Regional Championship Headquarters

Let this be the repository of all the information you could possibly ever need for each of Saturday’s regionals.

The first thing you must know, in case you are new to this (Welcome! Kind of…), is that all the meets happen simultaneously and you will miss everything. This is just a given. It’s even worse than usual this year because there will be a one-hour period during which all six meets will be active. OPPOSITE OF FUN!

What would possibly be the purpose of a schedule like this? We have been asking ourselves this question since the dawn of time.

As part of a futile attempt to organize viewing, here is a composite, rotation-by-rotation schedule. Highlight at your own risk.

Next task, the links.

Saturday, April 7
Scores Stream
Nerd-formation
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Raleigh
[2] LSU
[11] Nebraska
[14] Oregon State
[19] George Washington
[20] NC State
[31] Maryland
LINK ESPN3  Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – University Park
[5] Florida
[8] Washington
[17] Arizona State
[27] West Virginia
[29] Penn State
[30] New Hampshire
LINK Vault
Bars
Beam
Floor

 Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Minneapolis
[1] Oklahoma
[12] Kentucky
[13] Denver
[24] Minnesota
[28] Iowa State
[35] Iowa
LINK BTN

 Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Tuscaloosa
[6] Alabama
[7] Michigan
[18] Georgia
[22] Missouri
[23] Illinois
[36] Central Michigan
LINK SEC+

Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Columbus
[3] UCLA
[10] Arkansas
[15] Boise State
[25] Ohio State
[33] Pittsburgh
[34] Kent State
LINK Vault
Bars
Beam
Floor

Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Salt Lake City
[4] Utah
[9] Cal
[16] Auburn
[21] BYU
[26] Stanford
[32] Southern Utah
LINK  LINK

Preview

Rotations

Projected lineups

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Things Are Happening – April 6, 2018

A. For the common wealth

Team competition has concluded at the Commonwealth Games for both the women and men, with a fuller strength Canadian women’s team edging out England for gold. The result is mostly as expected since Canada sent its A team (except for Moors, so like A- team) while all of England is currently in full-body casts.

England did well to keep Canada’s margin of victory to just four tenths and at times seriously challenged for gold. The late English replacements James and Stanhope had some errors each but did the job on their important events, James qualifying first into the floor final and Stanhope getting the team’s high score on vault. Vault nonetheless proved the difference between the two nations, with Canada bringing much bigger and better vaults to outscore England by quite a margin there.

We also got to enjoy a real race for bronze between Australia and Wales. Wales put the pressure on Australia with its performance in the third subdivision, looking fantastically composed on beam and recording solid scores on vault and floor as well. It was just bars that made the difference. Wales doesn’t have the routines there, while bars is Australia’s most impressive event, even though Mizzen missed. Australia developed enough of a margin because of bars to end up on top despite underscoring Wales on both beam and floor. So close. Wales nearly pulled off the medal upset for a second consecutive games.

Despite a miss on bars, Ellie Black was strong enough on beam and floor to qualify first into the all-around final because Ellie Black. She’ll be the major favorite for gold in the final, with the other medal contenders comprising the other gymnasts from Canada, England, Australia, and Wales (Onyshko, Simm, Kinsella, Godwin, Brown, Methuen, and Bevan).

Sadly for the sake of interest, that was the story in event final qualification as well: two from Canada, two from England, two from Australia, two from Wales. Vault provided the only respite with Archer and Kennedy from Scotland and Nayak from India making the eight. Nicole Burns from the Isle of Man just missed out on the beam final, ending up first reserve. Drat.

Burns did, however, make the AA final along with Bonita Shurmer of Jersey, so that’s fun. Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 6, 2018

Tuscaloosa Regional Preview

April 7, 4:00 CT, University of Alabama

Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams

Teams (starting event)
[6] Alabama (floor)
[7] Michigan (beam)
[18] Georgia (bye before floor)
[22] Missouri (bye before bars)
[23] Illinois (bars)
[36] Central Michigan (vault)

Individual competitors
Ashley Potts, Northern Illinois (AA)
Madison Cindric, Arizona (AA)
Katherine Prentice, Northern Illinois (AA)
Mikailla Northern, Illinois-Chicago (AA)
Kierstin Sokolowski, Lindenwood (VT, BB)
Schyler Jones, TWU (VT)
Christina Berg, Arizona (UB)
Serena Baker, Illinois-Chicago (UB)
Mallory Moredock, TWU (BB)
Anna Martucci, Northern Illinois (FX)
Alexis Brawner, SEMO (FX)

The favorites

And so we move to our final regional, the giddily anticipated Alabama-Michigan-Georgia clash. It’s quite considerate of Georgia this year (like Stanford two years ago) to be ranked so low that the traditional snoozer 6-7-18 regional suddenly becomes the most interesting one. Theoretically. A poignant gift in the year we say goodbye to this trash format.

Still, the fundamental nature of the 6-7-18 regional is that it features two excellent teams that have proven their ability to score significantly better than the other schools in the meet and will go through with cleanly hit competitions. That’s the story for Alabama and Michigan here. For as dangerous as Georgia is (and Missouri and Illinois are), Alabama and Michigan will expect comfortable 197s for good meets at this point, and that’s going to be enough to advance.

