It’s time to get rid of some people! Phew. None too soon. After enduring eleven weeks of not being allowed to care who wins and who loses because we’re all just one big happy family that’s learning life lessons together, we have finally entered the elimination round.
Elimination round. Add that to the list of names that would be better than “regionals.” Knockout stage. National quarterfinals. Potluck hoedown. The end of days. Of course, it’s not a true knockout stage because half the teams that advance will have lost their meets. But you know…progress?
Let’s begin the previews with the top-seed Oklahoma Sooners and their trip to the long-anticipated, inevitably contentious Washington regional.
April 1, 2017, 7:00 ET/4:00 PT
Teams (starting event)
 Oklahoma (bars)
 Kentucky (vault)
 Washington (bye before floor)
 Utah State (bye before bars)
 Stanford (beam)
 BYU (floor)
Alexis Brown, UC Davis (AA)
Caitlin Soliwoda, Sacramento State (AA)
Lauren Rice, Sacramento State (AA)
Kaitlin Won, San Jose State (AA)
Ariana Harger, Seattle Pacific (VT, FX)
Julia Konner, Sacremanto State (VT)
Yonni Michovska, UC Davis (UB)
Rachel Heinl, San Jose State (UB)
Yasmine Yektaparast, UC Davis (BB)
Taylor Chan, San Jose St (BB, FX)
The favorite – Oklahoma
While we should still expect the Washington regional to fulfill the ancient prophesy of excitement and competitiveness when it comes to Washington and Kentucky (and…Stanford…?) competing for the second spot, Oklahoma will be about a point better than any other losers in this competition and should run away with it. It would take Oklahoma counting two falls to start getting interesting, but there are nonetheless aspects of Oklahoma’s performance that will be telling moving toward nationals.
Keep an eye on vault. That’s the one event where Oklahoma is not currently ranked #1, and it is a potential vulnerability in the title chase with LSU, a team with equivalent ability, one extra 10.0 start, and superior stickitude displayed over the last couple weeks. Oklahoma needs to begin getting sticks out of Dowell and Jackson more regularly because even a hop forward for 9.875-9.900 may mean losing ground at nationals. On the other hand, if Nichols, Dowell, and Jackson are all going 9.950, that minimizes or eliminates any advantage LSU might gain because of vault and would put less onus on OU’s bars to create a margin of victory. Things to keep in mind for next month.
It’s also imperative that Nichols get back to the AA for Oklahoma truly to be at title strength. The staff has been conservative with her on the leg events this month because of a sore knee, but clearly she showed no rust in her return to vault at Big 12s. You know, a 10, NBD. She’ll come back on floor at regionals, and similar lack of rust will need to be shown to give Oklahoma the full complement of competitive 9.9+ routines. Continue reading Washington Regional Preview