February 2, 2013

[5] Alabama @ [8] Georgia Live Blog

Get excited.

Even post-Suzanne, this is the best meet of the year. The least appealing part of NCAA gymnastics to me is that winning doesn't matter during the season. A team could theoretically lose every regular-season meet and still win the Championship. For this meet, however, winning absolutely matters. January is over, so it's time for Alabama to begin moving out of the "we've counted a fall for 196.500" stage and into the sturdy 197 stage, while it's time for Georgia to move into the "we're not counting 9.7s on beam and floor anymore" stage. I give Alabama the edge, but you never know what's going to happen in a rivalry meet. Things get bizarre.

Georgia Lineup:
Vault: Davis, Persinger, Cheek, Rogers, Hires, Jay
Bars: Cheek, Tanella, Jay, Rogers, Worley, Davis
Beam: Cheek, Persinger, Couch, Rogers, Worley, Earls
Floor: Earls, Tanella, Persinger, Jay, Worley, Couch

Georgia has been falling behind on both beam and floor, so it's vital for them to have Couch back on those events this week. In the past, I've been critical of having Couch anchor floor because she has had enough built-in deductions to stunt building toward a big-scoring sixth routine, plus I haven't been a fan of her routines/music choice, but she and Shayla are the best (or only) options for that spot, so I suppose it makes sense given the team. I'd go with Shayla, but Couch can still get a 9.900 if she's in form.

The meet begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT. Get ready. Suzanne is being introduced before the meet. Yay. Now we're meeting the all-star team and all their babies. So many babies. Don't bring your purses out there, ladies. It looks like you're getting ready to leave already.

Introductions time now. Good crowd there. Sold out? It looks like it could be close - a few empty spots but good energy for the crowd. We're still introducing the all-stars. 

Rotation 1:
Georgia Vault
1. Davis (Rank: 174) – yfull, hop back for .100. Her usual vault other than the landing deduction. Fine start. (9.850)
2. Persinger (Rank: 96) – A little leg separation and another .100 hop back. Not the power off the table as the others and a little piked. (9.825 - high)
3. Cheek (Rank: 25) – Good yfull with a stuck landing. The scores are going a little high anyway, and hers was definitely a tenth better than Davis's. (9.925)
4. Rogers (Rank: 20) – Sticks her 1.5 and takes a hop on the salute, slightly off to the side but very strong. Not much to take. No one is burying you on the internet, Kevin. (9.900)
5. Hires (Rank: 52) – OK, better block than a couple recent ones, step back. She can still be better than this. (9.850)
6. Jay (Rank: 33) – Sticks her 1.5. Very nice vault. I wouldn't go 10 because of knees, but it was quite strong. (9.950)

Alabama Bars
1. Clark – fine shaposh, good short in bail hs, casts over on a hs and comes off. She was having her best handstands at the beginning but went too much for it on that last one. Low on DLO 1/1 with a step. (9.275)
2. Alexin – big leg break in shaposh, solid pak, minor step on the double back, occasionally she rushes in her routine which hurts her hs, and that happened here. She has great toe point, if she could hold the handstands a little longer she would make them stand out. (9.825)
3. Jacob – Good ray, slightly short on the hs, but a good bail, very low chest on DLO with a step. Three missed hs there, which will be the major deductions along with the DM. (9.625)
4. DeMeo – good jaeger, slightly short on bail hs, whipping DLO with a hop. Strong routine.(9.875)
5. Sledge – Finally up 5th. I approve.Barely hold onto her first hs, great gienger, muscles up final cast hs and has to hang on again, brilliant DLO but does have a step. Not her best. (9.775)
6. Priess –good first hs, great tkathev + pak, pikes her DLO a little with steps back. Great other than the dismount. (9.850)
Exo - Sims – strong tkatchev, near stick on double back, this probably won't make the lineup, but it's a solid backup. Similar to Alexin in the sense of being a little rushed.

Scores after rotation 1: Georgia 49.475, Alabama 48.950
Georgia vaulted well, in particular the landings were much stronger than some of the recent meets. Certainly, those scores went on the higher side of what would be normal, which I would expect, but this was a very nice rotation. Alabama was really going for those handstands on bars, which resulted in errors, especially from Clark and Sledge. This was not a particularly strong performance with some giveaways on dismounts that I also wouldn't have expected. A nervy rotation overall. I'm afraid that the fall in the first position today will cause Sarah to put Sledge back in the leadoff position. I like today's order much better.

Jacob in for Sledge on vault. I wonder if something happened because I wouldn't expect that normally.

Rotation 2:
Georgia Bars
1. Cheek (Rank: 43) – big tkatchev (slightly close but fine), leg separation in bail hs, short on final hs, minor step on DLO. Good routine but not her best. (9.800)
2. Tanella (Rank: 52) – good first hs, late 1/2 turn good jaeger, she hits her cast hs always but is late on her pirouetting handstands, hop on double tuck. When it's a double tuck it needs to be stuck.(9.825)
3. Jay (Rank: 33) –leg separation on shaposh, way over on cast hs but hangs on, step on tuck full dismount. Fine routine but a little sloppiness here and there. (9.825)
4. Rogers (Rank: 21) – good stalder, and stalder tkatchev, lovely toe point in stalder shoot, stuck tuck full. Great routine. Best so far by quite a ways. (9.900)
5. Worley (Rank: 44) – Kevin wants Shayla demoted in the lineup for Rogers. I'm there. good bail hs, slightly short on hs, nice tkatchev, usual DLO with a major step back. Fine, 9.8y. The dismount has stopped improving, though. (9.800)
6. Davis (Rank: 3) – great tkathev, nothing much to take so far, in stuck tuck full. That will score higher than Rogers, and should at least be in the 9.9s. (9.925)

Alabama Vault
1. Clark – Good yfull with a slight hop in place, similar leadoff to Davis but a more controlled landing. (9.900 - that's highish in a vacuum but consistent with Georgia's scoring, so that's good.)
2. Beers –Y1.5 with bent legs, off to the side, plus a step to the side. It's ragged but good to have her in the lineup ultimately. (9.775)
3. Jacob – Yfull, bounces in place on the landing and missing a little bit of power. (9.825)
4. Williams – Y1.5 with a major hop forward that will take the score down. Fine but she can do better. (9.850)
5. Gutierrez  – Good distance as always, still hopping back quite significantly, but it will come. (9.900)
6. Milliner – 1.5 with a step forward, good power and her usual vault other than the step forward. (9.900)

Scores after rotation 2: Georgia 98.750, Alabama 98.325
Good recovery for Alabama on vault after a nervous bars rotation. They can be much better than they were today and nearly everyone gave away .050 (at least) on the landing. I'll be interested to see if Beers remains as we move forward because this team likely won't accept vaulting anyone that cannot go 9.900 consistently. Davis and Rogers were great on bars for Georgia, but everyone else had mistakes, most often in the handstands just like Alabama. 

Vintage Suzanne interview. Love it. The Georgia lead is four tenths, but they've already done their best events. Beam will be crucial. 

Rotation 3:
Georgia Beam
1. Cheek (Rank: 139) – huge wobble and fall on the loso series. We could see Couch moving to the first position if this keeps up. Stuck gainer full. Rough start. (9.250)
2. Persinger (Rank: 94) –strong aerial walkover, good loso series, she's right on so far, stuck 1.5 Perhaps the best beam routine I've seen her do. Very few mistakes. (9.850)
3. Couch – Kevin calls this one of the most anticipated orutines of 2013, right on for loso series, she really is an inch big, sticks double full dismount. Great debut for her in a tough situation.(9.875)
4. Rogers (Rank: 240) – new routine, necessary. Maybe we don't have to be on series watch anymore. Wobble coming out of her bhs 3/4 to double stag, bhs 1/1 now in the middle, less interesting but a better decision, sticks layout 1/1 dismount. Good other than the weird wobble. (9.875)
5. Worley (Rank: 11) – good sheep, hits loso, very slight correction on bhs 1/1, as usual the biggest deduction is the gainer full with a slight pause in connection and then a step. (9.875)
6. Earls (Rank: 25) – secure on her losos, side aerial to side position is strong, sticks double tuck dismount. Best routine for her this season. (9.950) Kevin and Cassidy may be having nervous breakdowns. It's difficult to tell. Someone should check on them, I have blood pressure questions.

Alabama Floor
1. Demeo – bounces out of her double pike significantly and just barely stays in bounds, a little slide out of her 2.5 dismount as well. Not quite there in the tumbling landing yet. (9.800)
2. Parker – solid landing on dbl Arabian, bounces out of her tuck full but points for difficulty, hits double pike - four pass routine which is unusual.(9.825)
3. Frost – pretty good DLO but slightly crunched, more secure than last year, though. Fine double tuck. Good routine to have as a backup, she's improved from the inconsistency last year that kept her out. (9.850)
4. Gutierrez - nice height on her DLO, better than Frost's, maybe slight lack of control on landing if any, front 1/1 + layout and flops out of it slightly, good double pike. Strong but like vault she's still not quite there yet. (9.900)
5. Jacob – stuck pike full, minorly low on the double pike but good landing, very secure tumbling overall. It's important to upgrade her to the 5th position from the leadoff last year. (9.950)
6. Milliner – slight bounce out of her dbl Arabian, but otherwise this is strong, good double pike dismount. Best floor performance for Alabama overall this season. (9.950)

Scores after rotation 3: Georgia 148.175, Alabama 147.800
This is the first time this season Georgia has counted all beam scores over 9.800, which is more impressive coming after a fall. Huge scores in this rotation, Georgia with 49.425 and Alabama with 49.475. Alabama still has beam to come, which was an issue last week, but that floor rotation is closer to what I expected from them today. Exhbitions from Kirby on beam and Beers on floor. Georgia was extremely secure through five routines after the fall, which impressed me. Season high for Georgia should be a definite, and the same for Alabama if they hit beam. 

Rotation 4:
Georgia Floor
1. Earls (Rank: 63) – strong double pike, she's been a solid leadoff all year and occasionally the most secure in tumbling of the whole rotation, sticks her double tuck as well. She doesn't appear like she's getting a ton of lift into this tumbling, but she sticks it. (9.875)
2. Tanella (Rank: 25) – good double pike, looked a little surprised by the height of her bounce into the double stag, she has improved significantly on this event, 1.5 dismount. Another hit.(9.875)
3. Persinger (Rank: 194) – low on double tuck with a big lunge forward, double pike second pass, a bit staggered in the rudi. Fine, but not as strong as the first two by any means.(9.800)
4. Jay (Rank: 239) – tuck full as the mount this week, a little low but OK, good easy front tuck out of her middle pass, good double tuck especially because she's struggled with the endurance earlier in the season. (9.900)
5. Worley (Rank: 142) –big bounce out of double pike. Cassidy thinks she kept her front foot down but she didn't. Huge bounce out of her front 2/1 as well, way OOB. This should be the drop if Couch is ready to hit. This is why Couch is the anchor, because she's much more reliable than Shayla.
6. Couch – Sticks pike full just the same as it's always been, whip double full is fine with crossed legs, good double pike dismount. (9.875)

Alabama Beam
1. Williams – I like her in this position, secure punch front. The first routine I saw her do was a beam routine at Classic in 2009 and she looked petrified but completely hit it. Minor slide on series and a wobble on the popa. A few breaks, so not her best, stuck 1.5 that finishes so early. (9.800)
2. Clark – hits loso series, deliberate but solid throughout the routine, big step forward/sideward on the 1.5.(9.800)
3. Gutierrez – slightly wibbly on the straddle 1/4 but fine, major wobble on loso but stays on, she always makes me so nervous on beam, stuck gainer full. It's a hit. (9.825)
4. DeMeo – wobble on aerial walkover to start, comes off on her loso series. This is unexpected, but she looked very tight from the first moment of this routine. Hop back on strong double pike. (9.150)
5. Priess – Had a mistake last week that had to count, another challenge this week, this is much more secure, very little to take. It's not the most complex routine but I think that's the idea. (9.875)
6. Jacob –I like her anchoring, but let's see how she handles this pressure situation. Minor wobble on losos series, strong routine, hop forward out of 1.5 dismount. Fine but not the strongest. (9.850)

Final Scores: Georgia 197.500, Alabama 196.900
It's a great meet for both teams, overcoming problems that marked the first month of the season. Alabama still cannot quite break that 197 barrier, but after bars it was a strong meet. Beam was wibbly wobbly in places and not quite as secure as it can be, but it was a hit. For Alabama, it was a step in the right direction, but I looked at very few of these routines and thought it was the best that those gymnasts could do. They're still a few weeks away from that. Georgia will revel in this 197.500 for a while. There were certainly mistakes, but the mistakes did not compound each other. This is the first time this season I would venture to use the word secure when describing Georgia, and that is major progress. Couch coming back will be the headline, but this was the best meet of the year for both Jay and Rogers, and I think that's the most significant factor in the result today.     

I will be back in not too long from now to do Stanford/UCLA (look for a new post). They certainly have some big scores to fill.  


  1. Have you seen the Tanella interview at the UGA website? Her honesty about the coaching transition AND her struggles over 3 years were amazing. A great listen.

    PS. Thanks for ID'ing yourself as Debatable Ten over on the message board. I'm LurkNoMore over there.

    1. I saw you linked to that. I always appreciate candidness in gymnastics interviews because it is so rare.

    2. I know. I was surprised to hear her openly state that she was resentful, etc and loved her honesty about the new coaches winning her over. Such a good quality in them that they recognized that need right away and addressed it so well. I have noticed CT and Danna's relationship on display before her routines and now understand it much better.

  2. Georgia Live Chat reported a slight wrist sprain for Sledge.

  3. FYI I am at the Michigan meet and it seems the scoring has returned to its usual low as is the rule for Crisler. I'd add a tenth or two to each event for comparisons sake, as thy seem to be hitting just as well as the first few meets today and not getting the same score.