Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Spencer Fixes College Gymnastics


You’re welcome, college gymnastics.

Now that we’re nearly two weeks removed from the college gymnastics season and beginning to remember how to walk on dry land and breathe without an iron lung again, it’s time for my semi-bi-quadri-sorta-annual list of grievances about college gymnastics and what needs to be done to make them…not grievances.

As we know, the coaches are their own worst enemies when it comes to deciding how college gymnastics should be run since they tend to make decisions that are in their own short-term best interests (my team is more likely to make the final if there are six teams) rather than in the long-term best interests of the sport and the fan experience (Super Six is actual trash).

So, I’m taking the decisions out of their hands and just telling them what to do with these few, simple, humble notes on how to stop being the worst and make everything instantly perfect.


Obviously, the postseason format is a total tear-down. No salvaging this fixer-upper. Raze that garbage.

My proposed format adds a third round of postseason elimination meets (because of more exciting), so I would not be averse to shortening the regular season by one week since the gymnasts don’t need to be competing/traveling more than they already do.

1. Playoff Round – (Teams #9-#40, 8 quad-meet sessions at 4 host sites)

The first round of elimination meets would see the teams ranked #1-#8 receive byes (actual byes) straight through to the round of 16. This provides a much more significant and tangible incentive for regular-season success while also focusing our attention on the teams that actually have something riding on these massive early-round meets.

The remaining 32 teams (ranked #9-#40) will be divided into eight groups of four and will compete in winner-take-all quad meets. Each of the four sites will host two of these meets in a two-session day—mimicking the current format of the SEC and Pac-12 Championships—with a quad session in the afternoon and a quad session in the evening. The winner (and only the winner) of each quad session will advance to the round of 16, making up the remaining eight teams.

This round will take place over two weekends, with each of the four host sites having its own day (Saturday of weekend 1, Sunday of weekend 1, Saturday of weekend 2, Sunday of weekend 2). That way, all of the teams receive a week off, but it’s the not the same week off for each team and doesn’t break up the momentum of the entire sport as much as the current postseason format does. We could even allow teams to apply to compete on a specific weekend if the other conflicts with finals or something. (ah ha ha, school.) Continue reading Spencer Fixes College Gymnastics


Things Are Happening – April 25, 2017

It’s an emergency Tuesday edition of Things Are Happening because Things. Are. Happening. Well, one thing in particular.

A. (But also B…and C through S.) GEORGIA

So, the Georgia died.

In case you were laboring under the misapprehension that the NCAA season ended after Super Six, let me get you up to speed on all upsets that have been recorded since then.

Georgia qualified to nationals this season, but from the moment the team boarded the Hindenburg for their trip to St. Louis, it was all a little…

The meet ended with a 195.800 and a last-place finish after everyone scored a 2 on everything.

And I know exactly what you’re thinking: this sounds like it was Jasmine Arnold’s fault!

Once Georgia returned from nationals, the Gymdogs became the first-ever team to count a fall on beam after the season ended with the bizarre announcement that Danna Durante had called Natalie Vaculik, Jasmine Arnold, and Caroline Bradford into her office and said,

At first, Danna said, “I feel like there should be as much confusion and as many random rumors as possible about this, so I’m not going to say anything and just let this weirdness sit there. That works always.”

Shockingly, that ended up being a poor choice, so she called up Emily Giambalvo and was like, “Instead, I’ve decided to make everything worse,” adding an official comment on the situation:

“Dismissal makes them sound like a problem, which they weren’t.”

Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 25, 2017

Things Are Happening – April 19, 2017

A. European Championship schedule

Wednesday, April 19
3:00am ET/12:00am PT – Men’s Qualification Subdivision 1

Oliver Hegi (SUI), Eddy Yusof (SUI), Jimmy Verbaeys (BEL)

7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Men’s Qualification Subdivision 2

Alex Shatilov (ISR), Krisztian Berki (HUN), Marcel Nguyen (GER), Lukas Dauser (GER), Nikita Ignatyev (RUS), Artur Dalaloyan (RUS), James Hall (GBR), Joe Fraser (GBR), Artur Davtyan (ARM), Igor Radivilov (UKR), Robert Seligman (CRO), Filip Ude (CRO)

11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Men’s Qualification Subdivision 3

