Regionals Live Blog: The Day That Matters

Watch the bubble teams like Stanford today. They need a little more of this and a little less “Why are we getting a 9.675?”

After a whole regular season of “We just have to focus on ourselves” and “Results don’t matter” and “We might as well be competing in a uni-meet, and let’s pretend that’s not insane,” it’s very refreshing to arrive at the day when hitting is finally a thing that people need to do. Today, they are consequences. Today, individual narratives about personal improvement and stepping up to help the team fall away in favor of actual competition between programs where it doesn’t matter if you’ve improved by a tenth over last season if you can’t turn it into a victory.

Do any of the seeds have a strong chance of going down? Absolutely, but I feel less confident about that than I did in February. Early in the season, it appeared certain that there was enough depth throughout the country to ensure that a clear twelve would not emerge. Now, with the exception of the 12/13 fight, it will take a mistake for the top seeds to go away, but mistakes are what today is all about. They make everything more interesting, and things often get crazy at regionals. We can only hope.

All the links you could ever need are available in the previous post

Last year, seven teams advanced with scores under 197, and the top score overall was a 197.325. That will not be the case today.

Action gets at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT with the Norman, Oklahoma regional. Things can get a little confusing with everything happening at the same time, so here is a very rough breakdown of the different times major things should be happening (assuming 30 minutes per rotation including touch and all the standing around, which is hopefully a very generous time allotment).

5:00/2:00 – Oklahoma VT
5:30/2:30 – Stanford UB, Penn St. FX
6:00/3:00 – Oklahoma UB, Stanford BB, Penn St. VT, UCLA VT, Florida VT, Michigan VT, Ohio St. FX
6:30/3:30 – Oklahoma BB, LSU UB, Minnesota UB, Nebraska UB, Auburn FX, Ohio St. VT
7:00/4:00 – Stanford FX, Penn St. UB, UCLA UB, LSU BB, Florida UB, Minnesota BB, Auburn VT, Michigan UB, Nebraska BB, Alabama VT, Georgia VT
7:30/4:30 – Oklahoma FX, Stanford VT, Penn St. BB, UCLA BB, Ohio St. UB, Florida BB, Michigan BB, Utah UB, Oregon St. UB, Arkansas FX
8:00/5:00 – LSU FX, Ohio St BB, Minnesota FX, Auburn UB, Nebraska FX, Alabama UB, Utah BB, Georgia UB, Oregon St. BB, Arkansas VT
8:30/5:30 – UCLA FX, LSU VT, Florida FX, Minnesota VT, Auburn BB, Michigan FX, Nebraska VT, Alabama BB, Georgia BB
9:00/6:00 – Utah FX, Oregon St. FX, Arkansas UB
9:30/6:30 – Alabama FX, Utah VT, Georgia FX, Oregon St. VT, Arkansas BB

Why am I nervous? It’s not like I’m competing. This is why I would never be able to compete with calm confidence. I tend to favor maniacal doubt.
We’re nearly there now. The competing AAers are listed at the bottom of the Oklahoma scoring page. I see Taylor Spears but no Brie Olson. Perhaps she’s off beam after the recent struggles. They have options there if Kmieciak is back in the leadoff position because Clark and Mooring have been competing well lately. Regardless of the recent falls, it would be very un-Oklahoma-like to put up beam routines under 9.850 today. 

Oklahoma stream has started. Quad-screen, windows for each event. Someone just warmed up a nice sheep jump and L turn on beam.

Rotation 1:
Ack! Are we already starting? Spears on VT for Oklahoma, pretty strong Yfull, a little piked over and a hop in place. Mostly her usual. Looks like a fall on a release leading off for Iowa on bars. 

Very clean Yfull from Mooring with a small step forward. Good distance and position. I do wish we had some stadium announcement or commentary to tell us what’s happening and provide gymnast identification. Good yfull third up for Oklahoma, Kmieciak in her return, minor shuffle on landing, which has been the usual for the first three.

Iowa’s having a bit of a disaster on bars. Mooring’s yhalf went 9.925, so we’re going high for non-sticks. Olson goes third, essentially the same, clean yfull in the air with a minor hop back on salute.

Kanewa fifth on vault for Oklahoma, best height so far, not quite the distance, also a hop back on the salute. This rotation will score very well, but these landings will need to become more secure at nationals. Scaman finishes with a 1.5, fairly large step forward. The most difficulty on the team but the least controlled landing. This won’t be the best vault rotation for Oklahoma this year, but no problems, as expected.

Oklahoma VT – 49.375 – no sticks, so no better could be expected. Since there are no other regionals going on, it’s time to turn attention to some other teams. No one has broken out of the 9.7s yet elsewhere. A Washington gymnast just had a punch front to her hands on floor. That’s a shame because they looked solid at Pac-12s. That was Northey, who did not compete floor at Pac-12s. Iowa is having a spectacular catastrophe on bars. I thought that was supposed to happen on beam.

Save for Southern Utah on beam on a very short walkover, did well to stay on the beam. Fifth routine for Washington (Bixler? Fetcher is out with injury) opens with a clean double tuck followed by a very high 1.5 layout. Better, but they will be counting a 9.650 already.

Southern Utah gets through beam with 9.7s. It’ll be under RQS, but not a ton.

Now we’re checking in on Bart and the actual feed with commentary. Rogers finishing for Washington on floor. The split half wasn’t quite 180, but the tumbling looked very secure. Pretty clean double back dismount.

Still waiting on the final scores for all the teams who aren’t Oklahoma. No one will be anything very close to 49, so it should be, as expected, a Stanford/Penn State affair for the second spot unless they drop down. 

I mentioned the nice beam warmup I saw earlier, it was Rachel Updike of Missouri, and she ended up receiving a 9.825 in the actual routine.

Iowa limits it to one fall, but it’s a 48.175 with beam still to come. Washington drops the Northey fall and goes 48.800 on floor. They’ll be competing without Fetcher today, so beam becomes even more interesting. Southern Utah foes 48.525 on beam.

Rotation 2:
Hopefully there will be time to watch the whole second rotation before any of the other meets go started/interesting. Where to look once that happens, I have no idea. Stanford to bars and Penn State to floor.

Penn State opens on floor with a clean leadoff routine, controlled tumbling until a minor bounce out of the dismount, fine start. Shona looks good on bars, one handstand concern but a stuck double front. Good start. 9.725 for PSU, 9.800 for Stanford. A little conservative in the scoring for those leadoffs unless Stauder went OOB.  

Washington shows a pretty piked yfull with a large step back. The stream is having a bit more trouble than it did in the first rotation, which was very nicely done. Hong on bars now, the double layout looked like it was going to be high and excellent, but she had to pike down at the end, landed low with a big hop forward. Not her best.

Penn State tumbling looks clean, awesome gienger for Stanford on bars for Vaculik, whippy DLO with legs a-crazy, but she stuck it somehow. Good routine overall. We’ve lost the live scoring. Oh, Oklahoma, you were doing so well.

Shapiro has wonderful handstands and form throughout her bars routine, just shuffles a little on the DLO trying to stick. It could have been great if not for the dismount. Really nice tumbling from Carroll on floor. Very secure landings.

Alex Archer trying to help drop Hong’s 9.750, but this is the nail-biter routine in the lineup. Not a ton of amplitude on her gienger but good catch, missed hs before dismount, two small steps on DLO. OK, a hit.

Penn State will be counting a 9.725 on floor, but these last two routines have looked very 9.850-9.875, so it shouldn’t become a problem.

Stanford UB – 48.975. They’ll have hoped for better but it wasn’t a bad rotation by any means. They lost a bigger score with small shuffles on their DLOs. Musser for PSU now on floor, small bounce on the double pike onto a mat but good height, same impressive power on the middle pass, clean routine. Could have used a little touch more control in the tumbling, but the best of the rotation for sure. Musser goes 9.850 as well. It could have been a bit higher, but I’ll always take strict judging over loose judging.

Penn St. FX – 49.075. PSU up by a tenth after the first showdown. These scores are keeping Washington in it as well. The Huskies went 48.950 on vault after a 48.800 on floor. Iowa counted a fall and a 9.6 on beam, so that’s it for them.
Now, the chaos officially begins, so it’s time to switch to another meet. I think Florida is going to cruise, so I may not be interested in watching them later. To see a touch of them, I’ll start with thier vaults. I am interested in those landings anyway.

We haven’t started yet elsewhere, so a few notes on this Norman Regional moving forward. Stanford goes to beam and absolutely must beat Penn State there in order to take the spot. Stanford can be one of the top teams there, so this rotation is vital. Washington looks to hover around 49/196, so Stanford/Penn State must start getting those consistent 9.850/9.875 scores to pull away.

