The first meets of the season are in the books (for almost all the teams), and since everyone has decided based on only that who the Super Six teams will be, we should probably just fast forward to regionals, right? We have all we need to know.
Last night, Stanford performed a catastrophic floor rotation, a clunky beam rotation, and a surprisingly OK vault rotation to score the traditional first-meet 1.100 in a show of true compassion for Georgia. Stanford’s 193.250 is its lowest first-meet score in over a decade, and yet my general impression was, “Could have been worse.” So there’s that. Stanford would like us to know that starting slowly is all part of a cunning master plan that works almost a third of the time. UNSTOPPABLE.
Considering various teams and their general trends of starting slowly/quickly and whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing or even matters, I plotted the first-meet scores of the eventual champions for each of the last 10 years.
What this tells us is that there’s not a rule. You could be Oklahoma in 2014 and start high, stay high, and end high (team motto?), or you could be Alabama in 2011 and start in the garbage before pulling it back. The good news for teams that struggled in the first meet this year is that apart from that Oklahoma 2014 number, these aren’t overwhelming scores. (But they’re also not 193s, Georgia and Stanford.) Champions don’t have to be champions in the first week and often aren’t.
That’s also reflected in the average first-meet scores for the six ultimate Super Six qualifiers.
In 2014, the good teams all started well and remained excellent right through to the end, but that’s sort of an outlier. In 2015, Stanford and Auburn were trash in the first meet and came back to make Super Six. In 2011, none of the six final qualifiers scored higher than 195.700 in the opening meet. Scores were lower as a whole in 2011, but not that much lower. So it can be done. Continue reading First Meet History