Friday Meets – Georgia, Florida, Utah, and More

We’re getting close to the start of another big Friday, and we’ll begin with Georgia visiting Florida, where I expect the scores to start flying. Then, a whole bunch of other teams are in action including Alabama, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and we’ll be finishing things off for the night with a live blog of the Stanford @ Utah meet from 9:00 ET / 6:00 PT.

To prepare, here’s a look at what Greg Marsden called Utah’s best bar rotation of the year. Agree?

Thoughts coming soon and commentary after the break

Soon to get underway with Georgia and Florida. The first rotation provides an interesting dynamic because of Georgia’s strength on bars. They have to stay even or close after the first rotation because they will likely lose ground on the final two events.

Florida is leading off with Spicer on vault. She is more likely for that position than Shisler, but she’s still almost an automatic drop with Johnson, Dickerson, King, and Hunter who can (and should) all go 9.9+

We’ve added another chapter to the saga of Shayla (it’s an epic miniseries at this point, HBO should option it–thoughts on what it should be called?) as she scores a 9.200 on bars. When was the last time she hit all her events in a meet? It can’t have happened more than once or twice this year, can it? This was supposed to be the year of the Shayla. Georgia should be thanking their lucky stars it’s become the year of the Ding instead.

P.S. Aren’t Florida’s live scores the worst? You would think they could pull it together, but it’s awful every week. Plus, they don’t give us the judge’s individual scores, just the final.

Florida actually goes surprisingly low on vault with respect to expectations with a 49.375 (low…hah!), but my 198 prediction may be in jeopardy! Georgia is able to withstand the fall from Shayla and score 49.225 to at least stay within striking distance, though I think they needed to be a bit closer.  Highlight scores for each team on the first rotation were Hunter’s 9.950 and Couch and Davis on 9.875 for Georgia. Not a good sign when Couch is tied for top bars score. Kat Ding went surprisingly low at 9.825. If she doesn’t get a 10 this season, I will through a fit. Georgia has UCLA at home next week, though, so expect big scores.

Checking the stats, I was a little wrong about Shayla.  She hit 3/3 in her first three meets, but has had a fall in 5 consecutive meets now. As of right now, her hit percentage is 76% this year.

On our usual Ashanee-Home-Bars-Score Watch, she gets a 9.875, which is a bit lower than it has been this year but still too high given her form breaks. If she hit to her capabilities, though, it’s not a completely ridiculous score for a home meet. (What has become of me? I do like the confidence with which she sticks landings, even if she needs to get those legs together.) I’ve noticed at Florida this season that they seem to score the top routines pretty accurately, but the weaker routines are scored too high so that there’s not enough separation.

Important for Georgia that Kaylan Earls is back tonight with a 9.850 on vault. That’s exactly the kind of score they need her to be getting in that 4th position.

I’ve been pretty impressed with Marissa King’s ability to take control of that #4 position for Florida on bars. This routine works for her with pretty minimal deductions.

Georgia is scoring very well, and can count themselves in 197 contention, but they’re just not keeping pace with Florida. Ding and Hires lead their vault rotation to a 49.250, but big scores from King and Johnson put Florida at 49.400 to extend the lead.

After 2: Florida 98.775, Georgia 98.475. Advantage Florida on the final two events. I trust them to hit beam just a bit more, and they have much higher scoring potential on floor.

No Shayla on floor for Georgia, but Earls is back in the lineup here as well. Florida starts us with two 9.850s on beam.  In fact, each of the first four competitors for each team have scored somewhere in the 9.8 range. Ding gets a very nice 9.875 on floor to help make up for her bars score in the AA.

Georgia is the first team to break the solid score momentum with Nuccio’s 9.650. Because of having to manage her injuries and numbers, she’s not going to be the gymnast you can rely on to hit 9.850+ every single time.  But they are able to drop her score and score another 49.225.

Florida finishes beam with 9.9-level scores from Hunter and King to record their best event so far, a 49.450 on beam.  They are on pace to break 197.500 easily and could go toward 197.700. This is a big result for Florida because they are trying to drop a 196.175 home score for RQS. They will shoot up and force Oklahoma to match. (Speaking of which, they are getting underway soon.)

After 3: Florida 148.225, Georgia 147.700. That means Georgia needs a 49.300 on beam to go 197. Doable but by no means a guarantee.

As we wait for the 4th rotation, a little update that Alabama has gone 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, and 9.725 on bars to start their weakest event.  It’s a two gymnast rotation for them, essentially. And around the nation we have a lot of dueling scores. Alabama and LSU are level at 49.150 after one event, and Arkansas and Oklahoma have both scored 49.375 at home on vault.

Stageberg goes a bit low for Florida on floor (but a little low means 9.775), but they appear to be in charge of this meet and this enormous score.  Actually surprising that the scores on floor are not higher, though, with a 9.750 for Johnson and a 9.800 for King. Ding and King are currently tied for the AA lead, but Dickerson and Hunter both look primed to surpass that number. It’s a big meet for Kaylan Earls as well as she goes in the 9.8s on her three events

Going into the last competitor on each event, Georgia needs a big score from Shayla to go 197, and Florida needs a big score from Hunter to go 197.500.

Oh sweet Shayla, she’s done it again.  9.300 on beam.  There’s not really much to say anymore. She’s fully capable of nailing that beam routine every time.  Lack of confidence compounding itself time and again.  Kytra, however, converts what was required from her to help Florida go 49.300 on floor even with some below par scores.

FINAL: Florida 197.525, Georgia 196.825. Is it bad that I was just about to say this score is lower than expected? Of course, it’s a really nice number for both teams. Florida should be in good shape to catch Oklahoma on RQS, and Georgia should be putting the pressure on UCLA as well.

