Nationals Capsules Pt. 2 – Operation Soaring Opportunity

If the 4, 5, and 6 seeds in the first semifinal have to manage the pressure of producing a season-best performance while also hoping for a little bit of help, the 1, 2, and 3 seeds have to manage the pressure of a sparkling Super Six opportunity, which may be even more difficult. For these three seeds, given this draw and what they have done so far, anything less than Super Six will make this a disappointing season.

Viewing the twelve nationals competitors as a whole, Georgia and LSU would not necessarily have seemed destined to make Super Six or have had their names associated with the word “lock,” but the draw has thrust both into the position of being top teams, and it has been several years since either has confidently claimed that status. Georgia found itself in a similar position last year, a clear favorite to advance out of the softer semifinal, and crumbled on beam. This semifinal this year will largely hinge on how well Georgia and LSU avoid the crumble. 

But first, the team everyone agrees should make it out of the first day rather comfortably.

Florida

For the Gators, perhaps alone in this semifinal, the focus must be on winning the title instead of simply advancing. Making Super Six should be routine for this team and would not be considered an accomplishment. As with any team, the possibility of missing still remains, but it would take an implosion, not just an off meet. This Gator team has little recent precedent for implosion, so “what Florida must do to advance” is not a topic interesting enough to be worth addressing. 

What Florida must do to win the championship is much more relevant. Even though this team is more talented than last year’s team, the scenario is, in many ways, similar. The Gators must land perfectly to win the title, especially on vault and floor. While the attention from Super Six last year often goes to Florida’s landings on floor in that last rotation, which did not match Alabama’s beam performance, vault was the single biggest deficit for the Gators, not floor. They did not vault poorly, but they opened with two 9.850s and finished with an uncharacteristic 9.850 from Hunter. Hunter’s normal vault is a tenth better than that, which made the difference between first and second.

This year’s Florida team has improved on vault because of the introduction of Sloan and the reintroduction of Macko to the lineup, now boasting five clear 9.9-capable routines. No one other than Kytra, however, can hope to go higher than a 9.900 without a stick, so control on the landings is paramount for winning a championship. Few teams vaulted up to potential on regionals day, when Florida posted the nation’s highest score on the event, but we can expect the standard to be much higher at nationals. Because of the advantage on bars, where no one has nearly as many 9.9s as Florida, staying even with the other top teams will be good enough on vault, but doing so will likely require three out of four stuck landings from the middle pack of Johnson, Sloan, King, and Dickerson.   

Detour: Marissa King’s vault is in interesting case. It’s stellar, obviously, and ranks among my favorite pieces of gymnastics being done in NCAA right now, but the scoring is tricky. In the press conference, Gymcastic asked a good question about the vault that elicited a detailed and thoughtful response (In gymnastics? Well, I never!) from Rhonda. I agree with Rhonda here. King’s amplitude is lower than what we would see for the best Yfulls, but hers is not a disproportionately low vault. If it were, she wouldn’t be able to complete the 1.5 twists so comfortably. I will add, though, that because of the complexity of the vault, the comparative lack of amplitude, and the forward landing, it lends itself to larger landing faults. When she doesn’t quite stick the vault, she is often hopping forward/sideward with both legs, incurring larger deductions than a dainty, controlled step out of a Yfull would receive. It’s a challenge for her to keep the vault in the 9.9 range when she doesn’t stick, even when the judges are happy with everything else.

While there is reason to be concerned about every team on beam because it’s beam, Florida has among the fewest built-in deductions in the country and should feel rather comfortable after some early-season issues. King came in flawlessly for Stageberg at regionals and has actually upgraded the scoring potential for the team. Ideally, both would have been in the lineup, but I was a bit surprised that the team gave up on King’s potential score so early in the season. She must really have been struggling with consistency in training. They are better for having her in the lineup. I’ll also be paying close attention to Sloan, especially on the first day. In her younger days, Bridget Sloan had a bit of a history of falling on the first day of a two-day competition and hitting on the second day. Is the curse gone? 

