Category Archives: Pac-12 Championship

Conference Championships Live Blog

 Saturday, March 19
11:00 ET/8:00 PT – Jesolo Senior Team and AA
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 1 – SCORESBig Ten Network
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – ECAC DI Championship – SCORES
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – ECAC DII Championship
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 1 – SCORESSECN
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – MAC Championship – SCORESESPN3
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – EAGL Championship- SCORESESPN3
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Division III Individual Championship – Stream
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 1 – SCORESPac-12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 2 – SCORES – Big Ten Network
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Big 12 Championship – SCORES – TV: Fox Sports affiliates
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – MIC Championship – SCORES
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 2 – SCORESSECN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Mountain Rim Championship – SCORESStream
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 2 – SCORESPac-12
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Mountain Pacific Championship- SCORESAunt Flo($)

The fourth-most exciting day of the college gymnastics season has finally arrived! I know you’ve had it circled on your calendars for months. It is a big one, with some important elite action thrown in, so I prepared a schedule. Everything is better with a chart.


Also, keep an eye on the rankings coming into the day, the final chance for teams to change their lot. The full breakdown of what teams need is here.

Here’s the short version, the scores each of the borderline teams will need in order to guarantee advancing to regionals:
Kent State 195.050
NC State 195.525
BYU 195.700
New Hampshire 195.800
Utah State 195.950
Bowling Green 196.050
Michigan State 196.250

Central Michigan, Maryland, and Iowa State can also qualify, but they will have to rely on one or more of the teams above not reaching the listed score. This setup will change through the day as we get some results, clarifying what teams actually need.

Week 10 rankings

Continue reading Conference Championships Live Blog

Pac-12 Championship Preview

Saturday 3/19
Afternoon session 4:00 ET/1:00 PT
Evening session 9:00 ET/6:00 PT

The Pac-12 should take pride this season in winning the award for the weirdest conference championship scenario. Stanford is the #6 seed and competing in the “who even are you?” afternoon relegation session in spite of being quite a realistic title contender and possible winner, which if nothing else, will serve to make sure we all pay more attention to the afternoon session instead of getting distracted by the simultaneous Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC action. Fun fact: there will be at least 30 minutes during which all four of those championships are going on at the same time. Well, we’ve had a good life.

Stanford’s last meet featured a relative crushing of Georgia and UCLA, so if that’s any indication, Stanford is currently in the midst of pulling a Stanford once again this year. But, let’s begin with the ones who were good all season long and qualified for the coveted evening session.  

Utah, UCLA, Cal, Oregon State

Once again, Utah has earned the top seed in the conference on the back of resolutely having the fewest meltdowns. Hooray! Seven straight weeks of 197s coupled with breaking the 197.5 barrier in the last two outings has given the Utes a fairly comfortable ranking lead over the remaining Pac-12 teams, meaning they’ll be favorites heading in. Given what UCLA and Stanford can do, however, there shouldn’t more than a few tenths in this either way with hit meets all around (ahahahahahaha), so we have at least some reason to hope for excitement. UCLA is capable of busting out a massive day, and after Stanford goes, we’ll have the benefit of a legitimate pace standard through which to gauge Utah and UCLA’s performances. So, let’s break this thing down.

Rotation 1: UCLA vault, Cal bars, Utah beam, Oregon State floor

Event RQS for rotation 1:
Utah 49.290
UCLA 49.165
Oregon State 49.165
Cal 49.110

Of course UCLA is the team that drew its arch-nemesis, Olympic order, meaning the Bruins already have a four-tenth deficit, and the competition is two days away. It actually is probably beneficial to the Bruins as they make their money on beam and floor and would rather end there than begin there, hoping to squeeze out some home-meet level scoring as Cipra and Bynum on floor will be the last routines of the competition, at the end of a long day, once the judges are already halfway through the whiskey bottle. I know. That’s not right of me to say. They’ll obviously have finished the whiskey by that point and be on to the cooking sherry and rubbing alcohol.

As for vault, UCLA has lacked the required landing control and difficulty (having to rely on Bynum’s arabian and Pua’s roller coaster 1.5), often bouncing back on fulls and hoping to get a 9.825 out of them. The sticking shoes showed up just once a couple weeks ago to earn UCLA a 49.375, but more often the score has been about 49.1. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the Bruins will hope to go over 49.2 to keep pace early. None of the teams are starting on particularly strong events, so don’t expect anyone to run away with this thing at the beginning.

Utah’s beam will be among the key rotations to keep every eye on because of Stover Watch 2016. She may be able to compete beam at Pac-12s after all, and if she’s back in form, that bolsters Utah’s scoring potential by a solid tenth, maybe more, and seriously reduces the Fall Terror Index. It was rising considerably depending on who was going to have to come into the lineup. Utah has had its share of falls this season, but this isn’t among the most terrifying beam lineups in the conference. Lopez is currently doing the best beam work of her career, and if Utah can get at least 9.875s from her, Rowe, and Stover (?), along with two other hits, breaking into 49.300+ range seems doable, at least depending on how some of those early-lineup short splits are being evaluated. If the Utes emerge from beam in the first rotation with a true lead, that significantly fuels their chances because they’ll be heading off to higher-scoring, lower-risk events from here. If it’s 49.1 or lower, ring all the bells because it’s feeding time for the vultures. 

Oregon State hasn’t been as competitive as usual with the top of the Pac-12 this season, so while the Beavs remain a team to watch that could snatch this title at the last second (as has happened before), that scenario seems less likely this year. They’ve topped out in the high 196s, which is not going to be strong enough to win this championship. It would take a season high by a considerable margin, which would need to start on floor in the first rotation. Since floor is the highest-scoring event, Oregon State would need to nail that double pike parade with supreme control and use Perez powers to greatly exceed that paltry 49.1 RQS, which would guard against the inevitably dropped tenths coming on vault.

In contrast to Oregon State, Cal has recorded one score this season that could be good enough to win this title, but realistically it still looks like there’s another step between Cal and winning a conference title. The fact that it’s even a conversation this year, however, is a victory. Cal possesses great line on bars and has received some big numbers in a couple meets this season, but the performances I’ve seen have also included some flexed feet and missed handstands, so I’m eager to see how this rotation is evaluated. Bars was Cal’s highest-scoring event in that recent 197.5 result with a 49.475, and while there’s no need/reason to expect that again, the bars total needs to be at least in the same state as that 49.475. A 49.100 would severely compromise the team’s chance to hit 197. Exceeding RQS is key, but don’t necessarily expect Cal to be busting out with a lead in first half of the meet, starting on bars and beam. They’ll plan on making up ground on floor later on and pushing up through the standings from the back. 

Rotation 2: Oregon State vault, UCLA bars, Cal beam, Utah floor

Event RQS through 2 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 2):
Utah 98.755 (49.465)
UCLA 98.350 (49.185)
Cal 98.230 (49.120)
Oregon State 98.150 (48.985)

This is Utah’s rotation. RQS tells us that Utah should have a four-tenth lead at the halfway point, mostly because, in rotation 2, all the other teams go a weakness while Utah goes to the highest-scoring apparatus. Utah does not have big floor routines this year, but we’ve seen Schwab, Hughes, and Partyka (earlier in the season) earn some massive scores for going through cleanly and minimizing those landing deductions. It will be fascinating to watch how the judges respond to that and if they’re willing to give out 9.950s for double pike routines in the second rotation of a meet. The general scoring landscape and precedent leads me to think that they will, but we’ll see how this total compares to Utah’s home floor scoring (Utah has peaked at 49.425 for road floor, while the last three home floor scores have been 49.625, 49.575, and 49.525).

Meanwhile, UCLA will go to bars, so stop, drop, and roll. It has been a sloppy road this year. Without Peng and with Ohashi only able to show a couple routines so far, the lineup has been populated by too many just trying to squeak out a 9.825. Ohashi has returned to beam and floor so far post-sternum, but the bars lineup really does need her to elevate the scoring potential, along with one of Sophina’s good dismounts and some of that special magic that got Janay Honest a 9.950 last week. The goal for the Bruins here will be to minimize the deficit, because there will be a deficit versus Utah on floor. They’ll like their chances to gain ground later in the meet, so it’s about getting as close as possible. Getting closer than the RQS predicts would do.

Likewise, Cal will be looking to minimize damage in rotation 2 as beam has been the struggle event this season. It’s not nearly as worrisome as last year when it cost Cal the chance to upset Utah at regionals, but it’s still the event on which Cal is most likely to get stuck counting scores in the 9.7s. We are seeing shades of truly fine performances from the likes of Howe, and that RQS is over 49, but Cal will be relying more on bars and floor to bump up the score.

If you’re pointing to an event that has contributed the most to Oregon State’s falling a bit lower in the Pac-12 hierarchy, it’s vault. Vault is not traditionally Oregon State’s event, and this year the lower SV have exacerbated the issue with all those fulls struggling around the 9.750 territory. Sticking shoes will be absolutely critical because even though a huge score on vault is no longer the must it used to be, you still can’t win a big title with a sub-49 vault.

Rotation 3: Utah vault, Oregon State bars, UCLA beam, Cal floor

Event RQS through 3 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 3):
Utah 148.000 (49.245)
UCLA 147.590 (49.240)
Cal 147.485 (49.230)
Oregon State 147.410 (49.260)

And now the inverse of rotation 2. The RQSs in this rotation are very closely packed, which would suit Utah quite nicely. Utah would love every team to score around the same total in the 3rd and maintain the pace set in the previous rotation. The issue for Utah is the potential for other teams to put up big performances, since Utah’s peak vault score is 49.275, while OSU and Cal have gone into the 49.4s on bars and floor respectively, and UCLA can and has hit 49.5 on beam.

UCLA beam is not quite the force we expected it to be when presuming a healthy Peng (how silly of us), but Francis, Ohashi, and sometimes DeJesus can still deliver the numbers and Gerber has been a worthwhile leadoff this year. The Bruins are far better on beam than that 49.240 RQS suggests and will have to deliver on that potential (multiple tenths over the RQS) to expect a conference-winning total. Utah’s vault would not be able to match the scores coming from a nailed UCLA beam. While Utah is probably the best-vaulting team in the conference, that’s a bit like being the best listener at a school for the deaf. It hasn’t been a banner year for Pac-12 vaulting, and like the others, Utah has a lot of fulls getting stuck at 9.825. I like the lineup decision to put Delaney after Hughes because I still maintain it has the potential to bump Delaney up to a 9.950 for a stuck landing on the back of Hughes’ 1.5 and 10.0 SV, but Delaney has to stick. She hasn’t been sticking as much this season, so it’s basically impossible for her to do much better than the 9.875s she’s been scoring. Graduations and SV changes have conspired to sap Utah of all its vault 9.9s.

Oregon State’s bars have been an interesting animal this season, just in case you haven’t checked in for a while. Earlier in the year, bars looked like a struggle event with some serious dismount crazies bringing down the scores, but lately it has returned to being OSU’s strong apparatus the way it always should be. McMillan and Jacobsen are quite precise for possible 9.9s at the back of that lineup (I would say the most likely 9.9s the Beavs have across all the events), which must be taken advantage of if this is to be a serious score. Beyond trying to contend for the title, a strong score is essential if they’re to move out of #3-seed territory. It will take a 196.675 in this meet for the Beavs to have even a remote shot at a #2 seed, and that score would be built on bars 9.9s.

Cal is also fighting for a #2 seed but currently sits in 11th and therefore is working from a position of strength. The Bears can guarantee that #2 seed with a 196.475, which is quite doable as long as floor cooperates for something over 49. This is the event where Cal most takes advantage of Toni-Ann Business and the realistic 9.950 she can bring to send the score in a stratospheric direction. Add to that a double arabian from Robinson, a couple other deduction-minimal double pike routines, and an overall commitment to non-lame dance combinations (that doesn’t show up in the scores but I appreciate), and this should be Cal’s best-scoring event of the night.

Rotation 4: Cal vault, Utah bars, Oregon State beam, UCLA floor

Event RQS through 4 rotations (Event RQS for rotation 4):
Utah 197.395 (49.395)
UCLA 197.020 (49.430)
Cal 196.670 (49.185)
Oregon State 196.555 (49.145)

Note that these are the totals of the four event RQSs, not the teams’ overall ranking RQS.

None of the teams should be particularly distressed by where they finish the meet and all will feel, to varying degrees, like they can pick up ground on the final apparatus should that be necessary. Perhaps with the exception of Oregon State because of beam reasons, but BeaverBeam hasn’t been particularly terrifying the last few weeks. With Gardiner and McMillan, who both have creative and crisp routines, Risa Perez who has Risa Perez things going on, and the Colussi-Pelaii, we should have fairly high expectations for Oregon State here. More than some unmemorable 49.1.

Now, let’s talk about Cal’s vault because I suddenly have a lot of feelings about it starting now. Cal is the #2 vaulting team in the conference and among all the teams in the country, probably deserves the most credit for quickly and effectively adapting to the new SVs and using them to their advantage. They have a Tsuk full and a handspring-handspring pike (and a 1.5 occasionally for Williams), but on the negative side, they’ve also committed some serious counterfeit yurchenko arabian fraud in a couple instances. Seilnacht’s vault scores have been weirdly high, leading me to believe that she has been getting credit for an arabian, even though it’s definitely a yhalf. With four judges, in a championship scenario, are they finally going to crack down on some of these counterfeit arabians? Could be influential. And we all agree that vault needs to go down to a 9.950 next season, right?

Similarly to Utah, we’ll have to keep an eye on how UCLA’s floor is being evaluated compared to regular-season meets, but the Bruins do have the advantage of ending on floor in a way that might resemble a regular-season dual meet. We’ve seen DeJesus, Francis, Cipra, and Bynum all go into the 9.9s this season, which they’ll hope to use to zoom out of reach of Utah, in spite of Utah boasting quite competitive bars scores. The Utes have shown superior finishing positions in full turns this season to minimize some of the handstand deductions that smack the other teams, and when that is paired with stuck dismounts, the scores can go quite high, which is why that RQS verges on 49.4. Bars, however, is not as high scoring as floor this season overall, so UCLA will look to gain ground here and really should be the strongest team at the meet in both the 3rd and 4th rotations. We’ll just have to see if that’s enough to make up for the 1st and 2nd rotations. Or if Stanford has rendered the whole thing moot.


Washington, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State

Since this is the Stanford session, it seems only appropriate that I use this section to nerd out a little bit. 

Because we have a title contender in the early session, a lot of focus will be placed (by me and maybe other people, but mostly me) on score building and whether the scores are being kept down in the first session so that they can rise in the second session. Scores being held down in earlier sessions and rising in later sessions seems to be the conventional wisdom in gymnastics, as we hear this theory every year in both elite and NCAA, though it’s very hard to make a compelling, evidence-based argument that it’s actually happening. At conference championships, the scores do indeed tend to be lower in the first session, but the teams are also weaker, so it’s impossible to attribute that to score suppression with any authority since the quality of the teams is the most significant influence there. A better indicator would be the national semifinals, where the scoring capabilities of the teams should be relatively equal between the early semifinal and the later semifinal. Let’s take a look!

This is the average score of the three teams advancing to Super Six (to weed out teams counting falls that might skew the numbers down artificially) from each semifinal session at nationals over the last six seasons. 

Semifinal #1: 197.375
Semifinal #2: 197.192

Semifinal #1: 197.300
Semifinal #2: 197.467

Semifinal #1: 197.417
Semifinal #2: 197.250

Semifinal #1: 197.242
Semifinal #2: 197.492

Semifinal #1: 196.658
Semifinal #2: 196.700

Semifinal #1: 196.683
Semifinal #2: 196.642

Semifinal #1: 197.113
Semifinal #2: 197.124

It’s admittedly a very small sample size, but it’s enough to demonstrate that arguments of score suppression in earlier sessions don’t really have a recent factual basis. All of which is to say, there’s not necessarily a reason to think that Stanford will be held down in session 1 or is a less compelling contender because of this placement. At least heading in. We’ll see how we feel after Price gets a random 9.825 on bars.

With any kind of hit meet, Stanford should win this session in a landslide (potentially by close to a point) and will just have to wait and see what the evening teams produce and whether the total can be bested. Rest assured that Jim has already prepared all his golf analogies about Stanford setting the mark in the clubhouse.

Stanford competes in Olympic order, so the good parts will be bookended by the bad parts. Stanford’s most realistic path to a competitive pace will be to go over 49.2 on vault and floor and over 49.4 on bars and beam, which is about what happened during the season-high performance at UCLA two weeks ago. On vault and floor, that pretty much means everyone needs to make sure to go 9.825 and then Ebee gets a 10, fixing everything. It’s doable. But, as it is and always has been, through rain and shine and graduation, Stanford’s really events are bars and beam, and that’s where the winning would need to happen. I mentioned in the season previews that I was worried about Stanford on bars because there are exactly six usable bars workers on this team. Well, those six have managed to endure through the whole season, and with Price, Hong, and N McNair all able to warrant 9.9+ scores (even though it’s tougher for McNair in that first spot), bars remains a strong event that shouldn’t have to endure 9.7s of the type that have brought low vault and floor. 

Beam is pretty much the same as bars, though with several more lineup options. I also do have to credit Stanford’s smart rotation order on beam this year, putting Price and Hong in the 3rd and 4th spots. I like. Because they’re Price and Hong, they’re able to get the big totals anywhere in the lineup, pushing up the scores for Daum and Chuang in the last two spots and allowing them to get 9.9s they wouldn’t be scoring otherwise. Those 9.9s going to Daum and Chuang are a big part of why Stanford remains 49.5 capable on beam this year in spite of bleeding quite a bit of beam talent from last year’s roster that hasn’t really been replaced. 

I didn’t forget you, others! The Washington Huskies are having their best season in quite some time and are hosting the meet, which usually spells a massive performance in a championship meet. That doesn’t mean challenging for a victory, but I would not be surprised by another strong mid-196, which would be particularly valuable since Washington is another team in a seed fight, currently sitting at 17th with Stanford and Iowa lurking just behind. Since both Stanford and Iowa have higher maximums, Washington could get bumped down into the 19-36 pit-of-peasants territory regardless of performance, but a strong 196 would make it much tougher, particularly on Iowa. Iowa will have already competed by this point, so we’ll know exactly what Washington needs to do when the session begins.

Arizona is also mathematically capable of moving into that top 18, but it’s looking pretty unlikely and would require a whole heap of meltdowns from Stanford, Washington, and several others. Arizona is usually pecking around that 3rd-seed section, so Tabitha’s first season in charge has been relatively in line with what we expect from Arizona, if not breaking any molds. Although it should be noted that attendance is WAY up at this season, increasing 69% over last year, which is probably the most encouraging change we’ve seen from the new regime. It took a little while for the team to find its way, particularly adjusting to staying competitive on vault, but we’re seeing consistent 196s now. A mid-196 is a pounce score, the kind of score it takes to pounce on a better team’s mistakes at regionals, so let’s see if Arizona can turn those 196.2s into 196.6s this weekend.

And there’s Arizona State.

What a hitter.

Conference Championships Saturday!

Saturday, March 21

11:30 ET/8:30 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 1 (Ann Arbor, MI) (Scores) (Stream, w/ TV subscription)
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – ECAC Championship (New Haven, CT) (Stream, w/ subscription)
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 1 (Duluth, GA) (Scores) (SECN Stream)
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – MAC Championship (Kent, OH) (Scores) (Stream)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 1 (Salt Lake City, UT) (Scores) (Stream, w/ TV subscription)
4:30 ET/1:30 PT – Big Ten Championship Session 2 (Ann Arbor, MI) (Scores) (Stream, w/ TV subscription)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – MIC Championship (Denton, TX) (Scores) (Stream)
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – SEC Championship Session 2 (Duluth, GA) (Scores) (SECN Stream)
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Big 12 Championship (Norman, OK)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Mountain Rim Championship (Denver, CO) (Scores) (CSL Stream)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Pac-12 Championship Session 2 (Salt Lake City, UT) (Scores) (Stream, w/ TV subscription)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – MPSF Championship (Anchorage, AK) (Scores) (Stream)

It’s happening. And it’s going to be a long day. Make sure you have your provisions. Lots of snacks. More booze. Your shrine to Stella Umeh. The usual. I’ll start blogging in earnest around 2:00 ET with the start of the SEC Championship.

Note that the EAGL Championship isn’t until tomorrow, which will be surprising if you’re me and thought it was today. It was originally supposed to be today, as all conference championships are, but George Washington wasn’t able to host because of another scheduling conflict (why aren’t these things worked out in advance?), so now it’s tomorrow at Towson.

Week 10 rankings – (GymInfo)

Keep in mind that today we enter the land of four judges. The high and the low scores are dropped,  and the remaining scores are averaged, meaning that individual judges who are a little too enthusiastic or a little too a-prune-with-legs will usually be thrown out in favor of a happy medium. Or unhappy medium because let’s be honest, we’re going to be unhappy.

The first session from Big Tens is already in the books, with Iowa snatching the victory with a very solid 196.500 that should probably beat a couple of the teams in the later session. That’s a season high and makes two weeks in a row of breaking 196.400 at away meets. They take the clubhouse lead over Maryland with a 196.075 (also a season high, spotting a trend?), Michigan State with a 195.650, and Rutgers with a 193.125.  

A reminder, in the first session of SECs we have Georgia starting on vault, Arkansas starting on bars, Kentucky starting on beam, and Missouri starting on floor. Sadly for Missouri, Shauna Miller is still available on just bars and beam and not all the events, so we will be denied that vault.

Arkansas’s score is something to keep an eye on because the Razorbacks are currently sitting in the precarious 18th spot in the rankings, but we won’t really know anything about where they’ll finish until Minnesota and Cal have gone later in the day.

Bart is ready to go! Of course he is. A couple dozen people are waiting for the meet to start! It’s a four-ring circus! Amanda Two is reporting that Jay is back on floor.

Starting right away!

Rotation 1:
Persinger – VT – back into the lineup – very secure landing – basically stuck, but a large pike in the air. You can see why she’s in for Vaculik if she has been landing like that in training.

Marino – VT – The 1.5 has been touch-and-go lately, but this was one of her better ones in terms of completion of the vault and leg form. Still a pretty large bounce forward, though, so won’t be a big score.

They’re struggling a little with what routines to show/general facts early in the competition. So we’re just watching Katie Carlisle stand around for 15 hours like this is an NBC competition or something. 

Carlisle – BB – solid loso series with good leg extension – full turn is fine – split jump and a pause before the split 3/4 with a check – very low on her punch front, can’t save it and comes off. Sticks gainer full.

Scoring update? Come on people.

Rogers – VT – Oopsie. Great height on her 1.5 but lunges 1100 feet out of the vault – not what they needed in these landings so far after Persinger.

Jay – VT – There’s a stronger 1.5 – just an average step forward on the 1.5, but the rest was her usual vault and it should be the strongest score of the routines we’ve seen.

Kappler – FX – Opens with a punch rudi, though struggles a bit to connect it to a bhs loso like it’s a beam series – finishes with a pretty solid double tuck.

We’re getting highlights of a Canizaro mistake on bars, so Arkansas is already counting a couple 9.7s on bars.

Wellick – UB – they need a big hit from her and she’s starting securely – handstands look close enough, hits the tkatchev – and just a small step on the double front. Their previous best score was a 9.800, so this should be good enough. Just 9.775. Thought it would get into the 9.8s. Spread was 9.700 to 9.900 from the judges.

Zaziski – UB –  ACK! Arches her full turn but saves it – solid on the tkatchev – misses a following handstand in there – bail is clean – hop forward on the DLO, short, and then another step to salute. Pulled it out, but not one of her strong ones because of the arch on that pirouette.

Lots of 9.7s so far. We’ve seen no gymnasts score higher than 9.850.
“You can tell the judges are warming up as well in this first rotation.” The Kathy shade begins.

Heimsath – FX – Missouri is right in this with the scores in the first rotation so far – not mich height on the double pike put pulls it around – a larger lunge – leaps looked OK – 1.5 to layout, layout a little arched but good control – double tuck is nearly a carbon copy of the double pike landing with a little slide. Solid, not much invested in performance, but hit tumbling and acceptable leaps.

Amanda Two is interviewing Danna and asking about Persinger sticking, and Danna is like “but no one else did…so shut up.” She’s happy with the enthusiasm. Uh oh. Kiss of death. At least the vaults were big.

After 1: Georgia 49.125, Missouri 49.075, Arkansas 48.825, Kentucky 48.275
Remember that time yesterday I was singing Kentucky’s praises on beam? This is why I should never say anything. Kentucky counts a beam fall and is basically out of it now. Arkansas was able to avoid counting a fall on bars but couldn’t get out of those 9.7s. Thought Wellick’s routine was fine, but they needed a big score from Zaziski and she arched a handstand pretty majorly.

Georgia, Georgia. Needed those vault landings and they didn’t come. I thought Jay’s vault was pretty good, with just the medium step forward. That could have gone higher than 9.850, but overall it was more of the same story of the last few weeks, large lunges and getting stuck down in the 49.1s.

Still waiting on the final score from Missouri. Finally in, and it’s a 49.075 for Missouri on floor, which is a big deal for them.

Noticing a few large spreads so far in the scores. A couple routines have had .200 spread and a lot have had .150.

Rotation 2:
“Jay Clark was in charge for a few years before moving on.” Yeah. Moving on.

Jay – UB – hit first hs – strong Ray – focusing well on hs – clean on the bail – finishes with a big DLO and a small slide back. Good hit.

We’re definitely focusing on Georgia in this broadcast, which is understandable since they’re the strongest and most famous team here and at home-ish.

Vaculik – UB – a little late on a few of these early handstands – missing each of the first three – very nice on the jaeger and bail – and holds onto the stick on the tuck full. Solid on all the major skills but will get hit for the handstands.

Kappler – VT – Doesn’t have the same dynamics as the Georgia vaults, but clean form in the air, bounce back.

Schick – UB – How did I miss that she was back on bars? Interesting…nice hs – high and clean piked jaerger – good bail – don’t love her toe-on technique – one short hs at the end – sticks the DLO – nice work. Her best bars routine for Georgia? Well done.

Zaziski – BB – This is the vital rotation for Arkansas, even more so because of the low score on bars. secure on the switch side, slightly crooked but not extreme – clean on the loso series and secure – switch to straddle 1/4 are OK – covers a check on the full turn by pretending she was doing a 1 1/4 turn, like you do – check on kickover front – some small issues of tightness here, but this will be a good score – large step-salute forward on the 1.5, though.

Davis – UB – “Davis and Rogers kind of sounds like movie stars in a film.” KATHY JOHNSON. great opening hs and brilliant tkatchev – clean form throughout on the bail – good rhythm through the shoot – hits the hs – had a great one going, but then a large-ish bounce back on the dismount. Was going to be an amazing score before that. Bart tried to name check Usain Bolt. It went just OK.

Rogers – UB –  Yes with the stalder and Ricna, obviously – excellent bail and shoot as well – also hitting these handstands – comes in a little short on her DLO with a hop. THESE LANDINGS LADIES. Still a strong rotation with great work on the bars themselves. But it needed to be a huge score, and the landings will mean it’s not a huge score.

Puryear – FX – punch rudi to solid loso with some ragged leg form on the twist – switch ring is fine – split leap is a little short – does an orphan straddle jump because why not – Good landing on the double tuck, comfortable chest position and controls that step back. Judges starting to throw the 9.9s here. Floor has seemed a little soft so far. Can’t wait until the evening session. KYTRAGETSA20.

Waltz – FX – Pulls around a big wolf 1.5 well to start – large double pike with a solid landing as well – also controlled on the front full to layout (some leg break on the layout) and the double tuck. Great comfort on those tumbling passes to land them with ease and good position.

Amanda Two is now talking to Shannon about Missouri’s performance. They have confidence after floor. He’s proud of them. He comes across well in interviews.

Georgia goes 49.375 on bars, which is fine. A good chance for the best rotation score we’ll see in this session, but they had a chance to take advantage of it for bigger scores. Davis went 9.875 and Rogers went 9.900 and you could argue that both gave away a full tenth on the dismount alone. Kentucky just had a gigantic floor score as well with a 49.300, capped by 9.900s from Puryear and Waltz. It’s what solid tumbling does for you. Good recovery after the beam problem. 

Missouri continued the solid performance with a 48.850 on vault to stay around 196 pace for the moment, while Arkansas is well below 196 pace after two events. They just can’t get out of the 9.7s. They go through beam, which was the idea, but no one hit 9.800. We only saw the Zaziski routine, but I didn’t think it would be as low as 9.725. Once Georgia goes to beam we’ll get a better sense of whether the beam judges are really nailing the strictness in this session.

After 2: Georgia 98.500, Missouri 97.925, Kentucky 97.575, Arkansas 97.500.  

Rotation 3:
Phipps – VT – Interesting that she’s starting – has GREAT distance on her handspring tuck half – and a strong landing as well. We’ll see if going with her first pays off in the rest of the scores. You know I love creative lineup orders. 9.725. I don’t think it worked.

A little bit of feels during the Shelby Hilton chant.

Furuyama – VT – larger lunge back out of the full – some piking and a low landing. 

Kappler – UB – good first hs – nice finish on the full turn – leg break on the bail and a little arch but saved to pretend she was just really nailing the handstands – short on final handstand – step back on tuck full dismount – some errors.

Mitchell – VT – front handspring, handspring front pike – solid landing – smallish step forward – and better on the leg form than the bend she has shown previously.

Natalie Vaculik fell on beam. OVER.

Anyone else looking at the scores for MACs? They’re not dropping the high and low judge scores. Tori Garcia got a 9.713 on vault. OK.

Babalis – BB – Poor loso series – super tight – comes off the beam with no chance to save it. ALL THE FALLS. Counting a fall not. Very good switch – step back on pike jump – wobbles on choreography, so that’s where this routine is – nice kickover front. Hop on front full.

This reminds me of the beam rotation from Nationals in Jay Clark’s last year.

 Zaziski – FX – Fine double pike – a little leg separation and a minor slide – short landing and crunches in the knees a little on the double pike with a step – switch side and wolf are just OK, could be closer to full split – layout to front full with a small stumble. Some landing issues there.

Rogers apparently had a big break on her beam routine as well. I’m dead.

Broussard – BB – Long wait for the Rogers score. Judges often have trouble with that routine composition. Can we see another routine please? This just makes me continue weeping over Georgia’s beam performance.

Yikes. Rogers broke on her bhs 3/4 and then came back onto the beam awkwardly. Deciding if it counts as a fall? This is the second time in a few weeks that has happened for her on beam. That one sad little pompom with the Georgia team.

Actually Broussard – BB – GET THIS – solid on the one-arm bhs and loso series – good switch and does well not to give away a check on the straddle 1/4 – strong full turn – wobble on side aerial – lands low on her gainer full with a hop. Breaks in that routine but she got it.

9.400 from Brittany Rogers. It just gets worse.

 Box – BB – Very strong loso series from Box – solid secure – tight a little on the switch but fine – solid leaps overall – pretty full turn – very strong aerial with great leg form – sticks the 1.5. Great routine. Such an important hit. We’ll hear a lot of “the silver lining is Broussard and Box” about this rotation. 9.925. This was a “it’s not that hard guys, because I’m awesome” kind of routine.

Still, a counting 9.4 and a counting 9.2. Not helping.

Arkansas recovered on floor for a 49.200, featuring a 9.900 from Elswick. Missouri goes 49.00 with a bunch of 9.800s. Missouri still in this for 196, but they’ll need a strong beam. Tim Garrison is the state bird of Kentucky. Like Missouri, Kentucky also continues to get those 9.800s, they’re just working against an early beam fall.

You guys, Missouri is winning. YESSSSSS.

The interviews between the rotations with the coaches are always, “HOW PROUD ARE YOU OF THIS TEAM? SO PROUD, RIGHT?” I wish they would just ask pride-neutral questions and let the coaches tell us exactly how they feel. They’re usually not that proud.

After 3: Missouri 146.925, Arkansas 146.700, Georgia 146.650, Kentucky 146.450.   

Rotation 4:
Georgia is still probably the favorite to take this thing, but floor hasn’t exactly been confidence-inspiring this year. Missouri still has to contend with beam. Arkansas is suddenly is pretty good shape as well since vault can be a high score for them with Eslwick and Wellick.

Reynolds – FX – soldi double pike with a fairly low chest on landing – good switch side and popa. Her music kind of sounds like someone spitting directly into a mic. front full to loso is secure as well. It’s vital that they have her back in the lineup because she’s such a reliable 9.850 of a hit. And strong on the 1.5 as well. Good work.

Elswick – VT – Arkansas starting with some solid 9.8s. Good vault but not her best control – bounces back. She can stick that.

Brown – FX – Nice power on the double pike but a small slide back – does keep it in bounds – strong double tuck – good security on the landing – just losing it in the feet – hits her split full and popa with a good position – 1.5 to layout – JUST pulls around that layout – does well to get it to her feet but will be a big deduction. No height and loses form.

Zaziski – VT – They’ll getting all the 9.8s they need. Excellent power and some of her best control. She has improved this vault a lot. Good form – small slide back.

Marino – FX – That DLO improves her routine so much – good control and body position on landing – controlled on her 1.5 to layout as well – good split full and popa. This routine has finally arrived. Slides back on double pike, but will be another helpful score. Cassidy is really proud of her. 

Kentucky trying to come back from a bars fall now in the second position.

Casey Jo! Putting the beam magic into Missouri. And then points to the beam at the end of her talk. “Yep, that’s where you go.”

Bart’s lessons: We don’t say you had a bad rotation, you had a challenging rotation.

Schugel – BB – Completely loses herself right after the loso – looked like she landed securely but then couldn’t hold it – large wobbles but stays on – two switches series, which I hate on principle, but she hits it – sticks gainer full.

Arkansas just comes up short of 196 with a 195.950.

Box – FX – Great high double pike as always – 1.5 to layout – looked like she overdid the 1.5 a little so the layout wasn’t as big as usual – dances out of it a little to cover up a slide – excellent switch side and popa – enough control on double tuck. Good hit.

Kent State and Central Michigan appear to be in control at MACs so far.
Kentucky counting a fall on bars as well now. Missouri stuck in the 9.7s on beam, so this is Georgia’s meet (session) to lose now with just Jay to go.

Jay – FX – Good on the full out – much better chest position and just the controlled step – stays in bounds – front full to layout is solid – she cheats her wolf jump a bit – good straddle – bounces out of her double pike, so that will take the score down a bit, but she does stay in once again. They have desperately needed this routine back.

Waiting on Jay’s score. Other finals, Arkansas 195.950, Missouri 195.700, Kentucky 195.025.  

Jay goes 9.850 on that routine because of the slide on the last pass, which puts them at a final of 196.000.

Well, that was a little meh for everyone except Missouri. All the teams in the second session should be able to beat these scores comfortably. Georgia had a useful bars rotation (though needed more sticks) and a solid floor performance that can get even better once Jay has more routines under her belt, but of course beam was the major disaster for a 48.150. Can’t afford that, and this score means Georgia can’t move out of 10th place and is still going to be pretty a nerve-wracking one to watch at Regionals.

Arkansas also would have hoped for a bit higher score. The 195.950 puts them in danger of losing their current 18th ranking spot if Cal and Minnesota have good meets.

Danna interview. “Do you think that score will hold going into the next session?” Danna is like, “UM NO OBVIOUSLY.”

Time for a short break before the first session of Pac-12s gets going.

Now I turn on the back Pac-12 Network and Amanda Two is looking at me again! She’s everywhere!
Kent State and Central Michigan still look to be fighting it out for the MAC title, with Kent State still just over 196 pace after three events and Central Michigan with two 49+ events already in the books.

Jim informs us that this has been a season of both successes and failures.”A lot of cheers, a lot of tears.” Apparently, we’ve had champions come out of this session before. We have?

Profile of how amazing Toni-Ann Williams is. It’s a lot of amazing.
Taylor Allex has the highest AA score in ASU history…over the last four years. So, not history. And now there’s a commercial for the championship showing Dabritz vault with a voiceover of Amanda going “She did the 1.5!” while she’s doing the full. Great.

Rotation 1: (Arizona vault, Cal bars, Washington beam, Arizona State floor)
Wobma – VT – Just coming back – just a layout yurchenko.

Richardson – UB – Getting the stare from Elise Ray in the background – nice height on tkatchev and good counter rotation – solid hs – also a large DLO with just a small hop back. Very nice start for Cal.

We’re going one routine at a time, so get your patient shoes on because this will be a long day.

Stowe – BB – clean aerial to bhs – fluid in the connection – switch to a beat jump is fine – straddle 3/4 was a bit short of 180 but no wobble – sticks gainer pike. Classic leadoff routine – solid work.

Miceli – FX – We’re just hoping for six people on each event in some of these rotation – gets through the double pike, low landing but retains enough control – just layouts middle pass and pretty arched in those layouts with not a ton of height – short of position on her split full and popa – rudi to straddle jump to front tuck – the straddle jump went awfully sideways but she manages to pull off the front tuck anyway. They got a hit routine, no major errors, so it’s fine.

Felix-Terrazas – VT – A little big of leg separation in the air and not a lot of distance – step back.

Widener – UB – a little tight on early hs – but another big tkatchev into a solid overshoot – just a bit short on a couple handstands – tuck full dismount with large lunge. Came in short there.

Goings – BB – has a wobble just walking along the beam, so get it together. Good loso series – nice position on the straddle and straddle 1/4 – that’s 180 – pretty finish on the full turn as well – split jump to gainer loso – side aerial to a stuck layout full. Good work after that weird opening wobble.

Levin – FX – slide back on a lowish double pike to start – front layout to front full, not maintaining the straight shape throughout – switch ring and split half looked fine – very low on her rudi, got negative height – pikes but pulls it through.

Laub – VT – Good height on yfull – some piking at the end – small hop back.

Takara – UB – Huge height on gienger and does well to keep her legs together and sticks the tuck full dismount. Great on the big skills – a couple handstand issues and a big elbow bend on her clear hip, but solid.

Fechter – BB – nice front handspring mount – a little tight in her full turn but fine – low on the ickover front but holds on without a wobble and connects into bhs – split 3/4 is OK – also does well not to check – minimizing the errors here and sticks the gainer pike. Good.

Borman – FX – Some bounce on the double pike but a little better finishing position – same on the double tuck – some sliding but hitting the passes – a little lack of control on her tuck jumps – solid on the 1.5 to layout. Not much amplitude in her skills but no big errors. They’re getting through.

