If we’ve reached a certain point in the NCAA season, you might have started to wonder what the mother of crap RQS is, so here you go.
RQS stands for Regional Qualifying Score. This score determines which 36 teams advance to the regional championships, which is the first elimination round in the NCAA gymnastics postseason.
The RQS is calculated by taking a team’s top six scores from the season, of which at least three must have been scored on the road, removing the high score, and averaging the remaining five. So yes, of all the 10-13 meets a team competes in during the regular season, only five actually end up counting and the rest are rendered entirely pointless. Now you know why we need psychiatrists.
Here’s an example of calculating RQS using Oklahoma’s 2016 season.
In bold are the six highest scores achieved by Oklahoma during the season. Three of them were scored on the road, so that requirement is fulfilled. (If they hadn’t been, a lower road score would have to be used in place of one of the higher home scores). So now, all we have to do is drop the highest score—the 198.075 from meet 10—and average the remaining five bold scores, leaving Oklahoma with a season RQS of 197.920. This is done for each team, they are ranked, and the top 36 continue their seasons. The top 6 receive a #1 seeding at the various regional championships, the 7-12 teams receive #2 seedings, and the 13-18 teams receive #3 seedings. The remaining teams are placed geographically.
For reasons that remain stupid, a snake system is used to place the seeds in the following order (unless hosting conflicts arise).
Regional 1: #1, #12, #13
Regional 2: #2, #11, #14
Regional 3: #3, #10, #15
Regional 4: #4, #9, #16
Regional 5: #5, #8, #17
Regional 6: #6, #7, #18
Because two teams advance from each regional, the #1 seed receives the hardest draw (having to beat #13) and the #6 seed receives the easiest draw (having to beat #18). See above re: psychiatrists.
Much like the opportunity to drop the lowest score of the rotation during meets, the ultimate function of the RQS is to maintain the status quo and ensure that the powerful teams remain powerful. It allows teams that started the season poorly (or had a weird horrendous meet) to drop those bad scores and maintain a ranking more befitting their overall quality, rewarding peak ability and by effect punishing consistency. It also prevents teams with one random giant score from using that to pad their ranking by forcing them to drop the high score.