National Semifinals Live Blog: Nothing If Not a Show

This season has seen some of the more preposterously scored meets in recent years, and through each of those 10s given out for non-sticks, the watchword has been that everything evens out at nationals. Everyone will be evaluated by the same judges on the same day. Noisy arguments about bias no longer stand.

Here is the scoring link for the first semifinal. And, of course, the live stream. It will go quickly. Make sure you have your best paying-attention eyes on. This slate won’t be blank for long. (Also, have we already eliminated Illinois from contention? Hilarious.)

Our helpful Gymdogs have posted the complete lineups for the first semifinal.

It’s very important for Georgia to have Couch back on both vault and floor. As long as she has had enough training time, she increases their consistency potential. It’s much less likely they’ll have a 9.7 that must be dropped on vault and floor now.

LSU has also switched Jordan and Ranzy on bars and put Mathis in for Lau on vault.

I still maintain that this first session should be straightforward, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if it isn’t.

The meet will begin at 3:00 ET/12:00 PT.

We’ll know a lot after the first rotation. Minnesota is going to be strong on vault and probably floor, but that won’t matter if they can’t stay relatively close on bars. Three or four of the members in that lineup are rather 9.750 prone. They’ll look to get five 9.800+ scores.

If LSU can get through beam, they will feel very good about their chances. Bars is still a large concern, but if the other three events are strong, it may not matter. Those first three LSU beamers will tell us everything about how this session is going.

The stream has begun. I sincerely hope that this shot is of an un-sold section of the stands because there are literally six people there. 

It’s time to meet the teams, except we don’t get to see them. Great start. And now I have nothing visually. Oh, NCAA. You have very little time left to work this out before I start getting frustrated. Thank you for your haste.

In this first rotation, for Florida anything 49.400+ should be a fine, home free kind of sailing. I’d like to think LSU will be OK with anything 49.200y, but certainly a 49.300 would be a gem. Hovering around 49 begins to become a problem.

Touch is beginning. Still no feed. At least we don’t have to look at the MC, but if you’re listening, you still have to hear him. Fake enthusiasm is one of the things I mistrust the most in the world.

Kevin and Cassidy are really trying to play up that this semifinal is close as well because, apparently, of Illinois’s and Minnesota’s enthusiasm. I’m less than thrilled with this lack of video to the point where it’s difficult to make words.

Rotation 1:
We’re starting, no video. Apparently a scary fall from Wang on floor for Florida. OK, now this is something. Video is up. Wang finishes. Still don’t expect Florida to count a fall on floor, but it puts a lot of pressure on that Bridgey Caquatto routine since she has little experience.

Pike down and step from Kantecki on vault. There’s an awful lot of Illinois on vault happening right now. I still don’t really trust this video, so I have Kevin Copp and Cassidy up as well. They hate their angle.

9.400 for Garcia for LSU on beam. Discrepancy in start value, large difference in judges scores. 9.300-9.800. So they don’t have that together.

Bridget Sloan starting on floor, Dickson hit second up for LSU, but a few more important ones to get through for them. Good front double, finishes with strong double pike and 1.5 layout. Hit routine.    

Illinois not scoring particularly well on vault, Minnesota starting with two 9.7s on bars. That’s what they didn’t need.

LSU is counting a 9.775 from Dickson on beam, but that’s OK for right now if they hit four more. Video is gone again.

Sloan gets a 9.900 on floor. They needed it. See goes 9.825 on vault, Illinois’s best score yet. Ashanee bounces out of her double back, so this will be a helpful evaluation of the scoring level today to see what the judges do with that.

Taylor for LSU goes 9.750. Range was 9.650-9.800. They’ll need some 9.9s from Courville and Jordan now regardless of Hall’s score. Illinois gets a 9.875 from Weinstein. Hit from Hall on beam.

King sticks DLO on floor. They’ll be counting a 9.825 from Dickerson, which is a bit below expectation. King and Hunter can bring in the 9.950s, though.

Illinois finishes on vault with a 48.850. About expected. Nothing that will contend. Courville on beam now – hits arabian as always. One check, otherwise hit. One more to get through. These video problems will be the death of me. 9.850. They’re still hovering around 49, so Jordan needs a good score.   

King goes 9.900. Kytra does a Kytra routine except for some lowness on the dismount. Apparently Jordan has to save slightly on the front aerial, but she hits. Cassidy isn’t sure if she saluted. Apparently it’s no problem. 9.825 for Jordan, so LSU wil go 49.000 exactly on beam. Not the end of the world, but room for concern.

B Caquatto happening now, crucial routine after the fall, can still make this a big rotation score with a hit. They will now be able to drop the mount, and can still probably go around high 49.3s, which is still fine.

Minnesota gets 48.825 on bars. Not what they needed. Lots of pressure on those vault and floor rotations now. Wong gets a 9.875 on beam, good good.

Biggest news from this rotation is that Kytra is unlikely to make floor finals, already sitting in third with LSU still to go. See, this is why I didn’t preview the events.

After 1: Florida, 49.325, LSU 49.000, Illinois 48.850, Minnesota 48.825.
Nothing groundbreaking in that first rotation, but the seeds look OK so far. Video, can you pull yourself together yet?

I’ve refreshed this video feed so many times, I’ll be saying “The age of the oversized luxury car” in my sleep tonight.