Stanford and Utah beginning the warmups momentarily. Stanford has yet to record a big score this year, but this could be the meet for them. The first rotation will be critical because they can actually pick up some ground on bars. Pechanec has been performing well so far.

The 93 minute touch seems particularly endless.

Rotation 1: Utah on vault, Stanford on bars

Lothrop – UT – good landing on the yfull, but needs a ton more amplitude. That’s why she’s leading off.

Wing – ST – nice clean routine with a stuck double back dismount. Clean but a bit simple.

McAllister – UT – better height than Lothrop, but at least a tenth on the hop back on landing plus some piking in the air.

Peter – ST – a little labored on the shoot to HB and a little low on the jaeger, but a clean hit.

Lopez – UT – humongous leap back on her yfull. Not her best.

Shapiro – ST – very clean and right on on most handstands. Just a little late on her last giant full and low on her double tuck. Not a lot of difficulty here from Stanford.

Wilson – UT – Their best so far, fine height and just an inch back. Still probably should be 9.850. (But it went 9.900)

S Morgan – ST – had a nice routine going until a major stumble on her double front which will spoil the score.

Dabritz – UT – just the yfull, about the same kind of leap as Lopez. Another underperformance.

A Morgan – ST – she really has improved on this event (though still not what I’d want going 5th) but their best hit so far.

Robarts – UT – Absolutely the best vault for Utah from Robarts. 9.975. I would have gone 9.950, so I’m fine with that.

Pechanec – ST – love that she performs a hip gienger. The stuck landing should help salvage a solid score for Stanford here.

(Damianova in exhibition is the third one to FLY backward on landing)

Utah goes 49.300, which is a little odd for having three weak vaults in the lineup, but it’s not exactly high given the scores this season, so I suppose it makes sense. They lead Stanford by three tenths after one rotation, 49.300 – 49.000. Stanford did not have enough difficulty, amplitude, or flair in those routines to expect any more than that. Morgan is clean and Pechanec is the class, but other than that they need Shapiro stepping up the difficulty and the ability to hit a double back dismount.

Another 9.975 alert, Ferguson achieves the score for Oklahoma on beam. Oklahoma, Alabama, and Nebraska are on 197 watch right now. Arkansas is struggling.

Rotation 2: Stanford on vault, Utah on bars

Lofgren  – UT – she has sloppy legs on the giants, which takes you out of the routine a bit, but she hits to capabilities, so it’s a solid leadoff, I suppose. She was also very close on her tkatchev.

Hanset – ST – hs front pike half with a bit of a low body and a hop back.

Lopez – UT – unfortunate angle for this routine, but she had a nice high tkatchev and just a hop back on the DLO.

Pechanec – ST – another huge spring back on a yfull. What is happening tonight?

Hansen – UT – was miles away on her jaeger and never had a chance. Hits the tuck full dismount with a hop. So they’re counting a low score from Lofgren.

A Morgan – ST – I still don’t think she has shown control on that landing, and she’s currently back with the rest of her team. Probably should get knocked for a couple steps on the Yhalf.

Beers – UT – Her form was slightly less erratic than usual and she hit the dismount well. She’s still not what they’ll want in the 4th.

Hong – ST – love seeing her out here, but that Yfull needs more height, and we know she’s capable of it. Step on landing.

Dabritz – UT – she was a little lower on the jaeger than I’m used to seeing, but it’s a solid hit. She’s capable of being much more impressive than solid hit, though.

Brown – ST – Good height and stuck landing, but VERY low in the knees.

McAllister – UT – had a really nice routine going until an oddly low dismount with a big step to the side. They just don’t look quite on as a team tonight. They’re not far off, just not on.

Dayton – ST – perfectly stuck Yhalf. Needs a bit more amplitude/distance, but it’s extremely clean.

Damianova exhibitions bars with a cowboyed double front dismount with a big step forward.

Because of Utah’s struggles on bars, after two rotations the scores are: Stanford 98.175, Utah 98.100

Final scores around the country:
Alabama 197.025, LSU 196.575
Nebraska 197.000, Arkansas 196.300
Oklahoma 197.225, Michigan 196.300, TWU 194.650

Rotation 3: Utah on beam, Stanford on floor

Lopez – UT – a little sloppy and low on the punch front but she hit this time.

S Morgan – ST – clean double tuck to mount, stuck double pike, fine 1.5 with a little less control than I’d like to see. Solid leadoff.

McAllister – UT – major wobble on dance element, but she stays on. That was the primary deduction in the routine – well done on landing the dismount, just a little crossed legs.

Hong – ST – Yay to seeing Ivana on floor – she basically has a diaper around her knee – ooh takes a fall on her double pike middle pass. Low on her front layout front full dismount. The routine itself shows off her beautiful movement style but it lacks a little dynamism. Not that it needs to be fast paced, but just a little more interesting. Nice to see her in this lineup, all that said.

Lofgren – UT – hit routine, a little wonky on her gainer dismount with a step.

Hanset – ST – she tumbles very confidently. Good hit to get Stanford back in this rotation. Not sure about the 9.675 score. It’s very possible I missed something.

Lothrop – UT – was just a little bit off line on her loso series. It looked for a moment like she could save it, but she takes an unexpected fall (after she was interestingly out of the bars lineup).

Pechanec – ST – this is a routine more capable of showing off command of a performance, even if the movement is a little weird. Steps OOB on her dismount. It’s just not there on floor today.

Beers – UT – She was right on acrobatically, but took what seemed to be an unecessarily large step on her gainer full dismount.

A Morgan – ST – delivers a hit routine, just a little bounce back on the dismount. But for someone with her tumbling talent, I’d like to see a bit more than front layouts as a second pass and a double tuck dismount.

Robarts – UT – Good hit routine so that they can drop Lothrop’s fall. Still a great streak they have going for not counting a fall on beam. Was a stronger routine than Beers, who got 9.850.

Wing – ST –  Ensures that Stanford will be able to drop Hong’s score, but they will still be counting a couple 9.6s. This routine was stronger than that score certainly, but it’s not an anchor routine.

Dabritz hits very well in exhibition for Utah. I’d like to see her in this lineup.

After 3: Utah 147.250, Stanford 146.925

Rotation 4: Stanford on beam, Utah on floor

Wilson – UT – hits the DLO and the double pike dismount solidly. It’s a very leadoff routine.

Wing – ST – lovely presence on this event, she’s been just ever so slightly off on her acro elements but has pulled them back without deduction – and then she goes and wobbles on her wolf jump – a bit of a silly mistake but the rest of the routine was nice.

Damianova – UT – really nice, tight form in the double tuck mount, a little bounce back on the double pike dismount. She’ll need to get full difficulty back on the mount if Utah is going to continue talking about E mounts.

Hong – ST – enjoy that they’ve kept her lovely mount, we’re seeing some shades of her beam form from the old days, but a wobble on the side somi and just a gainer pike dismount.

Robarts – UT – adequate double arabian with a little cowboying. It’s an acceptable routine, but I can see her getting hit for these little form breaks and dance elements when we get down to it.

S Morgan – ST – solid on acro series, has to swing a leg out on side aerial but gains control again quickly. Excellent stick on double full dismount.

Dabritz – UT – holds onto pike full mount in the knees after a lowish landing, and slightly stumbly out of her triple full. It’s unlikely to get them out of the 9.800 area.

Spinner – ST – she looks so much younger than the rest of the team, hit routine – she’s very pleased by the stuck dismount to say the least.

Tutka – UT – dance elements are not there, she’s missed each one, the tumbling is pretty solid though, especially the double tuck dismount.

Brown – ST – a couple minor wobbles on acro and connections, but she has very clean form. Just a gainer full dismount with a little body pike.

(I’m assuming something happened to Lothrop, since she was taken out of bars and floor and looked a little off on beam)

McAllister finishes things off for Utah and could get them out of the 9.825 funk.  Interesting that it goes 9.675, I thought it was not much different than the other 9.825 routines we’ve seen.

Ashley Morgan is Stanford’s anchor on beam, and has a fall on her series amidst a series of boos for the posted score for McAllister. They will not have to count Morgan’s score. See, this is what happens when you give people 9.950s for routine with mistakes, you set up unrealistic expectations and then the audience gets all upset. Though, I would also like to hear about why it was 9.675. Either I missed something or there was a composition issue again. My missing something is likely.

FINAL: Utah 196.300, Stanford 196.100

Well, thus ends a night of particularly lackluster gymnastics from all sides. This was a very sloppy meet with no impressive performances aside from Robarts on vault. This is also the tightest the judges at Utah have been this season. Utah will not be able to move up in the RQS standings, but more importantly there were just too many 9.825-quality routines tonight. The gymnastics they showed tonight will not keep them competitive with the likes of Florida.


The Weekend Agenda (February 24th-26th)

Top 25 Schedule:
Friday – 2/24/12
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [3] Georgia @ [1] Florida
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [15] Auburn, Pittsburgh @ Kentucky
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Kent State, William & Mary, Towson @ [19] NC State
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – Bowling Green @ [17] Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [21] Michigan, Texas Women’s @ [2] Oklahoma
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [3] Alabama @ [13] LSU
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [9] Nebraska @ [7] Arkansas
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [22] Minnesota @ Iowa
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – [12] Stanford @ [5] Utah
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [16] Boise State @ [8] Oregon State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [25] Washington @ [14] Arizona
Saturday – 2/25/12
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – [10] Penn State @ [11] Ohio State
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [18] Illinois @ Illinois-Chicago
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [23] West Virginia @ New Hampshire
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Sacramento State @ [20] Denver
Sunday – 2/26/12
3:00 ET / 12:00 PT – [22] Minnesota @ Iowa State
5:00 ET / 2:00 PT – [24] Arizona State @ [6] UCLA

Is anyone else having premonitions of a big scoring weekend? (I mean even more than usual, snarkypants.) Nearly all of the top teams are either at home or visiting a high scoring venue. I think we can all assume that the judges at the Georgia/Florida meet will be viewing the 197.850 from two weeks ago as a challenge.

Georgia is coming off a strong home meet led by Kat Ding’s emergence as a national all-around threat with a 39.550. Of particular importance for the Gym Dogs over the next two weeks will be solidifying those beam and floor lineups. Will Moffat, Breazeal, and Box stay in? When will Earls be back? Is Chelsea Davis going in on those events?

As we’ve been saying for two years now, Florida is crazy talented. They have a team that is absolutely capable of hitting that 198 mark given the scoring this year. What remains to be seen is whether Rhonda’s master plan will work and finally get them showing their best gymnastics at championships. Of possible issue is Mackenzie Caquatto’s status. Do they need to get her on more events? Is there time?

As for live blogs, I’ll be providing various nonsense about Stanford/Utah, a meet where both teams could really use a big score. Stanford has to work on moving up into the top 12 (a mid-196 or more should help the cause), and Utah has to mentally recover from some low scores away. Momentum is no longer on their side.

I’ll also be following UCLA’s meet against Arizona State on Sunday. UCLA has lineup spots up for grabs and needs to get out of the 9.7 territory in the first and second spots. Peszek and Larson’s statuses (and Val’s selection of hairstyle) will be key.

They’re Ugly. I Said It.

Aside from confirming Lichelle Wong’s season-ending Achilles tear, the Grande Dame was in rare form talking about ancient John Spini and Lena Degteva’s ugly leotards.

Wong and McDonald are out (not that McDonald was competing, but still), Sawa is not back yet, Cassie Whitcomb isn’t making the bars lineup, and who knows when Peszek is going to be able to do all her events again. That’s a lot of issues, and most teams could not withstand it.

While it is a lot of injuries, this team is in a fortunate position where they could almost Nebraska their lineups and still be competitive. Zamarripa, Peszek, Larson, EHH, and Courtney in the AA with Gerber and Frattone on two events each would still be a nationally competitive team. They won’t have to do that, but they could. The keys will be getting Peszek back and getting Larson out of 9.825 land.

Monday Rankings

We have a few straggling teams that do not have their three away meets yet, so RQS won’t officially come into play until next week (unlike last year, where we started RQS before Utah was eligible, so they were just a ghost team for a week). But that means that our official rankings are still based on average, so they’re about as relevant as a Y2K reference. As such, I’ve included the top 25 based on current RQS as well below.

Official Rankings for February 20th, 2012
1. Florida – 196.929
2. Oklahoma – 196.784
3. Georgia – 196.725
3. Alabama – 196.725
5. Utah – 196.721
6. UCLA – 196.543
7. Arkansas – 196.500
8. Oregon State – 196.383
9. Nebraska – 196.308
10. Penn State – 195.982
11. Ohio State – 195.856
12. Stanford – 195.725
13. LSU – 195.575
14. Arizona – 195.321
15. Auburn – 195.250
16. Boise State – 195.225
17. Missouri – 195.211
18. Illinois – 195.036
19. NC State – 194.957
20. Denver – 194.829
21. Michigan – 194.700
22. Minnesota – 194.593
23. West Virginia – 194.543
24. Arizona State – 194.514
25. Washington – 194.504


For the uninitiated, RQS is calculated by taking a team’s top 6 scores (at least 3 of which must be away), dropping the highest score, and averaging the remaining 5. Anyone who tells you it’s complicated is lying. It took 27 words.

RQS Rankings for February 20th, 2012
1. Oklahoma – 196.995
2. Florida – 196.925
3. UCLA – 196.725
4. Georgia – 196.660
5. Utah – 196.555
6. Arkansas – 196.545
7. Alabama – 196.525
8. Oregon State – 196.180
9. Nebraska – 196.095
10. Penn State – 195.950
11. LSU – 195.935
12. Ohio State – 195.735
13. Stanford – 195.580
14. Missouri – 195.485
15. Auburn – 195.245
16. Illinois – 195.155
17. Arizona – 195.130
18. Boise State – 195.035
19. Denver – 194.890
20. NC State – 194.775
21. Washington – 194.525
22. West Virginia – 194.520
23. Iowa – 194.415
24. Kentucky – 194.255
25. New Hampshire – 194.150

Thoughts after the jump:

  • Oklahoma has flown completely under the radar to this #1 RQS spot, and I don’t think anyone is sold that they are the top team in the country. They are very good, but I still have questions about how competitive they will be on vault and floor when competing directly against the top teams in the postseason–amplitude and difficulty may pale in comparison. However, they have achieved this position by being extremely consistent on beam and recording huge scores on the road, two excellent predicting factors for postseason success. 
  • UCLA is a bit of a surprise in the #3 spot because they have been good but not great for the last couple weeks on the road.  However, they have put up scores in the high 196s which puts them in an advantageous position compared to teams still counting road scores in the low 196s from the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, they are looking more and more like an injury box.  
  • Arkansas and Utah are the only very top teams hosting Regionals this year. Watch out for Auburn as a potential spoiler host in that #3 seed spot. That’s the most dangerous type of team in Regionals. If I’m a nonhost, I’d much rather see a top seed or a lower team with an unrealistic shot even with charitable scoring.  
  • We’re just seeing Arkansas falter a bit in the rankings after the fast start. It may just be a bit too much to ask this year, but they’re making a case for always being part of the conversation.
  • Most teams have just three or four regular season meets left. It’s time to start getting those postseason lineups out onto the floor this week and next week, especially because those teams that compete the week before conference championships have to manage fatigue at the very end of the regular season. This weekend, keep an eye on which teams are able to do it and which teams still have to manage lineups because of injury or uncertainty about hitting. It will be very telling with regard to postseason success. 

Things That Are Actually Good

I’m so pleased that we can welcome back scoring controversy in all its glory this year. Sure, we’ve had crazy scores over the past couple of years (we always do), but it was much more isolated to specific meets or specific locations. Now, we’re getting it so intensely all over the country to the point where Greg Marsden had to comment on the inconsistency. It feels like it’s been a few years since it’s been this fun. Just me?

I never want to give the impression that I am ever upset or frustrated by crazy scores. I live for them. Where would we be without them? But, if you’re tired of thinking about these scores and their tentative relationship with visual reality, I understand. I therefore submit the following soothing bar routines for your enjoyment:

Saturday Meets

Final Scores:
Georgia 197.225, Kentucky 193.125
Ohio State 197.625, Denver 195.450 (Ohio State got a 49.600 on floor. This is our second 49.600 on floor of the weekend. Unless you cured cancer as a second pass, you do not deserve a 49.600)

Georgia, Nebraska, Stanford, Penn State, and Ohio State are all in action on this busier than usual Saturday. I’ll be paying attention primarily to how Georgia manages to score at home with a definite opportunity to pick up ground on Utah if they convert well.

UCLA has confirmed that Lichelle Wong suffered an Achilles injury yesterday during the three-minute touch before floor. The extent of the injury has not been specifically confirmed, so we can only hope it’s not a complete tear, but…McDonald last week, Wong this week…this team might as well hold training sessions at urgent care.

In other news, congratulations are in order to former Arkansas gymnast Casey Jo Magee, who achieved her qualifying score today at the WOGA Classic to qualify to the Covergirl Classic as an all-arounder.

Georgia is soon to get underway against Kentucky at 4:00 ET / 1:00 PT. Moffatt and Breazeal are in on beam today for the Gymdogs, so that will be a rotation to watch. No Kaylan Earls on any event because of an Achilles-related issue. Trend?

Big start for Georgia with a 9.850 from Davis on vault.  As an elite, this was her weakest event, but she has carved out a solid place for herself in this lineup.  Bodes well for a big rotation to start with 9.850.

Georgia is not really able to pick up on the momentum from Davis’s opening, continuing to hang out in that 9.8 territory until Breazeal’s 9.750.  It will be a fine rotation, but Hires and Ding need to go in the 9.9s to make it big. The best teams are consistently going over 49.400 this year, so anything below that is just OK, especially at home.

Hires and Ding do exactly what they needed to with 9.925s to end the rotation at 49.375. It’s just below that 49.400 level, but since Georgia is not relying on vault to beef up their score the way some other teams are, that’s exactly where they need to be. They can pick up ground on bars, where a lot of teams are still satisfied with something like 49.200.  UGA can (and should) go higher than that.

Worley, Davis, Nuccio, and Ding are the highlights of the Georgia bar rotation, so if they can get Tanella and Couch going over 9.800, it’s a good day. And that’s exactly what happens with Tanella and Couch going 9.825, 9.850.

Important that Chelsea Davis goes 9.900 on bars. She’s been capable of it since Day 1, but there’s always been a handstand here and there that keeps her from it. Kat Ding finishes the rotation with 9.900 as well (when will she get a 10? I need it more than she does.) so Georgia scores another 49.375.

Halfway: Georgia 98.750, Kentucky 97.050. Georgia should expect a score in the 197s based on these first two rotations.

Good to see Moffatt post a 9.825 on beam. I certainly like her much better than Tanella in this position, but who knows if the lineup will stay this way.

A fine 9.775 from Breazeal on beam should boost this team, as they now have the two question mark routines out of the way without a mistake. (Although, perhaps Shayla is always a question mark.)

Oh Shayla. Oh Shayla. I would say I jinxed you, but it’s happened way too many times to be my fault. An 8.700 on beam with two falls. This was supposed to be Shayla’s year, but it’s still a miracle when she hits all three events.

After three rotations, Georgia stands at 147.775 to Kentucky’s 145.500.  Georgia can still hit 197 with a 49.225 on floor, though that’s no given.  They’ll have to put Shayla back together.

So, as we finish, Georgia scores a 49.450 on floor with Couch getting a 9.950.  A 9.950.  Again.

FINAL: Georgia 197.225, Kentucky 193.125.  

Also, Ohio State scored something crazy. See the top of the post. I can’t deal with this.  What is happening?

It’s Friday. There Are Meets. We Have Scores.

Some of them might even be interesting.  An early start to today’s action as Utah visits Michigan beginning at 6:00 ET / 3:00 PT.

Michigan has carved out a little place for the team in the 20s in the rankings, and while the team may eventually climb up into the teens, it’s hard to expect much more than that with how depleted they are.  They have only ten healthy gymnasts and two of them are non-competers.  Utah is looking to rebound after an uncharacteristically inconsistent meet last week.

Final Scores:
Utah 196.150, Michigan 194.850
Florida 197.500, Auburn 196.875
Oklahoma 197.400, Missouri 196.375
Alabama 197.650, Arkansas 196.125
UCLA 196.775, Oregon State 196.775

The only lineup change from last week for Utah is Damianova in on floor instead of Delaney [Never mind, Delaney is back in].  I’m a bit surprised to see Hansen remain in the bars lineup.  She didn’t look ready last week. Hansen scores a 9.700 this week following Lopez’s 9.775.

Michigan has a mistake from Zakharia on vault – (that she has to vault is evidence of this team’s dire situation) – so they’re counting a 9.725.

Beers goes 9.650 for Utah.  She has some very tenuous form on that event – this will happen from time to time.  Not an auspicious start for Utah.  Now they need Dabritz to hit to capabilities this week.  But it’s just more scores in the high 9.7s.  I’m sure they’re surprised by these numbers.  Welcome to Michigan.

Good for Michigan.  They get biggish scores from Zurales and Sugiyama on vault to go 49.100.  Beam will tell us how this meet goes, but you can’t deny that they do have some talented performers capable of big scores (just not enough).  The bigger surprise is that they lead Utah after one event (49.100 to 48.850).  Utah had no routines scoring over 9.800.

Bars is not the strength for Utah.  They can come back on the other three events by showing their difficulty, but this kind of road scoring should be worrisome for them.  It will be interesting to see how the Michigan judges respond to Utah’s “E passes” narrative.

Utah is getting a bit more help from the judges on vault, where Tory Wilson has finally broken the 9.800 barrier for them, and Dabritz follows with a 9.900.  The final three in the Utah vault rotation do have pretty nice form and can score exceptionally well when they hit their landings.

Utah recovers a bit on vault with two 9.9s from their freshman duo (where would this vault lineup be without them?) to score 49.200.  After two rotations, they lead Michigan now 98.050-97.825.  Just like Utah, Michigan had a walking 9.7 of a bars rotation.  In most cases, the top teams put themselves in a position where they can count a fall and still have a solid 196-y meet that is at least respectable in the grand scheme of a season.  At Michigan, Utah has no room to count even an OOB, let alone a fall.

Delaney is back into the floor rotation instead of Damianova.  Tutka opens with a big 9.850.  Zurales has been doing the largest share of the work for Michigan tonight – a 9.850 on beam is exactly what they needed.  Surprised a little at the mistakes we’re seeing for Utah on floor.  I thought for sure they would come back on a mission and hit well after last week, but if Lothrop and McAllister hit they can still go a couple tenths over 49.  Don’t expect those home 9.950s, though.

Michigan looked to be on the way to a serviceable beam rotation until 9.200s from the final two competitors deflated any scoring potential.

Utah scores 49.100 on floor, so a 196.500 looks a bit too far out of reach for them in this meet.  But they should focus on hitting six beam routines so they can put up something respectable for this road score.  The #1 ranking looks in serious jeopardy.

Lopez struggles again in the beam leadoff position for Utah, scoring 9.575.  Pressure’s on again in the last rotation this week.  Utah will be counting at least a 9.600 from McAllister, and Michigan will be counting at least a 9.675 from Sugiyama.  This is just about getting through the meet now for both teams and then hoping to move on to bigger and better scores.

The 9.925 from Sampson on floor is the highest score of the meet so far.  Michigan finishes, though, with a disappointing 194.850.

Utah finishes with a 9.825 from Robarts to just barely scrape above the 196 mark.  Both this score and the 196.150 will be counting toward their RQS.  The home scores are probably big enough to keep Utah in the top six going into regionals, but at this point it’s likely that we will see another one of the top 9 teams in the Utah regional, which Utah would not prefer.  You always want to have a buffer.

Moving on, Oklahoma is currently visiting Missouri and the queens of the road are on the lookout for yet another road 197.

Well, hello, Missouri.  The Tigers just scored 49.350 on vault with three scores at 9.900+.  I was……not expecting that.  Oklahoma avoids counting a fall from Brie Olson, but is not able to break 49.  The Sooners surprisingly trail by .375 after the first rotation.  I can’t imagine this will continue, but watch this space.

In the second rotation, Taylor Spears (whose name is a sentence, and I have no time for that) scored a 9.850 on vault.  I’m going to need to see these Oklahoma vaults again.  They’re scoring too well to be as unmemorable as I think they are.  Apparently my amplitude standards are too high, among other gymnastics-related psychoses.  Sara Stone scores 9.950, and Oklahoma recovers from bars with a 49.450 on vault, which is near UCLA/Alabama levels of scoring.

Over at the Auburn/Florida meet, Ashanee scored a 9.850 on bars, which we should just accept as a positive because she was scoring like an 11.000 at home, but I still have a lot of questions about leg separations and handstands and foot form.  Marissa King appears to have emerged as that third bar worker we were looking for in preseason, scoring a 9.900 to introduce similar scores from Caquatto and Johnson.  Johnson scoring only .050 more than Dickerson is not an adequate separation to reflect the difference is subtle qualities.  49.400 is the final bars total.

Over with Alabama/Arkansas, it looks like Alabama is pulling out the ideal lineup on each event (at least as I see it).  Very positive that they have moved Sledge to #4 on bars.

Florida was supposed to be putting up sort of a B+ lineup today, but this looks pretty close to their ideal lineup (and they’re scoring like it), except for King on vault it appears.  Hello, Florida just vaulted 49.575.  We have an official 198 watch happening here.

Alabama is vaulting very well through the first two.  They’ll be challenging Florida’s score here.  Do we hear another 10?  A little hop back for Sledge, so that shouldn’t go quite as high.  Oooh, I had Gutierrez in the 10 pool, but she steps back pretty far.  Not as strong as usual.

Fall from Salmon for Arkansas, but they had strong enough routines from Pisani and Grable that Howdeshell should be able to save a fine rotation.

It was tough to judge Geralen’s 9.950 because the replay didn’t show her legs (thanks), and Milliner got a 9.925 for her 1.5 with a step to the side.  Overscoring was clearly there (no way was Milliner a 9.950 – which one judge gave her), but it was relatively minor, expected, home overscoring.  The total of 49.525 still feels too high – though not relative to other teams.  Unfortunately for Arkansas, Howdeshell had some really bent arms on catches and a big lunge forward on the dismount.  They finish bars with 48.950 and are more than a half point behind Alabama.

Clark has a few form breaks on bars and should score about where she usually does, but Alexin had a handstand issue and a poor dismount, so they’ll hope to drop that.  Arkansas has been solid enough on vault so far, but they lack the dynamics of Alabama at the beginning of the lineup – they improve tremendously toward the end.  Pisani and Grable are a treat.

Sledge was very close on her gienger and had to muscle up a handstand – so unfortunately not her best routine.  Geralen hits well with just one handstand not up to scratch, and Priess does about the same.  For DeMeo, GSE, and Priess this was very solid progress on bars.

Okay, I know Oklahoma is the most confident, best trained team on beam, but still…a 49.600 is wow.  They finish with 197.400, another huge away score.  At this rate, they’ll be counting only away scores for RQS.

Where were we?  So, Alabama had another strong rotation on beam, led by Priess with 9.925, to put them on pace for well over 197.  They will be potentially challenging Florida and Oklahoma’s scores, especially with most of the big guns in the floor lineup tonight.

Jacob has staked a claim to this leadoff spot because she has solid 9.8-level tumbling and energetic routines.  This performance was on par with her usual.

Frost can sell her routine and is pretty solid on her DLO always – let’s see about this dismount.  It’s a tuck, which is smarter and she hits well – probably the best she’s been on floor.

Arkansas’s first three beam routines have little wobbles here and there.  They’re not bad by any means, but they don’t keep the team competitive with the top beam teams.  I agree with KJC and Suzanne that there’s a little lack of attack early in that lineup.

Milliner’s choreography doesn’t really do much for me.  It’s a lot of arms and smiling when the music asks for a harder attitude and stronger, more committed movements.  That being said, the tumbling was excellent.

Rough time for Arkansas with the fall from Williams.  They’ll be counting two scores in the 9.6s.

Gutierrez was mostly excellent except for a really upsetting ring position and perhaps a little issue (very minor) on the second pass.  This rotation has been scoring high, so I don’t expect that to be reflected too much in the score.

Pisani has a little wobble in her routine, but she rights things for Arkansas.  Her dismount is a confident joy.

Geralen lands very low on her double arabian, but I’m impressed she got it around because it looked like she set it awkwardly.  The rest of the routine is a hit, but the composition is a little strange because the most intense part of the music (which has too much of that film score feel – because it is one) comes when she is prepping for her dismount – odd choice.  The 9.950 is kind of a joke because of the low mount.

Grable dismounts with her ambitious double pike, but it’s very low with a big step forward.

Priess hits her floor in the final routine of the meet.  It will probably get a 12. (9.950)

Alabama goes 49.600 on floor – their tumbling is very nice, but there were definite issues ignored here – to score 197.650 and lead the day.  UCLA and Oregon State could potentially pass this up, but I feel confident in concluding that this will win the day.  Arkansas scores 196.125, which will certainly hurt them in the standings.

UCLA is starting on beam at Oregon State.  This will be an adventure.  Aisha returns to leadoff (…..) and scores 9.750.  That’s the kind of score Wong or Baer might be getting in the first spot, but Aisha needs to be going higher [Score revised to 9.825].  Harris leads the first half of OSU’s lineup with a 9.875, until Blalock goes 9.925 – it will be interesting to see what UCLA’s lineup gets – going after OSU is a bonus because UCLA has the more dynamic vaults.

OSU finishes with 49.200 on vault.  They looked to go higher but had to drop Jones’s anchor score of 9.725.  UCLA is hovering around 9.750-9.800, which is not great, but they’ve hit 4/4 so far, so it’s not the end of the world.  Good to see Zam in the lineup, which likely means her injury is not bad – but she, too, needs to be going much higher than 9.750.

Scratch that about Cal.  The score was momentarily wrong.  They had to count a fall on bars and went 48.325.  Sad for them, but much more believable.

Uncharacteristic fall from Peszek (her first of the season), so UCLA scores just a 48.950 on beam.  After today, UCLA has only three regular season meets remaining.  The time is passing where we’re just OK with getting through a meet.  The high-level performances need to start coming, especially from gymnasts like Larson, who hasn’t really put it together yet.

Gerber’s score was revised to 9.825 – (one judge went up .1 and the other went up .05, so it can’t have been a start value issue, right?) to put UCLA over 49 with a bit more respectable of a score.  Still, they need to have multiple people going over 9.825.

De La Torre is in the floor lineup (oddly, because I would put her probably 9th on a UCLA floor depth chart.  Are we still exploring depth?  Aren’t we exploring good yet?) and scores 9.750 to start.

Unexpectedly, it appears Zamarripa has come in on floor (after Val just got done telling us that she wasn’t ready yet yesterday.  She’s a tricky one.) and scored 9.800 in her season debut.

OSU runs through all the 9.8 combinations to score 49.325 on bars, which is an excellent score, but since this is their best event, they probably want more than 9.875s from Mak and Vivian.

UCLA ends up putting up a pretty makeshift floor lineup to score 49.100.  It’s of concern that Peszek did not compete floor after her issue on the beam.  Hopefully nothing is wrong there.  Perhaps that’s why MDLT had to come in.  Pritchett also had a fall to break her streak.  I wonder if she can maintain that lineup spot with Zam back and when Larson and Peszek come back in.

After 2: Oregon State 98.525, UCLA 98.125, Cal 95.550 (disaster on beam)

OSU to the beam now, and UCLA to the vault.  This is where UCLA could make up those four tenths in one go.

Another odd lineup for UCLA on vault with no Larson or Peszek (which makes me think something is wrong or potentially wrong) and with MDLT in (and she goes 9.925, which is also sort of bizarre).  Nonetheless they put together a 49.450, which is not their best but we desperately needed.  They won’t hit 197, but they could manage high 196s again if they do something on bars.

Leslie Mak goes 9.950 on beam with a 10 from one of the judges.

After 3: Oregon State 147.700, UCLA 147.575, Cal lagging well behind after another struggle.

Oh man, Ellette Craddock comes in for UCLA on bars (and good for her for scoring a 9.800).  Is this just about depth, or is this team all of the sudden crazy depleted?

UCLA is able to withstand a fall from De La Torre on bars and score 49.200 (without Larson and Peszek again), so they finish with a solid, fine, respectable 196.775, though they are capable of much more and will not be satisfied by that score.  I’m expecting something very 197-y from them at home next week.

In a surprising turn of events, we actually have a tie final score.  It looked like OSU had it in the bag, but Mak scored just 9.750 on floor, so they came back to the Bruins.  That will be disappointing for Oregon State because UCLA was slightly off and didn’t have their best gymnasts available all the time. They probably should have won this meet.  Reaching back for this tie on the road will be a mental victory for UCLA.

The Weekend Agenda (February 17th-19th)

Both Arkansas and Alabama are coming off weak scores of 195.875 and 196.000, respectively, which saw them fall from the 3rd and 2nd spots to the 5th and 6th.  The loser of this dual meet may be on downward spiral watch.  The last time Alabama competed at home they put up an enormous score, and we can probably expect the same thing this week when away 9.775s become home 9.850s.  The vault judges at Alabama are 2/2 for giving out 10s, do I hear a third?  I’m betting on Gutierrez this week.

Arkansas struggled last week because Grable struggled.  That was a test of whether their depth could make up for a weak meet from one of the stars, and they didn’t really pass.  There are a lot of missed handstands and low landings in the early lineups, so keep an eye on how those routines are progressing. I finally got the chance to catch up and watch the Arkansas/Florida meet from forever ago, and I was not wholly impressed by Arkansas.  I need to see something more in the third and fourth positions.

I’ll also be following the scores for the UCLA @ Oregon State (with Cal) meet, watching specifically for Oregon State’s vault and floor scores because I still wonder about their amplitude and landing position  and for UCLA’s bar scores (and lineup decisions).  Also, it will be interesting to see how much Zamarripa does.  They’re praying that ankle issue is just a minor annoyance.

Georgia, Alabama, and Oregon State are the major teams competing at home, so they look the most likely candidates for the highest score of the week, especially with Utah visiting Michigan.  I’ll go with Alabama because I think they have the highest scoring potential of the three, but I don’t feel completely certain about that.

Top 25 Schedule:
Friday – 2/17/12
6:00 ET / 3:00 PT – [1] Utah @ [21] Michigan
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – New Hampshire @ [19] NC State
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – [3] Oklahoma @ [16] Missouri
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – [2] Florida @ [17] Auburn
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Michigan State @ [18] Illinois
8:00 ET / 5:00 PT – Iowa State @ [24] Iowa
8:30 ET / 5:30 PT – [5] Arkansas @ [6] Alabama
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – San Jose State @ [14] Boise State
9:00 ET / 6:00 PT – BYU @ [15] Arizona
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [7] UCLA, Cal @ [8] Oregon State
10:00 ET / 7:00 PT – [13] LSU, Seattle Pacific @ [23] Washington

Saturday – 2/18/12
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – Kentucky @ [4] Georgia
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – [20] Denver @ [11] Ohio State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [9] Nebraska @ Minnesota
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – Brockport @ [10] Penn State
7:00 ET / 4:00 PT – [23] West Virginia, Rutgers, William & Mary @ Maryland
7:30 ET / 4:30 PT – Metroplex Challenge ([12] Stanford, Brown, Bridgeport)

Sunday – 2/19/12
4:00 ET / 1:00 PT – [18] Illinois @ [25] Arizona State

Press Conferences

Val has mentioned a few times lately that she will pull people from the lineup who don’t warm up well right before the competition.  I like this strategy for a deep team because it keeps everyone on their toes and ensures that the most likely hits get to compete (you’re not putting in a clunker just because she usually hits in practice), but it brings up an interesting coaching question.  In the past, Val has been very adamant that she won’t pull a gymnast from the beam lineup just because of a fall the week before because she doesn’t want the gymnast to think that the coaching staff has no confidence in her.  This new attitude seems like a clear departure from that philosophy.  How is a gymnast going to believe you have confidence in her if you’re yanking her right before the meet because you’re afraid she’ll fall?

It’s important that Rhonda is resting some of her gymnasts this week.  That foresight will be important in keeping everyone healthy, and it goes hand in hand with the new strategy to peak later.  They can’t peak if they’re not intact.  We haven’t seen too much variation in lineups so far, so getting to see gymnasts like Wang come back into the lineup will help us see how much depth this team has and whether they really do have those reliable backups or whether there will be pressure to hold on to the six who are currently converting in competition.  A big road score will help them close the RQS gap with Oklahoma.

Monday Rankings

Rankings for February 13th
1. Utah – 196.855
2. Florida – 196.833
3. Oklahoma – 196.696
4. Georgia – 196.642
5. Arkansas – 196.554
6. Alabama – 196.540
7. UCLA – 196.504
8. Oregon State – 196.305
9. Nebraska – 196.200
10. Penn State – 195.988
11. Ohio State – 195.604
12. Stanford – 195.595
13. LSU – 195.429
14. Boise State – 195.175
15. Arizona – 195.130
16. Missouri – 195.017
17. Auburn – 194.979
18. Illinois – 194.860
19. NC State – 194.833
20. Denver – 194.725
21. Michigan – 194.670
22. West Virginia – 194.500
23. Washington – 194.425
24. Iowa – 194.383
25. Arizona State – 194.346


Have I underestimated Oregon State?  The team recorded a great score this weekend of 197.400, which certainly took me by surprise.  I tend to think of them as being the excellent Leslie Mak, a few routines from Makayla Stambaugh, and Olivia Vivian on bars.  To me, that’s not enough to sustain a top team.  But if they’re able to show more than that, we may have to expand our conversation to a nine-way race.  I haven’t seen a full meet from them this year, so I will likely check in on UCLA @ Oregon State this Friday.

More thoughts after the jump.

  • Arkansas and Alabama dropped significantly after poor performances.  They will be competing against each other this week, both needing a rebound, which Alabama is more likely to get at home.  At Georgia, Grable had an off meet and Pisani had a fall, which the team could not recover from.  As they go, so goes Arkansas.
  • LSU is starting to show more and more potential, scoring in the high 196s over the weekend.  Everyone will be hoping that this team finds its way into the top 12 before Regionals.  No one wants to see this LSU team as the #3 seed.  They would be a prime spoiler.  Imagine if Utah were to get Stanford and LSU in their Regional (as the rankings stand now).  That would be a fun day.
  • More teams are starting to have running RQS totals, which gives us a great glimpse of where teams stand and what they need.  Oklahoma is in the wonderful position of scoring so well on the road that they have an upper hand on the rest of the teams that are trying to scrape together three usable road scores.  This is why they have the upper hand on higher-ranked Florida.
  • UCLA should be pleased at how close they are to the teams above them, considering their running RQS includes a 194.600.  Even something like a 196.500 at Oregon State would put them right in middle of the lead pack.
  • Nebraska competed six all-arounders last weekend, which I suppose makes sense since they are probably the team’s best on each event, but I’m not comfortable with it.  Beam continues to be a nail-biter.

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama