April 7, 6:00 ET, Ohio State State University
Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams
Teams (starting event)
 UCLA (floor)
 Arkansas (beam)
 Boise State (bye before floor)
 Ohio State (bye before bars)
 Pittsburgh (bars)
 Kent State (vault)
Jovannah East, Bowling Green (AA)
Lea Mitchell, Michigan State (AA)
Emili Dobronics, Eastern Michigan (AA)
Morgan Spence, Western Michigan (AA)
Rachael Underwood, Western Michigan (VT, FX)
Lauren DeMeno, Bowling Green (VT)
Hailee Westney, Michigan State (UB)
Kendall Valentin, Eastern Michigan (UB)
Laura Mitchell, Bowling Green (BB)
India McPeak, Bowling Green (BB)
Tia Kiaku, Ball State (FX)
Like the other top-ranked teams, UCLA will head into this regional with the luxury of being able to make mistakes and still advance. The Bruins haven’t recorded a score that would be remotely dangerous at regionals since the very first week of the season, and even in semi-problematic meets like Pac-12s when UCLA counted a half-fall on bars, the total was still 197.500—more than high enough to advance comfortably out of a regional. With a real hit, UCLA will expect to win this one by a full point, meaning it would take more than just a counting fall to make things interesting for the top spot.
This is where I’m supposed to talk about vault (because the start values!), but I’m actually going to talk about bars. Bars was expected to be a strength for the Bruins this season, and while the bars performances have been good enough, a rotation that’s kind of 9.825-9.850y until Lee and Ross show up to save the day is not going to win a national championship against the other top bars rotations. At this point, UCLA is not going to change its start values on vault (or, whatever, UCLA things), but cleaning up those mid-bars landings and handstands is something that can still be achieved and will be necessary if UCLA is to be a legitimate title challenger. Watch for that progress at regionals.
A huge opportunity for both teams. Arkansas and Boise State couldn’t really have asked for a better draw, not tasked with having to beat a traditional power, and both will like their chances of getting through to nationals out of this meet. Of course, there can be only one.
This has been a magnificent season for Arkansas, coming back from the disappointment of 2017 to rank in the top 10 once again. We knew it would be better, but not that much better. As much as having Wellick again has buoyed the team’s performance, just as much of the credit (if not more) goes to new competitors like Shaffer and Carter and improved returners like Garner, forced to transform from a bars/beam specialist into an all-arounder because that’s what the team needed from her. Continue reading Columbus Regional Preview