The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Sunday Live Blog – January 15, 2017

Sunday, January 15 Scores Watch
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Brockport, Springfield, Ithaca @ Rhode Island
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Western Michigan ESPN3
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [17] Northern Illinois @ Ball State LINK FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – West Chester, Cortland @ Southern Connecticut SCSU
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [19] Penn State @ Nebraska LINK
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [13] Cal @ [24] Iowa LINK UI TV
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [6] Missouri, SEMO @ Lindenwood LINK FLOG
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [8] UCLA @ [2] Oklahoma LINK FSSW

Ah, the day has come. This is the second-straight year we get a UCLA/Oklahoma meet, and I hope this develops into an annual matchup because it’s becoming among the most anticipated and delightful meets in college gymnastics. You know it’s going to be a show: two teams whose ultimate goal is to out-“floor routines about refugees” and out-“solving world hunger through beam emoting” the other. Also winning, but that’s definitely item #2. (Mostly because we all know Oklahoma is going to win). Anyway, a few meets going on before that.

Do we know why the gymnasts are going at the same time at Northern Illinois/Ball State…? A dual meet?

Ashley Lambert is vaulting for Nebraska! That’s a big old deal, especially considering she was in a hospital bed 30 seconds go.

Taylor Houchin’s debut for Nebraska is a 9.900 on vault. Have we talked about how she’s going to be a thing?

Sabrina Garcia enacts the traditional “routine after a big score” performance by falling. Penn State 48.975 on bars. Nebraska 49.000 on vault with just five vaulters. The Nebraska special. Of note, no Breen or Williams in that vault lineup.

Ouch. Penn State is counting a fall on vault. VAULT. 48.025.

Nebraska close to 197 pace after two pieces with six total competitors so far.

To the person asking about Gabby Laub’s 6 from yesterday: I haven’t heard anything official, but Tabitha Yim mentioned unfortunate mid-meet injuries in her post-meet comments, so my assumption is that she’s referring to both Felix Terrazas and Laub.

Why is Nebraska not using Houchin on beam? Isn’t that her best event? Anyway, counting a fall and a 9.6 now. Williams is competing beam, so all the main players are at least able to do one event today.

We still don’t have a sixth floor score for Penn State, which is critical because one of the five scores so far is 8.000. Yikes. Yeah, we’re onto the fourth rotation now, so it appears PSU is counting an 8.000 on floor.

I saw that Amber Takara went 9.775 on bars for Cal before those scores crapped out. SUCH A SHOCK.

Re: UCLA and Oklahoma. It’s on a bunch of the regional fox sports networks throughout the southwest, so I’d bet some illegal streams will pop up around meet time. If you’re searching around, it will be on FSSouthwest, FSOklahoma, and FS West that I know of so far.

Nicole Medvitz finishes for Penn State with 9.900 on beam, but that can’t get them into the 193s after floor. Final: 192.900. FAKE ADDERAL PRESCRIPTIONS FOR EVERYONE.

Final: Nebraska 195.700, Penn State 192.900

Live scores for Cal/Iowa are 95% tragic. MSO is not set up for NCAA. What are the team scores, exactly?

OK, here we go. UCLA/Oklahoma time.

Oklahoma’s lineups remain the same. UCLA’s remain a mystery for now, but since they’re usually a mystery until after the meet ends, that’s fine.

Still haven’t seen anything about streams yet, but share in the comments if you have information for our friends in need.

VT – Meraz, Kramer, Hall, Kocian, Ross, Hano
UB – Honest, Meraz, Savvidou, Ross, Lee, Kocian
BB – Gerber, Meraz, Ross, Kocian, Lee, Ohashi
FX – Meraz, Honest, Hall, Savvidou, Kocian, Mossett

Be honest, who had that floor lineup for UCLA this season?

Glad to see Hano vaulting, even if she is out of floor. No Preston today. Presumably because we can’t have nice things.

They’ve trotted out Bart for the meet. That’s how you know it’s a big deal. Also, we get Bart’s pronunciation of Kocian, so I’m in heaven already.

We’re learning that Maggie Nichols is a gymnast to watch. News.

Kelly Garrison has already broken the sound barrier, just without even trying.

Rotation 1:

Jones – VT – very good shape and direction on full – medium-sized hop back. 9.825

Honest – UB – good first hs – hight tkatchev – 1/2 turn to straddle back, a little angle in the hips on that – short final handstand – good stick on full-twisting double back. Foot form but solid. 9.875

Marks – VT – Pretty in the air, comes in a little short, which is rare for her, step forward – small step but they will take for chest down. 9.775.

Meraz – UB – opens with a Ray – good counter rotation – toe on to bail – also a little hip angle in that bail – DLO much better in the legs on that DLO than usually, does pike those saltos – step. 9.825.

