The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2021 Regionals Draw

The regional championship assignments have been announced, and we now know which unseeded teams have been “geographically” placed at which regional sites. I put “geographically” in quotes because it is a farce, since if you were actually geographically assigning teams, most teams would end up going to West Virginia, and instead, you ended up sending Temple to Utah because of…checks notes…the geography.

So, yeah, the selection-show-that-could-have-been-an-email has revealed exactly how many ways they screwed this up. (IT’S A LOT.) Including how the image to illustrate “women’s gymnastics” was of Jade Degouveia, who hasn’t competed for a year.

Let’s dissect it as a family.

Format review: The winner of each Thursday (April 1) play-in joins semifinal #1. The top 2 teams in each regional semifinal on Friday (April 2) advance to the regional final on Saturday (April 3). The top two teams in the regional final advance to nationals.


Thursday play-in
NC State v Western Michigan

Semifinal #1
[1] Florida
[4] Illinois
Central Michigan
Play-in Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Minnesota
[3] Denver
Oregon State

AA Individuals
Emily Shepard – NC State
Elizabeth Culton – North Carolina
Payton Murphy – Western Michigan

Event Individuals
VT – Anika Dujakovich – Nebraska; Chloe Negrete – NC State
UB – Kynsee Roby – Nebraska; Kinsey Davis – Nebraska; Katelyn Cox – NC State; Meredith Robinson – NC State
BB – Kynsee Roby – Nebraska; Kaitlyn Higgins – Nebraska; Kathryn Thaler – Nebraska; Chloe Negrete – NC State
FX – Chloe Negrete – NC State; Kylie Piringer – Nebraska; Isabel Goyco – TWU

**Event individuals include those from play-in teams so that if they happened to be eliminated in the play-in, they can still compete the next day in the hope of advancing to nationals, as individual qualification to nationals is based on the Friday results.


Thursday play-in
Eastern Michigan v. Maryland

Semifinal #1
[1] Oklahoma
[4] Auburn
Play-in Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Alabama
[3] Arkansas
Iowa State

AA Individuals
Audrey Barber – Maryland
Angelica Labat – Illinois State
Hadyn Crossen – Eastern Michigan

Event Individuals
VT – Alexsis Rubio – Maryland; Reese McClure – Maryland; Victoria Henry – Ball State; Collea Burgess – Maryland
UB – Cortney Bezold – Eastern Michigan; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan; Grace Evans – Ball State; Megan Teter – Ball State
BB – Caitlin Satler – Eastern Michigan; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan – Reese McClure – Maryland; Shannon Gregory – Eastern Michigan
FX – Cameron Topp – Illinois State; Claudia Goyco – Ball State; Jada Rondeau – Eastern Michigan


Thursday play-in
Temple v. Arizona

Semifinal #1
[1] LSU
[4] Kentucky
Utah State
Play-In Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Utah
[3] Arizona State
Boise State
Southern Utah

AA Individuals
Ariana Castrence – Temple
Skylar Killough-Wilhelm – Washington
Tara Kofmehl – Northern Illinois

Event Individuals
VT – Geneva Thompson, Washington; Deja Chambliss – George Washington; Allie Smith – Washington; Julianna Roland – Temple; Malia Hargrove – Arizona; Amara Cunningham – Washington
UB – Natalie Hamp – Northern Illinois; Geneva Thompson – Washington; Alex Fochler – Bowling Green
BB – Jessica Castles – Arizona; Sirena Linton – Arizona; Zoie Schroeder – Northern Illinois; Anna Kaziska – SEMO
FX -Amara Cunningham – Washington; Faith Leary – Temple; Anna Kaziska – SEMO; Julianna Roland – Temple; Malia Hargrove – Arizona


Thursday play-in
Penn State v. West Virginia

Semifinal #1
[1] Michigan
[4] UCLA
Kent State
Play-In Winner

Semifinal #2
[2] Cal
[3] BYU
Ohio State

AA Individuals
Cassidy Rushlow – Penn State
Hannah Joyner – Rutgers
Belle Huang – Rutgers

Event Individuals
VT – Courtney Mitchell – Lindenwood; Aleah Leman – Lindenwood; Kyndall Baze – Lindenwood; Kylie Gorgenyi – New Hampshire
UB – Ava Verdeflor – Penn State; Alissa Bonsall – Penn State; Katrina Coca – Pitt; Katie Chamberlain – Pitt; Kylie Gorgenyi – New Hampshire
BB – Hayley Lui – New Hampshire; Robyn Kelley – New Hampshire; Alyssa Worthington – New Hampshire; Lauren Beckwith – Pitt
FX – Robyn Kelley – New Hampshire; Melissa Astarita – Penn State; Kendra Combs – West Virginia ; Abbie Pierson – West Virginia; Kiana Lewis – West Virginia


–OK so, item #1, they screwed up the play-ins. Last time we did this in 2019, they sensibly distributed the bottom-8-ranked qualifying teams into the play-in meets. Because it is a punishment. You have to do an extra meet where you might get eliminated. So this punishment should be bestowed upon the weaker teams, so that the regular season…like…matters or something.

This year, however, they did…a bad. They have put #26 NC State in a play-in meet, whereas #29 Kent State does not have to participate in a play-in, despite being one of the bottom-8-ranked advancing to regionals. If I were NC State, I would be royally pissed and getting the NCAA on the horn in 3…2…

–OK so, item #2, the distribution of team quality in each semifinal remains inequitable. By sending the #2, #3, #5, #6-ranked teams into the second semifinal, while #1, #4, #7, #8 are in the first semifinal, you end up bunching 4 of the 6 best teams at each site into the same semifinal, which means it ends up being more advantageous to be the #4 seed than the #3 seed (or even the #2 seed!). It makes no damn sense.

Take a look at the Georgia regional. Illinois (ranked #16) has a wayyyyyy cushier road to advance to the next day than do Minnesota (ranked #8) or Denver (ranked #9). I’d so much rather be Illinois at regionals, which is…not how postseason seedings are supposed to work. It shouldn’t be more advantageous to be ranked #16 than ranked #8.


–Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this Group of Death regional semifinal with Alabama/Arkansas/Iowa/Iowa State. We already knew the Alabama/Arkansas semifinal was going to be intense, and now Iowa and Iowa State—ranked 19th and 20th in the country, because it makes sense—have been placed with them. It’s the gymnastics equivalent of a stabbing.

–That Minnesota/Denver/Georgia/Oregon State semifinal is also a peach. Minnesota and Denver really should advance, but it’s in Georgia, so…all bets are off.

–Boise State and Southern Utah is also a tough assignment for the Utah/Arizona State semifinal, but because that Utah group is the softest regional overall, I don’t as much mind some of the best unseeded teams being placed there. Meanwhile, the Cal/BYU semifinal got off easiest of the 2/3 groups with the 27th and 28th teams placed there.

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