In “Olympic qualification is done so PEACE OUT” news, Larisa Iordache and Vanessa Ferrari have both withdrawn from today’s AA final, Iordache pulling out with a kidney infection, which seems fun. They are replaced by Naomi Visser and Zoja Szekely in the lead group (Alice D’Amato declined the two-per-country replacement of Ferrari).
Let’s all just be glad we’re done with those qualification streams and now get to enjoy a real broadcast that a professional made. Olly doing some poetry about dreams. Joined by Blythe for their tag-team ASMR special.
Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Florida. Oklahoma starts on vault, Utah on bars, Florida on beam, and Michigan on floor.
The general consensus seems to be to crap on Florida’s chances after yesterday—and certainly if they bring anything like the gymnastics we saw in the semifinal, they won’t come close to winning—but it’s still Florida, the best team for the first 10ish weeks of the year.
Based on yesterday, this looks like an Oklahoma-Michigan deal. Very interested to see Michigan’s floor in the first rotation. Because it’s been the question event for Michigan this year, because Michigan does have bigger routines than Oklahoma there and—theoretically at least—could turn it into an advantage, and because the scoring was soooo high there yesterday. The lowest team floor score was 49.425, which would have ranked 2nd on bars, 3rd on vault, and 4th on beam. Florida was the only one among the four qualifying teams that went sub-49.6 on floor.
On the starting events, yesterday Oklahoma went 49.525 on vault, Utah went 49.5125 on bars, Florida went 49.3875 on beam, and Michigan went 49.650 on floor. So Michigan is going to be looking for a lead here, and Florida will need to be up in the 49.5s or 49.6s on beam this time to be in contention. Basically, any sub-49.5 score in the first rotation here is a miss.
Drama upon dramas to start the day. Word from the arena is that Cal left the warmup area a few minutes before the end of warmup, and then all the parents and supporters left the stands. But then they all just ran back in and ran to different events, and they have been given some extra touch time. College gymnastics. This was the exact same time other teams were posting about their COVID results.
Anyway, the national semifinals?!? It’s a thing. Remember that we now have six judges, with the middle four scores counting, so the decimal places are about to get ugggoo.
Stream and broadcast have started. Bart didn’t tell us anything about Cal. Darkness in the arena. Lights and such. Anthem.
Bart reports Cal team was pulled from floor for COVID-related reasons and missed 42 minutes of warmup, then all gymnasts were cleared to return to competition. ???????
We’re down to 16 teams, and after today, we’ll have the 8 that advance to nationals.
If you need to keep an eye on it as we go, this is the rotation draw for the national semifinals on April 16th:
Semifinal I VT – 2nd place Georgia Regional UB – 1st place Georgia Regional BB – 1st place West Virginia Regional FX – 2nd place West Virginia Regional
Semifinal II VT – 2nd place Alabama Regional UB – 1st place Alabama Regional BB – 1st place Utah Regional FX – 2nd place Utah Regional
But to the issue at hand. Regionals.
Here’s the master rotation order for today’s meets
Out of the Georgia Regional, the chosen three Florida, Minnesota, and Denver all advanced to today’s competition, though the sheer difference between Minnesota and Denver’s performances in that first session gives Minnesota much stronger favorite status than before competition started. A huge question for Denver is now the condition of Emily Glynn, who was injured on her bars dismount yesterday and had to scratch floor and vault, leaving Denver using just five on floor. The vault and bars lineups are very reliant on her scores, and with Mundell already absent, it would be tough for Denver to contend today while managing an additional injury. Yesterday’s 196.775 that both Denver and NC State achieved should not hold up in the regional final.
BYU’s elimination yesterday changes the dynamics to a small extent in West Virginia, but I would have ranked BYU as the #4 favorite here, so the biggest contenders are still alive—Michigan, Cal, and UCLA. Yesterday’s results with Cal at 197.7, Michigan at 197.6 with a low beam score, and UCLA at 197.0 emphasize that UCLA is the underdog here. UCLA is capable of improving that floor score from yesterday by several tenths but is going to need some mistakes by either Cal or Michigan—or to start showing something on beam we haven’t seen this year. Michigan starts on vault, Cal on bars, and UCLA on floor, all of which are their best events and presumed highest scores. The team that’s not in the top 2 at that point is in a hole.
As for the Alabama regional—can Arkansas challenge Alabama after coming a couple tenths short yesterday, and is Missouri for real after last night’s score? Seeing how yesterday was evaluated, this is going to be in Alabama’s hands (and Oklahoma’s hands). If Alabama struggles as much on vault and floor today as they did yesterday, they can let Arkansas in it.
The Utah regional is supposed to be the most straightforward, and still should be, but LSU’s struggles last night in losing to Kentucky have added 20 dashes more intrigue as LSU is going to have to pull its life together today in order to advance.
And her most is at the beginning. The first batch of semifinals comes from Georgia and West Virginia. I’ll be starting with more initial attention on the Minnesota/Denver/Georgia/Oregon St group (because obviously) to see if Georgia is going to do this thing, and same goes for the Alabama semifinal of death once that starts.
Reposting the rotation guide, updated with the play-in winners and Auburn’s withdrawal.
Georgia floor in the first rotation should tell us something. In those home 197s this year, Georgia went 49.300 on floor on both occasions. Will need to do that from the first rotation this time. And of course Minnesota starting on beam. It’s beam.
So here we are. The first day of elimination meets in the 2021 season, where we find out who…gets to put a postseason victory on their record before getting eliminated tomorrow.
The first batch of meets will be NC State/WMU and Penn St/West Virginia. The NC State/Western meet looks like it has two different stream options, an ESPN3 link and a Georgia streaming link. I put the Georgia streaming link in here because sometimes WatchESPN gets pissy if you have too many streams open because they think you’re sharing a password or something. So having a Georgia streaming link might help in a sort of triage situation.
NC State is probably the biggest favorite in any of the play-ins—because they shouldn’t have had to participate in these meets in the first place—having gone 196 in five of the last six meets, while Western Michigan has been stuck in the 194s at the last three competitions. It would be a big surprise if Western gets through this one.
The one I’m most eager to see is Penn State/West Virginia. Penn State is ranked better but has also been stuck in the mid-195s most of the year because of vault and floor struggles. The team finally got those events to a better scoring place at Big Tens, only to count a mistake on beam for a 195.4. If they put it all together, we could see a 196. But then we have West Virginia, the home team, finally starting to turn it on in the last couple meets of the season to get the scores required to make regionals at all. West Virginia’s 195.7 from Big 12s also included a counting mistake on beam, better than Penn State’s score for a similar kind of meet.
Eastern Michigan and Maryland start an hour later and are ranked basically identically. Maryland probably has the higher scoring potential but is also missing several important injured athletes, which we’ve seen manifest in some declining bars and beam scores the last couple weeks. Both teams struggled on beam at conference championships (a theme!), but it will be especially important for EMU to hit a secure beam rotation to undermine the advantage Maryland should have on other pieces, particularly vault, where we’ve seen some higher 9.8s for Maryland’s Yfulls.
In an surprise, Temple comes into the meet against Arizona as a numerical favorite after that massive 196.500 from the conference championship. Until the month of March, Temple was a 194 team, so the question is whether this sudden and dramatic upswing can be maintained against a team with a few more expected 9.850-9.900 scores. And whether Arizona can bring the security in the Yfulls and the middle bars lineup to stay in this thing early and then hand it to people like Jessica Castles on the final events.