The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Saturday Live Blog – March 13, 2021

Saturday, March 13
Scores Stream
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Penn State @ Rutgers LINK BTN+
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – LIU @ NC State LINK ACCN
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – [7] Minnesota @ [21] Illinois LINK BTN+
2:00pm ET/11:00am PT – Ball State, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan @ Central Michigan LINK FREE
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – [17] Southern Utah, Air Force @ Arizona LINK FREE
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT – San Jose State @ [14] UCLA LINK FREE
5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT – UW-Whitewater @ UW-Stout LINK FREE 1
FREE 2
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT – William & Mary @ North Carolina LINK FREE

In initial action today, Penn State leads Rutgers 97.875 to 97.700 after two events. Penn State did not have a great bars rotation, but picked it back up with a season high on vault to get closer to 196 pace.

LIU got its best vault score of the season against NC State, which is on track for a very high 196 after two events. Going over 196.800 would make this a top-5 all-time score for NC State. Also the ranges on these LIU floor scores have been something else.

Minnesota/Illinois time.

We’ve hit the “what if someone did bars with sunglasses on?” portion of the meet having not started yet.

Rotation 1

Mueller – VT – Illinois – hits a yfull, medium bounce back, some flexed feet and piking. 9.775

Montgomery – UB – Minn – hecht mount – blind to jaeger and falls – took that one too far out, no chance to catch – ends with a double front with 88 lunges back, weird dismount, that looked like a touch warmup double front landing that you’re not really trying to save

Biondi – VT – Illinois – good stick on her y1/2, strong vault, just some piking. 9.900 is still something. Watch out.

Hooten – UB – Minn – short first hs – blind to piked jaeger to overshoot, very good height in jaeger, some piking on overshoot – blind to double front, pulls it around, lunge back. Tentative on a couple handstands but fine. 9.650 is really tight.

Ah never mind, 9.825. That makes more sense. I was thinking like 9.800, so was surprised to see that 9.650, but it was a mistake.

O’Donnell – VT – Illinois – fairly out of control on her yfull landing with a bounce back and then an additional step to stop herself – good amplitude. 9.650

Willmarth – Ub – MN – tkatchev, hit, just a bit of feet – bail, hit – short cast hs on high – pretty solid finish position on giant full into double tuck, hop back. 9.875

Takekawa – VT – Illinois – good height – yfull – medium bounce back. 9.800

Loper – UB – MN – maloney, strong amplitude and form into pak – maybe a bit late on 1/2 turn on low bar – short cast hs on high bar – excellent giant full, pulls in a bit on doubel tuck but lands comfortably. 9.925

Townes – VT – Illinois – good Y1.5 – nearly holds the stick, small slide back – some knee position deductions, but strong work.

9.925 with a 10.000/9.850 split. ALERT. ALERT. No idea how that 10 happened. She didn’t stick.

Sales – UB – Minn – bail, good vertical position, nice toes – correct hs on high – blind to khorkina and oooof, took that khorkina very close to the bar and couldn’t catch. Minnesota counting a bars fall now. 9.100

Powe – VT – Illinois – hits a yfull, medium step back and some piking in the air. 9.800

Ramler – UB – Minn – good first hs – maloney to pak, lovely – van leeuwen, legs together – hitting her hs – toe on finishing position looked strong – FTDT, sticks it, a bit staggered with an arm wave to hold the stick. Not one of her 10-worthies, but would be fine with 9.950. 9.925. Alright.

Waight stuck a y1/2 in exhibition for Illinois.

After 1: Illinois 49.200, Minnesota 48.650

A major development there as Minnesota counts a fall. Minnesota is still looking to get rid of a 196.975 road score, which if the remaining rotations are huge, could still happen, though not by much. The hope of moving up on Cal or Utah this week is probably gone. If Illinois went 49.2 on vault, Minnesota could very well get a huge score there.

Rutgers now leads Penn State by .125. Rutgers going to floor and Penn State going to beam.

Rotation 2

Grotenhuis – VT – Minn – short landing on her yfull – chest down and a lunge forward. 9.675

Borden – Ub – Illinois – jaeger, nice, some feet, into a similarly high overshoot – front 1.5 dismount, sticks with a stagger. 9.850

Gerdes – VT – Minn – solid amplitude on her yfull but a larger bounce back – 9.800

Biondi – Ub – Illinois – good first hs – hits jaeger, some flexed feet from her as well – very minor angle in bail – a couple vertical positions to take – DLO, a little flat but very far, holds the landing, 9.925

Scores FLYING for Illinois

Hooten – VT – Minn – does her Y1.5 – lunge forward with a little extra slide, but solid form. 9.875

O’Donnell – UB – Illinois – blind to jaeger, good, better extension there – again just a slight hip angle on bail but pretty – cast hs on high with an arch that she pulls back – full to double tuck, step forward. 9.825

Quarles – VT – Minn – coach right in the way of the camera so can see literally none of it – looked like small step on her Y1.5? 9.900

Ewald – Ub – Illinois – jaeger, solid – good hs out of it – pak, solid legs together position and height – short 1/2 turn on low – hitting casts well – FTDT, bounce back. 9.875

Ramler – VT – Minn – hits her Y1.5, medium hop forward. 9.875

Mizuki – UB – Illinois – good first hs – piked jaeger, catches just a little close – short cast hs on high – some angle on overshoot to low – giant full, solid position into double tuck, deep landing with a large bounce forward. 9.825

Loper – VT – Minn – also with kind of a large hop forward on her y1.5, great form of course. 9.850

Knight – short first hs on high – blind to a solid piked jaeger – toe 1/2 to straddle back, gets to vertical well – better final cast hs on high, but missed the first couple – giant full, just a tad late into a good double tuck. 9.950

Illinois 49.425 on bars. Which is, you know, verrrryyy loose.

Minnesota 49.300 on vault, which is a very good score, but they did not get the landing control to really take advantage of how high that score could have gone.

FINAL: NC State 196.900, LIU 193.100

That is the 4th-highest score in NC State history and the highest score in LIU history.

After 2: Illinois 98.625, Minnesota 97.950

Now it’s time to get on Illinois record watch with this scoring pace. It’s basically all I do at this point. It’s the only way to cope with this judging.

Mia Townes hit beam leading off for Illinois – a check on kickover front, smooth bhs loso series – cat to side aerial to tuck full, holds stick

Koch – FX – Minn – front 2/1 to front tuck, hit, not the highest but comfortable – split leap full to wolf full, around, just a little shy on wolf position – lay full side pass – rudi, secure landing, just some leg crossing. 9.800

Borden – BB – Illinois – aerial to fhs to straddle 1/4, glorious, smoothly connected – beat to sheep jump, small adjustment – front lay full, small hop. Very nice. 9.875

Sales – FX – Minn – double pike, short lunge forward – strong straddle positions – wolf jump 1.5, pulls it around, slight lack of precision – uh oh falls on her front full final pass, no punch into that in combination

Biondi – BB – Illinois – bhs loso series, great height, hit without check, just a little foot adjustment – switch to stag ring, very nice position – side aerial, step back to correct it – 1.5 dismount, large lunge forward. 9.825

Leneave – FX – Minn – double pike, lunge back and OOB – switch 1/2 position looks nice – 1.5 to layout, takes the step right into the corner but keeps this one in – double tuck, pulls it around under control, just some cowboy. 9.700

Noonan – BB – Illinois – bhs loso series, good extension – switch to gainer loso, hit under control – beat to stag ring with a larger wobble, bend at the hips – gainer full, stuck. 9.875

Rutgers finishes with 195.525, defeating Penn St which had to count a fall on beam and got stuck with 195.325

Ramler – FX – Minn – split ring jump full, somewhat out of control on landing – double pike, nice height – switch ring, perfect obviously – switch 1/2, nice – 1.5 through to 2/1, stuck landing – 1.5 to layout, soft knees there are she pulls around the layout. 9.925

Takekawa – BB – Illinois – side aerial to bhs, hit smoothly – switch with some hesitation into gainer loso, secure landing – bhs gainer full, stuck. Great except for that weird switch leap. No one cared about it. 9.950

Hooten – FX – Minn – full in, excellent control, chest up – switch side to popa, high – front full to pike, stuck landing, super high – double tuck, solid, chest up. She overturns that switch side a little so that she doesn’t have to do the full popa, but even that is not as extreme as most people. There’s not a lot to take for her on floor. 9.950

Scott – BB – Illinois – kickover, very high into bhs – switch to split, good lift to hit those positions – cat to aerial, pretty smooth – gainer full, stuck. Another comfortable routine.

Loper – FX – Minn – front lay to rudi, lovely – switch ring to split leap full, good – 2.5 dismount, well controlled on the step – back 1.5 to layout, smoothly done on all those landings.

Scott goes 9.950 on beam as well, so Illinois goes 49.525 on beam, a program record

Illinois is now at 148.150 and needs just 49.225 on floor to set a new team score record.

Loper goes 9.925, so Minnesota did have three great scores on floor to get up to 49.300, but it’s not going to turn this into a counting meet.

Rotation 4

Koch – BB – Minn – good full turn – bhs loso series, hit pretty smoothly, just some knees – beat to split jump 3/4, struggles on that split jump, short of 180 – kickover to scale, a bit deep but works it out into that scale – 1.5, stuck

9.925. Well damn. Wait until you guys see Ramler then. You’re going to lose your shit.

Ewald – FX – Illinois – rudi to loso, comfortable landing, some elg crossing – wolf jump 1.5, around, slight slide – split leap full to jump full, again a little out of control on landing – 1.5 to front full, low but stuck . 9.825

Montomgery – BB – Minn – secure loso series – beat to straddle 1/2 to tuck jump, hits her straddle – switch 1/2, small correction – 1.5 dismount, step forward and then an odd second lunge. 9.825

Noonan – FX – Illinois front 2/1, minor slide forward – rudi, high but a bounce back – switch ring to split full – 1.5 to a well-laid-out layout, good finish. 9.875

Loper – BB – Minn – bhs loso and falls – not a good day for Minnesota – the rest was perfect. 9.275

Biondi – FX – Illinois – double pike, under control, chest up – front full to layout, also solidly controlled – switch side to wolf full – double tuck, short, chest forward and a step. 9.875

Sales – BB – Minn – bhs bhs loso, solid landing, some soft knees – switch to straddle 1/4, very nice 180 positions shown, slightly hesitation in between the two – gainer pike, stuck. 9.925

Townes – FX – Illinois – front 2/1, hit with a crossover step – wolf jump 1.5 is good, clear position and definitely around – 1.5 to front full, hit, some knee bending – split leap full to popa, again very high – 9.925

Korlin-Downs – BB – Minn – bhs loso series, lovely, well extended – beat to split jump to stag ring, great as well – side aerial to layout full, stuck. That was a treat. Stronger than the 9.925s they’ve already given. 9.925 here as well.

Mueller – FX – Illinois – double pike is a struggle, large stumble back, multiple steps – front lay to front full, some knees – double tuck is under control. 9.800 with 80 lunges back.

Ramler – BB – Minn – good full turn – bhs loso series, nicely done – aerial to beat, perfect – beat to split ring jump – side aerial to full, stuck. Excellent.

10.000 for Ramler. Yeah, it was excellent. And they basically had to because every cough got 9.950 on beam today.

Scott – FX – Illinois – front 2/1 with a slide forward – shows strong 180 positions – 1.5 to layout, great layout positions, just a little leg break in the 1.5 – rudi, nicely done. 9.975. Goodness.

Minnesota will end up on 196.850, which will not count.

Illinois goes 197,625, which is a program record, with a program record beam score as well.

Minnesota didn’t have a good one today and Illinois did. Also some truly preposterous scoring with no basis in the reality of the routines.

That will move Illinois up ahead of Georgia and into 16th place.

Let’s meet back here for UCLA/San Jose State.

Illinois score has been lowered to 197.575, so now they are tied with Georgia. Though Illinois would still be ahead on the tiebreak.

Meanwhile, Arizona has fallen to Southern Utah but did so with a critical 196.000, which will see the move into the regionals spots for the time being in 35th place, bumping Nebraska to 36th, and West Virginia down to 37th. Nebraska competes tomorrow.


OK, let’s do this. UCLA/San Jose State. The meet where Mercedes Sanchez wins bars. Right?

Looks like UCLA is going full strength on lineups today – a sign that they still REALLY need a score. Another low 197 isn’t going to cut it in today’s score-scape. Though they do have some senior-day themed exhibitions – Waller on bars and Shapiro and Tratz on beam.

So, is Norah Flatley just not happening this season? it’s getting a little late.

There are intro walks, and then there are Marz Frazier intro walks.

Rotation 1

Tratz – VT – UCLA – strong yfull, only a small rebound in place, chest a little forward. 9.875

Solomon – UB – SJSU – good first hs – maloney to bail, leg break, gets to vertical – borderline final cast hs – stalder with a pause getting it to handstand, into double tuck, step back. 9.700

So is the theme of this meet that we have to wait a whole song for each vault?

Poston – VT – UCLA – hs pike 1/2, medium slide back, chest up pretty well. 9.875.

Someone’s getting a 50 today.

Lopes – UB – SJSU – maloney to to bail, some hip angle there – pretty solid final cast hs – giant full to double tuck, holds stick with a little squeeze, good. 9.600

Wright – VT – UCLA – just does land her Y1.5, very deep and a lunge back to save it. 9.675

Sanchez – UB – SJSU – good first hs – blind to jaeger to overshoot, small leg break on overshoot – good jaeger toes – giant full, quite late, into double tuck, solid landing. Good. 9.750

Frazier – VT – UCLA – hits her yfull, lands a bit short trying for the stick, small hop forward, usual hip angle. 9.800

MacPherson – UB – SJSU – good first hs – tkatchev, pretty solid, good height – toe on to bail, legs together, slightly short but only slight – full directly to FTDT (!) with a lunge back. Lots to like there. 9.775

Dennis – VT – UCLA – only a small slide back on her yfull, very good. Expect 9.900 given those early 9.875s. Which is not enough separation, but you know, they went too high early. 9.900

Milne – UB – SJSU – maloney to pak, small leg breaks on both – a little short on 1/2 turn on low – solid cast hs on high – DLO is very good, stuck landing. Again very nice.

Campbell – VT – UCLA – she also has a hop back on her yfull but the rest of it was excellent. She goes bigger than Dennis and Dennis doesn’t get deducted for dynamics, so…9.875

Mazury – UB – SJSU – blind to paked jaeger, a little late on blind but hit – pak – took it too close and lost her entire rhythm changing direction but continued – DLO, stuck. great finish. 9.650

After 1: UCLA 49.325, San Jose St 48.725

A lot to like about that SJSU bars rotation. Pretty competitive, especially given their preparation travails.

Steele and Andres telling us about supporting trans people. BUT I THOUGHT THE TRANSES WERE COMING TO TAKE ALL TEH WOMEN SPORTS AWAYYYY.

Rotation 2

Lopes – VT – SJSU – hits a yfull, fairly large lunge back, will get deducted for chest down as well. 9.750

Campbell – UB – UCLA – good first hs – maloney to bail, some legs on maloney – a hair short on final cast hs – pretty solid control on double front, small step. 9.825

Kelperis – VT – SJSU – tsuk full…going for layout but there was some tucking/piking in there, step, hit. 9.700

Kooyman – UB – UCLA – very short first cast hs – maloney to pak, close on pak and has to muscle the handstand out of it, survives it – a bit late on 1/2 turn on low – better final cast hs – DLO, not bad on landing, a little deep. But a struggle overall. Will need to drop. 9.650

MacPherson – VT – SJSU – lunge back on yfull, mostly solid, a little pike – good distance and direction. 9.800

Ulias – UB – UCLA – good first hs – toe 1/2 to jaeger, catches a little close today but lovely in the air of course – toe on to bail, looks pretty good – stalder to double tuck, slide back. Not her most precise set but not a lot built in so should still be fine. 9.850.

Kirsch – VT – SJSU – Y tucked full – large lunge back there – also solid distance. 9.550

Esparza – UB – UCLA – a bit short on first hs – maloney to pak is excellent – good hs on low – van leeuwen, very nice – slight hip angle in final hs – DLO, stuck landing, just some legs apart. Good. 9.875

Marquez – VT – SJSU – also with a y tucked full, definitely did not look like she was going to have enough block there but she got it around, bounce back. 9.550

Dennis – UB – UCLA – good first hs – maloney, very flat, can’t really swing back out of it – tries to cast and improvise, toe on and can’t do anything with it and has to hop off – resumes and just does her dismount – DLO. Will have to count the Kooyman score now.

Orcutt – VT – SJSU – ylayout with a very large bounce back

Judges are like, we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what to do with Nia’s routine.

Frazier – UB – UCLA – rotation resumes after 80 years – good first hs – maloney to pak, hit, nice form on pak, high – van leeuwen, legs together – one short cast hs – DLO, very strong landing. Good.

Steele UB Exhibition – maloney to pak, some leg break on maloney – slides through hs on 1/2 turn on low bar, late – DLO is still a problem, deep landing, two large lunges forward, managed to not fall though

Lilia Waller will do gymnastics – UB Exhibition – giant fulll to 1/2 turn to overshoot – toe shoot to high bar – DLO onto her knees. Well it was gymnastics.

“Please enjoy this video that empowers gay rights”

ARE KALYANY AND EMMA STRUMMING UKELELES AND SINGING TOGETHER? What a moment.

Anyway I think there’s supposed to be a meet. As per usual with UCLA, it’s like the 4th-most-important thing that’s happening at any given moment.

Also the US women’s national team is out. I feel like I’ve lived 15 lives since Kyla was doing deep breathing with Nia before her bars routine.

Rotation 3

Poston – BB – UCLA – solid opening dance combo – bhs bhs loso, secure landing, some knees – 1.5 dismount, hop forward. 9.800

Marquez – FX – SJSU – 1/2 to rudi, slide back, pretty good – wolf jump full to tuck jump 1.5, somewhat indistinct in landing position – double tuck, solid landing, deep. 9.750

Sakti – BB – UCLA – standing loso loso, super high as always, solid landing – switch to split – side somi. chest a little forward but avoids a check – side aerial to full, rebound to hold landing. 9.900

Henley – FX – SJSU – double tuck, chest down, step back – switch side to popa, gets up into her straddle positions, a little under on full turn in the end – rudi to split jump, lots of travel out of it lack of control, again good height on rudi – 1.5 to layout, pretty solid, very slightly under. 9.575

Frazier – BB – UCLA – switch, correction out of it, no combo – switch again, now to split jump to get her dance combo credit – aerial to back tuck, solid – side aerial to beat jump – gainer front full dismount, hop back. 9.775

Kelperis – FX – SJSU – back 1.5 to front full, hit, a little leg crossing but well done – split leap 1.5, pulls it around – double tuck, chest well down with a stagger on landing – 9.700

Campbell – BB – UCLA – wolf turn double, good – bhs loso, small check – switch to split, good lift, hits her splits – switch 1/2, not bad position – gainer full, secure landing. A couple small adjustments but one of her more confident beams. 9.875

MacPherson – FX – SJSU – double pike, good height, slightly awkward finding her footing on the mat – switch ring to switch side, shows ring position – 1.5 to front lay – split leap to sit split like she’s the Produnova – double tuck, short landing, lunge forward. 9.750.

They’re the endurance to get those last passes away from some really strong floor routines here.

Esparza – BB – UCLA – full turn, overturns slightly – bhs loso, hit – switch to straddle 1/4, keeps the combo going but does have a lean correction switch – aerial to beat, pretty – side aerial to full, stuck, chest down. 9.825

Mazury – FX – SJSU – front lay to front full, hit, solid layout position – a little crazy landing her dance combo but got up into her split positions – double pike, chest forward but more control than the last couple. Good. 9.800

Dennis – BB – UCLA – bhs loso with a huge break and falls – is Nia OK? No? Or is this supposed to tell us that she’s not coming back next season, because she is having a senior day fall-apart. Nearly a second fall on her dismount, large lunges back.

Orcutt – FX – SJSU – back 1.5 to front full, step to the side, just does keep it in bounds – switch to ring 1/2, shows the ring, just a little low – 1.5 to layout, has to really whip around that layout to get it. 9.625

So UCLA goes just 49.175 on beam after that 49.100 on bars, which is not going to help the score quest too much. They need some clasic UCLA senior day floor business at this point.

Shapiro does exhibition on beam – bhs bhs loso series, strong – switch to switch, very good – small correction on full turn – side aerial, hit – gainer full, stuck.

TFW Nicki Shapiro’s beam exhibition is basically the best routine in the lineup.

Tratz is also doing beam exhibition – cat leap to kickover with a check, keeps it on – split jump – aerial with a sloowwwwww movement into bhs. That counts. Maybe? Switch to split is good, leaps are solid – gainer layout full, stuck.

Elsewhere, UNC just got 49.150 on vault, and today is an URGENTLY NEED A SCORE prospect for them.

Rotation 4

As much as we love watching Taubman and Waller talk, I think there is a routine happening right now

Kelperis – BB – SJSU – cat leap to side aerial, solid work – switch to switch, a little low but fine, check working out of it – punch front full dismount, hit, step back. Looks like we missed some things because she got 8.325

Andres – FX – UCLA – 2.5 to front tuck, lunge forward but pretty comfortable – double tuck, secure landing – switch 1/2 to popa, good extension – switch. Nice, her best of the season. 9.850.

Mazury – BB – SJSU – side aerial, hit – bhs loso series, minor check – beat to split jump 1/2, really nice position there – ooooof 1.5 dismount is well short, sits it. This was going to be an OK score for San Jose St for a while and now…9.150

Wright – FX – UCLA – 2.5 with a crossover step, bit of a slide – rudi to double stag, didn’t really commit to doubgle stag shape up there – split leap 1.5 to straddle 1/2, a little short of split positions – 1.5 to layout, good stick. That was her most controlled tumbling so far as well. 9.875

MacPherson – BB – SJSU – switch to split, nice position on that switch – bhs bhs loso, lovely as well, check on landing – full turn, another small correction – standing loso, hit – 1.5 dismount, step. Nice job. 9.700

Frazier – FX – UCLA – whip through to double tuck, very secure landing – double pike, slide back – split leap full to popa to popa was pretty crazy in the split leap full again. Lots to take if they want to. Can we please get her a new dance combination? 9.775

Milne – BB _ SJSU – wolf to split ring jump, pretty nice position there – aerial to beat to swingdown, smoothly connected – side aerial to full, stuck. Another very strong routine. 9.750 is tight for that. You would have given UCLA 9.850 for that routine and you know it.

Campbell – FX – UCLA – front 2/1, finds the stick on that one – split leap full to popa, good positions and very precise landings – double tuck, small movement back – front lay to front full, another secure landing, just a bit of knees at the end. Well done. 9.925

Henley – BB – SJSU – bhs loso, hit, tight position though – switch 1/2, very very short of split position – side aerial is solid – 1.5 dismount, stuck. Good acrobatically but struggled on some dance. 9.600

Tratz – FX – UCLA – double pike, a little bounce back – switch ring to split leap full, good split full – back 1.5 to layout, somewhat short on landing but controls it – double tuck, lunge back but did well to keep the front foot down. 9.925. Sure.

Sanchez – BB – SJSU – aerial, small hesitation into bhs but kept moving – full turn with a wobble, squeezes to bring it back – aerial to beat was pretty – split jump to sheep, some feet – gainer pike, small hop. 9.675 is a makeup for some of those other scores.

Dennis FX – UCLA – front loso to double tuck, a little short, step forward – front full to layout, excellent – split leap full to split jump full to straight full, looked solid – rudi with a bounce back. Well, they can’t give it a 10 now and I’m sure they’ll be disappointed about that. Still tried. 9.925. More like it from Nia, though. Comfortably hit routine.

FINAL: UCLA 197.100, San Jose St 193.575

Kind of a miracle that UCLA got to 197.100 there given how things were going in the middle. Which ties a season high. Honestly, how was this a season high? The score allows UCLA to move back ahead of Kentucky for 13th place but will keep UCLA seeded #4 for Pac-12s next week.

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