We arrive at UCLA vs. Florida after what has already been a weekend of big. Any notion that we might have a slow, modest start to the season was obliterated when Oklahoma recorded a 197.700 yesterday, and LSU and Alabama weren't far behind with a 197.200 and 197.150 respectively. Last year, across the first two weekends of the season, we saw just one team score in the 197s. That was a 197.425 from UCLA at home in a Saturday night meet, so keep an eye on what happens tonight because we probably aren't done with the weekend's high-flying scores.
Of course, the theme for this meet should have been "1992 Throwback" because . . .
For UCLA, the 2014 debut was always going to be interesting because they will be introducing a ton of new blood into these lineups and have a lot of scores to replace, but this was compounded by the Mattie departure. While I believe it will still be some time before we see Pinches because of her toe injury, how Hallie Mossett and Angi Cipra fare in their debuts is vital for UCLA. It will be tough for the Bruins to win the meet without a Florida mistake, but in terms of being on the right track, watch those two.
For Florida, as I mentioned in the weekend preview, we're basically aware of what to expect from this team because the big scoring core of Sloan, Hunter, Johnson, and Macko are known entities, but Bridgey Caquatto will need to be the 5th member of that coven on three-four events to make up for some routines lost after last year. She'll be expected to record fairly large scores on some events she hasn't featured on in college, so she's the Gator I'm watching most closely tonight.
The meet begins promptly at 10:00 ET/7:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.
I'm putting this post up a little early because I'll be checking in on Utah a bit before the meet starts and may have some thoughts. You never know.
Nebraska has finished with a 196.625 to go slightly ahead of Georgia and Michigan in that second pack of teams, and Minnesota is currently struggling after a rough one on bars. That was always going to be the problem.
Utah finally getting underway. First three vaulters are Tutka, Del Priore, and Damianova, and they all have similar vaults in the air, not quite the amplitude we are going to see from the top teams, and a little piking in flight (Damianova was straightest in the body), and some small landing deductions with a low chest and some movement. All looked pretty 9.800ish and got 9.875s.
Delaney was stronger in the amplitude and with a slight hunched-over stickish type landing. Wilson piked in the air and hopped back, so not her usual stick, but it's early. Dabritz finishes with a 1.5 (I admit I was sure they would drop her back to the full once the season started), with a step forward. Lange did exhibition with her handspring pike half with a small hop back - probably the best I've seen her do that vault.
Utah goes 49.425 with 9.900s for Dabritz and Delaney, 9.875 for the first three, and 9.825 for Wilson, which highlights the problem with giving 9.875s for the first three. Wilson's 9.825 is justified because those deductions existed in her vault, but she still had the third best vault in that rotation all things - like power - considered, not the weakest, and Dabritz and Delaney were better than .025 stronger than those first three. That's going to be a big three at the back of this lineup as the season continues.
Lineups are out for UCLA and Florida:
UCLA VT: McDonald, Sawa, Cipra, Bynum, Peszek, Courtney
UCLA UB: Francis, DeJesus, Craddock, Mossett, Courtney, Peszek
UCLA BB: DeJesus, Sawa, Mossett, Craddock, Peszek, Francis
UCLA FX: DeJesus, Mossett, Francis, Bynum, Cipra, Courtney
Florida VT: Spicer, B Caquatto, M Caquatto, Johnson, Sloan, Hunter
Florida UB: BDG, Hunter, B Caquatto, Sloan, M Caquatto, Johnson
Florida BB: Spicer, Johnson, Boyce, Hunter, Sloan, M Caquatto
Florida FX: Boyce, M Caquatto, Spicer, B Caquatto, Sloan, Hunter
No Colussi-Pelaez in competition lineups. I'd expect she'll exhibition, but it's interesting. I thought she was in the running over Boyce for those beam and floor spots, but it's the other way around.
No Peszek on floor at least for now. Also, Pinches will add some quality to most of these events when she is able to return. I'm already nervous about that UCLA beam lineup. Remember when we thought this season's UCLA beam lineup could have been DeJesus, Gerber, Larson, Peszek, Lee, Francis? It seems like a different lifetime.
Broadcast getting started now. Really milking that "Florida returning to the site of victory" ankle, surprising no one.
Shot of Zam. We miss you. Please come vault, or beam, or bars. I'll take anything.
Rhonda loves that top. Is there some special significance to it? Or does she have a closet full of them like Superman?
Photo recap of Peszek and Sloan knowing each other. They're getting the Kyla/McKayla treatment.
