Friday Live Blogs – Oklahoma v. Florida, UCLA v. Cal

Friday – 1/31/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ [2] Florida (Scores) (Video – school subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Michigan State @ [4] Michigan (Scores) (Video – all-access)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [7] Alabama @ [3] LSU (Scores) (Video – school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [12] Auburn @ [10] Arkansas (Video – school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa @ [17] Illinois (Scores)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [9] UCLA @ [22] Cal
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [16] Boise State @ Southern Utah (Scores)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [18] Denver @ BYU (Scores)

Current top 10:

The Oklahoma and Florida clash will get underway at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT. Be there. For now, feel free to muse about who will receive 10s tonight.

Lineups – looks like Charity Jones is doing exhibition on bars, which is nice to see. Kanewa is also in that lineup. No Brewer on bars, but she is back on beam and floor. Apparently. Wofford is only doing exhibition on beam because no one listens to me. Florida’s lineups look the same as last week.

We’re done with Oklahoma introductions, and now we’re meeting the Gators. Dancing, etc. You haven’t missed anything yet.  

Rotation 1 – Florida on vault, Oklahoma on bars
Florida vault:
1. B Caquatto – yfull – clean in the air but a very large bounce back on landing, not as controlled as last week. 9.750
2. Spicer – yfull – pretty strong, controlled her landing with just a small hop in place, a little piking. 9.850
3. M Caquatto -Better than last week, better block and landing farther up, hop back though, so the landings haven’t been great so far. 9.850.
4. Johnson – Also better in the air than last week, higher, small hop back. 9.875.
5. Sloan – Big and excellent on the yfull with a stick. Similar to the stick against UCLA I would say. 9.950. 
6. Hunter – Gorgeous 1.5, but she’ll still be looking for the 10 with a small hop forward there. Nice job, though. 9.950.

Oklahoma bars:
1. Kmieciak – nice tkatchev, clean in bail, step back on the tuck full dismount but looked clean on the bars themselves, didn’t see any problematic handstands. 9.825.
2. Clark – Leg break in shaposh on the swingback but clean in the skill, also hops back on her dismount (double tuck). 9.875
3. Scaman – Nice piked jaeger, bail looked a little floppy but hit – near stick on her full out, small adjustment. Strong. 9.800.
4. Kanewa – Strong jaeger, it’s a clean routine overall but she cowboys her double front dismount quite significantly, which is unusual for an Oklahoma bars lineup. Not the cleanliness we expect from them. 9.825
5. Spears – beautiful handstands and big jaeger, everything was going quite well until a hop forward on the double arabian, so not as strong as we saw from her last week. 9.775. Not sure what I missed there, but we’ll see. Maybe short on the bail? Couldn’t tell. 
6. Wofford – Excellent handstands, clean on the bail, her jaeger is gorgeous and the tuck full dismount is very nice in the air but she had a step (borderline two) on the dismount. 9.875.

Charity Jones has trouble on her overshoot and goes wonky in exhibition but stays on the bars. She has big gymnastics, but there are areas to clean up to get into the lineup.

After 1: Florida 49.475, Oklahoma 49.200

Florida has the lead after the first rotation, and it’s due to a much-improved vault performance over last week. Macko and Alaina blocked way better and had more height, and Bridget Sloan stuck very well. This is the best Florida has looked on vault so far this year, but there’s still room for improvement in the landings from everyone except Sloan. We’re getting to the point in the year where we can start expecting more sticks.

Oklahoma looked pretty on the bars themselves. It’s tough to judge handstands from this camera angle, but I didn’t see anything that looked too bad. I assume I missed something on Spears’ routine for a 9.775, but that’s definitely possible. The dismounts were not that great. Lots of steps except for Clark, so they gave away probably a couple tenths in the rotation score just on those dismounts. Definitely advantage Florida so far, which is not what Oklahoma needed. They needed a lead after the first. 

Rotation 2 – Florida on bars, Oklahoma on vault

Florida bars:
1. BDG – Excellent shaposh, hits bail, this is her usual routine including the high DLO with splayed legs on the second layout, fights for stick and may have kept it, lots of bending for it, though. 9.875.
2. Hunter – Excellent Hindorff as always, solid bail, lands hunched over on her tuck full with a step – looked a little close to the bar on that. 9.875. 
3. B Caquatto – Very big Ray – too big? – had to work for that next handstand, strong bail, sticks her DLO. Her dismount is very nice. 9.875.
4. Sloan – Another great Ray, floppy legs in her bail handstands and has to struggle for her next handstand. Amazing DLO, but not her best routine because of some awkward low bar action. 9.900. 
5. M Caquatto – strong shaposh and bail, good counter rotation on her tkatchev, lands low on her tuck full with a large lunge forward. 9.850. 
6. Johnson – Her Ray is the best of the Ray sisters, lovely stalder, small leg break in bail, DLO with a step back, but overall strong. 9.875.

