All posts by balancebeamsituation

#11 Georgia Preview

The Georgia Bulldogs will begin the 2013 season ranked at a historic low of #11, but of all the teams, Georgia has the most potential to rise above its station given the depth of talent. Even though the Jay Clark tenure will be remembered as a disaster, the team was improving and the much-needed new blood had begun to liven up the lineups. Let’s all remember that, crazy scoring aside, Georgia was a few more experienced beam workers away from making Super Six in 2012.

There is, however, much work to be done to put the team in a similar or stronger position. The graduations of Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio are significant not only because Ding and Nuccio were excellent gymnastics but because they were the last links to the Suzanne era. Those two performed with a sureness and an attitude (and a stickability) that none of the rest of the team can match.

All eyes will be on Danna Durante to see if she can produce more Dings and Nuccios and fewer of the sturdy, but uninspiring, 9.850 types that marked Clark’s leadership of the team. She needs to make a point of cultivating risk over safety to get out of these doldrums. I don’t expect some magical change in the upperclassmen (and the risk of a new coach is that the team dynamic changes for the worse, a la 2010), but I do believe that the right coaching still might squeeze some quality out of the potential (be it squandered or yet unfulfilled) that litters this team roster. Is Durante the one to do that? It remains to be seen.

Vault:

All the best vaulting teams have an anchor that can score 9.950 regardless of the charity of the judging panel. Georgia will need to find that person this year in the absence of Kat Ding, but I don’t anticipate a major struggle to do so as there are several valid nominees.

Lindsay Cheek should return to the end of the lineup and consistently knock on the door of 9.9s, and while Cat Hires probably isn’t an anchor, she can be a strong 9.875 like she was last year. Brandie Jay is training a workable Y1.5 with some bent legs that can be 9.900 with some refinement, and we will probably see big amplitude and/or difficulty from Brittany Rogers as well. Expect those four to occupy the 3-6 spots and consistently keep the team somewhere in the +.300 territory.  

For the other two spots, there are options. I have been pleasantly surprised by Chelsea Davis’s vaulting, and she is a perfect stick-worthy leadoff. Sarah Persinger and Kaylan Earls have the potential to be better than the 9.800s they showed last year, but they are more likely to act as comforting backups rather than lineup competitors. Noel Couch will almost certainly be in the lineup and has been training a 1.5, but I’d prefer to see her go back to the full, which at least was a stick. The 1.5 won’t be doing her any form or landing favors. It will be a tough ask to compete with Florida and Alabama on vault, but Georgia won’t be losing too much ground on this event. 

Bars:

For several years now, we’ve been looking at Georgia on bars and fearing what the team would do after losing Ding and Nuccio. Without those two auto-9.9s, Georgia will take a hit, especially early in the season, but this team is not a sudden lost cause on bars and could return at least to somewhere near previous levels by the end of the season.

I say it won’t happen right away because the scoring onus will be on new ones, and it may take some time for them to adjust. Davis showed last season that she is ready to take on that Ding responsibility (and even posted a higher RQS than Nuccio), but she has to become more consistent. The random 9.800-9.850s won’t cut it. Rogers should be a sturdy highish score, and Jay is retaining her Shushunova, which should help keep her scores up because the judges love a showpiece element, even one as perennially awkward as the Shushunova.

With Shayla on bars, where do we even begin? On the one hand, she was occasionally overpraised on bars as an elite where her routine was basically a Tkatchev rolodex + filler that fit the code well. On the other hand, she is way more talented than a consistent 9.800 and is a tolerable dismount away from 9.900-9.950. Unfortunately, she is retaining her whipped DLO, so don’t expect those 9.9s much. 

In the intrasquad, Cheek looke pretty strong on bars, and I’d love to see her and Persinger fill out the lineup. No one has quite yet recovered from Jay Clark’s decision to put Tanella in for Persinger at Championships. 8.600.
 
Beam: 

Let’s just forget what happened on beam last April because Georgia was a good beam team for most of the season and that nerve-burger of a performance was not reflective of talent. This lineup, however, could be in a severe state of flux. I still think Persinger and Earls are good choices in the mid-9.8 range, but they are far from lineup locks.

