The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

First Friday Live Blog – It’s All Downhill From Here

Friday, January 8
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ [21] Kentucky – SCORESSECN Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [25] Central Michigan, UW-Whitewater, Winona State @ UW-Eau Claire
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UW-La Crosse @ UW-Stout – SCORESStream
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Lindenwood @ SEMO – SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [2] Florida @ Texas Woman’s – SCORESFlogymnastics Pro stream
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – BYU @ [4] Utah – SCORESTV: Pac-12 Network
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan State @ [18] Arizona – SCORESTV: Pac-12 Network Arizona
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ [23] Missouri – SCORESSECN Stream
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Centenary @ Utah State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11] Nebraska, Bowling Green @ Arizona State – SCORESPac-12 Stream
Preseason rankings

This is how everything stands before anything stands. So let’s change it up.

I’ll be here starting at 7 ET/4 PT to have all kinds of feelings. At least three of them. Are there more than three feelings?

Stay tuned. It will be almost unreadable.

How does this work again? I watch gymnastics and then say what I see? OK. Got it.I think most of us are waiting to see how the vault values affect the scoring this year, though it will be tough to draw any conclusions for at least a couple weeks. I am interested to see how it impacts a team like Kentucky since the argument against devaluing the full has always been that it will make it even harder for the non-top-12 schools to put up competitive scores and cause a potential upset. Parity, parity, parity, parity. Is that a real thing? We’ll find out.

Wow. That’s a legit crowd at Kentucky. Go ahead on, Kentucky.

Ack! We’re already starting. Too punctual.
Beucler started on vault for Kentucky with a pike on her full and a medium hop back. Later on, I’ll be going routine by routine, but I’ll be half blogging Kentucky/Ball State and half presenting some feelings about the upcoming system as they come to me. I know you can’t wait.

Good layout position from Hyland on her full. Nice. She goes 9.800. Would it really have gone 9.850 last year? We’re going to be vultures about these vault scores this year.

“Now that, she’s supposed to land on her feet.” WHAT? REALLY? I thought that was one of those ass dismounts.

Davis has been bequeathed Mitchell’s front handspring, handspring vault. This really is a brand new Kentucky this year. I know about 1 and a third of these gymnasts. Stuart pretty similar to Hyland in her layout position. Lots of potential in these vaults.

Good height on the gienger from Ball State’s fourth, though she is the second one who almost fell on her step up to the high bar, so…disqualified.

Strong distance from Rosa on her full – slightly more ragged on the form and a larger step back, but the distance is nice. Also, these fulls are getting the exact same scores they would have received last year so far.

Oh, we’re pretending that Y1/2s are Yurchenko arabians now? Good to know. You really better finish that 1/2 twist before initiating the salto.

Kentucky goes 49.000 on vault. Would have been their 4th best vault score for all of last season. Freshman city there. Ball State, well…that was a bars rotation.

Because of the SEC Net, I saw a lot more of Kentucky last year than I had in the past, and the overwhelming characteristic of their bars work was sufficient difficulty with insufficient details = 9.7s. We’ll see how that goes in the new Kentucky roster era.

This is my yearly moment to point out that the school is called BALL State. The end.

Yurchenko full on – not recommended for smokers or pregnant women or those with a history of heart disease. Or anyone.

Really nice height on that full twisting double back from Beucler. Coca is cleaner in the legs than Beucler, though not the amplitude. Jusssst finished that jaeger to catch it.

Patchey…a little patchy. HA HA I’M HYSTERICAL. Better distance, though, on her full.

“This dismount is unusual because she does it correctly.”

Hyland is going to be a thing for Kentucky – note for potential fantasy gym trades. Foot issues on bars, but she did keep her legs together on her gienger, like good girls do.

Ball State says landings are for dorks. Normal January strategy.

Rechenmacher is a step up in line and form over the previous workers.

Denaisha Christian just connected her y1/2 to a front tuck! .2 CV! Call Nellie!

48.750 for Kentucky on bars, very similar performance to last season, which is fine with a reinvented lineup, but more instances where the difficulty, height, and composition were there, but the feet, leg separations, and steps let them down. Still easily on mid 195 pace right now, which would be a solid enough start to the season. But of course, beam.

BEAM. Montana Whittle. Because your name isn’t good enough. Fairly close to 180 on her switch – compared to some of the others we’ll see – looks like they’re going with “solid experienced leadoff” strategy.

“They can pick their own music and play to the crowd or be a little more elegant and powerful.” WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? What is this riddle? Curse you, you sphinx!

Roemmele started well with a pretty, pretty full turn, but then she did a sheep jump and got arrested instead – two strong hits for Kentucky to start. Form, but no significant non-built-in deductions in either.

Whose floor music is Finke using? Brittany McCullough? Like I can remember these things. I have no recall for floor music choices.

I love this conversation about picking floor music and the Kentucky commentator is talking about how they all get to pick their own floor music…cut to Miss Val having a rage stroke.

“A little fall.” Oh, OK. If it was just a little fall.

Just turned on the Pac-12 network in anticipation of Utah to see a montage of photos of football players just before they look like they’re going to make out with each other. Is this a show I should know about?


“There’s the Ball State bird chirp again…it’s a lot of…fun.”

“Sail” really is the new “Pirates.”

Alright, sorry ladies. It’s time to switch to Utah with perhaps a side helping of Illinois/Missouri.

“Not just a stick but like wow” is such a perfect Tim Daggett highlight.

Lizzy Leduc just made her debut on bars – a couple leg breaks here, especially on the bail – step back on double tuck – won’t be a big score.

“Former cougar” is a really great descriptor.

Jim Watson would never give up an opportunity to talk about Tory Wilson’s smile. You know, like how commentators talk about great male athletes.

Lewis leading off on vault again this year – very good height on her full, opens up out of it, hop back and not the distance others will have.

Over at Illinois – O’Connor going on bars – good first hs – and finishign position on her full – big tkatchev – final hs is a little short – sticks a high DLO. Good first routine of the season.

Partyka – VT – Better distance than Lewis and sticks her full – not the open Lewis had, but should be a strong score. Looks like Lewis went 9.725, which is tight, especially for Utah. Kentucky got 9.850 for similar.

Sunny Kato Illinois – UB – very short on opening hs – good height on piked jaeger – DLO is very pretty with a small slide back. Not as clean as we usually expect from her.

Lee – Utah – VT – Not quite as big and pretty as her better vaults last year – fine, and good form, but not much amplitude or distance at all.Weakest for far for Utah. Goes 9.650, which is a bit lower than I would have expected for it, but she really didn’t get that block. I think the judges miss Greg…

Horth just NAILED bars for Illinois. Loverly. Stuck landing. Obsessed. Routine of the day so far.

Miller – Mizzou – VT – much better – strong height, distance, and angle and a controlled landing.

Delaney – VT – Utah – that’s the vault we expect from her. Sticks it. The vault we’ve been seeing for four years. Great height and form. 9.850. Fair.

Sadly, looks like Illinois is already counting a couple 9.625s on bars in spite of the couple good routines I saw.

Hughes – VT – 1.5 -Good landing on the 1.5, just a smallish hop forward – lost her knees a little at the end, but should be a solid score. Judges split was 9.900/9.750.

What we’ve learned so far today, Baely Rowe is all about that bass.

Rowe – VT – full – good height, OK distance, holds onto the stuck but has to bend and swim for it, which often ends up provoking a larger deduction that just a tiny step would have been. Won’t be bad, but this will be the lowest Utah vault total for a LONG time. A combination of some iffy vaults, the new values, and not really getting the home boost we expect.

Utah goes 48.950 on vault. New values people, new values. Also, no Dabritz and Wilson. That’s a thing too.

Illinosi 48.825 on bars, Missouri 48.600 on vault, Arizona 48.975 on vault, MSU 48.725 on bars.

NO GRIPS DABRITZ ALERT. We still have to hear it even though she graduated.

Utah crowd doing a really good job of pretending they’re OK with a 48.950 on vault.

Lots of 9.825s from Florida on bars. But Grace McLaughlin made the lineup. So that’s something.

Second rotation for Utah, bars.

Lee – UB – solid first hs – good piked jaeger – handstands look better than in the RRP – hop on double tuck. Simple routine but clean enough. 9.775.

Remember that time I made a really big deal about Bridget Sloan’s 9.9 streak on bars in the preview? Well, it’s over. You’re welcome Bridget. I do what I can.

Debut time for Schwab on bars – “Is she the new peaches?” “No.” Very nice hs from her and toes – they’ve worked on the height on that tkatchev – it’s a bit less WOGAy than it used to be, but she catches close much like Hughes usually does. Break on her step up to the high bar – what is it today?

Judging delay all over the place at the Utah meet. Jim is pissed about it. How very Trautwig of him. Did Megan just head into the crowd because she was tired of waiting?

Better from Lopez on the tkatchev but late on her opening full turn – misses a handstand in there – small slide back on DLO – good solid hit, would expect 9.8s.

One of Illinois’s 6 vaults was just a yurchenko layout. Remember when I talked about how good Illinois would be this year?
Also, looks like Alicia Boren just got a 9.350 on vault. I’m on a roll today.

Hughes – UB – hits tkatchev – handstands look good, clean on the bail – some floppy legs on the tuck full and a slide back on landing.

Rowe – UB – good opening hs – great finishing position on that full turn – hits legs on the bail – maintaining her improvements from the RRP – small slide (aka Farden stick) on her DLO. Very nice. Best of the rotation. If Lopez was 9.875, this will be 9.9s because it was about a tenth better. The judges on bars didn’t get the memo from vault. 9.925. Oh, THERE you are, Utah scoring!

Yurchenko tucked 1.5 from BYU – I actually like that vault and hope we see more of them this year.

49.025 for Florida on vault. Enjoy freaking out about it.

Lewis – UB – solid full turn – the tkatchev is back! – clean bail – short final handstand – leg separation on the DLO with a hop back.

49.225 for Utah on bars. Much better rotation than vault, reflected in the scores.

Grace McLaughlin also did floor for Florida. Look at you! Where did you come from?

Partyka – BB – OK on the splits, saves without a check on the side aerial – slightly over rotated on the full turn but once again saved with indiscernible movement – solid loso series – gets through switch switch series with minimal issue – excellent stick on 1.5. Good beam start. The beam revolution begins?

Arizona consistently 48.9s for the first two rotations, fine for an opening meet.

Delaney – BB – smallest hesitation landing loso series but fine – small check on tuck jump full – good full turn – secure on gainer loso – sticks gainer full – very little content in that routine, but got through well. Hits are the key right now.

9.800 for both of the first two Utah beamers.

Thanks for the qualitative and scoring updates about Florida! This is going to be an interesting week of dissecting this performance.

Merrell – BB – college debut routine – she’ll also go on floor – big break on opening walkover, does stay on beam but major wobble – good switch though, that’s what I noticed in her JO work, her leaps are real – loso series with nice legs and only a very minimal check – excellent kickover front, perfectly solid – hop back on 2/1, but with the break, they’ll want to drop. Got more comfortable as the routine went on. Looked so petrified to start.

9.575 for Merrell, so a good bit of opening meet pressure for the final three, though not an overwhelming amount.

Lee – BB – Great legs in her loso – a step up for the rotation now into Lee – good switch and adequate straddle 1/4 (that’s as high as I’ll go on a straddle 1/4) – came in short on side aerial with a wobble – hop back on 2/1 dismount, but really those last two things are the only real deductions there, so should remain a strong score. 9.750, though. Thought she’d still get into 9.800.

Nebraska and Arizona State nearly ready to get going.

Rowe – BB – So we’re still man in the mirroring? OK. Like the lift she’s trying to get on that loso series – no break there – confident full turn – secure kickover front – sticks 1.5 dismount – very good routine. One of her better, actually. 9.800 also a little tight for that based on previous judging and expectations –


49.200 for Florida on floor. Best rotation total so far.

Stover – BB – pretty walkover to split jump – secure on loso series – good position on the swtich and straddle – no wobbles at all so far – secure kickover front – bends but keeps the stick ont he gainer full – great routine – best of the rotation.

Just a 9.825 for Stover. Tight scoring on beam again like vault. Rest assured, that exact same routine will get a 9.900-9.925 at home later in the season.

Utah just 48.975 on beam, but I wouldn’t be worried about that rotation based on what we’ve seen here.

Oh. Oh goody. A Peter Vidmar interview.

Grace WIlliams just hit a solid bars routine for 9.850, but looking at the scores it seems Nebraska is already counting a score in the 8s. Ruh roh.

Laeng very clean on bars. Strong gienger, just a hop on the tuck full dismount. Also gets a 9.850, but of concern, like I mentioned in the preview, no freshmen in that bars lineup. And they had to use McConkey, who is definitely a backup. That’s a worry.

48.200 for Nebraska on bars after two 8.900s. ARIZONA STATE IS WINNING. 48.375.

Ernst debuts for Florida with a 9.875. Looks like they’re finally getting Florida scores in this final rotation.

Hughes – FX – she has been a backup on this event for her whole career, but they’ll need her this season. Slides back on double pike – solid split position – also a little slide of the plant foot on the 1.5 to layout. Form looks solid so far, just some normal lack of control on landing – secure on the double back – good start. 9.850. So, vault and beam tight, bars and floor loose. That’s the story.

Schwab in on floor now – not in original lineup – Megan getting her Val on. She had a lovely 3/1 in JO, which I’d love to see at some point again, but nice opening double pike – clean leg form throughout – I think I compared her to Damianova in the RRP, and that’s the vibe I’m getting again – secure, staggered landing on 2.5. That will score well for a number of years. 9.900.

Bridget Sloan’s score just got dropped on beam. That’s something you don’t see every day.

Florida 196.825. Not bad for being THE WORST PERFORMANCE IN THE HISTORY OF FLORIDA. Came back well at the end. This score will seem like nothing later in the year, but pulling it through from an eh meet is perfectly fine for an opening.

Partyka – FX – 1.5 to 1.5 opening pass, solid form – bounces abck and OOB on the double tuck, didn’t bounce much out of it just took it way too far. Step to the side on 2.5 dismount. Will be lowest score so far, but a usable routine for the season. 9.675 with the bounce and the OOB.

Delaney – FX – added a full in, lands it somewhat short with a lunge forward – it won’t be the difficulty of Utah floors of years past, but as Schwab’s score showed, that’s not necessarily needed. Finishes with a nice front full final pass.

Missouri defeats Illinois 195.350 to 195.025. Big win for Missouri. Very disappointing start for Illinois for a team that should be much better than this.

Nebraska already working against a fall on beam as well.

Lee – FX – Just bouncing a bit on the 3/1 this time – splits look solid – good front layout to front full, keep that back foot down – VERY weird fall on her double back – it looked fine in the air and through the landing – going for the stick and, as Amanda said, her legs just gave out. Surprising to see a fall from her.

A freshman for Nebraska! Schweihofer goes 9.825 on beam.

195.700 final score for Arizona in the Yim debut.

Utah now counting the 9.675 OOB from Partyka. Just Lewis left.

Fall from Blanske on beam. She’s having a nightmare so far.

Lewis – FX – opens with a double pike, but just the double pike – she’s training a full it – it’s very clean and comfortable – overdid her 1.5 and had to lose form on the connected front full to pull it around, but she did with a step – slides back just a tad on her double back, but a good clean finish. That will be enough to bring this one over 196 at least.

It actually wasn’t a particularly bad meet for Utah, even though the score will be a sure drop for them. The vault landings were weaker than we expect based on past teams, and the lack of 10.0 starts will hurt, but it was a fine rotation. Bars was solid and pretty much exactly what we’d expect from a Utah meet. Beam was much better than the score would suggest. Some weird mistakes on floor brought the score down (and this rotation will certainly feel the loss of last year’s seniors and can’t be expected to score as well this year), but it’s not like Kari Lee is going to fall on a double back all the time.

Utah 196.175 to BYU’s 193.850

Tom says Utah has some other 1.5s in the wings to use. (Rowe?) They were feeling it out as to how the scoring would go, and I think the judges in this meet sent the message that difficulty is necessary, though the judges at other meets (like Kentucky) sent the opposite message.

Nebraska/Arizona State/Bowling Green is the holdout meet so far, and basically everyone is having a disaster. In case you were curious. I’ll check in to see how things go there in the final rotation, but Nebraska has four falls so far.

This Nebraska/Arizona State meet is one buffer away from losing my attention. Just to give you an update.

A few awkward landings for Grace Williams on floor – a stumble on the mount and short on her double back dismount –

I like that we’re seeing Schweihofer. She and Crouse stood out to me when looking at the Nebraska freshmen. Now, where is Crouse? That’s worrisome. Orel also went on floor but got just a 9.300. Looks like 2 OOBs from her.

Oh, NCAA school-specific commentators. Always calling them “players.”

Jennie Laeng is back in on floor for Nebraska, because they need it. She didn’t do floor much last season but went 9.850 every time and is back with a 9.850 again this time. Such a necessary 9.850 since they’re already counting a 9.650 from Williams.

DLO from Ashley Lambert, saving my life and this rotation. Short somewhat on the double back landing, though. Slide on the double pike, but a perfectly fine January performance. 9.825. Sadly, Nebraska is still squarely on the 194 train, though this should get the lead back from Arizona State.

Arizona State is having Princess Night. Yes, that will make adults want to go to your event. (Gymnastics setting itself up as something to be outgrown is becoming a bigger and bigger pet peeve of mine.)

Just vault left for Nebraska. They only need 13 tens.

Nice distance on vault from Schweihofer for her full but a huge bounce back. She should be able to go into the 9.8s for that one once the landing is under control.

All 9.7s on vault for Nebraska so far. Those are not Nebraska vault scores.

Jennie Laeng showed up for Nebraska today. Into the 9.8s on every event. She’ll get the AA win in this one, so yay for her.

Nebraska just squeaks into the 194s with a 194.050. Let’s all agree to never acknowledge what happened here, OK?

At the end of the action, Michigan’s nation-leading 196.975 will still stand for another day. Florida will be in second with that 196.825, followed by Utah with the 196.175. Those are the school over 196 so far. Oklahoma/LSU/Alabama etc. licking their chops at this point.

Arizona State finishes with 192.700. Oh god. It’s even worse than last year. Aside from the meet that shall not be named when only four gymnasts could do anything, ASU’s low last year was 192.650. Starting point? Maybe?


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