March 16, 2013

[2] Florida @ [7] Utah Live Blog

The Florida Gators arrive at the arena this evening still reveling in that home 198.425 two weeks ago and needing just a 197.250 to regain the #1 ranking. That ranking would be a nice prestige trophy, but hitting a big score on the road heading into championship season is a much more important accomplishment. So far this weekend, the top teams have performed raggedly. Oklahoma and LSU struggled with landings at their away meets, and Michigan had to absorb several mistakes en route to a score under 197. Alabama is the only team to pass 197 at this point, and Alabama also holds the top road score in the country this season, 197.725. Make no mistake, Florida is competing against Alabama tonight as well. 

With Alaina Johnson still in recovery, some questions still linger in the early vault and floor lineups. When Johnson went down, the general notion was that the Gators possessed enough depth that we wouldn't notice. That's a little true, but the Gators need Kiersten Wang back on both events to avoid giving up a few tenths. That is probably the only area of weakness Florida showed last week, so the main focus tonight will be proving that sixteen 9.9s isn't just a ridiculous home thing.

Because this is college gymnastics, the result of this meet is irrelevant. Utah would need significant mistakes from Florida to contend in a normal world. For the Utes, something in the 197s would be nice, as would showing nationally competitive bars and beam rotations. Currently, I count about six routines that would be believable postseason 9.9s. That can be enough to make Super Six, but it's not a comfortable position. Utah needs to show potential for more tonight.

For those of you who don't have access to the Pac-12 Network, I'll be providing as much reality-based commentary as possible. I know how frustrating it can be to follow meets using only team twitter updates like "Beautiful routine from McKynzi! 9.600!" What was so beautiful about it if it got a 9.600?

The meet will begin at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT.

The lineups are out. Utah's competitors remain the same. Florida will be competing Spicer and M Caquatto on vault instead of Stageberg and Shisler from last week. That's a good upgrade. If they are confident in Macko's legs, she should be in the lineup. Wang is also back for floor.

It appears as though this meet will not be broadcast in HD. What is this? I'll be sure to send my complaints to 1987.

Just saw Bridget Sloan fall on a tkatchev in the background on warmup. Doesn't mean anything, but pointing it out. Jim and Amanda are beating the Tory Wilson 10 drum. 

Rotation 1:
Utah vault
1. Allex - a little lacking distance on yfull, larger step back, rather minor pike.
2. Del Priore -better distance, very slightly bent knees, large hop back.
3. Lofgren - very piked, I'd call it a stick but she bent to hold onto it and colleged the salute a little.
4. Damianova -solid, pretty low on the landing, wider than shoulder step back. I'd like to see more height.
5. Dabritz - Good form, small hop on landing. Cleanest so far with the best height.
6. Wilson -Landed out of frame, so it's hard to tell . . . yes she did step back. A little piking still, but I think a bit less than the last couple times. I'll assume 9.950 for that. She gets a 9.975, so one judge gave her a 10, which is again wrong because she didn't stick.

Florida bars
1. Dickerson -muscles first handstand and is very close on her tkatchev catch, handstands are short, one step on DLO. Not a good routine.
2. Dancose-Giambattisto - Jim just mangled her last name, but we'll give him a pass, very clean, good handstand, major leg split on DLO with a hop. The dismount will be most of the deductions.
3. King - she struggled early this season but has this routine together now, very clean throughout, quite secure on bail, good khorkina, minor shuffle on the DLO.
4. Hunter -wonderful hindorff, clean bail, strong shoot, hits her handstands, small step on tuck full. She has improved here significantly over last year.
5. Sloan - Hits her tkatchev this time, a little crossed legs on her bail, minor step on the DLO, excellent routine but perhaps cut off her early handstands very slightly.She gets a 9.975, which is wrong because she didn't stick. What did the judges see?
6. M Caquatto - Tremendously clean throughout. They have stripped this routine down to the barest necessities to get her a 10. Step on dismount is probably the only thing to take. 

