The Week in Videos

The meets of Week 2 will soon be upon us, so now is the time to get caught up on some of the major highlights from last weekend’s action.

UCLA – Interviews and highlights

Oklahoma – Highlights

Florida – Highlights

Alabama – Highlights

LSU – Interviews and highlights

Arkansas – Highlights

GeorgiaGym Dogs Show


Week 1 Rankings

Top 25 Rankings – (GymInfo)

1. Oklahoma – 197.700
It was a statement meet for the Sooners last weekend, opening up a big lead over the rest of the country. A team receiving a score like 197.700, especially in first meet, is always going to be cause for chatter and skepticism, especially when Haley Scaman goes “Full Zamarripa” and gets a 9.950 for a Yfull with a hop back. Congratulations, Sooners. You’ve arrived! Don’t be surprised if this seems like just a medium score for Oklahoma by the end of the year, though, because they have a very high-scoring schedule including road meets like the Bart and Nadia Challenge, Metroplex, and Florida.  

2. LSU – 197.200
Much like Oklahoma, LSU is eager to be part of the top conversation, and every score in the 197s helps keep them there. Unsurprisingly, the big numbers came from vault and floor, even taking into account an off floor performance from Hall, so they didn’t even meet scoring expectations there. Courville and Jordan delivered on beam as expected, but we’re still waiting who else will emerge to help that rotation be competitive. Ashleigh Gnat’s 9.850 was a very important start.

3. Alabama – 197.150
The loss of Kayla Williams soured an otherwise strong opening to the season. A couple of routines in each rotation were a bit of a struggle, which would have been expected regardless, but I do wonder how the vault lineup is going to fare without her. It will still be competitive because there are more than enough vaulters on this team, but losing a potential 9.950 is always tough to endure. There may be a couple more 9.850s than we are used to there. 
T4. Florida – 196.650
The nice part for the Gators is that they can have a pretty poor meet by their standards and still debut at #4. There were messy routines in that meet and some strange mistakes, like two people botching their vault blocks. Macko had a very rough go on two events, looking far from ready on vault and floor, so I’m interested to see if she does the AA again at Auburn next weekend. Everyone had at least one issue, but Sloan still looked strong on three events and Hunter looked ready on two events and rusty on two events. Expect both to be hitting the AA for 9.9s before too long.

T4. Utah – 196.650
Like Alabama, Utah suffered a warmups Achilles injury with Kassandra Lopez going down, so some shuffling had to take place in the lineups. The beam conversation has been the most challenging for Utah lately, and Lopez looked to be one of the clear starters, so we’ll have to keep an even fiercer eye on that lineup in the coming weeks. Dabritz also did not perform beam in the opening meet, and it was the only rotation for Utah not to feature a 9.9 score in a meet that would have gone well over 197 and could have seen the Utes debut at #2 if not for a counting fall on bars.   

T6. UCLA – 196.625
In some ways, UCLA looked better than anticipated, especially in terms of landing control on vault and floor, because of how much new blood there will be in these lineups. But in what is perhaps an unsurprising theme of the week, beam proved an area of concern with a number of ragged performances that had to be saved by the anchor two, and the bars rotation was also informed by a sloppiness that is not reflected in the 49.250 final score. Olivia Courtney was the clear star of the meet, earning 9.9s on her three events. She often starts seasons quite well, so it’s little surprise she was the top Bruin on all her apparatuses.  

T6. Nebraska – 196.625
Encouragingly for Nebraska, a number of new competitors came into the rotations in this meet, with Ariel Martin performing on two events and Jordyn Beck and Ashley Lambert each on one, and we could see their contributions increase as the season goes on. Ten competitors received scores for Nebraska in this meet, which may not seem like a lot, but after seasons of seven and eight taking on the whole burden, it’s a luxury to have options. In the opposite of a surprise, Wong and DeZiel led the scoring, each recording a 9.950.

8. Michigan – 196.525
The Wolverines are right there in the middle of the pack with a respectable mid-196 opening score, though judging by the quality in preseason, I expected a little bit stronger start. Annette Miele coming out after bars threw off a couple of the rotations, and there were scores like Sampson’s bars 9.700 that we wouldn’t expect to be a thing going forward. Of course, beam was beam, continuing a bit of the trend from last year where it was not a disaster by any means but also nothing that’s going to help the team either, with no individual scores over 9.825.

