February 10, 2013

[4] UCLA Quad Meet Live Blog

Before we get started on today's UCLA quad, a few things about last night's meet at Utah. I didn't live blog the meet, but I did watch it and did make incomprehensible notes like "Oh hey, Miss Confident Arms." These are the things I think when watching gymnastics. It was important for Utah to count no falls in the beginning of the no-Lothrop era, but the 197 score flatters some deficiencies. There are too many 9.800-level routines in these lineups. Most of these rotations are going to be relying on the starring classy routine to save them, which is not an ideal strategy. When Dabritz falls on bars, there is no one to pick up the rotation. Dabritz hit beam this week, but when she doesn't, it's the same thing. As for the Wilson 10, her landing was better than the 9.975 last week, so the 10 was inevitable, especially because of the inflated 9.875 that Damianova had just received. Wilson's vault was easily two tenths+ better than Damianova's, so where do you go?

As for Cal, the score is catastrophic because of one of the more disastrous beam rotations I've seen in a while. So many falls that weren't close. Nonetheless, this certainly looks like a Regionals-worthy team. As with many teams at their level, they cannot compete with top-10 teams like Utah when it comes to handstands and dance elements. Every routine loses multiple tenths because of those issues. The highlights were the floor routines from Asturias and Leong. Wonderful. 

UCLA enters this meet having recorded a 196.9 for a fine but unremarkable performance at Stanford. At each of the last two away meets, bars has been a saga of missed handstands and sloppy dismounts. That needs to improve at home, and I'd like to see some progress on vault as well. Right now, it's still  Zam, Courtney, and the 9.800 sisters. Let's talk about constructing some new 9.9s.

The meet begins at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT, and may be viewed here.

Around the nation today, Penn State had a 196 going before a beamtastrophe pushed the score way down to 195.050. Nebraska wins the meet easily with a 197.175. DeZiel takes the AA title by .025 over Wong. Meanwhile, Boise State opened with a 49.325 on vault before giving the positive score away on beam, counting three scores in the 9.5-9.6 range.

UCLA has one of the less irritating intro videos this year. Did I miss a new injury to Sawa? She didn't compete last week and is just in a t-shirt today for the intros. I would certainly think she would be in on vault over Pritchett if she were healthy.

Alternating routines in a quad meet . . . bets on how long this will take?

Rotation 1: UCLA vault, Washington bars, Sac State beam, Davis floor.
UCLA vault lineup: McDonald, Pritchett, De La Torre, Baer, Courtney, Zamarripa
Washington bars lineup: McCartin, Northey, Fetcher, Tham, Metcalf, Rogers

McDonald opens vault for UCLA with a 9.750 according to the scores. I missed the beginning. Our first up for Washington on bars, McCartin, looks strong with just a step on a double back dismount. Patchy sound happening on this feed. Hits for Sac St. and UC Davis.

Now McDonald starting, the scores lied to us earlier. UCLA starting last but on vault. Good stick on a yfull. That will definitely be more than the 9.750 lie. Chest down and legs in flight and on block.

Northey - Wash - really nice stuck tuck full dismount. Strong routine overall.
Benning - Sac St - fine loso series, sticks gainer full, proficient routines.
DeFrancesco - Davis - mounts with a double tuck, way short punching into her front out of her dismount and falls.
Pritchett - UCLA - legs, huge bounce back, similar to what we've seen. She doesn't have the landing or the power.

3rd up:
Fetcher - Wash - UB - a couple leg separations, but another stick or near stick on the dismount. They are saving tenths with these dismounts.     
Sac State giving away some on wobbles and non-stuck dismounts on beam, lacking the amplitude and precision we see from the top teams. Davis on floor now starting to show a bit more in the third routine - a double pike mount, but it's quite low chested.
MDLT - UCLA - VT - fine flight, hop back, probably about her usual score as well. They'll hope to drop Pritchett's 9.700, and this will help with that, but it's not getting out of 9.800 land.

Tham - Wash - UB - good tkatchev, strong lines, hunched on DLO and a bigger step forward. Crazy save on a full turn from Sac State on beam, great to stay on but huge deductions. Stronger from Yamamura for Davis on floor. They're starting to get out of this 9.6 territory now.
Baer - UCLA - VT - Her usual vault, maybe a bit better in the legs on the block or it could be the angle, hop back.

Metcalf - Wash - UB - solid work, cowboys double front but finishes early and takes just a step. Should keep the solid pace. This is a fairly strong event from what I'm seeing. Good lines, more refined hs than some other teams.
Ouchie. Sac State 5th up on beam was completely off on her series and landed near sideways on the beam and took and awkward fall. She's fine and gets back up. Davis puts up the best floor routine so far 5th, and they are definitely showing up Sac State in the battle for third. Enough power on tumbling, tight legs, good.
Courtney - UCLA - VT - Nice in the air, swims to hang onto the stick and doesn't.

