The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Regionals Draw & Pac-12 Championship Recap

First things first, the regional draw has been made and “announced” via the medium of an entirely unnecessary, dramatic-soundtrack web show that kind of didn’t even work. A good thematic representation of just everything. FYI, we would have been cool with a tweet.

Anyway, here’s how the part we didn’t already know shapes up for competition on April 1.

Rotation order is a follows
Team #1 – begins on bars, ends on bye
Team #2 – begins on vault, ends on floor
Team #3 – begins on bye, ends on beam
Team #4 – begins on bye, ends on vault
Team #5 – begins on beam, ends on bars
Team #6 – begins on floor, ends on bye

Semifinal #1:

[1] Oklahoma – “KJ Kindlers”
[12] Kentucky –
[13] Washington
[24] Utah State
[32] Stanford
[34] BYU

Alexis Brown, UC Davis (rotates w/ Oklahoma)
Caitlin Soliwoda, Sac St (rotates w/ Kentucky)
Lauren Rice, Sac St (rotates w/ Washington)
Kaitlin Won, San Jose St (rotates w/ Utah St)

Ariana Harger, Seattle Pacific (rotates w/ Stanford)
Julia Konner, Sac State (rotates w/ BYU)

Yonni Michovska, UC Davis (rotates w/ Stanford)
Rachel Heinl, San Jose St (rotates w/ BYU)

Yasmine Yektaparast, UC Davis (rotates w/ Stanford)
Taylor Chan, San Jose St (rotates w/ BYU)

Ariana Harger, Seattle Pacific (rotates w/ Stanford)
Taylor Chan, San Jose St (rotates w/ BYU)

[5] UCLA
[8] Oregon State
[17] Iowa
[19] Illinois – “Lizzy Deluc”
[22] Eastern Michigan
[26] Ohio State

Nicola Deans, Michigan State (rotates w/ UCLA)
Anna Corbett, Western Michigan (rotates w/ Iowa)
Rachel Underwood, Western Michigan (rotates w/ Oregon State)
Ashley White, Centenary (rotates w/ Illinois)

Jovannah East, Bowling Green (rotates w/ E. Michigan)
Lauren Feely, Bowling Green (rotates w/ Ohio State)

Jessie Peszek, Western Michigan (rotates w/ Ohio State)
Hailee Westney, Michigan State (rotates w/ E. Michigan)

Jessie Peszek, Western Michigan (rotates w/ Ohio State)
Jovannah East, Bowling Green (rotates w/ E. Michigan)

Elena Lagoski, Michigan State (rotates w/ E. Michigan)
Kira Frederick, Michigan State (rotates w/ Ohio State)

[4] Utah
[9] Denver
[16] Cal
[21] Auburn
[27] Arkansas
[28] Central Michigan

Mikailla Northern, UIC (rotates w/ Utah)
Alexis Brawner, SEMO (rotates w/ Denver)
Ashley Potts, NIU (rotates w/ Cal)
Katherine Prentice, NIU (Rotates w/ Auburn)

Schyler Jones, TWU (rotates w/ Arkansas)
Kierstin Sokolowski, Lindenwood (rotates w CMU)

Jamyra Carter, NIU (rotates w/ Arkansas)
Courtney Dowdell, NIU (rotates w/ CMU)

Nichelle Christopherson, Arizona St (rotates w/ Arkansas)
Kierstin Sokolowski, Lindenwood (rotates w/ CMU)

Gabrielle Cooke, Illinois St (rotates w/ Arkansas)
Courtney Dowdell, NIU  (rotates w/ CMU)

Semifinal #2, aka the SEC semifinal:

[2] LSU
[11] Boise State
[14] Nebraska
[25] Arizona
[29] Iowa State
[36] Minnesota

Mariana Murphy, Air Force (rotates w/ Boise State)
Kara Witgen, Air Force (rotates w/ LSU)

Anna Salamone, Air Force (rotates w Nebraska)
Riley Hill, Air Force (rotates w/ Iowa State)
Jamie Lewis, Air Force (rotates w/ Arizona)