Oleg Verniaiev (UKR), David Belyavskiy (RUS), Nikita Nagornyy (RUS), Marian Dragulescu (ROU), Eleftherios Petrounias (GRE), Rayderley Zapata (ESP), Bart Deurloo (NED), Sam Oldham (GBR), Frank Baines (GBR), Dom Cunningham (GBR), Courtney Tulloch (GBR), Ferhat Arican (TUR), Pablo Braegger (SUI), Christian Baumann (SUI)

Thursday, April 20
3:00am ET/12:00am PT – Women’s Qualification Subdivision 1

Great Britain (2), France (2), Hungary (2)

6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Women’s Qualification Subdivision 2

Russia (2), Romania (2), Netherlands (2), Germany (2), Italy (2)

9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Women’s Qualification Subdivision 3

Great Britain (2), Netherlands (2), France (2), Italy (2), Belgium (2), Switzerland (2)

11:30am ET/8:30am PT – Women’s Qualification Subdivision 4

Russia (2), Romania (2), Germany (2), Hungary (2), Switzerland (2), Spain (2), Alma Kuc (POL, Cal 2018)

Friday, April 21
6:00am ET/3:00am PT – Men’s All-Around Final LINK
10:30am ET/7:30am PT – Women’s All-Around Final LINK
Saturday, April 22
6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Event Finals Day 1
Men’s Floor
Women’s Vault
Men’s Horse
Women’s Bars
Men’s Rings
Sunday, April 23
6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Event Finals Day 2
Men’s Vault
Women’s Beam
Men’s PBars
Women’s Floor
Men’s HBar

The European Championships have quite charitably decided to take place this week and weekend in order to soften our descent into the abyss that is the NCAA season being over. They’re like the nicotine patch of gymnastics. We need it. A lot.

All the sessions will be streamed on the UEG site for free. Yippee! Less yippee: I couldn’t get the replays of men’s qualification to actually…you know…play (at least for now), but Flo also has the rights to broadcast the streaming—behind the paywall—and I could get the first subdivision replay to play there, if you’re looking.

So, everything’s going great so far. Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 19, 2017

Things Are Happening – April 7, 2017

A. Weekend schedule

Friday, April 7
Scores Watch
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – USAG Championships Semifinal 1
Air Force
West Chester
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – USAG Championships Semifinal 2
Texas Woman’s
Seattle Pacific
Saturday, April 8
Scores Watch
8:00am ET/5:00am PT – London World Cup – Women NBC
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – London World Cup – Men NBC
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – USAG Championships Team Final LINK FREE
Sunday, April 9
Scores Watch
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – USAG Championships Event Finals LINK FREE

B. NCAA news

We may be in a holding pattern until NCAA nationals next week, but the weekly tour of various other NCAA championships arrives in Seattle this weekend for the USAG Collegiate Championship, which is limited to teams offering between 0 and 6 scholarships (as opposed to the DI norm of 12). Lindenwood and Bridgeport finished the season with identical RQSs and come in as the favorites.

Last weekend, UW-Whitewater took the DIII “we score vaults like JO now, but just for you” championship, its first title since 2014. La Crosse had won the previous two seasons.

The other NCAA news of the week is the retirement of Mark Stevenson, head coach at NC State for only the last 37 years (must try harder…). He’s been there so long he started as an assistant coach for the men’s team. Like, back when colleges had men’s teams. NC State made nationals once during his tenure, in 1998, and won five EAGL titles.

Colleen Johnson has been associate head coach for a while now and seems positioned as the obvious successor, but as these head coaching jobs open up through the off season, we’ll have to replenish our list of cool new coaches whose names we throw out willy-nilly at every opportunity now that Elise Ray and the Santoses are taken. In terms of head coaches, I’d expect Jen Kesler and Umme Salim-Beasley to be quite sought after by bigger programs given what Jen has done at Lindenwood after being thrown into that position as a literal fetus, and given the record-exploding season Temple had this year. Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 7, 2017

Things Are Happening – March 24, 2017

A. NCAA weekend…wait, what?

You’re trying to tell me that there’s no NCAA gymnastics this weekend? Then what’s the point of anything? How do we go on? And why am I not in pajamas?

All the teams have another week off before next Saturday’s regionals so that they can rest, refresh, glue their legs back together, and learn to read or something. And so we wait, bereft.

