All posts by balancebeamsituation

The Weekend Agenda (March 16th-18th)

Top 25 Schedule (and other events)
Friday – 3/16/12
4:30 ET / 1:30 PT – Pac Rim Women’s Subdivision 1
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Michigan State @ [21] Michigan
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [7] Utah @ [1] Florida
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [9] Arkansas @ [16] Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Iowa State @ [6] Nebraska
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – West Virginia @ [10] LSU
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – BYU @ [14] Auburn
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT – North Carolina @ [4] Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [15] Boise State @ Southern Utah
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – Air Force, Bridgeport @ [18] Arizona
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – New Hampshire, Seattle Pacific @ [8] Oregon State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – Pac Rim Women’s Subdivision 2 (USA Session)

Saturday – 3/17/12
1:00 ET / 10:00 PT – NBC Pac Rim Broadcast (Women’s Event)
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – [2] Oklahoma @ [13] Ohio State
4:30 ET / 1:30 PT – Pac Rim Men’s Subdivision 1
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – State of Illinois Classic ([22] Illinois)
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Maryland @ [12] Penn State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – William & Mary @ [20] NC State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [23] Kentucky @ Centenary
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [19] Minnesota, [25] Arizona State, Iowa @ [17] Denver
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – Pac Rim Men’s Subdivision 2 (USA Session)

Sunday – 3/18/12
3:00 ET / 12:00 PT – Pac Rim Junior Event Finals
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [24] Washington @ Cal
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – Pac Rim Senior Event Finals

We have some more elite action this weekend, and it will be fun to follow the scores on Friday so that we can devote our time on Saturday solely to the broadcast, asking the tough, important questions like, “Huh?” and “Really?” Pac Rims will provide a crucial look at how Kyla Ross fits into the Olympic question.

In NCAA this weekend, all of the lower-ranked teams will be trying to position themselves for the postseason, getting into the all important top 12 or top 18. However, the main focus will be on Utah and Florida. The biggest question for Utah is whether the home Utes can show up on the road, and the biggest question for Florida is whether the old, collapse-y Gators will show up at all. Caquatto will not be competing, and King is coming back from a pec aggravation (though will compete) so we’ll have to keep an eye on that bars lineup.

Oklahoma and Alabama will also be hoping to position themselves with a big score while showing what their postseason lineups are capable of. Oklahoma had to move things around a little last weekend to disastrous effect, and I still have some questions about Alabama’s beam and floor lineups. This is the week for the big guns. The time for accepting anything less than a 9.8 has passed.

Oregon State also has to prove that they are part of a Top 8, not a Next 4. They haven’t made the jump to consistent 197s with the rest of the best teams, and they are falling back along with multi-injured Arkansas.

Monday Rankings

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


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

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

Some number crunching after the jump:

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

Senior Sunday – Oklahoma @ UCLA Live Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotation 2: Oklahoma on vault, UCLA on bars

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

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

Spears – OU – didn’t show it (9.800)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, Oklahoma on floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score – UCLA 197.525, Oklahoma 196.475

Nice to see the senior presentations.

Friday Scores Central – Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Utah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After 3 Rotations: Georgia 147.775, Michigan 146.075

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Score: Georgia, 196.575, Michigan 195.300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After 1 Rotation: Alabama 49.325, Missouri 48.475

Taking a break now, so talk amongst yourselves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Benching Conundrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weekend Agenda (March 9th-11th)

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

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

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

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

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

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