[7] Nebraska @ [4] Michigan Live Blog

We have another day of truly competitive head-to-heads, with Michigan taking on Nebraska and Oklahoma and LSU meeting at Metroplex later on. It’s not just a cop out to say these meets could fall either way because they really could. I know a lot of people don’t have access to watching the Michigan/Nebraska meet because it requires yet another subscription, so I’ll be here live blogging it.

If you haven’t seen Lambert’s second 10, it’s in the highlight video on this page, and I think it’s stronger than the first one. Can she make it three?

The meet begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT.

Who do you have taking this one? More importantly, why have I had “Rockin’ Robin” stuck in my head all day long? STOP IT. I never thought I’d say this, but I could use some terrible gymnastics meet pop songs right now, just to rid myself of his infernal, repetitive plague. In other news, gymnastics.

Intros soon now. Nebraska first. I only have a few more months to learn the difference between the Lauers. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen. A few feed problems early. It’s jumping in and out.

Michigan intros now. Still no Sheppard on vault, but her introduction on bars has been a boost. Without her vault, though, it’s even more important that they stick this week. We know Nebraska can stick.

This is the autism awareness meet, and the Michigan gymnasts are giving us some background facts on autism now during the touch warmup.
Now the fans are being encouraged to bray for t-shirts like Romans in the Colosseum.

Rotation 1 – Michigan vault, Nebraska bars
Michigan vault:
1. Casanova – Yfull – large lunge back out the yfull – small break on the table – lack of landing control will hurt that one.
2. Parker – Yfull – Good, controlled landing on the yfull, just small hop – some piking, but well landed and solid direction.
3. Brown – Yfull – Another pretty secure landing – small hop – some soft knees in the air, but stronger height than the first two.
4. Chiarelli – Yfull – Really strong vault in the air – excellent height and distance, but did not control the landing, another large lunge back.
5. Artz – Yfull – Excellent body position in the air – she has really improved this event – small hop back, but she took that very far and should score well for it – no problems with distance, height, or form, really.
6.Sugiyama – 1.5 – Very strong 1.5 – Looks like she either stuck or just hopped her legs together, but some of her best distance of the season and a controlled landing with good direction.

Nebraska bars: 
1. Breen – Hits jaeger – a little short on pirouettes, but clean on the bail – not as precise in handstands as the others we’ll see, but good control on DLO dismount.
2. Lambert – Some leg form going into the jaeger but hit – overshoot – short on final handstand – good stick on the tuck full – will get hit for flexed feet.
3. Williams – good first hs – a little short on giant full turn – that was a deltchev – wonky legs on that – strongest handstands so far – step back on tuck full –
4. Blanske – good toes point on the jaeger – very piked on her overshoot (non-hs) to the low bar – very strong DLO to finish – just a small bounce in place if anything.
5. DeZiel – short on first hs – strong piked jaeger – another doing a regular overshoot not to handstand – college sticks the tuck full with a quick salute –
6. Laeng – best line on the team and great height on her gienger – strongest line and toe point – sticks a staggered tuck full – did look late on her giant full turn, but not bad.

After 1: Michigan 49.300, Nebraska 48.900
A bigger margin than I expected after the first event. Michigan had some problems with landing control on a couple of the early vaults, but strong outings from Artz and Sugiyama pulled the score up into solid territory. That was Sugiyama’s best 1.5 of the season. She didn’t give away that step forward she often does. 

Nebraska was just meh on bars. A lot of regular overshoots, not bail handstands, and quite a few short handstands bringing the total down. It could have scored higher with a more forgiving panel, certainly, but not a lot of really precise bars work in that rotation this week. Props to Williams for the deltchev and Laeng for a very strong gienger. Those were the highlights of that rotation.

Choppy feed is making it difficult to tell if many of these landings really are stuck or just close-to-stuck.

Rotation 2: Michigan on bars, Nebraska on vault
Time for Nebraska to make up some ground with these vaults.

Michigan bars:
1. Christopherson – solid Ray to start – handstands look clean – bail is hit – sticks the tuck full with good leg form. She has cleaned up this routine. Probably her best so far.
2. Williams – ggood first hs – nice toe point on jaeger – clean bail handstand – a couple borderline cast handstands here – strong form on the DLO –
3. Artz – Very good piked jaeger – overshoot – great leg form and an excellent DLO – stuck and higher than the others we’ve seen so far.
4. Sugiyama – hits first hs – a little late on full – solid gienger and maintained leg form on it – hits her pak well – good final handstand – hop back on tuck full dismount but strong on the bars themselves. 
5. Brown – Great ray to start – hitting handstands – solid pak and not too bad on the half turn on the low bar – sticks the DLO – very nice routine.
6. Sheppard – good finish on the full turn – huge tkatchev as always – strqaddle back – half turn to double front – could see that coming – she didn’t have enough height on that to finish the double front and sat it down. Boo.

Nebraska vault:
1. Laeng – That’s quite a start. Yfull – great height and a stuck landing, not the same distance we’ll see later. There you go, Nebraska.
2. Moore -Yfull – Once again, they’ve got this vault thing down – Great height, power, distance, and another stick.
3. Stephens – Yfull – Another stuck yfull. Look at this. Hers was a little off line and staggered on the landing, so not as strong as the other two, but still very good power.
4. Blanske – Holds onto the stick on that vault as well – legs apart and perhaps not the distance of Moore, but another solid stuck vault. They’ve not giving away too much here.
5. Lambert – can she make it 3? Didn’t stick this time, fairly sizable hop back, so it won’t be three – but the amplitude and distance are the same.
6. DeZiel – Great direction and power on yfull – holds onto the stick but has to bend for it.

Just a heads up that the level of choppiness on my feed is becoming almost unbearable, but I’ll push through somehow. I’m like a martyr.

