Category Archives: Rankings

2023 Preseason Coaches Poll

2023 Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Oklahoma (22 first-place votes) – 1727 points
2. Florida (21 first-place votes) – 1724 points
3. Utah (2 first-place votes) – 1648 points
4. Michigan (4 first-place votes) – 1600 points
5. Auburn – 1509 points
6. LSU – 1434 points
7. Alabama – 1395 points
8. California – 1325 points
9. Missouri – 1262 points
10. UCLA – 1242 points
11. Kentucky – 1154 points
12. Michigan State – 1129 points
13. Denver – 1119 points
14. Oregon State – 1066 points
15. Arkansas – 1043 points
16. Minnesota – 1042 points
17. Stanford – 1007 points
18. Iowa – 952 points
19. Ohio State – 844 points
20. Georgia – 794 points
21. Washington – 768 points
22. BYU – 674 points
22. Illinois – 674 points
24. Arizona State – 583 points
25. Arizona – 548 points

Honestly, this is one of the least insane coaches polls of recent memory, which is really hurtful to me and my whole deal. Where is the random first-place vote for Centenary? Where is the BS legacy ranking? Who even understands the point of this anymore?

Defending champion Oklahoma takes the top spot in this season’s poll, which is not particularly surprising given the history of the defending champion usually (but definitely not always) getting the #1 spot in the next year’s poll—combined with the general idea that Oklahoma should get even better this year with two new elite AAers joining 22 of 24 returning routines from the national championship. Last year was supposed to be Oklahoma’s beatable year, and no one beatable-d.

The interesting thing is that Oklahoma is essentially in a tie with Florida, which one might decide to attribute to the power of the SEC cabal looking out for its own, or to the power of the “Florida you have a million perfect gymnasts on this team, how are you not winning every time.” Either/or.  

Utah’s #3 position here mimics the finish from last season, and Michigan slots in at #4, just ahead of last season’s finalist Auburn, which more reflects the overall performance during the season and what probably would have happened had Michigan not melted down on bars and beam in the national semifinal. Michigan’s 4 first-place votes placing below Utah’s 2 first-place votes likely tells us that Utah was a more unanimous top-4 selection, while for Michigan, some people voted for a team that was in the top 3 all of last year, and some people copied their homework from RTN’s final standings. That’s the opposite of what usually happens with Utah. Utah typically gets a chunk of first-place votes and a chunk of like…zeroes…for a middling result.

We do see some actual awareness of what has transpired since the end of last season with the placement of Minnesota. Minnesota finished 6th last season but has famously lost Loper and Ramler and is now ranked 16th in the preseason poll. Such a drop from last season’s result is rare, but I would have done the same thing. We see the opposite phenomenon in the case of LSU, which didn’t really pay any poll price for missing nationals last year and received the #6 position here, about where LSU sat during the entirety of the regular season. 

UCLA comes in at 10th in the preseason poll, which is better than last season’s finish but still UCLA’s lowest preseason ranking since we’ve been doing this. The talent on this team is a lot better than 10th in the country, but after the results of the last two seasons, there hasn’t really been a lot of earning a high ranking. On that note, let’s talk about Georgia, where we also see an all-time low preseason ranking of #20 but also some evidence of reputation and historical deference since Georgia not only finished 30th last year but never once in the entire season ranked as high as 20th. Now, perhaps the coaches as a group are just really excited about JaFree Scott. I know I am. Or perhaps they saw the name Georgia. That’s between them and Olivia Colman.

On the other side of that coin, we have the upstarts and surprise finishes from last season. Missouri is up 7 spots relative to its preseason placement in 2022, while Stanford is up 16 spots, and Michigan State is up 24. All of those teams still rank below their ultimate 2022 finishes in this poll, so they’re not getting full credit for their results last season, but there’s some awareness of them.

Weird thing: There were way, way fewer respondents this year compared to last year. Last season, 69 ballots were submitted for the preseason poll, while this season we have 49 ballots. Not that many. BUT COME ON THIS MATTERSSSSS.

The State of the Women’s National Teams

We’re now into the fifth month of a new code, a new cycle, a new wheel of celestial moonbeams,  which means…we know absolutely nothing about anything. So here we go.   

In the American department, the US has selected actual teams for a couple events thus far, so we have a fairly solid sense of the current hierarchy…at least the hierarchy that doesn’t include the gymnasts who have been competing in college or injured. 

Based on the top scores recorded on each event so far this year, the highest-scoring team of five for the US right now would be this group, which also passes the eye test in terms of the gymnastics we’ve seen:

Konnor McClain14.40013.93314.60013.900
Skye Blakely14.26613.15014.25013.366
Shilese Jones14.30014.30013.55013.700
Zoe Miller13.65014.45012.13312.650
eMjae Frazier14.13313.40013.70013.850

Other competitive scores in the currently active group include a bars from Nola Matthews, a beam from Kailin Chio, a floor from Katelyn Jong, and a…most of them?…from Ashlee Sullivan, but the above five would be the top-scoring team. Until all the college freshmen come back to elite this summer and take their spots. With Lee, Wong, Chiles, Carey, and potentially DiCello among others waiting to jump in, no one should expect this early-2022 group to be anything close to finalized.

Elsewhere in the upper echelon of teams, Russia is banned and the Chinese athletes have not competed this year, so we don’t yet know where their scores will factor in. Domestic events including Chinese nationals and multi-sport competitions like June’s University Games and September’s Asian Games have all been postponed, but China will have to send a group to the Asian Championships in Doha (June 15-18) in order to qualify a team to worlds, so we’ll know something by then. 

Along with the Americans, Italy is the other nation putting forward high-level teams in actual competitions this year, with a top-scoring five that shapes up like this:

Asia D’Amato14.23314.50013.65013.550
Angela Andreoli13.83314.20014.45013.666
Alice D’Amato14.10014.70011.250
Martina Maggio13.90014.60014.20013.600
Giorgia Villa14.43314.000

I’d consider it a fool’s errand to compare the actual team totals at this point, especially with a few less realistic Serie A numbers in there, but we have seen Italy semi-somewhat close to this US group on both occasions they went head-to-head this year, with deficits of 1.3 and 1.8. 

Unlike the US and the changes we’ll inevitably see to the Best Gymnasts Club as the year goes on, this quintet would be a realistic team for Italy at any point. Even if Andreoli doesn’t start hitting beam, you’d be very happy with this five.

While the British have not yet sent a group to match up against the others in team competitions, we’ve seen an encouraging start to the year in domestic events, with most of the top athletes returning to compete.

Jessica Gadirova14.25013.25013.55014.600
Alice Kinsella13.75013.55012.75013.550
Georgia-Mae Fenton12.90013.80013.75012.850
Ondine Achampong14.25013.10013.65012.500
Jennifer Gadirova13.25013.55013.75013.950

Keep an eye on Achampong potentially moving up the ladder this year to disrupt the status of the established team members, as she and Fenton have recorded the most useful scores for a team so far with Amelie Morgan at Utah and absent from the domestic elite scene. And of course there’s the newly-re-AAing-again Becky Downie, who isn’t part of the highest-scoring team at this point but could very realistically push her way into the five when her bars scores get back to 14s.

In Japan, we have a team in the midst of rebuilding mode, with Murakami, Teramoto, and Hatakeda all having announced their retirements. Still, we did see a number of competitive routines at the All-Japan Championship last month (video: AA final).

Kasahara Arisa13.20013.76613.73312.766
Miyata Shoko14.30012.43313.43313.266
Yamada Chiharu14.03313.76612.73313.133
Watanabe Hazuki13.26613.53313.73312.500
Sakaguchi Ayaka14.00012.76613.23313.300

While she wouldn’t be in the highest-scoring team of five right now because of the other apparatuses, consider world beam champion Ashikawa Urara a necessary member of the group going forward. That said, we have seen Japan shoot itself in the eye before with its stringent, AA-based selection procedures, so…maybe keep more of an eye on that space than you should have to? 

For France, life looks very encouraging once you plug MDJDS into the group of gymnasts that have competed so far this year, a group that really should entertain expectations of a team medal at Euros as one of the three favorites with Italy and Great Britain. 

Aline Friess14.35013.55013.45013.350
Carolann Heduit14.05013.40013.33313.200
Lorette Charpy13.55013.86613.25012.950
Louane Versaveau13.65013.80012.96712.300
Coline Devillard14.45010.95012.83312.000

An interesting factor to watch this year will be double Olympian Marine Boyer, who has been competing domestically but doesn’t have the scores so far to get herself on the highest-scoring team. Typically, it’s Devillard who finds herself on the outside because she doesn’t really have a second event to go with her vault. But, if you have MDJDS, Charpy, Heduit, and Friess, you wouldn’t mind a fifth gymnast with only 1 event if she’s giving you such a useful vault score.

For Canada, the repertoire of routines shown so far this year is definitely incomplete, but veteran Denelle Pedrick’s performance at Stuttgart does have her with counting scores on two events.

Denelle Pedrick13.96612.25012.70013.166
Ellie Black13.55013.75013.13312.150
Sydney Turner13.25013.15013.60012.866
Shallon Olsen14.30012.60012.550
Ava Stewart13.13313.70012.900

We’re also looking at a fairly incomplete picture of scores for other typical team final contenders like the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, and Germany, but there may need to be some alarms sounding for Germany because the absence of the long-standing stars in 2022 competitions has exposed some low scores that would put Germany behind teams like Romania and Hungary right now.

2022 Preseason Coaches Poll

2022 Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Michigan (37 first-place votes) – 2405 points
2. Florida (16 first-place votes) – 2319 points
3. Oklahoma (6 first-place votes) – 2317 points
4. Utah (8 first-place votes) – 2306 points
5. LSU (1 first-place vote) – 2179 points
6. Alabama – 2027 points
7. Cal (1 first-place vote) – 2020 points
8. UCLA – 1887 points
9. Minnesota – 1803 points
10. Denver – 1763 points
11. Arkansas – 1700 points
12. Kentucky – 773 points
13. Arizona State – 1666 points
14. Auburn – 1460 points
15. Georgia – 1384 points
16. Missouri – 1334 points
17. Oregon State – 1316 points
18. Iowa – 1308 points
19. BYU – 1208 points
20. Iowa State – 1005 points
21. NC State – 981 points
22. Ohio State – 957 points
23. Illinois – 919 points
24. Boise State – 908 points
25. Southern Utah – 864 points
26. Utah State – 607 points
27. Arizona – 593 points
28. Central Michigan – 517 points
29. Penn State – 432 points
30. West Virginia – 428 points
31. Maryland – 425 points
32. Nebraska – 383 points
33. Stanford – 381 points
34. Washington – 367 points
35. North Carolina – 336 points
36. Michigan State – 305 points

The WCGA has released its annual list of last season’s final rankings preseason coaches poll, and defending champion Michigan has been bestowed the very important and definitely real honor of the top spot. Bev Plocki now joins Jenny Rowland, KJ Kindler, and Jay Clark as the only active head coaches to have seen their teams ranked #1.

It’s basically tradition, though definitely not always the case, that the defending champion is given the #1 ranking in the next year’s poll, and here we see a return to the traditions of yore. Last season, Florida snatched the #1 ranking rather than defending champion Oklahoma in a year when very few ballots were submitted and things got a little funky.

This year, far more ballots were submitted (69, which is on the high side historically), which I’d say influenced the rankings’ similarity to last year’s results. My theory is that the more people you have voting who don’t always submit their assignments, the more likely these newly incorporated C- students are going to just look at RTN and copy their homework.

The four teams that made the championship last year are all included in the top four here, followed by a semi-large gap before the next tier of teams. Considering Florida’s second-place ranking compared to last year’s fourth-place finish, that could mean an acknowledgement of the quality of the new athletes. Or not, because Florida was ranked first in the poll last year, so this is technically a downgrade from the WCGA.

The coaches poll is never exactly known to be nimble and reflective of the nuances of the various first-year classes coming in. Utah is actually ranked lower here than last year’s final placement, and even though UCLA is ranked higher here than last year’s finish, 8th is the lowest preseason ranking UCLA has received since I’ve been writing about these (there’s no surviving archive of these polls, which is fun).

There’s not a lot of first-year-elite glow reflected in this poll, is what I’m saying. Auburn and Oregon State are about where they always are. Thankfully, the WCGA did do their research with regard to the quality of L10s coming in at schools like Ohio State and Michigan Sta…and I’m just kidding obviously. Ohio State is ranked 4 spots lower than the team finished last year.

Interestingly, Utah got more first-place votes that Oklahoma yet came in one spot below, which is not an uncommon situation for Utah specifically and no other team. There was a year not too long ago when Utah got 14 first-place votes to rank behind Alabama with 4 first-place votes, which was part of a three year-streak of Utah getting more first-place votes than teams who ranked higher. I don’t know why that’s a Utah-specific phenomenon, but it must indicate that the votes are more erratic. Some very high and some very low.  

Cal received the Boise State Commemorative Random First-Place Vote this season, which is kind of an upset since that vote had gone to Denver each the last two seasons. I really hope it’s the same person every time. Of note, Cal came in ahead of UCLA in the national poll but behind UCLA in the Pac-12 poll.