Over the weekend, a few top teams displayed their wares to adoring crowds of dozens, and like the timely person I am, I’m now getting around to summing up what happened.
Michigan held an exhibition meet against Central Michigan, complete with live video, commentary, and live scoring. It was a bit like the season had come early, and I was altogether too excited by that. When I do the team previews, I’ll go into more depth about how the lineups look on each event, but for now let’s talk about floor because it was the clear highlight. The team showed eight routines, as most do in these preseason meets, and all eight mounted with E skills and showed a very high level of tumbling overall. The six competition routines could certainly be the final lineup, and there were fewer endurance issues than I expected.
Vault and bars looked pretty impressive for this point in the season as well, with seven good lineup contenders on each event (seven isn’t ideal, but it’s workable). In the training videos, Austin Sheppard has been an unexpected bars highlight. Here, she went over on her straddle back and had to correct and cowboyed her double front, but the piked tkatchev was huge and the potential is there. Beam was the worry, surprising no one, with some seriously wobbly performances, which was reflected in the scores. Still, it’s just December. The big positive on beam, however, was Talia Chiarelli, who performed the most secure routine of the eight competitors and worked with a confidence we never saw from her on this event as an elite. I was very concerned about her on beam, so this was pleasing to see. Let’s hope she’s one of those gymnasts who gains confidence as the more difficult elite skills are removed from her routine.
With the exception of Briley Casanova, who has been out with concussion issues, all of the returning gymnasts from last season look like strong bets to make their events again. Brooke Parker also appeared, exhibitioning on two events like she’s right back at Alabama.
In other news, Double Front has a whole mess of videos from Oklahoma’s intrasquad for your perusal. Event winners were Kmieciak on vault, Spears on bars, Mooring and Clark on beam, and Spears on floor.
UCLA also held a preseason celebration, but as is normal with UCLA in the preseason, it’s hard to draw any impressions about actual form from this show, other than that Sadiqua Bynum’s DLO was a nice surprise and that Angi Cipra is clearly the new Val favorite. Sorry, everyone else.