The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Week 3 Rankings

Full rankings

1. Florida Gators

Average: 197.392

In avoiding the general world apocalypse that was week 3 in college gymnastics, Florida extended its advantage atop the national rankings, in the process recording its third consecutive score comfortably into the 197s and the best score of the week nationally. It’s the closest thing 2021 has to cruising. Megan Skaggs is currently Florida’s top-ranked all-arounder, and other things you predicted.

2. LSU Tigers

Average: 197.008

Going into the 197s is suddenly kind of a big deal again given the everything, so LSU’s second consecutive 197.2 over the weekend—achieved with Kiya Johnson limited to one event—proved enough to lift the team three spots as the Tigers tightened up to avoid counting misses on bars and floor after early mistakes. We’re still not settled with Haleigh Bryant’s routine somehow being the lowest-scoring hit of that floor rotation.

3. Oklahoma Sooners

Average: 196.858

This weird-shaped number next to the word Oklahoma comes as a result of the Sooners’ worst team score in 9 years—a 196.100 recorded thanks to counting falls on both beam and floor. It was a semi-shocking result for a team that doesn’t really have random meltdown meets, but we saw the absences of gymnasts like Trautman and Woodard and Sullivan catch up to the team and prove that the challenges of the Devil Season can affect even a juggernaut like Oklahoma.

4. Utah Red Rocks

Average: 196.842

A season-high 197.075 in the home opener helped Utah jump in the rankings and get within striking distance of LSU and Oklahoma. Utah kind of solved the beam problem from last week (though it can still get better), and consistently full, first-choice lineups have been the team’s biggest asset so far. Contrary to what’s happening in most of the country, we’re not seeing Utah having to cobble together lineups with random backups. These are the people you want going.

5. Denver Pioneers

Average: 196.800

Denver improved four tenths over its debut performance in week 3 and gained a couple spots in the rankings as a result. This week’s 197 came almost entirely thanks to massive bars and beam scores, the beam total led by the now-expected 9.975 for Alexis Vasquez, and the bars total led by the new 9.975 for Rylie Mundell who went at least 9.925 on all three of her events on Sunday. OK now.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks

Average: 196.742

Perhaps the story of the season so far, Arkansas scored 197.250 in losing to Florida over the weekend—the third-best score in team history, highest since 2018, and just a half tenth short of the program record. With consecutive road meets coming up against Georgia and Kentucky, the “is this real life?” of it all will be put to the test in the next two weeks.

7. Michigan Wolverines

Average: 196.538

The doom caught Michigan this week. Not only did the team have to count falls on both beam and floor (a theme!) to get saddled with a 195 and a four-spot drop in the rankings, but Michigan Athletics has now halted both training and competition for the next two weeks because of VARIANT, forcing the team to postpone its next two meets. Well, we’ll always have that first one.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

Average: 196.517

Alabama is 2 of 3 for good meets so far, which is enough to count as excellent this season and keep Alabama in the happy part of the rankings. Recovering from last week’s beam disaster, the team went 49.425 on that event this week in defeating Auburn, while also adding a Y1.5 from Luisa Blanco in what is becoming a believable quest toward six 10.0 starts on vault.

9. Iowa Hawkeyes

Average: 196.500

Iowa followed its breakout first-meet performance with an even better second-meet performance, going 196.550 in defeating Ohio State. Once again, floor proved the highlight as the team is now ranked #1 in the country there with a 49.425 and a 49.375 so far. The program-record floor score is 49.550, set in 2004. Just saying.

10. Georgia Bulldogs

Average: 196.200

Georgia’s scores still aren’t setting the conference on fire, but a season-high 196.375 while having to compete without Magee, Nguyen, and Oakley won’t go down as a disappointment. That could have gone a lot worse than it did. Rachel Baumann competing her first-ever bars for Georgia and having it go well pretty much saved the day. Next weekend’s meet with Arkansas will be an interesting test as Arkansas has kind of usurped Georgia’s normal place in the conference so far this season.

11. UCLA Bruins

Average: 196.150

UCLA performed a pretty effective fake-out in that first vault rotation with excellent landings that did not seem to reflect a depleted team with limited preparation. As the meet went on, UCLA’s having to cobble together lineups began to show, with some last-minute backups competing and Pauline Tratz’s heroic bars (TWIST) 9.6 required to save the day there. UCLA survived for a 196 but will need gymnasts like Norah Flatley and Kalyany Steele back in order to be nationally competitive this season.

12. BYU Cougars

Average: 196.067

A second-consecutive 196.250, albeit recorded in a tight loss to Boise State, was enough to keep BYU among the rarefied teams for another week. As is becoming expected, a stacked bars rotation led the scoring for the team and even outmatched Boise State on the event, which is no small accomplishment.

13. Minnesota Gophers

Average: 196.013

Minnesota also felt the pain of the Michigan disaster in its second meet, scoring just a 195.000 after a counting fall on floor and some lower-than desired scores on bars and beam. Not even the continuing stellar performances of Loper and Ramler could save this one as Minnesota dropped 9 spots in the rankings and will be looking to drop this meet as immediately as possible.

14. Kentucky Wildcats

Average: 195.942

Kentucky sort of solved its beam problem in week 3—still having to eat a lower score there but avoiding a counting fall for the first time. Yet greater struggles in the vault department than we had seen in previous meets meant that Kentucky was still left to deal with a sub-196 score, and somewhat surprisingly its weakest number of the season so far. Still waiting for that “putting it all together” meet.

15. Arizona Wildcats

Average: 195.650

Arizona will be thrilled with this ranking after coming out in the first meet to get a mid-195, a score that looks a lot better this year, in this conference, than it has in years past. The freshmen came through on bars with the competitive-looking routines they needed to provide in order to restock that lineup, and the beam 9.900 from Jessica Castles was a major highlight.

15. Arizona State Sun Devils

Average: 195.650

It’s an Arizona tie as both teams sit on the exact same average, though ASU arrived here after three meets rather than one. Arizona State sort of missed an opportunity to upset UCLA in a close meet on Saturday (though also got away with a couple OOBs that weren’t taken), but the quality of the bars routines in particular reflected major improvements over previous weeks. Arizona State was clearly the better team on that piece and will be eager to get Cairo Leonard-Baker back on the other events to bulk up those scores.

17. Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Average: 195.592

Southern Utah obliterated its previous season high by going 196.650 in defeating Utah State, thanks in large part to the first hit-hit beam rotation of the season where no score lower than 9.800 had to count. SUU succeeded on beam and floor even without Hannah Nipp, who had to be pulled after a bars fall, which is a bit of a concern because the team will very much need her.

18. Iowa State Cyclones

Average: 195.500

Iowa State was idle in week 3.

18. Illinois Illini

Average: 195.500

Another mid-195 proved enough for Illinois to win its Saturday tri-meet and sit at 4th in the conference rankings. The 195.5 included having to count a 9.3 on vault, so Illinois will certainly entertain 196 dreams in next Sunday’s home opener given the scoring potential shown on the other three events.

20. Boise State Broncos

Average: 195.313

Boise State stepped up its team total by two points this week compared that first-meet Oregon State situation, reaching into the 196s and upsetting BYU. Adriana Popp was able to return to the floor lineup in this one, helping that event improve dramatically from the five-member squad that had to go the week before, and freshman Courtney Blackson debuted on vault for BSU’s best score there.

21. Utah State Aggies

Average: 195.288

Following a week off, Utah State also made a dramatic, nearly two-point improvement over its first meet. USU fell to Southern Utah at home but broke the 196 marker thanks pretty much entirely to bars and beam, led by a 9.950 from Maia Fishwick on bars and a 9.925 from Autumn DeHarde on beam.

22. Auburn Tigers

Average: 195.283

Another mid-195 in losing to Alabama has kept Auburn relegated to the 20s, still looking for that first good hit of the season. As has been the case all month, these scores are not the result of counting falls but of understaffed lineups (Cassie Stevens and Aria Brusch were both absent for a second straight week) that have to eat a lot of 9.7s. A 9.900 on beam from Piper Smith, who missed all of last season, was a highlight.

23. North Carolina Tar Heels

Average: 195.200

UNC made its way into the top 25 (and to the top spot in the EAGL) following an opening-meet victory over New Hampshire. Given the trend of recent seasons, where the team has been easily talented enough to make the postseason but kept falling on bars and beam, hit rotations on both events in the season opener will be particularly pleasing. Elizabeth Culton’s 9.950 on beam has her in a three-way tie for the #1 ranking on that event.

24. Missouri Tigers

Average: 195.117

Missouri’s 195.3 in losing to Kentucky represented a step backward compared to last week, leaving Missouri still searching for that first good hit of the season. A spate of 9.6s and 9.7s kept the team score down again and couldn’t be saved by a strong final rotation on floor, led by a 9.900 from Hannah McCrary. Missouri will be eager to put up a solid score next weekend at Florida to get one usable number on the slate before the midseason SEC break.

25. Maryland Terrapins

Average: 195.008

Maryland improved by about a fall in its second performance, though it was not enough to overcome Illinois. The team got deducted into oblivion on beam in the very first rotation and couldn’t really recover from that despite fairly solid performances on the remaining three events and a 9.925 on bars from Audrey Barber.

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