Last week, the US named the women’s teams for the Pan American Championship/”this time, it matters” worlds qualifier, going with a senior team of Skye Blakely, Lexi Zeiss, Elle Mueller, Zoe Miller, and Kayla DiCello.
This marked the first selection decision of the new leadership era, and we saw a couple encouraging signs here—namely that this team is not just the all-around standings printed out with a sticker of a duckling yelling, “I quacked it!” at the top.
Kayla DiCello placed down in 7th in the all-around (!) on the first day after misses on vault and beam, which means she would not have made an AA-standings team. But, her bars and floor scores nonetheless put her on the highest-scoring team of five in a 3-count format based on that first day of selection competition. That highest-scoring team is the five who were ultimately named.
Now, whether being on the highest-scoring team was the actual reasoning for DiCello’s selection or whether it was just, “duh, it’s Kayla DiCello,” we couldn’t say. But, the highest-scoring team based on the first day of competition was indeed the group selected for both the seniors and the juniors. Addison Fatta, who placed third in the all-around but did not factor into the highest-scoring team, was named the senior alternate.
So that selection approach a very good sign. Except there was also a second day of competition, which funks things up. On day 1, the athletes compete the all-around, and on day 2, they compete two apparatuses—a vestigial verification camp format from the days of yore. This time, the athletes competed only bars and beam on day 2. No one—senior or junior—did vault or floor, even those who might have benefited from a chance to improve their vault or floor results from day 1.
What we did see on day 2 was a beam victory for Ciena Alipio that changed the highest-scoring scenario and would have put her on the highest-scoring team (using either average score over the two days or the higher score from either day). So I’d say Alipio has the best argument for getting screwed over here, and it provokes the question: what even is this second day? Are the scores being taken into account for selection? If not, get rid of her. And if they are, it seems there should be a day off in between so that everyone would be encouraged to compete the events that might help their team case the most.
B. Worlds Qualification
The African Championships concluded over the weekend, with Egypt taking the lone team spot available at worlds for both men and women, defeating the South African women’s team in the showdown session of the event. Caitlin Rooskrantz of South Africa won the all-around title and will be joined by fellow Olympian Naveen Daries at worlds, as well as new senior Fatma Boukhatem and veteran Lahna Salem of Algeria.
Here are the updated qualification charts for both men and women:
Carlos Yulo (PHI) Mahdi Ahmad Kohani (IRI) Abdulla Azimov (UZB) Khabibullo Ergashev (UZB) Yogeshewar Singh (IND) Gaurav Kumar (IND)
Hillal Metidji (ALG) Abderrazak Nasser (MAR)
Mikhail Koudinov (NZL) William Fu-Allen (NZL)
C. Pan American Championships
Up next in the qualification journey is the Pan American Championship, and WONDER OF WONDERS it is actually going to be streamed, with options from the Brazilian federation on YouTube and the PanAm Sports Channel. Live scoring is here. The juniors get started on Thursday with qualification, followed by senior qualification on Friday, junior event finals on Saturday, and senior team finals on Sunday.
Of important note, the worlds spots for the teams are determined by the results of qualification on Friday, not the standings of the team final on Sunday. The US women compete in the first subdivision on Friday, while Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina all go in the fourth subdivision. For the men, the US and Canada go in the third subdivision, and Brazil in the 5th. The Friday schedule is here (Rio time):
The senior team finals on Sunday are at 10:00am for the women and 4:00pm for the men.
Worthwhile to watch will be how a first-choice Brazilian side featuring Rebeca Andrade and Flavia Saraiva (though now absent Jade Barbosa, who withdrew) matches up against this US team that has some big names but is absent the college Olympians and McClain. I’m also curious about how the scores from this Brazilian team compare to what we’re seeing from the likes of Italy, China, France, and Great Britain so far this year to gauge what the team final and perhaps medal hopes might be for this group. We’ve only seen limited apparatuses from the top Brazilians in 2022, so there hasn’t been much basis for comparison yet.
For the five team spots available for women, the US, Brazil, and a strong Canadian group (despite the absence of Ellie Black) will get to worlds easily. We haven’t seen much of Mexico this year, but the quality of athletes being sent should get in, and then we get to see whether this is more of an Argentina year or more of a Colombia year. Could Cuba’s team of mostly never-seen-the-light-of-day gymnasts turn out to be amazing? Always possible.
With just four team spots available for men, the US, Brazil, and Canada trio doesn’t leave as much room for others, where Colombia has lately been the next-best team in the region, but we shall see if Mexico or Argentina can put up a fight.
D. French Championship
Carolann Heduit took the all-around title at the French championship over the weekend, out-touching Aline Friess by a mere tenth with Heduit having the far superior first day when Friess fell on vault, but Friess righting the ship on the second day for the highest all-around score.
De Jesus Dos Santos, Charpy, and Devillard were all absent for this championship, so it doesn’t necessarily provide the most comprehensive look at what a five-member French team might be when we get down to it this year, but noteworthy was Marine Boyer finally hitting beam on the second day for a 14.000, a high-level beam score that you’d want on a worlds team, which we’ve seen from her until this month. In fact, Boyer also defeated Heduit in the all-around on the second day of competition.
E. American Classic
Everyone fell on everything and only four seniors competed, but it was a streamed gymnastics meet that happened.
This week, USAG announced which three people who’ve never said anything too mean about the organization it was able to trick into taking jobs at the top of the women’s national team as it attempts to perform the very challenging Reverse Beyonce and transition from solo artist to pop trio.
Well, in 21 years, the position of a sole national team coordinator has never not been a disaster—either in a results way, a person way, or (most fun) both!—so…good job trying something different.
In this new system designed to ensure that all “the internet was mean to me” hurt fee-fees are given a 33% split (or, I mean, to help the athletes best?), leadership will now be held by an esteemed council of three—a developmental lead, a technical lead, and a strategic lead—presumably all holding scepters and sitting around a triangular obsidian table wearing vestments of gold.