A great day (yet realistic in an away, postseason context) for the other teams here would be a high 196, as score that would constitute a semi-miss for Alabama or Michigan. That doesn’t necessarily mean a counting fall. The somewhat sloppy bars rotation from Alabama at SECs took the final total down to 196.975, which would almost certainly still be enough to advance but would start to verge on a dangerous result. And if either Alabama or Michigan do count a fall, Georgia will expect to beat them.

If both teams hit their normal meets, however, it’s likely that they’ll simply be competing with each other for the entirely meaningless accolade of regional champion, a competition with very little to differentiate the two teams from each other. Beam is the strength and most pleasant event on which to watch both, but you worry about the full-lineup competitiveness on the power events when it comes to nationals. They’re really very similar teams.

Continue reading Tuscaloosa Regional Preview

University Park Regional Preview

April 7, 4:00 ET, Penn State University

Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams

Teams (starting event)
[5] Florida (floor)
[8] Washington (beam)
[17] Arizona State (bye before floor)
[27] West Virginia (bye before bars)
[29] Penn State (bars)
[30] New Hampshire (vault)

Individual competitors
Jacey Baldovino, Yale (AA)
Jade Buford, Yale (AA)
Kelsey Campbell, Bridgeport (AA)
Libby Groden, Rutgers (AA)
Sahara Gipson, Temple (VT)
Jaylene Everett, Temple (VT)
Jessica Wang, Yale (UB)
Kelli Tereshko, Bridgeport (UB)
Makenzey Shank, Rutgers (BB)
Kathryn Doran, Bridgeport (BB)
Maya Reimers, Bridgeport (FX)
Alex Hartke, Penn (FX)

The favorite

It hasn’t been quite the season expected of Florida so far, but Florida should nonetheless have this regional locked down. At SECs, we saw the Gators go 196.825 in a meet that included a counting fall, a score that would also be high enough to advance out of this regional. That means Florida doesn’t need to have figured out floor yet to get to nationals, but also yeah you do because it’s floor and come on.

Lost in Florida’s counting a fall on floor at SECs were the other three rotations, events where Florida performed at an excellent level that would have won the conference title and would have been a “Florida’s a thing again!” moment if maintained for all four pieces. That level reflected a definite step up from what we saw most of the regular season—particularly on beam. Of course, none of that mattered because of the weak floor rotation, something that cannot be dismissed just as “one of those things” because it’s not the first time that has happened in recent weeks. It’s two of the last three meets now, and it’s not even beam. Florida is having much more trouble filling out a competitive floor lineup in the post-Baker era than expected.

This is not for lack of options. Boren, Baumann, McMurtry, Slocum, Foberg, Gowey, Skaggs, Hundley, McLaughlin. More than enough strong gymnasts to be competitive. But which ones? Florida still has to figure out its best six and ensure that it’s not simply a lineup that can hit, but a lineup that starts at 9.850 (at least) and goes up from there because that’s what it will take to contend. “Hitting floor” is not the goal here. Winning nationals is the goal here. When those are your expectations, a hit for 9.775 is basically a fall—because neither is going to get it done. Lately, Florida has really had only the one definite 9.9 in the lineup, Boren. And that’s a problem.

This dynamic adds a little extra intrigue to Florida’s floor performance in the first rotation of this regional, but it’s weird intrigue because…it’s floor. Why are we even talking about whether Florida is going to hit floor? There’s no reason that rotation should be even in the vicinity of worrisome. It’s going to be fine. But will it though?

The fight

The second spot is Washington’s to lose. Washington outscores Arizona State most weeks, has gone into the 197s four times, and has five meet scores this season higher than ASU’s best. At the same time, this thing is close enough to be alive, and Washington will not feel completely comfortable heading in, especially after Pac-12s. Arizona State finished just three tenths behind Washington at Pac-12s, and that was with Washington performing in the evening session and Arizona State in the afternoon. The margin was just a half-tenth or so on most events, which is far too slim to be ignored. Continue reading University Park Regional Preview

Salt Lake City Regional Preview

April 7, 4:00 MT, University of Utah

Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams

Teams (starting event)
[4] Utah (floor)
[9] Cal (beam)
[16] Auburn (bye before floor)
[21] BYU (bye before bars)
[26] Stanford (bars)
[32] Southern Utah (vault)

Individual competitors
Kelley Hebert, UC Davis (AA)
Alexis Brown, UC Davis (AA)
Annie Juarez, Sacramento State (AA)
Caitlin Soliwoda, Sacramento State (AA)
Ellie Pascoe-Long, San Jose State (VT, FX)
Taylor Chan, San Jose State (VT, FX)
Kaitlin Won, San Jose State (UB)
Gabby Landess, UC Davis (UB)
Courtney Soliwoda, Sacramento State (BB)
Stephanie Relova, San Jose State (BB)

The favorite

36 years and counting. Utah is the only team to have advanced to NCAA gymnastics nationals in all 36 years in which that has been a thing that exists. (Alabama’s streak is 35 years, just missing 1982.) That streak will end one day, but this should not be the day. Utah comes in as the host of this regional and the definite favorite to advance in first place.

Utah may have slightly less margin for error in the quest to win this regional, having lost to Cal earlier this year and finishing .400 ahead of Cal at Pac-12s, but Utah will nonetheless expect a hit-meet advantage somewhere around 7 tenths over anyone else. That means Utah will still be able to advance with a slightly off meet (as shown in that Pac-12s performance) and likely advance even if counting a fall. Multiple things would have to go wrong for this to get interesting.

I expect Utah will enjoy this rotation order, even though floor-to-beam is totally the worst order, because beam is still the biggest question mark for the Utes in terms of confidence in hitting and the lineup (Burch or Soloski?). It’s also the one event where Cal outscored Utah at Pac-12s—and probably Auburn’s best event as well. If everything goes to plan, Utah will have used 49.4s to build up enough of a margin with the other three events that it takes pressure off the beam performance. We’ll know if Utah has the luxury of counting a fall before the team goes to beam.

The fight
 
In this second half of the six regionals, we enter meets where there’s a real ranking difference between the #2 and #3 seeds built on actual advantages/weaknesses exposed during the season, less like the total 50-50 affairs we see in the 12-13 and 11-14 regionals. In this one, Cal will enter as a favorite befitting its 7-spot ranking advantage, though not a prohibitive favorite. There’s not a fall between these teams. More like a couple landings. Continue reading Salt Lake City Regional Preview

Columbus Regional Preview

April 7, 6:00 ET, Ohio State State University

Qualifying to nationals: Top 2 teams, top 2 all-arounders not on advancing teams, any event winners not on advancing teams

Teams (starting event)
[3] UCLA (floor)
[10] Arkansas (beam)
[15] Boise State (bye before floor)
[25] Ohio State (bye before bars)
[33] Pittsburgh (bars)
[34] Kent State (vault)

Individual competitors
Jovannah East, Bowling Green (AA)
Lea Mitchell, Michigan State (AA)
Emili Dobronics, Eastern Michigan (AA)
Morgan Spence, Western Michigan (AA)
Rachael Underwood, Western Michigan (VT, FX)
Lauren DeMeno, Bowling Green (VT)
Hailee Westney, Michigan State (UB)
Kendall Valentin, Eastern Michigan (UB)
Laura Mitchell, Bowling Green (BB)
India McPeak, Bowling Green (BB)
Tia Kiaku, Ball State (FX)

The favorite

Like the other top-ranked teams, UCLA will head into this regional with the luxury of being able to make mistakes and still advance. The Bruins haven’t recorded a score that would be remotely dangerous at regionals since the very first week of the season, and even in semi-problematic meets like Pac-12s when UCLA counted a half-fall on bars, the total was still 197.500—more than high enough to advance comfortably out of a regional. With a real hit, UCLA will expect to win this one by a full point, meaning it would take more than just a counting fall to make things interesting for the top spot.

This is where I’m supposed to talk about vault (because the start values!), but I’m actually going to talk about bars. Bars was expected to be a strength for the Bruins this season, and while the bars performances have been good enough, a rotation that’s kind of 9.825-9.850y until Lee and Ross show up to save the day is not going to win a national championship against the other top bars rotations. At this point, UCLA is not going to change its start values on vault (or, whatever, UCLA things), but cleaning up those mid-bars landings and handstands is something that can still be achieved and will be necessary if UCLA is to be a legitimate title challenger. Watch for that progress at regionals.

The fight

A huge opportunity for both teams. Arkansas and Boise State couldn’t really have asked for a better draw, not tasked with having to beat a traditional power, and both will like their chances of getting through to nationals out of this meet. Of course, there can be only one.

This has been a magnificent season for Arkansas, coming back from the disappointment of 2017 to rank in the top 10 once again. We knew it would be better, but not that much better. As much as having Wellick again has buoyed the team’s performance, just as much of the credit (if not more) goes to new competitors like Shaffer and Carter and improved returners like Garner, forced to transform from a bars/beam specialist into an all-arounder because that’s what the team needed from her. Continue reading Columbus Regional Preview

National Team Rankings – April 2018

How It Works
Taking into account all scores recorded at competitions in the last six months, each nation is given a team total based on how its best-scoring group of five senior gymnasts would do in a hypothetical 3-up, 3-count team final.

Each individual’s best scores may come from any official competition (they need not all be from the same meet), and whichever group of five gymnasts would produce the highest score is the one selected.

Countries that have not shown enough senior routines in the last six months to fill a 3-up, 3-count team on each event are not included.

Rankings will be updated on the first of each month, and scores will expire after six months in order to provide the most up-to-date snapshot of where nations are at the current moment. The current rankings include only scores from October 2017–March 2018.

Leaving the rankings this month was Romania (RIP), temporarily without enough scores on each event in the last six months to put together a full team. Rejoining the rankings this month were Turkey, Singapore, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand.

Last month’s ranking is in parentheses. Continue reading National Team Rankings – April 2018

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama