The 2022 NCAA season has officially entered its 198 era, with both #4 Florida and #2 Oklahoma racing past that mark after #1 Michigan originally broke the seal the previous Monday.
Why we should all be strapping down the furniture and hiding our valuables: Florida recorded its 6th-highest score in history—198.250—despite a kinda-bad floor rotation, while Oklahoma went 198.200 with three Yurchenko fulls and zero Olivia Trautmans, and Michigan went 197.925 with only 50% charge on its iWojcik. Oklahoma’s 198.500 from 2015, which stands as the highest team score of the post-2004 era, is quaking.
Meanwhile, this #3 Utah team has the highest scores through four meets across all of Utah gymnastics history, and it’s like…but wait, is 197.675 still good? Or nah? This week, Bev Plocki told BTN that she’s never had a team start this well. Yes, no one ever has. Michigan’s 197.913 is the highest average ever at this point in the season.
Drop That Score
#7 Denver – While 196.625 isn’t really the kind of score that’s going to help a team to a top-16 seeding this season, that was not the devastating part of Denver’s loss to Oklahoma this weekend. The season-ending injury to Lynnzee Brown ruined everything, globally. While Denver’s small roster should still have the personnel to fill in—more will be asked of gymnasts like Casali and the first years—those are going to be in 9.8s instead of…9.975s, inflicting unavoidable damage on the team score. Denver will, however, take some solace from how competitively the team was still able to score last time this happened.
#8 LSU – As the very top teams move into the 198s, and the next tier starts getting their 197s, LSU will view this week’s 196.850 as another miss. Multi-event rust (and not having Bryant or Johnson on floor) was apparent in the performance following the team’s two-meet COVID hiatus. LSU will have the unusual experience on Saturday of being the numerical underdog when welcoming Auburn to town but will look to that meet as an opportunity to reassert the traditional hierarchy.
#13 Arkansas – For a second meet in three, bars issues saw Arkansas come up with a prefer-to-drop score of 196.475, despite notching an all-time beam record. It’s currently that home 197.200 from week 2 keeping Arkansas’s average afloat, and with a road-heavy schedule to end the season, the team will look to the next couple weeks as critical for racking up some juicy home numbers.
Queens of Chaos
#22 UCLA – For a second-straight week, UCLA’s performance was better than expected given the circumstances and showed improvement, especially on beam, but was still not a viable counting score for a team of this talent level. While UCLA’s feeble performance in the “coaching the person, not the athlete” department this preseason has taken center stage and drastically lowered expectations, this is still a roster that—on paper—should be the match of Utah. But as we see Utah sitting in the top 4, Cal reasserting its position at #2 in the conference with a 197.350 this week, and Oregon State already getting 197, UCLA just looks farther and farther behind.
#32 Georgia – Well, it was only two falls on beam this week. And the fact that we’re hailing that as a victory shows exactly where expectations for Georgia are right now. Georgia made some huge improvements to get out of the 194 doldrums this week for a 196.100, but that was still the lowest score in the conference. And just as the team is starting to pull out a “beating LSU on vault” kind of performance, the injury to Rachael Lukacs is exactly what they could not afford.
Records and Almost Records
#4 Florida tied two event records this week, going 49.725 on bars and 49.700 on beam.
#6 Auburn kept up its 2nd-best-score-in-program-history trend by setting another new 2nd-best mark, this time a 197.525 in defeating Alabama. Up next, the 197.750 set in 2015. Are we allowed to declare this Auburn’s best team ever after one month?
#12 Kentucky recovered from an iffy start to the season by making comfortable work of Missouri and scoring 197.450, which ranks as the #5 score in Kentucky history.
#13 Arkansas finished strong in the loss to Florida with a new beam record, 49.475 in that final rotation.
#15 Michigan State continued its excellent start by putting up the #2 score in program history with 196.775 in the loss to Michigan. The MSU vault record of 49.375 has stood since 1996, making it one of the oldest records in NCAA. Just for reference.
#16 Iowa solved the bars problems that had plagued the early meets to go 49.175 there, en route to a 196.825, the #5 score in team history.
#17 Western Michigan went 196.100 this week, which ranks 3rd all time, and in the process set a new beam record with 49.165.
#33 Ball State also set a new beam record this week with 49.150, which helped the team to a 195.850 total, the 2nd-best all time.
#53 LIU recorded its 2nd-best score ever this week as well with a 193.850 despite counting a fall on vault, mostly thanks to 49.200 on bars, the team’s highest-ever score on any event.
In DIII action, #67 Brockport set a new bars record at 48.425, and #68 UW-Oshkosh traveled to Eastern Michigan for that DI goodness and got its 2nd-best score ever at 191.650, along with a new vault record of 47.975.