And we’re down to 8. The remaining teams will compete in two semifinals on Thursday April 14th, with the top 2 teams in each semifinal advancing to the final on Saturday April 16, so let’s see how they shape up against each other. A check mark goes to the top 2 teams in each semifinal in each category: NQS for the season, regional semifinal scores, and regional final scores.
National Semifinal #1 – 12:00pm CT
Oklahoma will be the frontrunner in the first semifinal and is expected to advance, sporting five 198s in its last six showings (only Oklahoma and Florida went 198 on both regional days), but this will also be the first time that Oklahoma faces off against multiple other 198able teams. Both Utah and Alabama also broke 198 in the regional final, and they can’t all advance.
As for Utah and Alabama, it figures to be insanely close. Just one tenth separated their scores in the regional semifinal, and then just .025 separated their scores in the regional final. Utah gets the slight edge for the season overall, but then again Alabama kept pace over the weekend with Luisa Blanco limited to only bars. Picking this one is a fool’s game.
Minnesota is the clear underdog here but does have the vault and floor to contend with the presumed qualifiers. The question will be whether bars and beam can deliver at a similar level. They have to be close to the 49.5s as well, or all the check marks in the world on vault and floor won’t save you.
National Semifinal #2 – 5:00pm CT
Like Oklahoma, Florida is expected to get through to the final with the least amount of drama (a brand new experience?), especially after the scores from regionals, where Florida broke 198 on the first day with a preseason vault lineup and then nearly broke the all time scoring record on the second day when everyone showed.
Based on the season, this semifinal should have a more straightforward pick for the second spot in Michigan. But. Michigan’s showing at regionals proved strong enough to advance without that much tension in the end but featured enough sketchy performances and lineup absences to provoke some concern—and some optimism for Auburn about having enough quality to advance if Michigan has another repeat of regionals. While Michigan’s lineups have been largely predictable this season, they now provoke some of the most pressing questions: Is Brooks able to go on floor at nationals? Will Brenner come in on vault for Guggino?
For Missouri, this is probably a “congratulations on making it this far” kind of thing because I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it takes 198 to get out of the semifinal, but Missouri has shown the ability to take advantage of mistakes thus far.
As for the qualified individuals, those competing the afternoon session will be: Jade Carey (AA), Kennedy Hambrick (AA), Gayla Griswold (VT), Mia Townes (VT), Sarah Shaffer (UB), Mia Takekawa (UB), Sirena Linton (BB), Skyla Schulte (BB), Jaye Mack (FX), Kyla Bryant (FX).
Those competing in the evening session will be: Raena Worley (AA), Norah Flatley (AA), Kiya Johnson (VT), Elexis Edwards (VT), Jordan Chiles (UB, FX), Cally Nixon (UB), Adeline Kenlin (BB), Abbie Thompson (BB), Hailey Davis (FX).
For reference, the last four national AA champs have all come from the evening session. Historically, there’s been no real significant or discernible advantage for individual titles coming from evening session versus the afternoon session (and over the last 8 years—yeah it’s been 8 years since I last looked into this, I don’t want to talk about it—54% of individual champions have come from the evening versus 46% from the afternoon). But it’s worth noting that last year, 8 of the 9 individual champions came from the evening.