My previews of the regional finals were pretty limited because we didn’t yet know who would be competing in them (although it turns out we definitely did) or what the rotation order would be, so here’s a fresh look at those finals heading into tonight’s competition.
 Oklahoma,  Georgia,  Kentucky,  Cal
The regional with the most charitable judging overall also went the most cleanly to plan, with Oklahoma and Georgia advancing with the highest scores and what appears to be a clear edge over the other two. Oklahoma dominated with a historically high 198.300 (the highest road score ever recorded at a regional—and a tenth shy of the record for highest road score ever, set by UCLA two weeks ago…2019 sure is fun).
I think it’s fair to say that Georgia used some home scoring to develop a level of separation over the remaining teams that we wouldn’t have seen at a neutral venue, but you can point to gifts everywhere. What it means is that Oklahoma and Georgia look like your favorites to advance, and Kentucky or Cal moving into the top 2 spots would be an upset. Although we won’t really know what’s up until the last rotation because Georgia finishes on bum bum bum…beam. And it was an adventure even yesterday.
Let’s look at this rotation by rotation, using both NQS and yesterday’s scores.
Rotation 1– Cal VT, Kentucky UB, Oklahoma BB, Georgia FX
1. Oklahoma – 49.555
2. Georgia – 49.375
3. Kentucky – 49.275
4. Cal – 49.195
Everything is supposed to be going to plan after 1. Given the way vault scoring went yesterday, Cal will feel it can’t be this far behind at this point given how high those numbers were, though it’s worth noting that the judges do move around events for today, so it’s not going to be the same people.
1. Oklahoma – 49.500
2. Cal – 49.350
3. Georgia – 49.325
4. Kentucky – 49.125
Yesterday’s scores would have Cal in second place after 1, which you have to think Cal needs to have a shot. Kentucky had to work against a fall on bars yesterday and was a little 9.7y, and can’t have that again and can’t be multiple tenths back after what should be a pretty good event.
Rotation 2 – Georgia VT, Cal UB, Kentucky BB, Oklahoma FX
1. Oklahoma – 99.125
2. Georgia – 98.740
3. Kentucky – 98.600
4. Cal – 98.470
Kentucky would be totally OK with this deficit after two events because Georgia is heading to bars and beam in the second half, which is where things would go wrong if they go wrong. Kentucky will feel the opportunity is still alive.
1. Oklahoma – 99.125
2. Georgia – 98.825
3. Cal – 98.625
4. Kentucky – 98.300
And that scenario means that Georgia will be looking to have something more like yesterday’s kind of edge on Kentucky after two events. Cal looked quite good on vault and bars to end the meet on Friday and needs to keep that up today to be in this kind of situation while bringing beam and floor up to that same level. Cal would be thrilled with these exact rankings after 2.
Rotation 3 – Oklahoma VT, Georgia UB, Cal BB, Kentucky FX
1. Oklahoma – 148.670
2. Georgia – 148.060
3. Kentucky – 147.885
4. Cal – 147.720
Still Kentucky wouldn’t mind. Two tenths is a little much, but Georgia finishing on beam while Kentucky goes to vault in the last rotation isn’t an automatic advantage for Georgia by any means.
1. Oklahoma – 148.650
2. Georgia – 148.075
3. Cal – 147.825
4. Kentucky – 147.650
Georgia wasn’t awesome on bars yesterday, but four tenths on Kentucky still works. The bigger worry here would be if Cal is in this situation heading to floor and manages to get some end-of-meet help on floor to push the scores into the 49s this time.
Rotation 4 – Kentucky VT, Oklahoma UB, Georgia BB, Cal FX
1. Oklahoma – 198.240
2. Georgia – 197.365
3. Kentucky – 197.095
4. Cal – 196.935
Georgia’s NQS is strong—it indicates a comfortable three-tenth lead over Kentucky and pretty much mimics the scores Georgia got yesterday, but it also says that Georgia’s beam score in the last rotation is going to be higher than Kentucky’s vault score. I look at that and say I’m not so sure.
But, of course, if Georgia can manage a repeat of yesterday with Kentucky getting some low numbers of bars and beam and Cal going sub-49 on floor, then it’s Georgia’s meet. Also Oklahoma is going to win by a lot.
1. Oklahoma – 198.300
2. Georgia – 197.300
3. Kentucky – 196.825
4. Cal – 196.750
We won’t know who gets through to nationals as individuals until we see who qualifies as teams, so there are a ton of permutations still live for individual qualifiers, especially because of people potentially qualifying for multiple spots. It’s very FIG apparatus world cup. I’m not going to go through all of the possibilities, but I’ll go through what’s most likely.
In the all-around, you’ve got Alex Hyland as the most likely to go through for Kentucky, though if Oklahoma and Kentucky are your two teams to qualify, then it’s Morgan Porter of Missouri.
On vault, we have a lot of 9.950s, most of them coming from Oklahoma and Georgia, so if those two qualify, then it’s Milan Clausi for vault. If Georgia doesn’t qualify, then it’s Rachael Lukacs.
On bars, it’s Cally Nixon leading Morgan Porter on the tiebreak if Kentucky doesn’t advance. Alex Hyland is the frontrunner for beam if the team qualifiers go as is, but if Kentucky misses, she’s already your AAer, which could open up beam for Brooke Kelly of Missouri. If Georgia misses as a team, it looks like Vega could go for a couple events.
On floor, as long as the teams go by seeding, we’re probably looking at a tight battle of people who scored 9.900s, which would go to Sidney Dukes in the tiebreak.
 UCLA,  Michigan,  Alabama,  Nebraska
We all expect UCLA to get through from this one, and the events of yesterday did nothing to change that with UCLA recording nearly a fall worth of advantage over the second-best score and doing it with the most aggressive resting strategy of any team, using neither Ross not Ohashi on floor. (The top-team resting decisions is something I didn’t really touch on in previews, but is an added little strategic twist I enjoy in this format.)
Really, this one should be about the other three teams as we saw an Alabama team that beat the favored Michigan side by nearly three tenths yesterday (Michigan did scratch Karas on floor, which probably would have earned back a tenth or so), plus a Nebraska team that was not that far behind Michigan and will be considered as a very legimitate contender. This final is shaping up to be exactly as exciting as we wanted it to be when the draw was announced. Michigan won’t be encouraged by losing in the semifinal to an Alabama team that is rising every week, though will find solace in the fact that the second-place teams in the semifinals get the better draws in the regional final.
Rotation 1– Nebraska VT, Michigan UB, UCLA BB, Alabama FX
1. UCLA 49.535
2. Alabama 49.410
3. Michigan 49.355
4 .Nebraska 49.155
Big rotation for Alabama and Nebraska starting out. Floor is Alabama’s best-scoring event, and they cannot start slowly. They need to be ahead of Michigan at this point to have a good look. One of the reasons Nebraska was so competitive yesterday is that the vault lineup delivered much closer to potential. That vault score needs to be much more like the Friday number than the NQS number for Nebraska to get into this.
1. UCLA 49.500
2. Alabama 49.425
3. Nebraska 49.300
4. Michigan 49.050
Michigan escaped bars yesterday, but it was an escape with two counting 9.7s. That cannot happen again for Michigan to advance to nationals, but Michigan will also look at this bars score and the deficit to Alabama and say, “We’re ahead if we just hit normal bars.” Alabama’s floor yesterday was pretty ideal, especially Desch’s landing control in the first spot, so mission 1 is repeating that.
Rotation 2 – Alabama VT, Nebraska UB, Michigan BB, UCLA FX
1. UCLA 99.255
2. Michigan 98.740
3. Alabama 98.645
4. Nebraska 98.385
If Michigan has a lead after two events, Michigan will feel pretty good since Alabama will have already done floor while Michigan has not—and I wouldn’t expect Michigan’s floor scoring to be as low as it was yesterday. Alabama needs an outlook much more like below heading into that third rotation.
1. UCLA 98.875
2. Alabama 98.650
3. Nebraska 98.500
4. Michigan 98.400
This is the potential promise of this regional final, with the three contending teams all within a half fall of each other after 2.
Rotation 3 – UCLA VT, Alabama UB, Nebraska BB, Michigan FX
1. UCLA 148.630
2. Michigan 148.125
3. Alabama 147.880
4. Nebraska 147.525
NQS has Nebraska falling out of things at this point, so NQS is not Nebraska’s argument. Yesterday is Nebraska’s argument. In addition to improving on bars, Michigan must fulfill the promise of its NQS on floor because Michigan has no business losing ground in this rotation on floor while Alabama is on bars. That should be a rotation win for Michigan, but yesterday it was not.
So if things follow yesterday, we’d see Alabama gain tenths on Michigan at this point.
1. UCLA 148.275
2. Alabama 148.000
3. Nebraska 147.600
4. Michigan 147.525
Alabama is heading to beam in the final rotation, so you wouldn’t feel like things are done at this point, but if it’s shaping up like this again, all Alabama would have to do is stay on beam in the final rotation and could afford 9.7s. Everything would hinge on Alabama’s performance.
Rotation 4 – Michigan VT, UCLA UB, Alabama BB, Nebraska FX
1. UCLA 198.220
2. Michigan 197.430
3. Alabama 197.150
4. Nebraska 196.830
Judging by these NQSs, you can see the biggest difference yesterday was not Alabama improving on its event NQS by that much (less than a tenth overall), but Michigan underperforming its own NQS by quite a bit. This thing is dependent on Michigan bring its level up to what we saw through the second half of the regular season.
If not, Alabama is going to pounce again.
1. UCLA 197.675
2. Alabama 197.225
3. Michigan 196.950
4. Nebraska 196.800
Sienna Crouse won the all-around across both sessions, so she’s your most likely AAer. If Nebraska makes it through, then it’s Wojcik for AA.
Similar situation on vault. Houchin’s 9.975 should get her in, then it’s Wojcik after her. If both of them are already set, then it’s Guerra for vault. Crouse’s 9.950 on bars is the non-UCLA leader, but next in line is Karas’s 9.900 followed by Mahoney’s 9.900. One of them.
Right now on beam it’s Bastardi leading the non-UCLA standings and likely to go. Floor is Wojcik, then Crouse, then Armbrecht (who would end up with a pretty good shot since Crouse and Wojcik would already be covered by either team qualification or the AA). That may or may not account for all the possibilities.
 LSU,  Utah,  Minnesota,  Auburn
In the second two finals, we have an interesting scenario developing in which we saw the runner up in the second semifinal yesterday outscore the winner from the first semifinal. Now, is that just a function of rising evening scores and being in the same semifinal as the huge-scoring top seed? Or is there something real going on there? Because we saw an Auburn team go 197.075 in the second semifinal yesterday, while Utah went 196.800 in the first semifinal. This hasn’t been considered a particularly upset-ripe regional, but that has changed after yesterday’s results.
Like Michigan’s situation, for the most part this one is about Utah picking up the quality, otherwise this will be the first season in history in which Utah doesn’t make the national championship. LSU will also need to pick up the quality because that 197.200 was not clear enough of the contenders to be any kind of comfortable heading into today’s competition. It seemed like LSU would have a counting fall to work with even in the regional final, but based on yesterday’s results, that is not the case.
Rotation 1– Auburn VT, Minnesota UB, LSU BB, Utah FX
1. Utah 49.480
2. LSU 49.460
3. Minnesota 49.360
4. Auburn 49.195
The first step in turning things around from yesterday for Utah would be having a lead after the first rotation. With Utah on floor and LSU on beam, Utah should expect that scoring advantage against a team it was ranked right with all season long. If we see Utah putting up pedestrian scores on floor again, however, that’s the indication that the upset is live.
Minnesota is probably not going to perform an upset here, especially if the way those floor routines were evaluated yesterday is any indication, but to have any shot, Minnesota needs to be in the top 2 after opening on its best event, bars. NQS gives Minnesota a shot, but the performance has to be very different than yesterday. Auburn was excellent on vault yesterday coming back from the gruesome Cerio injury for 49.350, but those scores were also high. Auburn needs that drug to be on the market again, because giving up multiple tenths in any single rotation will not be sustainable.
1. Auburn – 49.350
2. LSU – 49.325
3. Minnesota – 49.250
4. Utah 49.200
Needless to say, Utah cannot be in last after the first rotation. On floor. If that continues today, put all seven eyes on this meet because it’s very much live. Beam wasn’t the big problem yesterday that kept LSU’s scores fairly low, but LSU is still looking for 49.4+ there to establish some early separation on the one event that is in no way affected by the Priessman bicep injury.
Rotation 2 – Utah VT, Auburn UB, Minnesota BB, LSU FX
1. LSU 98.975
2. Utah 98.945
3. Minnesota 98.625
4. Auburn 98.560
This would be good news for three teams, LSU and Utah seeing some separation develop, and Minnesota keeping it close enough to feel good about themselves. The only one that really needs NQS not to be a prophecy is Auburn because four tenths (and heading to beam) is too much.
1. Auburn – 98.700
2. LSU – 98.625
3. Utah 98.400
4. Minnesota – 98.300
Vault has been the big strength for Utah this season, so seeing that score stuck in the 49.200 area is almost more troubling for Utah than the floor scores. Floor and vault should be assets. One area where Utah did have a solid day in the landing department yesterday was bars. Heading there in the third rotation while Auburn goes to beam should provide an advantage for Utah, so Auburn would need to have an advantage after 2. It doesn’t have to be this large, but it needs to be something. I would be very surprised if we see LSU stuck in 2nd place again after beam and floor, but if it happens, it’s time to worry.
Rotation 3 – LSU VT, Utah UB, Auburn BB, Minnesota FX
1. Utah 148.375
2. LSU 148.340
3. Minnesota 147.925
4. Auburn 147.665
Utah and LSU have been neck-and-neck in the rankings pretty much all season, and this competition is supposed to be the really close fight between those two (with Minnesota close but not quite close enough), setting up the repeat matchup when it really matters in the national semifinal. And that’s what we see in NQS. This Auburn situation is a new twist.
1. Auburn – 147.950
2. LSU – 147.875
3. Utah 147.725
4. Minnesota – 147.075
If it ends up being like this, with Utah finishing on beam while Auburn finishes on floor in the last rotation, I honestly don’t see Utah going through. Utah will need to have established at least a couple tenths on Auburn (or LSU) heading to the final event because beam has been the low score for Utah much of the season. The improvement work has to get done in those first couple events to avoid anything like this happening.
Rotation 4 – Minnesota VT, LSU UB, Utah BB, Auburn FX
1. LSU 197.800
2. Utah 197.680
3. Minnesota 197.130
4. Auburn 196.890
I mean, it really should end up like this, with LSU and Utah having a fall to work with compared to Auburn and probably Minnesota as well. But if not…
1. LSU – 197.200
2. Auburn – 197.075
3. Utah 196.800
4. Minnesota – 196.300
It will be interesting to see what Auburn does on floor now without Cerio. I hope to see Gracie Day given a chance to get back in because under normal circumstances she probably delivers their best floor score, but she hasn’t been in the lineup much this season and hasn’t been hitting when she has competed. It’s the chance to upset a big team, so I think Auburn totally has to go for risk today in these lineup decisions. Because look at NQS—status quo isn’t going to do anything for Auburn today.
This one has a simpler setup than the others. If LSU and Utah go as teams, then it’s Lexy Ramler for the AA. The only people ahead of her are Skinner and Edney, who would go if their teams don’t.
Derrian Gobourne has the tiebreak edge on Ona Loper on vault should their teams not advance, and surprisingly we already know the qualifier for bars, which is Cairo Leonard-Baker, since she won that event outright.
As long as LSU qualifies as a team, then the beam spot will go to Hailey Garner (otherwise Finnegan), and as long as both LSU and Utah qualify, then the floor spot goes to Sophia Carter. The two ahead of her are Kelley and Skinner.
 Florida,  Denver,  Boise State,  Oregon State
Same. Oregon State’s 197.125 from the second semifinal yesterday was better than Denver’s 196.975 to win the first semifinal. The extra little twist here is that Oregon State is the home team, which potentially reinforces the idea that this kind of scoring could continue into the regional final. If it does, we have much more of a meet on our hands than it originally appeared.
At the same time, it’s just a .150 advantage over a Denver team that has definite room for improvement in its performance and in the scores compared to yesterday. It was quite surprising to see Denver stuck under 49 on vault while Oregon State went over 49, and you wouldn’t expect that to carry over to today when they’re in the same session. I said in the preview that this semifinal is all about the Denver Test, and that’s even truer now with Oregon State’s performance in the semifinal. It doesn’t look like Denver has a fall to work with. It’s a hit for a best-ever finish.
Rotation 1 – Oregon State VT, Boise St UB, Florida BB, Denver FX
1. Florida – 49.490
2. Denver – 49.415
3. Boise State – 49.380
4. Oregon State – 49.140
NQS is like, “Bye Oregon State” after one event, but Oregon State is starting on what is obviously its weak score. As we saw yesterday, Oregon State can get a kind of blah number of vault and still put up a competitive total if that holds. But I still can’t imagine that a three-tenth deficit against teams this good is sustainable.
Boise State is in a similar position to Minnesota in that the result from Friday is not going to do anything to make the other teams worried about what might happen today, but to have any shot, the bars score has to be huge on what can be a tremendous piece.
1. Florida – 49.500
2. Boise State – 49.275
3. Denver – 49.225
4. Oregon State – 49.075
It has been the case all season that the vault and floor scores might not always be there for Denver to challenge the very best teams, but I was surprised by the degree to which that was the case on Friday. You have to think Denver is going to need at least a 49.3 on floor today to feel comfortable here.
Rotation 2 – Denver VT, Oregon St UB, Boise St BB, Florida FX
1. Florida – 99.050
2. Boise State – 98.725
3. Denver – 98.715
4. Oregon State – 98.285
Very interesting that NQS has Boise State ahead of Denver after two events. Those beam scores were not there for Boise State yesterday and will have to turn around today for BSU to make a charge. Oregon State cannot get all NQSy because if so, this team will be fully out of it after two events.
1. Florida – 99.000
2. Oregon State – 98.375
3. Boise State – 98.275
4. Denver – 98.175
As we learned yesterday, vault and bars are not going to be where Oregon State makes a living, so any kind of lead or tie or small deficit after two events works for OSU. Of the three non-Florida teams, it’s the least important for Oregon State to be in second place at this point. Boise State needs it because it will have completed its best two events after the first two rotations, and Denver needs it because DENVER. Denver really doesn’t have any business being in last at any point in this meet. And yet, even if Denver does mimic those pretty pedestrian vault and floor scores from yesterday…still not out of it right now. Two tenths, which can be gained in the remaining rotations.
Rotation 3 – Florida VT, Denver UB, Oregon St BB, Boise St FX
1. Florida – 148.335
3. Denver – 148.145
2. Boise State – 147.845
4. Oregon State – 147.445
I don’t see Florida getting into trouble in this one, and I’d expect Florida to have a fall margin, but also…vault you guys. The landings are still not there, and we’re moving to the point where this is going to be a serious issue in a national semifinal. So watch that score.
1. Florida – 148.075
2. Oregon State – 147.875
3. Denver – 147.500
4. Boise State – 147.375
Beam for Oregon State will be fascinating because that’s the one event where we really saw the home scoring (the scores were fairly legit on most other pieces overall), and to establish a lead on Denver, you have to imagine those beam scores need to deliver again. Denver finishes on beam, which is a good event for this roster that managed its best score of the day on Friday, but expecting to record a beam score that beats an Oregon State floor score at the same time—Oregon State finishing with the highlights of its entire repertoire, the Lowery and Yanish floor routines—is a risky little game. Denver needs to be in the top 2 after three events
Rotation 4 – Boise St VT, Florida UB, Denver BB, Oregon St FX
1. Florida – 197.835
3. Denver – 197.590
2. Boise State – 196.900
4. Oregon State – 196.815
Yep. That’s the advantage you’d expect for those top two, but once again it’s not what we saw yesterday.
1. Florida – 197.500
2. Oregon State – 197.125
3. Denver – 196.975
4. Boise State – 196.225
Denver’s chances here hinge on those first two rotations. Those are the ones that have to change because Denver did pretty well on bars and beam yesterday and can’t expect much more today (and must perhaps allow for a little regression there), and yet it wasn’t enough for a final score better than Oregon State’s. We’ll know whether this one is as exciting as yesterday predicted after those first two pieces.
Right now, the front runner to go through for the all-around is Kyla Bryant, but if Denver doesn’t manage to qualify as a team, then it will be Lynnzee Brown. If Denver qualifies but Florida doesn’t, it would be Alicia Boren for the AA.
On the events, you have a ton of Oregon State qualifiers if OSU doesn’t make it as a team. Mary Jacobsen would go for vault (Karr if Florida and OSU are the teams), and Sabrina Gill would go for bars (once again Karr if Florida and OSU are the teams). If Denver doesn’t make it, then it’s Vasquez for beam, but if Denver and Florida are the teams, it’s Maela Lazaro. Unfortunately Sophia Hyderally of Alaska will just miss out after going 9.900 on beam.
You also have Madison Ward-Sessions going through for floor if Denver and Florida both qualify as the teams, the only people ahead of her being Lynnzee Brown and Trinity Thomas.