The developmental lead will be Dan Baker, which is the least noteworthy of the three hires because it’s not a hire and he already had that exact job before. It just wasn’t part of a V IMPORTANT TRIO until now. So that’s what that is.
The technical lead will be Chellsie Memmel, and it is potentially encouraging that USAG went with a judge for this position because a defining feature of the last several years of top-level US women’s routines has been the recurring need for composition interventions that never happened. Hopefully, Memmel will be empowered to judge it up all over the place and have important “get rid of that double tuck, it’s not worth the one tenth” and “I have literally never credited that switch ring” conversations early in the process.
The strategic lead will be Alicia Sacramone Quinn, which I think is the most interesting and mysterious of the three selections. The job description has a lot of very job-descriptiony nonsense phrases like “guide the overall direction of the program,” which on the one hand could mean full HBIC, or it could be like that time in my college internship when I gave myself the title Critical Projects Coordinator and still have no idea what that means. The word “strategic” has led to the assumption that this position will take the lead on things like team selection and selection procedures, which is the brunt of the “public has thoughts about this” aspect of the job(s), something she should have the temperament to handle better than the predecessor.
I’m just hoping her presence serves as a subtle FU to the entire concept of using all-around standings to select teams. That would help a lot. Fully scrapping and rewriting the selection procedures to make them both more objective and more logically sound, while being completely clear and transparent, is another critical assignment for the new regime.
In the present age, USAG would be best suited by employing a clear “plug in the numbers across X competitions and there’s your highest-scoring 3-up, 3-count team” approach that marries objectivity and strategy and avoids a single individual (or three) making unclear judgment calls as much as humanly possible. You don’t want a situation where Sacramone and Memmel are marching off to the back room and Martha-ing up a team. You want a bot to make the team and then everyone does a group dance or whatever. Because if we’ve learning anything from gymnastics, it’s that you paste a group dance on the end of things when you want people to tweet that the athletes seem happy.
It’s worth noting what a hiring departure this is for USAG, which until very recently had been deeply committed to seniority and history for positions like this, requiring program leadership to have a proven track record of coaching athletes at worlds and Olympics. Memmel and Sacramone definitely do not have that, and lack of experience is in some ways an asset because they’re not part of the old guard, but is also the root of most questions about their hires, fairly or unfairly. These youngish people without decades of leadership experience are going to have to work closely with several well-entrenched garbage humans. Will they have the authority to lay down the law? Would they be listened to? Or will they be reduced to figureheads—well-liked former athletes who won’t make waves and are there to blunt criticism because IT’S CHELLSIE AND ALICIA—while everyone just goes on doing whatever they want?
It’s going to be a journey of a quad tri.
B. Alabama what?
Gasp! As Alabama finally turned the calendar to July 2020, news came that Dana Duckworth had definitely voluntarily left the head coach position in order to spend more time doing shoulder presses. The very odd timing of this—not coming directly after the season ended, instead coming after a noteworthy L10 nationals that Alabama recruits fully dominated—has left us all waiting to see if there’s yet another stiletto that’s going to drop. Or if it’s going to be a secret stiletto forever.
Travel back in time one month and tell yourself that by May 20, Kupets would still have a job and Duckworth would not.
A mere 11 seconds later, Alabama announced that Ashley Priess Johnston would be taking over as head coach—not at all a surprising decision once we knew Goosecheap was out because Priess is an Alabama alum who has established herself as a prominent assistant coach in recent years. You would have considered her the frontrunner if there had been time to consider anything. Along with Sacramone and Memmel, Priess was a member of the 2006 worlds team that is apparently just inheriting the earth now. You guys, is Jana Bieger going to be the president?
The speed of this hire, though, is…fascinating…because there was not time in there to do an actual hiring process. One would think that there would have been some outside interest in one of the plusher jobs in gymnastics. Either you phoned that in, or you had been planning this for a while.
C. Worlds Qualification
The first team and AA quotas of the world championship qualification process were booked at the Oceania Championship last week, with Australia taking the team spots for both women and men. On the women’s side, New Zealand didn’t send a full squad, though NZ’s Keira Rolston-Larking and Reece Cobb did compete, which should mean they can take the two all-around quota spots available from Oceania for those without a team. It’s somewhat disappointing that we’re not seeing full teams for New Zealand, which is also not sending any WAG at all to the Commonwealth Games despite sending a full MAG team.
For the men, the New Zealand team gave Australia a bit of a test, as they did when we saw both compete against each other at 2018 worlds qualification, but the Australian team pulled through by about a five point margin to qualify a team to worlds. For NZ, Misha Koudinov and William Fu-Allen were the top 2 all-arounders and qualified to worlds as individuals.
The Oceania Championship was held in conjunction with Australian Nationals, where Georgia Godwin came out on top of the women’s AA by a bit more than a point over fellow Olympian Emily Whitehead over two days of competition.
For comparison to the state of the women’s national teams from several weeks ago, Australia’s highest-scoring team from 2022 so far would nestle in just behind the likes of Japan and France. So take that for what you will.
This weekend’s Canadian Championship should give us a good framework for comparing where those two countries stand right now. So hold on for that.
The next major test for Australia will be the Commonwealth Games at the end of July. Speaking of which…
D. FIG, learn a book
Breaking from its own precedent and the precedent of everything, the FIG informed Rhys McClenaghan that he will not be able to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games because he represents Ireland internationally.
Among other things, this is a departure from the FIG’s own history as Rhys competed internationally representing Ireland as a junior prior to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, then represented Northern Ireland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, then has represented Ireland at subsequent events for years. This is normal, athletes do it in all sorts of sports, and competing for Ireland and Northern Ireland in events where Northern Ireland can compete independently is a special case that does not constitute a change of nationality the way the FIG has suddenly decided to view it. The idea that the FIG would try to wade into this is truly the stupidest. Hopefully the public pressure will take hold and get this fixed since we know public pressure is the only reason the FIG would ever do or change anything.