After 2: Michigan 98.500, Nebraska 98.225
Thought Nebraska’s vault performance was a touch better comparatively than the scores reflect. They started out exceptionally well and were building toward big scores, but I suppose there was just enough to take from the final vaults to halt those expected later-lineup 9.9s. Shame about the landing from Lambert because I think we were all expecting another big score for that one. And then DeZiel had to lean at the waist to hold onto her stick, so the score was never going to be too, too high.

Bars scoring a little tight again this week but that was true for both teams. Brown was excellent and Artz very clean as well, so they’re still getting the benefit of those performances in the scores. That’s a good bars rotation and will score well throughout the season.

Rotation 3 – Michigan on beam. Nebraska on floor
Michigan beam:
1. Casanova – strong punch front – very secure – slightly nervy on that full turn but doesn’t wobble – hits loso series – switch side – secure straddle jump to back tuck – not giving away wobbles in this one – sticks gainer pike dismount – clean start.
2. Sugiyama – solid on loso series early – switch side is a little crooked – this will never be her event really, but she has developed a comfort level with this routine – pike jump to back tuck – 2.5 dismount – large step forward.
3. Williams – side aerial looked like it would be fine but she corrects a little after landing – not a big wobble though – split jump full – leg up to balance her loso series – 1.5 with a step forward – not her solidest routine, but a hit.
4. Brown – loso series is right on – good switch to split at clear 180 – hits side somi – aerial – pretty and fluid full turn – hop back on double full – 
5. Artz -straddle jump 3/4 is excellent – just bends a little landing it – very clean on aerial to bhs – we’re entering the pristine form part of the rotation with her – wobble on the front toss – sticks front 1/5 dismount. A couple unusual wobbles there, but no problem.
6. Chiarelli – she has turned into a beam anchor – solid on side aerial and confident on the full turn -pretty large step back on the double tuck dismount, but should be another strong enough score.

Nebraska floor:
1. Moore – solid double pike – perhaps a little slide but good position and all – layout to front full – does she win the award for the gymnast who looks most different from her junior elite days? – does well to hit 180 in this leaps – really lifted for them – low chest on the double back but holds onto it. And then there’s some glass breaking at the end of the routine because sure.
2. Stephens – stumble back on double tuck mount, couldn’t tell if she went OOB – 1.5 to layout – short on the layout with a step backward to save it – not in control of the landings so far – good straddles – double pike dismount is a little short with the lunge – she’s not pleased with that and looks SPENT.
3. Williams – Good amplitude on double pike but a stumble back for a couple steps  on it – layout to rudi is solid but gives away a slide she probably didn’t have to – secure double tuck to finish – Better, though.
4. DeZiel – Nebraska isn’t mounting with the difficulty today at this point in the season, but Deziel gives us a front double full to start to step it up in the second half – then the 2.5 for her second pass and it’s pretty strong as well – she’s still not at her usual level of execution, it’s apparent, coming back from the injury that kept her out of the first meet – still sticks a double pike to finish. Didn’t give away much, just not the 9.9 gymnastics she can do. Yet.
5. Blanske – She’s bringing the difficulty – good power on the tuck full but it did look like she stepped OOB after it. We’ll see in the scores – layout to rudi middle pass with a little slide – very strong double tuck to finish – chest up and secure –
6. Lambert – Secure DLO to open  – solid double back as well – perhaps a little low – hits her straddle elements and really performing a routine for us in the face department – dances out of the double pike dismount that may have been a little short but a comfortable and solid enough routine.

Brooke Parker is getting back on the beam in exhibition this week – has a break on her pike jump but stays on – hits the side somi – and sticks a very strong double pike dismount. That’s a comeback for her.

After 3: Michigan 147.775, Nebraska 147.300
Michigan extends the lead after beam, which is a new sentence this year. 49.275 is a good beam score, but interestingly it could have been better. Williams didn’t have a great routine and Artz threw in a couple uncharacteristic wobbles to take her out of the 9.9s. Casanova started them off very well and Chiarelli was solid as has become usual now. Nebraska pulled out a floor score over 49, which is OK, but they lack the control on landings at this point in the year to expect to go any higher than 49 in a meet like this. Just gave away too many bounces and steps. Looks like Blanske didn’t go OOB after all because she got a 9.850, and they needed that score.

That lead should be comfortable for Michigna going to floor while Nebraska goes to beam. Nebraska has been fine in this meet, but has given away too much to contend so far. They can’t win this meet with uncontrolled landings and missed handstands.

Rotation 4 – Michigan on floor, Nebraska on beam
Michigan floor:
1. Williams – Once again secure on her double pike – splits are hits as well – 1.5 to layout – and the double back – she has developed the important skill of performing identical routines each time out, and they’ll take it each time.
2. Brown – Clean and high double pike to start – also a 1.5 to layout – her leaps are the class of the rotation so far – you don’t have to wonder if they’re hit – a little low chested on the double tuck dismount but another secure landing. They’re starting well.
3. Parker – double arabian to start – better control than the last one I saw – no big bounce this time – that’s the key to her success in this routine – hits middle pass very securely – (Oh hey, let’s all have a distracting birthday party in the front row while someone’s trying to do a floor routine) – very solid performance.
4. Sugiyama – that piked full in is her new best friend – secure and confident again – a little too lungey on her front full to layout – ends with a useful double pike – she has this routine down now.
5. Chiarelli – has to hop to the side a little out of her tuck full but it was big as always – hmm short on the layout out of her middle pass with a step back or two – uncharacteristically uncertain on some of this tumbling, but they have a great score going anyway. Solid double pike to finish, but weird half-miss in that routine.
6. Artz – Strong piked full in as always and the landing looked secure from this angle – no question on the leaps as well – front layout to front full – is fine – and a secure double pike to end – what has become the usual Artz – she gives away so little. What do you even take there technically? Unless you want to get on chest position on the pike full in, but traditionally the judges in NCAA haven’t because there’s a level of forgiveness there.