Rotation 2:
Georgia and Stanford come in, Illinois and LSU go out. Now that Georgia is going, that’s probably all we’ll hear about on the audio. It’s a very important rotation coming up for Stanford since Minnesota and Illinois haven’t seen large scores. A good floor can set them up as the challenging team.

Cheek hits DLO and whole bars routine. 9.800 opening. OK, but they’ll need more. Macko gets a 9.825 on vault to start. Still slow opening from Florida, but a 9.900 from Johnson is more what we expected. Tanella hits bars and sticks her double back, which she hasn’t done a few times recently.

Important 9.775 for Dayton on floor. She’s been 9.700 the last two times.

9.900 for Tanella her best of the year. Hit for Jay. Georgia is getting on it early. 9.875 for Sloan, so we won’t see her in vault finals. Same score for King, and same result. It’s so unlikely that a 9.875 will get back. UGH! What’s the point of anything then?

Rice goes 9.875 for Stanford on floor. Watch out for this team. They seem to have arrived so far. Georgia having a big start on bars. Shayla sticks her DLO, lots of 9.9s.

Florida gets 9.900s for Dickerson, Hunter, and Johnson on vault to lead the rotation. Score is a 49.450, which will be fine for them. Given that no one for Florida scored over 9.900, 9.900 could get back from this session, but 9.875 won’t.

Cassidy declares that Georgia is going to Super Six because they want it. As opposed to the other teams, which obviously don’t want it.

Davis goes 9.950, and Georgia gets 49.500, the highest rotation score of the day so far. Big start.

The video is back! The video is back! Stuck DLO for Sharaya Musser. Good for her.

Stanford will want to drop the 9.750 for Shona.
Minnesota has a 9.850 and a 9.900 on beam in the last two routines. Important. I think whoever is doing the video commentary with Allison just said that Shona was Joe Morgan’s daughter. Nope. Sorry.

Stumble on her layout from Shapiro. They’ve gone downhill after a good start, now with a 9.700 from Hong. Strong double pike. Overall pretty clean after the stumbly opening. They’ll need something like a 9.950 from AMorgan to keep this competitive.

This is a good beam rotation for Minnesota, Golich finishing. Hitting. Sticks series dismount to layout full. Recovered after bars. 

Good double arabian from Morgan, a little low on her combo double pike middle pass, drops and steps forward, lack of control on the double back with a lunge back. I don’t see that making finals either.

DeZiel on beam, good loso series, small wobble/pause on her dance combo, clean routine overall but enough breaks and a hop on her 2.5 dismount that will probably keep the score down. 

So after two, Florida has underperformed slightly but looks in a very comfortable scoring position going into bars. Georgia had a great bars rotation that should help them ride through any rough patches to come.

Stanford got through floor over 49, but it’s not a great score and leaves work to be done if they want to challenge. Stanford, LSU, and Minnesota are all right around that 196 pace currently, which puts LSU in control since they still have floor and vault.

After 2: Florida, 98.775, Minnesota 97.975, Georgia 49.500, Stanford 49.025, LSU 49.000, Illinois 48.850.

Individual qualification on vault looks interesting. We still certainly have the potential for four people to go over 9.9 and knock all the Floridians out. Chelsea Davis looks secure for bars. Sloan and King are certainly in it for floor, but the LSU rotation will tell us a lot about the scoring. 

Rotation 3:
Florida and Minnesota go away. Big beam rotation for Georgia to expel the demons for good and keep it going. LSU should certainly hit floor, but because beam was just a 49, they’ll want something 49.4ish to keep comfortable.

They need better briefing to the producers about how these meets work. Vault always takes longer to warm up, and we’re missing the other events. Ashley Morgan couldn’t keep it going from regionals and had another flying landing. Should be a low score.

Jordan on floor, really nice double pike, she’s following Dickson’s 9.850 opening, clean through everything so far, split 1/2 was OK, and 1.5 to front 1/1 was very nice. Good routine. 

Chaung comes in on vault. I thought she was out. Lowish landing, crazy legs on block, step to the side. Rough vault opening.

Georgia had a rough beam from Persinger (see, this is what happens when I praise people!) Cheek going now. Nice series. Georgia already counting a 9.775 from Couch. This is very clean from Cheek, stuck gainer full. That’s better.

NO! Ivana Hong hyperextends her knee on her yfull. That’s more than devastating for Stanford. She looks very hurt.

Savona up on floor, nice combo double tuck pass, dances out of her strong 1/2 in 1/2 out to avoid a landing issue.

Missed some action, sorry, but we’re back up with Illinois on bars, trying to drop a 9.525 already. Weinstein steps on her double front. LSU scoring well but yet to reach 9.900. Courville and Hall will look to change that. Waiting on Shayla on beam now,

Stanford has to count Hong’s vault score, ends with 48.950. Won’t help them challenge. Hall on floor now, Huge DLO. She seems a little subdued today, bounces out of her front layout on the middle pass, so it shouldn’t be an amazing score. Double tuck is good. She was doing a really good job at keeping her mouth closed until the end. Floor routines are like chewing: I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth.

Georgia is already counting a 9.700 from Rogers now, Shayla has a small correction on her series, she looks just slightly more tentative than usual but it’s fine, pikes her gainer full and takes and unnecessary step. Earls to finish now, lo lo series is good, minor corrections for her today as well on things like full turns, step back on double back. This rotation won’t be memorable but shouldn’t be a problem.

