Another week, another batch of developments. I’ll keep these weekly updates going in the off-season as long as there are things to say. Otherwise, I’ll start delving into numbers. Comparing 2014 NCAA scoring to previous years seems like it will need to happen at some point.
- First and foremost, it was confirmed today that Rene Lyst will be packing up her meet wardrobe and marching those heels over to Arizona State to take over as head coach following John Spini’s retirement. Rene at Arizona State–it makes sense. It seemed like only a matter of time before she extracted herself from that “awkward alert!” co-coaching situation with Mark at Arkansas, but it will be fascinating to see how things play out for her as an independent head coach for the first time. Arkansas has been a very successful team since its inception, but Mark Cook often receives the majority of the credit for that. This is a chance for Rene to establish her own coaching identity in a program that has been screaming for a major shakeup for years. They need to start working beam with the same attitude that Rene uses to shop for clothes, if that makes any sense.
- Last week, ESPNU profiled the Alabama/Georgia gymnastics rivalry in “Sarah & Suzanne: Into Darkness.”
- For those unfamiliar with the history of that time Sarah was pissed that Georgia used the wrong bars, it was a helpful, basic overview of the evolutions of the Alabama and Georgia programs into actual things with actual fans, unearthing the eyeroll-inducing “sweet” Sarah vs. “nasty” Suzanne narrative from back in the day. Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked Suzanne so much. Even during the interviews in this . . . (are we calling it a documentary? That seems like a stretch . . . featurette?) she still looks like she’s holding a shiv just out of shot. I respect that.
- It didn’t tell us anything new or juicy (it was never going to), but it was a perfectly reasonable commercial for the programs and the borderline-terrifying grand dames that built them. Plus, we got to see Kupets again and also how amazing Ashley Miles looks. You know Ashley Miles just wanted to be part of this so that she could be like, “Check this out. Am I a model? Probably.” Also, could all those the goobers from the Athens Bee and the Tuscaloosa Aw, Shucks Times or whatever have been any bigger stereotypes of themselves? It was awesome.
- But really, the clothes. The primary motif and thematic journey of “Sarah and Suzanne” concerns the leotard and fashion choices. Who told any of you that any of this was a good idea? You might try to explain it away by saying that it was a different era, but no. This wasn’t just some Kerri Strugg’s mom (a.k.a. the state bird of the year 1996) action. No one EVER wore clothes like this.
- Tone it down, Betty Crocker.
- There were all kinds of strange moments in “Sarah & Suzanne,” like when we were treated to a discussion of the perils of Georgia’s difficulty while seeing them fall on a layout stepout on beam and a giant on bars. THE DIFFICULTY! Or how much Georgia footage there was of Shayla Worley, Sarah Persinger, and Noel Couch, none of whom ever competed under Suzanne. But for a full guided tour through the trauma, check out Spanny Tampson’s breakdown. I mean that in the sense that she broke down the action from the featurette, not like she had a mental breakdown while watching this thing. But you never know. Al Trautwig did make an appearance, and it’s always hard to keep going emotionally after that. The biggest problem with Al is that in the last 20 years, he has never gotten past the fact that gymnastics is hard. Yeah, it’s hard. Now let’s progress from there.
- Back in modern times, we have a few more commitment developments. Lizzy LeDuc, of she-was-going-to-be-a-thing-for-a-while-when-she-was-little fame, is heading to LSU for 2015-2016. That class, you guys. We still don’t know what Lexie Priessman’s deferring plans are (hint: don’t), but for the 2016 season, LSU could be bringing in Priessman, LeDuc, and McKenna Kelley at the same time. They’ll need an amazing class that year because they’ll have just lost Courville, Hall, and Jordan, but being able to constantly restock talent like that is the sign of a program that’s here to stay at the top.
- Level 10 Nationals are happening this coming weekend, so keep an eye on those results. It’s a cutthroat qualification process to Nationals in the good regions (one beamtastrophe at Regionals and you’re out), so we won’t see everybody who will make a big splash on their teams next year, but it will give us a fairly solid sense of where our new NCAA gymnasts stand and where they can contribute. Check out the results from Senior C and Senior D last year, and it’s basically a who’s who of the impact freshmen from the 2014 season. So, we have that to look forward to, along with European Championships getting underway in a little over a week. The Russia is broken, so that could actually be a close race.