1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previous ranking: 1
Oklahoma’s quest to finish the season ranked #1 is looking increasingly inevitable following an NCAA-high (and mostly fanciful) 198.375 over the weekend, which gives OU five 198s on the season with four meets remaining. Those four meets include a two-meet weekend on March 16th and 18th, so it will be interesting to see what Oklahoma does with lineups and resting gymnasts in upcoming meets because there aren’t really any scores left to get. I would expect to see a “we’re resting Maggie today” meet pre-Big 12s, which should provide a window into who some of the backups are and whether OU has those emergency-scenario 9.850s waiting in the wings, especially on vault and floor.
2. LSU Tigers
Previous ranking: 3
LSU exchanges the 2-3 spots with UCLA again this week after a 198.100 at home against Auburn. The meet provided an interesting signal of transition toward the meaningful part of the season as LSU tried to ramp up its vault competitiveness by showing five Y1.5s. Vault is the only event where LSU is currently ranked outside the top 3, and the team is clearly very conscious of that in putting Harrold’s 1.5s back in and upgrading Cannamela to the 1.5. On the issue of using Cannamela and Harrold with 1.5s (versus Priessman’s full, or Cannamela’s full, or even getting Macadaeg’s full back in the lineup), LSU is faced with the now-classic conundrum of whether you go for a 10.0 start that might have a step back or a 9.95 start that can be stuck. Which decision is more score-smart? This conundrum has rendered vault THE event to watch lineup-wise these last couple years (take notes, other events), and LSU will have to grapple with that in the coming weeks.
3. UCLA Bruins
Previous ranking: 2
Miss Val committed a slight breach of etiquette following UCLA’s victory over Nebraska when she acknowledged that the team keeps getting big scores despite not performing all that well. (Don’t you know you’re supposed to pretend you deserve everything and no one else deserves anything? It’s NCAA gymnastics after all.) UCLA recorded a perfectly acceptable 197.500 to increase its RQS, but from what we saw the performance was a little blah on beam, and based on the scores, really blah on vault. (Beam seems like a blip, but we’re all still worried about vault.) UCLA has a quick two-competition stretch coming up as well with a Sunday and Tuesday meet next week, but Tuesday being senior night provides a pretty natural resting schedule since Sonya Meraz is a senior and should come into lineups to do all the everythings in her final home meet anyway, allowing your Rosses and Ohashis to take a little break.
4. Utah Utes
Previous ranking: 4
Utah didn’t compete over the weekend, so nothing to report, but was able to retain the #4 ranking because Florida had trouble in its quest to pass.
5. Florida Gators
Previous ranking: 5
Florida did increase its RQS with the 196.700 road result in a loss at Missouri. That’s the end of the good news. It was a loss against Missouri, and a 196, so there will be no joy in Gainesville this week. This result means Florida is guaranteed to count a road score in the 196s this year, which begins to make it quite difficult to imagine moving up in the rankings. The influence of the absence of Kennedy Baker in that performance cannot be glossed over as the Gators had a 9.675 on vault and counted a fall on floor, two occurrences that would have been highly unlikely with Baker there. (McMurtry also did not participate on floor in what was admittedly a B+ kind of lineup.) Florida is still much better than this ranking and these results even without Baker, but you know, show that.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous ranking: 6
We saw another season high for Alabama—a 197.525 in a home victory over UNC—allowing Alabama to retain its #6 ranking and establish more separation over the challenging schools in the 8+ ranking zone. It was probably the most “everyone here can get a 9.8” result we’ve seen from Alabama this season despite having Winston on just bars and beam, which is a definite step. It’s not the ultimate step Alabama needs to take since the vault and floor lineups are still more nerve-wracking than they should be at this point in the season, but with a few more tweaks, this is starting to look more like a viable nationals team that can believably qualify into Super Six. That’s a meager aim for a team like Alabama but is better than we saw at several points earlier this season.
7. Michigan Wolverines
Previous ranking: 7
Michigan did not score as well as Alabama this week, accounting for losing a little bit of ground in the RQS race, but it was still a victorious weekend in that Michigan got its 197 road score and hit a complete performance with postseason lineups on each event. (Maybe get Farley back on floor, but other than that, this is the group). Farley did return on bars and beam this week, much to the relief of Emma McLean who can now go back to being a vault and floor specialist. There are still weaknesses on this team in the early half of the vault and floor lineups, where the lack of Karas has put an unresolvable strain on the team’s depth with some less competitive routines, but it nonetheless looks like a complete squad.
8. Kentucky Wildcats
Previous ranking: 9
Kentucky put up its fifth big score of the season with a 196.850 victory over Ohio State, which keeps the team in the somewhat unfamiliar position of being kind of fine for RQS with three whole meets remaining. There’s still another score or two to get and a lineup position or two to resolve (along with the quest to stay ahead of Arkansas to get that evening position at SECs), but Kentucky is right on track for a reasonably comfortable #2 regional seeding, which would have been the regular-season goal coming in.
9. Washington Huskies
Previous ranking: 11
Washington traveled to Southern Utah (where apparently there are different vault rules than in the rest of the country—not over it) and recorded its third 197.0 of the season to jump a couple spots into the top 10. It’s a significant accomplishment for a team that continues to look sturdy and dangerous. Vault remains a worry, an area where Washington can get stuck in the 9.800s because most of Washington’s vaults are not super high, which makes landing control all the more important. They can’t get super-cracky 9.875-for-a-hop-back scores we see other teams get. One of the most impressive parts of Washington’s 2018 season has been its ability to replace the Duranczyk scores seamlessly—an issue that looked like it would be a real challenge—with Monica Riley and her DLO on bars making the transition from being a backup who gets occasional 9.7s to having the best routine on the team.
10. Arkansas Razorbacks
Previous ranking: 10
Arkansas stays at 10th after scoring a casual best-total-in-school-history of 197.275 in a victory over Arizona. It didn’t make a world of difference in RQS because the high score gets dropped and because Arkansas already had three good home scores, which is why there’s no ranking movement, but it was an important symbolic accomplishment nonetheless. I hear people with feelings care about things like being the best their school has seen and overcoming the prior year’s obstacles and whatnot. The thing holding Arkansas back from catching Kentucky at this point is road scoring, with some low 196s hanging around, so watch out for that at Oklahoma next week. Apparently you can get 9.9s there.
11. Oregon State Beavers
Previous ranking: 8
Oregon State won’t compete until Monday night and drops three places for the moment as a result. If Oregon State hits a season high, that would put the Beavs back up to 8th in the in-progress rankings, though it won’t show up officially until the next Monday.
12. Arizona State Sun Devils
Previous ranking: 13
Arizona State moves up one spot following its sixth 196 of the season, recorded in a loss against Minnesota. Significantly, three of the those six 196s have come in away meets, which helps ASU maintain such a healthy RQS (and a current #2 seeded position) compared to many of the other teams that might have 197s but are relying much more on home scores. It means that making nationals continues to be a real aim for Arizona State, though the team is forced to play with fire in a number of lineups by competing some 9.6s and low 9.7s. Those scores have to be dropped and therefore make the team less able to absorb a single fall on an event, when for most teams it doesn’t become real trouble until there are two falls. Regionals gonna be pretty excitin’ round here.
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Previous ranking: 16
Nebraska needed some results in its two-meet weekend, and that’s exactly what happened with a 196.700 away-high recorded on Friday, followed by a 197.175 season-high recorded on Sunday. Nebraska does still have one more super-low road score to get rid of, which sets the team up as a significant challenger to the top 10 as we move toward the end of the regular season. It should come as no surprise that vault is finally steadying itself as a strength for this team. Nebraska put up one of the best vault rotations I’ve seen all season on Sunday and, paired with a little more steadiness on the other events, would make the team a legitimate threat at nationals once again this year.
14. Boise State Broncos
Previous ranking: 14
Boise State managed to keep pace with all the other teams zooming up the rankings this week by recording a 196.725 in a victory over Sac State. BSU has cultivated a nice slate of mid-196s for itself that should help maintain a ranking in this territory, though will still have very real 197 hopes as long as vault comes together and the lineup on beam—the team’s struggle event this season—is resolved. They’re still playing around with a couple of those spots to find out who is part of the best beam six (is it Bruden, is it Bouza, is it Amado?) but a complete six is not there yet, which keeps the beam scores hovering in the 48.9s.
15. Denver Pioneers
Previous ranking: 12
Like Oregon State, Denver won’t compete this week until Monday night and therefore has no result to help change its RQS. Unlike OSU, however, Denver doesn’t have much room to grow for RQS after this single meet so will stay 15th in the in-progress rankings regardless of what happens.
16. Auburn Tigers
Previous ranking: 15
Sigh. So much potential. It was a second-straight missed meet for Auburn for a second-straight 195 that featured a counting fall on beam and a number of fairly major errors on bars. The result actually did help Auburn’s RQS because this 195 replaced a 194, but a tendency toward falls has been a significant story for Auburn this year. The team has counted a fall in 40% of meets this year, which means that Auburn is either going to melt down in the postseason or be an under-the-radar spoiler that we all forgot can score 197.
17. Georgia Bulldogs
Previous ranking: 17
The old five-up conundrum slammed Georgia over the weekend. Georgia is in an untenable position right now where it must start developing postseason-competitive difficulty (like Snead’s 1.5 on vault—a critical component in trying to challenge at regionals) to have a chance when it matters, yet has no room for error and no luxury of experimentation the way other teams do. Other teams can say, “Well, we can try out your 1.5, and if you fall we’ll drop the score,” but with five vaulters, Georgia has to count the score, as happened over the weekend with a 48.200 on vault that took away any chance for a good away score. Georgia is now guaranteed to count a low 196 road score, which #2 seeds just don’t do.
18. George Washington Colonials
Previous ranking: 19
George Washington successfully moves up into the top 18 for the week following an oh-so-close 196.825 that came just half a tenth from matching the all-time school record. Suffice to say, it is still a season-high and a huge result in bolstering the team’s postseason placement hopes, a warning to other teams of what can happen when Drouin-Allaire, Winstanley, and Pfeiler are all on at the same time. Drouin-Allaire recorded a career-high 39.600 AA score in this one, going no lower than 9.875 on any event.
19. Missouri Tigers
Previous ranking: 20
Missouri also moves up a spot after managing a massive score over the weekend, going 196.925 in the upset of Florida. That’s a season-high by multiple tenths and featured a marathon of 9.850+s, but critically this score was recorded at home, which has been an issue for Missouri this season. Missouri is being kept outside the top 18 right now by a lack of away scores. The team needs two more big road scores to snatch a more comfortable ranking and has exactly two road meets remaining, putting quite a bit of pressure on those meets to be hit.
20. California Golden Bears
Previous ranking: 18
Cal put up a 196.925 of its own over the weekend but falls in the rankings this week because it didn’t have as much room to grow in terms of home scores. The team will, however, expect to make a gigantic move this coming weekend with two road meets (Friday and Sunday) and two super-low road scores available to be dropped. Even with just reasonable mid-196s at both meets, Cal would go into the 196.7s for RQS, so we could see some real shake-ups in the rankings. Cal also has the luxury of needing two more road scores and having three road meets to get them, so unlike Missouri, there’s still a margin of error for a clunker, should that happen. And it always looks like it’s going to happen with these leadoff falls every week.
21. BYU Cougars
Previous ranking: 24
BYU gains three spots in the rankings by recording a second 196 road score for the season, putting the team one road score away from having a very healthy and complete RQS with six whole 196s. That new road score could happen as soon as Monday night, when BYU travels to Oregon State, so keep an eye on that one as the RQS might change shortly.
22. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Previous ranking: 25
Just to ensure that nothing makes any sense, Minnesota learned that it lost essential three-eventer Ona Loper for the season and immediately went out and scored a season high. Because sure. Have all your gymnasts: score 194. Lose your best vault and floor routine: score 196. Minnesota still has been too up-and-down this season to feel completely safe in this ranking position and needs a couple more good road scores, but what looked like a potentially disastrous injury may not end up being one if that meet was any indication.
23. Ohio State Buckeyes
Previous ranking: 21
Ohio State sticks around in the top 25 but won’t be entirely pleased by the 195.725 recorded in losing to Kentucky, a result that did not feature any huge counting errors but that was a little too 9.7y across the board with no events scoring in the 49s. OSU has a couple 196s so far this season but will need a few more in the remaining meets to try to prove that it should be considered a regionals spoiler rather than a team just making up the numbers.
24. NC State Wolfpack
Previous ranking: 22
NC State recorded another 196 over the weekend but didn’t make up much ground in the rankings because of a very significant home/road split, the lack of road scores keeping NC State down in the 20s. This is less significant in NC State’s case, however, because NC State is a regional host this year and currently looks pretty solid for making the top 36. It therefore doesn’t matter too much how NC State does on the road because that 196 home team is the one everyone will have to contend with at regionals.
25. Iowa State Cyclones
Previous ranking: 23
A trip down 9.7 lane kept Iowa State lower than it would have liked at the Nebraska quad meet, recording a 195.575 that doesn’t really do the job of bringing up those last couple RQS scores, which still hang in the 195s. Iowa State is hosting Big 12s this year, which means there are fewer chances to get road scores left, just one more remaining and just one road score in the 196s recorded so far, which will make it difficult to move up much too higher than the current ranking, a ranking that’s still perfectly usable.
25. Illinois Illini
Previous ranking: 33
Disaster averted for Illinois. This was a critical weekend for the Illini as they were nudging too close for comfort to that top-36 cut-off point and had far too many low-195s hanging around the RQS picture. A road 195.9 at Elevate the Stage (not an amazing score but an improvement), followed by a season-high 196.700 on Sunday served to restore the status quo and bring Illinois out of the danger zone. Teams in the danger zone aren’t scoring a lot of 196s, so if Illinois keeps this up (or anything remotely close to it), the season won’t be a total loss.