E. And finally…
Tatiana Nabieva and Maria Paseka are coaching the Chinese national team. The end.
Here in the arena for the first semifinal, where we’ll have Oklahoma, Utah, Alabama, and Minnesota—what is in some respects the main event for today as its the semifinal with the less-clear setup for favored teams. Also critical for this first semifinal will be the score Jade Carey puts up in the all-around with some many AA contenders coming in the second semifinal.
As for the view from my section, I have a pretty solid view of bars handstands so intend to be a real gargoyle about those today. I have a head-on view of beam so won’t be able to tell you a lot about beam split positions and will have to rely on the other 12 times we’ve seen those same elements. If that’s a problem for you, blame Scott Bregman, who chose our seats because he got here first.
We’re in the second rotation of warmups now. Utah having some landing problems on Y1.5s in the first go, except for Burch who stuck. Jaye Mack’s piked full in looked very good.
Blanco working beam with a wrapped ankle but everything looks good, protecting her ankle on dismount landing. Lexi Graber looked the best at knowing the lyrics to “No Scrubs” during the transition period.
It’s interesting that the full coaching staffs are here for the individuals. I would be like, “Hi, don’t need corrections from four coaches after that touch for just little old me.”
McCallum and Paulson are both working beam for Utah, but so are all the options, so not a lot revealed there.
Can’t wait for these introduction fire spurts to terrify the gymnasts.
Yep. Oklahoma got terrified twice already. Also Oklahoma’s intro video should come with an epilepsy warning.
The PA guy was doing so well and then Tiarre Sales happened. Well, you had a good run.
Intros and anthem done, touch starting. No capelet for Duckworth today. I repeat: no capelet.
Stern – VT – OU – very solid landing on Y1.5, just a little shorter than some and some legs. 9.9375 is big. A lot went 9.950 for it.
Gaskins holds sticks on DLO on bars, leg separation on pak. 9.800
Koch with a fairly large break on attempted aerial to scale, pulls it back but no scale.
Paulson finishes FX with solid 1.5 to layout.
Levasseur – VT – OU – nearly falls on Y1.5! Stumble back, several steps.
I’m seeing 9.65s and 9.7s for Koch.
Waligora – Ub – Alabama – hits jaeger to overshoot, good amplitude – DLO 1/1, a little pike, hop forward. 9.8125
Bowers – VT – OU – medium hop forward on her Y1.5, I think she was playing it a little safe after that error from Levassuer.
Clean double tuck to start on FX from Gilstrap, a very small control movement – rudi, goof form, slide back – switch ring and split leap full, excellent – somewhat short on final pass.
Sievers solid amplitude on Y1.5, step forward.
Hudson through cleanly on bars, some pike in bail position – a bit late on giant full into dismount, stuck double tuck.
Trautman – VT – OU – pretty good on Y1.5 control, rises up onto toes and then another step salute, so you can definitely take a tenth on landing.
Rucker – FX – Utah – little crossover back step on FTDT –
Check for Sonier on series, arm wave – crossover step on dismount
Machado – shap to pak is clean – hits shap 1/2 – toe full, late into double tuck.
Looks like Oklahoma has pulled Fletcher from vault. She fell on her Y1.5 in the final touch and they don’t want to take that score. Clean full from Davis instead of her. Which means we should see Davis in the AA now.
Carey – VT – DTY – her usual, big DTY with a small slide back. Should be a useful number for her AA hopes.
Small slide back from Doggette on beam landing.
Near fall from Loper on beam for her piked kickover, saves it.
McCallum with a good landing on her FTDT – rudi, a bit low, fine –
Oklahoma went 49.350 on vault. Not the score they are used to, but looking at the standard so far, that should be fine. We’re seeing a lot of 9.8s for Alabama on bars.
Surprised by Carey’s 9.8875. It’s fair when you take hop and knees and maybe it was a little big for a .05 slide. But she’s been getting 9.950 for that same thing this season.
O’Keefe finishes on FX with a controlled landing on 1.5 to front full, a bit of legs. 9.8875.
Alabama 49.200 on bars. It will put them in a hole but we’ll see how things carry out because bars has looked the tightest event so far today. Shaffer in the individual spot nearly holds the landing on her DLO, little lean and step salute.
Soloski – FX – Utah – DLO, slide back, some knee position – hits split position, foot flexing – front lay to front full, slight crossover step – 1.5 to layout, good lay position. 9.9125
Ramler – BB – clean bhs loso – split ring jump is good – side aerial to full, stick. A good one from Ramler but Minnesota has fallen out with the previous beam scores.
9.9375 for Ramler.
49.475 for Utah.
Linton with a strong routine in the individual spot on beam. Hambrick on floor, a little out of control on her connected double stag – very low landing on final double pike with lunge.
After 1: Utah 49.475 Oklahoma 49.350 Alabama 49.200 Minnesota 48.975
Alabama with work to do now. Some late handstands, some leg separations, some hops. We’ll see how it compares to the other bars rotations.
O’Keefe – VT – Utah – good open on her yfull, but a medium bounce back
Sievers – UB – OU – good hs – shap to pak, legs together on pak – solid final cast hs – FTDT, holds stick. Good one. 9.900, outscored the whole Alabama rotation
Burgess holds the stick on side aerial to full dismount on beam. 9.8875
Stanhope bounce forward on Y1.5.
Levassuer – UB – OU – toe on to taktchev, smooth – bvery crisp bail position – good final cast hs – DLO, stuck. Little pike in the first salto. Clean.
Rucker – VT – Utah – very good stick on her Y1.5, much stronger than warmups when she was falling. Looks like two judges went 10.