Nebraska beam:
1. Breen – hits loso series to start – switch and takes a pretty big wobble on it – then goes for a split 3/4(?) and comes off the beam – thwarted by leaps – comes back and hits a sheep – 1.5 dismount step back.
2. Williams -very strong on her two loso series – goes for a switch 1/2 with a check after it – solid side aerial – step back on dismount – a necessary hit – just a couple little checks – nothing major.
3. Blanske – three series is hit, but the mushy knees were apparent – hits her punch front solidly – a little tight in that switch side – full turn – sticks double full dismount –
4. Laeng -hits loso series – wolf jump full – punch front is secure as well – split jump – gainer dismount is stuck as well – they’re recovering from the fall well with clean, calm, and comfortable hits –
5. DeZiel – clean aerial – step back out of her loso series to control it – fine on the switch to beat jump and full turn – a step but no major issues in this routine – easy side aerial – stick or near stick on the 1.5. Best hit in the rotation to my eye.
6. J Lauer -good straddle jump – then wobbles landing a sheep – no chance on her loso series and off the beam. Way short. Counting a fall now. They almost got through it – solid back tuck – sticks 1.5 dismount.

Lambert going exo for Nebraska on beam. She was in the lineup earlier in the year -should have been in the lineup today. Just solid on her acro and a stuck gainer full. One of the more solid Nebraska beamers today.

Final: Michigan 197.300, Nebraska 195.875
It got sort of not close there in the final rotation. Michigan was solid, comfortable, and ready on floor as they have been ever since the first meet, when there were still a few short January landings. And now Michigan has broken 197 and will continue an assault on the top of the rankings. It’s still early, but it looks like Michigan is my one annual “I was way off” team this year. I didn’t think they would be this solid. I thought they would be in the 9th-12th part of the rankings most of the year.

Nebraska was not at the same level today, but counting the fall on beam will make the performance look worse than it was. In general, it was just a little more ragged than Michigan in pretty much every department. And once they weren’t able to develop a big advantage on vault, that was basically the meet decided right there.

Artz wins the AA with a 39.600 after a 9.975 on floor. We’ve had a lot of floor 9.975s this year so far but no 10s.

Friday Live Blog – [11] Georgia @ [3] Florida

Friday, January 30
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Georgia @ Florida (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Alabama @ Kentucky (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Pittsburgh @ Kent State (Scores) (Stream)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Missouri, Lindenwood @ SEMO (Scores) (Stream)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Air Force @ Auburn (Scores) (ESPN3)

8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Maryland @ Iowa
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, UC Davis @ Utah State (Scores) (Stream)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BYU @ Southern Utah (Scores)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Washington, Sacramento State, Hamline @ Oregon State (Scores) (Stream)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Alaska @ Seattle Pacific (Stream)

Get ready. I’ll be here for the Georgia/Florida meet and whatever other meets I happen to be glancing at at the time, which begins at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT on the SEC Network.

Score predictions? Massive? Any 10s? Both teams have multiple vaults that could get there, plus Florida obviously has Kytra’s floor and Georgia has a couple 10-adjacent bars routines.

It will be primarily the usual suspects for Georgia today, although GiGi Marino is coming in on floor this week, which is a great sign. She needs to be in that lineup. Also, Kiera Brown remains out on beam, and my fantasy team is not happy about it.

No Bridgey on vault today. Fassbender instead. Fassbender exhibitioned vault in the first meet of the year.  

I am the least patient person in the world. I’m actually making screaming sounds during this SEC Network show.

Phew. It’s starting. Bart and Kathy, the A team, are here to make me feel better. Bart and Kathy are wearing flashing sunglasses. I can’t deal with this. I’ll obviously need a screenshot of that, framed, on my desk immediately. For Georgia the theme is…bandana headband night?

Amanda Plugrad has the scoop on Bridgey. She was putting additional pressure on herself? Out of the lineup with self-reflection?

Rotation 1- Florida on vault, Georgia on bars
Florida vault:
1. Fassbender – Yfull – small amount of piking – pretty large hop back –
2. Spicer – Yfull – Good amplitude on this one – nice enough form and just a bounce in place – one of her better vaults in the landing department. This will help us test the scoring at this one. 9.800. Fair. Good. 
3. Wang – Yfull – Strong vault – Kathy kept talking about her landing position as she vaulted – but another with just a bounce in place – will get docked for distance, but the position and landing were solid.
4. Baker – Yfull – Best distance of the group so far, smaller hop back on the landing -once she starts sticking, there will be little to take.
5. Hunter – 1.5 – Magical. Perfectly stuck. Let’s see what the judges do with this. I’m still wondering about the feet together, but she appeared to bring those heels together this time.That exact vault has received 10s before. 9.975 this time. Her second straight week of that score, but this one was much better.
6. McMurtry – Yfull – Another brilliant vault from her. Brilliant in the air as usual – not quite as strong in the landing as her 10 – just a small little step or slide or lean – just enough that there wasn’t as much control.

Georgia bars:
1. Schick – good first hs – solid piked jaeger – slightly crooked on bail handstand, but a beautiful DLO in the air – just takes a small step forward – looked like it could have been a possible stick if she had held.
2. Vaculik -good half turn – Kathy says she was a little close on her jaeger -bail is strong with lovely toe point throughout this thing – short landing on her tuck full with a large lunge. “Oh, unfortunate landing.” Natalie! Come on!
3. Jay – A little bit of a hip angle on her early handstands – but very strong on the tkatchev and the bail – perfectly hit – sticks the DLO – good finish.Just holds onto the stick with her toes, but she held it.
4. Brown – strong first hs – gigantic and amazing on the tkatchev – great leg form on the pak – I hate having that random half turn on the low bar because it’s a deduction trap, but the rest is truly excellent – she appeared to fling out that DLO at first but managed to stick it perfectly in a Peszek kind of way.
5. Rogers – Duchess of stalderland – amazing Ricna – possibly short on a handstand, but the bail was exceptional – toes and everything – WHAT? – hands down on the DLO. Flung out. Devastation. I jinxed her.
6. Davis – Another glorious tkatchev – great swing out of it – clean and solid on the bail – all the handstands look good – small bounce back on the tuck full, but great on the bars themselves.

Anyone watching Alabama? Those bars scores don’t look great there.

Rhonda says her vault rotation was amazing and that the scores aren’t acceptable. I love when coaches call out the scores. I will say, the vault scoring was much more conservative than I thought it would be. Normal Florida meet, that’s a 10 for Kytra and at least a 9.950 for McMurtry. The judges are conscious of not going too crazy early.

After 1: Florida 49.300, Georgia 49.250 
Strong vault rotation for Florida. They could have used a little more control on those early vaults, but I mostly agree with Rhonda. They should be happy with the quality of that rotation. Georgia was going to be in line for a lead, but then Rogers had that weird fall. I take full responsibility after talking about her on Gymcastic this week. That was the best bars routine Brown has done this season, and we’re starting to see what that bars lineup can be.

Meanwhile, Alabama just got a 48.850 on bars. No good. Lots of 9.7s. Another fall from Jetter. Good news: Winston is back in the lineup.

Theme of tigher-than-expected scoring so far tonight? Even on Kytra’s, there’s a real argument that it was the strongest vault she’s done as an NCAA gymnast. 

Rotation 2 – Florida on bars, Georgia on vault
Florida bars:
1. Baker – great firs hs – YOUR RAY – strong so far – a little floppy on the bail handstand – blind change to double front – pretty large hop back on landing. Kathy wants her Ray to be bigger? Oh, pick your battles, Kathy. That’s far from the biggest issue today.
2. Boyce – pretty line early on – hips shaposh but not the cleanest legs – great position on the bail – almost had a mistake on her step up to the high bar – dear – not the biggest DLO and close to the bar but controlled and just a small hop.
3. BDG – toe on – shaposh with cleaner legs than Boyce – great line and toe point throughout – usual DLO – just a little flung with a hop forward.
4. Caquatto – strong opening hs – great counter rotation on the Ray – leg break on the bail – hitting the handstands – pretty strong DLO with a small hop back. Improvement over last week.
5. Hunter – rushing early – but the Hindorff is magical – looks like she’s rushing a couple of these handstands and the bail – looked short of vertical – massive tuck full dismount but chest slightly low and a hop forward.
6. McMurtry – toe on, giant full is a little late – bail handstand – looks clean enough on the bars – and then great on the tuck full with a stick – the dismount was brilliance. Did look short on some of her positions on the bars, though.

Georgia vault:
1. Persinger – Yfull – not great. She doesn’t have the vaulting she used to have – not the power of the Florida vaulters – a lot of piking and a step forward.
2. Vaculik – Yfull – Crazy legs on the block – small amount of piking but great control on the landing – just a small hop.
3. Marino -1.5 – appreciate the difficulty, but bent knees throughout and a very squatty landing with a hop to the side. Just did get it around.
4. Broussard – Yfull – Good power on her yfull – just off to the right too much, but just a small step
5. Rogers – Just the full this time – an easy vault for her – legs apart on the block but just a small bounce back. 11,000 mats.
6. Jay – 1.5 – Sticks! Another excellent 1.5 today. Stuck. Kathy mentioning the heels together rule. Great, great vault.

Danna isn’t happy with the improvement on vault. Not enough improvement. “Something else wasn’t quite right.” She mentions they have to be quicker off the table. Yes. I just enjoy her.

After 2; Florida 98.675, Georgia 98.450
Georgia’s vault score come in lower than Florida’s, which makes sense comparatively because they did not have the dynamics or landings that Florida did. Jay was exceptional, but it was not as strong as Hunter’s, and both judges recognized that by going .050 lower.

(Sidenote: watching the last couple Alabama vaults, just a few unexpected steps back from Williams and Clark in there.)

Florida’s bars were fine. They didn’t give away too much on dismounts, which helped, but McMurtry got the benefit of an amazing dismount in the scores there because the interior was not at 9.9 level. But once again, this is why I always say Florida is the savviest team in the country. They take advantage of lineup order better than any other school. Not that much difference in quality so far, but Florida has the stronger early-lineup routines in both of these rotations, and that is making the difference. Georgia has to count Vaculik’s dismount issue on bars, and a couple of those iffy early vaults for 9.800.

In spite of those steps from the Alabama vaults I saw, they recovered to go 49.300 there, which is a respectable score. They’ll take that.

Rotation 3 – Florida on beam, Georgia on floor
Florida beam:
1. Baker – tuck turn – hits this time – just slightly slow in the aerial to bhs connection but strong on the individual skills – good split jump and pulls around the split half – shortish – long pause before dismount – sticks the double back. There you go. Solid routine.
2. Spicer – solid bhs loso series – she’s always very tight in all her movements – gainer loso now – switch to 1/4 down to the beam – sticks the gainer full. No wobbles this time. Kathy wants to see some oversplit on these leaps. Get in line. 
3. Fassbender – aerial to bhs to open – split jump – I would like to see better thythm maintained is these forward to backward connections since they’re not real – sheep jump is pretty NCAA with a small check – side aerial to full with small bounce back.
4. Boyce – WHOA. Aerial to bhs and missed her hands on the bhs and had a little beam-head action there. She’s fine though, but rare to see someone fall on a bhs – adds a bhs loso series – just tense and uncomfortable now – wobble showing flexibility – sitcks gainer full – a fall to contend with now. 
5. McMurtry – “the single most critical routine in the meet” – she has an excellent punch front – the legs looked wonky on the bhs in her series but fine – hits the switch – 2.5 dismount is solid with just a small hop back centrally.
6. Hunter – I love that chalk handprint on her shin. Warpaint – excellent, high loso series as always – switch side is hit – long pause before dismount – double back with a couple steps back.

