National Championship Preview Part 1: The Afternoon Semifinal of Horrors

Every year, at the first press conference at nationals, Sarah Patterson’s first comment was always, “You never take for granted making Super Six.” Actually, I’m sure she only said it about once, but in my head it was every moment of the day, every year. Sarah Patterson talking about not taking Super Six for granted and how it’s harder to win the SEC Championship than the national title, which makes no damn sense.

But the not taking it for granted part? Never been truer than it is about this year’s first semifinal. There are no soft teams and no obvious results here. It’s going to be remarkable. At least it better be. The competitors are Florida, Utah, Michigan, UCLA, Georgia, and Stanford, and pretty much any finishing order seems plausible. The only true surprise here would be if Florida fails to make Super Six. Anything else would sound about right, really. All six of these schools are 197 teams, so we can’t expect the 197 standard on which we usually judge the better teams to be good enough. It won’t be good enough. Last year, Utah set the record for the highest ever semifinal score that didn’t advance to Super Six with a 197.025. I’ll be disappointed if that record isn’t broken this year. A score like 197.025 shouldn’t make it out of this semifinal, because that will mean several teams did not perform at the level we expect. So let’s get into it.


Of all the teams in this semifinal, Florida is the safest. The Gators are the most likely to get a huge score and are the only team in this group that can feel comfortable with their qualification outlook as long as they don’t count a fall. Count a fall, and I have no confidence in anything, but if Florida hits 5-for-6 on each event, everything should be fine. Even if the performance is sort of meh like it was at regionals. Florida scored a 197.475 for that meh performance, which will be enough to make Super Six. 

It’s tough to make prognostications about how Super Six will go at this point because we don’t know who’s going to be there or how these teams will look once the weekend rolls around. There are always several teams who suddenly learn how to land vaults between regionals and nationals, and a couple other teams who probably should have and didn’t. Still, Florida’s performance at regionals did not scream “NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.” Fortunately for them, neither did anyone else’s. This is open. It shouldn’t be like the men’s championship over the weekend when Oklahoma just came in and Biles-ed the whole thing.

If Florida is really going to win, there’s work to be done. Certainly, bars was the biggest problem at regionals with a whole bunch of “Is it January already?” landings. I’m sure right now they’re spending all the live long day in the gym working the crap out of those bars landings so that it doesn’t happen again, but let’s not forget about the beam questions as well. Yes, Florida recovered from the SEC Championship catastrophe to hit six beam routines at regionals, but even with good hits from Sloan and Hunter, the score was still 49.325, which is somewhat troubling for a hit rotation if we assume it’s going to take a 198 to win the title. It took a 198 last year, and the scoring landscape is the same this year. 49.325s put a ton of pressure on the other events. 49.325s are what knocked LSU out of the title race last year.

In reaction to the disaster from SECs, Florida reorganized the beam lineup, moving Boyce to the first spot. She had a pretty significant wobble at regionals and still got a 9.800, which is a good sign for the team, but I do wonder if they have compromised their scoring potential a bit by moving Boyce because she has proven to be the second-most-likely 9.9 in that lineup behind Sloan. Watch that space during the semifinals. Have they given away a 9.9 in exchange for stability?

But this year, if Florida is going to make it three titles in a row, it will be about vaulting like monsters and winning that event. The Gator identity has changed from last year. With the loss of Caquatto and Johnson and the addition of Baker and McMurtry, this team has become less about bars and more about power. They’re much better on vault this year, and what was probably the biggest question mark in 2014 (aside from beam consistency, because always) has become the biggest asset. Their scoring capability is crazy, which we know because they got a 49.625 at regionals while sticking just one of six vaults. What are they going to get when they actually hit these vaults, the presidency? Probably. But, still a couple things with that. At nationals, you can’t expect to get a 49.625 for one stuck vault. And you can’t expect to stick one vault and win. It doesn’t work like that. Usually. Or it shouldn’t. It’s critical that they really take advantage of the vaults they have and open up that lead.


First of all, pull yourself together, Utah. That thing you did at regionals was not OK. I hope everyone bought Georgia Dabritz a gold-encrusted manor house filled with baby rabbits after that performance, because she was the only thing standing between Utah and elimination. Utah does come into this semifinal as the second-ranked team, but after regionals, I would not consider this team any kind of a safe bet. The biggest issue at regionals was obviously having to count a fall and a major error on beam (How Rowe escaped from that routine with a 9.700, I’m still not sure…), so hitting that event in the semifinal is job #1. Utah will do beam in the very first rotation, and that will be the most important single event performance in this semifinal. Utah’s ability or inability to hit beam will dictate how competitive this session ends up being and how many teams are truly in it. 

If Utah gets through beam, they’re right in this with a solid shot at advancing, but I wouldn’t say it’s smooth sailing after beam because that regional performance revealed some other major issues. Keep in mind that even if we gave Utah 0.500 back for the second beam fall at regionals, the total would still have been 197.075, which is not safe. It wasn’t entirely a beam issue.

 In the Pac-12 preview, I praised Utah’s ability to get the most out of this bars lineup, not having the most talented gymnasts or most refined routines but nailing every handstand and landing to squeeze out high scores regardless. That’s exactly what deserted them at regionals. We saw some seriously late pirouettes and not very many stuck dismounts. Most of the dismount issues were minor, a small hop back here and there, but because the Utes are so reliant on sticking to get the scores, they cannot afford even small hops. When those hops come out the play, the scores suddenly plummet into the 9.825s. Looking at the performance from regionals, it’s fair to ask whether the bars and floor lineups are missing the big, consistent supporting routine to go along with Dabritz. Is Utah going to show up to nationals with Dabritz and a bunch of 9.850s on a couple events? Because that will make it much more difficult to advance to Super Six without hoping for errors from others. Pretty much every team here can do 9.850-9.850-9.850-9.850-9.950 as the five counting scores on pretty much every event. That won’t separate any team from the pack.  

For this semifinal, 98.700 is about the magic number I’m looking for at the halfway point. That would mean a 197.400 total if it is maintained for the second half of the meet and should make a team feel comfortable. Expectations will vary based on whether teams are starting with strong events or weak events, but about 98.700 is a safe pace. Because Utah does beam in the first half of the meet and vault in the second half of the meet, being a bit under 98.700 at halfway would be fine in their case, but not that much under. If Utah does manage to go 98.700 after two events, that would mean they hit beam and got perhaps an extra floor 9.9 from Tutka or Lothrop, and they would feel very good about qualifying from that point because they would still have vault to come.

Vault remains Utah’s trump card. Among the teams that aren’t Florida, Utah should be winning vault in this session and doing so comfortably. A 49.500 is a very realistic score, even without Tory Wilson. It’s Utah’s chance to pull away, but they’ll have to keep themselves competitive before they get there. So we’re back to beam. This is the most talented team Utah has put together in a number of years, and with Georgia Dabritz in her final year, this may be the best chance Utah gets for a while to make a real challenge. They have to take it.


Hmmmmmmmmmm. That’s what I have to say. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Michigan has recorded some big scores this year. A 197.8 at home. A 197.6 on the road. That’s Super Six-level scoring, but for most of the year the scores have been hanging around the 197.1s and 197.2s, which should be on the cusp of being a usable score. Michigan is definitely a bubble team in this semifinal, certainly capable of advancing but also capable of putting together a perfectly hit meet with no significant errors and still being defeated by teams who just did better. That’s basically what happened at regionals. Michigan was good, solid, fine, got hosed on a couple of those bars and beam scores, and ended up finishing a half point behind UCLA. That’s not an insignificant margin. If every team is nailing their routines, this may not be in Michigan’s hands. They’re going to need some average work from some of the others. Considering the teams competing in this semifinal and their history of giving everyone on earth a heart attack, that seems more than likely.

There are enough amazing routines in this semifinal that I really hope it’s not a  splatfest, but it very well could be. Unlike me, Michigan would be totally pleased if this is a splatfest because their best asse has been hitting every routine every time. Let all those beautiful disaster teams be beautiful disasters, and Michigan will just skate on through to Super Six, doing a pageant wave the whole time. But, if those Wolverines are going to take control of this meet, determine their own fate, and not rely on other teams making errors, honing the vault landings is the most essential missing piece. Right now, everyone except Sugiyama is dropping too many tenths with those big bounces back. These days, teams expecting to advance to Super Six cannot count 9.800 on vault ever, so Michigan will have to show more control in the semifinal to avoid letting a team like Utah run away and gain three tenths or more on that one event.

Michigan and UCLA will both end on byes, finishing their meets in the 5th rotation with Michigan on vault and UCLA on beam. With so many competitive teams in this session, it’s hard to make a comparison between just two because there are too many different realistic permutations of how this could go down the stretch. But, if it does come down to UCLA and Michigan fighting it out as they did at regionals, Michigan is going to want a multi-tenth lead before the final event given the questions about those vault landings compared the strength of UCLA on beam. Being tied or behind going to the 5th rotation is bad news. In the 4th rotation, they’ll have to take advantage of floor to build up a lead on any team they might be close with. Regardless of who they’re battling, Michigan is going to want to be at least 147.900ish going to the final event to be truly in this.


UCLA is being UCLA, coming on strong right at the end of the season. For as much talk as there was before the season about ramping up training so much earlier and being ahead of schedule, this year has looked exactly the same as always. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has worked before. Beating Michigan at regionals and scoring that solid 197.500 (the highest regional score of any team in this semifinal) would seem to indicate that the Bruins have the edge right now and perhaps the inside track to qualification. I do think that if every member of every team hits all her very best routines on Friday, UCLA will be among the top three in this session, but that isn’t a thing that happens, so it’s irrelevant.

The Bruins will just hope to keep things close enough through the early part of the meet, reeling in as many close to 49.4 as possible. Once again the 4th rotation will be crucial. Just as Michigan must build up an advantage on floor in the 4th, UCLA cannot afford to go to bars in the 4th and give up the world. If they don’t give up the world, the Bruins will look to sail away from the pack by ending on beam and throwing up another ALL THE 9.950s performance. 

It’s always scary to have beam as your best event. It’s still beam. Things happen. UCLA is much more reliant on a huge beam score than the other teams in this session are. Because of concerns on the other events, they’re the least able to afford wobbles. Those realistic 9.900s and 9.950s are too precious for that. For some other teams, like Utah, getting through beam with 9.850s would be a result. They could work with that, but UCLA cannot. It has to be amazing.

Also keep an eye on UCLA’s floor work in that first rotation because I’m a little bit worried about the floor lineup. Not majorly worried, but I do have questions. Most of my attention has been on the greatness of the beam lineup and the meh-ness of the middle of the bars lineup, but I’m going to take some time for floor now because it can be sort of hit-or-miss in the short landings department. There are three people in this lineup in Francis, Cipra, and Bynum who should be able to get 9.900 every time but who can all be caught by the short-landing monster to compromise the team score. Watch those three routines in particular. If they’re short-double-back-9.825 type showings on Friday, UCLA is in the kind of trouble that they may not be able to work out of. That’s how close this meet should be. 

Because the Bruins are starting on floor and vault, the two traditionally higher-scoring events (and the two events on which I expect to see the highest scores at nationals this year given the relative strengths of the field), they need to be hugging that 98.700 marker at the halfway point. At regionals, they were 98.675 on floor and vault combined, so if they repeat that same performance, it’s OK. Although there is still plenty of room for improvement on that regionals showing.


Like UCLA, Georgia has waited until the last minute to turn things on, though that path isn’t really as expected for Georgia as it is for UCLA. Nor was it the plan. Things haven’t gone right very many times for Georgia this season, but maybe it’s maybe starting to get a little better, maybe. The SEC Championship did not go great, but strutting into regionals and beating Utah for the second time this season was an important step to erase that SEC performance from all of our minds. Maybe Georgia is only good when Utah is around, in which case this is the ideal semifinal draw.

While Georgia did cut out some of those notable errors to win regionals, the total score was still just a 197.025, which is not enough to bank on. The team must continue to get better, and beam remains the area where the most bettering needs to happen. There’s still a lot of not-better going on there. Even though Georgia essentially hit five routines at regionals (and won the event on the night, which tells a really vivid story about how beam went at that competition), they still got a 48.950, which barely counts as hitting. No one should be making it out of this session with a 48 on any event, so they’ll have to take another big step forward this weekend. Brittany Rogers hasn’t had a great beam season with a lot of tight routines lately, but they’ll need her to be a true 9.875 again along with Broussard and Box to hope for a usable score.

As for the lineup, I did like the idea of putting Brown back in, even though it was unpopular and didn’t work. She brings higher scoring potential than the other options with a hit routine, and the Gym Dogs are not in a position to play it safe right now. They have to take risks to have any hope of a huge score. If there’s any reason at all to think Kiera Brown might suddenly hit at nationals, I say go for it. At the same time, that’s risky and foolhardy, so I would not begrudge them removing her from the lineup. Regardless, Natalie Vaculik must come back into the lineup in place of someone because we need to have as many opportunities for dueling Vaculiks in this session as possible. Any time two Vaculiks do simultaneous routines, a fairy gets its wings. At least, that’s how I got mine.

There were also some very encouraging developments at regionals, particularly that 49.400 on vault. We didn’t see many of the vaults, but all those 49.1s that Georgia got during the season were silly and unacceptable for a team with Jay, Rogers, Davis and now Broussard most of the time. 49.400 is much more like it, and if they can repeat that at nationals, we don’t have to worry about vault. We just have to worry about beam, and a little bit floor. This group seems to have worked out the hitting floor part, but the lack of consistent and reliable 9.9s is still a problem that will keep Georgia below the top four seeds in this semifinal. As was proven at regionals, Mary Beth Box will always get a 9.875.

Georgia drew the gold star and will go in Olympic order, which is always a comfortable rotation order. But it does mean that they will be starting on two events that must both be huge scores. They need to be sitting pretty at the halfway point. Probably in the top two, top three at the very worst. Anything lower is a major red flag with beam and floor coming in the second half, so that 98.700 halfway benchmark may be a soft estimate in Georgia’s case. With those potential bars scores, they need to be at a good 98.800, and maybe higher. Georgia is not going to be a come-from-behind team in this meet. They will need to get a lead early and try to keep it.


Stanford has become sort of an afterthought in this semifinal because we’re only human and don’t have room in our puny little brains to consider six possible teams advancing at one time. It’s just too much. But, Stanford is entirely capable of putting together the kind of low-mid 197 that it should take to squeeze through to Super Six. We’ve seen it done. Even at regionals, Stanford managed to pull out a 197.000 while having a poor showing on their best event, bars. Throw a usual Stanford bars rotation in there, and we’re talking about one of the top scores on the day from any team. Once again, Stanford’s first event will be bars, and they cannot afford another sloppy start. 49.400 is what they should be looking for, and with the standard in this competition, they won’t be able to endure much less than that. Nor should we allow it. You don’t get to have that much bars pretty and still score a 49.025. It’s against the rules.

Like Georgia, Stanford will have completed very high-scoring events (for them) in the first half of the meet, so they’re also going to need to be ranked very well early and will be hoping to break that 98.700 barrier. Usually that’s a big ask for bars and beam scores, but it will be necessary for Stanford. One of the interesting mini-battles in this semifinal will be between Georgia and Stanford to see which team gets the better start since they both need amazing ones. It’s hard to imagine the top three at the halfway point being Florida, Georgia, and Stanford, but that’s exactly what Georgia and Stanford need, and it would certainly make for an amazing final three rotations with a six-way fight for qualification.

It’s so important that Stanford use Ivana Hong’s special powers to get out fast because floor remains their least competitive event. The group that performed at regionals does not have enough easy 9.9s to be truly competitive. It’s a more extreme version of Georgia’s predicament. Occasionally Rice will get there, and we know Vaculik can, but it’s not a given for anyone, and that’s trouble. Even with a good start on bars and beam, we probably won’t know if Stanford is a contender until after floor. If they do come up with a relatively usable score (it doesn’t have to be that huge because bars and beam can make up some of that ground), then there’s very little difference between Stanford and the higher-seeded teams.

In most of the ways, this semifinal appears to defy prediction, which means it will end up being really predictable and boring. That’s what always happens. The interesting semifinal turns out to be boring, and the boring semifinal turns out to be interesting. A lot is going to depend on which Utah shows up. If regular-season Utah shows up on Friday, this allegedly wide-open session closes up quite a lot. Regular-season Utah, if that even exists anymore after the Wilson injury, will be able to pull away and qualify, leaving UCLA and Michigan to fight it out for the remaining spot and Georgia and Stanford hoping to swoop in with an amazing day (or hoping both UCLA and Michigan have catastrophes). But if regionals Utah shows up again, all bets are off. The spots would be open, and it would be so much easier to imagine anyone taking them. And that’s what should make this semifinal such a good one. 

Onward to Nationals

One week to go until the national championship. Start getting emotionally prepared. Here’s a look at how the semifinals will shape up. 

We’ve ended up with a relatively lopsided arrangement this year, with one semifinal featuring three clear favorites in Oklahoma, LSU, and Alabama, and the other containing a whole bunch of bubble teams. That afternoon semifinal is going to be serious and seriously competitive, so make sure you’ll be available to lap up the whole thing at the super convenient time of 1pm CT on a Friday. Everyone’s always free then, right?

I’ll do the usual previewing next week and break down some of these rotation orders (UCLA starts on floor, so Miss Val will already have broken six vases about it because we know how she feels about starting on floor). But for now, here’s the scoring comparison for the teams in each semifinal, including all the usual info along with the scores achieved on each event at regionals. Categories in which a team ranks in the top three (qualifying position) are highlighted in blue.


Regional score: 197.475 [2]
RQS: 197.790 [1]
Season high: 198.225 [2]
Regular season average: 197.536 [1]
VT average: 49.482 [1]
VT RQS: 49.540 [2]
VT regional score: 49.625 [1]
UB average: 49.409 [1]
UB RQS: 49.500 [1]

UB regional score: 49.125 [4]
BB average: 49.225 [2]
BB RQS: 49.360 [2]
BB regional score: 49.325 [3]
FX average: 49.420 [1]
FX RQS: 49.505 [1]
FX regional score: 49.400 [2]

Regional score: 196.575 [6]
RQS: 197.670 [2]
Season high: 198.250 [1]
Regular season average: 197.418 [2]
VT average: 49.480 [2]
VT RQS: 49.560 [1]
VT regional score: 49.500 [2]
UB average: 49.398 [2]
UB RQS: 49.500 [1]

UB regional score: 49.075 [5]
BB average: 49.205 [3]
BB RQS: 49.320 [4]
BB regional score: 48.625 [6]
FX average: 49.336 [2]
FX RQS: 49.415 [2]
FX regional score: 49.375 [3]

Regional score: 197.000 [4]
RQS: 197.270 [3]
Season high: 197.825 [5]
Regular season average: 197.143 [3]
VT average: 49.264 [4]
VT RQS: 49.330 [4] 
VT regional score: 49.175 [6] 
UB average: 49.264 [3]
UB RQS: 49.370 [4]
UB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB average: 49.286 [1]
BB RQS: 49.325 [3]

BB regional score: 49.250 [4]
FX average: 49.330 [3]
FX RQS: 49.365 [3]
FX regional score: 49.425 [1]

Regional score: 197.500 [1]
RQS: 197.200 [4]
Season high: 197.950 [3]
Regular season average: 196.768 [4]
VT average: 49.325 [3]
VT RQS: 49.375 [3]

VT regional score: 49.300 [5]
UB average: 49.066 [6]
UB RQS: 49.280 [6]
UB regional score: 49.275 [2]
BB average: 49.184 [4]
BB RQS: 49.400 [1]
BB regional score: 49.550 [1]

FX average: 49.193 [4]
FX RQS: 49.340 [4]
FX regional score: 49.375 [3]

Regional score: 197.025 [3]
RQS: 196.875 [5]
Season high: 197.450 [6]
Regular season average: 196.375 [5]
VT average: 49.217 [5]
VT RQS: 49.280 [5]
VT regional score: 49.400 [3]
UB average: 49.260 [4]
UB RQS: 49.320 [5]
UB regional score: 49.325 [1]
BB average: 48.798 [6]
BB RQS: 49.195 [6]
BB regional score: 48.950 [5]
FX average: 49.100 [5]
FX RQS: 49.295 [5]
FX regional score: 49.350 [5]

Regional score: 197.000 [4]
RQS: 196.720 [6]
Season high: 197.525 [5]
Regular season average: 196.180 [6]
VT average: 49.136 [6]
VT RQS: 49.280 [5]
VT regional score: 49.375 [4]
UB average: 49.091 [5]
UB RQS: 49.420 [3]
UB regional score: 49.025 [6]
BB average: 49.009 [5]
BB RQS: 49.225 [5]
BB regional score: 49.375 [2]
FX average: 48.943 [6]
FX RQS: 49.185 [6]
FX regional score: 49.225 [6] 

There’s so much variation in the rankings in this first semifinal, which is why I hope it will be extremely competitive. All of the teams have at least a couple categories in the blue, and five of the six teams are ranked first in at least one category. The top three seeds are leading the overall season categories (obviously), but UCLA and Georgia pick up some ground based on strong regional performances that they hope are indicative of things to come.

Contrast that with the relatively clean-looking second semifinal. Rare is the category in which the top three seeds don’t rank in the top three, with only the doubts looming over LSU’s bars rotation and the strength of Nebraska’s vault as true complications to that picture.


Regional score: 197.625 [1]
RQS: 197.895 [1]
Season high: 198.500 [1]
Regular season average: 197.675 [1]
VT average: 49.456 [1]
VT RQS: 49.495 [2]
VT regional score: 49.525 [1]
UB average: 49.408 [1]
UB RQS: 49.475 [1]
UB regional score: 49.275 [2]
BB average: 49.363 [1]
BB RQS: 49.530 [1]
BB regional score: 49.375 [2]
FX average: 49.448 [1]
FX RQS: 49.505 [2]
FX regional score: 49.450 [1]

Regional score: 197.175 [3]
RQS:197.650 [2]
Season high: 198.375 [2]
Regular season average: 197.484 [2]
VT average: 49.455 [2]
VT RQS: 49.540 [1]
VT regional score: 49.475 [2]
UB average: 49.298 [2]
UB RQS: 49.390 [2]
UB regional score: 49.050 [5]
BB average: 49.284 [2]
BB RQS: 49.355 [2]
BB regional score: 49.200 [3]
FX average: 49.448 [1]
FX RQS: 49.560 [1]
FX regional score: 49.450 [1]

Regional score: 197.575 [2]
RQS:197.490 [3]
Season high: 197.800 [3]
Regular season average: 197.175 [3]
VT average: 49.371 [4]
VT RQS: 49.460 [3]
VT regional score: 49.425 [3]
UB average: 49.206 [3]
UB RQS: 49.390 [3]
UB regional score: 49.350 [1]
BB average: 49.200 [3]
BB RQS: 49.335 [3] 
BB regional score: 49.500 [1]
FX average: 49.398 [3]
FX RQS: 49.465 [3]
FX regional score: 49.300 [4]

Regional score: 196.900 [5]
RQS: 197.045 [4]
Season high:197.750 [4]
Regular season average: 196.635 [4]
VT average: 49.196 [5]
VT RQS: 49.345 [5]
VT regional score: 49.400 [4]
UB average: 49.152 [4]
UB RQS: 49.265 [4]
UB regional score: 49.225 [3]
BB average: 49.088 [4]
BB RQS: 49.315 [4]
BB regional score: 49.100 [5]
FX average: 49.200 [4]
FX RQS: 49.315 [6]
FX regional score: 49.175 [6]

Regional score: 196.950 [4]
RQS: 196.900 [5]
Season high: 197.325 [5]
Regular season average: 196.618 [5]
VT average: 49.400 [3]
VT RQS: 49.450 [4]
VT regional score: 49.375 [5]
UB average: 49.034 [5]
UB RQS: 49.220 [5]
UB regional score: 49.175 [4]
BB average: 48.984 [6]
BB RQS: 49.110 [6]
BB regional score: 49.000 [6]
FX average: 49.198 [5]
FX RQS: 49.325 [5]
FX regional score: 49.400 [3]

Regional score:196.750 [6]
RQS: 196.680 [6]
Season high: 197.250 [6]
Regular season average: 196.352 [6]
VT average: 49.155 [6]
VT RQS: 49.285 [6]
VT regional score: 49.350 [6]
UB average: 48.998 [6]
UB RQS: 49.215 [6]
UB regional score: 48.975 [6]
BB average: 49.059 [5]
BB RQS: 49.145 [5]
BB regional score: 49.125 [4]
FX average: 49.141 [6]
FX RQS: 49.360 [4]
FX regional score: 49.300 [4]

Regionals Live Blog

And now, may I present your gymnastics coma. It’s regionals day. We start with 36. We end with 12. How dramatic! After a whole season of results mattering zero, today they matter slightly more than zero! If you lose, you don’t get to give an interview about how much valuable experience you’ve gained today. You’re just out. It’s so much better this way.

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – MORGANTOWNLive scoresLive video
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – NORMAN – Live scores Live video
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – AMESLive scores Live video
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – COLUMBUS – Live scores – Live video (vault)Live video (bars)Live video (beam)Live video (floor)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – AUBURN Live scoresLive video (option A – CSL)Live video (option B – SECN+)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BERKELEYLive scoresLive video

I’m hoping for some real upsets. Last year we got only one technical upset, with Penn State going over Oregon State, but with Penn State at home and those teams so close together in both ranking and quality, it wasn’t that extreme of an upset. I want to see some serious damage today. Or, I mean, I want everyone to have a great time and do their best and learn a lot of life lessons and savor the moment. Yeah. That.

We’ll have a fairly slow start with just the one competition during the first hour, which is helpful for our delicate sensibilities, but one of the most interesting things to watch out for right away will be the first two beam rotations in that Morgantown regional. Illinois has a lower RQS than Stanford on every event, but beam is the closest, and they’ll need to put up an intimidating score to start the challenge. For Florida, the lineup on beam could go several ways. Let’s see if they fixed SECs.

I’ll include the schedule (again) just so everything is all together. There will be a lot of browser windows to deal with today anyway.

Stay tuned!

While we wait, feel free to share which teams you think are getting upset today. And what you think the highest non-advancing score will be. There’s always one team in a tough regional that scores around a mid-196 but can’t get through. Or do you see any crazy, unexpected teams getting through? Now’s the time to share all your off-the-wall, totally wrong picks.

On twitter, loyal reader Jennifer just mentioned that Price warmed up floor and Hong warmed up vault. It’s so Stanford. Just to unveil these routines at the last minute and be like, oh by the way remember how we said Ivana was doing only bars and beam this season? NOPE.

Really, West Virginia Regional? “Party in the USA”?

RQSs for the teams in the first rotation are — Florida UB – 49.500; Illinois BB – 49.200; West Virginia FX – 49.125; New Hampshire VT – 48.875. So that’s the standard to look out for.

This intro video. The drama. The drama. Now let’s meet the teams. We already met Katarina Broccoli, so my silly name dreams are coming true again this year.

Ivana Hong’s wave to the crowd already won the prize for elegance from this meet.

Guess who’s dancing the most? Spoiler alert: it’s Bridget Sloan.

I love how Sasha Tsikhanovich just laughed when the announcer paused before her name. She’s like, “Yeah, you’re going to butcher this thing. I know. It’s fine.”

Time for warmups now.

We’ve already got some awesome pronunciations of the Florida team. I can’t even. Also, Bridget Sloan is a junior not a senior, people. Still giggling about the Florida pronunciations. I will not be able to pay attention to anything else.  

Illinois getting started on beam.

Naleway BB – a little short on that straddle 1/4 but hit the dance elements – solid on the loso series with some loose legs – clean aerial – very short on the split 3/4 (?) – solid routine but she will get hit for dance elements – did stick front full. Fine hit though. They’ll take that 9.800 any day.
(Baker hits bars with a hop on the double front)


Jam Buddhist on UB – pretty shpaosh – pretty angled on the bail – legs apart on the DLO as usual but did well to control the landing – looked like she would have to take a large step back but didn’t appear to. Just a 9.775 for her.

Foley clean on beam so far -holds onto her aerial well without a wobble – sticks gainer full.

KYTRA FALL. Buchanan not falling for Illinois.
Kytra back up – clean on the bail – pretty big step back on dismount.

Moments of form in these Illinois beam routines – especially legs in the series – but they’re not giving away wobbles so far.

West Virginia almost had a Kyla-at-Jesolo moment on a pass but held in in bounds.

Caqautto – UB – Good Ray – fine on the bail as well – finishes with an OK DLO wbut another pretty big step. They have not really brought these bars routines so far. Not going to help the pressure going to beam.

O’Connor also hitting beam. They’re getting exactly the scores they wanted so far leading up to Horth and Kato who can go bigger.

SLOAN TIME – UB – Also strong on the Ray – good following hs – really precise – focused on getting those legs together on the bail this time – sticks the DLO. Leave it to Bridget.

Horth BB – Strong on the loso series – good switch to a fine straddle 1/4 – a little slow on the aerial but well done – wobble on her tuck jump full but more refined and precise than the previous competitors – sitcks gainer full.

McMurtry – UB – fine on the full turn – leag break on the bail – sticks her dismount. They got through the Kytra fall, but that was not an ideal rotation for the Gators.

Kato – BB – pretty loso series to start – solid on the aerial as well – very clean routine – and a successful rotation overall.
Tsikhanovich pretty on bars – just a double back dismount with a hop though – great toe point – some short handstands –

AFTER 1: Illinois 49.250, Florida 49.125, WVU 48.925, New Hampshire 48.525
The story there was the weak performance from Florida on bars. Not disastrous by any means right now, but that was not good. In addition to the Kytra fall, there were a bunch of big hops on dismounts and a few crooked elements on the bars. Interesting.

Great start for Illinois. Exceeding their RQS and doing exactly what they needed to put the pressure on Stanford. This is not going to be a walk. I don’t think anyone thought it would be.

This makes Florida beam even more interesting now because they have to resist the urge to try to make up tenths. That usually leads to problems.

Final score for WVU was 48.925 which is fine but two tenths below RQS on their best event.

And now we have to start planning for multiple meets at the same time, all with multiple screens. None of us are going to be able to focus on anything. We’ll all have to work together to keep each other posted.

Stanford starts on bars now in this rotation. It’s Stanford’s best event, and we need to see that performance given Illinois’s strong start. Stanford can get 49.4s on bars and needs to.

Kytra falls on her series in beam warmups. Just to give you all the palpitations.

Rotation 2:

Boyce – BB – Moved her to the leadoff spot to solidify some things I suppose – hits her aerial to bhs series – a little deliberate but didn’t break the connection – pretty big wobble on her loso series – breaks at the hips. Better on the switch – they’ve clearly worked on that – sticks gainer full. OK but did have that check.Still gets some 9.800s seeing from the judges.

WING FALLS ON BARS NOOOO – Thanks for keeping it interesting, Stanford.
Canizaro OOB for Arkansas to start on floor –

Spicer – BB – very solid on her loso series – sticks gainer full – solid routine. That’s what she’s here for.
McNair on UB – looked short on her first cast to handstand but clean on the piked jaeger and the bail – small step on dismount – 

Dillard going on floor for Ark – this is my favorite routine in the Arkansas rotations – really gets those dance elements.

Fassbender moved to the third spot – hitting – improving that sheep jump – hop back on dismount but fine –
Vaculik on UB – Vaculik gienger as always wonderful – they shouldn’t have trouble absorbing the fall from Wing, but it’s still a little terrifying. These are all strong routines. Big leap forward on DLO, though.

Three hits so far for Florida, doing what they need. Huge full from WVU on vault.

Sloan – BB – good aerial – very strong on her switch to split – fluid on the full turn – solid on the side aerial as well – sticks the double full. A Sloan routine.

Shapiro on bars now with her lovely pak – and that floaty DLO – a little too floaty as she had to pike a little at the end to bring it around. Could have landed better, but not a problem.

McMurtry – BB – check on the punch front – right into the loso series which was fine – OK on the switch – just short on her 2.5 with a hop back, but they’re enduring. Five hit routines now.

Price – UB – Good good shposh – piked tkatchev was strong but she was crooked on her bail – did extremely well not to give away more or have a fall – but that was a break on the bail that they will have to count in the team score – hop on the DLO. 

Hunter – BB – High series and solid – cleaned it up from the warmup – good full turn – the usual crookedness on the switch side but no wobble – sticks the double back. There you go, Florida.

Hong – UB – Perfection on her bail – perfection on her DLO as well – whew those skills were lovely. Looked like a short handstand in there, but they’ll need that score.

Tsikhanovich – BB – loverly splits in her opening switch and split – hits her loso series as well – very low on her standing front tuck but pulls it around somehow – small hop on 1.5.

Price got through bars with a score of 9.750, but that means Stanford is counting two 9.7s on bars. No bueno.

49.325 for Florida on beam. 49.025 for Stanford on bars. That’s what Florida needed to get back on track to qualify comfortably, which they should still do.

Arkansas already counting a 9.4 on floor, where they really need a good score. Just struggling to pull around some of these passes.

Also checking in on the NORMAN REGIONAL
 This is an important opening beam rotation for Penn State. Starting with a 9.700 from Medvitz.
 Also an extended look at the inside world of Erica Brewer’s grips.

Brewer – UB – Nice opening tkatchev – hits following hs – solid on her bail – arches final handstand a bit – hop on DLO. Fine – but a couple areas to take there.

Sibson – BB – check on aerial – breaks the connection into the back pike – which was fine – fine swqitch to a very high split jump – tentative full turn but fine – small check on side somi – stiucks gainer full. Fine – a couple breaks – nothing major check-wise. Got a 9.425. I’m assuming breaking the connection into the back pike killed her.
Wofford nailing bars – just bends to hold onto stick.

Missouri overcame a fall to go 49.00 on vault. Solid.

Haven’t been watching LSU’s meet yet but I see a 9.675 from Savona on bars to start.

Sanabria-Robles finishing for Penn State with some very nice height on her leaps – big break on side somi – just looked like she kept it on the beam but comes off. Early disaster for PSU. 

Arkansas’s floor is 48.850. Not what they needed at all to try to challenge the Illinois Stanford fight, which is currently advantage Illinois.

Scaman – UB – good half turn to solid piked jaeger this time – clean enough on the bail – solid stick on her full twisting double tuck – good routine – gave away very little. Oklahoma looks comfortable and fine so far. 9.825. Hmmm.

Welsh – BB – Hits switch side – a little crooked – nice work on side somi – hop back on gaine rfull –

Dowell – UB – Strong on her Church as always – clean on the bail – step back on DLO full. Another solid hit. Not high scores so far – the small form errors like feet and borderline handstands are getting hit I assume, but they should be happy enough with this performance.

I look away from Penn State on beam for one second and it looks like we have a fall from Welsh. Quickly into trouble now for Penn State since they will be counting the routine with lost SV from Sibson. Advantage Oregon State.

At LSU – Wyrick goes over on a handstand and comes off the bars. LSU counting early problems.


McNair on BB for Stanford back in Morgantown – nice on the loso series – and secure on the side somi – hop and a step on the double full.
Jessie Jordan is pulling LSU back together on bars – but does have a pretty big step back on her DLO. Nothing else major. And then Courville is Courville.

Rice – BB -came in low on her kickover front but holds without a wobble – check on her loso series but comes back. Illinois has a couple 9.7s on floor so far, so this is the opening Stanford needs to get back. Good gainer full. Solid routine.

McGee’s amplitude on her straddle jump on beam you guys.
Hanset getting through her beam routine – does well to maintain the connection from her aerial through to the wolf jump – sticks the 1.5. 9.900. Horth looks solid on floor – just layouts as a middle pass –

Vaculik – pretty individual elements in the aerial and rulfova in the air – just tentative in the connection a little bit and then slightly crooked on the rulfova, but nothing major – small check on loso – solid switch – confident full turn – small hop on 2/1.

Buchanan – FX – Illinois – solid 1.5 to layout middle pass – and finishes with a strong double back –

Hong – BB -Because Hong – gorgeous on her traditional mount and the onodi as well – excellent legs on her loso series as well – strong full turn – and a real sheep jump too – sticks aginer pike – just brilliant –

Illinois getting the 9.85s in the second half of this rotation to try to fend off this strong beam performance from Stanford. O’Connor now – front through to double back – very solid landing – bounce on the double pike but not too big – finishes with a rudi – solid tumbling with the one bounce

Rounding things up – Oklahoma went 49.275 on bars, which is just OK – Missouri and NC State went 49.00 on vault and floor respectively, which is big for them.

Courville saved LSU for the moment on bars for a 49.050, but that’s not what they were hoping for. Denver went 48.750 on beam, which is not what they were hoping for either but not a catastrophe.

Illinois goes 49.125 on floor to Stanford 49.325 on beam. Arkansas recovered after floor for a strong vault rotation (but still their two weakest events remain). We have a meet going on in Morgantown, people. Florida 98.450, Stanford 98.400, Illinois 98.375, Arkansas 98.225. 

Oklahoma on beam now bringing those college salutes.

Lovan – BB – excellent switch – into straddle 1/4 – big break on her series – does well to keep in on the beam but a struggle. sticks loso to full dismount.
Tang – UB – Oregon State – rushed through the full turn – but otherwise OK – small hop on tuck full dismount.

Oregon State getting stuck in the 9.7s on bars so far, but bars scoring has been comparatively strict at this meet to what we usually see. These judges are in postseason mode.

McMillan – UB – high jaeger and a solid catch into her overshoot – a little legs but not major – small hop on DLO – good hit again – they’re doing what they need so far with the PSU mistakes –

Clark is hitting beam – just a small step here and there – pulls her side somi back onto the beam to adjust her center of gravity well without giving away a wobble – hop on dismount – good routine –

Great rhythm throughout the bars routine for Aufiero of OSU – short on her final hs before the dismount – small hop on DLO – but strong routine.

Macadaeg alert at the LSU regional -she’s on beam now -nice full turn – and then we cut away in the middle of her routine. YOU DO NOT DO THAT TO MACADAEG KATHY JOHNSON WILL CUT YOU. Back to it, appears to finish well.

Chayse Capps just Chary Capps-ed beam as well. 

Hambrick – BB – L turn is excellent, but she’s off on her side aerial. NOOOO.

Also, I think someone’s floor music is just a recording of smashing plates, but I can’t be sure. Brewer finishes up a solid beam rotation for Oklahoma – just a step on double back.

What we’ve seen of Nebraska’s bars look solid so far for an event that has been a little iffy this season. Thye just have to be solid to get through tis one, so that’s what we’re seeing.

Gnat – BB – small check on her opening aerial but corrects – switch to straddle 1/4 is fine – or at least I assume so because we have this bizarre aerial view for beam – another check on the switch side – hits loso series – a couple small hops on 2/1 – she’s PISSED but they’ll be OK with that routine.

I’m missing SLoan’s comeback floor! – Pretty middle pass into front pike, though – 1.5 to layout to end with a hop – watered down that ending, but just getting the name Bridget Sloan into the lineup is improtant for them, and she looked clean there.

O’Connor saves Illinois’s vault rotation with her 9.900 to go over 49, but in the words of Elfi, “It’s beatable.”

Kytra slides back on her DLO – not the security we’re used to on that one – middle pass is solid – leaps lookggood – perhaps a bit shorter on her double tuck landing but no trouble –

Jessie Jordan to finish things for LSU on beam – hits the side somi – excellent on her loso series as well – switch and straddle 1/4 are strong – hits the aerial – I love Jordan’s beam face – sticks the 1.5. There it is.

LSU survives beam and will now move to the LSU events. Time to breathe. Still, watch out for Iowa State. It’s good to be at home.

Oregon State went 48.975 on a strictly scored bars rotation – putting them behidn the pace of Missouri and NC State. For the moment. Note. For the moment. Still in very good shape after the Penn State disaster.

I chose Jessie Jordan’s beam routine over Bridgey Caquatto’s floor routine, and I’m fine with that decision. Apparently she fell, but they didn’t need the score.

Illinois is on a bye int he next rotation while Stanford goes to floor. Opportunity for Stanford to establish some comfort with a good it after Illinois’s 49.075, but it is Stanford and floor. 

Oregon State going to beam now, which could be interesting. 9.650 from Witherby. Uh oh.SCP up now – good split jump. lands her loso wither her legs a hundred miles apart but solid – short on the full after the side aerial with a hop forward.

We’ve also got a Nebraska beam rotation to watch out for right now. That’s about to start. 

Perez – OSU – BB -solid aerial to bhs – pretty full turn – hits her sheep jump – hop on gainer full –


Stanford is getting started on an important floor rotation now – Shapiro totally almost fell on her front layouts middle pass – well, not really, but she had to step back to save it and that shouldn’t be happening. Very short on her double pike dismount – buckles but doesn’t put a knee down. –

There’s too much happening!

Oregon State getting trhough beam – nice kickover front from Tang – and solid on the gainer loso as well – nice wolf turn – a little iffy on that straddle 1/4 with a wobble. Sticks gainer full.

Sloan sticks a full. Obviously. 9.975.

Stanford is going to have to step it up on the floor routines to open up a lead here. Vaculik now – this thing should be close going into the last rotation between Stanford and Illinois.Good double back to start – 1.5 to front layout with a leg separation – low chest on double pike but fine –

Oregon State broke 49 on beam. Necessary. Now they just need one of those big floor rotations.
Southern Utah, Oregon State, NC State, and Missouri are all bunched together at teh halfway point. Didn’t see that one coming. 

 Florida finishes with a 197.475 and becomes our first qualifier.

Hanset floor for Stanford now – hits her opening 2.5 to front tuck – front full to front pike is fine as well – connecting out of them well and masking any lack of control – that straddle was a little short – small stumble back on double pike –

One more floor for Stanford, and it’s Spector not Ebee – slides back on her double pike – straddles look fine – steps to the side on front layout front full – got some buffering action on the last pass. Yay or nay?

We’re a bit behind on these Stanford floor scores. We need to know the scenario going to the last rotation!

Michigan gets through a fall from Artz and goes 49.150 on bars. Enough, but not what they wanted from that.

Nebraska survives beam with a 49.000. Still tied with Iowa State after two. Denver has a deficit to make up. 

I guess all eyes to West Virginia shortly for the final rotation, but we’re definitely going to miss something during this rotation because there’s a lot of close action going on.

Scores currently have Stanford up on Illinois by .150 going to the last event, with Arkansas anotther .125 behind Illinois but going to beam. Bars is Illinois’s strongest event, but Stanford has an edge and vault tends to be the higher-scoring event.

Final rotation 
Hanset – nice hanspring pike half – small hop – not bad on the chest position either – good start
Naleway – small hop on double tuck dismount –

D McNair – good height and form on her full but a pretty big hop back –
9.825 for Hanset –

Vaculik – VT – Not huge amplitude on her vault and a little piking – great distance – small hop – 
Wellick falls on her loso series for Arkansas – not just bad because they have a fall but because they desperately needed that score. She’s one of their best if not the best –

Stick from Taylor Rice! That’s the kind of thing that gets you to nationals. 9.950. BUH DAMN.  Scores are rising in this meet.
Bucnhana from Illinois sticks her DLO – bends quite a bit to hold onto it –

N McNair – Good form and dynamics – step back – shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course the scores are pokey so no one even knows what’s going on in this really exciting meet. Thanks so much.

This is very much in Stanford’s control with a lead of over a tenth on Illinois – but Illinois has some great bars workers at the end of this lineup. 

O’Connor – UB – good full turn and tremendous height on the tkatchev – solid straddle back – high DLO but does have a hop back. Not what they needed given some of Stanford’s vault scores.

Kato – UB – good half turn an inverted giant – huge piked jaeger – nice and clean on the pak – great stick on the DLO – 9.950. That’s what they needed. Wish we knew if it mattered.

Horth arches her handstand and has to go over and take an extra swing! – Great gienger and shaposh half though, but that’s exactly what they didn’t need – sticks her full in but she’s pissed about that early mistake. 

Finally we get that Stanford went 49.375 on vault. Meaning that Illinois would have needed a 49.525 on this bars rotation to tie.

Stanford does manage to go 197.000 at this meet. Illinois cannot pass that, so Florida and Stanford will go through.

UCLA goes 49.275 on bars in the first rotation, which is not huge but about what they needed. Michigan getting through beam so far. A couple 9.7s in here but nothing disastrous.

Nebraska can start to pull away along with LSU with a good floor rotation coming up. We’ve also got UCLA’s beam on the schedule now, which is always interesting.

Kara Lovan just did a solid vault in the air, but a pretty big hop back. Things are less interesting for Oklahoma right now after a big floor score, though. Followed by a really strong vault in the air for Kmieciak – tries to pretend it was a pure stick but leans and steps to salute.

Brenna made her vault look the way Brenna makes it look – step forward through – Witherby waiting to go for OSU on floor, but they already have a 9.850 from Radermacher – pretty low landing on her tuck full with a step forward but not monumental – the rest looks pretty solid –

Stick or near stick from Jackson – with just a hop of the legs together on salute of her 1.5. Should be a huge score.

A faraway speck named Sonya Meraz is starting on beam for UCLA – nice punch front – very clean on her loso series as well – very strong work on the beam but comes in way short on her dismount and nearly falls with a large step back –

Perez – FX – OSU – opening pass is strong – she was a little off on her middle pass – overdoing the 1.5 into the half to come in somewhat short, but she goes directly into a straddle so give away nothing in steps – almost the same problem on the last pass, has to pike her final layout half, but neither should show up too tremendously in the score.

Gerber going on beam for UCLA again – that’s new – it had been Williams – nice aerial – clean and extended on the loso series as well – switch and split jump are well hit to 180 – check on side somi – small hop on dismount – good routine –

Tang – FX – really strong double pike – a little bent on the switch ring but solid – has a few blips here and there but another very usable hit – Southern Utah, NC State, and Missouri are all keeping it close, so Oregon State needs a couple big hits from Gardiner and McMillan here.

Gardiner – FX – small untrolled step out of 2.5 but good – not huge amplitude on her twisting elements either and has to pike around but fine – big lunge back on hte double pike but did look like she JUST stayed in bounds.

Francis – BB – Being all Nush, you know. Perfection throughout, including a stick on the dismount. They already went 9.900 for Sophina…

More 9.850s for Oregon State. JUST getting the scores that they need. This thing is still very close.

McMillan – FX – front double full is great to start – very well performed – very nice on her splits and straddles as well – a little slide on her 1.5 to layout and just a tad short on her dismoutn landing, but another good hit –

Peng – BB – wobbles on her layout2ft but not too big – AMAZING exaggerated leg choreography to pretends she didn’t wobble on her double turn. Love it. Sticks the double full. A couple things but still should be a great score. Still goes 9.950 because Peng.

Oregon State goes to the final rotation ahead of Southern Utah by .075, but Oregon State is on vault and Southern Utah is on beam. Missouri also in this. A few tenths back but going to floor.

Also Peszek. She does Peszek. The beamers did what they do for UCLA and delivered.

Nebraska getting the necessary scores on floor to open up an advatnage along with LSU and help make that meet not so interesting. 

Oklahoma goes 197.625. Just waiting to see who joins them in the final rotation. It should be Oregon State as long as they are just normal on vault.

Everyone for UCLA goes 9.950 on beam for a 49.550. That helps.
As expected, Central Michigan is keeping it interesting early, just a touch behind Michigan, but the scary events are still to come for them, and Michigan has the scary events out of the way.

Nebraska now has a half point lead on Denver, going to their strongest event while Denver goes to their weakest.

Also, IMPORTANT THIGH CLOSEUPS IN OKLAHOMA. Because we need these shots?

Dessaints starts vault for Oregon State with an OK half – off line and hop forward.
Jimenez – vault – also a little off to the side and piking with a hop –

Gardiner – VT – pretty strong full – nice control on landing – just a twitch there –

We;ve also got Alabama and Auburn going on now – Katie Bailey is back on bars – nice jaeger with solid height – legs together in the bail – step back on full out – but solid –

And Michigan is on to floor – just trying to pick up some ground on UCLA, who has come out stronger so far, though not by a dramatic degree. Brown is on floor now – solid on the double pike – 1.5 to layout is secure as well – the leaps are the highlight of the routine, though. Just a touch short on doubel back dismount but good –

Minnesota can’t believe they’re hitting beam routines! So excited! Me too!

Solid hit from Aja Sims on bars – the usual legs but nothing else.

WHAT HAPPENED TO KAYTIANNA MCMILLAN? I look away for two seconds.

Lauren Beers sticks her double front. Nice work.

McMillan – just pulled up immediately on her right knee – looked to land OK and then something just WENT. Bad news. Looks like knee injury.

Now THAT’s a DLO from Kaitlyn Clark this time. Great height and stuck. Solid start for Alabama.

Oregon State still finishes with 196.750 and will advance, but that’s an unendurable injury for them.

Lindsay Mable looking marvelous on beam because she is. Finishes with a side aerial to a stuck full. Minnesota is getting through beam. Step one.

It’s Chiarelli time on floor for Michigan – Very big, strong full in – small slide back – another slide on her 1.5 to layout – good finish on the switch side and popa this time – not cheated around – secure double pike – strong work –

Michigan getting it on floor so far.

Artz – FX – Big piked full in as always – just a small slide – “LEAVE THE CAMERA ON THE TRIPOD.” Love hearing this in the background. clean and comfortable front layout and full – a littel short on the double pike with a bounce –

Minnesota went 49.175 on beam. It’s a miracle!

In the two concluding regionals, we have LSU and Nebraska sliding through comfortably. And Oklahoma and Oregon State going through as well, though not so comfortable for Oregon State now.

Michigan goes 49.425 on floor. That’ll do. 

Nina McGee and Caitlin Brown (of Iowa State!) will go through from the ISU regional.

Shockingly Brittni Watkins and Michaela Woodford of NC State will go through from the Oklahoma regional because ALL THREE of the top Penn State AAers had mistakes.

Southern Utah will quality Ana Jaworski on beam and Jamie Armijo on bars!

Now we’re going to need to be on Auburn bars watch, Alabama beam watch, UCLA floor watch, and Michigan vault watch. Just that.

OK full from Brooke Parker on vault but a pretty big bounce back –

Guy – Auburn – UB – good straddle back – her tkatchev is never huge but she catches well and with good enough rhythm – sticks double tuck – solid start –

Love when people vault out of frame, don’t you?

Pinches on floor! She lands basically in a ball landing her full twisting double back, but it’s hit and secure  – good control on middle pass – split and wolf positions look fine – bounces back on double pike –

Stumble landing for Artz on vault, but Chiarelli had some of the best control I’ve seen from her on landing. GREAT landing from Sugiyama as well on her 1.5. 

Gerber – FX -good double back – and 1.5 to front pike is solid as well – she has improved her chest position on landing since the early meets when she was in the lineup. Another solid enough routine.

Sheppard – VT – the height is there as always, but she hasn’t had the time to put it quite to the level it was last season – off to the side a bit and a bounce –

Not getting the score updates for Auburn and Alabama, but from what I’ve seen Alabama is looking very solid on beam.

Auburn doing a good job of acting like they stuck their bars dismounts, and that’s part of the battle. Clean work there from Kluz.

A Sims – BB – lovely loso series – her dance elements are ideal as always – small check on her full turn (come on!) – great double back – just a small step –

Francis – FX – whip to double tuck is low but hit solidly – 2.5 is solid enough, and then the splits are real perfect splits and everything – sticks her double pike – no trouble landing those passes this time –

Walker and Atkinson finish out with some really helpful bars routines for Auburn. Now THAT’S how you land a dismount.

Beers – BB – small check on side somi – no wobble on loso series but if you’ll notice – her back leg wasn’t even touching the beam – sheep is fine – sticks 1.5 – good – 

Peszek – FX – NAILS her DLO – that’s quite a landing there deer – front full to a slightly whipped around front layout – strong double pike as well – good hit – her best floor routine this year? It’s improving each time out.

Michigan finishes with 197 flat and both UCLA and Michigan look well on the way to easy qualification.

Clark – BB – nice loso series – check on her sheep jump – clean and secure kickover front – near stick on 1.5 just a twitch of the foot. Another strong routine –
Bynum – FX – lands short on her DLO with a lunge forward – solid on her double tuck middle pass – and little less control on her next double tuck with a slide.

Scores coming in now. Lots of 9.800s for Auburn until the excellent routines from Atkinson and Walker which received 9.900s. 49.200 for Auburn on bars is OK.

Alabama goes 49.500 on beam, so they’re doing fine.

UCLA needs a 48.825 on vault to go ahead of Michigan. BUT DO WE THINK THEY CAN DO IT?

So after all this, we have three regionals in the books, and the top two seeds advanced from all of them. We’re about to get that with UCLA and Michigan as well. And Alabama looks on their way. We don’t know enough about what Auburn is doing yet to make a prognostication, but it seems fine so far. Iowa had a disaster on floor to be right out of it from the start.

Berkeley regional, it’s going to be down to you!

UCLA is vaulting now – Janay Honest is OK – a little off to the side and a bounce back -Irvin follows with much better direction than usual – but not the stick her had early in the year – bounce back –

THERE’S OUR PENG VAULT. Where has that been all season?

Bynum next and is short on her half with a large lunge back. Not a good day for Bynum –

Auburn beam trouble. No no no no no. Fall in the first spot.

Peszek vaulting now – Gets UCLA back on track – great in the air and a Peszek stick.

Milliet on beam – lovely loso series – check on the layout – holds onto the stick on the 1.5. It’s a hit routine.

Demers on beam now – after a big 9.875 for Milliet – solid loso series – great switch but wobble on the sheep jump, leg flies up – WAY off to the side on her side aerial into dismount – basically lands off the mat with a big step to the side. Just a 9.675. They have to count it.

Guy – BB – missed the beginning but she finishes with a nice aerial and a stick on the gainer pike – hoping everything went perfectly. I’m sure it did. She’s Bri Guy.

Walker – BB – nice kickover front – break on the loso series but pulls it back – this is not the Auburn beam rotation we expect to see, but Minnesota is a struggle bus on floor today so they’re still OK – great sheep jump – sticks gainer full – that one medium-sized break, otherwise fine.

Atkinson – BB – excellent loso series – wobble on her aerial but does well to pretend she’s doing an aerial to scale out of it – switch to split to wolf – probably got a dance element connection out of that somewhere – step forward on 1.5 – they got through it. Counting a not great score, but it should be OK –

Wrapping things up from Ohio State, UCLA finished with 197.500 to Michigan’s 197.000 – both over a point ahead of any of the other teams. 

Individuals are Taylor Harrison and Sydney Waltz. Alyssa Nocella of Bowling Green, whom I mentioned in the preview, missed out on an AA spot by .025. OUCH.

No individual event gymnasts because Peng Peng Lee beat them all.

Lindsay Mable is trying to salvage floor a little bit for Minnesota – just so clean and excellent – even on basic and usual things like 1.5 to layout. It’s so high and clean, much more than the others.

Auburn escapes beam with a 49.100. These are not high scores so far, but they are enough.Currently a 2.5 tenth edge on Minnesota, and Minnesota still has to do bars.

We’re back to see Alabama on floor now – Frost starting – secure DLO – popa and wolf full looked good – secure on front full to layout as well – Alabama looking very comfortable today – does bounce out of her double pike, though.

GW is through their best events and now onto the struggle events – bars and beam – nice to see a DLO 1/1 from Raineri, but not close to pulling it out –

C Gardner – VT – good control on the landing of her full, some notable piking though –
Faller on beam for Maryland – negative a million points to the first person to make a faller joke, and it’s everyone – gets through it with a couple small checks –

Haines a bit short on her yfull with a lunge for Minnesota –
Tomson does her hs pike half – good control on the landing with just a small shift – nice height –  

Brannan on FX – pretty good double arabian – some cowboy but not one of the extreme ones – secure on the double pike – 1.5 to layout is fine – another with the legs apart but solid control and well done –

HUGE full from Covers – great height –
OH DEAR – some dance elements from Maryland on beam that shouldn’t be in that routine.

Mable – VT – YES YOU DID – so clean, great direction, great amplitude, just a hop in place.

Drouin-Allaire has a good piked jaeger – I that was just an overshoot and not intended to be an overshoot to handstand the way John R thinks it was supposed to be – at least I hope not.

49.200 for Minnesota on vault – Auburn looks like they’ll just have to go 49s on the remaining events to be fine –

Beers – FX – solid DLO – sleps back but does well to keep it in – clean position on the front layout to front full – really nice split full – great double tuck –

Intros going on at the Cal regional – you’re our hope for an upset!

This Auburn regional is taking forever. Way behind schedule. Unacceptable.

Thanks for the comment about Brown coming in on beam. Scary, but I’m good with it. You have to go for it at the meets that matter, and she is one of their six highest scorers when she hits.

Carley Sims just did her huge DLO – and the landing position looked better as well – this whole team is continuing to cruise. Strong double pike. 

Cal regional about to start. Our dear Evan already nailing it by knowing what month it is.

First rotation at Cal will have key rotations from Utah on bars and Boise State on beam. If BSU is going to be in this, they’ll need to keep it together on beam to have a chance to pull off the stunner once bars come around. We’ll also have Alabama on vault, but they’re already solid, and Auburn on floor – needing a good position something up in the 49s to feel totally safe going to vault.

Boise State on beam – nice switch split from Mejia – side aerial to side position – nice stick on the 1.5. Useful start –

Walker is starting for Auburn on floor – a little short on her double back with a lunge – fine on the rudi.

Low score for Hughes starting for Utah on bars – in the 9.6s. Josbacher now for BSU on beam – getting through – full turn – large break on loso with a bend at the hips – step back on 1.5.

Lexus Demers – floor – strong piked full in to start – lunges forward out of her front full – small slide on an otherwise strong double pike – good work.
Baely Rowe got through a solid bars routine – hop back on DLO but nothing major. 

Oh the audio problems.

Boise State got just a 9.525 from Josbacher on beam and cannot afford to count that score.

Solid 9.8s in the 2nd and 3rd routines for Utah, which will be fine –
Alabama – not sticking some of these vaults but doing what is necessary. 

We just saw a hop on dismount from Lopez for Utah, but looks like another 9.6. Becoming na important routine for Lothrop now – Nice straddle jaeger – clean legs on the bail – small hop back on the DLO – Evan is not happy with her final handstand, and I agree – Should be a fine score.

MJ Rott is back on floor for Auburn at this meet and all our lives are better because of it -so are Auburn’s

Dabritz sticks her bars dismounts because obviously – 9.950 for her – it makes all the 9.6s go away. 49.075 on bars, which they won’t care so much for.

Alabama finishes 197.575. Just ahead of UCLA for the second-highest score of the day.

Ok, the dobule arabian is back for Hlawek – a little shortof rotation but she got it around. Double pike is solid – barely got her front tuck around on her final pass with a lunge –

Boise State is giving quite a bit away in this beam rotation, making things a little bit more comfortable for Georgia if they have one of those Georgia beam days.

Atkinson – FX – great high full in – a little short on her first split but solid on the wolf jump full – very strong front full to layout to wolf jump – love that combination and she nailed it – sticks double pike – I’ll take it. Just a 9.875. OK. 

Utah State manages to go 48.900 on vault to try to keep things close –

Boise State will not be OK with that 48.450 on beam.

Oddly, just a 49.175 for Auburn on floor, but that’s fine. Going into the final rotation, Auburn is still just .225 ahead of Minnesota, but since Auburn is on vault and Minnesota is on bars, the advantage is actually much larger.

Not a great first rotation from any of the teams at Cal. Utah’s 49.075 shouldn’t be a problem with a hit meet. Utah State is the only team that will be happy with that start, though, and the only team coming close to their RQS. 

Really interested to see Utah on beam coming up.

Auburn regional getting underway in the final rotation – with Trotter of Maryland showing us a pretty strong double pike mount on floor, and comfortable tumbling throughout.

Stuck full from Webster on vault. Followed by Guy – great height but does hop back on landing –

Cal looks to have a fine hit from Ho there on floor – some ragged legs throughout but nothing too significant.
Holst has a fall for Minnesota on bars –
Natalie Vaculik – just a small step on dismount –

Dabritz – BB – solid on loso series – hits her switch half, which is OK – good side aerial – I love that she has become a beamer this year – nice switch – rushed and a bit short on straddle 1/4 – stuck 2/1 – nice – 
Owens – FX – solid 1.5 to layout  to finish –

Delaney – BB – She’s the one who has come into the lineup, going third. Not that we saw it, but apparently she fell.

Minnesota is counting a fall on bars now, so it’s clear for Auburn and Alabama – Atkinson just did a strong 1.5 – good direction, just a small step back.

Kiera Brown – UB – nice pak – one of her weaker half turns on the low bar – rushed this one – hop back on tuck full dismount – a couple small things there, but should be a solid score.

Cal starting with 9.7s on floor, which is not what they needed. Paz ending with a 1.5 to front pike – medium step but fine.

Auburn finished with 196.900.
Getting a look at the end of Chelsea Davis – hop on tuck full. Apparently she’s a former world champion now. On what?

DAYYYUMMM. Kari Lee was just way off on her loso series. Utah counting a fall now. Had two really big scores before this, so if they pull it back, they should still outscore Boise State’s beam – not a disaster quite yet. Quite yet.

Robinson for Cal stumbles on her 1.5 to front layout middle pass, small stumble – low on the double pike landing but secure.

Lindsay Mable still an important bars routine to get her in as an AA competitor – good hit – leg break on pak but solid. That will be good enough.

Rowe – BB – walks out of her full turn – fine switch to straddle 1/4 – secure on her three series – nice – HUGE break on her kickover front – an absolutely essential save there to avoid a fall but that’s still a huge break – they need a Lothrop save. Still got a 9.700? OK? How?

Williams – FX – front layouts to pike middle pass – hope – great amplitude on her straddle jumps – short on double pike with a lunge forward – not quite her best – I’m worried about that getting back to nationals – 

Lothrop – BB – does her switch side 1/2 well – strong loso series – getting through her straddles with no wobbles – step and a lunge-salute on 1.5 –

Gallarzo finishing for Cal – shuffling the lineup – low landing on double pike – front layout is archy to front pike – just pulls around that layout after the 1.5 dismount.

Utah’s beam score still higher than Boise State. Still never got the score for Kari Lee, though.

Georgia got a 49.325 on bars – I still expect better from them on bars, but the way this meet is going, that’s an amazing score.

Cal just a 48.875 on floor. Needed to be much better on one of their strong events. 

It’s a 48.625 on beam for Utah. Not the end of the world with floor and vault still to come, but reason for concern in the future. It would crack me up if after all the talk of Georgia getting upset, they end up being the team to cruise through this meet. Still beam to come right now, though, so continue being terrified for the moment. Cal and Boise State both really needed better opening event scores.

Feed lost. Shutting it down mid rotations to fix technical problems, perhaps? Or just technical problems?

Rotation has started. Awww, it’s like the good old days when we’d just follow live scores together and chat about what we assumed happened. 

Morgan Reynolds already got a 9.625 on beam. So that happened. TERRIBLE BEAM FOR EVERYONE.

Cal getting some 9.850s on vault, but at this point they basically wanted this rotation to be a 49.500.

Utah State just barely getting through bars, a couple counting 9.7s already.

Toni-Ann goes 9.950 on vault, thankfully, to give Cal the momentarily lead over Utah by 0.450, which is a hefty little margin. The problem for Cal is that Cal still has to do beam (scary) and Utah still gets to do vault (not scary). Still a vault result they’ll mostly take.

We’re back – Broussard on beam now – check on the side aerial – sticks gainer full –

Collantes for Boise State on floor – struggles to hit a few of those splits – but nice 1.5 to layout middle pass – low chest on her double pike but secure –

Replay of Matsunami’s Counter Kim – which was hit very well –

Box – Bb – hits her loso series – a little tight on her switch but otherwise fine so far – break on her aerial, leg flies up – they’re just getting through this rotation – hop forward on 1.5. OK – not one of  her good ones, but OK.

Morris – FX – bounces back on double pike – shortness on leaps seems to be a theme in this rotation, which has not been a huge scorer for Boise State this year. But I haven’t seen this floor rotation since the Alabama disaster, so this is an improvement. Steps back out of double tuck.

Brown – BB – Way off on the loso series. Oh Kiera. I guess maybe this wasn’t the right move, but I still do like the approach to put the riskiest, highest-possible-scoring routines in the lineup. But why isn’t Vaculik here? Why? Sticks gainer pike. 

Perkins – FX – way way way short on her tuck full mount and now she’s down. UH OH. Stopping the routine. Can’t afford to lose her for the rest of this meet. She has really struggled with her passes this year, and was out of the lineup for most of the season –

On to the individuals now, but losing Perkins is disastrous. For them and for us. Her two best events were yet to come. Some solid enough work from Won and Herr on beam and floor respectively – hit routines with some sloppiness.

Still missing the score from Broussard on Georgia’s beam. Missing the fourth beam score, just like for Utah with Lee. Is that like a thing? That we withhold the fourth beam score?

48.950 from Georgia. Best beam score so far.

Utah has not been on so far, but they’ve had a chance to regroup. Floor should be a perfectly solid event, even without Wilson, and should get them back on track.

Starting with Lewis for Utah on floor – small stumble on double pike – also on the front layout to full with a step to the side to control herself – slide back on double back –

Wilchuk for BYU does have a Khorkina in her routine – but struggles with most of the handstands – 1.5 dismount.

Utah State on beam, this can be a rally solid event for Utah State. One of the only teams in this competition that doesn’t struggles on beam – Landes small check on her side – side aerial to full with a hop back.

Rowe had a solid finish and already has the 9.850 from Lewis in the first spot –

Good distance from Stockwell on the full for Boise State – pikes a bit and a hop back –

Kari Lee – FX – a little short of rotation on her 3/1 with a hop – layout to full is fine with a step a bit to the side – switch ring, and split half is excellent – solid double tuck –

Good full from Krentz on vault – great stick –
BYU improving the handstands as the bars rotation goes on – just some leg breaks still persisting –
Another high full from Morris for Boise State on vault – if only they had Perkins with them.

Belliston – Utah State – check on loso series – gigantic brace on her leg –

End of Lothrop’s floor – low on her double pike, buckles slightly in the knees with a slide back –
Utah getting exactly the scores they needed to get back into this – Utah State sadly working against a 9.2 already on beam – but mostly solid in this next routine – just one check –

Did Becky Tutka just punch Dabritz on the butt? Sure.

Dabritz triple full looks good -casual 9.950.
Tutka – FX – small stumble on her tuck full – steps to the side, probably was a bit worried about stepping OOB – another stumble on her split jump out of her middle pass, so this will be the dropped score. Still had five very usable ones before – a little short on double tuck – smallish lunge – Still a 9.825 because SOMEHOW? That stumble on the leap on the middle pass was significant. Irrelevant because it’s the dropped score. 

Utah could still be on track for a 196.500 here if vault goes the way it usually does.

Georgia floor, Cal bars, Utah vault in the next rotation.
My mind = gone.
Remember that loss of language/will to live section of the evening that I discussed? I think we’re there. 

Even with just a normal beam rotation for a 48.8 or 48.9, Boise State would be right in this.
A tiny dot named Corrie Lothrop just apparently had a nice vault.
End of Reynolds on floor for UGA – 1.5 to front tuck with a slide to finish –

Widener – UB – very short on first hs – catches tkatchev (barely) to overhsoot – final hs was borderline – step back on tuck full dismount.

Partyka – VT – Good form but a medium hop back –
Poor Evan and Alina are having to give commentary on the Georgia routines that we’re not seeing. Double pike looked fine from Persinger – legs apart but otherwise solid -finishes with a rudi –

Delaney vault had the usual great height but did come in a little short with a hop forward. Nothing has been quite right for Utah today. Just messy, lots of people underperforming their best. Still 9.900.

Near stick on bars for Owens from Cal, bends and then shuffles –

Dabritz does hold onto her stick on the full – does bend though, and does not bring her heels together until very late – Still 9.950.
End of Marino on floor – clean legs on middle pass –  pretty big slide back on final double pike –

Utah finishes with a 196.575. Georgia getting what is necessary on floor right now.

Ho – UB – Nice shoot to high bar – exceptional on the gienger, very very nice – poor landing on the tuck full dismount – large hop forward – it’s going to be a very tough ask anyway, but they could not afford that after what looked like it was about to be a big score.

Babalis ends floor with a solid double pike.
Cal just a 49.150 on bars, which is OK, but could have been better and needed to be better. Gave away too much on those dismounts, but not getting the big floor score early was the really pain for them. With Utah’s mistakes, this was doable, but now they’ve put themselves in a position of needing a 49.300 on beam to move ahead of Utah, and that doesn’t really happen for this team.

Box – Nice double pike as always – 1.5 to layout, has to pull around that layout but manages to, low – nice straddles – secure double tuck –

Georgia is going to need pretty much nothing on vault to ensure qualification –
Jay has one of those low and slightly stumbling landings on her mount – but controls it enough and stays in – very strong full to layout. big bounce back on her double pike – just does stay in –

Mary Beth Box goes 9.875 on floor. As usual.

Cal would seriously need to call upon the home-scoring fairy in the final rotation if they were to pass Utah.

You know that thing where you watch so much gymnastics in one day that your brain turns to a fine powder and then you transform into a liquid like Alex Mack and seep into the ground?

We will definitely see every Utah State floor routine in this rotation.
Apparently Howe was strong on beam?

Krentz on bars just had a disaster on bars for an extra swing after a fall from Bennion. This is supposed to be your good event!

Just a 9.775 from Howe.
Broussard (barely) hangs onto her stick on the full – large bend forward – such a bend that it’s basically worse than taking a small step.

Owens – BB – wobble on stag – hop back on 2/1 –
Ho – BB – Cal already counting a 9.775 after another 9.750 – aerial to bhs – a little short on her switch. Cal still doing pretty well on beam – doing what they can do on the final three events.

Rogers small step on 1.5 -Georgia wins the meet comfortably.

Toni Ann – BB – fine on the switch side – check and step on standing front tuck – another big break on her loso series – sticks front full, but some more significant breaks there –

Getting to see Aufiero Part Deux on the floor for Utah State – just the finish though –
Trotting out Palomares for their last rotation – solid loso series – nice attitude turn – does well not to give away too much on her side aerial – just a small wobble but you can tell she’s a more natural beamer than the rest of the team. Short on gainer full and a hop forward.

Utah, you are so damn lucky that you could throw out that stinker and still get through. Cal, you had a real shot at this. You were in it. Not a great day on any of the events though.

Draghi falls for Cal. Cal and beam. It has been a problem all year.

Georgia officially won beam at this regional. With a sub 49. This really was the bad beam region. They put all of them together.

So in the end, all top 12 seeds go through. Bah. 

One more routine of the day is Matsunami on floor to finish this behemoth – shows us a 2.5 – straddles look fine as well – sticks her layouts middle pass –

And that’s it. And I might be dead. Hope you enjoyed this massive day of gymnastics!



It’s almost here. One day away. Gymnastics Christmas. Eight straight hours of gymnastics? Don’t mind if I do.

It usually goes a little something like this:
HOUR 1: Excited
HOUR 2: Over it
HOUR 3: Suzanne Yoculan impressions
HOUR 4: Sleepy
HOUR 5: Vodka
HOUR 6: Sleepy
HOUR 7: Georgia’s beam rotation
HOUR 8: Loss of language, will to live

But perhaps a more helpful guide to tomorrow might also be in order. I put together a combined time schedule of all the meets, including rough estimates of when each team will be going on each event in case you have specific rotations you need to remember to watch. I’ve assumed 30 minutes per rotation, which should be too long, but usually isn’t with all the marching and the warmups and the individual competitors. And don’t forget the standing around. Regionals day takes a long-ass time.

And now the meets. Links are there for those who have posted them. Some haven’t. I know…

2015 Regional Championships Schedule

4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Morgantown, WV Regional
[2] Florida, [11] Stanford, [14] Illinois, [19] Arkansas, [25] New Hampshire, [36] West Virginia
Live scores
Live video

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Norman, OK Regional
[1] Oklahoma, [12] Oregon State, [13] Penn State, [22] Southern Utah, [27] Missouri, [34] NC State
Live scores
Live video

5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Ames, IA Regional 
[4] LSU, [9] Nebraska, [16] Denver, [23] Washington, [28] Michigan State, [33] Iowa State
Live scores
Live video

6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Columbus, OH Regional
[6] Michigan, [7] UCLA,, [18] Arizona, [21] Central Michigan, [26] Kentucky, [32] Ohio State
Live scores
Live video (vault)
Live video (bars)
Live video (beam)
Live video (floor)

7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Auburn, AL Regional
[5] Alabama, [8] Auburn, [17] Minnesota, [23] Iowa, [30] Maryland, [31] George Washington
Live scores
Live video (option A – CSL)
Live video (option B – SECN+)

9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Berkeley, CA Regional
[3] Utah, [10] Georgia, [15] Boise State, [20] Cal, [29] Utah State, [35] BYU
Live scores
Live video

And of course, the live blog. Can’t forget about that.

Columbus Regional Preview

On to the last one! Ah, the 6-7 regional. Doesn’t it seem like UCLA and Michigan are always in this regional? It hasn’t been this exact setup, but either UCLA or Michigan has been in the 6th seed’s regional every year since 2010, which is as far back as I have the energy to look. Weird. Meaningless, but weird. It’s like their home. And they both should feel pretty comfortable in this competition. This regional is right in the heart of the busiest part of Saturday, beginning at 6:00 ET/3:00 PT, so UCLA and Michigan will have to put together some really good catastrophes to be sure to garner our attention over three other simultaneous meets. UCLA, I believe in you.

Competing teams (starting event)
[6] Michigan (bars)
[7] UCLA (bye before bars)
[18] Arizona (beam)
Central Michigan (bye before floor)
Kentucky (vault)
Ohio State (floor)

Competing individuals are from Western Michigan (Anna Corbett – AA; Kelsey Hood – AA; Jessi Buis – vault; Jessie Peszek – bars), Eastern Michigan (Anna Willette – AA; Carrina Lo Bello – AA), Bowling Green (Alyssa Nocella – AA), and Kent State (Rachel Stypinski – beam, floor).

Michigan and UCLA

I’ve been waiting to say that I was wrong about Michigan until the important meets actually happen, but I’m pretty sure I was wrong about Michigan. I thought this would be a ranked-10th, just-happy-to-make-nationals kind of season, but it has been much better than that and the expectations should be much higher than that. Michigan has been the most reliable and consistent team in the NCAA this year and has the distinct honor of being the only team to have scored a 49 on beam in every single meet. Consider my jaw on the floor, especially given the way beam has gone the last couple seasons, keeping them out of Super Six for two straight years and keeping them out of nationals the year before. It hasn’t been pretty. Now it’s pretty! Or at least safe!

And now, as if I haven’t sufficiently jinxed this team enough, qualification should be a very comfortable assignment. Michigan’s low this season is a 196.600, and that score is almost always good enough to make it out of regionals. I expect a solid 197. The more interesting thing for the Wolverines right now (as long as there are no falls on Saturday…), is where they stand in the Super Six race. Right now, they’re 6th in the country and seeded to make the final, which would be a huge accomplishment, but that spot seems so wildly up for grabs. Among these contending teams from #6 on downward, there’s very little difference at the moment, so hopefully we’ll learn a little bit more about which teams have the most Super Six in them based on these regional performances. We’ll get a pretty good sense of it by directly comparing Michigan and UCLA here.

In the race to win this regional, it’s going to be Michigan’s solidity against UCLA’s star power. UCLA has more potential 9.950s. If we take the season as a whole, UCLA has recorded 26 9.950s to Michigan’s 15, and the two teams that have competed in the same number of meets and recorded nearly the same RQS. Michigan’s scores tend to be more even, while UCLA tends to ride the huge potential at the end of the lineups. For the Bruins to come out on top in this meet, those stars will have to show up, especially on beam and bars. If the big, bad beam trio hits to capability, Michigan doesn’t have the scores to match. That’s UCLA’s best opportunity to open up a lead. On bars, UCLA is very reliant on Peng and Peszek to hit and stick to get the scores. Bars should be the most interesting event comparison (and we’ll get it right at the start of the meet) because Michigan has the stronger comprehensive lineup, while UCLA anchors with the two biggest potential bars scores in the regional, or two of the three with all deference to Brianna Brown. Peng and Peszek can get those 9.950s.

That’s why UCLA can’t afford any more falls from Peng. Even if the other five performances are hit, they still can’t afford a fall from Peng because her routine is too valuable. Her routine is the thing that keeps them competitive and keeps them from landing in 49.225 purgatory. UCLA is most vulnerable on bars, and Michigan will need a better score there to feel truly comfortable about winning this one.

That’s especially true because the two teams are pretty even on vault and floor. UCLA is ranked higher on vault, but now Michigan has Sheppard getting back to full strength. Michigan is ranked higher on floor, but now UCLA has Peszek back in the lineup. So it mostly evens out. 

As for qualification, neither UCLA nor Michigan have any business failing to advance out of this meet, but as we know, UCLA always finds a way to make things scarier than they’re supposed to be and give everyone heart attacks. Recall last season when UCLA and Utah were supposed to cruise through the Arkansas regional, and then UCLA counted a fall on bars and only ended up making it out by the grace of a couple tenths and an Arkansas beamtastrophe.

Arizona, Central Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio State

Based on the scores this season, Arizona is the most likely challenger. There’s a 197.125 in there. There’s a 196.850 in there. Those are very strong scores. The concern for Arizona is the injury factor. On top of the injuries they were already carrying, Allie Flores went down a few weeks ago, stripping each lineup of one of its best scores. Vault in particular has felt the damage. It was already Arizona’s struggle event this season, desperately missing Klarenbach, but now without Flores they are left with a number of 9.750s and have just thrown in Wobma doing a layout because they needed a sixth vault. It’s going to be very difficult to get a competitive score on that event.

While Arizona’s highest score tends to be on floor, because it’s floor, their most impressive event is beam, where they will begin the meet. It’s an opportunity to make an early statement. I don’t see Arizona recording a significant total without a really exceptional beam score. If it’s not exceptional, I think we start shifting attention to the other contenders. Given current form, there’s a lot of parity among the rest of the teams, with Central Michigan recording a higher conference championship total than Arizona.

