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Saturday Scores – Alabama, Michigan, and Penn State

Soon, Michigan will get underway visiting Minnesota and Alabama will begin at Penn State (along with Michigan State and Cornell).

If Alabama can hit bars, they have the potential to score exceptionally well and keep pace with Arkansas’s weekend-leading 197.225.  This will be Alabama’s first road meet, and it will be interesting to see whether they can match their huge home score on vault and keep pace with UCLA on that event.  However, the bars issue is most important because, like last year, this group really has no business making numerous mistakes on bars.  While scoring in the 49.3-49.4 range that they will need to in the postseason could be an issue down the road, hitting six routines should not be.  We saw way too many errors on handstands against Georgia.  I’d rather them be short and take a minor deduction than go over and ruin the routine.

For Michigan, the goal should be putting up six usable routines on every apparatus, finding a group that can hit beam well, and trying to break into the 196 range.  They have little depth, but I’d like to see some of it coming into play.  They’ll need Annette Miele fully healthy and hitting well this year.

Follow here with scores and comments.

Dear Scoring,

I’m impatient.

All the best,
The Balance Beam Situation

Alabama begins on beam with Kim Jacob’s 9.750 and Milliner’s 9.850.  Meanwhile Penn State starts slowly on vault with 9.625, 9.675, 9.750, and 9.650.

Note: No Gutierrez or Demeo on beam tonight for Alabama.  Sledge and Clark are in.  Kaitlyn Clark goes 9.600, meaning they are counting Jacob’s 9.750.  Last week they were able to recover from some 9.7s to go 49.1.  They’ll need big routines from Priess and Stack-Eaton to go higher (as they would hope/expect to do).

Penn State finishes well on vault with a 9.825 for Merriam and 9.875 for Musser to give them 48.775.  We’ll keep an eye on Musser for the AA title battle tonight.

Sledge goes 9.750 just like Jacob, meaning that Stack-Eaton and Priess will need to average 9.875s to equal last week’s performance.

(Q: Does anyone have working live scores for Michigan’s meet?)

Stack-Eaton goes 9.500 and Milliner is the only one in the lineup who has scored well so far.  They’ll go below 49 regardless of what Priess does, but she needs to limit the damage and keep them above Penn State.

9.775 for Priess – fine, but not what they needed because Penn State is in the lead after the first rotation. Scoring was never going to be as big for Alabama at Penn State as it was at home, but this is a weak start.  More pressure on vault and floor now to make up for beam.

After Rotation 1: Penn State 48.775, Alabama 48.725, Michigan State 48.225, Cornell 47.200

Alabama will be putting up the same floor lineup as last week, including Lora Leigh Frost, who had a fall and didn’t necessarily look lineup ready.  Still no Stack-Eaton here.

Penn State begins bars with a solid 9.750 and 9.800.  Kim Jacob goes 9.800 on floor, which is around what she did last week and should be a good set-up score for the others.

Penn State follows with two more 9.750s from Stine and Welsh.  They’ll need to rely on Merriam and Musser again if they are to get on 196 track, which should be the goal.

Sledge follows with a 9.800 and Frost recovers from last week with an encouraging 9.850, so they won’t have to drop her score again.  (See, that’s what happens when I question someone’s place in the lineup.  Therefore I will really need to question Mattie’s place in the floor lineup tomorrow.)

Penn State gets Musser to deliver again (seriously, where would they be without her?) and they go 48.975 on bars.

Michigan update: Solid vault for 49.075, disaster on bars (including a fall from Martinez, they cannot afford that from their best worker) for 48.250.  More trouble for Michigan and no routines from Miele yet.

9.675 from Gutierrez on floor – an unexpected shame.  A 9.825 from Milliner keeps Alabama on pace for 49.1-49.2 if they can get a good hit from Priess.  Still, the big scores aren’t coming yet.

Uh oh, a fall from Priess for 9.225.  Alabama goes below 49 again and are .075 behind Penn State.  This is way more interesting than I thought it was going to be.  Alabama needs a 49.500 on vault immediately.

After Rotation 2: Penn State 97.750, Alabama 97.675, Michigan State 95.875, Cornell 94.325

Alabama’s vault lineup also remains the same (why change after last week?) and once again will be Kayla Williams’s only contribution.  It’s interesting to me that she hasn’t made floor yet.  She was recruited for more than one event.

Alabama vault: Clark goes 9.850 and Williams goes 9.800.  She has underperformed so far this season. They needed her to replace Hoffman on two events.  There’s still time, but watch this space.

Sledge goes 9.925, the score she probably should have gotten last week, so Alabama is on their way to at least a bit of recovery here.

Michigan: trying to avoid counting a fall on floor from Zurales.  9.8s from Sampson and Sugiyama.

Gutierrez puts up 9.9, so they are pretty much on track from last week, though I would be very surprised to see another 10 from Stack-Eaton.  And she goes 9.875, which is still strong and closer to what I expect from her on a weekly basis.

Milliner finishes with 9.875 for an excellent 49.425 rotation.  They lose a little ground on UCLA here after two meets, but they should pull ahead of Penn State by a good margin going into the major question mark rotation.  Alabama currently sits at 147.100 after three events, so a great bars could put them close to 196.500, but I think they’ll take anything over 196 at this point.  Much like Florida, it won’t be a headline-making score, but it will be good enough for now (if they hit bars).

Michigan disaster: 8.825 on floor from Colbert, so they are counting another fall with two routines to go (and beam still to go).  This could get very ugly very quickly.

Penn State doing their best to keep pace with Alabama’s big vault score, Bencsko goes 9.900 on beam.

Eeeek, Natalie Beilstein appears to have just recorded a 1.000 on floor.  That’s an injury-and-couldn’t-continue kind of score.  While it’s a disaster score-wise for Michigan, let’s just hope she’s OK.

Well, I may have spoken too soon about Penn State being well behind Alabama going into the last rotation.  They just put up an excellent 49.250 on beam and trail by just .100 going into the final event. Keep watching these scores because this is getting good.

After Rotation 3: Alabama 147.100, Penn State 147.000, Michigan State 144.325, Cornell 141.150

(Oklahoma just delivered on bars for 49.375.  It’s time for them to start getting into gear…this is a good start.  I haven’t been convinced by their quality yet.)

Sledge opens Alabama’s bars with a 9.800.  I still don’t like her leading off unless it’s absolutely necessary because she can score so well.  Maybe it is absolutely necessary…

Alexin follows with 9.800 and Clark puts up 9.775.  Good, fine, regular, which is what they need to get confident on this event right now.

Demeo picks up the pace for 9.850 – so they’re on solid 49 track so far.

Stack-Eaton 9.575.  She is having a really rough day, her second score in the 9.5s of the night.  Must hit time for Priess if they want to break 196.

Priess goes 9.850, so Alabama finishes with 196.175, having to count two scores in the 9.6s.  It’s not a disaster of a meet because they didn’t have to count a fall, but they will not be satisfied.  Work to be done.  Penn State is still definitely in this for the win.  Two big routines to come on floor.

A 9.825 for Merriam means that Musser needs just a 9.850 to give Penn State the win.  Very doable for her.

Oooh, Musser socre on 9.750 on floor, meaning that Alabama just edges Penn State 196.175 – 196.100.  Penn State should still be mostly satisfied, but they really could have won this meet.

Another final: Michigan 193.150, Minnesota 193.000 (Ouch.)

Alright, that’s it for me tonight.  Enjoy the scores!


Follow (the Scores) Friday

No free streams today, so we’ll be following scores from Florida @ Kentucky (7:00/4:00), Nebraska @ Iowa State (7:30/4:30), and the Arkansas and Georgia meets (8:00/5:00).

Florida has been steady, scoring in the low 196s for the first two meets, though they did have an unfortunate floor rotation last week and should have scored higher.  They’re still missing key members (Caquatto, half an Alaina Johnson), and I don’t expect them to reach the heights of performance (though they can still score hugely at home without them) until they return.  Florida is still scoring well enough for January, so confidence should be pretty high even though they haven’t put up the big numbers. Confidence could become an issue, though, if they continue having to count falls.  24 for 24 should be the goal tonight, and if the score is still low 196s, then so be it.

For Nebraska, in the long term they have to find a way to sustain the performance level that put them at #1.  But for today, that’s not the biggest concern.  They won’t score that well every week, especially on the road, so a lower score today should not be seen as a loss.  It is much more important for them to build up a team that can perform well for months on end, meaning that they need to get 24 usable performances into the lineup immediately.  Even if they wouldn’t necessarily want those gymnasts performing in postseason, they have to start building the depth.  Plan A is obviously Jessie DeZiel, but what’s Plan B?  

Notes on scores after the jump from 7:00 ET.

Florida will begin on bars.  They managed a 49.200 last week on the back of Johnson’s second consecutive 9.900.  Besides Caquatto, do they have anyone else who can best 9.850 on this team?

Nicole Ellis leads off Florida with a 9.800, solid opening, but they may not want to have to use this score again this year if people like Spicer and Wang can solidify their routines and score higher.

Kentucky hanging around the 9.8 area on vault.  They have improved this event in 2012 by being able to send up 6 routines in competition.  They were competing only five at the end of last year.

Dickerson goes 9.725…not a strong score for her.  She has form break and won’t ever deserve a massive score, but they need her to go big on releases and tread water in the 9.8 area.

Kytra Hunter goes 9.875 to make up for Ashanee’s lower score.  She never had great bars in elite, and Martha even encouraged her to stop training them, but maybe with NCAA composition she’ll be able to make Kelli Hill proud.

Nice to see Marissa King in the lineup going 9.875 as well.  She has real talent on bars, but hasn’t always warranted making the lineup in the past.  It doesn’t seem to come as naturally to her as the other events.

Kentucky has some rough scores (9.425 and 9.575) at the end of the lineup to score 48.750 on vault.  They would have hope for higher.

Caquatto is back in the lineup on bars (great sign for Florida that she’s back on at least one event already) and goes 9.775.  Fine score for her first routine of the year.  She’ll get there.

Johnson finished for Florida with a 9.850.  It’s not a bad score, but they really rely on her for 9.9+, so a rotation with great potential ends up with a solid/unspectacular 49.175.  So they ended up scoring better last week even though they had a stronger lineup this week.  Still, it’s a good step to get a (close to) ideal lineup in for competition right now.

Second rotation for Florida/Kentucky:
Jamie Shisler goes 9.775 on vault.  I still don’t buy this lineup decision because it’s such a January routine, but it is January, so…

Ellis goes 9.850 again and could legitimately make the lineup for this team.  I wouldn’t have picked that in preseason.  Note that we have seen none of Wang and Spicer so far.

Marissa King goes 9.700.  Granted, I didn’t see the routine, but I’m crying foul anyway.  Her vault makes me too happy to get a 9.700.  She should get Tsukahara bonus points or something.

Johnson’s in on vault (another great sign of progress) and goes 9.825 (9.90/9.75…hmmm…)

Ashanee goes 9.900.  Becoming expected for her.  She’s powerful enough to go higher, but needs to get those legs together on landing if she wants to challenge for those 10s we’ve been seeing.

Kytra follows with a 9.925 on her vault.  That’s a great 1-2 punch at the end of the vault lineup (something they’ll want to see from Caquatto and Johnson on bars), and if they can get King and Johnson scoring up to capability and Caquatto into the lineup, they will have the opportunity to keep pace with UCLA and Alabama.

Kentucky has a family of 9.6s on bars to score 48.425 for a total of 97.175.  Florida ends up with 49.275 on vault for a total of 98.450.  It’ll be tough for them to go 197, but I can see very high 196s if they hit from here on out.

Meanwhile up in Iowa, Nebraska has started with a 9.750 and 9.775 on bars, followed by a 9.800 from Jessie DeZiel.  These are closer to the kind of scores I expected so far.  Brittany Skinner goes 8.700…ouch.  Janelle Giblin settles the rotation and reaches closer to last week with a 9.900, and Evenstad finishes with 9.875 for a team score of 49.100.  Not bad after all.  They got two excellent scores and were able to drop the disaster.

Back in Kentucky, Stageberg starts on floor with a 9.725.  Not a strong score, but I like her starting this rotation.  At her strongest, she has 9.850-9.875 potential in that leadoff position, which will put them on a great track.  Ferguson follows with a 9.750.  They’re leaving work for Dickerson, King, and Hunter at the end.

Nebraska gets a 9.800 on vault from freshman Jennifer Lauer (that’s the kind of new routine to add depth I was talking about, good sign) to follow a 9.700 from Barmore.

Florida has a 9.525 from Wang on floor, meaning they are counting two scores in the 9.7s at least.  I have not been convinced by Wang’s tumbling at all yet.  She has really nice presentation and perhaps the best routine of the group choreographically, but she can’t hit it right now.

Hunter goes 9.825, which is the best score of the rotation so far but not her best.  Her ability is such that she should be walking through a field of 9.9s come the second half of the season.

Nebraska gets 9.875 and 9.850 from Wong and Evenstad on vault…now this rotation is keeping pace with last week as long as they can drop Barmore’s score.

King goes 9.850, which still gives Florida hope to potentially salvage a 49 from this rotation.

Nebraska finished vault with another set of 9.850 and 9.875, so no one went 9.9, but they got some great, solid vaults to score 49.250 and a total after two events of 98.350.  It’s not like last week, but they should be happy with this performance so far.

Ashanee finishes floor for Florida with a 9.850 to give them 49.000 exactly and a three-event total of 147.450.  They are still on track for their best score of the season, which is encouraging because they can do so much better than this.

More to follow: Georgia v. Auburn and Arkansas v. LSU are about to get underway.

Georgia: Chelsea Davis starts  on bars with 9.775.  It sort of hurts me that she’s not going 4th or 5th and getting 9.9s, but we have to think it will come.  She is very talented on that event.  Noel Couch follows her with a 9.700.  Do Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio have to do everything around here?

LSU: Ohhh, Lainie Fleming starts on bars with a 8.450.  Sadness.

Georgia: Tanella goes 9.825 (which is about on form for her), and Shayla goes 9.850.  We need to get her up to a 9.9.  9.850 is only fine…  Nuccio scores 9.825.  This is their event.  The scores will need to improve.  9.8s aren’t going to cut it.

Georgia: Nooooo!  Kat Ding goes 9.525.  There is no justice.  And Georgia goes 48.975 on bars for a poor start.  They are just .050 ahead of Auburn after one rotation.

Arkansas: Sweet heavens, they keep it up with a 49.400 on vault, led by Katherine Grable’s 9.950.  This team is surprising everybody so far, and not just on one event or at one meet…

Florida: More 9.7s (their 7th and 8th of the night) as Stageberg and Spicer start beam with 9.750, 9.725.

LSU: Good recovery from the start to go 49 on bars.  Morrison and Hall score 9.850.  Morrison is only on one event this week, but they need her back, so it’s a start.

Nebraska: Two 9.650s from J. Lauer and Schleppenbach (spelled it on my first try!) on floor.  At least they should have 6 routines this week.

Florida: More trouble on the beam with a 9.775 from Johnson and a 9.650 from Dickerson (Ashanee throws in a few of those – or more – every season, which keeps her from being the beamer she can be).  This is a another struggle for Florida.

Nebraska: Wong puts up 9.850 and DeZiel goes 9.825 to help make up for that 9.650 they’ll have to count.  They are in a similar situation to Florida right now, trying to recover from some lower scores at the beginning of the floor lineup.

Georgia: Davis and Couch open vault with 9.775, 9.825.  It looks like a very 9.825 kind of night for Georgia so far.

FINAL: Florida 196.250, Kentucky 194.075 — Florida keeps improving by about a tenth every week, and they still are in the mode where it’s okay to be sloppy (they didn’t count a fall this week) because of their delayed training schedule and new approach.  As we head toward February and get all the routines back, there will be fewer allowances.  Starting now, they need to begin purging those 9.7s and turning those 9.8s into 9.9s.  They scored only two 9.9s today, and this team is too talented for that, even in January.

Arkansas: I can’t…9.9 from Grable and 9.950 from Pisani on bars.  What is in the water over there.  We might have to put them on highest score of the season so far watch tonight.

LSU: countering Arkansas with their own huge rotation on vault – 9.950 from Ashley Lee in the second position.

Georgia: Kat Ding recovers to get a 9.900 on vault and give the team 49.175.  Total of 98.150 after two rotations.  This is putting more pressure on a questionable floor lineup. (Auburn is close with 97.850)

Huge Scores Alert: Arkansas goes 49.450 on bars while LSU goes 49.500 on vault.  They’re both on ridiculous pace so far.

Nebraska: It appears they may have gone with 5 floor workers again as the scores haven’t changed in a while.  48.875 so far on floor.

OK, that’s it for me for tonight on the scoring.  I may come back later with finals and wrap-ups.  Enjoy the scores.

Nebraska 195.775, Iowa State 193.925
Georgia 195.975, Auburn 195.600
Arkansas 197.225, LSU 196.325

Georgia and Nebraska both underperformed compared to previous results, Nebraska having to count a fall on the beam and Georgia putting up way too many scores in the 9.725-9.825 range.  But the story of the night is Arkansas, who put up a huge 197.225, including Katherine Grable’s crazy AA score of 39.725 (and Pisani went 39.575).  Right now they are the best scoring duo in NCAA, and the team is getting enough mid-9.8s from the rest of the team to make it work.  I still have some concerns over beam and depth (they are very reliant on Grable and Pisani for the big scores on every event, which may hurt them later if there is a problem), but they are making the SEC a four-way race again, which is exciting.

Follow Along Sunday

Stanford is about to get underway with a quad meet at home, and UCLA is visiting Cal today.  We don’t have live video for either of these meets, but I’m going to update here with scores and thoughts.

UCLA needs to get the confidence going on beam (inexcusable!) as soon as possible to set themselves up for the rest of the season.  I’d also like to see a more complete floor rotation out of this meet.  This is a meet they should win handily, so normally I would expect to see a lot of lineup experimentation, but the coaches may want to keep things the same to build this group confidence up on those two events at least.

For Stanford, Shapiro is in the lineup on only bars and Ivana Hong is not in at all.  We knew going into the season that this team would be very reliant on these two freshmen and was in a risky situation with their injury history.  We will have to see how they cope without some of the star routines they were relying on.

Stanford will begin on vault with Morgan, Meyer, Hanset, Pechanec, Dayton, and Archer.  Only Morgan and Dayton were in the lineup last postseason.

Please look at Sacramento State’s floor lineup: we have Katie, Kaila, Kalliah, Cayla, and Kailey.

MDLT begins with a 9.700 on bars for UCLA.  She’s capable of much higher and went 9.850 last week.

Gerber follows with 9.775.  I thought her 9.9 last week was a smidge high because of the leg separation on the pak, but this is a touch lower than expectations.

Larson goes 9.725.  This is not the start UCLA wanted after they were pretty solid on bars last week.  So far, Cal is led by a 9.800 from Crystal Paz on vault.  No updates on the scores yet for Stanford.

Peszek puts up 9.775 (9.850 from Judge 1 and 9.700 from Judge 2, interesting).  Big pressure on the final 2 gymnasts to pick up the pace.  This team is too good for a bunch of 9.7s on bars

Zamarripa delivers a 9.9 to take some of the pressure off.  She went 9.825 last week with a big loss of form in handstand, so this is good improvement.

Cal finishes vault with a great rotation for them: 48.850.  Olivia Courtney goes 9.800 to finish UCLA’s bars rotation at 48.975.  That’s a big letdown from last week on this event – where they showed the same lineup.  They’ll need to get some momentum on vault.  (Still nothing on the Stanford scoreboard). If UCLA is to keep pace or improve on last week, they’ll have to rock vault and hit beam.

UCLA to vault now where Baer starts with a 9.875 followed by Larson’s 9.850.  This is more like it from them.  They’ll need to keep these scores up to balance out bars and stay well over 196 pace going into beam and floor.

Quite a luxury to have someone as talented as Courtney #3 in the lineup, she was 5th and 6th most of last season.  She goes 9.925.

Frattone goes 9.825, which is low from her.  She stuck for 9.950 last week but the danger of her Omelianchik is that, when she doesn’t stick, it’s usually a large step forward that takes a big chunk out of the score.

Hello, Sam Peszek just went 9.925 but with a 10 from one judge and a 9.850 from another.  I question that 10 because her amplitude and distance is usually not enough to warrant that.

Did I mention 10s?  Zamarripa just put up a 10 on vault.  We know she’s capable of earning it, but it will be interesting to see some video to evaluate.

UCLA recovered in a big way from bars, exceeding their vault score from last week by putting up a 49.575 for a total of 98.550.  They were able to drop Frattone’s 9.825.  Cal goes 48.475 on bars for a total of 97.325.  If they could keep up this pace into 194 territory, that would be a great score for them.

While we aren’t getting routine scores from the Stanford meet, we see they just went 48.850 on vault.

Aisha hits floor for 9.825.  Her tumbling was uncertain last week with some awkward landings, so that’s an encouraging sign for her consistently making this lineup.

Cal will have to count a fall on beam after starting with two 9.150s (they were on such a good pace!), and Frattone has put up 9.800 on floor.  Ouch, and a 9.250 for Cal third up on beam.  Damage control time now.

Interesting, Hopfner-Hibbs is up 3rd in the floor lineup (I can’t remember the last time she was that early on floor) after anchoring the rotation last week with a weak performance.  She goes 9.900, which is a huge recovery from the 9.675 against Utah.

Wong has been placed into the floor lineup (where she has scored 9.9 in the past) and she has a fall for 9.225.  Not a great start to the season for her.  Time to tighten up or this could go downhill very fast.

Peszek hits for 9.825.  The anchor (which should be either Larson or Courtney) can handily erase Wong’s fall with a hit and make this a solid rotation, but they’re probably not going to be as far over 49 as they’d like even if they get a hit.

Disaster for Cal on beam, counting 3 falls to score 47.200 and a running total of 144.525.  They were doing so well.  Mattie Larson has another mistake for UCLA, which means they are counting a fall on floor and score 48.575 for a total of 147.125.  At least we have Val’s press conference to look forward to.  I have a feeling things are going to be inexcusable again.  Oh Mattie and the floor…the saga continues.

Now UCLA is in a position where they must hit 5 of 6 on beam.  Be worried.

Aisha Gerber hits for 9.850 — 1 down, 4 to go.  (I’d still like to see her solidity in the middle of the lineup, though).  (NOTE: This score just got revised to 9.900)

Frattone is in the beam lineup (didn’t Val say she was going to keep it the same?) and got a 9.700, which is not great, but she stayed on the beam, so…

HUGE hit for Lichelle Wong to get 9.925.  After the problems last week and the fall on floor, that’s a tremendous accomplishment.  3 hits, 2 more to go…

Larson also recovers from her floor fall for 9.875.  This is going very well for UCLA on beam so far, and with presumably EHH and Peszek to go, they should get at least one hit from that group.  Disappointment on floor, but there’s an opportunity to recover here.

Hopfner-Hibbs goes 9.925, so UCLA will not be counting a fall, and if Peszek can erase Frattone’s score, this could be a huge score out of nowhere.  If only they had hit floor… (Interesting that Courtney has not competed beam or floor.  Hopefully the hamstring is not acting up again.)

Peszek hits as well for 9.925 capping a humungous beam rotation for UCLA of 49.550 to give them a total of 196.675, which is a great improvement over last week overall but could have been really tremendous if not for counting a fall on floor.  A hit on floor would have put them well over 197.  Still, maybe Val won’t be as upset as last week after hitting beam so well to end the meet.

Peszek wins the AA again with 39.450, and Cal finishes with 192.550 which is an improvement over last week.

Live Blog – Georgia @ Alabama

As much as other gymnastics teams might wish they could create a rivalry like this, Georgia vs. Alabama remains one of a kind.  Even though it’s early in the season, this year’s edition still provides us with some intriguing story lines.  By all tangible measures, Alabama should be the favorite.  They are coming off a national championship, competing at home, and fielding a deeper and more accomplished squad. Certainly, a loss would be a bigger blow to Alabama than it would be to Georgia.

And yet, it cannot be easy to open a season with what feels like a must-win meet.  Now, it’s definitely not a must-win meet in the logical scheme of the season (Alabama could be horrible here and still do just fine for the year), but the Alabama/Georgia rivalry defies logical schemes.  That pressure to win will be heavy on Alabama, and if Georgia puts up the same kind of meet they did last weekend, they are more than capable of pulling this one out.  Georgia put up the highest score last week, and if they follow that up with a win against Bama away, you’ll need your telescope to view that inflated confidence level.
Gymnasts to watch (Alabama):
1) Ashley Priess – How much is she competing (word is 3 events tonight)?  How far along is she in the comeback?  Does her body look like it can withstand the season?  
2) Kayla Williams – I have a sneaking suspicion that Sarah will try to turn her into an all-arounder.  This is unwise.  She needs to be an important specialist.  How is vault?  Is it Kayla 2009 or Kayla 2010?
3) Ashley Sledge – Ashley was a hugely influential early-lineup worker on three events last year and is capable of 9.9s on those three events.  More attention will be paid to Priess, GSE, and Williams this year, but I have a feeling that as goes Sledge, so goes Bama.
Gymnasts to watch (Georgia):  
1) Shayla Worley – Mission accomplished for Shayla in the first meet because she stood up three events.  She desperately needs to do the same tonight so that we can transition to setting less condescending goals for her.  A 9.9 or two would be nice.
2) Chelsea Davis – The meet against Denver made it clear that Georgia needs to get her into the all-around.  I’d love to see her get in on beam this week and fully hit bars.  She was 9.8 last week with a nearly-over handstand.
3) Noel Couch – As critical as I am of Couch sometimes, she remains necessary to the team.  They will not be successful unless she is hitting all her events for 9.8s.  She has to set a consistent tone in order for the rest of them to excel.
After the jump, follow comments on scores coming in from around the country until live commentary on Georgia/Alabama (meet begins at 8:30 ET / 5:30 PT).
Michigan is soon to get underway against Ohio State.  They will be very reliant on a select few gymnasts to produce in the AA every week.  They have some definite talent but no room for injuries or lineup experimentation.

Michigan hits vault extremely well for a 49.300, led by a 9.900 from Joanna Sampson.  Ohio State went 48.525 on bars.  Bars will be interesting for Michigan as they lost nearly the whole lineup from last year.

Now it’s Ohio State’s turn to impress on vault with a 49.125, led by Alyssa Marohn’s 9.875.  Michigan got through bars pretty well with a 49.025, with everyone scoring between 9.750-9.850.

In the third rotation, Ohio State put up a 48.850 on floor to take the lead away from Michigan after a 47.750 on beam (falls from Zakharia and Sampson and a 9.450 from Miele in her debut).  After three rotations, Ohio State has 146.500 and Michigan has 146.275.

In a final result, Michigan sneaks past Ohio State by a score of 195.500 to 195.175 after a solid floor rotation featuring Natalie Beilstein’s 9.925.  Meanwhile, Florida leads off with a 49.200 on vault at home (Dickerson and Hunter lead scoring, Johnson is still not in the lineup).

Florida matches their vault score on bars with a 49.200, featuring a 9.900 from Johnson.  Mahlich also got in the lineup and scored a 9.750 after exhibitioning last week.

The feed has started for Alabama/Georgia!  Never mind, please ignore me, it’s the saddest, most upsetting dance contest in history.  Your time would be better spend planning your own funeral or counting the skin cells on your hand.

Pre-meet festivities with about 1500 little ones.

Oh god, now it’s the “Bama Gymjammers” — It’s like they want me to hate them.  Well…they’re really good at spelling…

(Florida just went 49.250 after they were able to drop a fall from Hunter)

Georgia lineups: Kat Ding’s game face…love.  I don’t know half of these freshmen.

Alabama’s video is not half bad except for the music choice.  Lineups: Announcing the GPA – I would HATE that if I were them, but love it because I’m not.  Introducing Sarah Patterson who is in full Lucille 2 hair — “I know that she is a brownish area…with points.”

Rotation 1: Alabama on vault, Georgia on bars:
Ashley Priess would wear a sombrero because she has a passion for Spanish culture…
Dear Alabama, when I’m impatient, the last thing you want to show me is children dancing.

Clark – VT – nice yfull to start with small hop back – good debut (9.825)

Davis – UB – nice tkatchev as always, short on bail hs, near stick on tuck full dismount – solid start but not amazing. (9.725)

Williams – VT – good yfull – bad angle to judge a lot of issues, though – they’ll want her doing something more difficult because she will be expected to. (9.800)

Couch – UB – catches jaeger, bail hs, missing some hs, huge stumble back on double front dismount – major deduction. (9.550)

Sledge – VT – now that’s a yfull!  huge with stuck landing, great start for her (9.975 – well, it wasn’t that good, but it was excellent)

Tanella – UB – little close on jaeger, bail hs, stuck her dbl tuck dismount – they should not be putting up a dbl tuck dismount in a competitive lineup. (9.875 – Judges, we need to talk…no.)

Gutierrez – VT – great distance on vault with a step back – continuing the good vault form from last season. (9.875)

Worley – UB – ray – nice, good bail hs, good DLO dismount — one wonky hs, but otherwise strong. (9.875)

Stack-Eaton – VT – stuck yfull – very nice again – they have worked on these landings clearly. (10.000 – No.  It wasn’t that.  I guess someone really wants to beat Georgia.)

Nuccio – UB – close on gienger – that’s a shame, nice bail, stuck dismount – nice. (9.875)

Milliner – VT – solid form on 1.5 but a low landing. (9.875)

Ding – UB – perfect tkatchev, great so far through to pak, great dismount – this should score very well – not quite 10, but good. (9.875)  She looked like she wanted a 10 a little too badly on that.

Domier Exo – VT – handspring front pike – stuck.

Hires Exo – UB – piked jaeger a little close, goes over on her bail and has to come off the bars – solid DLO dismount.

Alabama goes 49.550, I guess they felt left out of the home overscoring conversation.  These vaults were excellent, but I would not have given anyone a 10 so far.  10 needs to be above and beyond — neither Sledge nor Stack-Eaton were overly amazing, they were just very good.  There will be a lot of discussion about these scores.  I would need to see another replay to judge adequately, but neither stuck out to me as 10-worthy on first viewing.  I’ll retract if I’m wrong.  Georgia goes 49.225, which is a good score, but won’t compete with what Alabama’s getting right now.

Rotation 2: Georgia on vault, Alabama on bars:
Davis – VT – (didn’t show it, thanks) (9.725)

Sledge – UB – excellent gienger, a little form on bail hs, that beautiful DLO with a larger step back (9.800)

Couch – VT – good y full with slight shuffle – that’s the solidity they need from her. (9.800)

Alexin – UB – shaposh to pak – great toes – dbl tuck with step back. (9.800)

Persinger – VT – little pikey on yfull with large step back. (9.650)

Clark – UB – good shaposh, leg sep on bail hs, went over on hs and had to come off – that’s a shame for her in her first meet – DLO dismount with hop forward. (9.275)

Earls – VT – Omelianchik – great distance and form but a step forward – if they can get her sticking this will be 9.9+ (9.800)

DeMeo – UB – way far away on jaeger and fell – you could see that coming – now Bama is counting a fall – this just got interesting.  Shades on 2011.  A little low on dismount. (9.150)

Hires – VT – good yfull in most of the ways – a little lacking in distance, but by far their best vault so far. (9.900)

GSE – UB – good ray to open, pak – nice, dismount with small hop forward – good veteran performance after falls. (9.875)

Ding – VT – nice yfull with step back – very good but she can be better. (9.875)

Priess – UB – over on her toe full but stays on, tkatchev to pak is nice, hits DLO dismount.  Just needs a few more repetitions it looks like. (9.875 – that’s an overscore)

Milliner Exo – UB – fingertipped her release but caught – over on handstand on her bail and came off the bars – I’m seeing a trend here. Fine dbl tuck dismount.

It’s like the beginning of 2011 all over again on bars for Alabama.  I’m wondering whether I missed something on Priess’s bars or whether the judges just thought she covered well.  At any rate, they had to count a fall.  Alabama goes 48.625 on bars for a 98.175 total.  Georgia takes the lead with a 49.100 on vault for a 98.325 total.  This is going to be very exciting.

Rotation 3: Alabama on beam, Georgia on floor:

Jacob – BB – hitting well through her loso series, she is right on this beam so far, great hit to open the rotation. (9.825)

Earls – FX – hitting so far ( I accidentally wrote “sitting” at first, that’s different) – not a fan of the music – dbl tuck dismount. (9.775)

Milliner – BB – walkover – nice, small wobble on loso series, why a close up of her face during her skills, camera people?  hits dismount – she looked a little tentative but hit. (9.700)

Davis – FX – good dbl pike mount, layout + rudi middle pass, way low on her dbl tuck dismount and lunges forward – did well not to fall on that. (9.600)

Sledge – BB – I’d like it if she could make this lineup this year, hits loso series, slight wobble on L-turn,= but pretty good on leg position, gainer full dismount with step – since it’s a gainer full, that needs to be stuck. (9.750)

Tanella – FX – hits dbl pike, she looks on so far with the tumbling, but I don’t dig anything about this floor routine for her – it highlights her spastic movement style, hits rudi dismount. (9.850)

DeMeo – BB – hits handspring mount, good walkover, big wobble on loso series but stays on, gainer full dismount with hop back. (9.725)

Nuccio – FX – dbl arabian mount with slight step back – she has the performance presence I like to see – ouchie, completely botches her dismount and has to take a fall.  Such a shame. (9.100)

GSE – BB – hits series, good walkover + loso, only a minor wobble on spin, held on to the sheep jump well, hits dismount.  Good not great routine. (9.850)

Worley – FX – good dbl pike mount – bounces back out of her rudi but stays in bounds, this routine has potential – I’m hoping it will grow on me – it’s not there yet, dbl full dismount – we still need to make that a 2.5 (9.775)

Priess – BB – confident sheep to open, walkover + korbut – nice, a little uncertain on L-turn but fine, she looks more prepared here than on bars – gainer full dismount (I’m seeing way too many of those today!) (9.850)

Couch – FX – puke full in – low chest but performed as usual, whip + dbl tuck is solid, this routine is such a gimmick which troubles me, dbl pike dismount is good – she hit the way they needed her to after some issues in this rotation once again. (9.825)

Gutierrez Exo – BB – off on her series, that’s too bad because I’d like to see her in this lineup – she has nice line and attention to presentation – although another gainer full.

Alabama takes the lead by .025 going into the last rotation, leading 147.175 to 147.150 after posting a 49.000 on the balance beam.  Georgia put up a 48.825 on floor.  The scores appeared pretty fair during that rotation – no routine from either team stood out as being particularly impressive.  Alabama should be the favorites to win from this point, going to floor while Georgia has to go to beam.

Alabama started off so strong on vault, but has showed definite need for improvement on the next two events (much like UCLA, though not as dire).  Bama fans have reason to be concerned that bars might turn into a two-gymnast rotation with no one else scoring big.  Georgia continued to show that floor is going to be an issue for them this season.  They’re just praying they get through six clean routines.

Rotation 4: Georgia to beam, Alabama to floor:

Couch – BB – (9.800)

Jacob – FX – very nice dbl pike mount, hits combo middle pass, posing with wrists, hit routine but a good leadoff for them because it doesn’t really stand out with tumbling or dance. (9.825)

Earls – BB – wobble on series but holds onto it, side aerial – good, a little low on dbl tuck dismount and takes a step forward. (9.750)

Sledge – FX – punch front trhough to dbl tuck – she knows how to sell her Bama choreography, just layouts as middle pass (we can upgrade that, right?  She’s too powerful for that to be her middle pass), high dbl pike dismount – a little over and has to take a step forward (9.875)

Ding – BB – (nervous time!) hits loso series, major wobble on full turn, front tuck is nice, she’s performing the hell out of this, nice dismount.  She hit a beam routine! (9.775)

Frost – FX – DLO – looked like it would be low but she got it around, front full + layout middle pass, dbl tuck dismount looked ust as low as the DLO but she couldn’t pull it around and put hands down. (9.350)

Tanella – BB – small wobble on series, hits onodi and sheep, gainer full dismount,
I have to give her some credit for hitting when they needed it all day, now if she would just calm down her movements. (9.800)

Gutierrez – FX – nice DLO to start, front full + layout, hits double pike – really composed tumbling overall from her.  She looks farther along than most of the others. (9.900)

Persinger – BB – this event shows off her line the best, good loso series, hitting both tumbling and dance elements so far with good show of flexibility – a complete routine, in other words — nice dismount.  Really nice routine. (9.800)

Milliner – FX – slightly short on dbl arabian but just a step back, layout + front full with bound forward, nice high dbl pike to finish (9.700)

Worley – BB – (they need a huge routine here) – full twisting bhs – nice, hits loso series, good onodi and hits gainer full dismount – big hit routine, but I hate that she downgraded that dismount.  Still that makes two hit meets in a row for Shayla. (9.950 – it was good but that’s a little high)

Priess – FX – high dbl tuck mount, front full + layout with slight bound forward, hits dbl pike to likely  give Bama the meet.  A composed routine but she can step this up to be the anchor later in the season. (9.900)

So Alabama takes the meet by just .150!  I’m surprised it was that close, but I suppose with Alabama and Georgia we always want the meet to be as close as possible.  FINAL: Alabama 196.475 Georgia 196.325 (as announced, the live scoring says 196.375 to 196.275, we’ll see)

Both teams went out hard and appeared to use up their best gymnastics in the first rotation.  Alabama’s vault was the only rotation of this meet that was super impressive, and while there was nice gymnastics all over the place, there is a lot to be worked on for both teams.  Georgia has to figure out that floor situation, and Alabama needs to get that bar rotation intact and get a little bit more confident on the beam and upgrade a couple of the floor routines.  Still, no reason for either team to be really disappointed in this meet.  There is plenty of time.

Heads up: Nebraska went 197.375 with FOUR gymnasts going 39.475+ in the AA.  I’m going to have to go through those scores soon.

Live Blog – Utah @ UCLA

Live Video

After the first two days of competition, Georgia leads the way with a 196.525.  They will be over the moon if they can pop up in the first Monday rankings as the #1 Georgia Gymdogs, and we probably won’t hear the end of it for a while.

However, both of the teams competing this afternoon have a legitimate chance to eclipse that total. Based on the lineup Utah is sending out and their recent training videos, I don’t expect to see many 9.9s, but this team is certainly capable of 9.850-ing their way into the mid/high 196s at this point in the season. Watch for Dabritz and Delaney’s scores relative to the rest of the team and how far along Robarts is in coming back.  They need her to be a scoring leader.

For UCLA, we have no idea, as always.  I’d like to see them send out as many top gymnasts as are ready to compete for this first meet (with meets against Cal and San Jose St to follow, there will be ample opportunity to experiment), but Val could just as easily decide to “explore depth” here, in which case the scoring expectations would be lower.  Their overall goal needs to be to hit all events (beam!) and make sure they start this season from a place of confidence instead of having to swim against the current of debilitating early performances as we have seen in most of the recent seasons.  Val won’t want to have to keep convincing the team that they are on the right track this year.  They should know it from their own performances.

Of note:

  • Allison Taylor will be providing the commentary.  I can barely fathom what to expect.  This will be her biggest contribution ever to a UCLA meet.  I almost miss her one routine (9.225) per year.  Maybe she’ll surprise us as a commentator.  Maybe…  
  • Tiffany Hyland is no longer on the UCLA roster.  I’m actually kind of sad.  Freshman walk-ons, you have some very big shoes to fill.  I never would have had a problem had the team not pretended she was part of the roster and a gymnast on the team, rather than a manager/helper/cheerleader.
(Live commentary after the jump)
That picture of Zam in her superhero outfit is terrifying.  Is her super power haunting nightmares?

There’s a rhythmic show before the meet.  The sound is terrible.  Please work on this, UCLA.  Anna Bessonova wept.  Leave it to the Asian girl to raise the level.  Thank you.

Lineup time: Ads over the Utah lineup announcement…hahaha.

OMG…this video…I can’t…This is the story of how we became ’80s drag queens…

So many options in this UCLA lineup (please stop talking over it…) who will compete?  Allison Taylor has overperformed so far.

1st rotation – UCLA on vault, Utah on bars

Kaelie Baer is competing on vault.  I’m floored.  Dear guy, please don’t say “exhibitionist,” say “performing an exhibition.”

I just lost the feed.  Are you kidding me? …… Phew, it’s back.  Don’t scare us like that, please.

Baer – UCLA – not too bad, fine distance, medium hop back (9.825)

Lofgren – Utah – tkatchev, straddle back, hitting handstands, flung DLO with step forward.  Nice before the dismount. They originally announced 9.875, which would have been way high, then announced 9.750, now it’s 9.550 on the scoreboard – no idea what’s happening.

Larson – UCLA – good start to her career, similar to Baer with hop back but more powerful, maybe a little pikey on replay. (9.875 – high)

Lopez – Utah – tkatchev, little leg sep on bail hs, better DLO with step forward. (9.750 – hers was better than Lofgren’s).

Courtney – UCLA – good power with slide back, not quite what she was doing at the end of last year. (9.900 – it was a good vault, but they are…enjoying being at home)

Dabritz – Utah – good hs, hit comaneci, ooh was way far away on her jaeger and fell, that’s a shame this would have been a good routine.  Good stuck tuck full dismount – she’ll be a high scorer for them soon enough. (9.350 – that’s a great score for having a fall)

Frattone – UCLA – stuck Omelianchik – really nice job – they are on and prepared at the first meet – wow. (9.950)

Lothrop – Utah – missed hs to start, piked jaeger, little sloppy on bail hs, nice clean DLO.  She gave away more than she should have. (9.800)

Peszek – UCLA – almost stuck but she stepped back, so she won’t get it.  Doesn’t quite have the distance, but good confidence and power. (9.925 – too high)

Beers – Utah – ooh – missed first handstand, leg sep on pak, this is a big struggle, DLO with hop forward – that was a very weak routine. (9.500)

Zamarripa – UCLA – great Zam vault – except maybe more piked than it used to be – with slide back – probably shouldn’t get more than 9.9, though. (9.900 – you could make the argument for 9.850, but this is expected at home)

McAllister – Utah – good high gienger, ugh- wieler kip, little flung on the tcuk full with step back, but she hit. (9.825)

McDonald Exo – UCLA – good height and distance, will need to work on landing to make the lineup – bigger step back.

Damianova Exo – Utah – good height on her jaeger but fell, bad handstand back up, bail hs with back issue, dbl front dismount with big leg sep and step back – not lineup ready yet.

Rotation 1 – UCLA – 49.550 Utah 48.425

UCLA was very good, but certainly not that good – it’s nice being at home isn’t it?  Shame about the fall from Dabritz for Utah, but she’ll get there.  Beers was the bigger concern in that lineup for me.  They don’t really have the showpiece routine on bars yet.

Rotation 2 – Utah on vault, UCLA on bars

Allison is talking about what it feels like to compete at Utah (with all her experience competing)…Oh Allison, you were doing so well…

I’m impatient!

Wilson (in for Lopez) – Utah – fine y full, step forward – unremarkable but good leadoff. (9.850 – at least they’re being equally charitable)

MDLT – UCLA – (hmmm, leading off) hop full to gienger – same as always, bail hs, stuck DLO – they are on fire. (9.850)

Lothrop – Utah – y full with biggish hop back, needs a bit more height, but is helping to get them back on track. (9.800)

Gerber – UCLA – lovely toes, good jaeger, pak with leg sep, dbl arabian dismount – new – with step forward – mistakes but she’s a joy to watch on this event. (9.900 – extremely high)

McAllister – Utah – y full, a little off line with step back – missing just a bit of the power. (9.775)

Larson – UCLA – nice shaposh, little missed hs, bail hs, DLO with hop forward – very good and can get better – this routine looks so easy for her…it is. (9.825 – fair score, but it was comparable to Aisha’s routine)

Dabritz – Utah – just the y full – I wish we had seen the 1.5 – good clean form with small hop.  Hopefully she will upgrade. (9.875)

Peszek – UCLA – nice high gienger, good bail, a little struggle back to high bar, DLO a little flung with hop back.

Delaney – Utah – really nice form on y full with tiny hop back – this vault would get a 9.9 in the UCLA rotation, let’s see… (9.900 – ok, good consistency, judges)

Zamarripa – UCLA – good shaposh, stalder + bail hs, over on hs but saved it, DLO – almost stuck with small step – this can get toward 10 territory in time but had the handstand mistake here. (9.825)

Robarts – Utah – great distance on Omelianchik but larger step forward. (9.875)

Courtney – UCLA – (why is she the anchor?) – another shaposh, bail hs, tuck full – very nice and stuck – a little bit of toes and legs, but it’s fine. (9.875)

Lopez Exo – Utah – average yfull with small hop

EHH Exo – UCLA – (let’s see about the dismount) – giant full to bail hs – good, this was really excellent and then just a dbl tuck dismount – if they can figure that dismount out finally, she can be great. (9.775)

Whitcomb Exo – UCLA – missed hs, good stalder and bail hs, just a dbl tuck dismount right now – they’ll need her to step that up and be in this lineup.

Rotation 2 – UCLA 49.275 Utah 49.300 (Overall UCLA 98.825, Utah 97.750)

Much better on vault from Utah than bars, but the landings can get better and will over time.  UCLA had little mistakes through the bars rotation with some legs and handstands and dismounts – this group has potential, but they are not as far along as they are on vault.  Still, they should be better on this event than they were last year.

Rotation 3 – UCLA on beam, Utah on floor

Uh oh, UCLA on beam…here we go.  If they can hit 5 of 6, this meet is automatically a victory.

Gerber – UCLA – (ugh, why is she still leading off?) – tuck turn – hit, excellent dance elements, nice on the side somi – that’s sometimes a problem for her, big wobble on walkover but saved it, dismount  series — stuck landing with full twist.  Would have been great if not for the walkover. (9.800)

Tutka – Utah – tuck full mount with bounce back, rudi + leap + front tuck – good energy, the leaps need some work – dbl tuck dismount – good body position but a bigger step back out of it. (9.800)

Courtney – UCLA – full turn – a little tentative, loso series – big wobble, bigger than Aisha’s, she looks nervous, front tuck – solid – issue on dbl tuck dismount- may have been a fall but it was off camera — oh, UCLA… (9.400 – not sure what the judges decided there, one went 9.6 and one went 9.2…these scores were later revised to 9.45 and 9.35.  How tidy.)

Damianova – Utah – layout + rudi, 1.5 on 2nd pass – music choice is a little predictable, but it works for her performance personality, dbl pike – a little low. (9.825)

Wong – UCLA – (white knuckle time) – wobble on both leaps, shouldn’t get connection, wobble on aerial walkover, back tuck – another big wobble – this is a nervy mess, switch side – hit, full turn – big wobble, 1.5 dismount with hop forward — that was kind of a disaster, but she stayed on the beam. (9.550)

Dabritz – Utah – good dbl arabian mount, nice attitude turn and front tuck, whip + dbl full, this has improved since some of the training videos, triple full dismount – a little legs but nice.  Their best routine so far. (9.900)

Larson – UCLA – let’s see how she handles her balance beam situation, good aerial walkover, loso series – good, switch + ring jump, full turn, good display of flexibility, dbl full dismount with near stuck.  Mattie didn’t splattie!  Nice work to start to change the narrative. (9.800)

Robarts – Utah – dbl arabian – low and step forward but she got it, dbl pike – bounce back, whip + dbl full dismount.  Not so clean on the landings, but she got through a hit routine, which is progress in her comeback. (9.750)

EHH – UCLA – hit mount, perfect on series (Allison pretends like she didn’t know what was coming), little balance check on leap, off on her illusion turn – well this is officially a disaster rotation for UCLA – some things never change – hits dbl full dismount.  They cannot afford falls from their best gymnast on the apparatus. (9.225)

Lothrop – Utah – tuck full – solid, 1.5 + layout, dbl pike – a little low.  Another efficient routine from her. (9.875 – a little high)

Peszek – UCLA – leaps and gainer loso, L turn – wouldn’t get credit in elite – and wobble, walkover to dismount series – hit.  They took out the standing full since they needed a hit – smart. (9.825)

McAllister – Utah – tuck full – a little low but fine, 2.5 + front tuck – little uncontrolled step out, dbl full + loso – nice.  In the Utah way, they stepped it up in this rotation when they needed to. (9.875)

Frattone Exo – UCLA – loso series – wobble, leaps – a little tentative, punch front – low and iffy, dbl full dismount – stuck.  Good routine, but she wouldn’t have hit had she been in the lineup.

Lofgren Exo – Utah – good dbl pike, split full was seriously lacking split, whip + dbl full, rudi + loso

Baer Exo – UCLA – good switch side, side somi – grabbed beam, her leaps are actually nice, dismount series with small hop.  Don’t see her in the lineup, really…

Rotation 3 Utah 49.275 UCLA 48.375 (Overall UCLA 147.200 Utah 147.025)

Well, UCLA completely UCLA-ed that rotation with 1 fall, 1 should-have-been-a fall, and 1 wobble-burger.  They can come back on floor and still win this, but beam remains a concern, but it shouldn’t really be this year.  They’ll hope to get Zam back here soon, so perhaps she can replace Wong, but they need people like EHH to be rocks.

Rotation 4 Utah on beam, UCLA on floor

Lothrop – Utah – switch side, side aerial and series are solid – another good, efficient routine from Lothrop – she’s the perfect little leadoff, 1.5 dismount with hop back. (9.800)

Gerber – UCLA – (how I love this routine, please hit) – dbl tuck – low and step forward, whip half + front full – big stumble but stayed up…oh dear, Allison needs to stop talking through this, dbl pike dismount with big step – not well executed on the tumbling, but we forgive her. (9.750)

Lopez – Utah – loso series with wobble, punch front – step, dbl full dismount with step – good start for Lopez in her career today. (9.800)

Frattone – UCLA – combo opeining, rudi then back into dbl pike- hit it, this is one of the better routines she’s had, rudi into wonky shushunova to end – hmm, how will the judges treat that? (9.875 – high)

McAllister – Utah – loso three series – hit, good confidence on leaps, stuck double full – consistent, hitting to win. (9.850)

Courtney – UCLA – Dbl arabian with huge step forward and OOB – she often overdoes that pass – 1.5 + layout, this routine doesn’t really do anything for me because she doesn’t sell it well enough, dbl tuck dismount with wobbly step back.  This routine needs work. (9.700)

Lofgren – Utah – leaps aren’t great to open – even Allison commented on it, completly off on loso – I don’t think either foot touched, off again on aerial – uh oh, gainer full dismount.  Utah didn’t count a fall in 2011, can they keep it up? (8.400)

Larson – UCLA – (marionette routine) – mount – good not great, totally messed up her second pass – only did a single tuck – not doing the whole routine and missing necessary skills – shades of Worlds 2010 – oh dear, Mattie, great turns and leaps, 2.5 dismount. (9.550)

Beers – Utah – aerial – hit, loso three series – solid and on, wobble on jumps, slightly off balance on full turn, side aerial – good, gainer full dismount with step.  They’re not imploding to the degree of UCLA. (9.750)

Peszek – UCLA – rubbing herself to start, DLO mount – nice, front full + front layout – almost lost where she was in the air on the stag jump out of that pass, usual Miss Val writhing on the ground choreo – I’m a sucker for it, dbl pike dismount with bounce back.  Big necessary hit for UCLA. (9.875)

Robarts – Utah – missed beginning, switch leap, side aerial, dbl full dismount – legs and hop, but they hit when they needed to. (9.800)

EHH – UCLA – they need a big score from her – working it as always – dbl tuck mount (hmm) bounce back and OOB, usual middle pass, not her usual quality of routine so far, very low landing on dbl pike dismount – she may just have lost the meet with that – it will be close.  Two pretty poor rotations from UCLA to finish. (9.675 – revised score to give her the OOB, which she was)

Kobayashi Exo – Utah – sheep, wobble on jumps, loso series – wobble, completely off on side aerial – that’s a shame.  Stuck gainer full dismount.

UCLA just ekes out the win.

MDLT Exo – UCLA – dbl pike – a little uncontrolled, whip half + front full, leaps are a little better perhaps, like the choreo on this one, 1.5 + layout with stumble.  Probably shouldn’t be in the lineup.

FINAL – UCLA 196.075 Utah 196.025

Well, after the first rotation I was going to say that UCLA and Florida had switched places, but UCLA showed they are truly themselves in January on those last two disheartening apparatuses.  The result probably would have been flipped had this meet been in Utah, but neither team deserved it more than the other.  Utah was poor on bars and average on beam, UCLA was poor on beam and average on floor.

Utah is just missing the potential for star performances on bars and beam, and UCLA had too many wobbly, tentative, not fully prepared routines on the final two apparatuses.  Both teams should be right there in the top 5 all season, but there’s a lot to be frustrated by as a fan of either team (but also a lot of time to fix it).

Sam Peszek wins the AA with a 39.450.  Good for her.  They need her in the AA hitting her routines for 9.875 all season long.

Anna Li is there.  We miss her.  Val pretended that Anna got to compete at Worlds.  I’m going to pretend that, too.

Scores adjusted: Judges realized that EHH was OOB, and raised Beers by .025, so it got even closer.

Live Blog – Florida @ NC State

Live Video

It begins.  Because of the influx of freshman talent across the top teams, I’m much more excited for this season than I was for last season.  After this weekend’s meets, I’ll probably be jaded and cynical about everyone again, but let’s just enjoy this moment while we can.

All eyes are on Rhonda this year after the disaster of last postseason, and she knows it.  There is more pressure on Florida than any other team, including defending champion Alabama.  The question coming from all corners is, regardless of talent level, can Rhonda actually coach a team to a championship?  She hasn’t proven it yet, and in 2011 with her most talented team ever, she didn’t get close.  On the positive side, she is willing to make significant changes to her coaching strategy, and tonight we will begin to see (and evaluate) how those changes are working.

I expect to see more lineup experimentation from Florida this season than we saw last year.  That’s necessitated by having such a deep, talented team and the need to explore all options so that many gymnasts are comfortable competing by championship season.  I hope Wang and Spicer get some opportunities tonight so we can begin to evaluate how useful they will be to the team.  It will also be interesting to see how much the team is relying on Hunter this early and how far along Caquatto is.

(Live commentary after the jump)

Coverage is beginning.  They throw out t-shirts after 9.7s.  These expectations…

If NC State can break 195, this meet is a victory.  It’s not about the result.

Is there anything worse in the world than shots of the crowd at any event?  I don’t want to have to look at this.  Don’t wave at the big screen; it’s not a camera.

Florida lineups: Spicer and Hunter look nervous.  For a second I thought Marissa King had a cast, but it was just wristbands.  Phew.  I’m a problem.

NC State lineups: They’ll be relying on Barr and Panza a lot this season.  This is a pretty big team…they’re almost rivaling UCLA…19 people on the roster this season.

Rotation 1: NC State on vault, Florida on bars

Touch warmup begins, NC State in red with black shoulders.  Wang and King on bars for FL, no Caquatto.  Florida in the dark leo with the silver UF.  Thank heavens it’s not Orangesicle Nightmare.

Marion – NCST – yhalf with huge leap forward and multiple steps, will score very low. (9.575)

Ellis – FL – jaeger – close, bail hs – ok, DLO with step back – fine opening for Florida. (9.750)

Fallanca – NCST – yfull, pretty nice for them, a little bent legs and step back, will score much higher. (9.750)

Wang – FL – clear hip, tkatchev, bail, near stick on the DLO, good start to her career, they should be pleased with that.  A little form everywhere but solid. (9.750)

Ouellette – NCST – yfull, big bend in legs and step back, pretty nice height, though. (9.700)

[buffering, ugh – missed Marissa King on bars, she got a 9.8]

Johnson – NCST – (in for Williams who injured herself in warmups) yfull, same issues as the previous two with legs but a bigger step back so should score a bit lower. (9.700)

Dickerson – FL – tkatchev – big, bail hs, missed hs, stuck DLO, I expect this will be the biggest score yet.  She has built-in deductions but hit to her capabilities. (9.800)

Ham – NCST – stuck landing but low chest, so shouldn’t be that huge on score – good improvement from earlier in the lineup, though. (9.875 – high)

Hunter – FL – they didn’t show it.  Don’t they know we’re more interested in Florida? (9.775)

Johnson – FL – lovely Ray, stalder nice, little leg sep on bail, DLO stuck – easily Florida’s best routine. (9.875 – fair)

Barr – NCST – yhalf, a little bend legs and step forward. (9.825)

Spicer Exo – FL – tkatchev – fine, giant full, bail hs – short, tuck full – step back.  This should be in the lineup soon. (9.650 – I think – seems low, but her bail hs was VERY short)

Rotation 1 – Florida: 49.000 NC State: 48.850

About what I expected from Florida.  They don’t look particularly sharp on handstands and dismounts, as they wouldn’t with their training schedule.  NC State is on track for a good showing for them.  I wanted to see them at a 48.750 average per rotation.

Rotation 2 – Florida on vault, NC State on bars

No Johnson or Caquatto on vault for Florida.  To answer the question, I wasn’t expecting Caquatto to be totally back from her ankle injury from the summer, but I haven’t heard of subsequent injuries.

Florida is showing tremendous height on vault in warmups.

Spicer – FL – high yfull, low chest and sideways step. (9.700)

Williams – NCST – giant full late, tkatchev, straddle back, tuck full with step back – poor handstands but a good leadoff. (9.675)

Wang – FL – y full, lacking distance, low chest, hop forward – a little tight from the first two freshmen, to be expected. (9.625)

Yanchocik – NCST – very late giant full, wonky gienger, toe shoot, a little under on her DLO – more sloppiness than the previous routine. (9.600)

Ellis – FL – yfull, good form but fairly sizable hop back. (9.850 – a little high)

Ouellette – NCST – giant full – tkatchev, straddle back, this is better from NCST, DLO step back.  Her form is a bit more precise and competitive. (9.750)

King – FL – tsuk full – MARRY ME – love it.  almost stuck – tried to pretend. (9.775 – whatever, judges)

Harabedian – NCST – leg sep on giant full, close tkatchev, bail hs, toe shoot, DLO larger step back. (9.650)

Dickerson – FL – good power on yfull, but major hop back – needs time to practice and control. (9.750)

Panza – NCST – high tkatchev, bail hs – a little hip form, DLO – step back.  Christine Still would call her an efficient little gymnast. (9.725)

Hunter – FL – lovely y1.5 in the air, largish hop forward, but should still break 9.8. (9.850)

We’ve finally had a Rhonda sighting.  She looks resolute but unimpressed in a cream top.

Fincham – NCST – oopsie, huge mistakes, I don’t even know what happened – catches tkatchev, sticks dbl arabian dismount – too bad about the beginning, she screwed up her toe on-off. (9.250)

Shisler (who?) – FL – EXO – very average yfull.

Kronenfeld – NCST – EXO – giant full to tkatchev, overcooked handstand and came off, bail, handstand issues, but a cleanish, close DLO.

Rotation 2 – Florida: 48.925 NC State: 48.400 (Overall Florida: 97.925 NC State 97.250)

For Florida on vault, the early freshmen looked very tight, and the rest need to work on landings.  Kytra was by far the highlight, and she will easily go 9.9+ later in the season with that very clean y1.5.  They’re leaving lots of room for improvement – good.

Rotation 3 – NC State on beam, Florida on floor

Ugh, simultaneous competition for the last two rotations.

Fincham – NCST – wobbly wolf, loso series – legs and step back, switch split + tuck full jump, punch front – a little low, full turn – nice, front full dismount.  Good start in that she stayed on. (9.525)

Ferguson – FL – missed beginning – big bounce back on mount, double pike middle pass, back 1.5 + layout.  deductions on first pass but solid. (9.775)

Ouellette – NCST – bhs bhs loso  – hit, poor splits on leaps, full turn, solid punch front, gainer full dismount.  They should be pleased. (9.700)

[GEORGIA update  — Ding goes 9.925 on vault – excellent.]

Spicer – FL – tuck full – little low chest but nice, front full + front layout, not wild about these leaps, dbl pike dismount – odd stumble back because she hit it, then lost concentration.  This music… (9.725)

Barr – NCST – bhs layout 2 ft – nicely done but a little pike-y on layout, standing front – wobble, front full dismount with hop up. (9.600)

Stageberg – FL – pike full in – stumble back and OOB, she just did Alicia’s thigh rub – oh, elite…, whip double full, nice dbl pike dismount.  A little posey, prancy for my liking. (9.625)

Ham – NCST – wolf full, saved series – she looked very off, off on her dance – uh oh, stuck front 1.5 dismount but low.  That’s a shame. (9.000)

King – FL – shakin’ it like she knows how,  back 2.5 – a little legs, front tuck to dbl back – a little low, very good on leaps – thank you, Marissa, excellent dbl pike dismount.  I’ll need the DLO to come back. It’s a shimmy of a routine, but I like it. (9.850)

Fallanca – NCST – loso three series, looks on so far, upsetting split position, but fine straddle quarter, back 1.5 dismount with large step forward. (9.750)

Dickerson – FL – please pretend like you mean it, Ashanee,  dbl arabian mount – very good, dbl tuck – a little low, I’d like to see her sell this a little more, good dbl pike dismount.  This is solid for January – she will go 9.9+ later. (9.875 – high)

Panza – NCST – hits three series, a little wobble on full turn, aerial – pretty good, sticks gainer full.  Unremarkable composition but a good routine. (9.825)

Hunter – FL – crazy excellent DLO, this is already the best floor she’s been given, which is saying nothing, 1.5 + lo + front pike – so easy looking for her, I hate this music, there’s not a ton of dance here, but it’s okay – dbl tuck dismount – too easy for her and it shows – uncontrolled step back. (9.900)

Jarred – NCST – EXO – nice illusion turn, this is a solid routine that could make the lineup later, she has a fine line.  dbl full dismount – I like this routine better than most in the lineup.

Wang – FL – EXO – dbl tuck, 1.5 + layout, I like the music selection and performance here, but this routine probably won’t contend for lineup until there’s more difficulty, she presents with good face, though, good dbl pike. (9.800)

Rotation 3 – Florida: 49.125 NC State: 48.425 (Overall: Florida 147.050 NC State 145.675)

This has gotten a bit disappointing for NC State, lots of uncertainty on the beam, which I suppose is to be expected. Florida scored their best rotation on the floor, and they should be excellent here during the season when Johnson gets in the lineup and they are a little more perfected.  Now on to the beam.  Eek.

Rotation 4 – Florida on beam, NC State on floor

(GEORGIA update – Kat Ding is amazing again – 9.975 on bars in the opening meet.  Possible home scoring, but she certainly has the potential to do it, so maybe not.  They’re scoring very well so far, 98.475 after 2 rotations.)

Stageberg – FL – aerial + bhs – solid, bhs + bhs + layout full dismount – good start.  She could be a nice nominee for leadoff for them this year. (9.800)

Marion – NCST – dbl pike – bounce back, layout + layout, dbl tuck – fall, it was never close.  Rough situation for NC State. (9.125)

Spicer – FL – bhs loso – right on, gainer loso, exactly what she was recruited for, solid and consistent. (9.750)

Jarred – NCST – back 2.5 with uncontrolled step forward, L and illusion turns, she has excellent turning, front handspring + rudi, splits aren’t as nice as turns, front double full dismount. (9.825)

Johnson – FL – (9.750)

Ham – NCST – dbl pike, front layout + front full, dbl tuck with step back. She seems confident with her tumbling but is often low. (9.775)

Dickerson – FL – bhs + loso – bent legs, punch front – a little low, but not bad, little wobble on pike jump, stuck double back dismount.  Rhonda is much more pleased than she was by this routine at regionals last year, we’ll say that. (9.825)

Ouellette – NCST – pike full mount – good difficulty for this team, rudi + loso, she’s a taller girl which helps her on elements like that, cat leap (why do they exist?), whip dbl full dismount – nice.  This is a solid floor for them. (9.750)

Hunter – FL – she’ll need to work on her NCAA expression, sizable wobble on loso, double back dismount. (9.775)

Barr – NCST – DLO with leg separation, better leaps, front full + front layout – little bounce out, dbl tuckdismount – good, confident. (9.850)

King – FL – right on for her acro and series, she can be the solid anchor for this team if she hits to capability.  It didn’t always happen at the end of last season. (9.825)

Panza – NCST – dbl pike – major bounce back, front full + front layout – good position, horrid leaps, rudi dismount – a little bit of leg form.  This was not as strong as Barr’s routine. (9.800)

Mahlich for Florida and Harabedian for NC State are exhibitioning.

FINAL SCORES: Florida: 196.025 NC State: 194.675

All-Around: 1) Hunter – 39.300, 2) Dickerson – 39.250, 3) King – 39.250, 4) Ouellette – 38.900

Well, there will probably be some who will criticize Florida’s performance because the score is lower than we usually see from a healthy Florida in January.  For me this is an average, but right on expectations, performance.  They did not look particularly impressive on any apparatus, largely because of details.  They will need to clean up the landings, which will happen over the course of the season, and get more numbers in with these routines.

It was nice to see some gymnastics from Spicer and Wang — they will not light the world on fire, but they can be solid when necessary.  Great for Hunter to win the AA in her first meet.  She will be a leader on VT and FX for them for sure.  When Caquatto gets back and when Johnson gets into the AA, I’m sure we will start to see the 197s from them.  They have left significant room to peak, which I suppose was the goal.

(GEORGIA update – Shayla hit beam for 9.875 and Kat Ding didn’t fall (It’s a January miracle!).  Tanella got a 9.850 – okay…  147.600 after 3 rotations.  They will be ecstatic if they outscore Florida, which they will if they hit floor.)

Georgia scores 196.525 in victory.  That’s about expected for a home meet in this part of the season.  Shayla hit her three events, and Kat Ding won her two best events.  Kaylan Earls scored well in debut.  Noel Couch won the AA.  They should be very pleased with this as a starting point.