1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previous ranking: 1
Oklahoma went 198 for the sixth time this season, a feat that essentially (though not yet mathematically) locks up the regular-season #1 ranking for the 4th consecutive year. We still have yet not seen truly peak Oklahoma—in this 198, there was a beam fall, some non-ideal floor landings, hopping on vault—which will give the Sooners hope that they can continue improving and achieve real-life 198s, even in the postseason. We’re all looking forward to seeing what these teams actually score when going against each other in sober circumstances. (AH HA HA like those exist.) Let’s get a move on already.
2. LSU Tigers
Previous ranking: 2
LSU holds onto #2 after a 197.575, a meet the team will be kind of meh about but that also did not feature several of the most important routines, particularly on floor. It’s a performance that may not be too representative of LSU’s current level, a maneuvering-for-postseason-health-and-lineup-answers kind of meet. I don’t think any of the backups who competed on floor got themselves into the main lineup with their showings in this meet, though we did see Cannamela on vault score better for her full than she did for the 1.5 last week, which may be an answer to that question. As of this point, the full looks the score-smart decision, even if that feels like playing it safe.
3. UCLA Bruins
Previous ranking: 3
With a big 197 at Stanford, UCLA makes a slight move closer to LSU this week and will have a chance to pass, at least temporarily, after Tuesday night’s meet. Tuesday is supposed to feature backups, but it’s also senior night so 10s for everyone. Much of the focus of UCLA’s performance against Stanford will be on the bars 10s and how apparently Elizabeth Price doesn’t get the same consideration, but the real highlight of the Bruins’ performance was improvement in vault landings. This is still not a particularly Super Six-competitive vault lineup, which makes the landings all the more important. Now, about those early bars routines. UCLA is starting to hint that Kocian may come in on bars at the last minute. It’s a race against time, but at this point, go for it.
4. Utah Utes
Previous ranking: 4
Utah stays 4th after a 196.800 in a loss to Michigan, a score that is dropped for RQS and a meet that will end up being more memorable for the internet controversy of MyKayla Skinner adding new gun-fingers at the Michigan team as her ending pose on floor (oopsers!) than anything Utah did during the routines. Now, it was still perfectly acceptable performance that would advance from a regional, but it featured uncharacteristically uncertain landings and tentative work, especially once the team moved to beam to end a close contest. By not being able to use this score, enough of a gap has opened up that it’s unlikely Utah will move higher than fourth as we go to regionals, though that’s still solid and would equal last year’s regular-season performance.
5. Florida Gators
Previous ranking: 5
Florida got it done at home with a 197.925, the second-highest score of the weekend, though getting it done at home on senior day was not really the concern. We knew that was going to happen. The immediate and more pressing question is how competitive these lineups will be against LSU once we get to SECs (Florida’s next meet) because we haven’t seen a championship level emerge with any consistency yet. Florida definitely has a chance—you can go through routine-by-routine and match Florida up very well with everything LSU has to offer—but are we going to see all of that at the same time? And who are the floor routines? Florida went with Hundley and Skaggs over the weekend after Foberg and Gowey fell against Missouri, but at this point I’m Team Skaggs/Gowey, with one of them in a Bridgey position. Without Baker, Florida needs to work that lineup to squeeze out every possible tenth.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide
Previous ranking: 6
Alabama broke into the 197.3 zone for the third consecutive week in defeating Auburn at Elevate, extending its lead over Michigan and showing what look to be final postseason lineups, really for the first time this year. Alabama is in an odd position right now because we’re seeing improvements, and the ranking is solid, yet we still haven’t seen a team that looks like it can challenge LSU or Florida at SECs, which is rare. For a number of seasons now, it has been Florida v. LSU v. Alabama for the conference title, but based on what we’ve seen so far, you can’t put Alabama on that same level in 2018. Alabama isn’t really a team that will be satisfied with being “best of the next tier.”
7. Michigan Wolverines
Previous ranking: 7
Michigan recorded a confidence-boosting win over Utah on Saturday that will rally the team’s belief that it could score a critical upset at nationals and sneak into Super Six. Like Alabama, that “maybe Super Six” position is not solid, but Michigan remains one of the more convincing challengers. The win over Utah played out somewhat unexpectedly in that Michigan was weaker on beam, which really should be the team’s best event, but got the win because of bars and floor. That bolsters the argument that Michigan has three competitive events, and then also vault is there.
8. Washington Huskies
Previous ranking: 9
In our first ranking switch of the week, Washington moves up to #8 after a 197.400 season high. It was the most complete performance of Washington’s season so far, where critically Goings added back vault and bars to show what will likely be the postseason six on those events. Beyond that, several other gymnasts made progress, like Hoffa showing her best vault of the season and Riley scoring her best number on bars, so it looks like Washington is continuing to improve at the right time to make up for not having the biggest gymnastics or most 10HANDS routines.
9. Kentucky Wildcats
Previous ranking: 8
Kentucky put up a very respectable 196.800 of its own away on Sunday, though it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the 197 that Washington recorded. Nonetheless, the frequency of these high 196s, now in a variety of contexts and score-scapes with a variety of lineups, keeps Kentucky as not simply a likely nationals qualifier (it would be a huge disappointment, and definite upset, if Kentucky misses again) but a legitimate threat once in St. Louis. Stuart returned to the bars lineup for the first time over the weekend, though beam still needs to be resolved since Kwan has fallen on three of her last four beams and there are other options available.
10. California Golden Bears
Previous ranking: 20
We knew it was going to be a big weekend for Cal with two road meets and—finally—the chance to remove those disastrous January scores from the RQS picture. Two acceptable (though partially Toni-less) performances for 196.650 and 196.375 gave Cal six whole 196s to use for RQS, along with a gain of 10 ranking spots. The team was definitely dragging by the second half of the second meet, which has opened the door for Oregon State to snatch that final evening-session spot at Pac-12s with a strong score next weekend. Over the last few weeks (months), the team has definitely gained a lot of experience performing must-hit routines after falls so will not be unfamiliar with that situation if it happens in the postseason. Playing with fire, but the forest is still intact.
11. Arkansas Razorbacks
Previous ranking: 10
The weekend will go as a missed opportunity for Arkansas, competing at Oklahoma with a chance for a big away total but counting a couple errors on beam to take the final score down to the drop zone. Most weeks, beam is a positive for Arkansas, so those mistakes won’t necessarily carry a lot of weight. The real concern is whether the other event scores will be high enough in a postseason context to make up for having to count a 9.6 on vault, which is basically a given right now. Typically, nationals teams don’t have a lineup gap like that.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Previous ranking: 13
Nebraska moves up into a tie with Arkansas after getting away with a pretty solid road score (196.700) at Florida despite counting a fall on beam. Oh Florida. This will still feel like a missed opportunity anyway because it could have been a truly epic score with a full hit, but it works for RQS nonetheless. The wide variation in performance will still be a concern (we saw those great vaults at home last weekend, followed by mostly meh vault landings this time), but Nebraska will go in as one of the most dangerous teams to be paired with at regionals. None of these other borderline 2-3 seeds wants to see Nebraska.
13. Oregon State Beavers
Previous ranking: 11
Oregon State has come up with two strong, high-196 home scores in its last two meets, but the home scores were already fine, so there wasn’t a lot of room to improve RQS. The road scores are the issue, still hanging around in the low- and mid-196s, which keeps OSU among the #3 seeds for the moment. The question that still needs to be answered is whether Oregon State can put up a competitive number of 9.9s to reach close to the 197s without the benefit of home floor. That’s what it will take.
14. Auburn Tigers
Previous ranking: 16
Auburn nearly caught Alabama over the weekend, which doesn’t sound like a lot but was significant in that it finally gave the team its third good road score (and none too soon since Auburn is off next weekend). Now there’s nothing yucky left on the RQS slate, which moves Auburn to a more reasonable position in less danger of being dropped out of the seeded spots. Consistency is still a major problem, but when this team is on, it should have the Y1.5s and high potential totals from Milliet, Day, Krippner, and Slappey to prove legitimately dangerous as well.
15. Denver Pioneers
Previous ranking: 15
Denver came out of the Oklahoma quad meet in the nicest position of three challenging teams, recording a very useful 196.525 that bumped off a low road total and allowed Denver to stay 15th. Other teams in this ranking sector were not so lucky. It was not a tremendous performance (we’ve seen better vaulting and beam was sort of frightening), but it takes a little pressure off the final two road meets because now there’s only one more low road total (195.975) to get rid of and two chances to do it. If Denver replaces that 195, then a seeded spot should be set, even if a #3 seed is somewhat modest compared to the hopes Denver would have had at the beginning of the year.
16. Boise State Broncos
Previous ranking: 14
Boise State did fine against Georgia, matching its season-high road score of 196.625. Still, there are definitely 20 teams in NCAA this year capable of scoring over 196.5 on the road, which means staying in the mid 196s isn’t necessarily enough to remain in a good ranking state this year. Boise State is starting to verge on the top-18 danger zone at the moment with some maneuvering still left to occur. Watch for those early bars routines in coming meets. It was surprised to see 9.7s against Georgia, and Boise State is going to need a little more in order to make a solid challenge at regionals this year. It’s Boise State and bars. There can’t be 9.7s.
17. Arizona State Sun Devils
Previous ranking: 12
Arizona State was not able to count its score of 195.700 from the Oklahoma quad meet, accounting for this relative ranking plummet. Everyone else scored mid-196s and dropped low road scores to boost their totals. This suddenly puts Arizona State in danger of losing a seeded spot, but these teams are so closely packed that a solid 196 next weekend could avert disaster. At the same time, if you had said before the season that Arizona State would be even top 25 this year, that would have sounded like a dream, so it’s all sort of a victory at this point no matter what.
18. George Washington Colonials
Previous ranking: 18
George Washington keeps defying expectations and hanging around in the top 18, even when it looks like the traditional balance will be restored and big-conference teams will move up. A program-record tying 196.875 is what it took just to stay 18th this week, and we would expect nothing less from the senior day performance of this special class that has taken GW from being an afterthought—that hadn’t made regionals since 2002—and turned it into part of the national conversation with routines that we look forward to watching and meets that we specifically seek out because George Washington is in them. I mean look at the rankings right now. The best team that starts with Georg- is George Washington, not Georgia. That would have been unthinkable before this class.
19. BYU Cougars
Previous ranking: 21
BYU continued its run of 196s in its home finale, going 196.500 to finish second out of four. BYU is in a position right now where it has six fairly equivalent scores for RQS and therefore not much room to move up with a single meet, needing two pretty big result in its two remaining meets to get up into a seeded spot. Still, being even in the vicinity of the top 20 is a big victory for this season.
20. Georgia Bulldogs
Previous ranking: 17
Georgia loses ground even after a season-high 197.525 (because home), the first meet this season where Georgia actually started to look like Georgia again, mostly because there were six whole routines on each event—and they were pretty good ones. Where have that Arnold vault and Pedersen floor been until now? You can finally make the argument that Georgia is legitimately dangerous for nationals this season, and with a very low road score to drop next weekend at Utah, Georgia will expect to make a ranking jump into the seeded spots, even with a more reasonably scored meet. Although it probably won’t be.
21. Missouri Tigers
Previous ranking: 19
Missouri loses two spots this week after a missed opportunity for a road total, scoring 196.050 to fall to Iowa State after being 9.7ed to death on most events, especially vault. Missouri still lacks the road scores of a seeded team, putting some real pressure on the SEC performance to be the kind of score that can carry them into the top 18, a number that can be difficult to get from the afternoon session.
22. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Previous ranking: 22
Minnesota snatched a critical road 196 on Friday, using the Ramler-Lu 1-2 bars punch to continue lifting the team out of the 195s. These 196s are showing that even if Minnesota doesn’t get up into the top 18—which looks unlikely at this point—it will be a very dangerous host for whichever regional seeding group gets sent there. This is the season of 196-able regional hosts that will sit just outside the top 18 and will ensure that things stay interesting beyond the top-3 teams.
23. NC State Wolfpack
Previous ranking: 24
Speaking of regional hosts, NC State did all the scores over the weekend, peppering in two 196s in a two-weekend meet that culminated in a 196.800, the team’s highest score since 2004, and a 39.550 for Chelsea Knight, which ties the program all-around record. So, like, it was kind of a successful meet? Watch out for this one.
24. Ohio State Buckeyes
Previous ranking: 23
Ohio State fell to NC State (at home) in that record-setting performance. Even in a loss, the meet provided a quite useful 196.525, despite counting a fall on bars. It was that kind of meet—still a top-10 all-time team score for Ohio State even while COUNTING A FALL. This is Ohio State’s second time breaking the 196.5 barrier at home this season, keeping in mind that like the two teams ranked directly above, OSU is a regional host this season.
25. Penn State Nittany Lions
Previous ranking: 28
Make that four regional hosts in a row, with Penn State continuing the story of top-25 outsiders making other teams nervous with 196s heading into their home regionals. Both of PSU’s last two meets have been in the 196.6s, and neither has been at home, with Penn State in the rare position of having solid road scores but weak home ones. More than the team total, the big story for Penn State was the out-of-the-blue Lauren Bridgens 10.000 on bars, the first Penn State 10 since the Brandi Personett era. With Bridgens, Garcia, and Tsang, bars is definitely this team’s event.