Onward to St. Louis

We now know which lucky ducklings have advanced to nationals, so let’s set this scene for St. Louis. Just over a week to go!

Remember that we don’t have event finals anymore, so event titles are awarded based on the first day of competition, just like the all-around title. Six judges are used instead of four, with the high and the low dropped and the remaining four scores averaged, which as we learned last year gives us some really ugly decimal places like 9.8625. These extra judges were added to avoid having a thousand people get the same score and tie for titles. Unrelated: There was a six-way tie for the bars title last year.

Full draw

Semifinal #1 – April 20, 12:00 CT

[2] LSU – Beam
[3] UCLA – Vault
[6] Alabama – Bars
[10] Arkansas – Bye before floor
[11] Nebraska – Bye before bars
[18] Georgia – Floor

The significant story in this first group of six is Georgia’s very existence following its upset of #7 Michigan at regionals, an upset that turned inside out what should have been the more competitive of the two semifinals. Georgia claimed the spot at nationals when Michigan struggled through its regional performance while Georgia…also struggled through its regional performance? At least for the first two events. We’ll remember that one for a while because anyone who watched the first half of the meet would have thought there was no possible way Georgia could advance and that Illinois had the upset locked. But then no other team did noticeably better than Georgia, so it turned out that a theoretically disqualifying 48.950 floor score was a totally useful and respectable number in that meet.

The importance of rotation order also should not be overlooked in that one. Georgia got to end on its better events while Illinois had to start on its better events and end on its worst event. In a close meet, that kind of thing can make a difference.

In this semifinal, take note that Alabama got the Illinois draw and must end on vault, it’s lowest-scoring event. We’re seeing a relatively new phenomenon emerge these last couple years where starting on bars and ending on vault has become a bad draw (it used to be one of the better ones) because vault is the least likely to be the beneficiary of end-of-meet crack. Even a judge who’s hitting the booze can’t ignore a 9.950 start value ceiling. Most of the time.

The lack of Michigan’s 197-able presence would seem to clear the way for the top three seeds in this semifinal, but Nebraska’s run of 49.375s at regionals to a final score that nearly caught LSU has helped everyone remember that Nebraska is a thing. It will be an uphill task—and dramatic variation in performance from week to week has been a theme for Nebraska this year—but that regional result makes Nebraska look like the crown princess of spoilers in this one.

By the numbers

[1] LSU
RQS: 197.890 [1]
Season high: 198.175 [2]
Regular season average: 197.587 [1]

VT RQS: 49.400 [2]
VT average: 49.337 [1]
UB RQS: 49.580 [1]
UB average: 49.467 [1]
BB RQS: 49.475 [2]
BB average: 49.354 [2]
FX RQS: 49.540 [2]
FX average: 49.429 [2]

[2] UCLA
RQS: 197.840 [2]
Season high: 198.275 [1]
Regular season average: 197.554 [2]

VT RQS: 49.435 [1]
VT average: 49.285 [2]
UB RQS: 49.425 [2]
UB average: 49.346 [2]
BB RQS: 49.570 [1]
BB average: 49.452 [1]
FX RQS: 49.575 [1]
FX average: 49.471 [1]

[3] Alabama
RQS: 197.165 [3]
Season high: 197.525 [3]
Regular season average: 196.835 [3]

VT RQS: 49.285 [3]
VT average: 49.129 [4]
UB RQS: 49.415 [3]
UB average: 49.300 [3]
BB RQS: 49.360 [3]
BB average: 49.169 [3]
FX RQS: 49.315 [4]
FX average: 49.238 [3]

[4] Arkansas
RQS: 196.820 [4]
Season high: 197.300 [6]
Regular season average: 196.454 [4]

VT RQS: 49.055 [6]
VT average: 48.983 [6]
UB RQS: 49.340  [4]
UB average: 49.194 [4]
BB RQS: 49.285 [4]
BB average: 49.167 [4]
FX RQS: 49.265 [6]
FX average: 49.092 [6]

[5] Nebraska
RQS: 196.815 [5]
Season high: 197.525 [3]
Regular season average: 196.356 [5]

VT RQS: 49.250 [4]
VT average: 49.146 [3]
UB RQS: 49.250 [5]
UB average: 49.044 [6]
BB RQS: 49.150 [6]
BB average: 48.975 [6]
FX RQS: 49.320 [3]
FX average: 49.192 [4]

[6] Georgia
RQS: 196.515 [6]
Season high: 197.525 [3]
Regular season average: 196.335 [6]

VT RQS: 49.125 [5]
VT average: 48.998 [5]
UB RQS: 49.215 [6]
UB average: 49.092 [5]
BB RQS: 49.210 [5]
BB average: 49.071 [5]
FX RQS: 49.290 [5]
FX average: 49.175 [5]

Semifinal #2 – April 20, 6:00 CT

[1] Oklahoma – Beam
[4] Utah – Vault
[5] Florida – Bars
[8] Washington – Floor
[9] Cal – Bye before floor
[12] Kentucky – Bye before bars

The draw in this semifinal has Florida and Washington ending on the byes. Ugh. Based on ranking, that would be the fight for the final Super Six spot—the #3 and #4 teams—so of course you would want those two teams not even competing as the meet concludes. Just keep whispering to yourself that this is the last year of byes. We have so many new complaints to develop for next year. Some that we haven’t even thought of yet! How exciting!

The competitors in this second semifinal are entirely as expected based on ranking. Oklahoma, Utah, and Florida will not hate this draw and will expect to go through here, coming in with higher RQSs as well as a significant advantage in regionals scores.

I think we all have a repeat of 2017 Super Six in mind as the default position approaching nationals, waiting to see which teams look the most mistake-likely to see if an upset is on.

By the numbers

[1] Oklahoma
RQS: 198.120 [1]
Season high: 198.375 [1]
Regular season average: 197.850 [1]

VT RQS: 49.535 [1]
VT average: 49.485 [1]
UB RQS: 49.545 [1]
UB average: 49.525 [1]
BB RQS: 49.605 [1]
BB average: 49.396 [1]
FX RQS: 49.530 [1]
FX average: 49.444 [2]

[2] Utah
RQS: 197.540 [2]
Season high: 198.150 [2]
Regular season average: 197.368 [2]

VT RQS: 49.440 [3]
VT average: 49.380 [2]
UB RQS: 49.320 [3]
UB average: 49.307 [3]
BB RQS: 49.320 [4]
BB average: 49.223 [3]
FX RQS: 49.520 [2]
FX average: 49.459 [1]

[3] Florida
RQS: 197.390 [3]
Season high: 198.150 [2]
Regular season average: 197.170 [3]

VT RQS: 49.445 [2]
VT average: 49.345 [3]
UB RQS: 49.470 [2]
UB average: 49.361 [2]
BB RQS: 49.440 [2]
BB average: 49.291 [2]
FX RQS: 49.420 [3]
FX average: 49.173 [5]

[4] Washington
RQS: 196.960 [4]
Season high: 197.400 [5]
Regular season average: 196.571 [4]

VT RQS: 49.105 [6]
VT average: 49.025 [6]
UB RQS: 49.220  [6]
UB average: 49.121 [4]
BB RQS: 49.345 [3]
BB average: 49.183 [4]
FX RQS: 49.350 [4]
FX average: 49.242 [3]

[5] Cal
RQS: 196.890 [5]
Season high: 197.500 [4]
Regular season average: 196.150 [6]

VT RQS: 49.275 [4]
VT average: 49.123 [4]
UB RQS: 49.230  [5]
UB average: 48.892 [6]
BB RQS: 49.230 [6]
BB average: 48.977 [6]
FX RQS: 49.255 [6]
FX average: 49.142 [6]

[6] Kentucky
RQS: 196.800 [6]
Season high: 197.100 [6]
Regular season average: 196.469 [5]

VT RQS: 49.200 [5]
VT average: 49.121 [5]
UB RQS: 49.245 [4]
UB average: 49.065 [5]
BB RQS: 49.295 [5]
BB average: 49.046 [5]
FX RQS: 49.315 [5]
FX average: 49.238 [4]

The draw for Super Six will be as follows:

Vault – Semifinal II, Team #2
Bye before bars – Semifinal I, Team #2
Bars – Semifinal I, Team #3
Beam – Semifinal II, Team #1
Bye before floor – Semifinal I, Team #1
Floor – Semifinal II, Team #3

You know, that thing where you’re like, “I REALLY WANT TO FINISH SECOND IN THE SECOND SEMIFINAL!”


The individual competitors traveling to nationals without teams are typically an afterthought because there’s so much going on during the semifinal day—and ALL ABOUT THE TEAM and whatnot. Plus, your major title contenders are usually there with teams anyway.

This year, however, there will be a little bit more attention on the individual competitors because Elizabeth Price is a very legitimate threat to win the national AA title. She has been paired with Utah, going in Olympic order in the second group, so her floor will be the final routine of them all on semifinal day.

Not since 1995 has a non-team gymnast won the individual all-around title, but this has already been the year of the individual with two (Morgan Lane, Jovannah East) qualifying to nationals that didn’t even get to compete at regionals with their teams. A very rare feat.

Maggie Nichols will nonetheless enter nationals as the significant favorite for the AA title with an RQS advantage of nearly a tenth over anyone else, but things are often crazy in the all-around as we saw last season. And every season before that.

Of note, the heavy majority of the major AA contenders will be competing in the second semifinal here. Of the top 15 all-arounders in the country, only the LSU AAers are competing in the first session (in addition to Kyla Ross, but she did not compete floor at regionals, so that remains a question mark).

Does that matter? Probably not. Discussion of scores building in the second semifinal is typically overblown. Historically, there’s no numerical evidence to support the idea that scores build for the second semifinal. In individual instances like that year, we can point to noticeably bloated scores in the second group, but when you take all years together, the difference between the scores in the two semifinals reverts to insignificance.

So while there may not be an actual evidence-based advantage to competing second, the nature of this year’s draw indicates that our national AA champion is fairly likely to come from the second group.

Teams mostly tend to prefer competing in the first semifinal because it allows for more rest before Super Six, although last year the teams in the first semifinal were upset because they had to return to the arena at 10pm for an 18-hour award ceremony followed by press availability when they would rather have been resting for Super Six.

Ah, the dramas of NCAA.

Just for fun. Don’t freak out.

Because of UGH BYES, I applied next year’s postseason format to the rankings from this year and used last weekend’s regional scores to see what we would have ended up with if that format were in place this year. (Some of the lower-ranked seeding format principles haven’t been resolved yet, but I’ve done it based on what they should be.)

Full format

Round 1 (Play-in round)

Penn State – 194.900
Central Michigan – 195.825

New Hampshire – 194.950
Iowa – 195.050

Maryland – 195.850
Kent State – 194.900

Southern Utah – 194.625
Pittsburgh – 195.125

Round 2

[1] Oklahoma – 198.000
[16] Auburn – 196.525
[24] Minnesota – 196.100
[Play-in 4] Pittsburgh – 195.125

[8] Washington – 196.275
[9] Cal – 196.725
[17] Arizona State – 195.750
[25] Ohio State – 196.500

[3] UCLA – 197.650
[14] Oregon State – 194.975
[22] Missouri – 196.100
[Play-in 2] Iowa – 195.050

[6] Alabama – 197.225
[11] Nebraska – 197.525
[19] George Washington – 195.425
[27] West Virginia – 194.400

[2] LSU – 197.675
[15] Boise State – 196.225
[23] Illinois – 196.425
[Play-in 3] Maryland – 195.850

[7] Michigan – 196.350
[10] Arkansas – 196.775
[18] Georgia – 196.500
[26] Stanford – 195.600

[4] Utah – 197.475
[13] Denver – 196.275
[21] BYU – 196.300
[Play-in 1] Central Michigan – 195.825

[5] Florida – 197.725
[12] Kentucky  – 197.050
[20] NC State – 196.050
[28] Iowa State – 195.925

Regional Finals

[1] Oklahoma – 198.000
[9] Cal – 196.725

[16] Auburn – 196.525
[25] Ohio State – 196.500

[3] UCLA – 197.650
[6] Alabama – 197.225
[11] Nebraska – 197.525
[22] Missouri – 196.100

[2] LSU – 197.675
[10] Arkansas – 196.775
[18] Georgia – 196.500
[23] Illinois – 196.425

[4] Utah – 197.475
[5] Florida – 197.725
[12] Kentucky  – 197.050
[21] BYU – 196.300

National semifinals

Semifinal I


Semifinal II


Sucks to be ranked 6th? We have been conditioned to think in terms of 1-6 being the strong rankings, but next year, the quest will be to get situated in the 1-4 spots and avoid being in a position like Alabama here. One thing I really like about this format is that it adds many more ranking goals to the regular season to place more urgency on the normal meets. In particular, you REALLY want to be in the top 28 to avoid those play-in meets, in addition to just hoping to make the top 36.


26 thoughts on “Onward to St. Louis”

  1. So if Ebee is rotating with Utah, that means the judges will be doing a direct comparison of her and Skinner on at least vault and floor, right? That’s pretty cool.

    1. Since Ebee will be closing out the meet (s) on the floor… is it OK to shout ‘Encore, Encore’ after she’s finished? 🙂

  2. Yeah Ebee will follow Mykayla Skinner on every event, should be pretty cool and set Ebee up for great scores. Especially being the evening session. I would love to see either of these athletes win the AA.

  3. I like the increased competition part of the new format. Hopefully it cuts down on the problem that the regular season doesn’t really matter under the current format. It’s a shame that gymnasts like Maddie Karr, Kirah Koshinski, Ivy Lu, Rachel Stypinski, Emily Glynn, Paige Zaziski, Danielle Mulligan, Kaitlyn Schou, Katy Clements, Britney Ward, Casey Lauter, Chelsea Knight, Bridget Hodan, Khazia Hislop, Emma McLean, Briannah Tsang, Kaitlyn Yanish, Nikole Addison, Anna Martucci, and Isis Lowrey won’t be at Nationals.

    1. I understand that feeling, but not everyone can make Nationals. There needs to be some level of selectivity. If you had additional 20 or 30 athletes it would waterdown the significance of making it. They have to draw the line somewhere and people will always say but this person or this team should have had a chance.

      They should bring back event finals tho. It made judging a little more fair because the anchor of UCLA, Oklahoma, or LSU no longer had the score building advantage. They were competing just like everyone else. And I think it gave individual competitors a better shot.

      1. Yes on Event Finals. I also think that RQS should have a role in those who go to nationals.

      2. I don’t think score-building is as much of an issue these days as in the past – does it happen? Yes. But there’s lots of examples (LSU beam) where the 1-2 get 9.90 plus scores and the 3-5 often go lower (so minor wobbles aren’t ignored). Since Finnegan is 6, she gets all the 10s. 🙂

        I agree that in order to qualify/be eligible for the AA or and event final, a gymnast should have competed the event xx amount of times and have a Top 25 RQS. Since it’s all about the “team” anyway, this way most of the gymnasts can focus on the team score and not worry about their own personal chances.

        If they changed the event qualification, they could go back to the top eight needing TWO real vaults in order to win – teams already have vault specialists (if they only train one event they can learn two vaults). I’m sure Skinner has two solid vaults, and Breanna might as well.

      3. Score building is definitely a thing, especially with teams outside the top 6! There’s a reason teams put a consistent, but not necessarily a 9.95y routine following their star in the fifth spot. It gives them a bump because the anchor is “supposed” to be the best scoring routine.

        Plus, Hambrick and Macadaeg likely would have had a few 10s on beam by now and definitely more 9.95s if they were anchors instead of lead-offs.

    2. Its a little ironic that Zaziski would have advanced if she remained a Arkansas.

  4. I don’t think Kyla is a question mark for AA, I thought they were resting her. And it’s not like they were in real danger of getting disqualified. It doesn’t make much sense to put Nia who consistently scores in the 9.7s over Ross who consistently scores in the upper 9.8s.

    1. I think you’re right although there is always the possibility that she has an mild injury and they want to make absolutely sure that she’s able to do VT and UB for them in Super Six. Which totally makes sense – love Kyla, she’s my absolute favorite, but I think UCLA has a better chance of winning the title than she does of winning the AA (and I don’t think UCLA’s title chances are all that high).

    2. Nia is from Columbus, Ohio. They may have wanted to give her a chance to perform in front of her family and friends and give Kyla a little break.

  5. the seeding order next year surely shouldn’t be from 1-16-24-(32/33) to 8-9-17-25, should it? i know there should be an incentive to do as well as possible in regular season but the top ranked teams aren’t threatened regardless of seeding. the RQS distance between 1 and 8 (1.160) is currently a lot bigger than between 9 and 24 (0.640). the seeding should focus on more parity between the middle ranked teams.

    therefore, i think seeding should be from 1-9-24-25 to 8-16-17-(32/33). this year, it would mean a regional of oklahoma/cal/minnesota/ohio state and a regional of washington/auburn/arizona state/pittsburgh. cal, as #9, certainly doesn’t have an easier regional than washington, as #8, in this scenario. sure, auburn and asu are both closer to washington but both would need to hit on the day to take washington out if they miss, while minnesota and ohio state aren’t that further away from cal and only one needs to hit to pounce on a mistake by cal, since okhaloma remains 100% unbothered forever. more room for regional upsets, which is good.

    not only that but it still gives us super regionals of 1-8-9-16 and 4-5-12-13 assuming no upsets, which are right. you definitely want to rank as high as possible here.

    1. I agree, since two teams go through each round you really need to base the seeding on the second ranked team in each group.

  6. As Spencer said, you’ve got to think that the second place team from Semi-Final II has a real advantage given their rotation order in the Super Six. Curious to see line-ups since perhaps a team like Oklahoma may elect to rest some gymnasts and be okay with taking second in their semi-final.

    1. It wouldn’t be smart for Oklahoma to rest gymnasts because the gymnasts they would need to rest to not get first are gymnasts that are legitimate contenders for individual titles. I just find it ridiculous that the worst place to get is 1st in the second semifinal. Would it really be that hard to organize the Super Six rotations by placement rather than random?

      1. Why is starting on beam/ending on bars worst? I would think ending on a bye after beam would be worse?

    2. Yeah, no one ever rests during semis. Individual titles are on the line and they want them to compete on the equipment before finals. It makes no sense to rest someone at Nationals. If they are that injured, they shouldn’t compete at all.

      1. I would think it would be more along the lines of a risk/reward hail marry of a routine. The closest I can imagine would be Ruby Harrold on VT for LSU- she might go 9.95 or she might fall. So put in a consistent full in semis and put it the bigger but less consistent vault in finals.

        I think OU put Vise ion on VT in Super Six but not prelims her senior year. I imagine that was more related to how the girls in line for that last spot warmed up.

      2. I agree with you on risk/reward, but that is a different issue. I was just replying to the original commenter saying OU could rest people to get the second qualifying spot on purpose. That wouldn’t happen.

  7. Not a great draw for Alabama, but I thought they had a poor draw during last year’s semifinals as well, with Michigan (in a similar position as Nebraska this year) following them on each event and being on the floor in the last rotation.

    If Alabama does miss Super Six, it will be interesting to see what Duckworth does. The team has had super slow starts to the season the last 2 years and while still a top 6 team, they have taken a step back from 2 to 3 years ago. Not sure if it’s injuries or something else however.

  8. I love the new format because there will likely be some upsets. I don’t expect gymnastics to ever have the following of basketball. With that being said, people love March Madness because of the potential of seeing a low ranked team from a smaller school full of kids who will never set foot on an NBA court pull off an upset over a team whose athletes will all make a ton of money in the NBA and who could have gone to any school in the country. It’s exciting. Imagine an N.C. State or Illinois or Missouri knocking off a UCLA with a roster full of Olympians and former elites. Upsets won’t happen every year, but the potential will make it fun.

    1. The Division II championships and the men’s championships still have event finals. There is no reason to drop it for Div I women. None. Nada. Zilch.

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