Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Sunday Live Blog – January 15, 2017

Sunday, January 15 Scores Watch
12:00 ET/9:00 PT – Brockport, Springfield, Ithaca @ Rhode Island
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Western Michigan ESPN3
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [17] Northern Illinois @ Ball State LINK FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – West Chester, Cortland @ Southern Connecticut SCSU
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [19] Penn State @ Nebraska LINK
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [13] Cal @ [24] Iowa LINK UI TV
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [6] Missouri, SEMO @ Lindenwood LINK FLOG
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [8] UCLA @ [2] Oklahoma LINK FSSW

Ah, the day has come. This is the second-straight year we get a UCLA/Oklahoma meet, and I hope this develops into an annual matchup because it’s becoming among the most anticipated and delightful meets in college gymnastics. You know it’s going to be a show: two teams whose ultimate goal is to out-“floor routines about refugees” and out-“solving world hunger through beam emoting” the other. Also winning, but that’s definitely item #2. (Mostly because we all know Oklahoma is going to win). Continue reading Sunday Live Blog – January 15, 2017

Friday Live Blog – January 6, 2017

Friday, January 6 Scores Watch
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [9] Georgia @ [2] LSU LINK SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [21] Kentucky @ Eastern Michigan LINK ESPN3
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Illinois-Chicago @ Michigan State LINK BTN+
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Arizona State @ Iowa State LINK ISU TV
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [3] Alabama @ [1] Oklahoma LINK FSN
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [13] Oregon State @ [8] Auburn LINK SECN+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [24] Illinois, Ball State @ [19] Missouri LINK SECN+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State, TWU @ [18] Arizona LINK P12

And so it begins. The live blogging plan is to start with Georgia/LSU for the first hour, then switch major focus to Alabama/Oklahoma while also continuing Georgia/LSU and keeping a quarter of an eye on interesting routines from Oregon State/Auburn. Illinois/Missouri actually should be worthwhile too, but priorities priorities. Continue reading Friday Live Blog – January 6, 2017

Oklahoma 2017

Chayse Capps
  • BB star, staple of VT, FX in first three seasons
  • Added UB in 2016 and was casually amazing
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.955, UB – 9.920, FX – 9.915, VT – 9.875
Reagan Hemry
  • Has not performed competition routine in first three seasons
Charity Jones
  • Finally healthy enough to contribute weekly VT, BB, FX in 2016
  • Also contributed late-season UB in 2014
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.910, VT – 9.880, BB – 9.860
Kara Lovan
  • A staple of VT, BB, FX in first two years, did not make final lineups in 2016
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.665, FX – 9.413
Nicole Turner
  • Transfer from Oregon State for 2016 season
  • Has not competed for Oklahoma
  • Top UB routine in 2016
  • Occasional tantalizing BB w/ falls earlier in career
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.950
Natalie Brown
  • Weekly member of BB, FX lineups in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.910, FX – 9.890
Stefani Catour
  • Made final BB lineup in 2016
  • Competed UB once for 9.925
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.850
Samantha Craus
  • Has not performed competition routine in first two seasons
Ali Jackson
  • Top routine on VT, FX in first two years
  • Added weekly UB and backup BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.940, FX – 9.920, UB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.800
Brenna Dowell
  • Deferred 2016 to compete at Olympic Trials
  • Leading score on VT, UB, FX in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: FX – 9.945, UB – 9.910, VT – 9.890
Nicole Lehrmann
  • Staple of UB, BB lineups in 2016
  • Also provides backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.915, BB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.813
Alex Marks
  • Frequent VT in 2016
  • Competed FX once for 9.700
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.835
  • Did not compete in freshman season
  • American Twisters
  • 2015 JO Nationals 3rd AA
Maggie Nichols
  • Twin City
  • 2016 Olympic Trials 6th AA
  • 2015 World Championship team, 2015 Nationals 2nd AA
  • The effing Maggie Nichols
Brehanna Showers
  • R Athletics MI
  • 2014 Region 5 champion, 2013 JO Nationals 2nd AA
  • Name is complete sentence, and good hygiene.

Recent History
2016 – 1st
2015 – 3rd
2014 – 1st
2013 – 2nd
2012 – 7th
2011 – 3rd
2010 – 2nd

As a team, Oklahoma has achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve in college gymnastics—including now winning a national championship outright—but one thing Oklahoma hasn’t done before is enter a season as the clear favorite and presumed winner of the title, a team that can only meet expectations not exceed them, a team with nothing to gain and everything to lose. So have fun with that. Don’t worry about it, just anything short of absolute perfection and constant victory culminating in a championship will be a tragic disappointment to everyone. It’s fine.

The coaches, me, and the readers of this site (you know, the big three) all agree that Oklahoma is the most talented team and should win a third title. So let’s get into why. Continue reading Oklahoma 2017

2017 Freshman Preview: Oklahoma

Don’t freak out, but Oklahoma 2017 probably should be better than Oklahoma 2016. Let’s find out why.

Returning Routines – Oklahoma
Jackson – 9.940
Jones – 9.880
Capps – 9.875
Marks – 9.835
Lehrmann – 9.800
Wofford – 9.950
Catour – 9.925
Capps – 9.920
Lehrmann – 9.915
Jackson – 9.875
Capps – 9.955
Brown – 9.910
Lehrmann – 9.875
Jones – 9.860
Catour – 9.850
Jackson – 9.800
Lovan – 9.665
Jackson – 9.920
Capps – 9.915
Jones – 9.910
Brown – 9.890
Marks – 9.700
Lovan – 9.413

Oops, you’re already set. Congratulations.

But wait. There are also freshman (WHAT?!?!) and the return of Brenna Dowell. Dowell was late-lineup on three events during her freshman year and will be expected to return to those positions in 2017. Memories of her NCAA floor tend to be shadowed by that high-profile OOB in Super Six, but she got 9.9s all year long.

The question is beam. We’ll get into this more in the December team previews, but Dowell did not make Oklahoma’s beam lineup in 2015 because of Brenna, and beam, and terrifying, and they didn’t need her. The Sooners probably won’t need her once again in 2017, but we’ll see if Dowell can manage that personal triumph or if we’ll have to wait for one of those irresistible “she finally figured out beam in her senior year” storylines. She did hit beam both days of Olympic Trials. I don’t think you guys saw any of those routines on TV, but Brenna casually had the best competition of her life by a thousand percent that second day of trials. We were all like, “WHO IS THIS???”

Oh, and there’s a little nobody named Maggie Nichols. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Oklahoma

Returning Routine Rankings 2017

Yes, that is a picture of D-D Breaux in a pink hardhat. Because there doesn’t need to be a reason.

Now that the NCAA schedules are finally coming together-ish, it’s probably important for us to start remembering who the people are and what the things do. It’s a really tough job. We need three months.

Before beginning to evaluate this year’s incoming freshmen, I decided to check out where the teams stand without them, how they rank using only scores from 2016’s returning gymnasts. It’s a totally scientific and unimpeachable way of quantifying just how much work the freshmen and new transfers will need to do for teams to return to (or improve on) last year’s level.

When available, I used RQS for each gymnast, but when not, I used full season average.

Most teams do return at least five people who competed on each apparatus last year, but when they don’t, I filled out the remaining scores with punishment 9.700s (I told you, totally scientific). It’s a way of making sure each team has a comparable total, operating under the belief that for these top 15 teams, the backup gymnast who wasn’t good enough to compete probably would have scored a replacement-level 9.700. That is, unless the returning scores were already lower than that (*cough* Utah’s beam *cough*).

1. LSU – 197.726
Gnat – 9.965
Ewing – 9.905
Hambrick – 9.880
Finnegan – 9.835
Cannamela – 9.835
Macadaeg – 9.790
Priessman – 9.750
Finnegan 9.915
Hambrick – 9.905
Zamardi – 9.875
Priessman – 9.869
Gnat – 9.727
Cannamela – 9.663
Finnegan – 9.915
Gnat – 9.895
Macadaeg – 9.890
Hambrick – 9.885
Ewing – 9.870
Priessman – 9.725
Cannamela – 9.603
Gnat – 9.980
Macadaeg – 9.950
Kelley – 9.885
Hambrick – 9.880
Ewing – 9.865
Finnegan – 9.692
Zamardi – 9.517
Cannamela – 9.050

Losing only Savona and a not-100% Wyrick from last year’s Super Six team, LSU is sailing smoothly on most events. Continue reading Returning Routine Rankings 2017

Comings and Goings

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.

Smooth sailing

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

National Championship Preview Part 3: You’re All Super to Me, Except for Five of You

Without knowing how the semifinals will play out, previewing Super Six is like looking for shadows in a blindfold factory. Still, performances so far this season have provided a pretty good indication of which teams are in serious contention to win the title and which teams are simply looking to make Super Six/snatch a respectable finish if one of the top teams falters. Surprise, surprise, the four most likely title contenders are also the four top-ranked teams.

Those rankings exist for a reason. The ultimate champion has not come from outside the top three since the beginning of the Georgia dynasty in 2005, when Georgia entered the postseason in 5th, and for each of the last three seasons, the regular-season top three has also finished Super Six in the top three places. So while a weird upset or two in the semifinals could help the chances for a cusp team like Utah to get into the rarefied territory of podium-land, the four teams that should be challenging for the title of Superest of the Super Six, because you’re all just super, are Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, and Alabama. The only other team that spent any time in the top three this season was Michigan, and that ship has sailed.

A rotation-by-rotation team comparison as to the pace they’ll need to set won’t be possible until we have the rotation order, although this is the draw for Super Six for quick reference once we know how the semifinals finish.

The winner of the second semi gets Olympic order, and the winner of the first semi gets to start on beam. Fun. The third-place teams are the ones who will end on byes, as by design.

Of course, to win Super Six, you have to be good on all the things, but rather than just go through the teams and say, “It would be nice if Florida got a good score on bars, and also beam, and floor, and vault. That would make it easier to win” (duh), I’ve assigned each of these four teams a critical event, not necessarily a “must-win” event because that’s hyperbolic (and I never, ever, ever write hyperbolically), but one that should be a massive strength, can’t be a massive weakness, or is generally the best indicator for that team as to whether a title chase is really on.

Vault – LSU

LSU’s ability on vault and concerted use of Gnat Power has made the Tigers the only non-Oklahoma team to occupy the top spot on any event to end the season. If circumstances play out the way they have during the regular season, vault appears to be the juiciest opportunity for the other teams to strike a blow to the Sooners since Oklahoma’s RQS is just a pitiful 49.415 here. (Like, are you even trying?) LSU is the best poised to do that.
Continue reading National Championship Preview Part 3: You’re All Super to Me, Except for Five of You

National Championships Preview Part 2: Deja Vu in Spoilertown

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)
[1] Oklahoma (bye before floor)
[4] Alabama (bye before bars)
[5] Utah (vault)
[8] UCLA (bars)
[10] Cal (beam)
[12] Nebraska (floor)

Competing individuals
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

Who Is Going to Make Super Six?

Are you still alive? Maybe? Ish?

The extended frigid hellscape that was regionals day is now squarely behind us, with all the Michigan tears and Stanford celebration dances accounted for, and if you were able to emerge from that 58-millenium barrage of meets and marathon of interminable bye rotations without passing out and deciding that you hate gymnastics now, you’re the winner.

For a recap of all the action you may have missed, or seen, or intentionally got amnesia about, or found infuriating, be sure to listen to this week’s episode of Gymcastic. I join Jessica and Uncle Tim to go through the day regional by regional to speculate about whether the Iowa regional was judged by three lemons and the concept of winter, argue over the merits of the handspring-onto-the-springboard vault, and warn that in spite of what you may have heard from your friends, the Stanford Rhythm Method is not a reliable form of making nationals. Among other topics. Get ready.

For the moment, let’s look toward nationals. We know our semifinalists, and the rotation order has been released, so it’s time to get a-speculatin’. 

It was probably going to be the case anyway, but the Michigan upset has left what looks to be a golden opportunity for several teams to snatch the third spot out of the first semifinal, assuming that Florida and LSU are the favorites. After all the terrors of this season, has Georgia become the pick to advance? The Gymdogs get to start on beam again. Nothing like a high-budget dystopian horror comedy to start the day. But they hit beam at regionals! Kind of! They did enough! Hooray!

Few of the rotation assignments jump out as particularly disastrous for any of these teams, though I do think that Stanford benefited from finishing on its good events at regionals and will have the opposite order here, starting with events that need to score massively and finishing on events that are unlikely to. Stanford will need the judges to be willing to flash the 9.900-9.950s right from the first routine of the first session because Stanford really must get 49.5s on bars and beam.

In the coming days, I’ll delve into more detailed prognostication about the semifinals, Super Six, and whether we even care about the individual competitions anymore, but for today, let’s set things up with a glance at the numbers. Which are the key events to watch if we’re looking for an upset? And who’s capable of pulling it off? Categories in which a team places in the top three in the session (a qualifying spot) are highlighted. 


Regional score: 196.725 [3]
RQS: 197.795 [1]
Regular season average: 197.502 [1]  
Season high: 198.175 [1]

VT regional score: 49.225 [3]
VT RQS: 49.420 [2] 
VT average: 49.341 [2]
VT season high: 49.500 [3]

UB regional score: 49.125 [4]
UB RQS: 49.500 [1] 
UB average: 49.439 [1]
UB season high: 49.650 [1] 

BB regional score: 49.300 [1]
BB RQS: 49.430 [1]
BB average: 49.318 [1] 
BB season high: 49.525 [3]

FX regional score: 49.075 [4]
FX RQS: 49.505 [2]
FX average: 49.405 [2] 
FX season high: 49.675 [2]

Florida should be the heaviest favorite in the first semifinal and settles in comfortably in the top three here in every category except those pertaining to that lackluster regionals performance. It’s worth treating as just an odd blip for now that shouldn’t compromise our expectations of Florida making it out of this semifinal safely and easily, but it doesn’t help in the race to catch Oklahoma.

Regional score: 197.300 [1]
RQS: 197.695 [2]
Regular season average: 197.209 [2]  
Season high: 197.925 [2]

VT regional score: 49.400 [1]
VT RQS: 49.445 [1]
VT average: 49.395 [1]
VT season high: 49.550 [1]

UB regional score: 49.300 [2]
UB RQS: 49.370 [2] 
UB average: 49.252 [2]
UB season high: 49.475 [3] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.355 [2] 
BB average: 49.141 [2] 
BB season high: 49.575 [2]

FX regional score: 49.450 [1]
FX RQS: 49.545 [1]
FX average: 49.420 [1] 
FX season high: 49.700 [1]

LSU goes all blue here because of a much stronger (and more charitably scored) regionals performance than Florida. There were some definite benefit-of-the-doubt scores, including Ewing’s 9.975 for an under-rotated 1.5 and Gnat’s floor 9.950 in spite of bouncing out of her final pass. Still, it would take a repeat of last season’s beam debacle to keep LSU out of Super Six, largely because of what the team can make up on vault and floor. Between Florida and LSU, the competition sets up pretty cleanly and clearly in that LSU has been the stronger vault and floor team and Florida has been the stronger bars and beam team (on non-regionals-type days), so determining which advantage is more valuable will be something to watch in this semifinal with an eye toward how these teams might fare in Super Six. 

Regional score:  196.525 [4]
RQS: 197.150 [3]
Regular season average: 196.692 [3]  
Season high: 197.325 [6]

VT regional score:  49.150 [5]
VT RQS: 49.250 [4] 
VT average: 49.167 [4]
VT season high: 49.375 [4]

UB regional score: 49.125 [4]
UB RQS: 49.295 [3] 
UB average: 49.215 [3] 
UB season high: 49.375 [6] 

BB regional score: 48.850 [6]
BB RQS: 49.215 [3] 
BB average: 49.042 [4] 
BB season high: 49.300 [6]

FX regional score: 49.400 [2]
FX RQS: 49.445 [3]
FX average: 49.269 [4] 
FX season high: 49.600 [4]

Regional score: 196.850 [2]
RQS: 197.010 [4]
Regular season average: 196.462 [4]  
Season high: 197.525 [3]

VT regional score: 49.275 [2]
VT RQS: 49.415 [3] 
VT average: 49.283 [3]
VT season high: 49.525 [2]

UB regional score: 49.250 [3]
UB RQS: 49.280 [4] 
UB average: 49.165 [4]
UB season high: 49.400 [5]

BB regional score: 49.025 [5]
BB RQS: 49.180 [6]
BB average: 48.694 [6] 
BB season high: 49.425 [4]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.385 [4]
FX average: 49.315 [3] 
FX season high: 49.625 [3]

Georgia finishes in the top 3 in more categories than Auburn, primarily due to Georgia’s superior regionals performance. Neither team had a phenomenal meet, but Georgia’s three post-beam events reflected a team that is quite capable of making Super Six out of this session. Auburn, meanwhile, won the coveted, definitely-very-important regular-season fight with Georgia to see which team would make the evening session at SECs. Georgia v. Auburn with a side of Stanford is setting up as the most entertaining part of semifinal day, barring the inevitable meltdown.

Critically, Auburn did worse than Georgia on beam at regionals. Surely that can’t be repeated in the semifinals if Auburn is going to qualify. And it all comes back to Georgia’s beam once again…

Regional score: 196.175 [6]
RQS: 196.495 [5]
Regular season average: 196.090 [6]  
Season high:  197.425 [4]

VT regional score: 49.175 [4]
VT RQS: 49.120 [5] 
VT average: 48.975 [6] 
VT season high: 49.275 [5]

UB regional score: 48.950 [6]
UB RQS: 49.180 [6] 
UB average: 48.963 [6]
UB season high: 49.425 [4] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.185 [5] 
BB average: 49.021 [5] 
BB season high: 49.675 [1]

FX regional score: 48.900 [6]
FX RQS: 49.270 [5]
FX average: 49.131 [5]
FX season high: 49.375 [5]

Of the 12 qualified teams, Minnesota is the least likely to advance to Super Six, though the Gophers do snatch a couple of blue spots thanks to Mable and Nordquist on beam, the duo that seriously helped them stay ahead of Denver at regionals. 

Regional score: 196.525 [4]
RQS: 196.355 [6]
Regular season average: 196.148 [5]  
Season high: 197.400 [5]

VT regional score: 48.800 [6]
VT RQS: 49.120 [5] 
VT average: 49.013 [5]
VT season high: 49.250 [6]

UB regional score: 49.500 [1]
UB RQS: 49.230 [5] 
UB average: 49.130 [5]
UB season high: 49.525 [2] 

BB regional score: 49.250 [2]
BB RQS: 49.195 [4] 
BB average: 49.088 [3]
BB season high: 49.375 [5]

FX regional score: 48.975 [5]
FX RQS: 49.050 [6]
FX average: 48.918 [6] 
FX season high: 49.250 [6]

The numbers bear out what we all already know about Stanford. When Stanford is having a good day, the bars and beam rotations can be a force and can contend with any team, but even though Stanford was able to overcome vault and floor to get out of a messy regional, can what is basically a two-event team + Ebee really put up a score viable enough to get out of a semifinal? 


Regional score: 197.575 [1]
RQS: 197.920 [1]
Regular season average: 197.588 [1]  
Season high: 198.075 [1]

VT regional score: 49.275 [1]
VT RQS: 49.415 [1] 
VT average: 49.356 [1]
VT season high: 49.475 [1]

UB regional score: 49.575 [1]
UB RQS: 49.575 [1] 
UB average: 49.467 [1]
UB season high: 49.675 [1] 

BB regional score: 49.425 [1]
BB RQS: 49.445 [1] 
BB average: 49.362 [1] 
BB season high: 49.550 [2]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.575 [1]
FX average: 49.404 [2] 
FX season high: 49.700 [1]

Regional score:  197.125 [2]
RQS:  197.400 [2]
Regular season average: 197.042 [2]  
Season high:  197.750 [2]

VT regional score: 49.225 [3]
VT RQS: 49.355 [2] 
VT average: 49.260 [2]
VT season high: 49.425 [2]

UB regional score:  49.275 [3]
UB RQS: 49.405 [2] 
UB average: 49.283 [3]
UB season high: 49.600 [2] 

BB regional score: 49.150 [3]
BB RQS: 49.320 [3] 
BB average: 49.142 [4] 
BB season high: 49.550 [2]

FX regional score: 49.475 [1]
FX RQS: 49.445 [3]
FX average: 49.356 [3] 
FX season high: 49.500 [4]

Regional score: 197.125 [2]
RQS: 197.205 [3]
Regular season average: 196.970 [3]  
Season high: 196.675 [3]

VT regional score: 49.250 [2]
VT RQS: 49.255 [3] 
VT average: 49.200 [3]
VT season high: 49.400 [3]

UB regional score: 49.350 [2]
UB RQS: 49.395 [3]
UB average: 49.323 [2]
UB season high: 49.550 [3] 

BB regional score: 49.225 [2]
BB RQS: 49.290 [4] 
BB average: 49.168 [3] 
BB season high: 49.450 [4]

FX regional score: 49.300 [3]
FX RQS: 49.485 [2]
FX average: 49.280 [4]
FX season high: 49.625 [2]

The picture is clearer here. This looks to be the tougher of the two semifinals and poses a bigger challenge to the bottom three seeds. Based on recent performances, Oklahoma is pulling away from everyone, even the closest contenders like Florida and LSU, and Alabama and Utah look like the most convincing and least stressful choices among the remaining teams in this session. That outlook really hinges upon how influential UCLA’s beam and floor scores can be in trying to leap ahead of Alabama and Utah since vault and bars go to the top three seeds here in a landslide.

Regional score:  196.375 [5]
RQS:  197.055 [4]
Regular season average: 196.782 [4]  
Season high:  197.475 [5]

VT regional score: 49.125 [4]
VT RQS: 49.180 [5] 
VT average: 49.084 [5]
VT season high: 49.375 [4]

UB regional score: 48.800 [6]
UB RQS: 49.235 [4] 
UB average: 49.105 [4]
UB season high: 49.350 [6] 

BB regional score: 49.050 [5] 
BB RQS: 49.325 [2]
BB average: 49.184 [2] 
BB season high: 49.575 [1]

FX regional score: 49.400 [2]
FX RQS: 49.430 [4]
FX average: 49.405 [1] 
FX season high: 49.600 [3]

UCLA is theoretically competitive with, if not stronger than, Alabama and Utah on beam and floor, but a repeat of the beam score from regionals would all but decide this competition and leave everyone waiting for a flurry of falls to somehow change the status quo. While it may not be quite as urgent as Stanford’s need on bars and beam, it’s tough to see UCLA advancing without exceeding RQS on beam and floor.

Regional score: 195.925 [6]
RQS: 196.770 [5]
Regular season average: 196.230 [5]  
Season high: 197.500 [4]

VT regional score: 48.875 [6]
VT RQS: 49.185 [4] 
VT average: 49.086 [4]
VT season high: 49.225 [6]

UB regional score: 49.175 [5]
UB RQS: 49.150 [6] 
UB average: 48.936 [6]
UB season high: 49.475 [4] 

BB regional score: 48.900 [6]
BB RQS: 49.205 [6] 
BB average: 48.975 [6] 
BB season high: 49.350 [6]

FX regional score: 48.975 [6]
FX RQS: 49.295 [5]
FX average: 49.232 [5]
FX season high: 49.450 [6]

Regional score: 196.550 [4]
RQS: 196.635 [6]
Regular season average: 196.205 [6]  
Season high: 197.350 [6]

VT regional score: 48.925 [5]
VT RQS: 49.105 [6]
VT average: 48.991 [6]
VT season high: 49.275 [5]

UB regional score: 49.225 [4]
UB RQS: 49.180 [5] 
UB average: 49.016 [5]
UB season high: 49.475 [4] 

BB regional score: 49.125 [4]
BB RQS: 49.255 [5] 
BB average: 49.068 [5]
BB season high: 49.375 [5]

FX regional score: 49.275 [5]
FX RQS: 49.260 [6]
FX average: 49.130 [6] 
FX season high: 49.475 [5]

Nebraska was very steady in a somewhat strictly-evaluated regional, while Cal endured an off day to finish in the top two at its own, but the lack of blue categories for either raises the issue that they may not have the big rotation numbers it takes to emerge from a semifinal, the way UCLA might on beam and floor. Not since 2011 has a 196 been enough to qualify to Super Six, so the likelihood of hitting 197 must be the benchmark now.

Doesn’t this semifinal with Utah, UCLA, and Nebraska remind you of 2014 when Utah and UCLA were supposed to be battling for the final spot out of the second semifinal and then Nebraska just showed up on beam in that final rotation to go, “Oh wait, us.”

Iowa Regional Preview

Thus, the insanity begins. Last year, we were subjected to the relative letdown of all twelve #1 and #2 seeds advancing to nationals, but this season has been marked by uprooting of the traditional order of things, with teams like Cal and Denver breaking into the top 12 and shoving out some more established powers. The heavy parity among most of the teams ranked 10-18 should be cause for hope that we’ll see some real upsets this year, but even if we don’t and all the #1 and #2 seeds go through, that would still mean that less-traditional qualifiers like Cal and Denver are heading to nationals. 

Before we go to therapy for our anticipation problems by dissecting the regional championships one by one, the news of the day is the announcement of the six finalists for the AAI Award, a.k.a. the Best Senior Award: Caitlin Atkinson, Ivana Hong, Lindsay Mable, Nina McGee, Haley Scaman, and Bridget Sloan. Snubs include Brandie Jay, Brittany Rogers, Danusia Francis, Lauren Beers, among others. I wonder who’s going to win…

Anyway, to the regionals! Let’s begin with the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners and their visit to the land of that butter statue of Shawn Johnson, the great state of Iowa.
Competing teams (starting event)
[1] Oklahoma (bye before bars)
[12] Nebraska (beam)
[13] Arkansas (floor)
[19] Iowa (bye before floor)
[30] Kent State (bars)
[35] Central Michigan (vault)

Competing individuals
Western Michigan (Anna Corbett – AA; Kelsey Hood – AA; Jessie Peszek – UB, BB; Rachel Underwood – BB, FX; Jessi Buis – VT; Jessica Juncaj – UB) 
Ball State (Denaisha Christian – VT, FX; Sarah Ebeyer – VT, FX; Jordyn Penny – UB; Baylee Bell – BB)
Centenary (Ashley White – AA)

The favorite — Oklahoma

The Sooners should sail through this competition for all of the reasons, of particular note being that their season average is greater than the season high of any other team in the meet and that they’ve spent the month of March looking even more postseasony than usual. It would be a massive disaster if Oklahoma were not to qualify out of this session, so I’ll spend more time addressing the Sooners later once we head toward nationals and start evaluating the title chances of the various top contenders.

If things go to plan and Oklahoma is up by, you know, seven tenths halfway through the meet, everyone’s attention will probably be directed at the exciting qualification fight for the second spot in this session, but there are still a few areas to look out for in Oklahoma’s performance with eyes toward nationals. As with pretty much all the teams, refining landings will be a major focus of the next month. Vault is the only event on which Oklahoma doesn’t own the world, currently sitting in 3rd place behind LSU and Florida, often a result of the lineup peaking around 9.875 when Scaman and Jackson have larger steps on their 1.5s at the end. They need some more consistently controlled landings on those 1.5s to keep pace with the Gnats and the Bakers. (Should Oklahoma mimic what Florida does with McMurtry and throw a sticker like Kmieciak or Capps in the anchor spot after the 1.5s to ensure they get 9.9s instead of potentially being kept down earlier in the lineup?) I’m also interested to see how the routines are being evaluated as a whole since we’ll get both Oklahoma and Florida as away teams at (hopefully) non-cuckoo-scoring venues at the same time for comparison. 

The fight — Nebraska v. Arkansas

This year, the #3 seeds are ending on a bye, which isn’t great for the excitement of the competition but does mean that we should know exactly what Nebraska needs to do on bars heading into the final rotation since Arkansas will already be done. We have reason to hope it’ll be close because there’s very little to separate these teams right now, as it should be when the #12 and #13 face off. It would be hard to consider either team advancing much of an upset. In fact, while Nebraska’s overall RQS is a touch higher than Arkansas’s, their four event RQSs total exactly identically.

The performances at conference championships pretty clearly illustrate the identities of each of these rosters at this point in the season (now that Nebraska has enough people to compete): Nebraska scored eight 9.9s to Arkansas’s one, while Nebraska also had three scores under 9.7 to Arkansas’s none, with the caveat that Nebraska’s conference championship also took place at home. Nebraska has more big-score potential from Blanske, Laeng, Breen now, and Williams sometimes but also still has to throw in the occasional backup auto-drop, while Arkansas has been 9.850ing along in pretty much every meet. After enduring a disaster in Cancun (“we’ve all been there, amiright?” said the worst person in the world), Arkansas has become one of NCAA’s most reliable teams.

This would seem to indicate that the meet is in Nebraska’s hands. If the Huskers hit to a relatively postseasonish level, they can take a couple tenths and run away and hide with them (recent form backs this up, with Nebraska’s lowest score in the last three being 196.900—a meet that included counting an OOB on floor—and Arkansas’s highest being 196.775). That’s why it’s imperative for Arkansas to nail its “big” routine on each event. Arkansas doesn’t have a lot of huge gymnastics, going the yfull-double pike route this season, so the showcase routine—be it Wellick on vault and floor, Zaziski on bars, or Nelson on beam—must be a big number to take away Nebraska’s chance of using more 9.9s to rack up a multi-tenth edge.

If we employ RQS as our constant and reliable guide—because without numbers we’re no better than the animals—Arkansas theoretically has the edge on vault and floor.

That’s mostly a reflection of consistency. Arkansas has shown better landing control on vault and has suffered fewer instances of having to put up only five on vault and floor. Or as the kids call it, Nebraskaing. They’ve both had some, Nebraska during Laeng’s absence and the Ashley Lambert injury saga and Arkansas after the injury to MacMoyle, but no one can out-“putting up five on vault and floor” Nebraska. The bigger routines from Blanske at the end of those Nebraska lineups, however, may negate any Arkansas consistency advantage, especially if she sticks that 1.5 the way she did at Big Tens.

Bars and beam, on the other hand, are supposed to go Nebraska’s way. Nebraska’s beam RQS is higher than its vault RQS, you guys. WHAT IS THIS WORLD? I don’t even know what to think. So I won’t. Bars has seen some lineup upheaval for the Huskers this year, but it was the event that nearly single-handedly saved their score at Big Tens as they Oklahomaed all over that score sheet.

Nebraska’s final event is bars, while Arkansas finishes on beam, which should be advantage Nebraska. Arkansas has been solid on beam this year and has found a lineup that works, but it’s not going to be a hugely huge score, especially if Sydnie Dillard keeps getting Aisha Gerber-level inexplicably low 9.7s in the first spot. That means the closer Nebraska keeps it early, the more the advantage shifts to the Huskers. All of these #2 seeds like Nebraska are starting on beam, so we’re going to have a pretty good sense of where the Upset Meter stands after the first rotation of each regional.

The spoiler — Iowa

“There’s nothing more dangerous than an unseeded host team capable of scoring 196.500” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

We can’t count out Iowa here. Quietly, this has been a pretty monumental season for the Hawkeyes. Escaping from the usual purgatory of the lower end of the top 30, Iowa used some mid-season 196s to jump squarely into the teens and enter regionals as the strongest of the unseeded schools. Competing at home, and with a competitive scoring precedent already set this season, Iowa could do some damage as long as Nebraska and Arkansas have a case of the 9.825s and stay in the 196s. On vault and floor early in the meet, watch the scores for Drenth and Glover. If Glover is hitting 9.900 on floor and Drenth is hitting 9.9 for her “arabian,” as she did at Big Tens, that’s your sign that this might be an out-of-the-ordinary scoring day and that Iowa needs to be watched. Still, unless it’s a day of true crazy home craziness, it’s hard to imagine Iowa beating hit meets from both Nebraska and Arkansas, who are much more likely to go into the higher end of the 196s. Iowa needs a couple meltdowns. But, they can be minor meltdowns as long as Iowa stays on 49 pace. If the first two events are sub-49, it will take more than a minor mistake from the others for Iowa to get into this meet.

And the rest
Kent State and Central Michigan round out the regional, and for them it’s more a fight with each other than a fight to make it to nationals. Central Michigan impressed last year, but after graduating basically the entire roster + seven people, CMU did well just to hang on for a spot at regionals this season. Kent State recovered from missing out in 2015 with some crucial late 195s to hop into the top 36. It will be a battle of Kent State’s floor versus CMU’s bars and beam. Kent State ranks very competitively on floor but relies heavily on that being a 49+ score because the other events are weaker, which may be Central Michigan’s opening.

The top two AAers not on a qualifying team will advance to nationals from each regional competition, along with any event champions who are not on a qualifying team. Every year, a couple individual event gymnasts do advance to nationals, but it’s very difficult, especially in a regional like this when making nationals for a single event requires beating Oklahoma’s entire lineup. No easy task. Sorry, bars specialists. Wofford’s in the house.

In the all-around, Nebraska has several competitive AAers because, as usual, there are only about three and a quarter healthy gymnasts on this team. Blanske, Williams, Laeng and Breen are all back in the AA with 39.400 potential, and any two of them could advance to nationals if Nebraska doesn’t make it. Of course, if Nebraska doesn’t make it, that probably means at least a couple of them didn’t do so much with the great in this meet, but that’s why there are four. Two probably still will.

If Nebraska does qualify and Arkansas does not, then Wellick becomes the clear pick to advance as an individual. She’s the only AAer for Arkansas, so for the other spot, money probably goes on Mollie Drenth, who is capable of 39.3s/39.4s and could also quite realistically knock out some of the Nebraska gymnasts if that’s the scenario. Angel Metcalf of Iowa is also in the hunt, though Drenth probably has higher scoring potential. CMU will put up Bolender, Teet, and Janowicz in the all-around, but they’re lower down the scoring chart and would need mistakes from Nebraskans/Iowans to get in.