Things Are Happening – April 13, 2018

A. Say Yes to Jesolo

The Trofeo Citta di Jesolo—or as it is known in the US, “[Pause] Italy meet”—is upon us once more with many of the best countries in the world converging on Jesolo, lured by its format of having barely any rules about roster size. A one-stop shop for international experience!

With the individual US gyms stepping up to send gymnasts (in absence of USAG sending an official team), the assembled roster is shaping up much like in other years with the US group a mix of top seniors (Smith, Malabuyo) and newbies at their first rodeo. Meanwhile, Russia has sent a pretty solid senior and junior squad this year led by Melnikova, Brazil is getting Saraiva and Barbosa back out there, Romania is sending a full team to show it still has a program kind of, and Italy is bringing the typical large army of everyone.

Schedule
Junior Team/AA – Saturday April 14, 4:00am ET, 1:00am PT
Senior Team/AA – Saturday April 14, 10:00am ET, 7:00am PT
Event Finals – Sunday April 15, 8:30am ET, 5:30am PT

Only on FLO for us Americans.

On the US side, it will be fascinating to see how the scores put up by Smith and Malabuyo compare to what we’ve seen this year from Hurd as we start to clarify the picture of who the most significant contenders will be this summer/fall among a group that remains rather indistinct.

B. Pac Rims Team

On that note, the US has announced that it will be sending a team of McCallum, Hurd, Chiles, Lee, DiCello, and Bowers to Pac Rims this year following last weekend’s selection camp. The three seniors and three juniors follow exactly the all-around results from verification.

It seems like an approach specifically designed to avoid controversy at this point—not a bad idea. But, that will not be a usable system to decide a team when we get to competitions that matter, like worlds. This Pac Rims team is not one that maximizes scoring potential on all the events, which is fine for now, but you can’t just take the top AAers to worlds. They’re going to have to stick their necks out for selection at some point and decide what the new NTC approach/system is going to be, and do it pretty soon.

C. Tokyo

Running simultaneously to Jesolo will be the final competition in this run of all-around world cups, Tokyo.

The women’s roster features the much-anticipated return of Trinity Thomas to competition, though to get the shiny she will have to work past favorites like Mai Murakami and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos in what is a fairly deep field of competitors, also including Simakova, Seitz, Sugihara, Victoria Woo, and Volleman. While it originally appeared like Simakova would be here to give Melnikova a rest for a single week, also nah. Melnikova is just at Jesolo instead. MUST COMPETE ALL MEETS.

On the men’s side, Sam Mikulak will be in action for the first time since Winter Cup, trying to unseat Shirai and Dalaloyan for the top AA places.

Competition will go similarly to the format of American Cup, with the men’s and women’s meets running simultaneously but staggered since the men’s event is so much longer. Action begins with the men at 10:50pm ET/7:50pm PT on Friday night and will last for over four hours so be sure to get some…like hardtack and shiny trauma blankets or whatever? Four hours. Gah.

NBC will be streaming.

D. Regular Signing Period

The NCAA’s “regular” signing period began on Wednesday (most gymnasts sign during the “early” period, but not all), and we do have a few significant stragglers adding themselves to teams for next year.

Trinity Thomas – Florida
Florida is going to return 18 of its 24 current lineup routines for next year and is adding a class of five scholarship gymnasts, led by Thomas and Johnson-Scharpf. So things are probably looking OK.

Norah Flatley – UCLA
She lives. Flatley competed as a L10 in a few JO events this year to show that she can still do gymnastics in public since it has been so long, most recently winning bars at the Iowa state championship. She’ll join a class of Marz Frazier and VT/FX specialist Sekai Wright that will be expected to improve on this season’s team despite the departure of Peng.

Rachel Baumann – Georgia
Georgia’s quest to add someone to fill the open scholarship spot for next year went well, as Rachel Baumann will be joining a year early to fill out a large, roster-refresh style class of top L10s. Georgia will also be adding walk-on Sterlyn Austin to the large 2019 class, whom they’ll look to for depth options on vault and floor.

Cammy Hall – Utah
Hall has qualified for this year’s JO Nationals and is expected to contribute on vault and floor for Utah. She posted a career-high 9.825 on vault at the Region 7 championships yesterday.

Also:
Kristina Peterson – Oregon State
Jasmine Gutierrez – Arizona State
Natalie Payne – TWU

Emily Anderson – Seattle Pacific
Olivia Zona – George Washington
Maddy Langkamp – Iowa State

CGF also has Jensie Givens, a UB/BB specialist these last few years, joining Alabama next season, presumably in a walk-on role.

In other NCAA news, the carousel has begun. I don’t expect as many coaching changes this offseason as we had last year, which featured an unprecedented amount of turnover, but as performance-based coaching decisions become more common and swift (you don’t have to be a monster to get fired anymore!), we will see more changes and exchanges and whatnot.

Team Outgoing coach Reason Incoming coach
Rutgers Louis Levine Contract
not renewed

E. USAG Nationals

Because every competition is called the exact same thing, it can get confusing, but this intermediate weekend between regionals and nationals brings us the USAG collegiate championship, a championship specifically reserved for programs able to offer between 0 and 6 scholarships (as opposed to the DI norm of 12 for the big-girl programs).

This is not to be confused with “USA Gymnastics Championships,” the national championship for the non-artistic events, and “U.S. Gymnastics Championships” which is P&G Championships now that any reasonable company won’t touch this trash monster with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe get some new names?

USAG nationals has had the correct championship format worked out for a while now with two four-team semifinals, followed by a four-team final, followed by event finals. WHHHAAAAAA?

Semifinal #1
April 13, 2:00 CT – Lindenwood, Bridgeport, Air Force, Penn
Scores
Stream

Semifinal #2
April 13, 7:00 CT – TWU, Yale, Cornell, Brown
Scores
Stream

Team Final
April 14, 7:00 CT
Scores
Stream

Event Finals
April 15, 1:00 CT
Scores
Stream

Lindenwood is the favorite for the title this year, but watch out for TWU, especially as the host of the meet this year. We’ve seen TWU’s scores soar at home, and Lindenwood just barely got out of its semifinal. Yale has also enjoyed a program-best season this year with records flying all over the place, so keep an eye on that as well.

F. GymCastic

This week, we recap NCAA regionals, US verification camp, and Commonwealth Games—also featuring a very special lambasting of USAG for its handling of non-disclosure agreements. You would expect nothing less!

G. Beam routine of the week

Der.

I’m very interested to see what kind of E score this routine gets in Tokyo in the current beam score-scape. Thomas was going high 8s in the US domestically (8.700 for the routine above, and a bunch of that was the dismount), and while NO ONE is getting high 8s on beam at seriously FIG-scored meets right now, Thomas is one of the best nominees in the world for a high execution score because there’s so relatively little to take in terms of built-in deductions. If she hits, it will be a useful standard to evaluate what a “good” beam execution score is right now.

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12 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – April 13, 2018”

  1. I don’t really know how USAG nationals works, but I see that each team has more than 6 scores listed on each event in the links provided. Are the extra gymnasts actually athletes who qualified as individuals but are rotating with the schools that sent full teams to nationals?

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    1. to answer my own question: apparently so. McKenna Zimmerman is listed with TWU, as having competed AA, but she is actually from SeaPac. TWU has 7 scores on VT and 8 on each of the other events (only five are included in the totals), so presumably the additional UB, BB, & FX scores are from individual event competitors.

      I wish they’d separate them out so we could see where the individual competitors are from.

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  2. Honestly, for future team selections I wouldn’t be super opposed to them just doing the same thing as before but making the results from selection camp public

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    1. I agree, and I think there should be some sort of point system similar to RQS that NCAA uses. Take the best 2-3 AAers based off this system…place them into a Team Finals scenario and see where the holes are and then plug them in by looking at individual event rankings. This way it incorporates placement at competitions throughout the year (verification camps can count if the results are posted and archived) and not just left up to the selection committee. I also think that World teams should be named after Nationals and Olympic Teams named after OT. Eliminate the World/Olympic Verification/Selection camp completely. Let the athletes rest a bit and do some mock meets into soft landings so that they are protected and not injured by Worlds. Being transparent will also help if the teams are named and explained. I don’t think there would be any controversy for athletes or coaches if they top 2-3 AAers were chosen based off a point system and the rest of the team was chosen by data.

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      1. Only issue with that is that your data is only as good as the judges/input. If the judges consistently over- or underscore a gymnast, her ranking will be affected and the actual best team won’t get chosen. Lots of top-level gymnasts get name-recognition bonuses while n00bs are hit with harsher scoring. If there is the ability to re-judge upon request, or some additional judging control (“judges have to be within .x points of each other for the score to be valid” etc) then maybe picking teams based on data will work.

        There is also the mental portion that sometimes crops up when you have someone who does great at national competitions but blows every international assignment. At some point, you need to stop assigning them to international teams, no matter what they are scoring at home or what the data says. But, having the (admittedly sometimes) biased data isn’t really any worse than “whatever Martha feels like on this particular day” that they used to do. So, whatevs.

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  3. I’m a little worried about LSU… is the #2 team in the nation, and the one with arguably the best facilities to boot, really not signing anyone next year??

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    1. They have a huge freshman class this year (7, including at least one, Desiderio, who was originally expected for next season, and four set for the year after next (two elites, & two level 10s), per collegegymfans.com. So – a bit of a class imbalance, I guess, but nothing too worrying. There should be 14 on the roster for next year that I can see, with Kelley back, I assume. Hambrick & Macadaeg are big shoes to fill, though.

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    1. And Georgia is going to have Dickson, Snead and Vega back. A healthy Emily Schild and Marissa Oakley back too. If Gigi Marino comes back that’s going to be even better. I’m looking forward to next year. They should be in good shape with whose coming in and who they already have

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  4. I’m a little confused on Air Force having 0-6 scholarships. Isn’t everyone at Air Force (not just the gymnasts) on scholarship effectively?

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    1. Everyone at the academies already has school paid for, so it’s not considered an athletic scholarship. Technically, they are all walk ons.

      Where I’m confused is SEMO being included in it. I thought they were a regular DI school with 12 scholarships.

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