Rogers - Wash - UB - good first hs, orphan 1/2 turn, strong bail hs, step back on double front. I'm happy with this team on bars. They should be over 49 here for sure based on what I've seen. (Yes, all but McCartin are 9.800+.
Big break for the Sac State anchor on beam, but otherwise strong, she had the best dance elements on the team by far, and hopefully that will be reflected in the score. No counting a fall. Ho anchors floor for Davis, double back is low with a bounce, not as strong in the form department as the 5th, Stamates.
Zamarripa - UCLA - VT - it'll be a 10 if she sticks, for sure. Overthinking this on the runway? Very minor hop back. Not a 10, but will be a huge score. Near stick. 9.950

I'm really enjoying this discussion of Val's numerous pet peeves. They're embracing her Val-ness.
This discussion of Chris Waller's colorblindness, however, is not acceptable, ladies. Colorblind people can still see color unless they're achromatopic. Certain colors just look different.
After 1: UCLA 49.300, Washington 49.125, Davis 48.750, Sac St. 47.850 

2nd rotation: 
Francis - UCLA - UB - definitely better than the 9.675s we've seen from her. Step back on the double pike dismount.
Vaccher - Wash - BB - stays on, solid overall, not a ton of amplitude but a good choice for leadoff, step on 1.5 dismount.
Sac State takes a fall in the first routine on floor.Tuck Yfull from Davis leads off vault and is fine. We're going multiple routines at a time now it appears. Giving up on the one-at-a-time after one rotation? Nothing from UCLA second on bars?

Washington beam - straddle 3/4 with a wobble, good stuck 1.5 dismount.
We see the end of MDLT on bars, UCLS's 3rd, with a stuck DLO. She's usual either 9.7 or 9.9, so the stuck DLO bodes well. Crazy deraged cutting between routines now because we're definitely not doing one-at-a-time. This is a mess. Stronger second floor for Sac St. Rough, low tuck y from Davis on vault.

3rd Washington beam takes a major lunge back on a 2/1 dismount.
Good stuck yfull from Davis with piking, Mattie on bars, usual rugged tkatchev, just a hop in place on the DLO, though, which is nice. 9.875 is one of her better scores, and her last hs was much nicer than usual and held. Good improvement.

Zam on bars now, clean on hs as walys, perfect, does the tkatchev, good, still short on the DLO now and takes a hop forward. She was hitting that much better in January. They'll be counting a 9.775 from Francis, and Zam gets a 9.925, which is too high for that dismount.

Washington 5th up on beam (Bixler?) - pause on a dismount combo and then a major step forward into salute and more steps as she salutes amongst her team. That will get deducted heavily, which is a shame since it was a strong routine otherwise.  9.850. OK, looks like they probably just took for the first step.

Benning on floor for Sac State, good double back mount with nicer landing position, what is happening with the music choice, however, I cannot say.

Sac State finishes strong on floor with much better landing position on tumbling from the last couple. They will avoid counting a fall again for what was overall a much stronger event than beam. 

UCLA goes 49.225 on bars, led by the 9.925 from Zam and the 9.875 from Larson. No De Jesus today on bars, but it's good that MDLT came in. Wong had a miss-ish that we didn't see for 9.725.

After 2: UCLA 98.525, Washington 98.150, Davis 97.325, Sac St. 96.675
That rotation was an erratic mess after scrapping the one-at-a-time idea. We saw a lot of half routines and missed some other important ones. UCLA looked . . . fine, just like vault. Nothing to swoon over. A lot of proficient 9.825 gymnastics from Washington so far. I'm seeing little difference between Washington and some of these teams ranked in the low-mid teens like Denver and Arizona. They can get there.

Floor scoring looks to be going a little high. Watch it as the top teams move there.

Rotation 3:
Baer - UCLA - BB - slightly tentative on some of these skills, but she solves them well with no wobbles, until a major wobbled on the popa, saves it with a leg up, a little off to the side on dismount series but fine. OK start. 9.625. Looks like they took for those tentative almost-wobbles early. I'm fine with that.
Good thing we got to see an ending pose on floor. Thanks, organization of meet.
Defrancesco - UB - Davis - very short on straddle abak, leg break into a stuck double back.
End of Lichelle's beam routine, major wobbled on walkover and breaks her connection, has to create a new series and takes a major wobble again, and again on switch side, will be a very low score. How did she outscore Kaelie? Did Baer not get her 10.0 SV or something?

Washington floor (sorry for not knowing my Washington gymnasts better) - layouts middle pass, bounces out of dismount but stays in bounds.

