Tag Archives: Alabama

Friday Live Blog – January 13, 2017

Friday, January 13
Scores Watch
6:30 ET/3:30 PT – [21] West Virginia @ Pitt LINK ACCN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [15] Kentucky @ [3] Florida LINK SEC+
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Georgia @ [14] Auburn LINK SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UW-Whitewater @ UW-Stout LINK FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Oshkosh, Towson @ Iowa State LINK ISU TV
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Hamline @ UW-La Crosse FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Gustavus Adolphus @ Winona State FREE
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [6] Missouri @ [12] Arkansas LINK SEC+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan State @ [24] Iowa LINK UI TV
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [1] LSU @ [4] Alabama LINK SECN
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [5] Utah @ [23] BYU LINK FREE
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [16] NC State, Bowling Green @ Utah State LINK FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Stanford, Boise State, Yale @ UC Davis LINK
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [9] Oregon State @ Seattle Pacific LINK FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – San Jose State @ [20] Sacramento State LINK

A big day! Well, you know, a relatively hearty day. A husky day. It’s LSU and Alabama. I mean, come on. The live-blogging plan is to begin with Georgia/Auburn and Kentucky/Florida, then on to LSU/Alabama and maybe a dash Missouri/Arkansas. Today, we also have some watch-worthy later teams including Utah and Oregon State, so the slate is packed. For you non-subscription viewers, your treat today is the free streams for both Utah and Oregon State.

Of course, Stanford and Boise State would be a watch-worthy later meet as well, if we could watch it. Still, that’s one of those meets where refreshing the live scores should be a sporting event unto itself. Lots of calories burned there. Continue reading Friday Live Blog – January 13, 2017

Friday Live Blog – January 6, 2017

Friday, January 6 Scores Watch
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [9] Georgia @ [2] LSU LINK SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [21] Kentucky @ Eastern Michigan LINK ESPN3
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Illinois-Chicago @ Michigan State LINK BTN+
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Arizona State @ Iowa State LINK ISU TV
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [3] Alabama @ [1] Oklahoma LINK FSN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [13] Oregon State @ [8] Auburn LINK SECN+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [24] Illinois, Ball State @ [19] Missouri LINK SECN+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State, TWU @ [18] Arizona LINK P12

And so it begins. The live blogging plan is to start with Georgia/LSU for the first hour, then switch major focus to Alabama/Oklahoma while also continuing Georgia/LSU and keeping a quarter of an eye on interesting routines from Oregon State/Auburn. Illinois/Missouri actually should be worthwhile too, but priorities priorities. Continue reading Friday Live Blog – January 6, 2017

Alabama 2017

Katie Bailey
  • Weekly UB, frequent VT, BB, FX throughout career
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.890, FX – 9.875, VT – 9.860
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.714
Amanda Jetter
  • Constant in UB lineup, FX contributor as physically able in first three years
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.888
Keely McNeer
  • Leadoff VT, UB, BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.885, VT – 9.840, UB – 9.835
Mary Lillian Sanders
  • Suddenly made final BB lineup in 2016
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.800
Aja Sims
  • Queen of BB lineup, semi-regular FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.915, FX – 9.845
McKenzie Valentin
  • Transfer from Arizona for 2015 season
  • Competes a few FX routines per season
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.831
Mackenzie Brannan
  • Near-weekly AA contributor in 2016, made all four final lineups
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.900, VT – 9.890, FX – 9.870, BB – 9.820
Nickie Guerrero
  • Staple of BB, VT lineups in 2016
  • Occasional backup FX
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.895, VT – 9.865
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.850
Jennie Loeb
  • Has not competed in first two seasons
Kiana Winston
  • Weekly UB, frequent BB, FX, occasional VT in 2016
  • 2016 RQSL UB – 9.920, FX – 9.905, BB – 9.845
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.850
  • Competed 3 VTs in 2016 for 9.642 average (one fall)
Jenna Bresette
  • Weekly VT in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.835
Peyton Ernst
  • Transfer from Florida
  • Weekly BB in 2016 for 9.860 RQS
  • Occasional early season UB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.635
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.792
Ari Guerra
  • Occasional mid-season UB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.855, FX – 9.820
Wynter Childers
  • Spearfish SD
  • 2015 JO National AA champion
  • 2016 JO National BB, FX champion
Caitlin Cole
  • Haydens
  • 2016 Region 8 BB 3rd
Maddie Desch
  • GAGE
  • 2014 World Championship alternate
  • 2014 Nationals 7th AA
Shea Mahoney
  • Legacy Elite
  • 2015 JO Nationals 7th AA, 2nd VT, 3rd FX

Recent History
2016 – 3rd
2015 – 4th
2014 – 4th
2013 – 3rd
2012 – 1st
2011 – 1st
2010 – 3rd

Alabama owns the country’s longest active Super Six streak, sitting at nine years. Considering the relatively non-devastating roster losses from last season and the sheer depth of this team, that streak should reach ten years this season.

That, of course, isn’t the goal. The goal is winning. Alabama remains among the more likely schools to win the title this year, though not the most likely. To get over that hurdle once again and improve on last year’s finish, Alabama will have to find a way to translate its bevy of nearly interchangeable 9.875s into a core of a few 9.9s. A team with five 9.9s will do better than a team with ten 9.850s, which is Alabama’s challenge right now. In Super Six last year, Alabama recorded six 9.9s compared to Oklahoma’s twelve, and that’s your margin of victory right there.