Rotation 1 scores: Florida 49.550, Utah 49.450
Well, we can talk about the scoring already because we saw 10s given by individual judges on both events for non-stuck landings. That's kind of terrible. Sometimes you can argue it, but not there. Those weren't sticks. Florida looked very strong on bars, not quite as strong as the score, but the mistakes were all very minor. Nearly everyone took a little shuffle on the dismount, though, so they will be working sticks to squeeze out a few more tenths. Utah looked fine on vault, pretty good positions. I'd still like to see more power, and they had no stuck landings.

Expect the numbers to remain high for the whole night, so we should see some massiveness for Florida on vault. It could also serve to bump up Utah's bars.

Rotation 2:
Utah bars
1. Wilson - hits gienger, leg separations in nearly everything, very short handstand before the dismount, stuck tuck full. They can take a lot for form here. A 9.900 is just not acceptable scoring for the form in that routine.
2. Hughes - she pops striaght up on that tkatchev with little counter rotation but it doesn't seem to negatively affect her, clean overall, one of the handstands was short and some very minor body shape issues, stuck landing (or near-stuck).
3. Hansen - nice catch on jaeger, hits pak, this is a bit cleaner than we have seen from her, even the wonky-legged half turn seemed a little more on top of the bar, hop back on dismount.
4. Lopez - slightly ragged in her giant full, small leg sepration in her bail handstand, hop back on DLO that was also piked. Only minor faults until the dismount.
5. Damianova - I wasn't happy with one of the handstands, but otherwise it was her usual routine until a fall on the tkatchev, finishes with a double back dismount. 
6. Dabritz - hits her jaeger with flexed feet, otherwise quite clean in the handstands, stuck landing with a leg separation. Strongest routine on this event for Utah. She gets a 10, which there wasn't really justification for, but I'm no longer paying attention to the scoring at this meet.

Florida vault
1. Spicer - pikes down a little on her yfull, but it was a near-stick, minor hop in place, could use some more distance, but it's a strong start.
2. M Caquatto - Good height, hop back, similar to what we saw from Utah. They don't compete her here a lot because of her leg history, but she's certainly top six on the event. 
3. Sloan - looked like she tucked a little bit at the beginning of that vault, not sure what happened there, larger hop back. Not her best at all.
4. King - hop forward on her tsuk 1.5, she took another step into her salute, but deducting for both may be a little harsh. Given what we've seen they won't take it.
5. Dickerson - some leg separation on her block, and another hop back. They aren't landing these vaults particularly well. Everyone is hopping back.
6. Hunter - only the slightest of hops in place on her y1.5. Very nice. The landing wasn't perfect, so I wouldn't go 10 this time (but the judge who went 10 for Wilson I suppose has to go 10 for this for consistency, right?). That judge did give it a 10 again, so that's something. Apparently you don't have to stick anymore.

Rotation 2 scores: Utah 99.050, Florida 99.000
Don't pay attention to the scoring because it will provide you will literally no information as to the routine quality. If I hadn't been looking at the scores, I would have thought Utah hit a perfectly acceptable 9.850 of a bars rotation. They stuck landings, which Florida was not able to do. Still work to be done in these routines, though. Florida did not land well on vault. They still managed to equal Utah's 49.450 on that event, but they can and should be much better. You can't always expect a 49.450 for no sticks in a lineup.

Rotation 3:
Utah beam
1. Tutka - a bit short in her splits, good loso series, small, small correction on her punch front, again on her stag, sticks gainer full. One of her better routines. OK overall. So, 12.975?
2. Hughes - wobble on her loso series, she has good potential on this event for Utah, but I want to see a little more fluidity in both skills and choreo, small movement on the double full. Not bad.
3. Wilson - wobble on the two losos series, gets the straddle 3/4 around, hits 1.5 dismount. She stays solid on beam. It's clearly not her event, but they need her ability not to give away wobbles.
4. Lopez - loso series is very strong with good amplitude, takes a step on her punch front, nice double full. Aside from the wobble on her punch front, that was one of her stronger routines. Good improvement.
5. Lofgren - hits side somi, good loso series, huge break at the waist on her aerial but she stays on, sticks gainer full.
6. Dabritz - huge wobble on her loso series (she has to start hitting this at some point), another wobble on side aerial, hop back on double full. She stayed on, but it wasn't great.

