Friday Live Blog — LSU/Iowa, Alabama/Arizona, and more

Friday 1/9/15Key meets
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [12] Auburn @ North Carolina (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [18] Ohio State @ Pittsburgh (Scores) (CSL stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [20] Denver @ NC State  (Scores) (ESPN3 Stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – West Virginia, George Washington @ Maryland (Scores)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Kent State, Towson @ Missouri (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [13] Arkansas @ [2] Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ [9] Nebraska (Scores)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Iowa @ [3] LSU (Scores) (SECN+ stream)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [21] Arizona @ [4] Alabama (Scores) (SECN+ stream)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [6] Utah @ BYU (Scores) (BYUtv – free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @ Arizona State (Scores) (ASU stream – free)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [10] Stanford @ San Jose State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [14] Cal @ Sacramento State (Scores) (Youtube stream – free)

It’s here! I’m ready. The meets begin at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT, so check back for all the live blogging I can handle. Now I just have to remember how to do that.

I have the currently available links listed above. Some teams still have the live scoring links from last year listed, which is not super helpful. I have noted when streams are free, but the ESPN3/SECN+ streams are also available without extra subscription if you have a log-in. For ESPN3, that’s an internet provider log-in, and for SECN+ that’s a cable/satellite log-in.

I’ll be starting with Denver against NC State, while following scores from many of the concurrent meets, and then things will really get going at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT when LSU/Iowa and Alabama/Arizona get started. I’m going to try to watch/write about them both at the same time, but that doesn’t usually go well, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t choose one over the other because there’s a lot I want to know about both. 

For now, what are your predictions for tonight? Any upsets? Any 197s? Oklahoma recorded a 197.700 on this weekend last year, which was certainly a sign of things to come. Can they do it again?

Warmups underway with Denver and NC State. We’re learning about how strong both these teams are. “We call them bobbles in gymnastics.” And shouldn’t. Bobble and wobble are not synonyms. Gymnastics pet peeve alert. Bobble refers movement in a bouncing motion, like bobbling a ball, so a balance check rarely qualifies as a bobble. Yes, I know. I’m the worst.

Do we know if we’re going to see Claire Hammen at all for Denver? She was an elite for a while and seemed like a solid get for Denver, but there’s been no chatter about her in the preseason notes.

First scores are coming in for Pitt and Ohio State. Grady gets a 9.650 on bars for OSU. At least they have routines. Denver/NC State is just a perpetual commercial fest. If I wanted to watch commercials, I would care about football. Ohio State has work to do on bars this year without Shaffer and Aepli. Their 9.850-9.875s are gone. Opening with 9.6s as Pitt does the same on vault.

We’ll start with NC State on vault and Denver on bars. I will barely be able to recognize this NC State vault lineup without Ouellette, Fallanca, and Diahanna Ham being a giant and then sticking somehow. Addison and Barrett are the new members for Denver on bars who weren’t in the final lineup last year. McGee is the one who can get big scores.

-NC State’s first yfull from Fillard is fine – large bounce back and could be higher, but not bad form and an overall acceptable opening performance.

-Denver has a big leg break on a bail handstand from Lomonte, and then a couple steps back on her double front dismount. Will be a low score.

Very rough opening bars rotation for Ohio State with 48.325, .250 behind Pitt now. Can’t afford that.

-Yhalf on vault from NC State’s Wismer – hop forward – she gets a 9.775, so the scores are fairly soft so far. These are fine vaults, and they’ll love these scores with 9.775 as a base value for the middle of the lineup. Menhinick on bars – late on a full and then a leg break on the pak, good final handstand, large bounce back on DLO dismount.

-Woodford – VT – bad angle but appeared to get better distance than her first two teammates, larger step back though, so that will hurt.  Barrett – UB – nice line and strong rhythm here, catches her jaeger even though she flew pretty bar away from the bar – nice toe point, sticks her tuck full (low chested, but stuck) – best routine of the day so far.

Jarred – VT – taller gymnast, does manage to stick her yfull, so I’m interested to see where the scores go. Piked down and fought to keep the stick. 9.775 as well, which seems fairly sensible for that vault. Addison – UB – good full turn – hits a tkatchev, very short handstand after that – muscles up another hs – small hop on DLO. The individual skills were solid – the handstands are the biggest struggle in that routine by far.

Sadness. Auburn starts with a 48.675 on bars. Got a 9.800 from Walker, but Atkinson had a fall and they counted a bunch of 9.7s. They lead by a couple tenths, but they would expect more. I would expect more.   

Knight – VT – Good form on her yfull – large step back followed by a slide, which will bring the score down, but power and form wise she was the best in the lineup so far. Woah. 9.775. You could have taken .200 for the landing alone.