9. Georgia – 196.325
Georgia endured two meets over the weekend in what is a ridiculously packed 11-day stretch including four meets, and got through it with 196s, so half the marathon is already over. As I expect for most of the year, bars was a highlight, with Lindsay Cheek appearing to emerge as that necessary third big scorer alongside Rogers and Davis with her two 9.900s. Floor has been the event to watch for Georgia because that lineup just seems to be hanging on, and the 48.675 from the Stanford meet including just one 9.8 score raises the red flag. However, we can put a “wait and see” label on that one since it did come as the second meet in a travel weekend. 

10. Arkansas – 196.200
Arkansas has been overlooked this season by some people named me, so breaking 196 in the first week is a delightful sign, especially seeing that bars (an event I had some serious lineup concerns about) ended up as the highest scoring apparatus with a couple 9.875s. Katherine Grable was Katherine Grable of course, but one of the key Arkansas stories this season will be Amanda Wellick because she has the potential to step into that much-needed second AAer position. Her going 39.300 in the AA was perhaps the most important part of that meet for the team.

11. Boise State – 195.850
12. Stanford – 195.575
13. Illinois – 195.325
T14. Denver – 195.200
T14. Oregon State – 195.200
16. Rutgers – 195.075
17. Kentucky – 195.000
18. Auburn – 194.875
T19. Ohio State – 194.750
T19. Arizona – 194.750
21. Kent State – 194.725
22. Central Michigan – 194.625
23. BYU – 194.550
24. Minnesota – 194.425
25. Michigan State – 194.150

[1] Florida @ [4] UCLA Live Blog

We arrive at UCLA vs. Florida after what has already been a weekend of big. Any notion that we might have a slow, modest start to the season was obliterated when Oklahoma recorded a 197.700 yesterday, and LSU and Alabama weren’t far behind with a 197.200 and 197.150 respectively. Last year, across the first two weekends of the season, we saw just one team score in the 197s. That was a 197.425 from UCLA at home in a Saturday night meet, so keep an eye on what happens tonight because we probably aren’t done with the weekend’s high-flying scores.

Of course, the theme for this meet should have been “1992 Throwback” because . . .

but I understand that’s unrealistic. Still, let’s just think about it for a second.

For UCLA, the 2014 debut was always going to be interesting because they will be introducing a ton of new blood into these lineups and have a lot of scores to replace, but this was compounded by the Mattie departure. While I believe it will still be some time before we see Pinches because of her toe injury, how Hallie Mossett and Angi Cipra fare in their debuts is vital for UCLA. It will be tough for the Bruins to win the meet without a Florida mistake, but in terms of being on the right track, watch those two.

For Florida, as I mentioned in the weekend preview, we’re basically aware of what to expect from this team because the big scoring core of Sloan, Hunter, Johnson, and Macko are known entities, but Bridgey Caquatto will need to be the 5th member of that coven on three-four events to make up for some routines lost after last year. She’ll be expected to record fairly large scores on some events she hasn’t featured on in college, so she’s the Gator I’m watching most closely tonight.

The meet begins promptly at 10:00 ET/7:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.

Score predictions?

I’m putting this post up a little early because I’ll be checking in on Utah a bit before the meet starts and may have some thoughts. You never know.

Nebraska has finished with a 196.625 to go slightly ahead of Georgia and Michigan in that second pack of teams, and Minnesota is currently struggling after a rough one on bars. That was always going to be the problem.

Utah finally getting underway. First three vaulters are Tutka, Del Priore, and Damianova, and they all have similar vaults in the air, not quite the amplitude we are going to see from the top teams, and a little piking in flight (Damianova was straightest in the body), and some small landing deductions with a low chest and some movement. All looked pretty 9.800ish and got 9.875s.

Delaney was stronger in the amplitude and with a slight hunched-over stickish type landing. Wilson piked in the air and hopped back, so not her usual stick, but it’s early. Dabritz finishes with a 1.5 (I admit I was sure they would drop her back to the full once the season started), with a step forward. Lange did exhibition with her handspring pike half with a small hop back – probably the best I’ve seen her do that vault.

Utah goes 49.425 with 9.900s for Dabritz and Delaney, 9.875 for the first three, and 9.825 for Wilson, which highlights the problem with giving 9.875s for the first three. Wilson’s 9.825 is justified because those deductions existed in her vault, but she still had the third best vault in that rotation all things – like power – considered, not the weakest, and Dabritz and Delaney were better than .025 stronger than those first three. That’s going to be a big three at the back of this lineup as the season continues. 

Lineups are out for UCLA and Florida:
UCLA VT: McDonald, Sawa, Cipra, Bynum, Peszek, Courtney
UCLA UB: Francis, DeJesus, Craddock, Mossett, Courtney, Peszek
UCLA BB: DeJesus, Sawa, Mossett, Craddock, Peszek, Francis
UCLA FX: DeJesus, Mossett, Francis, Bynum, Cipra, Courtney

Florida VT: Spicer, B Caquatto, M Caquatto, Johnson, Sloan, Hunter
Florida UB: BDG, Hunter, B Caquatto, Sloan, M Caquatto, Johnson
Florida BB: Spicer, Johnson, Boyce, Hunter, Sloan, M Caquatto
Florida FX: Boyce, M Caquatto, Spicer, B Caquatto, Sloan, Hunter

No Colussi-Pelaez in competition lineups. I’d expect she’ll exhibition, but it’s interesting. I thought she was in the running over Boyce for those beam and floor spots, but it’s the other way around.

No Peszek on floor at least for now. Also, Pinches will add some quality to most of these events when she is able to return. I’m already nervous about that UCLA beam lineup. Remember when we thought this season’s UCLA beam lineup could have been DeJesus, Gerber, Larson, Peszek, Lee, Francis? It seems like a different lifetime. 

Broadcast getting started now. Really milking that “Florida returning to the site of victory” ankle, surprising no one.

Shot of Zam. We miss you. Please come vault, or beam, or bars. I’ll take anything.
Rhonda loves that top. Is there some special significance to it? Or does she have a closet full of them like Superman?

Photo recap of Peszek and Sloan knowing each other. They’re getting the Kyla/McKayla treatment.  

Rotation 1: UCLA – VT, Florida – UB

UCLA Vault
1. McDonald – yfull, piked, not much movement on the landing, small shuffle. OK. 9.775.
2. Sawa – better height than McDonald and a big stick. Very reminiscent to the vault from national semis, still some piking and low chest, so there’s room to deduct. 9.900.
3. Cipra – strong yfull overall, good potential because of the form, some piking as well, big step back. Good for a debut, though. 9.850.
4. Bynum -yhalf, lands very short with a stumble back, that should be the dropped score. 9.725
5. Peszek – good yfull with a hop back, she’ll be there soon. Good lift and doesn’t pike the way the others have. Much better chest position. 9.850
6. Courtney – Awesome, awesome vault. Best height on the team and a clear stick on the yfull, like what she did in EF last year. If Sawa got a 9.900, that should be a 9.950. She gets our first 9.975 of the year. First judge to give a 10. As the commenter pointed out, her legs were pretty far apart on the landing.

Florida Bars 
1. Dancose-Giambattisto – nice shaposh, bad camera angle, but looks clean, gets huge height on her DLO but there is a leg break in the second salto, nice stick. 9.875
2. Hunter -good first hs, big tkatchev, perhaps short on her bail hs didn’t get her usual height on her tuck full dismount with a step forward. Fine but not her best. 9.800
3. B Caquatto – opening ray is strong, good bail, hitting handstands, sticks DLO, lovely routine. 9.900
4. Sloan – Great opening tkatchev, except for the usual toes but lovely still, she has that leg break in the bail and a hop forward on the DLO but otherwise strong and what we saw last year. 9.875
5. M Caquatto – very clean shaposh to bail, and I’m so pleased she’s added the tkatchev this year, step back on the tuck full. 9.875
6. Johnson -Another excellent tkatchev, swith those toes, maybe a tiny bit more ragged than we have seen from her in the past and some movement on the dismount, but very good routine. Great start to the season for Florida. 9.875

Florida leads 49.400 to 49.350 after the first rotation, so everyone is still in this. The camera angle on bars made it difficult to judge the handstands, especially on the bails, but they looked mostly clean. They will be better on this event, but those back three need to stick the dismounts. One judge gave each of them a 9.900 without a stick, so when they stick they’ll be going stratospheric.

Courtney saved that rotation for UCLA with an excellent vault, and Peszek is on the way. Cipra showed some good potential as well.

Rhonda is talking now about all her special memories from UCLA.

Rotation 2: UCLA – UB, Florida -VT

1. Francis -good first hs, small leg separation on the shaposh, looked a little late on her full, and then a stuck double pike. Fine start. 9.850
2. DeJesus – New hair? crazy legs on her gienger like at the beginning of last season, they came together later, tries to pretend she stuck her tuck full but she didn’t. Nice to see Mattie there cheering them on.
3. Craddock – Nice tkatchev, look at you Ellette, big leg break on the pak but nice line in handstands, hop back on her double back and enough form breaks to bring the score down. 9.775.
4. Mossett – good first hs, strong height on her jaeger, pak, a lot of handstands in this for an NCAA routine and it showed by the end with a struggle on her stalder circle, but sticks the double back dismount. Discussion about the SV, looks like she didn’t get that 10 SV. 9.650.
5. Courtney – Good opening shaposh, hits bail, still not doing a same-bar release, which I would have liked to see, but she does stick the tuck full even if she flung it out a bit. 9.900.
6. Peszek – Catches the gienger close and is also close on her shoot to the high bar, the handstands looked good, but she whipped her DLO a little and piked down and hopped back. Looks like she needs more time with this routine. 9.875. High. 

Florida Vault
1. Spicer – did not get much of a block at all on her yfull with no distance, barely hung onto the landing with a huge squat. 9.600.
2. B Caquatto – strong yfull, good height, hop back, but clean body form and a good addition to the lineup.
3. M Caquatto – Ack. She also didn’t get any kind of block at all, lands so very low, almost a little lock legged, and has to put her hand down. Bridget Sloan is miming how pissed she is.
4. Johnson – Alaina fixes what has been happening on vault, great leg form, a small, small movement on the landing, and perhaps some piking on replay.
5. Sloan – Gorgeous, gorgeous vault. If Courtney got a 9.975, this was just as good with better legs on the stick, perhaps less height, perhaps. Excellent vault. They needed that after two struggles. 9.925. Florida not getting the same kind of scoring UCLA got.
6. Hunter – Y1.5 is excellent, great body position and just the smallest of hops forward, not the stick, but a great vault. Sloan and Hunter saved this rotation score. 9.900

Hmm. Very interesting rotation. Scoring is all over the place. After 2 rotations, UCLA leads 98.600 to 98.375.

I am quite surprised to see Florida have two missed vaults like that from Macko and Spicer, which really hurt their score. Sloan and Hunter looked very good, and it would have been interesting to see what the judges would have done with a Hunter stick. The rest of the rotation needs to catch up with them.

UCLA had some formy formy moments in some of those bars routines with leg breaks and close catches in a number of the routines, so a very first meet showing from both teams in that rotation. Lots of cleaning to do, and I do wonder how competitive UCLA will be with this bars rotation eventually.

Rotation 3: UCLA – BB, Florida -FX

1. DeJesus – clean walkover, but takes a huge wobble on her loso and touches the beam, problem start, hop forward on the front full dismount. 9.475
2. Sawa -switch split, straddle 1/4 open, hits side aerial, not even close on her loso series and comes off before her second leg even touches. Ruh Roh. We knew it would be a journey for UCLA on beam, but the rest of the routine was OK. 9.250.
3. Mossett -Tentative full turn to start but fine, big wobble on stag jump, not a remotely fun posirion for a first collegiate beam routine going after two mistakes, but she hits – side somi is strong, gainer pike dismount. Really nervy routine but she hit. 9.775
4. Craddock – lovely full turn, walkover to front handspring, huge break at the waist, this is just a disaster rotation, has to redo her dance combo and doesn’t really hit those second splits, having to improvise, cool front layout dismount but a slight stumble landing. Rough. 9.575.
5. Peszek -They need a big Peszek of a routine right now, great walkover and gainer loso, switch split to straddle jump is right now. Bhs, loso, layout full, small shuffle on the landing, but thank you for showing up, Sam. First one who did on this rotation. 9.925
6. Francis -I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, solid walkover to bhs, does well to save her dance combination without taking a wobble, Y spin, here it comes, gets it done and sticks it as well. Transverse aerial to layout full. Team going wild. Ha. That’s fun to see. I was worried it would be a problem, but she pulls it out. 9.900. 

Florida Floor
1. Boyce – front double full mount, clean vody form in her twisting elements, not quite hitting 180 in these splits, rudi finish. Big music doesn’t really match the choreo, does it? 9.825
2. M Caquatto – Happy and surprised to see her doing floor from the first meet, stick front double full. Who used this music? Alicia? It’s just a whole mess of Sac tributes on this team. Ack, way, way over on her 1.5 in the middle pass and landed her front layout to her back. Gah, she almost hit her head on that layout. Scary. Exact same mistake on the front tuck on her dismount. Two falls. Poor girl. 8.400.
3. Spicer – solid landing on her pike full in but the chest is near her knees on that landing, front full front pike is secure, doesn’t quite hit the split full at 180, but good double pike to get them back on track. 9.825
4. B Caquatto – front double mount to front tuck, lands a little short on her front tuck but it’s fine, front 1.5 to split jump is very nicely done, she’s completing her dance elements well, very short landing on her double pike, low chest and a big hop, was going pretty well until then. 9.750
5. Sloan – I know some people aren’t into this routine, but I’m all about it. She needs to do for Florida what Peszek did on beam. Good front double full. Splits look better than in the December training videos, a little low on her double pike with a hop forward, huge breather before the dismount, pulls out the layout after her 1.5, it looked like she might not, but she did look tired at the end. 9.850.
6. Hunter – Excellent DLO as always, 1.5, front layout, front handsrping, shushunova middle pass is well executed, only slightly low on her double tuck dismount, but someone finally showed up for Florida’s floor rotation.

Well, that was a rough experience of a third rotation. UCLA was an utter mess on beam for the first four, but Peszek was her usual solid self, and Danusia hit a lovely routine. 48.650, and it could have been WAY worse after the quality of those first routines.

Florida had the Macko problem and some other average routines to open. This rotation really is the march of the front double fulls this year. Lots of short landings on tumbling passes throughout the group, even for the people who hit well. It wasn’t as much of a problem as UCLA’s beam, but work to be done here, and the final two had to save the score, much as UCLA’s final two did.

After 3: Florida 147.550, UCLA 147.250. 

Interviewing Jordyn Wieber now. She got back in the gym after London and then decided she wanted to leave and start college instead. Yep. Not committing to a comeback time frame, like a well media-trained girl.

Rotation 4: UCLA – FX, Florida – BB

UCLA Floor
1. McDonald – UCLA changes rotation order at the last minute. It would be a UCLA meet without it, pretty strong double pike, as last season it’s the dance elements that bring her score down, rudi to loso is on, some crossed legs on the rudi, then she just lies on the floor for a while breathing without even moving (TEH ARTISTRY!) a little low chest on the rudi dismount, but a good routine especially coming in at the last minute. 9.750 
2. Francis – The hairography is all I’ve ever needed, opens with the double pike (we figured the double arabian wouldn’t be ready) but it’s very strong, a little squatty in her whip double back landing but it was secure, we need her in the floor rotation every week. Good splits, stumbles a little out of her 2.5 but stays in. One of the better floor routines she has done for UCLA. 9.875
3. Bynum – Strong DLO mount, she needed that this year and her tumbling looks bigger than last season, much like McDonald, it’s the dance elements that aren’t quite up to the tumbling, that was choreography and not an attempt at a dance element, right? Right. Also a little low on the double pike dismount. 9.850. 
4. Cipra – Excited to see what she brings on the floor, high double back as a mount, small lack of countrol on her 1.5 + layout, squatty landing on her double pike, finishes with her dance elements, there’s potential in this routine. 9.850.
5. Courtney – One of those days when she lands the double arabian a little under and steps back. Oh, this music again. OK. 1.5 to front 1/2 to loso is very strong. Sticks double pike dismount. 9.900
6. Sawa – She wasn’t in the lineup originally, low chest on double back mount (if Florida’s floor was a tale of front double fulls, UCLA’s floor is about D double salto mounts), better on the double pike, strong. 1.5 to half to stag is done well. Macko’s beam was just enough for Florida to take the meet, but she did well enough to keep it close. 9.900  

Florida Beam
1. Spicer – looked almost like a wobble on choreo at the beginning, just a very slight adjustment on the loso series, hits gainer loso, just some pauses and tentativeness in this routine, hits gainer full dismount. Better start than UCLA. 9.825
2. Johnson – Good walkover to back handspring, wobbles on her split half, aerial to layout full dismount with a small hop. Deductions but another good hit to open the rotation. 9.800. 
3. Boyce – also does a walkover + bhs, but also does a bhs + loso series, both are hit, her low to beam choreo seemed a little awkward, hits gainer full. 9.850.
4. Hunter – Stumbles on her punch front mount but stays on, loso series is huge as always, small correction on switch side, huge lunge out of her double back dismount. Gave away tenths there on her big skills. 9.750
5. Sloan – Wonderful loso series, hits her walkover to scale, but it’s not my favorite elements because even when done well it isn’t the most secure of skills. It’s always just held onto. WOW. She wasn’t even close on her side aerial and just came off. I’m so surprised at that from her. Of all the people to fall. Not close on it. Weird. 9.225.
6. M Caquatto – Layout stepout series is strong, as is the walkover to swingdown. She’s getting them back on it just like at Super Six. Good switch split. A hit routine should be enough for the meet, but just barely. Hit gainer full. 9.875.

Well, that was not a particularly inspiring meet overall, which is normal for the first meet of the season, but I guess I expected better. We had a few individual highlights, a couple excellent vault from both teams and Danusia’s beam dismount, but a lot of sloppiness as well.

FINAL: Florida 196.650, UCLA 196.625

There were enough mistakes in this meet that both teams will feel fortunate to have received something in the mid 196s, which is a normal first meet score for this all-over-the-place performance. UCLA’s score got raised to 196.625 after the fact, so just .025 behind Florida, after Danusia’s floor score was bumped up. 

Rhonda is giving the team a speech to try to make them feel better by talking about this performance since they started the season on the road. Amanda is interviewing Peszek, and she talks about being “too amped” to start the meet. “Finally got it together” on beam. Good honesty, Sam.

For Florida, bars ended up being the strong event. They looked very good on the bars themselves, and just need the dismounts to come together to get excellent scores. On the other three, there were some lackluster routines, saved by some strong anchors. The landings aren’t there on vault and floor yet, and most of beam was flat. Bridget Sloan’s beam fall was just a freak thing, but she and Kytra looked about where they should be at this point in the year. Macko looked excellent on her good events, but vault and floor were scary.

UCLA got some charitable home scoring in several places, but I’m more interested in quality at this point in the season. It was a nervy meet for a number of the competitors, so we’ll have to watch how that progresses. Mossett and Craddock looked petrified. A couple of these lineups need Pinches. I’m encouraged about Cipra, though there’s room to improve the landings on both events she showed, and Danusia had one of her strongest meets including the best floor she has done. Peszek was just OK on vault and bars (her bars was one of the bigger overscores of the night), but she’ll be back soon.  

What did you think of the meet? 

All the Friday Meets – Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, LSU

Friday – 1/10/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [15] Penn State, West Virginia, Ball State @ [21] Kentucky (Scores) (Video-all access)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [16] Illinois @ Michigan State (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [24] Maryland @ Central Michigan (Scores)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [7] Michigan, Illinois State @ Iowa State (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [8] Georgia @ [3] Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Centenary @ [5] LSU (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Western Michigan, Bridgeport @ [11] Arkansas
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Texas Woman’s @ [13] Auburn (Scores) (Video-all access)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @ [2] 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,

I agree.

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.

Rotation 4
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.