Sirs and madams, we have arrived in the land of RQS.
1. Oklahoma – 197.410
Week 8: 198.375
Week 8 leaders: AA – Olson 39.700; VT – Kmieciak, Kanewa, Olson 9.925; UB – Kmieciak, Olson, Spears 9.925; BB – Brewer 9.950; FX – Scaman 9.975
After the colossal score over the weekend, Oklahoma has become the prettiest, most popular girl at the county fair. Like all prettiest girls at the county fair, though, the real test will come when she tries to make it in LA. Because the Sooners already are (essentially) guaranteed the top seed at their own Regional and have a massive RQS, they are kind of done with this regular-season nonsense. They could get 194s for the rest of the year. Expect them to use this opportunity (especially the double home weekend on the 8th and 10th) to rest the most fragile to stay as healthy as possible. It’s a difficult balance, though, because there are still a number of refinements to be made on routines. They can’t stay at this level.
2. Florida – 197.280
Week 8: 196.975
Week 8 leaders: AA – None; VT – Hunter 9.975; UB – Sloan 9.975; BB – Dickerson, Stageberg 9.875; FX – King 9.950
Oklahoma taking over the lead is the best thing that could have happened to Florida. Nobody likes a preordained champion, and the Gators were starting to fall into the very strange position of being the boring choice to win even though they’ve never won before. Now, a little of the attention is off them for a week or two. (Watch, they’ll get a 210 next week.)
There was some degree of experimentation with Florida’s lineup over the weekend, so I wouldn’t read too much into the low scores from the likes of Bridgey Caquatto (though it is a shame because it doesn’t really make a case for her staying in these lineups), but the beam performance raises some flags with two low scores coming after a fall. This team hasn’t been that unstoppable on beam even when they hit, but previously they had been very controlled and strong performing after mistakes. Don’t let this be a 2011, Gators.
3. Michigan – 196.975
Week 8: 196.925
Week 8 leaders: AA – None; VT – Zurales 9.925; UB – Sampson 9.875; BB – Zurales 9.925; FX – Sampson 9.950
This meet was not pristine for the Wolverines. They counted a mistake on bars, which was unexpected and knocked them out of the 197s. Bars has been the go-to event for this team for most of the season, yet occasionally on the road it has not been as strong. That’s normal, but it will be something to watch going into this weekend’s meet at Michigan State. The team did well to hit beam coming right off of that weak bars rotation, but the prevalence of low 9.8s and scarcity of 9.9s on beam will become an issue moving into the final third of the season. No team has been great on beam this season besides Oklahoma, so the ones that develop those 9.9s in March will have a leg up and gain extra value from that.
4. Alabama – 196.810
Week 8: 197.100
Week 8 leaders: AA – None; VT – Gutierrez 9.950; UB – DeMeo 9.900; BB – Priess, DeMeo, Milliner 9.900; FX – Jacob 9.900
It’s not a surprise that Alabama still has a number of areas to improve as February closes. That’s normal, as is a 197.100 road score. Last season, Alabama didn’t score above the 197.1s on the road until Championships, when the high 197s started flowing. The biggest concern right now is Marissa Gutierrez, who took a nasty fall on floor and whose status is currently undetermined. She’s an integral part on vault and floor, and while the vaulting group is deep, she’s the only one who has been hitting to capability the last couple weeks. In other news, how do you solve a problem like these bars routines?
5. LSU – 196.770
Week 8: 196.975
Week 8 leaders: AA – Courville 39.475; VT – Lau, Mathis, Taylor 9.925; UB – Morrison 9.950; BB – Dickson 9.850; FX – Courville, Mathis 9.900
While I wasn’t looking, LSU became better than UCLA, at least according to the rankings. Note that the Tigers have a strong chance to move up again next week with one more low score still lurking in the RQS picture. This is a bit misleading because it will still be an uphill battle for LSU to make Super Six. The team often has to rely on the one big routine to save both bars and beam from being mediocre. This time, Morrison’s 9.950 did the job on bars, but Courville had a major wobble on beam, meaning that her normally tremendous routine could not save the event score. The success or lack thereof in a rotation hinging on one routine is a risky game.
6. UCLA – 196.720
Week 8: 197.200
Week 8 leaders: AA – Zamarripa 39.650; VT – Zamarripa, Courtney 9.900; UB – Zamarripa 9.950; BB – Larson 9.900; FX – Zamarripa 9.950
Because this is the first week of RQS, we saw a lot of teams have strong performances and drop in the rankings, with UCLA being one of the leaders in that category. This was quite obviously the best UCLA performance since week 2 and a necessary recovery from the previous week’s stinker. Encouraging developments were Larson winning beam and the overall ability to overcome mistakes. The negative, and the reason the Bruins are still not in the top conversation, remains a lack of depth. Floor should be endurable when Courtney comes in for Bynum (and possibly Wong comes in as well). Bars is not exactly ideal (can MDLT come back from her recurred labrum issue?), but save for a Peng ex machina, this is probably what we’re stuck with. Vault is the biggest issue because it is the farthest behind the top teams. Someone who can get at least a 9.850 has to get healthy this second and throw us a Yurchenko full.
7. Georgia – 196.595
Week 8: 196.825
Week 8 leaders: AA – Rogers 38.600; VT – Jay 9.900; UB – Davis 9.950; BB – Worley 9.950; FX – Couch 9.925
I agree with the insightful rogue, me from Friday, who noted that the beam rotation against Missouri might very well be a turning point for Georgia. A fall in the first position after two straight weeks of being “the team that can’t hit beam” could have been devastating. The fact that they endured it speaks to a previously reclusive ability to handle this event. The next step is to, you know, hit six beam routines in the same meet. In spite of the mental victory, beam and floor were still 49.1s over the weekend, and that’s not so much a competitive thing. Earls definitely needs to come back on floor, but overall these landings have been rather January and need to improve at a faster-than-normal rate to catch up with the 49.4s from other teams.
8. Utah – 196.375
Week 8: 197.300
Week 8 leaders: AA – Wilson 39.425; VT – Wilson 9.950; UB – Dabritz 9.925; BB – Lofgren 9.900; FX – Del Priore 10.000
Like Georgia, Utah will take joy from not succumbing to a weeks-long weakness. The Utes didn’t have to count a fall anywhere and broke 49 on both bars and beam. While it’s probably not great that breaking 49 counts as a victory right now, that’s where we are. The vault score is misleading, and those landings have to improve for this event to be nationally competitive. Beam remains woefully nerve-wracking. The current group has to be the final lineup given the roster, so they have to discover a way for Dabritz not to be so, so tight during her routine. Her score is necessary.
9. Oregon State – 196.370
Week 8: 196.925
Week 8 leaders: AA – Tang 39.400; VT – Blalock 9.950; UB – Stambaugh 9.900; BB – Jones 9.850; FX – Stambaugh 9.950
Look at you, Oregon State, all 9th in the nation. I didn’t see that coming based on preseason expectations and early performances. A couple of lower road scores (with only one road meet remaining) makes it pretty unlikely that the Beavers will get into the top 8 for the postseason, but we’ve seen a few solid, high 196 performances these last few weeks. A team can go quite far by maintaining that scoring level. Still, I don’t see enough depth in these lineups overall, with beam a total nail biter. Vault is also very unlikely to keep up the high 49.3s we saw over the weekend.
10. Nebraska – 196.365
Week 8: 197.050
Week 8 leaders: AA – Wong 39.600; VT – Giblin 9.875; UB – Wong 9.925; BB – Wong, Lauer 9.900; FX – Wong 9.925
Nebraska keeps hanging around. Every time it seems that a low score will start to do them in, they come back with a 197. The Huskers should be a much better vaulting team than they have shown the last few weeks, so keep an eye on potential improvement in those landings. They’re currently only #14 in the nation on vault, which is far too low for them to accept. Jessie DeZiel’s RQS should not be in the low 9.8s. The biggest strength for Nebraska is the epically excellent back half of the bars rotation, so look for all three of those routines to begin receiving 9.9s every week soon. With beam, if they just get through it, I’ll take it.
11. Auburn – 196.270
12. Stanford – 196.235
13. Denver – 195.990
14. Minnesota – 195.775
15. Arizona – 195.640
16. West Virginia – 195.560
17. Washington – 195.520
18. Ohio State – 195.495
19. Illinois – 195.480
19. Kent State – 195.480
21. Kentucky – 195.445
22. Penn State – 195.415
23. Maryland – 195.340
24. Iowa – 195.265
25. Arkansas – 195.260