Ross – UB – good early handstands, late on giant full turn, finished closer to horizontal – leg break on the gienger – clean and pretty pak – very nice handstands from her – whippy and piked on the DLO – traveled out, not up – and a larger step back.

Watkins – VT – good distance on the yfull – legs together – slide back but strong vault. There’s some potential in this lineup this year. The landings were not there today, which is normal for this point in the season, and the scores were still solid even with a bunch of .100 or more landing deductions.

McGee – UB – excellent first handstand – hits the gienger – good finishing positions on the casts and pirouettes – fairly floaty DLO with a stuck landing – ish – held onto it. Good routine, muscled in places, but good. Best for either team in these opening rotations.

NC State is up on Denver 48.875 to 48.600. Would like to see a little more separation in these scores between the meh early routines and the stronger later ones. Watkins and McGee were certainly the class of their rotations, as we would expect.

Maryland is winning the day so far with a 48.975. No one has yet hit 49 for a rotation.

Woah now. One judge just gave a 10 to Missouri on vault according to the live scores. Is this happening? 9.950 final score for Shauna Miller. Here we go.

Pitt is having the worst rotation ever to happen on bars, but Ohio State has pulled it back together on vault for some 9.800s.

Rotation 2 at NC State, NC State to bars, Denver to vault
Manhinick – VT – yfull – not much height, which will hurt the score – pikes down and a step back on landing.

Woodford – UB – finishes her full turn in a pretty good position – leg break on the gienger – slightly short on final handstand – tuck full dismount – low landing and a step forward – no major, major errors but enough problems to bring the score lower.

Auburn is counting a 9.200 on vault now. WHAT IS THIS?

Sakai Hart – VT – Tsuk full – hop back – not bad – will probably get knocked for height as Tsuks always are. Turner – UB – delightful, slow-as-molasses first handstand – hits her jaeger – clean straddle back – OOF! Was going well, but got nothing on her shoot to high bar and couldn’t catch. Fall alert.

Barrett – VT – yhalf – no distance but clean body position, good line, and just a small shuffle on the landing – should score fairly well.

Wild – UB – short on first handstand – catches her tkatchev, but a little butt scrapey on it – nice handstand positions after that – last full turn is late – step back on double tuck dismount.

McGee – VT – missed this one – but she’s thrilled – does a little dance about it – as if that means anything.

Sobhan – UB – was a little late on her blind change and then traveled approximately 150 feet away on her piked jaeger and had no chance. Counting a fall now – Finishes with a DLO and a large lunge forward. Struggle.

Addison – Fairly powerful yfull with a smallish step back – the Denver vaults have been similar to NC State’s but with about .050 more control on each of the landings, which I would expect to show up in the final totals. (9.750 for her, which is interesting because it looked stronger than some of those NC State 9.775s. I’m with the judge who gave it a 9.800, not the one who gave it a 9.700)

Knight – UB – clean bail – no major leg break that we’ve seen from others – small things like toes are an issue, but there’s potential there with a bigger tkatchev – larger step back on dismount, but it’s a hit.

Fielitz – VT – Sticks her yfull – ish – small step after the stick? – looked like she was running negative 3 mph for this vault but got enough power on it to complete it comfortably. Should be another solid score.

Watkins – UB – Lovely handstand positions – good form on the gienger – some leg break on the pak, but good hs overall and a pretty DLO with a step back. Their best bars routine by far in the form department.

Denver’s 97.525 currently leads the way among the teams that have completed two events so far. It’s a day of 9.7s, but the top teams are yet to get underway. Auburn’s low scores are disappointing, but it will be some time before this team is fully healthy and reaching its potential.

HALFWAY: Denver 97.525, NC State 96.475
Interesting so far at Denver/NC State that the judges seem to be pretty conservative with scoring the stronger routines but pretty loose with scoring the weaker routines. I’m not saying any of these routines should be getting massive scores because they shouldn’t. We haven’t seen any 9.9-worthy work, but the margins are a little strange.

Oklahoma is underway with a 9.825 for Kara Lovan on vault. Hunter Price has also made the vault lineup in a bit of a coup, and starts with a 9.850.

Just a heads up from Missouri that freshman Shauna Miller is kind of killing it. 9.950 and 9.850 on the first two events. When was the last time a gymnast received a 10 from a judge in her first routine? 

Kanewa with a 9.900 for Oklahoma. Dowell makes her debut with a 9.825. Will be interested to see video when it emerges. Strong scores for Oklahoma so far, but not the 197.700 pace from last year. Check that. The 9.925 from Jackson and the 9.950 from Scaman mean we’re right on that pace. Biggest rotation of the young season – 49.450 for Oklahoma on vault.

