NCAA Week 1 Preview

Full schedule and links

Marquee Meet

[16] Missouri @ [10] Georgia
Friday7:00pm ET – SEC Network

It was kind of difficult to choose a marquee meet for this opening weekend (you know, that very important classification) because, among the SEC slate, we have the four traditional powers—Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama—each in separate dual meets they’ll be expected to win. Elsewhere, Utah and Oklahoma will be major favorites in their competitions, so it’s quite possible we could have six straightforward and predictable results. And yet, it’s the first meet of a truly bonkers year and there are many unanswered questions, like who’s out with COVID. Or, I mean, who’s injured, or which freshmen are for real and which ones aren’t. Many, many reasons not to be confident about what we’ll end up seeing this weekend. But anyway, I went with the one where I’m most interested in seeing who ends up in these lineups.

In 2021, Georgia’s highest priority will be actually figuring out bars, so I’ll be hyper-focused on how that six shapes up during the first meet. Theoretically, things should get better, but the team will need to see freshmen like Victoria Nguyen come through with competition-ready routines, and Marissa Oakley maintain her health long enough to lead that lineup. Another season of cobbling together a lineup of people who’d rather not be doing bars will lead to Georgia fighting to stay in the top half of the SEC once again. Also Victoria Nguyen. College debut. A thing. Interesting. Watch.

Georgia’s released tentative lineups include Nguyen on everything but beam (I have 16 questions) and include Emily Schild on both bars and beam. That’s a potential boon for Georgia as her injury history had made me, shall we say, skeptical that we would see her again. I notice a disturbing lack of Rachael Lukacs in the lineups below.

Missouri will be without Helen Hu this season, which forces a lineup reshuffle. During the showcase about a month ago, Missouri showed just three scored vaults. There are several obvious vaulters on the roster who were not part of that three and I assume will be vaulting now, a month later, but how Missouri fills out a vault and bars lineup of six will be worth following. Kyra Burns is a potentially significant freshman who did not compete at that showcase and would be expected to make it into both lineups normally. Do expect to see at least a couple events from Jena Swanson and Amaya Marshall.

Continue reading NCAA Week 1 Preview

NCAA Week 1 – Schedule and Links

Friday, January 8
Scores Stream
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – [16] Missouri @ [10] Georgia LINK SECN
8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT – [1] Florida @ [14] Auburn LINK SEC+
8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT – [15] Arkansas @ [3] LSU LINK SECN
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT – [12] Kentucky @ [6] Alabama LINK ESPNU
Saturday, January 9
Scores Stream
9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT – Best of Utah ([4] Utah, [17] BYU, [23] Southern Utah, Utah State) LINK BYUTV
Sunday, January 10
Scores Stream
3:00pm ET/12:00pm PT – [21] Arizona State @ [2] Oklahoma LINK FSN**

Links will continue to be added as they become available. I have a feeling links are going to be worse this season, but a global pandemic is no excuse for bad stats.


Meets marked ESPNU will be broadcast live on TV and can also be streamed online at the link provided for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription that gets ESPNU, which is basically all of them, right?

Meets marked SECN will be broadcast live on TV and can also be streamed online at the link provided for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription—U-Verse, Spectrum, DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, Verizon, Sling, Hulu, or YouTube TV.

Meets marked SEC+ may be streamed on WatchESPN for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription—U-Verse, Spectrum, DirecTV, Dish, Xfinity, Verizon, Sling, Hulu, or YouTube TV.

Meets marked BYUTV will be broadcast live on TV on the BYU Network or streamed for free at the link provided. (You have to make a profile and log in—ugh—but after that it’s free.)

**Oklahoma meets are broadcast on regional FSN Networks and may be available for streaming on FSGo, but check availability beforehand to see if the meet shows up among your options because you may not be in a region that’s carrying it.

What Even Is This Season?

The 2021 college gymnastics season begins in just four days. And as with all great ideas, the question on everyone’s mind is, “so…are we really doing this?”

We are. But it’s going to be a little (emphasis on little) different. Here’s a rundown of how it’s supposed to go, and what parts are going to be the weirdest this year.

Schedules

The SEC teams will open action on Friday with a four-meet slate, all against each other. The SEC is basically attempting to conduct 3/4 of a normal season, with 8 regular season meets against the other SEC teams leading up to the SEC Championship. Typically, these teams would have more like 11 meets before the conference championship, but this year they’ve scheduled a couple built-in weeks off—I guess in case too many team members are in the hospital and meets have to be rescheduled?

But, we’re seeing conferences/teams adopt very different approaches to COVID in their scheduling for this bonkers season because there’s no national guidance whatsoever.

Some, like Oklahoma, have gone full steam ahead and scheduled what looks exactly like a normal season with competitions scheduled every weekend featuring a number of in-conference and out-of-conference opponents. Oklahoma is also among the teams that has continued selling tickets to its meets, though most schools will be operating without allowing the chin-mask rabble into arenas this year.

Today, the Big Ten announced its own conference-only schedule beginning next weekend and featuring 9 meets for each team leading up to the conference championship. So that’s more or less a normal season as well except without competition in the first weekend, much like what the EAGL is planning.

Basically, some days this season are going to look exactly like a normal year (Friday, January 22 is already shaping up to require too many screens) while other days will be total ghost towns since so many of the non-money athletic programs have packed it in this winter and most schools are limiting in some way (there will be barely any meets at all on Friday, February 5).

Speaking of limiting, the Pac-12 has yet to make any kind of actual schedule announcement but has thrown out bits and pieces of what looks like it will be a more abbreviated plan than the other major conferences, beginning in later January (although Utah does have meets scheduled for the first two weekends). The California requirement to isolate within your immediate household for 14 days after any out-of-state travel will make the concept of having road meets particularly interesting.

In the “not having a season” department, we have the Ivy League teams, as well as West Chester, Alaska, Southern Connecticut, Brockport, Cortland, Ithaca, Ursinus, and we think probably Bridgeport because is that even a university anymore (?). Meanwhile the DIII teams in Wisconsin/Minnesota have been shut down until at least February 1, so we’re still waiting to see what happens there.

Most teams are scheduling only within conference or within general geographical region, which will lead to some necessary repetitiveness of opponents. For instance, West Virginia and Pittsburgh will go through a stretch of three consecutive dual meets against each other. In West Virginia’s 10-meet schedule, there are just four different opponents—Oklahoma, Denver, Iowa State, and Pitt.

Times of competitions will also be a little different this year, though not as different as I would like because lots of teams are still bunching on Friday nights, unhelpfully—this was your one chance to be better! But, both Iowa State and Minnesota are scheduled to host some Friday mid-afternoon meets that we wouldn’t usually have because that’s the middle of a work day.

Rankings

Rankings will change for this season only. Typically, a team’s best six scores are used for its NQS ranking, at least three of which must be away. The highest score is dropped, and the remaining five are averaged.

Not for 2021. This year, only the best four scores will be used, at least two of which must be away, and no scores will be dropped.

That means only four meets this season will end up counting—pretty interesting for a team like Oklahoma that’s still planning to have twelve. Sooners, you can really just chill through most of them. The idea here is to allow an opportunity for those schools that end up having a paltry schedule because of state rules or “oops, we all got COVID” to still qualify to any alleged postseason competitions.

The are any number of problems regarding competitive equity with this modified NQS, but that’s just sort of the deal with this messed-up season in every way. With the gamut running from “EVERYTHING IS FINE” to “you aren’t legally allowed to train as a team indoors and your meet is tomorrow good luck,” there’s fundamentally no chance for competitive equity anyway.

Postseason

It seems like it’s going ahead QUESTION MARK. Conferences are confirming their schedules through their conference championships in late March.

The general concept is that there will still be a postseason. One would think there would need to be some major planning adjustments and arrangements for that many athletes from different teams to be in these four regional locations. But you know. Nationals remain scheduled for Fort Worth on April 16th and 17th, and Utah, Missouri, and West Virginia are still slated to host regionals, though the fourth intended regional host New Hampshire has withdrawn from hosting, which means a new host will need to be found. You know, at some point.

Rules Adjustments

The NCAA instituted exactly one rules adjustment for COVID in women’s gymnastics, changing open stretch from 30 minutes to 20 minutes. SO THAT FIXED IT.

WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Floor

Before the NCAA season begins, it’s time for the now-annual venture into the murky world of NCAA scoring for those who might want to know a little more about what’s actually going on behind that bonkers 9.950 that just got thrown. Fair warning: you’ll be happier if you don’t

For the full experience, be sure to check out the posts on vault, bars, and beam.


Composing a routine

Routine requirements
  • At minimum, an NCAA routine must include 3 A-valued elements, 3 B-valued elements, and 2 C-valued elements.

That is a very basic standard that college gymnasts are able to achieve quite comfortably. You don’t have to worry about it. Gymnasts must also fulfill a series of special composition requirements, each worth 0.2. On floor, those four requirements are

1 – One acrobatic combination, featuring 2 saltos. The 2 saltos can be directly connected to each other or indirectly connected to each other within a single tumbling pass, but they must appear in the same line of acrobatic skills.

2 – Three different saltos within the exercise. Because the majority of gymnasts perform three tumbling passes, one of which must be a combination pass, they tend to have four different saltos in their routines anyway, easily fulfilling the minimum requirement of three.

Some will not have four, either because they are performing a routine with just two passes, or because they are repeating a skill in one of the passes, but they must have at least three different salto elements.

Continue reading WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Floor

WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Beam

Before the NCAA season begins, it’s time for the now-annual venture into the murky world of NCAA scoring for those who might want to know a little more about what’s actually going on behind that bonkers 9.950 that just got thrown. Fair warning: you’ll be happier if you don’t.

For the full experience, be sure to check out the posts on vault, bars, and floor.


Composing a routine

Routine requirements
  • At minimum, an NCAA routine must include 3 A-valued elements, 3 B-valued elements, and 2 C-valued elements.

That is a very basic standard that college gymnasts are able to achieve quite comfortably. You don’t have to worry about it. Gymnasts must also fulfill a series of special composition requirements, each worth 0.2. On beam, those five requirements are

1 – One acrobatic series. This means two acrobatic flight elements, “directly connected,” with at least one of the elements being C value or higher.

By far the most common acrobatic flight series you’ll see is the back handspring + layout stepout (loso) series.

It’s the classic NCAA series, and you’re probably sick of it, or will be.

You’ll notice I put “directly connected” in quotes in the above rule because of snottiness. An acrobatic series should have to be directly connected and generate rebounding speed in one direction. But that is not actually required.

Rather, forward + backward series may also be used to fulfill this requirement, the most common of which is the front aerial + back handspring series. Everyone has decided to agree that this also counts as a directly connected acro series, despite being just two different acro elements performed in the vague vicinity of one another.

aerialbhs

Continue reading WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Beam

WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Bars

Before the NCAA season begins, it’s time for the now-annual venture into the murky world of NCAA scoring for those who might want to know a little more about what’s actually going on behind that bonkers 9.950 that just got thrown. Fair warning: you’ll be happier if you don’t.

For the full experience, be sure to check out the posts on vault, beam, and floor.


Composing a routine

Routine requirements
  • At minimum, an NCAA routine must include 3 A-value elements, 3 B-value elements, and 2 C-value elements.

That is a very basic standard that college gymnasts are able to achieve quite comfortably. You don’t have to worry about it. Gymnasts must also fulfill a series of special composition requirements, each worth 0.2. On bars, those four requirements are

1 – Two separate bar changes. This means that you can’t just start on the low bar, get up to the high bar, and then dismount. At some point in the routine, you have to transition from low to high, and from high to low.

2 – Two flight elements, not including the dismount. Flight elements include same-bar releases, as well as transition skills in which the body is not in contact with either bar at some point.

Gymnasts will typically fulfill this by using their two transitions (e.g., a bail handstand and a toe shoot; a Pak and a Shaposh), or by using one of those transitions skills along with a same-bar release. Gymnasts do not have to perform a same-bar release, and you’re supposed to have a really strong opinion about that one way or the other.

The two flight elements typically must be at least C-value skills, but one B-value skill can be used to meet the requirement as long as the other element is D- or E-value.

3 – A turning element, minimum C value. Turning elements normally make us think of pirouettes, but that does not have to be the case. Turning pirouettes do fulfill this requirement, but so does any skill including at least a 1/2 turn at any point. That means a skill like a bail handstand can be used to meet this requirement. It’s not the spirit of the rule, but it does count and is taken advantage of all the time.

4 – A dismount, minimum C value. This special requirement is a lie. NCAA gymnastics absolutely does not want you dismounting with an isolated C element, despite what the requirement says.

You can, but if the C-level dismount is preceded by two giant swings, as most dismounts are, you lose 0.1. Plus, if the C dismount is not performed in combination for bonus, you lose an additional 0.1. So basically, you can’t dismount with a lone C. (In 2020, this specification was extended to D dismounts as well, but the language reverted back to the old one in the 2021 rules update, just concerning Cs.)

The requirement should just say a dismount, minimum D value, or C-value in direct bonus combination. That’s what it boils down to anyway.

Missing any one of these four requirements is a 0.2 deduction from the start value. Every routine you watch will have been composed specifically to ensure that doesn’t happen. Any gymnast with a routine that includes 3 As, 3 Bs, and 2 Cs, and that fulfills the four requirements above will begin with a 9.40 start value.


Continue reading WTF Is College Gymnastics Scoring – Bars