The day has arrived, when twelve become six and you become vaguely emotionally unhinged again.
The evening semifinal is shaping up to be the juicier and more uncertain of the two. While the first semifinal has three favorites and three challengers waiting to see if it’s a sloppy meet (which it will be), the second semifinal defies classification when it comes to the middle seeds. Really only the qualification of Nebraska, the most mid-196y of the teams in this semifinal, would constitute a true surprise or upset.
April 14, 7:00 CT
Teams (starting event)
 LSU (bye before floor)
 Florida (vault)
 Alabama (floor)
 Michigan (bye before bars)
 Georgia (beam)
 Nebraska (bars)
Mollie Korth, Kentucky, AA (rotating w/ LSU)
Briannah Tsang, Penn State, AA (rotating w/ Florida)
Alex Hyland, Kentucky, AA (rotating w/ Michigan)
Zaakira Muhammad, West Virginia, AA (rotating w/ Alabama)
Sabrina Garcia, Penn State, AA (rotating w/ Georgia)
Cami Drouin-Allaire, George Washington, AA(rotating w/ Nebraska)
Denelle Pedrick, Central Michigan, VT (rotating w/ LSU)
Elizabeth Price, Stanford, UB (rotating w/ Florida)
Katy Clements, Central Michigan, BB (rotating w/ Michigan)
Chelsea Raineri, George Washington, VT (rotating w/ Georgia)
Desiree Palomares, Cal, BB, (rotating w/ Florida)
LSU enters the first day of competition as the Oklahoma of the second semifinal, the team that really should qualify to Super Six barring any kind of 2015-style “the freshman LOST HER MIND” moment. The Tigers did, however, score a low-for-them 197.450 at regionals without counting a fall—which is cause for some vague concern about what would happen if they did count a fall—but the overall scoring potential is too high to see LSU being vulnerable without multiple and significant mistakes. LSU would have to give qualification away. No one is going to take it from them.
A flew blips did crop up in that regionals 197.450, and fairly unexpected ones. Aside from a bit of a flopsy-daisy in the middle of the beam lineup, LSU did not perform as well on vault as we would expect, an event that must not only be an asset but a win at nationals if LSU is to take the championship. At regionals, Harrold didn’t go—Cannamela’s full replaced her—and LSU ended up counting a couple lowish 9.8s. That would be fine even if replicated in this semifinal (because Gnat, because Edney) but wouldn’t be enough to give LSU the necessary advantage in Super Six. Something to watch. Continue reading National Championship Preview Part 2: Eastern Semifinal
This regional pretty clearly exposes the nonsense of no longer seeding the 19-36 teams and moving back to the allegedly geographical placement of lower-ranked teams, which doesn’t really hold up from a competitive standpoint or a logistical standpoint.
Here, we’ve ended up with a fairly unbalanced regional featuring three teams ranked in the 30s and unlikely to challenge for qualification, while others are much much deeper. On top of that, a team like New Hampshire isn’t really benefiting from the supposed reduction in travel time and costs that geographical placement is supposed to bring because…Florida. Twelve hundred miles away and not exactly in region.
April 1 – 4:00 ET/1:00 PT
Teams (starting event)
 Florida (bars)
 Georgia (vault)
 Missouri (bye before floor)
 New Hampshire (bye before bars)
 Penn State (beam)
 North Carolina (floor)
Chelsea Knight, NC State (AA)
Gabriella Yarussi, Towson (AA)
Tyra McKellar, Towson (AA)
Kristen Peterman, Maryland (AA)
Sarah Faller, Maryland (VT, BB)
Paris Phillips, NC State (VT)
Amanda Fillard, NC State (UB)
Melissa Brooker, NC State (UB)
Mary Elle Arduino, Towson (BB)
Alecia Farina, Maryland (FX)
Emily Brauckmuller, Maryland (FX)
The favorite – Florida
In this meet, home-gym advantage should be the least significant of all the regionals. Florida would be the favorite regardless of location.
We’ve seen Georgia and Missouri both score 197s on multiple occasions this season, so Florida may not have quite the same luxury for counting mistakes that Oklahoma and LSU do. Still, with any kind of hit meet, Florida goes through, and counting a fall would probably be fine. Basically, the Gators just need to be sure to avoid another at-LSU situation, a repeat of which seems highly unlikely.
SECs provided us with a useful method to compare Florida and LSU to emphasize what Florida needs to improve to have a shot at the national title. Florida was a touch behind LSU on every piece at SECs, and in particular, landings on bars and balance checks on beam saw Florida’s scores suffer. (They honestly could have suffered more.) The Gators will take heart that those are very fixable problems and not built-in deductions, but we need to see an improvement in those areas for regionals. Continue reading Florida Regional Preview
The arrival of the conference championships marks the beginning of the onset of the opening of the first stage of an NCAA gymnastics season’s march toward maturity, like a disgusting larva transforming into a slightly less disgusting larva.
Results still don’t really matter, but this is the last time results won’t matter. And that’s something. Also blah blah blah, bragging rights. The SEC coaches are always eager to tell us that winning the SEC Championship is harder than winning the national championship, which is just blatantly false and dumb to say, but also…a trophy? Hooray! Winner and losers! Life is happening!
Here, I break down prospects for victory and what I’ll be watching at the SEC Championship for each of the teams.
The championship will be conducted in two sessions, the first at 2:00 ET and featuring Kentucky, Missouri, Auburn, and Arkansas, and the second at 6:00 ET and featuring LSU, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. Teams will compete in seeded order in each session, so LSU and Kentucky begin on vault, Florida and Missouri on bars, Alabama and Auburn on beam, and Georgia and Arkansas on floor.
Session I – Kentucky, Missouri, Auburn, Arkansas
It’s not impossible to get a high score out of the first session. Last season, Georgia totaled 196.850 even with a mild beamtastrophe. Jay, Rogers, Box, and Schick all hit the 9.9 zone on at least one piece, and Jay scored high enough to finish third overall in the AA. So, there is precedent for a useful total.
At the same time, since the SEC went to a two-session format, no team has hit the 197 mark in the first group. With regional seeding and placements riding on how Kentucky and Missouri score in this meet, attempts to hold down the scores in the first session to leave room for the better teams in the second session (reasonable) will have implications for all the teams in the final season standings, not just the teams in this meet. Continue reading SEC Championship Preview