With the therapy-fodder that was the regional championships now behind us, we are left with 8 teams, 4 all-arounders, and 16 event specialists advancing to the national championship in Texas.
April 13, 2pm CT:  Florida,  LSU,  Cal,  Denver
April 13, 8pm CT:  Oklahoma,  UCLA,  Utah,  Kentucky
April 15, 3pm CT
Semifinal rotation order
Vault – Seed #4 (Denver, Kentucky)
Bars – Seed #1 (Florida, Oklahoma)
Beam – Seed #2 (LSU, UCLA)
Floor – Seed #3 (Cal, Utah)
There was momentary concern over whether a new paragraph of complete gibberish that was added to the rules this year meant that they were going to re-seed the teams for the national semifinals and create a new draw.
That whole “remaining team with the lowest ranking shall also compete in the…evening session of nationals semifinals” caused particular consternation (because of…wait what), but it turned out that no, everything is as it was and the bracket is the bracket.
That means we have a pretty lopsided draw this year after Michigan’s still-inexplicable-after-second-viewing elimination at the Denver Regional of Infamy, but that’s sports. Re-seeding for nationals would have leaned too hard on artificially protecting the top teams for my liking, and we already have the entire concept of dropping a fall to do that job well enough.
That first semifinal certainly presents an opportunity, and while Florida, LSU, and Denver have all been to at least one national championship in the final-four era, Cal has not. And has never had a better chance to do so. The second semifinal is the deeper group, featuring three of the top four remaining teams, as we face another UCLA/Utah showdown. So far this year, Utah is 3-0 when directly up against UCLA, twice in Utah and once at UCLA.
Individual qualifier assignments
Luisa Blanco – Bars – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Utah
Hannah Scharf – All-Around – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with UCLA
Lauren Williams – Vault – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Utah
Norah Flatley – Beam – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Utah
Derrian Gobourne – Floor – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Utah
Courtney Blackson – Vault – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Denver
Emily Lopez – Bars – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Denver
Abby Heiskell – All-Around – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Oklahoma
Naomi Morrison – Vault – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Kentucky
Natalie Wojcik – Bars – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Kentucky
Sierra Brooks – Floor – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Kentucky
Delanie Harkness – Floor – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Cal
Gabi Stephen – Beam – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Cal
Alisa Sheremeta – Beam – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Denver
Payton Harris – All-Around – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Florida
Lexi Edwards – Floor – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Denver
Jade Carey – Beam – Semifinal 2 – Rotate with Kentucky
Ava Piedrahita – Vault – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Cal
Cassidy Rushlow – Bars – Semifinal 1 – Rotate with Cal
Chloe Widner – All-Around – Semifinal 1 – Rotation with LSU
The big individual development from regionals was the explosion of the prospective all-around competition with four, if not ultimately five, of the top ten AAers in the country not qualifying for or not competing the all-around at nationals (Carey, Lee, Blanco, Brooks, and we’ll wait and see about Thomas). From the rest of the top 10, Chiles, Bryant, Bowers, Harris, and Wong did all qualify and are expected to compete all four events.
In fact, none of the apparatuses will have all of the nation’s top-5 athletes competing on them at nationals: Carey and Brooks missing on vault, Carey and Lee missing on bars, Blanco missing on beam, and Carey and Hooten missing on floor. Theoretically, that creates a more open field, but it has always been an open field when it comes to individual event titles at nationals. Whoever happens to stick at night while being famous? I really wouldn’t be shocked by a Snub Sweep on the events, with Morrison on vault, Wojcik on bars, Carey on beam, and Brooks on floor.