLA and certainly could have been here as well. Crazy gorgeous. 9.950. This shot of Val going “Oh my God! Oh my God!” about the score is perfection.
A fine routine from Kaelie in exo until she fell on the tkatchev, but it won’t go into the lineup now that Danusia has improved.

Rotation 1 score: Oklahoma 49.525, UCLA 49.250
Oklahoma’s vault rotation was very good. It wasn’t 49.5 good, but that shouldn’t necessarily take away from the improvements the Sooners have made through the power and skill level of these freshmen. There is still work to be done, however, because they will lose out to teams like Florida and Alabama with the dynamics of the vaults, which often manifests in the finishing chest position. Those are the .050 differences that make championships.

UCLA gave away too much on some of those final handstands before the giants, so there’s work to be done there. Other than Mattie’s fall, however, this was the best bars rotation in terms of landings and precision since that second week against Utah. Well done.

Rotation 2:
Oklahoma bars
1. Clark – Nice shaposh, good line, misses one handstand but the full is precise, stuck double back. 9.900.
2. Scaman – She works bars like a power gymnast, which shows in her nice high jaeger, perhaps a little close. Another one who missed her last handstand, minor step on dismount. 9.875. 
3. Kmieiciak – Extremely close on her tkatchev, but does well to pull out the handstand afterward, which is always a challenge, clean bail hs, small hop-salute on the tuck full. 9.925, which is too high.
4. Brewer – Very nice tkatchev, hits bail hs very securely, nice high DLO but has a bend and then a hop trying to hang onto the stick. 9.900. Really good work. This routine was stronger than Kmieciak’s.
5. Olson – Short on first handstand, deltchev between the bars is well executed. Even though deltchevs sometimes look sloppy, there’s nothing technically wrong with hers. DLO full with a step back. That is close to the bar but no problem. 9.925.
6. Spears – Nice high jaeger, right there on the bail hs, hop forward on double arabian. Very strong finish and very strong routine. 9.925. All of these routines are getting the same score, but they’re not of the same quality.

UCLA vault
1. McDonald – Fine yfull, a little piked, hop back. Almost identical to Spears. 9.800.
2. Wong – So much better than last week. Sometimes she comes off a little flat but not this time as much. I’d still like more distance, a little pike, notable hop back. The deductions are there, but it’s an improvement. 9.825.
3. Pritchett – What has become her usual on vault, not the height, bent knees, major step back. She has been forced into this position because of injury, but this vault isn’t competition level. 9.725.
4. Baer – Good power, and I give her credit for working on having those legs together throughout the vault. It’s getting better – iffy whether you call that a stick or not, she held it for a second before step-salute. 9.875.
5. Courtney – Good power, wonderful distance, step back. She can stick that for 9.950s (or more even). 9.900.
6. Zamarripa – Bends to try to hang onto the stick and a hop back. 9.900. One of her weaker yfulls of the year because of the bend, but it’s still a 9.900 because she’s Zam.

Rotation 2 score: Oklahoma 99.100, UCLA 98.550 (Rotation 2: Oklahoma 49.575, UCLA 49.300)

Rotation 3:
Oklahoma beam
1. Kmieciak – All we see is a very strong stuck double back dismount. 9.900.
2. Alexander – So precise in all her movements, clear wobble after front aerial but I’d give her the connection to the bhs, she has some deduction-erasing flexibility in the middle of this routine, sticks gainer back pike. 9.875.
3. Olson – Lovely full turn, wobble on front aerial, side aerial + layout dismount is good. I’d give the stick on that one. She showed control. 9.900. These routines are quite short and work the code to its deduction-minimizing capability.
4. Brewer – Perfect on her bhs and two layouts, efficient and secure through her split and straddle elements, step on the double back. 9.950.
5. Mooring – Very nice loso series, clean with a good line, wobble on front aerial, major hop forward on the 1.5 dismount. 9.825.
6. Spears – Great rhythm in her onodi+swing down connection – those connections are often very pause-y but hers is not, nice aerial, sticks gainer full dismount. She’s on a different level. 9.925.

UCLA floor
1. McDonald – A little low in her double pike mount, this routine is growing on me, her legs are a little sloppy in places, but this is a confident, competent opening. 9.825. Is Kelly trying to start an It Gets Better campaign for parents of compulsory gymnasts?
2. Bynum – Good double pike, one of her better ones, pops way up on her layout and overrotates it and falls on the full. It’s something every week. Low on double back but fine on that one this week. 9.150. Once Courtney is back, she will be out of the lineup. Wong can also come in.
3. DeJesus – Sticks double pike – low chest but nice landing, exactly the same on the double back. 9.875. This would be really excellent if she landed a little higher on her tumbling.
4. Pritchett – Good tuck full, her tumbling is more precise this season and she gets good bounce into her dance elements to help her complete them, low on the double pike landing but secure. 9.900.
5. Zamarripa – Good double pike, I wonder if they will decide to upgrade or not, the scoring hasn’t indicated that she needs it, rudi + loso is perfect, hits rudi. Great routine, but I would love to see a compositional upgrade. 9.950.
6. Francis – A little low on the double pike, layouts middle pass, I love this routine. Kelly just said this routine reminded her of a “Chinese circus.” Big stumble out of her double back dismount. 9.800.

Rotation 3 score: Oklahoma  148.650, UCLA 147.900 (Rotation 3: Oklahoma 49.550, UCLA 49.350)

Rotation 4:
Oklahoma floor
1. Albright – Watch KJ shoulder dancing to this routine. I like this routine better now than when I saw it the first time. I would say slightly out of control on the rudi dismount but fine start. 9.900.
2. Kmieciak – Good high double pike but a noticeable stumble/wobble to stay in bounds, otherwise very strong. 9.900.
3. Brewer – Bounces out of double back, same on front layout front full, needs more control in her tumbling landings, very low on her double pike dismount. 9.875 – that’s crazy too high and makes the stronger routines around it seem worse because there is no separation or reward for them.
4. Spears – Front double is nice, a slight lack of control I would say, good form on her twisting elements – legs right together with no bend – that’s the best part of this routine. 9.950.
5. Olson – Good double pike mount, most secure landings on the team so far, strong routine. 9.950.
6. Scaman – Good high DLO, these are very strong final routines, but the score for Brewer bumped up the scoring a little bit. 9.975.

UCLA beam
1. Baer – Really strong routine for her – now that her side somi is more consistent than it used to be, she’s the ideal leadoff because I have more faith in her hitting ability than anyone else on the team besides Zam. 9.800
2. Wong – Wonderful leaps, very secure in aerial + bhs, keeps the switch side in control when it could have been a wobble, sticks 1.5 dismount. One of her best beam routines. Lovely. 9.875.
3. DeJesus – Aerial + bhs loso is strong, good front toss, slightly low on her tuck 1.5 dismount with a hop, otherwise nearly perfect. 9.875.
4. Larson – Boy does this girl need a hit, lovely flexibility and dance elements, I like the aerial aerial bhs combination even though it ends in a bhs, sticks gainer back pike, one of her strongest of the season. Good for her. 9.900.
5. Zamarripa – Strong onodi, hits aerial, has to correct slightly on her loso which is surprising, wonderful stuck double full. The only thing you can take is that wobble on the series, really. 9.850.
6. Francis – Huge wobble on her switch split to open, nice aerial + bhs series, hop back on layout dismount, strong routine other than the opening wobble. 9.625.

Final scores: Oklahoma 198.375, UCLA 197.200 (Rotation 4: Oklahoma 49.675, UCLA 49.300)
Unfortunately, the story for this meet becomes about the scoring, but I’m going to try to forget about that because it’s not so relevant won’t be maintained. One of the positives of Oklahoma getting this kind of high score, though, is that it improves national reputation, and the more teams that are seen as realistic championship contenders, the better.

Oklahoma looks quite good, especially Taylor Spears who was excellent on three events at this meet. All these routines are very well composed and very well drilled. There are still areas to improve and areas where the Sooners will have to improve to compete for the title. Nothing was absolutely pristine. There were wobbles here and missed handstands there and uncontrolled landings there, little things that can be resolved over the next month. They can be better than this.

I am so much more encouraged by UCLA than I was after last week. In particular, DeJesus came back and had a very good performance, which got some of these 9.7s out of the lineups. Beam was very close to being brilliant. This should be lineup. It will always be nerve-wracking, but it is full of very pretty, refined gymnastics. Floor and vault still have too many routines that shouldn’t be in or aren’t ready, which remains the major concern for the Bruins. They need a few more options, otherwise they will fall behind significantly on those events.

Overall, this meet made me more excited for the postseason than I have been. These teams perform exceptionally well, have very thoughtful routines, and are joys to watch. I hope they’re both contending in Super Six because that will make it a great meet.