A Fine Little Sunday – Georgia, UCLA, Arkansas

Have you recovered from the scoring choices around the nation yesterday? I haven’t. I’m still a little woozy. In case you missed it, the perfect 10 had a bachelorette party with the theme “80’s Night.” Let’s see if it was a one-night thing or if it’s a weekend-long affair. The motto for Danna and Val today should be “I’ll have what Greg’s having.”

The day begins with Georgia visiting NC State, which will start shortly after 1:00 ET/10:00 PT and can be seen on ESPN3. UCLA will follow by hosting Arkansas at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT.

For Georgia, Noel Couch will be returning to the lineup on beam, and Mary Beth Box will be in for Shayla on floor. Georgia is yet to record a road 197 this season and will need a minor bump in RQS to stay ahead of Utah in the rankings, which a 197 would certainly accomplish.

Warmups just about to begin. NC State broke 196 just two days ago, and the team will be looking for a major boost in RQS after the two home meets this season to jump into a safer ranking position. They were too close to the cusp going into the weekend.

When was the last time you heard someone actually call them the “uneven parallel bars”? We should invent the uneven perpendicular bars.

Rotation 1:
Johnson – VT – NC State – piked down on yfull with a larger hop back.
Cheek – UB – Georgia – good giant full, nice tkatchev, had to work to balance one handstand, stuck DLO. Handstands were the only notable issue there. Good routine.
Fallanca – VT – Good distance on her yfull but she also piked and took a large step back. 
Tanella – UB – hit her handstands but overall not quite her usual level, a small leg break on the bail and a step on the double back.
Ouellette – VT – Much better than the first two, nice stick on the yfull with pretty good form.
Jay – UB – good shaposh, had to muscle slightly on a handstand before the khorkina, lands low and a little stiff legged on the dismount with a step forward. The dismount will be most of the deductions.
Woodford – VT – extremely low on her yfull, very large step forward, did well not to put her hands down, but her score will be quite low.
Worley – UB – Tkatchev looked nice, good handstands, pulled around her DLO this time with the usual form, smaller hop. Pretty strong for her.
Watkins – VT – yfull, pretty good distance but she did pike, tried to hang onto the stick but stepped.
Rogers – UB – wonderful stlader and tkatchev, clean bail, excellent toe point, one late handstand and a step back on the tuck full. Two clear deductions but not much else.
Ham – VT – hop on yfull, not a ton of distance but not a large hop either. 
Davis – UB – extremely clean routine, one of her stronger performances of the year, I have one maybe on a handstand, but otherwise strong into the dismount – stuck.Very nice.

After 1: Georgia 49.350, NC State 49.000
NC State didn’t land nearly as well on vault as on Friday. Ouellette was by far the standout performance there. Georgia performed perfectly well. I wasn’t happy with some of the dismounts in the middle of the rotation. Because Tanella does a double back that’s easy for her, she has to stick every time. Davis looked strong as usual. This could have gone close to 49.450-49.500 with better landings and a few more sticks.

Rotation 2: 
Davis – VT – Her usual strong yfull but with a small step back this time. Judges could take for a second step into salute if they want, but that might be a little harsh. 9.775.
Woodford – UB – pretty high gienger, she’ll get knocked for pretty much every handstand, stuck tuck full. She could be a great worker for them if they figure out those handstands,
Persinger – VT – Pikes down a little on her yfull with a step back. OK.
Ham – UB – her jaeger scared me a little but she caught it. Sticks 1.5 twist dismount, some leg separations throughout the routine.
Hires – VT – very nice stick on the yfull, some slight piking down, but this is much better than she has been doing.
Watkins – UB – also has a very nice gienger but has a pretty large form break on her pak to get it around, some larger leg separations and a step on dismount.
Rogers – VT – pretty strong y1.5 but she came in a little under and stiff in the legs, stepped back to save it. The direction looked better from this angle, though.
Harabedian – UB – Deltchev, the shoot back to high bar was a little struggle, hop forward on the DLO, handstands here and there but not bad overall.
Cheek – VT – Nice height and power, clean, one step back. Close to a stick but she had to take the step before saluting.
Ouellette – UB – hits a pretty clean routine, sticks a DLO, strongest so far. A few of those handstands were borderline, so we’ll see how it gets evaluated.
Jay – VT – Got her 1.5 around better than Jay, takes a step forward but otherwise it was strong. They’re not too far away from sticks, but they’re just missing.
Fincham – UB – good bail hs, has to push up a little after her shoot, nice tkatchev, stuck a staggered dismount. Pretty strong.

Rotation 2 scores: Georgia 98.750, NC State 98.100
Georgia went 49.400 on vault, which is a good score for a rotation that could have been better. Hires was the highlight and performed her best vault of the season, but the rest of them could have improved the landings. These weren’t major breaks, but like on bars, most of the performers gave away .05 in steps that will become significant when going up against Florida and Alabama at SECs. Almost no one is landing to the level we have seen in most of the home meets, but the Gymdogs are certainly on pace to get that road 197 as long as they can hit beam.

Rotation 3:
Ouellette – BB – major break on her loso series and another wobble on dance, a bit of a struggle so far, small correction on punch front, sticks gainer full.
Earls – FX – good double pike mount, hits her 1.5, we don’t need to see Danna during the dance elements we need to see the routine, strong double back. The tumbling looked solid, contained there. Good start.
Ham – BB – solidly landed switch half, pulls around her loso, correction on side somi. She has to pull some of these skills in to make sure she completes them, sticks a low 1.5.
Tanella – FX – does her double pike onto a mat, I don’t think she struggled on the landing but she had to correct her feet slightly on that mat, I still can’t take this miming a phone call, nice rudi. Pretty much her usual for the season.
Woodford – BB – she looked totally off from the beginning of her bhs+loso series and had to wobble and bend several times to save it. It wasn’t a fall, but it will be as good as because of all the deductions, another major wobble on gainer loso, very nice 2.5 dismount.
Box the Younger – FX – nice double pike to start, she gets pretty good pop on her tumbling, fine double back, 1.5 to layout, has to hop out of the layout a little bit. Good debut. I could see her filling a similar role to her sister in future years.
Fincham – BB – major wobble coming out of her loso series as well, again on her hop full turn, good punch front but this is a struggle, good dismount.
Persinger – FX -somewhat low chest position on her double back but it was fine, overdoes her double pike just a little and steps OOB, first significant mistake for Georgia on the day. They’ll want to drop.
NC State has another major wobble on beam but hangs on. Brittany Rogers has a large lunge out of her opening double arabian, which will hurt her score.
Fallanca – BB – nice series to start, strongest performance for the team by far, crossed legs on 1.5 with a hop forward. Still will probably be the highest score.
Jay – FX -big full in with a somewhat low landing, punch front out of her front double is very nice but goes very close to the edge, hits the double tuck. That should score well. I wouldn’t have said 9.975 mostly because of the body position on the tumbling landings.

After 3: Georgia 148.175, NC State 146.875
NC State had quite a struggle on beam and was lucky to escape with a 48.775 given how many major wobbles they had to endure. Georgia looked mostly strong on floor and should be very pleased with the debut of Box, who overperformed expectations. They got away with some errors in the middle of the lineup from Persinger and Rogers that won’t show up in the scores but should be a red flag. Well, not a red flag. Maybe a yellow flag. The score is the highest of the three events, so that’s a thing. Jay did look stronger in the double back dismount than she did at some earlier points in the season. Earls and Tanella performed exactly the same as they have all season.

Rotation 4:
Persinger – BB – good L turn, clean aerial, loso series is right on, she is working more precisely than she has most of the season when she was getting those 9.7s, front toss is hit, hop forward on 1.5. She moves rather tightly, but that’s one of her better routines if not the best.
Harabedian – FX – good high double pike, looked a little crooked on her double turn but bounced into a straddle and covered it, minor correction on a double back dismount. Good start.
Couch – BB – she’s back and they need her, minor correction on loso series, otherwise the acro is hit, this is her best beam routine since that debut 9.875, very small step on dismount.
Jarred – FX – nice 2.5 with slightly better control than on Friday, good illusion turn, the switch ring wasn’t quite there, but she hit her tumbling with only some minor stepping.
Cheek – BB – good turn, solid loso series, switch side is nice. I don’t mean to jinx it, but this is the most secure Georgia has looked on beam this season. Stuck gainer full. They’re not giving away the tenths on wobbles they have been.
Woodford – FX – secure landing on her pike full in, low chest, good difficult with the 2.5 punch front as well, hits rudi. Solid today.
Rogers – BB – good switch split, hits bhs 3/4 to double stag with a minor press in the arms but it was fine. Good bhs 1/1, almost sticks that layout full, tries hard but has to correct.
Ham – FX – strong double pike, pulls around her front full as well, NC State looking more secure in these tumbling passes than on Friday, which could still help make this another 196.
Worley – BB – strong sheep, clean loso series, bhs 1/1 is pulled back well without a wobble – she could have given one away there – stucks gainer full. Nice.
Watkins – FX – tuck full in with a lower chest and a very small shuffle to correct the landing, clean 1.5 to punch front, only real problem was the low double pike dismount with a large lunge forward.
Earls – BB – strong two losos series, side aerial to side position, sticks double back, very strong as well from Earls. Great beam rotation for Georgia.
Ouellette – FX – Nice height on her full in as well but doesn’t have the same control and slides back, clean 1.5 to layout stepout, nice whip double. She has the tightest, cleanest legs in the tumbling of the team, so I expect a nice score. They can take for dance elements, though.

Final Score: Georgia 197.800, NC State 196.000
Well, Georgia didn’t want to be left out of that big score parade. While I think the scores of some of the early beam routines went too high and pushed up the overall score to a stratospheric level, this was clearly Georgia’s best beam rotation of the season, and it’s not a close competition. Even the wobblies weren’t so wobbly, so that’s a major improvement. Georgia will not disappear easily when it comes to Championship season. Landings, landings, landings, but I don’t see too many systemic problems that would be cause for significant concern at this point. I’m not done being nervous about those beam and floor routines, but it was a good meet.

Everyone take a break and come back in a few hours for UCLA and Arkansas.
According to the UCLA gymnastics twitter, we’re looking at a half-hour delay for the start of this meet. There was some sort of issue with the bars. Oh dear.

We saw some deep breathing to hold off tears from the UCLA seniors in those introductions. Arkansas was finally able to drop that road 193 and is now ranked a bit more accurately at #15.

Same vault lineup as always for UCLA except Pritchett and Wong switch places. It’s interesting that MDLT’s labrum issue has kept her off vault more often than bars. Usually, bars seem to be the biggest problem for those with labrum injuries. Sam Peszek competed everything but bars at 2009 Nationals because of a torn labrum.

Rotation 1:
McDonald – VT – pikes down on her yfull with some leg form and a bigger hop back. Just OK, not great. 9.800
Glover – UB -hits her routine cleanly, a late pirouette and a few smaller form breaks everywhere, toes and knees.
Pritchett – VT – The best vault she’s done this season by far. Stuck landing. Still the other errors, no height and piking down, but much much better knees and landing. 9.850.
Grable – UB – Stuck double front to finish that routine. Interesting that she is second. I know it’s not her best event, but she’s such a gem.
Wong – VT – good height but not a good landing, but bounce back. She can land much better than that, and they probably needed that score. Now they’ll be looking for 3 9.9s from the final three.
Freier – UB – great line, a little struggle up to handstand on the free hip, sticks the DLO. Form breaks in these routines, but they’re pulling it together with these sticks.
Baer – VT – Nice height and a stuck landing. Much improved this season, leg separation in the air, slightly bent coming in. This will be a good test of the scoring. 9.900. I say that’s appropriate.
Borsellino – UB – very high tkatchev as always, leg separation in the pak salto, DLO looks fine, step back. Solid, probably low-mid 9.8s routine.
Courtney – VT – Near-stick or actual stick for her, I’d like a little tighter form for her, but itwas very strong. I think they considered that a stick, which is fine. 9.950.
Salmon – hitting early handstands, good piked jaeger, maybe one short handstand, very strong stuck DLO. That was nice. She has improved this year.
Zam – VT – They’ve set her up for the 10 obviously if she sticks. She did, so count on it. She had a similar landing to Courtney, and it seems like they considered that a stick, so it probably will be for Zam as well. 10.000. Of course she did.
Salsberg – UB – hits her jaeger well, pretty clean, looked like she released oddly on her dismount and a large step back on her double back.

After 1: UCLA 49.500, Arkansas 49.100
 Was there any doubt that Zam would get a 10? There was only the very smallest of quivers on that landing, and I’m OK with calling it a stick. It was certainly much more of a stick than some of the 10s that were given in the first rotation last night. UCLA’s final three vaulters did what they needed to to bring that score up with excellent landings, and Pritchett finally looked at least borderline lineup-worthy. McDonald and Wong need to improve because this rotation still won’t quite be competitive with the top teams unless they are sticking. They don’t have the big routines in the early positions. Arkansas looked clean enough, rather 9.825 on bars. Some leg separations and late pirouettes were the largest things I noticed.

Rotation 2:
UCLA’s bars lineup remains the same as last week as well in terms of the gymnasts competing, but Wong goes into the second spot and Courtney goes to the 5th.