Rotation 1: UCLA - VT, Florida - UB
1. McDonald - yfull, piked, not much movement on the landing, small shuffle. OK. 9.775.
2. Sawa - better height than McDonald and a big stick. Very reminiscent to the vault from national semis, still some piking and low chest, so there's room to deduct. 9.900.
3. Cipra - strong yfull overall, good potential because of the form, some piking as well, big step back. Good for a debut, though. 9.850.
4. Bynum -yhalf, lands very short with a stumble back, that should be the dropped score. 9.725
5. Peszek - good yfull with a hop back, she'll be there soon. Good lift and doesn't pike the way the others have. Much better chest position. 9.850
6. Courtney - Awesome, awesome vault. Best height on the team and a clear stick on the yfull, like what she did in EF last year. If Sawa got a 9.900, that should be a 9.950. She gets our first 9.975 of the year. First judge to give a 10. As the commenter pointed out, her legs were pretty far apart on the landing.
1. Dancose-Giambattisto - nice shaposh, bad camera angle, but looks clean, gets huge height on her DLO but there is a leg break in the second salto, nice stick. 9.875
2. Hunter -good first hs, big tkatchev, perhaps short on her bail hs didn't get her usual height on her tuck full dismount with a step forward. Fine but not her best. 9.800
3. B Caquatto - opening ray is strong, good bail, hitting handstands, sticks DLO, lovely routine. 9.900
4. Sloan - Great opening tkatchev, except for the usual toes but lovely still, she has that leg break in the bail and a hop forward on the DLO but otherwise strong and what we saw last year. 9.875
5. M Caquatto - very clean shaposh to bail, and I'm so pleased she's added the tkatchev this year, step back on the tuck full. 9.875
6. Johnson -Another excellent tkatchev, swith those toes, maybe a tiny bit more ragged than we have seen from her in the past and some movement on the dismount, but very good routine. Great start to the season for Florida. 9.875
Florida leads 49.400 to 49.350 after the first rotation, so everyone is still in this. The camera angle on bars made it difficult to judge the handstands, especially on the bails, but they looked mostly clean. They will be better on this event, but those back three need to stick the dismounts. One judge gave each of them a 9.900 without a stick, so when they stick they'll be going stratospheric.
Courtney saved that rotation for UCLA with an excellent vault, and Peszek is on the way. Cipra showed some good potential as well.
Rhonda is talking now about all her special memories from UCLA.
Rotation 2: UCLA - UB, Florida -VT
1. Francis -good first hs, small leg separation on the shaposh, looked a little late on her full, and then a stuck double pike. Fine start. 9.850
2. DeJesus - New hair? crazy legs on her gienger like at the beginning of last season, they came together later, tries to pretend she stuck her tuck full but she didn't. Nice to see Mattie there cheering them on.
3. Craddock - Nice tkatchev, look at you Ellette, big leg break on the pak but nice line in handstands, hop back on her double back and enough form breaks to bring the score down. 9.775.
4. Mossett - good first hs, strong height on her jaeger, pak, a lot of handstands in this for an NCAA routine and it showed by the end with a struggle on her stalder circle, but sticks the double back dismount. Discussion about the SV, looks like she didn't get that 10 SV. 9.650.
5. Courtney - Good opening shaposh, hits bail, still not doing a same-bar release, which I would have liked to see, but she does stick the tuck full even if she flung it out a bit. 9.900.
6. Peszek - Catches the gienger close and is also close on her shoot to the high bar, the handstands looked good, but she whipped her DLO a little and piked down and hopped back. Looks like she needs more time with this routine. 9.875. High.
1. Spicer - did not get much of a block at all on her yfull with no distance, barely hung onto the landing with a huge squat. 9.600.
2. B Caquatto - strong yfull, good height, hop back, but clean body form and a good addition to the lineup.
3. M Caquatto - Ack. She also didn't get any kind of block at all, lands so very low, almost a little lock legged, and has to put her hand down. Bridget Sloan is miming how pissed she is.
4. Johnson - Alaina fixes what has been happening on vault, great leg form, a small, small movement on the landing, and perhaps some piking on replay.
5. Sloan - Gorgeous, gorgeous vault. If Courtney got a 9.975, this was just as good with better legs on the stick, perhaps less height, perhaps. Excellent vault. They needed that after two struggles. 9.925. Florida not getting the same kind of scoring UCLA got.
6. Hunter - Y1.5 is excellent, great body position and just the smallest of hops forward, not the stick, but a great vault. Sloan and Hunter saved this rotation score. 9.900
Hmm. Very interesting rotation. Scoring is all over the place. After 2 rotations, UCLA leads 98.600 to 98.375.
I am quite surprised to see Florida have two missed vaults like that from Macko and Spicer, which really hurt their score. Sloan and Hunter looked very good, and it would have been interesting to see what the judges would have done with a Hunter stick. The rest of the rotation needs to catch up with them.
UCLA had some formy formy moments in some of those bars routines with leg breaks and close catches in a number of the routines, so a very first meet showing from both teams in that rotation. Lots of cleaning to do, and I do wonder how competitive UCLA will be with this bars rotation eventually.
Rotation 3: UCLA - BB, Florida -FX
1. DeJesus - clean walkover, but takes a huge wobble on her loso and touches the beam, problem start, hop forward on the front full dismount. 9.475
2. Sawa -switch split, straddle 1/4 open, hits side aerial, not even close on her loso series and comes off before her second leg even touches. Ruh Roh. We knew it would be a journey for UCLA on beam, but the rest of the routine was OK. 9.250.
3. Mossett -Tentative full turn to start but fine, big wobble on stag jump, not a remotely fun posirion for a first collegiate beam routine going after two mistakes, but she hits - side somi is strong, gainer pike dismount. Really nervy routine but she hit. 9.775
4. Craddock - lovely full turn, walkover to front handspring, huge break at the waist, this is just a disaster rotation, has to redo her dance combo and doesn't really hit those second splits, having to improvise, cool front layout dismount but a slight stumble landing. Rough. 9.575.
5. Peszek -They need a big Peszek of a routine right now, great walkover and gainer loso, switch split to straddle jump is right now. Bhs, loso, layout full, small shuffle on the landing, but thank you for showing up, Sam. First one who did on this rotation. 9.925
6. Francis -I've been looking forward to this for a while, solid walkover to bhs, does well to save her dance combination without taking a wobble, Y spin, here it comes, gets it done and sticks it as well. Transverse aerial to layout full. Team going wild. Ha. That's fun to see. I was worried it would be a problem, but she pulls it out. 9.900.
1. Boyce - front double full mount, clean vody form in her twisting elements, not quite hitting 180 in these splits, rudi finish. Big music doesn't really match the choreo, does it? 9.825
2. M Caquatto - Happy and surprised to see her doing floor from the first meet, stick front double full. Who used this music? Alicia? It's just a whole mess of Sac tributes on this team. Ack, way, way over on her 1.5 in the middle pass and landed her front layout to her back. Gah, she almost hit her head on that layout. Scary. Exact same mistake on the front tuck on her dismount. Two falls. Poor girl. 8.400.
3. Spicer - solid landing on her pike full in but the chest is near her knees on that landing, front full front pike is secure, doesn't quite hit the split full at 180, but good double pike to get them back on track. 9.825
4. B Caquatto - front double mount to front tuck, lands a little short on her front tuck but it's fine, front 1.5 to split jump is very nicely done, she's completing her dance elements well, very short landing on her double pike, low chest and a big hop, was going pretty well until then. 9.750
5. Sloan - I know some people aren't into this routine, but I'm all about it. She needs to do for Florida what Peszek did on beam. Good front double full. Splits look better than in the December training videos, a little low on her double pike with a hop forward, huge breather before the dismount, pulls out the layout after her 1.5, it looked like she might not, but she did look tired at the end. 9.850.
6. Hunter - Excellent DLO as always, 1.5, front layout, front handsrping, shushunova middle pass is well executed, only slightly low on her double tuck dismount, but someone finally showed up for Florida's floor rotation.
Well, that was a rough experience of a third rotation. UCLA was an utter mess on beam for the first four, but Peszek was her usual solid self, and Danusia hit a lovely routine. 48.650, and it could have been WAY worse after the quality of those first routines.
Florida had the Macko problem and some other average routines to open. This rotation really is the march of the front double fulls this year. Lots of short landings on tumbling passes throughout the group, even for the people who hit well. It wasn't as much of a problem as UCLA's beam, but work to be done here, and the final two had to save the score, much as UCLA's final two did.
After 3: Florida 147.550, UCLA 147.250.
Interviewing Jordyn Wieber now. She got back in the gym after London and then decided she wanted to leave and start college instead. Yep. Not committing to a comeback time frame, like a well media-trained girl.
Rotation 4: UCLA - FX, Florida - BB
1. McDonald - UCLA changes rotation order at the last minute. It would be a UCLA meet without it, pretty strong double pike, as last season it's the dance elements that bring her score down, rudi to loso is on, some crossed legs on the rudi, then she just lies on the floor for a while breathing without even moving (TEH ARTISTRY!) a little low chest on the rudi dismount, but a good routine especially coming in at the last minute. 9.750
2. Francis - The hairography is all I've ever needed, opens with the double pike (we figured the double arabian wouldn't be ready) but it's very strong, a little squatty in her whip double back landing but it was secure, we need her in the floor rotation every week. Good splits, stumbles a little out of her 2.5 but stays in. One of the better floor routines she has done for UCLA. 9.875
3. Bynum - Strong DLO mount, she needed that this year and her tumbling looks bigger than last season, much like McDonald, it's the dance elements that aren't quite up to the tumbling, that was choreography and not an attempt at a dance element, right? Right. Also a little low on the double pike dismount. 9.850.
4. Cipra - Excited to see what she brings on the floor, high double back as a mount, small lack of countrol on her 1.5 + layout, squatty landing on her double pike, finishes with her dance elements, there's potential in this routine. 9.850.
5. Courtney - One of those days when she lands the double arabian a little under and steps back. Oh, this music again. OK. 1.5 to front 1/2 to loso is very strong. Sticks double pike dismount. 9.900
6. Sawa - She wasn't in the lineup originally, low chest on double back mount (if Florida's floor was a tale of front double fulls, UCLA's floor is about D double salto mounts), better on the double pike, strong. 1.5 to half to stag is done well. Macko's beam was just enough for Florida to take the meet, but she did well enough to keep it close. 9.900
1. Spicer - looked almost like a wobble on choreo at the beginning, just a very slight adjustment on the loso series, hits gainer loso, just some pauses and tentativeness in this routine, hits gainer full dismount. Better start than UCLA. 9.825
2. Johnson - Good walkover to back handspring, wobbles on her split half, aerial to layout full dismount with a small hop. Deductions but another good hit to open the rotation. 9.800.
3. Boyce - also does a walkover + bhs, but also does a bhs + loso series, both are hit, her low to beam choreo seemed a little awkward, hits gainer full. 9.850.
4. Hunter - Stumbles on her punch front mount but stays on, loso series is huge as always, small correction on switch side, huge lunge out of her double back dismount. Gave away tenths there on her big skills. 9.750
5. Sloan - Wonderful loso series, hits her walkover to scale, but it's not my favorite elements because even when done well it isn't the most secure of skills. It's always just held onto. WOW. She wasn't even close on her side aerial and just came off. I'm so surprised at that from her. Of all the people to fall. Not close on it. Weird. 9.225.
6. M Caquatto - Layout stepout series is strong, as is the walkover to swingdown. She's getting them back on it just like at Super Six. Good switch split. A hit routine should be enough for the meet, but just barely. Hit gainer full. 9.875.
Well, that was not a particularly inspiring meet overall, which is normal for the first meet of the season, but I guess I expected better. We had a few individual highlights, a couple excellent vault from both teams and Danusia's beam dismount, but a lot of sloppiness as well.
FINAL: Florida 196.650, UCLA 196.625
There were enough mistakes in this meet that both teams will feel fortunate to have received something in the mid 196s, which is a normal first meet score for this all-over-the-place performance. UCLA's score got raised to 196.625 after the fact, so just .025 behind Florida, after Danusia's floor score was bumped up.
Rhonda is giving the team a speech to try to make them feel better by talking about this performance since they started the season on the road. Amanda is interviewing Peszek, and she talks about being "too amped" to start the meet. "Finally got it together" on beam. Good honesty, Sam.
For Florida, bars ended up being the strong event. They looked very good on the bars themselves, and just need the dismounts to come together to get excellent scores. On the other three, there were some lackluster routines, saved by some strong anchors. The landings aren't there on vault and floor yet, and most of beam was flat. Bridget Sloan's beam fall was just a freak thing, but she and Kytra looked about where they should be at this point in the year. Macko looked excellent on her good events, but vault and floor were scary.
UCLA got some charitable home scoring in several places, but I'm more interested in quality at this point in the season. It was a nervy meet for a number of the competitors, so we'll have to watch how that progresses. Mossett and Craddock looked petrified. A couple of these lineups need Pinches. I'm encouraged about Cipra, though there's room to improve the landings on both events she showed, and Danusia had one of her strongest meets including the best floor she has done. Peszek was just OK on vault and bars (her bars was one of the bigger overscores of the night), but she'll be back soon.
What did you think of the meet?