Capps – VT _- Sticks! Excellent full – great distance, great shape, not much to deduct at all there. 9.925. Judges agree.

Savvidou – UB – pretty first handstand – blind to piked jaeger – catches with bent elbows – bail – pretty final handstand – good finish on giant 1/1 – hops forward on double tuck. 9.800

Dowell – VT – 1.5 – step forward on her 1.5, and then another college step-salute after that – good shape, good position, everything else excellent. 9.850

Ross – UB – lovely shaposh and bail – one small leg break on the shap – great shoot to high, good counter rotation – hits final handstand – sticks DLO. That will do, Kyla. That will do. 9.925.

Jackson – VT – 1.5 – so close to sticking that – hop forward – great form and direction, really just the landing is the only thing you can take there. 9.900.

Peng – UB – Ray – huge and lovely – Bhardwaj is hit well – toe on to toe shap and hit – excellent final handstand – basically sticks DLO – really tried to hold that stick but I would say that’s a step to salute. Very little else you can take there – hit her hs. 9.925.

Nichols – VT – Sticks 1.5? There it is. Tremendous. Did she hop in place? Replay inconclusive? Amazing anyway. 9.925. We call that an Ashleigh Gnat 10.

Kocian – UB – stalder shap to pak – loses her form and legs completely on her pak and can’t catch the bar. She comes off, UCLA doesn’t need the score, but very strange to see. Val’s head is TO THE SIDE. Missed a hand on her pak – got back on and lost her form completely on the shap 1/2 as well. Finishes with excellent stalder and tuck full, but weird. Kelly and Bart are questioning if it’s a grip problem.

Rechelle Dennis is doing exhibition in bars – good giant 1/2  huge gienger with legs together – overshoot – solid hs – a little sloppy in giants – chest down on double tuck landing with a lunge forward. It’s a usual option, but she probably didn’t get herself into the lineup with that one.

After 1: Oklahoma 49.425, UCLA 49.350

Scores are going high but not crazy high. These are very good routines. Judges not wanting to go too, too high into the 10 zone but that resulted in some bunching. Peng and Ross were tremendous on bars, very pretty, very little to take from those routines. Kocian had a weird one that we’ll just chalk up to being a weird one for now and hope it’s not representative of her litany of injuries.

On vault, Dowell, Jackson, and Nichols were stars obviously, though the landings can improve. The big asset for Oklahoma being that the form is strong enough that there’s very little to take in deductions apart from landings.

UCLA will be pleased with that rotation despite the Kocian miss. It needs to be a big event for them, and that score is progress.

I’m enjoying this break-down of the deductions in Nichols’ routine and accurate assessment of where the deductions will come from.

Rotation 2:
Meraz – VT – Good open on her full, just the tiniest hop in place – she’s never going to have the biggest or fartherst vault but she gets the most out of that vault. 9.775.

Capps – UB – good finish position on giant 1/1 – tkatchev, lowish but fine – short on a bail – better final hs – TRIES to stick that tuck full but steps forward, and actually ends up being a pretty big step. 9.900 is too high for me. EVEN KELLY THINKS SO.

Kramer – VT – good shape on her full, too much power – lunge backward. 9.800

Catour – UB – muscles up first cast handstand – pretty tkatchev – one short hs in there – good bail but she does have to muscle up these casts – DLO with a hop back. 9.900

Hall – VT – just the full from her as well – opens out, some legs, larger bounce back. Randy has some notes… 9.775.

Lehrmann – UB – 1.2 to Jaeger is nice – some good verticals on handstands – they can still work on their bails as well – clearly short final handstand – tuck full, sticks but does land a little staggered – 9.925.

Kocian – VT – solid full from her – just a touch short and a hop forward, but not too extreme. good legs. 9.875.

Dowell – UB – Shap is solid – precise first handstand – Church is excellent – to qualms with these hs – GIRL! Loses balance on her step up to high, standing on the low bar, waves her arms, saves it and recasts, but GIRL.

Ross – VT – Excellent amplitude on her full, best on the team so far, but she also hops back a little too far on that one. 9.850

Wofford -UB – beautiful giant full – sweet jaeger – LORD AND BUTTER MCKENZIE – she came off on a CAST HANDSTAND – I would not have called that fall either – back on, lovely bail – sticks excellent tuck full. Weird. 9.375.

Honest – VT – wonky legs on her full, and off direction – pretty good control, step back. So no Hano.

Nichols – UB – lovely Ray – hitting hs – perfect Pak – that low bar hs is still a little short – great shap 1/2 – all other hs are fine – sticks a wonderful DLO – basically this routine is identical to last week. 9.925.

Craus doing exhibition for OU – nice jaeger, a little close catch – some angle on the bail as well – very short final hs – stumble back on double tuck.

They’re having trouble with the scores, so we don’t have the numbers from the second half of that rotation yet. Wondering what Brenna’s score will be because she had that wobble and swim before having to recast, and they have to count it because of Wofford’s fall. Felt the first three bars scores for OU were too high given some of those handstands, which are also really emphasized by our camera angle.

Somehow, Brenna still got 9.825.

UCLA doesn’t have the difficulty yet on vault, so really needed more control on the landings for a top score. Quite a lot of stepping and hopping there.

OU’s twitter says Nichols got 9.925, which continues the trend of bunching. These 9.900-9.925 routines were not all identical.

Oklahoma 98.900 UCLA 98.425

Rotation 3:

Jones – BB – bhs loso is secure, feet but solid – full turn – cat leap to front tuck, a little deep but works out of it well – switch to split is solid – sticks 1.5. 9.800.

Meraz – FX – double tuck, good control, chest down – front lay to front full to front pike – loose in the body on the front lay but stuck that front pike – very good position and amplitude of switch side and popa – double pike, chest down with a smallish hop forward. 9.850

Lehrmann – BB – full turn – smooth aerial, pulls it in without a check – switch side with a bend at the hips and a wave of the arm – YEOUCH – bhs loso series and splits the beam and comes off – straddle quarter and another little check – she’s working too quickly following the fall – 1.5 dismount with a hop forward.

Honest – FX – high double pike, slide back on landing – mildly obsessed with this routine – front lay to front full – another slide, just needs some more control on these landings for a good score – solid leap amplitude as well – double tuck chest down with a hop forward, similar to Meraz. Getting there with the endurance through the first two but not quite there yet. 9.850.

Catour – BB – full turn – bhs loso, good legs and secure – switch side, also bends with a check on hers – walkover is lovely – gainer pike out of frame. One significant error on the switch side but otherwise fine. Simple, especially in the dismount, but good. 9.875.

Hall – FX – 1.5 through to double tuck, step back is a little big but she pulls her chest up well – front full to front pike, just a touch bouncy – switch 1/2 and wolf full, good positions and finishes distinctly – double pike, way short and falls hands down. You could see that one coming. Before that, it was one of her better routines.

Brown – BB – aerial to two bhs series, small check after the second bhs – beat jump to split 3/4 is solid – full turn – sissone – switch leap to pause to gainer full – strong. Smoother than Catour’s so let’s see the score. 9.925.

Savvidou – FX – front 2/1 mount witha  hop to the side but got it around – the theme of her routine is “MISS VAL IS OBSESSED WITH ME DUH” – 1.5 to layout second pass, so so deep and lunges forward OOB. Splits are gorgeous – double pike – huge bounce backward into New Mexico and OOB.

When beautiful things break.

Nichols – BB – aerial to beat jump is smooth – bhs loso series, bends well to save a true check, but it was a bend – 1.25 turn, corrects again to avoid wobble – switch and split are heavenly – front tuck is high and great – double tuck and sticks. Or as Kelly called it, “a double EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

Kocian – FX – good front 2/1 first pass, crossover step but keeps the back foot down – back 1.5 to rudi is strong – switch side and popa, popa a little crooked – switch ring – they’re trying so hard to get her to perform, but still feels like this routine is counter to her personality, almost like it’s imposing an attitude on her that isn’t her own – double pike, very strong, chest up and controlled. 9.900

So, can we discuss how Pua got 9.475? That was not a brush, that was a hands-down fall.

Capps – BB – being all lovely – loso series to beat jump – shows her quality because that loso came in short but you would never know because she held it not to give away a wobble or even a lean – aerial, decides not to go to sacle this time – switch to straddle 1/4, great position – sticks gainer full. 9.975. Just Chayse Capps things – although that was like the 19th-best beam routine she has done in college.

Mossett – FX – whip tot double tuck, good chest up – I’m casually obsessed with you as well – split 1.5 that actually hits the position – piked side somi, even makes that look good – double pike, chest up, secure, excellent routine. 9.875.

Lovan is doing exhibition! Check after her aerial, does not connect to bhs and a wobble – oh Kara – split to straddle 1/4 is excellent – gainer full.

So Oklahoma with a casual 49.550 on beam. Kind of silly on some of those numbers, but there was some lovely beam in there from a lot of lovely people.

Somehow, UCLA escapes what was essentially a two-fall floor rotation with 48.950. (Savvidou didn’t fall but those two body-throws OOB basically equal a fall.) So…we’ll just leave that right there and think about Mossett and Honest and how well Kocian controlled her passes.

After 3: Oklahoma 148.450, UCLA 147.375

The one we’ve been waiting for, UCLA’s beam and Oklahoma’s floor. Put your dance-element-connection goggles on.

Rotation 4:

Gerber – BB – wolf turn is fine – aerial to split is methodical but solid – long pause before series – bhs loso is right on – switch to split – bhs to gainer full and stuck. Very good start. 9.825.

Jones – FX – 2.5 to punch front is excellent, good leg position throughout and chest up – 1.5 to layout, steps forward but stays in bounds – split full to a crooked straddle as well, back leg low – double pike is good, secure landing. 9.875.

Meraz – BB – two bhs to a secure loso, right on – switch 1/2, strong position – switch to straddle, makes her combination this time – GIRL, check on a full turn – sticks 1.5 – great other than that full turn. 9.775.

Brown – FX – good front 2/1, controlled position – REALLY Syrian refugee pass there – front lay to front full with a little hop. Round off to layout stepout as part of choreo – split full is quite short today, that’s weird – lovely rudi to finish, a good one. 9.850.

Ross – BB – smooth and precise loso series – switch ring to small check, not trying to connect a leap out of it – full turn – front aerial is basically perfect – switch leap to beat jump, better choice – side aerial to full and just bends a touch to hold onto the stick. Brilliant routine. 9.825. [EDIT: As was pointed out in the comments, Kyla had just four tenths of bonus in this routine, not five. So the score of 9.825 makes total sense. Thanks for the heads up!]

Dowell – FX – STICKS double front, excellent – back 1.5 to front layout to little “I just stepped on a bee” wiggle that was either choreography or a break and I’m not really sure – front lay to front full, step forward but keeps that back foot down. 9.900.

Kocian – BB – aerial to sheep, very well executed, slow in connection but the individual skills were great – strong loso series – full turn – switch and split are hit to 180 – round off to 2/1, and stuck. Another very very good routine. Little to take in that one. 9.925.

Capps – FX – double pike, chest down but good control, needs to get her chest up though – front full to front layout – switch side to popa are excellent – rudi – this is a Carrie Fisher-themed routine? Now I love it even more. Wonderful obviously. Controls her tumbling well but there was some chest position. 9.900.

Peng – BB – triple flares – switch and split are wonderful – hits bhs to layout this week, step backward – double turn and controls it well, almost over-turned but help it with a bend – sticks dismount – she got this one. Good routine. 9.950. Judges are getting on the Oklahoma score train now.

Jackson – FX – gigantic open full in and nailed the landing – just shut up miss jackson – whip 1/2 to front full – walks out of it casually but maybe that was a lack of control – nails double pike. Awesome routine. Kelly wants her to smile. Ugh. No. It’s not a smile routine. 9.900. That was the best one of the group, though.

Ohashi – BB – just the layout not the dull this time – check – switch ring, not the greatest shape on that one – excellent rest of the routine – sticks dismount. 9.925 seems a little high for that. An oddly scored rotation, started too low and then got too high.

Nichols – FX – pike full in with a slide back this time around – 1.5 through to 2/1, controls that landing a little better, the shape in the twisting is good – switch ring and split full are well hit, clear 180 – double pike, still landing a bit staggered but it doesn’t show as much when allowed a controlled step back out of passes. Excellent as well. 9.950. Maybe a little high for that first pass, but otherwise it was great.

Macy Toronjo doing beam exhibition again – good switch leap – a little tight on loso series but hits it, check – switch 1/2 is nice – side aerial is solid, she’ll be in the lineup soon, but it’s quite a tough lineup to make. sticks 1.5. Good.

Final: Oklahoma 198.025, UCLA 196.825

Both teams will take this meet. For UCLA, improved bars and a big improvement on beam over last week. Showing the potential on those events. Floor had solid moments but also two poor routines. It’s getting closer, but they’re still not there with the stamina and control. It was also a double-pike-a-thon, which is a little blah from a tumbling perspective. Vault – the landings have to be better than that if they’re going to do a lineup of fulls. Too bouncy to get strong scores. Still, it’s a 196.825, which is good for UCLA early in the season. That’s progress.

Oklahoma got a 198 in a meet that I think anyone would watch and say, “they can be a lot better than that.” Which is a bit scary. They were good on each event but at their peak on no events. On bars, they had the Dowell weirdness and Wofford fall, making it one of the less-assured bars rotations I’ve seen from them in a while. On beam, there was a fall. Vaults were very good, but the landings can get better. Scores were high, mostly deservedly so, occasionally home-high (particularly on the first-couple routines on each apparatus). I thought there was too much bunching of the scores—a condition of going too high early—so that excellent routines like Nichols’ bars and Jackson’s floor scored the same as routines of lower quality earlier in the lineup and seem under-scored as a result.

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