The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Week 3 Rankings and Reactions

Week 3 Top 25

Note: These rankings include the meets from Monday because, you know, they’re already happened. They will therefore differ from the official week 2 rankings, which do not include Monday meets.

1.Michigan197.908
2.Utah197.425
3.Oklahoma197.317
4.Minnesota197.275
5.Florida197.217
6.Denver197.067
7.LSU196.950
8.Auburn196.883
9.Alabama196.817
10.Missouri196.725
11.Cal196.500
12.Kentucky196.400
13.Arkansas196.325
14.Oregon State196.275
15.Michigan State196.233
16.Arizona State196.188
17.Iowa196.125
18.Western Michigan196.113
19.Stanford196.000
19.Southern Utah196.000
21.BYU195.800
22.Ohio State195.742
23.Utah State195.725
24.UCLA195.575
25.North Carolina195.467

Keep That Score

  • #1 Michigan – Michigan won the first-to-198 race with a 198.025 on Monday against Minnesota in what proved to be an early frontrunner for meet of the season. That makes three weeks running (as long as we include Monday, which I do) where Michigan has recorded the nation’s team score, and everything is looking rather peachy. Michigan will particularly enjoy reaching 198 at a competition where bars and beam were…fine but exhibited clear room for improvement. The score could have been plenty higher. 
  • #3 Oklahoma – Prior to Michigan’s 198, it was Oklahoma that enjoyed the top score of the week with a recovery 197.900 against Arizona, helping to put away the counting-fall loss to Utah from the previous weekend. Was it good? Probably, but who can say. The punctured cocaine blimp that shot this meet didn’t give us a full sense of Oklahoma’s performance.
  • #4 Minnesota – Though Minnesota lost to Michigan on Monday, the team score of 197.650 ended up just a tenth off the team’s all-time record, and in the process, Minnesota managed to annihilate its previous record floor score and put up what was easily the best vault performance I’ve ever seen from a Minnesota squad. Like Michigan, Minnesota will be licking its chops about the possibility of record scores in coming weeks given that this total was already huge, despite a beam performance that wasn’t even that great.
  • #6 Denver – Denver’s 197.600 from its third meet was just .050 shy of its best score from all of last season and currently stands as the #3 road total in the country this season, behind only Michigan and Oklahoma’s meets from this week. While Denver will enter Sunday’s visit to Oklahoma as the underdog, the performances have been close enough for Denver to entertain realistic hopes of a repeat of Big 12s. 
  • #8 Auburn – Auburn followed one of its best scores ever in week 2 with another of its best scores ever in week 3, going 197.350 in defeating Iowa State at home. Most exciting for Auburn will be that this score was achieved with Lee competing on only two events and falling on beam. It was largely the product of the rest of the team, which speaks highly of what Auburn will be able to do when Lee is competing at her best level.
  • #9 Alabama – Alabama’s 197.650 for its home opener was a massive improvement over the scores from the first two weeks and now gives Alabama not only its first countable NQS score but also an edge over the conference challengers like Auburn and Arkansas whose peak performances are in the lower 197s thus far. Things are going to get dicey in that area of the rankings this season, and Alabama has now staked a potential “rising above” score. 
  • #14 Oregon State – Aside from being a high score that the team will want to keep around for NQS, Oregon State’s 197.000 from Sunday was full of symbolism as the Beavs finally reached 49.000 on bars, the first time they’ve done so since pre-COVID, signalling the ability to move past the gully that was bars during the 2021 season and toward a return to competitiveness.
  • #18 Western Michigan – WMU set a program record this week with 196.225, the team’s second 196 in as many meets this season. While scores are trending way, way, way up this year and what used to count as a competitive number may not hold this time around, Western Michigan should already be set with two of the six NQS scores required to qualify to regionals. Last season, Western Michigan made regionals for the first time in the NCAA era and is on track to do it comfortably this year.
  • #25 North Carolina – This week’s 196.475 ranks as North Carolina’s highest score since the end of the 2018 season. For a team that hasn’t qualified to regionals since 2017 despite having been talented enough to do so every single time, putting this kind of score in the bag early will take some pressure off those end-of-year road competitions to be *absolute best meet.*

Note on score trends: Missouri currently sits at #10 in the rankings with an average of 196.725. The highest mark for a #10 team at this equivalent point in any previous season was 196.200. We’re already seeing the need to adjust expectations for what constitutes a good score this year—and at the top of the rankings, adjust them pretty significantly. 

Drop That Score

  • #5 Florida – Florida fell below 197 this week, going 196.975 for a scattered performance that continued a theme for Florida early this season, but the big story for the moment is injuries. We’re just three weeks in, and Morgan Hurd, Ellie Lazzari, and Halley Taylor are all already lost for the season. The remaining team is talented and deep enough that it can win a championship, but what seemed a month ago like an embarrassment of riches that a person couldn’t possibly winnow down into a lineup of six is not embarrassing anymore, with very specific athletes who need to be competing on all their events for Florida to look like a championship team. 
  • #12 Kentucky – A counting beam fall this week left Kentucky with a 196.275 from what might otherwise have been a juicy road score opportunity at Alabama. It’s not a disastrous total but also definitely not a keeper when six of the teams in the conference have already gone 196.850+, including Missouri, Kentucky’s next opponent. Kentucky will be eager to upend the scoring trend in that one.
  • #33 Arizona – After an encouraging first-week result that had Arizona in the top 25, a 193.775 this week, coming as a result of a mid-routine bars injury to Malia Hargrove and three other falls in the rotation, now has Arizona sitting behind Stanford and Washington in the conference standings. 
  • #36 Georgia – For a moment, it seemed as though Georgia would use the opportunity of a home meet to recover from the rough start and get a fine, sensible, drama-free 196. Then beam happened. Five consecutive falls later, Georgia was left with a 194.475. Up next, home against LSU, where Georgia will hope to match that wheeeeee-home-floor life with…some other events.

All That Remains Is Chaos

  • #24 UCLA – Uneventful, everything’s fine. UCLA’s 196.300 from Sunday is not a score the team will want to keep around, nor one that befits a roster of this talent level, but I doubt I’m alone in thinking it was going to be worse. The team arrived with semi-full lineups, semi-ready to hit a meet. This was more like a typical, “La la la, oh UCLA, won’t do full lineups until April” performance. On the injury front, however, Marz Frazier is going to be out much of the season now with her broken foot and Chae Campbell had to scratch beam and floor after her vault landing, neither of which the team can at all afford.
  • #31 Washington – For Washington, a 195.450 final score isn’t a keeper and won’t achieve the goal of making it back to regionals if the scores continue at that level, but it did serve as a proof of life post. Last year, it took Washington until March before the team got a single rotation score into the 49s or a total of this level. So the progress is happening faster. 
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