Georgia floor:
1. Brown – very secure double pike to start – 1.5 to layout – just pulls that layout around but it’s OK – doesn’t give away a weird step – split full looked short of 180, but not too bad – didn’t get much on that double tuck and landed with a low chest.
2. Marino – This is interesting to see where she is now – no DLO – boo – just the double back – fine on the split and straddle elements – clean and solid 1.5 to layout – very secure on the double pike dismount – just slightly low. Needs the DLO to be a big routine, but you can see why she should be in this lineup.
3. Box – Great height on her double pike and good landing position – just did keep her controlled step in bounds – clean 1.5 to layout as well – showing the difference between hers and the flatter ones previously – strong switch side to straddle full – hits double back – lowish but I’m fine with it. Strong routine. Kathy keeps using the word “flirty.”
4. Broussard – high double back to start – but bounces out of it – short on those leaps, both the switch ring and the split full – layout to very nice rudi – good straight position and controlled landing – very very low on her double pike landing – knee-chest with a step.
5. Babalis – roundoff to double back – but bounces way out of it and OOB. This should be the dropped score – but she pulled it back for the middle pass – and the double pike at the end was solid as well – secure landing. Shame about that first pass. Bounced 800 miles. 
6. Jay – Secure on the full out opening pass – lands with her chest horizontally as always but held the landing well – clean on the front full to layout – fine on the split, wolf, and cat leaps – strong double pike. She has pulled this routine together. Should be a solid enough score.
Did Kathy and Bart get a note about defining the world amplitude?

The scoring has not been as tight at this meet since the vault rotation. The judges are not being as strict as it seemed they were being early on.

After 3: Florida 148.000, Georgia 147.700
Both teams scoring well and should be pleased enough with their progress so far. Florida is the clear favorite with a lead going to floor, but it is paramount that Georgia hit a good beam rotation this time. They have the chance for a big road score here and they need to close the deal regardless of winning or losing. Florida did what they needed to do on beam and made up for the Boyce mistake. Still a few dance elements in the first routines that aren’t crisp, but McMurtry and Hunter hit well. Kytra did take a few steps on that dismount, so is fortunate to get out with a 9.875.Box was the class of that floor rotation for Georgia in consistency and confidence of tumbling and landing position.

Alabama got a 49.250 on floor, so they are on pace for a solid road 196 now if they can get through beam in the final rotation. Kentucky is also in line for a very good score by their standards after 5 usable hits on beam to recover from the mistakes last week. 

Baker’s beam score is raised to 9.925. Great stick on the dismount, but there were leaps to take.

Rotation 4 – Florida on floor, Georgia on beam
Florida floor:
1. Boyce – front double full – uncontrolled step to the side and takes it right to the edge – 1.5 to front pike is solid – split looked OK and straddle full was quite nice – hits rudi – 
2. Spicer -Macko in the background – we miss you – strong piked full it – very secure landing – just the usual stagger – bounces a little out of her front pike on the middle pass – also a slide on the double pike dismount but kept it in bounds – missing a little control in the last two passes, but strong first pass and hit routine.
3. Wang – I’m so glad she’s back in lineups this year – a little short on her DLO but fine – small hop – almost pops OOB on her split jump out of her middle pass – a lot of traveling and a little Lauren Mitchell on that post-pass leap – good regular dance elements to follow – also a little low on her double pike but very secure. Landing mistakes in these early routines for Florida. They need some Kytra help to erase some of these scores. 9.875 is too high for that middle pass and the shortness on the others
4. Baker – GOD – your piked double arabian – and stuck this time. DONE. floats down into her double pike – another very strong pass – good switch split and split full – 1.5 to half to straddle. Greatness. 9.975. The first of many. That’s what happens when you stick a piked double arabian. 
5. Hunter – Huge DLO as always – maybe a little less confident control than last week but that’s being  picky – small side – middle pass is the usual and the leaps look strong – open double back – another with a little, little slide – not the stick from last week on that pass, but still great. Another 9.975. Could have been a 10 last week, but not this week.  
6. Caquatto – front double full to punch front is great this week – front 1.5 to rudi to split jump – another great pass – good position on the split – straddles are well past 180 – this has been one of her best routines so far – secure enough on her double pike. Good routine.

Georgia beam:
1. Vaculik – Did Bart just say “fucking 40-45 hours a week”? I even went back and watched it again, and he totally did. I love you, Bart. Brilliant leaps – just great amplitude – long pause before her loso series but it’s excellent – tight on the aerial with a big break at the waist. Oh, it’s so frustrating because the routine was magical until then. Side aerial to full with a small, small step. Kathy gasped during it. Don’t scare me like that.
2. Reynolds – Oh, I forgot about you! Does well to hold her front toss onto the beam – one foot was off but she pulled it back – very solid loso series – switch side – secure on the side somi – tries a double full dismount – short of rotation with a hop forward.
3. Rogers – switch to a very tentative straddle jump – solid on the bhs to loso – her bhs 3/4 is excellent as usual – but this routine is tighter than expected from her – bhs full to layout full dismount – pauses slightly to connect them.
4. Broussard – one-arm bhs to loso is very secure – fine on the switch and a good straddle 1/4 – secure side aerial to split jump as well. She is right on today. sticks the gainer full – legs probably too far apart there, but great, great routine.
5. Babalis – big bhs loso series and secure – switch half has a wobble this time – bend at the hips – another small check on the front toss – another wobble on the front aerial but does stick her full dismount – very tight and mistakes on each acro skill.
6. Box – tuck turn full is hit – secure on loso series – a little tight on the switch – hits the straddle 3/4 – full turn small adjustment – excellent aerial to beat jump – ro 1.5 with a hop. Good routine.

Alabama note – I’m obsessed with Dana Duckworth’s “watching beam” face.

196.950 for Georgia is another strong score, especially on the road. They should be happy with that result.Box and Broussard were great on beam, and they got more 9.9s on beam and floor than they have been receiving. Mistakes still to eradicate, but they’re making noticeable and solid progress.

Final: Florida 197.600, Georgia 196.950
It was pretty close heading to the end, especially after Florida had some just OK floor routines in the first few spots. We still need to talk about that Wang score. But, Baker and Hunter were phenomenal. Sacrilege: I thought Baker’s was the stronger routine. That elevated the whole rotation and put Florida squarely out of reach.

In other news, Alabama had a strong beam rotation to finish the comeback from that iffy early bars score with a 196.700. They’ll take it. And Kentucky will take that 195.550, especially considering how depleted they are on vault now.

Auburn has been solid through the first two rotations for 49.1s, and I’m switching to that now.

Milliet on beam now – split jump and a pause before the sheep – wobble on the sheep – bhs loso is secure – tight on the full turn – a little short on the aerial but pulls it around – 1.5 dismount is good with step forward. She’s getting back.

I haven’t seen Air Force compete in a long time. McRobbie opens on floor with a double full – 1.5 and pulls around the layout to follow – big stumble on her wolf full jump – 1.5 to front pike – just sloppier and less amplitude than the top teams, but a hit.

Demers – BB – she moves very well – wobble on loso series and again on the sheep jump – but nice leg form and strong amplitude on leaps – side aerial to stuck full dismount. Good routine.

Lewis  – FX – Goes for the 2.5 mount – just barely gets it around – very squatty landing with a stumble back – 1.5 to front tuck almost gets off the ground – hits the wolf full jump – sticks the double back dismount. Well there you go!

Guy – BB – solid switch side – small check on loso series – switch is a little short but good straddle jump – aerial is secure – gainer pike dismount and stuck. When you tear two Achilles, you get permission to do a gainer pike, but that’s the only time you get permission.

Witgen – FX – solid double back to start with a slide back – that switch ring was better than most in NCAA – front full to layout – Air Force gymnasts are taking long pauses before their passes – no excuse for lack of conditioning when you’re in the Air Force. Finishes double pike slightly short, but that’s a good one. Hit leaps and competitive difficulty.

Walker – BB – good front toss to beat jump and secure on the loso series as well – confident start to this routine – good split jump to sheep and pulls back the foot to not wobble there – sticks gainer full – well done –

Stych – FX – solid landing on double back with chest low – just layouts as the middle pass – switch ring to split full – not the same leaps as Witgen – 1.5 front tuck to finish.

Atkinson – BB – fluid full turn – clean and secure on loso series – smallest check on front aerial – switch to wolf – great work so far – precise and well-executed and secure – double pike dismount with one step and another to salute. Great work.

Wallander – FX – front layout to rudi mount – switch side to a split full short of split – nice 1.5 to layout middle pass -got some more lift on that one – wolf jumps for dance elements – Shame that she sat down the dismount ont he 1.5 to front full – was looking pretty good before that –

Auburn on pace for a comfortable mid 196 today, which they’ll take. Beam score seemed a little tight for Atkinson, but the possible second step on the dismount hurt. That was a strong beam rotation.

Back now. Did I miss why Jeff Graba’s shirt is ripped? Was he just feeling too sexy for it?

Air Force probably looking at something int he 191s depending on how beam goes. It’s evidence that the difference between the lowest teams and everyone else is not usually the HUGE things. It’s amplitude, leg form, etc. Kelly has a major break for Air Force but stays on.

Hlawek – FX – secure double pike – wow, the moonwalk is so overused this year, even more than usual – rudi to back tuck – intended to be a back tuck? – clean front full to layout – hit.

Really nice three series for Contestant Graft on beam – that was strong – has a wobble on a switch side, but there are some nice qualitites in this routine like the fluid full turn – such a shame that she slipped on her side aerial to connect into dismount and dismounted with a full twisting face plant.

Rott – Excellent position on the DLO – just a slide back – split 1.5 to straddle full and hit – layout layout pike middle pass – sticks the double pike dismount – just a little squatty, but this should be a solid score.

Commentators says “THESE GIRLS WAKE UP AT SIX IN THE MORNING!” Is that not normal?

Webster – FX – sticks the pike full – there you go! – split full to straddle full is solid – 1.5 to layout is also quite clean and secure – hits double tuck as well – just low chest but a strong routine.

Air Force having a disaster on beam. Already counting a 9.200 and now a fall in the 4th spot as well. Front 1.5 dismount with a step to the side to finish.

Kluz – FX – strong tuck full in – she looks a little short in those leaps, but the tuck full in was under control – as was the layout to layout full – and sticks the double tuck with low chest. A few low chests, but they are sticking. I said before the season I was all about this team, and I still am.

McRobbie now on beam with a wobble on her series, but pulling it together through the leaps. They’re already counting a 9.2 and a 9.1 and cannot afford another fall. Hangs onto front toss into a wolf jump that was OK – big break on a side aerial teetering back and forth – sticks front tuck full dismount. Hit, but major errors to deduct.

Demers – FX – best height so far in the pike full in fest, but she does bounce out of it pretty far – wolf full and straddle full – front layout front full and dances out of it to cover the slide – (because sometimes you just need to wear dreadlocks and a hard hat to a gymnastics meet – I want to travel the world with him) – unfortunately short on her double pike dismount with a large lunge. She’ll get hit for these landings, but a ton of potential in this routine.

Ebel – BB – Layout to two feet to start this one – takes a wobble but hit it – split 3/4 – split to sheep – deductions to take certainly, but they needed a hit in this spot to contend for a 191, and they got the hit.

Atkinson FX – finishing the meet – great tuck full in – excellent control – and she hits her splits as well – this has been a good rotation, and she elevates it – solid middle pass – sticks double pike dismount. Very well done. Her scores in this meet were pretty 9.8, but she had a great showing.

Auburn finishes with an excellent 196.625. This needs to be the year that they make nationals, and scores like that early in the year, with room to grow, indicate that they’re on a good track toward a solid regionals seed. This is a competitive team.

Air Force just missed out on the 191, finishing with 190.900.

Alright, I’ve hit a wall with the live blogging, but I do recommend Oregon State and Washington starting in about 20 minutes if you have the energy after all this already. 

The Weekend Ahead – January 30th-February 2nd

In case you missed it, I was a guest on GymCastic this week, so you should give it a listen if you haven’t already. Jessica and I talked Florida/Alabama, UCLA/Utah, Georgia/Kentucky, and the greatness of Tabitha Yim. 

Also earlier this week, Elizabeth Price recorded the seventh 10.0 of the young season, the sixth on vault. She continues to perform the full as she returns from injury (we’ll expect more difficulty eventually once she is 100%), but she has such crazy amplitude that pretty much whenever she sticks she’s going to be in line for a 10. Methinks this isn’t the last 10 we’ll see from her. Not much incentive to upgrade, is it?

Damn, girl.

Rounding out the discussion of things that have already happened, Oklahoma competed earlier today and continued to bolster their claim as the best team in the country with a 197.650. The Sooners currently own all three of the top scores recorded so far this season, and that trend can only be expected to continue as they head to Metroplex on Saturday, where everyone always gets an 11. 

Friday is going to be a little different this week. Normally, Friday is the night of main events with most of the top teams in action, but this weekend relatively few of the top teams showing their wares. Still, I’ll be here blogging, and be sure to be ready right at the start because we do have a good one early on between Georgia and Florida. That will be a showdown. Florida enters as the favorite. Being the higher-ranked team, the stronger team, and the home team will usually do that for you. Plus, they will certainly be eager to erase the rancid taste of meh from their mouths coming off the disappointing loss to Alabama last weekend. No sucky handstands this time, deal? Deal. I fully expect a non-meh performance. That said, Georgia is in this thing and should come into town with optimism. They made huge strides against Kentucky by getting Rogers back in the lineup and hitting their least terrifying beam and floor rotations of the season. Recall last year, Georgia was leading this meet after three events and about to pull off the upset. Then, they had a beam fall and Florida had that infamous floor score. Does history repeat?

Alabama also goes back on the road on Friday. They’ve proved they can hit a strong meet at home. Now they just need to do it on the road. The ANGER BEAM COMEBACK statement last weekend was a big one, and they can’t allow a letdown now that the adrenaline of redemption has worn off. Also pay attention to that Oregon State quad meet. Washington is already a much better team this year than last year and is once again fielding full lineups and looking reasonably competitive with the middle of the Pac-12 pack. Welcome back. Oregon State has been quietly solid, putting up another hit meet on Monday for a mid 196 and landing around the back half of the top 10 while others falter.

But this weekend, Saturday is the big day for top teams. Two meets in particular stand out.

Metroplex should be a barn burner. Yes, I just wanted to use the expression barn burner. Oklahoma and LSU are going head to head. Just like you’ve always wanted. The meet will be available to view for subscribers to Gymnastike’s Arm And A Leg package. Last year, both Oklahoma and LSU recorded 10s at this meet, with Oklahoma edging LSU in the end 198.175 to 197.875. That’s the kind of meet I expect once again this year. We haven’t broken the 198 barrier yet, and if it happens this weekend, this meet seems the most likely. (Though Florida home meets are always competitive nominees. They’re like the Meryl Streep of getting 198s.) Given how well Oklahoma has started the season, with just that one beam blemish salting their perfection, LSU will have to bring the sticks. Over the last few weeks, they have left their vault landings at home too often, and the bars landings haven’t been as strong since that excellent first week performance. No resting on amplitude at this one. And it’s not just about winning the meet. This is a golden opportunity for a huge road score, and it would be a shame not to take advantage.

Also keep an eye on Nebraska and Michigan. The two best teams in the Big 10, and the two that should be squaring off for the conference title in a few months. This one is 50/50. Michigan has been the more reliable and consistent team, as reflected in the rankings, but Nebraska is capable of the bigger event scores. The Huskers are stronger on vault and will need to build a significant advantage there. Three or four tenths probably to make up for a greater tendency to throw a mistake or a weird 9.7 out there. Michigan needs to keep doing what they’re doing and trust that tightening up those landings a little from last week should bring them comfortably into the 197s.

The weekend will be rounded out by UCLA and Cal on Sunday, as UCLA tries to do what Alabama and Georgia did last weekend by erasing the memory of a painful implosion, and Cal tries to keep the ascent going on vault and floor while finally, maybe, hopefully, please solving a problem called beam so they can get into the 196s.

Below is the schedule for the top 25 teams, and as always, the full schedule can be found at the link at the top.

Top 25 Schedule

Friday – 1/30/15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [11] Georgia @ [3] Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [6] Alabama @ [24] Kentucky
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Air Force @ [12] Auburn

9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [12] Boise State, UC Davis @ Utah State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [17] Washington, Sacramento State, Hamline @ [10] Oregon State
Saturday – 1/31/15
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [7] Nebraska @ [4] Michigan
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [21] Michigan State, Brown, UW-Oshkosh @ Rutgers
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [9] Penn State @ [14] Illinois
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – [5] Utah @ [18] Arizona
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [16] Ohio State @ Minnesota
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Temple @ [24] New Hampshire
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Metroplex Challenge ([1] Oklahoma, [2] LSU, [8] Arkansas, Iowa State)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [19] Stanford @ Arizona State
Sunday – 2/1/15
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [23] Cal @ [15] UCLA
Monday – 2/2/15
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Ball State @ [22] Southern Utah

Week 3 Rankings and Notes

This weekend, we saw three more routines join the 10 club, with Ashley Lambert getting her second 10 on vault, and Brenna Dowell and Haley Scaman of Oklahoma getting their first 10s of the season on bars and vault respectively. We’re on a pretty furious pace for 10s considering that it’s only January 26th. Six 10s have been awarded so far, compared to two at this point last season. We’ve already seen more 10s in 2015 than in the whole 2012 season.

Dowell’s 10 highlights why Oklahoma has included the DLO 1/1 in her routine. She doesn’t get any SV benefit for it and could be doing the DLO instead, but since she’s one of the rare gymnasts who can stick it while maintaining a pretty straight position throughout, it makes sense to put it in her routine so she can bank on the stuck DLO 1/1 WOW factor.

Now, to the rankings.

Week 3 Rankings – (Gym Info
1. Oklahoma – 197.325
Week 3: 197.850
Week 3 leaders: AA – None; VT – Scaman 10.000; UB – Dowell 10.000; BB – Capps 9.950; FX – Dowell 9.975

The Sooners regain their comfortable lead after a national-high 197.850 over the weekend, featuring the two 10s above. Two 10s in the same meet is perhaps not the accomplishment it used to be (both LSU and Florida also managed that last year), but it speaks to how far along this team is for January. They were looking solid for a 198 until floor, when having to count an OOB put them down to a paltry 49.275 and took them off the pace.
2. LSU – 197.025
Week 3: 197.350
Week 3 leaders: AA – Courville 39.625; VT – Courville 9.950; UB – Courville 9.950; BB – Jordan 9.925; FX – Hall 9.975

LSU put together its first meet of four solid rotations so far this year to move up into the 2nd spot, and they did it without some of their usual vaulters, which is a big reason why vault was their lowest-scoring apparatus on the day. As goes Courville, so goes the team, and Courville had her first meet of the year with four scores of 9.850 or above. 

3. Florida – 196.975
Week 3: 196.800
Week 3 leaders: AA – Hunter 39.550; VT – Hunter 9.975; UB – McMurtry 9.825; BB – Boyce 9.900; FX – Hunter 9.975

Florida suffered no major mistakes in the meet against Alabama, but medium-sized errors on both bars and beam took them all the way down to six tenths below Alabama, which is a surprisingly significant margin in a meet they were supposed to win. It’s very unusual to see a Florida team record one-third of their scores under 9.800, but that’s what happened.

4. Michigan 196.808
Week 3: 196.850
Week 3 leaders: AA – Sugiyama 39.425; VT – Sugiyama 9.875; UB – Sugiyama 9.875; Artz – 9.900; FX – Artz 9.950

Michigan continues to look solid and reliably 9.850 each week, which is enough to keep them at #4 in the rankings. The Wolverines have been perhaps the solidest team out there so far, which I’m pretty sure no one would have called to start the year. They’ve had just the one fall across three meets (that time Brooke Parker had to fill in on beam), which few of the other teams can boast. Beam and floor continue to look more comfortable with each meet, and the gradual return of Austin Sheppard will be a vital boost on the other events.

5. Utah – 196.767
Week 3: 196.725
Week 3 leaders: AA – Dabritz 39.575; VT – Dabritz 9.950; UB – Lothrop 9.900; BB – Lee 9.900; FX – Dabritz 9.925

The Utes are another team that has started the year looking even-keeled and consistent. A few more non-Dabritz 9.9s popped into the lineups this weekend, including Lothrop on bars and Kari Lee on beam, which is the next step for Utah in maintaining pace with the top teams as those 197s become more common and expected. Though like Florida, too many sub-9.800 scores wriggled their way in the meet on Friday for a team that expects to be in the top 5.

6. Alabama 196.600
Week 3: 197.400
Week 3 leaders: AA – Beer 39.500; VT – Clark 9.975; UB – Beers 9.900; BB – Bailey 9.900; FX – Clark 9.900

Alabama got exactly the recovery meet this team needed. A 197.400 and a victory over Florida, so now we’re all ready to pretend the beam issue from the previous meet never happened. While it wasn’t their biggest score on the night, the safety and solidity of that beam rotation coming off a disaster was the most impressive part. They nailed it as part of an overall confident and consistent 9.875 of a meet.

7. Nebraska – 196.225
Week 3: 196.250
Week 3 leaders: AA – DeZiel 39.350; VT – Lambert 10.000; UB – DeZiel 9.900; BB – Laeng 9.850; FX – Williams, Blanske 9.900

Nebraska did not manage to repeat the 197 heights of the previous week because they had to count a fall on beam, which brought the total back down into the pedestrian sphere. Still, they did follow up their 49.750 on vault last week with a 49.600 this time out. The Huskers currently own the two highest vault scores in the nation.

8. Arkansas – 195.825
Week 3: 196.250
Week 3 leaders: AA – Wellick 39.300; VT – Wellick 9.900l UB – Zaziski, Freier 9.850; BB – Zaziski 9.800; FX – Wellick 9.900

Look at this. Arkansas at #8 is another revelation no one would have called going into the season, but with some of the big-name teams struggling so significantly in early meets, there is still room for low 196s to push teams up into the top 10. This week, Arkansas did not get those same massive vault and floor scores from their home performance last weekend (shock!), but they did enough for a manageable January score, even in a loss to Auburn. 

9. Penn State – 195.750
Week 3: 196.550
Week 3 leaders: AA – Tsang 39.500; VT – Lu 9.875; UB – Welsh 9.900; BB – Tsang 9.950; FX – Tsang 9.875

Rule: Any time you expect Penn State to do well (like in Musser and Merriam’s senior year), they falter, and any time you expect nothing, they do well. They’re another team this week that rode 9.825s to 49.1s and a solid overall score. Briannah Tsang’s 9.950 on beam puts her into the top 10 on that event, as well as in the AA.

10. Oregon State – 195.713
Week 3: None

Oregon State was not in action over the weekend and won’t compete until tonight, but given how things have been going for some of the traditional powerhouses over the last couple weeks, not competing is the probably safest thing you could possibly do. Georgia and Auburn, ranked just below, both had excellent meets over the weekend, but are still trying to save their averages from previous disasters and need more time to get back into the top 10.

11. Georgia – 195.669

12. Auburn – 195.625

13. Boise State – 195.625

14. Illinois – 195.608

15. UCLA – 195.567
(15th?! 15th.)

16. Ohio State – 195.300

17. Washington – 195.275

18. Arizona – 195.244

19. Stanford – 195.225

20. Denver – 195.219

21. Michigan State – 195.150

22. Southern Utah – 195.058

23. Cal – 194.975

24. New Hampshire – 194.933

24. Kentucky – 194.933