The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Week 1 Rankings and Reactions

Week 1 Top 25

1.Michigan197.750
2.Florida197.675
3.Oklahoma197.400
4.Utah197.100
5.Denver197.000
6.LSU 196.950
7.Missouri196.600
8.Auburn196.050
9.San Jose State195.950
9.Iowa195.950
11.Alabama195.875
11.Michigan State195.875
13.Utah State195.875
14.North Carolina195.700
15.Arkansas195.450
16.BYU195.225
17.Ohio State195.025
18.Southern Utah195.000
19.UC Davis194.625
20.Northern Illinois194.550
21.Georgia194.500
22.Nebraska194.425
23.Iowa State194.350
24.Illinois194.325
25.Penn State194.275

Keep That Score

  • #1 Michigan – Michigan rightfully sits atop the rankings after the first week with the strongest performance in the country, one that stood out particularly because of the level of preparation in the floor landings, which already look at postseason level.
  • #5 Denver – As some of the top teams found 197s difficult to come by in the first week, Denver withstood roster-shrinking retirements to hit the 197 mark exactly, getting—in addition to the usual suspects—a big floor score from Isabel Mabanta and lineup-ready beam and floor from the returning Emma Brown.
  • #9 San Jose State – Perhaps the biggest surprise of the week came from San Jose, recording the 2nd-best score in the school’s entire history with a 195.950 (San Jose has never scored 196), immediately securing the status of beloved plucky underdog for the 2022 season with routines like Lauren Macpherson’s “Back Legs Are People Too” leap work on beam.
  • #11 Michigan State – Michigan State competed only two meets last season but had shown heaps of potential in its debut from first years Baleigh Garcia and Delanie Harkness. This season, MSU picked up exactly where it left off in that first meet a year ago with a 195.875.
  • #13 Utah State – Utah State has characteristically been the lowest-ranked of the four MRGC teams, so a 2nd-place finish at the Utah quad with victories over BYU and Southern Utah is a big deal in trying to prove that the hierarchy could be switching.
  • #14 North Carolina – UNC’s opening meet 195.700 would have been the team’s 2nd-best score over the entirety of last season and is a believable score for a regionals-qualifying team to include in its NQS slate, which is important to notch early on for a team that has barely missed regionals so many times recently.

Drop That Score

  • #6 LSU – After a great start to the competition, LSU struggled quite a bit on beam and floor this week for a sub-197 total. The bigger concern than a medium-fine-whatever score that will almost surely be dropped in a couple months is the potential injury situation with Sami Durante suffering a thumb problem during her bars routine and Haleigh Bryant having to be pulled from the floor lineup after warmup with plantar fascia issues since both athletes are 100% essential to LSU’s championship hopes this season.
  • #11 Alabama – Alabama opened the season scoring under 196 for what was ultimately an uneven and rusty performance characterized by some lineup absences (Shallon Olsen, where art thou?), routine composition problems, and landing issues on vault and floor that made for a rather preseason-looking performance overall. 
  • #15 Arkansas – Arkansas was without several critical first year athletes in its opening meet, which showed in some depleted lineups and a bars disaster that brought the Razorbacks to 195.450—lower than any score the team recorded last season.
  • #21 Georgia – While it is nearly tradition now for Georgia to start with a weak score (the children don’t remember 2017’s 193 against LSU), this week’s 194 in losing to Michigan rang alarm bells because of the sheer amount of routine depletion in several of these lineups, in addition to the mistakes and preseason-level final passes on floor.
  • #22 Nebraska – While perhaps not unexpected for a team that missed regionals last season—despite being Nebraska—this opening 194.425 didn’t do anything to change the trajectory or expectations for 2022.

All That Remains Is Chaos

  • Perhaps nothing better encapsulated the what-is-this of this season we’re going to live through than Oklahoma’s opening vault rotation on Sunday, featuring two 10.000s, a fall, and three 9.7s. It’s a different kind of year for a team that usually starts out very finalized and very postseasony. 
  • Florida also chose mayhem in the first meet with lineups that were all over the place and not particularly representative of what we’re going to see later on, alternating between ragged performances and strong performances. But also scoring 197.675 for a meet that’s so very far from the team we expect to see in a couple months will serve as a warning to the others. But news of Morgan Hurd’s ACL surgery is…not what Florida had in mind.
  • Utah would be very comfortable with its first-meet performance of 197.100 in what was ultimately a pretty reasonably evaluated meet if not for the injury suffered by Kara Eaker in the vault warmup, which would be a serious blow to scoring expectations this year if it proves serious.
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