All posts by balancebeamsituation

Monday Rankings

National Rankings for March 12, 2012
1. Florida – 197.330
2. Oklahoma – 197.310
3. UCLA – 197.140
4. Alabama – 197.065
5. Georgia – 196.995
6. Nebraska – 196.960
7. Utah – 196.615
8. Oregon State – 196.550
9. Arkansas – 196.545
10. LSU – 196.440
11. Stanford – 196.315
12. Penn State – 196.120
13. Ohio State – 196.000
14. Auburn – 195.965
15. Boise State – 195.830
16. Missouri – 195.790
17. Denver – 195.755
18. Arizona – 195.750
19. Minnesota – 195.665
20. NC State – 195.665
21. Michigan – 195.475
22. Illinois – 195.425
23. Kentucky – 195.255
24. Washington – 195.175
25. Arizona State – 195.145

Troester

Oklahoma was not able to take the top spot over the weekend because of a poor performance at UCLA where we saw exactly what happens when Oklahoma fails to stick landings – a lot of 49.200 rotations. For a team that has been so excellent on the road, I was surprised at how much trouble they appeared to have adjusting to the UCLA floor. They’ll have another opportunity to become #1 this weekend, but Florida is also in action at home against Utah and scores are expected to be very high.

The other notable change at the top is the fall of Arkansas. They competed without Salsberg (out for the season) and Grable (should be back), and it was a disaster. They don’t have the depth to withstand losing either, but the return of Grable should help stabilize the heart rate.

Some number crunching after the jump:

  • Florida and Oklahoma are secure in the top two spots for now. Since Florida is at home, the team will need a 197.550 to increase their RQS. If Florida remains constant and does not achieve that 197.550, Oklahoma can tie them with a 197.300 at Ohio State. Florida would have to score 197.700 to guarantee retention of the top spot this week. 
  • UCLA and Georgia are idle this week, so Alabama and Nebraska will be itching to move up. Alabama would need to go 197.550 (it’s a theme this week) at home against North Carolina to tie UCLA at #3. Nebraska would need a 196.925 at home against Iowa State to tie Georgia.
  • Utah cannot catch Nebraska this week, and given that they are hosting Pac-12s, it will be very difficult for them to move up out of #7 at all. If they are to do it, though, they need to make up as much ground as possible this weekend with another mid-197 score.
  • Beyond that, we will see some shakeups but nothing that should drastically alter the Regional landscape.
If Regionals were decided today, here’s how things would shape up:
Regional 1: Florida, Penn State, Ohio State 
Regional 2: Oklahoma, Stanford, Auburn (host)
Regional 3: UCLA, LSU, Boise State 
Regional 4: Alabama, Arkansas (host), Missouri
Regional 5: Georgia, Oregon State, Denver 
Regional 6: Nebraska, Utah (host), Arizona 
Honestly, Penn State/Ohio State and Auburn/Stanford are the only qualification questions I would have in this arrangement. It seems pretty dry. That being said, crazy things always happen on Regional day. Outside of our top 18, I think the only major concerns would be NC State (as host) and Michigan.
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Senior Sunday – Oklahoma @ UCLA Live Blog

2:30 ET / 11:30 PT – NC State @ Georgia
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – Oklahoma @ UCLA

It’s Senior Day for the gymnasts from Georgia and UCLA, so a little nostalgic look at highlights for these seniors before we get to the day’s action. Along with Alabama, these teams are going to have the biggest shoes to fill next year.

Probably not even the best beam she’s done at UCLA, but she’ll always have that 10. Through all the UCLA beam troubles, she’s been the unifying force. EHH fixes things.
Our dynamic duo on bars for Georgia. That’s how you land. Never a moment’s doubt. They’re the last Suzanne gymnasts on this Georgia team, and to me, they are this Georgia team.

The most graceful gymnast UCLA has had in a number of years, carrying on her Tousek legacy. Imagine how many big scores she would have had if she hadn’t been leading off the last two seasons. 

Tauny Frattone. Coming alive. 
The best vault and floor she’s ever done have come in her senior season. No easy feat.
The walk-on with the bad legs who gets a 9.925 on floor.

Written off by everyone (ahem . . . me) and having an important season for the Bruins.

Comments on scores and routines after the jump when the action begins.


Georgia has its true lineups back today, with Ding and Nuccio back in on their events and Worley on bars and beam. This is very close to what we should expect in the postseason, if not the exact lineup.

We’ll start the actual meet a bit later than usual because of the senior presentations.

Since Georgia is at home (and they already have 3 high home scores), the Gymdogs don’t have much room to move up in RQS save for about a tenth if they were to record a season-high. They won’t be able to catch UCLA or probably Alabama, but they’ll want to try to stay ahead of Nebraska for now.

We’re underway now. 9.800 for Davis on vault. Fine score, but she can go higher with a stick. Shouldn’t matter as much with Ding in the lineup, though. Less pressure on the early vaulters than there was on Friday. Exact same can be said for Couch’s 9.800.

Persinger goes 9.825, followed by Kaylan Earls with a 9.750 (step forward). Jay will be disappointed by the landings from most of these early vaulters. At this point in the season, anything less than a stick starts to be a disappointment. The top vault teams have 4 people who can go 9.9 even when not producing their best work.

Kat Ding shows the rest of her team how to do it with a 9.925. It’s nice to see her start well. You never know how people are going to react on Senior Day/Night. Sometimes it can just be a river of tears the whole meet with no chance for a good performance. After 1 Rotation: Georgia 49.175, NC State 48.750. NC State had a bunch of 9.7s, but was led by Fincham’s 9.850


Tanella is able to stick her landing on bars pretty consistently now, which is making her a valuable contributor even though she’s having an off season in terms of making other lineups. 9.850.

We’re a little slow with the scores here for a moment at the Georgia meet. Sounds like Davis went career high (9.950) which is excellent for her. She’ll be the featured routine next year. So far I’ve seen Tanella at 9.850, Couch at 9.775, Davis at 9.950, Nuccio at 9.825, and Ding at 9.925.

Kat Ding goes 9.925. Everyone was hoping for a 10, but not quite there this time. Overall, Georgia went 49.325 on bars, and Georgia leads 98.500 to 97.550 after 2. Never got a score for the missing routine (Shayla?) but it didn’t count toward the team score. No surprise there. Sigh. It was a 9.775 from Shayla, so fine. . . no disaster there.

On beam, Couch recovers from Friday with a 9.825. Kat Ding had a major wobble on a full turn and goes 9.725, so they’ll need to drop it if they have an eye on something over 197. They’ll have to average 49.375 on the remaining events if they want to move up at all in RQS.

Earls steps up with a 9.900 on beam. Is that her first of the season? She’s been entrenched in the 9.8 range for a number of weeks now. Other than that they’ll be counting 9.825s with Shayla still to go.   Shayla goes 9.950 with an iffy landing. You feel they really wanted to give her a 10 today.

Georgia leads 147.825-146.475 after three events, so the Gymdogs need just a 49.175 to hit 197 today.

We’re beginning the final rotation of this meet now, with Earls scoring 9.850 to lead off floor. No Worley in this lineup (which is three weeks in a row now and will probably continue, I would think). get ready for some big scores in this rotation. Persinger at 9.900, so they should go well over 197 if these first two scores are any indication.

If not for the issue on beam, this would have been a career performance for Kat Ding. Really excellent 9.925 on floor. Thrilled for all these seniors ending the right way on floor. This is a major rotation, especially on an event that’s been such a problem for them this year – 49.550 for the rotation.

Final Score: Georgia 197.375, NC State 195.525
Georgia should be happy with this performance. I still don’t see them taking SECs (I can’t imagine they will be able to outscore both UF and Bama), but this is the kind of meet where you say “that’s the way I want them.” They shouldn’t change a thing. This is the lineup, this is the team.
A short break, and then we’ll have UCLA and Oklahoma

Oklahoma @ UCLA
Olivia Courtney has a concussion and will not compete. This team really can’t catch a break this year. There’s always an injury. UCLA is also reporting that EHH is warming up her 2010 floor routine. That was by far my favorite of hers.

Have I mentioned lately that I don’t care for mascots?

Olivia Courtney is there for the introductions, good sign. Honestly, I forgot Kozai and Ti Liu were on this team.

Rotation 1: UCLA on vault, Oklahoma on bars
Darren just told us that Sawa is doing an exhibition on floor today. Wasn’t the whole thing that she wouldn’t be able to do that because of red shirt issues?

Baer on vault – better than it has been, small step (9.825)

Ward – OU – just a little overbalancing on a handstand, but otherwise strong, stuck landing. (9.775)

MDLT – UCLA – very similar to Baer. A bit more dynamic, but not as much control on the landing. (9.800)

Brewer – OU – She does the one foot at a time toe on thing, which is distracting, but very clean. (9.850)

Larson – UCLA – Best distance so far, but the hop back as well. Not good landings from the last two for this part of the season. (9.900 – a touch too high)

Spears – OU – misses two handstands and a hop on the dismount, not her best, but fine.

Peszek – UCLA – pretends it’s a stick, but she’s actually low and takes a big step forward. (9.875)

Nowak – OU – totally flung out her double tuck dismount, but held onto it well.

Frattone – UCLA – perfect stick. Senior Day. Watch for the 10. She gets it. It’s the exact same vault as a 9.950 she got recently, but we’re fine with it. I’m really happy for her.

Olson – OU – very low on the DLO full with a lunge forward, but otherwise extremely strong. (9.800 – so nearly everything was on the dismount)

Zam – UCLA – hops back – she needs to be sticking this now, so that’s a weak performance. (9.900)

Ferguson – OU – looked strong but we didn’t see much of that.

Cindell does a fine exhibition on bars, but it probably shouldn’t go into the lineup.

After 1 Rotation: UCLA 49.500 Oklahoma 49.175
Frattone was really the only one who brought it in that rotation. Peszek made a bit of a rookie mistake in trying to hold onto a stick that wasn’t there and ended up incurring more deductions because of it. Everyone except for Frattone has work to do. Oklahoma had a few mistakes, an overbalanced handstand, a low landing, and enough to keep the score down.

OK, it looks like Val is crying and we don’t even get to hear it. Is Tauny giving an acceptance speech about her 10? Love it. Oh, she’s just telling people to buy season tickets. HA.

Rotation 2: Oklahoma on vault, UCLA on bars


Brewer – OU – a little lack of height and a hop back – (9.750)

MDLT – UCLA – fine routine but not her best – hop back on dismount and a missed handstand – (9.775)

Spears – OU – didn’t show it (9.800)

Larson – UCLA – one of the better routines she’s done. A leg separation on the bail and a shuffle on the landing. (9.850)

Ward – OU – off on direction and a big hop back – not the strongest. (9.800)

EHH – UCLA – not quite as clean as she usully is on the bars themselves, but just a little step on the landing. (9.825)

Olson – OU – didn’t show it either – pick it up cameras! (9.850)

Peszek – UCLA – one handstand I wasn’t happy with, and a big step on the landing, otherwise strong. (9.825)

Mooring – OU – Yhalf with a small step. Clean. (9.850)

Zamarripa – UCLA – Absolutely beautiful on the bars, but another step on the dismount (pretty big too). They haven’t stuck a dismount yet. Not acceptable. (9.875)

Stone – OU – Solid yfull with a step back. Should be their highest score yet. (9.900)

Gerber – UCLA – beautiful stick on her dbl arabian dismount – the best she’s done that skill – but a few form breaks on the bars. (9.950 – high)

Exhibition from Frattone – one of the better ones she’s done. Pretty clean from Craddock as well except for a late giant full.

After two rotations: UCLA 98.825, OU 98.375.
Oklahoma is certainly not having their best meet. The landings haven’t been there for nearly all the routines so far. UCLA stuck only one dismount of six during the bar rotation, which will not cut it. The handstands are getting a bit better, though.

Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, Oklahoma on floor


Gerber – UCLA – very clean as always, but a hop on the dismount which is uncharacteristic. (9.825)

Spears – OU – little hop back out of the mount, some of these dances elements aren’t quite there either, falls on the front double full. Not strong. (9.150)

Baer – UCLA – extremely clean on the beam, but a poor landing that should incur a significant deduction. (9.675)

Olson – OU – oh, K.J.’s choreography (love that she does something different, but I often have issues with it) – was she supposed to tuck her front full? Doubt it. That could be an issue – fine rudi dismount, but that second pass will cost her. (9.750)

Larson – UCLA – absolutely great routine with a stuck dismount – I’m pleasantly surprised with her consistency on this event in the second half of this season. (9.875)

Brewer – OU – apparently an OOB on the mount, we didn’t see it – but picked up the quality after that. Still, not a great day for Oklahoma so far. (9.700)

Zamarripa – UCLA – perfect on all the acro – takes an uncharacteristic fall while doing a 2.5 dismount – it was going to be a great score. Why are they having her do the 2.5? Seems like there’s no need. (9.400 with a fall – it was going to be that great.)

Nowak – OU – big lunge back out of double pike mount but no OOB, and very low on the front layout. This will be another lower score.

EHH – UCLA – a little wobble on the illusion turn, but otherwise strong routine. Hop on dismount. They’ll need another hit from Peszek now. Will be interesting to see if they let her do the standing full. (9.900)

Stone – OU – best floor routine of the rotation by far – should get them into the 9.8s for the first time. (9.850)

Peszek – UCLA – no standing full because they needed the hit – a bit of a hop on the dismount – necessary hit and will be a solid score, and they should still go over 49. (9.925)

Ferguson – OU – a little bit of legs on the middle pass – really strong dismount. They needed that routine – only minor deductions. (9.875)

After 3 Rotations: UCLA 148.025, Oklahoma 147.250
Oklahoma had a weak floor rotation from the first four gymnasts, and they couldn’t recover. Not UCLA’s best on beam either, but enough to retain a sizable lead. I’m still not happy with anyone’s landings.

Rotation 4: Oklahoma on beam, UCLA on floor
This is Oklahoma’s best event, so they can make up some ground here, but I do expect UCLA to get some big scores on floor. UCLA needs a 48.975 to go 197 at this meet. Oklahoma needs a 49.250 to reach 196.500.

Nowak – OU – didn’t know where the judges were for a second – very clean on series – a little wobble on the side aerial – gainer full dismount – best leadoff for OU today by far. (9.800)

Frattone – UCLA – clean – good leadoff – well done – good that they’ve dropped the shushunova. (9.850)

Mooring – OU – very nice hit routine – I agree with Allison about the sheep jump – (9.825)

MDLT – UCLA – I assume she is filling in for Courtney – or maybe Val is just in love with this choreography and wants people to see it as many times as possible – solid routine from her – better than it has been – I’d like just a little more control on the front landing elements. (9.850)

Brewer – OU – had a good routine going, but no chance on the double tuck dismount and falls – just a weird day for Oklahoma. (9.350)

Zamarripa – UCLA – love her layout stepout out of her second pass – she’s a bit more in control of this routine than she has been, but still dismounting with the rudi. (9.900)

Stone – OU – the only thing I don’t like about this routine is the two swingdowns – dismounts a little low with a step to the side. (9.850)

Pritchett – UCLA – fine half in half out mount, but not quite her best – low double pike to finish. (9.825)

Spears – OU – looked a little uncertain at the beginning but got more confident through the routine – big hop on dismount. (9.850)

Peszek – UCLA – this routine has grown on me a little – not sure why – good double pike to finish – I saw a few deductions, but this should be a high score. (9.950)

Ferguson – OU – tremendous dismount after a great routine – where would they be without her?

EHH – UCLA – LOVE that she’s doing the 2010 routine. It was excellent. Really great routine – for my money it was her best of the season – maybe that’s just the choreo. Now it’s with all the crying. She gets a 10 from one judge, but I don’t think you can give it to her with the double tuck mount.

Exhibition from Sawa on floor – ouch – botched her second pass and landed on her neck, but she’s fine. High fives Olivia Courtney mid-routine. Nice, but just a layout as her dismount. Hopefully they figured out a way for this not to be an issue with red-shirting.

Final Score – UCLA 197.525, Oklahoma 196.475


Nice to see the senior presentations.

Friday Scores Central – Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Utah

Today’s important action: 
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [5] Georgia @ [20] Michigan
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [9] LSU @ Iowa
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT – [14] Missouri @ [4] Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [6] Nebraska @ [7] Utah

We’ll start with Georgia, where word comes today that Shayla Worley is battling an injury, making my post from yesterday essentially moot. Awesome. Gina Nuccio is also out for this meet, and Kat Ding is limited to bars. After all the discussion about how healthy this team was this year, they’ve been bitten at the worst possible time. And now they have a two-meet weekend. Fun fun fun fun. The 4,5,6 performers on floor now are Box, Tanella, and Couch. Not what one would be looking for.

This meet is obviously about making do for Georgia, but our other top teams competing today will be looking to show finalized lineups in preparation for the postseason, which will give us an excellent opportunity to compare quality. Alabama is the most naturally talented of the teams competing today, but they have hit their potential only twice this season. Even though the score last week was fine, blowing the lead was not, so there is still something to prove today.

Follow along after the jump for all the nonsense from 7:00 ET / 4:00 PT


I’m really rooting for Michigan to have a strong performance this week. It’s been such a poor season for them so far, but they’ve recorded their two highest scores of the year in the last two weeks and still have a shot at being a #3 seed at a Regional (that’s actually a big deal, then they would potentially need only one implosion to sneak into Nationals). It’s still unlikely, but the nice thing is that they have no seniors, so no one is going out on this sour note.

We’re underway, and Christa Tanella has recorded a 9.875 on bars as leadoff. Does our famous Michigan scoring not extend to Ypsilanti? Noel Couch follows with a 9.775, to match Stephanie Colbert’s vault score. Michigan started with a score they hope to drop in Zakharia’s 9.650. Zakharia is not much of a vaulter, but such is the necessity of this season.

Big vault score of 9.925 for Zurales. This has been the event Michigan has been able to manage on the most this year. Over on bars, it looks like Georgia is going to be able to hold firm without Nuccio in the UB lineup, at least so far.

Another big vault score for Michigan, 9.925 from Sampson. They need to build up the advantage here if they want to have any hope of a relatively big score because the scoring pace will fall as the meet goes on. Unfortunately, now they will have to drop Sugiyama’s fall and count Zakharia’s vault.

Chelsea Davis converts again on bars for 9.925. How much will they be relying her on this event next year without Ding and Nuccio? Ding goes 9.950. Dear Judges on Sunday, we all expect you to go 10 for Kat on bars. You have my official permission to do so. No one will hold it against you.

Disaster for Michigan on vault. Two falls to end the rotation from Sugiyama and Miele. Uh boy . . . it could very well go down from here. Let’s hope not.

After 1 Rotation: Georgia 49.325, Michigan 48.500
Important strong start for Georgia. I expect them to be fine on vault as well. Beam and floor without Ding, Worley, and Nuccio will be the deciding factor. By the way, perhaps my most pleasant surprise of the season has been Kat Ding’s new ability to hit beam and floor. So refreshing.

Chelsea Davis starts vault with a 9.800, which is solid for her. She can sometimes go 9.850 with a stick, but that’s about her range. Fine for a leadoff. Hires will have the pressure today, and they’ll need something from Earls to make up for the lack of Ding. [Davis’s score has been raised to 9.850]

Persinger puts up a big 9.900, while Annette Miele has gone 9.525 on bars, meaning Michigan will be fighting against an early low score again. They can’t keep putting themselves in these positions.

9.8 range scores from Sampson and Sugiyama will keep Michigan afloat on bars. They don’t have big scoring potential much of anywhere, so they need to get a 49.1-49.2 to try to make up for vault. Kaylan Earls puts up Georgia’s third 9.800 on vault, so this looks like this rotation will go lower than bars.

Georgia got high scores from Hires and Persinger and a bunch of 9.800s to score 49.225, which is just OK. For this meet they’ll take it, but they’d really rather not rely on having Breazeal in the lineup. Still waiting on a score for Brittnee Martinez for Michigan, unless they just put up five this week, which would be another low point. If that’s the case, Michigan goes below 49 again. They had a shot in this rotation with 9.850s from Gies and Sampson. So yes, Michigan showed just five UB routines, spare a thought for the memories of Botterman, Wilson, and Sexton.

After 2 Rotations: Georgia 98.550, Michigan 97.350
Georgia is currently on 197 pace, but I think they’ll gladly take anything around 196.800. They’ll need something in the low 197s to challenge UCLA with today’s score, but they’ll have another opportunity on Sunday – though they will have to do much better in trying to drop an already high home score.

Gies starts Michigan with a 9.625 on beam. The struggle to drop a score begins anew. Strong start for Georgia on floor with 9.825, 9.875. This has been Persinger’s best scoring performance of the season so far along with last week. She’s starting to deliver. Box and Tanella will be the big question marks here. This is a unique lineup decision by Jay to put some of the bigger concerns at the end of these lineups. Perhaps he wants to keep his usual workers in the same spots, but it does kill score building.

Through three beam routines, Michigan has not gone above 9.700. The bad news just keeps getting worse. Now they’re hoping to score 195. Zurales is carrying this team singlehandedly. 9.900.

Davis hits 9.750, and Box scores 9.800. Davis hasn’t looked secure at all on floor when I’ve seen her this year, and that’s about what we would expect from Box. It doesn’t help the scoring potential much, but they’re on track versus expectations. I don’t see Davis in the postseason six on this event.

Michigan finishes with a 48.725 on beam, meaning they have to go 48.925 (which they haven’t done yet today) on floor just to hit a 195. Meanwhile, Georgia manages to put up another 49.225. No one has been spectacular except for Ding on bars, but they are doing enough to still have a shot at 197, which I did not expect when the meet started. As long as they hit five routines on beam, they’ll take this meet any day given the lineup situation.

After 3 Rotations: Georgia 147.775, Michigan 146.075

Very unexpected fall from Noel Couch on beam, 9.150. She’s supposed to be the solid one. As a commenter just mentioned, Georgia has been extremely consistent this year, so this rotation will be an important test of their ability to handle competition adversity.

Moffat hits for 9.900. Clutch. She might just earn herself a lineup spot if she can do things like that. Still four more hits to go – Breazeal, Earls, Persinger, Tanella. The dream team. Breazeal did her job, 9.825.

Michigan has hit the first two routines for good scores for the first time today (9.800, 9.825 on floor).

We’re coming up on Alabama’s scheduled start time now, but the actual start won’t be for a while yet. We can probably wait for this meet to finish before shifting attention.

Michigan looks to be salvaging their night on floor. They just need one solid hit in the next two routines. Earls and Persinger have converted for Georgia, so it’s up to Tanella now. They need a 9.850 from her to go 197.

Georgia was so close. Tanella scores just a 9.425 on beam, which counts. Georgia finishes with 196.575. Michigan, meanwhile, has an excellent floor to break the 195 barrier, at least.

Final Score: Georgia, 196.575, Michigan 195.300


Alabama hosting Missouri soon to get underway now. Only major lineup changes for them are Frost coming back in on floor (unsure . . .) and Priess coming back in on beam (definitely sure). Surprisingly, Alabama still has a low home score on their RQS, so this is a prime opportunity for them to move up on UCLA.

Buh, by the time this meet actually starts, Utah will have begun. I also now make it a point not to watch anything that happens at Alabama before the meet begins because I don’t like horror films, so I’m just blindly waiting for things to get themselves going.

Ah, I see we’ve started. Alabama is playing their one song again, fine 9.8-level vaulting from Clark and Priess. Very weak vault from Sledge. Low with a lunge forward. They’ll want to drop that one. 9.725. I might have gone even lower.

Missouri is also happening on bars, but the form is extremely poor. This is not a #14 in the country kind of rotation. Though they are improving significantly as we go through the lineup.

Big hop back from Stack-Eaton. The landings really aren’t there today. All of the first four have incurred at least a tenth on landing. Gutierrez gets them on track, just a little body position issue. I assume the judges will go 9.950.

Milliner has her usual legs and a step to the side. It would be a 9.850 from me, but I’ll assume 9.900 from the judges. Let’s see. Yep. Good exhibition from Kayla Williams.

So Alabama goes 49.325 on vault, which is low for them especially at home. I think we saw about .100-.150 of overscoring overall, so nothing to get worked up about.

After 1 Rotation: Alabama 49.325, Missouri 48.475


Taking a break now, so talk amongst yourselves.

Update: Alabama was able to withstand a low score from Demeo on bars and score well again. They are on solid low-197 pace right now, but they will have to drop a beam fall from Gutierrez. I expect them to be able to do so. Just Stack-Eaton and Priess who have to hit now.

Over in Utah, both Utah and Nebraska recorded massive scores on the opening event, featuring a 9.950 on vault from Robarts and a 9.925 on bars from Giblin. It looks like the Utah judges have changed back into early-season mode.

Some nice individual passes from a few of Missouri’s floor workers. Stack-Eaton was extremely clean throughout her beam routine, as was Priess so this is going to be a big score.

Alabama will score 197 if they go just 49.000 on floor, so they have a big opportunity to zoom up in RQS. I expect the scores to go into the 9.9s frequently for this rotation.

Ultimately not as strong as we might have thought from Alabama on floor, with some 9.7s to lead things off, but they score a 197.175, which is respectable and will help their RQS.

Nebraska scores a colossal 197.600 with their seven competing gymnasts. I said early in the season that this was unsustainable, but maybe they are proving me wrong. Watch out for this group. They just ensured they won’t be overlooked. Utah also managed a hefty 197.450, and they probably would have won if not for a beam rotation that was just OK. Both teams will enjoy a little bump of momentum. We could see this meeting again at Regionals in just a few months time (though maybe not as this result should shoot Nebraska up more than a tenth in RQS so that they can challenge Georgia next weekend when Georgia is off).

Otherwise, not much else to report around the country. LSU and Stanford both scored in the lowish 196s, which should do little to advance their causes. I still expect both teams to make championships, but that’s about all. There’s a lot of talent on each team, but too many holes. I feel a bit the same way about Oregon State, so they need to prove themselves as legitimate spoilers for finals with a strong showing tomorrow.

The Benching Conundrum

It’s March now. Spring is just around the corner. And you know what that means? It’s time to start talking about whether Shayla Worley should be pulled from lineups. It has become an annual tradition. You’ll miss it when she’s gone.

2012 was supposed to be Shayla’s Renaissance, but it hasn’t worked out because of performances like this:

Add that to a whole bunch of scores in the 9.7s, and the calls for her to be benched (at least on bars and floor) have intensified over the last few weeks. In particular, Shayla’s inability to perform a clean bars dismount has caught everyone’s attention.
[Tangent] A disturbing recent trend in NCAA gymnastics is former elites who cannot perform UB dismounts. This is an unfortunate side effect of the current elite code. These gymnasts on the elite track will learn a single D dismount (elite code) that they can land, usually with major deductions and poor technique which are accepted because it’s elite and cleanliness is not the major concern (see Shayla’s double front). Then, they get to NCAA where those same dismounts would be deduction factories and cannot be used. Now, these extremely talented elites are at a disadvantage because they have to start from scratch on the dismount and are suddenly well behind less talented JO gymnasts who were compelled to learn competent technique because of their code. [/Tangent]    
A situation like Shayla’s creates a difficult conundrum for a coach.

Do you bench Shayla because she hasn’t been hitting consistently, giving up on her potential score and accepting a 9.750 on bars and floor from a Sarah Persinger or Mariel Box? Or do you keep Shayla in the lineup hoping that she gains some competition confidence and figures out her routines?

Georgia is certainly not alone in having this dilemma. UCLA is going through the same thing given how many times Mattie Larson has had mistakes on floor. The judges will be itching to give her big scores if she actually hits her routine, but she has fallen or made major mistakes so many times. With Peszek and Gerber coming back into the floor lineup this week, there is the temptation to bench Mattie, even though her potential score is much higher than the score from someone like Gerber or Frattone.

In my mind, as a coach you have to take the riskier option. You have to put faith in a Shayla or a Mattie that they will hit when it matters because taking the other option does not reflect a championship attitude. The very top teams could all play it safe, make finals, and finish 4th-6th, but whichever team does end up winning the title will have all the best gymnasts hitting to potential at the same time. Benching a top performer because she has been missing is basically giving up on the best possible performance, maybe even giving up on a championship. Playing it safe may be the most prudent option, but it’s not the best option. If a team has the talent and potential but doesn’t show it, then what’s the point?

After working together for all these months, a coach must display the utmost confidence in both the team and the process. At this point in the season, sending the message that the coaching staff does not trust a major performer to hit undermines what the team has been working for all year, creating uncertainty and eroding confidence. Even if it all turns out to be a disaster, the coach must go down with the ship.

The Weekend Agenda (March 9th-11th)

Top 25 Schedule
Friday – 3/9/12
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [5] Georgia @ [20] Michigan
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [16] Auburn @ Southeast Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [9] LSU @ Iowa
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT – [14] Missouri @ [4] Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [6] Nebraska @ [7] Utah
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [11] Stanford @ [23] Arizona State
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – Cal @ [15] Boise State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – San Jose State @ [24] Washington

Saturday – 3/10/12
1:00 ET / 10:00 PT – [13] Ohio State @ North Carolina
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [8] Arkansas @ West Virginia
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Iowa State @ [18] Minnesota
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [9] Oregon State @ [22] Denver


Sunday – 3/11/12
1:00 ET / 10:00 PT – [17] Arizona @ New Hampshire
1:00 ET / 10:00 PT – [19] Illinois @ Western Michigan
2:00 ET / 11:00 PT – George Washington, Ball State @ [25] Kentucky
2:30 ET / 11:30 PT – [21] NC State @ [5] Georgia
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [2] Oklahoma @ [3] UCLA
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [12] Penn State @ Pittsburgh

Just two more weeks left in the regular season, and UCLA, Georgia, and Stanford all finish their seasons this weekend. The most important meeting of the weekend is Oklahoma @ UCLA, and I will be live blogging that meet on Sunday. Both of those teams will probably be feeling pretty 198 about themselves going into that clash. UCLA will have Sam Peszek back in the all-around.

On Friday, Georgia visits Michigan, so we’ll obviously be watching the scores closely (Couch and Tanella, in particular). Remember the last time Georgia visited Michigan and they got all upset about the low scores? Ah, the good old days. [Applause for gymnastike’s easily accessible archives].

“Robbed” in unison. Excellent.
Later on Friday, we should all follow Alabama hosting Missouri and Utah hosting Nebraska. This is an important opportunity for Utah to make the argument that the last few weeks have been a aberration instead of an indication. They will certainly feel displeased that Nebraska is ranked ahead of them and will be looking to prove they are the better team. This could be an interesting preview of a clash between these two at Nationals because I don’t necessarily see both of these teams advancing to finals. I’d love to see them in the same prelim. My ideal prelims would have an SEC session and a Pac-12 session just to provide the best possible drama. [So,  Session 1) Oklahoma, UCLA, Nebraska, Utah, Oregon State, Stanford. Session 2) Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, LSU, Whoever gets the last spot]. Admit it, it would be fun. (And it’s kind of possible.)  

Monday Rankings

National Rankings for March 5, 2012

1. Florida – 197.330
2. Oklahoma – 197.310
3. UCLA – 197.085
4. Alabama – 196.925
5. Georgia – 196.915
6. Nebraska – 196.795
7. Utah – 196.555
8. Arkansas – 196.545
9. Oregon State – 196.405
9. LSU – 196.405
11. Stanford – 196.205
12. Penn State – 195.995
13. Ohio State – 195.940
14. Missouri – 195.790
15. Boise State – 195.750
16. Auburn – 195.735
17. Arizona – 195.525
18. Minnesota – 195.470
19. Illinois – 195.360
20. Michigan – 195.345
21. NC State – 195.335
22. Denver – 195.270
23. Arizona State – 195.145
24. Washington – 195.025
25. Kentucky – 194.930
Thoughts after the jump:
  • Home stretch time now. With the lead they have and the scores they are consistently producing, Florida and Oklahoma appear to have locked up the top two spots. Since Florida is on a bye this coming weekend, Oklahoma has an opportunity to take over the top spot (they’ll need a 197.325 @ UCLA to do it). Oklahoma started slowly against Alabama on Friday, but they came back on floor to win and solidify their position in terms of reputation and expectation going into the postseason. They have a chance to do it again this weekend, and they need to since they do not have the built-in national respect that the championship schools do.
  • UCLA is now in a precarious position since they have only one meet remaining in the regular season while the next few schools in the rankings all have two, meaning that Georgia and Alabama will like their chances to move up. Though UCLA may be relishing that late bye so that they can get people like Sam Peszek rested and healthy for the postseason. They really missed her 9.875 consistency in the AA last weekend.
  • I think our current top six is solid and unlikely to change before Regionals (especially given the way Utah has been scoring), so they should be our top 6 seeds. It will be fun to watch the posturing of the #3 seeds, which will be the biggest determining factor as to which Regionals are the most interesting. Ohio State has scored well a few times, and Auburn will be hosting, so they are the most important ones to watch. Wouldn’t you love an Alabama/LSU/Auburn Regional? It’s very possible.
  • Utah and Arkansas have been stuck at these same scores for weeks now. Stagnation is a huge red flag. Arkansas has lost Salsberg for the season, but they still have a chance to contend if they get Grable back on all the events. Unfortunately, it looks like a classic case of peaking too soon.

One Big Cup of America – Live Blog

The Olympic year is officially here. You will be able to note immediately the change in tone from our broadcasters, who will spend their time talking about legacy and honor and glory (even more than usual). Obviously, I live for it. Last night, Nastia was very diligent about mentioning that the college scholarship is the real, achievable goal for so many gymnasts. Starting today, that’s out the window. It’s the Olympics, or you’re a failure. There is no next year.

The broadcast will begin at 11:30 ET / 8:30 PT on Universal Sports (with the men’s competition), then will change to NBC at 1:00 ET / 10:00 PT, because nothing says “fan-friendly” like switching networks in the middle of a live broadcast. But I’m glad at least some of it is on NBC because Universal doesn’t broadcast in HD. What are we, Amish? Every Universal Sports broadcast looks like someone spilled coffee on a WNBA game.

For those without our gracious American networks, you can watch the broadcast HERE.

What you won’t be seeing today:
Gabby Douglas was the talk of podium training because of how much she has improved since last year. I love reading Blythe at the Examiner when she gets excited about things because she actually sounds like she’s about to spill over in the press area. Unfortunately, Douglas is just an exhibition competitor, so we will have to focus on the rest of the field. Hopefully we still get to see Douglas’s scores from somewhere, because they could get very high. 
Aly Raisman has also upgraded to what looked to be a pretty solid Amanar, and Jordyn Wieber was training a bunch of strange connections on beam that shouldn’t really ever get credit. Wieber had the weakest podium training of the three Americans but should still run away with the competition.
Oodles of chatter after the jump. 

Remember that the men will begin before the women. Start list is here.

Rotation 1: Men on floor

We’re starting. The most famous knitting circle in gymnastics (Elfi!) has already mentioned the Olympics 163 times. This is going to be a long, hilarious day.

I will say this for the Germans, they know how to make gymnasts. Russia, take note. Your team always look like they just survived 15 weeks in the tundra taking an emotive acting workshop from Hilary Swank.

I feel a bit bad for Jon Horton every time I watch Danell Leyva. Jon has been around for so long, but everyone immediately likes Danell better after two seconds of international competition. Clean floor routine from Danell, gorgeous as always.

Daggett just mispronounced stoic. He said “stoyk.” All we can do is sigh. Elfi, Bart Connor, and KJC, please.

Fine routine from Orozco, not his best event. Messy on a couple of passes. Adorable little Jackson Payne from Canada has an unfortunately messy floor routine.

The national bird of Scotland, Daniel Purvis, is now up on floor. A few awkward landings, but mostly fine. Questions about an OOB . . . maybe. Al is right on top of it because it’s the rule he knows.

Tim is pretending that the Russians aren’t here because Mustafina lost last year, not because it’s a terrible time of year and they already are sending teams to Pac Rims, Euros, etc. Uh . . . sure, Tim. Whatever you say.

Awkward routine from Sejima with several mistakes, but an excellent clean line and strong tumbling from Kuksenkov. Al is harping on OOB again, like it even matters with this code. Mostly clean from Verniaiev on the tumbling, expect for one bad pass with an out of bounds.

Something insufferable happened with Retton. I can’t talk about it. They should have brought in some Soviets and asked them to tell the truth about the American team.

Rotation 2: Men on Horse


Some huge form breaks from Danell on horse. So disappointing, but he did VERY well not to fall off midway through. Will be a low score, though. (14.433 – I’m not familiar enough with the men’s code, but doesn’t that seem super high?)

Oh, America. Orozco falls. Remember when it seemed like this team had figured out the horse?

Anyone watching on USN who just saw the bladder sling commercial will never be the same.

Purvis has a pretty sizable form break, but for this competition so far that was a definite hit. Scores are going American Cup high, so it’s a good result.  Sejima has a lot of potential with his swing on horse but has to take a fall.

Elfi and Tim are being extremely irritating by not understanding what a bad time of year this is for a competition. They say that’s just an excuse. It isn’t. They are pretending this is a prestigious event to the rest of the world. It isn’t.

Nice routine from Kuksenkov with one major form break, similar to Purvis. Fall from Verniaiev – this has been a very poor horse competition for all. Not Nguyen’s best event, but he is competing better than anyone else today.

“Some people in the US call it a Roethlisberger.” They make it so hard to be a nice person. I blame them.

Purvis leads just over Kuksenkov after 2 rotations.

Rotation 3: Women on Vault, Men on Rings


A bit surprised that they are showing Brooks on rings. Hopefully that means we will see some Douglas as well. Extremely clean routine. Same from Orozco until the dismount, with a big squat and lunge back.

On vault, Rebecca Tunney starts, rocking excellent Becky Wing hair. I approve. Just a Yfull with a pike down – British vaulting. Al likes her ugly leotard because it has the flag in it. That narrative is really exhausting.

Pretty good from Victoria Moors – DTY with a little direction and low chest, but strong. Elfi compares her to Podkopaeva. (14.733)

Word is that Douglas nailed her Yurchenko 2.5, but we didn’t see it on the broadcast. Huge progress for her. Let’s watch her exhibition scores compared to Wieber’s totals.

Purvis hits rings very well, and Chelaru has the most horrifying legs on her block. I didn’t see anything after that. I blacked out. She wishes she could improve to Nabieva quality. Can we credit that as a straddled Yurchenko? Group 6?

Daggett: “Elena Mustafina.” Just to make sure we never forget what happens here.

Important that Iordache has a DTY. Not a great landing, but it can get better. She can go on 3 events (at least) for Romania in team finals. (14.866)

Great rings from Kuksenkov’s Eastern European haircut.

Wieber definitely has improved some little things about her Amanar. She’s getting closer to deserving to score as close to Maroney as she has been. Very small hop forward. (16.100 – so 9.600 on execution)

Andrea Joyce has Bela. They’re both talking over each other. Awesome. Don’t you think they should have Bela just anchor the broadcast? Andrea pretends that the US came into the last two Olympics as overwhelming favorites . . . OK . . .

Broadcast is now switching to NBC. They better show us Raisman’s vault, as she also received a 9.600 on execution to score level with Wieber.  I’m going to need to SEE that. They both have 16.100 after one event.

For the men, Kuksenkov leads Purvis slightly at the halfway point.

Rotation 4: Women on Bars, Men on Vault


The Trautwig is taking us through the champions to the tune of dramatic NBC music. Everyone is smiling except Nastia and Nadia. This is why they are the best champions.

Now that the NBC broadcast is starting, Tim has obliged by going into “That Right There” mode. Tim is also pretending that Komova can’t do a Y2.5 and doesn’t know what ironic means. He’s in rare form today.

They’re not showing us Aly’s vault. Are you kidding me?

Chelaru is extremely sloppy in the legs and so low on amplitude, flings out a DLO dismount with a big lunge. Underlining the need for Izbasa to get a bar routine together.

Iordache hits a strong bar set that will earn her spot on the Olympic team. A few missed handstands, a leg separation on the pak, and a late pirouette, but it’s so much better than her teammates.

Wieber’s bar routine has not changed from 2011, including the sluggish beginning and the questionable composition out of the shaposh. That being said, she did exceptionally well to hold on to her handstand. Still, it highlights how inconsistent this routine still is for her. That’s the risk of relying on awkward combinations to get the full difficulty score.

Wieber scores .500 higher than Iordache on execution. American Cup.

Fluff about John Orozco. Yay fluff! You’ll probably cry. Welcome to the Olympic year.

Aly Raisman onto bars, usual Aly form, big break on the tkatchev. As much as they’ve tried to improve her on bars, it’s just not her event  and it’s never going to happen. HA! She got a 8.433 on execution. This competition is so fun and insane.

Absolutely glorious form in the air for Leyva on vault, easy vault for him and it shows. Low landing from Orozco with a big step forward.

Moors goes over on a handstand, but I had her pegged as more of a Raisman type on bars – but she proved she has much better form than that. A shame about the mistake because she has some OK skills and quality.

Kuksenkov still leads Purvis by a touch in the mens, Wieber leads Raisman by .500 at the halfway point for the women.

Rotation 5: Women on beam, Men on PBars


Andrea is talking to Nastia, who clearly just saw that bar rotation and booked her tickets to London.

One of the treats of this competition, Iordache on beam. Really a lot to love in this routine, just a few wobbles on some acro and the double turn – and the triple full dismount was not up to her usual level. Still fun to watch.

Purvis has a bit of a struggle on Pbars on the men’s side.

Wieber goes up on beam. Holds on after a nervy layout stepout. Tries to do her weird back full, back handspring sandwich but shouldn’t get credit for either connection. She’s become more solid as the routine goes on. Hits the routine, but I have to admit that I actually agree with Tim (gasp!) that those connections are just begging for extra deductions. Still gets a 14.966.

Depending on how these judges feel about Aly’s legs (I assume they’ll feel pretty good about them, given that it’s American Cup), she could make up ground here. After two rotations, Gabby Douglas in exhibition had a lead on Wieber, but it didn’t count.

She was looking good, but had to touch the beam on her split full. Very unexpected mistake there. Hits the rest of her routine pretty well, but it was certainly not her best. Actually didn’t touch the beam on replay – good presence of mind to avoid doing that. Mihai is not happy with her performance. Neither am I. She can’t give away wobbles on acro because she gives away those tenths on dance.

Looks like Gabby Douglas will still have the unofficial lead going into the last rotation. Wieber will still have her .500 lead on Raisman going into floor, which is probably unmanageable without a mistake from Wieber. Iordache is within .900 of Raisman, but she too would need a mistake to move up.

I think Tim Daggett just referred to Madison Square Garden as the most famous building in the world. Don’t accuse the NBC team of hyperbole.  Rebecca Tunney is having a disaster on beam, and Nguyen had a sloppy performance on PBars.

Leyva has to cover a mistake and had a poor dismount. Not what he is capable of – disappointing for him – making it harder to move up during the last rotation. Very clean from Orozco, though. He should be pleased with the comeback on these later events.

Rotation 6: Women on Floor, Men on HBar


Where did this narrative about winning the American Cup = Winning the Olympic All-Around come from? I love when we just decide what history is to fit the story. Why weren’t there interviews with Olympic champions Elena Produnova, Kerri Strug, and Kim Zmeskal? Oh wait…

Tim Daggett has said “Gabby Davis” twice in the span of a minute.

NBC has decided to mention that Douglas is, in fact, winning this competition. I hope it keeps up. That would be a fun story and would complicate the Olympic picture in an exciting way.

Unfortunately we’re only seeing floor for Douglas, which is my least favorite of her events. Out of bounds with a stumble on the mount and again in the corner. Love the rebound into some of these dance elements – that’s how you do it. Take note, others. Not a great routine, but will certainly be enough to stay ahead of Wieber. All of the sudden, this is a big moment in the Olympic process.

OK, why did that ad have Bross saying, “It’s the little things that matter” when they showed her tearing her ACL? That’s not a little thing. “It’s the torn ACLs that matter.”

Strong bar routine from Orozco with a pretty low dismount. Good handstands and difficulty, though.

Nice to see that Tunney recovered on floor with a solid 14.166. We’re getting our first look at Georgia Simpson – very low landings on all this tumbling. Not her strong event. But it’s followed by a pretty strong bar routine from Verniaiev.

We’re missing Iordache’s floor so we can talk about Danell’s tooth. Purvis is seriously missing these handstands. A fine meet for him overall, but it probably won’t win the title as things look now.

Wieber about to go on floor (Gabby is really practicing her game face – she’s learning so fast), good double double but short on the triple full, fine routine overall for her but she will be disappointed in the second pass. (15.133)

Really nice bar routine from Leyva. A couple slight moments of sloppiness and a hop on the landing, but a great way to finish. (15.933)

Raisman – I respect the difficulty of the mount, but I don’t love the leg separation on the layout. I preferred last year’s mount. Just a little off – minor deductions – on her final two passes, so it’s a strong meet overall for Aly, but not her best performance on any of the events that we saw. We’ve have to look for vault later.

Kuksenkov is very clean on bars with a few missed handstands, but the NBC trio is unfortunately dismissive of it because he is not American. (15.200)

Too many errors in Nguyen’s routine – Tim Daggett is not trying to conceal his glee.

Raisman finished just behind Wieber – a testament to her quality on three events that she can challenge Wieber with her unfortunate bar routine – but Gabby Douglas records the highest score. This will be fun to talk about later because for me, Gabby Douglas is our American Cup champion. This performance does bode well for the US team this year, but bars is still a major concern. Martha should not be counting on Wieber to be reliable enough to go in TF.

Leyva is our champion for the men, just edging out Kuksenkov because of HBar.

Scores–Men:
1. Leyva – 90.664
2. Kuksenkov – 90.498
3. Nguyen – 89.925
4. Purvis – 89.766
5. Orozco – 89.331
6. Verniaiev – 88.132
7. Payne – 84.198
8. Sejima – 79.632

Scores–Women:
1. Wieber – 61.032
2. Raisman – 60.832
3. Iordache – 59.332
4. Moors – 56.365
5. Chelaru – 56.100
6. Hill – 55.599
7. Simpson – 54.566
8. Tunney – 52.132