Individuals are the worst.
The quest for the individual AA title and event titles has never been anywhere in the vicinity of a primary focus during the NCAA gymnastics ALL ABOUT THE TEAM Championship, brought to you by THE CLOSEST GROUP OF SISTERS. Spoiler alert: It’s all about the team. All in. No regrets. Life lesson. Teamwork. Growth. Having each other’s backs.
Individual accolades are the ugly stepsister of college gymnastics, the one who is hidden in the attic and not allowed to come out when guests are around. (You have one of those too, right?) Publicly acknowledging a desire for individual recognition is strictly taboo. I’m just here to help the team succeed. No member of the team is more important than any other. Leader in the training gym.
To reinforce this culture, the coaches elected to do away with Sunday’s individual event finals entirely this season, ostensibly because of the new TV deal that will televise Friday and Saturday’s competitions live, even though…what does that have to do with Sunday? You could still have competition on Sunday, even if it’s not part of the TV broadcast. This has never been explained. Now, the individual event titles will be decided on Friday along with the all-around and the qualification to Super Six, making it, if possible, even more of a crapshoot afterthought parade of nothing than it was before. Remember how Lloimincia Hall never made a floor final in her whole career?
Let’s be honest, the winner of each event title will be whichever gymnast anchors the lineup of the last team competing on that event. You know it. On vault, that would be Gnat in the first session and Bresette in the second session, so we’ll go with Gnat. She would likely be the choice anyway. On bars, that’s Rogers in the first semi and Sternberg in the second, and I have no problem at all picking Rogers to win bars (even though it will probably be Wofford or one of the Floridas, both going in the 5th rotation of their semifinals). On beam, it’s Sloan in the first semi and Capps in the second semi. OOOF. Two very likely nominees to win. We’ll go with Capps. On floor, it’s Atkinson in the first and Hughes in the second. That’s tougher. They’ll both get good scores, but Gnat and McGee are probably the floor favorites.
Still, sticking to my principle that scores are too heavily based on lineup and rotation order and that the winner of each event will simply be the most recent competitor, my official picks are Gnat on vault, Rogers on bars, Capps on beam, and Atkinson on floor. Feel free to submit your own. We’ll all have a good shot of winning because I’m sure there will be a billion ties even with the increased number of judges.
Silver lining: we will no longer have to wait through an interminably long event final because thousands of qualifiers tied for fourth place in a semifinal. Those vault finals some years, when they did two vaults, and had 25 qualifiers…
Plus, what would have been the day of event finals is now the day of the WAG Test Event, so we can still use that to help pretend our lives are full. Romania, you guys. We broke it and it never got fixed.
The all-around title, also decided on Friday, is usually slightly less random, but only slightly. We all know who the top all-arounders are, and they’ll each be pecking around the top of the standings, but then also sometimes Kim Jacob wins. When the scores are this closely packed, weird things can happen very easily. To break the race down, I’ll run through the gymnasts I see as the most likely winners, so we know it will be none of them.
Continue reading National Championship Preview Part 4: Do We Care About Individuals? (Not Really)