Florida just doing intros now. Ohio State is slightly ahead. I’ll try to keep an eye on both as long as I can.

Ah, Oklahoma’s third rotation beat out the first rotation anywhere else. Lots of low 9.8s so far, which is good news early in the vault rotation for Penn State. Oklahoma gets a 9.900 for Clark, so their pace looks secure. Penn State has multiple gymnasts overperforming their RQSs. Important 9.875 for Morgan in the first position for Stanford. Her routine is worth it but doesn’t always get it as a leadoff. ———————————————-
Touch still going on in Florida, Ohio State underway. Penn State goes 49.175 on vault. The pressure is still on there. Oklahoma’s bars scores are going big but not huge.

Pritchett leads off for UCLA on vault. Still in the lineup, but one of Sawa/MDLT should be here as well. A little low on the yfull from Pritchett, usual form, minor stumble on place. More control than she had earlier in the year. MDLT in for Sawa.

Hong for Stanford gets a 9.900 on beam, so the Cardinal is on pace to pass PSU if they can keep the hitting up for the last few routines.

MDLT – She never gets a ton of lift on that vault but she trundles through it. Minor step in place. Pritchett got a 9.800, so that should go higher. Ohio State starts with a 9.600 on floor, Wong for UCLA has a ridiculous bounce out of her yfull as she tries to salute. That should be the dropper. 9.775 for MDLT. Yes, she had no height, but hers was stronger than Pritchett’s. 

Oklahoma goes 49.400 on bars, so smooth sailing there. Baer bounces out of her vault for UCLA. Her weakest landing in probably a month, but not terrible.

Alaina on vault for Florida, absolutely lovely yfull. She’s back. That’s what she was doing before she went out. Courtney on vault for UCLA – the first stick and the first one who performed up to her level. Well done. They needed that score after just a 9.825 for Baer.

Stanford has a fall from Taylor Rice on beam, so a huge anchor routine coming up for Vaculik. This is Stanford’s season.

Zam on vault – hops back. They’re struggling with the landings today a little. Will still be a massive score, but they needed a 10 from her to feel comfortable about the rotation, and this won’t be that.

Marissa King has a rather significant bounce to the side on her Tsuk 1.5, fine but they will take for the landing.

Stanford gets the hit from Vaculik for 9.825. Our first bullet of the day dodged, and Stanford comes in .050 behind Penn State at the halfway point. Still anyone’s meet, but edge to Stanford given the events will still have remaining.

Zam goes 9.900 on vault so we have UCLA VT – 49.225. Just OK and not a comfortable position so far. OSU is counting two scores in the 9.7s, so they will need big numbers from Shaffer and Miller now, which is possible.

We’re not seeing nearly enough of Florida in this Florida feed. The minorest of shuffles for Kytra on her 1.5 and she’s all mad about it. It won’t be a 10 but it will be big.

Is anyone getting any scores for West Virginia? I have nothing.

Apparently Marissa King got a 9.888 on vault. Um, that’s not a thing. Otherwise, the 9.9s are flying for Florida. They should be in excellent shape.

Apparently we didn’t have any scores from WV because it is just starting. Um, pick up the pace, dears. Goot yfull from Colbert on vault, pikes over a little to save it but a clean opening.

Ohio State went 49.000 on floor. They probably needed more than that on their best event.

According to the scores, Florida goes 49.613 on vault, so there’s that. 9.950s for Dickerson and Hunter, and we’re on clear 198 watch.

Zurales vault, beautiful yfull in the air, just a hop back on salute. She can stick that, but it should score well nonetheless.

To answer the question, we didn’t see too many of the Florida vaults, but they were excellent. Scoring probably higher than we’d see away from home but not unbelievable. More control on landings than at Secs.

Sampson on vault, excellent yfull, lands just a little bit squatted to hang onto the stick, but it was extremely strong. This is more the start Michigan needed. They should be in position to drop a 9.800 from Colbert/Beilstein. 9.850 seems low for Sampson. That was a 9.9 for me.  

Sugiyama lands just slightly short on her 1.5, takes a larger step back. Oklahoma has a 9.850 from Mooring to leadoff on beam. She remains in the leadoff position even though Kmieciak was able to return on vault today.  Washington keeping pace with 9.8s so far on bars. They won’t go away in case they get some help from Stanford/PSU.

Austin Sheppard has tremendous height on her yfull, just the one small step back. They could have vaulted better (and have this season), but they should have no problems after this event as long as the others are strong. 49.200.

Time to check in on LSU’s bars. I’m very curious about that rotation. Ranzy on bars, she has a leg break on her bail, one muscled handstand, a low landing on the DLO with a hop forward. Deductions to take but not a problem routine. 9.800 seems a touch high for that.

Dickson now for LSU, leg break on the bail, otherwise composed, quick step to salute on the tuck full, which will be a judgment call.

Oklahoma has a 9.700 (Clark) and a 9.725 (Kmieciak) on beam, so they’re still not in tremendous shape there, but no problems so far.

Ack! Courville flings way off on her jaeger and misses the bar. They needed her score, not just a hit but a 9.9 to hope to keep up with UCLA. Now they will be counting a 9.725 from Jordan and a 9.750 from Dickson. Absolutely huge routine coming up for Wyrick now.

Washington goes 49.200 on bars. Don’t ignore the Huskies. This thing could get very good as it goes down to the wire. Remind me to check in when that is in its last rotation.

Wyrick, very late giant full, hit tkatchev, nice bail hs, small hop on DLO. She got through it, but I don’t see the score being tremendous.

No scoring updates on how Auburn and Minnesota are faring in their first events yet?

Morrison finishes bars for LSU, nice tkatchev, clean bail hs, sticks tuck full – saves the rotation and by far their best routine. The score will still struggle to go over 49, though, so a bit of a deficit to UCLA at the moment. Arizona is fighting against a fall on floor and will be counting a 9.700.

I’m just as curious about the LSU beam/UCLA bars, so I will probably come back to this meet shortly. I’ll also want to watch the Penn St bars, Stanford floor. That will be crucial.

LSU gets the 9.900 for Morrison to go 48.975. They’re right there with Ohio St (49.000 floor, 48.900 vault), but that will change once LSU gets to vault and floor, as long as they can get through beam.

We’re completely spoiled by these four-event options. I’m very displeased with the Florida feed with just one routine at a time. Minnesota on bars – not sure who this us – leg separations especially on transition but a nice stuck dismount. The Gophers started with a 9.800 on bars, and if they can go up from there, it will be a big get.

Atkinson on floor for Auburn, great pike full with straddle leg landing,we cut away to go to bars and beam, but things looked good early.

Meanwhile, Arizona ended up recovering on floor for a 49.100 to go ahead of LSU after the first rotation. 9.900 for Cristello.
Back to Norman. Dayton gets a 9.700 on floor, now to Taylor Rice, clean double back. Penn State has a low DLO dismount on bars with a step forward from Welsh. They’re both giving away bits and pieces early. Shona on floor, could use a bit more security in her early landings, but they were fine.

Nebraska has had a mistake on bars, opening things up a little bit there and making things much smoother for Michigan.

LSU got a 9.825 from Garcia in the leadoff position on beam, which is huge for them. Two hits for LSU in the first two routines. They’re nearly home free. I didn’t see any problems in Wong’s bars routine except for the lower dismount with a hop, but it gets a 9.750. It was certainly stronger than Ranzy’s 9.800.

Stanford has an error from Hong on floor, so they’ll be counting Dayton’s 9.700. This is the opening Penn State needed, as long as Penn State can drop Merriam’s fall with a hit from Musto.

Minnesota goes 49.225 on bars, which is huge on what has at often times been their weak event. Auburn has a hole now after a 49.100 on floor.

Small wobbles from Hall on beam for LSU, but this is the most secure they have looked in a while. Good hit, and a strong bars hit from MDLT in the background with a small hop on landing. Score says 9.300. Did I really miss a fall. Did she fall at the beginning and I didn’t see it? Thanks for letting me know that she Shayla-ed. Ugh. This team. If they’re not careful on beam, they will give this thing away.    

Courville on baeam and Zam on bars at the same time, both exceptionally lovely work, Zam doesn’t have her best routine, but it should still be an adequate and helpful score, hop forward on DLO, small wobbles for Courville but excellent.

Arizona goes 49.150 on vault to keep that low 196 pressure on. Bars and beam will be a bigger struggle for them, though.