What is Rene wearing? What is Rene wearing? What is Rene wearing?

Borsellino hits a vault similar to McDonald’s leadoff, large hop back, some lowness, fine start.
Francis – UB -good shaposh, a little leg break on the bail hs, one step back on double pike, not quite her best but fine. 9.775. They’ll want to drop it.
Wong – UB – a little close on her jaeger, a little ragged in some of these handstands but fine, hop forward on DLO that was a little piked. OK. 9.775. They’ll be counting one of them. Not ideal.
Lewis – VT – So, are we not seeing the Arkansas vaults anymore? Thanks for that. 
De Jesus – UB – legs are much better on the gienger, separation on the bail, missed handstand, step back on tuck full. These landings are weaker than last week, which will impair the score.  9.800.
I’m going to say that I’m not OK with UCLA starting not to show the opponent routines. What is this?
MDLT – UB – good opening handstand, clean bail, crazy legs on her hop full – a form break there, step back on direct DLO. A little more ragged than when she’s at her best. 9.775.
Grable – VT – Sticks her roundoff half front pike half, very nice, perhaps a step into salute and a low chest. Arkansas should be getting through vault at this meet, which is important.
Courtney – UB – clean on shaposh and bail, forcing it a bit on these handstands, step back on tuck full. No one has looked very good on bars. 9.825.
Arkansas scratches Freier because they had five hits to score 49.225.
Zam – UB – UCLA doing poorly on bars so far, so they need Zam to save it with something big. Good first handstand and shaposh, clean handstands of course, nice counter rotation on her tkatchev, slightly overbalanced on one handstand and a stuck DLO. It will be a big score, that’s certain. 9.950. Just the one handstand that they took for.

After 2: UCLA 98.625, Arkansas 98.325
UCLA started well on vault but gave much of that strong pace back on bars. Sloppy handstands and steps back on dismounts ruined the score. The bars landings were the best thing about last week’s meet, but that was not true today. Zamarripa was the only one who hit cleanly. We go to see very little of Arkansas on vault, but they got through efficiently. 

Rotation 3:
A little more pressure on UCLA’s beam rotation not just to hit but to hit for something like 49.3s or 49.4s if they want to be competitive.

Baer – BB – huge wobble on switch side, that will be a major deduction, hits side somi, full turn looks good, right on for the straddle 3/4, sticks layout full dismount. Recovered after the opening break. 9.800. 
I lost my feed during Zumwalde’s floor, sorry about that. Wong finishes her beam routine with a nice full turn, followed by a 1.5 with a hop forward. 9.800.
Elswick – FX – good high double pike with a little lack of control, good double tuck is nice, some knees in her middle pass, small issues, but it looked strong overall.
DeJesus – BB – very clean on aerial and bhs layout stepout, clean on dance elements, small small correction on her front toss, dismount to go, has to correct on her full turn, stuck front full. Good routine.
Dillard – FX – front 1.5 to start, a little bit of leg form, better legs on the front middle pass, and the 1.5 layout dismount. Bare minimum in terms of difficult there, but a clean enough routine. Similar in quality to what we’ve seen.
Courtney – BB – good full turn, big wobble on her loso series, it’s always been a struggle with her on beam. Wobble on front toss, a little low on double back with a step. They’ll want to drop this one.
Lewis – FX – nice big double arabian to open, whip through to double back is tight and solid, good job, slightly low landing on double pike, but the nicest routine so far for Arkansas.
Zam – BB – clean full turn, I don’t like it when I see the judges smiling, wobble on the onodi again. That’s the third week in a row for her on that skill. Layouts series is clean. Oddly low on her double full with a step forward. OK but mistakes in that routine.
Borsellino – FX – very nice landing on the double arabian, not squatty like most. The difficulty and the form in the tumbling takes a big leap up in the final three routines for this team. Clean double back to finish. 
Francis – BB – very nice splits as always, clean aerial to bhs, she has saved beam a few times lately for the Bruins, just like she did at every competition for the UK, sticks layout full dismount. Extremely strong routine, best on the team. 9.950.
Grable – FX – bounces out of her double arabian a little, not as strong as the last two, but she has the most polish on the team and the best dance elements, efficient and clean combo for the second pass, good double pike. Nice routine except for the mount.
McDonald doing exhibition on beam.