Florida floor
1. Wang - nice DLO to start, good splits, a little piked down to get the landing on her layout half, very minor lack of control on double pike.
2. Stageberg - Good pike full in, lands with a low chest but doesn't everybody? Bounces out of her whip double - the slight lack of control in landing is continuing. Fine double pike.
3. Sloan - Love this routine, and I'm so glad she elected to do NCAA gymnastics, front double is pretty good, drilled the double pike, excellent 1.5 to layout dismount. Has Florida finally arrived at the arena?
4. Dickerson - just slightly squatty on her double arabian landing but she landed well and kept it in, double back is good, you can take for some of the dance elements, but the last two acro passes were strong.
5. King - tremendous DLO, good layout to front full, finishes by bouncing out of her double pike, but until then it was a near copy of the video posted at the top. 
6. Hunter - crazy good on the DLO as usual, basically everything about this routine was right on, her open double tuck was a little lower in the chest than usual, but that's the only thing. It's smart they have her do straddle dance elements so that she can contend for a 10 every week. Not a 10 becuase of the dismount, but still strong.

Rotation 3 scores: Utah 148.475, Florida 148.350
Utah had two major breaks in the final two routines, which they will not be able to afford after this week. Under normal circumstances, that would have brought down the score noticeably. Until those mistakes, there was a lot to be pleased about for Utah because a few of the early gymnasts performed at season-best quality. Florida was strong overall on floor. The tumbling is excellent, especially both the difficulty and quality of the mounts. A few passes had some low landings, which they can work on, but in general I was pleased with the control of the tumbling. Each person had one pass that wasn't quite up to expected quality, but everything else was strong.

Rotation 4:
Utah floor
1. Lofgren - good high double pike that goes very close to the line but she stays in, some twisted legs in the whip double full but otherwise strong, sissone that wasn't there before her dismount, comes in a little stiff in her loso out of the 1.5.
2. Del Priore - a little low on her full in and takes a slight stumble, good layout out of her middle pass, pretty strong double tuck. She recovered after that wonky mount, but that will hurt her score (well, who knows?).
3. Wilson -Good DLO (minorly low chest), front full on the middle pass was borderline lack of control, but I'm fine with it, bounces out of her double back. Not bad. 
4. Damianova - is very tight on her double tuck form but bounces back significantly, good full to layout, a little crunched in the knees on her double pike landing but it was stuck. Deductions to take.  
5. Tutka - good tuck full, she has the best chest position on the landings on the team, which has been true since that very first meet when he was the only one who looked adequate, sticks double back. To be honest, this routine and Wilson's vault and Dabritz's bars are the only routines so far today I would definitely put into the 9.9s for Utah. Some other borderlines, but those were the three strong ones. 
6. Dabritz - sticks pike full, one of her better performances on that skill, slightly low in her whip double full landing, good triple full landing with the usual crossed legs. Strong routine. 

Florida beam
1. Stageberg - only a very slight pause after her aerial before the bhs, a small wobble on her full turn, she didn't really commit to that skill. Sticks layout full dismount with some bent knees in the preceding handsprings.
2. Spicer - good loso series, hits gainer loso as well, she's competent, solid but not flashy on this event, small hop on gainer full. Good routine.
3. Sloan - lovely amplitude and security on her loso series, wonderful aerial + bhs, very slight fight to keep her dance combo going but it was basically nothing, good side aerial, step back on double full (crossed feet). That was exceptional except for the step on dismount. I could see 9.950. 
4. Dickerson - hits her loso, very secure through her dance elements, a little tentative on her full turn, nice stick on the double tuck. She doesn't have particularly fluid work on beam, but she didn't give away much on wobbles.
5. Hunter - strong front tuck mount, she's just slightly tight it appears, cutting off her full turn early, very very minor wobble on series, hop back on double back. Not her best but still solid.
6. M Caquatto - good loso series, excellent aerial, going perfectly so far, wobble on full turn, step back on the double full. She gave away a couple small deductions, but it should be a strong score.

