Category Archives: Live Blog

The Friday Scores

Lots of important meets to follow tonight.  I’m giving the edge for highest score of the week to Florida right now, since they are rapidly improving and are at home against SEC opposition.  At this point, it’s almost like I’m rooting for crazy scores just so we can see how high they’ll go.  You know they’re hoping for 198. You might be too.

In addition to our usual meets, Oklahoma will be competing in the Perfect 10 Challenge (like the judges do every week this year) and UCLA will be taking on BSU, Missouri, and Illinois at IGI Chicago Style. Oklahoma will be providing live scores as usual for their meet, but we’ll probably have to follow Chicago Style via telegram or something.  “Dear Val – Stop.  Don’t stop!” Last year, gymnastike did a live broadcast of the NCAA meet at Chicago Style.  They’ve never tried again.

In the news, Brianna Brown of CGA has verballed to Georgia.  This is not a surprise given the discussion a while back about Jay getting himself on board the CGA train in a big old way.  Since Whitcomb, Jetter, and Williams were already spoken for, it was assumed he would be courting Brown and Hundley. Priessman is in a different boat since elite success in the next quad may alter her NCAA trajectory.

Follow after the break as we start with the Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas meets.

For Alabama, Lindsey Fowler is coming in for Lora Frost on floor, meaning that they are showing only two routines from freshmen (Kaitlyn Clark on VT and UB).  Priess will not be competing floor, and Sledge will be anchoring that rotation.

Sledge starts Alabama with 9.800 on bars – for me it’s the 2nd best routine in the rotation usually.

Alexin scores 9.775 – we’ll be looking for who can get those 9.85s leading into the fianl two routines.  They’ll need them eventually, but Clark goes 9.750 and Demeo follows with a fall – meaning Stack-Eaton and Priess will have pressure to go 9.9s to put up a solid rotation score.

Stack-Eaton goes 9.850 and Priess has a slight issue on her dismount – so this will not be a huge score.  Well, we won’t see another 197.7 this week from them – unless they go, what, 49.550 the rest of the way.  Who knows this year…

After rotation 1: Kentucky goes 48.775 to trail Alabama’s 49.000.

Over in Florida, Marissa King got a 9.725 on vault, so there’s no point to continue living.  Alaina Johnson goes 9.950, so they’ll manage to get along somehow…They end up dropping King’s score and counting a 9.800 from Spicer.  Everyone else is 9.875+ to give Florida 49.400 – putting them on pace for 197.600 if it continues, how pedestrian…LSU should be pleased by a 49.150 on bars – when they go positive on events other than vault, it’s a good day.

Kayla Williams actually came in on vault for Ashley Priess – she wasn’t on the original lineup because of a wrist injury.  Clark and Williams both start with 9.750s – you know when you’re away from home. Sledge and Gutierrez go closer to what we usually expect from them – 9.850 and 9.900 respectively.  If they want to go 197, they have to keep up those 9.9s for the final two.

(Okay, we have to talk about Ashanee Dickerson going into the 9.9s on bars for the second time in a row at home…)

Milliner doesn’t get the kind of score she got last week, so only Gutierrez goes into the 9.9s, and they total 49.100.  They’ll have the clear lead, but they will have to step up the performance on the last two to be nationally competitive this week or to have a hope of hanging onto #2.  Even away, 49.100 on their best event is not a great sign.  After 2: Alabama 98.100, Kentucky 97.525.

Florida gets four 9.900s to go 49.475 on bars (what, only?)  I might have been wrong, they’ll have to go around 49.550 to get to 198.  Still, 197.5+ should be very doable with hit routines.  LSU has a two event total of a very strong 98.450.

Over in Georgia, Sarah Persinger has a 9.850 on vault, which is the top score I can recall from her this year.  Grable has a lower 9.750 on bars for Arkansas – it’s their most difficult event to score well, so they’ll just hope to get some positive scores at the end of the lineup so they can move on to stronger pastures.

Georgia records a strong 49.275 on vault, led by Ding’s 9.900.  This is the pace they need to go over 197 this week (which should be the goal), but they will hope to go higher on bars, where they have a little more 9.9 potential.  Arkansas has no gymnasts go higher than 9.800 on bars, this is the chink in their armor – 48.900.

Alabama starts with a 9.600 from Fowler on floor followed by a slightly below-par routine from Jacob with a struggle on the dismount, so she scores 9.700. (They are showing a lot of depth – 11 competitors today so far).  Millner – 9.800, Gutierrez – 9.825.  Just the one 9.9 routine for them so far tonight, Gutierrez on vault.  REALLY important for them that Stack-Eaton has come back on floor.

Sledge gets the highest score for Alabama on floor with a 9.875, so they continue the trend and score 49.050 on floor.  They will need a strong beam rotation to break 196.500, which is the bare minimum they will need to keep pace.  With all the tightly packed teams, they could fall as low as probably 6th if they don’t record a good beam score.

Florida’s beam rotation is led by Kytra Hunter’s 9.925, so they maintain their significantly more astronomical pace, at 148.225.  That means they would need a 49.550 to tie their national-leading score, which probably won’t happen, but they will be in line for best score of the week.

Over in Oklahoma City, Sara Stone leads the Sooners to 49.275.

Ack – Shayla has another issue on bars for Georgia (it’s always something), meaning they will count Tanella’s 9.750 – opening the door for Arkansas who scored 49.300 on vault.  Kat Ding saves the day, so Georgia scores a respectable 49.175 and maintain the lead over Arkansas by .250.

Milliner hits solidly for 9.800, but Sledge has a wobble-factory routine for 9.650 — that’s exactly what we didn’t see from them last week, but Kim Jacob hits well for 9.850.  That should provide necessary momentum.  No wait, momentum halted (kind of) – Gutierrez has a big bend and scores 9.750, which will have to count.

Oklahoma scores 49.125 on bars, led by 9.850s from Olson and Ward.  They are at 98.400 after two rotations.

The 9.700 from Demeo will also have to count, so Priess has to go 9.750 to make sure the team hits 196.  She didn’t do it after an error on her full Korbut gave her 9.625.  Alabama’s final score is 195.900 to Kentucky’s 194.700.  A very disappointing road score for the Tide – they are yet to record a big one – and will likely see them fall in the rankings.

Insane score watch: Florida is already at 49.500 on floor with Hunter still to go.  They will score at least 197.725 this week, and they will break their own record if Hunter goes 9.925.

AH! Hunter goes 9.975 (and breaks 9.9 on all three of her events)- so Florida scores 49.625 on floor and ends with a new season record of 197.850.  We’re getting closer!  And Florida still has home meets against Georgia and Utah still to come, so expect the scores to get even louder. LSU also records an excellent 196.750, their season high by far.

Over at Chicago Style, Zamarripa will not be competing vault because of the hard surface at this kind of meet.  A prudent, if disappointing, decision.

Georgia effectively avoids counting a disaster from Davis on beam and gets Shayla to recover for a 9.900.  Their total is another 49.175.  They would need to be excellent on floor (not a given) to break 197.  Arkansas is not having their best meet after Grable had an uncharacteristic 9.400 on floor.  They will need to hit beam for 9.8s to stay above 196.

Without Zamarripa, UCLA goes just 49.275 on vault, which is quite low for them this year.  MDLT will be returning to the bars lineup this week, which is an important step as she should be one of their 6 best.  No Wong, and Whitcomb is still not coming into the lineup.  (Also, you’ll be shocked to know, no Frattone or Baer either.)

While the 49.275 is low for UCLA, I would put my goal for them this meet around 196.700+ (enough to be their highest road score), and they are certainly on pace for that.

Over at Georgia, Kat Ding came in for the AA tonight (yay!) and scored a 9.750 on floor, which is sort of a mixed feelings score.  It’s great that she came in (and scored 39.450 in the AA), but they need higher scores than that.  For Arkansas, their oddly off night continues when Pisani has a 9.350 on beam.  Florida will feel confident about moving up to #2.

Oklahoma avoids counting a fall on beam and scores an excellent 49.350 – Three event total is 147.750

Like Alabama, Arkansas has faltered on the road with a total of 195.875, going below 49 on three events.  For having what seemed the whole time like an off meet, Georgia scores a respectable 196.725 with consistent performances on each event.  (Kat Ding wins the All-Around with 39.450!)

Thankfully, we do have live scoring for Chicago Style.  We won’t need those carrier pigeons after all.  UCLA has another OK, but not so great rotation, scoring 49.175 on bars and falling back to the pack a little bit.  They have no business making this meet close.  Peszek has had two lower scores and probably won’t win the AA for the first time this season.

Oklahoma continues their extremely solid 9.875 of a meet, and they will definitely break 197.  With Ferguson’s 9.95 on floor, they will score 197.200.  So they are set for road scores (the only team in that position) and need to focus on a few more good home scores.

Still no Courtney on balance beam for UCLA, which is a shame since she was the only one hitting that well tonight.  Wong and Baer still in the lineup, no Zamarripa here either.

Final update: Similarly to Georgia, UCLA appears to have an average meet by their standards, but they score well, recording a 196.850, which is a very helpful road score for them and is progress toward removing that 194.600 from memory.


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

Stanford @ UCLA: Watch Live

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

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

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

Follow along after the jump for live commentary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotation 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rotation 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pechanec – ST – yfull (missed it)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL: UCLA 197.250, Stanford 196.450

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stuff and nonsense here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priess is vaulting.  Hmmm, unexpected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL: Alabama 197.725, Florida 196.900

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL: Utah 197.150, Georgia 196.950

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Scores and Residual Thoughts

Follow here after the jump throughout the day for scoring updates on the Saturday meets.

But first, a few thoughts about yesterday, particularly the performances of Florida and UCLA.  It was a very 2011 day for these two teams, with Florida recording a tremendous score and knocking on the door of 198, and UCLA having a truly spectacular combustion for a devastating 194.600.

The UCLA performance was disappointingly predictable the moment we heard that Val would be putting some of the “depth” into the lineup for this meet.  Now, I use depth in quotes because based on the way these second-string gymnasts performed, they cannot be relied upon to be depth for this team.  This has become the classic UCLA conundrum, but one that we have seen them solve in the past.  If we get a press conference about this meet, I expect Val to give us a variation on the usual, “I’m not upset about the obvious things.  I’m not upset about the falls.  I’m upset because we didn’t warm up well and competed tight.”  This time, there is some truth to the assessment that the falls aren’t as relevant, but it’s because most of the major mistakes came from gymnasts who won’t find themselves in the lineup again for a while.  The much more troubling aspect of UCLA’s performance was the parade of 9.7s from top performers and the inability of the team to get the meet back on track after poor performances – to “hit refresh” as the team is fond of saying all the time.  Which begs the question, if you say something enough, does it lose all meaning?  They certainly didn’t hit refresh yesterday.

However, this meet was nothing new for UCLA because of the traditional commitment to try out different lineups throughout the season.  Val made specific mention that they needed to get Frattone and Baer into the beam lineup this week so they could get competitive routines under their belts.  No one is expecting either to compete against Stanford next week (unless there is injury, and perhaps Mattie was out of the lineup v. Washington more because of the ankle than because of rest, so we’ll watch that).  Let’s contrast that to Florida, where Rhonda Faehn has done a commendable thing in being willing to try new strategies and completely change the training schedule, which certainly seemed to influence the team’s scores in the first few weeks.  They finally arrived yesterday with something much closer to what we’re accustomed to seeing from Florida at home in January.  While most teams would be celebrating such a humongous score, Florida fans have seen it all before.  January 197s don’t win championships.

So here’s the question: have both of these teams fallen into old patterns?  I say this because, while Florida has attempted to address the peaking issue, they have not yet adequately addressed the depth issue.  While UCLA felt the need to get their backup routines into the lineup and eat a bad score in order to move forward with a stronger team, Florida put the same six gymnasts up on the balance beam (last year’s demon) as they have in every meet.  If this continues, how comfortable will Rhonda be making a change in April?  She didn’t feel comfortable taking out Mahlich last year.

I hope that we don’t see these patterns continue next week.  I hope that UCLA can find a way to be a successful team without being horrible for large stretches of the regular season, and I hope that Florida doesn’t completely rely on yesterday’s lineup for the rest of the year just because it was successful this weekend.  Florida needs to be willing to climb down to get up.  They need to go into the crevasse.

Saturday things:

Big scores on vault from Georgia to start the rotation.  Noel Couch goes 9.900, so that’s the kind of meet we’re looking at today.  Nice to see Lainie Fleming hit bars for LSU this week.

Kat Ding leads Georgia to 49.325 on the first rotation, but LSU has to count a poor routine on bars for 48.500.  They need an immediate recovery on their best event, the vault.

Oh Shayla – a fall on bars.  She’s been desperately trying to change the narrative this season.  This won’t help.  Georgia does manage a 49.325 on the back of Ding once again, so they are on solid 197 pace so far, but with floor still to come.  They don’t have Ding to lead them on the next two, and that’s when things get dicey.

Rheagan Courville continues to score well on vault, leading LSU to a 49.300 with her 9.950.  They would be right in this if not for the fall on bars.  In the last few meets, LSU has seemed a bit too much of a one-rotation team, though, so hitting the next two events will be crucial.

Halfway: Georgia 98.650, LSU 97.800

You know things are gong well for Georgia when Kat Ding hits beam.  Strong 9.850s to start for them.  Can Shayla come back after bars and hit beam?

Another hit routine from Davis – she’s been consistent for 9.8s today.  If they can get her scoring a bit higher on bars, she will really have arrived.  If Georgia can conquer floor finally, they’ll have a 197 meet on their hands.

Shayla hits beam for 9.925.  Playing it safe with the beam dismount appears to have solved her consistency problems on this event, though it’s still a bit troubling to me that a former elite of her talent level couldn’t handle (or fix problems with) a double full beam dismount.  A gainer full does not show off her skill set.

LSU has a good enough floor, anchored by Hall’s 9.9.  They go 48.975, counting Courville’s 9.675.

After 3: Georgia 148.000, LSU 146.775

Everyone is hitting in the 9.8s to start the final rotation, which is all Georgia needs.  Even just a 49 would be a victory on this event, but it looks as though they will easily exceed that.  They are hitting all over the place.  Even Nuccio and her rickety body were able to hit for 9.9.  I think they were feeling left out of the 197 party – meaning that only Alabama will be yet to get there from the top teams.  We’ll watch that next week.

Final: Georgia 197.250, LSU 195.750

Not an amazing score for LSU, but not a disaster either.  They’ll be disappointed by the low score on bars, because otherwise it would have been a strong performance.  They hit beam and floor for around 49, so they can work from there.  Jessie Jordan wins the AA with 39.250.

Georgia joins the 197 club, which is not too surprising, but it’s a big deal for them to get 5 solid floor routines.  They can build from this performance in terms of confidence (both in ability to hit routines and in lineup decisions – this is looking close to the right group).  Except, they will still want to get Davis into the AA and Cheek back from injury, which should increase their scoring potential somewhat.  Earls and Davis do appear to be finding their places on this team – a necessary evolution.

The challenge now, as it is for all the top teams, is figuring out how to bring this level of performance (we can’t necessarily expect the scores) on the road.  Next week at Utah will be a big deal for this team.

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Nebraska doesn’t mess around with starting their meets.  I like it.  Most teams would barely have started introductions by 15 minutes past the hour.  Last home meet they went 197.375.  Let’s see what today brings.

Good start for Nebraska putting up 49.300 on vault, anchored by Schleppenbach’s 9.900.  Giblin, whose 39.500 still has her as the top AAer in the rankings, is not the AA today.  Missouri is very 9.7 on bars for a 48.775.  Nice to see them in the top 25 this week.  They had a poor season last year after the graduation of Sarah Shire in 2010.

Penn State recorded a poor 48.525 on bars, featuring Musser’s surprisingly low 9.675.  No one reached the 9.8 mark.  They will have to pick up the scoring to stay top 10.  Oregon State, just below them in the rankings, scored 196.800 this week.

