Top 25 Scores

As a quick reference for the scores each weekend, I’m going to list the scores from the top 25 teams, ranked from highest to lowest.

Week 3
1. UCLA – 197.575
2. Oklahoma – 197.450
3. Arkansas – 197.225
4. LSU – 196.325
5. Florida – 196.250
T6. Alabama – 196.175
T6. Boise State –  196.175
8. Penn State – 196.100
9. Georgia – 195.975
10. Ohio State – 195.900
11. Nebraska – 195.775
12. Stanford – 195.825
13. Auburn – 195.600
14. Illinois – 195.075
15. Oregon State – 194.825
16. Missouri – 194.725
17. Denver – 194.625
18. Arizona – 194.375
19. NC State – 194.200
20. Maryland – 193.950 
21. San Jose State – 193.675 (v. Seattle Pacific; 193.200 v. UCLA)
22. West Virginia – 193.475
23. Michigan – 193.150
24. Minnesota – 193.000
Bye – Utah

After the jump, lists from Week 1 and Week 2

Week 2
1. Utah – 197.400
2. Nebraska – 197.375
3. UCLA – 196.675
4. Arkansas – 196.650
5. Oregon State – 196.525
6. Alabama – 196.475
7. Georgia – 196.325
8. Florida – 196.175
9. Penn State – 196. 125
10. Oklahoma – 195.975
11. Michigan – 195.500
12. Denver – 195.225
13. Ohio State – 195.175
14. LSU – 195.025
15. Stanford – 194.900
16. Illinois – 194.725
17. Boise State – 194.400
18. Auburn – 193.800
19. Washington – 193.425
20. Iowa – 193.225
21. Minnesota – 192.800
22. Kent State – 192.025
23. Kentucky – 191.975
Bye – Arizona, Iowa State

Week 1
1. Georgia – 196.525
2. Arkansas – 196.450
3. UCLA – 196.075
T4. Florida – 196.025
T4. Utah – 196.025
6. Oklahoma – 195.875
7. Penn State – 195.775
8. Ohio State – 195.375
9. Arizona – 195.150
10. Minnesota – 195.075
11. Auburn – 194.775
12. Kentucky – 194.325
13. Iowa – 193.875
14. Denver – 193.700
15. Washington – 193.175
16. Iowa State – 192.600
17. LSU – 192.500
Bye – Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon State, Stanford, Michigan, Boise State, Illinois, Kent State

Advertisements

Live Blog – San Jose St. @ UCLA

Watch Live

We’ve had a bit of a topsy-turvy weekend, which always makes everything more interesting.  Nebraska came back to the field a bit, and Florida and Alabama continued to low 196 their way through January, but Arkansas maintained their upward trajectory, and Oklahoma finally arrived.  Oklahoma should be even more pleased with their season-leading 197.450 because it was a road score, which will be very valuable when RQS comes into play.

As it stands now, Arkansas should take over the #1 ranking on Monday from an idle Utah (196.775 to 196.713 average score).  UCLA has an outside shot at taking the top spot, but they would have to score 197.600 today to do so.  It’s possible but highly unlikely.  Let’s just go for 24/24, shall we?  UCLA does, however, have a prime opportunity to move into the #3 or #4 spot with Nebraska, Oregon St, Alabama, and Georgia all dropping points (in average) this weekend.  The big ranking loser of the weekend was Michigan, whose 193.150 will see them plummet.  Still no official word on Beilstein’s injury, but it can’t be good.  I think we call this a rebuilding year.

For UCLA, the huge beam score (too huge, but a UCLA team hit 6/6 on beam in January, so let’s just enjoy it) from last week should help their confidence to do it again.  If they hit the first five routines well, I’d like to see Peszek’s standing full come back in (the routine without it is a bit too easy for her skill level).  Also important will be Mattie Larson’s floor routine.  She’s been taking the marionette thing a bit too seriously when landing her passes, and she hasn’t fully hit a floor routine in competition since August 2010.  That kind of thing wears on you.  She needs to get hitting immediately.  On vault, the judges at Cal broke the 10 barrier for Zamarripa, so now we can expect to start seeing them every time she sticks at home.

Live commentary after the jump


OK, anyone else without sound so far?  Let’s get that working.  Why do we always have sound issues at these UCLA meets?  Now we have bits of some music…progress?  And the music they’re playing is really inappropriate for this dancing.  Awesome.  “A little ceremony”?

SJ State lineups first.  I’ve never seen a San Jose State meet before, so it’s always fun to see a new team.  I’m thankful that there is commentary on this meet because I won’t be able to identify these SJS gymnasts by sight. (Actually that might be a lie.  I think I’ve seen a regional with them before, but I wasn’t paying particular attention.)

UCLA’s intro video.  I really can’t deal with this.  It’s so cheesy.  I mean, there’s pretend karate…
Courtney didn’t compete beam or floor last week. We’ll see if she’s back on those events.  Are we going to see Ti Liu this year?

