The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2015 Preseason Coaches Poll and Commentary

Once again, the NCAA coaches have made their selections in the year’s preseason poll because “But mom, all the other sports get to do it!” That also means it’s my turn to take the poll way more seriously than is intended or healthy.

-The coaches aren’t really going through and dissecting all the other teams and what routines they’ll be putting up this year, so selections are usually based on last year’s results, reputation, friendship, and how much gin is within reaching distance. (Unfortunately, the coaches weren’t that drunk this year. It sort of makes sense. Sort of.)

-I’m with them on the top 3, as I think pretty much everyone would be. I too would place Florida just ahead of Oklahoma because, even though Florida has lost a few more significant scores than Oklahoma, they’re also bringing in a stronger freshman class. Still, there’s very, very little between the teams as it stands now—it’s basically a dead heat until we see competition routines—so it’s interesting that more than twice as many coaches gave Florida a first-place vote than Oklahoma. Oklahoma gets less exposure than Florida and isn’t in a gymnastics power conference, and in spite of winning the co-title last season, is still fighting that reputation battle to some extent.

 -Who voted for UCLA and Utah in first place? Actually, I don’t need that question answered. It’s close, but I would put Utah ahead of UCLA. Utah has a bit more lineup depth right now and fewer perpetual injury question marks. UCLA has tremendous potential in a number of returning gymnasts who have not shown their full quality yet (Mossett, Pinches, Gerber, I’m talking to you), but potential isn’t scores.

-Alabama is still up in 4th, and I think that’s where I would have them as well. They’ve lost a bunch of routines and a head coach, but there’s still a ton of talent there that can certainly become a #4 team. I suppose we give them the benefit of the doubt until we see routines, much like how after Suzanne left, Georgia still got the #1 preseason ranking for the next year. 

-Michigan was ahead of Nebraska in the Big Ten coaches poll as well, but I don’t see it. Michigan has lost too many routines, and while Nebraska did lose Emily Wong, the Huskers have Grace Williams and Kamerin Moore to fill in those gaps. 9th may be a realistic finish in spite of making Super Six last year, but Nebraska would be my Big Ten pick right now.

-Stanford is also far too low for its talent level, but I get it. Stanford has had amazing rosters before and failed to deliver, so why should we expect this year to be any different? But still, Elizabeth Price, Ivana Hong, Kristina Vaculik, Sami Shapiro, Nicolette McNair, etc. That’s not a #10 roster. That’s a Super Six roster. They just have to prove it. For now, I’m letting myself believe that they will.

-It’s nice to see Cal in 14th (up from 22nd in the coaches poll last year). The coaches are taking notice of the amazing turnaround in that program. I think 14th is a very realistic finish for them this year.

-Arkansas was ranked 17th at the end of last season, so it’s going to be very tough for them to get up to 13th without Katherine Grable.

-The rest of the poll pretty much follows the usual order, with a few teams switching places here and there. The coaches have taken notice of Central Michigan’s strong last couple seasons and have graciously allowed them into the club.

-Well, if I’m going to tear through the coaches poll like this, I should probably present my own insane nonsense selections so that you all can destroy them and make everything even.

2015 Balance Beam Situation Ranking

1. Florida

2. Oklahoma

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Utah
-When Utah falls three times on beam in semifinals, you can feel free to say I told you so, but I think this is the year beam gets better.  

6. Stanford
-Yes, I did it.


8. Georgia

9. Nebraska
-I’m not sure what to do with 7-9 here. Nebraska seems way under-ranked at 9, but UCLA and Georgia would feel similarly under-ranked in that spot. Stanford would be the safe choice, but why be safe with something this meaningless?

10. Auburn 
-With Caitlin Atkinson, Bri Guy coming back from injury, and the excellent Abigail Milliet joining the team, I’m in on Auburn for 2015. Like Stanford, if not now, then when?

11. Michigan
-This just feels wrong, but . . . do we see any higher than 10th happening this year? Markey, convince me that I’m wrong. 

12. Oregon State

13. Cal

14. Illinois

15. Boise State

16. Penn State

17. Arkansas

18. Minnesota

19. Arizona

20. Central Michigan

Because why not?

Now you. What are your picks?

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