The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Sunday Live Blog – March 6, 2022

Today, we have the Elevate meet starring Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia. While Auburn and Alabama are the headliners and both coming off 198s on Friday, they are also in very comfortable NQS positions, settled in that 5-8 range and at this point fairly unlikely to be bumped out of it. With some more big numbers, there’s a chance either could trouble Utah in the #4 spot, but the top 3 have quite a bit of distance at this point.

The more critical performances here come from Arkansas and Georgia. Arkansas now has an NQS, but with all the recent bars problems, that NQS puts them in 17th place, which is unseeded at regionals. Unseeded at the Oklahoma regional is not a position any team wants, so Arkansas needs to go to work today to get rid of some of those low 196s and replace them with at least a high 196 and preferably a 197. Georgia is far back enough that unseeded seems to be the fate but could still make a push with a 197 today.

At the same time, we’ll have the agents of chaos in Pitt and North Carolina. Pitt and North Carolina are currently on the outside of the top-36 cutoff (Nebraska at 195.845 NQS), but they can match that mark today. UNC needs 195.725 and Pitt needs 195.800 to do it, though of course they’ll want to do more than minimum because this town ain’t big enough for the both of us.

Prior to this season, the highest cutoff score ever was 195.769 (last season), and we’re already past that with two more weeks of counting meets to go after this one.

An hour after Elevate starts, we have UCLA/Cal going, which has significant scoring implications for both teams. The results for Minnesota and Kentucky this week have bumped Cal to 10th, and Cal would need a 197.475 today to get back in front of Kentucky in 9th place. Minnesota is set in 8th. UCLA currently sits in 22nd and will be hoping for a similar mid-197 to at least start to position itself for a chance at a seeded spot when it can drop a road score again at Pac-12s.

So that’s the deal.

FYI they haven’t done intros yet, so this is one of those. Pre-meet FLO update: It looks like the vault and floor feeds are currently streaming the wrong session.

Georgia starts on vault, Alabama on bars, Arkansas on beam, and Auburn on floor.

While we wait, Pitt is already counting a fall on vault with misses in the final two positions, so that puts a real damper on the goal score there…

Ok now here we go.

Rotation 1

Cashman – VT – Georgia – Yfull, single pace back, some pike. 9.725

Gaskins – UB – Alabama – shap to pak, some loose position on pak but fine – a little over on cast 1/2 on low bar – good toes as always – sticks DLO. Nice. 9.900

Magee – VT – Georgia – very short landing on Y1.5, lunge back. 9.650

Gamiao opens with a comfortable hit on beam for Arkansas, stuck dismount. 9.850

Hudson – UB – Alabama – toe on to maloney to bail, some body position on bail, pike en route – short cast hs on high bar – giant full to double tuck, a little deep, holds the stick. 9.850, pretty high.

Sabados opens floor for Auburn with 9.825

Small step back for Ward on her Tsuk 1/1 for Georgia.

Watson – FX – Auburn – secure double arabian – 1.5 to layout, crossover step – switch side to popa, looks like she just pulls that popa around – double tuck, bounce back, keeps it in bounds

Stuck DLO 1/1 for Waligora on bars for Alabama. 9.950

Hawthorne – VT – Georgia – yfull, almost found the landing this time, small slide back.

Machado – UB – Alabama – maloney to pak, legs together well on pak – toe on to van leeuwen, clearn – hits hs on high – toe full, late, into double tuck, stuck. Another 9.950. It’s soaring.

Baumann – VT – Georgia – a bit stiff on her Y1.5 landing, bounce forward. 9.800

Dogette – Ub – Alabama – good ffirst hs – tkatchev to pak, solid rhythm and form – 1/2 turn on low a bit late – DLO, small bounce back. 9.900

Roberts – VT – Georgia – pretty solid Y1.5 – small bounce forward, knees. 9.775

Georgia gets to 49.000 on vault.

Blanco – UB – Alabama – maloney to pak, very clean – 1/2 turn on low, over but not too bad – rushing a couple verticals – FTDT, lovely, stuck. 9.925 for a 49.625 rotation.

Lovett – BB – Arkansas – aerial, checks, no connection has to redo it – aerial, small hesitation into loso this time but works through it – switch to split to beat, some back leg on switch, split looked good – side aerial to layout full, holds the stick. Still gets out with 9.775.

