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
Next stop, Nebraska. Or, as it should more accurately be known, the Air Force Regional of Nebraska, starring Air Force.
Let’s just get through that nonsense so we can talk about the actual competition. Because of a geographical quirk, Air Force is the only (non-DIII) team in the North Central region that did not qualify a full team to regionals. That means Air Force was the only team eligible to receive individual spots here and qualified the whole competition roster, including a gymnast for beam who didn’t even make her own team’s postseason beam lineup but had an RQS from earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, gymnasts like Lindsay Lemke (Michigan State, 9.845 RQS on UB), Jordyn Penny (Ball State, 9.840 RQS on UB), India McPeak (Bowling Green, 9.825 RQS on BB), Kayla Rose (Bowling Green, 9.850 RQS on FX), Kaitlyn Menzione (Ball State, 9.850 RQS on FX), Katey Oswalt (Lindenwood, 9.825 RQS on FX), Erin Alderman (TWU, 9.845 RQS on FX), and Anna Martucci (Northern Illinois, 9.845 RQS on FX) didn’t qualify to regionals only because their schools are located close to other schools and for no reason related to gymnastics at all. Almost like this system should be fixed…
The NC region is always sparse, but typically either Iowa State doesn’t qualify and sends a bunch of individuals as well, or the DIII sides qualify people to mix things up. But this year, Iowa State is going as a team and DIII nationals conflicts with regionals (what is WRONG with everyone?), so the DIII schools can’t send anyone.
Anyway, rant over. To the competition.
April 1, 2017 – 5:00 ET/2:00 PT
Teams (starting event)
 LSU (bars)
 Boise State (vault)
 Nebraska (bye before floor)
 Arizona (bye before bars)
 Iowa State (beam)
 Minnesota (floor)
Mariana Murphy, Air Force (AA)
Kara Witgen, Air Force (AA)
Anna Salamone, Air Force (VT, UB)
Riley Hill, Air Force (VT, BB)
Jamie Lewis, Air Force (VT, UB, FX)
Darby Germain, Air Force (UB, FX)
Brittney Reed, Air Force (UB, BB, FX)
Rita Koenigbauer, Air Force (BB)
Chelsea Grimison, Air Force (BB)
Casey Bell, Air Force (FX)
The favorite – LSU
LSU occupies an identical position as Oklahoma when it comes to regionals, placed in what should be a very competitive meet but so much stronger than the other teams that it’s going to be a cakewalk, barring a multiple-fall disaster. All things mirroring the regular season, LSU will expect to be about a point clear of the peloton.
Like Oklahoma’s vaulting, LSU’s bars is a strong lineup that nonetheless looks like it could give away valuable tenths in the title hunt, at least in its current state. It has also been LSU’s lowest event score the last four meets in a row, so stepping up the precision on the difficult landings (Zamardi, Harrold) and the form (Harrold, Priessman) will be a critical development looking toward nationals on an event that doesn’t have to be the biggest score but still needs to be over 49.4.
Floor should be right there with the other very top teams, but LSU is spoiled for choice and still has some decisions to make about that lineup. Do you go with the big routine from Edney or play the execution card with Finnegan? (Or go with Priessman if she’s OK again, but it’s unlikely to be worth the risk.) It’s one of those decisions where they’ll probably be fine either way, but it will be revealing about how risk-averse/risk-embracing they’re feeling. Continue reading Nebraska Regional Preview
|Saturday, March 11
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Brown, Cortland, Rhode Island @ Springfield||FREE|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Ursinus @ West Chester|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Northern Illinois @ Central Michigan||LINK||FREE|
|3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Big Ten Qualifier:  Nebraska,  Ohio State, Michigan State, Maryland @  Illinois||LINK||BTN|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Big Ten Qualifier:  Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers @  Iowa||LINK||BTN|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Utah @  Georgia||LINK||SEC+|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – SEMO @ Western Michigan||LINK|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Illinois-Chicago @  Oregon State||LINK||FREE|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Hamline @ UW-Whitewater||LINK||FREE|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Bowling Green @  Eastern Michigan||LINK||EMU|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Seattle Pacific @  Washington||LINK||FREE|
Yesterday’s action did not provide too much new clarity for the postseason picture, but I don’t expect today to follow in its footsteps. In particular, the scores from Minnesota, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State will tell us a ton about the race for the top 36. Those teams currently sit in spots 35-39 in the in-progress rankings and, barring anything untoward, are the most likely contenders for the final two regionals spots.
Here’s the setup as we have it now for the remaining spots.
|Team||Current RQS||Max Monday RQS
|#34 North Carolina||195.210||195.525|
|#36 Central Michigan||195.085||195.370|
|#37 Western Michigan||195.035||195.290|
|#38 Penn State||195.020||195.610|
|#39 Michigan State||194.915||195.230|
|#40 UC Davis||194.885||194.885|
|#41 Ball State||194.870||194.870|
|#42 Arizona State||194.740||194.740|
|#44 NC State||194.600||195.085|
Davis and Ball State are already done for the weekend and likely didn’t do enough to help themselves. Minnesota and Penn State have the biggest upsides and really should move to a safer position with anything resembling a hit today. If they both get good scores and North Carolina gets something useful at UCLA tomorrow, it will make life very difficult for the Michigan teams. But if one of those things doesn’t happen… Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – March 11, 2017