It's here! It's here a little bit! Three whole meets were conducted today, and in conclusion, we should have just waited until next weekend. Let's call this a false start. Don't fret, it's only five more days until the season really starts. Here's a quick rundown of what happened today.
Stanford 194.825 - Cal 194.650 - Sacramento State 194.400 - UC Davis 193.450 - San Jose State 193.325
For a while it looked like Cal was going to win, which would have been an important symbolic moment for the team, then for a second it looked like Sacramento State was going to win (could have done it with a 48.775 on floor), but Stanford pulled it out in the end while being very Stanford in January throughout.
Stanford is not a team that comes out blazing. Strong performances in the first meet have happened from time to time, but 194s have happened more. We did see a bunch of routines from freshmen, 9 of 24 including 4 of 6 on vault, which is crucial. These freshmen will need to do a lot of scoring work, especially while Hong is not around. None of them had strong first showings, but the potential is still encouraging. It's going to be more of a March thing. Nicolette McNair's 9.850 was the one highish score from the newbies, and it was bested only by Kristina Vaculik's 9.875 on bars, the top score of the meet. So at least some things in the world make sense. Stanford dropped a fall on bars from Rice and on beam from N McNair but had to count one from the floor lineup, which featured a number of people I don't expect to see competing later on. It's like a practice. Stanford's next meet is at home against Georgia next Sunday, and we can assume that winning with a 194 will not be a thing then.
Cal hit a little bit, but it was an extremely 9.725 meet. That's OK (two years ago they would have been over the moon about that score), but we're going to start having higher expectations for this team. There is 9.800 talent throughout these lineups. Alicia Asturias was the standout performer because obviously. Her 9.850s on beam and floor led the team. She also took the AA title. Jessica Howe came in on beam and floor for 9.7s, and Charlie Owens did the same in the AA. Both will have to be major contributors this season.
 Penn State 193.925 - Iowa State 193.550
So, this was a meet of 193s. It's the first meet of the season, and we always see 193s in the opening weeks, but Penn State is over-ranked in the coaches poll at #15. PSU finished last season at #15, and after losing Musser and Merriam, there is no reason to expect the same quality this year. Regression is quite likely, and we already saw the lack of big savior routines in this meet. That a 193 was recorded without counting a fall is troubling. It wasn't like they were going to score higher but for an unfortunate January-type falling moment. Randi Lau was the only one to break 9.8 with a 9.825 on vault, and that routine will be vital this year. She made the vault lineup for LSU, so she'll be the star vaulter for Penn State.
Central Michigan 194.450 - Wisconsin-Eau Claire 180.200
This was also a meet. Of significance, Halle Moraw's 9.875 on floor tied for the highest score recorded this weekend was the top floor mark for any team. Temporarily #1 in the country!