Mattie back to third up - lovely walkover, just perfect, just a step on the dismount. Good hit.
Double arabian bars dismount for Davis. Nice to see. Just a step.

Fetcher lunges out of her floor mount, and is very low on her punch out of the middle pass but saves it. Definite deductions on tumbling here, though.

Courtney is in on beam for UCLA. Eeeepers, with already a couple scores they'd rather not count. double back dismount is OK with a hop forward. 9.875.

Bixler floor - totally loses control punching into her attepmted split (?) into front tuck. I'm interested to see what the judges do because she didn't really execute it and the front tuck was an orphan. Washington underperforming on floor.

Zam beam - looks good from what we've seen. Even the PA announcer is losing control. No one knows what is going on. If you're going to try to make a point of alternating routines, then actually do it and stick to it. Otherwise, no one is on the same page. Good stick from Zam on the double full.

Francis on beam but we won't see it. Rogers on floor looks fine but bounces back out of her double back dismount and will probably continue the low-scoring trend. Looks like Francis hit well from the replay.

Vaccher finishes floor for Washington - good amplitude on her tumbling, more dynamics than the others.

UCLA gets solid enough routines from the final four to go over 49 on beam, but they had to count Wong's wobble-fest for 9.650. That's the danger of this beam rotation. It can be beautiful and among the best in the country at some point, but it's so prone to counting falls or 9.6s. We saw mostly pieces of routines, so it's difficult to make a total judgment. Washington certainly lost some ground here with uncontrolled tumbling in the early-mid rotation.

After 3: UCLA 147.600, Washington 146.875. Davis 146.100, Sac State 145.100 
We're seeing beam replays for UCLA now, and Francis turned into Zamarripa mid-routine. Fracnis will be in on floor today because De Jesus is out for this meet. I love it, but I'm petrified.

UCLA will need a 49.400 on floor to go 197 at this meet, which they need to keep pace with the other top teams' scores.

Solid beam start for Davis, not quite there on dance elements and a couple wobbles, low on dismount with a step to the side. Are we showing McDonald's intro video during her routine? What? UCLA has another multi-team home meet later in the season, and they must get the format resolved. Bynum goes 9.850 on floor.

Here comes Francis - just front layouts? Can't we do better than that? Still love this choreography though and need her in the lineup just for that.Washington finishes vault with a 9.875, helping save the rotation from some 9.7s. Looks like the Huskies will go high 195s, which is fine.

Pritchett now on floor. All I'm watching is Val doing her little clap dance in the chair. Bounces out of her double pike a bit too much, which she doesn't usually do.

Davis is competing beam similarly to Sac State. Very 9.6 work. Pritchett goes 9.875.
Zam now on floor - music issues and she steps away, and then bows to the crowd. Gem. Be more like that in interviews. Good double pike, very clean overall, still has the legs in twisting issues and bounces a little on the dismount. Fine, not her best.

Davis is finishing on beam, best splits on the team, nice full turn, stuck 1.5, good finish, should easily be the highest score.

UCLA needs a 9.950 from Courtney in the anchor position to go 197, which is possible since Zam just went 9.925 for a good-not-great routine by her personal standards. Good middle pass and good double pike finish. 9.900

FINAL SCORES: UCLA 196.950, Washington 195.850, Davis 194.675, Sac State 193.925
That's a good score for Davis. They'll take that any day. UCLA performed overall very similarly to the Stanford meet. From what we saw, there were some brilliant routines here and there, but there were also too many wobbles and mistakes and too many routines that are uncharacteristically weak for this team. I can count four or five routines that competed for UCLA today that are not Championship-calibre and are unlikely to get there in two months. Usually, UCLA peaks late, but we see the potential in those who are underperforming early. I don't see as much potential this year, and the strongest routines like Zamarripa's everything, Courtney's vault and floor, and Francis's beam can carry them only so far. To sound like Val, they need to start turning these 9.8s into 9.9s. But can they?

Even though De Jesus has been up and down so far this year, they missed her today. With such an issue with depth, UCLA can't afford to be without contributors because they don't have the 9.850s to step in the way some other teams do. There is a lot of work to be done, but I'm still excited by the potential of this team even if it never materializes. I need a Peng update is what I really need. 

It's sort of weird to see all of these 196.9s put up and come away with deciding unenthusiastic feelings from the performances, but that's been happening a ton this season. We're seeing a lot of almost-hits for 9.850s that are culminating in these scores. Nothing actually bad occurred in this UCLA performance, but there is also not a lot to be satisfied by from a team that can still be impressive, even if it is depleted.

Injury update: Sawa has a high ankle sprain and DeJesus has a mild concussion.

1 comment:

  1. audio with commentary available here: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/ucla.portal?mode=link&eventId=75209&broadcastType=audio#

    spoiler alert: it's slightly ahead of the video feed.