In anticipation of regionals, I’ve started meet previews with Washington and Nebraska and will continue with the remaining four before next Saturday’s competitions.

B. AAI Award Finalists

The six seven finalists have been announced for the annual AAI Award, voted on by the coaches and bestowed upon the best senior gymnast in the country for just being so darn great. For all of its ALL ABOUT THE TEAM, I sort of love how secretly obsessed college gymnastics is with voting on individual awards.

Typically, six finalists are named, but this year we had a tie, so Moonlight was also included. So amazing on bars.

The finalists are Nicole Artz, Chayse Capps, Maddie Gardiner, Ashleigh Gnat, Kaytianna McMillan, Peng Peng Lee, and Baely Rowe.

Other semifinalists who didn’t make the final cut were Claire Boyce, Brianna Comport, Jennie Laeng, Meghan Pflieger, Aja Sims, and Majesta Valentine.

The award is somewhat mercurial, occasionally going to the obvious choice but also sometimes going to a gymnast the coaches feel deserves the same level of recognition but hasn’t received it because of being not-famous, as when Lindsay Mable won last year over Bridget Sloan. This year doesn’t really have a clear-cut winner, so…who do we think should win? Continue reading Things Are Happening – March 24, 2017

Things Are Happening – December 30, 2016

A. Life is starting

We’re exactly seven days away from the beginning of the NCAA season, meaning that in one week’s time I will have to remember how to live blog things again. Those muscles are really atrophied. I’ll be back doing the normal daily live blogs each weekend of the season, and I’m going to add a running results page for meet week with all the final scores in one place so there’s not so much clicking back and forth and hither and thither and yon.

The first weekend is pretty solid this year, with the very first day giving us Oklahoma/Alabama and Georgia/LSU. Some years, the first day is just like the North Miami School of Chinese Medicine vs. a ditch. So this is better. The full season schedule is here.

The team previews are almost done. 17 down, 4 to go. And then we get to stop previewing things and start reviewing things, stop being optimistic about people’s potential and start being pessimistic about their actual, horrible actions. The whole gaggle of previews is available in the drop-down menu.

Training videos have tapered off with the Christmas break and the season coming so soon, though UCLA did want us to remember Macy Toronjo and that she’s a person who is doing an acro series on beam.

B. Voronin Cup

Russia hasn’t stopped competing for a single second since the end of the Olympics (why are the gymnasts always injured???), but in the shock of all shocks, no one forced Seda Tutkhalyan to pour herself into the Voronin Cup last week and slop around the beam for a second. Instead, the competition acted as an opportunity for Daria Elizarova to pop out of a jack-in-the-box and go, “SURPRISE! Remember this piece?” Continue reading Things Are Happening – December 30, 2016

Things Are Happening – December 16, 2016

A. NCAA Cavalcade of Stars

The parade of preseason showcases is winding down as the teams focus on pushing themselves into regular-season form, just so they can then take a big ol’ Christmas break right before the first meet. This is why coaches have aneurysms.

Anyway, the broadcast exhibitions from Utah, Michigan/EMU, and LSU can be replayed at the links provided, and for my thoughts on them, check out the respective team previews for Utah, Michigan, and LSU.

Oklahoma also held a public exhibition that wasn’t even on national television (like an idiot), but it featured Maggie Nichols being all Maggie Nichols.

Freshman Maggie Nichols already making an impact, scoring a perfect 10.0 on bars! #committo3

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She received a 10.0 for this routine. You should take preseason scoring with a vat of salt and the appropriate level of not paying attention to it at all (Michigan’s meet featured “celebrity” judges, as long as you don’t know what a celebrity is), but that actually is kind of a 10. From what I’ve seen, the Oklahoma routines were scored (relatively) realistically. I had to laugh about Nichols getting a 10.0 on bars before her first routine even happened, though, as I imagine McKenzie Wofford looking at that like, “Seriously?! Three years over here.”

Emily Giambalvo was at the meet and has Nichols’ full floor routine.

And the normal amount of not being able to even re: Miss Capps.

And Brenna on bars.

UCLA has our first glimpse of Kocian continuing to look completely Kocian in NCAA. We see Stalder Shap to Pak, and then Toe Shap 1/2, which is already six tenths of bonus and she hasn’t even dismounted yet. She might be OK.