Rotation 1: UCLA on vault, SJ State on bars


Looks like EHH is going to be on vault this week for the first time this season.  The male commentator is asking Allison about strenuous competitive schedules…

Nice to hear that Zamarripa will be back in the beam lineup.  That’s a necessary step for this team.

Baer – UCLA – yfull seemed a bit cleaner in the air than before but hop back and lower landing. (9.800)

Harrison – SJSt – leg separations through routine but hit the tkatchev and stuck the dbl tuck landing.  Solid start but clear deductions. (9.675)

EHH – UCLA – yfull – her usual one – a little short on distance and the hop backward.  Should score a bit better than Baer. (9.875)

McCord – SJSt – a bit cleaner in legs and handstands than the previous gymnast – hit the tkatchev – then over on the handstand and off the bars – dbl tuck dismount with step back.  Tough going ahead for SJSt on bars. (9.125)

Courtney – UCLA – good distance and stuck – a little off to the side, but that’s probably her strongest landing this season. (9.900 – fair score).

Field – SJSt – very short on bail hs – seemed like she had good enough height on the tkatchev but could not catch the bar – disaster already for San Jose State – another dbl tuck dismount – this one very low and major steps forward. (8.800)

Frattone – UCLA – excellent stuck omelianchik again.  Should score extremely well – the legs even looked a little more together than usual.  I don’t think this is quite a 10, though. (9.950 – UCLA is mad, but I think it’s fair)

Gregory – SJSt – very similar composition in all these routines – no same bar release here – (9.675)

Peszek – UCLA – biggish hop and a little lack of control on landing, so this won’t be her best score. (9.875)

Telles-Nolan – SJSt – best tkatchev and bail of the group by far – dbl stuck with just a hop – will be their best score. (9.800)

Zam – UCLA – didn’t stick this week – definitely a .1 slide back. (9.900) If he mispronounces her name one more time, I’m just going to die.

Wallace – SJSt – shaposh + bail – nice – dbl front dismount was a little unstable with a big step back, but a strong recovery. (9.850)

McDonald Exo – UCLA – third week exhibitioning, and still nothing that will get her into the lineup.  A little weaker on form and landing than the rest of the lineup.  De La Torre also did an exhibition, but we didn’t see it.

Looks like UCLA scored “just” a 49.500, their weakest score of the year, which is hilarious.  San Jose State goes 48.125.

Rotation 2: SJ State on vault, and UCLA on bars


Same UCLA bar lineup as usual – nice that we’ll see Wong and Whitcomb on exhibition.  I’d really like both of them to get in the lineup.  UCLA had way too many 9.7s in this rotation last week, and they need to clean those up to keep this pace and hope to go into 197 territory.

Lee – SJSt – and we had to see the crowd instead?  Thanks. (9.625)

MDLT – UCLA – hop full gienger as usual – a little wacky on form – step back on the DLO – she’ll need to be sticking that soon. (9.800)

Valleau – SJSt – yfull tucked – very low landing and a step (9.575)

I love how snippy Allison Taylor is in correcting this guy when he mispronounces things.  This is the most I’ve ever liked Allison

Gerber – UCLA – hits jaeger, a little late on giant full and the usual leg sep on the pak – best dbl arabian dismount I’ve seen her do s0 far – small hop. (9.900)

Greer – SJSt – handspring tuck half – similar with low landing and step forward. (9.625)

Larson – UCLA – she fingertips that shaposh – dbl layout with a small hop – she missed a handstand, but it’s a mostly clean routine. (9.875)

Montalban – SJSt – better landing here with the chest position and the movement, but still a little wonky on form which is hurting the whole team.

Peszek – UCLA – efficient little routine – flung the DLO a little bit with a step back – this was a solid routine – about what we should be expecting from her. (9.850)

Harrison – SJSt – first yfull layout we’ve seen (actually I might credit it as piked – which will hurt her) (9.725)

Zam – UCLA – clean shaposh – maybe a little low on bail hs – uncharacteristic DLO in the landing with a large step back, but it should still score well enough.  (9.875 – a little charitable given that dismount).

Wllace – SJSt – yhalf – huge lunge forward – barely kept it in the city. (9.700)

Courtney – UCLA – better swing through shaposh this time – stuck her dismount which will bring up her score – but there’s too much hip angle and toes for me to see this as a huge scoring routine. (9.900)

SJSt Exo – yfull – a little uncertain on landing but they’ll want her difficulty in the lineup.

Wong – UCLA – excited to see this – a little bent arms on jaeger – bail hs – just a dbl tuck dismount with a step – they’ll need to find a dismount for her because she can score extremely well if she puts it all together – great line and skill. (9.775)

Whitcomb – UCLA – they’ve added the gienger – good – stick the double tuck dismount – clear progress from the last time she exhibitioned, but it’s still not lineup ready – MLT would be so mad at her for those handstands.

After 2 Rotations: UCLA 98.900, San Jose State 96.500


UCLA goes 49.400 on bars, which is their best of the season.  I thought all the scores were just a tad high, but the scoring has been consistent.  I’m not wild about all these shaposhnikovas in the UCLA lineup.  I appreciate the difficulty, but they all lose either swing or form on them right now and it breaks the flow of the routine.

If UCLA hits 5 for 6 on each of the next two apparatuses (big IF), they are in great shape for the 197 range.

Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, San Jose St on floor


Oooh, the beam.  No setbacks, please.  Looks like Wong remains in the lineup after her 9.925 last week.  I assume Zamarripa will be taking Frattone’s slot.  We’ll see.

Gerber – UCLA – good mount turn and leaps – hits side somi – good walkover – dismount series – near stick on landing – very minor shuffle.  This would be a huge score later in the lineup. (9.825)

Lee – SJSt – clean tumbling so far – impressive form for a leadoff routine for SJ State (9.525)

Wong – UCLA – good leaps – much more confident on series than two weeks ago – a little uncertain on full turn – minor hop up on 1.5 dismount – it’s like she’s a different person on beam all of the sudden. (9.875)

Harrison – SJSt – confident dbl pike, also very solid landing on the double full – dismounts dbl tuck. (9.725)

Larson – UCLA – notable wobble on walkover – comes off on her loso (here we go again) – she looked off from the moment she mounted the beam.  It’s always an adventure with Mattie. hits dbl full dismount.  Major case of Miss Val Eyes in the background. (9.250)

Montalban – SJSt – another dbl pike mount – a little less control than Harrison – dismounts with 1.5 + front tuck. (9.675)

Zam – UCLA – lineup debut on beam – huge wobble on onodi – hits loso series very well – hit dbl full dismount to keep UCLA in this.  Must hits for EHH and Peszek now. (9.825)

Break while we discuss scores and OOBs.  Judging controversy.

Greer – SJSt – front dbl – big bounce back out of her rudi on the second pass (9.700)

EHH – UCLA – she missed her series in warmups but hits it well here – took out the illusion turn and wobbles on ust her full turn – that’s two gymnasts who have wobbled on full turns – hop back on dismount.  Hit routine, but far from her best.  Now it’s up to Peszek. (9.850)

Wallace – SJSt – big tumbling ability, but just a layout + layout on her second pass – big step back out of her dbl tuck as well – energetic routine but definite deductions. (9.800)

Peszek – UCLA – she’s the anchor for her solidity and they need it desperately now – hits her dismount series with layout – hops a bit on the landing.  HUGE accomplishment for UCLA that they were able to get past a mid-rotation fall and hit. (9.900)

Valleau – SJSt – huge bounce out of her opening pass – the lines on that sting mat are not even close to the actual floor, it’s totally askew.  Rudi to finish.

Baer Exo – UCLA – little wobble on her first jump – had to save her side somi and did well to stay on – same dismount series as Aisha – little step on landing.

S. Wong Exo – SJSt – stumbles way OOB on her dbl pike mount – and a fall on her layout + layout pass – baisl out of the dismount and just does a layout

Frattone Exo – UCLA – nicely done on her loso series, low on her punch front but hits it – dbl ful dismount with step back – she hit well because she wasn’t in the lineup.

UCLA scores 49.275 on beam, which they’ll take any day.  We still have to deal with this Mattie situation, but that’s a strong recovery.  They are on pace for well over 197 if they can hit floor.  It would be a huge disappointment if they can’t convert for a big score again.

After 3 rotations: UCLA 148.175, San Jose State 145.075


Rotation 4: San Jose State on beam, UCLA on floor


Greer – SJSt – aerial comb + bhs, solid routine with few errors – front full dismount with step (9.775)

Gerber – UCLA – god dbl tuck mount, she looks to have figured out that second pass since the first meet, dismounts with a dbl pike – a little low but a beautiful routine as always. (9.775)  She did have a wonky leg on one her leaps, which was uncharacteristic.

Harrison – SJSt – steps back on loso series, but I thought it would be worse given the angle she went into it, wobble on dance elements, very low on punch front but saves it – major deductions here but she’s staying on.  gainer pike dismount. (9.550)

Frattone – UCLA – hits her double pass opening pass very well – better on the dbl pike than two weeks ago – rudi  shush dismount.  The shushunova is getting a little better, but I’m still not wild about it’s inclusion. (9.850)

Shearer – SJSt – small wobble connecting aerial to bhs – comes off on acro, so they’ll have to count the 9.550.  This is a disappointing meet coming off the first meet that got them to #19. (9.175)

Wong – UCLA – hits dbl pike mount – I liked her 2011 routine better than this one, which is a shame because we didn’t get to see that one much.  Tremendous leaps, really stand out from the rest of the crowd – dbl tuck with a minor bounce back.  Good recovery from last week. (9.850)

Lee – SJSt – tries to connect side aerials but was way off and fell – now they’re counting a fall on this event as well.  hits tuck front 1/1 dismount. (9.275)

Courtney – UCLA – back into the lineup after last week – much better dbl arabian than week 1 when she vaulted out of it – more control this week – hits dbl tuck dismount as well. (9.875)

Wallace – SJst – good loso series, minor wobble on side somi – she’s getting them back on track with this hit.  1.5 dismount, very low and big step back. (9.825)

Peszek – UCLA – (5th instead of anchor this time) – excellent hit on DLO – let’s watch these leaps, that’s her biggest weakness in the routine – big lunge back out of the dbl pike dismount, which will keep this from being a big score. (9.875 – one judge gave it a 9.950 – what is happening?)

Field – SJSt – good punch front – little leg issues on loso series but she hits it as well as the sheep jump – back tuck full dismount – (9.700)

EHH – UCLA – she’s still just mounting with that dbl tuck – I need that upgraded like yesterday – her shushunova is much higher and better than Frattone’s – good dbl pike dismount.  They’ll be contending for top score of the season after this routine.  It will be close to Oklahoma’s score. (9.950 – just got upgraded from a 9.9 so that UCLA will go 197.575….I don’t think I believe in 9.950s for routines that mount with double tucks)

Well, we won’t see any cranky Val after this meet, that’s for sure.  Sam Peszek wins the AA for the third week in a row with her highest score yet, 39.500.

We’re not getting to see De La Torre’s exhibition on floor.  Pritchett has hit her exhibition routine.

UCLA got right around score that I just said would be highly unlikely for them to get.  Shows what I know.  That score is insane and will be the highest score of the season for any team so far.  We are seeing SO MANY 197s for January, and none of them are from Florida.  Where will the scores be when these teams actually start rounding into form?  The judges aren’t leaving any room.  This is a colossal score, and yet UCLA can perform better than they did today – the dismounts are not there yet.

FINAL: UCLA 197.575, San Jose State 193.200

Saturday Scores – Alabama, Michigan, and Penn State

Soon, Michigan will get underway visiting Minnesota and Alabama will begin at Penn State (along with Michigan State and Cornell).

If Alabama can hit bars, they have the potential to score exceptionally well and keep pace with Arkansas’s weekend-leading 197.225.  This will be Alabama’s first road meet, and it will be interesting to see whether they can match their huge home score on vault and keep pace with UCLA on that event.  However, the bars issue is most important because, like last year, this group really has no business making numerous mistakes on bars.  While scoring in the 49.3-49.4 range that they will need to in the postseason could be an issue down the road, hitting six routines should not be.  We saw way too many errors on handstands against Georgia.  I’d rather them be short and take a minor deduction than go over and ruin the routine.

For Michigan, the goal should be putting up six usable routines on every apparatus, finding a group that can hit beam well, and trying to break into the 196 range.  They have little depth, but I’d like to see some of it coming into play.  They’ll need Annette Miele fully healthy and hitting well this year.

Follow here with scores and comments.

Dear Scoring,

I’m impatient.

All the best,
The Balance Beam Situation

Alabama begins on beam with Kim Jacob’s 9.750 and Milliner’s 9.850.  Meanwhile Penn State starts slowly on vault with 9.625, 9.675, 9.750, and 9.650.

Note: No Gutierrez or Demeo on beam tonight for Alabama.  Sledge and Clark are in.  Kaitlyn Clark goes 9.600, meaning they are counting Jacob’s 9.750.  Last week they were able to recover from some 9.7s to go 49.1.  They’ll need big routines from Priess and Stack-Eaton to go higher (as they would hope/expect to do).

Penn State finishes well on vault with a 9.825 for Merriam and 9.875 for Musser to give them 48.775.  We’ll keep an eye on Musser for the AA title battle tonight.

Sledge goes 9.750 just like Jacob, meaning that Stack-Eaton and Priess will need to average 9.875s to equal last week’s performance.

(Q: Does anyone have working live scores for Michigan’s meet?)

Stack-Eaton goes 9.500 and Milliner is the only one in the lineup who has scored well so far.  They’ll go below 49 regardless of what Priess does, but she needs to limit the damage and keep them above Penn State.

9.775 for Priess – fine, but not what they needed because Penn State is in the lead after the first rotation. Scoring was never going to be as big for Alabama at Penn State as it was at home, but this is a weak start.  More pressure on vault and floor now to make up for beam.

After Rotation 1: Penn State 48.775, Alabama 48.725, Michigan State 48.225, Cornell 47.200


Alabama will be putting up the same floor lineup as last week, including Lora Leigh Frost, who had a fall and didn’t necessarily look lineup ready.  Still no Stack-Eaton here.

Penn State begins bars with a solid 9.750 and 9.800.  Kim Jacob goes 9.800 on floor, which is around what she did last week and should be a good set-up score for the others.

Penn State follows with two more 9.750s from Stine and Welsh.  They’ll need to rely on Merriam and Musser again if they are to get on 196 track, which should be the goal.

Sledge follows with a 9.800 and Frost recovers from last week with an encouraging 9.850, so they won’t have to drop her score again.  (See, that’s what happens when I question someone’s place in the lineup.  Therefore I will really need to question Mattie’s place in the floor lineup tomorrow.)

Penn State gets Musser to deliver again (seriously, where would they be without her?) and they go 48.975 on bars.

Michigan update: Solid vault for 49.075, disaster on bars (including a fall from Martinez, they cannot afford that from their best worker) for 48.250.  More trouble for Michigan and no routines from Miele yet.

9.675 from Gutierrez on floor – an unexpected shame.  A 9.825 from Milliner keeps Alabama on pace for 49.1-49.2 if they can get a good hit from Priess.  Still, the big scores aren’t coming yet.

Uh oh, a fall from Priess for 9.225.  Alabama goes below 49 again and are .075 behind Penn State.  This is way more interesting than I thought it was going to be.  Alabama needs a 49.500 on vault immediately.

After Rotation 2: Penn State 97.750, Alabama 97.675, Michigan State 95.875, Cornell 94.325


Alabama’s vault lineup also remains the same (why change after last week?) and once again will be Kayla Williams’s only contribution.  It’s interesting to me that she hasn’t made floor yet.  She was recruited for more than one event.

Alabama vault: Clark goes 9.850 and Williams goes 9.800.  She has underperformed so far this season. They needed her to replace Hoffman on two events.  There’s still time, but watch this space.

Sledge goes 9.925, the score she probably should have gotten last week, so Alabama is on their way to at least a bit of recovery here.

Michigan: trying to avoid counting a fall on floor from Zurales.  9.8s from Sampson and Sugiyama.

Gutierrez puts up 9.9, so they are pretty much on track from last week, though I would be very surprised to see another 10 from Stack-Eaton.  And she goes 9.875, which is still strong and closer to what I expect from her on a weekly basis.

Milliner finishes with 9.875 for an excellent 49.425 rotation.  They lose a little ground on UCLA here after two meets, but they should pull ahead of Penn State by a good margin going into the major question mark rotation.  Alabama currently sits at 147.100 after three events, so a great bars could put them close to 196.500, but I think they’ll take anything over 196 at this point.  Much like Florida, it won’t be a headline-making score, but it will be good enough for now (if they hit bars).

Michigan disaster: 8.825 on floor from Colbert, so they are counting another fall with two routines to go (and beam still to go).  This could get very ugly very quickly.

Penn State doing their best to keep pace with Alabama’s big vault score, Bencsko goes 9.900 on beam.

Eeeek, Natalie Beilstein appears to have just recorded a 1.000 on floor.  That’s an injury-and-couldn’t-continue kind of score.  While it’s a disaster score-wise for Michigan, let’s just hope she’s OK.

Well, I may have spoken too soon about Penn State being well behind Alabama going into the last rotation.  They just put up an excellent 49.250 on beam and trail by just .100 going into the final event. Keep watching these scores because this is getting good.

After Rotation 3: Alabama 147.100, Penn State 147.000, Michigan State 144.325, Cornell 141.150


(Oklahoma just delivered on bars for 49.375.  It’s time for them to start getting into gear…this is a good start.  I haven’t been convinced by their quality yet.)

Sledge opens Alabama’s bars with a 9.800.  I still don’t like her leading off unless it’s absolutely necessary because she can score so well.  Maybe it is absolutely necessary…

Alexin follows with 9.800 and Clark puts up 9.775.  Good, fine, regular, which is what they need to get confident on this event right now.

Demeo picks up the pace for 9.850 – so they’re on solid 49 track so far.

Stack-Eaton 9.575.  She is having a really rough day, her second score in the 9.5s of the night.  Must hit time for Priess if they want to break 196.

Priess goes 9.850, so Alabama finishes with 196.175, having to count two scores in the 9.6s.  It’s not a disaster of a meet because they didn’t have to count a fall, but they will not be satisfied.  Work to be done.  Penn State is still definitely in this for the win.  Two big routines to come on floor.

A 9.825 for Merriam means that Musser needs just a 9.850 to give Penn State the win.  Very doable for her.

Oooh, Musser socre on 9.750 on floor, meaning that Alabama just edges Penn State 196.175 – 196.100.  Penn State should still be mostly satisfied, but they really could have won this meet.

Another final: Michigan 193.150, Minnesota 193.000 (Ouch.)

Alright, that’s it for me tonight.  Enjoy the scores!

Follow (the Scores) Friday

No free streams today, so we’ll be following scores from Florida @ Kentucky (7:00/4:00), Nebraska @ Iowa State (7:30/4:30), and the Arkansas and Georgia meets (8:00/5:00).

Florida has been steady, scoring in the low 196s for the first two meets, though they did have an unfortunate floor rotation last week and should have scored higher.  They’re still missing key members (Caquatto, half an Alaina Johnson), and I don’t expect them to reach the heights of performance (though they can still score hugely at home without them) until they return.  Florida is still scoring well enough for January, so confidence should be pretty high even though they haven’t put up the big numbers. Confidence could become an issue, though, if they continue having to count falls.  24 for 24 should be the goal tonight, and if the score is still low 196s, then so be it.

For Nebraska, in the long term they have to find a way to sustain the performance level that put them at #1.  But for today, that’s not the biggest concern.  They won’t score that well every week, especially on the road, so a lower score today should not be seen as a loss.  It is much more important for them to build up a team that can perform well for months on end, meaning that they need to get 24 usable performances into the lineup immediately.  Even if they wouldn’t necessarily want those gymnasts performing in postseason, they have to start building the depth.  Plan A is obviously Jessie DeZiel, but what’s Plan B?  

Notes on scores after the jump from 7:00 ET.

Florida will begin on bars.  They managed a 49.200 last week on the back of Johnson’s second consecutive 9.900.  Besides Caquatto, do they have anyone else who can best 9.850 on this team?

Nicole Ellis leads off Florida with a 9.800, solid opening, but they may not want to have to use this score again this year if people like Spicer and Wang can solidify their routines and score higher.

Kentucky hanging around the 9.8 area on vault.  They have improved this event in 2012 by being able to send up 6 routines in competition.  They were competing only five at the end of last year.

Dickerson goes 9.725…not a strong score for her.  She has form break and won’t ever deserve a massive score, but they need her to go big on releases and tread water in the 9.8 area.

Kytra Hunter goes 9.875 to make up for Ashanee’s lower score.  She never had great bars in elite, and Martha even encouraged her to stop training them, but maybe with NCAA composition she’ll be able to make Kelli Hill proud.

Nice to see Marissa King in the lineup going 9.875 as well.  She has real talent on bars, but hasn’t always warranted making the lineup in the past.  It doesn’t seem to come as naturally to her as the other events.

Kentucky has some rough scores (9.425 and 9.575) at the end of the lineup to score 48.750 on vault.  They would have hope for higher.

Caquatto is back in the lineup on bars (great sign for Florida that she’s back on at least one event already) and goes 9.775.  Fine score for her first routine of the year.  She’ll get there.

Johnson finished for Florida with a 9.850.  It’s not a bad score, but they really rely on her for 9.9+, so a rotation with great potential ends up with a solid/unspectacular 49.175.  So they ended up scoring better last week even though they had a stronger lineup this week.  Still, it’s a good step to get a (close to) ideal lineup in for competition right now.

Second rotation for Florida/Kentucky:
Jamie Shisler goes 9.775 on vault.  I still don’t buy this lineup decision because it’s such a January routine, but it is January, so…

Ellis goes 9.850 again and could legitimately make the lineup for this team.  I wouldn’t have picked that in preseason.  Note that we have seen none of Wang and Spicer so far.

Marissa King goes 9.700.  Granted, I didn’t see the routine, but I’m crying foul anyway.  Her vault makes me too happy to get a 9.700.  She should get Tsukahara bonus points or something.

Johnson’s in on vault (another great sign of progress) and goes 9.825 (9.90/9.75…hmmm…)

Ashanee goes 9.900.  Becoming expected for her.  She’s powerful enough to go higher, but needs to get those legs together on landing if she wants to challenge for those 10s we’ve been seeing.

Kytra follows with a 9.925 on her vault.  That’s a great 1-2 punch at the end of the vault lineup (something they’ll want to see from Caquatto and Johnson on bars), and if they can get King and Johnson scoring up to capability and Caquatto into the lineup, they will have the opportunity to keep pace with UCLA and Alabama.

Kentucky has a family of 9.6s on bars to score 48.425 for a total of 97.175.  Florida ends up with 49.275 on vault for a total of 98.450.  It’ll be tough for them to go 197, but I can see very high 196s if they hit from here on out.

Meanwhile up in Iowa, Nebraska has started with a 9.750 and 9.775 on bars, followed by a 9.800 from Jessie DeZiel.  These are closer to the kind of scores I expected so far.  Brittany Skinner goes 8.700…ouch.  Janelle Giblin settles the rotation and reaches closer to last week with a 9.900, and Evenstad finishes with 9.875 for a team score of 49.100.  Not bad after all.  They got two excellent scores and were able to drop the disaster.

Back in Kentucky, Stageberg starts on floor with a 9.725.  Not a strong score, but I like her starting this rotation.  At her strongest, she has 9.850-9.875 potential in that leadoff position, which will put them on a great track.  Ferguson follows with a 9.750.  They’re leaving work for Dickerson, King, and Hunter at the end.

Nebraska gets a 9.800 on vault from freshman Jennifer Lauer (that’s the kind of new routine to add depth I was talking about, good sign) to follow a 9.700 from Barmore.

Florida has a 9.525 from Wang on floor, meaning they are counting two scores in the 9.7s at least.  I have not been convinced by Wang’s tumbling at all yet.  She has really nice presentation and perhaps the best routine of the group choreographically, but she can’t hit it right now.

Hunter goes 9.825, which is the best score of the rotation so far but not her best.  Her ability is such that she should be walking through a field of 9.9s come the second half of the season.

Nebraska gets 9.875 and 9.850 from Wong and Evenstad on vault…now this rotation is keeping pace with last week as long as they can drop Barmore’s score.

King goes 9.850, which still gives Florida hope to potentially salvage a 49 from this rotation.

