Level 10 Nationals Day 1

The first day of competition at Level 10 JO Nationals featured the juniors and seniors in groups A and B, the younger gymnasts in each respective age division. For our immediate NCAA purposes, things won’t get interesting until the Senior C and D divisions compete tomorrow, which will feature many of the athletes entering collegiate competition in the 2013-2014 year.  

Still, a fair number of the Senior A and B athletes have already given verbal commitments, as compiled and reported at collegegymfans, so we can at least have an early look at how some of the future teams will shape up. I’m not spending any time on the Junior A and B groups since they’re hardly more than fetuses (though we know that’s coming next, committing at 9 years old), but all results and scores for the competition can be found at meetscoresonline. For now, the seniors.

Senior A

Top 10 AA
1. Kari Lee – Arizona 2014-2015
38.300 (VT – 10th, UB – 5th, BB – 2nd, FX – 1st)
2. Kristen Nogaki – Michigan
38.100 (VT – 16th, UB – 1st, BB – 9th, FX – 4th)
3. Madison Cindric – Arizona 2014-2015
38.050 (VT – 19th, UB – 5th, BB – 5th, FX – 4th)
T4. Alyssa Shermetaro – Washington 2014-2015
38.025 (VT – 7th, UB – 19th, BB – 1st, FX – 11th)
T4. Bailey Gardner – Minnesota 2014-2015
38.025 (VT – 9th, UB – 9th, BB – 8th, FX – 4th)
6. Paige Zaziski – Arkansas 2014-2015
37.975 (VT – 3rd, UB – 3rd, BB – 17th, FX – 11th)
7. Ericha Fassbender – Florida 2014-2015
37.950 (VT – 3rd, UB – 14th, BB – 5th, FX – 16th)
8. Annie Juarez
37.775 (VT – 3rd, UB – 19th, BB – 15th, FX – 8th)
T9. Samantha Partyka – Utah 2014-2015
37.675 (VT – 1st, UB – 19th, BB – 34th, FX – 1st)
T9. Haylee Roe – Illinois
37.675 (VT – 16th, UB 14th, BB – 13th, FX – 8th)

Go ahead on, Arizona. For a team that lost a star at the end of the season and shows much more strength on floor and vault, those AA placements featuring strong bars and beam scores must be music. Fassbender, Partyka, and Shermetaro have all competed elite before and are performers to watch in the coming years. Many other notable gymnasts (including some former elites to keep serious track of) had certain strong events but missed the top 10, so here is everyone who finished in the top 10 on at least one event:

Notables
Mackenzie Brannan – Alabama 2014-2015
VT – 7th, UB – 2nd, FX – 1st (She would have run away with the session with a hit beam routine.)
Rachel Stypinski
UB – 10th, BB – 2nd, FX – 8th Jillian Winstanley – George Washington 2014-2015
VT – 1st, UB – 5th
Gracie Cherrey – Georgia 2015-2016
BB – 4th, FX – 7th
Brittany Furuyama – Kentucky 2014-2015
VT – 3rd
Kaitlin Won – Arizona State 2014-2015
UB – 4th  
Dare Maxwell 
UB – 5th
Alexandra Zois – George Washington 2014-2015
BB – 7th
Nikki Youd – Iowa 2014-2015
BB – 9th
Jenna Bresette – Alabama 2015-2016
BB – 9th
Taylor Livingston
BB – 9th 
Braie Speed – Arkansas 2014-2015
UB – 10th

Also of note, Stefani Catour (Oklahoma 2014-2015) and Lauren Marinez (Michigan 2014-2015) competed in this session. 

Senior B

Top 10 AA
1. Maddy Stover – Utah 2014-2015
38.250 (VT – 8th, UB – 3rd, BB – 12th, FX – 3rd)
T2. Kaitlynn Hedelund – North Carolina 2014-2015
38.100 (VT – 5th, UB – 14th, BB – 5th, FX – 26th)
T2. Lyndsay Lemke – North Carolina 2014-2015
38.100 (VT – 11th, UB – 8th, BB – 20th, FX – 1st)
4. Nichole Guerrero – Alabama 2014-2015
38.075 (VT – 6th, UB – 25th, BB – 3rd, FX – 8th)
5. Melissa Metcalf – UCLA 2014-2015
38.025 (VT – 37th, UB – 1st, BB – 3rd, FX – 14th)
6. Ciara Gardner – Minnesota 2014-2015
38.000 (VT – 11th, UB – 10th, BB – 12th, FX – 8th)
7. Aja Sims (Has she dropped the Monet? Never drop the Monet.) – Alabama 2014-2015
37.975 (VT – 24th, UB – 36th, BB – 1st, FX – 1st)
8. Sydney Waltz – Kentucky 2014-2015
37.850 (VT – 2nd, UB – 42nd, BB – 2nd, FX – 5th)
T9. Alexis Mattern 
37.775 (VT – 3rd, UB – 28th, BB – 19th, FX – 26th)
T9. Chelsea Knight-Taliaferro 
37.775 (VT – 11th, UB – 12th, BB – 14th, FX – 34th)

If Arizona had cause for the kind of vague and uncertain optimism that comes from strong JO results from future competitors in the first session, North Carolina has that for the second session. A lot of the names expected to excel here had the one bad event bringing them down.

Notables
Ali Jackson – Oklahoma 2014-2015
VT – 1st, UB – 3rd (Like Brannan in the first session, she was a beam away from winning.)
Chayse Capps – Oklahoma 2013-2014
VT – 4th (I love to see these strong vault placements for future Sooners.)
Danielle Dessaints – Oregon State 2014-2015
UB – 9th, FX – 5th
Amber Heltemes – Southern Utah 2014-2015
UB – 10th, FX – 5thTaylor Harrison – Ohio State 2014-2015
VT – 9th, BB – 9th
Hayley Sanders – Georgia 2014-2015
UB – 2nd
Alexis Brown
FX – 4th
Nicole Gendusa – Illinois 2014-2015
UB – 5th
Bridget Hodan – Illinois 2014-2015
BB – 5th
Oni Timothy – Penn State 2014-2015
VT – 6th
Rebecca Schugel
UB – 6th
Nikole Addison – Denver 2014-2015
UB – 6th
Angel Metcalf – Iowa 2013-2014
BB – 7th
Lauren Li – Penn State 2014-2015
BB – 8th
Rachel Slocum
VT – 9th
Alicia Gallarzo – Cal 2014-2015
BB – 9th
Bailie Holst – Minnesota 2013-2014
BB – 9th
Alexa Phillip – West Virginia 2014-2015
FX – 10th

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Where We Stand Now

Two weeks have already passed since National Championships. How did that happen?

Florida wins the title after being the best team all year. At this point, I have enough distance from the event to thank them for counting a fall on beam because it made everything much more interesting. We can safely (and finally) declare the era of the Big Four over, which has been the unofficial case for years now anyway. Oklahoma is now the best team never to have won a title. Will the call for more teams winning championships drop off now that Florida has won, or will it continue with Oklahoma as the new standard bearer? Five teams is still not that many.

At nationals, a number of the scores were wackadoo, but in general I would classify them as normal wackadoo. Original recipe wackadoo. A couple of the floor scores in Super Six were hyperwackadoo, but they were the exceptions. Slightly more troubling were some of the ranges on scores (primarily scores that ended up being fine because the extreme scores were dropped). There is always going to be crazy scoring in a subjective sport, especially in NCAA gymnastics where the subjectivity is compounded by a somewhat amorphous code of expectations as to which factors get evaluated and which don’t. (“What’s a flexed foot?” they asked innocently.) I’ve always argued that efforts in any level of gymnastics to make skill and routine evaluation more objective and straightforward do more harm than good, like Nellie Kim’s decision that awkward, pointed-toe running = a satisfactory level of artistry. The judges do, however, need to be on the same page. I don’t care if you’re crazy, but you all need to be crazy at the same rate.

Also of note in the scoring department, we saw several floor lineups where the anchor performer was clearly not the strongest worker on the team, and these gymnasts received a notable bounce in the scoring that appeared to be a direct result of being in that last position. This brings up a few issues: (1) The judges need to be more aware of this and refrain from getting overexcited for the last routine simply because it is last, but (2) if the judges don’t do this, the coaches might as well go ahead and exploit it. Artful lineup construction in NCAA can help boost scores. Not enough teams experiment often enough to provide useful comparisons or conclusive evidence, but there are certainly many worthy lineup strategies beyond “order of ascending quality” or “burying the best routine at the beginning for no reason (Alabama).”

I would love to see more teams experiment with how to squeeze the most out of the scoring. I, for one, am a big proponent of opening with a showpiece routine containing major difficulty that isn’t necessarily the cleanest or stuckiest. Respect for difficulty (or even a name) may cause the judges to go a touch higher than they normally would, which then forces them to bump up the scores for the cleaner routines that follow.

But there will be plenty of time to moan about that next season. Speaking of next season, here is a haphazard and way-too-early look at some of the story lines the top teams will be facing now that we can close the 2013 edition:

Florida
It will be harder next year. I have to think Florida remains the title favorite since it is difficult to argue against a core of Sloan, Hunter, Johnson, and Caquattuses, but for the first time in several years, the Gators are losing a significant number of top routines and not necessarily replacing them with equivalent freshmen. They will become more reliant on a core of oft-injured elites. Bridgey Caquatto will have to stay healthy and contribute more routines next year, and it will not be as easy for the team to afford losing a gymnast like Johnson for a big chunk of the year or be as conservative with Macko on the leg events. There will be less wiggle room on beam and floor. 

Alabama
Looking toward next season, it may end up being helpful that Sledge and Gutierrez missed time this year in that those injuries prepared people who will be needed next season, like Sims and Jacob on vault. I say they’ll be needed because, comparing the routines graduated versus the routines coming in next year, Alabama will experience a net loss in total routines and scoring potential. This year, the Tide was essentially a Geralen Stack-Eaton away from winning again, but those scores were never replaced after 2012. Will that situation be compounded with the losses of Priess, Gutierrez, Sledge, and Alexin? I think it will. Helpfully, Amanda Jetter is coming in. Health? She will be vital on bars at least after the loss of half that lineup. 

Oklahoma
The final transition has begun for the Sooners. Next season should confirm that this team has moved from being the best of the second group (perennial preseason #4) to being a full member of the top tier of contenders, one that decides its own fate a little bit more and isn’t as beholden to needing mistakes from the likes of Florida and Alabama. Losing Brie Olson will be a hit, but Charity Jones and McKenzie Wofford are top, 9.9-capable gymnasts on multiple events. I expect the Sooners to be better in 2014 than they were in 2013 and continue to improve on those weaker events.  

UCLA
This will be the unrecognizable team next year. The Bruins are losing half of their routines from Super Six. Usually, that would be cause to expect a plummet, but while it is difficult to project any team to improve that loses a gymnast like Zamarripa, this team is gaining so much next year that improvement is absolutely possible as long as the injury spirits have moved on to another team. Twelve routines will go, but Peszek, Lee, Larson, Mossett, Gerber, and Cipra should contribute far more than twelve as a group. The team shouldn’t have to dig as deep into the routine pool next year and pretend like they are OK with 9.750s.

I have to stop myself from creating potential lineups already. We have many months to go.

Of the others, LSU is young and loses few routines, so expect improvement on this past season. There is still work to do on bars, and watch out for beam where the Tigers are losing the most. That event still looks to be a challenge. Georgia is likewise on the way up but is losing many more major contributors than LSU is. It will be more difficult for the Gymdogs to stay even. Both teams have capable L10 talent coming in, but they aren’t the big-name, AA contributors who will blow up lineups and significantly increase scoring potential. 

Utah isn’t bringing in the big recruits next year either, but not losing any seniors mitigates that lack of talent infusion. The Utes can get more out of Hughes and Allex in the coming years and will be praising the return of Corrie Lothrop. She will be the most important force in stabilizing that beamtastrophe and trying to help avert another struggle season. Nebraska is another team hoping to avoid a struggle season in 2014, but the events of 2013 regionals may be a portent. The Huskers are losing some vital routines on multiple events and are not getting those big Gedderts’ recruits for another year. Wong and DeZiel can lead the way with the best of the country, but otherwise the health of several potential young contributors will define the team’s quality.