Groth – FX – Auburn – front 2/1, controls the step – switch 1/2 to wolf full, lovely switch 1/2 position – 1.5 to layout, comfortable, looked like she was taking the 1.5 a little far but the layout was fine and dandy – rudi, bounce back. 9.875

Hambrick – BB – Arkansas – full turn, hit – bhs loso, secure landing – switch to switch 1/2, some feet, not bad on the 180 – large bend at the hips on her straddle 3/4 – gainer full, stuck.  9.775

Lee – FX – Auburn – DLO, pikes it down more today in the second salto but lands under control – switch ring and split leap full, excellent – 1.5 to front 1/1, good controlled step. 9.925

Elswick – BB – Arkansas – bhs loso, high but a large break, leg up to horizontal –  switch to split 3/4, solid – aerial, hit, knees – bhs 1.5, holds the stick – 9.750

Gobourne – FX – Auburn – open double tuck, bounce back – switch side to wolf full, good height – front full to front lay, sells a dance out – double pike, little bounce up. 9.900

After 1: Alabama 49.625, Auburn 49.425, Arkansas 49.050, Georgia 49.000

Alabama definitely the strongest team in the first rotation. I had that rotation at about 49.400 to 49.450, so actually real life good. Auburn solid on floor though not quite as good as Friday, a little bit of landing hangover on those routines at the end of the lineup. Arkansas pretty tentative at the end of the lineup on beam with some full tenth and “multi-tenth” errors, but got out of it with a 49+. Georgia had to count that 9.725 on vault, which hurt. Did get a season best out of Hawthorne though.

Meanwhile Pitt came back from vault witha  49.100 on bars, North Carolina went 49.300 on bars which helps.

Rotation 2

McLaughlin – VT – Auburn – ro full on back tuck, bounce back, chest down –

Burgess – BB – Alabama – one arm bhs to loso, secure, some knees in bhs – cat leap to switch side – switch to beat – side aerial to full, stuck. 9.900

Hit 1.5 from Hubbard on vault, a little short, hop back. 9.825

Stevens – VT – Auburn – Y1.5 nearly finds the stick again, slide back, slightly tucked position throughout

Cashman – UB – Georgia – good first hs – tkatchev, a little flat, hit – way over arches her cast hs on high bar, doesn’t come off but takes 100 extra swings so basically a fall – bail, alllllmost does the same thing but has a remarkable save – DLO, and there’s the fall. 8.200

Watson – VT – Auburn – bounce forward on Y1.5, knees, another hit

Finnegan – UB – Georgia – Ray is very close, works out of it – good hs – toe on pak, a little floppy in the air but fine – 1/2 turn on low – strong final cast hs – FTDT, step-salute back. Through it.

Graber hits lay-pike series with a check. Kickover to scale is strong.

Lee – VT – Auburn – Lopez again, and this time she sticks it with a little lean to hold it. Very nice. She pikes it down to find the landing. 9.925

Georgia gets a bars hit from Roberts in the 5th spot, slide back on DLO. 9.875. Georgia can be saved by the high bars score today if they get a hit from Nguyen.

Auburn 49.350 vault.

Nguyen – UB – Georgia – toe on to toe 1/2 and nope, couldn’t get over on the toe 1/2, goes the wrong way and hops off. Oh Georgia. Resumes with toe 1/2 to piked jaeger, close, hit – pak, solid – sole circle to high bar – DLO, step. Well, it will be better than the 8.2.

Smith – FX – Arkansas – front tuck through to double tuck, very secure – nice high double pike to finish, slide back. Smith followed an OOB from Sedlacek which was Arkansas’s second 9.6 of the rotation.

UCLA/Cal getting ready.

48.700 for Georgia on bars, which isn’t even that bad.

Hambrick – FX – Arkansas – double tuck, smooth landing –  oooof, goes for rudi to connect but can’t connect and ends up doing an accidental headspring – finishes double pike, a little short

Hudson – BB – Alabama – aerial, check, leg up slightly – bhs loso, secure – finishes stuck 1.5. 9.875

Blanco – BB – Alabama – aerial, good – full turn, comfortable – bhs loso, small check – switch to switch 1/2, large break, nearly falls, lands it basically in warrior 3 – 2/1, deep landing, hop.

Lovett – FX – Arkansas – DLO, high, solid landing, chest a little high – front full to layout, lovely position – switch 1/2 to popa, good popa – double tuck, lunge back.

The scores have Georgia at 49.250 on bars because they’ve added in Hattaway’s exhibition, but that’s not what they got.

OK, Cal/UCLA starting now.

Rotation 1

Flatley – VT – UCLA – finds the stick on her yfull – good amplitude. 9.900. One judge went perfect, the other 9.850. Funnnn.

Perea – UB – Cal – moved to leadoff – good first hs – pak, clean – toe on to van leeuwen, legs together – a bit rushed on final cast hs – DLO, bounce back. 9.850

Moors – VT – UCLA – handspring pike 1/2, solid control, small bounce back, chest down. 9.800

DeSouza – UB – Cal – good first hs – blind to piked jaeger to overshoot, nice height – hits final cast hs – FTDT, stuck. Very good. 9.875.

Wright – VT – UCLA – yfull, has the amplitude, small hop back, a bit of knees. Will we see the 1.5 come back. 9.875

Williams – UB – Cal – good hs – maloney to pak, pretty legs – 1/2 turn on low bar, borderline – perhaps a bit rushed on final cast hs – DLO, step back. 9.850

Poston – VT – UCLA – handspring pike 1/2 – solid height today – bounce back, chest position. 9.850

Schank – UB – Cal – blind to piked jaeger to overshoot, good extended arms – hits final cast hs – DLO, stuck landing. Pretty. 9.900

Chiles – VT – UCLA – very good tsuk 1/1, only small movement. 9.900

Li – UB – Cal – pak, good – hits hs position – toe on to van leeuwen, legs together – giant full, maybe a little late – double tuck, arm wave to try to hold the stick but can’t with a hop forward. 9.875

Campbell – VT – UCLA – great height on yfull as always, little bounce up.

Andddd 9.950 despite very much not sticking that vault.

Bordas – UB – Cal – good first hs – blind to jaeger, and Icarus finally flew too close to the sun there, took it too far and falls.

Cal needed that Bordas score to try to get ahead of UCLA. 49.350 is still a solid total, but they wanted a lead with their best event.

UCLA goes 49.475 on vault with a lovely gift wrapped present for Campbell there. Lots of bunching on both events, I thought. Schank and DeSouza were too close to the people who had full tenth landing errors on bars, and Chiles and Poston were only .05 apart on vault?

After 1: UCLA 49.475, Cal 49.350

Jim to Liz: “We’re not going to talk about that first rotation.” Probably smart because I imagine there would be some scoring thoughts…

Over at elevate – Gobourne with a good tkatchev to pak combination on bars, stuck FTDT. I had a short cast hs. Otherwise strong. And goes 9.975.

Interesting: Kyana George is exhibitioning beam today.

Lee – UB – Auburn – maloney to pak to van eelweun, great, clear vertical on cast hs on high – FTDT, deeper landing and a hop forward.

Rotation 2

Bordas – VT – Cal – solid yfull, small hop back, little pike. 9.825

Campbell – UB – UCLA – maloney to bail, small hip angle – blind to double front, cowboy but finds the stick well. 9.900

Williams – VT – Cal – somewhat short on her yfull, chest forward, step – good layout position. 9.775

Steele – UB – UCLA – maloney to pak, little leg break on pak – 1/2 turn on low, good toes, borderline vertical – short final cast hs – DLO, has to pike it significantly but somehow finds the stick. 9.800

Li – VT – Cal – good height and layout position, bounce back. 9.800

Malabuyo – UB – UCLA – maloney to pak, very small leg separation – excellent 1/2 turn position on low bar – good hs on high – DLO is very short, I don’t think she actually fell but nearly a knee down and two large lunges. 9.550.

Schank – VT – Cal – much more what they were looking for – pretty position on yfull and a stuck landing, very nice. Should be the same as Flatley. 9.900. Though the split is different.

Padurariu – UB – UCLA – godo first hs – toe on to maloney, some legs, hit to bail – short final cast hs – giant full, oh it’s late into double tuck, hands down. So they’ll have to count Malabuyo. 9.225

UCLA.

DeSouza – VT – Cal – Y1.5, very strong landing there, small hop – legs on the block to take. 9.875

Chiles – UB – UCLA – good first hs – piked tkatchev to pak, lovely – good hs – maloney to gienger, comfortable – rushes final cast hs – FTDT, stuck. Very nice. 9.975

I had 9.950 because of that last hs.