Sisler – VT – Pretty controlled on the landing – also some piking and not huge distance, but just a small hop back.

Owens  – UB – half turn to a bail hs – some foot issue there but fine – clear hip up to high bar – small hop back on a solid DLO. Cal is looking pretty good on bars –

Northey – BB – comfortable full turn – straddle 3/4 is good – also strong on the loso series – was a little off line on her kickover front with one foot hanging off the beam but solid to hold onto the landing and go right into the beat jump – too big a lunge out of the 1.5 to finish but good on the beam.

Salas – FX – “She needs to pop one here.” OK. front double full with a smallish stumble to the side – front layout to front full looked really nice as it was going – but a large lunge out of it an OOB – finishes with a fine double pike.

Edwards – BB – Good height on her vault – bounce back – still lacking a little bit in the leg form, which was a strength in the past – just breaks slightly at the end.

Williams – UB – Solid shaposh in the air but she doesn’t really get up to horizontal afterward – small leg break in the bail – UH OH – has to cast again after her bail to get back to the high bar – great stick on the tuck full –

Janik – BB – Grabbing her foot under the beam like a beast – aerial to bhs – saves the combination to continue moving into the bhs without a real check – switch to beat jump – nice full turn – check on the side aerial – sticks gainer full. Wish they had fewer gainer fulls, but they’re working for them.

Allex – FX – You so thought she was going to flash a U with her hands at the beginning didn’t you (DO THEY GET A BONUS FOR THAT?) – fine on the double arabian with a lunge – really good on the 2.5 to front full – completes the skills with a controlled landing – hits her straddles – nice rudi as well – SO clearly their best floor routine. Different league than the others.

Cindric – VT – Fine yfull as well – starts with pretty good form but has to pike at the end, medium hop back – lots of piking in the Arizona vault lineup and not getting the landings.

Ho – UB – Good toe shoot – hs look OK – another huge gienger with solid form – pulls in that tuc full a little but lands it with good control – not really a stick with a hop to salute – but more good work.

McCartin – BB – Love her furious beam face – incredibly short on her aerial and comes off the beam – not a single chance to save it. Tries again and falls again. Won’t count it anyway so it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t get the combination, so forget it – into bhs – split jump to stag – hits the side aerial. Sticks gainer full. Still a good beam for Washington.

Sundby – FX – Full in with strong control on the landing – split full to split jump full are both OK – around and somewhere in the vicinity of 180. 2.5 to front tuck just stays in – also well completed – bounces way out of her double tuck with multiple steps and an OOB. Shame.

After 1: Cal 48.950, Washington 48.900, Arizona 48.875, Arizona State  48.425
The first rotation is finally over. 

Scores staying conservative and appropriate in that first rotation. I was impressed by Washington’s security and solidity on beam until McCartin. They hit their skills, gave away very little on wobbles. Cal was OK on bars, nothing serious but a few minor errors in most routines. Could have used a big hit from Williams, but she had the biggest mistake with having to recast after her bail. 

The second session at Big Tens is beginning with 9.8 central from Penn State on bars and Nebraska on beam. Especially important for Nebraska on beam.

For the subsequent rotations of the first session of Pac-12s, I think I’ll do notes and reactions rather than going skill by skill. It’s a lot of routines. I’ll save my identifying of every leap series energy for later when things get real in the SEC and Pac-12s. I have no way to watch Big Tens, so to anyone watching, reactions are appreciated.

In my fantasy gym team news, I’m already having some problems. Babalis on beam, Toni-Ann on bars. I needed these scores.

Rotation 2: (Arizona State vault, Arizona bars, Cal beam, Washington floor)
Arizona State is the second team in a row starting vault with a layout yurchenko. What conference is this?

Howard UB – very clean on her giant full and double back – just a few foot form issues etc on the bars, but equivalent to what Cal was doing there.

Howe did quite well on BB. She’s doing a Peszek no-hands routine – and had a check or two but some lovely elements as well.

Podlucky FX- bounces out of her double pike mount a billion steps and goes OOB – the rest was OK. It’s an improvement over last year when they really struggled to get the routines out there on beam, but they’ll need to drop it.

Rene Lyst is bringing the cleavage realness this week. I think she got my notes. Another layout yurchenko for ASU. It’s not a yurchenko full!

Felix Terrazas – UB – She’s one of the big height tkatchev Arizona girls – also the small form breaks but sticks the dismount.

Owens shows hit work on beam with a check or two and a bounce on the double full dismount – but scores on beam have been tight and the first few Cal gymnasts are giving reason to go not-huge in the scores, which has been the problem this year.

Stowe’s floor work is similar to her beam work. It’s not big, and you can see the little issue on skills like the straddle jump in combination not being 180, but secure tumbling and should help them out.

Salas for Arizona State starts bringing the 10.0 SV, so that’s something –

Mills on UB needs to take a cue from Cal in the gienger legs deparmtent – a few short handstands and a step on landing.

Ho – BB – big break at the hips on a bhs – Oh, Cal. Better after that and a stuck gainer full, though.

Fechter – FX – The gymnast whose name sounds most like a curse but isn’t – Really good 1.5 to loso opening pass – she is aggressively confident in all her movements –

Big scores coming at Big Tens, led by Illinois on vault with a 49.400, but Minnesota goes in the 49.3s and Penn State in the 49.2s. The problem was Nebraska beam. The same old story. A 48.725 while counting a bunch of 9.7s and a 9.6. Ruh roh.

Love to see Sundby doing that tuck 1.5 vault – hop to the side, but good use of originality.

Laub’s tkatchev isn’t the usual Arizona tkatchev, and she has a hesitation in a handstand, but mostly hit. High DLO – she used to do a DLO 1/1 right? Or am I thinking of someone else?

ALL THE 9.6s for Cal on beam. Save it, Toni-Ann. Aggressive work on her acro and holding onto it – just a step back on front layout full. Errors but a good hit. They’re just barely getting through beam but need a big score lie yesterday.

Three layout yurchenkos for ASU on vault. Oh dear. 

Love the height on Burleson’s double pike – pretty tumbling – she’s so lithe that she looks too fragile to do a floor routine (I’ve been watching too much NCAA) but good mix of form and power in that one.

Allex usually does a y1.5 but does the Sundy special tucked version this time – step forward.

Ortiz! I was just getting ready to praise her tkatchev and then she does an overshoot right to the ground. Don’t need the score, but it means they’re still going to struggle to get onto 196 pace.

This is more like it for Cal on beam from Palomares. Very solid on bher acro – and an attitude turn as well. The best way to my heart! a couple checks – on aerial, on straddle – sticks gainer full.

Janik is continuing the new trend of all Lindsay Sterling all the time for floor music. Odd on her opening double pike – got no height and just pulled it around with a very low chest. Also a staggered landing on the rudi.

cindric is in a pressure situation for Arizona and must hit her bars. Comes through it cleanly – leg break on the bail and just a hop on the double front. Good hit.

Minnesota is ON IT today to take that seeded spot away from Arkansas.

Cal was on the way to saving this rotation, but Draghi does have a big bend on her acro series, just like any of the people in this lineup. Sticks gainer full.

Music problems for Northey. A couple music problems already in this meet. Washington is definitely hitting so far for the most 9.8s of anyone. This is a good day for Washington so far. They’re Missouri-ing this meet. Northey can finally go now – a little short on the double pike with a hop forward, big high 1.5 to front tuck, the split full was the main question mark in this routine, but a solid hit. Washington should take the lead with that score.

After 2: Washington 98.000, Arizona 97.850, Cal 97.700, Arizona State 96.900
Washington has been the only truly solid team so far. Arizona with some general landing mistakes and Cal still very much falling victim to the beam monster with another 48.7, which has been the theme all season.

Expecting something similar to the first session of SECs here. Some people flirting with 196 but nothing to challenge to top teams. Cal does have the confidence of having finished the two weak event sand going now to the two strong events with just a .300 deficit.

In other news, Michigan nailed floor for a casual 49.450 after dropping an OOB from Casanova, to put them about on par with what Minnesota and Illinois are doing, a little ahead. Penn State with a 49.000 on beam, which is OK but not keeping up with the current 49.300 pace. Still with floor and vault to come, though, just like Cal. Vital floor rotation coming up for Nebraska now.

In rotation 3 in the first session of Pac-12s, Shelby Edwards is leading off Arizona on beam, and I’m obsessed with her attitude turn and general existence, as I’ve said many times. A step back on her series and a check or two but mostly solid. Small hop on front tuck full. Starting to make up ground with that. Boo to that 9.750. It was a solid routine. Some definitely tight beam scoring in this session. Saving it for Danusia?

Good clean yfull from Yacalis for Washington – step back – she was their best vaulter a lot of the time last season.

ASU still has a bit more depth on bars. This is the event where they have been able to put up 6 people consistently – Gades has a good full turn and a clean pak, which is work of a heightened level to most of the ASU rotations. Big cowboy on double front with a larger step back. 

Shay Fox is up on beam now – floaty skills and a very nice style in her general movements and acro skills – sticks gainer pike with a HUGE college salute. I think it took my eye out.

Cal’s early floor work has been solid.  A form issue here and there but some very solid landings to get those scores.

Alright, midway through the second rotation here now, but SEC Session 2 begins soon so I’m going to stop half-assing this Pac-12 commentary and take a short blogging break until SECs start. because that’s how I roll.

We’ve got a series fight going on at Big Tens right now, with Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota all bunched tightly. Note, Minnesota still has to do bars and beam.

At SECs we’ll start with Florida on vault, LSU on bars, Alabama on beam, and Auburn on floor. Florida should be able to take the lead after one rotation. LSU and Alabama can’t afford to let the lead get too big.

Nebraska’s vault score is a fine 49.325, but that’s lower than the vault scores for Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, which shouldn’t be happening to Nebraska. Minnesota now counting a 9.6 on bars because of course.

Floor scores going pretty high at Pac-12s. Will be interesting to see how they fare in the second session.

SEC time! Time to relive Georgia’s disastrous beam. Bart has upgraded it from challenging to disastrous. I’m nervous. Why am I nervous? I’m none of these people.

Kathy says this is LSU’s year. Bold statement. The KATHY HAS SPOKEN. Everyone perform accordingly.

Rotation 1:
To bring Baker and Sloan back in on vault, Bridgey is out. Interesting call. Starting with Spicer now, fine form and a small bounce back. Solid opening.

Gnat – UB – It’s painful to hear all these cheers and not know what’s going on, but I do favor the speed of SECs over the plodding pace of Pac-12s.  good first hs – nice finish on full turn – good legs on the gienger – a small leg break on the gienger and one short hs – sticks the DLO. One of her good ones.
Savona went 9.850 in the first spot.

9.900 for McNeer on beam.

Sloan – VT -Big big yfull as always – great form – just the small step back with one foot. Well done. 9.925.

Williams – BB – just pulls around her popa to complete the full turn – a little squatty on the punch front landing but no wobble – long pause before series, but very good – not quite as confident as last week, but OK – small check on full turn – small step on 1.5. Good.

We didn’t see it, but it appears both Hunter and McMurtry got 9.950 on vault.

Jordan – UB – good opening hs – lovely toe point and height on jaeger – hits bail – all handstands look good – step forward on DLO.

LSU hasn’t hit the 9.9 mark on bars yet.

Courville – UB – Opens with her excellent jaeger – clean handstands – small leg break on the bail – just bends a bit to hold onto the stick on the tuck full dismount. How much Courville helps this rotation. She saves so much ground. 9.925.

Beers – BB -Good switch – looked like she would come in short on the side somi but controlled it well with no wobble – good legs on the loso series and secure – split jump to sheep with a step – just short on her 1.5 with a step back. Good, but did give away a couple .050s.

49.625 on vault for Florida. That’s the kind of advantage they were looking for. No one else has very 9.9y.

Is Auburn in this meet? You wouldn’t know. 

Clark – BB – Great on the leaps. She has the second-best leaps in this rotation after Sims. Solid on loso series Secure on the sheep jump, though I would like to see a bit more head release. Check on the kickover front with a bend to the side – 1.5 is off to the side with a step. She just screamed at the camera. Because you need to sometimes.

LSU went 49.375 on bars. Good score. It’s a multi-tenth deficit to Florida, but not devastating. Alabama’s 49.275 will be harder to come back from, but that was a good beam rotation, so if that’s consistent with the other beam scores, they’ll still be in it.

Floor the last event still going. Atkinson FX – massive tuck full mount with a bit of a slide – solid on the split and wolf – 1.5 to layout to a huge wolf jump – does well to control it and keep it in bounds – good form and exceptional amplitude – bounces back out of her double pike – JUST does stay in bounds. Kathy is all about this routine. Is her name Macadaeg?

Rhonda is telling us about Florida’s incredible start. It was their best vault rotation at SECs ever.

Sadly, Auburn has to count a 9.6 on floor, which is devastating for their chances of contending, in spite of Atkinson’s great routine.

After 1: Florida 49.625, LSU 49.375, Alabama 49.275, Auburn 49.075 
Both LSU and Alabama are heading to a big event at this point, and it’s necessary that they keep pace with what Florida puts up on bars. From what we saw in that rotation, LSU had some very nice bars work. A minor form break from Gnat, a non-stick from Jordan, but small errors into a strong hit from Courville. Nothing to worry about in that performance. Same from Alabama. But the Tide did need to be a bit more sure in those routines and stick more dismounts to get the kind of 49.5 they got last time out.

The upgrade on Rheagan is that they’re taking it event by event for now to see if she does the AA today. How can you do that to our hearts, though?

This rotation break needs to last long enough for us to watch Toni-Ann Williams on vault. Plan these things well.They did plan these things well, but Williams does have a little bounce back this time. Cal will be good enough on floor and vault to break 196 at this meet, though. And Minnesota is counting a bars fall, so things are getting interesting in the top 18.

Rotation 2:
Did we really get a commercial during actual gymnastics? These people…

Frost – FX – finishes with a very strong double pike landing.

Guy – VT – Great height and power on the vault – a little bit of soft knees and a bounce back. Good work. 

Hunter – UB -good firs ths – huge hindorff as always – toe on – clean form on the bail – rhythm through the shoot – borderline final hs – flings out her tuck full so far and still stuck it. She’s laughing. HA! So Kytra to screw up her dismount kind of and still stick it.

Hambrick – BB – We missed Macadaeg’s routine. KATHY WILL BREAK YOU. Lovely L turn and a strong aerial – clean on the switch to straddle 1/4 – good loso series (“That was the taj mahal of layout stepouts”) – just a step or two back on the 2/1 dismount.

Just a 9.725 from Macadaeg. World over.

Sloan – UB – Excellent Ray except for the feet as always – does have the break in the bail this time – strong handstands throughout – sticks the DLO cold. Great routine. Rhonda just flew into the sky and turned into confetti about that routine.

10 for Sloan. Again. Not as strong as her last 10. With the leg break on the bail. 10 from all four judges as well.

Courville – BB – Lots of 9.8s so far – compared for Florida’s 10 millions – lovely L turn – wobble on the arabian but held onto it – another check on the loso – a little tightness so far? – hits the sheep jump well – great switch and split – wobbles again on the aerial connection into sissone. Sticks gainer full. Tight routine, though. She hasn’t done beam in a while.

Beers – FX – Alabama is getting the scores so far on floor that LSU did not get on beam – big DLO, slides back a little – front layout to front full is solid – split full is very good, would like to see the front leg higher on the switch ring – excellent double back.

Michigan is destroying the meet at Big Tens BTW – 
Three scores in the 9.7s for LSU on beam. Not good.

C Sims – FX – The usual DLO – big but comes in a little short – clean on the middle pass and good control on the landing – hits her leaps with solid extension – easy double pike with a good chest position. Nice hit. Alabama has delivered on floor. It’s just that Florida is building up quite a lead.

Halfway: Florida 99.200, Alabama 98.750, Auburn 98.375, LSU 98.350
Florida has exactly the meet they were hoping for through two events. And a Sloan 10 doesn’t hurt. The big disappointment in that rotation was LSU on beam, not getting the big score I expect from a rotation with that talent. They’re 0.850 behind Florida already, and it seems impossible to see a comeback from that without a Florida counting mistake. Alabama has performed pretty well so far through two events, couldn’t expect all that much better in the routines that we’ve seen, but it’s still almost a half point deficit. This Florida beam rotation will be decisive. For the rest of the teams to get back into the meet, Florida will have to show some cracks here. Otherwise, they’ll just be able to cruise to the title.

The good news for LSU is that it’s still their best two events to come. 

Big comeback for Nebraska after beam to finish with a 196.875. It won’t challenge Michigan’s excellent final score of 197.825, but it’s about as good as they could expect.

Rotation 3:
Savona – FX – Needs a 13. The 1.5 to double back is rock solid as always – full in middle pass has great control as well and she finishes it basically in the middle of the floor – straddle position is great – does slide back on her double pike, which is uncharacteristic. Still gets a 9.900 so look out.

Fassbender fell on beam on a bhs. This is the opening Alabama needs. Will it be a thing? Florida knows how to make meets interesting (I’m talking to you, Super Six 2013).

These beam judges are having a bit of a time today. After the Rogers debacle earlier.

Williams – VT – Going back to the full, after so many weeks of 9.825s, it’s understandable. Huge vault. Great form. Steps back. Kathy is NOT OK with that downgrade. No deductions other than the step though. 9.875.

Spicer – BB – Small bend on her loso  – not huge amplitude on the switch – the shush is good – round off gainer full with a bounce. Hit.

Clark – VT – GREAT. Excellent height and form, and just a bounce in place that’s almost nothing.

Jordan – FX – Hitting the floor in her choreo, presumably out of frustration over LSU’s performance so far. Nails the double pike as always – front full to layout is fien and her straddles are more than fine. Just great form and control throughout. No real errors there, should be a great score. 

McMurtry – BB – perfectly solid on the punch front – but you could tell she was off line on that loso in the air and she comes off. Counting a fall now. BEAM, people. Short on the switch – sticks the 2.5

LSU and Alabama are nailing these rotations. Florida is counting a fall. It just. got. interesting.

Hugely important beam routines for Hunter and Sloan now. The LSU team is singing along to “22” because obviously.

Courville – FX – Good double arabian this time on her return to the lineup – well controlled – high on the double pike and just the smallest slide – great leaps obviously – front tuck through to double back is just a little short with a step forward – did she just fall on her ending pose? LOL.

 Hunter got a 9.600. Oh god.

Sloan – BB – She has PISSED BRIDGET BEAM FACE – small check on the aerial into her bhs connection – good switch to split jump – pretty full turn – excellent side aerial – sticks the double full. Did have that early check.

Hall – FX – One of her strongest DLOs – great control – great on her switch side to popa again – Kathy doesn’t like the toe point, which is very valid, but if they’re starting to deduct for toe point on floor, everyone would get a 9.600. Great double tuck. One of her very good ones. 

Alabama’s 49.500 on vault is a pretty big deal now. LSU goes 49.550 on floor to keep themselves in it to challenge Alabama. Florida goes 48.625 on beam, even with Sloan’s 9.950. It would have been manageable if not for the Kytra 9.600.

After 3: Alabama 148.250, LSU 147.900, Florida 147.825, Auburn 147.525
Alabama is the one with the big lead now, but it’s not over yet since they have had some struggles on bars over the weeks and LSU is going to a potential huge score on vault. And Florida is going to a potential huge score on floor. Alabama still has to deliver the sticks in this rotation. And the not-falls.

I was worried about that 49.275 on beam from Alabama, but it turns out that’s an amazing score because everyone else is sucking majorly at beam today.

Rotation 4:
McNeer – UB – Wonderful Ray – best in the competition – she arched a hs and Kathy GASPED IN PAIN. A little floppy on the bail – does stick the DLO, but that one mistake will be an issue.Still a 9.850. OK.

Ewing – VT – Big 1.5 – has a leg break on the block and then a hop forward, but pretty good.

Jetter – UB – Jetter is back on bars. Interesting. How is that double front going to be? Good Ray as well but not as big and clean as McNeer’s nice down to the low bar – and just a step back on the double front. Not too bad.

Jordan – VT – Big and clean full – just a bounce in place. Her usual great vault.

Spicer – FX – Solid on the piked full in – though staggered as always – very strong front full to front pike – good security on the landing  – way short on her split leap full – a little bounce on the double pike – 

Gnat – VT – Just the full, which is sensible, and just a small bounce in place, coming off a 9.950 from Hambrick. LSU getting these vaults.

A Sims – UB – Kathy is warning us that the form will be a problem. It is trhoughout – but the weiler half and bail are solid – along with a small slide on the DLO. Great on the skills, but every one had a leg separation, especially the DLO. 9.900 because WTF.

Are LSU’s 9.9s going to be enough to beat Alabama’s 9.8s now? I wish the scores updated faster because it makes it basically impossible for us to follow what is happening. If you can have quick updating of scores in every meet during the year, why not at SECs?

Beers – Just a bit of a leg break on the bail after the shaposh but well hit – handstands look fine – bends a lot to hold onto the double front landing and then slides to salute – not a stick. 9.900.

Alabama basically just needs one more hit.

LSU finished 197.450.

Clark – UB – toe on – also some leg breaks in the shaposh to bail – not quite as sure as the Beers routine, and then the DLO was high and huge and then she still managed to land on her knees. What? They didn’t need it, though.

I love how Florida’s floor rotation doesn’t even exist anymore.

197.525 is the final score for Alabama, just holding off LSU.

Hunter – FX – Excellent DLO – great on the new middle pass as well – excellent control – Florida hasn’t had the scores in the first few routines, but the floor score to win actually may have been doable with some huge home-style scores. Nails the double back as well. Wonderful. Her usual great routine. 9.975. Because only Sloan gets 10s.

Caqautto – FX – She’ll get an 11 so that Florida can win, front double full to punch front is back in the routine this week (look how that worked out) – rudi to a huge split jump as well – very strong stick on the double pike. Well, it’s better than the routine she got a 9.950 for at Super Six last year, so that’s something. Waiting on the final scores now.

Bart keeps saying she needed a 10 for that routine. Wrong. Just so wrong. Bridgey couldn’t mathematically catch Alabama at that point.

Alabama’s 197.525 is enough for the win. Huge accomplishment after those disappointing losses this season.

FINAL: Alabama 197.525, LSU 197.450, Florida 197.400, Auburn 196.925
Not having a rotation that you screw up. That’s the lesson on how to win this SEC title. Alabama was consistent and everyone else had a poor beam rotation.
Note that Auburn finished with a great 49.400 on beam.

The good news for Florida is that they were going to dominate this meet with a hit beam rotation, which shows that they have established some distance from the rest of the SEC even in spite of this performance.

Interviewing Dana now. She’s a little bit happy. Just a little.

PHEW. Exhausting. And we still have Pac-12s in an hour or so!

As for Oklahoma in the Afterthough Championships, they’re in line for the strongest score of the day so far, challening Michigan, even after a low number on bars because beam and floor have been so high.

While we wait, it’s time for some RQS figuring.

Penn State got a 196.725 today, finishing with an RQS of 196.665.
To move ahead of Penn State, Oregon State needs a 196.850 tonight, and Stanford needs a 196.900. Denver is just getting underway now but will not be able to catch Penn State.

#16 Illinois finishes with an RQS of 196.515, which could put them as high as #14 if things fall their way.

In a big result for #19 Minnesota, they will pass Arizona and Arkansas and finish with an RQS of 196.450. 

#17 Arizona finishes at 196.445, and falls behind Minnesota but can still pass Boise State depending on BSU’s score.

#18 Arkansas finishes at 196.285. #20 Cal finishes at 196.240.

So, Minnesota and Arizona hold onto their top 18 spots, while Arkansas and Cal will not break the top 18 and will be #4 seeds at Regionals.

Note that there’s a separate link for the live scoring of the second session at Pac-12s, which I have added at the top.

Right now Oklahoma has the highest score on the day, just outpacing Michigan. The theme of Michigan’s season has sort of been “don’t be sucky at anything,” and it’s working really well. They’re never sucky at anything. 

Pac-12s is almost upon us. Lineups are starting to come out. UCLA is starting with Honest and Meraz on vault, before going to Cipra, Bynum, Peszek, and Williams. Is this the best vault lineup this team can do? I’m still very unsure. I need some more Pinches in my life. And interesting that Irvin isn’t making it. For now. There will be 16 changes in the next 7 minutes.


Opening broadcast highlights are Dabritz and Ebee being excellent on vault. And then that time Honest did a Shayla.

A retrospective now on Arizona’s victory in the first session, coming back to top Cal and Washington.

Star profiles now. Dabritz. Peszek. Gardiner. Taylor Rice because Taylor Rice. PRICE IS DOING BARS AGAIN.

This UCLA tennis player in this commercial is spouting all the UCLA gymnastics quotes. It’s funny to hear it from another sport.

Rotation 1: (Utah vault, UCLA bars, Oregon State beam, Stanford floor)
Lothrop – VT – (in instead of Rowe or Lewis) – Good landing on the full – a leg break on the balck and then a hop back –


Francis – UB -good first hs – strong shaposh and perfect on the bail – shoot well to high bar – and then sticks the double pike like every single time. Great start.

Witherby – BB – OK on the aerial – a bit slow into the bhs connection – good height on the switch side – wobble on full turn – double pike dismount with a hop back. The opening they needed.

Shapiro – FX – Shapiro is doing floor! Stanford is bringing it with the good lineups today. 1.5 to half with a little short landing on the half – gingerly landed – just a front layout to front tuck middle pass – I hope that wasn’t intentional. Marvelous leaps obvious – moves gracefully – gets a solid double pike to finish.

Partyka – VT – Good height and distance – small hop back – great form. The judges already backed themselves into a corner by overscoring Lothrop’s vault with a 9.850, because all the rest of these vaults are going to be better, as this was.

Meraz – UB -toe on – smaller leg break in the bail this time – handstands look OK – tkatchev is lower but hit – that wonky straddled DLO with a pike and a larger lunge back.

SCP – BB – “This is a very savvy gymnastics crowd.” Because they cheered a big score for the home team? Good position on the switch – wobbles on the loso series but saved it – tight on the full turn – this routine is a little tight so far, but a good finish with a side aerial to layout full stuck. Florida could have used that today.

Daum – FX – low chest on the double pike but secure – split positions look fine – 1.5 to layout is hit – coming back from her injury, she still doesn’t have quite the same oomph in her floor work this year, but this is pretty solid so far – same on the double back as double tuck. Lower chest but secure landing.

Lee – VT – Great height and form and just a little bounce. Excellent vault and landing. Better than Partyka’s, so let’s see where we go from here. 9.950. Here we go.

DeJesus – UB -good full turn – those legs on the gienger though – those legs – very clean on the bail and shoot to the high bar – basically a stick on the tuck full this time, though she did lean back into the salute. She usually improves the legs on the gienger as the year goes on, but not this time.

Perez – BB -solid on the aerial to bhs – nice full turn – good sheep jump and displays of flexibility. Gainer full finish.

Dear camera people, you need to have people’s feet in the shoot so we know how the landing is.

Vaculik – FX -High double tuck, great landing, secure and chest way up – 1.5 to layout to stag is well done – hits her leaps as well – strong start – also secure on the double pike – a good, clean Vaculik routine. Much needed.

Wilson – VT – The way the scores are going, she doesn’t need to stick for a 10. Looks like a bounce in place, but once again we can’t even see the landing. Yeah a bounce in place – doesn’t move that much. 10.000 Because why the hell not?

Mossett – UB – Big jaeger, very well done – sluggish on the pak with a leg separation but works through it – steps back on the tuck full but a solid hit for her as well. 

McMillan – BB – excellent kickover front to bhs – tight on the full turn – wonderful front handspring to her knees – switch with a pause to the straddle 1/4, bothj are OK – small bounce on gainer full – good hit.

Rice – FX – Another strong double pike, not quite Vaculik level but solid and hit – layout half to front full. We’re already seeing the lack of Ebee in this lineup tonight in the difficulty department, though. Switch ring and switch side. Just slightly short on double tuck with a lunge.

Delaney – VT – Should get an 11. Comes in a little shorter this time. Really wanted the stick there – small hop to the side.  She gets a 9.850, which is like an apology score for Wilson’s 10.

Peszek – UB – great full turn – amazing gienger as always – great hs and strong on the bail – shoot to hb is the most improved part of her routine – the DLO was better in teh air but she hopped forward. She’ll be pissed about that landing. Just a 9.875? Come on. Just.

Tang – BB – Off line on her kickover front – one foot was almost entirely off the beam and she has to check – nice on the gainer loso – wolf turn is fine for a worf turn – fine switch to straddle 3/4 – hops forward on gainer full. OK routine but too many wobbles for the score they needed.

Hanset – FX – front 2/1 is fine – a little ragged in the legs with a step to the side – 2.5 into front tuck that got one inch off the ground but was comfortably around – 2.5 dismount – another solid enough hit. Stanford it getting the benefit a little bit on floor so far.

Dabritz – VT – Sticks her yfull – well now you have to, don’t you? Because that was actually a really great stuck vault. Doesn’t bring her feet together on landing, though. Ooh, on replay leans back to salute.

Lee – UB – Excellent Bhardwaj – misses her shaposh half. BUUUUUHHHHH. No point. Shut it down. Still got a 9.400 with a fall. PENG.

Gardiner – BB – Hits her wolf turn – nice leaps – very clean aerial and solid on her loso series as well – this is the hit they’ve been looking for – strong side somi as well – sticks the gainer full. Well done.

Spector – FX – Short on her double arabian with a step back – switch side and popa are around – front layout to front full with a stumble to the side – low chest on the double tuck –

After 1: Utah 49.675, UCLA 49.275, Stanford 49.275, Oregon State 49.000.
How did Stanford manage that 49.275 on floor? But really, how did Tory Wilson get a 10 for that vault? That she didn’t stick. I was because Lothrop got a 9.850 and there was nowhere else to go. Still some great, great vaults for Utah in that rotation, doing exactly what they needed to do to open up a huge lead after one event – Partyka and Lee couldn’t have done much better, and Dabritz was almost there. Peszek got a little hosed on her bars score, but they couldn’t take advantage of the Peng number, which hurt a ton. A few too many wobbles for OSU on beam (especially from Tang which could have been a great score), but they too did what they needed to do. Gardiner and McMillan could have gone higher, don’t you think?

Utah is in good shape. The way this meet looks so far, they’ll probably need to pull a Florida to get it back to interesting.

Rotation 2:
Hanset – VT – Sticks her front pike half – low chest but a great landing – very well done. 10? 20? 30? 9.850.

Hughes – UB – nice half turn – high tkatchev but needs more distance from the bar and counter rotation – short handstand or two – large-ish lunge back on tuck full. Fine, not amazing, but fine.

Meraz – BB – very solid punch front – and strong on the loso series as well. She has been an important addition to this lineup because she isn’t fragile to wobbles like so many of her predecessors – solid on switch half to wolf as well. Sticks the 1.5. Form issues, but no wobble issues at all. Good start.

Radermacher – FX – nice front 2/1 into a punch front with a hop – good, regular, solid leadoff work, and a strong front full to front tuck ending, which is stuck. Good.

D McNair – VT – Fine full – bounces up and to the side – others will have more distance.

Rowe – UB – good full turn – a bit more distance from the bar on her tkatchev – hits the bail well – short on final hs – whips around her DLO a little with a hop back.

Williams – BB – Very strong a secure on loso series – holds onto the straddle 3/4 well also – pretty full turn – she is like a different person on beam this year – and just as I say that, she’s off on her kickover front. Oh, UCLA. Sticks gainer full. Some serious pressure on these routines now.

Witherby – FX – tuck full is solid to start, good chest position and a small step that stays in bounds – high 1.5 into layout – a little crooked on the switch side – nice popa – stumbles back on double pike and goes OOB.

Vaculik – VT – Good distance – a little piking – small slide/hop –

Wilson – UB – good full turn – OK legs on the gienger into the overshoot – tuck full dismount with a hop back. One of her medium routines. Better in the legs, but didn’t stick the dismount.  9.900.

DeJesus – BB – Good aerial – small hesitation into bhs – switch to split – kickover front is solid – small check on the full turn (Sophina!) – hop back on gainer front full. You needed to stick that.

Perez – FX – Lands a little low on the opening double pike – but overall solid on the tumbling work – a little too much open-mouth work in this floor routine but otherwise it is legitimately fun – 1.5 to half – a little ragged in body shape, but a good routine.

Rice – VT – Full – good form in the air – step back, fairly large compared to the other steps we’ve seen tonight.

Lopez – UB – very late on her full turn, finishes at horizontal – hits tkatchev – some foot form on the bail – sticks the DLO – good after that early mistake on the full.

Francis – BB – beautiful side aerial – small hesitation on the aerial into the bhs – switch to split jump is very nice as always – check on the y spin – just seems a little tighter than usual but nothing major – side aerial to full is the best one she’s ever done – great rhythm and better chest position on landing.

Tang – FX – High double pike with a strong landing – split full position is nice – solid 1.5 to layout as well – she has had to come back slowly this year, but this routine is back. Finishes with a clean rudi.

N McNair – VT – Best height and landing so far – just a bounce in place but works to hold the landing – strong laidout form.

Lothrop – UB – Not as much height on the jaeger but solid – very nice on the bail, clean legs throughout – whippy on the DLO with a small step on landing. 9.950. OK. Sure. Fine. 

One judge gave Danusia’s beam a 9.800. Don’t talk to me.

Peng – BB – Excellent flares as always – huge switch and split jump – great on the layout to two feet as well – nails the punch front – double turn is exceptional this time – just the dismount left. Just a small shuffle on the 2/1, but that’s really it. 9.925. Sanity restored.

Gardiner – FX – a little stumble on the 2.5 – 1.5 and has to pike her layout connected out of it – got no rebound into that connection and did well to save it from being a problem – we can downgrade it  to an issue. Low chest on double pike but secure.

Price – VT – Almost sticks it. Amazing and huge as always – just a small step forward. Haven’t you learned, Ebee? It you bounce back it doesn’t count. You just can’t step forward.

Dabritz – UB – Basically has to get a 10 at this point right? Great on the comaneci and the jaeger 0 clean bail – hit handstand – doesn’t stick – hops forward, pretty big too, which will bring the score down a bit. 9.925 still.

Peszek – BB – Good aerial to back tuck and does well to dance out of the back tuck to avoid a wobble – switch and straddle are solid – strong full turn – combo dismount into layout full with a small hop. Good Peszek routine, but she and Peng needed to stick those dismounts for the huge, huge scores. still 9.950.  

McMillan – FX – front 2/1 to front tuck with a smaller stumble back – good split full position, definitely 180 – back 1.5 to layout is strong – excellent rudi to finish, great landing.

One judge gave Peszek a 10! LOL. Trying to make up for the Utah scores? Final is a 9.950.

After 2: Utah 178 BAJILLION, UCLA 98.700, Stanford 98.550, Oregon State 98.325
Utah giving relatively nothing away in these routines, but it doesn’t matter even when they do. UCLA recovered on beam for a good rotation score to keep themselves around 0.500 back and in position to hope for a Utah beam disaster. Stanford endures the weaker events well and is still in contention for a big result if they hit bars and beam the way they can. Given the standard, we should see a lot of 9.9s for Stanford on bars. Oregon State uses a bunch of 9.9s to stay fairly close on floor.

Rotation 3: (Oregon State vault, Stanford bars, Utah beam, UCLA floor)
Dessaints – VT – Nice yhalf – fooled the camera people that that – good height and clean form – pretty big step forward.

Utah crowd cheering because I’m sure someone else got a 9.950 before the event started.

Wing – UB – good first hs – very clean form on the shaposh and just the slightest leg break on the pak – nice handstsnds – full into the stuck double tuck – lovely routine.

Wilson – BB – very secure on the two loso series with some mushy legs – switch leap=nope – hits straddle 1/4 – short on split jump as well, but the acro is very solid – sticks the 1.5 – pretty much as good as she can do. Didn’t give away anything beyond the built-in deductions.

Gerber – FX – Fine double back – could use a little more control – solid on the 1.5 to front pike to leap – good control through it – switch ring to split full and wolf full – pretty low on the double back dismount but maintained enough control.

Jimenez – VT – Really strong distance on that vault, but a pretty big bounce back as well.

N McNair – UB – good first hs – great height on that pike jaeger – clean form on the bail – perhaps one borderline hs there – sticks the tuck full – great routine again. This is what Stanford needs.

Dabritz – BB – good full turn – balance check on loso series – secure on the switch half though iffy – hits the side aerial as well – switch to straddle 1/4 is hit as well. So glad she has turned into a beamer this year. It’s just right. Sticks 2/1. A couple checks, but very good work.

Hall – FX – big cowboy on the doubel arabian and a pretty uncontrolled lunge out of it – just stays in bounds – I’m not feeling that pass – OK front full to pike but another slight slide – good on the leaps – solid and secure double pike, low chest.

Gardiner – VT – Good form on the full – medium sized step back – doesn’t give away much of anything except for the step.

Vaculik – UB – clear hip hect  – GIENGER – hitting all the handstands – smallest leg break on the bail hs – leg separation on the DLO but a great stick.

Stover – BB – nice aerial to start – secure on the loso series – htis the switch and straddle 1/4 well – she started the season wobbly but has developed much more confidence. Sticks the gainer full.

Francis – FX – whip to a stuck double back – that’s the Danusia floor we know – strong landing on the 2.5 as well – with an acceptable level of stepping out of it – excellent on the leaps – shoots the camera. I’M JUST DEAD OUT OF LOVE. Noooooo Nush. Very short on dismount with a large lunge. Girl.

Aufiero – VT – Bounces back on her full this team. She has stick capabilities, but not this time. Oregon State has improved the form and power on vault quite a bit lately, though.

Shapiro – UB – Great shoot to high bar – half turn – to a huge jaeger with great toe point – hitting the handstands – clean on the pak as well – almost sticks the DLO with a hop forward to salute. Still, great work.

Lee – BB – If you’ve already given Dabritz a 9.925, what are you going to give Lee? A 50? Full turn is strong – check on her two loso series – strong switch and straddle 1/4 – that’s how you do it, rest of the team. Hits her side aerial – bounces back on 2/1. A few errors there, which means she won’t get rewarded for the superior quality of her execution.

Cipra – FX – Solid on the double tuck – fine on the 1.5 to layout as well – this is an easy set of tumbling for her talent level, though, so it should be perfect – leaps are quite good – FALLS ON DOUBLE PIKE WHY.

Keeker – VT – good half – also quite high and maintaining good form – larger hop forward.

Price – UB – GET THIS. strong shapish to clear hit – excellent Church to bail – hitting all the handstands – just a hop back on the DLO. Needs more time with that dismount, but the rest of it was amazing.

Rowe – BB – full turn – slight hesitation between switch and straddle 1/4 – hits her loso series but leg form could be better – does very well to save her kickover front because she was well sideways – large break, though – sticks 1.5. 9.775 anyway, in spite of a gigantic wobble dance.

Peszek – FX – Big on the DLO and a very controlled landing (some piking in the second salto) – her best DLO in a while – front full to a slightly whippy front layout – switch ring and split full are fine ish – this routine is called “My name is Sam Peszek, you don’t need anything else from me” – strong double pike – good control. She’s getting back.

McMillan – VT – Excellent power and height on the full – just a hop in place, good form. SOOO glad she’s finally able to vault. Same landing as Wilson. Just saying.

Hong – UB – Tkatchev is fine – it’s never been her best skill but it has improved – bail is amazing as are all the handstands – lands her DLO squatty with a bound forward. Boo.

Lothrop – BB – switch side half is good – solid landing the loso series as well – switch side is the usual slightly crooked – height on leaps is a thing in this routine, but she’s giving away no wobbles – step on 1.5 dismount. Good hit. They got through beam. Ignore the scores, it’s a positive that they got through those routines.

Bynum – FX – Good DLO. She has improved that so much. Front to double back is OK with a slide on the double back – split full was not there – Strong double tuck to end. Pretty good on the passes and should manage a strong score.

UCLA behind Stanford after three. EEEEEEnteresting.

After 3: Utah 148.625. Stanford 148.075, UCLA 148.050, Oregon State 147.600
This meet is too long. I’m so gymnastics-ed out after this whole day.
“The Red Rocks currently lead” Ya think?
Too many landing mistakes in that UCLA floor rotation. Stanford’s bars rotation was magical. I wish Ivana Hong had hit her dismount, though. But so clean and great work.

Utah basically has to cough on the floor to get a 198 in this meet.

I figured out UCLA’s leo. If So You Think You Can Dance existed in 1993, this is what you would wear to your audition. 

Rotation 4:
Honest – VT -UCLA changing the lineup because obviously.

Showing Cory. “He’s no longer allowed on the floor.” LOL.

Honest – VT – One of her better vaults – good height – smallish bounce. Better on the toes as well.

Keeker – UB -Nice half to turna  hit piked jaeger – not huge height – some handstand issues – small shuffle on DLO.

Wing – BB – hits her bhs 1/1 – was a little off line but fulled her feet back not to wobble – good aerial but big wobble on her loso to follow – swims to save it – boo – strong full turn – finishes with a stuck gainer full. Shame about the wobble.

Rowe – FX – short on double pike with a lunge forward – double full to loso – split full is good – 1.5 to layout is fine – pulls it together after a weaker first pass.

Cipra – VT – Her best landing ever. She always bounces. I’ve never seen her land with that control. Very small hop and piked a little at the end.

Keeker – UB – very clean on teh bail to stalder shoot – good finishing position on the full turn and then slides her feet together on the double tuck landing. Pretty work. Didn’t give away much.

McNair – BB – very strong loso series – secure side somi – check on the full turn – nice side aerial as well – great height on her switch and straddle 1/4 – pretty big hop back on 2/1.

Lee – FX – Her 3/1 – good landing – front layout to front full with a bouncy slide forward – switch ring and split half are nice – another bounce on her double tuck – so much the control she has shown in a couple of these passes, but not much else to take.

Peng – VT – Great height and form, but not the landing – pretty big bounce on this one. Her best vault of the season came that time she was in the lineup, got taken out, and then nailed her exhibition. Maybe just tell her she’s doing exo?

SCP – UB – stalder to start – a fiarly Utah tkatchev – a little crooked on the bail – high DLO with a stick. That DLO was one of the things that kept her down Florida’s bars depth chart last year, but she got it here.

Rice – BB – This is exactly what I need to reinvigorate me for another half rotation – check on the sheep jump – pretty full turn – kickover front is hit – I feel like Taylor Rice could fit in a teacup. NOOOOO. Ouchie. Splits the beam on her loso series and then slams to the ground. That hurt like whoa. Sticks the gainer full.

Wilson – FX – She just did a DLO to her face. So that happened. Stops the routine. Picking her up and carrying her off the floor. Clearly a major injury. Well now I feel like shit for giving so much shit about that 10.

Irvin – VT – Huge height on her vault but doesn’t stick this time. Another pretty big hop back.

Tang – UB – Late-ish on the giant full – clean on the bail with a bit fo foot form – nice tuck full with a hop in place. Good routine.

Hanset – BB – nice loso series – mostly secure on the leaps – check on her aerial when connecting to the wolf jump – just bits of tightness here and there – good full turn – sticks the 1.5. Good ending after a couple medium issues at the beginning.

Lothrop – FX – Pressure now on this routine to drop the Wilson score. Worried for Utah about what they’re going to do without Wilson, she’s so essential to these lineups as a sure hit – small slide on tuck full – 1.5 to layout is hit well – good straddles – strong double pike with a stick. Good recovery routine. 

Oooh, she’s in tears. I might be feeling an emotion you guys.

Peszek – VT – Just a bit short on her full this time – rare to see her short on that full – step forward –

McMillan – UB – Good jaeger to overshoot combination – one ify handstand – small hop back on DLO. Oregon State is quietly putting together a solid meet, just not the big scores.

Vaculik – BB – Great switch into rulfova – good loso series  as well – hitting a very clean and secure routine. She has come a long way as an NCAA beamer – bounce back on double full, but good work.

Dabritz – FX – Good piked full in – finishes with solid chest position – just the smallest slide – rudi to loso is great – hits split and wolf – and nails the triple full. One of her better ones.

Williams – VT – She also lands just a bit short on her full with a hop forward, but strong distance and form.

Aufiero – UB – good full turn – tkatchev is solid – short on a hs or two in there but otherwise solid – sticks the DLO. Pretty good work. Oregon State will be happy with this score in spite of the finish.

Hong – BB – Everything, obviously – lovely onodi to bhs – excellent and high loso series as well – fluid full turn – real sheep jump as well, and sticks her gainer pike. Wonderful finish for Stanford there.

Tutka – FX – Final routine of the meet – good tuck full, bounces back and does well to keep it in – layout to punch rudi is solid – and a strong double tuck – nice hit – secure and finish the meet.

Well, that was a weird meet. It was all crazy scoring, and then it was all Tory Wilson injury. ‘

FINAL: Utah 198.150, UCLA 197.350, Stanford 197.175, Oregon State 196.900 

Rounding things up with those shifting RQS rankings beginning at #11, Stanford finishes with a 196.720, Oregon State finishes at 196.680, Penn State at 196.665, Illinois is next on 196.515, then Boise State on 196.495, then Denver on 196.455, followed by Minnesota at 196.450, then Arizona in 18th at 196.445.

Higher up the rankings, Utah moves to 197.670, which goes ahead of LSU’s 197.650.

Pac-12 Championship Preview

EVENING SESSION (Utah, UCLA, Oregon State, Stanford):

Now that Utah is part of the Pac-12, it seems like we always go into the Pac-12 Championship with pretty much the same story. Utah is the highest-ranked and most consistent team, the safest pick to win, but UCLA might be the more talented group if they can actually put it together. Stanford is the dangerous floater who has enough concentrated pretty to beat anyone on any day but might also fall 100 times, and Oregon State always looks like the fourth-best option but then sometimes wins. Every time I’ve done a preview of Pac-12 Championships, it has been a variation on that same story. This time, it’s pretty much the same setup again, except Utah enters in a stronger place compared to the last few years. This year’s Utah team is sturdier on beam and even deeper on vault (not to mention the bonus of being home team), and it would be an upset if Utah fails to win. Let’s break this thing down by rotation.

Rotation 1 (Utah vault, UCLA bars, Oregon State beam, Stanford floor)

The rotation order couldn’t have worked out better in terms of giving us an early sense of who’s really in the meet. We’ll know after the first rotation which teams are legitimate challengers for the title because the Utes begin on their best event while the three other teams all begin on their weakest events. The teams that haven’t figured out their weakness will be in a 0.500 hole after 11 minutes, and it’s hard to see a team coming back from that without the help of a Utah mistake.

A 0.500 hole after the first rotation is a realistic possibility because vault is the one event where Utah can truly pull away from the field. The Utes are the #1 team in the country on vault and have been breaking 49.500 all over the place, especially at home. They’ll need to show that 49.500 vaulting again on Saturday. Sure, they can win this meet without hitting 49.500 on vault, but looking toward nationals, there’s no way Utah contends with the top three without some 49.500 vaulting, at least 49.500. They have too many 9.9s to expect any less, with the usual big three of Dabritz, Delaney, and Wilson, who now have the benefit of nearly equivalent vaults from Lee and Partyka.

UCLA will need to keep things relatively close at the outset on bars, and has the talent to do so, but bars has been a real adventure this year. An adventure called The Chronicles of 9.650. Francis has been a shining beacon of stuck double pikes in the first spot, but for the Bruins, the focus will be on getting through the next three routines intact so that they can hand things off to the 9.9s from Peszek and Lee. Because Peszek and Lee have such high scoring potential, UCLA can get away with 9.825-9.850s from Meraz, Mossett, and DeJesus (DeJesus has the potential for more but has looked sloppier this season) and still be in reasonable contention for a 49.400, but they have to be 9.825s. Not those 9.6s and 9.7s.

It has been a somewhat similar story for Oregon State this year on beam. Beam hasn’t been a great event for the Beavs post-Leslie Mak, but it really should be much better. Maddie Gardiner and Chelsea Tang are both excellent beamers for realistic 9.9s, so if everyone else can get their 9.825s, that makes for a solid rotation score that can keep them in contention as they go to the higher-scoring events. The problem is how infrequently that has actually happened. Too often, they’ve been caught by a little inconsistency and more than a little case of the early-rotation 9.7s. It will be a recurring theme that Oregon State is just a couple early-lineup routines away from being a really good team. 

As for Stanford on floor, it’s all about the Ebee. No rotation in this competition needs a single gymnast more than Stanford’s floor needs Price. Once again this season, Stanford has been a little too average and flat on floor. There’s just not enough going on there. They can pull together a rotation of 9.850s, but that’s not competitive with the teams throwing up easy 9.9s in spots 4, 5, and 6. Price has competed on floor once this year, performed a medium-quality routine by her standards, and scored a 9.975. If she’s available, 49.3s-49.4s are suddenly completely doable. It not, that puts so much pressure on bars and beam to be perfect at the end of the meet because they will be giving up ground right from the start. 

Rotation 2 (Stanford vault, Utah bars, UCLA beam, Oregon State floor)

The Bruins move to beam in the second rotation, and beam is where they can make their mark. While Utah has at least a fair claim as the top team in the conference on the other three events (at least that’s what the rankings tell us), UCLA is the best beam team in the Pac-12. Even though they’ve had a fair few falls, BRUINBEAMTERROR (trademark) has been considerably less terrifying this year. There has only been one beamtastrophe! That’s pretty good! The key to beam success this year was always going to be finding three solid 9.8s in the first three spots, and it appears they have them now in Meraz, who has been a very sturdy find, Williams, who has come into her own in the last few weeks on an event that has often been her struggle, and DeJesus. If those three can get their 9.850s together and hand things over to Francis, Peszek, and Lee, all of whom have 10 potential and all of whom I’ve talked about ad nauseum, the Bruins should get a huge beam score.

They may not gain ground immediately, even with a big beam number, because Utah will be on bars at the same time, but they would gain ground comparatively once everyone has done beam. UCLA needs to use beam to keep it close after two in order to make a move during rotation three.

While it’s not much of a surprise that Utah is the #1 team in the country on vault given the number of accomplished vaulters on the team, it’s much more surprising that the Utes hold the same #1 ranking on bars. It’s not Florida. It’s not Oklahoma. It’s not Georgia. It’s Utah. The 10-machine named Georgia Dabritz certainly helps, but more than that, Utah is getting the very most out of this bars team, which became abundantly clear last week in Athens. It’s not a lineup of stars (besides Dabritz) and in fact it’s a pretty unremarkable group on paper, but while other teams with much more bars talent—like Stanford—are still giving away tenths on dismounts, Utah is hitting each handstand and sticking each landing. Nowadays, that basically amounts to an auto-9.900. If Utah isn’t in control of this meet halfway through, something will have gone wrong.

For Stanford, vault is a less extreme version of floor. They have more 9.900 potential on vault in the form of the clean work from Nicolette McNair and Taylor Rice, but make no mistake, it also comes down to Price. Of course, finally having six whole vaulters now would be a nice boost as well, but with Price’s 9.950 rounding out the rotation, 49.400 isn’t a leap of the imagination, even if the rest of the vault lineup is just McNair, Rice, an actual bag of rice, and several ghosts. Note that the Cardinal will compete on their two weaker events in the first two rotations, so don’t expect a huge number halfway through. Third place would be expected and not a problem. If they’re even remotely within striking distance of the top at that point, watch out. Bars and beam can both be fabulous. 

One of the most interesting rotations of the meet will be Oregon State on floor. How competitive are they here? The Beavs have had some huge floor rotations this year full of 9.9s, but when they’re suddenly going up against floor from UCLA and Utah (and just a few hours after floor from Cal), is it still a 9.9 parade? It needs to be. Having Risa Perez (whose enthusiasm accomplishes the unthinkable, making me not hate a happy routine) and especially Kaytianna McMillan in this lineup is such an important lift this year. It starts to bring back shades of that floor fire from the Blalock, Vivian, Jones, Stambaugh group, which feels like 11,000 years ago. McMillan had been relegated to bars and beam early in her collegiate career because of injury, but she came to Oregon State as a vault and floor girl. Those are her events, and I’m glad she’s starting to see time and scores. They’ve desperately needed those routines for a year and half, and it’s finally happening. This is the one event where Oregon State has proven the ability to get an absolutely massive number, and that’s what can keep them within sight of the other teams. Unlike Stanford, if OSU is trailing at halfway, it’s much harder to envision a comeback.

Rotation 3 (Oregon State vault, Stanford bars, Utah beam, UCLA floor)

This is the rotation in which UCLA, Stanford, and to some extent Oregon State will hope to make a move. Utah has improved a ton on beam this year, and the potential from Lee and Stover makes the future look extremely bright, but it’s still the event where they’re most likely to get stuck in the 9.825s and most vulnerable to recording a beatable 49.200-49.250 (though that also may be mitigated at home). Sometimes the splits aren’t there, sometimes the height of leaps isn’t there, sometimes the wobbles are there, and it will come down to the strictness of the judging on the day. I don’t think Utah is helped by going to beam right after the performances from Danusia and Peng, who will set the leap standard comparatively high.

I’m not sure what to make of Oregon State’s vaulting yet. The Beavs have made some clear strides, and Gardiner, Keeker, and Aufiero can each get their 9.9 on with a stick, but they still need more depth. They tend to get stuck with some low scores early in the lineup, which isn’t going to work moving forward. In the current scoring climate, you can’t have a 9.750 on vault. You can’t count a 9.800, because Florida already got six 10s while you were chalking up. It has to be one of Aufiero’s 9.925 days. And speaking of 9.925s, let’s get to Stanford’s bars. Stanford must make a move and gain some serious tenths on bars.

Stanford is too talented not to be getting 49.400s on bars every time out. I mean COME ON! Ivana Hong. Sami Shapiro’s handstands. The Vaculik gienger. Becky Wing’s gorgeous leadoff routine. Stanford should be the best bars team in this competition and should make up ground during this rotation. But it will come down to the sticking. So often, Stanford has a 9.950 routine going on the bars themselves that turns into 9.850 because of the dismount. If Sami Shapiro is getting a 9.850 on bars, the world is broken and we need a new one. Because Utah goes to floor and UCLA goes to vault in the last rotation while Stanford goes to beam, Stanford must erase nearly all, if not completely all, of any potential deficit by the end of bars. As much as Ivana Hong is the world’s perfect human on beam, the Cardinal cannot go to beam with tenths to make up. That’s just too hard to do.

UCLA’s floor is an interesting monster because they have mixed and matched so much that…who even knows what the lineup is going to be? No one. Not all of those routines are created equal, and they still haven’t really separated the MEHs from the YESes, which means UCLA’s floor performance this year has not lived up to its potential quality very many times. But, there’s still a big score in there somewhere. When Peszek, Cipra, and Francis are around at the same time, good things will happen. Like Price, Peszek has barely competed on floor this year, but now we’re getting to the time of year she has been saving her legs for. Hopefully, there are still a few more 9.9s left in those rice-paper feet. I also think it has been a smart call to move Bynum to the anchor position because now she’s getting the huge 9.925s that she never really got before the move. Even with Peszek in the lineup, Bynum probably should stay anchor because Peszek doesn’t need the anchor spot to get a big score (though UCLA is traditionally less likely than some other teams to manipulate the lineups in that way).

Rotation 4: (UCLA vault, Oregon State bars, Stanford beam, Utah floor)

It’s hard to imagine Utah heading to floor at home with a lead and relinquishing it, so the other teams must be able to use their strengths in the second and third rotations to, at the very least, keep pace with the Utes before the floor 9.9s start falling like rain. But at the same time, Utah has shown some vulnerabilities on floor this year. It’s a good rotation, but not their strongest recent floor rotation, and at times the losses of Damianova and Del Priore have shown up. Less sureness, more uncontrolled passes. Most egregiously, there was that performance last week against Georgia, which was flat-out poor from a number of people, not just from Wilson and her magical 9.650. I can’t think that will happen again, especially at home, but it does raise some doubt. There are two or three question marks in this lineup leading up to the strength from Dabritz and Tutka, which may prevent Utah from getting a true final-rotation score explosion.

UCLA finishes on vault, and I’m still waiting for that first-week performance to show up again. UCLA was excellent on vault in the first week, nailing landings all over the place, and while there have been shades of it since, no performance has quite lived up to the first one yet. As on floor, there has been a lot of lineup switching. I think they’re so giddy about finally having 9 or 10 legitimate vault options that they just go “WEEEEE!” and throw any of them out there. But they do have enough high-scoring options that 49.400 should be a comfortable result. Peszek obviously. Williams has proven her new 9.9-itude. Irvin is a sticker, even though she vaults diagonally. She’s like a bishop of gymnastics. I’d love to see Pinches and Cipra back, but who knows. The way this vault lineup has been going, Danusia will suddenly vault this week. Still, UCLA doesn’t have an excuse to give up much ground in the final rotation. Every Super Six-hopeful team should be able to get at least a 49.400 on vault, otherwise you’re out in the cold.

While Stanford is beautiful on beam, and likewise has little excuse to give up ground there, I’m still worried about this rotation. The lack of Morgan and Spinner has shown through in many of the performances, which have seen too many early 9.800s for a Stanford team. You’re Stanford! You don’t get 9.800 on beam! A hit from Wing in that first spot is essential. She has occasional consistency issues, but when she hits, she can be a marvelous 9.900 that lifts the whole group. It’s hard to imagine Stanford scoring the big upset without a competition-best beam rotation, so watch for those Wing, Rice, and Vaculik routines to tell us whether this rotation will be a competition-best one, or just an Ivana-Hong-and-guests one. 

One of the reasons it’s so important for Oregon State to get those McMillan and Gardiner 9.9s on floor and that Aufiero 9.9 on vault is that they’re ending on bars, which has been fine but not exceptional this year. The Beavs have lost some talent in the bars department the last couple years as their stars have gradually left. There’s still Aufiero to get the 9.9s, but the rest are getting stuck mostly in the 9.825-9.850s. Perhaps more than any other team, Oregon State has to stick those dismounts to pull out the scores. Especially if things get fancy in the last rotation, or if other teams haven’t been sticking (which would make a rotation of sticks look even better by comparison), OSU does have the potential to take advantage of the rotation order for a surprise big score here.

In all, Utah should be able to put together an early lead and ride it through the rest of the events, but this is far from an open-and-shut competition, especially if UCLA and Stanford do that thing that UCLA and Stanford do where they suddenly show up in the postseason looking a billion times better than during the regular season. The key for UCLA will be using beam to keep things close and then making a move on floor while Utah is on beam, so watch how the margin plays out in the second and third rotations. For Stanford, it’s about using Price to minimize the deficit from vault and floor, and then being the 9.950s they can be on bars and beam. For Oregon State, it’s being the little engine that could. Get 9.875 after 9.875 after 9.875, chip away and chip away, and take advantage of mistakes. Nail floor and be the most solid team overall. Those are the routes to victory. But let’s not forget about the afternoon session because there is a wealth of talent there and some serious contenders for top-four places.

AFTERNOON SESSION (Arizona, Cal, Washington, Arizona State):

The four-team separation in the Pac-12 is still alive and well, but as we saw last year when Cal finished third, the quartet is not immune. Cal and Arizona have both proven more than capable of recording competitive scores and taking advantage of a missed meet from one of the top teams. Or not even a missed meet (Cal’s season high is greater than Oregon State’s this year). One 48.900 rotation with a case of the wobblies from the teams in the top session, and they will be very vulnerable to getting passed.

Cal continues making tremendous progress. From the most extreme doldrums just five seasons ago, Cal has turned into a legitimately competitive team that is going to head to regionals as a true threat. While they haven’t quite made the jump into the thick of the top 15 yet (and we’ll get to beam in a minute), this team has taken another step forward this year, and that step is named Toni-Ann Williams. Top teams always have those huge 9.950s to rely upon, and now Cal has a couple. As a result, they’re currently #3 in the Pac-12 on vault and #4 on floor, and I certainly expect them to place right with at least a couple teams in the late session on those two events. If Cal isn’t vaulting at least level with Stanford and Oregon State, they will have missed an opportunity, but the progress on floor (not just from Williams but also from the introduction of Arianna Robinson and the now-healthy Dana Ho) is the most pleasant improvement from last season. If only they weren’t being pulled down by the beam monster.

Beam is the biggest obstacle standing between Cal and a legitimate challenge to the traditional Pac-12 powers. They’re right there on three events, and if Cal had been consistently hitting a 49.000 on beam this season, they would be 11th in the country right now and deserve it. Sadly, that hasn’t so much been happening. Early in the season it was a fall fest, and while they’ve started to cut out the falls, everyone in the lineup is still in danger of going 9.7. There’s no big 9.9 rotation savior the way that Williams has become on vault and floor. The beam performance will determine Cal’s fate. If they can get through beam, mid-high 196 is a real score and a repeat third-place finish is a real goal. 

The Arizona Wildcats (I really wish someone’s mascot was just a house cat, and the logo was a cat curled up into a ball going “meh”) come into Pac-12s as the highest-ranked team of the four in the early session. In fact, they’re just four spots below Stanford in the rankings. It’s a real credit to this team that they’ve overcome injuries to basically every essential contributor this year (from Klarenbach and Wobma before the season started to Allie Flores most recently), and have still been able to put together exactly the same regular season they always do, finishing ranked 17th and getting a couple high 196s here and there. They have, however, felt the pinch of some crucial lost routines, particularly on vault now, which may very well hurt their competitiveness at Pac-12s especially because vault is such a high-scoring event. It will be a struggle to keep pace there, but other events should remain competitive. Unlike Cal, Arizona’s greatest asset in this meet is beam.

As Cal and Arizona fight it out for afternoon supremacy, Arizona will need to take advantage of the clean, efficient elegance of that beam rotation to build up an advantage strong enough that Toni-Ann Williams can’t pick away at it. In particular, the work from Edwards, Fox, and Mills is a delight. Sometimes nerve-wracking, but a delight. A five-tenth advantage over Cal on beam is possible, and will probably be necessary. It will come down to whether Arizona’s bars and beam are stronger than Cal’s vault and floor. The classic showdown.

Washington does not have the same scoring potential as the six teams ranked above and look a pretty solid bet to adhere to the rankings and finish seventh. But while that might not seem like much, this has been a refreshing bounce-back season for Washington after a poor, not-six-people-in-every-lineup showing last season. This year, they’ve been solidly 195 and occasionally 196, which is much more what I expect from Washington in a normal year. In addition to Allison Northey the AA stalwart, Janae Janik is starting to find the consistency to go along with her lovely gymnastics, former elite Jackie McCartin has become a very useful beamer, and watching McKenzie Fechter aggressively pump herself up before routines is a life highlight. Like Arizona, the Huskies are most competitive on bars and beam, and because of those last four beam routines from Fechter, Northey, Janik, and McCartin, they too can make a statement in this session with their beam work. It’s unlikely that they will have the scores on the other events to put up a big challenge, and will be giving back tenths on vault and floor, but if other teams are falling, Washington can discreetly slip into a higher slot using their beam turning and flexibility super powers.

As for Arizona State, well, this is why we have sayings like “It’s a rebuilding year,” “You have to start somewhere,” and “Growth growth blah blah adversity.” I think that’s a saying, at least. I’m getting it embroidered on a pillow. With the gymnast exodus after Rene took over, coupled with the 11 thousand injuries this season, the devils of the sun don’t have the routines to be competitive. They can get a few solid scores from Taylor Allex and Tasha Sundby to bump up a couple rotation scores toward the high 48s, but mostly they’re looking at a lot of 9.7s and mid 48s. Finishing not-last would be a victory for ASU this year. On the positive side, that 162 earlier this month was just a one-week blip, and they were able to recover for a completely reasonable 195 last week. So the wheels aren’t completely off, just mostly. This is going to be a long process to turn Arizona State back into a team, but I do expect it to get better from here. Although, in the couple meets I’ve seen from Arizona State so far this season, Rene has been dressed kind of demurely (for Rene), and I think that’s what’s hurting the team the most. What happened to our girl?