SEC Championship Broadcast

Here we stand, the SEC Championship broadcast five days after the competition ended. ESPNU has finally gotten around to showing the event after completing a four-day marathon of Division III hopscotch, or whatever this network usually shows. 

It’s never as interesting to watch a competition like this after the fact, but it will still be a valuable experience for evaluating levels of postseason readiness as well as scoring accuracy.

We begin with a brief recap of the JV session and Auburn on the vault. Nice power as always from Guy and Atkinson, but those landings need much more control. They cannot give away those .100s if they want to keep pace with Minnesota’s vaulting at regionals.

Otherwise, it’s just bits and pieces of routines to make sure everyone feels included. Grable’s excellent back 1.5, front 1/1, front half stepout got its moment, as did some uncontrolled vault and floor landings from both teams in the final rotation until Guy’s hit anchor routine for 9.900. Suzanne interviews Jeff Graba. He seems charming and slightly nervous.

I’m sure these coaches will all be really pleased by these unflattering shots of them laughing. Bridget Sloan is never not dancing.

Rotation 1:
We start with Clark on bars instead of the usual leadoff Sledge, who had a strained back. Alabama ended up going out of order on this event and brought it to the attention of the judges for a one-tenth deduction. Clark had a couple leg separations on her shaposh and bail handstand, cut off her handstands to a degree, and stepped back on the dismount. Demeo can be very hit and miss on bars, but this time her handstands looked mostly fine (I still hate that composition choice of the half turn, which is just asking to be deducted). She sticks the DLO. Priess finishes with a very aggressive routine, she’s rounding into form, with a hop on the DLO that is still piked a little but much stronger than it was a month ago.

For Georgia, Persinger was very graceful on beam. I’d like to see them work on her leg form on the layout stepout in the off-season because she can be excellent here. She takes a rather significant wobble on her kickover and hops back to salute on her 1.5. Good routine. Couch follows and has an odd wobble coming out of her layout stepout, which she hit, and wobble again on her full turn, step forward on the double full. It was a tight performance that we don’t normally expect from her. Rogers shows her best beam routine of the season by far, no wobbles at all. The bhs 3/4 to stag is excellent, but I almost don’t need her going to one arm. It’s a laudable display of strength and balance, but it is usually rushed and takes away from the grace of the skill and position. The skill itself is already impressive and doesn’t need any gold coating. Shayla is up fifth, clean sheep jump, extremely secure on all her acro landings and a stuck gainer full – her best of the season. Earls finishes, and she is usually quite strong when competing after five hits but shows some slight tentativeness here with minor breaks on several skills and a large step on the double back.   

Macko on vault has a somewhat lower chest and takes a single medium-sized step back, but that is a more controlled landing that she has been showing in recent weeks. It wasn’t a hop this time. I hope eventually she’s able to train this routine enough to get back to 9.9 level because she has good power and should open out of the vault well. She had a nice DTY back in the day, so the full should be simple for her. Dickerson also vaults with her usual power and form but has a very large hop back that must go. Kytra’s vault was excellent as always, just the minor shuffle that accounts for the deductions. She’ll get the 10 one of these days.   

Jessie Jordan on floor is a little bouncy on her opening double pike, but otherwise she was in control. Courville goes fifth for LSU. She cowboys her double arabian, but it is quite controlled. the double back is high and she drops out of it comfortably, her dance elements are the strongest on the team, and she finishes with a fine double pike. Nice job. Now we see Hall, she seemed a little squatty on her DLO this time, but all the other tumbling was strong. It will be interesting to see if she goes to this same choreography well for four consecutive years (spoiler alert: she will). There’s nothing wrong with a hiphop routine, but the expectation next year will be that she get a little more creative with it and challenge herself on another level.

I wish Suzanne were doing the routine commentary instead of simply doing the interviews.

Rotation 2:
We’ll start with BDG on bars for Florida, clean form throughout with nice toes – a questionable handstand, but as usual the major deductions come from DLO – leg break, slight pike, and hop. Bridget Sloan tells us what she has learned in college so far, the importance of poofing your hair and putting glitter on your eyes. Is that a major in the SEC? King on bars, extremely clean with a beautiful DLO. She missed her handstand before the dismount as well, and they will need to work on those over these next few weeks. Macko now, puts other people’s leg form to shame and sticks her tuck full. She also has that handstand before the dismount problem, though.

Tanella on floor for Georgia. Tanella’s improvement this season is the biggest endorsement of Durante’s regime. It’s not going to be one of those 9.9 routines, but it’s a consistent early 9.850 from someone who wasn’t lineup worthy for three years. Shayla up now with a great double pike. I’m interested to see the OOB call that ultimately resulted in Georgia giving away three tenths in the final score after an unsuccessful appeal. That is silly for a few reasons. A) It’s a stupid rule because we should be encouraging everyone involved to get the scoring right, even if it comes by review. We should not be punishing that by imposing ridiculous deductions. B) Georgia, why would you even protest that in the first place? It wouldn’t have changed the result, and it risked that large deduction. Not her strongest landings overall, and our angle on the OOB was entirely inconclusive.Jay finishes with a perfectly serviceable routine but her landing on the full out is low, and the double back dismount lacked control. Just OK

Jordan on vault for LSU, extremely clean in the air and great height, small correction on landing but that was quite excellent. We get to see Courville’s 10, which had great power, form, and distance. She hopped in place on the landing, though. It wasn’t a secure stick.