I expect Michigan to stay on the same path of improvement after that disaster 2012, but it may not be an entirely smooth path. The Wolverines are losing a bunch of important routines from Zurales and Martinez and therefore cannot afford to be without the likes of Morgan Smith again. I expect Casanova to be incorporated more next year, and the addition of Talia Chiarelli’s Brestyan’s gymnastics should help minimize losses on vault and floor.   

So that’s where we will stand for the next, oh, eight months, but there will be many more developments to discuss as we get closer. In the short term, watch for next weekend’s JO Nationals results. This is the last opportunity for many of next year’s newcomers to show what they can contribute to their teams. Remember last year that Randii Wyrick won Senior D and appeared on many radars because of her strong bars and beam performances (more valuable, rarer commodities than vault and floor from the JO lot). That bars routine proved critical for LSU this year (and I think that beam routine will be critical in years to come if she is worked into the lineup as she should be).

Also coming soon is the Pro Gymnastics Challenge, which will take place next weekend and will be broadcast on ESPN2 from May 20-22. (Why does it take three days?) I’m very much in favor of the idea of pro gymnastics and the existence of this event but am skeptical as to how this will go. Let’s play wait and see. I anticipate having a lot of constructive criticism. Also, try not to think about how this event gets better TV coverage than NCAA Championships. 

Event Finals or All-Star Game?

Championships weekend is now behind us, and with the benefit of a few days to reflect on the event finals from Sunday, I’ve come to the following conclusion: meh.

This conclusion isn’t specific to this year. It’s always the case, and to a large degree, it’s a function of the nature of the sport and the format of championships. All season, every week, to the point of ridiculousness, we’re told that this sport is all about the team. All competitors have only the team goal in mind, and even if they want to think differently, they aren’t allowed to. It’s all about the team. Grit your teeth and repeat. It’s all about the team.

It’s incongruous, then, to have an entire season that’s all about the team end on an individual note. The season is forced to trickle to a finish with a final day that is counter to the spirit the coaches work so hard to cultivate. The disconnect is palpable during the competition because no one is taught to value an individual accomplishment. Championships is a bit like a floor routine that mounts with a pike full in, has a back 2.5+punch front middle pass, and then dismounts with a crossed-footed rudi. Oh. That.

To a large degree, that’s always going to be the case because Super Six is the crown jewel, as it should be (even if it should be four teams, but that’s another post). Sunday is just the bonus day, the after party, and the competition needs to begin embracing that. The gymnasts already do. No one stopped dancing through the whole competition this year. They had a flash mob at the end. A flash mob. They don’t take it too seriously, so the format shouldn’t be too serious either. Instead of these staid, kind of repetitive event finals that mimic international elite competition structure but without the urgency, we need a final competition with a little more of a wink and a little more embracing of the team focus that so saturates this sport.

I propose that we consider turning Sunday from an event final into a true all-star game. This isn’t a new idea, and there are certainly pros and cons to it, but it is worth discussing.

The competition would be conducted in the format of a normal quad meet, but the teams would represent the conferences. We would have an SEC team, a Pac-12 team, a Big Ten team, and a Best of the Rest team all going head-to-head. The title would be bragging rights, and it would produce team pairings that we would never see and still allow for the fun and experimentation of throwing new skills and taking risks because nothing real is on the line. The conferences always want to argue about which is superior, so let’s put it to the test each year. Championships this year featured five SEC teams, three Pac-12 teams (with a major one missing out), and three Big 10 teams (again with a major one missing out). We’re starting to reach the point of enough parity where this would be a real competition. Each conference team would be helmed by the coach who won the conference title that year, and the miscellaneous team could rotate (or just give it to KJ each year, honestly).

The appeal of an individual event day should be to allow us to see the best competitors on each event, but that often doesn’t happen right now because of the qualification rules. There will never be an objective system that always qualifies everyone we want to see to the event finals. This day should be an exhibition of the best routines of the year, but going by any objective system, someone good will always either be ranked too low during the year (Danusia on beam this year) or miss the qualifying spot in semifinals (Hunter and Hall on floor this year). This is a subjective sport, so we should follow that philosophy and make this team selection subjective as well.

As is done for all-star games in professional sports, the six-gymnast lineups on each event should be a mixture of a fan vote and coaches’ decisions. For each of the four teams, fans could vote online for three competitors on each event, and the team coach could choose the other three. This would help enrich fan involvement in the sport and create a better representation of the gymnasts everyone wants to see competing than any objective system ever could.

Imagine an SEC vault lineup of Hunter, King, Sloan, Courville, Williams, and Milliner going up against a Pac-12 lineup of Zamarripa, Wilson, Dayton, Blalock, Courtney, and Dabritz, a Big Ten lineup of Wong, DeZiel, Sampson, Zurales, Slechta, and Miller, and a miscellaneous lineup of Martin, Dodds, Mesalles, and Oklahoma people. That would be great, engaging sport and more interesting than a disconnected Yfull parade of the people who happened to reach 9.900 in semifinals. Yes, I can already anticipate arguments over these lineups I selected as examples, but we’re gymnastics fans. Isn’t that what we’re looking for?

The all-star game lineups would be selected right after regionals and would help solve the current problems of individual competitor qualification. Currently, someone deserving and unknown like Monica Mesalles of Bridgeport has essentially no chance to advance as an individual competitor because she is forced to try to win vault at the Florida regional to make nationals (aka never going to happen), and then score in the top four in a semifinal without a team’s scoring support to advance to finals. Selecting her to an all-star team based on a season of success avoids this untenable qualification position and would showcase her gymnastics in a way not currently possible.

One con to this strategy is that it would limit the number of competitors on each event from each conference. The SEC would likely have deserving people on each event who wouldn’t be able to compete, but we have that situation now too. At least there would be some control over it.

We should still award event trophies without giving the events their own day, much like the AA is currently. Since basing event winners solely on semifinal scores would result in too many ties, they could be based on combined semifinal and all-star game scores. 

Too out there? Just right? Horrifying?

Event Finals Live Blog

Event finals should be renamed “Oh . . . right. Event finals.” The forgotten step-third cousin of nationals, the event finals are mostly an afterthought, a competition barely even considered until the morning of the event. That’s what makes it fun and super silly.

Today, some have an opportunity to salvage a degree of positivity after a disappointing competition, but mostly, today’s events are an opportunity to put on one last show. Hopefully, the gymnasts will approach their routines with that same attitude. The best event finals performances aren’t the clean, regular-season routines that we’ve already seen over a dozen times. They are the attempts to do something memorably light-hearted, difficult, or interesting, like Anna Li’s chucked Yurchenko 1.5 Tiptoe Parade after she unexpectedly made vault finals her senior year.

It’s going to be a long afternoon with twenty-three vaulters in three separate warm-up groups. Make sure your survival supplies are in order (I have the trail mix and the beef jerky, you bring the water), and make sure to be really, really critical. This is event finals after all. I want to see those toes pointed and those legs not twisted.

The competitors are as follows:
Vault: Everyone who lives. Seriously. I think I saw Vera Caslavska on the start list.   
Bars: Dabritz, Damianova, Morrison, Sloan, Brewer, Caquatto, Johnson, Davis, Wyrick, Clark
Beam: Williams, Nordquist, Caquatto, Shealy, Zurales, Brewer, Sloan, King, Francis
Floor: King, Sloan, Jacob, Milliner, Wong, Grable, Mable, Sampson, Damianova, Courville, Weinstein, Courtney 

On vault, it’s anyone’s guess. It will come down the the cleanest, stuckiest Yurchenko full, and we’ll all gripe about how repetitive it was. Let’s just thank the rule change that removes the two vault requirement. Can you imagine? We’d be here until Wednesday.

I’d like to see Kytra stick her 1.5 and win or see someone else win by attempting something vaguely interesting. Normally, Zamarripa would be the favorite here, but with her ragged competition culminating in that preposterous fall on vault in Super Six, she’s a doubtful contender. I’m still not really clear on what happened with that one. It will be hard for her to recover and win. I’m rooting for her to have a severe case of the “screw-its” today and throw something challenging and amazing even if it means she falls again, but I also wonder whether she will want to redeem herself on vault and try to exit her career on a clean, stuck note.

On bars, it should come down to the Florida trio and Chelsea Davis. Caquatto has the most consistently clean form, but I’m not OK with her winning the title unless she adds back a same-bar release. Show us your difficulty, everyone. Sloan is in such strong form that she will be tough to beat.

There are several contending beamers, but Sloan and Caquatto have been performing the best during this competition. They will be the frontrunners. Lots of former elites are competing in this rotation, so I hope to see some elite difficulty poured into these routines, Danusia.

The rotation order makes floor a little interesting because nearly all of the favorites are in the first group and could be passed later if the scores increase. Basically, all of them are capable of hitting their tumbling for 9.9+, so this should come down to crisp execution of details that are not usually deducted (in both tumbling and dance elements) and the artistry and choreography. Standing in the corner and testing elbow flexion should be automatic disqualification.

The meet begins at 4:00 ET, 1:00 PT. I just had to go back and fix the wording of all the above sentences. Wow. Am I literate? Sorry. It looks like I have a case of the “screw-its” today too.

The broadcast is beginning now on ESPN3.com. Recapping yesterday. I hadn’t seen Ashanee’s beam fall yet.

Warmups on vault now. This touch will be lengthy.

Vault and bars flight 1:

Courtney – UCLA – VT – Actually one of the best Yfulls she’s ever done. She opened out of it better than she usually does. Good stick. It won’t stand up, but it’s a good start. Correction: score is a 9.9167, not a 9.850, which makes more sense.  

Courville – LSU – VT – Looked like a little bit better legs early in the vault – still a break, hop in place, good distance. 9.9250.

Dabritz – Utah – UB – What are these Utah leos? We see her stick her tuck full.

Johnson – Florida – VT – Sticks, lands lower in the chest than yesterday, a little squatty as well. That won’t contend.

Hunter – Florida – VT – Y1.5, hop back, just landed a touch short. That’s shame. She won’t be able to beat the later yfulls that are stuck. 9.950 is still possible if they want to do that, but they go 9.850. It’s justified.

Damianova – Utah – UB – Her leg breaks and toe issues will not contend here even with a hit routine. Missed hs and a hop on the double back.

Clark – Alabama – VT – Pretty good form, great height, doesn’t have the distance of Courville and pikes on landing.

Mable – Minnesota – VT – clean stuck yfull, but just a regular yfull by EF standards, not the same height but better landing position than Clark.

Morrison – LSU – UB – Get out of the way, Jay! Just off in a couple handstands, step forward on tuck full, fine routine but enough breaks to keep her low.

Jay – Georgia – VT – Please go for the 1.5. She does, good for her. Step forward.

Davis – Georgia – VT – Not as strong as her usual Yfull, pikes lower and steps forward. 

After the first flight, Dabritz is the clear leader on bars with 9.900 and Courville is up on vault with 9.9250. No question about Dabritz so far because she was clean and the others struggled. I would have put Courtney ahead of Courville because she stuck and Rheagan hopped in place, but the difference is essentially minimal between the two. I don’t think either leading scores will hold up at the end.

Vault and bars flight 2:
Lots of dancing for Florida right now. Am I the only one who doesn’t care for smiling judges? I want them to be stern and officious.

Baer – UCLA – VT – Nice stuck full. I agree with Kathy that it looked identical to her SF vault, perhaps a hop in place but I think it can count as a stick. Strong. Not the total package, but good. 9.9083. Currently 3rd.

Martin – Denver – VT – Good height on her yfull but steps forward and again to salute.

Sloan – Florida – UB -beautiful handstands, the leg break in the bail handstand, sticks her DLO, a little more ragged than her usual routine but very, very nice. 9.900. Tied with Dabritz.

Dickerson – Florida – VT – her usual stick, legs on the block and piked down a little on the landing. These are things the judges need to take for because it’s EF. 9.900. Currently 4th.

Sampson – Michigan – VT – beautiful yfull in the air with good distance but she does step back, which will take her out.

Brewer – Oklahoma – UB – very nice tkatchev, a couple of the handstands were borderline, but the DLO was stuck. Proficient Oklahoma routine but perhaps lacking the flair.

Mathis – LSU – VT – yhalf, has nice form in the air, hops in place and then struggles to hang onto the stick.

Morrison – LSU – VT – sticks her vault well, very little height off the table comparatively, but very clean otherwise.

Caquatto – UB – completely clean through the whole thing and steps back on the dismount, but she did not add a release. Couple that with the step and it shouldn’t be that high.

