Things Are Happening – March 23, 2018

A few updates on what you might have missed in the world of elite competitions this week as we all try to brace ourselves for NCAA conference championships tomorrow. And by we, I mean me.

A. Birmingham

In what was either the miracle of all miracles or an aggressive signaling of the end of days, Angelina Melnikova hit an entire all-around competition—including her layout on beam—to win the Birmingham World Cup title.


No one knows what to do with this information because it might all be just a hallucination Valentina had after taking “mama’s special pills,” but Russia absolutely needs Melnikova to be a real person on all four events this year following the injury to Best Child Elena Eremina. That’s a ridiculous proposition obviously, but the group of healthy Russians is pretty specialist-heavy right now, so someone who can realistically do all the events while definitely contributing TF vault and floor is essential.

A solid, hit competition put Marz Frazier into second. She did not have the D score to match Melnikova, so she was probably going to need Gelya to Gelya in order to win, but some execution issues on bars and beam (as well as an uncharacteristically short landing on her DTY) made Frazier unable to capitalize on Melnikova’s own execution problems and near-falls on bars and beam.

Everyone else had varying levels of disasters on at least one event, except for Alice Kinsella, who hit a full all-around competition for bronze, a result she should be very pleased with. The fact that both Kinsella and Simm appear to be rounding into AA form is essential for England’s CWG hopes because…

B. The England Broke

Amy Tinkler had to withdraw from Birmingham during warmups because of an injury to her ankle ligaments, an injury that will also force her to pull out of the Commonwealth Games. Every week a new one goes down. Remember when we thought the team was going to be Tinkler, Fragapane, Downie, Downie, Fenton?

Anyway, now it’s Fenton, Simm, Kinsella, Stanhope, and TBD. At this point, the maybe-unretired-maybe Charlie Fellows looks like the next best choice for the team because she can fill a number of roles in a team scenario and was the strongest of the remaining options at the British Championship, though Taeja James made a very good argument for herself with her qualification floor performance in Doha, placing first with a 5.4 D. She also attempted enough difficulty on beam that she got away with a mid-12 even though it didn’t come off. At this point, England would kind of take a mid-12 on beam. Continue reading Things Are Happening – March 23, 2018

Conference Championships – Schedule and Links

Friday, March 23 Scores Stream
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – DIII Team Final
UW-La Crosse
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – MIC Championship
Illinois State
Saturday, March 24 Scores Stream
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – ECAC Championship
William & Mary
 LINK  Ivy($)
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – ECAC-II Championship
West Chester
Southern Connecticut
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – EAGL Championship
[19] George Washington
[22] NC State
New Hampshire
North Carolina
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – MAC Championship
Kent State
Central Michigan
Northern Illinois
Bowling Green
Ball State
Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 1
[11] Arkansas
[16] Auburn
[18] Georgia
[21] Missouri
4 Events
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Big 10 Championship Session 1
[14] Nebraska
Penn State
Michigan State
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 1
[11] Oregon State
[17] Arizona State
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – DIII Event Finals  LINK  FLO
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big 12 Championship
[1] Oklahoma
[13] Denver
[25] West Virginia
Iowa State
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 2
[2] LSU
[5] Florida
[6] Alabama
[9] Kentucky
4 Events
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Big 10 Championship Session 2
[7] Michigan
[23] Minnesota
[24] Ohio State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Mountain Rim Championship
[15] Boise State
[20] BYU
Southern Utah
Utah State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Mountain Pacific Championship
UC Davis
Sacramento State
San Jose State
Air Force
Seattle Pacific
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 2
[3] UCLA
[4] Utah
[8] Washington
[10] Cal

The conference championships are upon us once more!

I’ve previewed the Pac-12 and SEC Championships in their own posts, but there will be plenty of other action to follow on Saturday beyond those two meets, like Oklahoma winning the Big 12 Championship. Michigan enters Big Tens as the heavy favorite now that Nebraska has been relegated to the first session, George Washington is looking for a third conference title in four years as well as a score to get up into the top 18, and also there are other meets you’ll pretend to follow then won’t because there’s too much going on simultaneously. (Not autobiographical.)

As part of the project to manage your day, here is the annual composite schedule of all the conference meets:

You will not survive.

More of the smaller conferences should take the cue from the MIC, which is holding its championship on Friday this year instead of Saturday, and therefore everyone is 7000% more likely to watch.

“No one ever pays attention to us!” *holds meet at the exact same time as all the famous schools*

“We don’t get the leotard bonus!” *ensures no one has ever even watched team before*

Saturday is the RQS deadline (can’t record a score for RQS after the 24th), which is also dumb and limiting and should be changed. Put some conference champs on Sunday and Friday. Make a weekend of it.

Remember that the conference championships also usher in the beginning of four-judge season, as opposed to two judges. Now, four judges will score each routine, with the high and the low thrown out and the remaining two averaged. It just means that you have to bribe double the judges to get the score you want.

Danger zone watch
Your danger zone teams this year are New Hampshire, Central Michigan, Iowa, Arizona, Utah State, and North Carolina. Six enter, three will leave.

Check out the RQS Scenarios for specific details about how that will play out and what scores each of the teams will be looking for. It’s a little different this year because the lowest-ranked teams (Utah State and North Carolina) actually control their own fates and could clinch spots with huge scores tomorrow, which would leave Central Michigan, Iowa, and Arizona in the lurch.

New Hampshire is the most likely of the six to advance (needs just 195.500), while Central Michigan and Iowa will be rooting for a low-scoring national atmosphere and lots of misses because everyone’s RQS scores staying the same would be good for them as they currently sit in the top 36.


SEC Championship Preview

Afternoon session – 2:00pm CT
Evening session – 6:00pm CT


For the win
One of the bigger surprises of the 2018 season: Florida not establishing itself as a true power. Now, Florida has been strong and fine and good and remains among the select few title contenders given the sheer talent potential on this roster, but Florida heading into SECs having broken 197.000 on the road just once all season? Never would have picked it.

As a result, for the first time in several seasons we come into the SEC Championship with a single solidly established favorite—LSU. LSU leads Florida by more than five tenths in the RQS standings and leads the conference rankings on three events (we’ll get to vault in a minute). Ergo, LSU is supposed to win this thing.

At the same time, when you compare the the lineups of the two teams routine-by-routine, there are really only minor differences that point in LSU’s favor, rather than FIVE TENTHS worth of clear advantage. It’s the superior landings on LSU’s early-vault fulls, the Macadaeg and Hambrick beam scores, Florida desperately missing that Baker floor 9.950. Important factors all, but also the kinds of things that can be overcome on any given day and could point to a closer fight than the rankings do.

If Florida really shows up—for the first time this season away from home—a close fight is what we should have, though one that still favors LSU on balance.

Let’s talk about bars, because that event has been critical in flipping expectations this season. Florida was supposed to be the stronger bars team this year (McMurtry! Hundley! Gowey! Baker! Baumann! Foberg! Boren!), but not all of that has panned out. Most importantly, though, LSU has been showing more comfortable and reliably stuck dismounts this season while also avoiding what seemed like inevitable depth problems. LSU didn’t have a lot of bars routines coming into the season, which is why the emergence of Sami Durante has been essential. Without her, LSU would have been in trouble coming up with six whole hit bars sets, and the event could have been a very different story. Florida will need to start sticking more than half its dismounts to mitigate the LSU bars advantage that has developed this season.  Continue reading SEC Championship Preview