Minneapolis, MN Regional Preview

The #2 team in the country, Oklahoma, will have to trek north to Minnesota for a regional that looks like it will be a tight battle between Illinois and Minnesota for the second spot to advance to nationals. This meet is one of the later starts (7 ET/4 PT), so the Illinois/Minnesota storyline will probably finish out the day be the very last nationals spot decided.

Competing teams (starting event)
[2] Oklahoma (bye before bars)
[11] Illinois (bye before floor)
[14] Minnesota (vault)
[19] California (floor)
[26] Southern Utah (bars)
[31] San Jose State (beam)

Competing individuals are from Iowa (Alie Glover, Angel Metcalf, Sydney Hoerr, Jordyn Doherty – vault, Mollie Drenth – floor), Air Force (Linnaea Hance, Katie Hawthorne – bars, Shannen Kelly – beam), and Wisconsin-Whitewater (Katie Fiorilli).

The Favorite

We’re falling into a few ruts when it comes to rankings. Florida enters regionals as the #1 team for the fourth straight year, and Oklahoma is the #2 team for the third straight year. And much like Florida, Oklahoma should advance with ease. Minnesota’s season high of 197.250, top among the other teams, would be considered a bad meet for the Sooners, who haven’t put up a score below that level since February. For these top few seeds, regionals are about what we want to see heading into nationals.

It’s interesting that we have this collective sense of Oklahoma as a bars and beam, and it comes because visually and anecdotally, that’s where they have excelled. Those routines have been the more memorable and more exciting ones. However, Oklahoma has ranked consistently well on vault and floor over the past five years, claiming the #1 ranking on both events from time to time, so to see them in the top 3 on all the events this year is not unusual and, in terms of basic results, isn’t really a change. What would be a change would be seeing them score more competitively at nationals on those events, which they have not always done (5th on vault and floor at Super Six 2013). We won’t really get an answer to how competitive this Oklahoma team is on those events until nationals, but there is still a sense that they have progressed, with underclassmen like Scaman, Kanewa, and Capps providing a boost of power – Capps with that extra distance on vault, Kanewa with that extra big E pass on floor to support Scaman’s excellent DLO – that makes them somewhat less reliant on sticking to get the scores. Though the early lineup routines will still have to be very precise to stay in range of everyone. A few of those early floor routines looked distinctly 9.800 at Big 12s.

But for all the competitive scoring on vault and floor that we have seen this year from Oklahoma, I still think it’s going to take winning bars and beam for them to win a national championship. For the time being, that’s still this roster’s bread and butter. They may be competitive on vault and floor, but bars and beam – especially beam – is where they will have a chance to separate themselves from any other team. That’s what I want to see at regionals. A team that can win bars and beam at nationals.

The Contenders

This should be a good one. The Illinois and Minnesota clash is the #2/#3 seed showdown pegged as the most competitive, with the least difference between the two teams. It’s the “upset special,” although I’m not sure that the lower seed advancing in this case would qualify as an upset. The teams are so close, and Minnesota is at home and has won both of their meetings so far this year. I would say Minnesota comes in as the favorite here, and Illinois qualify would be the surprise, if a very marginal surprise.

When comparing two teams at a regional, it usually comes down to extrapolating previous results and hoping they hold true when the teams are competing together, but Minnesota/Illinois is an unusual case because they have competed head-to-head a couple times, so we can make more reliable direct comparisons. At Big Tens, the two teams were separated by just .050, and the areas of difference were extremely predictable, with Minnesota building up an advantage because of vault and Illinois erasing that advantage because of bars, evening out to a very small final margin.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we see a similar situation play out at regionals. It’s the classic clash where Minnesota is the better team on vault and floor, while Illinois is the better team on bars and beam (though both teams are a little terrifying on beam, so I wouldn’t count on it for the success of either). Minnesota can get 49.4s on floor and has done so at home several times this season, usually involving one of Lindsay Mable’s massive scores. Her 9.850 at Big Tens was low by her standards, so Minnesota will feel they can improve on that team score of 49.350. Illinois’s 49.325 at Big Tens, by contrast, was a season high, so give Minnesota the edge on floor if they perform up to their capability.

Minnesota made nationals last year largely because of vault. The 49.525 season high they put up at regionals was the single biggest reason they advanced over Auburn, and “vault” and “single biggest reason” have been going together a lot for Minnesota these last couple years. They can be so strong on vault – boasting the Mable, Covers, Slechta triumvirate of 9.9s that excelled at the end of last season – and the fact that their 10 girl (Mable) got a 10.000 while Illinois’s 10 girl (Amber See) had a fall, was exceptionally significant in the Big Tens final result. Illinois needs season-best hits out of See on vault and floor at this regional to mitigate some of Minnesota’s advantage on those events. 

Also mitigating a potential Minnesota advantage will be a little event called uneven bars. It’s the clear weak event for the Gophers (#25 in the country), especially in the handstands department – which could have been evaluated more strictly at Big Tens than it was. Bars was a problem from that very first intrasquad video Minnesota released during the preseason, and it remains a problem. Illinois has had some mistakes on bars as well this year, but they have been much more consistent and have multiple people in Sunny Kato, Sarah Fielder, and Mary Jane Horth, who can regularly get high 9.8s or a 9.900. It’s a far less scary lineup overall. Illinois managed a .250 advantage on bars at Big Tens, so the potential for an edge is there, even though it did require Minnesota counting a low score. I have to think that for Illinois to beat Minnesota in Minnesota, they’re going to need one big event where they put up a huge advantage to protect against any potential small home boosts here and there. Bars looks like the most likely nominee for that.