Arkansas was a little bit of a struggle bus on bars for a 48.450, but did get a 9.850 from Paige Zaziski, the new one, which is reason for optimism. The fall from Wellick didn’t help.

A few minutes to go until the SEC meets. I don’t know if they will be archived. I want to say yes, but that’s just because I want to say yes. I haven’t watched an SECN streaming event before because that would mean I follow other college sports, which I do not. I mean…go NCAA!

Interesting note as we wait that Myia Hambrick is listed as one of the AAers on LSU’s live scoring page. I’m heaven.

Your event is about to begin. Please stand by. Title of my autobiography?

It’s going to be weird watching an Alabama meet with graphics instead of one pop song from three years ago repeated over and over again. 

LSU ALABAMA on vault, IOWA ARIZONA on bars
Dana Duckworth is showing good lifted head-coach neck position right away. It’s half the battle. I can already tell I’m going to have trouble watching these two meets at the same time.

Profile on Rheagan Courville. Today, she’s sporting a Parkettes in the front, WOGA in the back hair look that we’ll describe as unique. 

LSU vault: Jordan, Macadaeg, Hall, Hambrick, Gnat, Courville.
Alabama vault: McNeer (!), Bailey, C Sims, Clark, Beers, Williams

Oh, just a stuck yfull from McNeer to start. You know, NBD. My focus will be on LSU and Alabama because they’re the better teams, just as a disclaimer.

Jordan VT – LSU – great distance and beautiful form on the yfull – small step back – her usual. Pretty vaulting.

Bailey – VT – Alabama – Clean yhalf, small step in place – you can clearly see the distance difference between hers and the ones at Denver and NC State – not too much to take other than the step.

Macadaeg – VT – LSU – Exceptional height – not a ton of distance but great lift – small step back. Meanwhile, huge tkatchev from Arizona – great handstands as well – step back on the double tuck dismount. In love with that tkatchev.

C Sims – VT – clean enough yfull, slide back with both feet – solid vault, but it’s the same vault that didn’t make the lineup last season. 9.825 seems about right. It’s what she usually gets.

Another amazing tkatchev from Arizona from Felix-Terrazas (shout out to my fantasy team) – she also struggled on the dismount, very low landing on a double tuck with a lunge.  

Delay at LSU, some tighter scoring there early on. Much tighter than the vault scoring for Denver and NC State. Or for Alabama.

Clark – VT – Alabama – strong yfull – great power as usual – chest down on landing which she doesn’t usually have, but that’s one of the only things to argue on this one.  9.950 is a fancy little score for that vault, but it was good.

Hall – VT – LSU – yfull, leg break in the air, good distance, step.

Beers – VT – Alabama – great power as usual on her yfull but lands short with a low chest and a step forward, so it won’t be her usual score. Uncharacteristically average from her. Early days.

Flores – UB – Arizona – late on her first full turn, hits her tkatchev, some hip angle on the bail handstand, short on final hs, but exceptional DLO 1/1 with a stuck landing. That amazing dismount saved it from being blah.

Hambrick – VT – LSU – Clean full – small hop back but good height and leg form in the air. She’ll get there. We’ll see a lot more of this vault.

Williams – VT – Alabama – does the 1.5 – great block, perfect form in the air, just a step forward. Will be a good score. I wonder if they’ll keep this vault or go back to the full. I suppose it depends on how the landing develops. She’ll need to find the stick at some point.

Gnat – VT – LSU – Excellent height. Finishes that 1.5 so easily – step forward – she just pops straight up in the air. No distance like Macadaeg, though, and they must be taking for that pretty significantly. Hall has the highest score in the rotation, and had the best distance. Can’t see how you say Hall’s vault was better than Gnat’s though.

Another DLO 1/1 for Arizona in the final spot. Not stuck like Flores, but I love the difficulty. Great pieces from Arizona in many of these bars routines, but lots of early season breaks as well, landings for some, handstands for others.

49.375 for Alabama on vault to a 48.950 from Arizona on bars. 

Courville does a Courville of a vault. Doesn’t stick – step back – but the distance was amazing as always. It looks like the judges are valuing that, so I expect to see the first 9.9 of the rotation. And she gets it. Scoring is tight for LSU on vault compared to some of the other meets we’ve seen so far.

LSU 49.225 to Iowa 48.275. Struggles from Iowa, but of the four teams, I saw the least of Iowa in that rotation.

We will be seeing both Brannan and Winston on bars for Alabama. Dana Duckworth keeps posing like the queen of hearts. I’m not mad about it.

New network, same embarrassing crowd dancing shots.

The commentator just said Jessie Shits-ler. So that happened. Yfull. Much more piked than we saw on the Alabama vaults, hop back.

Bailey – UB – Alabama – slightly late on the half turn – hits her jaeger – clean on the bail handstand – late on the turns is really the main thing you can take from this routine – good double back dismount. 9.850 as always. 

Brannan – UB – had an early leg break but is getting it together as she goes, step forward on the DLO. Perhaps a slightly nervy start, but the jaeger looked strong. There’s potential in this one.

Missed Savona on bars, but that 9.875 is a big score for her.

Hambrick – a little ragged form on the tkatchev in the feet, but a nice bail and a strong tuck full with just a flinch on landing.

Beers – Some leg separation on both the shaposh and the pak, but hit – she hasn’t often made this lineup in the past – step back on double front. OK, solid, but small areas to take here and there. Very 9.8y to my eye. 9.875.

Zamardi – UB – LSU – excited for this one – good first hs – solid shaposh – legs together on the bail – hitting her handstand positions cleanly – markelov is fine (they look butt scrapey, but so do all lady markelovs – Khorkinas) – sticks the double arabian dismount that usually scares me but looked comfortable on her. STRONG routine. We’ll see a lot of this one. 9.900.

BOO. Winston came off right at the beginning of her bars routine on a pirouette – nice high tkatchev after that – form on pak is great but she catches close. Again nice form on DLO but lands short. Shame. She’ll be good at some point, but it looks like she hasn’t had enough time. Came off on a nothing right at the start and followed it with issues. 

Wyrick is on bars at the same time — looks pretty clean – sticks the DLO. Nice work. Nothing significant to take there. That’s like her April-of-freshman-year bars routine.

Jordan – UB – good half turn and clean jaeger – hits her bail hs – borderline final handstand – good form on the DLO with a small shuffle(?) – nice routine. They’ve stepped up these handstands since the Gymnastics 101 event and I’m pretty happy with the amplitude. 

Missed Aja Sims, but I did see that straddled DLO she does a la Alaina Johnson.
Interesting that scoring was a little tight for LSU on vault but has not been on bars. These are good routines, but these are massive scores.

Courville – UB – great jaeger – hits her bail – back up to the high bar with good rhythm, wonderful stuck tuck full – that was the best of the rotation, and we’ve seen a lot of 9.9s already. Just a little more refined with more amplitude than the others. BAM. 9.975. OK, so the scoring is not conservative today after all.

It’s a 49.600 for LSU on bars. They showed me. Judges appear not to be taking for anything that isn’t obvious/major, which is on par with last year on bars. It was a very good rotation, though.

In other news, Alabama will be counting a fall from Jetter on bars. It was not a great rotation but I was distracted by LSU. We’ll get into it later. Form breaks in several routines, and then two error performances.

Rotation 3:
Missed a little, but saw Hall hit a solid double back off beam with a step back. Score is 9.825. Interesting that she is still making this lineup with the depth addition this season, but they must believe in her hitting ability.

Bailey – BB – pretty L turn to start, as always, good control on it – clean on her loso series with nice height – side aerial to side position is secure. She has been given the Diandra Milliner leadoff role now, and like Milliner, she is hitting a composed routine with no wobbles – lands a little short on her double full dismount with a hop forward, but well done. 9.850.

Hambrick just came off on beam. My world is over. Lovely switch split and straddle 1/4 to follow – strong loso series – pretty and confident display of flexibility – and a stuck double full dismount. It was great after the fall. She’ll get there, but that’s a shame.

McNeer – BB – She is all over the lineup today! Clean front aerial, fairly long pause before her series – wobbles and swings her arms to keep it on the beam. Good height and position on switch+split combo, (at LSU, Ewing just hit her layout to two feet well), slightly tentative with a check on her side aerial – some nerves in this routine, but a hit. Step forward on 1.5 dismount. Enough to deduct on that one. Major wobble, minor checks, step on dismount.

LSU is counting a couple 9.825s so far from Hall and Ewing and will hope to drop the Hambrick score.

Macadaeg’s debut on beam now – pretty full turn, great switch and a strong switch 1/2 as far as switch halfs go – one of the better ones we see in NCAA – love these leaps – full, hit, and high – clean loso series – no troubles in this routine – shame that it’s just a gainer pike dismount after a great routine, but that should score very well. Refined work.

Also looks like a hit from Beers on beam for Alabama.

Who are we not seeing on beam for LSU? Just two routines left and Gnat, Jordan, and Courville all haven’t gone yet. No Gnat it looks like. Hmmmm.