Clausi – VT – Cal – goes for the fyull today and it’s very solid – small movement on landing and some chest down position. 9.850

Flatley – UB – UCLA – giant to higgins to jaeger, pretty in the air, a hair close – toe on, bail is perfect – rushes final cast hs as well – DLO, bounce back. Good. 9.950 is a lotttt.

UCLA somehow gets 49.175 despite what was basically two falls in that rotation. The critical part was Malabuyo, it appeared, not putting her knee down. The max landing deduction you can take for steps alone is .400 (which they should have taken there), but it was clean enough on the bars that she won’t get a lot more than that. I would still have had it lower than this, but…

UCLA somehow retains a lead: 98.650 to 98.600

Meanwhile, Alabama has .175 on Auburn going to the last event, Auburn on beam and Alabama on vault.

Oklahoma went 49.475 on bars in the first rotation.

Pitt ended up counting a fall on vault and still going 195.875 (!) and UNC in en route to a 196 as long as they get some medium-level hit beams to end the rotation.

Rotation 3

Padurariu – BB – UCLA – good candle mount – side aerial to bhs, pulls it out – a bit of knees, but was somewhat off line on side aerial and covered it with a squeeze – beat to sheep jump, pretty, slight hesitation to hold the landing – side aerial to full, slide back. 9.825

Blanco for Alabama holds the stick on her Y1.5, just a little deep. 9.950

Schank – FX – Cal – double tuck, controlled step, chest down – another lone double tuck? chest down, stagger back – switch side to popa to popa, a little underrotated – 1.5 to layout is hit – Did I have a stroke or did she just do two identical passes for her first two?

Alabama went 49.500 on vault for another 198.000 here.

Chiles – BB – UCLA – aerial to bhs, comfortable – switch to straddle to wolf jump, great height on wolf jump – side somi, holds it – double pike, holds the landing, excellent routine. 9.925

Judges also having a moment of “wait did she do two double tucks?” on Schank’s floor. You can do the same skill over again in a floor routine but it has to be in a different pass, like if you do a second double tuck, it needs to be in indirect combination or whatnot.

Arkansas pulled together a score on bars there to go 196.850, which actually works.

Desouza – FX – Cal – double pike, solid landing, chest down – switch side to wolf full, around – 1.5 to front full, we got a closeup of Janelle’s tricep there, so…I guess it was hit? – rudi to double stag combo, travels back on stag. 9.900

Flatley – BB – UCLA – aerial to bhs loso, pretty pretty – L turn, little hold hesitation into full turn, arm wave correction – switch and split, good – 1.5 dismount, hop. 9.950. Actually impossible score with a balance check and a non-stick.

Lee is finishing for Auburn on beam – wolf turn, hit – aerial to bhs loso, small lean step back – hits switch and switch 1/2 – stuck gainer full.

Still got 9.975 with a clear balance step back on her loso.

Bordas – FX – Cal – double tuck, little slide back – 1.5 to front lay, a little over on front lay with a lunge forward – switch to switch ring 1/2, hop to the side on landing – rudi is secure, chest down. 9.850

Alabama’s score adjusted down to 197.950, so the elevate final is Alabama 197.950, Auburn 197.750, Arkansas 196.800, Georgia 196.200

Campbell – BB – UCLA – bhs loso, check – switch 1/2 is secure – split to straddle 1/4, arm swing swim – nice stuck gainer full. 9.875

Clausi – FX – Cal – high double pike, lunge back, stays in bounds it seemed from our angle – switch side to wolf full, around – 1.5 to layout, stuck to double stag – double tuck, small slide back. Replay vvvvv close to OOB but seemed like she didn’t. 9.875.

Sakti – BB – UCLA – switch , small pause before bhs loso, secure – cat leap to switch 1/2 to beat, nicely done – side aerial to full, bounce back. Good one. 9.900

Li – FX – Cal – front 2/1 to front tuck is a big struggle, a little over and locked on the front 2/1 and has to pull over the front tuck and it’s deep, just around – front full to front lay, also short, whips over the layout, loses knee form – switch 1/2 to wolf full, nice – 9.675

Andddd Alabama is back to 198.000 after the meet

Malabuyo – BB – UCLA – wolf single, good – bhs loso, very good, extended position – aerial to beat, comfortable – split jump to split ring jump, comfortable, shows the position – bhs bhs 1/1, stuck. Wonderful. Wouldn’t be surprised by 10.

It’s 9.975, which is fine but also this score bunching. The same score to Malabuyo and Flatley and Flatley had two obvious things?

Quinn – FX – Cal – front lay to rudi, solid control – switch side to popa to wolf jump, good switch side position – double pike, solid. Good one. Which means 9.950.

The state of floor scoring: Cal goes 49.250 while counting a huge struggle routine, compared to 49.250 on vault and 49.350 on bars with overall very solid counting routines.

Well, this meet was already going a very specific direction before Cal’s floor errors, but now it’s very much a UCLA meet, and Cal is in danger of not getting the total they need from this one heading to beam. UCLA a very strong beam rotation, with Chiles and Malabuyo standing out in particular. That was better. Home help of course, but that was a lot better.

After 3: UCLA 148.275, California 147.850

Val’s Arkansas-to-California travel schedule seems stressful.

Rotation 4

DeSouza – BB – Cal – cat leap to aerial, smooth – bhs loso, also secure – beat to sheep jump, arm wave correction – sissone, good position – full turn, a hesitation walk – 1.5, holds the stick. 9.900.

Flatley – FX – UCLA – 3/1 is back, good control, looked around – good height on front 2/1, looked like step stayed in bounds – switch ring to switch 1/2, great positions – 1.5 to layout, solid. Yes. That was her best routine of the day. 9.950

Beautiful routine but also that score worries me for what it means for what they’re going to do about the rest of this rotation. Don’t encourage them with this goodness in the first spot. My heart can’t handle it.

Clausi – BB – Cal – kickover to beat, held to connect – bhs loso series, solid – switch to switch, pretty – side aerial to tuck full, little movement – very secure routine. 9.900

Moors – FX – UCLA – front 2/1 to front tuck, good twisting position, a little jarred on front tuck landing but covered, still a small control issue – loso perfection – switch ring to switch 1/2 to wolf full, wonderful – rudi, bounce back. 9.900

Williams – BB – Cal – wolf double, around – bhs loso, small hesitation on landing – switch to split, good 180 positions – cat leap side aerial to tuck full, nearly melts into a pile of goo on her landing but holds it with a shoulder dip lean. 9.825

Malabuyo – FX – UCLA – double tuck, comfortable, chest up, controlled step – 1.5 to layout, good layout shape – switch ring to switch 1/2, good split positions – double pike, control, chest position. 9.950

Bordas – BB – Cal – aerial, arm wave correction, keeps moving into split jump – bhs loso, check, lean improvised 1/2 turn, you didn’t see anything – switch, another hesitation into split jump – gainer full, stuck. Fighting it throughout that one but covered a lot, so I assume the loose beam scoring today will decide not to see it. 9.825. Pretty much.

Tratz – FX – UCLA – double pike, hit, chest pretty far down – “This routine, she’s playing a magician” just a magician? This is UCLA, she’s supposed to be a magician on Jupiter who’s serving cocktails to Yves Saint Laurent while practicing mindfulness – split leaps look good – 1.5 to layout, floaty – double tuck, bounce back, stays in bounds, chest low. 9.900.

9.9 and 9.95 are the two scores

Li – BB – Cal – aerial to split, lovely – bhs loso series, good cover, no check, was a little off line – beat to sheep, step back – gainer tuck full, stuck. 9.900

Chiles – FX – UCLA – DLO, good control – front tuck through to double tuck, solid as well, she’s having a day – split leap full to wolf jump 1.5, insane amplitude – double pike, holds the landing, chest a little down.

10.000. You knew it would be. 39.800 for her in the AA.

Watterson – BB – Cal – wolf double, hit – falls on her bhs loso series.

Campbell – FX – UCLA – full in, good control – split leap full to popa, clear positions shown, elegant extension – front lay to front full, solid – double tuck, keeps front foot down. A better routine than her 10 from last week.

9.975. OK, why not.

UCLA goes 198.050 with a large counting error on bars, which is, you know, on par for this weekend. Huge improvements on beam and floor, those were really nice rotations. Chiles, Campbell, Flatley, and Malabuyo excellent on floor today. The first time we’ve started to see shades of a team that actually should be in the top 5 this year at least based on the roster’s talent.

Cal 197.200, which is their road high for the year. Not quite the score they wanted, some falls in the anchor positions when they could have run up the numbers, the composition issue on floor and Li’s landings. Things. Not enough to catch Kentucky. Cal will have the NQS edge next weekend competing twice, though we’ll see if they also need to do some lineup resting.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma was like “not so fast” and just went 198.075.

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