Friday – 1/10/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Penn State, West Virginia, Ball State @  Kentucky (Scores) (Video-all access)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Illinois @ Michigan State (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Maryland @ Central Michigan (Scores)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  Michigan, Illinois State @ Iowa State (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Georgia @  Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Centenary @  LSU (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Western Michigan, Bridgeport @  Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Texas Woman’s @  Auburn (Scores) (Video-all access)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @  Alabama (Video-free now)
I’m all live blog giddy. Five of the top 10 teams are in action today. Meets begin from 7:00 ET/4:00 PT, including the Kentucky meet which is available on all-access, so check back starting then for all the commentary you can handle.
As we wait, who do you have pegged for the high score of the weekend? Alabama, Oklahoma, and LSU are at home, but we can also expect scores to fly at UCLA tomorrow, so Florida should be in there as a strong nominee.
In happy news already, it looks like some of the teams that used to have ramshackle old self-created live scores have gotten with the program this year. Oklahoma’s scores have taken a step up, and LSU appears like they may have finally gotten rid of that geocities page from 1996 where the live scores used to be. I admit, I’m a little sad about that. It was updated quickly, I’ll give it that.
Intros underway in Kentucky. All 3 Penn State gymnasts gave a nice wave. It’s tough to cover a quad meet with just the regular stadium setup, so I’m not expecting to see all that many of the routines from the other teams, but we’ll watch to see if Penn State can get more than one 9.8 today.
Kentucky had a couple fairly strong vaults at the back of the rotation last year, but I remember the problem being the first two spots. They were always counting at least one less than desirable score, which brought the rotation down.
Georgia and Oklahoma lineups are out. Broussard and Johnson in on vault for Georgia. EEEnteresting. Capps on three events for Oklahoma, Wofford on one, no Charity Jones. Correction: Cheek is doing beam, not floor, which makes total sense.
Kentucky gets bonus points for opening with a front handspring front vault, fine front pike, a little short with a step back. Second vaults has nice distance on a yfull but piked, very very low landing, step, so it won’t be a big score at all. Similar story for the third vaulter, so they’ll be counting at least one quite low score. Back half of the Kentucky lineup is getting much stronger, should be in the 9.7s, so a step up much like how last year looked.That’s Cunningham last up, right? Very nice near stick, small step back and a little pike in the air, but she should be in the 9.8s if the one previous was a 9.775.
Kentucky opens with a 48.600, while Penn State is getting 9.6s and 9.7s on bars again. Elsewhere, Michigan State will have the lead on Illinois after one rotation with a 48.800 on vault. Illinois will be counting a 9.400 on bars. It’s going to be a long season without Weinstein.
So, we’ll only be getting video of Kentucky routines, unsurprisingly. Penn State gets two 9.800s on bars for a 48.750. Progress! The world is changing!
A bit of a lull in the action right now. See, this is why Alabama needs to begin meets an hour earlier. Then we could pay attention to that instead of the pulsating Kentucky logo. Then there was a bird chirping for no reason, and I don’t know what’s happening. We’ve entered the gymnastics insanity vortex again. God, how long has Taylor Swift been 22? You’re like 40 now. How long is this rotation break? I’m almost done with you, Kentucky. This is a warning.
Looks like the Michigan/Iowa State meet is getting underway. Reports from anyone with a subscription to Iowa State are welcome. Nope, false start on the scores there.
Michigan gets a 9.875 on bars from Gies early (yay for my fantasy team!) and will look to drop the 9.675 from Miele (boo for my fantasy team!) and will be counting a 9.750 from Sheppard (boo for my fantasy team!) (I have a LOT of Michigan gymnasts!)
It started so well for Michigan, but Sampson now gets a 9.750 (Joanna Sampson! What is this nonsense?) We’re getting more of the teams on the Kentucky stream now, and it appears Penn State just stuck a beam dismount, but apparently that was the one jewel amongst a problem rotation so far.
I’m just going to say it: people need to stop using gun sound effects in their floor routines. No one is impressed, West Virginia.
Natalie Beilstein’s anchor 9.9 saves the bars rotation (how much money would you have bet against that sentence ever happening when she was a freshman?) for a 49.050 for Michigan. It’s OK for the first meet, and we can certainly expect that Sampson’s 9.700 was an anomaly. The score should be several tenths higher in future meets without a leap of logic.
Dear Lady Playing With Her Earring In Horrified Anxiety During Penn State’s Beam Rotation,
Love, The Balance Beam Situation.
Also a quick note that Beilstein’s 9.900 on bars was the first 9.9 score of the season. Milestone!
Kentucky is getting through the bars rotation with a couple 9.8s, which may be enough to win this meet at this point, and will be leading after two rotations with a 97.375. Penn State’s final score on beam was a 47.825. Ouchie.
We’re getting close to the starts for LSU and Oklahoma/Georgia, so remember to get those scores open. Courville and Jordan will be in the AA for LSU, as expected.
Georgia already has a 9.900 from Lindsay Cheek on bars, while Oklahoma has a 9.950 from Scaman on vault and a 9.900 from Kmieciak. Hello, scores! Really hope we get to see these routines later. Remember 30 seconds ago when we were impressed that we saw our first 9.9? Yeah, now there are like a million. And Jessie Jordan has one on vault for LSU.
When I was doing some of the season previews, I was concerned that perhaps I was overstating things on the 49.500 front and how many teams were realistically going to get regular 49.5s this year. Well, I wasn’t. Oklahoma goes 49.475 on vault, including three scores over 9.9. This is 2014.
Chelsea Davis and Lindsay Cheek both get 9.900s for Georgia, so we still have a meet after the Gymdogs go 49.250 on bars, but Oklahoma has already opened up a lead.
In other meets, Michigan is hovering around 9.8 on beam (how very 2013 of them) and LSU is knocking it out on vault, as expected. Though perhaps the live scores have stalled there.
I was going to check in on Auburn’s vault because that stream is available, but I of course forgot. There’s just too much going on! But I did get there in time to see Bri Guy nail a vault with a hop in place. 9.900.
LSU gets a 49.425 on vault to give Oklahoma a fair run early on. Morrison goes 9.925, Jordan 9.900, Courville 9.875, Ranzy 9.875.
Would tell you about Caitlin Atkinson’s vault but she was eclipsed by a coach. Coaches! Don’t you know we’re supposed to be able to see! A little legs on her block and a step to the side, but otherwise strong on her 1.5.
Hello, Oklahoma. Kmieciak opens on bars with another 9.900, while Georgia starts vault with two 9.750s, including a career opener for Broussard. Remember what I said about Oklahoma being better than Georgia on vault being key? So that seems like it’s happening.
Michigan goes 48.900 on beam, led by a couple 9.825s. This is kind of what we thought would happen on this event. Auburn gets a 49.100 on vault after Atkinson gets a 9.875.
Things are getting better on vault for Georgia with a 9.850 for Hires and a 9.900 for Jay. They should manage to still be in it, within fall range, after two events, but it’s looking like Oklahoma should take the victory if everything continues as it is. Oh, just a 9.800 for Taylor Spears on bars for Oklahoma, which is low for her.
Georgia gets a 49.250 on vault, so just because they’ll be a couple tenths behind OU, let’s not ignore that these are very good scores for this team right now. On 197.000 pace, but of course floor will be the make or break event for the Gymdogs.
It’s getting near time to shift the major attention to Alabama, but Alabama meets always start late, so no rush. There’s still a lady in a tiara singing the national anthem, which I believe is the state bird of Alabama.
Erica Brewer wins bars with a 9.925, so Oklahoma adds another tenth to the lead. 98.825-98.500 at halfway.
Alabama vs. Missouri
The bar has been set high on vault already with two teams breaking 49.400, so let’s compare where the Alabama landings are. But first, more dance cams!
Rotation 1 – Alabama – Vault, Missouri – Bars
Jacob – VT – big leg break on her block, step back. Fair distance.
Ellmore – UB – sorry, I was too distracted by these cough and kiss sounds. What is this? A struggle on the dismount.
DeMeo – VT – announced as Katie Bailey. No. Nice body form, pretty large step back, and a slight pike in the air on replay, but legs so firmly together.
Conckle – UB – falls on a gienger, was going to get dinged for handstands before that anyway. Pretty nice DLO in the air, step forward.
Bailey – VT – Clean Yhalf, and good distance on it, large step forward
Missed the comment that said Kayla Williams had been injured until now. Let’s hope it’s of the minor variety, but that would be a major blow to the team. Shame.
Trevino – UB – much stronger than the first two. Pretty clean overall.
Clark – VT – In general her usual Yfull, a little more piked at the end than she usually shows later in the season and a step back, so the score won’t be big, but good height as usual.
Eubank – UB – good piked jaeger, misses last handstand but holds onto the stick on the double front.
Beers – VT – Tries to hold onto her landing on the Yfull but has a little shifty stumble that ended up being about three steps, so the judges have a justification to be harsher on that vault than they might be otherwise. Powerful and clean otherwise, though.
OK, I have no idea what the hell these kiss and cough sounds are, but they’re the worst things I have ever heard. Alabama? Pull it together. They appear to have stopped now. Beyonce scared them away.
Missouri still has bits and pieces of uncleanliness on these later bars routines, of course, but this looks much better than last year. New bars coach in John Carney, and his influence is already evident.
Milliner – VT – Great 1.5 overall, tries to hang onto the stick and does a little bend and swim action, but still excellent. Sims follows with an exhibition that could come into the lineup. Looked a bit cleaner than last season, step back but great flight.
Ashley Sledge is with some fans in the crowd. Can she be with some bars in the lineup, instead?
Alabama goes 49.300 on vault, which is a big score, a touch high in places (but like .025 high), but otherwise fairly realistic, and they can vault much, much better than this. Missouri at 48.850 on bars, which is solid for them.
Let’s check in at the other meets around the country. Georgia regresses a bit on floor for 49.025, which was expected. Counting a couple 9.7s, led by a 9.850 from Hires. Oklahoma has now established a pretty large lead after a 49.375 on beam, including three 9.925s. No holding back with the scores in the first meet in Norman. They drop a 9.750 from Capps.
LSU got a 49.125 on bars, led by another 9.925 from Morrison and a 9.875 from Ranzy. Shae Zamardi did get in after all after not appearing at the exhibition, but she scored a 9.225. No Randii Wyrick. Do we know what the deal is with her?
Michigan scored 49.375 on floor, which is no surprise given how they looked in preseason. Artz has a 9.900 and Sampson a 9.925. No routine from Sheppard. Why did I put her in my floor 8 for fantasy gym this week? You’ll have to ask my addled brain.
Rotation 2 – Alabama on bars, Missouri on vault
Moment of truth for Alabama.
Demeo – UB – Jaeger was good, looked short on her bail handstand, as well as her final handstand, clean DLO with a very small hop forward.
Missouri VT – nice distance, less height than Alabama’s vaulters, large step back.
Bailey – UB -nice high jaeger, clean lines, sticks her double back, very important addition to this lineup. She’s like the new Alexin, sticking a double back in the second position.
Kappler – VT – yfull, low on landing with a step, but OK.
Sims – UB – good first handstand, a tad late on her full turn, good last handstand, similar to Bailey but a couple small steps on her double front.
Kerr – VT – yhalf with a hop forward
Jacob – UB – big ray to open, hits bail cleanly, some of the same handstand issues we saw last year, but the girl can stick a DLO. Score is 9.925, which is too high.
Updike – VT – now that’s a vault. Best distance on the team with her yfull, does land with a bit of a low chest and a hop, so the score won’t be huge, but it’s a strong vault.
Jetter – UB – good first handstand, hits tkatchev, solid bail, misses last handstand, but sticks double front, good routine. That will help this lineup. She can get cleaner, but they needed her to be a major contributor here and it looks like she will be.
Missouri finishes with Ellmore who has just a layout Y, so they’ll focus on the first five vaulters.
Clark – UB – interesting that she is anchoring this year. Clean shaposh and hit bail, not doing a same-bar release but sticks her DLO.
The scores are going too high for the quality of this Alabama bars rotation, but I think we’re seeing the potential people who will fill in to those big holes. The routines from Bailey and Sims are not big, but they can be clean set-up scores. It’s a bars lineup with a very different identity, though, without Sledge and Priess.
It’s a 49.375 for Alabama, but just a 48.225 for Missouri on vault.
LSU received a 49.250 on beam because of 9.925s for Courville and Jordan. They do help a lot. They’re the kind of gymnasts who can cover up a rotation’s quality. With a big floor, as is always possible, LSU can go 197 at this meet.
Michigan is looking like they’ll go mid-196s, and Oklahoma is trying to work against a fall from Albright on floor, and a 9.900 from Capps helps. Georgia is still staying in mid-196 territory on beam. Broussard’s 9.850 is a major addition.
Rotation 3 – Alabama on beam, Missouri on floor
Milliner – BB – looking clean to open, strong loso series and confident full turn, front toss is right on and double full is hit with perhaps a slight foot adjustment. Good start.
Heimsath – FX – low amp on a double big with a stumble back, 1.5 to layout, and a double back.
Demeo – BB -walkover, does well to avoid a small wobble there, stays solid, and on her layout two feet does well to stay on the beam, made an adjustment but she had 3/4 of a foot off the beam there. Switch split is glorious, crunched knees on her double pike dismount but just the one step forward.
Kappler – FX – crazy legs on the front layout on her opening pass (wider than shoulder width is crazy legs, less than shoulder width is wonky legs. These are the technical terms), You know that thing where your floor music is like a DVD player burning in a trash can during a rave? Yeah.
Aja Sims – BB – interested to see her debut on her best event, looking good so far, but loses a million points for being another gymnast using “this girl is on fire.” Just a gainer dismount but nice splits and a clean routine.
OK, so Oklahoma has started the season with a 197.700. We’ll be revisiting the conversation about aggressively rising scores in NCAA when this weekend is over. I can’t wait to see these routines to evaluate how well they match up reality.
Bailey – BB – lovely L turn, this team is not giving away very many wobbles at all except for DeMeo, near stick or stick on the double full.
Ellmore – FX – lands low on her rudi in her dismount, as a couple of the Missouri gymnasts have done. A lot of staggered landings in this lineup with chests down.
Clark – BB – strong switch split to open, hits loso series, front toss is hit, wolf 3/4, one step back on a high 1.5 dismount. Just small issues in these routines, but they look good as a group.
Jacob – BB – As expected, she is anchoring this season, great straddle, just a small foot raise on a two layouts series but otherwise strong. Her barani is her barani. Same every time, so solid. small hop in place on the 1.5. Very nice.
Trevino – FX – lands very short on her double back with a lunge forward, straddle elements look fine, Casey Jo sighting on the corner of the floor, same rudi problems as the rest of the team, hunched over with a stumble.
JetJet doing an exhibition on beam – “That popa is out!” She looks like another possibility, which is a nice option for the team because I considered her more on bars and floor. Not quite as crisp as the people in the lineup, so she may not break in, but there would be no problem using it.
It’s funny that the scores were so much lower on beam than on bars because I was happier with the beam rotation for Alabama than the bars rotation. Yes, there were areas to improve, but they looked on for the most part. Sticking the dismounts will help bump the scores up. Maybe I was just in a more charitable mood during this rotation. 49.075 for Alabama on beam.
Some final scores to do now:
Oklahoma 197.700, Georgia 196.500
Michigan 196.525, Iowa State 194.600, Illinois State 187.400
LSU 197.200, Centenary 181.575
Courville wins the AA with a 39.600, getting a 9.950 on floor. Hall with just a 9.825 on floor. Hmm. Did she get a score that low all of last year? Nice debut for Gnat with a 9.875 there as well.
In Oklahoma, the Sooners went 49.500 on floor to finish with 9.9s from Scaman, Spears, and Capps. In all, Oklahoma recorded 11 9.9s in the meet to Georgia’s 4. Brittany Rogers recorded the highest Georgia score on beam with a 9.875.
Are you telling me I missed the start of DeMeo’s floor routine? Boo. Goes OOB on her 2.5 dismount. 9.675
Kappler – BB – wobble on her two layouts but doesn’t give away much, big break on switch side (?) and nearly comes off the beam, gainer full dismount.
Beers – FX – very high double back to mount, and follows it up with a layout to layout full, familiar movie score music but I can’t place it, she gets great height on her passes, perhaps a little low in the chest on double pike dismount, though.
Sander – BB – has to take a major wobble on her side aerial and a step forward on the 1.5 dismount. Small adjustments on most skills will bring her score down.
Sims – FX – front tuck to double back is very clean and finishes well in front of the corner of the floor, hangs on to the front tuck on her second pass but is very low and almost sat it down, doofus behind the floor needs to stop dancing, pretty clean double pike mount to finish. Potential here but the middle pass will destroy her score.
McGill – BB – does a press handstand into her layouts series, which is a nice look, but her chest is basically under the beam on those layouts, big break on her double stag, gainer full dismount.
Bailey – FX – double arabian was short with a large step back, she usually does it better than that, front layout to front layout full as a middle pass, switch split and split half look fine, rudi dismount is landed well. Fine potential here.
Conkle – BB – good height on her switch split – she got up there, cleanest legs on the team so far as well on her layout stepout series, she should take them out of the 9.5s finally, rudi dismount with a hop. Or not. 9.550 for this one as well.
Jacob – FX – solid on the pike full in, compact double pike, hits her straddles, comes very close to OOB on her 1.5 to front full dismount but stays in, best routine of the rotation by far. 9.925.
Updike – BB – a little uncertain on that walkover but doesn’t wobble, hits layout series, wobble on a split jump, and a big break trying to do her dance combination over again, L turn is good, small shuffle on gainer full.
Milliner – FX – Don’t you think she should be wearing a hat during her floor routine (WORD HUMOR!), double arabian is pretty strong but she’s done better, a little short like Bailey’s, also does a layout + layout full as her middle pass, double pike dismount. Music choice. 9.950.
Jetter is also coming in to exo on floor. Mounts with a double back, opening split full looked a little short of split, 1.5 + front full middle, 1.5 to layout as a dismount. Like beam, it’s definitely a possibility should they need it, but doesn’t necessarily scream lineup.
FINAL: Alabama 197.150, Missouri 193.425
It’s a strong first meet for Alabama. I actually expected them to look a little more ragged than they did. Of course, the story will be Kayla Williams and whatever happened in warmups, but the lineups didn’t look like they were necessarily lacking anything without her. When was the last time Alabama got a 197 in the first meet? It has been centuries. Vault and floor still look like they need time, in spite of the scores, but it’s a perfectly acceptable start to the year. That makes three teams breaking 197 on the first day.
That’s all for me. Come back tomorrow at 10:00 ET/7:00 PT for UCLA and Florida.