Courville – BB – tentative on that opening L turn, it was like an R turn at first – big pause before the arabian but who cares it’s an arabian. (In general I support the pause deduction, but there should be an exception for Courville’s arabian and Francis’s dismount.) Arabian is gorgeous and perfect. And of course she wobbles right after the perfect. As it always goes. But that’s the only error so far. Breaks the connection between the front aerial and sissone. Sticks her gainer full, changed that from the gainer pike. Not her cleanest with a wobble and a broken connection, but solid. Just one more hit and they can drop the Hambrick fall.

Aja Sims finishes up for Alabama with a nice hit with just a little perfectly stuck double back. I do love watching her on beam. Great leaps and clean acro.

Iowa has looked pretty composed on floor for the most part, but Arizona is struggling. Short landings, and we’ve seen major mistakes and an OOB now. Did she just do a combo into OOB? What was that?

Jordan – BB – very precise on side somi and the loso series, switch and straddle 1/4, comfortable full turn – pretty front aerial, and a stick on the 1.5 as well. Great work. Let’s see what they do with this score because they can go massive if they want to. So lovely.

Clark comes off  the beam for Alabama on her front tuck. It’s pretty unusual to see these mistakes from Alabama, especially from Jetter and Clark so far today. Pressure on Kayla Williams now on her comeback beam routine. They can’t count Clark’s routine, especially since they’re already counting McNeer’s 9.6.

More running right OOB for Arizona on floor. They look so unprepared on this event.

49.325 for LSU on beam. They’ll be pleased with that. Wonder why Gnat wasn’t in the lineup, but they have excellent scoring potential there. Jordan and Macadaeg were perfection.

Big routine for Williams on beam now – switch side is huge – a little crooked but huge and hit – slightly squatty on the front tuck but once again secure – small check on loso series but saved it without giving away anything big – straddle full is hit even though maybe it’s a straddle 5/8 – step forward on 1.5 dismount. Something to take on most of the major skills, but she’s back.

Alabama will break 49 on beam even while counting the 9.675 from McNeer. Even an average floor rotation should ensure they get over 196.

Oklahoma final: 197.625. Remember when I claimed they weren’t going to be on that 197.700 pace? Well, they weren’t. Ha. Big first meet. Lots of 9.950s. Important 9.925s from Jackson in her two routines as well. She has been overshadowed by Dowell but has equivalent talent on vault and floor. LSU looks on pace to pass that score, though.

Arkansas finishes with a 194.900. Some good moments on vault and floor but mistakes on bars and beam cost them a good score.

Relatively rough meet from Nebraska so far, and the lack of DeZiel is a major problem, especially for my fantasy team. They’ll have to fight to break 196.

Rotation 4: Alabama and LSU go to floor
Savona is your leadoff on floor?

Savona – 1.5 through to double back – easy peasy – full in – once again a super secure landing – random front tuck in the middle of her choreo – straddle elements look good – high landing on double pike dismount. Great start – what we usually see from her in March and April – would surely get a 9.9 later in the lineup we’ll see what it gets here. 9.900. Earned it.

Gnat opens with a DLO – great height – comfortable landing – DAMN – 2.5 and does a handspring right OOB out of it – it was going so well before that – bounce on the double pike. Shame.

The last three on floor for Alabama will be Mack Brannan, Carley Sims, and Lora Frost. This is new.

I can’t with all these Alabama fans dancing to YMCA.

Jordan – FX – Jessie is beautiful on floor because “her club coaches were Bulgarian.” Yes. So high on the double pike – big 1.5 to front full. She has simpler passes but also has the height to make them special, which is what NCAA gym is about.

Once upon a time, these meets were going at the same rate. Now LSU is forever ahead of Alabama.

Bailey – FX – front through to 2.5 mount, shuffle/stumble in the landing – layout to front full second pass – another small step there – not quite confident in these landings yet – rudi is OK. 9.800.

Hambrick – FX -strong landing on the pike full in mount, low chest into knees, but we forgive that more on pike full ins – 2.5 to punch front is excellent – UGH, she had nothing left for her final pass – lands way short on double pike dismount and hands down. Counting the score from Gnat now.

Are we really seeing Hunter Dennis on floor for Alabama? Is it a January miracle? Hits double pike.

Courville – FX – What do we think of this routine? I have problems with some itunes vomit in the music. Double arabian – how did she stay in? – she had about 15 toes on the line as she stepped forward – “She looks like a weather balloon in the air” – that is the least flattering possible comment. Double pike is short with a lunge forward. Not a disaster – just a little bit of insecurity in the passes for the first meet. Still amazed she didn’t go OOB. Or did they say she did?

Hall time on FX – “debut of a brand new routine” How is it brand new? They’re all the same. Amazing, but identical. Huge air in her DLO but lands way forward with a lunge. Middle pass is floaty and perfect. Double back was good – smallest of slides of her front foot, but the problem is the DLO. She usually has a couple eh routines each season, and this is one.

Not a comfortable floor rotation for LSU. They looked unready. Still managed to break 197 with a 197.125 on the strength of the bars and beam scores – and I think vault was excellent as well and could have scored higher. No tight scoring on the events besides vault though. They’ll work out these problems. Bars was the most important event for them to show a high score on in this meet, and they did it.

Alabama still has three to go on floor.

Brannan – FX – Excellent double arabian, confident landing, nice in the air – split leaps were not fully 180 – didn’t look like she got great height on the double pike but landed it securely – 1.5 to layout is fine – sort of walks out of it – but the tumbling was strong in general. Dance elements will be a question.

Arizona note – Sisler (or “shits-ler” to the commentator) got a 9.950 on beam but I didn’t see it. Pretty walkover from Mills. No Edwards tonight. Is she the other injury along with Klarenbach? What’s the point of anything anymore? Good switch split as well. Hits her side somi, compelling movement style overall – awkward gainer full with a step. 9.675 is odd. Did she not get a 10 SV?

C Sims – FX – Slightly squatty in her DLO landing – front full to front pike with a little bounce out of the front pike – I don’t understand the comment “the crowd really knows their gymnastics here.” What about cheering for a DLO shows that they know their gymnastics? Still, Ashley is doing a great job with the commentary. She’s a keeper. Pretty strong double pike to finish. No endurance problems for her.

Flores – BB – small check on her loso three series, very minor though – switch and broken connection into the side aerial – straddle to straddle 1/4 – lots of pauses. The judges at worlds would totally Ross her for this routine. Stuck 1.5. Solid, fine, regular routine.

Frost – FX – Good DLO with a little Peszek bounce that she usually has on the landing – front full to layout middle pass is comfortable – the theme of this routine is “GRUMPY FACE,” and that’s what I like about it – low on the last pass – lunge forward. 9.925 is a little “we’re ready to break out the scotch” from the judges given that last pass. There’s no way to justify taking less than a tenth for that landing alone. 

Alabama does manage to break the 196 barrier with a 196.225, but they won’t be very happy with this meet. Mistakes on bars were the major reason for the score, but there were uncomfortable routines on beam and floor as well. Not the usual security we expect to see from Alabama at home on beam and for a few members of the floor lineup as well. Alabama’s floor didn’t look as unready as Arizona or even LSU, but still a definite blah January performance overall.

Sarah Patterson is in the crowd pointing at things. “I wouldn’t have done that.” “I wouldn’t have done that.” “I wouldn’t have done that.” I’m sure that’s not what she’s saying, but in my head it is.

The 197.625 from Oklahoma remains the class performance of the day.

Utah still underway, so I’ll check in on the end of their beam rotation.

Delaney – BB – nice floaty loso series and then wobbles after finishing it while doing nothing. Come on, Kailah. Gainer loso is nice. Roundoff to a full dismount with a small slide. 9.800.

In other news, Stanford broke 49 on bars! It’s all going to be OK! 9.925 from Price.

Rowe – BB – promoted to the #3 spot in this lineup – I enjoy her mount – nice full turn – back leg on switch was borderline but leap series is fine and secure – solid on her three series, but once again some soft knees that can be hit if that’s the mood – she’s doing the moon walk now? Why? – Sticks 1.5. One of her more solid performances. Shouldn’t be one of those 9.7s from last year. 9.900 is a little indulgent for that, though.

Becky Tutka was very excited and flailing all her limbs about Rowe’s hit, so maybe that bodes well for her getting back into the lineup.

That 9.900 on beam is a victory for Utah. Remember how long it was until they broke 9.850 last season?

Lee – BB – Part of the new era of Utah’s beam – solid full turn – pulls out her loso series comfortably – good switch and straddle 1/4 – completed easier and higher than we often see from Utah’s beam dance elements – double full dismount with a step. A couple areas to take, but she has a high ceiling here.

Forgive me if I’m not writing about BYU’s routine because I’m checking Stanford’s scores. Why is Taylor Rice falling on every apparatus?

Stover – BB – Clean front aerial – secure and even perhaps floaty on her bhs+loso, a little rushed on that switch split but she’s usually very good at it -wobbles on choreography? Come on – solid front toss – finishes gainer full – low chest and slightly squatty, but stuck. She can do better, but not a problem. 9.750. Interesting.

For Stanford, Nicolette McNair is back on vault this week, which is a necessary step.

Scoring has stopped updating for Utah, but Lothrop is up now to finish the rotation. Ooooh, switch side 1/2. Is it better than her switch side? And how does that happen? The rest of the routine is her usual. Her Shawn Johnson loso – has to swing her arms a little on the straddle – hop on 1.5 dismount. A couple clear issues, but solid hit for likely 9.8ishness. There’s reason for optimism about Utah’s beam this year, and we saw some shades of it here. A few areas to clean, though.

Just a 9.850 for Ebee on vault this week. Stanford is able to drop Rice’s fall but will count a 9.550 from Daum so it’s only a 48.725. Eh. It started well.

Exho for Dabritz now on beam. This will be interesting – nice full turn. Hits her loso series – small shift on the switch side but pretty good position on it – it has improved as her Utah career has gone on – side aerial is hit. Switch to straddle 1/4 is nice. Very short on that double full dismount with a large step forward. Oh, it’s always something for you, isn’t it? Still a pretty good routine.

Final scores haven’t updated for Utah, but I think we’re looking at a high 196. Yes?

Replays of the strong full from Wilson and the stuck 1.5 from Dabritz on vault. They need to work with Dabritz on the new stick-heels-together rule. She stuck with feet somewhat apart but didn’t slide her heels together afterward, so she could get hit for that.

Utah did indeed end with a 196.925 according to the commentators (I have 196.900), which is a start they’ll be mostly happy with. Big scores from the usual suspects. BYU 193.350. “In the tougher scoring landscape now” Nope.

OK, that’s it from me with the live blogging, but I’ll be back tomorrow for Michigan and Georgia.
Phew. Watching both those SEC meets at the same time was exhausting. I need to process.

Rounding up some final scores:

AUBURN 194.150, UNC 193.750 – Auburn why do you do this to me? OK, I’m never predicting good things for another team ever again.

OHIO STATE 194.675, PITT 190.825

DENVER 194.500, NC STATE 192.025
How did that 192 happen? Disastrous beam and floor for NC State after I switched off. Denver will take that given what other teams did, but too many 9.6s to be happy with.

Go ahead, George Washington!

MISSOURI 193.900, TOWSON 193.325, KENT STATE 192.400
That 9.950 from Miller on vault was the highlight. She was the star of the meet for sure.

OKLAHOMA 197.625, ARKANSAS 194.900
Oklahoma with the highlight performance of the day, but still with some mistakes that were dropped. No floor or vault from Capps? Boo.

NEBRASKA 195.300, LINDENWOOD 190.550
Not a strong start from Nebraska. No DeZiel and no 9.9s. Some pretty low scores from the super talented freshmen too. Looks like they may be struggling for routines on some events after all. How does that always happen? They should have many choices.

LSU 197.125, IOWA 193.300

ALABAMA 196.225, ARIZONA 194.375
A pretty ragged showing from Alabama. Arizona is going to find it very tough going without Klarenbach and Edwards. Floor was not ready for competition, but there are still some great things happening on bars and beam that could be exciting in time.

UTAH 196.900, BYU 193.350

Did anyone watch Rene’s debut? Also note the return of former Ute Taylor Allex. 9.800 on vault and 9.875 on floor. Beam was a problem. Some things never change. No Steigerwalt?

Stanford and Cal still underway. Stanford looking on pace for something around a 196 if they can hit beam. (And Shapiro did floor!)

The Weekend Ahead – January 9th-12th

It’s happening! A real weekend of meets! Lots of them! Of course, I’ll be here live blogging like no one’s business, so be sure to stop by. Here’s what you need to know.

Friday begins with a few of the second-tier teams, including Auburn going up against North Carolina. I didn’t preview Auburn this season, but I’m excited about the team this year and their chances to move into the first tier. They’re returning the full roster from last season, so once again expect Caitlin Atkinson and MJ Rott to lead the way, but Auburn won’t be at full strength tomorrow with some essentials still trying to return from injury. Bri Guy is beginning with just bars and beam this weekend as she comes back from her Achilles-mageddon, and Abby Milliet is slated just to exhibition on bars and beam tomorrow. Both will eventually be integral if Auburn is to ascend into the top 10. We need Abby Milliet in NCAA gymnastics as soon as possible.

That meet is only available on UNC’s premium streaming, but there is free streaming of Denver/NC State for those with access to ESPN3. It will be interesting to gauge where Denver is now that Moriah Martin isn’t there to steady lineups with 9.9s. Nina McGee will need to have a big season on all events if they’re going to remain in that usual 15-20 range. Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah are all getting their seasons started on Friday as well, but my primary focus will be the simultaneous SEC broadcasts of the LSU/Iowa and Alabama/Arizona meets. I know a lot of people don’t have SEC+ access, so I’ll do my best to keep you updated with quick hits and honesty.

LSU should win comfortably. Alabama shouldn’t have problems either unless the change to a new staff is far more drastic than any of us are anticipating. Still, there are some important areas to watch for both these teams in their opening meets. For LSU, keep an eye on bars. I have my questions, but if bars is at the same level as the other events from the first meet, that bodes very well for the Tigers. Who is replacing the Morrison and Dickson routines? Is it Shae Zamardi, and is the scoring potential equivalent? I’m also excited for Macadaeg to come into the beam lineup and to see whether beam looks like the dominant event I expect it to be.

For Alabama, I’m mostly interested to see who on earth makes these lineups. They have a lot of empty spots to fill and a lot of equivalent options, many of which seem realistic. With injuries limiting a few of the freshmen, one of the concerns about Alabama is that they will simply be forced to slot in a bunch of 9.825s that couldn’t make the lineup last season, which would mean taking a scoring hit. The first month of the season will be about proving they do indeed have reinforcement 9.9s at their disposal. A fully healthy Kayla Williams would help in that department, but she can’t do it alone with her two events.
Arizona once again should field a competitive team. A completely healthy Arizona is easily capable of 196s and taking advantage of mistakes from top schools. Recent message board chatter about a Kristin Klarenbach injury is ominous. That’s devastating to their scoring potential on vault and floor, but be sure to watch for some standout routines from Shelby Edwards nonetheless. At this point in the year, and with those injury concerns, a mid-195 would be a victory.

Note that the official start time for the Alabama/Arizona meet is listed as 7:00 CT, but that’s so that they can get in the customary 30 minutes of 8-year-olds trying desperately to get attention. The actual gymnastics begins at 7:30 CT (8:30 ET/5:30 PT) as listed below. 

The only top-10 showdown of the weekend comes from Michigan and Georgia on Saturday. Georgia enters the meet as the favorite, coming in as the higher-ranked team, the home team, and the team returning far more top routines from last season. If Michigan pulled off the upset, it would be a major statement. Mostly for the Wolverines right now, I’m looking for depth of competitive routines in each lineup. Do they have top-class routines through all six spots, or are they forced to throw up some 9.650-9.725s early in rotations, particularly on vault and bars before Austin Sheppard returns?

For Georgia, the early part of 2015 needs to be about making sure beam and floor are at the same level as vault and bars, so pay attention to those rotations. They don’t need another season of 49.500/49.500/48.900/49.050 meets. My biggest question: who is emerging as the most likely 9.9 option on beam now that Cheek and Earls aren’t around? Hopefully Rogers, but she needs help. Will it be freshmen like Vaculik and Babalis? Returners like Broussard and Box? Sarah Persinger please? I’m fascinated, equal parts excited and scared, to see this beam lineup. Also vital will be how much competitive difficulty they’re able to throw in floor tumbling. There are a couple double layouts on this team, and I want to see them. 

In later-weekend action, Florida gets underway against Ball State (but who’s going to win?!??!), and then on Monday we have UCLA and Oregon State facing off on the Pac-12 Network.

UCLA is always a bag of questions, but the anticipation to see where Peng Peng Lee is trumps the others. The Bruins absolutely need her to be the star she can be, and the first outing will be telling. I’m excited for that, and to see Transferville, USA (a.k.a. Oregon State). OSU has a strong core in Tang, Gardiner, McMillan, and Aufiero, with some absolutely lovely routines hanging around in there, but I’m probably most interested in what we get from Risa Perez, a beam and floor star, and Silvia Colussi-Pelaez, who may actually get to compete sometimes on this team. OSU needs a change from the last two disappointing seasons, and it may come from transfers.

Below is the weekend schedule for the top 25 teams. The full weekend and season schedule can be found at the link at the top.

Top 25 Schedule

Friday – 1/9/15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [12] Auburn @ North Carolina
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [18] Ohio State @ Pittsburgh
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [20] Denver @ NC State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [13] Arkansas @ [2] Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ [9] Nebraska
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Iowa @ [3] LSU
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [21] Arizona @ [4] Alabama
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [6] Utah @ BYU
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [10] Stanford @ San Jose State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [14] Cal @ Sacramento State

Saturday – 1/10/15
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [8] Michigan @ [7] Georgia
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – New Hampshire, Rutgers, Cornell @ [16] Penn State
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [25] Iowa State @ Minnesota

Sunday – 1/11/15
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [1] Florida @ Ball State
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ [23] Central Michigan

Monday – 1/12/15
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [5] UCLA @ [11] Oregon State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [22] Kentucky @ [24] Washington