Illinois has also been the stronger team on beam this season, not necessarily in terms of peak scoring potential (though Minnesota being without Hanna Norquist – Supreme Empress of the Full Turn – has been a blow) but certainly in terms of consistency. Illinois hits beam much more regularly, and I’m reminded of the most memorable moment from regionals last year when Illinois hit that very solid final beam rotation to knock out Nebraska, ending with Alina Weinstein’s 9.900. They’re finishing on beam again this year and will hope for a deja vu scenario. I should also note that similar to Penn State, I have been impressed by Illinois’s lack of regression this season coming off the loss of their big star, Weinstein.

When both of these teams hit, we’re usually looking at high 196s, so keep an eye on how close they are to that 197 pace as the meet progresses. The most significant rotations in this meet will be the third and the sixth, so as you’re going along following the other meets, be sure to tune in to this meet for those rotations. In the third, Illinois will be on vault while Minnesota is on bars. That’s when the Illini will need to step up the vault scoring take a lead to have a good chance to win. In the sixth, Minnesota will be on floor while Illinois is on beam, and that’s where the Gophers need to take any lead right back. 

Individuals/The Others
Both by ranking and by quality of recent performances, Cal is the strongest unseeded team competing at regionals and therefore warrants some consideration as a possible advancing option. The Golden Bears are certainly the sentimental favorite in all of their competitions now, being in the process of a dramatic program rebirth (that has not yet peaked), but it’s probably a step too far for them to advance to nationals as a team at this point. Cal can definitely merit 196s and should score comfortably into the 196 range at regionals, but they would still need help from both Illinois and Minnesota to move on. It wouldn’t have to be a complete implosion, but it would have to be assistance from multiple teams, which is always hard to bank on. If they’re going to do it, watch the vault and bars scores. Those are the events where they are the most competitive, so they’ll need to cut into leads during both of those rotations and not dig themselves too big a hole when starting the meet on floor, an event that looked a little scattered at Pac 12s.

Regardless of the team showing, gem of the world Alicia Asturias looks like a strong bet to make nationals as an individual, being the second-best AAer in this regional. She regularly goes 39.2s-39.3s and recorded a season-high 39.425 at Pac 12s. I actually think her AA scores could be higher, but she sometimes gets 9.750ed as the beam leadoff for a routine that would get a 9.850 later in the lineup. If Minnesota doesn’t advance a team, Asturias and Mable seem like the clear choices to go as AAers (because we need both of them at nationals – we need it), but if Illinois doesn’t advance, we could see Giana O’Connor or Sarah Fielder go through for them or perhaps an upset from one of the lower-ranked teams.

Southern Utah is regularly one of those teams on the cusp of making regionals, so this year’s #26 ranking is an accomplishment. They didn’t have to scrape for scores at the last minute to get in, but the 196 from conference championships – their first time reaching that plateau and breaking 49 on each event this year – would have helped. Scoring a 196 again would render this meet a victory. And of course they are also putting forth freshman Memory Shettles as a really strong candidate for best new name in NCAA gymnastics. She’ll be fighting for that spot with Tenille Funches, and I expect that to be one of the really good battles on regionals day. 

San Jose State is similar to Southern Utah in that they usually just sneak into regionals and did so again this year. The season high of 195.800 tells us that just making it this far was the accomplishment, but if you’re looking for a dark horse AA candidate to follow – especially if the competition ends up being less close than we expect – SJS happily provides a few individuals who can potentially score well. Boise State transplant Bekah Gher, whom you might recall having an excellent beam routine during that decisive 2011 regionals beam rotation, is a top 50 AAer this season, and Cassandra Harrison is not far behind her. With a great day, those two could be in this thing.

University Park, PA Regional Preview

This marks our first weekend without gymnastics since December. What are we even supposed to do with ourselves? Socialize with people? About things? Address responsibilities? Guh. Incorrect. Instead, let’s emotionally prepare ourselves for next Saturday, my favorite day of the gymnastics year, by breaking down each regional. Good idea? I think so. I’ll begin with the #1 seed Florida Gators and the Penn State Regional beginning at 4ET/1PT.

Competing teams (starting event)
[1] Florida (bye before bars)
[12] Oregon State (bye before floor)
[15] Penn State (vault)
[23] New Hampshire (floor)
[29] Kentucky (bars)
[35] Maryland (beam)

Competing individuals are from Brown (Diana Walters, Caroline Morant, Michelle Schnayder), Pittsburgh (Brittney Harris, Maebelle Pacheco – vault, Katie O’Rourke – beam and floor), Bridgeport (Lissette La Fex), and Cornell (Melanie Jorgensen – bars).

The Favorite

Another year, another #1 Florida team. The 2014 season marks the fourth consecutive time Florida has entered regionals as the #1 overall team in the country. Aside from the near-disaster beamtastrophe in 2011 after which the team just barely squeaked through by .025, Florida has worn the #1 crown comfortably at regionals, and this competition should be no exception. Sure, I could try to concoct possible scenarios where Florida counts 11 beam falls and gets into trouble, but that’s a waste. The Gators should advance by a hefty margin and probably won’t garner that much attention on the day. We’ll all be too focused on the legitimate, clawing fights for nationals spots.

