1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previous ranking: 1
Oklahoma hangs on for #1 this week because of the sheer size of the lead built up over weeks of 198s, despite the 3-beam-fall 196.425 performance on Friday—the team’s lowest score since January 13, 2012. The last time Oklahoma scored that low, Maile O’Keefe was 9 years old, so just sit with that. The score will be dropped soon to preserve Oklahoma’s ranking, and there’s no reason yet to think this will turn into a thing, the positive bringing a positive because of the return of Natalie Brown, a necessary cog (particularly on floor) if Oklahoma is going to score its best.
2. LSU Tigers
Previous ranking: 4
The story thus far had been LSU not hitting up to potential, throwing in a score-smothering mistake in nearly every meet. That trend was reversed in a two-meet weekend in which the Tigers were able to rest people here and there and still put up two complete meets for 198s, restoring the #2 ranking and rendering the RQS picture much healthier. Of particular importance were the three hit routines from Ruby Harrold in the second meet, as her presence on those three events still should be part of LSU’s best-case-scenario lineups.
3. UCLA Bruins
Previous ranking: 2
UCLA recorded a perfectly acceptable score of 197.425 at home against Utah but will be displeased by the performance, not only losing the meet but performing far from its peak level, throwing in multiple mistakes, and regressing in quality closer to what we saw in the first meet of the season. Many of the errors didn’t seem like they would be repeated errors, though watch what happens with the Nia Dennis floor routine since she has struggled with that double Arabian multiple times this season and is averaging 9.757 despite being Nia Dennis. Downgrade? Kocian comes into the lineup? Maybe some decisions to make there. It’s very difficult to do a double Arabian for no deduction in NCAA unless you’re Kennedy Baker.
4. Utah Utes
Previous ranking: 3
Utah will certainly feel better about the meet against UCLA than the Bruins will (because of winning and all), though it was not a peak performance for the Utes by any means either, with victory determined mostly by committing smaller mistakes than UCLA did. The performance quality improved as the meet went on (floor was precise, beam mostly secure), though the team gave away quite a bit in the first half of the meet on vault and bars, not landing the way we would expect. That’s something still to be ironed out, though it seems like Utah has settled into final lineups already—I don’t necessarily see anyone else outperforming the people currently competing.
5. Florida Gators
Previous ranking: 5
Florida stays 5th (and comfortably 5th) but missed another chance on Friday to close the gap with the top four or record a huge total. Everything was very 9.9y, Alex McMurtry debuted her wiggle-floor for 9.925, and things were heading optimistically toward a high 197 until the very end, when a counting fall on beam with the final routine of the meet scuttled the Gators’ plans. This was McMurtry’s 3rd fall on beam in the last 5 weeks, each fall coming after someone else had already fallen, and each fall coming at an away meet in the final routine of the competition, which is something to watch because it’s developing into a trend now with similar circumstances each time.
6. Michigan Wolverines
Previous ranking: 6
Michigan is another school that could have had a huge number over the weekend but counted a fall on bars to take away the chance for a 197. It became an even-more-depleted Michigan side than we had yet seen once Lauren Farley was pulled from her three events after warmups, meaning only seven gymnasts ended up competing. Putting that much stress on the team’s depth means some people will be competing events on which they wouldn’t typically expect to put up counting scores, so you’re going to see some lower number creeping in to undermine the big ones.
7. Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous ranking: 7
As it was for Florida, trouble beam took Alabama out of contention for a season high over the weekend, counting a couple 9.6s that took the final score into the 196.9s. It’s still an improvement for the Tide that retains this ranking of #7 but is not the kind of score this team is looking for and doesn’t necessarily answer any of the questions we have about postseason potential. (The 9.850 for Ari Guerra on vault, however, was progress in an area where progress needed to be made.) Not helping anything: Mackenzie Brannan tore her Achilles. She had been limited to only bars already, but it was a bars routine the team needed.
8. Oregon State Beavers
Previous ranking: 11
Oregon State has made an under-the-radar ascent up the rankings in recent weeks, continuing that project with a season-high 197.300 against Arizona in a meet that will go down in history for nothing to do with Oregon State. Everyone was just glad OSU had…like…a whole team…with people on it. Though that is more than a silly reference to Arizona as the concern about Oregon State being able to fill out lineups with competitive routines was very real before the season began. This team has proven that the sets exist.
9. Kentucky Wildcats
Previous ranking: 9
Kentucky competed on the road over the weekend and was therefore free to score well, though troubles on floor took away the opportunity for anything more than a regular 196, enough to keep Kentucky 9th but not a score that needs to hang around for RQS. It was a meet of highs and lows, with Korth and Hyland having strong competitions but enough errors thrown in to unearth questions about whether Kentucky can perform at the level of the top SEC teams every single week.
10. Washington Huskies
Previous ranking: 13
Like Oregon State, Washington has started to get it done on a regular basis, breaking 197 for the second consecutive week, this time on the road in a victory over Arizona State. We may ultimately find that the team lacks the huge 9.9s to stay consistently with the top schools, but a full supply of realistic 9.8s certainly exists, with some more routines still to get back in the lineups and enough competitive scores to challenge for a nationals spot once again.
11. Arkansas Razorbacks
Previous ranking: 8
It was a down week for Arkansas, finishing last at the GQ Invite after falls on floor and trouble on vault—not aided by the news that McGlone is out for the season with arm surgery. That’s going to put more pressure on people we didn’t expect to vault this year to contribute counting scores in that lineup. The good news is that this season Arkansas should be able to drop that 195.575 for RQS almost immediately, rather than having to use it as a really important score.
12. Denver Pioneers
Previous ranking: 10
Denver is seriously in the running for most frustrating team of 2018 after throwing in another fall-burger to get upset by BYU and Southern Utah in a meet that featured three mistakes on beam, two 9.6s on floor, and a fall on bars. After that, even Karr’s 39.750 all-around score—the second-best in program history—was not able to save a usable total. Denver still has four road meets remaining but has not yet hit 196 on the road, putting some urgency into those remaining road meets to help manage a less terrifying ranking than 12th.
13. Boise State Broncos
Previous ranking: 15
Boise State picks up two spots in the rankings after recording a season-high 196.875 against Utah State, a score that will be gratifying in that it was earned with a couple mistakes and without a couple first-choice routines like Bir on vault. Courtney McGregor went 39.500 in the all-around, which smashes her previous career high of 39.275. Having McGregor hitting all four events is an essential piece for BSU this year.
14. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Previous ranking: 12
Nebraska got closer than anyone expected against Oklahoma after the beam-pocalypse but was still not able to take advantage fully of Oklahoma’s mistakes because of some 9.5s of its own. Nebraska will still have to work through what the lineups are actually going to be on bars and floor, but the total of 196.175 nonetheless stands as a season road-high and improves upon the 195s we had been seeing, even if it was below Nebraska’s peak ability.
15. Georgia Bulldogs
Previous ranking: 14
Georgia has settled into a bit of a 196.1 rut, scoring in that zone in three of the last four meets. Doing it at home against Florida will be more disappointing than the others because the circumstances of the meet—being at home, Florida counting a fall on beam—presented an opportunity for a statement performance that was not taken. Georgia recorded some good numbers, particularly the 10 from Snead on floor of course, but counting a fall on bars took away the chance for a strong final total. One of the falls on bars, however, did come from Emily Schild in her debut performance, a figure who will be essential in Georgia’s quest to be relevant this season.
16. Auburn Tigers
Previous ranking: 16
Auburn stays put after another perfectly respectable 196.5, this time at home against Rutgers. These are exactly the scores Auburn needs to stay where it wants to be in the rankings, and this performance featured fewer of the swings in quality than we had been seeing in previous meets. Despite a couple 9.7s that the team didn’t want, no one fell, Milliet got 9.9s on all the events she does, and Glenn came back to hit her vault after struggling the last two times out.
17. Arizona State Sun Devils
Previous ranking: 17
Arizona State will be relieved by getting back into the 196s with a 196.575 against Washington, the team’s #2 score on the season. It followed two straight weeks of moderate struggles for 195s that might have indicated ASU was reverting to a lower ranking tier after starting the season so well, but the 196s returned this time out. The absences of Christopherson and Lentz did show in the team putting up a few backup routines it certainly planned to drop, but it looks like there’s still a very countable 5 going on each event. Of note, Anne Kuhm had a breakout meet for 39.425 in the AA, nearly matching what Leonard-Baker did.
18. BYU Cougars
Previous ranking: 19
The tri-meet victory over both Denver and Southern Utah, two teams that BYU trailed well behind last season, carried with it BYU’s fourth 196 of the season, a feat the team hadn’t managed since the 2014 season. BYU hasn’t recorded five scores of at least 196 since the 2004 season (a 197 paradise), so with a number of meets left, this is already looking like a historic season performance.
19. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Previous ranking: 18
Minnesota had Ivy Lu go 10.000 on beam and 9.975 on bars to match program records on both pieces and yet still falls in the rankings this week after mistakes on beam and floor took the total score down into the 195s. It will be a frustrating result but is also further sign that Minnesota is a dangerous customer this season with more potential 9.9s than a lot of the other prospective #3 seeds at regionals.
20. Missouri Tigers
Previous ranking: 20
Things are looking slightly up for Missouri after breaking 196 on the road for the first time to finish second at the GQ Invitational, a performance marked most significantly by Ward going into the 9.9s on both vault and beam. That’s something she was accomplishing regularly last season and something Missouri desperately needs to try to score with the big girls. Essential contributor Morgan Porter did return on both bars and beam after being absent from the previous meet, though she missed both events for 9.1s.
21. California Golden Bears
Previous ranking: 23
Cal picks up another two ranking spots after recording its second-straight usable score, a 196.700 in victory over Stanford. That means Cal still needs four more usable scores in the remaining five meets, but the ranking situation looks slightly less urgent than it did a few weeks ago with the team looking more comfortable in its ability to hit routines and showing more shades of possible 9.9s.
22. George Washington Colonials
Previous ranking: 21
George Washington hangs around but will be kicking itself after a huge missed opportunity at the GQ Invitational. With the scores on vault, beam, and floor, GW would have been on track for a high 196 with Winstanley, CDA, and Pfeiler racking up the scores on those pieces, but it was highly unexpected mistakes from both Winstanley and CDA on bars that took that event total into the 47s and took George Washington out of the 196s altogether. The 195.650 is not terrible but not all that usable for RQS.
22. Stanford Cardinal
Previous ranking: 25
Stanford is like a witch. You can’t kill it. It keeps hanging around in the top 25 and has now recorded a distinctly acceptable 196.425 season-high in a meet that had to be a good score because the margin for error is now gone. Every meet from here on out has to be a usable total. The obvious star of the performance was Price with her 10 on floor and stuck DTY for 9.975, but the secret star of the performance was Catherine Rogers for existing and giving Stanford a 6th bars routine. We still have to work through the fact that most of these bars routines are 9.6s, but her presence prevented Stanford from having to count a fall and scoring in the 195s again.
24. Central Michigan Chippewas
Previous ranking: 26
It feels like several lifetimes ago that Central Michigan debuted in the rankings at #3 after that surprise first-meet 196, but CMU finally got back to the 196 zone over the weekend and is rewarded with a return to the top 25 in place of Arizona (which is now ranked 71st, with the DIII teams, because of…the incident). Central Michigan will be particularly pleased with getting into the 196s because this was not an ideal beam meet by any means, yet the rest of the events, particularly bars and floor, were competitive enough to allow for a mistake.
25. Iowa State
Previous ranking: 22
Iowa State had a week off and was therefore not able to do anything about its average, dropping three spots in the rankings but hanging onto a place in the top 25.