The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Week 1 Rankings

Full rankings

1. Florida Gators

Score: 197.500

Florida edged Oklahoma to take the top spot in the season’s first rankings, largely on the strength of a beam rotation that picked up right where it left off last season. Overall, Florida recorded ten scores in the 9.9s, compared to Oklahoma’s five. Ellie Lazzari made an encouraging debut with two scores in the 9.9s, and Trinity Thomas leads the national all-around standings with her opening 39.750.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

Score: 197.450

Oklahoma came up just shy of Florida but showed a complete and even first-meet performance with no counting score lower than 9.825. Freshman Katherine Levasseur led the entire team on bars with a 9.925, and Audrey Lynn—who never scored better than 9.650 on vault as a L10—upgraded to a handspring pike 1/2 to tie for the highest vault score with 9.875. Despite the second-place position, this week’s score is .150 higher than Oklahoma’s debut score from last season, which had the team in first place.

3. Utah Utes

Score: 196.900

Utah will comfortably accept a near-197 performance in the first meet, a showing that encountered a few minor bugs but also featured competitive debuts from Rucker and Stanhope, on vault and floor—though with downgraded vaults, so watch that space. Unsurprisingly, beam shone as Utah’s strongest event score, even with some shaky early-lineup routines.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

Score: 196.850

Alabama will be among the teams most pleased with its first-meet performance, securely withstanding falls here and there to score competitively, and keeping pace on floor even with a half-missing lineup. Sophomore Mati Waligora stole the show in her debut with a Y1.5 and a 9.925 on beam, though Shania Adams also comported herself smoothly in an all-around debut, and Makarri Doggette was excellent in her two appearances. A rough performance from Emily Gaskins may jeopardize her lineup spots as more gymnasts add back events, so keep an eye on that.

5. LSU Tigers

Score: 196.550

LSU isn’t ranked poorly but won’t be particularly pleased with a first-meet performance that nearly saw the team fall to Arkansas. Shaky beam routines from some unexpected characters, as well as a generally rough day for Shchennikova, took LSU’s total down, and the team required some serious saving from Haleigh Bryant and Kiya Johnson on floor to get the win (their scores were too high, but even scored normally, those routines would have been enough for the win). The sublime three-event debut from Bryant will rank as the major highlight for LSU.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks

Score: 196.350

In challenging LSU most of the way—and winning the meet on bars and beam—Arkansas exceeded expectations in its opening performance and is rewarded with a top-4 SEC ranking in the first week. Kennedy Hambrick ranks as a top-5 all-arounder after her showing, and Sarah Shaffer even got an actual 9.9 for her perfect Yurchenko 1/2. The team will, however, have to address the early vault and floor scores if it is to return to the 196.8 level that it reached in the second meet last season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Score: 196.150

When Georgia hit this mark to win the first meet of the season, it seemed a reasonable score, but as other teams passed it up, Georgia fell into the bottom half of the SEC teams. Tentative beam, early season vault landings, and a lack of Rachael Lukacs kept the squad from exploding for a statement result, but there were a number of individual highlights like the wildly successful AA debut of Victoria Nguyen, and a stuck Y1.5 from Mikayla Magee as she showed the best routine in all three of her lineups (fight me). In fact, Georgia had a…strong team score…on bars. This is a breaking news accomplishment.

8. Kentucky Wildcats

Score: 195.825

Kentucky had a good thing going through three rotations, with a largely untested team (disturbingly absent one Ella Warren) staying with Alabama and trucking toward mid- or high-196 pace. Beam turned to mush in the final rotation leaving Kentucky down in the 195s for an unusable score, but the team did emerge from this meet with more realistic routine options than there appeared to be going in—and with Josie Angeny ranked as the #3 AAer in the country.

9. Auburn Tigers

Score: 195.725

A couple lineup limitations caught up with Auburn as the meet wore on, and what looked like a respectable, if slightly rusty, first meet 196 fell from the team’s grasp after counting an error on floor. Derrian Gobourne looked ready, clearly the class of the team on vault, bars, and floor, and freshman Gabby McLaughlin made her debut by tying for the team lead on beam. Some likely-seeming freshman floor contributors did not appear, so keep an eye on how that lineup develops in future meets.

10. BYU Cougars

Score: 195.700

Current-era BYU won’t be that interested in a sub-196 score, but the team showed a characteristically extensive roster of meet-ready contributors in a performance marred only by a wobble-a-thon on beam that led to a bunch of counting 9.6s and 9.7s. The security of the floor tumbling was an obvious plus, getting BYU into the top 5 in the national floor rankings for the first week.

11. Arizona State Sun Devils

Score: 194.725

Arizona State was exceeding expectations through the first half of the competition against Oklahoma with a vault lineup that looked more competitive than it did during the season preview—helped by the addition of Anaya Smith. Things fell apart in the second half with a counting fall on beam and a floor lineup that got stuck in the 9.6s and needs more time. Additional encouraging freshman performances came from Sarah Clark and Emily White with 9.850s on bars.

12. Utah State Aggies

Score: 194.350

Utah State originally finished with a 194.100, but a later score adjustment lifted the Aggies out of the first-week basement and into 12th place. This was not the performance of the later stages of last season—a number of the routines looked to be in preseason larval stages—but the team can also expect a full-point improvement on this opening mark in future meets solely from a less fallsy beam rotation.

13. Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Score: 194.325

Southern Utah suffered the worst of the beam problems among the first-week teams, having to endure a three-fall rotation that dashed any hopes of a competitive first-week total, despite an event winning 9.900 from Mayson Bentley on bars that led SUU to a competitive result there.

14. Missouri Tigers

Average: 194.250

Quite surprisingly, Missouri is forced to be the caboose of the first-week rankings. Without Helen Hu, Kyra Burns, Alisa Sheremeta, and Kambrie Brandt, there was always going to be a depth issue as the team had to rustle up all possible borderline routines—and even then was able to compete just five on vault and floor. Add in a counting beam fall and no vault scores higher than 9.700, and it was never going to be a high score. Missouri desperately needs to get some people back.

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