Since actually watching all the regionals and getting a sense of how they played out is aggressively impossible, here is a summary of the salient details regarding qualification and not-qualification for each of the six competitions on Hellscape Saturday in case you missed anything.
What looked like it should have been a straightforward regional began way too interestingly for anyone’s blood pressure when Florida, ever the charitable cherubs, took pity on us and decided to get weird by opening bars with Alicia Boren going over on a handstand for 9.425 and Rachel Gowey falling on a Ray for 9.200. Ultimately, this didn’t matter in the slightest as Florida recovered for normal scores on floor and vault to win the regional and qualify to nationals by over a point.
Georgia used a near-season-high 49.325 vault score in the first rotation (featuring a 9.950 for Snead) to open a lead over Missouri that was never smaller than three-tenths throughout the entirety of the meet, undermining the potential SEC clash we had before us. Once Georgia was able to drop Lauren Johnson’s bars fall and get through a beam rotation featuring only one wobble-burger (wow!), Missouri had little hope of catching up. The absence of Rachel Dickson anywhere but bars remains a concern for Georgia heading toward nationals, however, as Beth Roberts replaced her on vault and floor with respectable-but-not-Super-Six 9.800s.
Missouri ultimately finished .675 behind Georgia and never came all that close to challenging, doing well to avoid counting any falls after misses from Tucker on bars and beam but never getting the necessary big scores in the 9.9 zone. The main trouble for Missouri was the unwelcome discovery that routines that had been scoring 9.850 at home during the regular season were suddenly scoring 9.775 and 9.800 here, making it difficult to squeak very far over the 49.0 plateau on any event.
Penn State took fourth, enduring the meet without counting a fall but simply lacking the routines on vault and floor to make a true push into the 196s. But, hit meets from Tsang and Garcia (Garcia’s 9.900 on bars was predictably the highest PSU score) did earn the two AA spots for nationals. North Carolina took fifth, as Morgan Lane’s nationals hopes were disappointingly dashed by a fall on beam, where she would have needed just 9.750 to get an AA spot. New Hampshire finishes last, chances imploding early on with a 48.325 on bars, what should have been one of the team’s strong scores because Mulligan.
Penn State 195.325
North Carolina 194.425
New Hampshire 194.175
Briannah Tsang, Penn State 39.250
Sabrina Garcia, Penn State 39.050
West Virginia Regional
Unlike Florida, which attempted to make a straightforward regional interesting right from the first rotation, Alabama waited until its final event to make what had been a smooth meet for Alabama and Michigan suddenly and weirdly tense. I mean, vault? Really Alabama? Vault is your jam. A series of crazy landings followed by a fall from Desch on her 1.5 gave Alabama a 48.800 on vault that, on top of counting a 9.650 on beam after some wobbles, let a few of the other teams dream about an insane upset.
West Virginia hit well on vault and floor leading toward the end of the meet but would have needed 49.650 on bars in the final rotation to catch Alabama. It just wasn’t going to happen. The judges tried their best to create a Cinderella story by popping the cork on the 9.9s, but the deficit was too large. WVU still recorded 49.350 on bars for a 196.325 third-place total, upsetting the higher-ranked Southern Utah and George Washington.
Southern Utah had a slightly more realistic hope of catching Alabama in the final rotation, needing 49.325 on beam after opening the meet with three 49 rotations on the other events. With that just seeming on the edge of possible, the stagecoach immediately fell into the gully with a couple falls and a couple more wobbles that sent SUU behind West Virginia to fourth-place.
Michigan had no such troubles or dramas, erasing the memory of last year by running away with the meet, scoring no lower than 49.200 on any event and making an awfully good argument as a challenger to Alabama when they meet again in the national semifinal with a spot in Super Six on the line.
Disappointingly, George Washington was out of the qualification race right from the start after going sub-49 on bars and beam, which needed to be high-scoring events. The day was somewhat saved by dual individual qualification, Cami Drouin-Allaire advancing in the AA and Chelsea Raineri advancing for vault. Kent State had no such luck in its own individual quest as the hope of getting Rachel Stypinski to nationals went out the window after a 9.575 on vault.
West Virginia 196.325
Southern Utah 195.675
George Washington 195.625
Kent State 194.375
Zaakira Muhammad, West Virginia 39.325
Cami Drouin-Allaire, George Washington 39.175
Chelsea Raineri, George Washington 9.875
Archived vault stream
Archived bars stream
Archived beam stream
Archived floor stream
Vault gonna getcha. This regional ended up almost exactly as ridiculous as we could have hoped given the even quality of these teams. UCLA hit bars in the first rotation, which essentially decided the first qualification spot. The Bruins were then able to be a little 9.750 and Ohashi-sternum-redux on beam, and absorb a Preston fall on floor, and still qualify fairly comfortably.
Beyond that, who even knows? Oregon State started weakly, counting a bunch of 9.7s on vault and bars and immediately letting every other team in the regional dream about the upset. (Vault was scored tighter here than at a number of other regionals, but this was also not a strong vault region overall.) At first, Illinois took advantage of Oregon State’s struggles, leading them by nearly four tenths at the halfway point. But with Illinois’s weak event, vault, coming at the end of the meet, this was in no way a safe advantage. Illinois ultimately and predictably dropped to fourth with a final-rotation 48.700. That disappointment for Illinois was compounded by a Lizzy Leduc bars fall that took her out of the running for an AA place, which she would have been a favorite to get.
Iowa, by contrast, looked completely out of the meet early on after having its own, even more aggressive, vault trouble for 49.550. Who qualifies to nationals with a 48.550 on vault? Nobody. Except almost Iowa.
After pulling things together on beam for 49.250, Oregon State went to the final rotation tied with Illinois and ahead of Iowa by a seemingly safe .675 margin. With Oregon State on floor, Illinois on vault, and Iowa on beam, qualification should have been easy. Mmm…not that easy apparently. Oregon State went just 49.025 on floor, enough to pull ahead of Illinois, but a score that was suddenly vulnerable because Iowa was piling up 9.9 after 9.9 on beam for a ridiculous 49.600 total (you know, that thing where everyone hits a career-best routine at the same time and then Mollie Drenth falls on a layout stepout?).
In the end, the margin was too big to make up and Oregon State advanced to nationals by just a tenth of a point. The 49.600 beam from Iowa has garnered some attention because 49.600, and I’ll say it was a great rotation but one that also should have been about 49.350 or 49.400. It was clear by that point that we had hit critical-mass crack and were no long judging dance elements at all. Just wobbles or lack thereof.
Ohio State, like Iowa, looked out of the meet early with sub-49s on floor and vault (the team’s better events), but did come back on bars and beam later for a fifth-place 195.700 that ended up just .450 out of qualification position, with Mattern scoring well enough to nationals for the all-around. Eastern Michigan took last, with some disappointing 9.5s on beam removing any opportunity to take advantage of the opening provided by Oregon State.
Oregon State 196.150
Ohio State 195.700
Eastern Michigan 195.400
Angel Metcalf, Iowa 39.300
Alexis Mattern, Ohio State 39.250
Angel Metcalf, Iowa 9.950
Clair Kaji, Iowa 9.950
LSU ran away with the competition as expected, a hiccup in the middle of the beam lineup not proving relevant in the standings but at least provoking a moment of uncertainty when looking forward to nationals. The Tigers finished more than eight tenths ahead of Nebraska and 1.300 ahead of Boise State and were essentially celebrating before the meet even started because obviously.
The second spot was always going to be a close-fought thing between Nebraska and Boise State, with those all-important vaults ultimately proving decisive. Nebraska racked up a three-tenth advantage solely because of the vault rotation, and the Huskers’ ability to keep pace on bars prevented Boise State from making up the deficit with its strong event. That meant that Nebraska headed to beam in the final rotation (while Boise State was on floor, a potentially dangerous situation) with a lead and at home, softening the danger and allowing Nebraska to get through by what ended up being nearly a five-tenth margin.
Nebraska did face some nerve-wracking moments, a fall int he second position on bars and a fall in the fourth position on beam both had to be dropped to stay ahead of Boise State, but they were. Boise State had to drop falls of its own on beam and floor and was critically without the services of Paige Urquhart on either event (the falls coming from her replacements in both cases). While that didn’t make the difference in the meet, it did put Boise State at a slight disadvantage in its attempts to make up ground on Nebraska on what should have been stronger pieces.
Potentially dangerous Minnesota finished a respectable 4th place, not coming too close to challenging but also defying the odds by not counting a fall on either bars or beam. Little victories. Without the necessary big score on floor, however, a competitive total was never going to happen. Arizona similarly would have needed a big number on its strong event, bars, that never came and made reaching 196 an unlikely prospect despite a relatively hit meet that was just way too 9.7y.
Iowa State had two falls on beam in the very first routines of the meet, ending any hope at all within mere seconds of the meet beginning. The main victory was achieved, however, when Haylee Young qualified to nationals as an individual.
Boise State 196.150
Iowa State 195.250
Haylee Young, Iowa 39.175
Shani Remme, Boise State 39.150
This regional looked finely poised for some crazy after the first couple events, as Utah made a slight meal of its first two events to find itself packed right in with Denver, Auburn, and Arkansas in the first half of the meet. Once Utah went to floor and scored 49.450, order began to be restored and Utah started to look quite comfortable for qualification. Really, as long as there weren’t any counting falls on the first two events, this wasn’t going to be in doubt for Utah.
Denver impressed by staying with Utah routine-for-routine throughout the entire meet, the only real difference in the scores being fewer 9.9s on floor. Denver finished among the few teams of the day that clinched qualification with no rotations under 49.200. Ultimately, the shame of the regional was that Auburn and Arkansas were placed in this meet with teams that hit, since both managed season-best performances that would have qualified from other regionals. Imagine if they had been with Oregon State or Alabama…
Beating a season RQS at regionals is difficult, something Arkansas did on all four events, compromised only by a lack of depth on FX (five routines) and on UB (where Anderson and MacMoyle have been bravely taking one of the team all season by doing bars). With Wellick, this qualification battle would have been real.
Auburn made all the other teams nervous in its first event with a 49.375 on bars (a score that would not be matched for the rest of the meet) but while they kept things in the 49s for the rest of the competition, Auburn didn’t get the beam scores they would have wanted and didn’t have the big 9.9s on vault or floor to keep up with Denver. Both Auburn and Arkansas finished with 196.600, just a tenth shy of Auburn’s own record for the highest score ever not to advance from regionals, a 196.700 from 2013. That’s not really a fun leaderboard to keep finding yourself on, Auburn. Let’s get on that.
Cal, a potential challenger to advance, won’t be too happy with its 196.300, the team’s highest-ever regionals score but still one well below the team’s capability and one that ranked all the way down in 5th in this meet. Cal dug itself too much of a hole early on with bouncy-landing 9.7s on vault and floor that were not going to contend with the run of 49.2s that Denver and Utah recorded at the same time.
Rounding out the group was Central Michigan, which missed an opportunity on floor by not getting that string of 9.9s that had defined much of the regular season. Without that, a 196 was always going to be very hard to come by. CMU will be pleased, however, with the out-of-the-blue debut of Denelle Pedrick’s DTY on vault, which scored a 9.900 to match Skinner’s DTY and got Pedrick to nationals as an individual. This regional featured an extremely rare phenomenon, every competing team qualifying at least an individual to nationals.
Central Michigan 195.675
Katie Becker, Auburn 39.200
Jessica Yamzon, Arkansas 39.175
Denelle Pedrick, Central Michigan 9.900
Braie Speed, Arkansas 9.900
Samantha Cerio, Auburn 9.925
Caty Clements, Central Michigan 9.900
Desiree Palomares, Cal 9.900
The Washington regional (where all anyone saw was an ADD fever dream of quarter-routines) played out almost entirely as expected, with Oklahoma sliding into the arena, coughing, getting a 9.950 for it, and winning the meet by a point and a half over the next-closest competitor. Oklahoma could have counted three falls and still advanced comfortably.
The qualification story came down to Washington and Kentucky, very close to each other heading into the final event with Washington on beam, Kentucky on floor, and Washington with a two-tenth lead. Signs were pointing to Washington at that point, which were compounded by a few uncontrolled landings from Kentucky on floor. We had been worried about that. The advantage nearly flipped, however, when Janae Janik fell on beam followed by Joslyn Goings having a break in the hips for 9.775, but Washington endured, ending the rotation with a 9.900 from Burleson in a critical spot to ensure qualification to nationals for the first time since 1998.
It’s a heartbreaking result for Kentucky to come up short after a good-but-not-ideal meet (those floor landings) where they will feel they could have qualified simply by replicating their performance from SECs, but it was still a very successful season from a team that remains in the larval stages.
Stanford did manage to place 4th, but the typical Stanford postseason miracle was not going to happen this time, something that became clear after a rough and wobbly opening beam rotation that couldn’t contend with the qualifying teams. Price once again warmed up beam but did not go, meaning she had to rely on individual events to get to nationals, which she finally achieved with a 9.975 on bars at the very last minute.
BYU and Utah State rounded out the competitors in 5th and 6th place, both teams suffering from an aggressive case of 9.7itis but also impressing in places and generally looking not that far away from being competitive squads.
Utah State 194.850
Mollie Korth, Kentucky 39.300
Alex Hyland, Kentucky 39.300
Elizabeth Price, Stanford 9.975