Large break for Shallon on beam, leg up to horiztontal and a lean. Short on double pike landing, hop forward. With these huge scores coming up for the others…
9.9375 for levassuer on bars.
Burch with a good stick on her Y1.5 as well, not the same amplitude as Rucker so shouldn’t get the same number. But still goes 9.925.
McCallum – VT – Utah – Servente – also better than warmups, small hop to the side, flexed feet
Graber, very controlled on her series
Smith – Ub – OU – Ray is solid into pak, good one – 1/2 turn on low is pretty solid – good hs – pikes around her DLO, hop forward. 9.8625, most of that will be dismount, at least a tenth there.
Hall pulls around her Y1.5 for Utah, larger hope forward and some knees, but they also don’t need the score from her.
Near stick from Hambrick on her Y1.5, little step to the side.
Bowers – Ub – OU – a bit close on her Ray catch, gets it – pak, clean – 1/2 turn, good vertical position – crisp final cast hs – FTDT, smallest movement. Should be Another big one. 9.900. Oklahoma will gain some ground back on Utah in this rotation.
Minnesota has been pulling it back with some better numbers on floor, but is it too late?
Davis UB – OU – higgins to piked jaeger, lovelent – good hs – pak, smooth – 1/2 turn, good vertical, slight back position -higgins to double front 1/2 out, holds the stick with some stagger.
Hudson hits side aerial on bb, very small lean – finishes with a large stumble back on 1.5 dismount, multiple lunges. Alabama just not quite on today. Will have to go huge on floor.
Davis 9.950 gets Oklahoma to 49.575 and the lead.
Carey – UB – OSU – maloney to bhardwaj, hit, small amount of legs at the end – van leeuwen, legs together – FTDT, little rebound. 9.950. Don’t see how that’s the same as Davis. Davis should be higher.
Blanco – BB – Alabama – aerial, clean – full turn, hit – bhs loso loso, small lean, good extension – switch to beat, good – side aerial to layout full, went for the landing in the real one.
Hooten – FX – Minnesota – FTDT, controls alnding – switch side to popa, high, around – 1.5 to front pike, comfortable – double tuck, small rebound, good feet. One went 10, the rest 9.950.
Blanco saves beam with 9.9375 for Alabama to go 49.325. Minnesota 49.500 on FX.
Mack – FX – lands short on piked full in with a lunge forward. She stuck two of those in the warmup.
Minnesota brings it back to Alabama in the second rotation, but both have allowed a margin to materialize between them and the leaders. Utah much better on vault in the meet than the warmup to stay with Oklahoma. Alabama will need to go over 49.5 in this floor rotation to try to make things back.
Speaking of warming up vault differently than competing, Minnesota did not have the landings on vault in their touch, so we shall see.
Dunn – BB – Ou – bhs bhs loso – secure on split and split 1/2 – gainer full is super deep, leans way forward to hold the stick. Just 9.7875
Music looked off for Shallon but she’s like whatever I’m starting anyway.
Olsen pulls around front tuck to double back final pass. Secure.
Ramler VT pretty solid leg position today but a bounce forward.
McCallum – Ub – Utah – maloney to pak, comfortable – van leeuwen, small leg break – FTDT, pinged off and deep, lunge forward
Trautman – BB – OU – full turn, good – bhs loso, secure – switch side – stuck landing on 1.5 dismount. 9.9125
Paulson finishes bars with giant full, solid finish position into double tuck, bounce back. They’ll want to drop that 9.725 from McCallum.
Gaskins – FX – Alabama – DLO, bounce back, some loose knees – front tuck through to double tuck, pulls it out –
Loper – VT – nearly holds onto landing on Y1.5 but a step back
Levasseur very smooth on loso series on beam – shows extension on switch and straddle 1/4 – aerial – stuck gainer full. Good.
Thompson sticks DLO on bars for Utah. A handstand in there, but better.
One of Koch’s best tucked Y1.5s on vault, step forward.
Machado – FX – Alabama – double pike, chest up, good – 1.5 to front pike, not the highest but fine – pulls around wolf triple, gets a little funky in the final turn – switch to switch 1/2 – controls double tuck.
O’Keefe getds the stick on her double Arabian dismount on bars. Looked a bit late on her 1/2 turn on low but otherwise solid.
Davis goes through comfortably on beam as well. Oklahoma doing what is necessary on the last three beam routines.
Alabama getting 9.8s but they need 9.9s.
Isa – UB – Utah – Ray – good – bail, small lean, good vertical – gets all over the place on giant full, pulls it around but major lean and deep landing on DLO with a step.
Woodard – BB – OU – side aerial to bhs, on – kickover to beat, comfortable – switch to split, nice – good landing on dismount, little rebound, legs apart.
Hudson finishes FX for Alabama with secure double tuck.
Isa’s 9.700 means Utah will count 9.725 from McCallum. 49.2125 on bars, opened the door for Alabama. But Alabama’s going to need a huge number from Graber now to take advantage. After 9.9125 from Hudson.
Graber – FX – Alabama – chest up on full in, small front foot movement – switch side to wolf 1.5, good – double pike, little hop to the side.
Smith – BB – Ou – good loso series – aerial, comfortable – straddle 1/2 to korbut, right on – gainer full, chest a bit forward, movement.
Oklahoma clearly the class of that rotation.
The difference of judge sides: One side of floor went all 9.950s for Graber. The other side of three judges was 9.900/9.900/9.850.
Bryant – FX – Stanford – very good control on FTDT – front tuck through to double pike, dances out quikcly – chest a bit forward on open double tuck
Carey – BB – OSU – balance check on aerial, arm wave and lean – loso series is secure – switch to switch 1/2, little control hesitation to beat jump – gainer full, secure. But that balance check will be significant.
Oklahoma pulling away as long as something weird doesn’t happen on floor. Utah let Alabama close the gap but will still favor themselves going to beam. Utah having to deliver on beam in the final rotation. Nothing new there. But their scoring potential on beam will be higher than Alabama’s on vault.