Based on last season, it would be foolish nonsense to even attempt to profile Alabama’s lineups since seven million people will compete on each apparatus and the lineup will reinvent itself every week, so let’s do it. Continue reading Alabama 2017

2017 Freshman Preview: Alabama

Returning Routines – Alabama
Brannan – 9.890
Guerrero – 9.865
Bailey – 9.860
Winston – 9.850
McNeer – 9.840
Bresette – 9.835
Armbrecht – 9.642
Winston – 9.920
Brannan – 9.900
Bailey – 9.890
Jetter – 9.875
Guerra – 9.855
Giancroce – 9.792
Sims – 9.915
Guerrero – 9.895
McNeer – 9.885
Winston – 9.845
Brannan – 9.820
Sanders – 9.800
Bailey – 9.735
Winston – 9.905
Jetter – 9.888
Bailey – 9.875
Brannan – 9.870
Guerrero – 9.850
Sims – 9.845
Valentin – 9.831
Guerra – 9.820
Giancroce – 9.635

Alabama will surely feel the sting of losing Lauren Beers and Carley Sims in 2017, but the sheer number of routines this team trotted out last season provides us a fairly clear and comfortable projection of how these lineups stay hearty in the new season, bolstered by this freshman class.

Let’s start with fastidious bun’s Maddie Desch. The mystery of what exactly Maddie Desch’s college career will look like has confounded scholars for near months. Such is often the case when a former elite directly connects her college career out of an extended injury layoff.

Desch obviously has the skills and ability across all four events, four routines that were largely equal during her elite career. That’s exactly what got her the alternate spot in 2014. She’s more or less the prototypical Martha alternate, someone who could step in and give a perfectly normal prelims 14.000 routine on any event as needed.

Desch’s elite skill set included a DTY on vault, a whip-double Arabian on floor, and a stalder-thon of a bars routine. Beam was always a nail-biter (I’d put Desch closer to the Brenna Dowell school of GAGE beam than the Courtney McCool school) but essentially right there with the other events. Of note on bars, Desch is among the select few who can do a shaposh 1/2 with her legs together the whole time, making it a very appealing option for NCAA construction. All things being kittens, you’d throw her into three/four events without much of a thought. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Alabama

Returning Routine Rankings 2017

Yes, that is a picture of D-D Breaux in a pink hardhat. Because there doesn’t need to be a reason.

Now that the NCAA schedules are finally coming together-ish, it’s probably important for us to start remembering who the people are and what the things do. It’s a really tough job. We need three months.

Before beginning to evaluate this year’s incoming freshmen, I decided to check out where the teams stand without them, how they rank using only scores from 2016’s returning gymnasts. It’s a totally scientific and unimpeachable way of quantifying just how much work the freshmen and new transfers will need to do for teams to return to (or improve on) last year’s level.

When available, I used RQS for each gymnast, but when not, I used full season average.

Most teams do return at least five people who competed on each apparatus last year, but when they don’t, I filled out the remaining scores with punishment 9.700s (I told you, totally scientific). It’s a way of making sure each team has a comparable total, operating under the belief that for these top 15 teams, the backup gymnast who wasn’t good enough to compete probably would have scored a replacement-level 9.700. That is, unless the returning scores were already lower than that (*cough* Utah’s beam *cough*).

1. LSU – 197.726
Gnat – 9.965
Ewing – 9.905
Hambrick – 9.880
Finnegan – 9.835
Cannamela – 9.835
Macadaeg – 9.790
Priessman – 9.750
Finnegan 9.915
Hambrick – 9.905
Zamardi – 9.875
Priessman – 9.869
Gnat – 9.727
Cannamela – 9.663
Finnegan – 9.915
Gnat – 9.895
Macadaeg – 9.890
Hambrick – 9.885
Ewing – 9.870
Priessman – 9.725
Cannamela – 9.603
Gnat – 9.980
Macadaeg – 9.950
Kelley – 9.885
Hambrick – 9.880
Ewing – 9.865
Finnegan – 9.692
Zamardi – 9.517
Cannamela – 9.050

Losing only Savona and a not-100% Wyrick from last year’s Super Six team, LSU is sailing smoothly on most events. Continue reading Returning Routine Rankings 2017

Comings and Goings

Oklahoma won the national title six whole days ago, which is like a thousand years ago. Sorry, Oklahoma. We’re moving on. What have you done for us lately? Basically nothing? That’s what I thought.

The 2017 season is just around the corner, as long as that corner is really, really far away. We don’t know anything real about 2017 yet, but we do know which valuable gems and enthusiastic leaders in the training gym we won’t see next year, along with which bright new lights full of possibilities and undiagnosed shin problems will be joining the teams in their place.

Detailed looks at each team and roster will come much later, when the season approaches and I actually vaguely know who these JO gymnasts are, but let’s call this a preliminary glance at who’s coming and who’s going on each team now that the 2016 season is closed and locked away forever and the traditional eight-month moratorium has been placed on the terms “parity,” “yurchenko arabian,” “confident leadoff,” and “life lessons.” I’ve placed the top teams into various categories based on the current outlook and added the RQSs for the routines they will lose after 2016.

This is, of course, assuming that people do what they’re supposed to and don’t suddenly turn pro or run off to join a traveling circus or whatever.

Smooth sailing

Out: Jessica Savona, Randii Wyrick, Michelle Gauthier
In: Ruby Harrold, Kennedi Edney, Ashlyn Kirby

Savona – VT – 9.820 avg; UB – 9.840; FX – 9.902 avg
Wyrick – UB – 9.810; FX – 9.905

The Tigers certainly lose a few critical routines, the most important being Savona’s floor, though they already gained some experience with life after Savona’s vault and floor when she was out early this season (and life after Wyrick’s bars when she didn’t compete in the postseason). They survived, for the most part. Several of these openings should be filled by people already on the roster, and while I don’t think we can have any expectations for Priessman at this point because any week she’s healthy enough to compete is just a bonus, Kelley should do more next year. Add to that this freshman class, and I think there’s every reason to expect LSU 2017 to be stronger than LSU 2016.

Out: Lauren Beers, Carley Sims
In: Maddie Desch, Wynter Childers, Shea Mahoney

Beers – VT – 9.905; UB – 9.690; FX – 9.915
Sims – FX – 9.868

Alabama is in a similar position to LSU in terms of not losing that many routines, though Alabama’s losses carry a bit more significance, especially on floor with the team’s two strongest floories departing. They’ll need some of the upperclassmen like Brannan to step up and be a little more Beersy on those events and a little less middle-of-the-lineupy, but with increased contribution from a potential star like Ari Guerra who didn’t figure at all by the end of the season and the introduction of Maddie Desch and Wynter Childers, Alabama’s first-ever recruit who’s also a citizen of District 1, I’m not too worried about the look of Alabama’s future roster.
Continue reading Comings and Goings

National Championship Preview Part 3: You’re All Super to Me, Except for Five of You

Without knowing how the semifinals will play out, previewing Super Six is like looking for shadows in a blindfold factory. Still, performances so far this season have provided a pretty good indication of which teams are in serious contention to win the title and which teams are simply looking to make Super Six/snatch a respectable finish if one of the top teams falters. Surprise, surprise, the four most likely title contenders are also the four top-ranked teams.

Those rankings exist for a reason. The ultimate champion has not come from outside the top three since the beginning of the Georgia dynasty in 2005, when Georgia entered the postseason in 5th, and for each of the last three seasons, the regular-season top three has also finished Super Six in the top three places. So while a weird upset or two in the semifinals could help the chances for a cusp team like Utah to get into the rarefied territory of podium-land, the four teams that should be challenging for the title of Superest of the Super Six, because you’re all just super, are Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, and Alabama. The only other team that spent any time in the top three this season was Michigan, and that ship has sailed.

A rotation-by-rotation team comparison as to the pace they’ll need to set won’t be possible until we have the rotation order, although this is the draw for Super Six for quick reference once we know how the semifinals finish.

The winner of the second semi gets Olympic order, and the winner of the first semi gets to start on beam. Fun. The third-place teams are the ones who will end on byes, as by design.

Of course, to win Super Six, you have to be good on all the things, but rather than just go through the teams and say, “It would be nice if Florida got a good score on bars, and also beam, and floor, and vault. That would make it easier to win” (duh), I’ve assigned each of these four teams a critical event, not necessarily a “must-win” event because that’s hyperbolic (and I never, ever, ever write hyperbolically), but one that should be a massive strength, can’t be a massive weakness, or is generally the best indicator for that team as to whether a title chase is really on.

Vault – LSU

LSU’s ability on vault and concerted use of Gnat Power has made the Tigers the only non-Oklahoma team to occupy the top spot on any event to end the season. If circumstances play out the way they have during the regular season, vault appears to be the juiciest opportunity for the other teams to strike a blow to the Sooners since Oklahoma’s RQS is just a pitiful 49.415 here. (Like, are you even trying?) LSU is the best poised to do that.
Continue reading National Championship Preview Part 3: You’re All Super to Me, Except for Five of You

National Championships Preview Part 2: Deja Vu in Spoilertown

Every year. Every year it’s the same. One semifinal looks like it’s going to be close and exciting and weird and controversial, and the other looks like a straightforward stroll through the local meadow in a world made only of springtime. Except, it never really works out that way. Take last year’s second semifinal, when Oklahoma, LSU, and Alabama squared off against Auburn, Nebraska, and Oregon State. “Ah ha ha,” we said. “Bring me another glass of port. Oklahoma, LSU, and Alabama will surely advance.”

Nope. The infamous freshman-lost-her-mind heard ’round the world saw Auburn qualify instead of LSU. Nebraska managed to produce a similar complication the year before, against many of the same teams we see gathered this year. Almost all of them. I know. The straightforward semifinal tends to have a way of getting our attention, so how confident do we feel that Oklahoma, Alabama, and Utah will emerge from this session? What tricks do the Bruins have planned for us? Whom will they exhume to perform a surprise routine this time?

