Salt Lake City Regional Preview

April 7, 4:00 MT, University of Utah

Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams

Teams (starting event)
[4] Utah (floor)
[9] Cal (beam)
[16] Auburn (bye before floor)
[21] BYU (bye before bars)
[26] Stanford (bars)
[32] Southern Utah (vault)

Individual competitors
Kelley Hebert, UC Davis (AA)
Alexis Brown, UC Davis (AA)
Annie Juarez, Sacramento State (AA)
Caitlin Soliwoda, Sacramento State (AA)
Ellie Pascoe-Long, San Jose State (VT, FX)
Taylor Chan, San Jose State (VT, FX)
Kaitlin Won, San Jose State (UB)
Gabby Landess, UC Davis (UB)
Courtney Soliwoda, Sacramento State (BB)
Stephanie Relova, San Jose State (BB)

The favorite

36 years and counting. Utah is the only team to have advanced to NCAA gymnastics nationals in all 36 years in which that has been a thing that exists. (Alabama’s streak is 35 years, just missing 1982.) That streak will end one day, but this should not be the day. Utah comes in as the host of this regional and the definite favorite to advance in first place.

Utah may have slightly less margin for error in the quest to win this regional, having lost to Cal earlier this year and finishing .400 ahead of Cal at Pac-12s, but Utah will nonetheless expect a hit-meet advantage somewhere around 7 tenths over anyone else. That means Utah will still be able to advance with a slightly off meet (as shown in that Pac-12s performance) and likely advance even if counting a fall. Multiple things would have to go wrong for this to get interesting.

I expect Utah will enjoy this rotation order, even though floor-to-beam is totally the worst order, because beam is still the biggest question mark for the Utes in terms of confidence in hitting and the lineup (Burch or Soloski?). It’s also the one event where Cal outscored Utah at Pac-12s—and probably Auburn’s best event as well. If everything goes to plan, Utah will have used 49.4s to build up enough of a margin with the other three events that it takes pressure off the beam performance. We’ll know if Utah has the luxury of counting a fall before the team goes to beam.

The fight
 
In this second half of the six regionals, we enter meets where there’s a real ranking difference between the #2 and #3 seeds built on actual advantages/weaknesses exposed during the season, less like the total 50-50 affairs we see in the 12-13 and 11-14 regionals. In this one, Cal will enter as a favorite befitting its 7-spot ranking advantage, though not a prohibitive favorite. There’s not a fall between these teams. More like a couple landings.

RQS acted as a friend to both Cal and Auburn this season, Cal able to drop all the scores from The January Situation and Auburn able to drop the scores from various counting-fall disasters that crept in along the way. Ultimately, Cal settled into a pattern of higher 196s, typically built on more complete lineups with (nowadays) more score consistency.

That’s reinforced in the “by the numbers” section at the bottom, showing that Cal outranks Auburn by a little bit on all four events. Those little bits accumulate into a significant ranking advantage and come primarily from Cal being more likely to get a counting score from its first couple gymnasts in the lineup, less likely to have an early 9.700 or a fall to work against. Over the last three meets, Cal enjoyed—on average—a .05 advantage over Auburn per routine for the first three up on each event.

What makes Auburn dangerous in this competition is that we still don’t really have a grasp on what a perfect hit meet from Auburn looks like. Even in that 196.900 at Elevate, Auburn’s most impressive overall performance of the season, there were still floor-landing problems and a couple falls that had to be dropped.

What would this team be if everything goes fantastically? The talent and 9.9 potential of gymnasts like Milliet and Day (and Krippner and Cerio and Slappey here and there) indicate that it could be pretty impressive, but the team also carries the overwhelming impression that there will always be that 9.725 or OOB or big wobble or fall or start value problem to take down the score. That’s what we’ve seen to this point, and that’s what we saw at SECs for a 195.650 that did not include a counting fall. It was just a 9.7-a-thon.

Auburn’s best opportunity to invert Cal’s ranking advantage actually comes on what RQS tells us should be Auburn’s weakest event, vault. Auburn will bring three Yurchenko 1.5s compared to Cal’s one 10.0 start from Robinson. Cal’s ranking advantage on vault comes from superior landings and form, but if Auburn is able to hit those 1.5s and keep them under control, vault would be the best place to develop an edge that could then be maintained by those lovely end-of-lineup routines on bars and beam.

There’s not much between these teams at all if Auburn has a perfect meet, but Auburn has to have that perfect meet.

The other Utahs

Finishing the regular season ranked 21st and challenging for a regionals seeding most of the year has made 2018 an unexpected triumph for BYU, a year that will likely go down as the best season for this team since the glory days of 2004-2005.

BYU has proven to be 196-capable and should not be taken lightly in this regional, ranking as the #2 team on floor—compare that to Auburn, which doesn’t rank in the top 2 on any event. The upset could be on, though as with any #4 team, the most onerous challenge comes from having to beat both seeded teams, Cal and Auburn, to get through. It’s not just one upset. Unlike several of the other #4 teams this year, however, BYU does not get to enjoy that little boost of being a host team, making the double-upset even more difficult.

This BYU squad has excelled on floor and continues to be quite nationally competitive on bars, BYU’s standout event for several seasons now. It will be more difficult to get the numbers on vault and beam in this meet when being compared directly to multiple top-10 schools, accounting for that trepidation you feel over going all-in on a BYU upset. Still, BYU has scored 196 in eight consecutive meets now and will very much expect to do so again here.

If BYU does go 196 at regionals, that would be a tremendous result and remarkable progress for the program, but to advance to nationals even with a 196.200 here would mean that Cal had a missed meet. So whether BYU is in the mix here will still depend on the performances of other teams.

Southern Utah will also make the short trip to SLC for this regional, and in a number of respects Southern Utah has been forced simply to make do this season after losing so many routines from 2017. There are still highlights carrying over from last year, particularly Jorgensen, who doesn’t always get there but is 9.9-capable on multiple events, as well as Gonzalez and the last couple routines on bars and beam. But overall, across entire lineups of six, the team is not quite as serious a regional upset threat this time as it was last season—a little too likely to go 195, which is not a score that will get through.

The Stanford

We’ll know what’s going on with Stanford very early in the meet because Stanford is forced to do bars in the first rotation. As we all have learned, that’s where things tend to fall apart. Stanford just doesn’t have the bars routines this year.

And yet, Stanford did break 49 on bars at Pac-12s thanks to the 9.975 from Price. If Stanford is able to hit 49 on bars in the first rotation again here, we should expect a total over 196 because the other three events really have no business being sub-49. Those beam dismounts are great, and if Price, Bryant, and Flam deliver on vault and floor, they can make up for the early-lineup routines in the 9.7s there. A mid-196 would be an actual threat in this meet.

Still, it has to start with success on bars, meaning it has to start with stuck dismounts and (let’s be honest) some charitable evaluation of horizontal handstands. Otherwise, it’s going to be too hard to make up for. There’s not enough on the other three events to erase a 9.6-burger.

Individuals
Individual discussion begins entirely with Elizabeth Price (#3). If Stanford does not perform a Stanford postseason miracle this year, then as long as Price hits her four routines, she will advance to nationals as an all-arounder, leaving just one spot for everyone else.

And it’s a fascinating spot, particularly if Cal advances as a team along with Utah. Auburn is not competing all-arounders, which means the other spot would be down to BYU, Stanford, and Southern Utah. In that battle, Stanford’s second all-arounder Kyla Bryant (#30) will look to hit to fend off Shannon Hortman Evans (also #30) of BYU and Autumn Jorgensen of Southern Utah (#37). It’s rare that both AA spots would come from the 4-6 teams in a regional, but we could very easily see that here.

Price and Bryant are not Stanford’s only all-around options, with Lauren Navarro and Rachael Flam also thrown into the AA mix this season because the team needs them to do bars. Though if you have to pick two Stanford AAers to get the higher scores, you pick Price and Bryant.

If Cal doesn’t advance as a team, however, then Toni-Ann Williams (#11) would join Price as a heavy favorite to go through, leaving few openings left for anyone else to advance, and Kyana George (#32) would pop in as another compelling challenger should one of the favorites falter.

Rotation-by-rotation RQS
Rotation 1 – Southern Utah VT, Stanford UB, Cal BB, Utah FX
1. Utah – 49.520
2. Cal – 49.230
3. Southern Utah – 49.010
4. Stanford – 48.905

Besides Cal needing to get through with a hit beam and establish a cushy margin in second place at this point, the first rotation will be about seeing if Stanford is actually a thing in this meet.

Rotation 2 – Utah VT, BYU UB, Stanford BB, Auburn FX
1. Utah – 98.960
2. Stanford – 98.050
3. Cal – 49.230
4. Auburn – 49.215
5. BYU – 49.165
6. Southern utah – 49.010

As in the other regionals, the second rotation scores are critical in that the #3 seed will have done floor compared to the #2 seed doing beam. Therefore, the #3 seed would really like to be ahead at this point. That’s not what RQS says for Auburn.

Rotation 3 – Auburn VT, Southern Utah UB, BYU BB, Cal FX
1. Utah – 98.960
2. Cal – 98.485
3. Auburn – 98.370
4. BYU – 98.260
5. Southern Utah – 98.055
6. Stanford – 98.050

BYU would be thrilled at being this close to Auburn after finishing bars and beam and with floor still to come. That’s a “you’re still in this” margin. Auburn has to finish on the riskier events, bars and beam, so Cal would gladly take any kind of lead at this point and feel comfortable with it.

Rotation 4 – Cal VT, Utah UB, Southern Utah BB, Stanford FX
1. Utah – 148.280
2. Cal – 147.760
3. Stanford – 147.320
4. Southern Utah – 146.995
5. Auburn – 98.370
6. BYU – 98.260

A margin emerges, insurmountable for Stanford or Southern Utah if it actually plays out this way.

Rotation 5 – Stanford VT, Auburn UB, Utah BB, BYU FX
1. Utah – 197.600
2. Stanford – 196.440
3. Cal – 147.760
4. Auburn – 147.575
5. BYU – 147.565
6. Southern Utah – 146.995

Look how close BYU and Auburn are at this point. It’s one of the reasons BYU is in this thing. There’s not much difference between them throughout much of the meet, the problem for BYU being that Cal is supposed to have established a multi-tenth margin that would be tough to surmount at this point.

Rotation 6 – BYU VT, Cal UB, Auburn BB, Southern Utah FX
1. Utah – 197.600
2. Cal – 196.990
3. Auburn – 196.775
4. BYU – 196.610
5. Stanford – 196.440
6. Southern Utah – 196.185

The event RQSs abbreviate the margin between Cal and the closest challengers in Auburn and BYU, reinforcing that if they have their perfect meets, they’re going to make this thing closer than it seems at first glance.

By the numbers

[1] Utah
RQS: 197.540 [1]
Season high: 198.150 [1]
Season average: 197.368 [1]

VT RQS: 49.440 [1]
VT average: 49.380 [1]
UB RQS: 49.320 [1]
UB average: 49.307 [1]
BB RQS: 49.320 [1]
BB average: 49.223 [1]
FX RQS: 49.520 [1]
FX average: 49.459 [1]

[2] Cal
RQS: 196.890 [2]
Season high: 197.500 [2]
Season average: 196.150 [2]

VT RQS: 49.275 [2]
VT average: 49.123 [2]
UB RQS: 49.230  [2]
UB average: 48.892 [4]
BB RQS: 49.230 [2]
BB average: 48.977 [3]
FX RQS: 49.255 [4]
FX average: 49.142 [4]

[3] Auburn
RQS: 196.595 [3]
Season high: 197.000 [3]
Season average: 195.977 [4]

VT RQS: 49.155 [3]
VT average: 49.052 [3]
UB RQS: 49.205 [3]
UB average: 48.954 [3]
BB RQS: 49.200 [3]
BB average: 48.969 [4]
FX RQS: 49.215 [5]
FX average: 49.002 [6]

[4] BYU
RQS: 196.430 [4]
Season high: 196.625 [6]
Season average: 196.010 [3]

VT RQS: 49.045 [5]
VT average: 48.950 [5]
UB RQS: 49.165 [4]
UB average: 49.031 [2]
BB RQS: 49.095 [5]
BB average: 48.837 [5]
FX RQS: 49.305 [2]
FX average: 49.192 [2]

[5] Stanford
RQS: 196.080 [5]
Season high: 196.650 [5]
Season average: 195.759 [5]

VT RQS: 49.120 [4]
VT average: 49.011 [4]
UB RQS: 48.905 [6]
UB average: 48.586 [6]
BB RQS: 49.145 [4]
BB average: 48.998 [2]
FX RQS: 49.270 [3]
FX average: 49.164 [3]

[6] Southern Utah
RQS: 195.915 [6]
Season high: 196.800 [4]
Season average: 195.363 [6]

VT RQS: 49.010 [6]
VT average: 48.877 [6]
UB RQS: 49.045 [5]
UB average: 48.856 [5]
BB RQS: 48.940 [6]
BB average: 48.569 [6]
FX RQS: 49.190 [6]
FX average: 49.060 [5]

 

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22 thoughts on “Salt Lake City Regional Preview”

  1. This is an interesting Regional with all the Utah schools. Not that I think SUU and BYU are going to challenge really but it’s basically a home meet for those two schools in addition to Utah so I would not be surprised to see SUU/BYU home scoring. Just depends on how generous of a “home” score they’ll get. Still don’t think it will be enough to challenge for a spot at nationals but who knows.

    My bold prediction: Utah and Stanford advance.
    My realistic prediction: Utah and Cal advance.

    Like

    1. Are you saying BYU and SUU will perform better because it’s a close meet with little travel or are you expecting them to be generously judged compared to Cal and Auburn?

      I can’t imagine judges throwing out “Home” scores for away teams at a regional, but I definitely understand that they may perform better being close to home without jet lag or altitude issues.

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      1. I meant to say that it’s basically a home meet in that they don’t have to travel far, will be more comfortable since they’ve competed there before, etc. But upon re-reading what I wrote, I see how you easily think I was saying something else.

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  2. I wish I could root for Stanford to advance because I enjoy the Stanford Surprise (and would especially now that Smyth is gone). But I just can’t root for Stanford to beat Cal. GO BEARS

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      1. Yes, but they mentioned Alabama as only missing one NC but didn’t mention Florida as only missing one NC. That’s why I made the comment.

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  3. I have a dream that we’ll see Cal & Stanford advance. I mean, I know how very, very, absurdly unrealistic that is…but man, it would make me happy. Two rising teams to break the hearts of all the obnoxious Utah fans and their equally obnoxious star.

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    1. It kills me when comments are made such as “obnoxious fans” Obnoxious star” Give Mykayla a break!! She is amazing. If you want to see obnoxious watch the attitude of the Bruins and their totally Obnoxious coach. PAC 12’s wreaked of attitude and I swear the judges had sweat running down their necks with “Val” hovering over them. I’m a Utah transplant from Alabama and have yet to see the Ute fans exceed other “holy” teams in attitude. If I have to listen to the accolades of “Peng” any more this year I’ll go crazy. I think Peng is adorable but unfortunately the more everyone says it the more she thinks it. Ohashi is amazing too but she is getting a bit cocky. Cute girl – very talented but she’s “feel’in it”. Cut Mykayla some slack or at least lump a few more in with her. Enjoy regionals without the bitchy crap!

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      1. No one mentioned any names from Utah while you just listed and trashed a bunch of girls from another team. And you wonder why people think Utah fans are strangely defensive and obnoxious? Also what’s with all the quotes around those names?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The original commenter didn’t need to mention names as “star” has been bashed for 2 solid years. Obviously Mary is as sick of it as are most of us. I don’t think the comments about the specific girls were that bad. But the ” star” is bashed consistently. I also love to watch Peng, Ohashi, “Fish”, Kyla, and especially Gracie – there – names, but I have watched some of the “blogs” and they are truly “oh me!! Obnoxious”. Skinner may have posted a few things that were “off” but it has been a couple of years – people need to get over it. She has been punished enough and has matured greatly. Some of the other blog stuff is coming from women in their mid 20’s – seriously. I too was at the PAC 12s and it was a tad “obnoxious”. However, the meet itself was great – the gymnastics were great – and the crowd was appreciative and – again – great. Kudos to those who sponsored the event. They were also – Great! Now I’m being “greatly” obnoxious. I hope we as I assume fairly knowledgeable fans can let regionals happen and just enjoy the talent without (to use the word of the year) being snarky. I hope Peng kills it in her last season, Katelyn “rock you Michael”, Toni Ann – love your smile. and Mykayla – enjoy the end of the year. (Oh hell, I’m turning into Bambi’s mother!!!)

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  4. The lack of Auburn support in the comments this year has been surprising. Day, Watson, Milliet, and Cerio have some of the most beautiful gymnastics in NCAA. If they can put together a complete meet, watch out!

    I say this as a Georgia fan, so I don’t normally go around throwing compliments at Auburn. 🙂

    It will also be fun to watch Graba and Lothrop back at Utah.

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  5. Don’t forget that BYU beat Cal this season by almost two points! Haha I’m a BYU grad so I would just really love for them to advance, but I know it won’t happen. Can’t wait to be there in person to watch though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a BYU grad and what I would love (other than the miracle that would be advancing) would be to see them finish 3rd. They were so close to being seeded that I would just love seeing them finish in the top 20 this year! And then having Shannon go through as the next AA would be so fun for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think this regional could have the smallest spread between #1 and #6 when final scores are tallied. I definitely think Utah and Cal are the two best teams here, but I don’t think the 5th adn 6th place teams will be in the 193s or 194s. I think everyone could realistically finish 196+.

    Like

    1. What time did you start drinking today! You started the nasty comments and now you blame Utah fans for the negativity. Whoever was the first commenter simply defended their “Star” and you perpetuated the issue. Let’s stop it right here and only post constructive comments. If you don’t have any just stop. You know you would defend your team against such comments. I’m really getting sick of this. Two amazing teams with great history. I wish them both luck

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  8. This Stanford talk is hilarious. We do realize that they fielded a five-woman bars lineup as recently as the week before Pac-12s, right?

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  9. I pray Utah counts falls and both Cal and Auburn advance! Love both of these teams and don’t want to see either end their post-season quite yet. Plus, it would really ruffle Skinner’s feathers if her team didn’t advance. LOLLL

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