Olsen controls landing on her DTY, but a lean forward and a little movement.
Johnson – FX – OU – a bit out of control on her rudi landing, crossover back step – double tuck, solid –
Morgan sticks side aerial to layout full to lead off beam for Utah.
Olsen went 9.875 but it looks like a high 9.7 for Quinn following her.
Large lunge forward for Paradise on y1.5 on vault. Not the landing they needed especially with Morgan starting on 9.9 on beam for Utah.
McCallum – BB – OU – wolf double, good – bhs loso, check, feet – kept it on – switch, wobble before stag jump, will put some question into her dance combination – sticks dismount
Hudson struggles on vault landing for Alabama as well, a little stiff and short with a couple steps. Eesh. And coming after two 9.7s. Utah won’t have to be that good on beam now.
Looks like all the judges gave McCallum her dance series.
Very good Y1.5 for Alabama from Blanco. The only one who can land. On that ankle!
Paulson – BB – Utah – side aerial to loso, a little off line with a check – beat jump to side aerial to full, stuck.
Graber comes up slightly deep on her Y1.5 with a slide back. Alabama did not really bring it today. Some good moments, but all these vault landings and the beam wobbles and it just wasn’t strong enough for a national semifinal.
Griswold sits her y1/5 on vault.
Solid save from Isa on beam as she looked quite off line on her series, pulled it back with a small check.
Alabama just 49.125 on vault. Minnesota will like its chances to take third now.
Sales hits her khorkina but overarches her next handstand and comes off bars. Means Remlinger’s 9.7875 will count. So maybe not.
Eaker – BB – Utah – side aerial to loso is strong – switch to korbut, nice – cat leap to sdei aerial to tuck full, holds stick with a legs well apart.
That will clinch a spot in the final for Utah.
Bowers great double pike. And that will clinch a spot in the final for Oklahoma.
Eaker moves into a 4-way tie for the beam lead.
Smith FX – OU – secure double tuck – 1.5 to layout, nice layout position as always – switch side to wolf full, lovely – double pike, controls landing, chest a bit forward.
Balance check on her side aerial loso for O’Keefe – side aerial to full, stuck.
Ramler – UB – Minnesota – maloney to pak, clean – good hs on low – van leeuwen – toe on, a bit late into FTDT, stuck.
I see a 10 from one judge for Smith on floor. Carey to go now – double double, not under control with a bounce back – front full to layout looked kind of low – double tuck is comfortable.
Judges still go high for Carey with a 9.9125, which puts her ahead of Ramler in the AA on 39.650. It’s a good score, but we expect someone in the second semifinal to beat that.
Minnesota does end up passing Alabama, which will be significant for final season finish. Ultimately, this one didn’t end up nearly as close as it was supposed to be because Alabama was just slightly off from the start and couldn’t give Utah too much of a fight, and then the vault landings sealed it. Oklahoma will be pleased with the margin over Utah, as they were clearly the class of the first semifinal.
Current individual leaders are Rucker for vault with 9.9625, Davis Carey and Ramler on bars with 9.950, Ramler Blanco Paulson Eaker and O’Keefe on beam with 9.9375, and Bowers on floor with 9.9625.
Yep, definitely equivalent routines. All of them. Is it weird if I think Rucker’s score is the most likely to hold up? But really with the people coming up in the second semifinal, don’t be surprised if all of these scores fall for another year.
So now it’s going to be down to the second semifinal to make things interesting…
Open stretch for the second semifinal is underway. Highlight so far has been Suni and Adeline Kenlin playing volleyball together because there’s a volleyball here for some reason? Now Michigan is playing mime football on floor. Now baseball. I gave it a 9.825 and was out of range.
Individual judges scores for the last session have been released. Ramler was the only gymnast on one of the four teams to get lower than a 9.800 from any single judge. One went 9.750 for her. And another went 9.950. Lots of big ranges for the Minnesota routines. By far the team with the most .2 ranges. One judge had Minnesota at 48.800 on beam and another had 49.250 on beam.
In the first rotation of the warmup, looks like Florida has Richards warming up as the 7th on vault. Well, I say 7th. She’s in the order before Sloane Blakely, who just warmed up a full. Reed and Thomas both stuck their first warmup 1.5s.
Brooks and Heiskell are both warming up floor for Michigan.
Blakely just went for her first Y1.5 and landed it, a bit short with a step, probably a 9.750ish vault if it were the meet. Richards also went for a Y1.5, landed a little short with some help from Burde. I didn’t see Leanne Wong vault at all. She’s just in sweats.
Wong is warming up bars though.
So far for Michigan’s vault warmup, we’ve seen the normal 1.5s and we’ve seen Guggino, Brenner, and Mulligan working fulls. Now I’ve seen Guggino hit a Y1.5 with a step forward. Brenner just sat a Y1.5 attempt. Guggino almost fell on her second attempt. Brenner sits another, so I’d imagine it’s going to be Guggino for the meet. Brenner did pull out the landing on third attempt.
Chiles just bounced back 80 miles into Dom’s arms on a DLO. Now working DLO 1/1s. We’ve seen a Lopez from Suni. McCusker is warming up beam for Florida, looks like in the alternate spot.
Wong is warming up floor for Florida as well.
Intros and anthems are done.
OK, so Wong is listed on the vault lineup and is vaulting in the touch now. Fake out!
Brenner – FX – Michigan – full in, small hop to the side, chest -1/5 to front lay – double pike, pulls it around. 9.8625
Skaggs – VT – Florida – sticks yfull, some stagger
Hollingsworth with a bit of a pause between switch and switch 1/2 but otherwise one of her most secure beams, arm wave to try to hold the landing.
A couple judges went perfect for Skaggs on vault, the two judges who are in line with the springboard and are looking back to the landing.