Stanford gets through floor after a big hit from Shapiro and moves to .125 ahead of Penn State. Both teams should be able to stay ahead of Washington with hits. Edge to Stanford since they are on vault while Penn State is on beam.

UCLA just a 49.050 on bars, just .025 ahead of Arizona. This thing is getting quite fascinating. UCLA has a must-hit beam rotation coming up. LSU has endured beam with the most confident work of the season.  49.350. It should be home free now with those final two rotations.

Nebraska gets a 48.875 on bars, and the team finds itself behind both Illinois and Kentucky. Work to do on the beam.
Everything to play for in the final rotation in Norman. Oklahoma is cruising into the final rotation. Stanford with a .125 lead on Penn State. I don’t think I can take UCLA’s beam rotation in the cardiac department, so I’m glad this is going on at the same time.

Penn State opens on beam, small wobble on the loso, slightly short switch split, clean aerial and back pike. Ashley Morgan near-sticks her yfull, which is new and a big routine to start for Stanford.

 Fine yfull from Rice with a hop back. Auburn is having a huge vault rotation, which will significantly put the pressure back on Minnesota.

Pikey and ragged yfull from Archer in the third position for Stanford, but she got it. No scores coming for this rotation yet, though. Some tentative work for PSU that they can’t afford. Ivana Hong’s vault looks very similar to the video at the top. Good stick with a pike forward to save it. Hit from Dayton. I wish we had the scores, but it’s going to be very tough for Penn State to beat this on the beam, even if Vaculik doesn’t get a great hit. A bit better from Vaculik on vault on the Omelianchik but she does bounce forward pretty far.

Good 1.5 off beam for Penn State. Over in Florida, Sloan gets a 9.975 on bars. Good for her. That routine can be stellar.

Scores update. Stanford goes 49.400 on vault, which is way high. 9.900 is crazy for Rice’s vault that she totally bounced out of. It also means it will be all but impossible to Penn State to catch. Looks like our first regional will go by seed with Oklahoma and Stanford advancing, as long as Oklahoma hits one more floor routine, which just happened with Brie Olson.

Fall for Ohio State on bars in the second position.
Nebraska is having a disaster on beam after a weak bars set. This is getting interesting. Michigan pulling well away, but Kentucky, Illinois, and Nebraska are all in it for the second spot right now.

Everyone is missing for Nebraska on beam. Wong is trying to save it, but even she is having a wobbly one. Nightmare start for Nebraska, but they are not out of this thing yet. They can get it back on floor and vault if they perform to Big 10s level.

Auburn is ahead of Minnesota by a point and a half right now, but Minnesota has its two best events still to come. This will remain interesting.

Danusia just hit beam to save UCLA’s world. Zamarripa had a fall (what is wrong with her today?), and Danusia was in a crazy pressure situation. Great hit with one wobble and a step on dismount. We could look back on that one.

Nebraska trails Kentucky by .400 and Illinois by .525. Both of those teams still have beam remaining.

Final in Norman: Oklahoma 197.375, Stanford 196.800, Washington 195.925, Penn State 195.875, So Utah 194.850, Iowa 194.475.

UCLA goes 49.250 on beam. They’ll take it. De Jesus leads the group with 9.900. Still not out of the woods yet, but they have a comfortable lead over Ohio State with each having one event left. Arizona’s bars routine will be telling to see how much they are still in this. A 49.275 would tie UCLA.

A brief check in down Tuscaloosa way, Utah getting 9.8s on bars. Alabama went 49.350 on vault. Fine but by no means their capability. Florida is cruising, so I’m not paying that much attention to them, but it will be interesting to see how they fare without Stageberg. I think they’re too deep for it to make a significant difference, but if Bridgey is in on floor, that might be a worry.

Georgia went 49.250 on vault. OK, but they needed those landings from Rogers and Jay. No one hit 9.900.  Boise State keeping everyone honest going over 49 on vault. Oregon State not getting the bars numbers they got at Pac-12s. I didn’t know how that would play out since they are still at home, but they’re in minor trouble after a fall from McGregor.

Utah gets a 9.900 for Dabritz for a 49.175 rotation. It’s not big, but no one is matching so far, so it should be safe if beam is endured. 

Kentucky starting slowly on bars in WV, letting Nebraska back into this.
Michigan has a fall from Gies and a lower score from Martinez on beam. This was the concern. If they can hit through, they will be able to get away with it, though depending on how the scores we haven’t yet received went. Correction from Sampson on her series but she stays in control. Good side aerial to sissone. Stuck gainer full. 

Fall from Aufiero on bars. This is the polar opposite of the Pac-12s bars rotation. Oregon State is in trouble early and Arkansas is hitting beam and Boise State hit vault after an iffy floor.

Kentucky just a 48.800 on bars. Not great, but it doesn’t take them out of it yet. A huge opportunity coming up for Illinois on the bars, which Nebraska must get it together on the floor. They are within range but probably need a 49.300 coming up.

As they have done all season, Michigan gets through beam with a 49.050. Should be clear waters now.

Arizona is not getting the scores on bars to challenge UCLA, so it looks better for the Bruins as long as Zamarripa is able to go on the floor. LSU pulling away on floor now as expected.

Fall from Stambaugh for Oregon State – nightmare rotation of all nightmare rotations. You’re welcome Arkansas. Arkansas gets a 9.950 from Grable on floor and suddenly looks like the clear #2 team at this event. Devastating for the Beavers. Obviously beam is a must hit now.

Ohio State is getting through beam, trying to stay in this, while Arizona falls over a half point behind UCLA after bars. The Bruins will be fine if they hit floor to capability.

Florida goes 49.550 on beam, so the 198 looks assured. A bit of a lull in things right now, but it will pick up momentarily. Huge rotations coming up for Nebraksa on floor, Oregon State on beam (if it even matters now, but you never know), Utah on beam, and UCLA on floor.

Ohio State finishes the meet with a beam 9.950 from Miller. They go 196.050. It won’t be enough without help.

Sledge goes 9.875 on bars, interested to see what happens to Utah in this beam rotation. Hughes up now after a 9.675 from Tutka. Good series, her dance elements are nice, buckled a little on her side aerial but managed to hang on with minimal wobbling, good double full with a hop.

Auburn opens with a 9.875 from Kluz on bars. That’s huge, and will really help stay ahead of Minn.

Clark on bars, two missed handstands and a leg break, nice stuck DLO. Jacob went 9.900 before her, apparently. So there’s that. Wilson on beam now, that 9.650 for Hughes seems unwarranted. She struggled but it was more like a 9.750 struggle to me. Hop back for Wilson on her 1.5 dismount.

Fall from Demeo on bars. It won’t matter if Priess hits because they scores have been high. Alabama’s bars scores are going too high and Utah’s beam scores are going about .050 to .075 too low compared to expected standards.  

Lopez to beam now, good loso series, minorly low on punch front but good, hop back on dismount.

Arkansas got through their depleted vault rotation with a 49.150. They are home free if they hit because Oregon State isn’t going to get that far back and Boise State probably can’t keep pace.

Lofgren clean on her series and walkover, sticks gainer full, solid routine. 

Nebraska is not starting well on floor with 9.675s. They cannot afford those scores.

Auburn on bars now relying on Yokay to get rid of a very low score. They must have her score at least in the 9.8s to stay on top.
Checking in on UCLA’s final rotation, floor, where they lead off with De Jesus which is new. 9.850. Bynum is in the lineup, so this is how depleted the team is. They must just get through the meet then reassess the health situation afterward. Arizona is getting big numbers on beam, so UCLA must hit.

Zam is in on floor now for UCLA, so I don’t know who’s out. Hit routine for Zam. A little ragged on the final rudi but otherwise strong. She follows Bynum’s 9.850, which I believe is her season high. LSU is 9.9ing all over the vault rotation.

Pritchett now on floor, good tuck full, her usual, a bit flopsy in the form and flexibility in places, but this routine is improved over last year.

Utah goes 48.650 on beam, ending with a fall from Dabritz that unfortunately surprises no one. Scoring was tight compared to what we’ve seen this season. Denver moves ahead of Utah by a couple tenths, but still must go to beam.

Nebraska has a fall from Skinner on floor, which means all those 9.6s are counting and Illinois will be sitting pretty with one event left (the beam).

Courtney hits floor, and UCLA can finally breath. They will not be caught. LSU finishes with a 197.275 and is free as well.

Kentucky gets through beam and sets the mark at 195.575, but Illinois should be able to top that with a hit beam rotation.

UCLA will score no longer than 196.925 and will finish with Sawa on floor. Opens with a clean double back, then a slightly low double pike but fine, one pass to go, hit.