Really, the only certainty in this lineup is Shayla because, even for all her inconsistency, the team needs her potential 9.900-9.950. She is the best beamer on the team and has fewer areas for mistakes now with the gainer full dismount. Noel Couch is still a reliable leadoff, but we’ll have to watch how the rest of the team reacts to competing beam. I don’t know what Durante’s lineup style is, but I’d love to see some early-season experimentation, even it if means falls, rather than sticking to one group. I feel more comfortable about Jay and Rogers on vault and bars, but they both have elite skills sets and could gain consistency with a stripped-down NCAA routine. Davis’s routine composition has been impeded by her back problems, making it harder for her to be consistent, but we should see routines from her when she returns to full health. I’m not sure what is happening with Unick right now because we haven’t seen her, but I do like her on beam.

I expect more counting falls than we saw last year, but through that process there is a very good chance that six reliable workers will eventually emerge to form a comfortable lineup. All the possibilities will need to be explored.

Floor:

There should not be a shortage of options on floor, but how many of those options are desirable? I’m sure Durante will work to get Shayla in the lineup, but that body probably won’t be able to handle too much tumbling at this point. There are similar constant-injury concerns with Chelsea Davis, and Christa Tanella is more of a “she can go against NC State while the others rest” type. Rogers and Jay should be in the lineup, but cleanliness and landing position are concerns.        

Noel Couch is not a floor anchor. She received high scores last year, enough to record RQS over 9.900, but her form is not ideal for that position. She should be third up, but is there anyone else who has proven 9.900 capabilities? The Star Wars routine for 2013 is potentially even more gimmicky than the Jaws routine. Familiar music is not usually desirable on floor because it says, “Look at this music!” instead of “Look at this routine!” If she mimes a lightsaber, I’m out.

This event won’t make fans nervous in the way that beam might, but I can see 9.850 becoming the expectation throughout the lineup to the point where the team finds it difficult to get out of that 49.200-49.250 area.

Outlook:
For the level of talent on the team, Georgia is under-ranked, which primarily reflects the uncertainty about what Durante can do to turn around the Clark descent. Going solely on the quality of gymnasts, there is little between Georgia and a school like Utah, even though the ranking difference is large. 

Making Super Six is going to be a challenge, but if this group is cultivated properly, I see no reason why they couldn’t. The determining factor will be whether Durante is content with some of the  9.800s that she already has from upperclassmen or whether she can bring some of the underclassmen into the realm of 9.9s that their potential suggests. Right now, I would put Georgia at a close 4th in a National Semifinal. Combine a new coach with a group of untested or injury-prone gymnasts, and it’s difficult to have certainty, but becoming the 5th or 6th best team in the country is attainable.

Advertisements

#12 Arkansas Preview

In the preseason poll, coaches usually are not too sensitive to individual changes in team rosters, but they certainly have taken Jaime Pisani’s departure into account this year, dropping Arkansas all the way down to #12 after a Super Six performance in 2012. This is the lowest ranking for a team that made Super Six the previous season since Iowa State was ranked #13 in the 2007 preseason poll. It is, however, warranted.

While Arkansas had, in many respects, the best season in the school history last year, recording program-best totals and ascending to #1 for a short period, the Razorbacks fell off toward the end of the season and needed a Georgia implosion to qualify to Super Six. Without Pisani’s scoring leadership, it will be difficult for the team to put itself in the same position this year, relying on Katherine Grable as the only proven 9.900 gymnast on the team.

Fortunately for Arkansas, important AAer Jordan Salsberg will be returning from her knee injury. However, she’s still wearing a brace in intrasquad videos, so it remains to be seen how much she will be able to contribute right now and on which events. In the unfortunate department, Scarlett Williams is out for the season, which puts more pressure on the vault and beam lineups with only eleven possible gymnasts, some of whom should not be allowed near the events. Let’s take a look at the team’s prospects event by event.

Vault:

The showpiece of this lineup will be Katherine Grable’s excellent round-off 1/2 on, pike 1/2, which is occasionally underscored compared to Yurchenko fulls of similar quality but should still manage enough 9.9+ scores to keep Arkansas above water here.

Beyond Grable, I have concerns about depth. Expect Jordan Salsberg, Amy Borsellino, and Kelci Lewis to return to the lineup with vaults somewhere in the 9.800-9.850 territory. Bailee Zumwalde will probably also go here, but her ventures above 9.800 will be rarer. Stephani Canizaro can be used in a pinch, but the team would prefer not to. Of the new crop, Heather Elswick shows a nice Yfull with good distance, and Erin Freier has upgraded to a layout Yfull from a tuck in the past year or so, so they could both see action with Elswick the more likely to do so. Still, it’s just eight options for six spots, some of which are not ideal choices.

There’s enough talent at the end of the lineup that a good day can still be 49.350, but I expect more 49.1s than 49.3s. 

Bars:

Concern should abound here because bars is Grable’s weakest piece, and as goes Grable, so goes Arkansas. Without Howdeshell and Pisani, Grable will still have to lead the team here, but her routine has not been the solid 9.900 it has been on other events. This season she will be attempting to add a Comaneci, an upgrade I commend that could help bump her into the scoring territory expected of an anchor.

The supporting cast should be able to bring in relevant scores that will keep the team above 49. Shelby Salmon has a solid routine with a nice DLO dismount, Amy Borsellino has an enjoyable Tkatchev, and Salsberg and Canizaro will contribute as well. Problematically, this lineup has the potential to get stuck in 9.800 land because of handstanditis. Erin Freier could come in here; she has a lovely line and sufficient difficulty, but hers is still a work-in-progress routine.

Beam:

Though the scores didn’t always reflect it, I thought this was Arkansas’s weakest event in 2012. Grable and Pisani were excellent, which gave the impression of quality, but the rest of the lineup was afflicted by lack of amplitude, sloppiness, sluggishness and sometimes all of the above.

The return of Salsberg will help, and Borsellino and Salmon will probably compete here again (though 9.850 should really be the absolute ceiling for those routines), but otherwise this event needs the most turnover and could use an infusion of freshmen. Erin Freier’s work makes me a little nervous, but her height gives her a elegant impression with strong form and presence that needs to be sculpted into a lineup-ready routine. Sydnie Dillard has better positions and dance elements than much of the current group, so I’d like to see her make this event as well. 

Floor:

Floor was the downfall several times for Arkansas last season, and this is where Pisani will be missed the most. Grable will be a consistent 9.900, and Borsellino and Lewis have strong double arabians and can be the supporting 9.8s. I expect Zumwalde to lead off again, but the rest are nail biters. Canizaro was too frequently below 9.800 last year, and Salsberg’s quality coming off that knee injury is still a question (though she did tumble in the last intrasquad). There is talent here, but is there enough of it?

Elswick doesn’t have a ton of difficulty on floor, but she is a proficient tumbler who could be useful early in the lineup. WOGA gymnast Lily Hardin is also a little spark plug who has the difficulty and form to compete here (and perhaps on beam).

Outlook:
Overall, I think Arkansas is ranked appropriately. If I were to pick the twelve teams qualifying to Nationals this year, the Razorbacks would be in the group right now, but I would have them as a fifth or sixth finisher in a Semifinal and would not have them among the Super Six contenders, even if a favorite is counting a mistake. It is less likely that they will score in the 197s this season or pull off some of those SEC upsets we’ve come to expect (at least without help) until someone emerges to be to Katherine Grable what she was to Jaime Pisani.

2013 Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Just in case you were wondering, the apostrophe in coaches’ poll is optional. One could argue that the coaches have ownership of the poll (in which case the apostrophe is necessary to indicate the possessive), or one could argue that coaches is simply an adjective describing the type of poll (in which case no apostrophe would be included). I’m using the apostrophe because that seems to be the accepted convention.

The poll is bizarre and unrealistic in places as always, but I’m not that worked up about it. Not that worked up about it. Poll available at Troester.

2013 Preseason Coaches’ Poll:
1. Alabama (11 first-place votes)
2. UCLA (5)
3. Florida (10)
4. Oklahoma (1)
5. Utah (1)
6. Stanford
7. Nebraska
8. LSU
9. Oregon State
10. Michigan
11. Georgia
12. Arkansas
13. Auburn
14. Ohio State
15. Boise State
16. Penn State
17. Washington
18. Illinois
19. Arizona
20. Denver
21. Missouri
22. NC State
23. Minnesota
24. West Virginia
25. Kentucky

Let’s start at the beginning.

A) It’s important to acknowledge that the coaches’ poll is meaningless and based less on talent or reality than it is on politics and lack of awareness. Most coaches simply parrot last year’s postseason results. This is fine, and it need not be any other way. However . . .

B) Of all the years. In the past, I have been bemused and amused by the coaches’ refusal to name Alabama as preseason #1 and the willingness of certain coaches to anoint any other team. Last year, Alabama was the defending champion, and since there was not a very compelling argument for any other team, it seemed logical that the Tide would be #1. They were #2. This year, when Florida has an insanely talented group that no one would begrudge a #1 ranking, Alabama is #1. This is gymnastics. At least they got the top three right. In the history of the rankings in the Troester archive, this is Alabama’s first preseason #1 ranking.

C) To be third with ten first-place votes (behind UCLA with just five), Florida had to be hilariously low on some ballots. To rank Florida anywhere outside the top three displays a jaundiced attitude too far gone to be addressed. I understand an unwillingness to rank a titleless team #1, but that’s a lie. I don’t see it if the team warrants it.

D) In baseball this year, the individual voter’s ballots for MVP and Cy Young awards were made public. How much would you love for individual coaches’ ballots to be public?

E) This is Georgia’s lowest preseason ranking, and even though it doesn’t match where I placed the Gymdogs (because I do think there is more potential here than others are recognizing), I don’t really reject this placement. No one would be that surprised by a repeat of last year.

F) Arkansas has been bumped down to #12 even after a Super Six appearance. Most people (including me) see the loss of Pisani and largely write this team off.

F) Interestingly, Ohio State didn’t really get much of a bump from the Nationals appearance last year, and Penn State is oddly low. 

G) Why were there so few ballots compared to previous years?

Balance Beam Situation Preseason Ranking

The annual preseason coaches’ poll will be released in the days of soon, so in advance of that completely opposite-of-important event that I look forward to dissecting, I have compiled my own preseason ranking. Please take it as official, scientific, and unimpeachable.

I ranked only fifteen teams instead of twenty-five because of buuuuh, but also once we get into that Missouri, Illinois, Denver, Minnesota, Boise St. group of teams that are all poised to finish a distant third in various regionals, the difference between the teams is so minimal that there would be no legitimate reasoning behind ranking one ahead of another. They will be separated as the season progresses based on consistency and luck with injuries.

So, here we go.

1. Florida
The Gators are the most talented team in the country. I don’t see any valid argument against putting them at #1. With Sloan and B. Caquatto joining Hunter, King, Dickerson, Johnson, and M. Caquatto, this team will have 9.900s to spare and will be able to absorb whatever latest injury has befallen one of the Caquattuses. While the other top contenders will excel on vault and floor, look for Florida to be nearly unstoppable on bars with consistent 49.500+ rotations that won’t be matched even by the second tier of contenders.

2. Alabama
I flipped and flopped about Alabama and UCLA in the second and third positions, and I do think they are essentially interchangeable here, but I put Alabama ahead because the group as a whole is safer. We know what we’re going to get from each of the Alabama gymnasts, and that means a lot of 9.900s and very few falls. The loss of Stack-Eaton is a hit, especially on bars, but the team should be able to withstand it.

3. UCLA
UCLA, as always, could be great this season, but I would have a lot more confidence in that proclamation with a healthy Peng Peng Lee and a fully contributing Mattie Larson (one who doesn’t get ranked below an injured Syd Sawa on floor reliability). I am concerned that this season will become about Zamarripa, Peszek, and their merry band of 9.850s, and if it does, there is little chance of a UCLA championship. There are a lot of supporting actresses on this team (the incoming class is full of them), but they need to start taking lead roles with 9.900s on multiple events. 

4. Oklahoma
The Sooners have proven that they are the heirs apparent to the mantle of best team never to win a championship, and I expect them to put up yet another season full of mid-197 scores. The 2013 team will be better on vault than the 2012 team was, which eliminates a major weakness, but we’ve yet to see if anyone can take on that Megan Ferguson responsibility. With the new freshmen and the injury returners, the Sooners should be able to repeat the successes of 2010 and 2011, but can they go any higher with this group of gymnasts? It may still take another season or two before this team can legitimately compete for a title.

5. Utah 
In ranking the teams after the top four, I’m taking the same approach that I took for the Alabama/UCLA decision, and Utah is the safest bet for a more successful season even if the ceiling may not be as high. The Utes have no major strengths or weaknesses, and I fully expect them to put up a whole bushel of 49.275-49.300 rotations. That can be enough to make Super Six again, but I do question whether Utah will be able to doing anything this season to make it different from 2010–2012. In Super Six last year, Alabama had twelve 9.9s and Utah had three. Where are those 9.9s going to come from? The vocal E-pass commitment on floor has not boosted the scores.

6. Stanford
Even with the losses of Brown and Pechanec, the potential of a Hong, Shaprio, and Vaculik scoring triumvirate is very appealing. Stanford would not have to search for 9.900s in the same way that Utah would, but can we really rely on those three? The history of injury/inconsistency is harrowing, but the judges are itching to give them big scores. A healthy Ivana Hong will get 39.700s. It could be great. It could be. 

7. Georgia
Feel free to treat my placement of Georgia at #7 as an atrocity. I’ll allow it. However, even if we put Worley and Tanella aside since I don’t envision any change from the previous seasons for them, the core of the rest of the team is talented enough to make Super Six. Davis, Jay, and Rogers can be scoring leaders, and if Persinger and Earls are cultivated well, they can aspire to more than just high fives for a mid-lineup 9.800 or two. The Gymdogs will hope this isn’t a repeat a Jay Clark’s first year, when a very talented team on paper totally imploded.

8. Nebraska
If it weren’t for beam. The Huskers lose multiple tenths on that event relative to the other top schools. This team had so little depth last year, but it didn’t end up being a problem until Schleppenbach went down and Buscaker had to be relied upon for beam. There are a bunch of new freshmen this year, but they are largely untested and unknown. DeZiel, Giblin, and Wong are solid in the AA and capable of leading a group to success, but like last year, they will need help to be a contending team.

9. LSU
I’m unexpectedly high on LSU this year, and it has nothing to do with Jay Clark. On vault and floor last year, this team was just one or two routines away from being nationally competitive. Throw in Britney Ranzy, Jessica Savona, and Randii Wyrick (who, let’s recall, won Senior D last year), and LSU is basically an acceptable bars rotation away from contending for Super Six. Maybe Jay Clark will be more important than I thought.

10. Arkansas
Arkansas thrived in 2012 because of the Grable-Pisani pairing that could double-handedly turn a 49.100 into a 49.325. In 2013, Grable is the only proven 9.900 gymnast on the team. She is capable of leading Arkansas to mid-196s, but another Super Six showing looks like too much to ask this year.

11. Michigan
The 2013 Michigan team bears little resemblance to the 2012 group, and that’s a good thing. With Beilstein on her way back from injury and the addition of former elites Morgan Smith and Briley Casanova, I expect this team to consistently challenge toward the top 10 of the rankings instead of just hoping to get six routines out on each event even if they are terrifying.

12. Oregon State
The Beavers struggled to make Nationals last year, and they have lost Leslie Mak and Olivia Vivian. The freshmen and sophomores need to prove worthy of more than just 9.775-9.800 scores, otherwise it could be a very disappointing season.

13. Penn State
Last season, I thought Penn State was a better team than Ohio State but simply underperformed at regionals. With Musser and Merriam leaving after this year, this is the most competitive the team is going to be for several seasons. There’s no reason they can’t consistently go 49+ on every event and challenge for Nationals.

14. Ohio State
Last season, the Buckeyes won the lottery of which team of 9.850s would get the final spot for Nationals, and they could certainly do it again this year. All Ohio State routines have competitive composition, which makes OSU capable of getting those random big scores on a good day, which could send them to a nice regionals seeding again. 

15. Auburn
I’m throwing in Auburn as my #15 pick because this team has more standout gymnasts than the other teams at this talent level. Bri Guy (your name rhymes; let’s talk about that and how it makes me think of Fry Guys) is a scoring leader on multiple events, and former elite Caitlin Atkinson brings a nice Yurchenko 1.5 to the team. 

The Latest from Training Part 2: Revenge of the Training

FLORIDA
Vault and beam

IDs: Shisler VT, Stageberg BB, Wang VT, M. Caquatto BB, Spicer VT, Johnson BB, Sloan VT, Dickerson BB, King VT, B. Caquatto BB, Hunter VT, Spicer BB, Lemezan VT


IDs: Sloan BB, Stageberg VT, Hunter BB, M. Caquatto VT, King BB, Johnson VT, Wang BB, Dickerson VT, Shisler BB

Bars and floor

IDs: Stageberg FX, Dancose-Giambattisto UB, Sloan FX, Dickerson UB, King FX, M. Caquatto UB, Hunter FX, Johnson UB, King UB, Wang FX, Hunter UB, Dickerson FX, Sloan UB, Shisler FX, Johnson FX

OKLAHOMA


More here

ARKANSAS

NEBRASKA

STANFORD

The Latest from Training

UCLA
Vanessa Zamarripa is planning to return to elite. We’ll see. Her gymnastics is so easy to root for, but she will have a tough road from now until next fall. I’m encouraged that she’s training for it now, but in 2010 she was not up to the level of competition on beam and floor. Three years and an Achilles tear won’t make it any easier to be competitive there. Specializing on vault and bars may be a prudent choice depending on her goals.

If she is serious about making a Worlds team, 2013 is her year because she could conceivably be selected solely for vault, especially if no one else is vaulting two viable vaults. Even to make the team as a vault specialist, though, she’s going to need to get the Cheng back (and make it consistent) and upgrade to a DTY to be worth taking. We haven’t seen more than a Yurchenko full from her in competition, so we can’t just assume a DTY. That vault program is not a given.

http://www.gymnastike.org/embed/OTIyNjYyMTgz?related=1
Gymnastike has this labeled as Zamarripa’s 2013 NCAA routine, but I assume this is a midway work-in-progress routine somewhere between NCAA and elite. It currently doesn’t have a turning element, but regardless of that it is needlessly complex for NCAA, with skills like the clear hip after the shaposh that take away from Zamarripa’s cleanliness, yet too simple to be competitive in elite.

http://www.gymnastike.org/embed/NDczNjYyMTg5?related=1
Alyssa Pritchett is planning a double double on floor. Never trust a preseason upgrade (competition or it didn’t happen), but Pritchett’s old routine was always going to be in the 9.850 area when hit. Her tuck full was not perfect, so this could be a smart move if it materializes because the judges may decide to give her a difficulty hall pass, which could see her recording some 9.900s away from home.

UTAH

Vault and Bars


Beam

Floor

GEORGIA
Cassidy McComb is keeping us updated on Georgia’s progress.

ALABAMA

Fear the Beam 2012

The balance beam, she is a cruel mistress.

In 2011, I examined her cruelty by analyzing how teams fared when performing beam routines after a fall earlier in the rotation. The study yielded the following breakthrough: everything is horrible. Nearly every team had significant difficulty breaking 9.800 in those post-fall routines, often suffering a subsequent fall (or two). 

But what’s this? A ray of hope? For this past season, I analyzed the same data for the schools that qualified to Championships, averaging the scores for all routines performed on beam at any point after a fall or fall-equivalent performance (a score of 9.500 or lower), and found significantly stronger results across the country. In fact, beam was the lowest-scoring apparatus for a grand total of none of the teams during this year’s Super Six, and most teams put up respectable numbers over the course of the season.

Average beam score after a fall – 2012
1. Florida – 9.885
2. Alabama – 9.841
3. Oklahoma – 9.869
4. Utah – 9.814
5. Arkansas – 9.809
6. UCLA – 9.808
7. Ohio State – 9.780
8. Oregon State – 9.769
9. Georgia – 9.725
10. Nebraska – 9.722
11. Stanford – 9.700
12. LSU – 9.688

For comparison, last year’s leader, Utah, would have placed 7th in this year’s rankings. In fact, compared to last season, Georgia and Stanford are the only schools analyzed in both lists that regressed in their performances. Georgia actually did pretty well on beam through most of 2012, but the disaster from Championships brought the average down significantly. 

Florida managed a stellar 9.885 and did not record a post-fall beam score lower than 9.850 all year. Now, the Gators did perform only 5 routines after falls all year, so they did not have as many opportunities to ruin everything.

Number of beam routines after falls – 2012
1. Florida – 5
2. Oklahoma – 8
3. Stanford – 10
4. Georgia – 12
5. Alabama – 14
6. Utah – 20
7. Oregon State – 22
8. Arkansas – 25
9. UCLA – 26
10. LSU – 31
11. Ohio State – 32
12. Nebraska – 38

The difference in consistency is slightly amazing. Rare was the week that Nebraska or Ohio State was not fighting an early fall. Nebraska performed 78 beam routines as a team last year, and 38 (49%) of those routines took place after someone else had already fallen.

In theory, these first two lists should match up almost exactly because the best teams on beam will suffer the fewest falls and record the highest scores overall, but as we see that’s not always true. For instance, our regressed schools Stanford and Georgia performed relatively few routines after beam falls but fared rather poorly in those routines. Arkansas and UCLA, however, maintained relatively strong averages considering how many pressure-filled beam routines they were forced to perform.

Interestingly, our individual standouts did not always come from the strongest teams.
Usually, they were the select few who saved their teams from being unqualified disasters.

In creating these individual lists, I limited the numbers to those who performed at least 3 routines after falls because otherwise the sample size is just too small to make any kind of argument about quality.

Best average beam score after a fall – 2012 (minimum 3 routines)
1. Leslie Mak (Oregon State) – 9.900
2. Sam Peszek (UCLA) – 9.883
3. Katherine Grable (Arkansas) – 9.881
3. Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA) – 9.881
5. Sarah Miller (Ohio State) – 9.875
6. Ashley Priess (Alabama) – 9.858
6. Geralen Stack-Eaton (Alabama) – 9.858
8. Kyndal Robarts (Utah) – 9.855
9. Cortni Beers (Utah) – 9.845
10. Jessie DeZiel (Nebraska) – 9.842
10. Jaime Pisani (Arkansas) – 9.842

Mak performed 5 routines after falls and scored 9.925 in 3 of them, including a vital Regionals performance where even a 9.800 would have seen the Beavers lose their Championships slot to Michigan. Interestingly, Priess and Stack-Eaton both performed 3 routines after falls, and each recorded a 9.925, a 9.875, and a 9.775 for the exact same average.

Worst average beam score after a fall – 2012 (minimum 3 routines)
1. Kaleigh Dickson (LSU) – 9.500
2. Brittany Skinner (Nebraska) – 9.555
3. Jamie Schleppenbach (Nebraska) – 9.588
4. Sarah Persinger (Georgia) – 9.512
5. Brittany Harris (Oregon State) – 9.613
6. Lloimincia Hall (LSU) – 9.663
7. Mary Beth Lofgren (Utah) – 9.675
8. Colleen Dean (Ohio State) – 9.696
9. Rheagan Courville (LSU) – 9.709
10. Lora Evenstad (Nebraska) – 9.738

Oh, Nebraska and LSU. Brittany Skinner won this ignominious title last year with a score more a tenth lower, so progress has been made. Overall, far fewer people were put up in high-leverage situations who were not comfortable in them. Courville and Evenstad made this list, but those averages aren’t even particularly worrisome.

Finally, special commendation for 4 mental giants whose teams subjected them to terror on a weekly basis. Each of these gymnasts performed 9 beam routines after falls during the season and did not fall once.

Team savior award – 2012
9 routines, 0 falls:
Sam Peszek (UCLA) – 9.883
Katherine Grable (Arkansas) – 9.881
Sarah Miller (Ohio State) – 9.875
Jessie DeZiel (Nebraska) – 9.842