There will be plenty of time to talk about Florida in the weeks leading up to nationals, but I still have an area or two I want to keep an eye on as we gauge whether the Gators can repeat as champions, especially coming off the loss at SECs. Florida didn’t have huge problems in that competition, but they showed some ragged qualities and uncharacteristic mistakes here and there that indicated a step down in quality from the stellar performances they had leading up to SECs. Claire Boyce falling on a rudi, Bridgey going OOB in the deciding routine, a couple lackluster landings on beam dismounts, these were unexpected errors, but not trends. It’s not really a thing until it happens again. But, if there’s one area I do want to watch for Florida at regionals, it’s vault and the progression of those landings. They’re still missing sticks and giving away tenths in most of those routines, and that’s been happening fairly frequently.

Now, we saw the exact same thing last year, with Florida looking predominately blah in the vault landing department at SECs and then bringing themselves into line after that. By Super Six, Florida had far and away the best vault landings of any team. They should pull things together again this year, but this Florida vault team is not as strong as last year’s group, so it will be interesting to see if they can progress in the same way. They can’t be in a position of giving up multiple tenths to Alabama and LSU on vault like they did at SECs. 

But really, let’s get to the main story of this regional.

The Contenders
Going into the season, I thought Oregon State would be a borderline candidate to make regionals and that Penn State was not going to be a legitimate contender as a result of the significant routine quality they lost after last year. One of them is going through. Oregon State is about where I thought they would be, but Penn State has certainly overperformed expectations to make a fairly believable argument that they can advance out of their home regional. If this were at a neutral site, Oregon State would have a small but definite edge, but with Penn State at home, this second spot is completely open. Wouldn’t it be funny if after all those years of Sharaya Musser leading the charge, Penn State were to make nationals the year after she leaves? Oh, gymnastics.

Oregon State has managed some strong team scores throughout the season, but it’s hard to be overly enthusiastic about their chances coming off a sluggish performance at Pac 12s that didn’t get all that much attention because it was overshadowed by UCLA’s more high-profile sluggish performance. The Beavers didn’t make any major mistakes, but the whole thing was very 9.825. They couldn’t beat the home team with that performance, and they won’t beat Penn State with a similar one. If Oregon State finishes third, it would mark a second consecutive year of missing nationals. For a program that should consistently be near the top, two straight years out of nationals is not OK. To avoid such a fate, the Beavers will have to lean on their old friends the uneven bars. Bars is not as strong for OSU this year as it has been in recent years, but the event can still provide an advantage. Erika Aufiero is a star with a DLO like a warm hug, Chelsea Tang is a sturdy thing who can stick for a 9.900, and the occasional hit from Brittany Harris or Hannah Casey can bring in a top number. A .150-.200 advantage on bars is vital to Oregon State’s chances of advancing. Penn State has some 9.8s in that bars lineup but will very much be relying on Kassidy Stauder for a 9.900 to keep them near the same pace. 

Beam has also been an unexpected comfort for the Beavers this year. It hasn’t always been that way lately, but they have hit beam fairly consistently for much of the season, at least in the staying on the apparatus kind of way. Maddie Gardiner has added her precision and elegance to the mix to take the lineup to a more visually interesting (and higher scoring) place. Penn State has not hit as regularly, including counting a fall at Big Tens, so being able to put up six hits could be a boon to Oregon State.

That all sounds well and good, but the best argument for a Penn State triumph comes when we look to the floor. Oregon State just doesn’t have the 9.9s. They’re hurt in the amplitude argument, especially when going against some of the most powerful teams, and get stuck with a lot of 9.825s and 49.1s. They have recorded only a couple 9.900+ scores all season, whereas Penn State got three at Big Tens alone. Lindsay Musgrove has been the Nittany Lions’ biggest floor scorer, and they’ve also been helped by former junior elite Emma Sibson, who has provided significant value both on floor and vault this season. She’ll be a gymnast to build around for years to come. Sibson was one of those juniors everyone was obsessed with for 30 seconds in 2009 and then kind of disappeared, but she’s back and has found some desperately needed 9.9s for this team.

The difference on floor (PSU is ranked 9th, OSU 19th) is exacerbated by the rotation order. Oregon State’s first event will be floor while Penn State ends there, which adds an additional boost to Penn State if we see scores rise throughout the meet. Rotation order could be a difference-maker if Penn State is on a roll and gets the 9.9s to start flying at the end of the competition, as we have seen very often this season in the year of high floor scores. I don’t often buy into the advantage of rotation order as much as some, but considering the order for the #3 seeds compared to that of the #2 seeds, coupled with some #3 seed hosts, it could become a factor in several meets next Saturday.

As the meet goes on, keep in mind that the Beavers will start on their comparatively weaker apparatuses, floor and vault, while ending on what have been stronger pieces this year, bars and beam. Trailing early wouldn’t be unexpected. Penn State will hope to take advantage of that and build up a lead while starting on vault, though as mentioned, their biggest asset will be finishing on floor. Either team would be happy getting through the first two events with something like a 98.500. That would be solid. Oregon State will then look to take over a lead when they move to bars and Penn State goes to beam. It’s advantage Beavers at that point, and they’ll hope to put a couple tenths in the bank there and try to hold that advantage at the end when finishing on beam against Penn State on floor. Expect some lead changes and hopefully some nail biting.
Individuals/The Others
It’s exceptionally challenging for the bottom three seeds at any regional to advance. It usually takes two implosions, which is quite rare. We don’t often get Kent State 2011 situations. We might then say that the realistic focus for these teams is advancing individuals instead, but it’s also quite difficult for lower seeds to advance individuals given the state of the rules. 

The top two AAers who don’t qualify with a team will advance to nationals, along with any individual event champions who also do not qualify with a team. It usually takes a 9.950 to win an event at a regional, which we almost never see from a lower-seeded team. In this regional, you might very well be a floor standout, but making nationals requires beating Kytra, so good luck. 

In the all-around conversation, the most likely outcome from this regional is that the advancing individuals will come from either OSU or PSU, whichever doesn’t make it as a team. Both boast a number of competitive gymnasts doing all four events. If Oregon State doesn’t go, expect Tang to qualify, along with either Gardiner or Harris. I’d go with Gardiner, but it would be close. Similarly, if Penn State fails to go, expect Stauder to qualify (currently 18th nationally), along with one of her bushel of AA teammates like Sidney Sanabria-Robles or Krystal Welsh, who can both regularly get 39.2s or 39.3s.

#5 seed Kentucky’s best individual hope is Audrey Harrison, who has done the AA at every meet this season, topping out at a 39.325, and can be a solid 9.8 on each event. Kentucky is ranked all the way down at #29, a regression from last year’s strong finish at #19, and it always seems to be something for this team this year. At SECs, it was a collapse on what had been their best event, floor. Losing Alexis Gross to injury has been gross (bing!), but still this team should be a 196. I’d say they’re one of the better bets to outperform their seeding and should finish 4th here.

New Hampshire is the true #4 seed and came on late this season, finally getting rid of some nasty early scores once March rolled around to move all the way up to an impressive #23. UNH is one of those teams that has really benefited from home scores, however, and will likely find those 196s much tougher to match on the road in a regional. Last year, only 3 of the 18 teams in the bottom-three seeded positions managed to outperform their RQS at regionals. New Hampshire’s individual candidate is all-arounder Meghan Plieger, who has put up a couple lower 39s this season.

Maryland just edged out a few other teams to sneak into regionals at the last minute, so making it this far is the victory. 2014 has not been nearly as strong as 2013, when the Terps also found themselves in Florida’s region, but as the #4 seed instead of the #6. This year’s Maryland squad was already working without standout 2013 senior Ally Krikorian, but then losing vault and floor star Katy Dodds to an Achilles injury in January completed the process of breaking up the lineups where they had been excelling. This year, they’re led by Stephanie Giameo, whose mid 9.8s have been a savior and whose beam scoring is essential to the team. She can get a 9.9 on beam and a 39.1-39.2 in the AA, so she’s the definite individual to watch during Maryland’s rotations. 

Regionals Scoring Comparison

If you just can’t wait for the broadcast of SECs, Elizabeth Grimsley has provided us all with a handy dandy highlight video of some key routines:

Now, before I get to the full, way overthought breakdowns of each Regional in the next week or so, it’s time to talk scores. It’s good to have the evidence before beginning to make unfounded arguments, I think. That way, they might as least be imbued with the essence of fact. Below is a comparison of various relevant scores and averages for the teams in each Regional (using home averages for host teams and road averages for everyone else). Each score is followed by the team’s ranking in that category within its Regional. Scores in red indicate that a team is underperforming its ranking in that category, while scores in blue indicate that a team is overperforming its ranking, so this should provide a quick glance at some of the key areas for each team entering the competitions–highlighting where teams have a chance to make up some ground in potential upset bids, or where they need to improve to avoid such upset bids.

University Park, Pennsylvania Regional:

[1] Florida
RQS: 197.895 [1]
Season high: 198.325 [1]
Season average: 197.645 [1]
Road average: 197.367 [1]
VT average: 49.377 [1]
Road VT average: 49.317 [1]
UB average: 49.488 [1]
Road UB average: 49.421 [1]
BB average: 49.345 [1]
Road BB average: 49.304 [1]
FX average: 49.475 [1]
Road FX average: 49.325 [1] 

[2] Oregon State
RQS: 196.615 [2]
Season high: 197.100 [3]
Season average: 196.368 [2]
Road average: 196.142 [3]
VT average: 49.063 [2]
Road VT average: 49.067 [3]
UB average: 49.160 [2]
Road UB average: 49.129 [3]
BB average: 49.110 [2]
Road BB average: 49.058 [2]
FX average: 49.035 [3]
Road FX average: 48.888 [4]

[3] Penn State
RQS: 196.475 [3]
Season high: 197.200 [2]
Season average: 195.858 [3]
Home average: 196.385 [2]
VT average: 49.052 [3]
Home VT average: 49.160 [2]
UB average: 48.944 [3]
Home UB average: 49.150 [2]
BB average: 48.754 [3]
Home BB average: 48.830 [3]
FX average: 49.108 [2]
Home FX average: 49.245 [2]

[4] New Hampshire
RQS: 195.880 [4]
Season high: 196.675 [4]
Season average: 194.867 [5]
Road average: 194.088 [6]
VT average: 48.860 [5]

Road VT average: 48.754 [5]
UB average: 48.358 [6]

Road UB average: 48.025 [6]
BB average: 48.694 [4]
Road BB average: 48.438 [4]
FX average: 48.954 [5]
Road FX average: 48.871 [5]

[5] Kentucky
RQS: 195.585 [5]
Season high: 196.275 [5]
Season average: 194.977 [4]
Road average: 194.606 [4]
VT average: 48.975 [4]

Road VT average: 48.953 [4]
UB average: 48.748 [4]

Road UB average: 48.666 [5]
BB average: 48.221 [5]
Road BB average: 48.069 [5]
FX average: 49.033 [4]
Road FX average: 48.919 [3]

[6] Maryland
RQS: 195.175 [6]
Season high: 195.700 [6]
Season average: 194.410 [6]
Road average: 194.129 [5]
VT average: 48.688 [6]
Road VT average: 48.739 [6]
UB average: 48.735 [5]
Road UB average: 48.671 [4]
BB average: 48.142 [6]
Road BB average: 48.007 [6]
FX average: 48.846 [6]
Road FX average: 48.711 [6]

Minneapolis, Minnesota Regional: 

[1] Oklahoma
RQS: 197.775 [1]
Season high: 198.175 [1]
Season average: 197.513 [1]
Road average: 197.682 [1]
VT average: 49.463 [1]
Road VT average: 49.496 [1]
UB average: 49.327 [1]
Road UB average: 49.379 [1]
BB average: 49.308 [1]
Road BB average: 49.404 [1]
FX average: 49.415 [1]
Road FX average: 49.400 [1]

[2] Illinois
RQS: 196.650 [2]
Season high: 197.100 [3]
Season average: 196.204 [2]
Road average: 196.050 [2]
VT average: 49.035 [4]
Road VT average: 49.075 [3]
UB average: 49.004 [2]
Road UB average: 48.889 [3]
BB average: 49.025 [2]
Road BB average: 48.968 [2]
FX average: 49.140 [3]
Road FX average: 49.111 [3]

[3] Minnesota
RQS: 196.505 [3]
Season high: 197.250 [2]
Season average: 196.196 [3]
Home average: 196.015 [3]
VT average: 49.206 [2]
Home VT average: 49.195 [2]
UB average: 48.810 [4]
Home UB average: 48.645 [5]
BB average: 48.883 [3]
Home BB average: 48.810 [4]
FX average: 49.298 [2]
Home FX average: 49.365 [2]

[4] California
RQS: 196.270 [4]
Season high: 196.725 [4]
Season average: 195.684 [4]
Road average: 195.342 [4]
VT average: 49.052 [3]
Road VT average: 49.054 [4]
UB average: 48.952 [3]
Road UB average: 48.958 [2]
BB average: 48.770 [4]
Road BB average: 48.529 [6]
FX average: 48.909 [4]
Road FX average: 48.800 [5]

[5] Southern Utah
RQS: 195.665 [5]
Season high: 196.125 [5]
Season average: 195.132 [5]
Road average: 195.125 [5]
VT average: 48.873 [5]
Road VT average: 48.871 [5]
UB average: 48.757 [5]
Road UB average: 48.743 [4]
BB average: 48.757 [5]
Road BB average: 48.832 [3]
FX average: 48.745 [6]
Road FX average: 48.679 [6]

[6] San Jose State
RQS: 195.510 [6]
Season high: 195.800 [6]
Season average: 195.000 [6]
Road average: 194.809 [6]
VT average: 48.714 [6]
Road VT average: 48.731 [6]
UB average: 48.677 [6]
Road UB average: 48.606 [6]
BB average: 48.700 [6]
Road BB average: 48.656 [5]
FX average: 48.909 [4]

Road FX average: 48.817 [4]

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Regional:

[1] LSU
RQS: 197.720 [1]
Season high: 198.050 [1]
Season average: 197.496 [1]
Home average: 197.563 [1]
VT average: 49.494 [1]
Home VT average: 49.488 [1]
UB average: 49.325 [1]
Home UB average: 49.317 [1]
BB average: 49.240 [1]
Home BB average: 49.267 [1]
FX average: 49.438 [1]
Home FX average: 49.417 [1]

[2] Stanford
RQS: 196.815 [2]
Season high: 197.275 [2]
Season average: 196.400 [2]
Road average: 196.343 [2]
VT average: 49.209 [3]
Road VT average: 49.243 [2]
UB average: 49.141 [2]
Road UB average: 49.125 [2]
BB average: 49.077 [2]
Road BB average: 49.189 [2]
FX average: 48.973 [5]
Road FX average: 48.787 [6]

[3] Auburn
RQS: 196.560 [3]
Season high: 197.100 [3]
Season average: 196.109 [3]
Road average: 195.983 [3]
VT average: 49.225 [2]
Road VT average: 49.233 [3]
UB average: 48.918 [4]
Road UB average: 48.804 [4]
BB average: 48.780 [3]
Road BB average: 48.829 [3]
FX average: 49.186 [2]
Road FX average: 49.117 [2]

[4] Arizona
RQS: 196.160 [4]
Season high: 196.925 [4]
Season average: 195.867 [4]
Road average: 195.432 [4]
VT average: 49.096 [4]
Road VT average: 49.096 [4]
UB average: 48.977 [3]
Road UB average: 48.860 [3]
BB average: 48.752 [4]
Road BB average: 48.586 [4]
FX average: 49.042 [3]
Road FX average: 48.889 [4]

[5] Kent State
RQS: 195.655 [5]
Season high: 196.225 [6]
Season average: 195.193 [5]
Road average: 195.050 [5]
VT average: 48.857 [5]
Road VT average: 48.854 [5]
UB average: 48.802 [5]
Road UB average: 48.779 [5]
BB average: 48.502 [6]
Road BB average: 48.464 [5]
FX average: 49.032 [4]
Road FX average: 48.954 [3]

[6] Iowa State
RQS: 195.160 [6]
Season high: 196.650 [5]
Season average: 194.555 [6]
Road average: 194.208 [6]
VT average: 48.511 [6]
Road VT average: 48.492 [6]
UB average: 48.598 [6]
Road UB average: 48.388 [6]
BB average: 48.614 [5]
Road BB average: 48.442 [6]
FX average: 48.832 [6]
Road FX average: 48.888 [5]

Seattle, Washington Regional:

[1] Alabama
RQS: 197.615 [1]
Season high: 198.250 [1]
Season average: 197.361 [1]
Road average: 197.070 [1]
VT average: 49.425 [1]
Road VT average: 49.445 [1]
UB average: 49.327 [1]
Road UB average: 49.250 [1]
BB average: 49.261 [1]
Road BB average: 49.160 [2]
FX average: 49.348 [1]
Road FX average: 49.215 [1]

[2] Nebraska
RQS: 196.895 [2]
Season high: 197.225 [2]
Season average: 196.682 [2]
Road average: 196.763 [2]
VT average: 49.307 [2]
Road VT average: 49.313 [2]
UB average: 49.134 [3]
Road UB average: 49.063 [3]
BB average: 49.066 [2]
Road BB average: 49.175 [1]
FX average: 49.175 [2]
Road FX average: 49.213 [2]

[3] Boise State
RQS: 196.395 [3]
Season high: 196.975 [3]
Season average: 196.105 [3]
Road average: 196.042 [3]
VT average: 49.127 [3]
Road VT average: 49.083 [4]
UB average: 49.195 [2]
Road UB average: 49.192 [2]
BB average: 48.711 [4]
Road BB average: 48.717 [5]
FX average: 49.070 [3]
Road FX average: 49.050 [3]

[4] Denver
RQS: 196.205 [4]
Season high: 196.925 [4]
Season average: 195.900 [4]
Road average: 195.875 [4]
VT average: 49.082 [4]
Road VT average: 49.100 [3]
UB average: 48.850 [6]
Road UB average: 48.829 [5]
BB average: 48.927 [3]
Road BB average: 48.971 [3]
FX average: 49.041 [4]
Road FX average: 48.975 [5]

[5] BYU
RQS: 195.820 [5]
Season high: 196.425 [5]
Season average: 195.204 [5]
Road average: 194.789 [6]
VT average: 48.940 [5]
Road VT average: 48.889 [5]
UB average: 48.881 [5]
Road UB average: 48.821 [6]
BB average: 48.525 [6]

Road BB average: 48.357 [6]
FX average: 48.869 [5]
Road FX average: 48.721 [6]

[6] Washington
RQS: 195.265 [6]
Season high: 196.200 [6]
Season average: 194.916 [6]
Home average: 195.415 [5]
VT average: 48.602 [6]
Home VT average: 48.610 [6]
UB average: 48.882 [4]
Home UB average: 49.035 [4]
BB average: 48.666 [5]

Home BB average: 48.740 [4]
FX average: 48.793 [6]
Home FX average: 49.030 [4]

Fayetteville, Arkansas Regional:

[1] Utah
RQS: 197.575 [1]
Season high: 198.025 [1]
Season average: 197.270 [1]
Road average: 197.130 [1]
VT average: 49.473 [1]
Road VT average: 49.430 [1]
UB average: 49.350 [1]
Road UB average: 49.385 [1]
BB average: 48.966 [3]
Road BB average: 48.840 [3]
FX average: 49.482 [1]
Road FX average: 49.475 [1]

[2] UCLA
RQS: 197.005 [2]
Season high: 197.500 [2]
Season average: 196.777 [2]
Road average: 196.771 [2]
VT average: 49.248 [2]
Road VT average: 49.208 [3]
UB average: 49.223 [2]
Road UB average: 49.171 [2]
BB average: 49.032 [2]
Road BB average: 49.108 [2]
FX average: 49.275 [2]
Road FX average: 49.283 [2]

[3] Arkansas
RQS: 196.355 [3]
Season high: 197.100 [3]
Season average: 196.161 [3]
Home average: 196.465 [3]
VT average: 49.136 [3]
Home VT average: 49.235 [2]
UB average: 48.898 [3]
Home UB average: 48.950 [3]
BB average: 49.052 [1]
Home BB average: 49.125 [1]
FX average: 49.102 [3]
Home FX average: 49.155 [3]

[4] Arizona State
RQS: 195.855 [4]
Season high: 196.200 [5]
Season average: 195.373 [4]
Road average: 195.215 [4]
VT average: 48.980 [4]
Road VT average: 48.960 [5]
UB average: 48.859 [4]
Road UB average: 48.755 [4]
BB average: 48.659 [4]
Road BB average: 48.630 [4]
FX average: 48.875 [4]
Road FX average: 48.870 [4]

[5] Utah State
RQS: 195.570 [5]
Season high: 196.075 [6]
Season average: 194.650 [5]
Road average: 194.497 [5]
VT average: 48.917 [5]
Road VT average: 48.969 [4]
UB average: 48.727 [5]
Road UB average: 48.672 [5]
BB average: 48.237 [6]
Road BB average: 48.200 [6]
FX average: 48.769 [5]
Road FX average: 48.656 [6]

[6] UC Davis
RQS: 195.260 [6]
Season high: 196.425 [4]
Season average: 194.431 [6]
Road average: 194.175 [6]
VT average: 48.600 [6]
Road VT average: 48.496 [6]
UB average: 48.540 [6]
Road UB average: 48.518 [6]
BB average: 48.575 [5]
Road BB average: 48.482 [5]
FX average: 48.717 [6]
Road FX average: 48.679 [5]

Athens, Georgia Regional:

[1] Georgia
RQS: 197.265 [1]
Season high: 197.650 [2]
Season average: 197.029 [1]
Home average: 197.310 [1]
VT average: 49.335 [1]
Home VT average: 49.395 [1]
UB average: 49.485 [1]
Home UB average: 49.545 [1]
BB average: 49.094 [1]
Home BB average: 49.210 [1]
FX average: 49.115 [2]
Home FX average: 49.160 [2]

[2] Michigan
RQS: 197.105 [2]
Season high: 197.825 [1]
Season average: 196.791 [2]
Road average: 196.588 [2]
VT average: 49.307 [2]
Road VT average: 49.283 [2]
UB average: 49.241 [2]
Road UB average: 49.129 [2]
BB average: 48.893 [2]
Road BB average: 48.850 [3]
FX average: 49.350 [1]
Road FX average: 49.325 [1]

[3] Central Michigan
RQS: 196.300 [3]
Season high: 196.600 [3]
Season average: 195.615 [3]
Road average: 195.954 [3]
VT average: 48.915 [5]
Road VT average: 49.104 [3]
UB average: 48.740 [4]
Road UB average: 48.879 [4]
BB average: 48.854 [3]
Road BB average: 48.854 [2]
FX average: 49.106 [3]
Road FX average: 49.117 [3]

[4] Ohio State
RQS: 195.905 [4]
Season high: 196.600 [3]
Season average: 195.552 [4]
Road average: 195.642 [4]
VT average: 48.977 [4]
Road VT average: 48.963 [5]
UB average: 48.948 [3]
Road UB average: 49.025 [3]
BB average: 48.791 [5]
Road BB average: 48.758 [4]
FX average: 48.836 [5]
Road FX average: 48.825 [5]

[5] NC State
RQS: 195.615 [5]
Season high: 196.100 [6]
Season average: 195.087 [5]
Road average: 194.864 [5]
VT average: 49.019 [3]
Road VT average: 49.036 [4]
UB average: 48.410 [6]
Road UB average: 48.289 [6]
BB average: 48.813 [4]
Road BB average: 48.632 [5]
FX average: 48.844 [4]
Road FX average: 48.907 [4]

[6] Rutgers
RQS: 195.340 [6]
Season high: 196.225 [5]
Season average: 194.625 [6]
Road average: 194.575 [6]
VT average: 48.806 [6]
Road VT average: 48.813 [6]
UB average: 48.571 [5]
Road UB average: 48.631 [5]
BB average: 48.494 [6]
Road BB average: 48.544 [6]
FX average: 48.754 [6]
Road FX average: 48.588 [6]

Regionals Selection and Conference Championship Notes

We have a selection show to announce the various Regionals assignments, which I have enjoyed making fun of since its inception, but this time it actually produced some interesting information. We knew some of the seeds would have to be rearranged from the rankings because of host conflicts, but rather than bumping everyone up a slot to avoid the LSU/Penn State conflict (which would have seen [14] Minnesota jump into the same Regional as Florida) the conflicting team, Penn State, was simply moved into that first-seed Regional instead.

Also, our host informed us that the teams advancing from the Minnesota, Georgia, and LSU Regionals will compete in one semifinal, while the teams coming from Penn State, Arkansas, and Washington will go to the other semifinal. Was I supposed to know this? Am I just out of the loop? This is a major change. Oh NCAA, you and your not distributing any kind of information to fans in a helpful or systematic way. I don’t care for this. We could end up with something really unbalanced depending on who happens to advance from Regionals. The semifinals shouldn’t be decided until we know who the competitors are to produce the highest quality possible Super Six. 

Penn State Regional:
[1] Florida
[12] Oregon State
[15] Penn State
New Hampshire

Arkansas Regional:
[5] Utah (featuring “Georgia Burritz”? Is that like a burrito that doesn’t wear any grips?)
[8] UCLA
[17] Arkansas
Arizona State
Utah State
UC Davis
[Rachel Updike will be representing Missouri on vault here as well]

Washington Regional:
[4] Alabama
[9] Nebraska
[16] Boise State

Minnesota Regional:
[2] Oklahoma
[11] Illinois
[14] Minnesota
Southern Utah
San Jose State
(Iowa just missed out on Regionals, but will have a host of individuals at this one)

Georgia Regional:
[6] Georgia
[7] Michigan
[18] Central Michigan
Ohio State
NC State
(This is where West Virginia’s individuals will be competing)

LSU Regional:
[3] LSU
[10] Stanford
[13] Auburn
Kent State
Iowa State

Regionals thoughts:

 -What ended up the most significant result from last Saturday was Michigan’s ability to put in a strong performance in the afternoon session at Big Tens compared to UCLA inability to do the same thing at Pac 12s. UCLA had to be merely good to get that 7th seed (I think they would have needed a 197.2, which they should be getting at this point in the season), but in the end, Michigan ended up with a much more comfortable Regionals placement. Sure, Central Michigan and Ohio State can do a mid 196, but sans meltdown, Michigan and Georgia are looking solid to advance. UCLA, meanwhile, has that tough spot of being the second seed in the Arkansas Regional that we have been pointing to all season long as a challenging position.

-There are some really juicy battles in the top-seeded Regionals. We can expect Florida, Oklahoma, and LSU to go through, but the second spot is totally unreserved in all three of those Regionals. Based on what we saw at conference championships, I think Stanford is rounding into strong enough form to advance, but Penn State and Minnesota will look like good upset bets as third-seed hosts. I’ll have full previews of each Regional in the coming weeks as we wait for the big day, April 5th.

Quick, but extensive, Pac 12 thoughts:

-I made a comment before Pac 12s that I thought the second session would be anticlimactic with the bottom four teams competing, but actually the first session ended up the anticlimactic one because it became clear very early on that Utah was the one team that showed up and would win comfortably (they probably even could have counted a beam fall and won). The meet began energetically enough, but once Utah started pulling ahead in the scores without UCLA coming close to matching, things got pretty subdued. That also may have had something to do with the fact that the arena air conditioning was clearly pumping chloroform into the crowd. I barely made it to the arena in time for the first routine (but I got there!), but by the middle of the second rotation, I was ready for a nap. I think UCLA should blame its performance on the chloroform air conditioning as well. Also, the area where I was sitting smelled like stale barf and poisoned hot dogs. See, I’m bringing you the important updates from the meet.

-The crowd at the second session was less enthusiastic because there weren’t those big team booster sections, but I appreciated the largely relaxed atmosphere. I tend to enjoy night gymnastics more  anyway. It was still odd to have the lower seeds competing later, though. The day didn’t build. It started with excitement, and then just sort of petered out for hours. 

-UCLA was my main contender to challenge Utah, and they kept that status for exactly one routine. Danusia started out fine on bars, but then Mossett couldn’t complete her goddamn stalder (that must be removed from her routine for next season), and after that, it was kind of a disaster. Miss Val stopped doing the two-step immediately at that point, and the team never truly recovered. Beam looked fine in a couple places, which I was pleased to see, but bars was so, so tight after Mossett and the landings were nowhere on floor and vault. When Sam Peszek is landing her Yfull short with a lunge, you know it’s a bad day.

-Stanford also impressed me. They were not going to be able to catch Utah because floor is such a disadvantage for this team, but they looked like the strongest team to me on both bars and beam. That beam rotation to start off the meet was excellent, and I thought they looked better than Utah on bars. Bars scoring was a bit screwy and way overvalued stuck landings (Exhibit A: how Georgia Dabritz got a 10 when she missed a handstand). Judge #2 on bars and I were more in agreement.

-Speaking of judging, in the first session, I thought the ranking was appropriate and obvious but the margins were a little out of whack. Floor ended up being a the biggest decider in the team margins because, until the end of the session, it was unclear what kind of attitude the judges had. Utah finally proved they were willing to go really high for hit routines, but none of the other teams were able to take advantage of that by nailing their landings, so Utah amassed a tremendous margin on that one event and everyone else was sort of poor. Missed opportunity for 9.9s there, because the judges had a whole mess of them in their pockets.

-The big surprise was Cal finishing ahead of UCLA, and my thoughts are these: At a neutral venue, competing at the same time and giving the exact same performances, UCLA would have finished ahead. The margin was small, and there wasn’t enough scoring consistency between the two sessions to make an accurate comparison. It’s like mashing together the scores from two different meets. For (delicious) instance, Judge #2 on beam gave the same score to Sam Peszek and Crystal Paz, which is just crazy based on the quality of those routines. Peszek’s routine was easily two tenths better. I pick out those routines and that judge specifically because that’s the judge that gave Peszek’s beam a 9.850, and I think I missed a few routines after that score because I was too busy watching Miss Val’s reaction and subsequent icy prowling. It was great. Honestly, the title of the meet (and every UCLA meet) was “Look at Miss Val now.” 

-That said, Cal finished ahead of UCLA not only because of the timing circumstances of the meet but because they competed much closer to their potential. It was a great, hit meet for Cal–strong vaulting, several really convincing beam routines. It was a confident, exceptional performance the likes of which we’re not accustomed to seeing from Cal teams. UCLA’s potential scoring is much greater, but they also competed far below that potential at this meet. Cal competed at maybe 85%, while UCLA was more like 50%. Ask lay fans who was better, and they will all say Cal.  

-Also, Oregon State competed its whole bars rotation with a “Go UTES!” sign on its fenced-in area. Attention to detail. Related note: Having the gymnasts in corrals is not my favorite thing, but at least don’t make the corrals look like actual fences. It has a very “ode to the domestication of livestock” feel to it, like after the meet we’re driving the team to the abattoir.

-One of the struggles of gymnastics meets, especially college gymnastics meets, it setting the situation. Sports fans love to savor situations: the tension is rising, what does this person/team need to do to right at this moment to win? This meet had a really exciting ending, with Cal needing a 9.850 in its final floor routine to pass UCLA (a score they got exactly), but no one in the arena who wasn’t doing the rotation scores in their head like me knew the exact situation, the exact score Cal needed at that moment for this major accomplishment. The general format impedes the appreciation of that exciting moment because no one is telling people that Crystal Paz just needs a 9.850 for Cal to finish third. I’ll also say that the score reporting in the arena in general was unhelpful, with just those little JO scoreboards at one end and only the individual event rankings being shown on the big screens. No one had any idea what the team scoring situation was.

-I’m sure I had a lot more thoughts, but this seems like plenty. If they occur to me, I’ll pepper them in throughout the coming posts.

-I’ll hold off my thoughts about SECs until after the competition airs and I’ve actually seen the gymnastics, but that’s a huge result for Alabama. It must have been another really exciting ending with it all coming down to Bridgey Caquatto’s floor routine. I was all praiseworthy about that lineup decision in the preview because I think it bumps her score up, but it didn’t work out this time. There were big bars scores for most of the top teams, so I’m eager to see how all those routines actually looked.