#1 Oklahoma (198.425) – Well, it was the 5th-best score in Oklahoma team history, the 5th-best road score in the history of college gymnastics, the highest score in the country this season by 3 tenths, and ranks in the top 20 of all team scores ever. So I think we can safely say this one goes in the keeper category. Even though Oklahoma’s beam scores had been solid already, this was the first time this season we saw Oklahoma hit a really Oklahoma beam rotation as Levasseur and Trautman both reentered the lineup and will be difficult to displace.
#2 Florida (197.900) – Florida’s season-high of 197.900 on Friday looked a lot better before Oklahoma scored that freak of nature, but it’s still a season high. With 7 meets remaining on Florida’s schedule and just 2 at home, this score looks more likely than not to stick around for NQS at this point, ranking as a pretty equivalent performance to Florida’s other home meets thus far. With Thomas off beam this week, DiCello off floor, and Blakely in uncertain hitting status on the leg events, the Florida lineups still feel very unfinalized. We just don’t yet know what this team’s real scoring potential is.
#3 Michigan (197.975) – Unlike last weekend, week 4 proved a strong and fortifying journey for the top teams as a whole, and Michigan was chief among those that got back on the horse after a weak outing for 196 last time around. Michigan reasserted that this is the best combined vault and floor team in NCAA right now, a status that they will have to maintain if they want to challenge Oklahoma when it gets down to it. Beam remains a worry, but when Brooks and Wojcik are hitting like they did on Saturday, that can paper over a lot.
#4 Utah (197.975) – Utah’s 197.975 was probably the most important score recorded this week among the teams at the very top of the rankings. For a team that intends to challenge for a national championship, Utah’s 197.2s in previous weeks this season were…eh. Fine scores but definitely not competitive with the very top of the rankings and the teams expecting to reach the championship. This 197.975 was right in line with what Michigan and Florida did and also established some separation between #4 Utah and the teams in the #5+ zone.
#7 Cal (197.525) – Cal equaled its season high with a 197.525 in its home opener on Saturday, showing more than a point of improvement over last weekend’s VT/FX apocalypse in Arizona and serving to keep Cal squarely in the top 8. Staying in the top 8 throughout the season will be an important goal for Cal in terms of establishing itself as a favorite to advance to nationals rather than a spritely challenger who might upset. Last year, it took an NQS of 197.440 to finish in the top 8. Already this season, Cal has three scores over that mark, which is good progress for January.
#8 Denver (197.425) – While Denver scored well below Oklahoma on Sunday, the team nonetheless took advantage of the opportunity presented by this meet with a 197.425, a season high that allowed Denver to move ahead of more heralded programs like LSU and back into the top 8. This would have ended up as a top-2 score for Denver in each of the last three regular seasons and looks to be a definite keeper again this time around.
#10 Kentucky (197.825) – Is it good? #10 Kentucky smashed its previous all-time school record with this 197.825, a comprehensive victory over Alabama that Kentucky will hope represents not just an internal historic accomplishment but a conference sea shift in which Kentucky can displace Alabama as part of a new SEC Big Four. That’s the real goal at this point, and a victory like this certainly points in that direction much more than last week’s loss to Georgia did.
#12 Oregon State (197.275/197.275) – Oregon State put up dueling 197.275s this week on Friday and Sunday, both season highs that allowed the team to move up 4 spots, boasting beam and floor rotations that now both rank in the top 6 in the country. Last season, Oregon State really had to fight to get into the top half of the Pac-12 teams, but so far this year, there’s a pretty large gap already forming between the Utah, UCLA, Cal, Oregon State group and everyone else.
#16 Iowa and #19 Minnesota (196.875) – Iowa and Minnesota tied on 196.875 this week, marking a season high for Minnesota (outpacing any of their previous scores by more than a fall) and a near season high for Iowa, just behind last week’s 196.900. Last season, Iowa headed into Big Tens with a peak score of 196.825. This year, they’ve already bested that twice in January.
#17 Georgia (196.850) – At the end of January last year, Georgia’s top score was 196.100. That the team already has a 197 along with this 196.850 road mark so far in 2023 should count as encouraging for the future.
#18 Arkansas (197.475) – A program record score that came at just the right time for Arkansas. The team had been stuck in the basement of the conference (which is still true but now it’s a lot closer) as questions about whether the team could hit bars, and hit beam, and do it at the same time, and whether this coaching staff was really all that started to grow and compound. This victory over LSU—in a hit meet where first years delivered many of the most important scores—put those questions to rest. At least for a week.
The Season High Club – #20 Illinois on 196.700, #21 Arizona State on 196.800, #26 Maryland on 196.425, #27 North Carolina on 196.325, and #30 Towson on 196.025 were among the teams that also put up season highs in the 196s this week. And while #31 Ball State’s 196.300 wasn’t a season high, that means that Ball State already has two 196, and it’s January.
Drop That Score
#5 UCLA (197.275) – When UCLA got a 197.275 at its season-opening away meet, it was a big deal. UCLA hadn’t started a season that well in a long time. But now, for a team that has already been to the 197.8s and will aim to challenge the schools at the top of the rankings, this 197.275 for a week 4 home meet doesn’t hit quite the same way. Counting a fall on beam won’t really pass the satisfaction test. This would have been another 197.8 with a hit, which is what UCLA will actually be aiming for each week at this point.
#6 Auburn (197.175) – Auburn dropped a spot in the rankings behind UCLA this week on account of a season-low 197.175 in defeating NC State. With most of the vault and bars scores stuck in the 9.8s, Auburn was not able to break out of the just-normal track to get a big home counter. Auburn, like a number of other teams, has just three home meets left, so we’re moving into the part of the season where teams really need to take advantage of every opportunity for a big home score or risk getting left behind.
#9 LSU (197.250) – This 197.250 is LSU’s best road score of the season and did help increase the team’s average. So there are some good things there. But…it came in a loss to Arkansas, the bottom-ranked team in the conference, and is still just a 197.250. When the top four teams are all going 197.9+, LSU is never going to be content being more than a fall behind that. They never want to be “and also LSU.”
#15 Ohio State (196.350) – Ohio State lost four spots in the rankings this week following its loss to Michigan. There’s no shame in losing to Michigan, but given Ohio State’s upward trajectory, the team would have hoped to make this one more competitive than a three-fall margin. Counting an error on beam sunk that total into the 48s for a score that Ohio State won’t give itself trophies for at this point in its team evolution.
All That Remains Is Chaos
#11 Alabama (197.375) – Hrm. On the one hand, we’ve been looking for Alabama to get into the 197s this season, so this result represented a huge improvement over the previous 196s and featured a nationally competitive bars rotation. With seven meets left, this may very well end up as a top-6 counter. At the same time, this came in a loss to Kentucky, and a 197.375 is not excessively huge these days for an Alabama-type team. Alabama shouldn’t have smaller goals than UCLA/LSU/Auburn, so if 197.1s and 197.2s aren’t amazing scores for them at this point in the season, a 197.375 isn’t that much better for Alabama.
#13 Michigan State (196.950) and #14 Missouri (196.800) – These scores marked road season highs for both teams, but given the everything, that meant a one-spot drop in the rankings for Michigan State, while Missouri remains the only team in the SEC that has not yet scored a 197 this year. With NQS, it’s always about what you do in your best meets that count, not what you do in your weakest meets that don’t count. The peak scores are the most important thing.