Final scores: Utah 198.125, Florida 197.875.
So, this happened. Now, this was certainly Utah's best performance of the year. The scores throughout the meet existed in some sort of fantasy world made of flowers and unicorns and hallucinogenic drugs covered in chocolate and sunshine, but we can still evaluate the performances of the two teams heading into the postseason.

I was pleased to see Florida pull it together on floor and beam with the landings because the first two rotations were missing that polish and finish. Bars looked strong on the event itself for most of the team, but they could have done even better by not giving away those .05s on landings (even when the judges didn't take it). Vault was probably the weak event, where the landings left much to be desired. Too many hops back. That's something I saw in the meet against Georgia as well, and it could leave the Gators work to do against Alabama at SECs.

There's still work to do for Utah, especially with the vault landings and keeping the beam rotation safe. Those last two beam routines had big breaks that could have been falls. They stuck their bars dismounts, which certainly influenced the judges, but that is something they must do to be competitive on that event. Floor was probably the strongest event for Utah (as we knew it would be all year), but a couple of the landings were still slightly off. That's the kind of thing that tends to be exacerbated at road meets, so not giving way those minor breaks should be a focus going into Pac-12s.

There will be a lot to say about the judging at this meet, but keep in mind that everything tends to balance out at Championships. We can pretend this never happened. The biggest problem with this type of scoring is not that the better team loses or that great gymnastics doesn't get rewarded. It's that it makes me feel like I'm an insane person who is in the midst of a severe breakdown and is seeing visions of deductions that are apparently invisible to other people. Seriously judges, I don't need any help going crazy. I can do it all on my own.


  1. I was at the Michigan meet today - it was disappointing because the vault rotation started so strong (all 5 counting scores were stuck cold). Bars seemed more of a fluke, since Gies and Sugiyama both had two hands on the bar for their releases but slipped at the last second. Beam was mediocre as usual, but the scoring did seem especially tight - Sampson added a leap combo recently with a sheep jump that I feel like is being hammered for lack of extension since her score was so low with very few other mistakes. I also thought her floor would go 9.975 for sure, but the judging was kept tight again.

  2. Michigan was under 197 not under 196.

  3. So 2 gymnasts take a step, Sloan and Wilson, and both get a 10 from a judge?? Well, at least they are being consistent for both teams lol.

  4. Agreed I was also at Michigan & judging was very tight, especially on beam and floor. Sampson 9.9 from one judge on floor was a travesty. Crowd actually booed.

  5. it's nice to hear that michigan scoring was tight -- I was worried that they were getting flustered by all the falls. I hope they use this as a wake up call for post season.

    I'm sad to hear that the scoring is so bad at utah. it does a real disservice to them and other gymnasts when judges hand out 10's for participation.

    thanks, as always, for the down to earth commentary.


  6. Sampson's floor was awesome. Arched body and controlled landing on double layout, and amazing stuck landing on double pike. I really love the energy Michigan has on floor. Still concerned about their scoring potential on beam even when they hit.

  7. Florida's scores were accurate, even too high, but Utah was overscored by at least a point. Disgusting judging.

  8. Having watched MIchigan today (and other teams over past couple of weeks on tv/webcast), they can clearly contend. Vault, bars, and floor are as good as anyone if they hit (and they have been, in general) - at UCLA last week is a good example. Terrific sticks on all three. As mentioned above, beam is the issue. It is OK, but needs confidence. They always look a little scared of falling and don't attack like the best beam teams.