Washington Regional Preview

It’s time to get rid of some people! Phew. None too soon. After enduring eleven weeks of not being allowed to care who wins and who loses because we’re all just one big happy family that’s learning life lessons together, we have finally entered the elimination round.

Elimination round. Add that to the list of names that would be better than “regionals.” Knockout stage. National quarterfinals. Potluck hoedown. The end of days. Of course, it’s not a true knockout stage because half the teams that advance will have lost their meets. But you know…progress?

Let’s begin the previews with the top-seed Oklahoma Sooners and their trip to the long-anticipated, inevitably contentious Washington regional.

April 1, 2017, 7:00 ET/4:00 PT

Teams (starting event)
[1] Oklahoma (bars)
[12] Kentucky (vault)
[13] Washington (bye before floor)
[24] Utah State (bye before bars)
[32] Stanford (beam)
[34] BYU (floor)

Individuals
Alexis Brown, UC Davis (AA)
Caitlin Soliwoda, Sacramento State (AA)
Lauren Rice, Sacramento State (AA)
Kaitlin Won, San Jose State (AA)
Ariana Harger, Seattle Pacific (VT, FX)
Julia Konner, Sacremanto State (VT)
Yonni Michovska, UC Davis (UB)
Rachel Heinl, San Jose State (UB)
Yasmine Yektaparast, UC Davis (BB)
Taylor Chan, San Jose St (BB, FX)

The favorite – Oklahoma
While we should still expect the Washington regional to fulfill the ancient prophesy of excitement and competitiveness when it comes to Washington and Kentucky (and…Stanford…?) competing for the second spot, Oklahoma will be about a point better than any other losers in this competition and should run away with it. It would take Oklahoma counting two falls to start getting interesting, but there are nonetheless aspects of Oklahoma’s performance that will be telling moving toward nationals.

Keep an eye on vault. That’s the one event where Oklahoma is not currently ranked #1, and it is a potential vulnerability in the title chase with LSU, a team with equivalent ability, one extra 10.0 start, and superior stickitude displayed over the last couple weeks. Oklahoma needs to begin getting sticks out of Dowell and Jackson more regularly because even a hop forward for 9.875-9.900 may mean losing ground at nationals. On the other hand, if Nichols, Dowell, and Jackson are all going 9.950, that minimizes or eliminates any advantage LSU might gain because of vault and would put less onus on OU’s bars to create a margin of victory. Things to keep in mind for next month.

It’s also imperative that Nichols get back to the AA for Oklahoma truly to be at title strength. The staff has been conservative with her on the leg events this month because of a sore knee, but clearly she showed no rust in her return to vault at Big 12s. You know, a 10, NBD. She’ll come back on floor at regionals, and similar lack of rust will need to be shown to give Oklahoma the full complement of competitive 9.9+ routines.

The fight – Kentucky v. Washington
This is the one. While I have some complaints about the regional rotation order (because byes, and ugh…), the #2 seeds ending the day on floor while the #3 seeds are on beam is pretty much ideal. Hopefully that will make for some special finishes. If only the meets weren’t all at the same time.

The rotation order produces a particularly mouthwatering setup in this case because Kentucky and Washington are two extraordinarily similar teams with precious little to separate them, and with Washington as host, the order gives us an inversion of the traditional, with the host team finishing on beam while the challenging road team finishes on floor. We don’t have a lot of experience with that dynamic.

Neither outcome, Kentucky advancing nor Washington advancing, would count as an upset or a shock, so in an even clash such as this one, home status is not insignificant. Traditionally, Washington doesn’t enjoy the luxury of beneficial home scoring, but we have seen a departure from that on several occasions this season with bars and floor in particular trending about a tenth higher at home than on the road. Watch out for that, whether Washington is more 49.2 than 49.1 on bars, and more 49.3 than 49.2 on floor. That could indicate it’s a good day to be at home, though even at a neutral venue, this would be a tight one.

Performance through the regular season tells us that this should be a battle of Kentucky’s vault and bars against Washington’s beam and floor. At least, that’s what the rankings say. It’s only part of the story, but it’s a good place to start. Kentucky will expect an advantage from vault. The Korth 1.5 is an asset Washington cannot match, and Kentucky’s landings have been stronger than Washington’s for much of the second half of the season. Washington, however, brought some serious end-of-lineup sticks to Pac-12s in a rotation that could come much closer to matching Kentucky’s if replicated at regionals. Erasing the ranking gap on vault is a critical piece of Washington’s hopes since it would, in turn, erase what is a rather small overall ranking gap.

Vault is particularly important for Washington because Kentucky has been the stronger of the two teams on bars, with more precise handstands and bigger dismounts, and also gets to end on floor. Washington has been less susceptible to counting a random 9.6 on floor this year than Kentucky has—a big final-rotation floor score is not a guarantee for Kentucky, as we’ve had to learn on a couple occasions—but at the same time, Washington has to go to floor first while Kentucky gets to finish the meet there. Kentucky will hope to enjoy some Land of the Rising Scores to keep pace in the 9.850 battle on floor.

So that leaves beam. Beam has been the most enjoyable and impressive event for both teams this season, which is a problem because this beam ain’t big enough for the both of us. The advantages Kentucky may enjoy on a couple other pieces, though, makes beam a more important win for Washington than it is for Kentucky. A continuation of the month of 9.9s we’ve seen from Washington will be essential in making beam a true advantage event. A complication: Kentucky’s final couple beam routines are just as likely to score 9.950. In that regard, Washington’s early beam routines take on added significance, perhaps the most significant routines of the meet, since that’s where an edge can be developed through 9.875s that Kentucky doesn’t have.

The spoiler – Stanford
This is the part where you start singing, “How do you solve a problem like Stanford? How do you catch a McNair and pin it down?” In case you were wondering.

Like I mentioned in the Pac-12 preview, Stanford just has to get four 9.825s followed by a 9.950 from Price on each event to become a 197 team. That’s entirely doable and will always make Stanford a danger and a realistic spoiler, despite the poor season of results and low ranking. You don’t count Stanford out.

The problem is that Stanford put up a season-best performance at Pac-12s at home for 196.6, a good score but not one that’s worrying Kentucky or Washington by any means. Stanford can still improve on that Pac-12s performance—Price didn’t have a good bars set, the overall amount of McNairing was minimal—but by how much? If the scores actually do start heading toward 197 zone, Stanford is likely to get left behind.

Watch floor as an indicator. Stanford hasn’t performed well on floor this season, 9.6-style way too often, but at Pac-12s they did pull it together at least for 9.800s. This isn’t an overwhelming regional for floor, but it’s still hard to envision Stanford advancing with a lineup of 9.750s on floor, even if the other events are hit. They’ll have to keep it 49 to stay anywhere near the hunt.

And the rest – Utah State and BYU
This has been a tremendous season for Utah State, getting up into the top 25, staying there through the end of the season, and beating Southern Utah at MRGCs with a 196. A few years ago, Utah State was a staple at around 50th. Lately it has been more like 30th, and this season reflects another step forward.

USU is capable of a 196 here, and a team that can do that on the road is dangerous in terms of taking advantage of a missed meet from seeded teams (we see high 195s advance fairly often…). But if any team acts as a spoiler here, it will be Stanford. Utah State peaks out in the low 196s, which we shouldn’t expect to be high enough to advance.

BYU sneaked into regionals in the #34 spot, using some huge home scores to make up for low road totals, but as for most of the…what would have been #6 seeds if those still existed..in these regionals, making it this far is the victory. It’s unlikely that BYU will challenge the qualifying team scores.

Individuals
As a refresher, the top two AAers that aren’t part of an advancing team will qualify individually to nationals, as will any event champion not part of a qualifying team.

This is a really tough regional when it comes to individual qualifiers, particularly because of the Price factor. Elizabeth Price warmed up beam at Pac-12s but did not compete, so it looks like she’s fairly close to getting back into the lineup there. I assume we’ll see her in the AA at regionals. I mean, end of the road. Now or never. If Stanford doesn’t qualify as a team to nationals, Price will be the #1 favorite to get an individual AA spot.

If Kentucky qualifies with Oklahoma, the favorite for the other AA spot would be Burleson from Washington, though Goings can occasionally challenge her totals. If Washington qualifies with Oklahoma, however, then things real because it’s likely to be a shootout among all four of Kentucky’s AAers—Korth, Dukes, Hyland, Stuart—for what is presumably only one available spot along with Price.

(Having that many competitive AAers also puts pressure on Price since she wouldn’t exactly be able to cruise to a spot, though with her scoring potential, she’ll always be the favorite.)

Korth has the biggest gymnastics among the Kentucky AAers and would therefore be a tentative favorite, but those four have been back-and-forth-and-forth-and-forth all season and it could go to any of them.

Other presumed AAers will be Daum from Stanford, McIntire from Utah State, and Hortman and Van Mierlo from BYU, but they’re less likely to challenge for spots.

The demonic nature of qualifying as an event specialist is that you have to win the event, so in this case, that means beating Maggie Nichols. Good luck, everyone. BYU, for instance, has some really strong bars workers like Wilde, but are they beating Oklahoma’s full lineup? Unlikely. Price is really the one who seems likely do it on an individual event if she doesn’t go as an AAer.

Rotation-by-rotation RQS
Rot 1 – Kentucky vault, Oklahoma bars, Stanford beam, BYU floor
1. Oklahoma – 49.575
2. Kentucky – 49.245
3. BYU – 49.065
4. Stanford – 48.985

Stanford’s beam RQS understates the team’s talent. Must improve on that to be in as a legitimate spoiler, though that’s true on every single piece.

Rot 2 – BYU vault, Utah St bars, Oklahoma beam, Washington floor
1. Oklahoma – 99.095
2. BYU – 98.005
3. Washington – 49.290
4. Kentucky – 49.245
5. Utah State – 49.085
6. Stanford – 48.985

Both Washington and Kentucky start on events that need to be assets for them, so the one-event lead will be a telling opening skirmish.

Rot 3 – Washington vault, Kentucky bars, Utah St beam, Stanford floor
1. Oklahoma – 99.095
2. Kentucky – 98.480
3. Washington – 98.335
4. Utah State – 98.100
5. BYU – 98.005
6. Stanford – 97.895

Kentucky will expect the lead over Washington at the halfway mark, and the more Washington can use the rotation-3 vault score to inhibit that lead, the better things look for the Huskies. Ending on the strength of beam, Washington won’t necessarily mind playing from behind, just not by very much.

Rot 4 – Stanford vault, BYU bars, Kentucky beam, Oklahoma floor
1. Oklahoma – 148.700
2. Kentucky – 147.765
3. BYU – 147.155
4. Stanford – 147.065
5. Washington – 98.335
6. Utah State – 98.100

If Stanford isn’t in the mix by this point, then we can focus on a two-team battle.

Rot 5 – Oklahoma vault, Washington bars, BYU beam, Utah St floor
1. Oklahoma – 198.140
2. BYU – 195.865
3. Kentucky – 147.765
4. Washington – 147.470
5. Utah State – 147.180
6. Stanford – 147.065

Even though Washington gets to end on such a strength, they can’t allow the deficit to Kentucky to be this large with only one event remaining. That’s too much to make up on beam versus floor. Kentucky, however, will want to create this kind of margin to protect against 9.750-itis on floor.

Rot 6 – Utah St vault, Stanford bars, Washington beam, Kentucky floor
1. Oklahoma – 198.140
2. Kentucky – 197.030
3. Washington – 196.770
4. Stanford – 196.130
5. Utah State – 196.125
6. BYU – 195.865

The event-specific RQS totals favor Kentucky, granting about a .250 lead over Washington instead of the one-tenth lead that total meet RQS provides. That tells us that Kentucky has displayed higher scoring potential on individual events but has put it together in the same meet less often than Washington.

By the numbers

[1] Oklahoma
RQS: 198.010 [1]
Season high: 198.350 [1]
Season average: 197.858 [1]

VT RQS: 49.440 [1]
VT average: 49.406 [1]
UB RQS: 49.575 [1]
UB average: 49.508 [1]
BB RQS: 49.520 [1]
BB average: 49.452 [1]
FX RQS: 49.605 [1]
FX average: 49.492 [1]

[2] Kentucky
RQS: 196.845 [2]
Season high: 197.475 [2]
Season average: 196.363 [2]

VT RQS: 49.245 [2]
VT average: 49.065 [2]
UB RQS: 49.235 [2]
UB average: 49.023 [2]
BB RQS: 49.285 [3]
BB average: 49.160 [3]
FX RQS: 49.265 [3]
FX average: 49.115 [3]

[3] Washington
RQS: 196.735 [3]
Season high: 197.175 [3]
Season average: 196.348 [3]

VT RQS: 49.040 [4]
VT average: 48.975 [4]
UB RQS: 49.135 [4]
UB average: 49.003 [3]
BB RQS: 49.300 [2]
BB average: 49.253 [2]
FX RQS: 49.290 [2]
FX average: 49.118 [2]

[4] Utah State
RQS: 195.915 [4]
Season high: 196.300 [6]
Season average: 195.119 [4]

VT RQS: 48.945 [5]
VT average: 48.785 [6]
UB RQS: 49.085 [5]
UB average: 48.905 [4]
BB RQS: 49.015 [4]
BB average: 48.512 [5]
FX RQS: 49.080 [4]
FX average: 48.917 [4]

[5] Stanford
RQS: 195.695 [5]
Season high: 196.625 [4]
Season average: 195.043 [5]

VT RQS: 49.170 [3]
VT average: 49.030 [3]
UB RQS: 49.065 [6]
UB average: 48.707 [6]
BB RQS: 48.985 [5]
BB average: 48.773 [4]
FX RQS: 48.910 [6]
FX average: 48.534 [6]

[6] BYU
RQS: 195.460 [6]
Season high: 196.425 [5]
Season average: 194.998 [6]

VT RQS: 48.940 [6]
VT average: 48.831 [5]
UB RQS: 49.150 [3]
UB average: 48.879 [5]
BB RQS: 48.710 [6]
BB average: 48.502 [6]
FX RQS: 49.065 [5]
FX average: 48.810 [5]

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Washington Regional Preview”

  1. At Nationals, do the individual AA qualifiers rotate with the teams that came out of the same regional? For example, if Price is AA qualifier #1 from Seattle and Burleson qualifies as #2 AA from Seattle, will Price rotate with Oklahoma as the top team out of this regional and Burleson with Kentucky? Or are the individual qualifiers just randomly placed with teams at Nationals?

    Price rotating with Oklahoma would be really interesting — and could help her scores.

    Like

    1. I don’t know how it’s assigned, but it’s definitely not based the regional you were at. I know Hyland rotated with Florida last year and Dukes rotated with Stanford, and neither one of those teams were at the same regional as Kentucky.

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    1. Perhaps. She always seems to get a 9.95 though, whereas Chase and Maggie can get 10s. What happens if Alex and the Sooner girls were to tie?

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    1. Yes, all regionals will include a free video stream. I suspect the Florida and Arkansas ones will be on SEC+. The others may just be school feeds.

      Like

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