Friday, February 7th
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Florida @ Kentucky (Scores) (Video – All-access)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Minnesota @  Ohio State (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Central Michigan @ Eastern Michigan
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Northern Illinois @  Kent State (Scores) (Video)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  LSU @  Arkansas (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Michigan @  Illinois (Scores) (Video – All-access)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT –  Georgia @  Alabama (Scores) (Video – free)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Chicago Style –  Boise State, North Carolina, Illinois-Chicago, Bowling Green
9:00 ET/6:00 PT –  Arizona @  Utah (Scores)
This week’s top 10:
Major action begins with Florida and Kentucky at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT, with the big question being exactly how too cool for school Florida’s lineups will be in this meet. Because of the schedule this season with many teams beginning competition in the second weekend of January instead of the first, most teams do not have a week off during the regular season this year, so expect most coaches to look for opportunities like this at winnable away meets over the next month or so to Miss Val some of their lineups, “explore depth,” and give their major contributors a chance to back off on a couple of events so they’re not doing the AA every single weekend right into the postseason. [At least, this is what I expected based on Florida’s schedule. We didn’t end up seeing much resting at all.]
Minnesota will also be facing off against Ohio State at the same time, and Minnesota is still yet to get things going this season in that contending-for-the-top-ten way we would expect, particularly on bars and beam, which were always going to be their struggle events. Lindsay Mable had a surprisingly poor meet last weekend with a couple falls, and the team certainly cannot afford that from its star. Minnesota is capable of a high 196, but not when they’re topping out at 9.850s like last week against Nebraska. Ohio State is ranked about where I would expect right now, but they’re yet to record a meet without counting a major mistake. They’re still looking for that all-important third contributor to help Miller and Shaffer get the scores. Is it going to be Tenille Funches? Am I just looking for any opportunity to use the name Tenille Funches?
Intros now for the Kentucky team. Kentucky is certainly a top-25 quality team, but that -6 they scored last week against Georgia with 5 beam falls destroyed their ranking, and it will probably take until RQS kicks in for them to climb back up to where they belong. Is Florida even at this meet? Why was there only one team standing there all pathetically? That was amusing looking.
We’re getting started now, with Harrison on vault for Kentucky. Front handspring on, front pike – bent knees and a hop forward. 9.775.
BDG begins for Florida on bars, with a clean routine – strong shaposh and bail and a stuck DLO – one of her better of the season so far.
Beucler – VT – UK – yfull and a stuck landing with it – pretty piked and a low landing as a result, but strong landing there.
Hunter – UB – UF – Another great showing, highlight was the big hindorff as always, but the bail looked clean and the tuck full was stuck. Very nice start for Florida.
Hilton – VT – UK – another stick or near stick on a yfull – deductions to take for leg form and piking again, but they’re not giving away on these landings, which is very important for this team early in the vault lineup. 9.800
B Caquatto – UB – UF – Just a huge tkatchev, handstands are all very clean and precisely held, hops back on her DLO which she hasn’t been doing, but it should be another big score for her. She has been the highest bars score surprinsgly a couple times for this team.
Mitchell – VT – UK – Another front handspring front pike – same bent knees as the first one – and a step forward on landing.
Sloan – UB – UF – Great power on that Ray – excellent handstands – and a stuck DLO – she had the usually legs flopping apart a tad on the bail, as she always does, but an excellent routine. I wish we were getting Florida’s scores.
Hedges – VT – UK – Yfull, best height or distance on any vault so far for Kentucky – maintained her straight shape better as well, clean landing. They look pretty good on vault so far. 9.800.
M Caquatto – UB – UF – We missed the very beginning of Macko’s routine, but the Tkatchev looked nice, still a step back on the dismount, and she hasn’t been sticking that these last weeks. I always expect her to stick that every week, but it’s not happening this year.
Cunningham – VT – UK – Clean yfull – best form on the team with straight legs throughout – some separation though – and a stuck landing. This has been a pleasing vault rotation for Kentucky. 9.850.
Johnson – UB – UF – Gorgeous Ray – otherwise I thought one of her early handstands was rushed and the legs came apart on the bail and the second salto in the DLO, so not her absolute best routine, but she did stick the DLO this time, so the landings are coming along for the most part.
SCP does exhibition on bars for Florida – and while she’s a solid backup, there are just a few too many deductions for her to make the lineup right now. An arched handstand here, steps on the DLO there. The Gators have the luxury of not having to use that routine.
-For Kentucky, one of the problems has been the low scores early in the vault rotation, so getting those landings early and avoiding having to endure an early 9.6 is huge for them. That vault rotation was pretty much competitive with what we see from teams in the 15-20 range in the rankings.
I was pleased by the progression on Florida’s landings. We’ll wait on the scores, but they didn’t give away as much as they have in a couple meets so far this year. They trotted the full lineup out, and delivered for the most part. A strong showing.
Over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have a lead of .250 after the first rotation 49.025-48.775 led by a 9.900 from Shaffer on vault. Bars is the most challenging event for Minnesota, and they got through it, but had to count a 9.550 from Mable and dropped a fall from Hanley. Those two should be two of their highest scorers on the event, so they couldn’t recover from their lower scores. Not yet is the answer for Minnesota, but they’re a stronger vault team, so they can get it back in the second.
It’s a 49.325 for Florida, led by 9.9s for Sloan and Macko. I thought Sloan’s routine warranted a stronger score than Macko’s. Just cleaner.
Spicer – VT – UF – Solid yfull, could distance, small hop – not the pop we see from some of the others. Meanwhile, Kentucky begins with a serviceable bars routine from Roemmele – clean straddle back, a couple short handstands, step back on tuck full.
Johnson – VT – UF – yfull with a small hop in place – she’s pulled together that landing after a couple struggle weeks in there.
Hilton – UB – UK – Catches a big gienger with a little bit of crazy legs – that’s the showpiece of her routine – another with a DLO who completely straddles the second salto, but she stuck it.
On Kentucky coverage, we often miss some opponent routines for replays of Kentucky’s routines, and that appears to be the case with some of these vaults here, like Sloan’s. But she gets a 9.900.
Sienkowski – UB – UK – Nice rhythm and power in her routine – mixed grip jaeger? Cool. I saw some missed handstands and a couple places to take for leg form, but visually pleasing. 9.750.
So we’ve given up on showing Florida’s vaults. That’s going to make it harder to maintain energy for this meet once the 8:00/5:00 meets start.
Hartley – UB- UK – High tkatchev and a nice full turn, some pretty significant hip angle on the bail, but a stuck DLO. Really good routine. They should be happy with that. That could be 9.8s. Never mind. 9.775. OK.
Harrison – UB – UK – Good height on jaeger. I’ve been enjoying the releases for this team so far. The problem has been the details. Like for Beucler, who just followed her with a strong enough routine but completely missed her first handstand, which will help keep her score down.
We barely saw anything from Florida in that rotation, but the score is just a 49.250, which is fairly low for this team. We saw our first swap out of the night, with Macko coming out on vault for SCP, who scored a dropped 9.700. Kytra and Sloan went into the 9.9s as we always expect from them, but no one scored anything massive. Scores have been what I would consider appropriate so far, but I like a harsh scoring landscape. We certainly see more charitable numbers in most places. Kentucky was pretty 9.7y on bars because of form breaks in all of these routines – leg separations – that kind of thing, but there are some nice qualities.
Florida still on pace for a low 197 so far, which would make it challenging but definitely imaginable for Oklahoma to pass with a big home score.
Minnesota lost more ground on Ohio State in the second rotation after a 49.075 on vault. Mable got her 9.900 to recover from last week’s fall, but they had three scores in the 9.7s. They can still become the stick machines for 9.900s throughout the end of the lineup that they were in the postseason last year – the lineup is almost entirely the same, but we’re not there yet. Ohio State went low 49s on bars with a bunch of 9.8s, led by Aepli’s 9.875.
Boyce starts Florida with a clean enough showing – a split here, some lack of control there, but fine. We’ve seen better from her. Mitchell is up second for Kentucky on beam, and she is usually very secure but takes a bend at the hips in her back tuck after the walkover, which will bring down the score. Good stick on the front full dismount.
SCP is into the floor lineup for Florida and landed pretty low on her layout out of the middle pass and had to tuck it a little, but held on. Nice to see her in, but probably won’t stay there. Roemmele on beam for Kentucky now, and she’s another with a big hip bend on acro, a side aerial this time, one step back on her 1.5 dismount.
Sloan – FX – sticks her front double full as we’ve come to expect. Listening to other people, I think I may be the only person in the world who likes this floor routine, but that just makes me like it more out of spite. Another really clean showing. Fought slightly to hold onto the stick on her final pass. Really only a small notch below what we’ve seen the last couple weeks at home. 9.875. Hilton takes a fall on beam for Kentucky.
Johnson – FX – Yay for Alaina in this lineup today. Strong double arabian to open – it seems forever ago that she got this routine, but we’ve seen it only so rarely. A good showing, not quite there yet – a little short on her double pike landing for instance, but they should consider keeping her in this lineup.
Beucler – BB – Must hit because they’re already counting a 9.650. Break on the gainer loso, but that was the only significant mistake in the routine, and they’ll take that score. They’ll have to.
For all Rhonda’s talk of resting people, we’re seeing no rest for Hunter and Sloan, just Macko really. Hunter – FX – big DLO that loses some impact with the close up camera angle – there’s no perspective for hugeness when gymnastics is shown in close up. It loses it’s impressiveness. We don’t need to see faces. We need to see amplitude. Another excellent showing with little to take. I sincerely doubt a road 10, but she’s on fire this year. Better than two weeks ago, worse than last week.
Nice layout to two feet on beam for Kentucky’s Harrison in the final position – capped with a stuck 1.5. Strong way to finish, and they won’t be counting a fall. And Bridgette finishes up cleanly for Florida. Another who lands slightly short on her double pike but otherwise strong. Should be a solid if slightly unimpressive score.
It’s a 49.275 for Florida on floor, so they should still comfortably jump into the 197s, but we’re not seeing the huge numbers this week on the road, which is not particularly surprising. Kentucky pulled out a 48.625 on beam, so they should still be on track to break 195.
I’m switching over to Michigan and Illinois now. I got behind so I missed some of the early routines. Sorry about that one. Michigan is already going to have to drop a 9.575 from Sugiyama on bars. Uh oh.
Gies – UB – clean firs hs, legs firmly together, strong tkatchev, small hop on the double back. A borderline handstand here and there, but strong. They’ll take it.
Nice height and distance on the yfull for O’Connor Illinois, a hop on the landing, but impressive.
Sheppard shows she excellent piked tkatchev, and she appears to be getting this routine together after some early errors in the season. Sticks the cowboyed double front. I had some buffering so must has missed a mistake for her 9.550. I’ll pull it together for the second rotation. I promise. Same thing happened for Sampson’s routine. What I saw looked nice, but it was jumpy and the score is a 9.750.
Buchanan finishes with a stick on her yfull for Illinois. That’s the kind of vault that has kept them in the top 15 even without Weinstein this year.
It’s a rough start for Michigan with a 48.725 on bars, though I didn’t see any of the mistakes, but they’re trailing Illinois by over two tenths and will have to pick it up significantly on vault.
Minnesota got it together on floor with 49.300 to take the lead over Ohio State, and Arkansas got an important 49.250 on vault to take the lead over LSU after 1. That 49.250 may be the boost they need to finally get out of the low 196s. LSU gets a 9.925 from Morrison, but has to count a 9.775 from Dickson. As pointed out in the comments, Wyrick is back on bars. They need her.
I’ll watch this next rotation for Illinois and Michigan before switching over to the Alabama and Georgia main event, which won’t start for another 15-20 minutes or so if the past is any indication.
Brooke Parker is in for Michigan on vault – clean enough yfull it appeared – not a huge vault – step back – she’s getting there.
Naleway – UB – big leg break on the shaposh but hit – a little late on her gaint full and a hop on the double back. 9.725.
Zakharia – VT – (No Beilstein this week?) – Handspring pike half is solid but slightly off line, so her step to the side goes a little off the mat.
See – UB – All about the jaegers to open – nice composition and sticks the DLO to finish well.
Chiarelli – VT – sticks her yfull, which they needed – a little bit for leg form on the horse and she had to pike and hold to the stick, so the score shouldn’t be huge, but they needed that landing.
O’Connor – UB – Clean straddle back and a hugely high taktchev – small hop on the DLO and a short handstand or three, but good enough. 9.725.
Sugiyama – VT – Strong 1.5 with a small step forward, should be a high score. Much needed. 9.900.
McNabb – UB – Good full, catches tkatchev – not as high but a fine skill – step on DLO, and bail looked like it might have been a bit short. Fine.
Sampson – VT – looked like just a small hop in place on that landing for the yfull – maybe came in a little shorter than she usually would, at least it looked that way from behind.
Fielder for Illinois shows by far the best form on the team so far with her jaeger and finishing with a stuck DLO, and she is followed by Sheppard who does her usual huge and amazing yfull that she opens out of, had to fight and bend to hang onto the stick, so not her absolute best but a strong vault. Kato finishes on bars with a strong jaeger, and another clean enough showing overall – gets high on her DLO but lands it a little squatty – does hold onto the stick, though.
9.800 for Sheppard. Scoring has just been weird at this meet so far. I’m not sure what the deal is. Michigan hasn’t looked great, but has looked much better than a sub-196 pace would suggest.
Thanks for the heads up about Sloan getting a 10 on beam. She’s always close, so it seemed like it would be coming one of these days. That’s the first perfect 10 on beam since the 2010 UCLA/Georgia meet in which both Taylor and EHH got beam 10s, isn’t it? Was it merited?
Florida finishes with a 197.175. LSU is currently on pace for a similar number after two events, getting 9.9s from Gnat and Courville on vault. Now it’s time to switch over to Alabama and Georgia. Stream working for anyone? Not for me so far.
Now we’re up in time to see Dominique Pegg tuck her yfull. What was that? Lots of 9.8s leading up to this for both teams. Cheek hasn’t done much of that, so let’s see what she does.
Cheek – UB – clean first hs, looked like she caught her tkatchev as little close or awkwardly, and the final handstand was short, step back on the DLO. She’s been better than that most of this year. 9.850.
Beers – VT – Big power on the yfull – love that height and distance, but a pretty large step back.
Rogers – UB – Lovely stalders, excellent ricna, clean bail, and a stuck tuck full. Really good routine. So clean and pretty in the legs throughout, and very precise. 9.900.
Milliner – VT – Bam! Huge height on her 1.5 and a stick. One of her better vaults ever. I would be fine with 9.950, but the judges keep it in line with a 9.925. She’s gotten that score for a non-stick before, which is interesting.
Davis – UB – Great first handstand and tkatchev, looked like one of her handstands was a little struggle and has to bend to hold onto her stick on the DLO, but very good. 9.900
Shocked Lauren Johnson caught her gienger in bars exhibition – it was basically in Mississippi, but she falls on the dismount.
Alabama goes 49.300 on vault, which is their score so far this year. They were able to drop Pegg’s weird tuck – but Beers’ vault was great except for getting that landing a little more controlled to make 9.9s more realistic, and Milliner’s was excellent. Georgia has the one tenth lead after the first, led by Brown’s 9.925, which I missed but we can assume she was rewarded for her amazing tkatchev. Both Cheek and Davis were fine, but neither had her absolute best routine. I thought Rogers was great.
Rotation 2 – Alabama on bars, Georgia on vault
1. DeMeo – Hate that random half turn to start and there were a couple handstands to argue, but she sticks the DLO and it’s a mostly clean showing. Great leg form throughout.
2. Bailey – Looked like she would be a little close on her opening release but she worked it out with sufficient swing – still doing the double back – small step. Clean but unremarkable routine.
3. A Sims – Big leg break on her bail handstand and floppy legs on the DLO with a step back but a workable routine – the leg form was my main concern for her in this lineup.
4. Jacob – Misses first handstands, huge ray and does well to control the swing afterward, great stick on the DLO. Still a couple handstand issues to take for, though.
5. Jetter – Strong Ray, but she struggled on her double front with an immediate hop and then another step. A couple handstands were borderline as well.
6. Clark -Her shaposh and bail combo that makes up the majority of her routine is well done, finishes with her DLO 1/1 dismount with a step back.
1. Davis – Excellent yfull – maybe not a stick – she kind of stepped salute. Good height, though.
2. Broussard – Really strong distance on her yfull – small hop back – good form in the air.
3. Hires – good form on the yfull but a big bounce back out of it – not her best.
4. Jay – 4th now, and she has upgraded to the 1.5 – nice to see – fairly notable step but she’s progressing. 9.900.
5. Cheek – Lands a little short on her yfull with a step forward. She’s been fine so far, but it’s her weakest showing of the season through two events. Just not what we expect.
6. Rogers – 1.5 for her as well – more controlled landing than Jay, just a small step back. Very nice.I thought her vault was better than Jay’s, but whatever. 9.875.
Johnson sticks an exo vault for Georgia with a little fight, and now we’re seeing McNeer do an exo on bars. Interesting. Clean first handstand and strong Ray, bail is short of handstand with a leg break. DLO is a little whippy with a hop back. Potential, but not yet.
Alabama cuts the deficit to just a half tenth after two rotations. They needed to be close to take it on the final two events so they seem to be in good shape, since I would give the Tide the edge on the final two events. It wasn’t a particularly strong bars rotation for Alabama, though. I saw a lot of missed handstands and too many leg breaks. Georgia also needed to get a few more landings to hope for a score any higher than what they got.
Rotation 3 – Alabama on beam, Georgia on floor
1. Milliner – clean walkover, hits switch and straddle – works deliberately but hits – no wobbles on the loso series – good secure leadoff – step forward on double full dismount.
2. DeMeo – Handspring mount looks comfortable, biggish break on her series – bend at the hips and the leg flies up – she can be so great but she’s also the member of this lineup most likely to have an error. The splits are pristine. Step back on double pike. It won’t be terrible but they’ll want to drop it. 9.800. Hmm. Better than I thought after the large wobble, but she does give away very little elsewhere.
3. Jetter – Windmills a little bit on her switch side – hits her loso well – gets her front tuck around but it’s not exactly comfortable – she’s hitting but it still looks nerve-wracking at every moment just like in elite. Small hop on 1.5 dismount.
4. A Sims – Lovely walkover and split jump – secure loso series – this is how you hit dance elements – holds onto her switch side like a veteran without giving up a wobble – a little short on her double back dismount with a step forward, but that was the only major thing to take. 9.875.
5. Clark – A little off on her loso series and raises a leg but does well not to give away a bigger wobble than that, small check on the front tuck, walkover is OK but she’s fighting it a little bit here. Sticks her 1.5 to help, but there were a couple checks in that routine. 9.875 seems high.
6. Jacob -Secure on her dance series – series of layouts is excellent – WOAH – big wobble on her barani and graps her legs to stay on the beam. We take that skill for granted from her. She always hits it. Hmmm. You can bend over a grab your thighs on a skill and still get a 9.825? Who knew.
1. Earls – Really secure opening her Georgia as well – the split jump wasn’t quite there and some lack of control on the double back dismount as the hips slide back – but otherwise it’s a controlled and solid leadoff.
2. Hires – A little low on the double pike to open – and not quite there on her double back to finish as well – in a squat and not quite controlled – just not quite secure enough in the tumbling to get the big score. 9.800.
3. Reynolds – mount looks great, a little low chesty on her double pike – we’ve seen her be a bit stronger than this, but her dance elements look hit and her tumbling was under control. 9.875.
4. Box – Nice high double pike to open – keeps the landing in control enough, straddles look hit – same height on her double back – 1.5 to front layout is hit. Good showing. 9.875.
5. Rogers – Looked like she had her front double full but hops forward – perhaps minorly short of 180 on her split full but it was fine – small bits here and there on the tumbling – a little hop a little slide. 9.825
6. Jay – Very low on her tuck full and almost puts her knees down but it’s not a fall. Did she bail out of that middle pass a little? What was that? Anchor trouble. Hits the double pike to finish at least, but they could have used a big score from her. 9.800. OK. . .
Both teams score a 49.225 in the third rotation to keep the margin razor thin at just .050 going into the final rotation, where I would say Alabama still does have the edge, though I thought Alabama would gain something in the third rotation. They had mistakes, wobbles throughout the routines from some of the big hitters – and then that really uncharacteristic mistake from Jacob. Even the one who looked the best on the beam, Sims, had a struggle on the dismount. Similar, Georgia could have used some big hitting from the final two, but neither landed as well as they needed to, so Box and Reynolds had to carry floor, which Georgia should not be relying on.
Shot of Kayla Williams on crutches. Uhhhhhh. Sadness.
This is almost an identical situation to what Georgia did against Florida before Florida had the 49.875 heard round the world and Georgia melted down on beam. They’ll hope for a better result this time around. Persinger back in the lineup is an upgrade.
Rotation 4 – Alabama on floor, Georgia on beam
1. Jetter – Clean double back to start – splits are OK – hits 1.5 to front full as well – I was unsure whether she would make this lineup, but she’s making the most of hit. 1.5 to layout dismount. 9.875.
2. Beers – Secure double tuck (Alabama with first two gymnasts starting with double tucks? Where are we?) long pause before second pass – slightest stumbly step on layout to layout full middle pass – Umm, this choreo before the dismount? What is that supposed to be? – Great double pike dismount. 9.925.
3. Bailey – Excellent double arabian mount and secure layout to front full middle pass – that double arabian mount is a big asset to this lineup – Milliner Lite – a bounce back out of her rudi. 9.875.
4. DeMeo – Another great double arabian – so maybe Bailey is DeMeo Lite – a little slide on the 1.5 to layout – Oh, a forgot about this travesty of a music melange. We call this iTunes vomit. Mute. Great 2.5 dismount. 9.925.
5. Jacob – A little slidey lack of control on the pike full in mount but well performed in the air – secure double pike – good straddles – takes her 1.5 to front full right up to the edge but stays in. 9.950.
6. Milliner – So high on her double arabian but lands just slightly short with a step back – great dynamic middle pass – excellent and secure double pike to finish. Excellent routine, stronger than Jacob’s, but not really a 10, so the judges have a little pickle here. 9.950.
1. Box – tuck jump full to start – clean loso series – she’s really making sure of these landings, squatting and holding each one – walkover is hit – small hop on 1.5. Tentative in places but hit well. 9.875.
2. Broussard – Never had a chance on her layout series. She had fallen the second she started that bhs. Well, Georgia, what are you going to do now? She’s off again on her side aerial.
3. Rogers – A little slow in her dance connection but gets it – strong loso series – just very small corrections on everything – tight – bhs 3/4 to stag is excellent this time – hits her bhs 1/1 to layout 1/1 dismount as well. Great finish after a tentative start. 9.850.
4. Persinger – Excellent L turn – a little slow in that full turn but fine – hits walkover and hangs onto her loso series well without giving up much of a wobble if at all – does her front toss and barely even sniffs the beam on it. Counting a fall again after having a chance to win. Oh Georgia.
5. Cheek – Just trying to limit the damage at this point – and a clean loso series is a good start – lovely switch side – small adjustment on the side aerial – sticks gainer full. They needed that, and would have needed it more if they were still in this. 9.925.
6. Earls -Hits her two layouts series – small correction on switch split before straddle 1/4 – this is an important routine for the team score because they cannot count that 8.400 or anything close to it. Nice stick or close to it on the double back dismount. They were very close to a great rotation score here, but needed Persinger to be in form. 9.950. Still a good overall team score.
Final score: Alabama 197.500, Georgia 196.825.
This is the team score Alabama has been needing, finishing with a big floor performance. It was all to play for in the end, and Alabama won it in the final rotation as much as Georgia lost it.