Hall gets a 9.875, so she and Kytra are both sitting in that 4th position with Georgia still to come on floor. One 9.900 would push both out of finals. Hall bounced out of her middle pass, so the score is justified.  Emily Wong gets a 9.900 on floor as an individual, so Hall and Hunter are out.

Sharaya looks very nice on beam, great series, cuts off her splits a little, great great front aerial, stuck 1.5. Great routine.

Halfway! After three we are, well, exactly where we expected to be at this point. Georgia and LSU are failing to pull away from the pack, but both are through beam and look to sail to the end. As long as LSU doesn’t count a fall on bars, I still like their chances even after a slightly underperformed floor rotation. If this were the second session, I would be much more concerned about Georgia and LSU, but they should be fine for now.

After 3: Florida, 98.775, Georgia, 98.475, LSU, 98.350, Minnesota 98.000, Stanford 97.975, Illinois 97.525.  
Georgia and Stanford get the breaks now. Minnesota goes to floor needing a big score, and Florida will have an opportunity to distance themselves on the bars.

Rotation 4:
Not super happy about this front angle on bars, BDG going, has total EHH legs on her DLO but sticks it.
Dickson, on vault great height, opens on her yfull, small hop in place. Good.
King on bars, a little bit of legs on her bail hs, khorkina looks good, much stronger form on the DLO with a step.

Taylor has a big bounce out of her yfull for LSU, now to Hunter on bars, she needs a big number ofr her AA hopes (tied with Sloan right now going to Sloan’s advantage event), wonderful power on her hindorff, has to muscle up after her shoot, low landing on her tuck full with a step back. 

Mathis has leg break on her block but sticks her yhalf cold. Sloan on bars now.Toe-on tkatchev is excellent, a bit of a leg break in that bail hs, sticks DLO or at least mostly holds onto the stick. Strongest Florida routine so far but she can be stronger. 9.925. She’s to frontrunner in this AA battle now. Watch for Courville’s vault.

Morrison on vault, absolutely wonderful yfull with a stick. It’s equivalent to the 10 she got, but it won’t get that in this context.Mack looking excellent, sticks tuck full, not much to take, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about routines without same-bar releases. Courville sticks her yfull, so she’ll be right there for the AA. 9.950.

LSU goes 49.500 on vault. They’ll be safe with that as long as bars is hit. Johnson on bars, perfection on her tkatchev, perhaps short on that final hs, another spray-legged DLO but stuck.

Golich on floor for Minnesota, following a couple 9.850s. They need the higher scores to fly now. Golich bounces out of her mount,clean otherwise, very strong double pike dismount.

Mable time on floor now, a little low on landing her mount, some squatty knees, straddle positions look good, also has to bounce out of her otherwise strong 1.5 to layout dismount. Probably won’t be the score they need. The top three seeds are growing more comfortable by the moment.

Schermann finished floor for Minnesota – looked good in her opening whip double tuck, had an odd little steppy landing on her leap series, overall they have not been drilling the landings on these passes, which they needed to do to remain competitive. It will still be a very good rotation score, but they probably needed something in the 49.4s to put any pressure on Georgia or LSU.

DeZiel on floor now, really controlled landing on the pike full mount, great landings, clean. Also, I’m not forgetting about Wong and DeZiel in the AA. DeZiel looks to be a touch behind, but Wong is hanging right with Sloan and Courville and Hunter. The winner of this session in the AA will come right down to the end.    

After 4: Florida 148.300, LSU 147.850, Minnesota 147.200, Illinois 146.500, Georgia 98.475, Stanford 97.975

Individually we have:
Sloan 29.700
Courville 29.700
Wong 29.675
King 29.625
Hunter 29.600
DeZiel 29.575

Who gets the edge right now? Don’t count any of these out so far, even though DeZiel is back, she can go 9.950 on vault.
The teams look set unless a fall happens, so the AA should be a major focus of the last two events.

Rotation 5:
Florida and Minnesota will be finishing in this rotation, LSU and Illinois are on break.

Spicer on beam, very small wobble on layout series and again on her full turn, bigger wobble on her gainer loso, again just walking along, this is an extremely nervy routine, another wobble on leaps, I’ve counted five so far, hop-salute on her gainer full. They’ll want to drop, but NBD.

Shona’s piked jaeger looked beautiful in the air, but she was nowhere close to catching. Stanford could have challenged with a good day, but this has been a rough, rough day so far.

Sloan on beam now, going second could hurt her AA chances. Look at her expression. Ha. Great loso series, good aerial to bhs even though that barely counts as a series. A BHS is a conjuction, not punctuation, covers a small wobble on her side aerial by turning her hands into choreo, rasies a foot on her double full but doesn’t really move.

Ashley Morgan also misses her jaeger, so Stanford is out. Bad meet for them. And now Wing has to come in for Hong on bars after not ebing here all season.

9.900 is strong for Sloan. Can Courville match on bars? Strong double back for Persinger, followed by a clean double pike, this is a nice recovery after beam, her switch ring is nice, as is her illusion. Great potential for scoring on this event because her deductions come from landings. Very nice.

Kytra on beam now, she’s out of the fight to defend her AA title, but clean so far, loso, nice straddles. The best thing that happened to her gymnastics was being able to get rid of her split skills coming to NCAA. Very nice double back, hop together and salute. 

Shayla on floor, double pike is great and high as always but not quite the control in the landing as usual, huge stumble and lunge out of her front 2/1, she always dances out of it, but this was a clear, deductible lunge. Won’t be her best score.

Shapiro on bars now, can she make finals again? Great hs positions but a large hop on a short DLO landing. That will be rough for her.

Minnesota doesn’t perform up to expectations on vault, 49.175. They finish with a 196.375.

Couch back on floor, a little lower in the pike full landing than her usual, whip double full is very strong, really good double pike dismount – stuck. It was quite clean after the mount in terms of the tumbling landings at least. I would give it a 9.850, so we’ll see.

King onto the beam, good front toss, right on for the two-footed layout series, great so far. Why was she out of the lineup until the Stageberg injury? This is excellent, stuck double full. Wonderful.

Was Jay intending to do a back tuck 1/2 in her middle pass? That seems unfamiliar. Squatty on her double tuck dismount, but Georgia is in control going to vault. They’ll be fine.

Florida finishes with 197.775. Archer has a nice gienger to finish for Stanford on bars, stuck or near-stuck DLO, but it doesn’t erase a 48.200, which takes Stanford out.

After 5: Florida, 197.775, Minnesota 196.375, LSU 147.850, Georgia 147.700, Illinois 146.500, Stanford 146.175

Georgia and LSU just have to hit 5/6 on their final events to make this the no-brainer we all thought it would be.

Sloan is our clubhouse AA leader with 39.600. Courville needs a 9.900 on bars to match and a 9.925 to move ahead. Wong needs a 9.925 on bars to match and a 9.950 to move ahead. A fairly comfortable but definitely not out of the woods position for Sloan now.

For the events, Georgia is the only thing standing between a colossal contingent of vault qualifiers at 9.900. Now I’m glad they’ve changed the rules. Bars looks to be Caquatto, Davis, Sloan, and Johnson with a few chances to break it up in the final rotation. Macko is safe on beam and Shealy, Sloan, King, and Nordquist should also advance. Some unexpecteds there. Good. On floor, the safe ones are Wong, Sloan, King, Courville, and Mable.

Rotation 6:
We start with Shona on the bars, small wobble early but nice bhs layout series. I do hope she makes finals here, but that’s very difficult first up. Clean acro and great difficulty, bounce on her double full.

Couch lands a little low on her yfull with a hop forward. Not quite her usual.

Jordan on bars, gets her jaeger, a bit of a crazy shoot to the high bars but sticks her DLO. Nice after Ranzy got a 9.850. Hires looks strong on vault, good body position. Step back.

Dickson hits her jaeger, bail hs was just OK, hop on tuck full dismount. Fine.

Cheek to vault, brilliant height on her yfull, best on the team so far, step back with her right foot.

Courville’s bars now, clean first hs, high jaeger, shoot is improved but still has to muscle out of it. Stuck tuck full. Now this is interesting. Watch the score. They’ve been going pretty high, and this was better than the 9.850s we’ve seen so far.  9.875, she misses Sloan by .025.

Jay performs just the full instead of the 1.5, and it was stuck, but it’s a shame she had to downgrade. 

Better handstands from Wyrcik than at regionals, stuck DLO.

Oh sweet length of event finals! 13 vaulters from this session. THIRTEEN. Thank you, one vault only rule.

Good final routine from Morrison, but it’s all academic now as Florida, LSU, and Georgia cruise.

Vaculik comes off on her loso series. Ruh roh. I was so hoping for a clean day for her.

That was an important bars rotation for LSU. It’s very difficult to judge handstands from this angle, but those landings were much improved. A few of the scores seemed like the judges were getting enthusiastic in the final rotation, and there’s room for improvement on some transitions, but much better than regionals.

Wong’s 9.850 on bars won’t do it, so Sloan will be our leader going into the second session. I do think that 39.600 is very attainable for several gymnasts in that session, though.

Weinstein still in this for floor finals with a good hit, very nice opening, controlled tumbling throughout, hit double tuck dismount. Let’s watch that one. 9.900. She’ll be back.

There’s Kristin Maloney coaching Shealy and rocking the white pants with a black tuxedo stripe.

If Allison calls the second session “The Hunger Games” one more time, I will scream.

Did Stanford not send up a sixth beamer after Hong went out? They had a fall but were already out anyway.

Here’s the final setup:
Semifinal #1:
1. Florida 197.775
2. LSU 197.325
3. Georgia 197.150
4. Minnesota 196.375
5. Illinois 195.700
6. Stanford 194.700

1. Sloan 39.600
2. Courville 39.575
3. Wong 39.525
3. King 39.525
5. Hunter 39.475

Vault qualifiers: Courville, LSU; Martin, Denver; Jay, Georgia; Wong, Nebraska; Johnson, Florida: Dickerson, Florida; Hunter, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Cheek, Georgia; Mathis, LSU; Morrison, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Dayton, Stanford
Bars qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Morrison, LSU; Sloan, Florida; Johnson, Florida; Wyrick, LSU
Beam qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Shealy, Iowa State; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Nordquist, Minnesota
Floor qualifiers: Wong, Nebraska; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Weinstein, Illinois; Courville, LSU; Mable, Minnesota

The only real surprises for me this session were Hunter’s lowish placement in the AA and Hunter and Hall missing out on floor finals. Come back at 9 ET, 6 PT for the second session.

If they even needed to, the Florida Gators established themselves as a clear frontrunner out of the first semifinal, not because they had some amazing performance but because they had an average performance and still cruised to victory. Don’t expect Kytra to be off again tomorrow.

Georgia and LSU should both be pleased with their performances. Like every other team in the session, they did not land floor particularly well. Even though LSU scored higher today, that was closer to the ideal performance for the Tigers (are they going to be that good again on bars landings?), while Georgia has more room for improvement after a rough beam performance. I don’t see either challenging Florida, but they will pester.

And now, on to the main event, the second semifinal.

This is what we’re here for. Let’s assume the video will be stronger.
Floor will be interesting to watch. Every team struggled with landings in the first session, some landing short, some lacking control. If it’s a struggle again, that hurts the teams relying on floor for a big score.

For this session, Oklahoma gets the award for most helpful team by posting the lineups. You may also clean the erasers and stack the chairs at the end of the day.

-No Gutierrez for Alabama and still Sledge on just one event. That does hurt scoring potential.
-Sawa in for MDLT on vault for UCLA. Pritchett still in.
-Michigan trying to get some score building by opening vault with Zurales and finishing with Colbert. Still no Zurales on bars.

Feed has begun. Intros now. No sound. Watch the sticking early. Ragged landings early, tight performances, can mean work to do later. There will be little room to do work in this semifinal.

Intros down, anthem done. Warmup time. So, they don’t even know that the sound isn’t working because they’re trying to talk to us. I guess working video was too much to hope for.

Replays from the first session. Are we OK with Courville getting a 9.950 given how much she tucks those legs on her block?

Deep back on UCLA’s brand new leos. Oh, Olivia Courtney, don’t look so nervous. That makes me nervous.

Rotation 1:
UCLA with a colossally important beam rotation to open, Michigan needing to record an edge on bars because they can beat their closest competitors there. Oklahoma should be fine as long as they get through floor with 9.875s.

We’ll open with Baer on the beam. She got a big 9.875 at regionals but fell(ish) at Pac-12s. Good position on her switch side, slight correction on the side somi, wobble on full turn, split 3/4 is excellent, very low layout full in the dismount with a large step forward. Just OK. Tension in the face. 

We’re Arkansasing on the vault (Zumwalde?), some bent knees on the yfull with a hop back.

Wong on beam now, waiting for the Baer score (9.750), good splits and straddle leap series, very clean aerial into bhs fake series, quite secure so far, nice full turn, big hop stumble out of her 1.5. Was very nice until the dismount.

Big 9.875 for Gies to start bars. An awful lot of Arkansas on vault. Elswick also has some bent knees but sticks her vault.

Grable on vault, hops back out of her 1/2 on pike 1/2. I’m worried she won’t make it back with that hop.

Spears now on floor. Oklahoma has a 9.800 from Albright so far. I thought those early splits were a little rough at the beginning. Probably some tension. Really nice tumbling overall though. They opened with 9.800s, so they’ll need to pick it up starting here.

Zurales is in on bars, the lineup lied. Michigan killing it on bars. Freier tucks her yfull and hops to the side, but Arkansas will still use 9.850s from Grable and Elswick to stay healthy.

9.825 from DeJesus on beam, they probably needed more. There will be work to do for Zam and Fracnis. Brittany Harris has an odd hand slip on vault.

Michigan will love this bars performance. Pressure on UCLA now after Courtney’s 9.425, which we didn’t see, but we did see coming given that facial expression earlier. Tremendous pressure on Zam and Francis.

Excellent full turn, gets her onodi cleanly this time, big correction on the aerial, another wobble on her loso series, not her usual routine but she has to get through to keep UCLA alive, bounces out of her double full. It’s a hit but not a great one. That hurts the team and her AA hopes.

Big 49.400 for Michigan on bars. Brie Olson on floor now, front 1.5 looks pretty good, and again as a dismount. Not a lot of difficulty but proficient routine.

UCLA doesn’t just need a hit from Danusia, they need some perfection here. Aerial bhs series is right on and solid, good full turn, just the dismount left, stuck. She did that routine as well as she could do. They will drop Courtney’s mistakes but stay at least somewhat alive.

Scaman on floor, hit DLO, 1.5 to loso is nice. Oklahoma started slowly with the scoring, but they are making this a healthy rotation. This shouldn’t be a problem, small lack on control on double tuck.

Danusia gets an important 9.900. Frankly, I would have gone 9.950. UCLA will take some solace that they outperformed Georgia and LSU on beam, but I don’t think that will cut it for this semifinal. I just hope that makes it back to finals for Francis, but I have my doubts. 

Bri Guy on floor, very nice DLO. Gets her front 2/1 to front tuck around but it is very low. Hit routine.

After 1: Michigan 49.400, Oklahoma 49.275, UCLA 49.075, Arkansas 48.975  
Good for Michigan, fine for Oklahoma, and not encouraging for UCLA and Arkansas. We’ll say goodbye to UCLA and Arkansas now and welcome Utah and Alabama.

I’d like to thank the feed for showing us zero of Michigan’s bars routines, but a really important rotation for Michigan. I have to think that if they outscore UCLA by a couple tenths here, they will be home comfortably.

None of our AA favorites did very well in that first rotation. Good news, Bridget.

Rotation 2:
Sledge will open on bars for Alabama (grumble), great first hs, gienger is great, hops forward on the DLO, so gave away a little there on what they needed to be a big score. Just a 9.800.

Spears on vault, hops back on yfull. This is her “just OK” event.

Martinez on beam now, good loso series, huge wobble on leaps but saves it and stays on the beam, another wobble on the side aerial, big hop on 1.5. It won’t be a big score but it’s a hit.

Jacob on bars, the ray looks good, but these handstands still aren’t there, fights to hold onto the stick on the DLO.

9.900 for Mooring on vault, big deal for Oklahoma’s vault. Clark on bars now, but first it’s just a 9.550 for Martinez, so some UCLA problems on beam for Michigan. Clark was going well, a little short on her bail hs position, good DLO but not a huge routine.

Scaman vaulting, 1.5 but a big step out of it again, which will bring down the score.

Sampson on beam, correction on loso series, looked tight going into that series, wobble on sheep jump. Michigan already counting a 9.600 fom Miele, so they can’t afford any of these wobbles. Fine routine from Sampson but not ideal. 

Priess to bars, nice tkatchev as always, khorkina was strong too, hop in place on DLO and one missed handstand, but it was fine. Alabama won’t see a big score here, but I think they’ll be content. 9.900 is high.

Utah trying to drop a 9.625 from Del Priore (has she hit very well since the 10? Curse.) Damianova now, drops into her double back well, overall clean gymnastics. I think the judges will be happy with this.

Michigan gets a very important 9.875 from Zurales, but a huge routine from Casanova still to come, and she has struggled this year.

Better tuck full from Tutka than at regionals, legs in her front going into the second pass. Strong double back. This will be a big floor score for Utah. They need a big lead after the first two events.

Oklahoma and Alabama both went 49.275 on that rotation. But fine scores, nothing to worry about, but not separating them from the pack. Utah gets a 49.300 on floor, outscoring Oklahoma there by .025. Now this will be interesting to see how UCLA does on the floor. Michigan gave away any advantage with that beam rotation, so this is still open open open. Oklahoma and Alabama aren’t clear yet either.

After 2: Oklahoma 98.550, Michigan 98.175, Utah 49.300, Alabama 49.275, UCLA 49.075, Arkansas 48.975
The goal for UCLA should be to outscore Utah on the floor. The key will be how the judges feel about Pritchett’s routine. Alabama needs a big beam rotation to try to escape the. Kayla Williams will be the vital performance to watch after her recent struggles and difficult podium training.

Rotation 3:
Utah will need their two-event score to be higher than Oklahoma’s to feel comfortable right now.

DeJesus to start for UCLA on floor. I like the decision to move her to leadoff because if the judges respond to her dance, she could bump up the score for the rest of the team. Slightly low on double pike but fine, solid landing on the double back (We see a beam hit for Milliner in the background), switch ring wasn’t all the way there, 1.5 to layout is good. hit routine.

Grable on bars, nice jaeger, perhaps short on her bail hs, nice final hs and a stuck double front. Very nice. Lofgren on vault has leg form on the block and pikes down. Stuck, though.

Still a little shocked that Bynum is competing in the postseason. Double back was low but hit, switch split was . . . not one. Hits double tuck dismount. They got through this routine, which was big.  

Now the Williams routine, gets the punch front this time, just a bit low, very clean loso, this is the routine they hoped for from her, bends to hold onto the 1.5 stick.

Wilson on vault, not quite the stick we expect from her. With that and the piking, I’d go 9.900.

Salmon gets through her bars routine. Arkansas trying to get back a fall from Borsellino. They’re scoring well but a few breaks in the Salmon routine. 

Zam hits floor for UCLA. Pritchett now. 1/2 in 1/2 out was very secure. Low chest on the double pike dismount as per usual but that front foot wasn’t moving.

Alabama got through the danger zone on beam, now they can just work. Hits her lo lo series, slightly short of rotation on that popa but fine. Has she ever wobbled on that barani? Like ever? Hope forward on 1.5.

Courtney now, controlling the mount is always key for her. She controlled it this time. Nice. Courtney appears on so far. The judges gave Pritchett a 9.900, which is fair and not overenthusiastic. Strong double pike. UCLA should feel pretty good about this floor rotation.

Priess hits her aerial + swingdown well, that switch split did not hit the position, L turn is excellent, sticks gainer full. She gets a 9.825. They took for those splits. Beam judges a little tight overall so far though. 

Sawa’s floor routine is just gravy now, excellent double tuck mount, double pike is secure with a low chest, opportunity to improve on that 9.800 from Bynum here, pulls her front layout around. Also anchoring after Courtney should help bump up that score. 9.825, which is fair but didn’t get the bump.

Wonderful 2.5 from Stambaugh, this is better than the routine that received a 9.950 at regionals until a few low rudi dismount that will keep her from finals.

After 3: Alabama 98.550, Oklahoma 98.550, UCLA 98.525, Utah 98.500, Michigan 98.175, Arkansas 97.875
Nothing between those top teams now. Alabama and Oklahoma will feel comfortable that they have their good events still to come after some 49.2 rotations about. UCLA got back in this with the highest floor score of the day so far. Utah is in a tough position because their weaker events are still to come. They needed more than that 49.200 on vault.

Big work to do for Michigan on floor, but I think even a 49.300 keeps them in fairly good position with those vaults still to come. Control, control, control. UCLA didn’t have the best landing positions, but they landed more securely than any team so far today, which is why they got the highest score.

I expect big work from Oklahoma on bars. They need those sticks and need a 49.400 to start to feel comfortable in this.

Rotation 4:
We’ll start with Grable on beam, good full turn, small correction after her aerial but hit loso series, other than one wobble, everything is excellent, eee double pike is low with a step forward, that will keep this routine out of EF.

Syd Sawa on vault, sticks a yfull. Where did that come from, lady? Great vault to open. 9.825 is lowish by a tad for a stick but it was the leadoff. Pritchett sticks as well, but didn’t have the leg form. Perhaps her best of the year so far, though.  

Clark for Oklahoma on bars, handstands look good, sticks double back, easy routine for her.

Michigan gets a good 9.850 start from Beilstein, now needs a good number from Zurales. Nice high double pike, this is clean and they need these big scores.

Well, it appears the judges only went a touch low on the first vault because they have given a 9.950 to Kaelie Baer, her career high, looked stuck I suppose with the minorest of corrections in the foot. Courtney breaks the sticking streak, but her vault is good enough that it should still score well.

Zam needs a stick to keep her AA hopes alive and keep the team in good shape. Hops back. If that doesn’t make finals, though  . . .Her vault is so much better than anyone else that it should still score exceptionally well.  A 9.900, but that’s still in EF contention, but Michigan and Alabama still to go. I’m concerned. Some overjudging of landings in this vault rotation, accounting for Baer’s score being higher than Zam’s.

Nice jaeger for Spears from Oklahoma, hop forward on double arabian.

Michigan going very well on floor so far, and they will look to drop Colbert’s 9.775. They need to match UCLA on this event given UCLA’s 49.500 on vault.

Sugiyama hits floor to keep Michigan going, excellent double pike dismount.

Freier on beam now, Arkansas going on a 9.800 streak on beam, which will not be good enough. Wobble on her side aerial, hits loso series. Good dance elements, hop back on gainer full.

Michigan needs a big score from Sampson to equal UCLA’s score, but it’s possible. Just a tremendous DLO, this will score extremely well. That regionals performance is a distant memory. UCLA still with a big lead on Michigan. Michigan can still gain because they are stronger on vault than UCLA is on bars. All those vaults need to be stuck though.

Big rotations for UCLA and Oklahoma with 49.500s. A bit of breathing room for both for the moment, but Oklahoma still has to do beam and UCLA still has to work through those bar routines, which were only average at regionals. They must be much crisper with more stuck landings today.

After 4: Oklahoma 148.050, UCLA 148.025, Michigan 147.575, Arkansas 146.875, Alabama 98.550, Utah 98.500
Teams are beginning to get a feel for the floor now, and I expect Alabama to keep the pace with Oklahoma and UCLA’s totals here and then jump forward finishing on vault. Oklahoma goes to beam, needs something better than that 49.175 from regionals. I’m not completely counting out Utah yet, but it will be a challenge on these remaining events. Stuck dismounts are imperative. 

Michigan and Oklahoma are finishing here and will set the pace. The score to beat for Michigan on vault is 49.500. Very possible.   

In the AA, lots of people pecking around the necessary number, but surprisingly Sloan’s score looks pretty safe. I’m kind of shocked by that. Zamarripa struggled on beam and couldn’t control her vault.

I’m very interested to see how this Colbert-last strategy works for Michigan on vault.

Rotation 5:
Priess to open on floor. Good double back, switch ring was just OK, very squatty on her double pike dismount with a large step back. That will take her score out of the great range. 

Hughes is hitting her handstands on bars until the end, hop forward on tuck full. Fine but they need great.

Sampson on vault, very strong form in the air, hops in place, but otherwise that was excellent.
Oklahoma gets a 9.825 for Mooring. Sugiyama is under on her y1.5 and steps back, they did not need that after Beilstein’s low score.

Kmieciak on beam now, correction on her loso series, very small break on her leaps series. A little low on her double tuck dismount with a step forward.
Utah is getting big scores on bars. The number just shifted into high gear in the second half of this rotation.

What a time to lose the wifi, huh? Anyway, Michigan gets just a 49.275 on vault. They needed much more than that, but Utah gets some insane scores on bars to stay right in this thing. To the people who saw the routines, how do you feel about those Utah scores? Landings, landings, landings I suppose.

Eeek. Apparently Atkinson hurt herself on bars. Nice to see her walking away.
Oklahoma has been good not great on beam so far, but they need a good hit from Spears. Very clean routine until she hopped forward on her gainer full. They can’t afford those hops.

Big double arabain from Milliner, a little bouncy on her middle pass, otherwise a strong routine. 9.950.

Oklahoma scores a 197.200 as a final score. Remember that is not safe so far. Alabama, UCLA and Utah all can pass that. Michigan looks to be done.

Alabama is in very healthy position with a 49.450 on floor.

Here’s how we stand. UCLA needs a 49.200 on bars to go ahead of Oklahoma. Alabama needs a 49.225 on vault to do the same, and Utah needs a 49.250 on beam to do the same. In order of likelihood, Alabama is the most likely and Utah is the least likely.

I didn’t see enough of Oklahoma’s beam to get a good sense, but did it feel harsh to anyone else? Then again, the beam judging has been tight all session, which may be trouble for Utah.

Rotation 6:
This is what it all means. This is by no means decided going into the final rotation. Alabama should feel the best right now. No one else can breathe.This really may come down to Dabritz on beam. Also watch UCLA. None of those regionals 9.7s.

Important Tutka routine for Utah now, huge break in the hips on the series. Pressure already on everyone else, another one on the front, they’ll have to drop this score. Pikes her gainer full as well. 