Nebraska goes 48.800 on floor and trails Illinois by .650 going into the final event. Nebraska will be on vault and Illinois will be on floor. Nebraska needs a Big 10s vault score here, in which case it would still be conceivable for them to pass Illinois.

It’s getting too exciting! With one rotation to go in Florida, Auburn leads Minnesota by .050. That’s advantage Minnesota because it is the Gophers’s best event coming up, vault. Auburn probably needed a couple more tenths from that floor rotation, and they will not feel secure in this lead.

Oregon State hit beam, which was the big concern, for 49.275, but it will be too little at this point, Georgia getting 49.2s on both events so far. Fine, but all they need to be is fine today.

Final in Columbus: LSU 197.275, UCLA 196.950, Arizona 196.100, Ohio St, 196.050, NC St. 195.275, Central Michigan 194.925.

Back to Gainesville for the final rotation. We’re seeing Sloan on floor, clean 1.5 to front layout. Large hop back for Minnesota on an otherwise clean yfull. We’re also seeing a rather tentative beam set for Auburn which is following a fall from Yokay.

Small lack of control for Dickerson on her double back, beautiful stuck yfull for Minnesota. They are taking this thing. Strong double pike to finish for Dickerson.

Guy on beam for Auburn, nice loso series, steps on the double back but a good routine. King is rocking her floor routine, and one more stuck yfull for Minnesota. 

Over to Nebraska’s attempt to salvage now. Good start for Giblin with 9.875 and Stephens with 9.850. This is exactly what they need, and now it needs to be 9.925s+. Blanske gets the 9.925, and Skinner gets the 9.950. Still alive. Big yfull from Wong with a small adjustment in place.

Illinois will want to drop that early 9.750. Big vault for DeZiel here, they’re going to need another one in the 9.9s, great high yfull with a step-salute. We’ll test the scoring for how the judges treat that landing because it was a college stick.

Clean two layouts series for Illinois. Stiff in the switch split and not hitting 180. Step forward on an OK 1.5. That can keep things afloat.

Nebraska gets a 49.650 on vault. Wowie. Illinois now needs a 49.025 to advance. They have two 9.800s counting so far. This is going to be so very close. Nebraska finishes with 195.875. Kato gets a 9.875 on beam. That’s what they need.

Weinstein trying to hit to get to nationals. Scores late in coming. Clean loso series, good straddle 1/4, clean aerial, small correction on a dance element, stuck 1.5. That may very well do it! Let’s wait on confirmation.

It’s a 9.900 for Weinstein and that’s all they needed. Illinois moves ahead of Nebraska for our first upset of the day! Michigan not strong on floor so far, but it won’t remotely matter.

A whole bunch of finals coming in now.

Final in Gainesville: Florida 198.400, Minnesota 197.100, Auburn 196.700, Maryland 195.575, Pittsburgh 194.775, Bridgeport 194.225

Final in Morgantown: Michigan 196.725, Illinois 196.025, Nebraska 195.875, Kentucky 195.575, West Virginia 194.475, North Carolina 194.350.

Vault was fantastic for Nebraska, but there was no coming back from three weak rotations to precede it.
Just two meets to focus on now, and I’ve been a bit neglectful of them in the midst of an upset. Alabama gets a 49.200 on beam. They’re doing well, and certainly well enough for this meet, but the scores aren’t flying. Georgia is in control of the Corvallis Regional after a big beam rotation. Arkansas can pull away for that second slot with a good bars rotation now.

Utah to floor, Denver to bars. Utah can erase that beam situation with a 49.3+ on floor now. A little close on the jaeger for Denver, step forward on double back. Deductions there.

Stumble forward for Lofgren on her final loso. Not the start they wanted. 9.675. The end of Del Priore’s routine now, but we didn’t get to see any tumbling, just the final pose. Neither Utah nor Denver scoring particularly well so far in this rotation. We didn’t see what happened to cause Del Priore’s 9.575, but this is becoming a problem now. Wilson’s DLO is clean, secure double back. Her tumbling was proficient as usual.

Disaster for Arkansas’s Glover to start on bars – 8.400. They’re not clear enough to afford to count a fall.

Dabritz to floor, very low on her pike full in, knees buckle but she does well to stay on her feet. They are all over the place in this rotation. They got a 9.875 for Wilson, which will be vital in trying to catch up. Denver is now trying to drop an error as well. Utah will have the clear advantage in the final rotation, vault versus Denver on beam. Dabritz still manages a 9.850 with a buckle, so maybe the judges are trying to make up for beam.

Good gienger from McGee on bars for Denver, stuck DLO. They needed that. Not a lot of content in that routine, but it worked for her. Important routine for Damianova and she’s going clean. Good hit and it will probably score well.

Arkansas is one routine from Salsberg away from getting through bars. Tutka for Utah lands low on her tuck full with a step forward, has to do a little Raisman swimming to control the large bounce out of her middle pass into her sissone. Very good double back. 

Checkin in on Oregon State, Jones is on floor looking excellent. The team has been strong after that bars disaster. Arkansas gets a 49.150 on bars, which is all they needed. They’re closing in now with Boise State recording some low scores.

I was quite harsh on Arizona State in the preview, so I’m pleased to see how well they’ve done on vault and floor. Vault in particular looked very weak at Pac-12s, so that’s a good improvement. If not for the poor bars rotation, they would have been in this.

Stambaugh is brilliant on floor, her 2.5 is excellent in the air, but she does hop to the side with both feet.

Over in Alabama, Denver and Utah will go into the final rotation tied at 147.000. Big edge to Utah because of the events remaining.

Arkansas with such an edge going into the final event that they would need a complete beam meltdown for this to become a meet. And if that happened, Arizona State, believe it or not, would be the team waiting in the wings. I like Arizona State to finish third regardless, which is a major accomplishment. Seeing the ASU vaults now, the landings are a world better than at Pac-12s, but the early routines did get quite overscored.

Both meets in rotation breaks now, but Alabama and Georgia are well in control, and Arkansas and Utah have it in their hands.

Priess starts on floor, clean double back mount, this is just routine for Alabama now, but it will be interesting to compare them to Florida’s routines, the bits that we saw.

Lofgren vaults, pikes a yfull slightly and takes a very large step-salute out of it that a harsher judge coult count as a landing deduction. Big break for Denver on beam, leg up to save it.

Utah averaging 9.850 for each of the first three vaults, while we see another huge wobble for Denver on an aerial to open the routine, and now a fall. Some sort of horrible error or mid-vault injury for the gymnast rotation with Utah. Utah’s 49.400 on vault will almost surely do it with Denver already counting a 9.700.  

Over in Corvallis, Earls hits to open for Georgia. Arkansas could probably even count a relatively reasonable fall and still advance. Grable begins, clean aerial to bhs loso, well completed leaps, good front toss to straddle, small hop back on double pike, brilliant routine. She’s having quite a day.

Tanella on floor, good height on the double pike. Grable got a 9.900 for her beam routine. Four to go. Persinger on floor, good double back, beautiful L turn, just barely stays in on her double pike, slight lack of control. Salmon for Arkansas hits beam for 9.800.

Glover on beam now, this is the big nerve-wracking one, her form on the bhs 1/1 is absolutely insane, big wobble. A bit of a coverage blip and now it’s Rogers on floor, stuck double pike, every so slightly squatty. 

Wonderful Bhardwaj from Asturias on bars, near-stuck double back dismount. Well done. Oregon State finishes with a 195.375, it will be just ahead of Boise State and Cal.

Great double pike from The Shayla. Dance-stumble out of her front 2/1, very nice rudi. She’s showing the best floor work of her career by far this year.

Arkansas doesn’t even need a hit in these last two beam routines to advance.

Final in Tuscalooosa: Alabama 197.400, Utah 196.400, Iowa State 195.400, Denver 195.275, BYU 194.450, Kent St. 193.500

Final routines now in Corvallis, but Georgia and Arkansas have already confirmed advancing. The scoring has been a little strange at this meet. For three routines it will seem perfectly fine and accurate, and then it will just explode inexplicably.

Erin Freier has great lines on beam and can be a great anchor if she works on her fluidity a bit in the coming years. Great meet for Arkansas, overcoming such a rough start to the year.

Final in Corvallis: Georgia 197.425, Arkansas 196.950, Arizona State 195.700, Oregon State 195.375, Boise State 195.350, Cal 195.125

Advancing teams:

Nebraska and Oregon State bit by the bug tonight. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen two upsets in the same regional day.


Regional Championships – Links and Scoresheets

I’ll have the blog for the regionals themselves up a bit later, but for now, might I interest you in a series of vaguely discolored, underlined words for you to click on?

For each regional below, you will find links to the live scoring, live video, and scoresheets of my own creation. If you’re a certain type of person (the best type), you may enjoy having a scoresheet to print out or reference during the meet with presumed lineups and easy RQS comparison.

Every year (but this year seemingly more than most) guessing lineups is based on little more than tea-leaf reading, and they will certainly differ from the actual lineups. I usually used the most recent competition lineup except in cases where teams have new injuries/are trying to get people back, like Florida. With Johnson coming back on an indeterminate number of events and Stageberg out with a dislocated shoulder, there will be some changes, and your guess is as good as mine as to where the new people come in.

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Norman Regional 
[2] Oklahoma, [11] Stanford, [14] Penn State, [22] Washington, [27] Iowa, [34] Southern Utah
Live scores (Ooh, a fancy new look. Maybe it will update more than once an hour this time since this is a special occasion.)
Live video

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Columbus Regional
[6] UCLA, [7] LSU, [18] Arizona, [20] Ohio State, [24] Central Michigan, [31] NC State
Live scores
Live vault video
Live bars video
Live beam video
Live floor video (On a scale of 1 to 10, how embarrassing is it that they’ve used the Oklahoma logo on these video links for Ohio State?)

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Gainesville Regional
[1] Florida, [12] Minnesota, [13] Auburn, [24] Maryland, [29] Bridgeport, [36] Pittsburgh
Live scores
Live video

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Morgantown Regional
[5] Michigan, [8] Nebraska, [17] Illinois, [19] Kentucky, [26] West Virginia, [35] North Carolina
Live scores
Live vault/floor video
Live bars/beam video

7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Tuscaloosa Regional
[3] Alabama, [9] Utah, [15] Denver, [23] Kent State, [30] BYU, [35] Iowa State
Live scores
Live video

7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Corvallis Regional
[4] Georgia, [10] Oregon State, [16] Arkansas, [21] Boise State, [28] Arizona State, [32] California
Live scores
Live video

Columbus Regional Preview

We’re nearly there. During a frantic five-hour period tomorrow, everything we need to know about nationals will be decided. I’ll be there for every moment, of course, and since it will be impossible to keep and eye on everything at the same time, I hope you all will help keep everyone updated. One final regional to preview before the chatter ends and things start getting good.

Competing teams (starting event):
[6] UCLA (vault)
[7] LSU (bye before bars)
[18] Arizona (bye before floor)
[20] Ohio State (floor)
[24] Central Michigan (bars)
[31] NC State (beam)

The Favorites
By all logic, this should be a straightforward meet in which UCLA and LSU advance to nationals as the indisputably strongest teams, but of all the regionals, I feel the least confident about how this one will play out. It smells dangerous.

UCLA enters as the higher seed, but it could very well go either way between the two. If they both hit to capability, the meet will come down to minor details, but if that’s the case, it won’t matter because they will both be swimming through to the next round. This year’s Bruins are rather more well-rounded than teams of recent years, while LSU is a terror on vault and floor and quite a degree more nerve-wracking and 9.7ish on bars and beam. In that way, this is similar to the Minnesota/Auburn contest in Gainesville but on a larger scale. I trust UCLA more to hit (it’s an odd sentence, I know), but LSU will have the bigger rotations.

The Bruins had a hiccup on beam at Pac-12s, but that has been the exception rather than the rule this season. Based on the history of the last three months, I would expect the team to hit since (rather shockingly) this has been one of the more secure UCLA beam teams in recent years. Although on paper, that Wong, Courtney, De Jesus patch in the middle of the lineup is terrifying. Couple that will the immense pressure of trying to advance to a home nationals, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on that rotation. If the Bruins hit beam, they should be free and easy going into floor.

The only complication to that is the severe fragility of the team this year. With McDonald out of the lineup at Pac-12s, they didn’t even show six 10.0 vaults. It’s quite likely that the first three vaults and the first two floor routines will not be nationally significant, but the strength of the back three routines on both events should keep the rotations scoring well since all six of those routines can go 9.900. Those are the most reliable 9.9 hopes for UCLA along with the Zamarripa bars routine and the Zamarripa and Francis beam routines (and perhaps some less assured options on bars with MDLT and Wong).

In true UCLA fashion, these lineups are still very much uncertain. They will be scraping together possible routines until the last moment, so broader success may hinge on which athletes are in a position to compete. The ideal realistic lineup would have Sawa back in on vault and floor, but she is cutting it very close with getting those routines back into competitive form. Certainly, there are people competing on every event who would not have been considered lineup-worthy if the team were at full strength. Watch the routines from those people. They need to be at 9.850 potential for the Bruins to be competitive at nationals. 

LSU begins on bars and beam, so we will know early on whether we have a meet or whether we can sit back and check in on something more competitive. If the Tigers get through those events, it will be a smooth ride to the finish. The back three routines on both vault and floor for LSU and UCLA have very similar scoring potentials, but LSU pulls ahead with much more powerful and impressive early routines from Dickson, Jordan, Ranzy (VT), and Mathis (FX). Those routines can score 9.875 while UCLA will be getting 9.825s. Expect 49.500+ on both from LSU.

For LSU, the picture is less rosy on bars and beam. They have improved on both events this year to be sure (that’s why they are as competitive as they are), but they are still the reasons LSU is not contending in the same conversation as Florida, Alabama, and Oklahoma. There are bits and pieces of form breaks and rushed/missed handstands through most of the lineup on bars, so the goal will be to get through the early routines without giving away anything major so that Courville and Morrison can bump up the score. Aside from the fanciful Metroplex meet, LSU has not reached above 49.200 on bars on the road this year, which may become a problem later on. They need to see 9.850s from Dickson and Wyrick because they are too often working against 9.7s from Jordan and Ranzy at the beginning.

For beam, getting through it will be enough for this meet, and then we’ll reassess. Putting Taylor in the first position seems like a prudent change based on the SEC results, and more of the same will be required for the rest of the season. Garcia is still a liability if she remains in the lineup, and the whole group aside from Courville is a bit too 9.800. The middle of the lineup will be at the mercy of how strict the judges choose to be for completed dance elements. Normally, LSU would be able to count a fall on beam and still advance, but Ohio State’s scoring tendencies at home should make both UCLA and LSU wary of even entering that conversation.

The Contenders
I’m breaking with protocol and bumping Ohio State above Arizona even though the Buckeyes are the #4 seed because they are the biggest wildcard in the whole of regionals and are more likely to be able to pounce if there is a mistake elsewhere. This year’s Ohio State team is not as talented as last year’s team, especially because of the loss of Colleen Dean, but nationals is still not out of the question. The last home score for the Buckeyes was 196.850, so even though they have recorded much weaker scores over the last two weeks, I’m not counting them out. It would take a mistake from one of the top two seeds to drop into OSU’s range, yes, but just the one mistake.

They begin on floor in the first rotation, and it will be the most telling event because it has the highest scoring potential. If Shaffer and Miller are getting 9.900-9.925, we have ourselves the makings of something. The trouble for Ohio State will come on vault and beam. There are a few weaker routines on each event (and a number of hit concerns on beam) that are unlikely to reach 9.8, which could take the Buckeyes out of even a mess of a meet. If they hit for 9.800 in the first few spots on vault and beam, they will be in this to the end. 

Arizona had a rather poor showing at Pac-12s, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for their chances here (although Ohio State didn’t exactly have a great showing at Big 10s). Floor should be the clear strength for this team, but those landings two weeks ago were all over the place to the point where I thought the OOB judges were practicing semaphore. Even if they do get the landings in place on floor and don’t count a bars fall, they are probably just a little too 9.800 to factor here. At Pac-12s, no leadoff routines scored over 9.750, and that’s a big red flag.

Cristello is the star, the only one capable of reliable 9.9s, and should be a strong contender for an individual spot.

The Others
Central Michigan and NC State are just making up the numbers here, I’m afraid. They are by no means the weakest teams in the whole of regionals since both are capable of scoring in the 196s, but it’s going to take much more than that to factor. Floor could go well over 49 for both teams, but they just don’t have the routines at the beginnings of their lineups (especially on bars and beam). While even some of the top teams can overcome a 9.750 or two, these teams don’t have the stars to overcome the lower scores. They would need a universal meltdown to enter the overall conversation. Individually for NC State, Ouellette and Ham could contend for individual spots, but it will take a big performance to outdo the contenders for OSU and Arizona.

Morgantown Regional Preview

The final few regionals don’t have clear favorites for the win, but because of the seeding system, they do have clear favorites for the nationals spots. There is not yet enough parity for teams outside the top 15 to expect to challenge for nationals without a gift from a higher-ranked team.

Competing teams (starting event):
[5] Michigan (vault)
[8] Nebraska (bye before bars)
[17] Illinois (bye before floor)
[19] Kentucky (floor)
[26] West Virginia (bars)
[33] North Carolina (beam)

The Favorites

Michigan had the landings together this year well before any of the other teams, which accounted for the very high ranking at the beginning of the season. As the other teams caught up in presenting finished routines, they also caught up in RQS. As a result of both that and two consecutive average performances, the Wolverines are perhaps slightly undervalued coming into regionals. This is still a high 197 team that would potentially project into the 198s were it not for beam.

Beam is the only reason I have trepidation about classifying Michigan as a likely Super Six team. While many of the other teams in this general ranking vicinity have improved throughout the season, the Wolverines remain a 49.100-49.200 team on beam. They have a much better hit percentage than the surrounding teams, but that is somewhat misleading because the hitting is terrifying and always teetering on the edge of 80 falls. Since the first month of the season, it has seemed that one of these days the Wolverines are going to have a massive breakdown. I was almost rooting for it to happen at Big 10s so that they could get it out of the way and readjust before the competitions matter.

That didn’t happen, which is both good and scary. No matter how many times they hit, there are still some wibbly wobblies at the beginning of that lineup that will be the death of Michigan fans until the season is over. A 49.200 is still a victory on the beam, but as has been true for a couple other seeds so far, that 49.200 isn’t going to cut it in a few weeks. A bigger score should be possible. This team is physically capable of going straight 9.850s until 9.9s from Sampson and Zurales. That would be a 49.350, which is about what they should be hoping for. Do we see that happening? 

Unless something odd and home-ish happens for West Virginia or unless Michigan has a storm of multiple weak events, even a counting beam fall would be unlikely to be the end of the world here, and the team should advance comfortably regardless of the beam situation. The other rotations should be 49.500 all the way through. The slow start on floor from Big 10s looks to be just a blip that won’t repeat itself. That lineup has been a slate of consistent 9.9s for weeks. I was so impressed with bars at the beginning of the season, but some inconsistency of both hitting and landing has crept in. It hasn’t been a completely constant or upward trajectory. It has been more of a wave pattern, so watch for their position on the wave during regionals. I think it will be good, but it’s not a guarantee.

Nebraska would have been the clear #2 team at this regional had it not been for the Big 10s performance where this team finally hit to capability on four events at the same time and proved the ability to beat Michigan. On vault, Nebraska gives away very few non-landing deductions, so when they’re sticking, the judges have less to take than they might from other teams, which partially accounts for the huge score on the event from Big 10s. Those landings will need to be duplicated this weekend in order to challenge Michigan.

One of my concerns from earlier in the year was the control on the floor landings. It seemed that every pass of every routine had some form of bounce back, which led to far too many 9.7s. The Huskers do not have the big tumbling of some of the other top 10 teams, so it is that much more important that their landings be precise. The talent of Wong and DeZiel on floor is clear and exceptional, and they can pull the team out of a sloppy start if necessary. Still, watch for the competitiveness of the early floor routines. Michigan should have an edge there with Beilstein and can build up an advantage. 

No one would sneeze at a 49.335 RQS on bars, but Nebraska can be better than that. Both Wong and Giblin are potential 9.950s when hitting, but Giblin has been a little erratic this season and has an average of just 9.752. They’ll need all the rest of her routines to be good ones. Nebraska has been miles better on the beam this season than last year, but it remains the weak event and is still a concern in the pressure situations. Because Michigan also struggles there, Nebraska won’t have to beam all that spectacularly to win the meet, but the competition to make Super Six this year is deep enough that teams with weak events won’t make it. They teetered slightly at Big 10s and need to pull it back at regionals. 

The Outsiders
It will take a mistake for either of the top two teams to end up scoring in the mid 196s, which is probably the peak for the remaining teams (with varying degrees of likelihood). If Michigan and Nebraska go 5/6 on each event, they should both go through comfortably.

Illinois did well to make it into the top 18 teams on account of several 196.4s and 196.3s, but it appears unlikely that the team can reach too much higher than that. Floor is by far the strength, and expect See and Weinstein to challenge for some of the top scores of the meet there along with the anchors for Michigan and Nebraska. Weinstein should challenge for an AA spot, but other than floor, the Illini will probably hover around the 49 mark. Vault is the weak event, and they will be giving up enough ground there to make it difficult to contend on the others.

Kentucky has very similar scoring potential to Illinois, and those teams could end up in any order, likely hinging on the minor details. Kentucky had an underwhelming performance at SECs that did not do justice to their improvements this season. They clearly miss Kenzie Hedges and had both a bars issue and a beam issue. I still say this is a good beam team. Overall, they’re about a good routine or two on each event away from becoming a 14-15 team that could challenge for nationals more realistically. 

I include West Virginia in this section as well because I never count out a host. Even though the bars rotation at Big 12s was a mess and the road scores have kept the ranking down pretty low, they have broken 196 five times at home this year and managed to score within four tenths of Michigan when the Wolverines visited in February (Michigan did count a bars mistake). The Mountaineers begin on bars and beam, which are their weaknesses, but watch those scores. If they’re getting several 9.850s, all bets are off. Lawrence, Richardson, and Millick are the contenders to watch, especially on the power events where they are the potential 9.9s for the team.

The Other
It seems mean to create a whole section just for North Carolina, but that’s the situation here. They’re not going to score in the mid 196s like the others might, and they have little chance of qualifying an individual to nationals. Durkac is the AA leader and the strongest chance for high scores.

Corvallis Regional Preview

We finally arrive at a regional where the host is not the top seed. It’s the second seed, which is just as effective in reducing upset potential. This is our west coast regional, so it would have been nice if they had scheduled the meet later to separate it from the other meets. Alas, no. It’s at 7ET, 4PT along with the Alabama regional.

Rotation order (starting event):
[4] Georgia (vault)
[10] Oregon State (bye before bars)
[16] Arkansas (bye before floor)
[21] Boise State (floor)
[28] Arizona State (bars)
[32] California (beam)

The Favorites

Georgia enters the Corvallis Regional with its highest postseason ranking in the post-Suzanne era. No final conclusions can be drawn about the success of Durante’s first year because, well, nothing has happened yet, but after a troubling first month and a half, Durante has put the team in a better position to contend with the top programs. When Clark was fired and Durante hired, I questioned the move, not from any allegiance to Clark but from the perspective that Clark’s teams were improving and no one else was necessarily going to be any better. I’m big enough to admit that I might be at least 30% wrong.

One of my major knocks against Jay Clark was that he seemed to disregard the “girlier” parts of gymnastics, the elegance, the presentation, the refinement, the choreography, even the seemingly nonsensical things like leotards. When questioned about them, he would often deflect those issues as “Julie’s territory.” Even though those areas may seem intangible or insignificant, they are all reflective of investment in the larger performance quality. This year’s Georgia team possesses an attention to detail and performance that has been missing recently. Plus, Durante can claim the trophy for having solved the riddle of that sphinx Christa Tanella. Now, that doesn’t mean this team is any less likely to have a beam meltdown sometime in the next few weeks, but I like the overall direction. 

While the Gymdogs are not in quite the same territory as the previously previewed top seeds that could count a fall and still win easily, it would nonetheless take a disaster to knock Georgia out in this round. A few missed landings or a counting wobbly beam set is not going to make much of a difference in the larger picture.

Right now, Georgia sits atop the second tier of contenders, those team that have not yet proven they have the ability to somehow snatch a title away from the likes of Florida, Alabama, or Oklahoma. If the Gymdogs are going to become part of the elite group, they must prove the potential at this meet. In that respect, floor is the biggest concern. While beam has been the focus of most of the nail biting and ashen-faced sneering this year, when this team hits six for six, it is a nationally competitive rotation. On floor, the team faces much more difficulty mustering more than one or two 9.9s, even when everybody hits to potential. Watch the dance elements and the control of landings, especially for Worley, Rogers, and Jay.

The other significant determining factor in Georgia’s success will be the quality of the freshmen. Rogers and Jay can combine for five or six 9.9s when they are hitting, but they must be in form and must control their landings to do so. If they are missing slightly and getting 9.850s, Georgia will find it near impossible to become a top-tier team.

I’m also including Oregon State in the favorites section on account of both the performance at Pac-12s and being the host of this event. If the Beavers were not hosting, I would consider them somewhat susceptible to suffering a weak beam rotation and dropping into the mid-196s, where Arkansas will be waiting, but at home I expect something close to a repeat of the scoring we saw at Pac-12s, where Oregon State was able to ride being “the team that didn’t mess up” to a 197.850 and the conference title. Even if that beam rotation had turned problematic (it was teetering), the score would still have been in the low 197s, which should be safe again this weekend.

There are currently too many 9.825-quality routines in these lineups for Oregon State to be a contender to advance to Super Six. The team will not be able to rely on receiving a 49.675 for a perfectly solid 49.400-49.450 of a bars rotation once things get more serious, so it will be up to some of those early routines, especially on the events other than bars, to pick up the scoring pace. If something higher than a 197.200 is going to become a normal thing (and it will have to be for any hope of challenging at nationals), there must be more than one or two likely 9.9s per event.

On beam, Blalock, Stambaugh, Ohlrich, and Harris are still a little too happy just to stay on the event and avoid a fall. A 49.150 will be good enough at this regional because there are stacks of beam questions on the other teams, but it will difficult to dig out of that hole in a national semifinal. The level of confidence and security in those beam routines will be crucial. They have to start getting rid of those multi-wobble showings, especially those wobbles that come when moving out of, or adjusting after, otherwise hit acro skills. While vault and floor don’t suffer from the same tentativeness and “Please just don’t fall”-ness of the beam rotation, finding a way to get those first few routines out of 9.825 land will be vital.

The extremely high quality of gymnastics from Stambaugh and Jones is well known, and the team should be able to ride that fairly far. Still, they need a third and fourth musketeer. Blalock is there on two events, but we still need confirmation that there is more to this team.

The Contenders
Last year, Georgia and Oregon State also met in the same regional, and they were joined by a then-struggling Michigan team. Arkansas, in many ways, takes the Michigan role in this year’s competition, a normally strong team that has lost its star gymnast and is finding it difficult to remain competitive. Last year, Michigan almost managed to sneak into nationals after a season-best performance, and Arkansas will be hoping for the same opportunity. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to prove more difficult this time.

In every Arkansas meet I’ve seen this season, I get the impression the team is hanging by a thread. They compete just five high-quality vaults, and they have had to sacrifice Grable’s beam score by putting her first just to get through the event with hit routines. The Razorbacks likely need a beam mistake from Oregon State (while avoiding one of their own) in order to contend and will have to be excellent on every 4th-6th routine because their lineups provide no margin for error.

Arkansas actually comes into the meet as the highest-ranked team on floor because of three very strong routines from Lewis, Borsellino, and Grable at the back of the lineup. Those three performances are among Arkansas’s best opportunities for 9.9s, and they will probably need something like 9.875, 9.900, 9.925 from that trio to keep up. Since Arkansas begins on floor, we’ll know very early on if we have a real meet on our hands.

I’m also placing Boise State in the contenders section, but I’m adding an asterisk to that called the balance beam. On three events, this team is just as strong if not stronger than Arkansas. If they end up hitting beam, they too can challenge if one of the top seeds has a problem. Boise State is not one of those teams that boasts a lot of 9.9s, so the ceiling is only so high, but they can effectively 9.850 opponents to death, which makes a final score around 196.500-196.600 conceivable albeit unlikely.

The Broncos finish the meet on beam, as does Arkansas, so both teams may appear to be in artificial contention before that event, but to have any chance of being in the picture going into beam, Boise State will need at least 9.850s from Black, Otuafi, and Potvin-Green on both vault and floor and a patch of 9.825-9.850 performances from the entire bars rotation.

The Others
Since this is the western regional, we fill out the final spots with the bottom of the Pac-12. Arizona State has struggled to put together competitive rotations and looked extremely rough on both vault and beam at Pac-12s. It has been a number of years now since this team has been at all competitive, and it’s a shame to see a program that used to make nationals consistently now struggle to win meets at all and melt to the bottom of the conference. If something doesn’t change, Cal will pass ASU next year and bump the Sun Devils to worst in the conference.

Speaking of Cal, even though the team comes into regionals ranked lower than Arizona State, the story is entirely different. This is a team on the rise that will be absolutely thrilled to qualify for regionals this year. Cal is little more than a two-event team, but that’s an improvement from being a zero-event team. The vault and floor rotations are verging on nationally competitive (give it another year or two, but they can be 49.300 on both before too long), and 9.850 is a legitimate score for most of those routines. Bars and beam, however, are not competitive and will keep Cal well down the rankings. Alicia Asturias is a real gem, and I would love for her to advance to nationals as an AAer along with Grable (though I recognize that Borsellino (Ark), Black (BSU), and Mann (BSU) are more likely options).

Tuscaloosa Regional Preview

Alabama hosts our third regional, which begins at 6:00 CT, so it will be one of the last to finish. Unfortunately, I don’t expect it to be that close, but if it is, at least it won’t be overshadowed by all six meets going on at the same time.

Rotation order (starting event):
[3] Alabama (vault)
[9] Utah (bye before bars)
[15] Denver (bye before floor)
[23] Kent State (floor)
[30] BYU (bars)
[35] Iowa State (beam)

The Favorites

The tale grows a bit dull as we head into a third regional of the same, but Alabama, like Florida and Oklahoma, is about as locked as a lock can be to advance out of regionals. That’s what happens when the top seeds host. It becomes that much less likely that they will even finish second let alone be upset. In the future, the NCAA should avoid selecting all the best schools to host in the same year.

Alabama has been surging and will feel quite pleased about finishing only one tenth (before penalty) behind Florida at SECs while competing without Ashley Sledge. The vaults are crazy powerful, and with the landings improving each week, the event is becoming an easy 49.500. There are individual blips here and there in the beam and floor rotations but nothing that would account for any fundamental disadvantage to Florida.

Bars has been the story all year for Alabama, but the condition of the event is improving marginally. Priess has begun to minimize the deductions on the dismount, and Kim Jacob managed a 9.875 at SECs, which seemed unlikely even a few weeks ago. Even when hitting to capability, however, Alabama will lose ground on this event, so the dismounts must be stuck and completely precise. This weekend, watch how many of the bars deductions are built-in versus given away. If Alabama sticks five or six bars dismounts at nationals, the team can stay close enough to Florida to remain competitive and pounce on any potential landing errors.

What I find most interesting about Alabama right now, and what I will be keeping the strongest eye on at regionals, is the lineup decision making. Even though I’m not necessarily a fan of automatically putting the weakest routine first because I think there is value in letting a showy first routine bump up the subsequent scores, I also don’t agree with putting the best routine first and losing out on a potentially big number. On bars, the coaching staff clearly feels putting Sledge first is necessary for a hit rotation, but it will be a problem when Alabama’s best bars worker gets a 9.875 in the first position while Florida (and potentially Oklahoma as well) is racking up the 9.925-9.950s in the fourth, fifth, and sixth spots. 

On vault, we now have a similar situation except there is no question that all six will hit there. Kayla Williams is emerging as the strongest lander on the team, and while she doesn’t have the distance of Gutierrez or the difficulty of Milliner, she proved at SECs that her vault is clearly 10-worthy. While there may be some benefit to the score building she provides in the first spot, that benefit is intangible. What is much more tangible is that she would have received a 10 at SECs had she not vaulted first. Even though the difference is only .025, that can be a valuable .025. She needs to be in a position where she can more easily get that 10.

I’m also including Utah in the favorites section because, unlike the Florida and Oklahoma regionals where the third seed has at least a fair shot at advancing even if the second seed hits, Utah will have to give away a fall or fall-equivalent for Denver to have a realistic chance. This Denver team is mid-196 capable, but Utah can probably go 48.900 on both bars and beam and still exceed that number. Beam, of course, is almost entirely terrifying, so Denver will have a shot if Utah can’t pull it together for 9.8s there.

The most important routines for Utah’s success at this regional and chances of making Super Six later on are the first four vaulters and the first five bars workers, both sets of gymnasts culminating in Nansy Damianova. These routines are the most beholden to the level of scrutiny of the judges. As we saw during the Florida meet, sometimes the judges are really happy with them, and if that’s the case at nationals, Utah can still make Super Six.

However, on vault, the first several gymnasts lack the power of gymnasts on the top teams and come off the table flatter than many of the gymnasts with whom they will be compared come the end of the month. If the judges decide to evaluate those qualities, and if the landings aren’t there as well, the judges would be justified in staying right around 9.800-9.825 for the bunch, which would impede scoring potential. The same is true on bars, but replace power with handstand and pirouette finishing positions.

The Damianova scores will be the key barometers. If she’s allowed to go 9.875-9.900 for routines like the one above (which received 9.900), Utah is healthy. If she’s getting 9.800-9.825 for the same work, the rotations will struggle to remain competitive with the other top six or eight teams in the country.

The Outsider
Denver has the routine quality in the fifth and sixth positions on most events to compete nationally, and the strength of those routines primarily accounts for the current ranking of the team. Martin has received a 10 on vault and will compete for an individual spot at nationals, and McGee is right toward the top of the rankings on both bars and floor. Where Utah’s challenge is getting those early routines into the 9.850 range, Denver’s challenge is ensuring those same routines reach 9.800. There are a few too many potentially counting 9.7s for this team to beat a hitting Utah.

It would seem that Denver’s best chance to advance will be a beamtrastophe from Utah, but Denver isn’t exactly immune from the beamtastrophe either and is a bit too likely to count a low score. Denver begins on floor and vault while Utah begins on bars and beam, so there’s a fair chance they can keep it close or even go ahead through two events, but keeping that up for four seems a very tough ask.

The Others
Speaking of beam issues, Kent State is here. This team should have absolutely cruised to the MAC title with a solid point of a margin over the rest of the teams but had an awful beam showing in the final rotation to drop to third. Marie Case is the only comfortable beamer on the team, and she cannot carry the group. Kent State, like Denver, ends on beam, so expect them to stay within sight for most of the meet. However, they would probably need a multiple tenth advantage over Denver going into the last event to place above fourth. A 2011 repeat this will not be. Look for Case to contend for an individual spot.

Ditto BYU. This team is rather similar to Kent State, except without those few potential 9.9s here and there. The BYU season started well enough when they managed to finish not last in Cancun, but the 196s never came. It will take a 196 to advance out of this regional. If BYU figures out how to get through beam, which has been a challenge enough this year, the team can challenge Kent State for fourth.

Iowa State also qualified. They managed a strong score at Big 12s featuring a whole pack of 9.850s and 9.875s, but that feat is unlikely to be repeated at regionals. The teams in this regional excel on floor, and including the three lower-ranked teams, they are all capable of going over 49 there. If beam is more secure than I expect it to be, the rankings of the bottom three may hinge on which one can go 49.150 or so on floor versus which ones languish in the 48.8s.

Norman Regional Preview

[Yes, I originally wrote “Normal Regional Preview” because I am amazing.]

Oklahoma hosts the second regional, which features Stanford and Penn State as the seeded contenders and Washington, Iowa, and Southern Utah as the whippersnappers. This will be first meet to begin (5 ET/2 PT), so we should all get a good look at these teams before the madness begins.

Rotation order (starting event):
[2] Oklahoma (vault)
[11] Stanford (bye before bars)
[14] Penn State (bye before floor)
[22] Washington (floor)
[27] Iowa (bars)
[34] Southern Utah (beam)

The Favorite:

The Oklahoma Sooners enter regionals as the #2 seed for the second consecutive year but boast a much healthier crop of gymnasts this time. Last year, Oklahoma was forced to hobble to the finish with a slapped together roster (I’m pretty sure at least one member of the vault lineup was just a roll of masking tape), but the harrowing injury to Kayla Nowak during preseason appears to have scared off whatever Babylonian trickster god was plaguing the team. The only major issue since has been Keeley Kmieciak’s tonsillectomy, and she is expected to return shortly.

The Sooners spent a large part of the regular season trading the #1 ranking with Florida, but for the last few weeks they have not garnered the same attention as Florida or Alabama because that’s just how fickle we can be. Oklahoma fell tamely to Alabama in the final meet of the regular season after a barrage of landing steps and followed that performance by counting a beam fall at a noncompetitive conference championship. That’s part of the trouble of being a big fish in a three-team pond: the Sooners can only meet expectations. Even if they had managed a 198, it still would have been “only Big 12s.”

It’s difficult to know what to make of Oklahoma’s recent beam issues, but while the Big 12s saw the first counting fall of the season, this had been building for quite some time and may qualify as a trend. People, me included, have spent the last few seasons singing the praises of KJ and company and how confident, creative, and secure these beam routines are. It’s therefore easy to adhere to that narrative and discount any beam situation as a random passing complaint that will be taken care of by the time things matter. That may very well be the case, but the team must rebound at regionals to prove it. They cannot arrive at nationals with one hit beam rotation in the last six and still claim to be the beam team.

Like Florida, it would take an upset of extreme severity for Oklahoma to finish out of the money at a home regional. They’re far too talented for that. The team could likely count a fall and still advance, but watch those beam routines, particularly the one from Olson who has struggled lately (3 falls in 5). She has the most difficult routine on the team and is not a natural beamer like some of the rest.

The other question for the Sooners is how the much-improved vault and floor routines will compare with those of the most powerful teams, especially if the landings aren’t pristine (as we saw at Alabama). However, they are quite clearly the strongest team on both vault and floor at this meet and will be competing at home, so I don’t anticipate a helpful answer to that question until nationals.

The Contenders:

Oh Stanford, what are we going to do with you? You have so many routines that promise to be stellar, and yet the lack of depth and consistency make you much more troubling than you should be. The team is coming off two consecutive ragged showings that were brought down by a flurry of 9.6s and 9.7s. If Stanford is to go out in this round, which I’m not predicting, it will be because of 9.6s not necessarily 9.3s.

Stanford isn’t flush with routines at the best of times, and the promise of a new Hong, Shapiro, and Vaculik triumvirate to replace the scoring potential of Pechanec and Brown has not been fulfilled. Shapiro has been essentially a one-event gymnast, and the consistency problems that plagued Vaculik’s first year have returned. Without these three carrying a large load, the team is stretched too thin to afford losses of 9.8ers like Chuang and Hanset, which accounted for the variant performance at Pac-12s.

Stanford has enough talent and enough 9.9s in Hong and Ashley Morgan and supporting routines like Spinner’s beam and Dayton’s vault that the rest of the team doesn’t have to be magnificent. Just give me a hits bars routine from Vaculik and six competition-ready, 10.0 routines on vault and floor, and I like this team to finish a comfortable second. The way things have been going, however, that isn’t a given. 

Still, Stanford should be encouraged that an off meet at Pac-12s earned a 196.6, while Penn State has to be in fine form to match that number. Penn State has been capable of reaching that level at home, though, so I expect this to be a rather compelling meet. To make it so, the Nittany Lions must display that same home scoring capability on the road. At Big 10s, Penn State showed 10 routines that scored under 9.8, and that cannot be the case again.

This is a bit of a last gasp season for Penn State because, well, what are they going to do next year without Musser and Merriam? If they’re going to make nationals, this is the year, and it cannot be done without Merriam going 9.875 on three events and Musser going at least 39.500 in the AA. If that doesn’t happen, Stanford should feel very comfortable in its position. If it does, however, the meet should come down to the weaker routines in the power rotations, where Penn State may find a door swinging open.

If Stanford is forced to show those 9.650s that have been creeping into the early halves of the vault and floor rotations, then Penn State may be able to cultivate an advantage even with 9.800s in matching positions. PSU begins on floor and vault while Stanford begins on bars and beam. Stanford has enough 9.9s throughout the bars and beam lineups that they should have the lead halfway through, but if Penn State records some countable 9.800s instead of dropable 9.750s in the first three routines on vault and floor, they will have a chance to make up ground when Stanford arrives there.

The Others:

It’s a bit unfair to Washington to relegate them to this section because they’re not completely out of this, but I don’t see it happening this year. The Huskies were the only team that actually showed up in the first session of Pac-12s, and even they had a miserable vault rotation. Beam was quite delightful, however, and success there could help them prey on the inconsistency of others. Lauren Rogers is a gem, so even if Washington doesn’t contend, watch for her to advance to nationals as an AAer. I like Musser and Rogers to take those individual spots in a walk if things go otherwise as seeded.

Iowa is not a poor team at all on three events and has enough 9.8s to keep things within reason on vault, bars, and floor. In fact, they are ranked higher than Washington on all three of those pieces and would be a clear 196 team contending for a third seed if they could just vault twice instead of having to do beam. Unfortunately, beam is a thing and appears likely to push Iowa out of the meet after the second rotation. The Hawkeyes have not reached 48.800 on the apparatus this year.

Like most bottom seeds, Southern Utah is happy to advance this far. The Thunderbirds are unlikely to qualify an individual competitor but can overtake one of the lower teams like Iowa with four hit rotations in the high 48s, which will be the goal here.