All posts by balancebeamsituation

First Four Routines

Bear with me a bit on this one.

I often think about scoring in terms of “positive routines” and “negative routines.”  Positive routines are those scoring over 9.800, routines that would put the team on a positive path toward breaking 196.  Negative routines are those scoring below 9.800, ones that would put the team below 196 if maintained.  A score of 9.800 exactly is basically breaking even.

All of the very best schools will be able to put up very positive routines in the 5th and 6th positions (solid, consistent 9.9-level performances).  Championships are so often decided by the rest of the lineup, not the stars.  I decided to take a look at how the 1-4 performers were scoring for the top teams, and how many of the routines were positive.  Here’s how it breaks down for the top 8 teams in the country.

Percent of #1-#4 Routines Scoring Over 9.800 (Overall)
1. Utah – 60.9%
2. UCLA – 57.5%
3. Alabama – 56.3%
3. Oklahoma – 56.3%
5. Nebraska – 53.1%
6. Arkansas – 45.8%
7. Florida – 45.0%
8. Georgia – 41.3%

It’s no surprise that Utah occupies the top spot on this list as well as the rankings, having recorded three straight scores over 197.  Teams can’t score that high unless they are getting contributions throughout the lineup.

The issue for Arkansas, and one that may come into play more as the season progresses, is that nearly all their top scores come from Grable and Pisani, and even the numbers that put them at 45% on this list often come from Pisani when she is competing in the 4th position.  They have a lot of other 9.8ish gymnasts in their lineups, but those 9.8s need to become at least 9.85s in April.

I was a bit surprised to see Georgia at the bottom of this group (and the clear bottom as well), but they are often relying on Ding and Worley in anchor positions to push their numbers up.  They’re seeing a lot of 9.775-9.800s from Davis, Earls, and Persinger in those earlier spots.  Interestingly, their worst numbers in this respect come from vault and beam.  Didn’t Jay say those would be their strengths?

Individual apparatus numbers after the jump:

Percent of #1-#4 Routines Scoring Over 9.800 (Vault)
1. UCLA – 85.0%
2. Alabama – 81.3%
3. Utah – 62.5%
3. Oklahoma – 62.5%
3. Nebraska – 62.5%
6. Arkansas – 45.8%
7. Florida – 45.0%
8. Georgia – 35.0%
Percent of #1-#4 Routines Scoring Over 9.800 (Bars)
1. Arkansas – 70.8%
2. Utah – 56.3%
3. Oklahoma – 45.8%
4. UCLA – 45.0%
4. Florida – 45.0%
4. Georgia – 45.0%
7. Nebraska – 43.8%
8. Alabama – 37.5%
Percent of #1-#4 Routines Scoring Over 9.800 (Beam)
1. Oklahoma – 58.3%
2. Utah – 50.0%
2. Alabama – 50.0%
4. UCLA – 45.0%
4. Florida – 45.0%
6. Nebraska – 37.5%
7. Georgia – 35.0%
8. Arkansas – 20.8%
Percent of #1-#4 Routines Scoring Over 9.800 (Floor)
1. Utah – 75.0%
2. Nebraska – 68.8%
3. Oklahoma – 58.3%
4. Alabama – 56.3%
5. UCLA – 55.0%
6. Georgia – 50.0%
7. Arkansas – 45.8%
8. Florida – 45.0%


Monday Rankings

Rankings for February 6th
1. Utah – 197.031
2. Alabama – 196.675
3. Arkansas – 196.667
4. Florida – 196.630
5. Oklahoma – 196.613
6. Georgia – 196.605
7. UCLA – 196.435
8. Nebraska – 196.113
9. Oregon State – 196.031
10. Penn State – 195.855
11. Ohio State – 195.530
12. Stanford – 195.450
13. Auburn – 195.245
14. LSU – 195.145
15. Boise State – 194.963
16. Arizona – 194.938
17. Denver – 194.920
18. Missouri – 194.915
19. Illinois – 194.800
20. Washington – 194.480
21. NC State – 194.445
22. Michigan – 194.381
23. Iowa – 194.375
24. West Virginia – 194.365
25. Arizona State – 194.144

Full Rankings: Troester

Utah has created quite a little lead there for what it’s worth before RQS comes into play on February 27th.  As I’ve mentioned before, Utah’s only road score so far is a 196.075 at UCLA.  Usually that would be fine, but in the current climate, anything under 196.500 is considered low.  With only three road meets remaining, they are under pressure to deliver the next two weeks at Arizona State and Michigan (where it is notoriously difficult to record a high score).  Counting a fall at even one of these meets will be the opening the rest of the teams need to catch up.

It’s a really exciting time in the rankings because, after Utah, the #2-#6 teams are so closely packed that they could really be in any order.  Beyond that, UCLA and Nebraska have been pushed slightly lower because of a single horrendous meet, but once they are able to drop those scores, they should be right back with the rest of the group.  These eight teams could really end up in any order going into the postseason, which makes this year way more exciting than the three team race we expected it to be.  The other team averaging into the 196s is Oregon State, but I’m not yet convinced that they can keep pace.  I see both OSU and Stanford as likely bets to make nationals, but only as potential spoilers once they get there, not favorites.

Now that we’re farther into the season, the rankings have become a little less elastic.  Stanford recorded a necessary 196.450 at UCLA, but they were not able to move up from 12th in spite of outscoring Ohio State by nearly a point.  Likewise, LSU broke the 196 barrier again and remained in 14th.

On the individual side, Ashley Priess has taken over the AA lead, which seems unfair since she’s competed AA a grand total of once.  For me, Grable is still the top AAer in the country to this point.  Sam Peszek has been an exceptionally consistent 9.875 gymnast in every meet this year, so expect her to be right toward the top as we go into the postseason along with Zamarripa once she gets into the AA.

Top 25 Scores

Week 5
1. Alabama – 197.725
2. Oklahoma (1) – 197.425
3. UCLA – 197.250
4. Utah – 197.150
5. Georgia – 196.950
6. Florida – 196.900
7. Arkansas (1) – 196.800
8. Nebraska – 196.750
9. Oklahoma (2) – 196.475
10. Stanford – 196.450
11. Arkansas (2) – 196.175
12. LSU – 196.125
13. Oregon St. – 195.975
14. Missouri – 195.925
15. Arizona – 195.875
16. Penn St. – 195.800
16. Auburn – 195.800
18. Boise St. – 195.750
19. Illinois – 195.700
20. Denver – 195.650
21. Ohio St. – 195.575
22. NC State – 195.225
23. Iowa – 195.150
24. Washington – 194.675
25. Michigan – 194.650
26. Minnesota – 194.550
27. West Virginia – 194.000  

What’s a Super Bowl? UCLA/Stanford Live Blog

Stanford @ UCLA: Watch Live

UCLA has scheduled today’s meet at 12:30pm local time as a way of giving us something to enjoy before I begin my annual exercise in complaining about how the rules of football are stupid.

[tangent] Okay, so a guy gets tackled, and then he just flings the “ball” (it’s a prolate spheroid, goobers) anywhere, and then the referee collects it and places it at some random spot where he assumes it landed. And then they get out those chains and measure for a first down, and he says, “Oopsie, you missed it by two millimeters,” even though he just set it down where he thought it stopped using the scientific measurement of pointing to the grass with his toe.  And everyone just thinks it’s fine and treats the spot like it’s inarguably accurate.  That would be like us not questioning any of the cracked out scores we see in gymnastics. What is happening? [/tangent]

Through three meets, Stanford has revealed that they are truly a lackluster team without Hong and Shapiro, and I don’t expect them to be relevant in the national conversation until they get both back competing regularly on many events (so…never).  UCLA needs to be in full recovery mode after last week.  I expect any “disciplinary issues” to be magically resolved so that the best possible lineup can be in on each event.  The judges will also have made note of the scoring of Alabama’s vault rotation on Friday, and may view this as an “anything you can score, I can score higher” opportunity.  Watch the score on Kaelie Baer’s opening vault as a helpful barometer of what we’ll need to laugh about for the rest of the week.  If UCLA can manage to hit five routines on each event, I would be surprised if they don’t go over 197.  Just like with Alabama’s beam dismounts, we’ll need to watch UCLA’s bar routines to see if some of those same-bar releases are getting in.  These shaposhnikovas aren’t doing it for me.

Follow along after the jump for live commentary.

UCLA’s Super Action Hero Super Bowl (don’t worry, I don’t either…) meet is soon to get underway, and we’ll also be following the scores of Arkansas/Oklahoma, each in their second meet of the weekend.  Oklahoma needs to pick up the scoring from Friday if they are going to resist a drop in the rankings.

Over in Arkansas, Grable and Pisani lead the way on vault, giving the team a 49.325 to open.  Oklahoma looks consistently 9.85 on bars for 49.275.  This could be pretty close all the way to the end.  Pay attention to these scores instead of the off-off-off-off-Broadway production of Urinetown that’s happening at the UCLA meet right now.  It’s 12:30 and we’re not even close to lineups, so take your time.

Oh god, they roped Stanford into doing the superhero thing, too?  I apologize to everyone on behalf of everyone.  And UCLA didn’t even wear the capes?  UCLA is getting outshone on their own theme.  MDLT is carrying a dog for no reason.  Can it hit beam?

80’s a cappella featuring Overenthusiastic Yellow Pants Girl is back to sing the national anthem.

(Note that Oklahoma just scored 49.525 on vault.  Oklahoma leads 98.800 to 98.550)

Uh oh for UCLA, Gerber has an ankle sprain and Courtney is sick.  This beam rotation will be interesting…maybe not the scoring expectation overall that we had coming in.

Yuck, Joe Morgan is in the crowd.  It’s cheating.  He’ll egotistically bore everyone to death.

Rotation 1

Baer – UCLA – solid start with leg form on the horse and a hop back. (9.825)

Wing – ST – a little iffy in the legs to start – looked good in the tuck dismount but took a big hop back. (9.750)

Larson – UCLA – good form and direction, it was difficult to judge the landing because of the camera angle, but it should score more than Baer’s 9.825. (9.875)

Dayton – ST – sloppy legs and a little bit of a WOGA tkatchev, stuck the DLO but had to swim for it, so it will incur deductions. (9.725)

Wong – UCLA – slightly under on her Yfull as usual, and a little piked in it – I’ve never really seen why she’s in the lineup sometimes on vault. (9.850 – high)

Shapiro – ST – interested to see this routine.  How are the handstand?  This is a solid, clean routine from her overall.  Remember when she was the great bars hope as a junior? (9.875)

Peszek – UCLA – hop back on a vault that she’s been sticking most of the year, but good power and direction.  Needs a little more distance for me, though. (9.900)

S. Morgan – ST – she does the distracting one foot at a time thing, but good line in this routine. (9.875)

Frattone – UCLA – hop forward – like Peszek she needs to be sticking – and then a larger step to salute after the small hop.  This isn’t the 49.500 level rotation that we’ve been seeing. (9.900)

A Moregan – ST – Kristen has been hyping this routine this year.  It’s too sloppy for me and her DLO had a big hop back. (9.725)

Zam – UCLA – A little hop in place and a lean forward to hold onto the landing.  Judges can take a full tenth for this if they want to. (9.950)

Pechanec – ST – good original composition and a stuck DLO, their best routine of the rotation by far.  She’s much cleaner and more confident than the rest of the team. It’s a question of depth when they are sending up a routine like Ashley Morgan fifth. (9.900)

After Rotation 1: UCLA 49.475, Stanford 49.125
UCLA probably needed a bigger boost from the rotation even more than their large 49.475.  It’s a big score, but there is concern about the other events especially with Gerber and Courtney out.  They’ve vaulted much better than that this year.  It’s a fine score for Stanford, but Wing and Dayton just aren’t quite there – too much sloppiness in the legs to put up usable routines.

Rotation 2

Frattone is in the lineup for UCLA on bars…nail biting time. (Hong is vaulting!)

Meyer – ST – handspring front pike with feet apart but stuck. (9.825)

Frattone – UCLA – hit the jaeger this week – the handstands were not there and a hop on the dismount – but a necessary hit. (9.775)

Hanset – ST – handspring front pike with 1/2, very low and a step forward – commendable originality, but a lot to deduct for. (9.800 – high)

Baer – UCLA – (this is nearly B team again this week) – big leg separation on her pirouettes and then she hits the bar.  Very low on the dismount.  Pressure to hit now. (9.200)

A Morgan – ST – Yhalf with a large hop forward and to the side – that’s the biggest risk on the Yhalf. (9.875)

Larson – UCLA – I don’t like this closeup angle on the bars – not a great tkatchev, but it’s good that she’s adding it.  Smaller stumble back on the dismount – not her best routine, but it’s important to get this composition into competition. (9.775)

Pechanec – ST – yfull (missed it)

Peszek – UCLA – very clean hit for her – one of her better routines with the stuck dismount (though flung out) – this will score well (9.875)

Dayton – ST – hits her Yhalf – it was better than Morgan’s.  How high will the judges go?

Wong – UCLA – this is a bit of a makeshift lineup today – by far her best bar routine of the year in that there were no major mistakes – a hop on the dismount and a little unclean in places, which is almost guaranteed with her composition. (9.800)

Hong – ST – great to see her in this lineup.  Hop back on her yfull.  Allison is pretending that Ivana was one of her WOGA teammates, like they were there at the same time. (9.900)

Zam – UCLA – a clear leg separation on her bail handstand and a hop back on the dismount.  Maybe her best of the season, but let’s step up the composition. (9.950 – that’s just ignoring what you see.  It’s a very clean routine, but there were two clear .05 deductions.)

Whitcomb is getting better every time she exhibitions, and they need to get her into this lineup soon.  The gienger still needs some work, but the handstands and bail have improved.

Zamarripa’s score saved UCLA’s overall pretty sloppy rotation.  Peszek and Zamarripa were the only ones who brought it.  Stanford enjoyed the consistent scoring on vault from the first rotation to put up a 49.300, and UCLA goes 49.175 on bars.

After 2 rotations: UCLA 98.650, Stanford 98.425
It’s not the kind of score UCLA needs on bars usually, but for having to put in Baer and Frattone, it’s a victory.  Where was MDLT?  She has good scoring potential here.  It’s very important for Stanford to get Hong into these lineups, but they’ll need to work on most of their landings in order to earn those 9.9s in the future.  The amplitude also isn’t yet competitive with the top teams.

Rotation 3:
UCLA scraped through bars without having to count anything bad, but we’ve got a Gerber-less beam rotation, and a (potentially) EHH, Gerber, Courntey-less floor.

Wong – UCLA – some wobbles here and there, but they’ll take wobbles if she stays on.  1.5 with a hop forward on dismount.  Clear deductions, but they can count this score. (9.775)

Dayton – ST – hands down on dbl pike after a stiff-legged landing.  It looked like she had it in the air, but she jammed into the mat and had to secure herself.  1.5 + front dismount was sloppy in the legs and low. (9.100)

Larson – UCLA – wobble on free walkover, but hits her series pretty well, weird wobble on her ring jump – I don’t like that skill on her anyway.  She still doesn’t look certain in this routine, but she never really did as an elite either.  Lowish on her double full with a hop forward. (9.800)

Wing – ST – effectively using bangs to seduce the judges – bit lunge back on double pike mount – this choreography is not making me feel safe – stumble on her front tuck out of the dismount.

Baer – UCLA – can she hit the dismount this week?  She was nice until the end last week.  Her split positions are excellent.  Hits the dismount this week with a small step.  She looked very nervous going into it, but she hit it.  Her back leg was a little off on the loso, but she saved it. (9.850) If she can keep doing that, a lineup spot may be hers over Wong, Frattone, or Courtney.

S Morgan – ST – opens with a dbl tuck, then does what I would refer to as a “side illusion turn” – that is not what it’s supposed to look like.  Her tumbling is more confident than the first two.  Nothing too impressive, but it was relatively clean. (9.700)

Zam – UCLA – beautiful full turn and onodi – big wobble on her loso – that’s a shame she was perfect until then – hop back and a little legs on the dismount.  Could have been a great score. (9.825)

Hanset – ST – solid 2.5 opening, a little low on the double pike – it may be because we can’t really hear the music, but these routines seem super boring. (9.850)

EHH – UCLA – important that she’s competing this week.  Hits her illusion this time (that’s what it’s supposed to look like).  Maybe a small step on her dismount, but few deductions in this routine.  Should be the biggest score of the rotation. (9.900)

Pechanec – ST – nice double tuck opening, her dance elements are far superior to the rest of the team.  A little out of control on her front full, but the best routine for them in my mind. (9.900)

Peszek – UCLA – only real deductions were a wobble on the loso and a hop on the dismount, but this routine is way too easy for her.  It’s hard to be impressed. (9.875)

Morgan – ST – way low on her DblA with a stumble forward – just layouts as the second pass – the first pass will keep her from scoring too well. (9.825)

Frattone stays on for her exhibition, but had a weird mistake on her switch split.  And a major mistake with OOB for Stanford on their floor exhibition.

UCLA slays the beam monster to an acceptable degree with a  49.250 to beat Stanford’s 49.000 on floor.  UCLA needs 49.100 on floor to make the 197 mark.

After 3 rotations: UCLA 147.900, Stanford 147.425
Stanford has struggled on beam so far this year, so this is a major hurdle if they are going to go into the 196s for the first time this year.  Interesting that UCLA has competed only 7 gymnasts through three rotations – how very un-UCLA.  [Score change – Larson goes to 9.800 from 9.725]

Rotation 4:
Important that EHH is in on floor (if she’s well) because they don’t have Gerber or Courtney.  Pressure will be on Wong and Pritchett to show they belong in this lineup.

Wing – ST – this is my favorite event for her, good line and deliberate style – a few wobbles and a little overall uncertainty in this routine , but this is a good necessary hit. (9.825)

Frattone – UCLA – hits her opening two passes well with good body position on landing – that’s improved since the first meet – now let’s watch this shushunova…I think she totally forgot her choreo for a moment – the shushunova was bad again. (9.800)

Pechanec – ST – even though it’s a total white knuckle rotation, I like Stanford’s gymnasts on this event. Another strong hit for them. (9.750 – did I miss something?)

Pritchett – UCLA – hits her tuck full quite well, maybe a little low chest – dances out of her second pass well to cover the lunge forward – another low chest on the double pike, but it’s a solid hit routine that should be in the 9.8 range. (9.875)

AMorgan – ST – really confident routine with a stuck double back dismount – this is an overall improvement for this team. (9.875)

Wong – UCLA – a tiny bounce back on the double pike, but she’s hitting really well in the AA today – hits dbl tuck dismount with good body position. (9.900)

SMorgan – ST – great landing on her series – this is a necessary confidence meet for Stanford – very strong on her acro and a stuck dismount – very strong. (9.875)

Larson – UCLA – she HAS to hit this week – stumbles a little out of her front 2/1 – great form on her second pass  and hits her triple turn – huge lunge out of her 2.5, but it finally counts as a hit routine.  Maybe she can move onward and upward from here. (9.875 – okay…)

Great hit from Stanford (Alyssa Brown?) with few mistakes. (9.700 – Hm?)

Peszek – UCLA – only a minor bounce out of her nice DLO, and a bigger bounce out of her dbl pike – that’s been her biggest deduction on floor all season, bouncing out of all her tumbling passes.

Hong – ST – a little wobble on loso – leans way forward to save her side somi, but hits her sheep jump very well.  Back pike dismount – not a great routine, but great to get her into the lineup. (9.700)

EHH – UCLA – still doing that double tuck mount, but at least she does it perfectly.  Huge bounce out of her dbl pike with an OOB, so they’ll drop this score, but they already had 5 countable routines. (9.750 – that’s still too high)

Overall, not UCLA’s best gymnastics, so they will be happy to get out of it with a very solid 197.250 (which, based on the rest of the country this season, isn’t even a huge score).  It’s enough to help them keep pace with the rest of the top 7, and is commendable without Gerber and Courtney.  They will not fall in the rankings.

It’s not a great score in the long run for Stanford, but it is good progress for them to get into the 196s.  They need to build on this performance.

FINAL: UCLA 197.250, Stanford 196.450

Other final: Oklahoma 197.425, Arkansas 196.175.  The first real break we’ve seen from Arkansas this season, they had to count some 9.7s on beam and a fall on floor.  The 9.9s were falling all over the place for Oklahoma.  Watch out for Oklahoma’s road RQS.  This marks the second time they’ve broken 197.4 on the road.

Massive Friday Live Blog – Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Utah

Follow along after the jump from 8:00 ET/5:00 PT for live commentary on Florida @ Alabama and other national scores.

Florida/Alabama: Watch Live
Georgia/Utah: Watch Live

Of these four major teams competing tonight, Alabama is under the most pressure.  Remember, they are the defending champions.  Somehow, it’s easy to forget that.  If any of the other three bomb out, they still have at least one big score to fall back on.  If Alabama does, they will really suffer with confidence and rankings.  The performance against Auburn exposed the need for Stack-Eaton to be in that lineup for them to be truly successful.  Priess can’t carry them alone.  These freshmen need to start being more effective contributors, and the sophomores need to break out of their 9.800-9.850 range.

Utah is the #1 team in the country.  It’s been a while.  In contrast to some of the other teams and gymnasts (with Kytra Hunter the notable exception), Utah stands out because their freshmen have really stepped up to contribute big scores and lead rotations.  Georgia put together a good meet last week, but they still have a few more holes in their lineups than Utah does, which, combined with the influence of home advantage, makes me favor Utah.  Georgia and Florida are in similar situations where they both need to prove that last week is the rule not the exception.

Stuff and nonsense here:

Popping in with an update—beleaguered Michigan, with their 2 ¼ healthy gymnasts, scraped along to a languid 194.650 against West Virginia’s 194.000.  If they even had six bar routines, they could have managed at least a 195, but Zurales did only vault and floor.  If they had even a little depth, they would be a top 10 team.

If you ever want evidence that win-loss record is meaningless and should never be used to evaluate anything in college gym, know that Michigan is undefeated on the season.

We’re “thirty” minutes out from Alabama/Florida, but Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska should be getting underway “soon”—though remember that everything in NCAA gym happens 18 minutes late.  According to the lineups, Arkansas will be sending up only five gymnasts on floor.  This is troubling, but Grable and Pisani have been worth 1.5 routines this year anyway, so they may not notice.  On the other hand, Nebraska is finally fielding six floor workers, so it’s a February miracle.

Turned on the Alabama broadcast.  The cheerleaders are trying to tumble on floor.  Oh sweet heavens the form and the falls.  This is some Becky Cameron nonsense out there on the floor right now.

Oh good.  More dance contests.  Aren’t we having fun?  This is why I have trouble with some SEC meets.  It’s like they don’t trust the crowd to enjoy the gymnastics.

In tolerable news, Oklahoma and Nebraska are level at 49.225 after one rotation.

We had a tolerable vault with a good landing and just a little form to start from Clark to start for Alabama.

Priess is vaulting.  Hmmm, unexpected.

Ashanee had wonky handstands and toes as always.  Remember that time she got a 9.925 last week?  Didn’t stick the dismount, and she needs that to make the judges forget.

Good distance from Sledge on vault, but a low chest and hop back.  She can do better.

Kytra was pretty clean throughout her routine, one of her better ones.  Tried to hold on to the stick on her tuck full dismount.

Gutierrez sticks with a minor leg sepraration.  It will be telling what the judges do.

The DLOs aren’t quite in place for Florida tonight.  King a little short.

Really important that Stack-Eaton is back for Alabama.  Good vault with a slide back, a little body position that I didn’t like – but she had that on her 10 as well, so…

Macko is getting her bars back.  The handstands still aren’t quite there, but it will come.

Milliner sticks an excellent Y1.5, one of the best I’ve seen her do.  I could see 9.95 here.  The judges go 10, but she didn’t quite have the legs for it for me – it’s sort of like when Tauny Frattone sticks.  The judges judged themselves into a corner here after the 9.950 for Gutierrez, for me the vaults were essentially equivalent, but Milliner’s was more difficult.

Johnson performs her usual beautiful routine, but had to struggle to hold on to the landing, and that will hurt her.

I wasn’t paying attention to the scores until now that we’re in exhibition territory.  Alabama goes 49.600 on vault, which is colossal.  Across the board I think everyone was about .05 high, which is to be expected at home.  It was a very nice rotation that can get better.  Where do you go from 49.600?  Judging on bars appeared to be mostly appropriate, but Florida seem just a bit tight in those handstands, which prevented them from going higher.

After Rotation 1: Alabama 49.600, Florida 49.225
Vault hasn’t been the problem for Alabama this season, so we’ll see where they go from here on bars.  Florida needs to find some competitive 1st and 2nd vaults.  They can’t be scoring in the 9.7s.

Rotation 2
Good distance from Spicer, some leg separation and perhaps a slide back.

Really aggressive, strong routine from Sledge with a gorgeous DLO.  Have I mentioned how this shouldn’t be first?

Ellis has a big step back on vault, but good enough form and direction.

Alexin rushes these handstands, which makes the routine look uncertain and sloppy.  No stick.

Ashanee’s usual vault with a big step back.  Important to have Johnson in this lineup with a nice vault, not her 2011 level yet, though.  The landing will come.

I’m not wild about the composition for Demeo at the beginning, but it’s an efficient routine with a hit jaeger.  Near stick on DLO.

Marissa King had a little hop on landing, and then did a major leap on her salute.  If they’re feeling picky, they could deduct for it, which would bring her way down.

Just a small step on the dbl arabian for Stack-Eaton – a good routine after missing last week with just one short hs.

Hunter has a Y1.5 with excellent form, a .1 hop forward on dismount.  The legs were better than Milliner, though.

Priess hits well to end things for Alabama, just a little piked on the DLO and a step back.

In all, this rotation was solid, but not the level of gymnastics from either team that we saw in the last one.  If Sledge were competing 5th, she probably would have gone 9.925.  They NEED those kind of scores in this rotation.

Both teams go 49.250 in this rotation, meaning our running total is Alabama 98.850, Florida 98.475
Alabama has the big guns in and they are going for that 197 mark.  I’m really interested to see who is the stronger floor team tonight.  That will be a big battle in April.

Rotation 3:
Great solid leadoff on beam from Jacob except for a seemingly unnecessary wobble on the popa and a step on dismount.

Ferguson leads off floor with a hit, energetic routine, very 9.800.

Milliner puts up another very strong beam routine, but she always looks scared to death when she competes beam, which takes you out of her routine.  Also, I hate that color lipstick, but mostly the scared to death thing.

Stageberg is a little low on her mount, but hits the second pass beautifully.  It’s good, clean, early-lineup gymnastics.  It’s not BIG, but it’s solid.

Sledge had some minor wobbles, and like Milliner, I’m not convinced that she believes on this event, but she hit well, so it’s a victory.

I’m not really feeling the dbl arabian for Marissa King, it’s a little low and looks like she stumbles out of it even when she doesn’t.  Poor second pass, low with a large step forward.  They’ll probably need to drop this.

Obviously a basic Miley Cyrus deduction during Gutierrez’s set on beam, but that was the biggest flaw in another hit routine.

Crazy cowboy and step back from Johnson on her dbl arabian, she did very well to even get that around to her feet.  She still has a little bit of elite disease where she only remembers to perform when she’s not doing a skill.

Thus far, Alabama looks like the better prepared team, which is accounting for the scores.  Another hit from Demeo (with another gainer full.  ugh, go away).  Even the gymnasts who look scared to death aren’t wobbling much.

Good secure tumbling from Dickerson, the most solid competitor so far.  We were never worried during her routine like some of the others earlier in the lineup.

Priess hitting beam.  Her L turn is very CGA.  And another hit from the gainer full sisters.  I have higher expectations for Alabama than that.  Is there any reason to?

Kytra just has another level of elevation, even more than power gymnasts like Dickerson.  When we talk about a distinctive quality – that’s it.  They’ve been working on her leaps.  Just a little low on her dismount.

In rotation 3, Alabama goes 49.425 and Florida goes 49.100.  Totals: Alabama 148.275, Florida 147.575. Both on a nice pace.  Alabama would have to go 49.500 on floor to match Florida’s season record to this point, which I don’t see happening, but they would need a notable mistake to prevent them breaking 197. Away from home, if Florida can go high 196s, that’s a very respectable score.  No shame in that even if they lose.  Alabama has a point to prove.  After this meet, I would like them to prove the difficult beam dismount point that they were trying to prove when they were training all those double pike dismounts.

Over in the land of Utah people, Georgia leads by a nose after the first rotation.  Highest scores are 9.925s from Dabritz on vault and Ding on bars – no surprise with either of those.

Rotation 4:
Stageberg hits to start.  The series+dismount combo is even more popular this year, but we’re seeing that it doesn’t quite work on everyone, just a little sloppy here.

Kim Jacob’s routine is very elite circa 2003, does anyone else get that feeling?  She usually leads off this rotation with a low 9.8, and this should be no different.

Florida getting in on the gainer full act with Spicer, this is what she was recruited for – solid early-rotation gymnastics and an ability to hit beam in all situations.

Good hit from Ashley Sledge, though I almost feel the same way about layout+layout middle passes as I do about gainer fulls.  Better than average double pike dismount.

Beam is still Johnson’s weak event, but she hits.  The team looks more confident than I’ve seen them lately on beam.  It’s not stellar, but it’s clear they’ve had more numbers.

Frost is low on her DLO mount but stands it up well enough.  She needs to commit to this routine a little bit more, it could be a fun one.  You could see that problem coming on the double tuck dismount, but she didn’t put a hand down.  It’s great that she has a DLO, but is this a lineup-worthy routine? (9.625 is high for a routine with those mistakes…)

Ashanee hits her dbl back dismount well (now that’s a beam dismount!) but still has a bit of sleepwalking disorder through her routine.

Milliner starts off with a very nice mount.  Good recovery routine, just a bit of an unexpected bounce back on the dismount, but she stayed in bounds.

Kytra’s loso series is floatier than most, she is really standing out as a star on a team of stars – I’m impressed so far, even if it’s not all there yet.  A big step back on her double back dismount, though, which will hurt the score.

Good hit from Gutierrez, she is performing confidently tonight in her landings.  Very tight form on her double pike dismount.

King had a wobble on her opening acro – I’m surprised at the lack of major wobble from both teams.  I guess I’ve been watching too much UCLA.  Spectacular double full dismount.  Even with the loss, this was a great night for Florida.

(Another sign I’ve been watching a lot of UCLA, I get mad at people for breaking character on floor.)

Priess finishes with another hit.  This was a very confident, efficient performance from both teams tonight.  They both accomplished the goals.  Florida had no letdown after the great score last week, and Alabama broke through with their own great score.  None of the gymnastics knocked anyone’s socks off, which is why the scores will probably go in the “Hrmmm” pile, but it’s very competent and going in a positive direction.

Yes, the scores definitely go in the “Hrmmm” pile.  Alabama records a humongous 197.725 for gymnastics that is great for February but will get better by April.  The theme of the season.

FINAL: Alabama 197.725, Florida 196.900

Now it’s time to check in with our dear friends Georgia and Utah.  Utah had a slight lead at the halfway point.  Apparently Shayla had an 8.600 on floor.  WHY did I miss that?

Nuccio coming up on floor.  Hits her DblA mount well.  Good hit to come back, but they’re not seeing the big scores on this event.

Lothrop anchors beam, and hits well.  Her biggest issue is that everything lacks a little amplitude.  Her dbl back dismount is nice in the air, but she lands low.  It’s 9.8 gymnastics that goes 9.9 because it’s last, it’s a savvy lineup order this year.

Couch anchors floor with her wonky-legged pike full, but a good hit overall.  You can see the relief from everyone that they don’t have to count Shayla’s latest work.  Georgia has their best rotation so far with a 49.300 after Noel Couch gets a…9.950…pardon?  I love judging.  It’s never boring.  She has enough built-in errors to make that impossible.

Utah is showing depth with two gymnasts hitting exos, but I don’t see Wilson in this lineup.  It’s not bad, just not there.

After 3 rotations: Georgia 147.750, Utah 147.650.  This is going to be good.

I like the way the PA announcer says “Timed Warmups Begin,” she sounds like a robot in some sort of sterilized health center in the dystopian future.

Good tuck full to start this routinefrom Tutka  – nice body position.  Unfortunate guitar miming in the choreo, and the 2nd pass was the weakest, but it should score well.  She tumbles confidently.

Couch did well to hit her series because she looked off just a bit in the air.  Slight slide on dismount.  This is what Couch does well – leading off with a hit – not getting a 9.950 anchoring floor.

Just a slight bit out of control from Damianova on her second pass, but this is another strong routine.  Stiff legged landing on the double pike with a shuffle was the biggest deduction in the set.

Not in love with Earls’s legs on her series, but she’s gaining her competition confidence.  Those legs are wild on the double tuck dismount, but it’s a hit.

Robarts cowboys her tuck position in the DblA but brings it around to land well if slightly low and has really flappy legs in the dismount, so this should score lower.  The double pike was nice. (9.875 is very high)

Kat Ding has a little wobble on a full turn and still looks a little uncertain even though this is her best beam season.  I’m starting to unlearn my instincts that she will fall on every skill.  Very close to sticking that dismount but she didn’t.  She wishes.

Dabritz is a little low on mount and steps to the side, but not a true error, but the second pass was short and she had a notable step forward – a larger error.  Impressive that she’s dismounting with a 3/1, but not her best work overall. (9.875 again, they’re getting the same charity that Couch did).

Wobble from Davis on her series – it’s so hard to hit that perfectly.  Another little issue on her aerial cartwheel and again on her front tuck.  Not major deduction on any, but she’s not confident with any of these acro skills yet.

Good landing on mount in terms of legs (I still have body position concerns) nice compact (well, it is Lothrop) dismount.  If the previous went 9.875, this should be clearly higher, though it’s not really that level of routine in the grand scheme.  (9.950 – can I write “See Me” on the judges’ papers?)

Persinger hits as well – Georgia won’t win this meet, but they should be pleased with their trajectory.  Some performers just need a little more refinement to get those 9,825s higher.

Good hit from McAllister – I do love a layout stepout out of a twisting pass.  I don’t even know what to expect from the judges anymore.  9.95 again.  What could they do after Lothrop?

Shayla recovery time?  Stumble on her sheep but stayed on.  A little wobble on the onodi and not quite a sick on the dismount – a solid routine but not her best.

So, Utah gets a humongous 49.500 for what was ultimately a solid but pedestrian rotation.  Everyone was between .050-.100 high.  They outstrip Georgia’s 49.200 on beam to take the meet.

FINAL: Utah 197.150, Georgia 196.950

Even though I’m griping about a lot of the scoring (what incentive is there to be special if everyone is special?), I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen tonight overall.  These teams are hitting very solid February gymnastics.  They don’t look nearly as far away from top form as they did in January, and it’s a very encouraging trajectory for some greatness at the end of the season.  What’s more, it’s not just coming from the big three that we expected.  We could have a legitimate eight really good teams by championships time.

I’m very interested to see how Utah fares the next time on the road – where Lothrop and McAllister won’t be getting 9.950 on floor, that’s for sure.  It will be a test.

Rounding up some other scores:
Oklahoma was on great pace until they had to count a fall on floor and scores 196.475 to lose to Nebraska’s 196.750.  Arkansas did end up throwing in a 6th gymnast on floor, which they needed, and went 196.800 to beat Auburn by a point.

No one is allowing room at the top this week, so even though 196.475 isn’t a bad score, Oklahoma looks to be the one to fall this week (with UCLA still to come – and who knows how that could go?).  Certainly Alabama will move ahead of them.  Because of the way the scoring has been going, teams HAVE to score in the 197s to feel confident of their ranking positions.

Around the rest of the country, we’re seeing a lot of high 195s, which is good for the rest of these teams to somehow try to keep pace.  Notably, LSU scored 196.125.  They seem to be able to go consistently into those low 196s when they hit, and that’s such a dangerous score come regionals time.  If a top team doesn’t hit, LSU will be ready to snatch up that spot.

In Washington, the Huskies are being very 9.750 about everything (and now they will be counting a fall on beam) and Oregon State is being more 9.800 about things.  Oregon State is putting up solid scores, but it won’t keep pace with the top group where 196.800 is considered low for the week.

Oregon State continued having their very 9.800 meet and finished with a 195.975, which will see them fall out of the Top 8 sorority.  Washington scored 194.675 after those falls on beam and a lot of 9.7s.

The Weekend Agenda (February 3rd-5th)

We have a huge weekend ahead of us, with a lot of interesting rivalry matchups that will go a long way toward determining the momentum of the season.  There are a few teams that need a big score this week, otherwise “slow start” begins to become “bad season.”  Stanford and Alabama are two of these teams, but for different reasons.  Alabama has been strong enough, but they haven’t broken out to show they can post a big score.  A meek loss to Florida at home would be disastrous.  On the other hand, Stanford has scored 194 in two of three meets.  If this is to be a year of redemption, they have to start showing talent immediately.

There are so many meets to watch (and keep an eye on Arkansas and Oklahoma, both competing twice this weekend), but I’ll be paying special attention to three meets: Florida/Alabama, Georgia/Utah, and Stanford/UCLA.  Now, due to unfortunate circumstances, Florida/Alabama and Georgia/Utah are at the same time on Friday.  I think I’m going to live blog Florida/Alabama because I’m more interested in the storylines there, and I’ll probably catch up with Georgia/Utah on Saturday.  Florida/Alabama could really go either way, while I’m pretty sure we know what to expect from Georgia/Utah.  It’ll get interesting for Utah once they have to go on the road again.  

Then, on Sunday, I’ll be back to live blog Stanford/UCLA.  Both of those teams are urgently in need of a redeeming score.  I really hope we don’t see more dueling 194s.  Pick it up, everyone.  

Also, watch this video of Florida on vault and bars last weekend for Marissa King’s reaction after vault (and for the crazy overscoring on bars).

Top 25 Schedule:
Friday – 2/3/12
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [20] West Virginia @ [22] Michigan
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [23] NC State @ [17] Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [13] Auburn @ [2] Arkansas
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [9] Nebraska, [25] Minnesota, Centenary @ [5] Oklahoma
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [10] Penn State @ [24] Iowa
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Kentucky @ [14] LSU
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [18] Arizona @ Texas Women’s
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT – [3] Florida @ [6] Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [4] Georgia @ [1] Utah
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [8] Oregon State @ [21] Washington

Saturday – 2/4/12
2:00 ET / 11:00 PT – [16] Boise State @ BYU
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [11] Ohio State @ [19] Illinois
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Iowa State, Alaska @ [15] Denver

Sunday – 2/5/12
3:00 ET / 12:00 PT – [5] Oklahoma @ [2] Arkansas
3:30 ET / 12:30 PT – [12] Stanford @ [7] UCLA

Embarrassment and Road Work

Is it bad that my ears grow eight sizes every time I hear the phrase “disciplinary reasons”?  Do go on…

They really shouldn’t let her wait a few days to do these press conferences.  We need gymnastike in there every week interviewing her immediately (Inexcusable!).

EHH hasn’t really been herself so far this year, so they shouldn’t suffer too much without her except for her consistency on beam.

The team is embarrassed by that tank.  So were we.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

In numbers news, I’ve been harping on the necessity to put up those usable road scores early on for RQS, so let’s take a look at the average road scores for the top 25 teams.

Average Road Score (as of January 31, 2012)
1. Arkansas – 196.575
2. Oklahoma – 196.417
3. Alabama – 196.250
4. Florida – 196.150
4. Georgia – 196.150
6. Utah – 196.075
7. Penn State – 195.792
8. Nebraska – 195.775
9. UCLA – 195.638
10. Ohio State – 195.392
11. Missouri – 195.125
12. LSU – 194.875
13. Arizona – 194.750
14. Stanford – 194.525
15. Denver – 194.517
16. Illinois – 194.388
17. Oregon State – 194.375
18. Auburn – 194.288
19. Iowa – 194.213
20. NC State – 194.138
21. Washington – 194.108
22. Boise State – 193.525
23. West Virginia – 193.475
24. Michigan – 193.150
25. Minnesota – 192.800