The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Week 1 Rankings and Notes

Week 1 Top 25

1.Oklahoma197.925
2.Florida197.750
3.Cal197.475
4.Michigan197.400
5.Auburn197.350
6.Utah 197.275
6.UCLA197.275
8.Alabama196.975
9.Denver196.925
10.LSU196.775
10.Ohio State196.775
12.Kentucky196.575
13.Michigan State196.550
14.Missouri196.425
15.Illinois196.275
16.Arkansas196.225
16.Iowa196.225
18.Stanford196.175
19.Minnesota196.075
20.Georgia195.950
20.Pittsburgh195.950
22.Southern Utah195.800
23.Arizona State195.775
24.Penn State195.675
25.Washington195.475

Keep That Score

  • #3 Cal – Cal was the breakout team of the first weekend, charging into a ranking atop the Pac-12 and ahead of championship final favorites like Michigan and Utah. This 197.475 would have been Cal’s highest road score across the entirety of last season and obliterated Cal’s previous mark for an opening meet score by about 9000 points. You’d have no problem keeping this 197.475 around as a road score in the final NQS picture.   
  • #6 UCLA – The Bruins may be disappointed with how the meet ended on Saturday because they were actually in it to win it before a shaky final beam rotation (continuing a theme from 2022), but the fact remains that 197.275 is their highest opening-meet score since 2005 and would have ranked as their highest road score of the entire regular season last year. It’s a much stronger starting point for a team that should nonetheless view 197.275 as only a starting point. 
  • #9 Denver – Denver opened with a very strong first display of 196.925, a score that would have counted for the team’s final NQS last season. Lynnzee Brown returned on two events, and Denver’s 49.525 on beam is tied for the top mark in the country (and was achieved without Bella Mabanta even in the lineup). Jessica Hutchinson’s new Y1.5 on vault is gaining outrage traction for its score of 9.850 despite being one of the top 3 vaults we saw all weekend, though I would argue that the problem here is with other vault scores that make this look low, not with this score.
  • #10 Ohio State – Ohio State continued its trajectory from the end of last season by starting with 196.775, a mark the team did not reach until mid-February of last year and one that would have been top-5 in their final NQS. This score was also enough to notch a victory over Kentucky, a minor upset against a team that has typically ranked better than Ohio State. 
  • #20 Pittsburgh – After missing out on regionals last season, Pitt opened 2023 with a bang on 195.950, a score that would have been their third best during the entire 2022 season. Pitt was aching for a big number every week at the end of last year, and this score should provide a more comfortable basic foundation so the team might not be in an “every week has to be perfect or our season’s over” situation again. 
  • #1 Oklahoma – OK, so if we’re being honest Oklahoma probably won’t want to keep this score because they’ll expect to have an entire NQS picture of 198s when all is said and done, but this 197.925 is also one of the highest opening-meet scores we’ve ever seen (and only isn’t an all-time record because Oklahoma always starts this well) and reflects a team that is deep and prepared and able to withstand some absences while still (relatively) dominating a tough competition and winning by over a fall. 

Drop That Score

  • #4 Michigan – Michigan will actually be pretty pleased about how the meet ended on Saturday because they showed up with three nation-beating rotations to finish the competition, but a very shaky opening beam performance nonetheless saddled Michigan with a 197.400, which would have been one of its lowest scores of the entirety of the 2022 season. They’ll expect to drop this number.
  • #10 LSU – LSU didn’t have a bad opening performance by any means, but it was still a 196.775 (LSU scored higher than that every meet last year until SECs) that paled in comparison to the scores we saw put up at the Super 16. LSU will intend to drop this and move into the 197s as soon as possible. We saw an early-season hole or two in that beam lineup, and as for Olivia Dunne, we’re all talking about how soon she can get into the bars lineup. Right? That’s what we’re talking about?  
  • #14 Missouri – Missouri will probably take similar solace to Michigan about how the meet ended on Sunday, with a beam 49.525 that is tied for the national lead and featured a Helen Hu routine that was a dismount away from being the best beam we saw all weekend (including the two 10s). But still, after a counting fall on bars to start the meet, the total ended up at just 196.425, which would have been Missouri’s second lowest of the 2022 season. It’s a drop.  
  • #26 Oregon State – The Beavs opened the season on 195.450, lower than any score they got during the 2022 season, so that one’s going to need to go away. That 48.375 on bars was shades of seasons past, and Jade Carey got (gasp) 9.8s. Like some regular 9.8 person.
  • #38 BYU – Saturday’s 193.775 ranks as BYU’s lowest meet score since January 2017, so they’ll just want to put that one in the “pretend it never happened” category.

All That Remains Is Chaos

  • #2 Florida – 197.750. Is this score great, or is this medium now? Time will tell. Florida may not actually want this to stick around but will be pleased overall by level of the opening performance, especially with a number of gymnasts out of lineups (i.e. Thomas and Wong not doing floor) and a lot of figuring out who the best six are still to come.
  • #6 Utah – Utah achieved the main goal of beating LSU for what seemed like a strong meet in the moment…but also for a score of 197.275 that ended up looking kind of meh compared to the teams at the Super 16. Wait on it. Utah will expect to go higher but won’t hate the performance.
  • #19 Minnesota – Minnesota opened with 196.025, which based on the standards of last season’s roster would be an obvious drop score (it’s Minnesota’s lowest team score in about 2 years), but considering how much quality was lost and how much lineup rebuilding needs to come this season, this may end up being a solid starting point.
  • #20 Georgia – Similarly, Georgia went 195.950, hardly a world-beating number but also a marked improvement over the 194s that started last season—and done with a lineup where over half the routines came from gymnasts new to the team. In the long run, Georgia’s probably going to want to drop a 195, but seen from the perspective of a roster rebuild season, it’s not the worst place to start.
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