Oklahoma vault:
1. Mooring – Pretty yhalf, a little short on the landing so had to take a step back, but fine. 9.800.
2. Lovan -Fine yfull but not the power we have seen from most of the other vaulters today, some piking. 9.825.
3. Kmieciak – nice stick on her yfull – comparatively with Sloan’s stick I would say she didn’t have the same distance, but a very good vault. 9.900.
4. Capps – Pretty yfull with very good distance, tries her hardest to hang onto the stick with the smallest of adjustments. Very nice. 9.900
5. Scaman – It’s probably smart that she’s down to the full instead of the 1.5 because it’s beautiful and she controls it so well. Good, just a small step. 9.925. 
6. Kanewa – Pretty good yfull, very high, hop back, not her absolute best, but this has been a strong vault rotation. 9.875.

SCP gives us a bars exhibition to show off her stalders, as she should. Would make most lineups but enough deductions in this routine to keep her as a backup – also some leg bend in her DLO.  

After 2: Florida 98.875, Oklahoma 98.625

Pretty strong rotation for both teams. Florida is still giving away too much at the end of that lineup. Macko and Alaina did not get their dismounts again this week. Sloan did but wasn’t at her best on the bars themselves. They can still get stronger here but have the lead at halfway, which is very important for them. Oklahoma looked much better on vault than on bars, pulling out that rotation with four strong vaults to end the lineup. A couple more landings would have given them a 49.5.

Rotation 3 – Florida on beam, Oklahoma on floor
Florida beam:
1. Spicer – Small adjustment just standing there but not a wobble, hits loso series, just a few very small corrections here and there. Switch leap is OK, sticks gainer full. Fine start, a little tentative early. 9.825
2. Johnson – hits opening aerial + bhs series, hangs onto her leap series after the split and does well to connect, comes off strangely on her side aerial into the dismount and has to tuck her dismount a little and lands pretty much completely off the mat. 9.750.
3. Boyce – hits aerial to bhs combo, a little sluggish in connecting the two but it won’t be a problem or deducted, hits loso series, switch and split look fine, solid stick on gainer full. One of her better beam routines so far this year. 9.900. 
4. Hunter – Better front tuck mount this week, check on the loso but it could easily have turned into a bend at the hips and she saves it from going that far, everything else looks good, one small step on the double tuck. 9.875
5. Sloan – Hits loso series well, hits her aerial to scale as well, excellent fluidity on the full turn, wobble on her side aerial – that’s the one issue area in this routine it seems – excellent double full dismount with a stick. 9.950. 
6. M Caquatto – Strong loso series, wobbles slightly on her aerial before connecting it to the swingdown, strong switch and split, steps back on her gainer full. Oh, Macko! 9.875.

Oklahoma floor:
1. Spears – She always has my favorite Oklahoma floor music – all moody, split full wasn’t quite there, front double mount is OK – perhaps could use a touch more control? – 1.5 + layout middle pass, small bounce back on rudi, but a good starting off point. 9.825
2. Capps – Bounces back on her double pike, layout + full is strong as a second pass, pushing the truck choreo before her final pass – double full to loso is strong – biggest problem was the landing on the mount. 9.800.
3. Brewer – Strong double tuck to open, bounces on her layout + full, gets good height on her dance elements to complete them, secure double pike to finish. 9.800.
4. Kanewa – missed her opening pike full unfortunately, clean middle pass, it’s good for them to get that big E difficulty into the lineup. Secure double pike to finish. There are small areas of refinement, but nice routine. 9.875
5. Albright – promoted to fifth after leading the team for the last two weeks with 9.900s. Clean front double full to start, and a strong 1.5 to full as well, best landing control on the team so far. It’s worthy of this spot in the lineup. Hits rudi to finish. Good routine. 
6. Scaman – Strong DLO – she has the biggest gymnastics on this team – and you know how I always love a loso out of a pass, bounces back on her double back dismount so not the score she could have had.

Colussi-Pelaez doing exo on beam – wobbles on her switch and her back tuck knocks the cap off the end of beam. Has a large break on her side aerial as well. Oh, Silvia. You’re not going to make the lineup with this.

Florida extends the lead after the third event. Florida 148.300, Oklahoma 147.925

Much like on bars, Florida looked pretty good on beam but can do better than this. Johnson botched her dismount and Kytra and Macko both had a break or two that we wouldn’t expect them to have. So the verdict for Florida so far is good, but there is clear room for fixing on every event, which is probably what we would expect for January 31st. On floor for Oklahoma, it was a bit better than the last couple weeks, but there’s still room for more control on these landings. Some bouncing that really brought the scores down. 49.300 is not a problem; it just won’t help them win this meet.

But now we’re arriving at the moment of truth. Florida and the floor. I think we’re all dying to see what happens here. WAIT. I muted it during the commercial so I could type and I missed Marissa King talking! I’m the worst. What’s the point of anything if I miss an interview with Marissa King?  

Rotation 4 – Florida on floor, Oklahoma on beam
Florida floor:
1. Boyce – front double full, small slide of the back leg there, 1.5 to front pike second pass, splits look OK this week, secure rudi. 9.825. Appropriate.
2. M Caquatto – front double full – minor lack of control in the landing as well but OK – full + pike with a little bounce, 1.5 + layout is strong. Funny that this routine was better or equivalent to last week. 9.850.
3. Spicer – pike full but not stuck this time, an awkward locked landing and bounce there, full + pike looks good, question on leaps but not major, a little squatty on the dismount landing, so not as strong as last week. 9.850. 
4. Sloan – Another excellent landing on the front double full mount, good splits in the corner before her ASac rub, double pike looks equivalent to last week, excellent stick on the 1.5 + layout. Very nice routine. 9.950. Didn’t have a strange 9.975 before her this time or a crowd shouting 10.
5. Hunter – DLO is her DLO, didn’t look like there was a bounce this week, either. Her middle pass is such a good decision because it is both impressive and low risk for her. Straddles look fine, and the double tuck dismount looked more secure than last week. Now this will be interesting because I thought this was better than last week’s routine that got a 10. 10.000. Here we go.
6. B Caquatto -front double full to front tuck is strong to open, 1.5 to split jump and has to struggle to control the big split jump – she got too high for herself it looked like – good straddles and secure double pike. Good.

Oklahoma beam:
1. Kmieciak – Loso series looks good, small wobble on straddle half, step back on double tuck but a solid opening. 9.825.
2. Capps – pretty mount, she moves very well on beam, but comes off on her bhs + loso + bhs series on the final bhs – just off on the loso and couldn’t get either foot on the beam there on the last bhs. Strong aerial, as well as switch and straddle, step-salute on her gainer full.
3. Brewer – strong loso series to open, good straddle 1/2, large step back on double back, but that’s most of the deductions. 9.850.
4. Mooring – Lovely legs in her loso series, clean aerial, switch leap is good, this is excellent so far, large hop forward on her 1.5 dismount, which once again will account for most of the deductions.  
5. Spears – beautiful onodi to open her routine, nice leaps. Clean aerial, this is lovely in every way so far, small boucne on the gainer full it looked like, but best routine so far. 9.900.
6. Clark – Clean aerial, hits her sheep jump, controls her side somi, sticks her 1.5 dismount. Another good beam rotation for Oklahoma, coming back from the fall. 

Final Score: Florida 197.875, Oklahoma 197.225

A really strong meet from both teams overall. There weren’t really any problems except for the one fall for Oklahoma on beam. All things taken into account, this was a stronger meet for Florida than last week’s I think. There were places of high scoring throughout as we would expect, but nothing that went too too crazy this time. On floor, the score was a 49.575 for a performance that was probably mostly equivalent to last week’s. A few people were better, a few people were worse, but overall the same. The difference is that the judges kept it under control for the first couple routines, so the final score didn’t seem as strange. As for Kytra’s 10, I doubt we’ll hear much argument because it was better than last week’s 10. Sloan’s routine was probably about the same as last week’s.

Oklahoma wasn’t really in this for the win after the first rotation, but it was a solid meet. The story of their falling behind will be landings. A couple floor landings weren’t there, and those who are doing the double back beam dismounts are giving away tenths on landing that bring the scores down below where we would expect them to be, but they had only one stick on six beam dismounts, which hurt. If they had some more sticks, this meet would have been very close.

I was pleased by Florida’s vaulting. Best vault performance of the year for them. Still some areas to work on for those bars and beam routines, though, with the bars landings and the beam wobbles. They can be better than this. Sloan wins the AA with a 39.750. 39.7s are just normal for her now.

OK, bonus coverage! I’m going to stick around to do UCLA against Cal.

Rotation 1 – Cal on vault, UCLA on bars.
Cal vault:
1. Crawford – some leg break on her yfull block and a big hop back but strong. 9.700
2. Owens – big pike on her yfull with a very low landing and short. 9.600.
3. Howe – much better yfull with only a small landing adjustment – piked in the air as well. 9.850. 
4. Leong – Strong yfull, some small piking at the end and a minor hop but a good vault. 9.850.
5. Asturias – Good height and distance on her yfull, large step back on landing, but nice. 9.800
6. Paz – Not a ton of height or power but OK on the landing of her yfull. Didn’t look like she came onto the horse as intended there. 9.650

UCLA bars:
1. Francis – Thank you for being back, very clean until the double pike dismount with a hop forward, but it would have been one of the best of the rotation last week. 9.825.  
2. Sawa -good first hs, high tkatchev, short final handstand, and short on the double pike dismount with a hop. 9.850.
3. Craddock – good handstands, leg break on her pak, but this is a bit better than last week but very late on her giant full and a small hop on the double back. OK. 9.775.
4. Courtney – Good shaposh, clean bail, hits her toe on, buffered on the dismount but they seem pleased. 9.875. 
5. Mossett – good first handstand and stalder shoot, bail and pak look strong, lets see this stalder, though – a little better this time but still a big elbow bend there – small hop on the dismount, pretty good overall though. 9.900.
6. DeJesus – clean first handstands, crazy legs on the gienger (or as Amanda says, “flawless form”), bail looked borderline, big chest down on her dismount with a step but otherwise things looked OK. 9.850.

Well, UCLA looked much better on bars this week than last week. They got some more benefit of the doubt in the scoring as well, which certainly helps. They still need some Peszek action. A 49.300 doesn’t speak to some of the form mistakes and non-stuck dismounts we saw, but it’s a hit and they can go on from there to events like vault and floor where they have looked stronger so far. Cal has some good vaults in the middle of that lineup but didn’t get enough landings to receive the scores to get them into the 49s, lots of big steps and hops.  

After 1: UCLA 49.300, Cal 48.850

Rotation 2: Cal on bars, UCLA on vault
Cal bars:
1. Richardson – Big taktchev and very nice handstands, some form on the bail, misses final handstand, hop on double pike. Good start, some sloppiness crept in at the end, but potential there. 9.675.
2. Howe – hits jaeger, close on her pak and had to adjust, some form breaks there on the low bar, nice double back, but struggled on the pak and had some handstands. 9.775. 
3. Owens – Nice bail and I love that she does the clear hip up to the high bars. Also missing some handstands, way off on the dismount with a large lunge forward. 9.725.
4. Asutrias – Bhardwaj time! You can deduct for form but I’m glad that she did it. Best handstands so far and one hop on the double back. 9.900. 
5. Crawford – Excellent tkatchev, pretty handstands early in this routine, straddle back. I have a really jumpy stream so apologizes for missing some things. 9.825. 
6. Alferos – She has a nice line, very clean legs on this routine throughout, double front with a step forward. 9.875.

UCLA vault:
1. Pinches – Most secure landing on her yfull so far this year, definite piking and lands pretty short but solid. 9.725. 
2. Mossett – Good power but lands a little over and hops to the side. OK. 9.750.
3. Sawa – Good stick on her yfull, doesn’t come in as upright as she can and a little piking but nice form overall and a very secure landing. 9.875. 
4. Cipra – Clean in the air on the yfull, the hop that we have come to expect from her now. 9.775.
5. Bynum – Yhalf – probably the best she has done it this year, just one smaller step back and a slightly short landing. 9.850.
6. Courtney – Her usual big yfull, but she does hop back again, not the stick that we saw at the beginning of the year. Still strong, though. 9.900

More conservative scoring for UCLA in that rotation, but it looked like they did get docked pretty significantly for some of the height and landing position issues. Sawa had a very strong vault, just a tad weaker than her one that got a 9.950 at home, but they are not landing well enough or maintaining strong enough body shape early in the lineup right now to get those higher scores. I’ll be saying it a lot, but they’re also missing the Peszek here. A lot of form errors early in the bars lineup for Cal, but the back half looks very nice.

After 2: UCLA 98.450, Cal 97.925

Rotation 3 – Cal on beam, UCLA on floor
Cal beam: 
1. Asturias – good full turn, a little short on the aerial but holds on well, a little tentative on that switch split, sticks a front 1.5 dismount, a little hunched over. 9.750.
2. Owens – Some form on the loso series but hits it, wobble on full turn, hits aerial well, good leaps, large lunge back on the double full dismount. 9.800.
3. Leong – wobbles on both of her dance elements to start, very strong layout to two feet, though, right on. Does the double back but lands it short with a big hop. 9.750.
4. Palomares – wobble on opening aerial, hits loso series and the side aerial, wobble on the sheep jump, large step forward out of 1.5 dismount. 9.800.
5. Howe – small pause in her aerial to split connection but OK, strong loso series and the best leg form of the group so far, does the side aerial to layout full dismount like Alaina Johnson and sticks it. 9.900.
6. Paz – Large break at the hips on her three series, just some wobbles here on most skills, again on the full turn, nice gainer full to finish though – good stick. 9.750.

UCLA floor:
1. Francis – slide back on the double pike mount, has to save her middle pass with a very very low double back, splits look great, small stumble on 2.5 dismount but covers it up by dancing out of it well. 9.775.
2. DeJesus – It’s good that they’re getting the dancers into the rotation this year. Huge stumble back on her double pike mount and OOB. Oh, UCLA. Has anyone else ever tried to watch an online stream on the Pac-12 netowrk website? It’s a disaster. Sophina had a disaster to start but the rest of the routine was very clean. 9.550. 
3. Bynum – Huge DLO but steps OOB, front tuck through to double back is low but securely landed, but she’s exceptionally short on her double pike with a large lunge forward and barely hangs onto it. 9.650.
4. Cipra – High double back to open with a small hop, 1.5 to layout is OK, lovely choreo before her final pass – it really makes the routine, strong double pike to finish. First one to really hit a floor routine in this rotation. 9.900.
5. Courtney – Better landing on the double arabian than we have seen in some of the previous meets. 1.5 to half to loso is strong – maybe a slight adjustment after the loso but this looks good. But then she lands very short on the double pike and lunges forward. 9.775.
6. Sawa – Strong double back mount and a secure double pike as well, this is very good so far, just the dismount to go, and very strong, maybe came in a little short on her final half but saved it by going into the stag jump. That should be the highest UCLA score so far in a blah rotation.

That was kind of uninspiring, everybody. I want you to know that. Cal was fine on beam and should be happy about staying on, but there were a lot of wobbles throughout that rotation. Howe’s routine was the clear highlight there. UCLA, oh UCLA. Floor has been the good one! What was this. Lots of missed passes, and they needed to be saved by Cipra and Sawa just to break 49. And they still have to do beam. UCLA probably has to hit beam for the first time this year (actually hit it) or they could lose to Cal, which would be a thing.

After 3: UCLA 147.475, Cal 146.925

Uh oh, we saw Danusia in the touch miss her dismount. Why would that happen, people? We can’t emotionally handle this.

OK wait. Is there a sign behind beam that says “Tears of Hitler”? I have to think it doesn’t, but that’s what it looks like. 

Rotation 4 – Cal on floor, UCLA on beam
Cal floor:
1. Palomares – Low double pike mount with a hop back but just does stay in bounds, solid on the middle pass, and again just does stay in on her 1.5 to layout. Big deductions on the landing control, but she hit. 9.725
2. Owens – A little low on the double back, punches to a front double full which was awesome but does barely get it around with a little stumble, 1.5 to front layout dismount looks good. 9.675.
3. Asturias -Of all the losos out of passes, hers may be the best. She gets major points for that. Nice splits, 1.5 to layout is very good. Layout + full is the dismount, strong routine. That should help get them out of the 9.7s. 9.850.
4. Howe – Really strong double pike to start, 1.5 to layout is very strong but unfortunately she does a pretty elite stag jump out of it, just landed her front tuck full on the dismount low and stumbles OOB on it. 9.425
5. Leong – Strong double back mount with a bounce, again a little bouncy on the front layout front full but a clean routine so far other than small issues of landing control, a little low in double pike but secure. Strong routine. 9.900
6. Paz – Lunges back out of her double pike, looked like she would be able to control it better than that, stumbles on her front layout + front full and takes a seat, so they’ll be counting some low scores in this rotation, which is the tagline for this meet. “UCLA vs. Cal: They’ll be counting some low scores in that rotation”

UCLA beam:
1. Craddock – small correction on full turn, again on the walkover to front handsrping, and again on the side aerial – just very small – might not even warrant deductions, small step on her front layout – good routine for her overall. 9.825. 
2. Mossett – wobbles on opening full turn, good splits, hits the aerial to bhs, she’s slowly looking more comfortable, just hangs onto the side somi with a small correction but that could very easily have been a fall, sticks gainer pike this time. 9.875.
3. DeJesus – She hasn’t really hit a beam routine yet, pauses between her aerial and her bhs loso but no wobbles, correction on her split jump, front toss is OK, front full dismount is stuck. She’s getting there, still not there, but no major mistakes this week. Question: did she get her leap combo? Watch the score for that. 9.775
4. Cipra – she’s another looking for her first real hit, another big wobble on her loso series, good full turn, switch half looks strong, but comes off on her side aerial. They’re playing “Who comes out when Peszek is back?” and she might be winning so far. 9.300.
5. Francis – The rotation started well, but they need some help now, aerial to bhs is excellent, switch and dance elements are perfect as well, strong y spin, here comes the dismount, pauses in the connection between the aerial and the layout full. Sticks it, but is she going to get the connection that she needs for her SV? 9.700. So yes, that means she started from a 9.8 not a 10. Boo. This is what I was afraid of. 
6. Courtney – Olivia Courtney in a must-hit beam situation, which is a very scary sentence. Secure early in her routine, but pauses after her kickover front before the bhs, hits her splits, good full turn, sticks her double back dismount the best I’ve ever seen it.  Long conference, but she gets a 9.875 after all.

It looks Gerber is waiting to do an exo on beam, but we won’t see it because of the TV broadcast. Boo to that as well.

Final Score: UCLA 196.575, Cal 195.550

Mehhhhh. Done.

The Weekend Ahead – January 31st-February 2nd

Let’s get right to it, shall we? This weekend is all about the clash between Oklahoma and Florida. It’s always exciting when the top two teams in the country go head to head, but especially coming off the events of last weekend, this meet is all the juicier. We’re going to see a remarkable back-and-forth of gymnastics.

This meet is an exceptionally important one for Oklahoma because “upsetting” Florida is an attainable goal. I put upset in quotes because Oklahoma is technically the higher ranked team so it wouldn’t be an upset, but given everything about Florida (being at home, defending champs, coming off a 198), the Gators are certainly the favorites in this meet. At the same time, there’s so little between these teams overall. Oklahoma has been stronger on vault so far, Florida stronger on floor, and bars and beam have been very even. Last weekend, we saw Georgia keep pace with Florida until the final rotation, and Oklahoma is quite capable of doing the same thing or better, but then nailing beam at the end. 

The scoring will also be quite interesting to watch, so we’ll need to keep all eyes on it. Even that eye in the back of your head. You’ll need to turn around so it can get a load of the scoring page as well. How will the judges approach this meet compared to last week? Will we see lower scores for higher quality routines this time? Will the ceiling keep getting higher? For those who can’t watch, I’ll be live blogging the hell out of it.

Unfairly, Alabama and LSU are competing against each other at basically the same time (along with another interesting showdown: Auburn and Arkansas), which would be the feature meet on another week but is going to be overshadowed. It’s a big opportunity for LSU to notch a major win, but Alabama is Alabama. UCLA also visits Cal that night in a bid to right that 195 from last week by beaming beam a little beamier this time. Utah and Georgia are both in action early Saturday in meets they should win comfortably, but progress is the key: Georgia to erase beam from last week and get back into the 197s and Utah to finally have a meet without counting a fall. Stanford and Oregon State are also competing on Monday. Monday?

In the rankings race, the #1 spot will be determined by the Florida/Oklahoma clash, with Florida needing a victory by two tenths to jump ahead. LSU would need to outscore Florida by over half a point this week to move up, so they’re probably more about holding on against the onslaught from Michigan, Utah, Georgia, and Alabama, who could end up in any order but have a chance to put a little distance between themselves and Nebraska and UCLA.

Top 25 Schedule

Friday – 1/31/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ [2] Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Michigan State @ [4] Michigan
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [7] Alabama @ [3] LSU
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [12] Auburn @ [10] Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa @ [17] Illinois
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [9] UCLA @ [22] Cal
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [16] Boise State @ Southern Utah
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [18] Denver @ BYU

Saturday – 2/1/14
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Eastern Michigan, Illinois-Chicago @ [23] Central Michigan
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [4] Utah @ [19] Arizona State
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [20] Kentucky @ [6] Georgia
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [24] Penn State @ [21] Ohio State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [14] Minnesota @ [8] Nebraska
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Washington @ [13] Arizona
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [25] Rutgers @ Texas Woman’s

Monday – 2/3/14
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [11] Stanford @ [15] Oregon State

2014 vs. 2013

Numbers! We’ve got ’em! More specifically, scoring comparisons! We’ve got ’em!

This week, I’m looking at the average scores the top 15 teams have achieved so far this season versus their scores from the same point last season (January 28, 2014 rankings vs. January 27, 2013 rankings), broken down by team and event to see where these teams are improving compared to the beginning of last year and where they have fallen off. We often view scoring in terms of overall rank, but this is more of an opportunity to compare a team with itself and our expectations of for that team on each event.

Blue equals YAY! and red equals BOO! That probably didn’t need to be explained.

Vault: +0.279
Bars: +0.111
Beam: -0.013
Floor: +0.002
Total: +0.379

The beam and floor results are basically identical to last year, but the vault increase is the one that really stands out. Oklahoma started out slower on vault last year, not having Kanewa at the beginning and throwing in some early 9.6s and 9.7s. That has surely not been the case this year.

Vault: -0.180
Bars: -0.063
Beam: +0.244
Floor: +0.231
Total: +0.232

We know the deal with floor. Beam has also seen an improvement, whereas last season Florida started out surprisingly wobbly with some early Sloan and King falls before finding their way. As I have mentioned before, Florida’s vault hasn’t been all that impressive so far. That’s the event I’m most interested in this weekend.

Vault: +0.061
Bars: +0.314
Beam: +0.292
Floor: +0.023
Total: +0.690

It’s a land of blue for LSU. While LSU did get into the 197s by February last season (scoring quite similarly to how they have started this season), the beginning of 2013 was marked by counting bars and beam falls and some low team scores, which accounts for the increase this year. They’ve started about a month faster this season. 

Vault: +0.225
Bars: +0.467
Beam: -0.266
Floor: +0.175
Total: +0.601

Yep. I think anyone would have called this breakdown. Vault has been the most impressive event for Utah this year (currently #1 in the country), and that’s reflected in the increase, but the Utes started miserably on bars last year, so the security we’ve seen so far there has been the biggest relative accomplishment.

Vault: +0.125
Bars: -0.013
Beam: -0.169
Floor: +0.039
Total: -0.018

As noted in the rankings post, Michigan has started 2014 much the same way as 2013, so there is little remarkable change in the scores. The beam decrease may be a bit troublesome, but the Wolverines are mostly on the exact same track.

Vault: -0.055
Bars: +0.155
Beam: +0.130
Floor: +0.265
Total: +0.495

Floor starting off faster this year than last is an important accomplishment because that was the big question mark event coming into the season. There’s still much work to be done to be ultimately competitive with the best, but Georgia is another team making a faster start this season marked by fewer errors.

Vault: +0.075
Bars: 0.000
Beam: +0.125
Floor: +0.042
Total: +0.242

I expected to see a bit more red since Alabama is down in 7th in the rankings, but they’ve been fairly steady, making minor gains over last season that amount to a solid 2.5 tenth increase. They’ve been mostly constant; it’s the other teams that are currently shooting past them. Don’t expect that to last.

Vault: +0.158
Bars: -0.184
Beam: -0.075
Floor: +0.158
Total: +0.057

Nebraska has shown a smidge of total gain through improvements on last year’s fairly slow start on vault and floor (things certainly didn’t stay that way on vault). Lambert and Martin have been helpful additions to that vault lineup early this year, as has having Blanske in on both vault and floor from the beginning of the year.

Vault: +0.091
Bars: -0.117
Beam: -0.383
Floor: +0.066
Total: -0.343

Beam. That is all.

Vault: +0.208
Bars: +0.333
Beam: +0.242
Floor: +0.559
Total: +1.342

Arkansas has made the biggest gains of all the teams, zooming up across the board on every event. I had mostly forgotten how slowly the Razorbacks started last season, with five of the first six meets seeing sub-196 scores. The consistent 49.000 type rotation scores so far this year have been a step up.

Vault: -0.107
Bars: +0.144
Beam: -0.038
Floor: +0.263
Total: +0.262

Stanford’s freshman class was all about the power boost with Daum and the McNairs, so I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen a bigger jump in the vault and floor totals (floor started very slowly last year, so some improvement was almost guaranteed). But, Stanford is not a quick-starting team, so this will change.

Vault: +0.364
Bars: +0.011
Beam: -0.275
Floor: +0.733
Total: +0.833

Auburn’s floor improvement is the biggest single-event jump for any of the teams, and the total jump is second only to Arkansas. This is another team that had a rough start to the season last year with a number of fall-heavy meets, so a more consistent start was always going to bring some big comparative numbers.

Vault: +0.145
Bars: +0.058
Beam: -0.183
Floor: +0.183
Total: +0.203

Two tenths may not seem like a significant total jump, but improved scoring on vault and floor has been enough to elevate this team into the top conversation for the moment. Arizona has been hanging around that back half of the top 20 for a long time now, being that Regionals #3 seed that doesn’t really contend for the upset. Is this the sign of a change? 

Vault: -0.131
Bars: +0.130
Beam: -0.329 
Floor: +0.130
Total: -0.200

One of the few teams that has seen a notable decrease in the scores from last year, and once again beam is the culprit. Note that most of the numbers on this list are blue overall, but there are a lot of red beams. More than half the teams have regressed there. Even though bars has been a struggle again so far this year, it’s not as bad as it was last year.

Oregon State
Vault: -0.192
Bars: +0.383
Beam: +0.314
Floor: -0.194
Total: +0.311

It hasn’t been a particularly strong start for Oregon State this year, sitting at #15 when they have much higher expectations than that, so the jump in scoring compared to last year should be some small manner of encouragement. Without Stambaugh and Jones this year, the fact that floor has taken a knock comes as no surprise.

Week 3 Rankings and Notes


Week 3 Rankings (GymInfo)
1. Oklahoma – 197.317
Week 3: 197.575
Week 3 leaders: AA – None; VT – Kmieciak 9.925; UB – Spears 9.925; BB – Spears 9.950; FX – Albright 9.900

It appeared as though the Sooners would be passed by Florida in the rankings this week after the events of that fateful Friday, but a 197.575 on Saturday saw them leap back into the lead, still boasting two of the top three scores recorded by any team this season. The bars rotation was beautiful this past weekend, with such satisfyingly clean handstands. For the last couple weeks, floor has been lagging a bit behind the other events, but if Oklahoma is going to have any hope of pulling off the upset in the mega-anticipated clash against Florida next weekend, they can’t give the judges any excuse to give them 9.800s because they’ll fall behind by a million tenths.

2. Florida – 197.258
Week 3: 198.050
Week 3 leaders: AA – Sloan, Hunter 39.700; VT – Sloan 9.925; UB – B Caquatto 9.950; BB – M Caquatto 9.950; FX – Sloan, Hunter 10.000

The 198 barrier has already fallen this year, courtesy of Florida. Remember way back in 2011 when a 198 would have been a shock? The Gators have been climbing the rankings one spot at a time since the opening mid-196 against UCLA, and now they are in striking distance of #1 with a home meet coming up next. Don’t be surprised if they jump another spot next time the rankings come out. Enough has been said about that floor rotation, and I have nothing to add at this point, but it’s interesting that the hoopla over that score is covering up some of the other gymnastics from that meet. Vault has been just OK all month with a bunch of uncharacteristically average performances, so keep an eye on that in the coming weeks.
3. LSU – 197.083
Week 3: 197.175
Week 3 leaders: AA – Courville 39.600; VT – Courville 9.925; UB – Courville 9.875; BB – Jordan 9.925; FX – Courville 9.950

The Tigers aren’t getting the humongous team scores so far this year relative to their top peers, but they are right in that 197.000 area every week, which is enough to hold onto #3. We all know floor is going to be an asset, so it was important that they recover from the poor showing against Georgia on that event to break 49.5 this week for the first time this season. It will be the first time of many. Given the strong vault and floor showings, the team score this past weekend could have been higher, but they’re feeling the lack of Wyrick on bars. With just two big scorers, if Morrison has an off day (and by her standards, a 9.850 is an off day) the score is nowhere. The same goes for Courville getting a 9.850 on beam. If they aren’t leading the charge, it’s tough to get out of the 49.1s. 

4. Utah – 196.883
Week 3: 197.125
Week 3 leaders: AA – Wilson 39.050; VT – Dabritz 9.975; UB – Dabritz 9.950; BB – Delaney 9.850; FX – Dabritz 9.975

The Utes have started quickly this season, which I tend to expect from them. They always do look like the best team in November and December, so it’s normal that they would be right up there in January. The final three vaults in that lineup are exceptional and will keep them right with the powerful SEC teams as long as the landings don’t disappear as the season progresses. Georgia Dabritz is having an immense season so far. Her season low is a 9.875, and that floor routine from the weekend is among those memorable performances we’ll look back to in April as one of the year’s highlights. Now get her in that beam lineup. Everyone’s falling anyway, so it would be no different if she does it instead.

4. Michigan – 196.883
Week 3: 197.325
Week 3 leaders: AA – Sampson 39.475; VT – Sheppard 9.900; UB – Sampson, Artz, Beilstein 9.875; BB – Gies, Zakharia 9.900; FX – Sampson 9.950
Without much fanfare, the Wolverines pulled out a 197.325 over the weekend, which ranks as one of the top 5 scores in the country so far this season and the third-highest of a big weekend. Interestingly, the scores from this meet are almost identical to Michigan’s third meet of the year from last season (197.325 vs. 197.350). Both meets saw a 49.300 scored on vault and a 49.500 on floor, and even the bars and beam scores were within .050 of each other. Sampson won floor with a 9.950. . . I could go on. Conclusion: they’re on a good track, as they were last year. And the three-event contributions from Artz and Chiarelli for consistently 9.8ish scores have been an important development to mitigate what seemed to be a significant loss of routines from last season. Now keep this beam 49.2ing up for a few more weeks.

6. Georgia – 196.785
Week 3 A: 197.400
Week 3 A leaders: AA – Rogers 39.525; VT – Cheek 9.900; UB – Cheek, Brown, Rogers 9.950; BB – Cheek, Earls 9.925; FX – Jay 9.900

Week 3 B: 196.700
Week 3 B leaders: AA – Rogers 39.525; VT – Cheek 9.925; UB – Cheek 9.975; BB – Earls 9.950; FX – Jay, Box 9.900

Georgia goes up, Georgia goes down, and in the end Georgia stays the same. The Gym Dogs would have been momentarily #4 after the Monday performance, but now they’re back to #6 after being in contention for a huge score at Florida before a beam meltdown. Florida has received all the attention from that meet, understandably, but Georgia looked very pretty on bars and perfectly acceptable on vault and floor before going to beam. For the first few weekends, they’ve been just holding on well enough when it comes to beam (unlike last year), but it’s a fairly untested and nervewracking group composed of few who would be considered outright beamers, so this is not a shocking turn of events. They need a little Persinger action.

7. Alabama – 196.775
Week 3: 197.125
Week 3 leaders: AA – Demeo 39.400; VT – Demeo 9.925; UB – Jacob 9.900; BB – Jacob 9.925; FX – Jacob 9.900

It’s still a bit strange to see Alabama down at #7. Even at the beginning of the season when they’re often not doing as well, we can usually expect them to be lurking around 4th or 5th. But since they scored a low 197 in a week of low 197s, there was no room to move up. Coming back home and having Diandra Milliner back on two events helped turn last week’s 9.7s back into 9.8s in a consistently strong 49.300 of a meet. The showdown with LSU next weekend should be an exciting one. Both teams scored very similarly in the first and third meets of the year, and have very similar scoring potential. I imagine it will be close throughout. I’ve been enjoying Alabama’s beam work so far this year, and they’ll need to be on point there to get the road upset because it’s the biggest asset they hold over LSU.

8. Nebraska – 196.442
Week 3: 196.450
Week 3 leaders: AA – Wong 39.550; VT – Wong, Lambert 9.900; UB – Wong 9.900; BB – J Lauer 9.900; FX – Wong, Blanske 9.875

Nebraska is sticking around with these mid-196s every week. None of the scores have been showy so far this year, but they’re peppering in enough 9.9s from Wong, Deziel, Wong, Lauer on beam, and Wong to erase any low numbers and keep the rotations scores consistently solid in low-49 territory. We know what a little nasty beam can be for this team, and while the Huskers have had their mistakes through the first three meets, they are yet to count a score under 9.700 on beam, which has helped them to #4 in the country on the event. An important step.

9. UCLA – 196.308
Week 3: 195.875
Week 3 leaders: AA – Mossett 39.075; VT – Cipra, Bynum 9.850; UB – Peszek 9.875; BB – Francis 9.950; FX – Sawa 9.925

With neither Francis nor Peszek available on all their events, this past weekend was always going to be a nail-biter for UCLA, and the nails were worn down to nubs pretty quickly after a sloppy bars and a lackluster vault. With all the injury and retirement action, this team is no longer deep enough to handle those absences. They have the numbers, but they don’t have the depth, which means there are people going in both the bars and beam lineups who probably aren’t ever going to score above a 9.800. I expect a rebound next week, especially on vault where I don’t think we’ll see the same uninspiring landings, but what are we going to do about beam? 15th in the country, yet to break 48.900. Not good.

10. Arkansas – 196.117
Week 3: 196.100
Week 3 leaders: AA – Grable 39.475; VT – Grable 9.950; UB – Wellick, Salmon 9.800; BB – Dillard 9.875; FX – Grable 9.925

I’m going to try to write something about Arkansas this week that can’t be boiled down to Katherine Grable, Katherine Grable, Katherine Grable, Katherine Grable.

Nevermind. It’s not going to happen. Her 39.475 pulled Arkansas up into the 196s for a third consecutive week, but the lack of Erin Freier was a concern. This team has only six bars routines including Freier, so they had to compete only five this week and were forced to count two 9.7s and a 9.6 for the lowest rotation score of the night. That along with consistent opening scores in the 9.6 and low 9.7s will not help Arkansas stay in this top 10 position once the next five teams in the rankings get things moving, which already began over the weekend.  
11. Stanford – 196.088
12. Auburn – 195.983
13. Arizona – 195.842
14. Minnesota – 195.756
15. Oregon State – 195.750
16. Boise State – 195.675
17. Illinois – 195.617
18. Denver – 195.275
19. Arizona State – 195.175
20. Kentucky – 194.933
21. Ohio State – 194.908
22. Cal – 194.875
23. Central Michigan – 194.750
24. Penn State – 194.656
25. Kent State – 194.656
25. Rutgers – 194.656