Rotation 3: UCLA 147.875, 147.600 
Francis was quite excellent on beam, which brought the score at least close to what it needed to be. Still, for this to be the score that UCLA’s needs, floor is going to have to be stratospheric. I’m not ruling it out. Aside from Francis and DeJesus, UCLA had a wobbly time on beam. Several people had major breaks or minor breaks of uncharacteristic frequency (Zam). I keep saying these Zam beam routines are uncharactertic, but this is several weeks in a row now. It’s becoming characteristic, and she needs to get back to those 9.9s. I was pleased with the quality of the tumbling from the last three from Arkansas, but the first three are just rather 9.8 and keep the rotation from being a big scorer. The meet is still quite close going into the final rotation.

Rotation 4:
Syd Sawa is performing on floor. Where did that come from? I had mostly written her off.Let’s see how this goes. She was a 9.9 at home when she was last healthy back in the late 40s.
Val is banging the Pritchett drum by moving her ahead of Zam in the lineup. We’re seeing Rene’s choices again.

Grable – BB – She has been moved to leadoff to give the team some stability, but she is their best beamer. Very nice aerial bhs loso series, does well to correct her front toss and connect it without giving away a wobble, hop back on double pike. Nice routine. 9.850.
McDonald – FX – low landing on double pike but secure, misses her foot on her layout stepout on the middle pass and lands on her face. So that happened. Crossed legs on rudi with a bounce.
Salmon – BB – a little low in amplitude and flexibility in her leaps, even Allison is pointing it out, pauses in connecting her aerial to back tuck, low on back tuck with a step forward to save, correction on side aerial, front tuck full with a hop. Lots to take there. 9.750.
Sawa – FX – What a time to come back on floor. Must hit situation. Judging pause as they try to evaluate what a back 1.5 + face is. Opens with a double tuck, just keeps it in with a little bounce up. A little low on double pike but got through it. The endurance to get through to the dismount could be an issue, she’s spending almost all her time on the ground. Hits 1.5 to layout. They needed that hit. Deductions but she survived. 9.850. 
Glover – BB – some crazy form on her bhs 1/1. Was that intended? Saves side aerial + bhs but this is a major struggle so far. Her leaps look good, sticks gainer full. She has some strengths, but the early acro is not one.
DeJesus – FX – Sophina salutes us to begin, bounces back out of her double pike, we can’t hear the music at all on the feed, which I actually care about during this routine, sticks double tuck middle pass, clean 1.5 to layout. It was fairly solid after the first pass. 9.900.
Borsellino – BB – good front toss (does anyone but Allison call it a chicken flip?), splits are missed, solid on all the acro, though. Falls on a tuck jump full. Didn’t complete the full and landed with feet crooked.
Zamarripa – FX – Double pike bounces way out of it, she finishes it way too early, but they have removed the DLO after the mistake at Alabama. Bounces slightly in place on her final rudi, but everything else was of the level we would expect.  9.900.
Dillard – BB – We don’t get to see this routine because we have to watch Asi Peko walk around? Why is this happening? Sounds like she hit with a wobbly mistake.
Pritchett – FX – They’ll be looking for the 9.950 she got last week once again. Her usual half/half mount, clean 1.5 to layout, hits the double pike with perhaps a little stepping. It’s basically always the same. She’s a standard candle for evaluating the scores. 9.950. They got what they wanted.
Freier – BB – Must hit routine for Arkansas, steps quickly out of her layout stepout to save a wobble, does wobble a bit on a split jump, sticks gainer full. She did what she needed.  
Courtney – FX – Still needing a big hit and a big score from her, the mount will be telling, only very slightly under on landing and takes a step back but good control, looked very nice in the middle pass and kept it just in bounds, now she’ll lay on the ground for a little bit, sticks double pike to save the rotation. 9.950.

Final score: UCLA 197.425, Arkansas 196.600
That’s a very important score for Arkansas and their RQS. There were nice routines in places for Arkansas, most of them from Grable, but also some very 9.800 gymnastics. When they don’t have to count mistakes, like today, they are capable of mid 196s, which can be dangerous at Regionals.

UCLA ends up tying a season high, which it didn’t look like we would see early on. The judges went into a happy land on floor, but the scoring potential is strong. This lineup isn’t solidified yet, and I could see some more experimentation. Bynum has fallen on her exhibition, so I don’t expect that kind of experimentation. The red flags for UCLA will be bars, both the form and the landings, and the wobble factories on beam. The Bruins are staying in the conversation at least.

The Bruins will increase their RQS to a 197.000. Utah sits at 197.010. LSU is at 197.065. Georgia is at 197.160. Michigan is at 197.175. Lots of movement can still take place in these final positions.

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