Anna Salamone, Air Force (rotates w/ Nebraska)
Darby Germain, Air Force (rotates w/ Iowa State)
Jamie Lewis, Air Force (rotates w/ Arizona)
Brittney Reed, Air Force (rotates w/ Minnesota)

Rita Koenigbauer, Air Force (rotates w/ Nebraska)
Riley Hill, Air Force (rotates w/ Iowa State)
Brittney Reed, Air Force (rotates w/ Minnesota)
Chelsea Grimison, Air Force (rotates w/ Arizona)

Darby Germain, Air Force (rotates w/ Iowa State)
Jamie Lewis, Air Force (rotates w/ Arizona)
Brittney Reed, Air Force (rotates w/ Minnesota)
Casey Bell, Air Force (rotates w/ Nebraska)

When not enough ranked AAers exist in a region, extra individual event specialists fill out the spots. Air Force is the only team with people in this “region.” Now you know why I hate regions. Air Force is sending an entire team to regionals even though they didn’t qualify a team, just because they are located in a more sparsely populated part of the country in terms of gym programs.

[6] Alabama
[7] Michigan – led by “Taleeeah Cheeraralli”
[18] Southern Utah
[20] George Washington – Oh, “Jillian Wistingly”
[23] West Virginia
[31] Kent State

Majesta Valentine, West Chester (rotates w/ Alabama)
Lyanda Dudley, Cornell (rotates w/ Michigan)
Caroline Morant, Brown (rotates w/ Southern Utah)
Libby Groden, Rutgers (rotates w/ George Washington)

Tracey Person, Pittsburgh (rotates w/ West Virginia)
Kimberly Stewart, Bridgeport (rotates w/ Kent State)

Taylor Laymon, Pittsburgh (rotates w/ West Virginia)
Daisy Todd, Temple (rotates w/ Kent State)

Brianna Comport, Bridgeport (rotates w/ West Virginia)
Kaitlin Green, Cornell (rotates w/ Kent State)

Brianna Comport, Bridgeport (rotates w/ West Virginia)
Maya Reimers, Bridgeport (rotates w/ Kent State)

[3] Florida – You go “Alexis MuMurty”
[10] Georgia
[15] Missouri
[30] New Hampshire
[33] Penn State
[35] North Carolina

Chelsea Knight, NC State (rotates w/ Florida)
Gabriella Yarussi, Towson (rotates w/ Georgia)
Tyra McKellar, Towson (rotates w/ Missouri)
Kristen Peterman, Maryland (rotates w/ NH)

Sarah Faller, Maryland (rotates w/ Penn St)
Paris Phillips, NC State (rotates w/ UNC)

Amanda Fillard, NC State (rotates w/ Penn St)
Melissa Brooker, NC State (rotates w/ UNC)

Sarah Faller, Maryland (rotates w/ Penn St)
Mary Elle Arduino, Towson (rotates w/ UNC)

Emily Brauckmuller, Maryland (rotates w/ Penn St)
Alecia Farina, Maryland (rotates w/ UNC)

-The announcer had a few really nice odes to the “Lymeenis Hall” incident of 2014 in there.

-Semifinals look a bit uneven, potentially, with the majority of the more dangerous floaters in the second semifinal. The semifinal with basically all the SEC teams bunched together.

-We see the problem with doing away with #4, #5, and #6 seeds and placing “geographically” here in that some of the regionals are wayyyyy more challenging than others when it comes to the unseeded teams. For instance, Gainesville has no one above #30, while Champaign has no one under #26. There’s some real parity in that Illinois regional and not a huge difference between a lot of those challenging teams. That will be a tough one if one of the 197ers has a mistake.

-It’s a shame that Southern Utah and George Washington got the West Virginia regional. They would have been more serious upset threats in other regionals, but they will have to rely on Alabama or Michigan making mistakes to get into that one.

-Kentucky/Washington/Stanford(?), Cal/Denver, and Boise State/Nebraska are the mouth-watering situations here.

Item #2: My notes on Saturday’s Pac-12 Championship which I attended and didn’t tweet about as much as I should have because I was watching the meet, or because my phone is “too old to tweet.” Depends on who you ask.

Anyway, here are all the things I’m allowed to talk about without getting in trouble.

The end.

I mean, kind of.

-Maples is a pleasant venue for gymnastics. It’s fairly small, which makes for an intimate viewing experience and allows a medium/small crowd to fill up the venue and look the appropriate size, while also not being that black-box-theater-for-mice alternate venue Stanford has to compete in sometimes.

-The Pac-12 broadcast was shown in-arena on the big screen, which was appreciated since their graphics allowed us to keep track of the scores and see, you know, who was winning—something these competitions have trouble with from time to time. Because this isn’t a sport or anything. Basic minimum competence is for losers.

-The music and temperature were problems. Not to get too old-man-yells-at-cloud, but the non-floor arena music was so loud that the gymnasts could not hear each other cheer and we couldn’t hear anything at all. It’s a little thing, but let the sights and sounds of the meet speak for themselves and not have Bruno Mars speak for them. Also, it was 100 trillion degrees in there and everyone was made of sweat.

-The evening session ended up being a bit of a letdown because once it became clear that UCLA brought its C-game to the meet (which was clear beginning with the touch warmup for vault), the outcome was never in doubt. Utah didn’t have to hit its best meet of the season to win, but I’d say this probably was Utah’s best meet of the season anyway, at least when you ignore the one bad routine per event, which you get to do. The Bruins did not perform well, had at least one fall on every event, and save for a couple excellent beam sets, did not show impressive routines. But, as Miss Val came over and said to us after beam, “at least we put on a show.” True statement. You sure did.

-I had the pleasure of spending the second session sitting with Casey Magnesium (see his tweets for what are also my views on the meet/judging), so I can confirm that it was indeed Casey’s fault that Gracie Kramer fell on vault. Right before Kramer was about to vault, Val came over and asked whether Kramer should go or not—you know, like you do, for fun—and Casey made his fateful decision, so I think we can all agree that her fall was 100% Casey’s responsibility and no one else’s, as are all lineup decisions from now on (#onstaff #whereisyoursalary), and he received more than his share of Miss Val Eyes for this regretful blunder. Basically the highlight of the meet.

(Having Kramer go with the 1.5 was the right decision and was going to happen anyway, by the way. This wasn’t an elimination meet, and you learned something from Kramer doing the 1.5 that you wouldn’t have learned if Kramer had done the full or if Cipra had gone.)

-Bars was where it really fell apart for UCLA, and I still don’t physically understand that Meraz dismount. She released and was so far on top of the bar that it looked like she was trying to do a Kovacs. The only explanation for how she managed not to hit the bar on the way down is witchcraft.

-Oh, also, the scoring was epic lunacy. Did you guys know that catching close on releases, insane Nabieva-legs vault pre-flight (and post-flight), and short-landed tumbling passes just aren’t deductions anymore? Important life lesson learned. The floor and vault scoring were both aggressively “you get a 9.900, you get a 9.900, everybody gets a 9.900!” The problem started in the first session, particularly in the case of Stanford, where it became clear that if some of those routines were getting 9.9s, then we were going to see some 20s in the evening session. And we pretty much did.

-I sat right by beam, so that was the event I had the best view of, both for gymnasts and for evaluating level of crack. There was a tonzo of crack. Also, Kaytianna McMillan’s beam routine is such a treat. Other highlight of the meet.

-Annoyingly, the individual judges submitted their scores electronically and did not have to display them in the area, so while we got all four scores on the final scoring display, we didn’t know which one was judge 2 and which one was judge 4, which makes accountability difficult. And by accountability, I mean heckling their scores from right behind them. Hey, we don’t come to where you work and credit acro series that didn’t happen.

-The crackiest score of all was the Maddy Stover beam, where she didn’t have an acro series or a backward element, had 27 balance checks, and still got a 9.8 from one judge and a 9.7 from another. There’s really no way her score should have been more than 9.4. But whether those cracky scores came from Nancy Diet Coke, Minnie Mouse, Fake Kristen Maloney, or Clumsy Ferguson, there’s no way of knowing. (We may have given them names. Also, three of those might be the same person.) I’m guessing the 9.8 came from the one who just flopped all of her start value sheets onto the ground as that score was coming in and never ended up displaying a start value at all. That’s the only way you can give that a 9.8, since it should have started from at most 9.8 and received a flat 0.1 composition deduction. And then all the balance checks.

-But then again, nothing is a deduction anymore, so whatever.

-Let’s also talk about Washington. Washington was on it at this meet. Beam was excellent in the first rotation, and several gymnasts showed all-time best vaults. I didn’t really know Burleson could vault like that. Overall, the ceiling just isn’t there in terms of the number of routines that can get 9.950 to run up the total, but 197.100 remains an excellent result and a season-high away score by over six tenths. There was no doubt that Elise Ray would win conference coach of the year. Bars was a bit sloppier than the other schools, which kept the score down, and something that hadn’t really translated on TV before is how a number of those bars dismounts really are just “cannonball and pray.”

-Oregon State executed the most consistent and composed meet of any of the teams. There were no mistake routines at all. Aufiero nailed her bars set (and given the way scoring was going, we all thought that would be a 10 too, but she’s not famous, so alas). Even though by the time they got to beam the scoring had gone full-on crack-town, those routines were also exceptional. The scores were soooooo set up for Maddie Gardiner to get her 10, and then of course she had a giant balance check. WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU. A 49.325 on vault is a big number for OSU, though may be somewhat misleading. That 9.900 given to Jacobsen stood out as…special.

-In the afternoon session, Stanford had its best meet of the season. Low bar, but still. As expected for Stanford in the postseason. It still wasn’t an overwhelming performance and would not have won the first session had Cal not simultaneously both imploded and exploded on beam. That was a weird one for Cal because the falls came from the two people I would have ranked least likely to fall on beam. The team looked very loose before the beam rotation—and in terms of improvising choreography for the other teams’ floor music that was better than those actual routines, Liz and the Cal gymnasts won in a landslide—but once Seilnacht fell, pretty much the entire rest of the rotation looked scared of their own lives and 400% pee pants. And then Alicia Gallarzo randomly went, “Didn’t I tell you, I’m like a beamer starting now.” So yeah…weird.

-Back to Stanford, the highlight was certainly Aleeza Yu following a tremendous save on beam that showed impeccable balance by running straight over to her teammates in the corral and falling on a hug. It was awesome. But also, why was that mat even there? Just for her to trip over?

-As for Price on beam, she was in at least one of the 1100 versions of the beam lineup Stanford had and did warm up the event. The lineup didn’t actually get changed until after the second gymnast had already gone, so perhaps there was some sort of “if the first two people hit, then Ebee won’t go” strategy. (Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to. It’s Stanford.) Or they were just like, “oh yeah, we need to change the beam lineup, let’s wait until the last possible second.”

-Many of you had commented on the Stanford team’s flat or tired-looking demeanor during meets this season, so I was interested to see that in person. The Stanford team certainly stands in contrast to all the other teams because they aren’t dancing/cheering/screaming every minute. By comparison, it looks like they hate every moment of their own lives, but not screaming every second is perfectly fine with me. In fact, it’s encouraged. RBF may just be the personality of the team. But they also performed pretty well in this meet, which would provoke different emotions than a 193.

-Arizona should be pleased with its performance. Seventh place really doesn’t do it justice, but they hit and got back over the 196 mark, which was the goal. Lack of comfort and confidence in the vault and floor landings took away a higher score, as did some tentativeness on beam for balance checks. That really hurt because beam is supposed to be an excellent score for Arizona. They rely on it.

-Arizona State may have finished last, but it was a very strong meet by their standards that showed continued improvement. They just don’t have the vault difficulty or form on bars or floor to compete with the other teams in the conference and are always going to finish last unless they get some help. Also, cool your jets with the “A-S-U” chanting, bow tie coach.

-The ability to tape the floor lines on landing mats has reached an epic low, and something must be done, you guys. It was just in clumps, and squiggles, and not lined up with the actual floor lines for so many teams. I couldn’t even look at it. Pick it up.

-Also, UCLA and Utah do not like each other. Breaking news. You may find that hard to believe.

%d bloggers like this: