Week 6 Ranking Notes

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1. Oklahoma Sooners

Average: 197.813
Previous ranking: 1

What semi-inadvertently became Oklahoma’s “exploring depth road meet” because of Brenna-Bars-Gate 2019—in which Dowell had a scary moment on bars in the warmup and had to be pulled from the meet—still ended up as a perfectly high 197.700. It certainly wasn’t Oklahoma’s ideal performance and didn’t really get going until beam in the final rotation (and even that rotation had a fall), but for a meet without Dowell, without Showers, and with Nichols still limited to two events, being able to go 197.700 is not a bad thing. It did stretch the limits of Oklahoma’s depth right to the edge, though, with just five usable vault scores, only five people going on bars, and some definite backups in the lineup on floor.

2. Florida Gators

Average: 197.670
Previous ranking: 2

Florida’s 197.850 in a home victory over Auburn proved the big score of the weekend, seeing the Gators gain a little bit of ground on the Sooners in the quest for first place. Save for the first couple positions on vault, which still need to be resolved, I’m looking at the lineups Florida put up in this one and saying, “Yep, that’s the group.” Schoenherr entered the floor lineup with a solid performance that bolstered that six, in addition to following up last week’s vault success with another hit as she looks to be hitting her stride, and of course Trinity Thomas continues to be everything. Vault still lags behind the other pieces in looking sufficiently postseason-y, but we saw continued progress on those landings over the weekend. We’re still being promised some 1.5s that are vaguely side-eye-inducing, but 4-5 10.0s is going to be competitive enough if the landings get there. 

3. UCLA Bruins

Average: 197.575
Previous ranking: 3

UCLA’s performance against Washington on Sunday was speckled with a wholly expected amount of highs and ehs. Ross and Ohashi got 10s on vault and floor respectively (67% of the 10s awarded so far this season have gone to UCLA gymnasts—discuss), but it was almost entirely those couple big-money routines from the stars that got UCLA’s total up to the rarefied 197.6 zone because the rest of the lineups had some issues. Beam was pretty shaky for the majority, and those bars and vault lineups both had some issues in that they were not six-strong with competitive routines, and it’s unclear at this point who would make them six-strong. Well, I shouldn’t say unclear. You want Frazier on vault and Dennis on bars and Anna Glenn on both as needed, but that hasn’t been able to happen.

4. Utah Utes

Average: 197.196
Previous ranking: 4

Another week, another 197.1 for Utah to stay steady in the 4th position. Utah’s streak of all these low 197s to start a season is both record-breaking and frustrating at the same time—the college gymnastics special. On the one hand, it has never happened before (there’s always been some manner of 196), but on the other hand, these scores are a fall lower than what the top 3 teams are regularly being awarded, even when just kind of OK. Vault reigned as the big highlight for Utah on Saturday. Those landings were excellent and are farther along than most teams at this point in the season (just keep them for April…), but we’re still seeing a lack of non-Skinner 9.9s on bars and floor, with some uncharacteristically short handstands (I think about 5 people in the bars lineup had a deduction on the opening cast hs) keeping bars as the lowest-scoring event over the weekend.

5. LSU Tigers

Average: 196.850
Previous ranking: 5

LSU was able to hang onto 5th this week despite the performance that shall not be named for 196.025 against Kentucky. Still, the Tigers are falling well behind the top four and are nearing danger of being caught by those in the lower half of the top 10. Last season, LSU didn’t have a score lower than 197.575 as part of its RQS numbers. This year, LSU’s peak score is 197.450. With 7 meets remaining, we’re now in crunch time. The team has to start eradicating these weak performances, otherwise they’ll manifest in a rough postseason seeding. This week, it was a counting fall on bars and three OOBs on floor that eliminated LSU from contention for a usable score, despite what were some impressive fulls on vault and a couple pretty hits on beam.

6. Denver Pioneers

Average: 196.730
Previous ranking: 7

Our first change in the rankings this week sees Denver leapfrog Georgia on the strength of that 197.400 recorded against Oklahoma—in what turned out to be a surprisingly close and exciting contest. The moral of story was, Denver is legit. While Denver is not going to be quite that close to Oklahoma under typical circumstances, the bars lineup and the last few routines on the every event will score comfortably with those of any other team. Where Denver may struggle in March/April is the early routines on vault and floor, which were a little small in direct comparison to Oklahoma’s lineup difficulty and amplitude—and a little bouncy, which can be resolved—but Denver should continue to make a serious push for nationals as we go. As long as the equipment works…

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Average: 196.564
Previous ranking: 6

All things considered, Georgia got away with one in snatching a 196.300 road score against Missouri considering that the bars team counted a fall in the first rotation, Sabrina Vega fell on her beam mount randomly, and things could have gone rillllll baaaaaad. In the end, a196.300 is kind of what Georgia has been doing at road meets for the last two seasons anyway. But, Georgia’s road results continue as an area of focus because they’re not nearly at the level of home performances, which makes the remaining road meets pretty significant (congratulations, the next one is at Florida). Then again, Georgia is a regionals host this year, so maybe it doesn’t matter at all.

8. Michigan Wolverines

Average: 196.383
Previous ranking: 10

Michigan finally got its score and gains two spots in the rankings as a result, moving up to a more befitting 8th after the 197.350 home victory over Iowa on Sunday. The lineups do continue looking a little depleted following the season-ending injury to O’Hara and with McLean still not on vault—Michigan did get Abby Heiskell into the vault and floor lineups this week, which is progress, but she’ll need some more time. Nonetheless, we saw the top beamers deliver in a way they hadn’t yet this season, and Maxim stuck her first (counting) vault, giving Michigan hope for a very competitive group of five 10.0 starts on vault at the end of the season should Karas and McLean be able to return to their full difficulty.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide

Average: 196.371
Previous ranking: 8

Alabama did not do poorly over the weekend, defeating Arkansas on the road with a 196.700, but nonetheless drops a spot in the rankings because Michigan scored better—exactly illustrating the problem with this high-196 rut that Alabama finds itself in. These are not bad performances—Graber had a couple 9.9s, Armbrecht was back on beam for a good one—but they’re still opening the door to any manner of team that happens to put it all together that week, get some softer scoring, and zoom into the 197s. Despite having to work against some serious losses from last season and probably not being as strong as the 2018 team, Alabama shouldn’t be a 9.7y roster, yet had to count five 9.7s against Arkansas. The direct comparison to Florida next weekend will be exceptionally telling as it should provide some answers about how seriously to take Alabama’s chances this year. Are these routines consistently .050-.100 weaker than Florida’s lineup?

10. Boise State Broncos

Average: 196.205
Previous ranking: 9

A 196.075 in victory over Utah State depressed Boise State’s average by a smidge, but not enough to cause any real damage in the rankings. It’s still a 196, and in terms of maintaining a reasonable slate of 196s for a postseason ranking, Boise State is ahead of the curve and basically just needs to get three more good hit meets over the next six weeks to ensure a top-16 seeding, which isn’t too much to ask. This was simply a meet in which Boise State didn’t really get those wow scores (except for Shani Remme’s typically exceptional all-around performance) and had a few more falls and iffies that led to counting some of those early-lineup 9.7s that BSU would prefer to drop.

11. Auburn Tigers

Average: 196.158
Previous ranking: 12

Auburn continues creeping up the rankings, and while there will be some disappointment over the performance against Florida because vault and beam didn’t deliver quite like they could have, a 196.700 road score still gets the job done. But, the score could have been well into the 197s with a full hit so will feel like a bit of a letdown. It’s still not the most reassuring beam lineup—as in you’re kind of scared to death the entire time—though ideally Emma Slappey will be able to return there at some point to shore things up. The floor lineup did get its own necessary boost over the weekend with the return of Gracie Day, who hadn’t competed since scoring in the 8s in the first meet but has a top-3 routine on the team and will be essential in any postseason floor lineup.

12. Oregon State Beavers

Average: 196.115
Previous ranking: 11

Oregon State was forced to return to the land of the peasants this week following its UCLA-scoring-adventure of the previous weekend, but the 196.350 recorded away against Arizona is nonetheless OSU’s top road score of the season so far. The team will also know that this could have been in the higher 196s given a hit meet. Dropped falls led to some lower scores counting, most significantly in a 9.700-a-thon of a bars rotation. Bars really shouldn’t be Oregon State’s weak event—especially with Sabrina Gill back in the lineup for 9.900 as she was this week—but it has been so far this season with so many counting 9.7s. Gill is back, and we’ll see if Singley can get back there as well because those two should be able to allow for the lower scores to be weaned out of the lineup.

13. Kentucky Wildcats

Average: 196.025
Previous ranking: 17

Like Michigan, Kentucky finally got its big score this week for a hit meet that delivered the fancy home numbers, even though Kentucky is not typically famous for that. Kentucky’s new-found 197.150 in upsetting LSU is reflected in the rankings with a four-spot jump and an average that has finally reached the 196s. This Kentucky team had no business being in the 195s anyway. While Korth, Hyland, and Dukes delivered the big performances we expect of them, the difference-maker this week was getting Hailey Poland back on her two events and getting Ella Warren back on floor and Josie Angeny back on beam after missing both last week. For the most part, the supporting scores were there for Kentucky this time, and it showed.

14. California Golden Bears

Average: 195.946
Previous ranking: 14

It was a “so close” road score for Cal over the weekend, putting up a perfectly acceptable 196.225 performance at Utah but one that could have been a heartier road number if not for some struggles on beam at the end of the meet with falls and series credit. You know that thing where you’re Toni-Ann Williams and you have too much power for your standing front tuck on beam? Milan Clausi is starting to produce some real excellence on her three main events, putting up what I would deem Cal’s strongest routine on each of her pieces. Her presence is particularly important this year on floor, allowing Cal to be conservative with Williams and rest her as needed without the entire lineup being 9.775.

15. Missouri Tigers

Average: 195.921
Previous ranking: 13

A bit of a missed-opportunity week for Missouri saw the team lose a dual meet to Georgia despite Georgia counting a fall on bars because Missouri had to count its own fall on beam. Britney Ward was held out of lineups this week with a knee problem, vault and beam were Missouri’s low scores, and those two situations are very related. In addition to the beam misses, we saw a vault lineup that seriously yearned for its strongest routines to come back, even though freshman Frances Bidwill did get into the group for the first time to give it a boost. Bidwill was quite good on vault and floor in JO.

16. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Average: 195.913
Previous ranking: 18

The big win over Nebraska this weekend, earned with a third-consecutive score in the better half of the 196s, has seen Minnesota gain another two spots in the rankings as the competitiveness of these lineups becomes harder to ignore. Most of the focus deservedly goes to Ivy Lu and Lexy Ramler (whose scores I can’t even talk about because this meet’s judges were fairly obviously doing crack—and yet Ramler’s bars and beam were still low), but the floor routine from Paige Williams for 9.900 was ultimately what delivered Minnesota’s biggest rotation score. The high twisting, you guys.

17. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Average: 195.904
Previous ranking: 16

Nebraska, I can’t stay mad at you. Going for a vault lineup of six Y1.5s (the second team ever to attempt that) was probably a terrible idea because the first two fell and Nebraska ended up with a super low vault score at what otherwise would have been a big home 197, but it was also fun and unexpected, so whatever. Nebraska is much better than this ranking of #17 reflects but does not have the scores yet. With six meets remaining, Nebraska needs a solid five of those meets to be over the 196.5 barrier to feel comfortable with its seeding and not get a terrible regionals draw.

18. Washington Huskies

Average: 195.900
Previous ranking: 15

We’ve seen Washington fall in the rankings these last couple weeks because as most of Washington’s peer teams are starting to go well into the 196s, even when they’re not quite on, Washington is still stuck in the 195.8-196.0 zone for hit meets like the one we saw against UCLA. Getting Kristyn Hoffa back into the vault lineup was a step (she landed short this week, but will soon be among the top couple vaults on the team again), and the beam lineup can still perform with much more rhythm and sureness than it has, beam being the event where Washington can make the biggest strides in its quest for higher 196s.

19. Arizona State Sun Devils

Average: 195.783
Previous ranking: 19

Arizona State recorded its best result of the season on Sunday, a 196.375 in defeating Stanford at home. The score was predominantly built on five big floor numbers, but getting comprehensive hits out of the bars and beam lineups—and not solely relying on CLB to do all the scoring work—was equally important. Anne Kuhm putting up three strong events and recording season-high 9.875s on bars and floor were essential in this one as her performances thus far had been a little more 9.7y than we came to expect based on last season. ASU also got freshmen Stephanie Tripodi and Jasmine Gutierrez into lineups for the first time, important considering just how many of this team’s routines are coming from seniors. Without some increased contributions from underclasswomen (other than CLB), things might look rough for next season.

20. BYU Cougars

Average: 195.780
Previous ranking: 21

BYU gained just one spot in the rankings following a 196.425 road victory at Air Force, but it was a more important result than that ranking movement indicates because until this point, BYU had scored only 194s at road meets. Breaking 49 on every event outside of the state of Utah was essential in proving competitiveness. Of note, a massive bars score from bursting-with-potential Canadian Helody Cyrenne meant that event didn’t suffer even when Shannon Evans wasn’t getting the big number to lead the way. Gotta have those supporting routines.

21. Arkansas Razorbacks

Average: 195.500
Previous ranking: 22

Arkansas did pick up one spot this week following a 195.800 against Alabama, Arkansas’s third score of 195.8 in the first six meets of the season. In this one, the absence of Sarah Shaffer accounted for much of Arkansas not scoring up to its capability, as a couple not-a-fall-but-not-a-hit routines had to be counted across the events in lieu of the usable score you would have expected from Shaffer. It meant that big routines from Hambrick and McGlone, who both had excellent moments especially on vault, had to be used to save rotation scores rather than bring them well into the 49s. A fairly unsettled beam lineup was also an issue, not able to absorb a surprising miss from Sophia Carter.

22. Ohio State Buckeyes

Average: 195.408
Previous ranking: 20

Ohio State’s second rough meet in as many weeks saw the team fall another couple spots in the rankings. This weekend’s pretend-it-never-happened 194.250—a two-fall beam meet and a three-fall floor meet—will need to be dropped as soon as possible. It can be because OSU does already have three road 196s on the docket, so as long as things get better next week against Nebraska, this mid-season dip is not serious. But they’ll have to get better. The absence of Amanda Huang in this one accounted for some of the problems as she typically brings an essential routine on three events, but several of the misses came from people who would have been in the lineup regardless.

23. Iowa State Cyclones

Average: 195.396
Previous ranking: 23

Iowa State returned home and returned to the 195.3s this weekend, far less fun than the adventure into the high 196s that was the previous road meet. Still, 195.3s shouldn’t be treated as the normal for this team. The meet was on pace for a higher 195 (and possible 196) until mistakes on floor for 4-5 lower-than-expected scores brought the total down. Encouragingly, Iowa State has seen big, hit beam routines from Grace Woolfolk the last two weeks since hers should be the team’s best beam routine and has the potential to be a wow moment.

24. Penn State Nittany Lions

Average: 195.388
Previous ranking: 25

Penn State does gain a position in the rankings this week but won’t be particularly pleased about losing to Rutgers, a road meet that PSU would have expected to win quite comfortably. In this one, beam (which had been a consistency concern) turned into the starring event and the one that kept PSU’s score in acceptable-enough territory to gain a ranking spot, while the bars and vault scores stayed pedestrian. A surprising vault miss from AA star Lauren Bridgens meant that too many low early-lineup scores had to count, and similar low numbers in the beginning of bars, which is typically going to be the team’s best event, led to the same stunted scores there.

25. Arizona Wildcats

Average: 195.329
Previous ranking: 25

A 195.475 at home against Oregon State allowed Arizona to retain its spot in the top 25 as Stanford fell out of the picture following its 195.000. Arizona may have hoped for a little bit more out of this one since it’s the team’s second-to-last home meet (up next is an entire month of meets on the road), but it’s pretty much on track with the team average. The tendency to vault-9.7 the final score out of the 196s will continue to be an issue as Arizona tries to retain this ranking, but the team can hope for a reflected-glow big number in a visit to UCLA next week.

48 thoughts on “Week 6 Ranking Notes”

  1. “67% of the 10s awarded so far this season have gone to UCLA gymnasts—discuss.”

    IMO some of that is due to smart routine construction, lineup orders, and really great gymnasts turning in great performances. Most is due to inappropriate scoring.

    I guess I do believe that UCLA has more 10-potential routines than most, (possibly all?) teams, but that’s still way too many for 2019. Also, in my ideal world, the total number of 10s awarded per NCAA season should be under 20. Maybe even under ten.

    1. I’ve begun to have a hard time watching UCLA as the season has progressed as it seems all about the “viral videos” and ” the legend of Miss Val” than about the rest of the hardworking athletes and coaches. I seriously only tune in to see Kyla get a chance to shine on her own…

      The whole UCLA machine has started to seem so contrived and fake to me that I’ll watch another meet if available….I get that they do great gymnastics but the routines aren’t all 10 worthy and I’d like to see some genuine scoring for a change.

    2. Whose was the blond gymnast on the UCLA team who was wearing blue sunglasses during the meet at Oregon State?

      Was the gymnast just wearing the sunglasses because she’s from LA and a ‘cool’ person or were they protecting her eyes from the light?

  2. When it comes to Alabama, I don’t get how Shallon Olsen keeps getting scores in the 9.8s for stuck DTYs and a floor routine with top notch difficulty. It’s odd. Certainly, she could clean up her form, but based on what gymnasts on other teams are scoring, it makes little sense.

    With that said, Alabama has just taken a downturn on the power events over the last few years. It’s not just the lack of 10 SV vaults, but the FTYs on the team are fine, but not on the level of the Marissa Gutierez/Kayla Hoffman/Kaitlin Clark type FTYs that the team used to have. Same story on floor lately.

    1. I was struggling with Shallon’s scores on vault too, but I think it comes down to power. She doesn’t get a ton of height or distance on the vault and the judges are deducting accordingly. If I had to guess.

      1. But Shallon has better form than Ashley Gnat ever had on any of her multiple 10 vault scores… Gnat never had a lot of distance either if I recall correctly.

      2. I was making the comparison to Gnat’s 10s earlier in the year and was a little bit upset about how Shallon was scored in comparison so I went back and watched Gnat’s vaults and Gnat does get a lot more power than Shallon does. I think the other thing to keep in mind is that when Gnat was getting 10s, there weren’t a lot of gymnasts doing the DTY. At first, she was the only one, then McMurtry added it and Skinner came in and Pedrick added it, but still not many. So it was a novelty and the judges went a little easier on it because she was doing something that hardly anyone else was. Now there are more gymnasts doing it and it’s not quite as special so the judges are being a little tougher on it. Now do I think the judges could throw Shallon a bone and go 9.9 or maybe 9.95 on the vault when she sticks it? Sure. But I don’t think this is the worst case of judging I’ve seen.

      3. Gnat got a little more height but Shallon has tighter form. Her form isn’t text book, but her legs are only separated in the first twist. Gnat has softer knees. Olsen got more distance, Gnat more height. In a nutshell there strengths and weaknesses would balance out to them scoring about the same, but we’re not seeing that. On floor Olsen is scored fairly. When she sticks everything she gets a 9.9. That’s because her leaps don’t get nearly enough extension, so they’re deducting accordingly there; then when she has steps and shuffles it delves into the 9.8s. You can argue that most who have that difficulty get more compensation than Olsen, but I think scoring is fair. I think vault has been underscored, she should be going 9.95 at least for sticks. Much weaker DTYs have gone 10.

    2. I actually think Alabama has its best floor routines (choreo-wise) in years. At minimum the Tide’s floor hasn’t been as interesting since 2014 when Demeo, Jacob and Millner were seniors.

      If any week has the potential for Alabama to finally get some “friendly” scoring at home it’s this coming Friday when Florida comes to town – unless Alabama has to count a fall I can see the Tide pulling off the upset and winning (neither Florida or Alabama has won a dual road meet in years against each other – maybe ever, but I don’t know about the 80s, 90s and early 00s).

  3. “67% of the 10s awarded so far this season have gone to UCLA gymnasts—discuss.”

    All I’m going to say is that I never want to hear about “SEC scoring” again.

    1. Just wait until the OU vs. UCLA meet later this year – will someone break 199? 🙂

      Perfect 40s for Maggie and Kyla upcoming…

      1. I think Kyla’s were well deserved, both of Ohashis are crack and Kocian I’m on the fence.

  4. I think that’s why you’re hearing from the Alabama fans….because they aren’t getting their usual SEC scoring that they are used to…

    1. Alabama has been realistically scored this year, but compared to some teams getting extremely over scored, especially UGA at home meets, fans have a good case to be ticked off.

      The only good thing about the UGA over scores at home is at least their road scores are realistic and more in line with where the team should be scoring.

      Denver and Boise State have also received friendly scores than Alabama but I’m pretty sure it’s the UGA home scoring that ticks off most fans.

  5. “67% of the 10s awarded so far this season have gone to UCLA gymnasts—discuss.”

    There is definitely some “this is the viral team so we must give them 10’s” going on with UCLA this year. Their athletes who are getting these 10s are producing routines the same standard as the tops athletes at OU and Florida who keep getting 9.95-9.975 every week. The UCLA program has definitely become about a few praised individuals than about having a great team.

    Hopefully the UCLA fans who are the most vocal about the over-scoring of OU and Florida start to look at their own team on the same issue instead of constantly bashing some other Athletes.

    1. Completely agree! Over the past couple of seasons, I’ve seen plenty of complaining about OU, Florida, etc. being over-scored, but when the same thing happens at UCLA, no one ever seems to bat an eye.

      1. Well until recently, it didn’t matter a whole lot because UCLA was such a disaster that they weren’t challenging for titles. Maybe that’s why.

        I’ve heard A LOT of complaining about UCLA overscoring in the past two years. Probably because it started to matter.

      2. Maybe you’re talking about a different platform, but if you’re talking about this site, there has been quite a bit of complaint about the overscoring of all three of those teams throughout the last few years. If anyone is saying that people on this site haven’t commented on the overscoring of one of those teams, they’ve been reading rather selectively.

      3. No, all this has happened when UCLA has been ranked in the top 3-4. I didn’t watch NCAA back when UCLA was a “disaster”. And I’m mostly talking about Facebook and Twitter. I’ve found the comments on here to usually be reasonable 🙂

  6. UCLA is a fabulous… but hoarding 67% of the 10s this season is pretty outrageous. Honestly, the athletes would be better served getting real 10s, not OMG OHASHI 10s. It would mean more.

    1. Personally I think the 67% of 10s going to UCLA may be a good thing because it means perhaps the judges are being more picky about just throwing out random 10s, outside of the team with the Olympians.

      In two years once the current junior classes graduate perhaps 10s will be even harder to get to. On the other hand, there have been a lot of 9.975s which shows at least one judge is willing to go there.

      Just thought I’d throw out a different opinion.

  7. For me, the “UCLA SHOW” is why I don’t care for them. It’s contrived, inauthentic, and distracting. UCLA has phenomenal gymnasts, so let them be phenomenal gymnasts without all the sideshow.

    Additionally, look how coaches like Greg Marsden, Suzanne Yoculan, and Sarah Patterson retired. They retired without pomp and circumstance. I dislike that the 2019 season has become the Miss Val Farewell Tour. How they choose to retire speaks volumes about them, Miss Val included. For basketball fans it’s a Tim Duncan retirement vs. a Kobe Bryant retirement.

    1. Agree completely. I often think about the year that Greg Marsden retired and really think if he had announced he was retiring before the National Championships, and all else being equal, Utah would have won the national championship that year. It was so close as it was and knowing that he was retiring, I think, would have been enough to put Utah on top.

    2. Suzanne randomly declared herself a member of the Georgia senior class and did the Kobe farewell tour, so there was no quiet retirement for her. Suzanne doesn’t do quiet. Marsden and Patterson were quite a surprise though.

      I want to root for UCLA- they do pretty gymnastics and the gymnasts seem happy- but I’ve always found them exhausting. The life lessons and smiling on the beam and backless leotards and publicity tours are just all too much for me, although I know many disagree.

      There’s no way they are not going to win nationals, right? The second I heard Val was retiring I figured it was over for everyone else this year.

      1. I agree with you about Suzanne – the whole 2009 year was the year of Suzanne and Courtney and the supporting cast. There was no way UGA wasn’t going to NOT WIN at nationals for the fifth straight year (I believe some of the other four titles were upsets, but not in 2009).

        With UCLA being in Los Angeles, land of the Hollywood stories, of course Miss Val’s retirement was going to be a huge deal and I agree the 2019 championship is UCLA’s to lose – though both OU and Florida have a better chance at an upset then anyone did in 2009. Sorry Utah.

        UCLA’s popularity right now really amounts to the Olympian-effect with Kyla and Madison on the team and the feel-good story of how Katelyn was screwed out of the Olympics, had a nervous breakdown and found her inner strength and happy place in college (I may have exaggerated a bit of Hollywood editing with the latter one).

        The elite fans who ‘discovered’ NCAA gymnastics after 2016 when Kyla and Madison (and to a lesser extent Maggie and Mykayla, sorry Florida but I don’t think Amelia and Rachel has the popularity to contend here) arrived will likely be back to the Olympics in two years and some may forget NCAA exists.

  8. I personally don’t have a problem at all with UCLA’s marketing strategy. It’s not a coincident that UCLA road meets at Stanford and Washington attracted program record for the visited teams respectively and the road meet at OSU reached the largest crowd at Gill in years. Many, many people and students outside “the gymternet” are going to gymnastic meets for the first time because of the media attention.

    More attention and fan enthusiasm are great for the sport’s development. Merely being great athletes quietly just doesn’t cut it in the current competitive landscape anymore. If this attention can save some programs from the brink of being cut (which, let’s face it, many are), I say go all in with the strategy.

    1. I completely agree. I would never, ever have become a college gymnastics fan if not for UCLA knowing how to get the narrative of their team into the news. It’s because of UCLA and their marketing that I became invested in the sport as a whole and have gotten to follow the stories of so many other wonderful gymnasts and coaches. Whether or not you’re a UCLA fan, the mass media appeal they generate is good for every single team.

      1. That is all well and good to a point. But when it starts affecting the scores it’s wrong. I think this is where people are getting irritated. I have been an NCAA Gym fan with season tickets for 17 years and I have never seen such outrageous scoring – ever. I keep expecting to see (ala Russia) toe tapping under the scoring tables. I watch other meets televised and see great gymnastics with scores between 9.875 and 9.925 knowing that if it was UCLA it would be a 10. The social media thing is also obnoxious. I too think that gymnasts deserve accolades but seriously – the ticker tape parade that has gone on this year is beyond the pale. Val is still hovering over judges while they compute – the excessive joy dancing is getting juvenile (especially while the other team’s athlete is on the beam – and before loyal bruins bite my head off, watch a home meet and see how close the two teams are standing during that rotation). Judges need to be held accountable. I am really interested in this week’s quad meet to include LSU and Utah. The scoring should be interesting by comparison. GO FINEGAN and SKINNER!!!!! Maybe they could get a 10 for a stuck routine. Nothing personal against the UCLA ladies, they are amazing but the hype –so totally over it.

      2. It’s really interesting that you brought up the joy dancing. I’ve never heard any athlete complain about how other teams behave while they’re on beam or any apparatus (seemingly mostly because they tune out everything during routines). That said, I’m really interested to hear any counterexamples.

        I’m not fond of the joy dancing either. I personally prefer quiet and studious teams (like Stanford). But I’m uncomfortable with calling it “juvenile.” These are young women in college enjoying their sport. Calling it juvenile seems borderline sexist–as no one has ever complained about the young men on the football teams for celebrating in whatever excessive way they want.

      3. I loved it when the Oregon State gymnasts ‘tackled’ their teammate after she finished her beam routine in the meet against UCLA. Now let’s see some more contact in gymnastics. 😉

      4. I too am intrigued by your comment regarding joy dancing. Just to offer a different perspective I too am a college athlete and the same age as the UCLA gymnasts. I think the thing which attracts me most to this team is the joy dancing. The girls competing openly express genuine joy in their accomplishments. That’s something I wish I saw more in my own sport. I think from the athlete’s perspective it’s awesome to be able to compete and react to performances with different composure other than the typical “stone faced, zeroed in focus”.

    2. But is it actually resulting in more (and LASTING) attention for gymnastics or is it making gymnastics seem less of a sport based on fairness and rather one based on hype and popularity? And all this extra attention for UCLA is not resulting in bringing more people to their own meets. Below are average home attendance stats so far this year:

      Utah: 14,770
      LSU: 11,465
      Alabama: 10,878
      Georgia: 10,408
      Florida: 8,705
      UCLA: 7,855
      Kentucky: 6,595
      Auburn: 6,120
      Oregon State: 4,855
      Washington: 4,700
      BYU: 4,621
      Denver: 4,234
      Oklahoma: 4,165
      Stanford: 3,891
      Nebraska: 3,457
      Arkansas: 2,950
      Southern Utah: 2,896
      Michigan: 2,822
      ASU: 2,363
      Minnesota: 2,363
      Iowa State: 2,158
      Ohio State: 2,151
      Missouri: 1,804
      Cal: 1,294
      Boise: 1,163

      So yes, attention is good. But I don’t know how much money an athletics department is going to receive from a viral video or two. I think the more important measure of the healthiness of a program are the number of people who actually show up for a meet. So methinks that “merely being a great athlete” seems to work for some programs…why, even with all of the attention that UCLA is receiving, are they still not Top 5 in terms of attendance?

      1. Why can’t Oklahoma attract more fans than 4,700+ on average after being such a good team since 2010?

        Is there really that much competition for entertainment dollars in Norman? I mean I know Athens, Georgia is a huge town for music, but is Norman a big town for something as well? It’s not like football is competition since the season doesn’t overlap with gymnastics.

        What’s so exciting in Norman that OU gymnastics doesn’t get the fan support? Or is K.J. just not a great marketer for her team?

      2. OU is in the middle of nowhere. A lot easier to get to Salt Lake City, or Baton Rouge than Norman.

      3. I don’t think you can make apples to apples attendance comparisons solely by the averages especially when considering arena size. I know for a fact that Pauley Pavilion where UCLA performs technically has a capacity of about 13,000 but there’s a large section where you can’t sit for gymnastics due to the obstructed view. And many of the other arenas look far smaller than the arenas where Utah, LSU, Alabama, and Georgia perform..

      4. OU is also in the Midwest which really doesn’t have a huge base of gymnastics fans to begin with. Most of the population around Oklahoma consists of rural communities and football is the most popular (and just about only) sport.

      5. I kind of wish Maggie and Olivia would’ve stayed home for college gymnastics and instead of going to OU gone to U of M and competed as Gophers.

        That would’ve attracted attention in Minneapolis to Gopher meets.

      6. After reading your comments, I will amend my “juvenile” remark. I just feel like it is a bit contrived – like they are reaching to get a better grade. The cameras will cross some of the athletes and they are “calm” faced but as soon as they realize that the camera is there they jump into dance frenzy form. A great smile, a wave or thumbs up would suffice but it doesn’t have to be full on mania. It is only my opinion but I find it off putting and fake. Kyla is such a gracious and gentle person and her sophistication is evident in everything she does. Last year she was SOOOOOO uncomfortable with the dance, it wasn’t natural to her or Kocian and even Tratz. That is where it seems contrived to me. It was natural to Peng and that’s OK but it is so often TOO much. BUT, it is their team signature and so be it. They obviously love and support each other and that makes for a strong team. I’ll just close my eyes at the next meet! TO me this is really minor but the scoring is the main issue. A major fix is needed there. I read the comment that nationals is already being decided. 3 are there and about 3 or 4 are fighting for the last spot. This is wrong, the judging should be uniform. NCAA needs to jump in for a “tutorial” before it’s too late. If a basketball ref ignored obvious infractions they would be gone. The same needs to happen here.

      7. The focus is only on the top 3 – there really hasn’t been a complete blog for most of the top 15 teams. All the comments are for 1,2 & 3 and they fit in a short comments and usually no scores for the rest. Spencer, I know you do your best but everyone know that they are “perfect” I would love a full detailed blog for teams 4 – 10 – I realize it can be a bit difficult because they don’t get the”highlighted” time spot and there are usually 3 or so meets going on at once but it would be a nice change. (also, the home commentators are a bit sappy – would love a real critique from someone who knows when to apply the “vinegar”. I hope you are blogging the Quad meet on Friday – LSU, UTAH et al.

  9. Greg Marsden started the marketing/media train for NCAA women’s gymnastics over 40 years ago. The work he did back then, getting the University of Utah program in the news, getting fans to the meets, etc. is the blueprint that every other team follows now.

    1. Marketing is one thing. The programs were new. Utah has built a fan base with great gymnastics, fun family things at the Huntsman every home meet and refusing to raise the price of tickets so families can afford to attend and NOT turning it into a circus side show. The team meets with little girls and boys after the meets, the face painting and the fun little gifts (i.e. the princess crowns and light sabers from last meet) make it really a family event. Also, there is a wheel give away each week sponsored by a local business. Last week was Young Living and I got 4 essential oils in a cute case. May seem trite but it was really fun. Tee shirts are given away at every meet and the kids are the focus. It is a really run event. Utah has the highest attendance and has yet to go viral.

      1. My car could use a good win of four essential oils – at least I wouldn’t have to pay for a change every six months.

    2. Greg Marsden got me into college gymnastics 10-15 years ago by spamming a message board I was on about the live stream of Utah meets. A lot of schools weren’t bothering with streaming back then, but Utah was always trying to get their meets to as many people as possible. He really doesn’t get the credit he deserves for popularizing college gym.

      1. Assorted thoughts:
        UTAH: I admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Marsden or of Utah when he was coaching (I don’t actually remember why) Since his retirement, I’ve realized how much he’s done for the sport and have gained tremendous respect for him. He’s done a ton to promote the sport without promoting himself, he never called attention to his own retirement, and the transition between him and Megan was seamless and well-planned.

        UCLA: Val certainly promotes herself as she promotes the sport, but I think she does it in a positive way.

        GEORGIA: There was no retirement more self-promotional than Suzanne’s.

        ALABAMA: Sarah Patterson also went out quietly. To the person who said Utah might have won in 2015 if we knew Marsden was retiring, could you say the same about 2014- that Alabama might have won if they knew Sarah was leaving? Remember that Alabama was leading both Florida and OU going into the final rotation. Maybe their mindset would have been different going to beam if they were focused on getting one last championship for their coach & they would have hit.

      2. Marsden is such a mixed bag. I don’t care if it was socially acceptable at the time – it’s creepy that he dated (and married) a gymnast he was coaching WHILE he was coaching her. And I don’t like the infamous billboards either – the actual content was super tame but the tactic of blatantly selling gymnastics based on sex appeal – I find that gross and backwards.

        On the other hand, like folks say: he did a lot of effective, positive outreach and promotion of NCAA gym in general and Utah specifically. Few teams if any can boast of such a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base.

  10. On joy dancing and whatnot: I think this is just the signature character of the team, and it undoubtedly plays into an athlete’s decision to choose UCLA, especially since it would be highly unlikely for a UCLA-recruited gymnast to have no other options. I see it as a lot of girls who grew up in a very repressed environment, finally able to really let loose for the first time in their lives. Most people get this outlet earlier — either along the way as children or at least in high school. The majority of these girls, especially the former elites, are tasting freedom and ownership of their personalities for the very first time. Yes, they fuel each other and go over the top. But they worked their asses off their whole childhoods. Let’s be a little more understanding. 🙂

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