Milliner – Alabama – VT – great height on her 1.5, one of her better ones this year, does hop back, though, so we’re not seeing the sticks in this second session. 9.9250. Ties Courville. Neither leader stuck. I see those 9.900s. I don’t see those 9.950s.   

At the end of the second flight, we saw some weaker vaulting than in the first group, so Courville remains the leader along with Milliner. Sloan tied Dabritz on bars, and Caquatto went just below them, so we could see a tie at the top. Alaina Johnson will still have something to say about that. Still a few strong vaulters remaining in this final group to change the tie on vault.

No one has been particularly amazing so far. The people who have performed the best don’t have the most profound routines. 

Vault and bars flight 3:
Dayton – Stanford – VT – I forgot Stanford was in this competition. Sad. Wonderful yhalf, hop in place again. Legs on the block as well, couple that with the lesser complexity, and that will hurt her.

Beers – Alabama – VT – does the full instead of the 1.5 that she has trained before. Bigger hop than from Courville. Not nearly enough control, but good form.

Johnson – Florida – UB – wonderful tkatchev as always, I still don’t think she’s quite back to her normal level, sticks the DLO. Maybe best since she came back. Just needed a few more numbers for the legs. 9.9125 is the leader.

Zam – UCLA – VT – Redemption time? Does the yfull, but hops back. She would have won with a stick because the vault was back. She has barely stuck any landings at these championships. If it isn’t the foot, I do think the missed training time hurt her.

Cheek – Georgia – VT – Ever since the first flight, we are seeing everyone miss their landings. A step back from her as well.

Davis – Georgia – UB – great tkatchev, there is an opening for her to win because no one has been great, good handstands, step back on her tuck full. I think she had the win if not for that step. Now it looks like Johnson.

Mooring – Oklahoma – VT – just came in a little short on her yhalf and steps back, pikes a tad in her flip.

Wong – UCLA – VT – pikes her yfull and hops back. She had a career vault in SF to even get here. 

Wyrick – LSU – UB – late full turn, she has improved these handstand positions, last one a bit late, big step back on DLO.

Wilson – Utah – VT – Opportunity for her since no one has been great, pikes down and hops in place. She could have won with one of her February sticks. Shouldn’t be any more than a 9.900.

Wong – Nebraska – VT – beautiful yfull, step-salutes out of it, which will hurt her score, but excellent

Clark – Oklahoma – UB – pretty clean but misses one handstand and steps back on the ouble back, so she won’t be able to pass Johnson.

So there we go.
Alaina Johnson wins bars. She routine is amazing, so I’m fine with that. It still wasn’t as strong as she can be. When she’s at her best, her work is a bit crisper. No one hit bars super well, though, so well done to Johnson.

We have a tie for vault winners, Milliner and Courville, neither of whom stuck. Shockingly, I think Courtney actually performed the strongest and would have won had she been later. She lacks the distance and impressiveness, though, which hurt her in comparison to Courville. Milliner had the difficulty, but her landing vault was more extreme than Courville’s. Odd vault final. I would not have picked a non-stick winner, and we had two of them.

Beam and floor flight 1:
We’ll start on floor,
King – Florida – FX – good DLO but not her best, slides back in the hips on that landing, has had more control before. This isn’t my favorite of her routines choreo-wise, there’s just a touch too much present-y dancing. Strong double pike to finish. Good job.

Williams – Alabama – BB – This will be interesting after yesterday, big wobble on the punch front but not the same as yesterday. It’s very common to see beam mistakes from Super Six repeat themselves in event finals. Big pause before series, clean, good popa this time, sticks 1.5 dismount. Secure other than the punch front, which will take her out of it.

Sloan – Florida – FX – Now, this is my favorite routine of hers choreographically, but we are only comparing it to elite, so . . . lands just slight fshort on the front 2/1 but holds the stuck landing well, great power on double pike, very secure landings. Excellent. 9.900, ahead of King.

Nordquist – Minnesota – BB – big wobble on the side straddle, nice side aerial to loso, her L turn made Kathy literally GASP. Love it. Really strong dance elements. Pikes her layout full dismount a little. Good.

Jacob – Alabama – FX – strong and secure pike full mount, just a slight slide back on that double pike, has to pike her punch layout in that final pass and is very low.

Macko – Florida – BB – very clean loso series, very slight correction on the aerial into swingdown but makes the connection, fine full turn. Cleanest so far, only two very small corrections, has to bend rather significantly to make that stick, which will hurt the score. Goes below Nordquish because of the landing.

Milliner – Alabama – FX – fantastic double arabian, she smiles more than she did earlier in her career but still looks like she has to remember to smile. Very strong tumbling. Very good landings. 9.925 for the lead.

Shealy – Iowa State – BB – very secure in her acrobatics, sticks with a hop together on the 1.5 dismount. Doesn’t have the stretch or amplitude in the dance elements, but otherwise strong.

Wong – Nebraska – FX – her triple full is my everything, very good, strong lift into dance elements, stag out of the middle pass helps her control it but it was rushed. Her routine is a little wiggly for my taste, but she moves very comfortably and seems natural doing so. Sticks rudi dismount. Comes in just behind Milliner.

Zurales – Michigan – BB – good full turn, very secure side aerial to bhs with a little bent knees in the aerial, small wobble out of sheep jump, sticks a wonderful 2/1 dismount.

Grable – Arkansas – FX – Get it. Nice secure landing on double arabian. It never looks like she’s going to get that middle pass together but she does. Very compact double pike dismount, small slide.  I’ll be interested to see what the judges do with that in comparison. Just not quite precise enough, I fear. 

After the first group, Zurales and Nordquist are tied on beam. Both had small breaks in their routines and will likely be passed by the second group. No one has been completely precise yet.  Milliner leads floor currently.

Beam and floor flight 2:
Oh, Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone in the crowd. Want to come compete? Please?

Mable – Minnesota – FX – nice double pike to open with a very small bounce, way past on her straddle 180 position – nice, safe combo second pass but very good amplitude, has potential as a performer, clean routine, good for her. 9.900 into third.

Brewer – Oklahoma – BB – did her two layouts series as expected, big wobble to stay on the beam, so she won’t contend. Having a rough time in these straddle elements and comes off the beam. First fall of the day so far. Sticks double back. It’s irrelevant, but a 9.2750 for a fall and a major wobble is too high.

Sampson – Michigan – FX – wonderfulbulous DLO, secure and strong, again solid on the landing of the front full to layout, so high on her double pike – maybe too high and a small bounce on it. Still very reminiscent of the 9.950s she got in Feb-March. Into first with 9.9375.

Sloan – Florida – BB – wobble on her loso series, the first time I’ve seen her wobble there in months, great full turn, aerial bhs series is perfect, split positions are perfect 180s, side aerial is great, stuck 2/1. The wobble at the beginning is the only deduction, so that can still go into first. Into 1st with a 9.900.

Damianova – Utah – FX – secure double tuck, I wonder how the judges will feel about her difficulty now in EF, a little low on the double pike. They will also take for toes, I would assume. Clean, though.

King – Florida – BB – very good front opening but takes a major wobble on her layout and will not move ahead of Sloan, stuck 2/1 with crossed legs. That’s a shame about the layout.

Courville – LSU – FX – not secure on her double arabian, large lunge out of it, same as the lunge that got DeMeo a 9.875 yesterday, though, but it will keep her from matching Sampson. Dance elements are excellent, as were the landings on the final two passes.

Francis – UCLA – BB – opportunity for her with a hit routine since Sloan did have the wobble. Wonderful mount as always, dance elements are perfect, secure and 180. DO IT!!!! Side aerial in side position! Only the smallest of wobbles. Great full turn. Nooooo – comes off on the front aerial. She could have won. Dismounts with a hop. A+ for throwing the skill, though. Greatness. She wins EF in my book.

Weinstein – Illinois – FX – lands a little locked on her tuck full and bounces up, so Sampson will remain the leader. Great loso in the middle pass, tj 1/2 is a little short of split. Great double back to finish.

One more left. Courtney – UCLA – FX – only very slightly short on her double arabian and steps back, but fine. Secure tumbling until coming in very short on the double pike with a large lunge forward.

So, Sloan wins beam and Sampson wins floor. Sloan had the strongest beam routine, certainly. No one was wobble free, so her one wobble and excellent everything else was enough to win. Sampson wins floor. Hers is not the most memorable routine, but she did have the best combination of cleanliness and difficulty.

Winners:
Vault: Milliner and Courville
Bars: Johnson
Beam: Sloan
Floor: Sampson

So there we have it for another season.

It wouldn’t be a UCLA championship without a dance at the end, would it? GIF of Danusia’s face, please. Maloney committing to the dance. That’s a UCLA gymnast for you. 

Super Six Live Blog

It’s a little wistful, isn’t it? The end of another season. But of course, we still have the little business of the team title to take care of before it’s all over. The meet will begin at 7 ET, 4 PT.

Officially banned today are any discussions of “wanting it more,” “heart,” or “guts.” You won because you wanted it more? Good thing that none of the other teams wanted to win, then. They didn’t care, but you, you wanted it. Give me a break.

In terms of scoring, my hope is that the judges recover from their overvaluing of landings during the second half of the second semifinal yesterday. If you had a complaint about the scoring from that part of the meet, it was because sticks (and lack thereof) dictated the entire score. Note that the judges will switch events and will not judge the same events they did yesterday. Vault and floor switch and bars and beam switch. 

Oklahoma’s twitter again provides us with the lineups for today. Shisler is in for Wang on floor, so that could become a big rotation. Oklahoma has shifted the beam lineup.  

Florida enters as the favorite. We haven’t had a true, clear favorite of this level since probably UCLA in 2010. I do believe this is in Florida’s hands, but nothing has been decided yet. If Alabama and Oklahoma pull things up from their lackluster semifinals performances, they can challenge a slightly missing Florida.

The rotation order is as follows:
Oklahoma (vault)
LSU (bye before bars)
UCLA (bars)
Florida (beam)
Alabama (bye before floor)
Georgia (floor)

Live scores
Today’s score sheet.

Oklahoma wins the draw by having Olympic order, but I never like when teams start on an event where they really need a scoring boost. One of the crucial factors in Oklahoma’s contention for the title will be scoring at least close to Florida and Alabama on vault. A tight start on the first event could give away three or four important tenths.

This is similar to the concern I have for LSU. This rotation order has been largely celebrated by Tigers fans because they end on their two best events, but that’s the problem. Yes, I expect them to perform very well on vault and floor and record big scores, but that was probably going to happen anyway regardless of rotation order. LSU excelled on bars yesterday finishing on the event, performing their cleanest, most relaxed bars rotation of the season. They cannot afford the telltale signs of tightness like short handstands and early release on dismounts this time, which are always more likely to occur in the first rotation of a big meet. LSU has to put together positive (49.250+) bars and beam rotations to be in this.

I don’t have a problem with Florida opening on beam or Alabama opening on floor. Starting on floor is never a great rotation, but this Alabama team should be able to deal with that comfortably. It’s better for them than starting bars or beam. Florida’s rotation order does give a few flashbacks to the 2011 semifinals disaster when starting on beam, but once again, it shouldn’t be an issue this year as long as they get through Spicer. I anticipate her performing much more calmly today. 
—————————————

In the first rotation, we’ll know if UCLA is in it. The Bruins cannot afford another bars rotation like yesterday with all those issues. They were lucky to get a 9.825 out of MDLT’s extra swing routine. Georgia also can’t afford to give anything away on floor. Worley and Jay need 9.9s today, otherwise Florida and Alabama will blow by. 

The video is now available on espn3.com, telling us to stand by. Oh, we’re standing. Don’t worry.

I just hope this meet is close. In yesterday’s first rotation, we still had the AA and EF standings to keep the final rotations interesting, but today the only focus is the team competition. If Florida any team runs away with it, we’ll all be dragging to the finish. 

Don’t be alarmed if the feed doesn’t begin right on time. In my experience with espn3, it never begins on time. Ooooh, right on time today. Good start, everyone. You’re exceeding expectations. Make the gymnasts follow your lead.

Not a bad crowd today. Good job, UCLA. Where is Suzanne?
Jay just had a rough double pike landing in warmup in the background.

Kathy says UCLA’s biggest asset is their spirit. Ouch. Kiss of death. The biggest asset is spirit only when there aren’t any other assets. But yes, it will be very difficult for UCLA to contend today. Still, they could stay close if they mimic yesterday and get Zamarripa hitting.

Rotation 1:
Mooring on vault to open – good yhalf, comes in a little short and steps back. Probably needed a stick from her, but they do have a big 9.850 from Spears in the first position.

Wong on bars, very short first hs, nice jaeger, two big missed handstands will kill the score. Slightly better landing than yesterday but still short with a hop.

Sloan on beam, love the way she moves, perfect loso, clean full turn, good aerial to bhs, not budging at all on these skills, small correction on side aerial, brilliant 2/1 dismount stuck. Awesome routine. 9.950. Deserved. But the judge who went 10 clearly missed that one balance check.  

No one has recorded any low scores so far, expect things to go high today based on what we have seen. A 9.800 from Earls was a little low on floor for what they needed. Persinger now, nice double back,very secure double pike, good rudi. Clean routine but I wonder if it will be the score they need. 

Oklahoma has two 9.850s bit need something big from Scaman, big step on her 1.5. Not the start Oklahoma needed. They have given tenths away.

Hunter on beam, WOW, way short on her loso series and comes off. Shocked by that.They had a fall from Ashanee and now one from Hunter. This is wide open, people. Everything has just changed.Has Florida given it away again? The power of the expectation.

Courtney looking clean so far on bars, sticks her tuck full. Much better routine than yesterday. One of her best of the year if not the best from her.

Macko looking devastated waiting on the beam. They cannot assume they are out of this yet, but . . .  
Good loso for her, aerial to swingdown is strong, good leaps, hit routine. Nice focus to stay in it for her.

Couch on floor, every team has some hope now. Shayla fell on floor already, so this is huge. She doesn’t quite have it on the pike full yet (lack of training) but the landing was still secure. Good hit. Pressure on Jay now.

UCLA gets a 49.375 on bars, huge improvement over yesterday. Zamarripa was nearly perfect. Surprised that didn’t go up to 9.950 from everyone. We see Olson’s uncontrolled 9.750 on vault.

King on beam. Beautiful layout to two feet, small correction on the full turn. They can still salvage a high 48, stick or near-stick on the double full.

Jay on floor, a little low on her full out landing, the double back is key after her locked landing in warmups, she had a nice middle pass going into she went OOB. Can’t afford that because the score will count. Went to the double tuck or the dismount, good.

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Everything’s going to change now isn’t it? Alabama has become the favorite now.

UCLA is the only team that showed up in that first rotation, huge improvement on bars. They must do the same thing on beam now, though. Which will be harder.

After 1: UCLA 49.375, Oklahoma 49.125, Georgia, 49.050, Florida 48.875.
Obviously it is imperative that Florida go 49.500 on every remaining event to have a shot. Those are underperformances from Oklahoma and Georgia but given what we’ve seen so far, may not be the end of the world. Let’s wait. The Bruins are the only team that improved from yesterday.

Alabama and LSU will be obsessed with the opportunity given to them right now. If Alabama can repeat yesterday’s floor performance, they will be the position of control.
Sarah Patterson already broke the rule by saying, “Sometimes it’s about heart.” Can we make that a deduction?

Rotation 2:
Ranyz on bars, better handstands than early in the year. Her dismount is too open to be a pike-open-pike and too closed to be a DLO. Hop forward on landing.

Baer on beam, shifts the arms to hold the side somi without a wobble, secure straddle 3/4, basically sticks the landing but steps to slaute. Better than yesterday. Don’t see the 9.750 that got from two judges. I would have gone 9.800-9.850.

Davis on vault, best distance of the season for her, some piking, great stick. Couch had a poor landing to follow. That will need to be dropped.

Frost on floor, good DLO, sturdy hit for her. Hires on vault now, lands a little farther over than her usual but it worked to get the stick this time. 

Courville on bars now, good firs thandstand, hits jaeger, leg break on the bail hs, a little tight in that final hs, hangs onto the stick.

Cheek on vault, brilliant yfull in the air, has to raise a foot to hold onto the stick, that’s worse than a step because of all the balancing.

Wyrick on bars, getting her handstands again like yesterday, hop-stick-salutes her dismount, but that was closer to yesterday than what we saw most of the season.

DeMeo on floor, it would be a lot easier to like this routine if she didn’t use the world’s worst song at the beginning. Huge lack of control on her double arabian, big lunge forward. They will probably be fine with dropping this, though. Otherwise strong.

Zam on beam, beauty of a full turn as always, huge wobble on the onodi. She had it yesterday but not today again. She’s following a fall from Courtney, so again it is vital that she and Francis keep UCLA alive. It won’t be big because of the onodi. Good 2/1 dismount.

Morrison on bars for LSU, I’d like more amplitude on her jaeger, misses her last handstand, step back on dismount. Not as strong as yesterday and probably won’t go into the 9.9s.

Now we’re seeing the mistake from Courtney. Hands to the beam on the acro series. She is not a beamer and has been forced into this because of injury.

DeMeo apparently got a 9.875 on floor, which I hope is a misprint because it is a ridiculous overscore if it’s real. She flew out of her double arabian. 

Milliner crazy sticks her double arabian, Alabama doesn’t even need this routine to be in control of the meet, but she’s hitting extremely well, bounces out of the double pike dismount but otherwise nice.

Francis on beam, wobbles just moving at the beginning, wobble again on splits, very nervous start, which is a little unexpected, everything else was flawless. Still manages a 9.850, which the team desperately needed. 

After 2: UCLA 98.550, Georgia 98.250, Alabama 49.500, LSU 49.200, Oklahoma 49.125, Florida 48.875

UCLA improved on beam from yesterday, but probably needed to be two tenths better. They really missed Mattie today. Imagine that lineup with Larson, Peszek, and Lee in it. Mmmmm.
Sarah Patterson is literally rubbing her hands together in glee. I didn’t know people did that in real life.

Alabama gets a big 49.500 on floor. It was a great rotation but will be marred by the ridiculous overscore to DeMeo. They are in control and can solidify that with stuck vaults for 49.500 again. LSU was fine on bars for 49.200, but the score is much lower than yesterday as a combination of weaker landings/handstands and the scores coming back a little more to reality after yesterday.

Georgia needed to be better than 49.200 on vault. They didn’t get the landings again. It will be difficult to challenge with those scores. Like Florida, they need 49.500s here on out.

Rotation 3:
Garcia on beam, small correction on the back pike, again on the aerial, but just minor things, secure side aerial, hop forward on gainer pike. Fine but definite deductions.

Williams on vault, steps back again. Small step, everything else was great, but still didn’t get the stick. 9.825. That’s low and a result of leading off. Poor lineup construction. Sledge came back in on vault (which was necessary) and got a 9.900. 

Scaman on bars, hit jaeger, has to push through the final handstand a little. Wonderful stick on tuck full.

Sloan to floor. How did Shisler do? Fall. Oh dear dear dear. Perfect landing on front double full, that double pike was a little low for my taste and expectations. Excellent final pass. Thanks for showing up today, Bridget. 9.950 is still a touch high though.

Brewer on bars for Oklahoma. The Sooners are owning it the way the need to. Great handstands, clean bail, stuck DLO. Expect a big number again for her.

Perfect stuck double arabian from Ashanee, again doesn’t budge on her combo to double back,  somewhat low on her double pike with a step forward, but the tumbling was overall strong. She will get hit for dance though.

LSU getting the scores on beam and staying close. Correction from Hall on her opening skill, another wobble on the loso series, huge wobble on straddle quarter, this will be a lower score, and they alreay have a 9.750 from Dickson, big step back on double back.  9.825 is way too high. I would have gone 9.700.

Priess on vault is a little low with a hop back. Alabama just a 49.250 on vault. They needed a better score and have just opened things up a little bit.

Oklahoma is making up for vault with a 9.900 parade on bars. 49.375 to equal UCLA’s score.

The judges are keeping Florida in it on floor, we’re seeing King now, which one judge gave a 10. Good DLO, too little control on her middle pass to warrant that 10, fine double pike.

Brie Olson’s in bar deltchev is magnificent, sticks her DLO 1/1. Wonderful, wonderful routine. Perhaps the best I’ve seen from her this season.

Courville on beam, arabian is excellent, clean loso series, split positions are crazy good, aerial is nice, just a hop forward on the dismount. That her routine scored only .025 better than Hall’s is everything that is wrong. Wonderful routine except for the step on dismount.

Bridgey on floor, crazy legs on mount. This routine gets a 9.950 for the rotation score of 49.725. Remember when we talked about how this is Florida’s year. The judges clearly agree. You’re a 9.950, and you’re a 9.950, and you’re a 9.950! Great rotation, better than Alabama’s floor performance, but there were deductions to be taken. Everything seemed about .025-.050 high. Overjudging landing security there and underjudging dance elements and landing body position. 

After 3: Alabama 98.750, Florida 98.600, UCLA 98.550, Oklahoma 98.500, LSU 98.325, Georgia 98.250
Has Florida just become the favorite again? They can take the lead after this rotation and probably will be expected to.

Rotation 4:
Macko hops back on her yfull, let’s see how these scores compare to Alabama’s. Good power. Scores the same as Williams?

Cheek on bars for Georgia, beautiful tkatchev, clean bail hs, two small steps on dismounts, would have been great except for that.

Johnson on vault, just a hop in place on that yfull. Nice job overall. Sloan’s is even better. Wonderful stick. Florida is going to win, everybody. Prepare yourselves for a champion counting a fall.

Alexander on beam for Oklahoma, so clean and great form, a little pause-correction but otherwise this is great, small correction on split, sticks gainer back pike.

Bynum on floor, good double pike, a little squaty on her layout on the middle pass but secure landing, judges can take for the switch split, bounces out of her double back, not as strong as yesterday. 

We didn’t see King’s vault, but two judges go 9.850 and one goes 10. Well did she stick or not people?

Jay on bars, missed handstands throughout, step on dismount. Everything else was fine.

Clark on beam now for Oklahoma, nice front aerial to swingdown, full turn, sheep jump is securely on the beam, good side somi, this is very nice, low 1.5 and squatty but stuck.

King hopped on her tsuk 1.5, so that 10 isn’t justified, but it was brilliant.

Zam bounces back out of her double pike again. UCLA looked to be keeping pace after the first event, but now the cracks are showing on these last two events. Everything else was perfect and won’t be deducted, so the score can still be strong. 9.900.

Florida got the 49.500 they needed on vault. Good chance to be ahead of Alabama after the next event.

Mooring on beam, excellent two layout series, small correction on the aerial, tentative switch split, wobble on full turn, 1.5 dismount with essentially a stick. 9.925 is big for those wobbles.

Rogers on bars now, good handstands and toe point, step back on tuck full, Georgia not getting the scores and not hitting these routines.

Spears finishing beam for Oklahoma, big break on acro early but everything else looks very nice, stuck gainer full. Much better beam landings than yesterday.

Kytra with such a small correction on her landing, I’m surprised that went 9.900. That’s the one that could have been higher.

Sawa on floor, dance stumbles a little out of her double tuck mount but it’s not really a deduction, good double pike second pass, none of the landings were particularly secure, but that was a fine routine.

Davis on bars, excellent tkatchev but completely misses that handstand after it. Kathy sounds like she’s about to cry. Everything else was perfect, but that’s a huge deduction.

Everything is still very close going into these last two rotations, but Florida is on their best event in the final and will have it in their hands, which is crazy after counting a fall.

After 4: Florida 148.100, UCLA 148.000, Oklahoma 147.975, Georgia 147.450, Alabama 98.750, LSU 98.325
Expect LSU to make up at least some ground on this secondary pack after floor now. UCLA will be setting the finished standard after vault here, and it’s been a good day for them considering. Alabama must be the best they have been this year on bars. None of those missed handstands now. Georgia looks out of it.

Sledge on bars, must be better than yesterday, great first handstand, nice gienger, short of handstand on the bail hs but sticks the DLO today. That will be better than the 9.800.

Persinger on beam, wonderful L turn, correction on the front aerial, hits loso series, beautiful other than that early correction and a hop forward on the front toss, nice 1.5

Lots of steps for Sawa on her yfull. Not nearly yesterday. Alexin on bars, short on the first handstand, full is a little late, holds onto stick on the double back I suppose but swims for it.

Prtichett on vault now, lower than yesterday on the yfull, hops to the side. Not what UCLA needed.

Mathis on floor, lack of control on the DLO with a slide back, also bounces out of the double back, a little low on the double pike. Just OK.

Alabama is getting those big scores on bars suddenly. Keeping this close. 

Couch on beam, notable wobble on front toss, sticks double full dismount. Wong is very nice on vault, a near stick.

Priess on bars, Alabama getting only 9.9s. Her combo release is strong, I’m not happy with any of these handstands, hop back and a pike on the DLO. Definitely deductions there. 

Zam vaults to her hands. She almost didn’t even block, did she? UCLA was already out of it, so it doesn’t affect the final result, but it will hurt their standing. Still break 197, though.

DeMeo has a late half turn, and I wasn’t happy with the last handstand, good DLO.

Worley to the beam. It looks like Georgia and UCLA will be our bottom scorers today. Good sheep jump, secure loso series, wobble on her bhs 1/1, pikes gainer full with a step. Just OK for her. 9.900 was a bit of a friendly Shayla score.  

Courville on floor, good height on her somewhat cowboy double arabian, nice double back, a little low on the dismount. Fine, strong. 

Earls to finish for Georgia on the beam, excellent on the two layout series. this is a secure beam routine that still won’t keep Georgia out of 6th, everything looked good until the lunge back on the double tuck dismount.

Hall on floor has more control on that middle pass than she did yesterday, so expect a bigger score. Better tumbling overall than the first day. LSU is still in this because of the strength of vault but probably will need help from Alabama/Florida to move up.

After 5: UCLA 197.100, Georgia 196.675, Alabama 148.125, Florida 148.100, Oklahoma 147.975, LSU 147.875
Well, this is quite wonderful. Unfortunately for UCLA and Georgia, they will be passed by everyone during this rotation. Florida is in the driver’s seat given their strength on the bars, but Alabama did exactly the same thing on beam last year to take the title. Oklahoma has a bit more ground to make up and has finished with the better events, so that will be a tougher ask. LSU must stick every single vault and hope for some missed landings from Florida and wobbles from Alabama.

Milliner on beam now, good aerial, clean from toss, clean loso series, very strong opening for Alabama, hop on the 2/1 dismount. Good start.

BDG on bars, she has great toe point, still the leg separation ont he DLO, only a slight slight movement on the landing. Fairly good routine. Advantage Alabama after one routine.

Clark on beam sheep jump is secure, they are not wobbling here, slightly hesitant on the front toss, this is a very slow routine but she is sure not to wobble. Sticks 1.5 dismount.

Lack of control for Dickson on yfull, hop back. Hunter on bars now, wonderful hindorff, misses her last hs, maybe a tad piked on her bail hs, low landing on tuck full but stuck.

Still advantage Alabama by a touch after these early routines. Big routine from Williams, hits her switch side, very low on the punch front and a big, big wobble. That’s what she did recently and in PT, clean loso. They’ll need to drop this score. Another big wobble on the popa. hop forward on 1.5.  

Mathis hops in place on the yhalf. Sloan on bars, brilliant everything, leg separation on the bail is the only thing to take, hop forward on DLO. They didn’t need that, that’s for sure. Still a 9.900.

Pressure for DeMeo’s beam routine. Wobble on front aerial, off on loso series. Alabama is counting the 9.625 from Williams and they are out now. You’re welcome Florida.

Interesting that LSU didn’t get the scores on vault and finishes below UCLA. Vault scoring was fascinating today.

Oklahoma is still in this to challenge Florida, but they will need those 9.9s in the coming routines. It’s possible. Show them to us! It’s all but impossible, but they could do it with a Florida score.

Mooring floor, a little bouncy on her double pike dismount, but this is strong. I just wonder whether the judges will be willing to pour out the 9.9s.

Macko on bars, so very clean in the legs, perhaps a step in that tuck full dismount. She better add a same-bar release for EF, but a good routine.

Courville on vault, good yfull, a little hop on landing and the legs on the block.

Florida has clinched it officially now. I have some thoughts about this.

Jacob’s layout series is excellent, wonderful barani, stuck 1.5. Great routine, too little too late.

Johnson finishes for Florida on bars, good body on the bail hs, stuck DLO. Well done.

Still waiting on the final routines, Priess on beam, looked like she would be a little short on the aerial but holds onto it into the swingdown, good leaps series, sticks gainer full. Nearly did it but not enough.

Still waiting on the Scaman score on floor, 9.875, which is enough for Oklahoma to move ahead of Alabama for second.

I kind of can’t believe Florida won.

Final scores:
1. Florida 197.575
2. Oklahoma 197.375
3. Alabama 197.350
4. UCLA 197.100
5. LSU 197.050
6. Georgia 196.675

Oh boy. Here we go.
1. It is great that Florida won the title. I’m thrilled by that, and it has been a lot of heartbreak in coming. We needed another team to win the championship. It is good for the sport.
2. I hate that a team won with a counting fall. This isn’t elite, and it shouldn’t happen.

I feel both these things at the same time. So, it just is. Alabama could very well have won with hit beam routines. They also counted a low beam score, so it’s not like it would be much different had they won, really. The sting is really for Oklahoma. I think they probably have reason to feel a little cheated about this result given that they hit the most consistent meet of all the teams, but the vault landings really hurt the possibilities for Oklahoma to take it. Everything else that we saw was quite strong (and let’s talk about how Brie Olson got only a 9.900 for that bars routine). On the bright side for the Sooners, next year they are going to be so phenomenal with that class coming in. Florida was obviously the best team on three events today, and I just wish they had hit beam so that there would be no question at all as to the champion.

Vault scoring was weird, weird, weird. They clearly had a little chat after so many people made vault finals with 9.9s yesterday and decided to be much stricter today. And yet there were odd breaks in the strictness for reason from time to time.

It was a weird season with some crazy meets and lots of impressionistic judging (judgepressionism) throughout the year. I suppose it fits that a team won with a counting fall.

Marissa King: “OH MY GOD GATORS WE DID IT!”
OK, that makes me feel a little bit better about the result. Oh, Marissa King. We will miss you. 

National Semifinals Live Blog: Nothing If Not a Show

This season has seen some of the more preposterously scored meets in recent years, and through each of those 10s given out for non-sticks, the watchword has been that everything evens out at nationals. Everyone will be evaluated by the same judges on the same day. Noisy arguments about bias no longer stand.

Here is the scoring link for the first semifinal. And, of course, the live stream. It will go quickly. Make sure you have your best paying-attention eyes on. This slate won’t be blank for long. (Also, have we already eliminated Illinois from contention? Hilarious.)

Our helpful Gymdogs have posted the complete lineups for the first semifinal.

It’s very important for Georgia to have Couch back on both vault and floor. As long as she has had enough training time, she increases their consistency potential. It’s much less likely they’ll have a 9.7 that must be dropped on vault and floor now.

LSU has also switched Jordan and Ranzy on bars and put Mathis in for Lau on vault.

I still maintain that this first session should be straightforward, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if it isn’t.

The meet will begin at 3:00 ET/12:00 PT.

We’ll know a lot after the first rotation. Minnesota is going to be strong on vault and probably floor, but that won’t matter if they can’t stay relatively close on bars. Three or four of the members in that lineup are rather 9.750 prone. They’ll look to get five 9.800+ scores.

If LSU can get through beam, they will feel very good about their chances. Bars is still a large concern, but if the other three events are strong, it may not matter. Those first three LSU beamers will tell us everything about how this session is going.

The stream has begun. I sincerely hope that this shot is of an un-sold section of the stands because there are literally six people there. 

It’s time to meet the teams, except we don’t get to see them. Great start. And now I have nothing visually. Oh, NCAA. You have very little time left to work this out before I start getting frustrated. Thank you for your haste.

In this first rotation, for Florida anything 49.400+ should be a fine, home free kind of sailing. I’d like to think LSU will be OK with anything 49.200y, but certainly a 49.300 would be a gem. Hovering around 49 begins to become a problem.

Touch is beginning. Still no feed. At least we don’t have to look at the MC, but if you’re listening, you still have to hear him. Fake enthusiasm is one of the things I mistrust the most in the world.

Kevin and Cassidy are really trying to play up that this semifinal is close as well because, apparently, of Illinois’s and Minnesota’s enthusiasm. I’m less than thrilled with this lack of video to the point where it’s difficult to make words.

Rotation 1:
We’re starting, no video. Apparently a scary fall from Wang on floor for Florida. OK, now this is something. Video is up. Wang finishes. Still don’t expect Florida to count a fall on floor, but it puts a lot of pressure on that Bridgey Caquatto routine since she has little experience.

Pike down and step from Kantecki on vault. There’s an awful lot of Illinois on vault happening right now. I still don’t really trust this video, so I have Kevin Copp and Cassidy up as well. They hate their angle.

9.400 for Garcia for LSU on beam. Discrepancy in start value, large difference in judges scores. 9.300-9.800. So they don’t have that together.

Bridget Sloan starting on floor, Dickson hit second up for LSU, but a few more important ones to get through for them. Good front double, finishes with strong double pike and 1.5 layout. Hit routine.    

Illinois not scoring particularly well on vault, Minnesota starting with two 9.7s on bars. That’s what they didn’t need.

LSU is counting a 9.775 from Dickson on beam, but that’s OK for right now if they hit four more. Video is gone again.

Sloan gets a 9.900 on floor. They needed it. See goes 9.825 on vault, Illinois’s best score yet. Ashanee bounces out of her double back, so this will be a helpful evaluation of the scoring level today to see what the judges do with that.

Taylor for LSU goes 9.750. Range was 9.650-9.800. They’ll need some 9.9s from Courville and Jordan now regardless of Hall’s score. Illinois gets a 9.875 from Weinstein. Hit from Hall on beam.

King sticks DLO on floor. They’ll be counting a 9.825 from Dickerson, which is a bit below expectation. King and Hunter can bring in the 9.950s, though.

Illinois finishes on vault with a 48.850. About expected. Nothing that will contend. Courville on beam now – hits arabian as always. One check, otherwise hit. One more to get through. These video problems will be the death of me. 9.850. They’re still hovering around 49, so Jordan needs a good score.   

King goes 9.900. Kytra does a Kytra routine except for some lowness on the dismount. Apparently Jordan has to save slightly on the front aerial, but she hits. Cassidy isn’t sure if she saluted. Apparently it’s no problem. 9.825 for Jordan, so LSU wil go 49.000 exactly on beam. Not the end of the world, but room for concern.

B Caquatto happening now, crucial routine after the fall, can still make this a big rotation score with a hit. They will now be able to drop the mount, and can still probably go around high 49.3s, which is still fine.

Minnesota gets 48.825 on bars. Not what they needed. Lots of pressure on those vault and floor rotations now. Wong gets a 9.875 on beam, good good.

Biggest news from this rotation is that Kytra is unlikely to make floor finals, already sitting in third with LSU still to go. See, this is why I didn’t preview the events.

After 1: Florida, 49.325, LSU 49.000, Illinois 48.850, Minnesota 48.825.
Nothing groundbreaking in that first rotation, but the seeds look OK so far. Video, can you pull yourself together yet?

I’ve refreshed this video feed so many times, I’ll be saying “The age of the oversized luxury car” in my sleep tonight.

Rotation 2:
Georgia and Stanford come in, Illinois and LSU go out. Now that Georgia is going, that’s probably all we’ll hear about on the audio. It’s a very important rotation coming up for Stanford since Minnesota and Illinois haven’t seen large scores. A good floor can set them up as the challenging team.

Cheek hits DLO and whole bars routine. 9.800 opening. OK, but they’ll need more. Macko gets a 9.825 on vault to start. Still slow opening from Florida, but a 9.900 from Johnson is more what we expected. Tanella hits bars and sticks her double back, which she hasn’t done a few times recently.

Important 9.775 for Dayton on floor. She’s been 9.700 the last two times.

9.900 for Tanella her best of the year. Hit for Jay. Georgia is getting on it early. 9.875 for Sloan, so we won’t see her in vault finals. Same score for King, and same result. It’s so unlikely that a 9.875 will get back. UGH! What’s the point of anything then?

Rice goes 9.875 for Stanford on floor. Watch out for this team. They seem to have arrived so far. Georgia having a big start on bars. Shayla sticks her DLO, lots of 9.9s.

Florida gets 9.900s for Dickerson, Hunter, and Johnson on vault to lead the rotation. Score is a 49.450, which will be fine for them. Given that no one for Florida scored over 9.900, 9.900 could get back from this session, but 9.875 won’t.

Cassidy declares that Georgia is going to Super Six because they want it. As opposed to the other teams, which obviously don’t want it.

Davis goes 9.950, and Georgia gets 49.500, the highest rotation score of the day so far. Big start.

The video is back! The video is back! Stuck DLO for Sharaya Musser. Good for her.

Stanford will want to drop the 9.750 for Shona.
Minnesota has a 9.850 and a 9.900 on beam in the last two routines. Important. I think whoever is doing the video commentary with Allison just said that Shona was Joe Morgan’s daughter. Nope. Sorry.

Stumble on her layout from Shapiro. They’ve gone downhill after a good start, now with a 9.700 from Hong. Strong double pike. Overall pretty clean after the stumbly opening. They’ll need something like a 9.950 from AMorgan to keep this competitive.

This is a good beam rotation for Minnesota, Golich finishing. Hitting. Sticks series dismount to layout full. Recovered after bars. 

Good double arabian from Morgan, a little low on her combo double pike middle pass, drops and steps forward, lack of control on the double back with a lunge back. I don’t see that making finals either.

DeZiel on beam, good loso series, small wobble/pause on her dance combo, clean routine overall but enough breaks and a hop on her 2.5 dismount that will probably keep the score down. 

So after two, Florida has underperformed slightly but looks in a very comfortable scoring position going into bars. Georgia had a great bars rotation that should help them ride through any rough patches to come.

Stanford got through floor over 49, but it’s not a great score and leaves work to be done if they want to challenge. Stanford, LSU, and Minnesota are all right around that 196 pace currently, which puts LSU in control since they still have floor and vault.

After 2: Florida, 98.775, Minnesota 97.975, Georgia 49.500, Stanford 49.025, LSU 49.000, Illinois 48.850.

Individual qualification on vault looks interesting. We still certainly have the potential for four people to go over 9.9 and knock all the Floridians out. Chelsea Davis looks secure for bars. Sloan and King are certainly in it for floor, but the LSU rotation will tell us a lot about the scoring. 

Rotation 3:
Florida and Minnesota go away. Big beam rotation for Georgia to expel the demons for good and keep it going. LSU should certainly hit floor, but because beam was just a 49, they’ll want something 49.4ish to keep comfortable.

They need better briefing to the producers about how these meets work. Vault always takes longer to warm up, and we’re missing the other events. Ashley Morgan couldn’t keep it going from regionals and had another flying landing. Should be a low score.

Jordan on floor, really nice double pike, she’s following Dickson’s 9.850 opening, clean through everything so far, split 1/2 was OK, and 1.5 to front 1/1 was very nice. Good routine. 

Chaung comes in on vault. I thought she was out. Lowish landing, crazy legs on block, step to the side. Rough vault opening.

Georgia had a rough beam from Persinger (see, this is what happens when I praise people!) Cheek going now. Nice series. Georgia already counting a 9.775 from Couch. This is very clean from Cheek, stuck gainer full. That’s better.

NO! Ivana Hong hyperextends her knee on her yfull. That’s more than devastating for Stanford. She looks very hurt.

Savona up on floor, nice combo double tuck pass, dances out of her strong 1/2 in 1/2 out to avoid a landing issue.

Missed some action, sorry, but we’re back up with Illinois on bars, trying to drop a 9.525 already. Weinstein steps on her double front. LSU scoring well but yet to reach 9.900. Courville and Hall will look to change that. Waiting on Shayla on beam now,

Stanford has to count Hong’s vault score, ends with 48.950. Won’t help them challenge. Hall on floor now, Huge DLO. She seems a little subdued today, bounces out of her front layout on the middle pass, so it shouldn’t be an amazing score. Double tuck is good. She was doing a really good job at keeping her mouth closed until the end. Floor routines are like chewing: I don’t want to see the inside of your mouth.

Georgia is already counting a 9.700 from Rogers now, Shayla has a small correction on her series, she looks just slightly more tentative than usual but it’s fine, pikes her gainer full and takes and unnecessary step. Earls to finish now, lo lo series is good, minor corrections for her today as well on things like full turns, step back on double back. This rotation won’t be memorable but shouldn’t be a problem.

Hall gets a 9.875, so she and Kytra are both sitting in that 4th position with Georgia still to come on floor. One 9.900 would push both out of finals. Hall bounced out of her middle pass, so the score is justified.  Emily Wong gets a 9.900 on floor as an individual, so Hall and Hunter are out.

Sharaya looks very nice on beam, great series, cuts off her splits a little, great great front aerial, stuck 1.5. Great routine.

Halfway! After three we are, well, exactly where we expected to be at this point. Georgia and LSU are failing to pull away from the pack, but both are through beam and look to sail to the end. As long as LSU doesn’t count a fall on bars, I still like their chances even after a slightly underperformed floor rotation. If this were the second session, I would be much more concerned about Georgia and LSU, but they should be fine for now.

After 3: Florida, 98.775, Georgia, 98.475, LSU, 98.350, Minnesota 98.000, Stanford 97.975, Illinois 97.525.  
Georgia and Stanford get the breaks now. Minnesota goes to floor needing a big score, and Florida will have an opportunity to distance themselves on the bars.

Rotation 4:
Not super happy about this front angle on bars, BDG going, has total EHH legs on her DLO but sticks it.
Dickson, on vault great height, opens on her yfull, small hop in place. Good.
King on bars, a little bit of legs on her bail hs, khorkina looks good, much stronger form on the DLO with a step.

Taylor has a big bounce out of her yfull for LSU, now to Hunter on bars, she needs a big number ofr her AA hopes (tied with Sloan right now going to Sloan’s advantage event), wonderful power on her hindorff, has to muscle up after her shoot, low landing on her tuck full with a step back. 

Mathis has leg break on her block but sticks her yhalf cold. Sloan on bars now.Toe-on tkatchev is excellent, a bit of a leg break in that bail hs, sticks DLO or at least mostly holds onto the stick. Strongest Florida routine so far but she can be stronger. 9.925. She’s to frontrunner in this AA battle now. Watch for Courville’s vault.

Morrison on vault, absolutely wonderful yfull with a stick. It’s equivalent to the 10 she got, but it won’t get that in this context.Mack looking excellent, sticks tuck full, not much to take, but it’s hard for me to get too excited about routines without same-bar releases. Courville sticks her yfull, so she’ll be right there for the AA. 9.950.

LSU goes 49.500 on vault. They’ll be safe with that as long as bars is hit. Johnson on bars, perfection on her tkatchev, perhaps short on that final hs, another spray-legged DLO but stuck.

Golich on floor for Minnesota, following a couple 9.850s. They need the higher scores to fly now. Golich bounces out of her mount,clean otherwise, very strong double pike dismount.

Mable time on floor now, a little low on landing her mount, some squatty knees, straddle positions look good, also has to bounce out of her otherwise strong 1.5 to layout dismount. Probably won’t be the score they need. The top three seeds are growing more comfortable by the moment.

Schermann finished floor for Minnesota – looked good in her opening whip double tuck, had an odd little steppy landing on her leap series, overall they have not been drilling the landings on these passes, which they needed to do to remain competitive. It will still be a very good rotation score, but they probably needed something in the 49.4s to put any pressure on Georgia or LSU.

DeZiel on floor now, really controlled landing on the pike full mount, great landings, clean. Also, I’m not forgetting about Wong and DeZiel in the AA. DeZiel looks to be a touch behind, but Wong is hanging right with Sloan and Courville and Hunter. The winner of this session in the AA will come right down to the end.    

After 4: Florida 148.300, LSU 147.850, Minnesota 147.200, Illinois 146.500, Georgia 98.475, Stanford 97.975

Individually we have:
Sloan 29.700
Courville 29.700
Wong 29.675
King 29.625
Hunter 29.600
DeZiel 29.575

Who gets the edge right now? Don’t count any of these out so far, even though DeZiel is back, she can go 9.950 on vault.
The teams look set unless a fall happens, so the AA should be a major focus of the last two events.

Rotation 5:
Florida and Minnesota will be finishing in this rotation, LSU and Illinois are on break.

Spicer on beam, very small wobble on layout series and again on her full turn, bigger wobble on her gainer loso, again just walking along, this is an extremely nervy routine, another wobble on leaps, I’ve counted five so far, hop-salute on her gainer full. They’ll want to drop, but NBD.

Shona’s piked jaeger looked beautiful in the air, but she was nowhere close to catching. Stanford could have challenged with a good day, but this has been a rough, rough day so far.

Sloan on beam now, going second could hurt her AA chances. Look at her expression. Ha. Great loso series, good aerial to bhs even though that barely counts as a series. A BHS is a conjuction, not punctuation, covers a small wobble on her side aerial by turning her hands into choreo, rasies a foot on her double full but doesn’t really move.

Ashley Morgan also misses her jaeger, so Stanford is out. Bad meet for them. And now Wing has to come in for Hong on bars after not ebing here all season.

9.900 is strong for Sloan. Can Courville match on bars? Strong double back for Persinger, followed by a clean double pike, this is a nice recovery after beam, her switch ring is nice, as is her illusion. Great potential for scoring on this event because her deductions come from landings. Very nice.

Kytra on beam now, she’s out of the fight to defend her AA title, but clean so far, loso, nice straddles. The best thing that happened to her gymnastics was being able to get rid of her split skills coming to NCAA. Very nice double back, hop together and salute. 

Shayla on floor, double pike is great and high as always but not quite the control in the landing as usual, huge stumble and lunge out of her front 2/1, she always dances out of it, but this was a clear, deductible lunge. Won’t be her best score.

Shapiro on bars now, can she make finals again? Great hs positions but a large hop on a short DLO landing. That will be rough for her.

Minnesota doesn’t perform up to expectations on vault, 49.175. They finish with a 196.375.

Couch back on floor, a little lower in the pike full landing than her usual, whip double full is very strong, really good double pike dismount – stuck. It was quite clean after the mount in terms of the tumbling landings at least. I would give it a 9.850, so we’ll see.

King onto the beam, good front toss, right on for the two-footed layout series, great so far. Why was she out of the lineup until the Stageberg injury? This is excellent, stuck double full. Wonderful.

Was Jay intending to do a back tuck 1/2 in her middle pass? That seems unfamiliar. Squatty on her double tuck dismount, but Georgia is in control going to vault. They’ll be fine.

Florida finishes with 197.775. Archer has a nice gienger to finish for Stanford on bars, stuck or near-stuck DLO, but it doesn’t erase a 48.200, which takes Stanford out.

After 5: Florida, 197.775, Minnesota 196.375, LSU 147.850, Georgia 147.700, Illinois 146.500, Stanford 146.175

Georgia and LSU just have to hit 5/6 on their final events to make this the no-brainer we all thought it would be.

Sloan is our clubhouse AA leader with 39.600. Courville needs a 9.900 on bars to match and a 9.925 to move ahead. Wong needs a 9.925 on bars to match and a 9.950 to move ahead. A fairly comfortable but definitely not out of the woods position for Sloan now.

For the events, Georgia is the only thing standing between a colossal contingent of vault qualifiers at 9.900. Now I’m glad they’ve changed the rules. Bars looks to be Caquatto, Davis, Sloan, and Johnson with a few chances to break it up in the final rotation. Macko is safe on beam and Shealy, Sloan, King, and Nordquist should also advance. Some unexpecteds there. Good. On floor, the safe ones are Wong, Sloan, King, Courville, and Mable.

Rotation 6:
We start with Shona on the bars, small wobble early but nice bhs layout series. I do hope she makes finals here, but that’s very difficult first up. Clean acro and great difficulty, bounce on her double full.

Couch lands a little low on her yfull with a hop forward. Not quite her usual.

Jordan on bars, gets her jaeger, a bit of a crazy shoot to the high bars but sticks her DLO. Nice after Ranzy got a 9.850. Hires looks strong on vault, good body position. Step back.

Dickson hits her jaeger, bail hs was just OK, hop on tuck full dismount. Fine.

Cheek to vault, brilliant height on her yfull, best on the team so far, step back with her right foot.

Courville’s bars now, clean first hs, high jaeger, shoot is improved but still has to muscle out of it. Stuck tuck full. Now this is interesting. Watch the score. They’ve been going pretty high, and this was better than the 9.850s we’ve seen so far.  9.875, she misses Sloan by .025.

Jay performs just the full instead of the 1.5, and it was stuck, but it’s a shame she had to downgrade. 

Better handstands from Wyrcik than at regionals, stuck DLO.

Oh sweet length of event finals! 13 vaulters from this session. THIRTEEN. Thank you, one vault only rule.

Good final routine from Morrison, but it’s all academic now as Florida, LSU, and Georgia cruise.

Vaculik comes off on her loso series. Ruh roh. I was so hoping for a clean day for her.

That was an important bars rotation for LSU. It’s very difficult to judge handstands from this angle, but those landings were much improved. A few of the scores seemed like the judges were getting enthusiastic in the final rotation, and there’s room for improvement on some transitions, but much better than regionals.

Wong’s 9.850 on bars won’t do it, so Sloan will be our leader going into the second session. I do think that 39.600 is very attainable for several gymnasts in that session, though.

Weinstein still in this for floor finals with a good hit, very nice opening, controlled tumbling throughout, hit double tuck dismount. Let’s watch that one. 9.900. She’ll be back.

There’s Kristin Maloney coaching Shealy and rocking the white pants with a black tuxedo stripe.

If Allison calls the second session “The Hunger Games” one more time, I will scream.

Did Stanford not send up a sixth beamer after Hong went out? They had a fall but were already out anyway.

Here’s the final setup:
Semifinal #1:
1. Florida 197.775
2. LSU 197.325
3. Georgia 197.150
4. Minnesota 196.375
5. Illinois 195.700
6. Stanford 194.700

AA:
1. Sloan 39.600
2. Courville 39.575
3. Wong 39.525
3. King 39.525
5. Hunter 39.475

Vault qualifiers: Courville, LSU; Martin, Denver; Jay, Georgia; Wong, Nebraska; Johnson, Florida: Dickerson, Florida; Hunter, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Cheek, Georgia; Mathis, LSU; Morrison, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Dayton, Stanford
Bars qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Morrison, LSU; Sloan, Florida; Johnson, Florida; Wyrick, LSU
Beam qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Shealy, Iowa State; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Nordquist, Minnesota
Floor qualifiers: Wong, Nebraska; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Weinstein, Illinois; Courville, LSU; Mable, Minnesota

The only real surprises for me this session were Hunter’s lowish placement in the AA and Hunter and Hall missing out on floor finals. Come back at 9 ET, 6 PT for the second session.
—————————————————–

If they even needed to, the Florida Gators established themselves as a clear frontrunner out of the first semifinal, not because they had some amazing performance but because they had an average performance and still cruised to victory. Don’t expect Kytra to be off again tomorrow.

Georgia and LSU should both be pleased with their performances. Like every other team in the session, they did not land floor particularly well. Even though LSU scored higher today, that was closer to the ideal performance for the Tigers (are they going to be that good again on bars landings?), while Georgia has more room for improvement after a rough beam performance. I don’t see either challenging Florida, but they will pester.

And now, on to the main event, the second semifinal.
Scores
Video

This is what we’re here for. Let’s assume the video will be stronger.
Floor will be interesting to watch. Every team struggled with landings in the first session, some landing short, some lacking control. If it’s a struggle again, that hurts the teams relying on floor for a big score.

For this session, Oklahoma gets the award for most helpful team by posting the lineups. You may also clean the erasers and stack the chairs at the end of the day.

-No Gutierrez for Alabama and still Sledge on just one event. That does hurt scoring potential.
-Sawa in for MDLT on vault for UCLA. Pritchett still in.
-Michigan trying to get some score building by opening vault with Zurales and finishing with Colbert. Still no Zurales on bars.

Feed has begun. Intros now. No sound. Watch the sticking early. Ragged landings early, tight performances, can mean work to do later. There will be little room to do work in this semifinal.

Intros down, anthem done. Warmup time. So, they don’t even know that the sound isn’t working because they’re trying to talk to us. I guess working video was too much to hope for.

Replays from the first session. Are we OK with Courville getting a 9.950 given how much she tucks those legs on her block?

Deep back on UCLA’s brand new leos. Oh, Olivia Courtney, don’t look so nervous. That makes me nervous.

Rotation 1:
UCLA with a colossally important beam rotation to open, Michigan needing to record an edge on bars because they can beat their closest competitors there. Oklahoma should be fine as long as they get through floor with 9.875s.

We’ll open with Baer on the beam. She got a big 9.875 at regionals but fell(ish) at Pac-12s. Good position on her switch side, slight correction on the side somi, wobble on full turn, split 3/4 is excellent, very low layout full in the dismount with a large step forward. Just OK. Tension in the face. 

We’re Arkansasing on the vault (Zumwalde?), some bent knees on the yfull with a hop back.

Wong on beam now, waiting for the Baer score (9.750), good splits and straddle leap series, very clean aerial into bhs fake series, quite secure so far, nice full turn, big hop stumble out of her 1.5. Was very nice until the dismount.

Big 9.875 for Gies to start bars. An awful lot of Arkansas on vault. Elswick also has some bent knees but sticks her vault.

Grable on vault, hops back out of her 1/2 on pike 1/2. I’m worried she won’t make it back with that hop.

Spears now on floor. Oklahoma has a 9.800 from Albright so far. I thought those early splits were a little rough at the beginning. Probably some tension. Really nice tumbling overall though. They opened with 9.800s, so they’ll need to pick it up starting here.

Zurales is in on bars, the lineup lied. Michigan killing it on bars. Freier tucks her yfull and hops to the side, but Arkansas will still use 9.850s from Grable and Elswick to stay healthy.

9.825 from DeJesus on beam, they probably needed more. There will be work to do for Zam and Fracnis. Brittany Harris has an odd hand slip on vault.

Michigan will love this bars performance. Pressure on UCLA now after Courtney’s 9.425, which we didn’t see, but we did see coming given that facial expression earlier. Tremendous pressure on Zam and Francis.

Excellent full turn, gets her onodi cleanly this time, big correction on the aerial, another wobble on her loso series, not her usual routine but she has to get through to keep UCLA alive, bounces out of her double full. It’s a hit but not a great one. That hurts the team and her AA hopes.

Big 49.400 for Michigan on bars. Brie Olson on floor now, front 1.5 looks pretty good, and again as a dismount. Not a lot of difficulty but proficient routine.

UCLA doesn’t just need a hit from Danusia, they need some perfection here. Aerial bhs series is right on and solid, good full turn, just the dismount left, stuck. She did that routine as well as she could do. They will drop Courtney’s mistakes but stay at least somewhat alive.

Scaman on floor, hit DLO, 1.5 to loso is nice. Oklahoma started slowly with the scoring, but they are making this a healthy rotation. This shouldn’t be a problem, small lack on control on double tuck.

Danusia gets an important 9.900. Frankly, I would have gone 9.950. UCLA will take some solace that they outperformed Georgia and LSU on beam, but I don’t think that will cut it for this semifinal. I just hope that makes it back to finals for Francis, but I have my doubts. 

Bri Guy on floor, very nice DLO. Gets her front 2/1 to front tuck around but it is very low. Hit routine.

After 1: Michigan 49.400, Oklahoma 49.275, UCLA 49.075, Arkansas 48.975  
Good for Michigan, fine for Oklahoma, and not encouraging for UCLA and Arkansas. We’ll say goodbye to UCLA and Arkansas now and welcome Utah and Alabama.

I’d like to thank the feed for showing us zero of Michigan’s bars routines, but a really important rotation for Michigan. I have to think that if they outscore UCLA by a couple tenths here, they will be home comfortably.

None of our AA favorites did very well in that first rotation. Good news, Bridget.

Rotation 2:
Sledge will open on bars for Alabama (grumble), great first hs, gienger is great, hops forward on the DLO, so gave away a little there on what they needed to be a big score. Just a 9.800.

Spears on vault, hops back on yfull. This is her “just OK” event.

Martinez on beam now, good loso series, huge wobble on leaps but saves it and stays on the beam, another wobble on the side aerial, big hop on 1.5. It won’t be a big score but it’s a hit.

Jacob on bars, the ray looks good, but these handstands still aren’t there, fights to hold onto the stick on the DLO.

9.900 for Mooring on vault, big deal for Oklahoma’s vault. Clark on bars now, but first it’s just a 9.550 for Martinez, so some UCLA problems on beam for Michigan. Clark was going well, a little short on her bail hs position, good DLO but not a huge routine.

Scaman vaulting, 1.5 but a big step out of it again, which will bring down the score.

Sampson on beam, correction on loso series, looked tight going into that series, wobble on sheep jump. Michigan already counting a 9.600 fom Miele, so they can’t afford any of these wobbles. Fine routine from Sampson but not ideal. 

Priess to bars, nice tkatchev as always, khorkina was strong too, hop in place on DLO and one missed handstand, but it was fine. Alabama won’t see a big score here, but I think they’ll be content. 9.900 is high.

Utah trying to drop a 9.625 from Del Priore (has she hit very well since the 10? Curse.) Damianova now, drops into her double back well, overall clean gymnastics. I think the judges will be happy with this.

Michigan gets a very important 9.875 from Zurales, but a huge routine from Casanova still to come, and she has struggled this year.

Better tuck full from Tutka than at regionals, legs in her front going into the second pass. Strong double back. This will be a big floor score for Utah. They need a big lead after the first two events.

Oklahoma and Alabama both went 49.275 on that rotation. But fine scores, nothing to worry about, but not separating them from the pack. Utah gets a 49.300 on floor, outscoring Oklahoma there by .025. Now this will be interesting to see how UCLA does on the floor. Michigan gave away any advantage with that beam rotation, so this is still open open open. Oklahoma and Alabama aren’t clear yet either.

After 2: Oklahoma 98.550, Michigan 98.175, Utah 49.300, Alabama 49.275, UCLA 49.075, Arkansas 48.975
The goal for UCLA should be to outscore Utah on the floor. The key will be how the judges feel about Pritchett’s routine. Alabama needs a big beam rotation to try to escape the. Kayla Williams will be the vital performance to watch after her recent struggles and difficult podium training.

Rotation 3:
Utah will need their two-event score to be higher than Oklahoma’s to feel comfortable right now.

DeJesus to start for UCLA on floor. I like the decision to move her to leadoff because if the judges respond to her dance, she could bump up the score for the rest of the team. Slightly low on double pike but fine, solid landing on the double back (We see a beam hit for Milliner in the background), switch ring wasn’t all the way there, 1.5 to layout is good. hit routine.

Grable on bars, nice jaeger, perhaps short on her bail hs, nice final hs and a stuck double front. Very nice. Lofgren on vault has leg form on the block and pikes down. Stuck, though.

Still a little shocked that Bynum is competing in the postseason. Double back was low but hit, switch split was . . . not one. Hits double tuck dismount. They got through this routine, which was big.  

Now the Williams routine, gets the punch front this time, just a bit low, very clean loso, this is the routine they hoped for from her, bends to hold onto the 1.5 stick.

Wilson on vault, not quite the stick we expect from her. With that and the piking, I’d go 9.900.

Salmon gets through her bars routine. Arkansas trying to get back a fall from Borsellino. They’re scoring well but a few breaks in the Salmon routine. 

Zam hits floor for UCLA. Pritchett now. 1/2 in 1/2 out was very secure. Low chest on the double pike dismount as per usual but that front foot wasn’t moving.

Alabama got through the danger zone on beam, now they can just work. Hits her lo lo series, slightly short of rotation on that popa but fine. Has she ever wobbled on that barani? Like ever? Hope forward on 1.5.

Courtney now, controlling the mount is always key for her. She controlled it this time. Nice. Courtney appears on so far. The judges gave Pritchett a 9.900, which is fair and not overenthusiastic. Strong double pike. UCLA should feel pretty good about this floor rotation.

Priess hits her aerial + swingdown well, that switch split did not hit the position, L turn is excellent, sticks gainer full. She gets a 9.825. They took for those splits. Beam judges a little tight overall so far though. 

Sawa’s floor routine is just gravy now, excellent double tuck mount, double pike is secure with a low chest, opportunity to improve on that 9.800 from Bynum here, pulls her front layout around. Also anchoring after Courtney should help bump up that score. 9.825, which is fair but didn’t get the bump.

Wonderful 2.5 from Stambaugh, this is better than the routine that received a 9.950 at regionals until a few low rudi dismount that will keep her from finals.

After 3: Alabama 98.550, Oklahoma 98.550, UCLA 98.525, Utah 98.500, Michigan 98.175, Arkansas 97.875
Nothing between those top teams now. Alabama and Oklahoma will feel comfortable that they have their good events still to come after some 49.2 rotations about. UCLA got back in this with the highest floor score of the day so far. Utah is in a tough position because their weaker events are still to come. They needed more than that 49.200 on vault.

Big work to do for Michigan on floor, but I think even a 49.300 keeps them in fairly good position with those vaults still to come. Control, control, control. UCLA didn’t have the best landing positions, but they landed more securely than any team so far today, which is why they got the highest score.

I expect big work from Oklahoma on bars. They need those sticks and need a 49.400 to start to feel comfortable in this.

Rotation 4:
We’ll start with Grable on beam, good full turn, small correction after her aerial but hit loso series, other than one wobble, everything is excellent, eee double pike is low with a step forward, that will keep this routine out of EF.

Syd Sawa on vault, sticks a yfull. Where did that come from, lady? Great vault to open. 9.825 is lowish by a tad for a stick but it was the leadoff. Pritchett sticks as well, but didn’t have the leg form. Perhaps her best of the year so far, though.  

Clark for Oklahoma on bars, handstands look good, sticks double back, easy routine for her.

Michigan gets a good 9.850 start from Beilstein, now needs a good number from Zurales. Nice high double pike, this is clean and they need these big scores.

Well, it appears the judges only went a touch low on the first vault because they have given a 9.950 to Kaelie Baer, her career high, looked stuck I suppose with the minorest of corrections in the foot. Courtney breaks the sticking streak, but her vault is good enough that it should still score well.

Zam needs a stick to keep her AA hopes alive and keep the team in good shape. Hops back. If that doesn’t make finals, though  . . .Her vault is so much better than anyone else that it should still score exceptionally well.  A 9.900, but that’s still in EF contention, but Michigan and Alabama still to go. I’m concerned. Some overjudging of landings in this vault rotation, accounting for Baer’s score being higher than Zam’s.

Nice jaeger for Spears from Oklahoma, hop forward on double arabian.

Michigan going very well on floor so far, and they will look to drop Colbert’s 9.775. They need to match UCLA on this event given UCLA’s 49.500 on vault.

Sugiyama hits floor to keep Michigan going, excellent double pike dismount.

Freier on beam now, Arkansas going on a 9.800 streak on beam, which will not be good enough. Wobble on her side aerial, hits loso series. Good dance elements, hop back on gainer full.

Michigan needs a big score from Sampson to equal UCLA’s score, but it’s possible. Just a tremendous DLO, this will score extremely well. That regionals performance is a distant memory. UCLA still with a big lead on Michigan. Michigan can still gain because they are stronger on vault than UCLA is on bars. All those vaults need to be stuck though.

Big rotations for UCLA and Oklahoma with 49.500s. A bit of breathing room for both for the moment, but Oklahoma still has to do beam and UCLA still has to work through those bar routines, which were only average at regionals. They must be much crisper with more stuck landings today.

After 4: Oklahoma 148.050, UCLA 148.025, Michigan 147.575, Arkansas 146.875, Alabama 98.550, Utah 98.500
Teams are beginning to get a feel for the floor now, and I expect Alabama to keep the pace with Oklahoma and UCLA’s totals here and then jump forward finishing on vault. Oklahoma goes to beam, needs something better than that 49.175 from regionals. I’m not completely counting out Utah yet, but it will be a challenge on these remaining events. Stuck dismounts are imperative. 

Michigan and Oklahoma are finishing here and will set the pace. The score to beat for Michigan on vault is 49.500. Very possible.   

In the AA, lots of people pecking around the necessary number, but surprisingly Sloan’s score looks pretty safe. I’m kind of shocked by that. Zamarripa struggled on beam and couldn’t control her vault.

I’m very interested to see how this Colbert-last strategy works for Michigan on vault.

Rotation 5:
Priess to open on floor. Good double back, switch ring was just OK, very squatty on her double pike dismount with a large step back. That will take her score out of the great range. 

Hughes is hitting her handstands on bars until the end, hop forward on tuck full. Fine but they need great.

Sampson on vault, very strong form in the air, hops in place, but otherwise that was excellent.
Oklahoma gets a 9.825 for Mooring. Sugiyama is under on her y1.5 and steps back, they did not need that after Beilstein’s low score.

Kmieciak on beam now, correction on her loso series, very small break on her leaps series. A little low on her double tuck dismount with a step forward.
Utah is getting big scores on bars. The number just shifted into high gear in the second half of this rotation.

What a time to lose the wifi, huh? Anyway, Michigan gets just a 49.275 on vault. They needed much more than that, but Utah gets some insane scores on bars to stay right in this thing. To the people who saw the routines, how do you feel about those Utah scores? Landings, landings, landings I suppose.

Eeek. Apparently Atkinson hurt herself on bars. Nice to see her walking away.
Oklahoma has been good not great on beam so far, but they need a good hit from Spears. Very clean routine until she hopped forward on her gainer full. They can’t afford those hops.

Big double arabain from Milliner, a little bouncy on her middle pass, otherwise a strong routine. 9.950.

Oklahoma scores a 197.200 as a final score. Remember that is not safe so far. Alabama, UCLA and Utah all can pass that. Michigan looks to be done.

Alabama is in very healthy position with a 49.450 on floor.

Here’s how we stand. UCLA needs a 49.200 on bars to go ahead of Oklahoma. Alabama needs a 49.225 on vault to do the same, and Utah needs a 49.250 on beam to do the same. In order of likelihood, Alabama is the most likely and Utah is the least likely.

I didn’t see enough of Oklahoma’s beam to get a good sense, but did it feel harsh to anyone else? Then again, the beam judging has been tight all session, which may be trouble for Utah.

Rotation 6:
This is what it all means. This is by no means decided going into the final rotation. Alabama should feel the best right now. No one else can breathe.This really may come down to Dabritz on beam. Also watch UCLA. None of those regionals 9.7s.

Important Tutka routine for Utah now, huge break in the hips on the series. Pressure already on everyone else, another one on the front, they’ll have to drop this score. Pikes her gainer full as well. 

Williams on vault, ooh steps. I almost assumed the stick. Still a great score, but it will be another test as to the overjudging of landings. Nothing else was wrong. Jacob follows with a pretty large hop out of it. She wouldn’t be vaulting if Sledge or Gutierrez were able.

Wong on bars, nice jaeger, just piked on her bail hs, short on DLO with a hop. They’ll want to drop this but it wasn’t horrible.

Good yfull from Priess but piked and hops to the side. Not great so far, but they don’t need to be great. Great yfull from Clark. More controlled on landing than Williams.

DeJesus had one questionable handstand but otherwise owned it. Good height for Beers on vault but again another non-stick. Unexpected and will become an issue tomorrow.

De La Torre goes over on a handstand. They did not need that big mistake there. They are not safe.

Also a step from Milliner on her 1.5 Alabama needs sticking help.

Alabama finishes with 197.375. They are safe.

Oklahoma thanks the great Sooner as Utah will be counting a 9.4 on beam.
On bars, Courtney had some form breaks and a step on dismount, but the pressure is so much lower now that Utah has fallen.

UCLA doesn’t need an amazing score from Zam, but they still need a good one to pass Oklahoma.She overindulges that first handstand a little, but is low again on her DLO and steps forward. It may just be that UCLA doesn’t pass Oklahoma and is saved by Utah’s multiple mistakes on beam.

Lofgren hits beam for Utah, but a bad beam rotation takes them out of it. This has been building all season and is no surprise.

UCLA finishes with a 197.200, same as Oklahoma and would have lost the tiebreak had it mattered.

Finishing up with the Arkansas floor routines, but we already know that Alabama, Oklahoma, and UCLA will advance to Super Six.

Dabritz hit beam (not that we saw it)! I suppose that’s a very small consolation.

Bridget Sloan will be our national AA champion.

Grable finishes the competition for us with an exceptionally good routine, great double arabian, very slightly low on her double pike but nice. I hope she makes finals. She will. Great routine.

Oh BARF! I just noticed we have another 11 vault qualifiers from this session. At least Zam makes it, but it means we have 24 vaulters in finals on Sunday. Bring your survival kit. Stay hydrated.

OK here is where we stand overall:
TEAM:
1. Florida 197.775
2. Alabama 197.350
3. LSU 197.325
4. Oklahoma 197.200
4. UCLA 197.200
6. Georgia 197.150
7. Michigan 196.850
8. Minnesota 196.375
9. Utah 196.200
10. Arkansas 196.150
11. Illinois 195.700
12. Stanford 194.700

AA:
1. Sloan 39.600
2. Courville 39.575
3. Wong 39.525
3. King 39.525
3. Sampson 39.525
3. Zurales 39.525
5. Hunter 39.475
5. Grable 39.475
5. Dabritz 39.475
Disappointing day for Zamarripa, but she didn’t hit any of those landings. 

Vault qualifiers: Courville, LSU; Martin, Denver; Jay, Georgia; Wong, Nebraska; Johnson, Florida: Dickerson, Florida; Hunter, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Cheek, Georgia; Mathis, LSU; Morrison, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Dayton, Stanford; Sampson, Michigan, Baer, UCLA, Atkinson*, Auburn; Beers, Alabama; Milliner, Alabama; Clark, Alabama; Mooring, Oklahoma; Wong, UCLA; Courtney, UCLA; Zamarripa, UCLA; Wilson, Utah
Bars qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Davis, Georgia; Morrison, LSU; Sloan, Florida; Johnson, Florida; Wyrick, LSU; Brewer, Oklahoma; Dabritz, Utah; Clark, Oklahoma; Damianova, Utah
Beam qualifiers: Caquatto, Florida; Shealy, Iowa State; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Nordquist, Minnesota; Williams, Alabama; Francis, UCLA; Zurales, Michigan; Brewer, Oklahoma
Floor qualifiers: Wong, Nebraska; Sloan, Florida; King, Florida; Weinstein, Illinois; Courville, LSU; Mable, Minnesota; Milliner, Alabama; Grable, Arkansas; Courtney, UCLA; Jacob, Alabama; Sampson, Michigan; Damianova, Utah

See you tomorrow, 7:00 ET, 4:00 PT for Super Six

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

One day until everything begins. It will all be over before you can say, “Did that routine even have a same-bar release?” and then we’ll be forced to pay attention to elite again and say things like, “She moves her legs during this routine. I appreciate her artistry.”

Both semifinal sessions will be held tomorrow and streamed here.
(NB: Even though the semifinal times of 12:00 and 6:00 are listed as ET on the streaming page, the semifinals will be held as 12:00 and 6:00 Pacific time. I don’t want anyone missing by three hours.)

                                                                                                                               For visual learners, this is wrong ↓

If you’re interesting in following along with scoresheets, here they are for both semifinals. Listed lineups are from regionals (so watch out for changes), and listed scores are regional scores for the sake of comparison.
Semifinal #1 Scoresheet
Semifinal #2 Scoresheet

In the news of the day, UCLA’s twitter is reporting that Vanessa Zamarripa won the AAI Award. No surprise and very well deserved. 

Podium training is today, and Gymcastic is all over the quick hits.
Don’t put too much value on podium training struggles unless the same issues have previously manifested in competition. PT is first and foremost about adjusting to the podium. In general, I take a very Russian approach to NCAA podium training. Hitting is for lame non-divas.

If you have patience and are looking to prepare for semifinals, check out the session previews in the previous posts:
Oklahoma, Alabama, UCLA
Florida, Georgia, LSU
Michigan, Utah, Arkansas
Minnesota, Stanford, Illinois

If you have no patience, just be sure to count the 9.9s as the rotations play out tomorrow. They will point you the direction of success every time. Last year in semifinals, Alabama had eleven 9.9s, Florida had ten, and UCLA had nine. Wow, that exactly reflects the ultimate Super Six standings.

The regional 9.9 totals this year were as follows:   
Florida – 16
Alabama – 11
LSU – 10
Oklahoma – 7
Georgia – 7
UCLA – 6
Stanford – 5
Utah – 4
Arkansas – 4
Minnesota – 4
Michigan – 3
Illinois – 3