Nebraska finished vault with another set of 9.850 and 9.875, so no one went 9.9, but they got some great, solid vaults to score 49.250 and a total after two events of 98.350.  It’s not like last week, but they should be happy with this performance so far.

Ashanee finishes floor for Florida with a 9.850 to give them 49.000 exactly and a three-event total of 147.450.  They are still on track for their best score of the season, which is encouraging because they can do so much better than this.

More to follow: Georgia v. Auburn and Arkansas v. LSU are about to get underway.

Georgia: Chelsea Davis starts  on bars with 9.775.  It sort of hurts me that she’s not going 4th or 5th and getting 9.9s, but we have to think it will come.  She is very talented on that event.  Noel Couch follows her with a 9.700.  Do Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio have to do everything around here?

LSU: Ohhh, Lainie Fleming starts on bars with a 8.450.  Sadness.

Georgia: Tanella goes 9.825 (which is about on form for her), and Shayla goes 9.850.  We need to get her up to a 9.9.  9.850 is only fine…  Nuccio scores 9.825.  This is their event.  The scores will need to improve.  9.8s aren’t going to cut it.

Georgia: Nooooo!  Kat Ding goes 9.525.  There is no justice.  And Georgia goes 48.975 on bars for a poor start.  They are just .050 ahead of Auburn after one rotation.

Arkansas: Sweet heavens, they keep it up with a 49.400 on vault, led by Katherine Grable’s 9.950.  This team is surprising everybody so far, and not just on one event or at one meet…

Florida: More 9.7s (their 7th and 8th of the night) as Stageberg and Spicer start beam with 9.750, 9.725.

LSU: Good recovery from the start to go 49 on bars.  Morrison and Hall score 9.850.  Morrison is only on one event this week, but they need her back, so it’s a start.

Nebraska: Two 9.650s from J. Lauer and Schleppenbach (spelled it on my first try!) on floor.  At least they should have 6 routines this week.

Florida: More trouble on the beam with a 9.775 from Johnson and a 9.650 from Dickerson (Ashanee throws in a few of those – or more – every season, which keeps her from being the beamer she can be).  This is a another struggle for Florida.

Nebraska: Wong puts up 9.850 and DeZiel goes 9.825 to help make up for that 9.650 they’ll have to count.  They are in a similar situation to Florida right now, trying to recover from some lower scores at the beginning of the floor lineup.

Georgia: Davis and Couch open vault with 9.775, 9.825.  It looks like a very 9.825 kind of night for Georgia so far.

FINAL: Florida 196.250, Kentucky 194.075 — Florida keeps improving by about a tenth every week, and they still are in the mode where it’s okay to be sloppy (they didn’t count a fall this week) because of their delayed training schedule and new approach.  As we head toward February and get all the routines back, there will be fewer allowances.  Starting now, they need to begin purging those 9.7s and turning those 9.8s into 9.9s.  They scored only two 9.9s today, and this team is too talented for that, even in January.

Arkansas: I can’t…9.9 from Grable and 9.950 from Pisani on bars.  What is in the water over there.  We might have to put them on highest score of the season so far watch tonight.

LSU: countering Arkansas with their own huge rotation on vault – 9.950 from Ashley Lee in the second position.

Georgia: Kat Ding recovers to get a 9.900 on vault and give the team 49.175.  Total of 98.150 after two rotations.  This is putting more pressure on a questionable floor lineup. (Auburn is close with 97.850)

Huge Scores Alert: Arkansas goes 49.450 on bars while LSU goes 49.500 on vault.  They’re both on ridiculous pace so far.

Nebraska: It appears they may have gone with 5 floor workers again as the scores haven’t changed in a while.  48.875 so far on floor.

OK, that’s it for me for tonight on the scoring.  I may come back later with finals and wrap-ups.  Enjoy the scores.

FINAL SCORES:
Nebraska 195.775, Iowa State 193.925
Georgia 195.975, Auburn 195.600
Arkansas 197.225, LSU 196.325

Georgia and Nebraska both underperformed compared to previous results, Nebraska having to count a fall on the beam and Georgia putting up way too many scores in the 9.725-9.825 range.  But the story of the night is Arkansas, who put up a huge 197.225, including Katherine Grable’s crazy AA score of 39.725 (and Pisani went 39.575).  Right now they are the best scoring duo in NCAA, and the team is getting enough mid-9.8s from the rest of the team to make it work.  I still have some concerns over beam and depth (they are very reliant on Grable and Pisani for the big scores on every event, which may hurt them later if there is a problem), but they are making the SEC a four-way race again, which is exciting.

The Weekend Agenda (January 20th-22nd)

First, a bit of news: Natasha Kelley has retired from gymnastics.  This announcement was expected after her body broke down on her yet again with the Achilles tear during preseason.  Even before this latest injury, she was running mostly on grit and knee braces.  How many devastating injuries can a person really come back from?

As for this week’s schedule, the live streams are rather unkind to us on Friday (and then fast forward two weeks to when Florida @ Alabama and Georgia @ Utah are happening at the same time.  Dear Schedule: Be better.  Love, Everyone).  Nonetheless, I will do an abbreviated follow along blog for the scores of earlier meets on Friday and another for the Alabama and Michigan meets on Saturday.  Then on Sunday, I will be back with a real live blog of surprising #19 San Jose State @ UCLA.

Top 25 Schedule:
Friday – 1/20/12
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [8] Florida @ Kentucky
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Alaska-Anchorage, Bridgeport @ [23] Maryland
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [1] Nebraska @ Iowa State
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [16] Denver @ [22] Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [25] LSU @ [3] Arkansas
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [6] Georgia @ [20] Auburn
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – Sacramento State @ [17] Boise State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [4] Oregon State @ [13] Arizona

Saturday – 1/21/12
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – George Washington @ [12] Ohio State
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ Iowa
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [18] NC State @ UIC
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [21] West Virginia @ Bowling Green
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [5] Alabama, Michigan State, Cornell @ [9] Penn State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [11] Michigan @ [24] Minnesota
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [10] Oklahoma, Utah State, Centenary @ Texas Women’s

Sunday – 1/22/12
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [19] San Jose State @ [7] UCLA
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – Washington @ [14] Stanford

On Scoring and Subjectivity

This past weekend, we saw a number of high team scores awarded and a number of 10s awarded to individual routines by at least one of the two judges.  These 10s all had varying degrees of believability, but my intention with this post is not to break down the scoring or continue harping on the routines because, regardless of your feelings on them, these individual scores do not warrant more than a few sentences either way.  Well done on your good score, now go to class.  Instead, I want to use these scores as a jumping off point to discuss attitudes toward scoring in general.

Too often in collegiate gymnastics we define a 10 as an absence of deductions.  We see that a gymnast’s legs were together and that the landing was stuck, and because there were no overt faults, the routine becomes a 10.  But really, a 10 should be defined by much more than that.  A 10 routine should be something rare and tremendous.  It should not be defined by what it lacks (finite deductions) and rather should be defined by what it brings, an unrivaled quality that makes the routine not just better than what anyone else is doing but better than what anyone else can do.  Some of the best gymnasts should look at a 10 routine and say, “I can’t do it like that,” or “I didn’t even know it was possible to do it like that.”

A large part of the reason we don’t see this attitude taken toward 10s is a fear of subjectivity.  The routine quality that I described above fundamentally cannot be measured and will never be agreed upon by two different judges, coaches, gymnasts, or fans viewing the same routine.  That scares people.  They are afraid of incurring criticism for inconsistency or favoritism and therefore revert to that which is objective because objective qualities can more easily be defended from that same inevitable criticism.  We see this all the time when people discuss their favorite and, more often, least favorite gymnasts.  They will point out flexed feet on a Tkatchev or crossed legs on twists as reasons for disliking a gymnast because those are objective qualities that can be supported visually, but in actuality, because gymnastics is such an aesthetic and artistic sport, our true reasons for liking and disliking gymnasts tend to be far less tangible and far more inexplicable.  Often our opinions are more about a feeling or an attitude, one that cannot always be supported visually or verbally but is no less valid because of that.  

I would argue that this fear of subjective measure is the single biggest contributor to the recent devolution of elite gymnastics.  Panic over incurring controversy caused the FIG to change the elite code, and in so doing they attempted to make elite scoring more objective and, therefore, justifiable when the inevitable controversy does arrive.  This change has had the most negative influence in the area of artistry scoring, something that cannot and should not be evaluated with objective guidelines.  The Women’s Technical Committee has deemed that the awkward pointed-toe running to indirectly connect dance elements is objectively artistic.  That very phrase is an oxymoron.  Dictating that a person must move in a certain way is the opposite of artistry.  Artistry cannot be written down; it cannot be prescribed.  In the same way, the qualities of a 10 cannot be prescribed.

Every viewer will bring different values and biases to the evaluation of gymnastics.  One person’s 9.9 is another person’s 10, and that’s fine.  That’s good, as long as the people in question truly think the routine was deserving of a 10, rather than resigning themselves to a lack of deductions.  It shows that the sport is vibrant when it is provoking that kind of disagreement.  When everyone values the same things and is viewing routines in the same way, there is no need for discussion; there is no need for evaluation.  When gymnastics fails to embrace its own fundamental subjectivity, it loses its defining quality and becomes just another sport where “getting it done” and “winning ugly” are valued characteristics.  Aesthetic opinion is something to be valued and cultivated rather than eliminated and ignored.  We must encourage judges to incorporate aesthetic opinion into their judging and trust their experience and expertise to know how to apply it correctly.

In gymnastics, success can’t just be about getting it done to the satisfaction of an established set of specifications.  It has to be about doing more, flying higher than anyone expected, moving in a way that no one wants to stop watching.  Evaluating one routine as better than another because of an unquantifiable quality is not a vice.  It is to be encouraged.  It is what makes this sport special.  We don’t have a specific judging category for inducing wonder, but we should always have a way to reward it.  And that’s what a 10 should be.

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama