All posts by balancebeamsituation

Bushel of Friday Scores – UCLA, UGA, Bama, OU, Nastia Cup

Lots to care about in the gymnastics world this weekend. Today, we’ve got some great NCAA matchups between top teams and an important look at future competitors:

7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [3] UCLA @ [4] Georgia
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – Nastia Liukin Cup
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [5] Alabama @ [2] Oklahoma
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [9] Oregon State @ [7] Utah

First things first, UCLA @ UGA. Lineups tell us that Shayla is back on three events this week, Moffatt will be going on beam, and Box will be going on floor (no Nuccio on floor). Hit routines from this group will be paramount to complement our expected hits from the likes of Ding and Couch. We’ve also been given the UCLA lineups, but they always change, so it’s barely relevant. Of note is that Sam Peszek is still limited to just beam and that Kaelie Baer will remain in the lineup on vault and beam (change – no longer on beam). So basically it’s the same lineup as last weekend.

Follow along (preferably schizophrenically) with all the competing action after the jump from 7:30 ET / 4:30 PT

Things should get underway at the Nastia Cup within the next 10 minutes, and UCLA/Georgia should begin shortly after that. Can you believe it’s already the second to last weekend of the regular season for both of these teams? This season has FLOWN by.

On the snowboarding that’s on USN right before the Nastia Cup, there is someone named Stale.

At the Nastia Cup, we’ve seen a pretty nice Y2/1 from Charity Jones, a future Oklahoma gymnast. Well done, K.J.  And in our nightly “Please Feel Old” alert, Tyus Edney’s daughter is competing here.

Some changes in the UCLA lineup: Peszek is in on bars for De La Torre (odd), and Courtney is in for Baer on beam (good change).

NC: clean beam routine for Lauren Ramirez, and coach Amanda Borden is bubbling over. And a nice DLO and clean overall tumbling from Casanova on floor. Michigan probably wishes they could just get her on a plane right now.

It’s a good event rotation for both UCLA and Georgia. Georgia should be able to build on UCLA’s bars, and UCLA should be able to build on Georgia’s vault.

NC: clean bar routine from Grace Williams with a few missed handstands and little else you can take. McMurtry with very powerful tumbling on floor and should score well save for an OOB.

Georgia will a good start on vault, sticks from Davis and Couch. EHH apparently had some dismount trouble on bars for 9.750. Noel Couch gets a 9.900, which should inform our perceptions of the scoring tonight.

Georgia will be dropping Earls’s score on vault. Larson gets a 9.825 on bars. These are OK scores for UCLA, but not what they would hope for. They’re going to want 9.875s+ from the rest of the lineup. And Peszek delivers with a 9.900 – so much for bars being the hardest event to get back with her wrist.

NC: Haven’t seen Beth Rybacki in a while . . . a fall for her gymnast Charlie Owens. After one rotation, Charity Jones leads after her excellent Yurchenko double full.

Huge score for Georgia, 49.450 on vault, led by 9.950 from Kat Ding. UCLA gets a 49.300, so they will trail, but that’s not a bad score for them. They would love to see anything over about a 197.2, so that puts them right on pace. This next rotation should show us some real strength for both teams. Keep an eye on what Shayla does. It will inform the whole meet for Georgia mentally.

For UCLA on vault, it will be important for Frattone and Zamarripa to figure out their landings, neither were great last weekend.

NC: Solid Y1.5s from Casanova to start the second rotation.

Baer starts UCLA on vault with a 9.800, about what we’ve come to expect from her. I still think there’s more potential in MDLT’s vault, but whatever. And EHH goes lower with 9.775, not a good start for UCLA on their best event.

Shayla’s bar dismount. It is its own character this season. 9.725.  It doesn’t matter because Chelsea Davis goes 9.950 to match Frattone’s score 4th up on vault. She’s really starting to prove that bars is her best event. She’s setting up the scores for Kat. Let’s see if it happens this week.

Another 9.900 for Zamarripa. She really needs to figure out that stick so she can go 10 again. Unfortunately, Kat Ding also misses performing at her best level with a 9.850. There was a chance for the big guns there, and they didn’t really convert.

After 2: Georgia 98.825, UCLA 98.750
UCLA will need EHH in particular to step up her quality on her better events.

NC: Alex McMurtry, an excellent vaulter, scores 9.900 which will not be beat. She’ll have to convert on her weaker events to get/retain this lead, though. Nice potential from Nia Dennis on beam, just a little shaky. Good skill set and line.

Rotation 3: Georgia on beam, UCLA on bars

So Noel Couch’s scores go, so go the charitability of the meet. Noel goes 9.900 on beam as the leadoff.

Over in Oklahoma, Alabama is on near 198 pace and is well ahead of the hosts. This kind of score will help them gain on UCLA and Georgia, even with the big scoring we’re seeing here.

Georgia is going huge on the scores on beam, and UCLA is underperforming on floor. Frattone goes 9.725, which is not very considerate of her.

More trouble for UCLA. Mattie struggles on floor. Judging issue on this routine. 9.475. OOB and a composition question. You’ll never get to do a DLO if you keep up that kind of performance. Now UCLA will have to count Frattone’s low score.

No pressure for Shayla in this routine, as Georgia already has a massive beam score. And she hits. First score up to her potential in a while. Georgia will have a big lead going into the last event.

NC: Leader McMurtry just went on bars and had terrifying legs. I don’t except that lead to stay.

UCLA manages to salvage a 49.200 on floor, so not terrible, but it does put pressure on the beam rotation. Georgia leads 148.300–147.950.

NC: More pretty powerful gymnastics from Nia Dennis on floor. Watch out for this one. Nice DLO from Lauren Beers on floor as well.

Rotation 4: UCLA on beam, Georgia on floor

Floor: Shayla out, Nuccio in

Gerber starts with her usual solidity – 9.850 (9.900 from one judge). Will be interesting to see how Courtney does in her return to the beam lineup for the first time since the season opener. Just a 9.675. They’ll need to drop it.

Georgia continuing the scoring trend on floor. The way things are going, UCLA, Georgia, and Alabama could be very close in RQS come Monday. Zamarripa with a fall, and UCLA is just . . . off. We can look forward to a sighing, dismissive press conference this week.

NC: Some nice bars difficulty from Shchennikova.

UCLA would need a 9.850 from Peszek to hit 197. They desperately need a big hit from her.

Georgia won’t be able to hit that 198 mark, but we can probably expect a big home score from Couch, meaning they’ll go very high indeed.

Peszek saves UCLA a little on beam, so they end up with a 196.975. It would have helped their confidence to hit that 197 mark, but after all that lackluster, it’s their highest road score of the season, and they will go up .060 in RQS, which will keep them ahead of Georgia, but the gap is closing. Alabam looks on pace for a similar score to Georgia, but their RQS will zoom up as a result.

FINAL: Georgia 197.700, UCLA 196.975

In other news, Alabama ended up blowing their lead after Oklahoma came back on beam and floor. Oklahoma beats Alabama 197.300–197.150, but both excellent scores.

After two events, neither Utah nor Oregon State are standing out. Utah leads 98.300–97.750.

In a final at the Nastia Cup, Charity Jones is our surprise winner, followed by McMurtry and Shchennikova in second and Grace Williams in 4th. McMurtry likely would have won if not for some serious form issues on bars.


American Cup Preview

This Saturday’s American Cup is a ridiculous little competition, largely because of the vast disparity between its perceived importance and its actual importance. Under normal human circumstances, an eight-competitor meet with a weak field where a certain winner is all but guaranteed would receive little more than a whisper of attention. But because it’s an Olympic year, because the meet is in the US, because it’s gymnastics on TV and we’ll take what we can get, and because the NBC team pulls out gems like “The Most Important Annual International Meet on American Soil” (because that’s such a tough category), we get unnaturally interested.

So, as a proud lemming to the unnatural interest in this ridiculous competition (and being a ridiculous person myself, we actually make a good match), I present my completely informed and professional preview of the women who will be competing this weekend.

Jordyn Wieber will almost certainly win this competition and has, more importantly, already been named to the Olympic team. You may have missed the announcement because it never happened, but it’s nonetheless true. There will be a lot of talk in the coming months about how every spot is up for grabs. This is a lie. She’s on the team barring injury. 
Wieber is the perfect gymnast for this code because of her consistency and broad skill set. But because we know she’ll be part of the team, our attention turns from her strengths to the areas she needs to improve, so the big event to watch this weekend will be bars. Through savvy routine construction, John Geddert has tricked people into thinking that Wieber doesn’t have a weakness, but she does and it’s bars. Despite her high difficulty, she does not perform with a natural rhythm or cohesive line, and therefore needs those difficulty tenths to bump up her score. The presence of a disappointing trend in women’s gymnastics, the Weiler kip, adds a general “Ode to Molasses” theme to her routine. We’ve been promised a reconstructed routine with improved details in 2012, and I hope to see just that because she is a likely bars worker for team finals. 
Aly Raisman is the second American competitor, and I have a definite soft spot in my cold gymnastics heart for our sturdy little Massachusetts Romanian. She’s becoming more comfortable in interviews and is refreshingly self-aware regarding her weaknesses. She would be the first to tell you that artistry, flexibility, and bars are not up to the expected level. That’s certainly true, but because she knows it, I can look past it. She’s not out there pretending she’s an awesome dancer.

Raisman is clearly a Martha favorite (we all remember the “Here’s my BEAMER! Next beamer!” heard round the world from 2010), and her unflappable solidity on beam and difficulty on floor should put her in prime position heading into the summer. That being said, I still have reservations about her spot on the team because she is just so easy to overlook. She’s like the Lady Edith of Team USA. She really needs to go drive a tractor and help at the convalescent hospital so she can stand out. Debuting a competent version of her long-suffering Amanar would go a long way toward helping her chances.

But speaking of which, why have I not done a Downton Abbey/Elite Gymnastics conversion before? Nastia is Lady Mary, obviously. Martha is the Dowager Countess. Bruno Grandi and Nellie Kim are Thomas and O’Brien. Is Kim Zmeskal Anna? She would totally help Nastia carry the body of her dead Turkish lover back to his own bedroom, if you know what I mean.

Moving on, after the jump I’ll look at the international competitors who have been kind enough to offer to play the roles of the Washington Generals on Saturday.

Kelli Hill is Carson.

OK, now I’m really done.

Romania’s Larisa Iordache looks most likely to challenge the American duo, largely because of her confident skill set in the all-around and her stellar work on beam. Vault is not as much of a strength, so she will have trouble keeping pace with the leaders who will rack up big numbers there. Most importantly for the Romanians, though, is Iordache’s ability to perform a bar routine, which makes her a near lock for the Olympic team.

For our purposes, it will be crucial to keep track of how Al Trautwig says her name. Take a drink every time he mispronounces it (What? It’s after noon . . . in some places), and take two drinks if someone makes a Jordache jeans reference.

Iordache’s teammate, Diana Chelaru, has made her place as a consistent all-arounder who excels on floor and can be used if necessary on vault and bars, though the form issues are quite evident. Because of the retirement of Progras, I give Chelaru a fairly solid shot at taking that 5th spot on the Romanian team, but she’s no lock because she doesn’t scream her necessity on any event.  Some upgrades from her 2011 routines would be welcome. She at least needs to prove that she is irreplaceable on vault and floor.
Another standout on the floor is new senior Victoria Moors, who is filling in after the depressing withdrawal of Nadine Jarosch’s glasses. Moors made her name on this apparatus at the test event, finishing second behind Ferrari in event finals. This routine and a DTY make her invaluable to the Canadian team, but she is not competitive enough on the other two events to challenge the all-arounders at this competition.
Great Britain’s Rebecca Tunney stood out on bars at the test event because of her competitive start value (though, as you can see in the above video, there are many form issues in that routine). She could be a welcome presence on the British Olympic team as a third bar worker to complement Tweddle and Downie and to ensure that Whelan doesn’t have to go in team finals. However, she is not as competitive on the other events, and I’m rooting for future Bruin Danusia Francis to get one of the remaining spots on the team.
In her return from injury, Australia’s Georgia Simpson did not make much of a mark on the scoring table at the test event, but upgrades should be expected, and you do get a sense that really everyone is in contention to be one of the lucky pale backup dancers to feature on The Lauren Mitchell Show, debuting this July.
Lisa Katharina Hill featured for Germany at World Championships, largely filling the #5 routine spot on each apparatus, though she does bring good difficulty on bars. That routine could get her onto the Olympic team, but like Tunney, she lags behind most internationally competitive gymnasts on the other events.
As for the men’s competition, Danell Leyva will be competing. That is all you need to know. Everybody wins.


The Weekend Agenda (March 2nd-4th)

I had not intended to spend much time on elite gymnastics, but lately I’ve found myself coming down with a low-level case of . . . dare I say it . . . Olympic fever. To channel this fever, I’m going to try live blogging this weekend’s American Cup. I won’t be doing detailed quick hit commentary because there are likely several thousand other, mostly official, people doing that. My commentary will be focused more on providing exhausted observations and Daggett-induced apoplectic ramblings. It should be a good time. Use it as an opportunity to feel better about the NCAA scoring system.

My main focus, though, will remain NCAA gymnastics through the end of the collegiate season, and we have a lively showdown weekend ahead of us, highlighted by UCLA @ Georgia on Friday. UCLA is performing with an unseemly amount of confidence all of the sudden, and Georgia will be trying to solve a problem like Shayla and finally get a win over a top team. Expect high scores.

At the same time as the Georgia/UCLA meet (thanks, scheduling) will be the annual Nastia Liukin “I swear I’m not an elite” Pink Leotard Sleepover. This has become a fun opportunity for us to see our future NCAA gymnasts and make prognostications about how they will fare in a few years. Also at essentially the same time, Alabama will be visiting Oklahoma in an attempt to prove they are the better team and gain a much-needed high road score. Watch how Oklahoma compares to Alabama on vault and floor. If they can stay with Alabama, it will go a long way in proving how much they belong.

Top 25 (and other events) Schedule:
Friday – 3/2/12
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [23] Michigan, North Carolina, Centenary @ [11] Penn State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Kent State @ [14] Ohio State
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [3] UCLA @ [4] Georgia
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – Nastia Liukin Cup
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [5] Alabama @ [2] Oklahoma
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [18] Minnesota @ [8] Arkansas
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [20] NC State @ [10] LSU
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Southern Utah @ [15] Auburn
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Kentucky @ [21] Illinois
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [9] Oregon State @ [7] Utah
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – Utah State @ [16] Boise State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [17] Arizona, SJ State, Alaska @ UC Davis
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [22] Arizona State @ [25] Washington

Saturday – 3/3/12
11:30 ET / 8:30 PT – AT&T American Cup
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [13] Missouri, [24] West Virginia, W. Michigan @ [19] Denver

Sunday – 3/4/12
3:00 ET / 12:00 PT – [1] Florida @ [6] Nebraska
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [17] Arizona, California @ [12] Stanford

Monday Rankings

We have finally, finally reached RQS land. This season just got real.

National Rankings for February 27, 2012
1. Florida – 197.195
2. Oklahoma – 197.145
3. UCLA – 197.025
4. Georgia – 196.830
5. Alabama – 196.730
6. Nebraska – 196.585
7. Utah – 196.555
8. Arkansas – 196.545
9. Oregon State – 196.250
10. LSU – 196.245
11. Penn State – 195.950
12. Stanford – 195.895
13. Missouri – 195.790
14. Ohio State – 195.760
15. Auburn – 195.515
16. Boise State – 195.405
17. Arizona – 195.390
18. Minnesota – 195.285
19. Denver – 195.270
20. NC State – 195.175
21. Illinois – 195.155
22. Arizona State – 195.145
23. Michigan – 194.795
24. West Virginia – 194.670
25. Washington – 194.525


Florida’s big score over the weekend helped them erase one of their lackluster early scores and leapfrog Oklahoma in the RQS rankings. Given their talent level and their ability to hit routines the last few weeks, it’s hard to argue against Florida as the top team in the nation, though UCLA certainly had a few things to say about that yesterday, recording a 198.050 for the top score of the season and their best score since 2004. All of the sudden they proved that the big five beam workers of Peszek, EHH, Zamarripa, Larson, and Gerber can make them the unexpected best beam team in the nation. Now, all they need is a convincing wig so they can introduce new walk-on freshman Vicki Tom as the 6th worker.

More thoughts:

  • The descent of Utah continues after two weeks where the scores were a bigger story than the gymnastics. I still think that with their top lineups they are probably the 5th best team in the country, but they need to prove that this week against Oregon State. A loss would be disastrous. Lothrop needs to be back in the all-around, and Dabritz and Delaney need to be in as much as possible. Beers, Hansen, and Lofgren are not cutting it on bars.
  • I’m not sold on Georgia as our fourth best team, especially with the descent of Shayla. If this team is relying on Noel Couch to go over 9.850, they are in trouble. Until Chelsea Davis is consistently going 9.9 on multiple events, this team is just Kat Ding and a prayer. 
  • Surprising that LSU and Oregon State are so close in the rankings, but LSU has been zooming up ever since they got to forget that unpleasantness in Cancun. Both teams are in similar positions in having a couple huge events, but not enough to challenge the 197s. If these two could organize a swap, they could make at least one seriously great team. I do expect Oregon State to pick up the RQS once they drop some lower scores, though.
  • Missouri at #13? I didn’t see that coming. I should probably watch one of their meets some time.
  • We’re getting to the point in the season where rankings are solidifying. A six-tenth lead is near insurmountable at this point, especially with the way the top teams are scoring. I expect that only the top three teams have a legitimate claim on the top seed going into Regionals. Oklahoma may have a slight advantage in that they have more meets remaining than Florida or UCLA do.

Pre-Oscar Gymnastics – Arizona State @ UCLA Live Blog

Live commentary after the jump from 5:00 ET / 2:00 PT

UCLA pushed up the start time of their meet on Super Bowl Sunday, but they have not for Oscar Sunday. I’m not okay with this choice. We’re gymnastics fans. We care more about the Oscars than we do about the Super Bowl.

That being said, this meet will likely be less predictable than the whole of the Oscar telecast. According to Val, Sam Peszek is still limited to only beam, so there are multiple Wong and Peszek spots that need to be filled on the other events. If they are filling those spots with 9.7s, it could be a long meet. Fortunately for UCLA, they do have Zamarripa back in the all-around. They’ll need a 39.500+ from her.

As for scores, UCLA will be at least #5 in the country on Monday. They will move up to #4 if they score 196.125, and they will move up to #3 if they score 196.625. These are realistic and expected scores for a home meet at this point in the season. Even without some of their ideal routines, a 197 should be attainable. 
Arizona State still needs a third road score, so they will be counting this meet in RQS and hoping to go into the mid-195s so they can start dropping those 194s soon. Regardless, their spot as a 4th or 5th Regionals seed looks secure. Last week, Beate Jones scored a solid 39.225 in the AA. They will need a repeat of that performance.

The stream has begun, but of course the meet itself probably will not begin for another half hour or so. I’m interested to see who comes into the beam rotation for Lichelle Wong. It will likely be Baer or Frattone, but I would prefer to see Courtney come back into that lineup. She has the highest scoring potential of the three but hasn’t competed beam since the beginning of the season.

Val’s.  Hairstyle.  Yes, she did.  One thing is for sure, she COMMITS.

Well, the intro video is appropriate for the 80’s theme this week, at least.

Rotation 1: UCLA on vault, ASU on bars
UCLA will be putting up EHH and Baer to lead the vault rotation, followed by the usual Larson, Courtney, Frattone, Zam. Interesting that MDLT will not be vaulting after she scored 9.925 last week, but she was just scratched from exhibitioning.

Baer – UCLA – solid yfull off to the side with a leap back. (9.800)

Jones – ASU – not her strongest event, piked in the DLO dismount.

EHH – UCLA – near stick (maybe a shuffle) on a nice yfull. Could use a bit more amplitude. (9.925 – hello home)

Gentile – ASU – handstand issues in this routine. A bit low on the DLO with a hop forward.

Larson – UCLA – better distance than EHH but not quite as clean on form with a hop back. (9.850)

Seaman – ASU – more handstand issues, and a hop forward on the tuck full dismount.

Courtney – UCLA – lovely vault! Stuck landing with really improved form from the first few meets. Better than EHH’s, certainly. (9.975 – boy howdy) I’m fine with that score. Like a couple other vaults this year, it was extremely clean but lacked that “Wow 10” factor.

Gades – ASU – does well to save a handstand, but it’s still a major break. Sticks double front with low legs.

Frattone – UCLA – pretty poor for her. lowish landing with a big leap forward. (9.825)

Hangartner – ASU – a bit cleaner on line than the previous gymnast, but similar deductions in each routine. (9.775)

Zamarripa – UCLA – hops back, which should be a tenth, so I would expect 9.9. (9.900) Darren said 9.825 originally (it was actually Frattone’s score), which I think could have been justified but would have been really low comparative to the rest of the rotation.

Palafox – ASU – good jaeger, wonky on the overshoot and a step on the dismount.

After 1: UCLA 49.475, ASU 48.800

Courtney and EHH delivered for UCLA, but no one else was really hit to capability. Frattone and Zamarripa need to be sticking their vaults at this point, which would have given UCLA up to two more tenths. Still, once Peszek comes back in for Baer, UCLA will be hard to beat on this event.

Rotations 2: ASU on vault, UCLA on bars

Gentile – ASU – huge stumble back on yfull, will be very low

EHH – UCLA – extremely clean in handstands, but flung out her double back with a small hop. Should still score well. (9.850)

Price – ASU – extremely short on yfull with a fall. Disaster so far.

Courtney – UCLA – a little short on bail handstand, uncharacteristic step on her dismount. No same bar release. (9.825)

Sundby – ASU – first really hit vault for ASU, but not strong on form.

De La Torre – UCLA – sticks DLO after a really strong routine. Her best of the year, especially in the handstands. (9.950)

Seaman – ASU – a little piked in the yfull with a hop back. Best so far for them.

Larson – UCLA – big leg sep in bail handstand, needs to work on her flat hips a little, but saves the score with the stuck DLO. (9.900)

Jones – ASU – big hop back in the yfull and needs to work on distance, but solid.

Gerber – UCLA – usual form, leg separation on pak and step on dismount. I could still watch her compete all day long. (9.900)

Hangartner – ASU – solid vault, with a step forward

Zamarripa – UCLA – not quite her best , but still lovely form, too much of a hop back on the dismount. (9.875)

After 2: UCLA 98.950, ASU 96.875 

Relative to what ASU received on bars, these scores were in line, but they cannot expect to score this well going forward unless some people (Mattie) pick up the form. It is very important that MDLT hit to potential, but Zamarripa needs to find that landing on the DLO. UCLA is on pace to go WELL over 197 should they hit beam.

Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, ASU on floor

Gerber – UCLA – a minor, minor wobble on the walkover is the only real deduction in the whole routine. Absolutely beautiful work. This would easily go 9.9 toward the end of the lineup. (9.875)

Seaman – ASU – clean in the tumbling on the first two passes, and hits the rudi dismount. Probably the best ASU routine of the day so far. (9.775)

Baer – UCLA – nowhere close on the side somi and comes off the beam – terrible sign to UCLA. Time to get into postseason pressure mode. (9.250)

Sundby – ASU – this is clearly ASU’s strong event – the tumbling is very confident. Low on double pike but hits it solidly. (9.800)

Larson – UCLA – makes me nervous to have Mattie following a fall – hits walkover and loso well, confident on dance elements, stuck double full dismount. By far her best beam routine of the season – great progress on the mental front for her. (9.925)

Steigerwalt – ASU – big lunge back out of the double tuck middle pass, but otherwise a clean routine. Good improvement for her. (9.825)

Zamarripa – UCLA – best full turn in the sport right now, right on on all her acro as well. hugely beautiful stick on her double full dismount. Aside from the Baer routine, these have all been season best performances so far for UCLA. (9.925)

Gades – ASU – huge stumble out of double pike with OOB, much better on the second pass, ending with a loso, but they will want to drop this routine to keep them in contention for a 49 rotation. (9.650)

EHH – UCLA – well done to hit her series because her foot was a bit off on the side aerial – not even a wobble, but then gives away tenths on simple dance – very frustrating, low on the double full with a hop. Not so strong from her, but it’s a hit. (9.850)

Jones – ASU – this is her showcase event – huge stumble back out of double tuck combo pass. Watching her is like watching Dos Santos in some ways – there’s so much potential but she so often can’t control the power. A little low on double pike dismount.

Peszek – UCLA – standing full – love that she just threw it in and it was perfect, especially after a fall. Really appreciate the risk taking. She’s right on on this hands-free routine, maybe she should keep it. Just a minor hop on the loso, layout full dismount. This will score very well. (9.925)

Davies – ASU – bounce back out of double tuck mount, a little low on rudi dismount, but she has nice amplitude and performance presence. (9.875)

Are we calling them the “new UCLA,” a team that can withstand an early fall on beam? There were some absolutely excellent routines in this group and four season best performances. I know I should probably be talking about overscores, but there was so much excellent gymnastics in this rotation that I think this is pretty much deserved (except maybe EHH, which was high). Don’t look now, but if UCLA scores 49.550, they will go 198. Watch out. They will need 49.400 to tie Florida’s season record.

After 3: UCLA 148.450, ASU 145.800

Rotation 4: ASU on beam, UCLA on floor

Jones – ASU – hits series, then a minor wobble on a lowish punch front, gainer pike dismount with hop.

Frattone – UCLA – a little less control on the double pike than usual, but good landing position. This is the best routine of her career performance-wise. The shushunova is probably the best it’s been, so this should be a fine score. (9.875)

Gades – ASU – excellent loso series and L-turn, nice line for beam, hits aerial layout full dismount.

Larson – UCLA – big on the double pike (not a DLO yet, probably advisable) with an OOB, otherwise excellent on the double full, turns, and 2.5. Should still be able to salvage something in the 9.7s. (9.675 – fair with the OOB)

Gentile – ASU – solidly hit routine with a few form breaks here and there. (9.800)

Zamarripa – UCLA – opens with her front double, there is some leg separation on this twisting, dismounts with the rudi again – will be a double pike soon. (9.925)

Palafox – ASU – hits three series with a minor slide back, nice full turn, not quite there on the leaps, stuck gainer full. (9.850)

Pritchett – UCLA – better on the tuck full than last time, dismounts with a hit double pike with a low landing. This routine is a good hit, but performance-wise is just sort of there. (9.900)

Seaman – ASU – front tuck mount, very well done – extremely solid with stuck dismount. This has been  a great recovery after a poor vault event.

Courtney – UCLA – hits the double arabian with more control this time, nice – floaty layout out of her second pass – perfect double tuck dismount. This will be another big score. (9.950)

Steigerwalt – ASU – a few wobbles to begin the routine, and a major break on the full turn. This will be the dropped score.

EHH – UCLA – minor slide back on double tuck mount, same on the double pike dismount, but this should help UCLA record the highest score of the season.  Will we see the 198?  It could be close. (9.950 – high) Well they did it.  Wow. We’ll have a lot to say that.

FINAL: UCLA 198.050, ASU 194.850

That’s all from me, but I’m sure the fans will have a lot to say. Some overscoring for sure, but also a lot of positives to be taken out of that for UCLA, especially the gorgeous beam performance. They will need to add back a bit more difficulty and clean up some landing positions, but for the first time this season they look like a team that could win a national championship. 

Scoring Controversy!

A scoring controversy? For me? Oh, you shouldn’t have!

Fortunately, after a meet of flat, uninspiring gymnastics, a scoring controversy has broken out to give us all something to talk about. Throughout the meet, scores were noticeably lower than they have been at Utah all season. I thought they were actually quite fair and reflected the level of scrutiny I would like to see from judges in the postseason. No one will talk about that, though, because of the issue regarding Stephanie McAllister’s start value on floor.

Individual video of the routine in question is not currently available, but you can view the whole meet here. McAllister’s routine begins around 1:44:20.

The Salt Lake Tribune provides an account of the controversy, noting that the judges bumped down McAllister’s start value (they gave her 9.8) because she lacked a leap passage beginning on one foot. Meg Marsden says that she already received the OK from Linda Fenton for McAllister’s routine.

Greg Marsden gets a special A+ from me for also receiving a yellow card during the meet (though his card was for walking by the judges, which is the lamest reason for anything ever).

I have several reactions to this whole brouhaha. We’ll start with the most childish, which is, “Eeeeee! An argument! I hope this lasts forever!”
But honestly, whether or not she should have received the deduction doesn’t even matter that much to me. Stupid requirements for dance passages are one of my bigger gymnastics pet peeves. Just do some dance elements, hit your positions, and move on. Whether it started from one foot or whether it was immediately connected (or whatever other problem you can come up with) is so irrelevant to the overall quality of the routine that the amount of time spent on it is ridiculous. 
What are your thoughts? Fair deduction? Unfair? Who cares?

Friday Meets – Georgia, Florida, Utah, and More

We’re getting close to the start of another big Friday, and we’ll begin with Georgia visiting Florida, where I expect the scores to start flying. Then, a whole bunch of other teams are in action including Alabama, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and we’ll be finishing things off for the night with a live blog of the Stanford @ Utah meet from 9:00 ET / 6:00 PT.

To prepare, here’s a look at what Greg Marsden called Utah’s best bar rotation of the year. Agree?

Thoughts coming soon and commentary after the break

Soon to get underway with Georgia and Florida. The first rotation provides an interesting dynamic because of Georgia’s strength on bars. They have to stay even or close after the first rotation because they will likely lose ground on the final two events.

Florida is leading off with Spicer on vault. She is more likely for that position than Shisler, but she’s still almost an automatic drop with Johnson, Dickerson, King, and Hunter who can (and should) all go 9.9+

We’ve added another chapter to the saga of Shayla (it’s an epic miniseries at this point, HBO should option it–thoughts on what it should be called?) as she scores a 9.200 on bars. When was the last time she hit all her events in a meet? It can’t have happened more than once or twice this year, can it? This was supposed to be the year of the Shayla. Georgia should be thanking their lucky stars it’s become the year of the Ding instead.

P.S. Aren’t Florida’s live scores the worst? You would think they could pull it together, but it’s awful every week. Plus, they don’t give us the judge’s individual scores, just the final.

Florida actually goes surprisingly low on vault with respect to expectations with a 49.375 (low…hah!), but my 198 prediction may be in jeopardy! Georgia is able to withstand the fall from Shayla and score 49.225 to at least stay within striking distance, though I think they needed to be a bit closer.  Highlight scores for each team on the first rotation were Hunter’s 9.950 and Couch and Davis on 9.875 for Georgia. Not a good sign when Couch is tied for top bars score. Kat Ding went surprisingly low at 9.825. If she doesn’t get a 10 this season, I will through a fit. Georgia has UCLA at home next week, though, so expect big scores.

Checking the stats, I was a little wrong about Shayla.  She hit 3/3 in her first three meets, but has had a fall in 5 consecutive meets now. As of right now, her hit percentage is 76% this year.

On our usual Ashanee-Home-Bars-Score Watch, she gets a 9.875, which is a bit lower than it has been this year but still too high given her form breaks. If she hit to her capabilities, though, it’s not a completely ridiculous score for a home meet. (What has become of me? I do like the confidence with which she sticks landings, even if she needs to get those legs together.) I’ve noticed at Florida this season that they seem to score the top routines pretty accurately, but the weaker routines are scored too high so that there’s not enough separation.

Important for Georgia that Kaylan Earls is back tonight with a 9.850 on vault. That’s exactly the kind of score they need her to be getting in that 4th position.

I’ve been pretty impressed with Marissa King’s ability to take control of that #4 position for Florida on bars. This routine works for her with pretty minimal deductions.

Georgia is scoring very well, and can count themselves in 197 contention, but they’re just not keeping pace with Florida. Ding and Hires lead their vault rotation to a 49.250, but big scores from King and Johnson put Florida at 49.400 to extend the lead.

After 2: Florida 98.775, Georgia 98.475. Advantage Florida on the final two events. I trust them to hit beam just a bit more, and they have much higher scoring potential on floor.

No Shayla on floor for Georgia, but Earls is back in the lineup here as well. Florida starts us with two 9.850s on beam.  In fact, each of the first four competitors for each team have scored somewhere in the 9.8 range. Ding gets a very nice 9.875 on floor to help make up for her bars score in the AA.

Georgia is the first team to break the solid score momentum with Nuccio’s 9.650. Because of having to manage her injuries and numbers, she’s not going to be the gymnast you can rely on to hit 9.850+ every single time.  But they are able to drop her score and score another 49.225.

Florida finishes beam with 9.9-level scores from Hunter and King to record their best event so far, a 49.450 on beam.  They are on pace to break 197.500 easily and could go toward 197.700. This is a big result for Florida because they are trying to drop a 196.175 home score for RQS. They will shoot up and force Oklahoma to match. (Speaking of which, they are getting underway soon.)

After 3: Florida 148.225, Georgia 147.700. That means Georgia needs a 49.300 on beam to go 197. Doable but by no means a guarantee.

As we wait for the 4th rotation, a little update that Alabama has gone 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, and 9.725 on bars to start their weakest event.  It’s a two gymnast rotation for them, essentially. And around the nation we have a lot of dueling scores. Alabama and LSU are level at 49.150 after one event, and Arkansas and Oklahoma have both scored 49.375 at home on vault.

Stageberg goes a bit low for Florida on floor (but a little low means 9.775), but they appear to be in charge of this meet and this enormous score.  Actually surprising that the scores on floor are not higher, though, with a 9.750 for Johnson and a 9.800 for King. Ding and King are currently tied for the AA lead, but Dickerson and Hunter both look primed to surpass that number. It’s a big meet for Kaylan Earls as well as she goes in the 9.8s on her three events

Going into the last competitor on each event, Georgia needs a big score from Shayla to go 197, and Florida needs a big score from Hunter to go 197.500.

Oh sweet Shayla, she’s done it again.  9.300 on beam.  There’s not really much to say anymore. She’s fully capable of nailing that beam routine every time.  Lack of confidence compounding itself time and again.  Kytra, however, converts what was required from her to help Florida go 49.300 on floor even with some below par scores.

FINAL: Florida 197.525, Georgia 196.825. Is it bad that I was just about to say this score is lower than expected? Of course, it’s a really nice number for both teams. Florida should be in good shape to catch Oklahoma on RQS, and Georgia should be putting the pressure on UCLA as well.

Stanford and Utah beginning the warmups momentarily. Stanford has yet to record a big score this year, but this could be the meet for them. The first rotation will be critical because they can actually pick up some ground on bars. Pechanec has been performing well so far.

The 93 minute touch seems particularly endless.

Rotation 1: Utah on vault, Stanford on bars

Lothrop – UT – good landing on the yfull, but needs a ton more amplitude. That’s why she’s leading off.

Wing – ST – nice clean routine with a stuck double back dismount. Clean but a bit simple.

McAllister – UT – better height than Lothrop, but at least a tenth on the hop back on landing plus some piking in the air.

Peter – ST – a little labored on the shoot to HB and a little low on the jaeger, but a clean hit.

Lopez – UT – humongous leap back on her yfull. Not her best.

Shapiro – ST – very clean and right on on most handstands. Just a little late on her last giant full and low on her double tuck. Not a lot of difficulty here from Stanford.

Wilson – UT – Their best so far, fine height and just an inch back. Still probably should be 9.850. (But it went 9.900)

S Morgan – ST – had a nice routine going until a major stumble on her double front which will spoil the score.

Dabritz – UT – just the yfull, about the same kind of leap as Lopez. Another underperformance.

A Morgan – ST – she really has improved on this event (though still not what I’d want going 5th) but their best hit so far.

Robarts – UT – Absolutely the best vault for Utah from Robarts. 9.975. I would have gone 9.950, so I’m fine with that.

Pechanec – ST – love that she performs a hip gienger. The stuck landing should help salvage a solid score for Stanford here.

(Damianova in exhibition is the third one to FLY backward on landing)

Utah goes 49.300, which is a little odd for having three weak vaults in the lineup, but it’s not exactly high given the scores this season, so I suppose it makes sense. They lead Stanford by three tenths after one rotation, 49.300 – 49.000. Stanford did not have enough difficulty, amplitude, or flair in those routines to expect any more than that. Morgan is clean and Pechanec is the class, but other than that they need Shapiro stepping up the difficulty and the ability to hit a double back dismount.

Another 9.975 alert, Ferguson achieves the score for Oklahoma on beam. Oklahoma, Alabama, and Nebraska are on 197 watch right now. Arkansas is struggling.

Rotation 2: Stanford on vault, Utah on bars

Lofgren  – UT – she has sloppy legs on the giants, which takes you out of the routine a bit, but she hits to capabilities, so it’s a solid leadoff, I suppose. She was also very close on her tkatchev.

Hanset – ST – hs front pike half with a bit of a low body and a hop back.

Lopez – UT – unfortunate angle for this routine, but she had a nice high tkatchev and just a hop back on the DLO.

Pechanec – ST – another huge spring back on a yfull. What is happening tonight?

Hansen – UT – was miles away on her jaeger and never had a chance. Hits the tuck full dismount with a hop. So they’re counting a low score from Lofgren.

A Morgan – ST – I still don’t think she has shown control on that landing, and she’s currently back with the rest of her team. Probably should get knocked for a couple steps on the Yhalf.

Beers – UT – Her form was slightly less erratic than usual and she hit the dismount well. She’s still not what they’ll want in the 4th.

Hong – ST – love seeing her out here, but that Yfull needs more height, and we know she’s capable of it. Step on landing.

Dabritz – UT – she was a little lower on the jaeger than I’m used to seeing, but it’s a solid hit. She’s capable of being much more impressive than solid hit, though.

Brown – ST – Good height and stuck landing, but VERY low in the knees.

McAllister – UT – had a really nice routine going until an oddly low dismount with a big step to the side. They just don’t look quite on as a team tonight. They’re not far off, just not on.

Dayton – ST – perfectly stuck Yhalf. Needs a bit more amplitude/distance, but it’s extremely clean.

Damianova exhibitions bars with a cowboyed double front dismount with a big step forward.

Because of Utah’s struggles on bars, after two rotations the scores are: Stanford 98.175, Utah 98.100

Final scores around the country:
Alabama 197.025, LSU 196.575
Nebraska 197.000, Arkansas 196.300
Oklahoma 197.225, Michigan 196.300, TWU 194.650

Rotation 3: Utah on beam, Stanford on floor

Lopez – UT – a little sloppy and low on the punch front but she hit this time.

S Morgan – ST – clean double tuck to mount, stuck double pike, fine 1.5 with a little less control than I’d like to see. Solid leadoff.

McAllister – UT – major wobble on dance element, but she stays on. That was the primary deduction in the routine – well done on landing the dismount, just a little crossed legs.

Hong – ST – Yay to seeing Ivana on floor – she basically has a diaper around her knee – ooh takes a fall on her double pike middle pass. Low on her front layout front full dismount. The routine itself shows off her beautiful movement style but it lacks a little dynamism. Not that it needs to be fast paced, but just a little more interesting. Nice to see her in this lineup, all that said.

Lofgren – UT – hit routine, a little wonky on her gainer dismount with a step.

Hanset – ST – she tumbles very confidently. Good hit to get Stanford back in this rotation. Not sure about the 9.675 score. It’s very possible I missed something.

Lothrop – UT – was just a little bit off line on her loso series. It looked for a moment like she could save it, but she takes an unexpected fall (after she was interestingly out of the bars lineup).

Pechanec – ST – this is a routine more capable of showing off command of a performance, even if the movement is a little weird. Steps OOB on her dismount. It’s just not there on floor today.

Beers – UT – She was right on acrobatically, but took what seemed to be an unecessarily large step on her gainer full dismount.

A Morgan – ST – delivers a hit routine, just a little bounce back on the dismount. But for someone with her tumbling talent, I’d like to see a bit more than front layouts as a second pass and a double tuck dismount.

Robarts – UT – Good hit routine so that they can drop Lothrop’s fall. Still a great streak they have going for not counting a fall on beam. Was a stronger routine than Beers, who got 9.850.

Wing – ST –  Ensures that Stanford will be able to drop Hong’s score, but they will still be counting a couple 9.6s. This routine was stronger than that score certainly, but it’s not an anchor routine.

Dabritz hits very well in exhibition for Utah. I’d like to see her in this lineup.

After 3: Utah 147.250, Stanford 146.925

Rotation 4: Stanford on beam, Utah on floor

Wilson – UT – hits the DLO and the double pike dismount solidly. It’s a very leadoff routine.

Wing – ST – lovely presence on this event, she’s been just ever so slightly off on her acro elements but has pulled them back without deduction – and then she goes and wobbles on her wolf jump – a bit of a silly mistake but the rest of the routine was nice.

Damianova – UT – really nice, tight form in the double tuck mount, a little bounce back on the double pike dismount. She’ll need to get full difficulty back on the mount if Utah is going to continue talking about E mounts.

Hong – ST – enjoy that they’ve kept her lovely mount, we’re seeing some shades of her beam form from the old days, but a wobble on the side somi and just a gainer pike dismount.

Robarts – UT – adequate double arabian with a little cowboying. It’s an acceptable routine, but I can see her getting hit for these little form breaks and dance elements when we get down to it.

S Morgan – ST – solid on acro series, has to swing a leg out on side aerial but gains control again quickly. Excellent stick on double full dismount.

Dabritz – UT – holds onto pike full mount in the knees after a lowish landing, and slightly stumbly out of her triple full. It’s unlikely to get them out of the 9.800 area.

Spinner – ST – she looks so much younger than the rest of the team, hit routine – she’s very pleased by the stuck dismount to say the least.

Tutka – UT – dance elements are not there, she’s missed each one, the tumbling is pretty solid though, especially the double tuck dismount.

Brown – ST – a couple minor wobbles on acro and connections, but she has very clean form. Just a gainer full dismount with a little body pike.

(I’m assuming something happened to Lothrop, since she was taken out of bars and floor and looked a little off on beam)

McAllister finishes things off for Utah and could get them out of the 9.825 funk.  Interesting that it goes 9.675, I thought it was not much different than the other 9.825 routines we’ve seen.

Ashley Morgan is Stanford’s anchor on beam, and has a fall on her series amidst a series of boos for the posted score for McAllister. They will not have to count Morgan’s score. See, this is what happens when you give people 9.950s for routine with mistakes, you set up unrealistic expectations and then the audience gets all upset. Though, I would also like to hear about why it was 9.675. Either I missed something or there was a composition issue again. My missing something is likely.

FINAL: Utah 196.300, Stanford 196.100

Well, thus ends a night of particularly lackluster gymnastics from all sides. This was a very sloppy meet with no impressive performances aside from Robarts on vault. This is also the tightest the judges at Utah have been this season. Utah will not be able to move up in the RQS standings, but more importantly there were just too many 9.825-quality routines tonight. The gymnastics they showed tonight will not keep them competitive with the likes of Florida.