Central Michigan has come on strong at the end of the season after starting the year horrifically. CMU had been hanging around the top 25 long enough to finally get some attention and preseason poll respect this year, and then they promptly went out in the first meet and got a 2. But, it has been better since then. Taylor Noonan is finally back on beam to give my fantasy team her school a serious boost of refreshing weekly 9.900 action, and all of those legitimately competitive routines that helped Central Michigan into the top 18 last year, like Moraw and Bolender floor—realistic 9.9s—are starting to come around again. CMU will start the meet well on floor, which is their strongest event and has been a serious 49.300 in the second half of the season. Arizona, Central Michigan, and Ohio State are all starting on good events, so we can use maybe a 49.200 benchmark right away to see who really showed up on the day and who didn’t. For Central Michigan, it’s going to get harder to keep it up once the assignment turns to bars and beam. There’s some real talent in that beam lineup, but it’s woefully inconsistent.

I’m also including Kentucky and Ohio State in this group because Kentucky is the most dangerous of the #5 seeds this year and Ohio State is the host, so why not? On one hand, Kentucky has the quality of a #4 seed and is more talented than this ranking, but on the other hand, this team so depleted now that (like a more extreme version of Arizona) it’s hard to see them putting up four full competitive events. Vault is, again, the biggest struggle because they’re without over half a lineup of usual competitors. The experiment to put Tiara Phipps first at SECs didn’t really work because she has a big vault but got stuck with some lame 9.725. I really like the idea, but sadly no. Just let her anchor.

Unlike the other contenders, Kentucky will end the meet on stronger events, ones that are much more likely to put them into 196 contention. Beam has become pretty good this year, especially with the addition of Waltz to support Mitchell’s extremely solid routine, and those floor landings have come along nicely. Waltz nailed her passes at SECs. If those rotations live up to the billing, low 196s are possible.

This was not really a good year for Ohio State. Ohio State should be better than the 6th seed at a regional, and while they lost a whole host of strong routines from last season, they still have a couple really talented AAers in Harrison and Funches, both of whom had nice results in JO and should be able to lead at least a charge of 9.8s. Ohio State will look to salvage something from the season at this meet, one last opportunity to be at home and put up a little more of an Ohio State type score and not finish last.

If Michigan and UCLA do manage to get through this competition, the AA competition is completely open. For anyone. Seriously, I might win it. That’s because Allie Flores (the top AAer not from Michigan and UCLA), is out and Central Michigan doesn’t compete an AAer. In fact, the highest-ranked AA contender is Alyssa Nocella from Bowling Green. Wouldn’t that be fun? She could do it, though as we know, it’s so challenging to compete without a team suddenly. But keep in mind Waltz from Kentucky. I think she has a real good shot at this thing. There’s also Cindric, the freshman from Arizona who has been shoved into the AA because of all the injuries, and the aforementioned Ohio State standouts who can be 49.300 on good days. They’ll all be in it, and I don’t think it will take a very big high to make nationals from this one. This is where we could see a true unheralded contender advance, the way Kalliah McCartney from Sac State did last year. 

Auburn Regional Preview

Alabama and Auburn. Reunited and it feels like we just did this twice. In the first meeting this season, at Alabama, the Tide won by 0.500. In the second meeting, at a neutral-ish site in Birmingham, the Tide won by 0.125. Auburn is getting closer. So, third time’s the charm? Or something? It doesn’t really matter as long as both finish in the top two, but winning this regional would be a big old deal for Auburn, especially since Alabama is coming off that SEC title.

Competing teams (starting event)
[5] Alabama (bars)
[8] Auburn (bye before bars)
[17] Minnesota (beam)
[23] Iowa (bye before floor)
[30] Maryland (vault)
[31] George Washington (floor)

Competing individuals are from North Carolina (Morgan Lane – AA; Haley Watts – AA; Kaitlynn Hedelund – bars), William & Mary (Brittany Stover – AA; Larson Lasek – AA; Maggie Lundeen – floor), and Towson (Tyra McKellar – AA; Katie Sassa – vault; Lauren Ross – beam).

Alabama and Auburn

It should be Alabama and Auburn. We’ve got some quality Big Ten challenges in this regional, but Auburn being the host just reinforces that edge over the other teams and makes it more difficult for anyone else to break in. Even at SECs, Auburn was just OK until a strong beam performance in the last rotation, but the team total was still a 196.925, which is higher than the season high of any of the other four teams in this regional. When I did the regional scoring comparison, Alabama and Auburn finished in the top two of every single category. They certainly have the inside track.

Alabama erased some question marks by winning SECs and managed to remind us all that this is not a team to relegate to afterthought, maybe-next-year status. They executed a comfortable and consistent meet, recording ten scores of 9.9+ and establishing themselves as the team that’s going to hit when everything else is going wrong. But at the same time, everything else going wrong is what gave Alabama the title. Florida hits beam, and that meet isn’t close, which should still be cause for concern for every other team. At this point, Alabama seems an extremely easy choice to make it through this regional (right now looking among the least likely teams to have a sudden meltdown—I know, kiss of death) and a logical, sane pick to qualify to Super Six as well. But do I see Alabama as a national title contender? Not yet. 

It’s not about one big area to work on for Alabama, though I do think the lack of big scores in the bars lineup will be an obstacle (and makes getting a hit routine from Kaitlyn Clark much more important because she can be that big score). It’s about getting 9.950s out of every single person who is capable of them. Alabama just does not have as many possible 9.950s as the other top contenders, so the ones that do potentially exist (for instance, Clark, Williams, Beers on vault, Sims and Beers on floor), have to be huge scores every single time. Right now, I have the sense that Alabama could go into Super Six, hit a completely solid meet with no significant errors, and finish four tenths behind the winner, simply from getting stuck in the good 9.875s instead of the great 9.950s.

As for Auburn, this is your chance. You need to take it. Auburn hasn’t been to nationals since 2003, but this year’s group has a good argument as the best team Auburn has ever produced (Auburn did finish 5th in 1993, but the amount I could tell you about that team is encapsulated by this ellipsis…). Plus, this is a home regional. You’re not getting a better opportunity. You need to make nationals. The home scores this year are cause for comfort for Auburn fans, or just interested onlookers who think it would be nice if Auburn finally made it back to nationals. Auburn has gone over 197 in four of the five home meets this year, featuring that program-high 197.750 against Georgia.

Usually, when evaluating a team’s chance to get upset, I look to beam. Because beam is where the problems happen. But I feel pretty good about Auburn’s beam this year. That is a talented rotation and, after getting through those first two garbage meets, has been among the more reliable ones in the top 20. They even managed to score 48.700 that time they did count a fall, which is not that bad. They could survive a 48.700. In fact, if this meet becomes more about who wins this regional than who advances out of it, beam is probably Auburn’s best opportunity to eat away at any Alabama lead. At the halfway point, both Auburn and Alabama will have done beam, so we should have a good sense of whether Auburn can win the competition then. They’ll need a lead at that point.

But more importantly, Auburn just needs to be safe and erase the ghost of regionals last year and that bars meltdown for a mid 47. Bars has been Auburn’s questionable event this year (not 47 questionable, more like 49.1 questionable) and will also be their first event, so keep an eye on whether there’s any kind of sluggish start, which one of the Big Ten teams might hope to take advantage of with their rabid 196-ishness.

Minnesota and Iowa

Minnesota got a tough draw this year. As if they needed more things to go wrong. Minnesota is one of the most dangerous third seeds and, in a couple of the other regionals, would be a truly serious upset threat. But in this regional, with Auburn as a host, advancing is not going to be solely within their control. It’s going to take a fortunate mistake. Still, most importantly, Minnesota has done an excellent job of recovering this year to put together basically the exact same season they always do, when they would have had every excuse to be a disaster. It didn’t start great, but now this looks like a legitimately solid 196 team.

As usual, vault is Minnesota’s strength. There, they’ll look to put up the kind of 49.3 score that can keep them relatively close to what Alabama and Auburn are scoring. More than any other event, vault is where it’s not just the Lindsay Mable show. There are several 9.9s from other people. Hooray! On the other three events, particularly bars and beam, I have many more concerns about depth and consistency. Depth and consistency have been the biggest issues holding Minnesota back this year. The last two weeks, Minnesota has had a possible 197 going, but it was falls on beam, and then falls on bars, that took them out of it. On both events, they have a couple really strong routines (Mable, Covers, Tomson on bars; Mable and Nordquist on beam) but haven’t shown the full six routines to keep themselves competitive with the other schools in this competition or keep me from being terrified. If they do, somehow, get through both bars and beam on Saturday (both events have scored over 49 at the same meet twice this season), then watch out for the total score because it could be serious. Beam in the very first rotation will tell us a lot.

Look at you, Iowa! You’re not in the bottom group of regional contenders! You’re in the middle one! One of the most pleasant surprises of the last three weeks has been the sudden emergence of Iowa into the top 25 as a threat for mid 196s. I’m so used to Iowa just getting 195s and being ranked 30th, but this is a step up, especially for a team that missed out on regionals entirely last season. Unlike Minnesota, a team that is falling all over the place and getting mid-196s (leaving that tantalizing hope for a really competitive score), Iowa has achieved its recent mid-196s by being solid and low 49s on every event. That will be Iowa’s faint glimmer of hope. Staying steady while the rest of the world implodes around them, using a couple of those potentially high scores like Alie Glover on vault and Mollie Drenth on bars and beam to lift them up toward the 49.1s.

And the rest/Individuals
Maryland put together another season of being solidly around the low 30s in the rankings, taking until the final weekend to officially qualify to regionals, though not cutting it nearly as close as last year when they barely squeaked up into the qualification zone by a hundredth of a point at the last minute. A couple vital 196s at the end of the season made it a bit more comfortable this time around. There are some standouts on this Maryland team. Stephanie Giameo has been the AA leader for several seasons but is limited to beam and floor now, and the Tang sisters can be the real deal on bars. But for this team, this year, with no all-arounders, making regionals was the victory.

Then there’s George Washington. We need to talk about this team because if you didn’t know, they’re one of the best-scoring teams on vault. Like 49.400 at EAGLs good. And now they’re at regionals, which is new. I kind of wish they were starting on vault so that after one rotation it would look like they were going to win. The reason GW is suddenly a team you have to know about is an onslaught of super-freshmen who are contributing over half the routines. Jillian Winstanley was a standout JO gymnast, and she always did look like a real get for George Washington when she was placing right alongside all of these Alabama and Utah commits in the standings. A couple years ago, she got a 10.0 at Chicago Style for sticking a 1.5. She has been joined by the similar talent of Cami Drouin-Allaire, who is also nailing vault and getting very welcome 9.825s elsewhere. This is the start of something for George Washington, increasing their RQS from last year by over a point. They’re a real 195 team now, not just a team hoping for that on good days.

If things go by the seedings and Alabama and Auburn do advance, then obviously Lindsay Mable needs to be at nationals as an all-arounder. That’s a given. If she hits her four events, she’s going one way or another. The other spot could get interesting, because who is the next highest ranked AAer in this regional, not including Alabama and Auburn? It’s Winstanley. Followed by Drouin-Allaire. It would be great if a GW gymnast made nationals, but also watch out for Sydney Hoerr and Angel Metcalf of Iowa because it could be any one of those four.