Setting the Nationals Scene

After a brief recovery from the coastal eddy that was regionals day, it’s time to refocus on what’s to come. I realize I never mentioned the individual qualifiers, so here they are:

Sharaya Musser, Penn State; Lauren Rogers, Washington; Aubree Cristello, Arizona; Melanie Shaffer, Ohio State; Bri Guy, Auburn; Caitlin Atkinson, Auburn; Emily Wong, Nebraska; Jessie DeZiel, Nebraska; Moriah Martin, Denver, Michelle Shealy, Iowa State; Chelsea Tang, Oregon State; Brittany Harris, Oregon State

VT – Brittany Skinner, Nebraska; BB – Sarah Miller, Ohio State; FX – Makayla Stambaugh, Oregon State

There are some serious contenders in that all-around group, especially Wong, DeZiel, and Musser. However, it is very difficult to score well in the AA without a team to build the numbers, and all three are competing in the first session, which makes it very unlikely that they will challenge. Last year, the top six AA finishers all came from the evening session. I’ll preview the AA at some point next week, but with Florida also in the first session, things are setting up quite well for a Zamarripa AA title at home as long as she performs better than she did at regionals.

But enough of that, on to the teams. After regionals, teams were ranked by National Qualifying Score (RQS + Regional score) and divided into semifinals with the 1,4,5,8,9,12 teams going into one session and the 2,3,6,7,10,11 teams going into the second session. It has resulted in a hilariously ill-balanced semifinal field.

The afternoon session, aka The SEC Silver Platter of Dreams and Unicorns:
[1] Florida, [4] Georgia, [5] LSU, [8] Minnesota, [9] Stanford, [12] Illinois

Florida, Georgia, and LSU will be heavily favored to advance. Of the bottom three, Stanford is the most dangerous. Much like the rest of the Pac-12, they are depleted to the point of scraping the bottom of the depth barrel, but if they can drop the substitute routines they need to drop, they have the most 9.9s of the bottom three teams and can get into the 197s.

The evening session, aka Run:
[2] Oklahoma, [3] Alabama, [6] UCLA, [7] Michigan, [10] Utah, [11] Arkansas

It’s anyone’s guess. Obviously, this will be a crazy exciting meet. I’ll preview it in depth soon, but the general consensus seems to be that Oklahoma, Alabama, and Michigan will be favored to advance. I’m not discounting the importance of UCLA’s home score or Michigan’s beam rotation yet, nor am I convinced that Oklahoma and Alabama are home free. When you get this many good teams together in the same place, it goes anywhere but normal. I smell a weird one. 

Rotation orders:
Session 1: Illinois (VT), Georgia (Bye), Minnesota (UB), LSU (BB), Stanford (Bye), Florida (FX)
Session 2: Arkansas (VT), Alabama (Bye), Michigan (UB), UCLA (BB), Utah (Bye), Oklahoma (FX)

-The Utes probably have it the roughest on the rotations because they may be forced to rely on a Georgia Dabritz beam hit if they are still in it going to the final routine. 
-I’m OK that the top seeds are ending on a bye because presumably (at least in the case of Florida) they should be qualifying and won’t be the most interesting team at the end.
-I actually like both LSU and UCLA starting on the beam. Ending on beam is way harder than starting there, and both teams probably need a scoring boost on bars that they might get by ending there.
-Ending on vault is a very good rotation for all the teams doing so (Georgia, Alabama, Minnesota, Michigan). All 49.500 capable.