Kayla Williams up for Alabama on beam, very secure on all her acro, opening with a front tuck, good legs and precision on her layout stepout series, gets her popa around, sticks 1.5. Extremely secure routine. Demeo has a smallish wobble on her aerial, but her series is strong, one step back on the double pike. Jacob up next, tremendous calm and security, never gives up a wobble on that barani, fights to hold the stick on the 1.5. Priess finishes and has a slight fight to hang into the connection front the aerial to the swingdown and has a large wobble with the leg up on a straddle jump. Not her greatest.

Rotation 3: 
Stageberg starts for Florida on beam with extraordinary cleanliness, probably her best routine of the year until the dismount where she gets a little wonky and pikes a little and hops, off to the side as well. Sloan on beam is brilliant, excellent layout stepout, a few fights to get her connections but not wobbles, correction on her side aerial, stuck double full. Hunter time now, great full turn, great lift on her series, the steppy hop on the double back is pretty much all that can be taken. Macko anchors and shows the smallest of correction on her aerial and hops in place on the 2/1 dismount, but otherwise she is just as clean as the others. This is a tremendous group of beamers that shouldn’t lose to anyone on beam when going clean.

Davis gets back to her sticking ways on vault for Georgia. It’s never going to go over 9.900, but if she sticks like that she puts the team on track for a 49.500, which it will need every time out from now on. Hires looks strong again after her mid-season woes but does step back, and Rogers lacks any pop off the table, comes in short on her 1.5 and takes a large step back. Cheek shows an extremely strong yfull, opens out of it well and sticks. She can’t do it much better. Jay finishes with a great 1.5 but steps forward to give away the big score. Overall today I think the scores have been marginally high (but not obscene), but this Georgia vault rotation seems slightly underscored, each routine by about .025-.050.

Ranzy looks cleaner on bars than she did earlier in the year, but she’s a little close on her shoot and has to muscle, and her DLO is preposterous. She gets a tremendous amount of height but pikes it on both saltos and lands very hunched over and hops way forward. Courville has a nice jaeger, overbalances her bail but hangs on, the shoot to high bar looks much better, good tuck full dismount. Wyrick is late on her giant full but shows a strong high tkatchev. Kathy wasn’t happy with her handstands and neither was I. Step back on the dismount. Morrison anchors, cleanest on the team, somewhat rushed in these handstands, strong stuck tuck full. Nice.   

Demeo on floor, very strong, compact double arabian, everything looks very good until the dismount where the 2.5 lacks a little control and she steps OOB. We also see Jacob, who does not show her best double pike and bounces back out of it, as does Milliner on hers (but not to the same degree). Alabama’s final two looked strong, but they can both be more secure.

Rotation 4:
LSU begins with Taylor on beam, she looks very comfortable on her early acro, had a crazy back leg on her switch split that should get deducted, fought only minorly on her series and has a very nice stuck 1.5. It was a good routine but it was also tight in places, and I’m not sure it justified a 9.925. Garcia now, which I would say is the danger routine if I didn’t already know that she falls, bhs+back pike is nowhere close. Courville on beam, excellent arabian and extremely clean layout series, hitting her leaps, she saves the team on this event every week. Jordan finishes with a good aerial and secure layout stepout series. I’m not sure why she anchors over Courville, whose routine is superior, though. Wobble on full turn and large break on her side somi, swinging her arms, stuck 1.5. LSU looked ragged in this rotation in places but saved it with dismounts so that it wasn’t a weak score.

Kayla Williams shows a pretty much perfect yfull. That got a 10 from two judges, and if it hadn’t been a leadoff routine would have received a 10 from four judges. This is what she was recruited to do. Now let’s talk about whether it is advisable to keep her in the first position since the positioning probably cost her a 10 at this meet. Jacob comes in on vault for Sledge, and it’s a bit better than it has been – hop back. Great height from Beers as well, step back. Alabama has the best power on the day by far. Clark hops back as well, but nearly all of them can go 9.950s for sticks. Milliner sticks her 1/5 for the first time in a while. Great vault rotation for Alabama. The return of Gutierrez on vault, very strong for just coming back, seemed a little tentative landing on her ankle and took a safe, controlled, but fairly significant step back. 

Tanella goes on bars. She really would be excellent on this event were it not for the late turns, step back on the double back, which she cannot afford. For Shayla, I thought the handstands were rushed and somewhat short, but the DLO was the best it has been in months, still piked but stuck this time. Rogers has tremendous work on the bars, especially with the form and the toe point, but she does clearly miss two handstands, so the score went high. Davis finishes and caught a little wonky on her bail handstand, but otherwise it was her usual excellence.      

Sloan for Florida on floor with this routine that I love, probably the best landings she has shown this year. There is still a little room to tighten up form, so I don’t agree with the judge who went 10, but she will be 10 capable at some point on this event. Wang may get the most improved award for this year, very strong DLO. She looks very taped together, but the landings are secure. King and Hunter finish the meet. I thought King could have been stronger, a little too much movement on her (otherwise excellent) DLO and a slight stumble on her middle pass. The double pike was excellent. Kytra was strong as always but appeared to overrotate her front layout during her middle pass and did not get the bounce she usually does but fought through it, open double back was strong.

Florida wins. Winning makes Rhonda tired. She’s not sure how Suzanne did it all those years.

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