Schoenherr – VT – Florida – large bound forward on Y1.5
Heiskell – FX – Michigan – double arabian, lunge forward, keeps it in – good wolf fulls – 1.5 to front lay is clean
Brusch with a small check on loso series on beam
Wong – VT – Florida – ro 1/2 on pike 1/2, medium bounce back
A couple 9.7s in the first two bars spots for Missouri.
Reed – VT – Florida – also fairly out of control on landing, lunge forward
Wojcik – FX – Michigan – front 2/1 to front pike,s tuck, very nice – split leap full to popa, lovely positions – double pike, bounce, small – rudi to staddle, some travel back
Thomas – VT – Florida – nearly finds the stick on her y1.5, small step back.
Schreiber on bars finishes with a DLO, pike over to hold the landing. 9.825
9.8375 on beam for Stevens. 9.9125 for Wojcik. 9.900 for Thomas.
Blakely pulls out her Y1.5 for Florida, deep landing but keeps it under control. 9.750. Not an awesome vault rotation for Florida.
Groth – BB – Auburn – secure on bhs loso bhs series – switch 1/2 is nice – aerial, holds it – side aerial to full, stuck. Good one.
Morrison with a stumble back on first pass for Michigan
Good landing on rudi dismount for Sheremeta.
Worley does well to save the landing on her Y1.5 after coming in a little short, didn’t give away much in landing deductions.
49.2375 for Florida on vault.
Brooks on floor – FTDT, step back, keeps her back foot in – split leap full to split jump full, good positions – double tuck, controls the landing, chest down.
Hu with a very clean one, her best dismount combo I’ve seen this season.
McLaughlin sticks gainer pike off the end of beam.
Wilson – FX – Michigan – open FTDT, jarred back on landing – solid control on second pass – high switch side to popa – double tuck, under control – second two passes were her normal.
Chiles falls on her piked tkatchev.
Auburn will be ahead of Florida after 1.
Lee – BB – Auburn – wolf single, good – aerial to bhs loso like a 2012 elite, very good – switch to switch 1/2, comfortable – bhs gainer full, stuck.
Flatley – FX – UCLA – 3/1 is very nice – front 2/1, a bit of legs, good control – 1.5 to lay, lowish, softs it around
9.9625 on beam for Lee, which gives her the event lead.
Florida giving itself work to do with those vault landings after the first rotation. Also so far Auburn is winning the competition for drunkest dads, which is more important than the team title, I think.
Wojcik – VT – Michigan – nice form on her Y1.5, hop forward
Blakely – UB – Florida – maloney to pak, hit, small leg break in maloney, pretty solid 1/2 turn position on low – gets caught in toe on and comes off! Not the comeback rotation start Florida was looking for.
Heiskell – VT – Michigan – opens well out of her y1.5, also a hop forward, larger than Wojcik’s hop. They go 9.850 for hers.
brusch opens floor with 9.8625 for Auburn.
Morrison – VT – Michigan – lands short on Y1.5, bounce back.
Watson bounce forward and OOB on her double Arabian on floor.
McCusker – UB – shap to pak, van leeuwen, very nice – short cas on high – stalder to double tuck, found the stick. Nice one. So this is the “everybody is off except Riley” meet?
Brooks with the best amplitude of the bunch so far for Michigan on vault, but another bounce forward.
Wilson – VT – Michigan – pace forward on her Y1.5, a bit more control than the others, but definitely a tenth step.
Schoenherr – Ub – Florida – jaeger ccatch just a tad close – toe on, nearly arches over but pulls it back – good final cast hs – blind to double front 1/2 out, step-salute. Near disaster for Florida there but she saved it.
Guggino with a nice one in the anchor position for Michigan, step forward. About a thousand times better than her vaults in warmup.
Stevens secure double tuck to finish on FX for Auburn. Schoenherr 9.8125 on bars.
Skaggs a very nice DLO stick on bars for Florida as they try to claw this back.
Groth – FX – Auburn – front 2/1, controls the step – solid leap positions – 1.5 to layout, smooth – rudi, good.
Looks like Burde is talking with the judges on bars? Something is up on bars. Now the AAi person is over there. They’ve had Thomas go back.
Meanwhile, nice aerial to scale from Hu.
Lee – FX – Auburn – DLO, solid landing, pretty good chest up as well – switch ring to split leap full, lovely – 1.5 to front full, a little low, slide.
We’re still having a lot of VERY IMPORTANT TALKS around bars.
9.950 for Lee on floor.
Schreiber – BB – Missouri – bhs loso loso, right on – switch 1/2 to split jump, good height – beat to gainer full, holds the stick.
Gobourne – FX – Auburn – double tuck, chest up, good control – front full to front lay – double pike, good landing. Some of her best landings.
Thomas still being held on bars. Although they’re not…actually doing anything.
Davis goes through very cleanly on floor, finishes double tuck, little hop to present.
Gobourne will tie Bowers for the lead on floor.
Michigan 49.425 on vault, Auburn 49.575 on floor, so Auburn will go ahead of Michigan after two. As for Florida. we still have no idea what is happening.
Looks like they’re going to resume bars and give Thomas, Wong, and Worley a new touch warmup.
Thomas – UB – Florida – gymnastics is back! – good first hs – maloney to pak, very nice – toe on to van leeuwen – DLO, little rebound, very nice one.
She goes half 9.95s, half 10s, which will take the lead on bars. 9.975
Wong – UB – Florida – maloney to pak, legs together well -, good hs – van leeuwen, pretty – good hs – DLO, chest forward with a step salute
9.9125 for Wong to get Florida to 49.475 on bars, which is not bad but doesn’t get them up into the top 2.
Worley – UB – Kentucky – good first hs – clear hip to tkatchev, solid – pak – 1/2 turn on low – good final cast hs – FTDT, holds the landing, chest somewhat down
After 2: Auburn 99.050 Michigan 98.9125 Florida 98.7125 Missouri 98.5375
You still favor Florida to come through this given that they have beam and floor to come, but they still have to do it. I think all the teams should be nervous about their positions right now, actually. This will be the decisive rotation for the AA, you feel. With Lee on vault and Thomas on beam.
Groth – VT – Auburn – bounce back on yfull, some pike
Skaggs – BB – Florida – wolf single, good – switch to split, nice – bhs loso, comfortable – aerial, comfortable – good switch side – side aerial to full, stuck. Very nice.
Heiskell – UB – Michigan – blind to jaeger, good – pak is high – good final cast hs – giant full to double tuck, solid landing. Good.
Schreiber goes 9.8875 to lead off floor.
Stevens – VT – Auburn – just a yfull today with a bounce back. She posted the Y1.5, so that was an in the moment decision.
9.9125 for Heiskell.
Blakely – BB – Florida – aerial to bhs, hit – switch 1/2, some feet – side aerial to layout full, stuck. 9.900
Brenner with a fall in the second spot on bars. It’s going to be interesting now.
9.7875 for Stevens. Gobourne now – solid work on Y1.5, medium shuffle forward
Baumann – BB – Florida – wobble on loso series, leg up and turns to the side – switch to split is good
Watson – VT – Auburn – solid landing on Y1.5, pretty close to the table and some knees
Lee – VT – Auburn – Lopez, solid landing but a hop back, some feet
Wong – BB – Florida – switch to split, clean – bhs loso, lovely toes – full turn, nice – switch ring, covers a check well – aerial is smooth – step salute on landing.
Kiya Johnson nearly shows full stick on her DTY, should be a high one. One judge did go 10 but also some 9.9s.
Morrison 9.8875 for Michigan
Brooks – UB – Michigan – blind to piked jaeger, good – toe – DLO 1/1, strong landing.
Thomas – arm choreo to cover on her mount -switch to split is nice – one arm bhs to loso, solid – aerial to korbut – side aerial to layout full, heels together
Good DLO from Moore on FX for Missouri – high straddle elements – double tuck, chest well down with a lunge forward
Wojcik – UB – deltchev, excellent into overshoot – DLO, a little under, hops forward
Auburn went 49.350 on vault. Thomas now in on 9.9375 on beam.
Celestine – FX – Missouri – FTDT, step back, no hint of out of bounds, we’re all OK – split leap full to split jump full, good positions – 1.5 to layout
Vore – Ub – Michigan – maloney to bail, solid vertical – pulls back a handstand on high bar – DLO, takes it wayyyyy close to the bar and stumbles back and falls! – Michigan counting a fall on bars.
Worley – BB – Kentucky – cat leap to switch side, nice – aerial, arm wave to continue into bhs loso, keeps it moving well – stuck dismount, a little off to the side
Chiles – FX – UCLA – DLO 1/1, very good landing, clearly from that sailed DLO in the warmup she needed to be doing 1/1 – bounce back on second pass landing – split leap full to wolf jump 1.5, under on the 1.5 rotation – double pike, controls landing, chest a bit down.
So it was 49.350 for Auburn on vault, 49.5125 for Florida on beam, Missouri 49.4125 on floor, and Michigan…48.675 on bars.
After 3: Auburn 148.400 Florida 148.225 Missouri 147.950 Michigan 147.5875
Michigan has been taken out of it now with that bars rotation. Missouri now the closest challenger, but is going to vault where they have more fulls in the lineup. Auburn and Florida well in control now with one left.
Sabados – UB – Auburn – Ray, solid – short cast – toe on to bail, a little angle in the air but gets the vertical in the end – DLO, shuffle back
Morrison leads off Michigan on beam by going over on the candle and having to muscle to stay on – another large check – and now 1.5 dismount and falls. Eeeeesh.
McCrary vault for Missouri with a step back on yfull, piking.
Groth – UB – Auburn – hits ray, lovely form on Pak – good final cast hs – giant full, small pause in vertical, to double tuck, stuck
Schreiber with a small hop back on her yfull
Baumann 1.5 to front full on floor, a bit of legs – L turn fullturn – switch 1/2 to sissone – doubel pike, small bounce.
Davis with a hop back on her full for Missouri.
Stevens – UB – Auburn – toe on to Ray, good – good cast hs on high – DLO, pikes it down some, nearly finds the landing, hop forward
Celestine holds onto the landing on a strong Y1.5 for Missouri, a little leg stagger and slightly deep
Wong – FX – Florida – 3/1, very good control, some legs – split leap full to split jump full – 1/2 to front full, hit – double pike, comfortable.
Moore VT finishes for Missouri, step to the side and then another small step,
Brusch with a nice DLO on bars.
Wong goes 9.950 on floor.
Missouri 49.250 on vault.
Brooks has fallen on beam on her bhs loso. They went to pieces after the counting fall on bars.
Reed – FX – Florida – DLO, very good – front lay to rudi, excellent landing – switch 1/2 to wolf full, strong positions – double pike, little slide back
Gobourne – UB – Auburn – solid tkatchev to pak, some feet, FTDT, stuck. A couple handstand angles
Lee – UB – Auburn – Maloney to pak to van leeuwen, wvery clean – small loose back position in final cast hs – FTDT, step back salute. That will give the edge to Thomas here in the AA with this floor.
Thomas – FX – Florida – DLO, good front foot control – split leap full to popa to popa, very nice positions – front full to front lay, smooth on the step forward, and that will clinch the AA title.
Lee with 39.675 was in as the leader before that.
Wojcik to finish things for Michigan – aerial, lovely – switch to split, nice – hits her series – short landing on 1.5 dismount, step back.
And it’s 10.000 for Thomas on floor, only one judge went 9.950, which was dropped.
So now we also know that Michigan will finish 8th and Missouri will finish 5th.