Williams on vault, ooh steps. I almost assumed the stick. Still a great score, but it will be another test as to the overjudging of landings. Nothing else was wrong. Jacob follows with a pretty large hop out of it. She wouldn’t be vaulting if Sledge or Gutierrez were able.

Wong on bars, nice jaeger, just piked on her bail hs, short on DLO with a hop. They’ll want to drop this but it wasn’t horrible.

Good yfull from Priess but piked and hops to the side. Not great so far, but they don’t need to be great. Great yfull from Clark. More controlled on landing than Williams.

DeJesus had one questionable handstand but otherwise owned it. Good height for Beers on vault but again another non-stick. Unexpected and will become an issue tomorrow.

De La Torre goes over on a handstand. They did not need that big mistake there. They are not safe.

Also a step from Milliner on her 1.5 Alabama needs sticking help.

Alabama finishes with 197.375. They are safe.

Oklahoma thanks the great Sooner as Utah will be counting a 9.4 on beam.
On bars, Courtney had some form breaks and a step on dismount, but the pressure is so much lower now that Utah has fallen.

UCLA doesn’t need an amazing score from Zam, but they still need a good one to pass Oklahoma.She overindulges that first handstand a little, but is low again on her DLO and steps forward. It may just be that UCLA doesn’t pass Oklahoma and is saved by Utah’s multiple mistakes on beam.

Lofgren hits beam for Utah, but a bad beam rotation takes them out of it. This has been building all season and is no surprise.

UCLA finishes with a 197.200, same as Oklahoma and would have lost the tiebreak had it mattered.

Finishing up with the Arkansas floor routines, but we already know that Alabama, Oklahoma, and UCLA will advance to Super Six.

Dabritz hit beam (not that we saw it)! I suppose that’s a very small consolation.

Bridget Sloan will be our national AA champion.

Grable finishes the competition for us with an exceptionally good routine, great double arabian, very slightly low on her double pike but nice. I hope she makes finals. She will. Great routine.

Oh BARF! I just noticed we have another 11 vault qualifiers from this session. At least Zam makes it, but it means we have 24 vaulters in finals on Sunday. Bring your survival kit. Stay hydrated.

OK here is where we stand overall:
1. Florida 197.775
2. Alabama 197.350
3. LSU 197.325
4. Oklahoma 197.200
4. UCLA 197.200
6. Georgia 197.150
7. Michigan 196.850
8. Minnesota 196.375
9. Utah 196.200
10. Arkansas 196.150
11. Illinois 195.700
12. Stanford 194.700

1. Sloan 39.600
2. Courville 39.575
3. Wong 39.525
3. King 39.525
3. Sampson 39.525
3. Zurales 39.525
5. Hunter 39.475
5. Grable 39.475
5. Dabritz 39.475
Disappointing day for Zamarripa, but she didn’t hit any of those landings. 

Vault qualifiers: Courville, LSU; Martin, Denver; Jay, Georgia; Wong, Nebraska; Johnson, Florida: Dickerson, Florida; Hunter, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Cheek, Georgia; Mathis, LSU; Morrison, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Dayton, Stanford; Sampson, Michigan, Baer, UCLA, Atkinson*, Auburn; Beers, Alabama; Milliner, Alabama; Clark, Alabama; Mooring, Oklahoma; Wong, UCLA; Courtney, UCLA; Zamarripa, UCLA; Wilson, Utah
Bars qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Morrison, LSU; Sloan, Florida; Johnson, Florida; Wyrick, LSU; Brewer, Oklahoma; Dabritz, Utah; Clark, Oklahoma; Damianova, Utah
Beam qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Shealy, Iowa State; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Nordquist, Minnesota; Williams, Alabama; Francis, UCLA; Zurales, Michigan; Brewer, Oklahoma
Floor qualifiers: Wong, Nebraska; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Weinstein, Illinois; Courville, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Milliner, Alabama; Grable, Arkansas; Courtney, UCLA; Jacob, Alabama; Sampson, Michigan; Damianova, Utah

See you tomorrow, 7:00 ET, 4:00 PT for Super Six

20 thoughts on “National Semifinals Live Blog: Nothing If Not a Show”

  1. Kinda interesting (concerning?) that Michigan flip-flopped so much of their line up even since regionals. Not sure I agree with having Colbert anchor – she usually was fine in the 2nd slot. Sheppard was pretty good at anchor because her height and distance were a guaranteed 9.9 even with a hop.


  2. Spears score seemed harsh, but beam scoring has been strange all day IMO. Spears looked better than Kmieciak IMO. The beam judges aren't overlooking anything for anyone.


  3. Unfortunate, but not unsurprising, end for Michigan. Stick a few more landings, and just scrape a 49 on beam as usual and it's smooth sailing. I wonder why Michigan struggles year after year on beam, whether it's the athletes they recruit (mostly power-ish) or the coaching….


  4. Spears score seemed a little harsh to me too, but 3 out of the 4 judges gave her a 9.8, so I assume they saw something. The only thing I noticed besides the hop on the landing was that she was very, very slow (even for NCAA) on at least one of her connections – the one with her beat jump.


  5. Agreed about Michigan on beam. Michigan is a Super Six team on three events and in that tough second session, they needed to be a Super Six team on all four. However, I will say that Michigan's beam performances this year have actually been an improvement over past seasons, specifically with consistency. I worry now about their level of polish and not whether they will fall. HUGE improvement for Michigan this season and I think they'll keep improving next year.


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