Competing teams (starting event)
[1] Oklahoma (bye before floor)
[4] Alabama (bye before bars)
[5] Utah (vault)
[8] UCLA (bars)
[10] Cal (beam)
[12] Nebraska (floor)

Competing individuals
All-around – Maddie Gardiner, Oregon State; Nina McGee, Denver; Amanda Wellick, Arkansas; Brianna Brown, Michigan; Mollie Drenth, Iowa; Lisa Burt, Michigan State

Vault – Taylor Allex, Arizona State
Beam – Risa Perez, Oregon State; Shani Remme, Boise State
Floor – Lizzy Leduc, Illinois; Rachel Slocum, Eastern Michigan

Though three clear favorites have established themselves in this group, it’s not quite as meadow-like as some of the “easy” semifinals have been in past years. Alabama and Utah did not perform overwhelmingly at regionals, and UCLA absolutely possesses the talent to advance on a good day. Something I hadn’t realized until now: Since the advent of Super Six, UCLA has never gone three straight seasons without qualifying. Having missed out on Super Six the last two years, the Bruins are in line to make an unfortunate piece of history if they don’t secure the upset this time around. #saveuskyla

Let’s get to it.

The Sooners have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the teams in recent weeks, not showing the same variations in performance, blips, and inconsistencies of the other top contenders. Oklahoma’s regionals score was the highest in the country by a pretty solid margin and the performance was by far the cleanest.

Oklahoma must be the title favorite at this point but far from a prohibitive one. Several areas have emerged, from security of vault landings to floor difficulty, that may be cause for concern in a Super Six context when needing to defeat the likes of Florida, but for now, Oklahoma is the safest pick. If the Sooners were to lose it at the semifinal stage, it would be the biggest upset of any of the teams. Oklahoma hasn’t had a single fall in a competition routine since February 7th and hasn’t seen two actual falls in the same rotation all season long. That’s a rather remarkable feat, so while we can question some of the details, Oklahoma would have to count a fall to fail to emerge from this semifinal. And that would be a first.

I’ll go into detail in the Super Six preview, but a critical area I’ll be watching in the semifinal is how those early-lineup floor routines are evaluated, especially with the Sooners starting on that event. At regionals, Brown and Capps pretty much nailed their routines and got 9.850s (and Jones performed somewhat near her normal for a 9.800), but Oklahoma is going to need higher scores for those routines to reach a national-championship-winning total. The last four winners (counting Florida and Oklahoma in 2014 as two different winners) have all scored over 49.6 on floor in Super Six. Given the evaluation of floor this season, I imagine that will be the standard once again.
Continue reading National Championships Preview Part 2: Deja Vu in Spoilertown

Who Is Going to Make Super Six?

Are you still alive? Maybe? Ish?

The extended frigid hellscape that was regionals day is now squarely behind us, with all the Michigan tears and Stanford celebration dances accounted for, and if you were able to emerge from that 58-millenium barrage of meets and marathon of interminable bye rotations without passing out and deciding that you hate gymnastics now, you’re the winner.

For a recap of all the action you may have missed, or seen, or intentionally got amnesia about, or found infuriating, be sure to listen to this week’s episode of Gymcastic. I join Jessica and Uncle Tim to go through the day regional by regional to speculate about whether the Iowa regional was judged by three lemons and the concept of winter, argue over the merits of the handspring-onto-the-springboard vault, and warn that in spite of what you may have heard from your friends, the Stanford Rhythm Method is not a reliable form of making nationals. Among other topics. Get ready.

For the moment, let’s look toward nationals. We know our semifinalists, and the rotation order has been released, so it’s time to get a-speculatin’. 

It was probably going to be the case anyway, but the Michigan upset has left what looks to be a golden opportunity for several teams to snatch the third spot out of the first semifinal, assuming that Florida and LSU are the favorites. After all the terrors of this season, has Georgia become the pick to advance? The Gymdogs get to start on beam again. Nothing like a high-budget dystopian horror comedy to start the day. But they hit beam at regionals! Kind of! They did enough! Hooray!

Few of the rotation assignments jump out as particularly disastrous for any of these teams, though I do think that Stanford benefited from finishing on its good events at regionals and will have the opposite order here, starting with events that need to score massively and finishing on events that are unlikely to. Stanford will need the judges to be willing to flash the 9.900-9.950s right from the first routine of the first session because Stanford really must get 49.5s on bars and beam.

In the coming days, I’ll delve into more detailed prognostication about the semifinals, Super Six, and whether we even care about the individual competitions anymore, but for today, let’s set things up with a glance at the numbers. Which are the key events to watch if we’re looking for an upset? And who’s capable of pulling it off? Categories in which a team places in the top three in the session (a qualifying spot) are highlighted. 


Regional score: 196.725 [3]
RQS: 197.795 [1]
Regular season average: 197.502 [1]  
Season high: 198.175 [1]

VT regional score: 49.225 [3]
VT RQS: 49.420 [2] 
VT average: 49.341 [2]
VT season high: 49.500 [3]

UB regional score: 49.125 [4]
UB RQS: 49.500 [1] 
UB average: 49.439 [1]
UB season high: 49.650 [1] 

BB regional score: 49.300 [1]
BB RQS: 49.430 [1]
BB average: 49.318 [1] 
BB season high: 49.525 [3]

FX regional score: 49.075 [4]
FX RQS: 49.505 [2]
FX average: 49.405 [2] 
FX season high: 49.675 [2]

Florida should be the heaviest favorite in the first semifinal and settles in comfortably in the top three here in every category except those pertaining to that lackluster regionals performance. It’s worth treating as just an odd blip for now that shouldn’t compromise our expectations of Florida making it out of this semifinal safely and easily, but it doesn’t help in the race to catch Oklahoma.

Regional score: 197.300 [1]
RQS: 197.695 [2]
Regular season average: 197.209 [2]  
Season high: 197.925 [2]

VT regional score: 49.400 [1]
VT RQS: 49.445 [1]
VT average: 49.395 [1]
VT season high: 49.550 [1]

UB regional score: 49.300 [2]
UB RQS: 49.370 [2] 
UB average: 49.252 [2]
UB season high: 49.475 [3] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.355 [2] 
BB average: 49.141 [2] 
BB season high: 49.575 [2]

FX regional score: 49.450 [1]
FX RQS: 49.545 [1]
FX average: 49.420 [1] 
FX season high: 49.700 [1]

LSU goes all blue here because of a much stronger (and more charitably scored) regionals performance than Florida. There were some definite benefit-of-the-doubt scores, including Ewing’s 9.975 for an under-rotated 1.5 and Gnat’s floor 9.950 in spite of bouncing out of her final pass. Still, it would take a repeat of last season’s beam debacle to keep LSU out of Super Six, largely because of what the team can make up on vault and floor. Between Florida and LSU, the competition sets up pretty cleanly and clearly in that LSU has been the stronger vault and floor team and Florida has been the stronger bars and beam team (on non-regionals-type days), so determining which advantage is more valuable will be something to watch in this semifinal with an eye toward how these teams might fare in Super Six. 

Regional score:  196.525 [4]
RQS: 197.150 [3]
Regular season average: 196.692 [3]  
Season high: 197.325 [6]

VT regional score:  49.150 [5]
VT RQS: 49.250 [4] 
VT average: 49.167 [4]
VT season high: 49.375 [4]

UB regional score: 49.125 [4]
UB RQS: 49.295 [3] 
UB average: 49.215 [3] 
UB season high: 49.375 [6] 

BB regional score: 48.850 [6]
BB RQS: 49.215 [3] 
BB average: 49.042 [4] 
BB season high: 49.300 [6]

FX regional score: 49.400 [2]
FX RQS: 49.445 [3]
FX average: 49.269 [4] 
FX season high: 49.600 [4]

Regional score: 196.850 [2]
RQS: 197.010 [4]
Regular season average: 196.462 [4]  
Season high: 197.525 [3]

VT regional score: 49.275 [2]
VT RQS: 49.415 [3] 
VT average: 49.283 [3]
VT season high: 49.525 [2]

UB regional score: 49.250 [3]
UB RQS: 49.280 [4] 
UB average: 49.165 [4]
UB season high: 49.400 [5]

BB regional score: 49.025 [5]
BB RQS: 49.180 [6]
BB average: 48.694 [6] 
BB season high: 49.425 [4]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.385 [4]
FX average: 49.315 [3] 
FX season high: 49.625 [3]

Georgia finishes in the top 3 in more categories than Auburn, primarily due to Georgia’s superior regionals performance. Neither team had a phenomenal meet, but Georgia’s three post-beam events reflected a team that is quite capable of making Super Six out of this session. Auburn, meanwhile, won the coveted, definitely-very-important regular-season fight with Georgia to see which team would make the evening session at SECs. Georgia v. Auburn with a side of Stanford is setting up as the most entertaining part of semifinal day, barring the inevitable meltdown.

Critically, Auburn did worse than Georgia on beam at regionals. Surely that can’t be repeated in the semifinals if Auburn is going to qualify. And it all comes back to Georgia’s beam once again…

Regional score: 196.175 [6]
RQS: 196.495 [5]
Regular season average: 196.090 [6]  
Season high:  197.425 [4]

VT regional score: 49.175 [4]
VT RQS: 49.120 [5] 
VT average: 48.975 [6] 
VT season high: 49.275 [5]

UB regional score: 48.950 [6]
UB RQS: 49.180 [6] 
UB average: 48.963 [6]
UB season high: 49.425 [4] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.185 [5] 
BB average: 49.021 [5] 
BB season high: 49.675 [1]

FX regional score: 48.900 [6]
FX RQS: 49.270 [5]
FX average: 49.131 [5]
FX season high: 49.375 [5]

Of the 12 qualified teams, Minnesota is the least likely to advance to Super Six, though the Gophers do snatch a couple of blue spots thanks to Mable and Nordquist on beam, the duo that seriously helped them stay ahead of Denver at regionals. 

Regional score: 196.525 [4]
RQS: 196.355 [6]
Regular season average: 196.148 [5]  
Season high: 197.400 [5]

VT regional score: 48.800 [6]
VT RQS: 49.120 [5] 
VT average: 49.013 [5]
VT season high: 49.250 [6]

UB regional score: 49.500 [1]
UB RQS: 49.230 [5] 
UB average: 49.130 [5]
UB season high: 49.525 [2] 

BB regional score: 49.250 [2]
BB RQS: 49.195 [4] 
BB average: 49.088 [3]
BB season high: 49.375 [5]

FX regional score: 48.975 [5]
FX RQS: 49.050 [6]
FX average: 48.918 [6] 
FX season high: 49.250 [6]

The numbers bear out what we all already know about Stanford. When Stanford is having a good day, the bars and beam rotations can be a force and can contend with any team, but even though Stanford was able to overcome vault and floor to get out of a messy regional, can what is basically a two-event team + Ebee really put up a score viable enough to get out of a semifinal? 


Regional score: 197.575 [1]
RQS: 197.920 [1]
Regular season average: 197.588 [1]  
Season high: 198.075 [1]

VT regional score: 49.275 [1]
VT RQS: 49.415 [1] 
VT average: 49.356 [1]
VT season high: 49.475 [1]

UB regional score: 49.575 [1]
UB RQS: 49.575 [1] 
UB average: 49.467 [1]
UB season high: 49.675 [1] 

BB regional score: 49.425 [1]
BB RQS: 49.445 [1] 
BB average: 49.362 [1] 
BB season high: 49.550 [2]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.575 [1]
FX average: 49.404 [2] 
FX season high: 49.700 [1]

Regional score:  197.125 [2]
RQS:  197.400 [2]
Regular season average: 197.042 [2]  
Season high:  197.750 [2]

VT regional score: 49.225 [3]
VT RQS: 49.355 [2] 
VT average: 49.260 [2]
VT season high: 49.425 [2]

UB regional score:  49.275 [3]
UB RQS: 49.405 [2] 
UB average: 49.283 [3]
UB season high: 49.600 [2] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.320 [3] 
BB average: 49.142 [4] 
BB season high: 49.550 [2]

FX regional score: 49.475 [1]
FX RQS: 49.445 [3]
FX average: 49.356 [3] 
FX season high: 49.500 [4]

Regional score: 197.125 [2]
RQS: 197.205 [3]
Regular season average: 196.970 [3]  
Season high: 196.675 [3]

VT regional score: 49.250 [2]
VT RQS: 49.255 [3] 
VT average: 49.200 [3]
VT season high: 49.400 [3]

UB regional score: 49.350 [2]
UB RQS: 49.395 [3]
UB average: 49.323 [2]
UB season high: 49.550 [3] 

BB regional score: 49.225 [2]
BB RQS: 49.290 [4] 
BB average: 49.168 [3] 
BB season high: 49.450 [4]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.485 [2]
FX average: 49.280 [4]
FX season high: 49.625 [2]

The picture is clearer here. This looks to be the tougher of the two semifinals and poses a bigger challenge to the bottom three seeds. Based on recent performances, Oklahoma is pulling away from everyone, even the closest contenders like Florida and LSU, and Alabama and Utah look like the most convincing and least stressful choices among the remaining teams in this session. That outlook really hinges upon how influential UCLA’s beam and floor scores can be in trying to leap ahead of Alabama and Utah since vault and bars go to the top three seeds here in a landslide.

Regional score:  196.375 [5]
RQS:  197.055 [4]
Regular season average: 196.782 [4]  
Season high:  197.475 [5]

VT regional score: 49.125 [4]
VT RQS: 49.180 [5] 
VT average: 49.084 [5]
VT season high: 49.375 [4]

UB regional score: 48.800 [6]
UB RQS: 49.235 [4] 
UB average: 49.105 [4]
UB season high: 49.350 [6] 

BB regional score: 49.050 [5] 
BB RQS: 49.325 [2]
BB average: 49.184 [2] 
BB season high: 49.575 [1]

FX regional score: 49.400 [2]
FX RQS: 49.430 [4]
FX average: 49.405 [1] 
FX season high: 49.600 [3]

UCLA is theoretically competitive with, if not stronger than, Alabama and Utah on beam and floor, but a repeat of the beam score from regionals would all but decide this competition and leave everyone waiting for a flurry of falls to somehow change the status quo. While it may not be quite as urgent as Stanford’s need on bars and beam, it’s tough to see UCLA advancing without exceeding RQS on beam and floor.

Regional score: 195.925 [6]
RQS: 196.770 [5]
Regular season average: 196.230 [5]  
Season high: 197.500 [4]

VT regional score: 48.875 [6]
VT RQS: 49.185 [4] 
VT average: 49.086 [4]
VT season high: 49.225 [6]

UB regional score: 49.175 [5]
UB RQS: 49.150 [6] 
UB average: 48.936 [6]
UB season high: 49.475 [4] 

BB regional score: 48.900 [6]
BB RQS: 49.205 [6] 
BB average: 48.975 [6] 
BB season high: 49.350 [6]

FX regional score: 48.975 [6]
FX RQS: 49.295 [5]
FX average: 49.232 [5]
FX season high: 49.450 [6]

Regional score: 196.550 [4]
RQS: 196.635 [6]
Regular season average: 196.205 [6]  
Season high: 197.350 [6]

VT regional score: 48.925 [5]
VT RQS: 49.105 [6]
VT average: 48.991 [6]
VT season high: 49.275 [5]

UB regional score: 49.225 [4]
UB RQS: 49.180 [5] 
UB average: 49.016 [5]
UB season high: 49.475 [4] 

BB regional score: 49.125 [4]
BB RQS: 49.255 [5] 
BB average: 49.068 [5]
BB season high: 49.375 [5]

FX regional score: 49.275 [5]
FX RQS: 49.260 [6]
FX average: 49.130 [6] 
FX season high: 49.475 [5]

Nebraska was very steady in a somewhat strictly-evaluated regional, while Cal endured an off day to finish in the top two at its own, but the lack of blue categories for either raises the issue that they may not have the big rotation numbers it takes to emerge from a semifinal, the way UCLA might on beam and floor. Not since 2011 has a 196 been enough to qualify to Super Six, so the likelihood of hitting 197 must be the benchmark now.

Doesn’t this semifinal with Utah, UCLA, and Nebraska remind you of 2014 when Utah and UCLA were supposed to be battling for the final spot out of the second semifinal and then Nebraska just showed up on beam in that final rotation to go, “Oh wait, us.”

Alabama Regional Preview

While several of the regionals this year could produce an unexpected nationals qualifier that we will pretend signals the beginning of a new era until next season when everything returns to normal, the most exciting changing of the guard will happen in Alabama. Though some of the challengers elsewhere, like Denver and Minnesota, haven’t qualified to nationals for a few years, the teams in this regional have been stranded in the desert for much, much longer. Cal has been absent from the national championship since 1992, and Boise State and Kentucky have been absent since always. In fact, with three all-time nationals appearances, #5 seed West Virginia is the second-most accomplished team in the competition.

Competing teams (starting event)
[4] Alabama (bye before bars)
[10] Cal (beam)
[15] Boise State (floor)
[21] Kentucky (bye before floor)
[26] West Virginia (bars)
[34] Bowling Green (vault)

Competing individuals
SEMO (Alexis Brawner – AA; Lauren Israel – AA; McKinzie Jones – FX)
Northern Illinois (Andie Van Voorhis – VT; Jamyra Carter – UB; Lauren Africano – UB; Megan Greenfield – BB)
Arizona State (Allie Salas – AA; Taylor Allex – VT, FX)
Illinois-Chicago (Mikailla Northern – AA)
Illinois State (Amanda Mohler – BB)

The favorite – Alabama

Alabama is Alabama. Competing at home against a relatively unheralded squadron of challengers and coming off an impressive second-place showing at SECs should really be all we need to know about Alabama’s qualification outlook. Coleman may no longer the impenetrable home fortress it once was, now the site of previously unheard of losses to LSU and Arkansas, but the idea of Alabama getting upset at home by two whole teams in this meet is difficult to fathom. 

Unsurprisingly, Alabama had its best meet of the season at SECs, which happened to coincide with actually getting all the good people in the lineups simultaneously for the first time. Amazing how that works out. Winston returned on three events, all the top-scoring floor workers competed, and Bresette was able to show her Omelianchik, which is a higher-scoring option than her full. All of this combined to make Alabama look like a peer of Oklahoma, Florida, and LSU in the title race rather than the leader of the challenging pack. These lineups still don’t look fully finalized (you can’t quit depth exploration cold turkey), as I’d still perhaps like to see Winston vaulting and, critically, that was not the highest-scoring beam lineup Alabama could put out. Sanders did an excellent job of suddenly being a gymnast now, but hit routines from Beers and Bailey are going to score higher than what she (and potentially Brannan) can bring. 

It’s an issue of hitting (both Bailey and Beers fell the week before), but if the coaches feel comfortable putting Bailey and Beers in the lineup, this team looks more formidable and closer to 198. If not, Alabama may be giving up a crucial tenth or two on beam, the rotation that knocked them down below Florida’s at SECs.

The fight – Cal v. Boise State

This meet represents a brand new phenomenon for Cal. We’ve seen Cal perform well in significant meets against strong teams over the last three seasons, but for the first time I can remember, Cal will enter a significant meet not as an upstart, or an underdog, or a spoiler, or a sentimental favorite but as a favorite. Cal should finish second here and should qualify along with Alabama. Not doing so would be a disappointing result given the wonderful opportunity to make nationals presented before them. Welcome to expectations, Cal. It’s nice to have you here. 

That’s not to say it’s going to be a walk. Boise State has been in many ways the surprise of the season (after being the punchline of the preseason when one coach voted BSU #1), scoring a 197.025 at conference championships—at home—which bested the 196.725 Cal put up at Pac-12s. Boise State does, however, remain the least proven entity among the contending teams, having gone the whole season without facing any school seeded 1-3 in any of the regionals. We don’t really know how these routines are going to be evaluated when Boise State is suddenly not the biggest and the best in the arena for the first time. The Broncos’ last challenging road meet also came at Alabama, in 2015, when they did prove quite competitive through three events and were on high-196 pace until a floor meltdown.

Boise State has done well to continue improving this season even without stars like Perkins and Morris (and with critical freshman Sarah Means limited to beam), which seemed like a recipe for a regression year. Still, keeping pace on vault has been a challenge and the 48s do occasionally pop up. They have a few vaults that can take advantage of the new values, Bennion’s “arabian” and Bir’s handspring pike 1/2, but Cal has done the better job of the two teams, probably the best in the country, at exploiting the new values through a heterogeneous 10.0 SV vault lineup. Cal’s lineup really does squeeze every possible tenth out of a roster that doesn’t have a whole lot of big vaulting power aside from Toni-Ann. Cal will expect to venture over 9.850 more often than Boise State on vault and grab some tenths there.

The other advantage for Cal in this meet looks to be beam. Cal. Advantage. Beam. I know, it’s a brand new world. After a string of beam disasters pretty much single-handedly ended Cal’s season last year, beam has become…if not exactly a strength, then at least a value-neutral event. It still can be a worry, and the team is still susceptible to the wobbly-9.6 monster, but it’s much less scary and has featured some moments of brilliance from the likes of Howe. The return of Emily Richardson only helps to reinforce. For Boise State’s part, beam is also much less scary this year than it was last year, when both Cal and Boise State participated in the Regional of Beam Hell in which every team scored a 3.8, but less scary for BSU constitutes a 49.025ish score, so Cal will still look to pick up ground.

Really, if this were a three-event meet and bars weren’t a thing, Cal would be the heavy favorite. But then again, Alicia Sacramone would also be world champion. That’s not the world we live in. Boise State’s best event is bars by a hefty margin, as it always is. That’s where the Broncos will look to make up a ton of ground that may be lost to Cal on the power events. Bars is not a bad event for Cal by any means, but Boise State can still gain multiple tenths there because 49.4 should be the expected score.

BSU won’t head to bars until the fourth rotation, so we won’t necessarily know how competitive the meet is until that point because much of Boise State’s potential to get that high 196 is based on bars. Even a 98.300 after floor and vault in the early rotations (not a particularly formidable score in a regionals context), may actually be a useful pace. Cal will already have gone on its highest-scoring event (floor) by that halfway point and will expect to have a lead of at least a couple tenths to guard against what Boise State might gain in the fourth rotation. Then again, Boise State does end on beam, so…

Both of these teams entered the Berkeley regional last year as the spoilers, hoping to take advantage of a Georgia beam disaster (the more things change the more they stay the same) to qualify. This year, the dynamic between the two teams themselves is much the same, but they’re fighting for an actual spot now, not hoping for someone else’s mistake.

The spoiler – Kentucky

We saw a good Kentucky team at SECs, one that is supremely capable of playing the spoiler role in this regional, if not joining the fight with Cal and Boise State outright. That good performance at SECs, however, was worth 196.250. It will take more than that to take the second qualification spot. Kentucky ends up just a little too 9.800 to challenge the 49.2 rotations that the other contenders will expect to put forward. Still, the margin between them is not large, so a counting fall would certainly bump either Cal or Boise State behind Kentucky. It may not even need to be a counting fall. A beam rotation with a couple 9.6s thrown in may be enough to bring Kentucky in because Kentucky should score over 196. Anything in the 195s would constitute a disappointing meet.

For the most part, the goal for Kentucky will be to go steady, steady, steady through four events and hope that weak performances from the other teams make that a competitive strategy. There’s not one event on which Kentucky stands out or specifically needs a huge score, so it’s more about staying in the 49.1s across the board. Beam may be an exception to that because now that Waltz has returned the lineup, she creates a pretty high-scoring triumvirate with Dukes and Hyland at the end.

Beam is where Kentucky finishes, and it’s relatively realistic to hope for more than a 49.1 there to put a crown on this meet.

And the rest
West Virginia is a fairly tough #5 seed though has failed to break into the 196s with enough frequency to be seen as a true spoiler. They had one crazy home meet when everyone got a 9.9 on floor, but other than that this season has been a predominately 195.8 type affair. The power events are where West Virginia excels and should break 49, with the help of Zaakira Muhammad and standout freshman Kira Koshinski. It won’t be enough for a qualification score because 9.8s are much harder to come by on the other events, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see WVU finish in the top three on both vault and floor here.

Bowling Green made regionals, which is cause for bacchanalia for a team that traditionally hangs around 50th place and rarely ever makes a ripple on the national scene other than qualifying Alyssa Nocella to regionals every year. It was far from a sure thing for most of the season, but a huge score in the home finale followed by a solid mid-195 at the MAC Champs sealed a historic result. It will go no further, but be sure to watch that beam rotation if time and attention allow. Laura Mitchell remains a triumph, and Nocella and Ellingboe provide supporting scores that should make that beam rotation competitive even in this company.

Based on scores and the season results, Cal should qualify as a team, but if not, things could get a little muddy because of the Toni-Ann situation. She’s currently not in the beam lineup, even though she’s Toni-Ann Williams, and therefore could not qualify as an all-arounder. That means if Cal doesn’t make it, she would be left with trying to win floor to qualify as an event specialist. All of this is complicated by the Test Event, which takes place the same weekend as NCAA nationals and which Toni-Ann is supposed to attend as Jamaica’s representative to try to earn a spot at the Olympics. What happens when she makes nationals? Like I said, muddy.

If Alabama and Cal do qualify, then we’ll have quite a race for the AA spots among a number of individuals capable of scoring in the 39.3 range. The highest-ranked of the group is Dukes for Kentucky, and I do think she’s the most likely to go through, but her teammates Stuart and (sometimes) Hyland are also capable of similar scores. We could have an interesting competition for the AA spots just within the Kentucky team, but then there’s also Shani Remme (though she did not vault at conference champs) and Sandra Collantes from Boise State, who are both known to venture into the 39.3s as well. It may be harder for Bowling Green’s AAers, Nocella and Feely, to reach the 39.3s, but they’ve both done it before. West Virginia has an occasional AAer in Goldberg, but vault isn’t really her thing, which usually keeps her total down a few tenths lower than the others.

Basically, the unseeded teams should be hoping that Alabama and Boise State qualify out of this regional (if they themselves don’t qualify, obviously), because that will take several tough challengers out of the individual race and leave it open for the individuals from Kentucky and Bowling Green to slug it out among themselves for the two spots.

As I say every time, it’s wildly challenging to qualify as an event specialist, but of note, Taylor Allex is competing here as a vault and floor specialist. She boasts the difficulty on both events to challenge for serious scores. It’s unlikely that she’ll beat the whole Alabama and Cal teams, but she has a better chance than most of the gymnasts heading to regionals without a team.