Richards will finish floor for Florida instead of Blakely, DLO, legs apart, controls the landing – switch side to popa to wolf full, control issue – 1.5 to front full, solid, some knees.
Thomas will win the AA with Lee in second, the big surprise being that Skaggs will take 3rd place over Carey while leading off three events.
Pretty hit for Flatley on beam to finish out that rotation.
Worley – FX – Kentucky – FTDT, good control, chest slightly down – swtich ring to switch side, nice – front full to front lay is strong – double tuck, solid, a little crunched.
So, Florida and Auburn go through as teams to join Oklahoma and Utah. Oklahoma definitely the best team we saw compete in the semifinals. Florida had a rough meet going until the equipment break on bars, and then they were on and got to first. They’ll figure they have a lot more to give on vault. But so will Oklahoma because they started that semifinal somewhat slowly as well.
It’s going to be AA, bars, and floor titles for Thomas. Beam for Lee, and vault for Rucker. Rucker’s win being the surprise there. That’s what happens when you stick a Y1.5.
Congratulations, you can now officially go back to having no opinions about Tom Forster and thinking about him never. No one is happier about this than Tom. The internet is in 2nd.
Yesterday, Tom Forster announced his resignation as High Performance Coordinator after a three-and-a-half year tenure marked by printing out the all-around results and standing there. While Forster successfully cleared the extremely low bar of not being an active criminal, he ultimately proved ill-suited to the strategic, technical, interpersonal, and public-facing requirements of the position. This had to happen.
It now falls to USAG to try to fill this nuclear sludge barrel of a job once again. Expectations are low. USAG may be best served at this point by hiring an elite national team head coach—one whose purview is routine feedback, coach development, and a non-abusive culture but who is explicitly not involved in team selection—then hiring a literal Excel document to select teams, and establishing a separate injury-petition committee made up of definitely-not-the-coaches to intervene on judgement calls that a spreadsheet and extensive documentation can’t manage.
But if USAG maintains the same structure, there are a few things that can be done to avoid some of the recent pitfalls.
–Rewrite all selection methodology from scratch, making sure it is clear, detailed, and explicit for every single spot on any competition team or national team. Make sure it is published many months before selection, and make sure it is actually followed when selection occurs. Also, make sure it’s not just “the all-around standings” because that has no bearing on team score in 3-up, 3-count. It has to make sense.
For better or worse, I think we’ve moved beyond “the remaining spots will be at the discretion of the selection committee.” That’s not to say it doesn’t work—just ask Valentina, whose “I will pick the ones I like the most because I have eyes and obviously, and you all can shut your stupid fart nozzles” strategy proved the most successful by far this year. But that’s no longer an option for a USAG that might occasionally have to answer for its actions and should be trying to be…not horrible to everyone all the time? There will continue being no trust in the new national team coordinator, so every decision needs to be justifiable with evidence.
So if it’s not going to be “THE COMMITTEE’S DISCRETION,” while still trying to win and select the best teams, the system should be detailed, mathematical, and complicated. Math is not a vice. Complicated is not a vice. It’s how you can arrive at the actual most successful team while covering all the bases for all possible weirdies that might happen and trying to maintain some semblance of fairness in a process that is always going to be at least a little bit unfair.
I will obviously have a problem with it, and I’m not alone in that (hello, beloved gargoyles), but when you can point to, “See, this is the method, this is what we said we would do, and we stuck to it” things go better.
–Clearly communicate expectations to the athletes using human words. Secrets help nothing. This isn’t a reality show, much to the chagrin of NBC. You don’t need to create a dramatic reveal. No one should be surprised that they didn’t make the national team, or why. They should be in constant communication with the national team coordinator and know exactly what they have to do (where they have to place, what events they need to show and at what level) well in advance of any competition.
–Fully reconstruct national team camps as a learning experience rather than a proving-yourself experience—and completely separate them from public, full-routine, scored selection competitions. None of this verification camp business. Verification as a concept is an unhelpful holdover from the previous regime. National team camps should be a place where athletes and coaches learn from each other and get feedback from a national team staff that is empowered to intervene and qualified to provide expert skill analysis, as well as judges who can say “hey, Donatella just did a Zoom where she said that leap is XXXXXXX, so you shouldn’t do it,” rather than being a pressure cooker of secrets.
Experience trying to hit under pressure is also valuable, so by all means have more public competitions that are used to select teams for meets (we like watching gymnastics, and there’s no pressure like a camera), but that should be a completely separate thing from a training camp.
–Get smarter and more humble. The US is not the best team in the world, but should try to be again. Look at what the team that’s beating you is doing better than you instead of just assuming that you’re the best and that any time you don’t win is unfair or out of your control. Follow the trends and try to gain every tenth. Based on experience and precedent, I’m half-seriously worried that the US is going to show up in 2022 doing a bunch of side jumps on beam with the old technique, and that’s a problem.
–Select someone who is media savvy and good at handling criticism. This is a criticism-based job at which 90% of people will hate you at any given moment. You’re always the Big Bad. Be good at dealing with that instead of pissy about it.
–Also, still, don’t be an abuser or general criminal of any kind. I mean it shouldn’t need to be said, but this is USAG, so that winnows out at least 87% of the possible candidates.
B. Fun Stuff?
OK, this is mostly about Tom, but here’s something else to lighten the load.
It’s college preview season, and several of the teams are making their events available to your humble self before the season kicks off with opening day between Kentucky and Arizona State on January 5th. Here are the upcoming events you can actually watch so far:
Thursday, December 9 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan Exhibition (Stream – $) (Scores)
Friday, December 10 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT – William & Mary Preview (Facebook)
Saturday, December 11 3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – Georgia First Look (SEC+)
Friday, December 17 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT – Utah Red Rocks Preview (Free stream) 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT – Arizona State* (this used to have a stream listed but doesn’t anymore, FYI) 10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT – UCLA Meet the Bruins (P12N)