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
|Saturday, February 25
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Brown, Cornell, Penn @ Yale||Ivy $|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT –  Arkansas @ Michigan State||LINK||BTN+|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Centenary||LINK||FREE|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Arizona @  UCLA||LINK||P12|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pitt @ Penn State||LINK||FREE|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Utah @ Arizona State||LINK||P12|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Cal,  Utah State, SEMO @  Nebraska||LINK||FREE|
|7:30 ET/4:30 PT –  George Washington, Kent State @ NC State||LINK||ACC|
The Pac-12 moves to the forefront today, and Alabama’s inability to reach 197 yesterday has presented the opportunity for both Utah and UCLA to move ahead.
In-progress RQS rankings are as follows:
UCLA needs 196.650 to move ahead of Alabama.
Utah needs 197.150 to move ahead of Alabama.
UCLA needs 197.400 to guarantee passing Utah. Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – February 25, 2017
|Saturday, February 11
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Bridgeport, Ithaca, Brockport @ Cornell||Ivy $|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Springfield @ West Chester|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT –  Michigan @ Michigan State||LINK||BTN+|
|2:30 ET/11:30 PT – New Hampshire @ Bowling Green||LINK||FB|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Nebraska @ Minnesota||LINK||BTN|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Ohio State @ Penn State||LINK||FREE|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Stanford @  UCLA||LINK||P12|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Utah @  Oregon State||LINK||P12|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Illinois, UIC @  Iowa||LINK?||BTN+|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Arizona State @  Washington||LINK||P12|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Maryland, Yale, Penn @ Rutgers||LINK|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – BYU, Centenary @ TWU||LINK||FREE|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Boise State @  Denver||LINK||DU $|
|8:00 ET/5:00 PT – UC Davis, Seattle Pacific @ Air Force||FREE|
It’s Pac-12 day! The other top teams did not keep their 9.9s to themselves like proper children last night (but we’re so sickkkkk, we have pollliioooo), so there’s a lot of crazy 197 work to do for the others to keep pace today. When you’re giving out 18 scores of 9.950-10.000 in a single day, the standard of evaluation just isn’t strict enough. Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – February 11, 2017
|Saturday, January 28
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Penn @ West Chester|
|1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Springfield @ Brockport||FREE|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT –  Nebraska @  Michigan||LINK||FREE|
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Bridgeport, Southern Connecticut, Rhode Island @ Yale||Ivy|
|4:30 ET/1:30 PT –  Utah @  Washington||LINK||P12|
|4:30 ET/1:30 PT –  UCLA @  Oregon State||LINK||P12|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT –  Ohio State @ Minnesota||LINK||BTN+|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UW-La Crosse, Winona State @ Lindenwood||LINK||FREE|
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UW-Eau Claire @ UW-Whitewater||LINK||FREE|
|7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Michigan State, Cornell, Ursinus @ Rutgers||LINK||FacePlace|
|7:45 ET/4:45 PT – Metroplex Challenge ( George Washington, Central Michigan, Bowling Green, San Jose State)||FLOG|
|9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Arizona State @  Cal||LINK||P12|
Another day, another barrage of meets. Get your streams ready. I’ll be trying my best to get through Nebraska/Michigan, Utah/Washington, and UCLA/Oregon State all at the same time. So it’ll be fun. If that’s what fun is.
First, a few thoughts on some of the major scores from yesterday. In a good reminder of how critical angle of viewing is when evaluating scores, the first time I saw Alex McMurtry’s DTY yesterday was in the reverse-angle slow motion replay, which is the least flattering angle for that vault where it definitely doesn’t look like a stick. I would have been a total pill about it if that vault had received a 10 last night. In watching the vault again, however, the real-time forward angle absolutely does make it look like a stick. Given the loose tone of the scoring through the rest of that meet, I’m actually pretty shocked she didn’t get a 10. I think 9.950 is the right score, but that was better than any of the 10 or 9.975 vaults we’ve seen so far this season. Continue reading Saturday Live Blog – January 28, 2017
|#12 NEBRASKA ROSTER 2017|
2016 – 8th
2015 – 8th
2014 – 6th
2013 – 14th
2012 – 8th
2011 – 4th
2010 – 7th
Nebraska typically outperforms its preseason ranking. Just something to keep in mind. The Huskers prowl around the lower half of the nationals contenders but only miss nationals in years when they have an extra, extra-talented roster or are hosting the competition. Otherwise, it has been a pretty safe bet, and 8th place is becoming a bit of a trend.
This year should be more of the same in terms of expectations, though there are some potential stumbling blocks to mimicking last year’s result. The Huskers have already suffered a couple injuries that will make filling out lineups more challenging, and they’ll have to find a way to replace four critical, lineup-best routines from Hollie Blanske (putting pressure on freshman Taylor Houchin to be the new star). Because Nebraska is Nebraska and because a few AA stars are capable of carrying this team, I’d still take the Huskers to make nationals, though they will look a likely nominee for the challenging pack to pick off. Continue reading Nebraska 2017
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.
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
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)
 Oklahoma (bye before floor)
 Alabama (bye before bars)
 Utah (vault)
 UCLA (bars)
 Cal (beam)
 Nebraska (floor)
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