We also see THE PENG, who is adding a Ray to her routine in addition to her impossibly beautifully executed Bhardwaj. Check out that full Zamarripa of a handstand from Savvidou, who (according to a totally unbiased and definitely mysterious UCLA-obsessed person whom you will never guess) is the sleeper hit of UCLA’s preseason training.

High-flying uneven bars intrasquad highlights from @madison_kocian @pengpengclee and @stellsavv.

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On beam, we have Peng’s Homma flares (directly connected to enacting world peace through arm wave), Kocian being normal (walkover, sheep, side aerial…no standout skills but she doesn’t need them), and Ohashi continuing to work the layout 1/1. She’s hitting it, and I’d imagine we’ll see some difficulty-respect scoring here. It’s the year of difficulty in NCAA.


Janay Honest won The Great Bruin DLO Off.

Double lay all day! @katelyn_ohashi @janayhonest @angicipra @felicia_hano @sonyameraz @mpreston16

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FLOG has its full visit to Alabama, the highlights of which are the expected: Kiana Winston’s Pak and Aja Sims’ switch side. Buttah. Continue reading Things Are Happening – December 16, 2016

NCAA Training Is Happening – December 9, 2016

A. Training

We’re firmly ensconced in the “getting ready for NCAA season while nothing is actually happening” portion of the year, so that’s pretty much all there is. Other than Dipa Karmakar probably not competing the Prod anymore because of the devalue. So…the WTC finally did something right? When’s the parade?

Anyway, Kyla Ross’s Omelianchik is starting to look pretty competitiony. We’ll see how Hano’s landing on the 1.5 comes along. UCLA needs both vaults with the strength of a nova.

Flipping out that season is in exactly one month! @uclagymnastics

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flipping through finals like🙃

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This is the Sabrina Schwab bars video that I was making fun for its soundtrack on this week’s GymCastic. But also excellent execution.

Check out this BEAUTIFUL bar routine from sophomore Sabrina Schwab!!! #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

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That thing where your tape makes it look like you just suffered a really tragic tattoo decision. Continue reading NCAA Training Is Happening – December 9, 2016

Things Are Happening – December 2, 2016

A. The Decis-Ernst

This week, Peyton Ernst was finally allowed to shake off the gag order and reveal that this January she’ll be heading to Gustavus Adolphus.

No. She’s going to Alabama. Obviously. We’ve known this for a while based on her literally everything about her and that time Bailie Key committed, but now it’s “official.” And by official, I mean there was a picture on Twitter. Which is what official means now.

Based on this tweet, we can assume Ernst ultimately selected Alabama because of the coaches, the teammates, the butts, and the white baseball caps.

We’ll have to talk beam lineup once we get to the Alabama preview portion of the month.

B. Training!

As always, Utah is going for the December championship of training videos. Kim Tessen’s 1.5 looks on track.

Highlights of local freshman Kim Tessen (AKA Kim Possible) from the intrasquad last weekend. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

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Skimmy Gibbler (I don’t know either…) is retaining the DTY and the tucked double double just like I told her to.

Highlights of freshman MyKayla Skinner from the Thanksgiving Intrasquad. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

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Highlights of super-soph Makenna Merrell from our Thanksgiving Intrasquad. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

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Merrell also appears to be trying to bring back her 1.5 from JO days. Many teams are showing a distinctly different strategy from last year’s “we’ll wait and see if it’s worth it to try the 1.5,” having learned that it almost always is.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – December 2, 2016

Things Are Happening – November 18, 2016

A. NCAA Training

FLOG has continued its whistle-stop tour of the American South with visits to Alabama and Georgia.

Sabrina Vega not only exists but now also has a floor routine. The choreography looks a little “we’re worried about your stamina” because it’s entirely on the floor, but she’s getting through it. She has real skills back.

Over Alabama way, Maddie Desch is showing routines. She’s now dismounting bars with a double front instead of that increasingly chucked tucked full she used in elite. I’m usually not in favor (though Alabama loves its double fronts), but in this case it’s probably the better choice given the road her previous dismount was going down. A road called Hitting The Bar And Landing On Your Face Avenue.

Shea Mahoney was in a boot earlier this fall, but she’s getting back to bars now.

“Sassy” for Aja Sims. “Spicy” for Nickie Guerrero. OK, FLOG. Also, Aja Sims’ floor music is sirens. Discuss. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 18, 2016