Missouri goes unexpectedly huge at the end of their vault lineup for 49.250, just .050 short of what home team Nebraska recorded.  Nebraska, however, does record a solid bar rotation for 49.125, able to drop the 9.675 from Skinner.  No one new in the Nebraska lineup yet, so it looks like they’re sticking with the eight competitive gymnasts from last week.  It still makes me nervous…

After 2: Nebraska 98.425, Missouri 98.025

For Penn State, they recovered a bit on vault (well, Merriam and Musser did), but they still unexpectedly trail Minnesota at the halfway point 97.550 to 97.525.

Uh oh, the beam bug bites again for Nebraska.  They had been doing so well this year…for two meets.  (Although, nice to see Busacker come in.  A 9th gymnast!)  They’ll be counting at least a 9.300 and a 9.475.

Update with final scores, Nebraska had a horrifying beam rotation (46.950…ACK!) and did their best UCLA impression to finish with 194.550 and lose to Missouri’s 195.725.

The other final: Penn State 195.475, Minnesota 195.150

Friday Continued – UCLA @ Washington

UCLA is about to begin at Washington, and we’ll keep an eye on the scores from Utah, Stanford, and Oregon State as the Pac-12 finishes us off on this busy Friday.

For Utah on beam, Lopez leads off well with 9.850.  McAllister follows with 9.725, and Lothrop goes 9.875.  They are going to have to go huge to keep up with Florida, but UCLA’s 197.575 looks within reach for them right now.

Looks like Peszek will be in the lineup on bars, perhaps she is just being rested on the leg events.  Frattone and EHH on bars for UCLA instead of MDLT and Larson.  Wong and Craddock will be on in exhibition.  No Whitcomb this week.  She didn’t look ready yet during her last exhibition, but she’s making progress.

Another big rotation score for Utah, 49.350 on beam.  They may be just short of some of the highest scores, but they can break their season high with a 49.325 on floor.

Pretty clean from Courtney on bars, a wonky handstand and an uncharacteristic step back on the dismount – she should be sticking that. (9.775)

Some pretty low Yfulls from Washington to start, both with hops back.

One of the better bar routines from Peszek, clean in handstand and good dismount.  The shoot to high bar is still not my favorite. (9.850)

Frattone now, her first competitive bar routine of the season, and came off on her jaeger.  This is what I was talking about with the danger of putting up a B-team.  Pressure for the team on bars for the first time this season.  Several form breaks after the fall and a terrible dismount with many steps back.  I hope she enjoyed the only time she’ll be in the lineup this year. (8.725 – sweet heavens)

A couple of solid Yhalfs from Washington, both with significant enough lunges forward.

Aisha Gerber has an error on her pak and has to improvise (with a big leg separation as well) and a major step on the dismount.  Bad news.  (9.475 – counts)

Zam takes an extra swing as well, pikes her body on the pak, and steps forward on the DLO dismount. This is a bad rotation for UCLA. (9.750)

Cline from Washington has to tuck her vault, so they will not want to count that.

Looks like Lichelle is in the lineup now for UCLA instead of EHH.  She has a huge error and has to take an extra swing.  Looks like we’ll have another inexcusable meet.  And it really is.  These are not acceptable mistakes being made here.  I’m seeing 9.325.  Disasterville.

EHH does a pretty solid exhibition with one iffy handstand and a little wonkiness on her double tuck dismount.

Utah, meanwhile is keeping up their high scoring pace so far on floor.  Where will they finish?

I’m having a lot of stream issues with UCLA/Washington.  We may just have to call it an evening.  I’ll probably check in later with final scores.  Enjoy the meets, and enjoy talking about Florida’s 197.775.

One last update with the final score: Washington 195.350, UCLA 194.600.

Val.  Will.  Be.  Furious.  Get ready.  It’ll be great.

Happy Friday – Meets Galore

Lots of scores to watch tonight.  Follow along with all my jibber jabber after the jump.

It seems like all eyes are on Florida tonight, with a huge meet at home against Arkansas.  I have a feeling that this meet will do a lot to shape the narrative about both of these teams for the rest of the season.  If Florida has a poor meet, there will be “a lot to overcome” and “a controversial strategy,” but if they win or score very well, then we will be on “Rhonda’s a genius” watch.  For Arkansas, they are not one of the perennial powers, so people will always be looking for an opportunity to dismiss them and say, “they weren’t really one of the great teams, anyway,” but if they have another great meet, they will force people to expand the conversation about the top teams to include them.

Oklahoma, Alabama, Utah, and UCLA are also in action throughout the evening.  We’ll have a lot to watch.  Expect Utah to score very well at home, and expect UCLA to struggle a little bit without their top lineup out there.  If UCLA can hit in the 196s, they’re fine, but the danger of putting out a B-team is that they could really drop in the rankings and lose confidence with a bad score that counts falls.  They really don’t need to reopen the Westwood Roller Coaster this year (every car is shaped like Miss Val Eyes, “experience the death-defying 400-foot drop…in the rankings!”).
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [14] Illinois @ [19] Michigan
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [1] Arkansas, [24] Maryland, Bridgeport @ [8] Florida
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [11] Ohio State @ Pittsburgh
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [23] Iowa @ Iowa State
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [20] NC State @ [5] Oklahoma
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [6] Alabama @ [16] Auburn
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – BYU @ [3] Utah
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [13] Boise State, Southern Utah @ Utah State
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [15] Arizona @ Arizona State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [1] UCLA @ [22] Washington
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [12] Stanford @ [10] Oregon State

Poor Michigan.  Poor, depleted Michigan.  They were doing alright (though they could only send up 5 vaulters) through vault and bars with some steady 9.8 scores, but beam destroyed them for 47.675.  After three rotations, Illinois (who had their own problems on vault) leads 146.675 to 145.850.  Strong scores from Joannides, Weinstein, and See on floor.  They’re just missing that depth in the early rotations.

We’re underway in Florida.  No more Shisler in the vault lineup (no surprise).  Ellis with a low 9.725, but Johnson puts up a strong 9.850.  If they can have her consistently in the 3rd position, they’re in great shape.  She can regularly go 9.9.  Arkansas starts with a pair of 9.825s on bars.

Grable goes 9.850 (which is almost a disappointment for her this season), and Dickerson goes 9.825, which is too low for her capabilities, but she always does need time to find her stick.

Kytra goes 9.850 and King goes 9.875 (good to see she’s finally finding her scores – though the vault has been solid since the beginning).  Florida goes 49.175, Arkansas is sitting in 9.8 land on bars.

Michigan has started strong on floor after the first two gymnasts, and Illinois is having a meltdown on beam.  This meet could switch right now.

Big 9.925 from Salmon on bars to jump over Florida on the first rotation with their best worker still to come.  Howdeshell goes “only” 9.875, but it’s a great start away from home for the Razorbacks.

After one rotation, advantage Arkansas.  ARK 49.300, UF 49.175.  We know that Grable and Pisani are going to lead the way on the upcoming events, but let’s keep an eye on how the 3rd and 4th gymnasts are scoring.  That will be a major factor in keeping pace come championships time.  Every top team has great 9.9s at the end, but the championship teams have them in 3rd and 4th spots as well.

Michigan is desperately trying to avoid counting a fall from Colbert on floor (will Nagle have to compete?), but Illinois is giving the meet away on beam with three disasters.  Illinois has to count an 8.650 on beam, and they finish with a somber total of 193.700.  Michigan will win the meet, so it’s a step.  Nagle did compete for the first time for Michigan, but scored 8.200 on floor, so Michigan does end up counting three falls in this meet for a total score of 194.225.  Well…it’s better than last week.  It’s going to be such a battle for this team this year.  Valiant effort, but even making championships is looking more and more unlikely.

I have a question: Ashanee Dickerson scored 9.925 on bars…?  Big start for Florida here.  A fall from Kytra.  Crunch time for Caquatto and Dickerson…King goes 9.925 as well.  I’m going to need to see these routines…If Ashanee gets a 9.925, then shouldn’t Johnson get like a 12?

Ok…Johnson goes 9.925 and Caquatto goes 9.950.  Those scores are more believable, but they give Florida a preposterous 49.625 on bars.  Aren’t home meets fun?  Meanwhile Arkansas is starting a little slowly (especially by comparison) on beam.  Big pressure on Grable to hit after a fall from Kelci Lewis.  Florida will be the big leader at the halfway point.  Grable saves Arkansas for a fine 49.050 on beam — they got through it.

After two rotations – UF 98.800, ARK 98.350.  As expected, except for getting Caquatto back on all her events, it looks like Florida is putting up their ideal/postseason lineup tonight.  Two extremely important rotations coming up – floor has been the weakness so far and beam is beam is beam.

Solid starts from both teams in rotation 3, putting up 9.800-9.850.  Rachel Spicer seems to have carved herself out a spot in Florida’s beam lineup.  For all the talk of experimenting with lineups, especially on beam, Florida has put up the same six competitive routines in every meet so far.  I don’t expect to see experimentation here, but I would like to see it at some point.

Florida taking the advantage on the third routines, Johnson goes 9.925 while Salsberg goes 9.750.  We haven’t seen many beam scores higher than Johnson’s this season.

Lots going on right now: for Alabama, Sledge has started bars off well with a 9.850, and for Oklahoma, Mooring and Spears lead their vault rotation with 9.850s as well.

Oklahoma has started vault with a solid 49.200, Arkansas is getting solid mid-high 9.8s on floor, while Florida is going into the 9.9s on beam.  Watch out for these scores.  UCLA’s season-leading mark might be in danger.

Too many 9.7s for Alabama on bars – Alexin, Clark, and Milliner.  Missing a 6th score for Florida on beam, but Arkansas has put up another strong score of 49.250 on floor.

Ashley Priess saves Alabama on bars with a 9.925, and they earn a lackluster but acceptable 48.975.  The lack of Stack-Eaton today will test the depth.  Without her on bars, they are Sledge, Priess, and Question Mark.

Official score for Marissa King is 9.950, so Florida goes 49.475 on beam.  They need a 49.300 on floor to equal UCLA’s score from last week.

After 3 rotations, UF 148.275, ARK 147.600

Final rotation for Florida and Arkansas, Florida starts with more big scores on floor and Arkansas is hovering around 9.8 on vault.  Arkansas should still put up a great score tonight, but they will not be able to catch this Florida team.

Final score for Arkansas: 196.700.  Great result away.  They are setting themselves up to make quite the run.

Florida has two scores on 9.875 on floor from Stageberg and Johnson to lead the rotation so far.  They are in strong position to break that 197.575 number.

9.950 from Dickerson.  Like I said, these teams (and judges) are just going to keep one-upping each other until we get to insane 198 scores.  Don’t be surprised to see them sooner rather than later.  Two 9.950s from Florida’s floor rotation for a final score of 197.775.  Bets on when the first 198 happens?

Good recovery from Alabama to put up a strong 49.325 on vault, led by Sledge’s 9.925.  Oklahoma is at 98.250 after two rotations.  One 9.9 from them so far, Sara Stone on vault.  Auburn has a strong bar rotation for 49.250, and they are within two tenths of Alabama at halfway.

In contrast to Florida’s colossal score at home, Oklahoma is motoring right along on low 196 pace at home, and that continues on beam with some 9.825s from Stone and Nowak.

Oklahoma finishes with a  49.075 on beam.  Frost just scored a9.625 on floor for Alabama, so pressure on Priess and company to keep the scoring high.  So interesting to me that we’ve seen Kayla Williams on only vault all season so far.

Alabama started so well on floor, but they’ll struggling now – very uncharacteristic.  We expect it on bars, but now it’s a 9.625 from Frost, a 9.725 from Gutierrez, and a 9.650 from Milliner.

Honestly, after getting through bars relatively unscathed, I expected Alabama to roll through the rest of the meet for a highish 196 score.  They just recorded 48.825 on floor and are only .150 ahead of Auburn going into the last rotation, where they are on beam.  Watch this space.

Over in Utah, as expected the Utes are going to try to put a run on Florida’s score.  Kailah Delaney just went 9.950 on vault.  Good for her, her vault can be very pretty.  They went 49.300 on vault, could have been higher, but they got a 9.8 from the anchor Robarts.

Score change for Alabama on beam, Milliner’s 9.825 becomes a 9.750.

Ouchie.  Ashley Sledge goes 8.700 on beam.  Bad news for Bama, but this is the kind of situation that tests possible postseason mettle.  Let’s see how they react.

Final score alert: Oklahoma 196.475, NC State 194.075.  Fine, unremarkable score for Oklahoma.  The story will be Florida this week.

Alabama solid so far after the fall with 9.825 from Gutierrez and 9.800 from Demeo.  They won’t be too happy with the final score regardless, but a hit from Priess should put them in low 196s for another week.  Florida v. Alabama will be fascinating.

Utah went huge on bars for 49.450.  Beers went 9.900, so…

Priess hits big for 9.925 to salvage the meet for Alabama at a 196.275.  Not anything to write home about compared to these other teams.  Valiant effort from Auburn (love that they are keeping these meets competitive within the conference) with a 9.925 from Guy to finish just .025 behind Alabama with a 196.250.  Good score for them.  They should move up from #16.

This post is getting a bit unwieldy, so I’m going to make a new one for the start of UCLA/Washington.

Live Blog – San Jose St. @ UCLA

Watch Live

We’ve had a bit of a topsy-turvy weekend, which always makes everything more interesting.  Nebraska came back to the field a bit, and Florida and Alabama continued to low 196 their way through January, but Arkansas maintained their upward trajectory, and Oklahoma finally arrived.  Oklahoma should be even more pleased with their season-leading 197.450 because it was a road score, which will be very valuable when RQS comes into play.

As it stands now, Arkansas should take over the #1 ranking on Monday from an idle Utah (196.775 to 196.713 average score).  UCLA has an outside shot at taking the top spot, but they would have to score 197.600 today to do so.  It’s possible but highly unlikely.  Let’s just go for 24/24, shall we?  UCLA does, however, have a prime opportunity to move into the #3 or #4 spot with Nebraska, Oregon St, Alabama, and Georgia all dropping points (in average) this weekend.  The big ranking loser of the weekend was Michigan, whose 193.150 will see them plummet.  Still no official word on Beilstein’s injury, but it can’t be good.  I think we call this a rebuilding year.

For UCLA, the huge beam score (too huge, but a UCLA team hit 6/6 on beam in January, so let’s just enjoy it) from last week should help their confidence to do it again.  If they hit the first five routines well, I’d like to see Peszek’s standing full come back in (the routine without it is a bit too easy for her skill level).  Also important will be Mattie Larson’s floor routine.  She’s been taking the marionette thing a bit too seriously when landing her passes, and she hasn’t fully hit a floor routine in competition since August 2010.  That kind of thing wears on you.  She needs to get hitting immediately.  On vault, the judges at Cal broke the 10 barrier for Zamarripa, so now we can expect to start seeing them every time she sticks at home.

Live commentary after the jump

OK, anyone else without sound so far?  Let’s get that working.  Why do we always have sound issues at these UCLA meets?  Now we have bits of some music…progress?  And the music they’re playing is really inappropriate for this dancing.  Awesome.  “A little ceremony”?

SJ State lineups first.  I’ve never seen a San Jose State meet before, so it’s always fun to see a new team.  I’m thankful that there is commentary on this meet because I won’t be able to identify these SJS gymnasts by sight. (Actually that might be a lie.  I think I’ve seen a regional with them before, but I wasn’t paying particular attention.)

UCLA’s intro video.  I really can’t deal with this.  It’s so cheesy.  I mean, there’s pretend karate…
Courtney didn’t compete beam or floor last week. We’ll see if she’s back on those events.  Are we going to see Ti Liu this year?

Rotation 1: UCLA on vault, SJ State on bars

Looks like EHH is going to be on vault this week for the first time this season.  The male commentator is asking Allison about strenuous competitive schedules…

Nice to hear that Zamarripa will be back in the beam lineup.  That’s a necessary step for this team.

Baer – UCLA – yfull seemed a bit cleaner in the air than before but hop back and lower landing. (9.800)

Harrison – SJSt – leg separations through routine but hit the tkatchev and stuck the dbl tuck landing.  Solid start but clear deductions. (9.675)

EHH – UCLA – yfull – her usual one – a little short on distance and the hop backward.  Should score a bit better than Baer. (9.875)

McCord – SJSt – a bit cleaner in legs and handstands than the previous gymnast – hit the tkatchev – then over on the handstand and off the bars – dbl tuck dismount with step back.  Tough going ahead for SJSt on bars. (9.125)

Courtney – UCLA – good distance and stuck – a little off to the side, but that’s probably her strongest landing this season. (9.900 – fair score).

Field – SJSt – very short on bail hs – seemed like she had good enough height on the tkatchev but could not catch the bar – disaster already for San Jose State – another dbl tuck dismount – this one very low and major steps forward. (8.800)

Frattone – UCLA – excellent stuck omelianchik again.  Should score extremely well – the legs even looked a little more together than usual.  I don’t think this is quite a 10, though. (9.950 – UCLA is mad, but I think it’s fair)

Gregory – SJSt – very similar composition in all these routines – no same bar release here – (9.675)

Peszek – UCLA – biggish hop and a little lack of control on landing, so this won’t be her best score. (9.875)

Telles-Nolan – SJSt – best tkatchev and bail of the group by far – dbl stuck with just a hop – will be their best score. (9.800)

Zam – UCLA – didn’t stick this week – definitely a .1 slide back. (9.900) If he mispronounces her name one more time, I’m just going to die.

Wallace – SJSt – shaposh + bail – nice – dbl front dismount was a little unstable with a big step back, but a strong recovery. (9.850)

McDonald Exo – UCLA – third week exhibitioning, and still nothing that will get her into the lineup.  A little weaker on form and landing than the rest of the lineup.  De La Torre also did an exhibition, but we didn’t see it.

Looks like UCLA scored “just” a 49.500, their weakest score of the year, which is hilarious.  San Jose State goes 48.125.

Rotation 2: SJ State on vault, and UCLA on bars

Same UCLA bar lineup as usual – nice that we’ll see Wong and Whitcomb on exhibition.  I’d really like both of them to get in the lineup.  UCLA had way too many 9.7s in this rotation last week, and they need to clean those up to keep this pace and hope to go into 197 territory.

Lee – SJSt – and we had to see the crowd instead?  Thanks. (9.625)

MDLT – UCLA – hop full gienger as usual – a little wacky on form – step back on the DLO – she’ll need to be sticking that soon. (9.800)

Valleau – SJSt – yfull tucked – very low landing and a step (9.575)

I love how snippy Allison Taylor is in correcting this guy when he mispronounces things.  This is the most I’ve ever liked Allison

Gerber – UCLA – hits jaeger, a little late on giant full and the usual leg sep on the pak – best dbl arabian dismount I’ve seen her do s0 far – small hop. (9.900)

Greer – SJSt – handspring tuck half – similar with low landing and step forward. (9.625)

Larson – UCLA – she fingertips that shaposh – dbl layout with a small hop – she missed a handstand, but it’s a mostly clean routine. (9.875)

Montalban – SJSt – better landing here with the chest position and the movement, but still a little wonky on form which is hurting the whole team.

Peszek – UCLA – efficient little routine – flung the DLO a little bit with a step back – this was a solid routine – about what we should be expecting from her. (9.850)

Harrison – SJSt – first yfull layout we’ve seen (actually I might credit it as piked – which will hurt her) (9.725)

Zam – UCLA – clean shaposh – maybe a little low on bail hs – uncharacteristic DLO in the landing with a large step back, but it should still score well enough.  (9.875 – a little charitable given that dismount).

Wllace – SJSt – yhalf – huge lunge forward – barely kept it in the city. (9.700)

Courtney – UCLA – better swing through shaposh this time – stuck her dismount which will bring up her score – but there’s too much hip angle and toes for me to see this as a huge scoring routine. (9.900)

SJSt Exo – yfull – a little uncertain on landing but they’ll want her difficulty in the lineup.

Wong – UCLA – excited to see this – a little bent arms on jaeger – bail hs – just a dbl tuck dismount with a step – they’ll need to find a dismount for her because she can score extremely well if she puts it all together – great line and skill. (9.775)

Whitcomb – UCLA – they’ve added the gienger – good – stick the double tuck dismount – clear progress from the last time she exhibitioned, but it’s still not lineup ready – MLT would be so mad at her for those handstands.

After 2 Rotations: UCLA 98.900, San Jose State 96.500

UCLA goes 49.400 on bars, which is their best of the season.  I thought all the scores were just a tad high, but the scoring has been consistent.  I’m not wild about all these shaposhnikovas in the UCLA lineup.  I appreciate the difficulty, but they all lose either swing or form on them right now and it breaks the flow of the routine.

If UCLA hits 5 for 6 on each of the next two apparatuses (big IF), they are in great shape for the 197 range.

Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, San Jose St on floor

Oooh, the beam.  No setbacks, please.  Looks like Wong remains in the lineup after her 9.925 last week.  I assume Zamarripa will be taking Frattone’s slot.  We’ll see.

Gerber – UCLA – good mount turn and leaps – hits side somi – good walkover – dismount series – near stick on landing – very minor shuffle.  This would be a huge score later in the lineup. (9.825)

Lee – SJSt – clean tumbling so far – impressive form for a leadoff routine for SJ State (9.525)

Wong – UCLA – good leaps – much more confident on series than two weeks ago – a little uncertain on full turn – minor hop up on 1.5 dismount – it’s like she’s a different person on beam all of the sudden. (9.875)

Harrison – SJSt – confident dbl pike, also very solid landing on the double full – dismounts dbl tuck. (9.725)

Larson – UCLA – notable wobble on walkover – comes off on her loso (here we go again) – she looked off from the moment she mounted the beam.  It’s always an adventure with Mattie. hits dbl full dismount.  Major case of Miss Val Eyes in the background. (9.250)

Montalban – SJSt – another dbl pike mount – a little less control than Harrison – dismounts with 1.5 + front tuck. (9.675)

Zam – UCLA – lineup debut on beam – huge wobble on onodi – hits loso series very well – hit dbl full dismount to keep UCLA in this.  Must hits for EHH and Peszek now. (9.825)

Break while we discuss scores and OOBs.  Judging controversy.

Greer – SJSt – front dbl – big bounce back out of her rudi on the second pass (9.700)

EHH – UCLA – she missed her series in warmups but hits it well here – took out the illusion turn and wobbles on ust her full turn – that’s two gymnasts who have wobbled on full turns – hop back on dismount.  Hit routine, but far from her best.  Now it’s up to Peszek. (9.850)

Wallace – SJSt – big tumbling ability, but just a layout + layout on her second pass – big step back out of her dbl tuck as well – energetic routine but definite deductions. (9.800)

Peszek – UCLA – she’s the anchor for her solidity and they need it desperately now – hits her dismount series with layout – hops a bit on the landing.  HUGE accomplishment for UCLA that they were able to get past a mid-rotation fall and hit. (9.900)

Valleau – SJSt – huge bounce out of her opening pass – the lines on that sting mat are not even close to the actual floor, it’s totally askew.  Rudi to finish.

Baer Exo – UCLA – little wobble on her first jump – had to save her side somi and did well to stay on – same dismount series as Aisha – little step on landing.

S. Wong Exo – SJSt – stumbles way OOB on her dbl pike mount – and a fall on her layout + layout pass – baisl out of the dismount and just does a layout

Frattone Exo – UCLA – nicely done on her loso series, low on her punch front but hits it – dbl ful dismount with step back – she hit well because she wasn’t in the lineup.

UCLA scores 49.275 on beam, which they’ll take any day.  We still have to deal with this Mattie situation, but that’s a strong recovery.  They are on pace for well over 197 if they can hit floor.  It would be a huge disappointment if they can’t convert for a big score again.

After 3 rotations: UCLA 148.175, San Jose State 145.075

Rotation 4: San Jose State on beam, UCLA on floor

Greer – SJSt – aerial comb + bhs, solid routine with few errors – front full dismount with step (9.775)

Gerber – UCLA – god dbl tuck mount, she looks to have figured out that second pass since the first meet, dismounts with a dbl pike – a little low but a beautiful routine as always. (9.775)  She did have a wonky leg on one her leaps, which was uncharacteristic.

Harrison – SJSt – steps back on loso series, but I thought it would be worse given the angle she went into it, wobble on dance elements, very low on punch front but saves it – major deductions here but she’s staying on.  gainer pike dismount. (9.550)

Frattone – UCLA – hits her double pass opening pass very well – better on the dbl pike than two weeks ago – rudi  shush dismount.  The shushunova is getting a little better, but I’m still not wild about it’s inclusion. (9.850)

Shearer – SJSt – small wobble connecting aerial to bhs – comes off on acro, so they’ll have to count the 9.550.  This is a disappointing meet coming off the first meet that got them to #19. (9.175)

Wong – UCLA – hits dbl pike mount – I liked her 2011 routine better than this one, which is a shame because we didn’t get to see that one much.  Tremendous leaps, really stand out from the rest of the crowd – dbl tuck with a minor bounce back.  Good recovery from last week. (9.850)

Lee – SJSt – tries to connect side aerials but was way off and fell – now they’re counting a fall on this event as well.  hits tuck front 1/1 dismount. (9.275)

Courtney – UCLA – back into the lineup after last week – much better dbl arabian than week 1 when she vaulted out of it – more control this week – hits dbl tuck dismount as well. (9.875)

Wallace – SJst – good loso series, minor wobble on side somi – she’s getting them back on track with this hit.  1.5 dismount, very low and big step back. (9.825)

Peszek – UCLA – (5th instead of anchor this time) – excellent hit on DLO – let’s watch these leaps, that’s her biggest weakness in the routine – big lunge back out of the dbl pike dismount, which will keep this from being a big score. (9.875 – one judge gave it a 9.950 – what is happening?)

Field – SJSt – good punch front – little leg issues on loso series but she hits it as well as the sheep jump – back tuck full dismount – (9.700)

EHH – UCLA – she’s still just mounting with that dbl tuck – I need that upgraded like yesterday – her shushunova is much higher and better than Frattone’s – good dbl pike dismount.  They’ll be contending for top score of the season after this routine.  It will be close to Oklahoma’s score. (9.950 – just got upgraded from a 9.9 so that UCLA will go 197.575….I don’t think I believe in 9.950s for routines that mount with double tucks)

Well, we won’t see any cranky Val after this meet, that’s for sure.  Sam Peszek wins the AA for the third week in a row with her highest score yet, 39.500.

We’re not getting to see De La Torre’s exhibition on floor.  Pritchett has hit her exhibition routine.

UCLA got right around score that I just said would be highly unlikely for them to get.  Shows what I know.  That score is insane and will be the highest score of the season for any team so far.  We are seeing SO MANY 197s for January, and none of them are from Florida.  Where will the scores be when these teams actually start rounding into form?  The judges aren’t leaving any room.  This is a colossal score, and yet UCLA can perform better than they did today – the dismounts are not there yet.

FINAL: UCLA 197.575, San Jose State 193.200