It’s senior day in Athens. This class has been quite the little journey for us all. When Jay Clark is an old man in a rocking chair shouting at kids to get off his lawn and bemoaning the state of the world today (if that’s not already the case), he’ll have whole patches of gray hairs named “Shayla” and “Christa.” Maybe he’ll try dying the Christa patch red. To Danna Durante’s credit, she has both of them competing the best gymnastics of their collegiate careers this year.
Shayla was recruited to get 9.9s on three events every week. That hasn’t happened, not remotely, which is why her career will largely be remembered as a missed opportunity and she will be seen as the star that could have been. To some extent, those expectations were too high. With her injury history, floor was always going to be an “if her legs can handle it” event, and on bars, the elite code masked significant weaknesses like the dismount. She was never able to master an NCAA-ready dismount, and that has been an ongoing saga. Even though consistency will never be a thing with Shayla, beam has been the bright spot lately and the most likely place for a 9.9. Might we see a senior 10 today?
This has been a big year for Tanella. She’s finally in shape and in form enough to get those 9.850s that should have always come naturally for her. I had certainly given up on seeing anything more than borderline-lineup 9.775s, and the change in coaching staff has obviously been a necessary progression for her. Noel Couch will not be competing, but as much as she gets knocked for her form (by me), she has been the sturdy Romanian for this team for years. Imagine how many 195s they would have recorded without her.
The meet will get underway at 6:00 ET/3:00 PT. Expect the numbers to go rather large, and be sure to procure some kind of medication or Temple Grandin hugging machine for the beam rotations because they will make us all feel very unsafe. I give Georgia the edge here based on home advantage and higher scoring ceiling. Overall, I think these teams are very similar in terms of having two strong events and two weak events.
If you turn on the broadcast right now, you can listen to Kevin Copp practicing his counting.The sights and sounds of Georgia gymnastics. There are not too many people there today.
Utah has switched Lofgren and Dabritz at the back of the beam lineup in an attempt to protect Dabritz a bit more. We’ll see if it works. Her beam routine is the most important gymnastics for Utah today.
In other news, Ohio State just had a home win with 196.850, which is of importance to the two teams competing right now because either or both could end up going to that Regional. An upset is quite possible there given the scoring that we’ve seen. Penn State also just recorded a 196.975. This has become the season where a 196.800 is bad.
The audio for the broadcast is wonky. Let’s hope they work that out.
Georgia has been a little low in the vault scoring the last few weeks, so they need something in the 49.4s this week.
1. Davis – Good stick, similar to LSU vault, which was 9.900. This goes 9.875.
2. Persinger -A little piked and a large step back in her yfull with a slide of the front foot as well. 9.850 – Davis’s vault was more than .025 better than that.
3. Hires -yfull with a step back, looked like the body position was better than at the middle of the season, not as piked as in February. 9.900.
4. Rogers -Stuck Y1.5, excellent, probably best she has done. Still a little direction but much better in that respect as well. 9.950. Fair score in a vacuum, but not reflective of trend from earlier scores, which is the problem with going high early. She was at least a tenth better than Hires.
5. Cheek -Good height, nice stick as well from her, a little low body position. 9.950
6. Jay -Y1.5, some crossed legs in the air and a hop forward, so she won’t go as high as the others. 9.850.
1. Wilson -Some sloppy legs throughout from Wilson, sticks her tuck full, may have hit her feet on the mat? 9.700.
2. Hughes – Good tkatchev, nice line, bail hs looks clean, minor step on tuck full, some borderline handstands but otherwise strong. 9.800.
3. Hansen -I thought she was going to have some trouble out of her jaeger but she worked out of it well. Step and a bouncy salute on dismount. As usual, the only real issue on the bars was that 1/2 turn on the low bar. 9.775.
4. Lopez -good height on tkatchev, floaty DLO but came in a little short and hopped forward. 9.850. Perhaps a touch high for me.
5. Damianova – catches shaposh well, she has improved these handstands, minor struggle out of the tkatchev catch, stuck double back. 9.900.
6. Dabritz – clean jaeger, nice handstands, stuck tuck full, class of the rotation. Well done to put this rotation together after it looked troublesome early. 9.900
Exo – Lofgren – some leg separations, hop forward on DLO. She could potentially come in for Wilson, but it’s not too different in general. It would have scored higher today, though.
Rotation 1 scores: Georgia 49.525, Utah 49.225
As much as could have been hoped for or expected for both teams. Georgia looked very nice on vault overall, with Rogers showing the best vault I’ve seen from her. A couple of the scores went high, but the landings as a whole were excellent and much improved. Utah got through one of the weaker events for them because of strong dismounts from the final two. I would have liked to see some separation between Dabritz and Damianova because Dabritz’s routine is stronger. Lopez and Hansen needed to get their dismounts, though.
1. Cheek -great high tkatchev, handstands are hit well, overrotated DLO and took a big step back. She had something great going before that. 9.825.
2. Tanella – as usual, the kchs are good, the pirouetting is a little late, stuck double back, one of her better routines. 9.925.
3. Jay -a litlte over on first hs but holds on, muscles a hs, khorkina is strong, small stumble on dismount. Fine, but not what she can do. 9.825.
4. Worley -she misses both of her handstands from kip casts, tkatchev is good, fine DLO by her standards, step back. She’ll get hit for those handstands. 9.800.
5. Rogers -great stalder tkatchev, great toe point, misses on handstand, sticks tuck full. Strong routine, would have been great other than the one hs. 9.850.
6. Davis -wonderful tkatchev, extremely clean, hop back on salute, can’t say that’s a stick. 9.950. She’s been better than that for 9.950s before.
Exo – Unick – struggles on her pak with a big bend in the knees but stays on, sits the dismount.
1. Allex -yfull, a little lacking in height and distance, hop back. 9.800.
2. Del Priore -yfull, hop back, some leg form.9.825.
3. Lofgren -gets good distance but not the height, down a little bit, small hop back. 9.825.
4. Damianova – hop back on yfull, similar to Lofgren in landing position and height. 9.850.
5. Dabritz – Better position on her yfull but another hop back. They’re not getting these landings. 9.900.
6. Wilson -Obviously the best landing on the team. Piked in the air. She gets a ton of height, so next year they should really focus on getting rid of that pike. 9.950.
Exo – Tutka goes similar to Allex and Del Priore, also carbon copy. Lange also goes, hs pike half with a pretty strong landing, hop forward, good vault.
Rotation 2 scores: Georgia 98.900, Utak 98.575 (Rotation 2: Georgia 49.375, Utah 49.350)
Utah will need to improve the landings on vault. We’ve seen both teams received 9.9s for landings with noticeable hops back. You can’t always expect those performances to go 9.9. Utah lacked a little height in most of these vaults, so the landings become that much more important to hope to go over 9.850 at some point. Georgia was fine on bars, but Tanella was the only one who put together a highlight reel performance for her, and she got her senior night score. Everyone else has been better and had at least one significant mistake that needed to go away. Some stumbly dismounts and some clearly missed handstands. Through two, good not great from both teams.
It’s beam time for Georgia. Breazeal is in for Couch once again, and Persinger leads off again as well.
1. Persinger – good L turn, strong aerial, huge balance check on her series adjusting after landing, does well to stay on, very minor correction on front toss, sticks 1.5 dismount. Strong other than the big mistake on the series. 9.725.
2. Breazeal – huge break on her loso series as well but she can’t hand on. Fall. This is it, Georgia. This is what you have to do. Wobbles throughout, a little short on switch split, step on layout full. 9.075.
3. Cheek – first good loso series we have seen, good amplitude on swtich side, hits all her leaps, pikes a little to hand onto gainer full. Good routine. 9.875.
4. Rogers – good switch leap, bhs 3/4 to double stag is very nice, only very slightly wibbly on her Lturn, excellent bhs 1/1, sticks layout full dismount. Quite possibly her best on this event as well. Great meet for her so far. 9.875.
5. Worley -good sheep jump, hits loso series, big wobble on bhs 1/1 that she totally saves by pretending she did it to scale, nice cover, shuffle on gainer full. OK. 9.875.
6. Earls -Three great routines in a row, but she still needs a big hit to save the event, two losos and excellent, big pause before the dismount, and big step out of double tuck. Strong routine overall. 9.875.
1. Lofgren -good double pike to open, pikes down a little at the end of her whip 2/1 but it’s a controlled landing, dance elements look good, strong rudi to loso. Good start. 9.850.
2. Del Priore – somewhat smushed down on her tuck full landing and hops to the side, just does stay in bounds, second pass is strong, illusion is a little off to the side, very squatty in her double back dismount. Not near what she has been doing. 9.750.
3. Wilson – drilled that DLO landing, confident tumbling overall, bounces back out of her double tuck, needed a bit more control there but a fine routine. 9.825
4. Dabritz – A little squat on her pike full landing with a hop to the side, similar to what we saw from Del Priore, whip 2/1 is stuck, minor lack of control on the 3/1, fine routine but she’s been much better. 9.775
5. Damianova -a little bounce out of her double back, they’re having more trouble with these floor landings than I’ve seen so far this season, bounces out of the double pike as well. 9.875.
6. Tutka -pretty good tuck full to start, uses that leap to punch front combo well in that middle pass, good double tuck. By far the strongest routine for Utah. 9.900.
Exo – Lange – a little low in her mount with a large step forward, significant lack of control in landings, very low in double tuck as well.
Christa Tanella’s mom: “You’re hair looks awesome!” into the mic. This is what is happening. Was she talking to Cassidy?
Rotation 3 scores: Georgia 148.125, Utah 147.800 (Georgia 49.225, Utah 49.225)
Utah got out of that rotation with a fine score, but they probably wanted something better going into beam. Most had trouble finding their landings, a lot of squatty, low tumbling that I would not have expected. They’re still on solid 197 pace, but they need a good beam rotation to get there. Georgia got through beam after the fall with four strong routines at the end, but it still doesn’t give me a great deal of confidence in this group as we move toward the very end of the season.Fine work in the third rotation as a whole, but seeing only one 9.900 in this rotation from either team is telling. Little mistake adding up was the theme.
We’re getting a photo retrospective of the seniors, most of which appear to have been taken when they were freshmen and behaving very freshman. I think everyone looks back at photos from their freshman year of college and thinks, “Gasp! What are these appearance and behavioral choices? Burn all of this instantly.”
1. Earls – good double pike, some crossed legs on the 1.5 second pass but the landing is strong, pretty good double tuck. Nice opening. 9.875.
2. Tanella – also very slightly low on her mount but the landing was secure, strong rudi to finish out. Her usual performance overall except for slightly weaker on the mount, taking a little moment on the floor. 9.875.
3. Persinger -punch front through to slightly low double back, secure double pike landing, dance elements look strong. Very composed. 9.900.
4. Rogers – This is a big routine for her. Hits the double arabian, a little low but contained and overall strong, hops forward a little out of the layout, a little low on the double pike but a stick. By far her best floor routine. Great day for her. 9.900. The 9.950 from one judge was way too high.
5. Worley -Finishing out her senior night with a big double pike, hits the front 2/1 as well, finishes with a very strong rudi. Nice routine. 9.950.
6. Jay – A little low on tuck full out, it’s a massive floor score for the first time this year regardless of how Jay does, bounces back out of her double tuck dismount. 9.900
1. Tutka – short in both of her dance elements, very minor correction on loso series, large waist wobble on side aerial, another huge wobble on stag jump, step on gainer full after landing between mats. Not her best. 9.700. Could have been worse, I would have gone in the 9.6s.
2. Hughes – very secure in her landings of all elements. I’d like to see a little more amplitude overall but a very good routine, hop on dismount. 9.875.
3. Wilson – hits her layouts well, surprised herself with a little wobble – funny facial expression, hop forward on 1.5. Steady overall but not a big score because of some breaks here and there. 9.750.
4. Lopez -has to take a step back to secure her series, hits punch front, a little short of 180 on her split full, good 2/1 dismount, one of her better beam routines lately. 9.875.
5. Lofgren – good strong series. Cassidy thinks this is Georgia Dabritz, step back on gainer full, but this is a strong routine. A big accomplishment for Utah with this beam performance. 9.900.
6. Dabritz -Shouldn’t be a ton of pressure in this position with nothing under a 9.7 counting, a coulple of wobbles so far, still quite tentative in these skills. Stuck 2/1. It’s a hit, but she still took a number of wobbles. Progress. 9.775.
Final scores: Georgia 197.650, Utah 196.975 (Rotation 4: Georgia 49.525, Utah 49.175)
It was the strongest floor performance from Georgia this year by a long way. They can still get better in these landings, a few low ones here a little lack of control there. It’s a big step, though, especially the hit from Rogers. It wasn’t the most brilliant performance from the Gymdogs, but it’s a big score and overall a step forward even though there were the mistakes here and there and the fall on beam.
Utah is at an interesting place. Yes, they hit all the events, which is important and was the goal a few weeks ago, but now we look toward whether this team is going to contend in the postseason. To do so, getting through beam with three scores in the 9.7s must stop seeming like a victory. They were still tentative and wobbly there. Also, because vault and floor are the strengths, they can’t afford days like today where the landings aren’t secure. I expect vault and floor to be in better order next week at home against Florida, but it will be a good comparison to see where Utah still needs to go.
Back here tomorrow for UCLA/Michigan at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT.