Regionals Preview Part 4: LSU Regional

Play-in: April 4, 3:00 CT
Semifinal #1: April 5, 2:00 CT
Semifinal #2: April 5, 7:00 CT
Regional Final: April 6, 7:00 CT

Qualification procedure: The winner of the play-in advances to semifinal #2; the top 2 teams at each semifinal advance to the regional final; the top 2 teams at the regional final advance to nationals; the top all-around gymnast and top gymnast on each event on April 5 (who are not part of a team that ultimately qualifies) advance to nationals as individuals.


Semifinal #1

[6] Utah, [11] Minnesota, [17] BYU, [20] Arkansas

We need to spend some real time with this first semifinal because it happens to be the best-ranked of any of the semifinals at regionals and presents one of the ripest upset possibilities. This is the showcase session at the LSU regional. All of the challenging teams here will expect a mid-196 of themselves, which is a serious score for a semifinal and not to be taken lightly.

Utah is probably in the clear since even a repeat of the kind of 197.1 performance that characterized the first half of the season will be enough to advance to Saturday with tenths to spare, but Utah has a bit less buffer for disaster rotation than most of the other top-8 teams enjoy in their semifinals.

For Minnesota, the scoring expectation in this semifinal will be something 196.8 or better—that’s what we’ve come to expect in the second half of the season—and that score will be enough get through. But that score also requires a fully hit meet. That means the early vault and floor gymnasts can’t be too 9.725y, and certainly no more counting falls on beam. At Big Tens, Minnesota did count a fall on beam, which took the total score down to a 196.425. The encouraging part of that for Minnesota is that 196.425 is still a legit total, one that will advance from a number of semifinals on Friday and one that Minnesota would love for a hit meet in most seasons.

What saved the score at Big Tens was the massive number on bars, which will be Minnesota’s most important event again in this semifinal. Those huge potential bars routines from Ramler and Lu can either send Minnesota clear of the unseeded teams, or keep Minnesota in contention even if things get ugly elsewhere.

The problematic part of that Big Tens score for Minnesota is that Arkansas went 196.475 at SECs at the same time for a performance that had its own “we’ll do better at regionals” moments—like a counting 9.650 on beam and a 9.675 for the Sarah Shaffer vault. Arkansas will expect to improve on that conference championship score, particularly on vault—an area where Arkansas has the big-money difficulty at the end of the lineup to match Minnesota and can turn that (as well as floor) into advantage events on any given day. Those rotations are probably the ins for Arkansas, while the focus on an event like bars will be weeding out that one fall or that random 9.6 that has plagued the lineup all season, staying close enough to Minnesota to let vault and floor change the game.

BYU has also outscored that Minnesota Big Tens result on five occasions this season, including twice on the road, and will entertain its own hopes of advancing to Saturday. Bars and beam tend to be pretty important events for BYU when the team gets its best scores, so being a real challenger in this meet probably means beating Minnesota on at least one of those pieces. Staying close won’t be enough. BYU’s floor scores are also one of the mysteries of the modern world. It’s either going to be a 49.350 or a 48.950. Which one, no one knows. But BYU isn’t getting through here with a 48 rotation on any event.

Semifinal #1 – Score Comparison
Utah
RQS: 197.535 [1]
Season high: 198.025 [1]
Season average: 197.371 [1]

VT RQS: 49.465 [1]
VT average: 49.410 [1]
UB RQS: 49.430 [1]
UB average: 49.344 [1]
BB RQS: 49.305 [1]
BB average: 49.190 [1]
FX RQS: 49.480 [1]
FX average: 49.427 [1]

Minnesota
RQS: 196.885 [2]
Season high: 197.500 [2]
Season average: 196.406 [2]

VT RQS: 49.205 [2]
VT average: 49.069 [2]
UB RQS: 49.360 [2]
UB average: 49.265 [2]
BB RQS: 49.265 [2]
BB average: 48.988 [2]
FX RQS: 49.300 [3]
FX average: 49.085 [4]

BYU
RQS: 196.570 [3]
Season high: 197.000 [3]
Season average: 196.090 [3]

VT RQS: 49.100 [4]
VT average: 49.004 [4]
UB RQS: 49.170 [3]
UB average: 48.996 [3]
BB RQS: 49.200 [3]
BB average: 48.981 [3]
FX RQS: 49.270 [4]
FX average: 49.108 [3]

Arkansas
RQS: 196.380 [4]
Season high: 197.000 [3]
Season average: 195.992 [4]

VT RQS: 49.120 [3]
VT average: 49.025 [3]
UB RQS: 49.060 [4]
UB average: 48.821 [4]
BB RQS: 49.195 [4]
BB average: 48.944 [4]
FX RQS: 49.305 [2]
FX average: 49.202 [2]

Semifinal #1 – Rotation-by-rotation NQS
Rotation 1 – Utah VT, Arkansas UB, Minnesota BB, BYU FX
1. Utah – 49.465
2. BYU – 49.270
3. Minnesota – 49.265
4. Arkansas – 49.060

This rotation is everything. Arkansas is on its question mark event, BYU is on an apparatus where it absolutely has to deliver better than at MRGCs to be in a necessary 2nd place at this point, and Minnesota is on beam, the event most likely to produce the kind of mistake that allows the other teams in. Be sure you’re watching the LSU regional for this first rotation. (Though it is at the same time as both Georgia and Michigan will be on beam at their regional semifinals, so enjoy having 7 eyes.)

Rotation 2 – BYU VT, Utah UB, Arkansas BB, Minnesota FX
1. Utah – 98.895
2. Minnesota – 98.565
3. BYU – 98.370
4. Arkansas – 98.255

Minnesota can probably live with not being in 2nd place after the first rotation but cannot live with not being in 2nd place after the second rotation. Meanwhile, Arkansas will know it can make a move in the second half of the meet, but this is probably too large a gap to allow to exist after 2 pieces.

Rotation 3 – Minnesota VT, BYU UB, Utah BB, Arkansas FX
1. Utah – 148.200
2. Minnesota – 147.770
3. Arkansas – 147.560
4. BYU – 147.540

Minnesota will be OK with even a slim lead like two tenths at this point because bars should be such a useful score. As long as any lead exists at this point, that probably works.

Rotation 4 – Arkansas VT, Minnesota UB, BYU BB, Utah FX
1. Utah – 197.680
2. Minnesota – 197.130
3. BYU – 196.740
4. Arkansas – 196.680

Mostly, what the rankings tell us is that there’s really nothing in this between BYU and Arkansas, either squad with the opportunity of pouncing on a seeded team’s mistake. And Minnesota’s buffer over them is not enough to afford counting a true mistake.


Semifinal #2

[3] LSU, [13] Auburn, [21] Arizona State, [PI] GW/Lindenwood

It’s easy to look at this one and say, “OK, LSU and Auburn are going through,” but let’s take a deeper dive. Well, for LSU we don’t have to take a dive that much deeper. LSU is advancing to the regional final save for a disaster with multiple counting falls—and should have a bit larger buffer for mistakes than Utah has in its semifinal.

For that second spot, Auburn may have the ranking advantage, but Arizona State is the team that came out of the conference championships with the higher score. The argument for an upset absolutely exists, though the result is going to be in Auburn’s hands. Arizona State’s route to 2nd place here comes if Auburn is struggling with the 1.5s on vault and wobbling on beam for 9.7s and maybe not landing on bars the way that lineup can. Then we’re looking at a some total in the low 196s, a very doable score for Arizona State especially if Cairo Leonard-Baker is getting her 9.950s on bars and floor to bring those events comfortably over the 49 plateau.

If, however, Auburn gets the big 1.5s for a couple 9.900s and sticks some bars dismounts, that probably seals the affair since Auburn is the team more capable of going 196.7+, a score that’s likely clear of what Arizona State can put up.

For either George Washington or Lindenwood, getting through to this point is the win. They were both fighting for their regionals lives only a second ago, so to not only qualify to regionals, but then get through the play-in meet on Thursday to compete on Friday, is as much as they could have hoped for. But neither team has shown the scoring potential this season for a number that will advance from a regional semifinal.

Semifinal #2 – Score Comparison
LSU
RQS: 197.810 [1]
Season high: 198.175 [1]
Season average: 197.327 [1]

VT RQS: 49.365 [1]
VT average: 49.290 [1]
UB RQS: 49.460 [1]
UB average: 49.348 [1]
BB RQS: 49.460 [1]
BB average: 49.337 [1]
FX RQS: 49.515 [1]
FX average: 49.352 [1]

Auburn
RQS: 196.695 [2]
Season high: 197.100 [2]
Season average: 196.327 [2]

VT RQS: 49.195 [2]
VT average: 49.079 [2]
UB RQS: 49.365 [2]
UB average: 49.283 [2]
BB RQS: 49.105 [2]
BB average: 49.008 [2]
FX RQS: 49.225 [2]
FX average: 48.956 [3]

Arizona State
RQS: 196.320 [3]
Season high: 196.625 [3]
Season average: 195.908 [3]

VT RQS: 49.060 [3]
VT average: 48.940 [3]
UB RQS: 49.145 [3]
UB average: 49.067 [3]
BB RQS: 49.085 [3]
BB average: 48.865 [3]
FX RQS: 49.185 [3]
FX average: 49.038 [2]

George Washington/Lindenwood
RQS: 195.450/195.400 [4]
Season high: 196.025/195.850 [4]
Season average: 194.994/194.875 [4]

VT RQS: 48.835/48.865 [4]
VT average: 48.690/48.594 [4]
UB RQS: 48.915/48.815 [4]
UB average: 48.731/48.619 [4]
BB RQS: 48.865/48.905 [4]
BB average: 48.702/48.735 [4]
FX RQS: 49.020/49.020 [4]
FX average: 48.871/48.838 [4]

Semifinal #2 – Rotation-by-rotation NQS
Rotation 1 – LSU VT, GW/LU UB, Auburn BB, Arizona State FX
1. LSU – 49.365
2. Arizona State – 49.185
3. Auburn – 49.105
4. GW/LU – 48.915/48.815

Arizona State’s best look is going to come early here, ASU on floor while Auburn is on beam. Arizona State will need a larger advantage at this point than NQS predicts to have hope that it can hold up as the meet progresses. Multiple tenths.

Rotation 2 – Arizona State VT, LSU UB, GW/LU BB, Auburn FX
1. LSU – 98.825
2. Auburn – 98.330
3. Arizona State – 98.245
4. GW/LU – 97.780/97.720

By contrast, Auburn really needs to have a lead on Arizona State after completing floor, otherwise this semifinal is live.

Rotation 3 – Auburn VT, Arizona State UB, LSU BB, GW/LU FX
1. LSU – 148.285
2. Auburn – 147.525
3. Arizona State – 147.390
4. GW/LU – 146.800/146.740

This is why I’m saying this one looks straightforward but might get tighter than it seems. Auburn isn’t even supposed to have a two-tenth lead on Arizona State after three rotations. The fourth rotation should still swing pretty dramatically to Auburn, but you know…

Rotation 4 – GW/LU VT, Auburn UB, Arizona State BB, LSU FX
1. LSU – 197.800
2. Auburn – 196.880
3. Arizona State – 196.475
4. GW/LU – 195.635/195.605

This is where Auburn is supposed to establish an advantage (you’ll see that in a lot of these semifinals with the #3 team in the group finishing on beam—so don’t be surprised by a number of misleading scores after 3), but even now it’s not a full fall worth of advantage.


Regional Final

The first two regionals at Georgia and Michigan have what are probably the more fraught regional finals with those #3 seeds that are ranked 9th and 10th, but LSU and Utah could still find themselves facing pressure from a Minnesota or Auburn team (or BYU or Arkansas or whatever) that jumps up into the high 196s or threatens a 197 with a big day. If one of them does so, and say Utah counts a fall on beam or even just gets a little too 9.7y there, then we have a serious regional final on our hands.

But it is almost entirely up to LSU and Utah. We’re starting to see the high 197s that verge into the 198s for both of those teams, and that kind of score will comfortably distance them from any other challengers and end the conversation regardless of how strong the Minnesota performance might be. If LSU and Utah start putting up 49.5s, it’s hard to see this thing getting fiery heading to the final rotations.

The precedent for intrigue is there, of course, because Auburn does have that win over LSU from the second week of the season, but this LSU team is pretty far removed from that performance and seems to have worked out the floor and beam problems that made that competition such an issue. It could happen again, of course, but it’s difficult to use that meet as any kind of indicator of what might happen here.

Regional Final – Score Comparison
LSU
RQS: 197.810 [1]
Season high: 198.175 [1]
Season average: 197.327 [2]

VT RQS: 49.365 [2]
VT average: 49.290 [2]
UB RQS: 49.460 [1]
UB average: 49.348 [1]
BB RQS: 49.460 [1]
BB average: 49.337 [1]
FX RQS: 49.515 [1]
FX average: 49.352 [2]

Utah
RQS: 197.535 [2]
Season high: 198.025 [2]
Season average: 197.371 [1]

VT RQS: 49.465 [1]
VT average: 49.410 [1]
UB RQS: 49.430 [2]
UB average: 49.344 [2]
BB RQS: 49.305 [2]
BB average: 49.190 [2]
FX RQS: 49.480 [1]
FX average: 49.427 [1]

Minnesota
RQS: 196.885 [3]
Season high: 197.500 [3]
Season average: 196.406 [3]

VT RQS: 49.205 [3]
VT average: 49.069 [4]
UB RQS: 49.360 [4]
UB average: 49.265 [4]
BB RQS: 49.265 [3]
BB average: 48.988 [4]
FX RQS: 49.300 [3]
FX average: 49.085 [3]

Auburn
RQS: 196.695 [4]
Season high: 197.100 [4]
Season average: 196.327 [4]

VT RQS: 49.195 [4]
VT average: 49.079 [3]
UB RQS: 49.365 [3]
UB average: 49.283 [3]
BB RQS: 49.105 [4]
BB average: 49.008 [3]
FX RQS: 49.225 [4]
FX average: 48.956 [4]

The question in the scores here is more whether LSU or Utah is the true #1 team, or whether Minnesota or Auburn is the true #3 team, rather than breaking through the tiers between qualifiers and not-qualifiers.


Individuals

If everything goes to plan and LSU and Utah advance as teams, then Lexy Ramler is your front runner for the all-around spot coming out of this regional site, but it’s a very solid field with Cairo Leonard-Baker of Arizona State, Shannon Evans of BYU, and Derrian Gobourne of Auburn all exceptionally capable of getting the necessary score. And then there’s Kennedy Hambrick and Jessica Yamzon and Drew Watson…it’s a good group.

I feel like I’ve probably named our floor qualifier in that list of AA contenders, though add in Arkansas anchor Sophia Carter as well. Beam is Ramler’s to lose if she doesn’t get the AA spot, but if not Ramler, I’m going to need it to be Abby Milliet, even if there are about a dozen people here capable of doing 9.9 on the day and snatching the spot. For bars, keep an eye on Ivy Lu of Minnesota, who goes after Ramler in the lineup and typically gets a similar score, though Leonard-Baker is ranked right with her and has her own supply of 9.9+s. On vault, from Watson to Gobourne to Day to Loper to Ramler to Hambrick to Elswick, you’ve got a solid supply of 1.5s that could all get the necessary advancing score on the day.

6 thoughts on “Regionals Preview Part 4: LSU Regional”

  1. Arkansas has been so frustrating but I’m so excited for them in this semifinal. They’re such a “if they hit” team that I could see them really threatening Minnesota/BYU to advance to finals. If they don’t melt down on bars of course.

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    1. Agreed, I really think that any of Arkansas, Minnesota, or BYU can advance to the Regional Final. It’s going to be really exciting to see who shows up on the day of the meet. Also, is it just me, or does BYU seem to have a UCLA-sized roster of gymnasts? I’m counting 25 gymnasts on BYU’s roster which seems like a lot.

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      1. This is complete speculation, but I always just assumed that it attracted a lot of Mormon gymnasts who couldn’t get scholarships at top programs or who valued the religious affiliation more highly. I would expect the same if there was a Jewish school with a gymnastics team with Jewish gymnasts, or any religious affiliation that was as strong as BYU’s.

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    2. to answer Mary about BYU, many “non utah” gymnasts do like to attend BYU as LDS members tend to marry within the faith I am a Mormon who many years ago swam at BYU. I grew up in New York and had scholarship offers from Ohio and other schools but chose BYU because I wanted to date LDS men. So many of the Cougars attend for the same reason. Arizona, Canada and California are strong draws for BYU as there are large LDS Congegations in those areas. It is also a lot of fun to live in Provo and it is a relatively safe environment which must make parents really happy. If you have not visited Utah, you really should, it’s amazing, diverse and beautiful.

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