So far this postseason, the floor landings are a world better than they were last year when the Gators were getting all those 49.2s leading up to championships, which meant that the 49.400 from Super Six seemed like an improvement even though it was still well under potential. There are fewer reasons to be concerned about those landings given the parade of 49.500+ scores coming in over recent weeks. Having to use Bridgey Caquatto is a tad nerve-wracking since she has barely competed any hit routines this year, but it worked at regionals. They buried her at the back of the lineup because of that concern, but that’s not the ideal rotation order for nationals. Hunter needs to be anchoring and contending for 10s.

This is the Gators’ year to win the title. That’s not to say they can’t win in the coming years as well, but it’s going to get much harder. King and Dickerson have been hugely influential by being able to put up late-lineup routines on every event every week. They have been the constants. After this year, Florida will become more reliant on former US international elites with medical files that are veritable page-turners. Will they be able to absorb an injury like Johnson’s again or be so conservative with Macko’s legs next year without the stalwart King and Dickerson?

Georgia

For a team that hasn’t made Super Six since 2009, it’s impossible to look past this stage with any confidence. There have been too many recent collapses. If Durante can get the team to Super Six in her first year, she will be hailed as the savior of the program and should buy herself a few years of “things are back on track” goodwill.

Last year, the Gymdogs found themselves in a comfortable position in semifinals and could have even counted one beam fall and still contended for Super Six (it was the second counting fall that did it). Couple those memories with the early-season disasters on beam this year, and it’s hard to look anywhere past beam in evaluating Georgia’s chances. Georgia fans will have “please not again” face during the whole rotation. However, “fear the beam monster” is an overly simplistic evaluation of Georgia’s semifinal status. Those early beam issues were a strong, easy narrative that has been difficult to break down, but if you haven’t been paying attention, you might not know that beam has been Georgia’s best event for about a month now. The composition issues for Brittany Rogers are a distant memory (and Shayla is competing 9.9 routines every week now), but the unsung hero of that turnaround has been Sarah Persinger. She was a bundle of 9.7y nerves most of the early season, but now she is competing calm, clean, elegant gymnastics in the leadoff position and earned that 9.900 from regionals. That L turn of hers, you could serve it in a French restaurant. It’s beautiful. 

In fact, after a stellar opening to the year on the event, vault may now be the biggest scoring concern for Georgia. The performances at both SECs and regionals were marred by lackluster 49.2s on the event. If this semifinal gets tight, another 49.200 would be problematic given the strength of Florida, LSU, and Minnesota there. Georgia is a little too susceptible to finishing fourth or even fifth on vault and cannot afford a deficit that could be exploited if they have another slightly off rotation. The key vaults come from Rogers and Jay. Like Marissa King, they are a bit too likely to incur large landing deductions for their 1.5s when they don’t stick, and too often we have seen 9.850s from them. An anchor 9.850 is deadly when it comes down to the best teams. Both Jay and Rogers are capable of sticking and need to do so to keep the meet comfortable. If Noel Couch is able to go, an early stick from her would also do wonders in bumping up the scores for the rest of the rotation.

If the Gymdogs are to advance out of this semifinal, as I expect them to do, they will look to have something close to a 98.700-98.800 after the opening two events, bars and beam. If so, they should be home free. Minnesota also opens on bars and beam and is highly unlikely to match that number, which should give Georgia a little bit of a buffer if the Gophers close the gap on vault. A lead of .400 or so at the halfway point over Minnesota and Stanford will probably be unassailable. In order to achieve that, the bars landings must be in place. Georgia got the sticks from Rogers and Davis at the end of the lineup at regionals, but they need them earlier to avoid a 9.825 parade. Cheek and Tanella are very capable of sticking those dismounts and need to do so to keep the scores up.

LSU

Before the season began, I had LSU at #9 in my preseason rankings, and I thought I was being all cavalier and generous to this team that had been on the periphery of the conversation for several years. As it turns out, I probably underestimated them. At the time, I also said they were an acceptable bars rotation away from contending for Super Six. If regionals serves as any indication, that continues to be the case.

One of the reasons I feel more comfortable about LSU advancing to Super Six than I would have been even a few weeks ago (aside from the draw) is the beam performance from regionals. That was as well as LSU can do on beam, and if they have somehow figured out the event just in time, it takes so much pressure off the vault and floor rotations that have had to be phenomenal every time out to keep the scores high. However, a solid meet does not a trend make. I was very surprised that Garcia returned to the leadoff position after her struggles, and hers is still among several uncomfortable routines in this lineup. Of the top seeds in this session, LSU is the most likely to have to count a fall, so watch this rotation very carefully. The Tigers begin on beam, and this rotation more than any other will set the tone for the whole semifinal. A counting fall would blow everything open. Even a low 49 is probably workable because of vault and floor, but no team, regardless of two-event strength, should feel comfortable with two 49.000 rotations.

That’s the major concern for LSU because, at regionals, bars was the much greater problem. The Tigers were done a disservice with some disproportionately high scores on bars early in the season, which masked issues. These were not masked at regionals. Aside from Courville’s fall, these weren’t uncharacteristic or unusual performances. It’s what they’re doing every week. Standing alone, it’s a problem that will keep them from contending for the title, but coupled with a weak beam rotation, it’s a problem that could keep them from advancing. If beam is only OK, it will put a significant amount of pressure on bars to be more than 9.800y. If beam and bars are both 9.800 parades, LSU will be in danger of getting passed by a slow and steady 49.250 of a performance from the likes of Stanford. If LSU arrives at bars in the final rotation with work to do, that work will be done by Courville and Morrison. They are the 9.9 contenders in the bunch, and both need to achieve those scores to make up for the leg form breaks and missed handstands we will see at other points in the rotation.

I haven’t spent much time on LSU’s vault and floor rotations this season because they have been such consistent high scorers. We just expect them both to be 49.500 and carry the team. That is the most likely outcome again, but LSU has more pressure on those landings than any other team because they cannot make up for a lower score on other events. If they are tight and not landing comfortably, even to the tune of a 49.375, the Tigers may be in danger. OK landings and 9.875s will in no way cut it on those events. They need probably seven or eight combined 9.9s on those two events to be safely safe.

 

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Nationals Capsules Pt. 1: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Lose to Florida)

Over the next week, I’ll be providing hearty little capsules about each of the teams heading to National Championships, covering their strengths and weaknesses and their overall outlooks for the competition. Let’s begin with the lower three seeds from the first semifinal.

Today, Val did an interview with Sam Peszek (whose interviewing skills have skyrocketed this season) where she said there are no straightforward semifinals anymore. You mean except for the first one? Of course, anything can happen. That’s always true. However, this semifinal is in the hands of the top seeds, and I firmly believe that if Florida, Georgia, and LSU hit 24-for-24, they will advance to Super Six regardless of the other performances. Actually, Florida probably doesn’t even have to hit that well to be comfortable.

To change that presumed outcome, it will take a season best from Minnesota or Stanford mixed with an off meet from Georgia or LSU. This is quite possible, but it will take a confluence of events. It won’t be all on one team. The lower seeds will need help in the form of a sub-49 rotation or, more likely, a counting fall. This semifinal is still deep enough that Georgia and LSU should not be able to count falls and advance, at least hopefully. I never like to see a missed meet provide a ticket to Super Six. If the Gators are on 49.5s track again, they can probably count a 9.300 and be OK.

It wouldn’t be National Championships without a few crazy falls, though, so don’t take this session completely for granted. Assuming no falls, however, it should take a score into the lowish-midish 197s to advance to Super Six, so that is the standard on which we must evaluate all of the teams.  

[8] Minnesota

Since remaining a thing at such a late point in the season isn’t exactly the norm for the Gophers, they are free to take a moment to have some “Wheee! Nationals!” time, but only a moment. While I wouldn’t call it a likely outcome, this team has the potential to continue past semifinals and should not be content with simply making it to the big city full of big dreams.

The Gophers have not received an away 197 this season outside of Florida, where the only thing higher than Ryan Lochte is the bars scoring (Blamo!), so they still have to prove they are more than an upper-middle 196 team when being directly compared to all the best teams in the country by judges who should be picking apart routines to separate the bestest from the best. This is especially difficult because Minnesota does not have the reputation of the perennial contenders, and whether we like it or not, that is a factor.

Part of proving that they are a 197 team at nationals will be showing that they are more than a one-way monkey with vault. Minnesota is brilliant with the vaulting, and those Yfulls at the end of the lineup from regionals will challenge any team in the country in both form and landing. To have any shot at advancing, the entire lineup must vault with equivalent excellence next weekend. The other strength should be floor, but there were a few too many uncontrolled landings at regionals to warrant 9.9s. They’re probably going to need to be at least 49.300 on floor to keep within range because all the teams ranked above them should be going 49.400+. Georgia is the one doubt there, so Minnesota will be looking to pounce on them. 

The Gophers get through beam, and it’s never going to be a major scorer. That’s fine for most of the season but becomes a problem once we get to the postseason, where even teams that struggle on beam like LSU are finding ways to squeeze out 49.3s. It’s not that Minnesota cannot afford a fall; they cannot afford wobbles or checks if they want to capitalize on another team’s mistakes. This is especially true because of the concerns I have about bars.

The 49.250 from regionals was far and away the strongest road bars score of the season, but in watching those routines back, I still see a lot of problem areas. The performances had a number of short handstands and issues of form throughout in addition to some composition choices as far as turning elements that will always incur deductions. I don’t care for half turns in general because they break the momentum without involving a challenging element, but in all but the very best hands, they are also deduction traps that rarely get completed in handstand. The dismount landings at regionals were strong overall and certainly helped bring the scores up. Sticks will be absolutely imperative.

Minnesota begins on bars, which could be a problem. The judges might not be feeling too charitable about the first routines they see in the whole competition. If the Gophers can get through bars and beam and reach the halfway point still in sight of Georgia Georgia (or bettering LSU on beam), then keep an eye out.

[9] Stanford
http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/vz8gcEXHYxc
Remember this? Nationals again, please.

While ranked lower, Stanford enters the competition from a position of greater strength than Minnesota. This is part perception/reputation and part talent-level. Stanford is always expected to reach this stage and peak at this stage, but at the same time, when hitting to capability, Stanford has more 9.9s in the lineup.

This team is somewhat the opposite of Minnesota on bars. At regionals, the routines were brilliant on the bars themselves and looked lovely and 9.900 until the dismounts, which were tenth-bleeders. Stanford has no business being not excellent on this event. Hong, Vaculik, and Shapiro should be consistently going into the stratosphere, but that has occurred far too infrequently this season. Hong and Shapiro both gave away significant ground with those landings at regionals, and since they have the highest scoring potential, the team cannot afford their being anything but excellent. Stanford certainly needs to be top three on bars in this session to feel comfortable.

To make up for that sluggish start on bars at regionals, Stanford received some gifts on vault. They certainly cannot expect to get another 9.900 from Rice for a vault with that degree of bounce back on landing, and I have to think that the 49.425 is an untenable pace. Ashley Morgan did, however, hit her Yhalf with much improved control over Pac-12s, which was vital in establishing the scoring pace and lifting up her teammates. At nationals, they cannot abide an “I’m flying” landing from her for a 9.700 because it stunts the scoring for the whole team. Hong and Dayton are the two realistic 9.9 possibilities in the lineup, and both must stick. While Stanford is unlikely to catch Florida, LSU, or Minnesota on vault, they must remain close enough to be able to pounce during the more Stanfordy events, bars and beam. If Georgia is missing those Y1.5 landings for 9.850s again, Stanford could even gain some ground with sticks at the back of the lineup. 

Beam must be the event. Stanford is far too talented on beam to have any business being in the bottom three here. They should be scoring right with any other team. Vaculik provided a big, big hit at regionals, and her overall sturdiness was the most important victory of that meet. A reliable hit from her is everything. Unfortunately, I think the team is impeded somewhat by the lineup composition, which has clearly been organized for sturdiness instead of scoring potential. Hong, Spinner, and Shona Morgan have the highest potential on the team, but they are all buried in the lineup, which hurts their 9.925ishness. Stanford finishes the meet on beam, which is a fairly good position for them, certainly better than it would be for some other teams.

And they may have quite some ground to pick up at the end of the meet after beginning on floor, their biggest obstacle. With all the injuries Stanford has suffered, they do not have enough depth to feel comfortable about the lineup at all. Hong and Shapiro are being relied upon for 9.875+ scores on an event that should be great for both but is the most troubling because of sturdiness and injury concerns. Ashley Morgan has been scoring 9.9s this year as usual, but she must be more than a 9.900 because the success of the rotation may be riding solely on her score.    

It’s going to be a tough battle, but Stanford has peaked at this point in the season before. After vault and floor, they probably need to be somewhere around 98.600 to stand a good chance of challenging with clean bars and beam rotations.

[12] Illinois
http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/PrUhYBq28E8

Like Minnesota, Illinois can also take a “Whee! Nationals!” moment, but honestly that moment can last quite a bit longer than Minnesota’s. It actually seems like it would be kind of fun to compete at nationals knowing it would require nothing short of an indoor blizzard during all the other beam rotations to get out of semifinal day, and that is largely the case for Illinois. Therefore, the Illini should be able to compete with complete relaxation and joy, but that doesn’t always happen. When Illinois made nationals in 2011, they had a roughly rough sub-48 on the beam with a leadoff fall from Alina Weinstein. How far she has come. She is the star of this team, and the rest of the gymnasts could seriously considering getting her a cake or a gold cape or a flying car or something as a thank you for taking them to nationals.

By and large, Illinois is a 196 team that was able to capitalize on the profound implosion by Nebraska on three events in order to slide into nationals. The regionals performance is about what we can expect from the Illini again at nationals with a few places for improvement. Bars can be .050s better here and there, and they clearly underperformed on floor with a fall from Fujinami and an unexpected 9.7 from See.

To be fair, in recent years a low 196 has managed to advance to Super Six. However, this is not one of those years. Not with the way we’ve been scoring. Illinois is not capable of the 197 it should take to advance.

Weinstein has a shot at placing in the top 10 in the AA and can possibly make FX finals as well as BB finals if that very strong, very important routine from regionals is any indication. I could also see See (I apologize) contending for floor finals if the qualifying score is 9.900, but I don’t think it will be with Florida and LSU likely bumping the cutoff to at least 9.925.

Nationals Scoring Comparison

As I did with regionals, here is a comparison of several (lots) of relevant scores and averages for the teams in each semifinal. Road averages are used for all the teams except UCLA, the home team. Each score is followed by that team’s ranking within the semifinal in that category.

Afternoon Session:

[1] Florida
NQS: 396.240 [1]
Regional score: 198.400 [1]
RQS: 197.840 [1]
Regular season high: 198.425 [1]
Regular season average: 197.486 [1]
Road average: 197.465 [1]
Road VT average: 49.415 [1]
Regional VT score: 49.600 [1]
Road UB average: 49.425 [1]
Regional UB score: 49.600 [1]
Road BB average: 49.305 [1]
Regional BB score: 49.550 [1]
Road FX average: 49.320 [2]
Regional FX score: 49.650 [1]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.950; UB – 9.975; BB – 9.950; FX – 9.950; TOT – 39.825 [1]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.875; UB – 9.875; BB – 9.875; FX – 9.900; TOT – 39.525 [1]

[4] Georgia
NQS: 394.685 [2]
Regional score: 197.425 [2]
RQS: 197.260 [2]
Regular season high: 197.800 [3]
Regular season average: 196.721 [3]
Road average: 196.875 [2]
Road VT average: 49.253 [3]
Regional VT score: 49.250 [5]
Road UB average: 49.322 [2]
Regional UB score: 49.275 [2]
Road BB average: 49.172 [2]
Regional BB score: 49.475 [2]
Road FX average: 49.128 [2]
Regional FX score: 49.425 [3]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.875; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.925; FX – 9.950; TOT – 39.650 [3]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.825; UB – 9.825; BB – 9.875; FX – 9.825; TOT – 39.350 [2]

[5] LSU
NQS: 394.455 [3]
Regional score: 197.275 [3]
RQS: 197.180 [3]
Regular season high: 197.700 [3]
Regular season average: 196.808 [2]
Road average: 196.831 [3]
Road VT average: 49.413 [2]
Regional VT score: 49.450 [3]
Road UB average: 49.044 [3]
Regional UB score: 48.975 [T4]
Road BB average: 49.019 [5]
Regional BB score: 49.350 [3]
Road FX average: 49.356 [1]
Regional FX score: 49.500 [2]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.925; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.950; FX – 9.950; TOT – 39.725 [2]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.850; UB – 9.725; BB – 9.825; FX – 9.850; TOT – 39.250 [3] 

[8] Minnesota
NQS: 393.715 [4]
Regional score: 197.100 [4]
RQS: 196.615 [5]
Regular season high: 197.225 [5]
Regular season average: 196.110 [5]
Road average: 195.925 [5]
Road VT average: 49.225 [4]
Regional VT score: 49.525 [2]
Road UB average: 48.582 [6]
Regional UB score: 49.250 [3]
Road BB average: 49.025 [4]
Regional BB score: 49.100 [6]
Road FX average: 49.093 [4]
Regional FX score: 49.225 [4]
Highest scores per event from regionals:VT – 9.950; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.875; FX – 9.875; TOT – 39.600 [T4]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.850; UB – 9.800; BB – 9.775; FX – 9.800; TOT – 39.225 [4]

[9] Stanford
NQS: 393.510 [5]
Regional score: 196.800 [5]
RQS: 196.710 [4]
Regular season high: 197.275 [4]
Regular season average: 196.368 [4]
Road average: 196.225 [4]
Road VT average: 49.206 [5]
Regional VT score: 49.425 [4]
Road UB average: 49.038 [4]
Regional UB score: 48.975 [T4]
Road BB average: 49.075 [3]
Regional BB score: 49.225 [4]
Road FX average: 48.909 [5]
Regional FX score: 49.175 [5]
Highest scores per event from regionals:VT – 9.950; UB – 9.850; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.900; TOT – 39.600 [T4]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.825; UB – 9.750; BB – 9.800; FX – 9.700; TOT – 39.075 [5]

[12] Illinois
NQS: 392.235 [6]
Regional score: 196.025 [6]
RQS: 196.210 [6]
Regular season high: 196.475 [6]
Regular season average: 195.671 [6]
Road average: 195.544 [6]
Road VT average: 48.808 [6]
Regional VT score: 48.975 [6]
Road UB average: 48.936 [5] 
Regional UB score: 48.925 [6]
Road BB average: 48.897 [6]
Regional BB score: 49.175 [5]
Road FX average: 48.906 [6]
Regional FX score: 48.950 [6]
Highest scores per event from regionals (aka Weinstein’s AA score): VT – 9.900; UB – 9.850; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.900; TOT – 39.550 [6]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.725; UB – 9.750; BB – 9.800; FX – 9.700; TOT – 38.975 [6]

Evening Session:

[2] Oklahoma
NQS: 394.945 [1]
Regional score: 197.375 [2]
RQS: 197.570 [1]
Regular season high: 198.375 [1]
Regular season average: 197.335 [1]
Road average: 197.139 [1]
Road VT average: 49.256 [5]
Regional VT score: 49.375 [2]
Road UB average: 49.300 [1]
Regional UB score: 49.400 [1]
Road BB average: 49.283 [1]
Regional BB score: 49.175 [4]
Road FX average: 49.302 [4]
Regional FX score: 49.425 [T2]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.925; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.900; TOT – 39.625 [3]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.825; UB – 9.850; BB – 9.725; FX – 9.875; TOT – 39.275 [1]

[3] Alabama
NQS: 394.815 [2]
Regional score: 197.400 [1]
RQS: 197.415 [2]
Regular season high: 197.800 [3]
Regular season average: 197.116 [2]
Road average: 197.083 [2] 
Road VT average: 49.396 [1]
Regional VT score: 49.350 [3]
Road UB average: 49.167 [4] 
Regional UB score: 49.375 [T2]
Road BB average: 49.229 [2]
Regional BB score: 49.200 [3]
Road FX average: 49.354 [2]
Regional FX score: 49.475 [1]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.925; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.950; FX – 9.925; TOT – 39.700 [1]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.850; UB – 9.800; BB – 9.700; FX – 9.850; TOT – 39.200 [2]

[6] UCLA
NQS: 394.150 [3]
Regional score: 196.950 [T3]
RQS: 197.200 [4]
Regular season high: 197.425 [5]
Regular season average: 196.850 [4]
Home average: 197.005 [4]
Home VT average: 49.265 [4]
Regional VT score: 49.225 [5]
Home UB average: 49.260 [2] 
Regional UB score: 49.050 [6]
Home BB average: 49.035 [4] 
Regional BB score: 49.250 [2]
Home FX average: 49.445 [1]
Regional FX score: 49.425 [T2]
Highest scores per event from regionals:VT – 9.925; UB – 9.875; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.900; TOT – 39.600 [4]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.775; UB – 9.750; BB – 9.800; FX – 9.850; TOT – 39.175 [T3]

[7] Michigan
NQS: 393.960 [4]
Regional score: 196.725 [5]
RQS: 197.235 [3]
Regular season high: 197.550 [4]
Regular season average: 197.033 [3]
Road average: 197.025 [3]
Road VT average: 49.328 [3]
Regional VT score: 49.200 [6]
Road UB average: 49.259 [3] 
Regional UB score: 49.375 [T2]
Road BB average: 49.103 [3] 
Regional BB score: 49.050 [5]
Road FX average: 49.334 [3] 
Regional FX score: 49.300 [4]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.875; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.875; TOT – 39.550 [6]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.800; UB – 9.850; BB – 9.725; FX – 9.800; TOT – 39.175 [T3]

[10] Utah
NQS: 393.505 [5]
Regional score: 196.400 [6]
RQS: 197.105 [5]
Regular season high: 198.125 [2]
Regular season average: 196.809 [5]
Road average: 196.493 [5]
Road VT average: 49.371 [2] 
Regional VT score: 49.400 [1]
Road UB average: 48.961 [5] 
Regional UB score: 49.175 [4]
Road BB average: 48.918 [5] 
Regional BB score: 48.650 [6]
Road FX average: 49.243 [5] 
Regional FX score: 49.175 [6]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.925; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.825; FX – 9.925; TOT – 39.575 [5] 
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.825; UB – 9.800; BB – 9.650; FX – 9.675; TOT – 38.950 [6] 

[11] Arkansas
NQS: 393.385 [6]
Regional score: 196.950 [T3]
RQS: 196.435 [6]
Regular season high: 197.100 [6]
Regular season average: 195.898 [6]
Road average: 195.807 [6]
Road VT average: 49.043 [6]
Regional VT score: 49.250 [4]
Road UB average: 48.946 [6] 
Regional UB score: 49.150 [5]
Road BB average: 48.900 [6] 
Regional BB score: 49.300 [1]
Road FX average: 48.918 [6] 
Regional FX score: 49.250 [5]
Highest scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.950; UB – 9.875; BB – 9.900; FX – 9.950; TOT – 39.675 [2]
Lowest counting scores per event from regionals: VT – 9.800; UB – 9.775; BB – 9.800; FX – 9.750; TOT – 39.125 [5]

Why is the second session going to be so good? Those rankings are all over the place.

Setting the Nationals Scene

After a brief recovery from the coastal eddy that was regionals day, it’s time to refocus on what’s to come. I realize I never mentioned the individual qualifiers, so here they are:

AA
Sharaya Musser, Penn State; Lauren Rogers, Washington; Aubree Cristello, Arizona; Melanie Shaffer, Ohio State; Bri Guy, Auburn; Caitlin Atkinson, Auburn; Emily Wong, Nebraska; Jessie DeZiel, Nebraska; Moriah Martin, Denver, Michelle Shealy, Iowa State; Chelsea Tang, Oregon State; Brittany Harris, Oregon State

Events
VT – Brittany Skinner, Nebraska; BB – Sarah Miller, Ohio State; FX – Makayla Stambaugh, Oregon State

There are some serious contenders in that all-around group, especially Wong, DeZiel, and Musser. However, it is very difficult to score well in the AA without a team to build the numbers, and all three are competing in the first session, which makes it very unlikely that they will challenge. Last year, the top six AA finishers all came from the evening session. I’ll preview the AA at some point next week, but with Florida also in the first session, things are setting up quite well for a Zamarripa AA title at home as long as she performs better than she did at regionals.

But enough of that, on to the teams. After regionals, teams were ranked by National Qualifying Score (RQS + Regional score) and divided into semifinals with the 1,4,5,8,9,12 teams going into one session and the 2,3,6,7,10,11 teams going into the second session. It has resulted in a hilariously ill-balanced semifinal field.

The afternoon session, aka The SEC Silver Platter of Dreams and Unicorns:
[1] Florida, [4] Georgia, [5] LSU, [8] Minnesota, [9] Stanford, [12] Illinois

Florida, Georgia, and LSU will be heavily favored to advance. Of the bottom three, Stanford is the most dangerous. Much like the rest of the Pac-12, they are depleted to the point of scraping the bottom of the depth barrel, but if they can drop the substitute routines they need to drop, they have the most 9.9s of the bottom three teams and can get into the 197s.

The evening session, aka Run:
[2] Oklahoma, [3] Alabama, [6] UCLA, [7] Michigan, [10] Utah, [11] Arkansas

It’s anyone’s guess. Obviously, this will be a crazy exciting meet. I’ll preview it in depth soon, but the general consensus seems to be that Oklahoma, Alabama, and Michigan will be favored to advance. I’m not discounting the importance of UCLA’s home score or Michigan’s beam rotation yet, nor am I convinced that Oklahoma and Alabama are home free. When you get this many good teams together in the same place, it goes anywhere but normal. I smell a weird one. 

Rotation orders:
Session 1: Illinois (VT), Georgia (Bye), Minnesota (UB), LSU (BB), Stanford (Bye), Florida (FX)
Session 2: Arkansas (VT), Alabama (Bye), Michigan (UB), UCLA (BB), Utah (Bye), Oklahoma (FX)

-The Utes probably have it the roughest on the rotations because they may be forced to rely on a Georgia Dabritz beam hit if they are still in it going to the final routine. 
-I’m OK that the top seeds are ending on a bye because presumably (at least in the case of Florida) they should be qualifying and won’t be the most interesting team at the end.
-I actually like both LSU and UCLA starting on the beam. Ending on beam is way harder than starting there, and both teams probably need a scoring boost on bars that they might get by ending there.
-Ending on vault is a very good rotation for all the teams doing so (Georgia, Alabama, Minnesota, Michigan). All 49.500 capable.

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:
Oklahoma
Stanford
LSU
UCLA
Florida
Minnesota
Michigan
Illinois
Alabama
Utah
Georgia
Arkansas

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
Scoresheet

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?)
Scoresheet

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

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
Scoresheet

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
Scoresheet

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
Scoresheet

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.