February 28, 2014

Friday Live Blog – Florida @ Alabama, Michigan, Nastia Cup

Friday – 2/28/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [23] Kent State, BYU @ [8] Michigan (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [11] Auburn @ [24] Kentucky (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Bridgeport, Western Michigan, Yale @ [18] Penn State (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [21] Denver @ Michigan State (Scores) (Video - free)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Nastia Cup (Scores) (Video - free)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Missouri @ [1] LSU (Scores) (Video - school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ [2] Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Washington @ [5] Utah (Scores)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [3] Florida @ [4] Alabama (Scores) (Video - free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Iowa @ [17] Boise State (Scores) (Video)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [25] Southern Utah @ San Jose State (Scores) (Video)

Current top 15:

February 27, 2014

The Weekend Ahead – February 28-March 2

Going into the weekend, we have a tight three-way race for the #1 ranking, and it's imaginable that any one of LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida could emerge with that coveted status when the day is done. All three teams will be competing at the same time on Friday, which should make for an exciting back-and-forth of score watching to see who is inching ahead. Even though the Gators currently sit at #3, they look to be the favorites to take over as #1, given that they have the chance to drop a 196.650 and jump up multiple tenths. In fact, if they score a 197.625 or greater, they are guaranteed sole possession of #1. Otherwise, it may just come down to which team scores higher on the given day.

The big showdown on Friday will see Florida face off with Alabama in one of the most anticipated meets of the season. Florida has been the better-performing team overall this year, but is still trying to deliver that big score away from home. Alabama has no trouble competing at home, as you might have heard. In case you're keeping track, Alabama has not lost a home meet since February 13, 2009, falling to LSU 196.625-195.750 after multiple mistakes on both beam and floor. So that's the streak the Tide must defend tomorrow night against a Florida team coming off a home 198. It's a clash of favorites.

For Florida, replicating the home success on floor will be crucial in the quest for victory. The Gators' home average on floor is a 49.650, while their road average is a 49.200. Some of that is home boosting, but a lot of it is also the quality of performance. They must be more like home performers to win against an Alabama team that has started to put it together on the event with the Jacob/Milliner dynamic duo at the back making 49.5s realistic. Hunter and Sloan will have to be on their tumbling game to match routine for routine.

For Alabama, the fight will be on bars. The Tide has been perfectly fine on bars this year, 6th in the nation, with lots of 9.850s and 9.875s, but one of the concerns for this team is the lack of that big 9.9 performer who can save otherwise lackluster rotations with a huge exclamation point routine. Florida has several of those performers, and if they can get sticks, will look to build up a lead on that event early on to hold them through to the end. A Florida 49.500 on bars will be tough for Alabama to match, but if Florida is giving away bits and pieces and scores in the 49.350-49.400 area, there will be a lot of chop licking going on in Alabama.

February 26, 2014

The Individuals


Except for right now because I'm talking about individuals and their various individualities. That's right, it's time to think about the all-around. The NCAA all-around title is a bit like the ugly cousin who is forced to live in the attic and be silent when visitors come around (you know, like you have). No one is really allowed to talk about it or acknowledge caring about it because that might make it seem like they are putting personal goals above the team (THE HORROR!), but the quest for the all-around title is an exciting battle this year that I'm eager to keep an eye on more than I have been in most years for some reason. 

So, who are the frontrunners? I'm glad you asked, person I invented. There are a few. One might look at the RQS rankings to find out, but this is the balance beam situation. It's about going deeper. The season RQS leader is notorious for not winning the ultimate AA title, unless you're Courtney Kupets (which is a phrase I use a lot—she should write an autobiography called Unless You're Courtney Kupets). Season average is a slightly better indicator, but why use one indicator when you can use 8? Exactly.

I have taken the top AA contenders this season and ranked them in a series of categories below [rankings are in brackets], including RQS, season averages, and high scores, and then averaged their rankings from each category. My focus in these categories is more on season averages than RQSs because I think the averages are more helpful in this kind of evaluation. RQS tends to get rid of the bad performances, reflecting a gymnast's quality at her peak rather than quality throughout the season, but increased potential for mistakes is important to take into account when evaluating AA contention. For instance, Kytra Hunter can be great on beam, but her inconsistency so far this season is quite relevant to this discussion and gives her a question mark on that event that some of the other top women may not have. 

The list is limited to 16 gymnasts–anyone who has hit 39.500 in the AA in any meet this year and is currently making all four lineups for her team. That means that Georgia Dabritz is included because she's in on beam now, and if she can even do just OK on beam, she can ride her other events to becoming a frontrunner. Conversely, Macko Caquatto isn't here because she hasn't appeared on floor in weeks. Although if she does come back, she's certainly another member of this conversation. We will have other contenders beyond this 16 emerge as we go on (for instance, Sam Peszek would certainly be right in any AA battle if UCLA can find enough super glue to get her feet in shape to compete floor), but for now these are the top 16 we have.  

This system is scientific kind of like in the way that awarding 10s has been scientific. Not. But I like it as an overview of who's in the picture right now moving into the business end of the regular season. 

1. Bridget Sloan - Florida
RQS: 39.540 [3]
Season high: 39.750 [T1]
Season average: 39.593 [1]
Event averages:
VT - 9.929 [T2]
UB - 9.900 [2]
BB - 9.836 [T4]
FX - 9.929 [4]
High scores: VT - 9.950, UB - 9.925, BB - 10.000, FX - 10.000, TOTAL: 39.875 [1]

Average ranking: 2.250

2. Rheagan Courville - LSU
RQS: 39.595 [1]
Season high: 39.750 [T1]
Season average: 39.525 [4]
Event averages: 
VT - 9.919 [4] 
UB - 9.834 [11]
BB - 9.872 [3]
FX - 9.900 [8]
High scores: VT - 10.000, UB - 9.950, BB - 9.950; FX - 9.950, TOTAL: 39.850 [2]

Average ranking: 4.250

3. Katherine Grable - Arkansas
RQS: 39.555 [2]
Season high: 39.725 [3] 
Season average: 39.568 [2]
Event averages:
VT - 9.907 [6]
UB - 9.843 [10]
BB - 9.886 [2]
FX - 9.932 [3]
High scores: VT - 9.950, UB - 9.900, BB - 9.925, FX - 9.950, TOTAL: 39.725 [T8]

Average ranking: 4.500

4. Kytra Hunter - Florida
RQS: 39.475 [5]
Season high: 39.700 [4] 
Season average: 39.513 [6]
Event averages:
VT - 9.936 [1]
UB - 9.832 [12]
BB - 9.739 [13]
FX - 9.954 [1]
High scores: VT - 10.000, UB - 9.900, BB - 9.900, FX - 10.000, TOTAL: 39.800 [T3]

Average ranking: 5.625

5. Georgia Dabritz - Utah
RQS: N/A [T14]
Season high: 39.625 [7]
Season average: 39.538 [3]
Event averages:
VT - 9.911 [5]
UB - 9.939 [1]
BB - 9.775 [11]
FX - 9.939 [2]
High scores: VT - 9.975, UB - 9.975, BB - 9.875, FX - 9.975, TOTAL: 39.800 [T3]

Average ranking: 5.750

February 24, 2014

Week 7 Rankings and RQS Update

The week's newest members of the 10 club:

Bonus points for originality. Yea or nay?

Cut to Brittani McCullough and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs: "And I never got a 10 on floor?" 

Week 7 Rankings (GymInfo)
1. LSU – 197.470
Week 7: 197.625
Week 7 leaders: AA - Courville 39.675; VT - Courville, Jordan 9.950; UB - Courville, Morrison 9.950; BB - Jordan 9.925; FX - Hall 9.925

Road Score 1: 197.875
Road Score 2: 197.650
Road Score 3: 197.625
Road/Home Score 1: 197.650
Road/Home Score 2: 197.225
Road/Home Score 3: 197.200

It's a historic ranking and historic RQS for the Tigers, who cannot be excluded from any attempt to construct the possible title contenders this season. Plus, they can realistically go much higher in RQS based on what we've seen so far and with those two home 197.2s still counting. Florida's epic 197.840 RQS from last season seems perhaps a bridge too far, but LSU (and all the top 3) can challenge. 

Note, however, that neither Oklahoma nor Florida are currently guaranteed to count anything under a 198, while LSU is guaranteed to count two 197s. There's much work to do if they want to hang onto #1 for any length of time.

2. Oklahoma – 197.405
Week 7: 197.200
Week 7 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman 9.900; UB - Spears 9.875; BB - Clark 9.925; FX - Scaman 9.925

Road Score 1: 198.175
Road Score 2: 197.575
Road Score 3: 197.225
Road/Home Score 1: 197.700
Road/Home Score 2: 197.325
Road/Home Score 3: 197.200

Both Oklahoma and LSU will be at home this weekend and both will have a 197.200 as the low score to drop, which means Oklahoma can move ahead by going at least 197.550 this weekend AND outscoring LSU by at least 0.350. A tough task, but possible.

3. Florida – 197.365
Week 7: 198.125
Week 7 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.700; VT - Hunter 10.000; UB - Johnson 9.925; BB - Sloan 9.950; FX - Hunter 9.975

Road Score 1: 197.175
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.650
Road/Home Score 1: 198.125
Road/Home Score 2: 198.050
Road/Home Score 3: 197.875

Florida had the misfortune of beating LSU and falling in the rankings because of the (relatively) deficient road scores counting for RQS. They'll have the opportunity to bump that score up this weekend in the extra-anticipated showdown in Alabama. The Gators can tie LSU's current RQS with only a 197.175 this weekend (and then obviously would have to score higher if LSU and Oklahoma also increase their RQSs), but that means that if all three teams score a 197.200, for instance, Florida becomes #1.

4. Alabama – 197.140
Week 7: 197.100
Week 7 leaders: AA - Milliner 39.525; VT - Milliner 9.975; UB - Jacob 9.875; BB - Jacob 9.900; FX - Milliner 9.900

Road Score 1: 197.500
Road Score 2: 197.100
Road Score 3: 196.825
Road/Home Score 1: 197.500
Road/Home Score 2: 197.150
Road/Home Score 3: 197.125

Alabama dropped its one flaccid road score this weekend to leapfrog Utah, at least for the moment. But with just one road meet remaining, they're already guaranteed to count a 197.100, which means it will be a major challenge to move up any higher than 4th unless they can start balancing it out with 198s at home as Florida is doing. 

5. Utah – 197.015
Week 7: 197.575
Week 7 leaders: AA - Dabritz 39.625; VT - Delaney, Wilson 9.950; UB - Dabritz 9.950; BB - Lofgren 9.925; FX - Damianova 9.900

Road Score 1: 197.200
Road Score 2: 196.875
Road Score 3: 196.300
Road/Home Score 1: 197.825
Road/Home Score 2: 197.575
Road/Home Score 3: 197.125

Similarly, Utah looks pretty healthy in the home score department but will have some pressure to get rid of those 196s in the remaining two road meets to get any higher in the rankings. And one of those road meets is at Michigan. I know the specter of "Michigan scoring" isn't really a thing anymore, but still, no opponent has scored a 197 at Michigan since 2011. At the same time, a lot of "no one has scored [blank] since . . . " have been broken already in 2014, the year of the 10.   

February 22, 2014

Saturday Pac-12 Meets – Oregon State @ Utah, Stanford @ UCLA

We have double Pac-12 duty tonight, with two (sort of) simultaneous meets to get through, both of which should provide a satisfying level of intrigue in both the rankings picture and the "can you hit beam?" picture.

We'll start with Oregon State and Utah, which can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network beginning at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT. Oregon State currently sits in a somewhat precarious RQS position, especially where road scores are concerned, so tonight is an opportunity to give themselves a serious dose of help. The Beavers are currently ranked 11th, and have lower-ranked teams like Minnesota nipping at them with solid mid 196s already this weekend. No team wants to finish ranked in those 11-14 places, resulting in a tough Regionals assignment with multiple other realistic contenders.

UCLA is another team needing a breakthrough performance, and I've beaten that horse enough already this year, so I'll just say that allegedly Danusia is returning tonight, which has the potential to make everything better.

I know I mentioned that I would like these videos to just be Val, which is still true, but Randy Lane.

February 21, 2014

Friday Meets – LSU @ Florida Live Blog, Georgia, Auburn

Friday – 2/21/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [3] LSU @ [1] Florida (Scores) (Video - school subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [25] Kent State @ Ball State (Video)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [15] Minnesota @ Iowa State (Video - school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Bart & Nadia Festival ([1] Oklahoma, [5] Alabama, [7] Michigan, West Virginia) (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [6] Georgia @ [10] Auburn (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Kentucky @ [13] Arkansas (Scores) (Video - school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [14] Illinois, Illinois-Chicago, Northern Illinois @ Illinois State (Video)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – San Jose State @ [16] Boise State (Scores) (Video)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [18] Denver @ Utah State

Top 15:

Get. Ready.
It's going to be a good one.

February 20, 2014

The Weekend Ahead – February 21st-23rd

The ranking scenario gets a little funky this weekend as we switch over to RQS. LSU currently leads the RQS battle with a 197.380, but the Tigers are heading away to Florida while trying to fend off an Oklahoma team that's not far behind with a 197.300 (and still has a 196.675 to drop). If the Sooners score in the 197s this weekend (which seems likely), they will have the opportunity to move ahead of LSU's current mark, though LSU can also increase its number by going 197.250+, which is also quite doable. Florida cannot mathematically move ahead of LSU this weekend (but can get close), so it's a battle between LSU and Oklahoma for #1.

The top teams are confined to just a couple different meets this weekend, a few of which will make for a very enticing Friday of action. The showdown between LSU and Florida makes up part of LSU's quest for a whole tuft of feathers in their cap, though Florida will enter the meet as the home favorite. It's going to be an exceptional challenge for LSU to beat Florida's 10 machine in Gainesville, but the Tigers also managed a few 10s of their own last weekend, so we could certainly see them fly tomorrow. Dueling 198s are not out of the question.

A few teams have come into Florida this season and stayed close for three rotations before falling back in rotation 4, performing on beam while Florida is on floor. LSU will also lose ground in the final rotation, so it's vital that they be ahead by several tenths after three events to have a shot at the upset. The one area where LSU appears to have a clear advantage is in the first four performers of the vault lineup, so watch for that scoring comparison at the halfway point. LSU will need to pick up ground there. For Florida to maintain its pristine record, the team will need to eradicate those beam wobbles, obviously, but also focus in on sticking more of those bars landings. The Gators can and should have an advantage over LSU on bars, but it won't happen if they're not getting multiple stuck DLOs, which has yet to happen. I'm also eager to see how the scoring goes on floor since LSU is capable of matching Florida routine-for-routine on that event. Do they get the 10s as well?

February 18, 2014

Week 6 Rankings and RQS Update

Week 6 Rankings (GymInfo)
1. Oklahoma – 197.446
Week 6: 198.175
Week 6 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman 9.950; UB - Wofford 9.975; BB - Capps 9.975; FX - Scaman 10.000

Current RQS: 197.300
Road Score 1: 198.175
Road Score 2: 197.575
Road Score 3: 197.225
Road/Home Score 1: 197.700
Road/Home Score 2: 197.325
Road/Home Score 3: 196.675

One more score to get rid of that 196, and they're sitting pretty. With a fake road meet coming up over the weekend, that looks likely to happen promptly.

2. Florida – 197.392
Week 6: 197.525
Week 6 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.750; VT - Hunter 10.000; UB - M Caquatto, Johnson 9.950; BB - Sloan 9.900; FX - Sloan 9.975

Current RQS: 197.260
Road Score 1: 197.175
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.650
Road/Home Score 1: 198.050
Road/Home Score 2: 197.875
Road/Home Score 3: 197.525

*Numbers in bold indicate scores guaranteed to be included and that cannot be dropped.

Florida has three road meets remaining to make those road scores a touch more competitive with Oklahoma and LSU.

3. LSU – 197.379
Week 6: 197.875
Week 6 leaders: AA - Courville 39.750; VT - Courville 10.000; UB - Morrison 9.975; BB - Courville 9.950; FX - Hall 10.000

Current RQS: 197.380
Road Score 1: 197.875
Road Score 2: 197.650
Road Score 3: 197.225
Road/Home Score 1: 197.650
Road/Home Score 2: 197.200
Road/Home Score 3: 197.175

LSU currently leads Florida in RQS going into their clash in Gainesville on Friday, and has more potential for gain, with a 197.175 to drop, whereas Florida's lowest home number to drop is a 197.525.

4. Utah – 197.135
Week 6: Monday meet

Current RQS: X
Projected RQS: 196.830
Road Score 1: 197.200
Road Score 2: 196.875
Road Score 3: 196.300
Road/Home Score 1: 197.825
Road/Home Score 2: 197.125
Road/Home Score 3: 196.650

5. Alabama – 197.025
Week 6: 197.500
Week 6 leaders: AA - DeMeo 39.500; VT - Beers 9.925; UB - Jetter 9.900; BB - Sims 9.925; FX - Jacob 9.950

Current RQS: 196.930
Road Score 1: 197.500
Road Score 2: 196.825
Road Score 3: 196.050
Road/Home Score 1: 197.500
Road/Home Score 2: 197.150
Road/Home Score 3: 197.125

6. Georgia – 196.864
Week 6: No meet

Current RQS: 196.900
Road Score 1: 196.825
Road Score 2: 196.700
Road Score 3: 196.500
Road/Home Score 1: 197.400
Road/Home Score 2: 197.300
Road/Home Score 3: 197.175

February 17, 2014

[4] Utah @ [12] Stanford

It's a three-day weekend because of the presidents, so let's take this opportunity to kick back with some bonus Monday gymnastics action. As is customary, this Monday meet won't be included in the rankings until next week, so the new rankings are as follows:

Utah is currently resting steady at #4, and that looks fairly likely to continue. The Utes will have an RQS after this meet, but would need to score a 198.450 to match Florida's current total of 197.260. That's a little much, but they would need a 196.825 in order to stay ahead of Alabama's current RQS of 196.930, which seems doable.

As expected, LSU would be debuting at #1 if RQS had started today instead of next week, but as it stands, the Tigers currently sit at #3 as Oklahoma moves up to the top spot.

By not competing over the weekend, Stanford has dropped a bit, and as I mentioned in the RQS update earlier in the week, there's reason to begin feeling some urgency over Stanford's scoring because the current RQS would also drop them behind both Arkansas and Minnesota. They won't be able to get rid of their road 194 for another week, but they have the opportunity to get rid of a counting 195 today, which would move them to slightly more secure ground.

The meet will begin at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.

February 16, 2014

[9] UCLA @ [23] Washington

If, perhaps, you haven't checked in since Friday, you may have missed Saturday's scoring explosion (duh, it's Metroplex – everything's bigger in Texas) that saw Oklahoma take the Metroplex meet and take over the #1 national ranking with a 198.175 to LSU's 197.875. Arizona and Kentucky also made up the numbers in this meet with 195.625 and 194.850 respectively. Arizona has been solid 196y at times this year, so this was a missed opportunity to get back to challenging for a top 15 spot after last week's off meet.

Three routines received 10s at Metroplex (Courville on vault, Hall and Scaman on floor), and individual judge 10s were also distributed to Capps on beam and Morrison, Wofford, and Jordan on bars. It has been quite a while since seven different routines received at least one 10 between two teams at a single meet. Since the Georgia dynasty would be my guess. LSU ended up scoring higher on vault and bars, while Oklahoma was stronger on beam and floor, which is half expected and half unexpected. LSU had to count scores in the 9.7s on both beam and floor, which accounted for the deficit. Oklahoma, LSU, and Florida are running so close right now that the next few months should make for an exceptionally close and engaging fight. Florida v. LSU next Friday will be a treat.

But for now, we adjust attention to UCLA's struggle to get into the top conversation this year as the Bruins meet Washington in an important meet for both in terms of getting a counting score for RQS. Both teams have six meets remaining before Regionals, and UCLA must begin getting 197s while Washington should be far better than the low 195s we've been seeing. With reliable AAers like Vaccher and Northey and spot contributions from McCartin and Janik, 196s should be believable and would do the Huskies a world of ranking good.

The meet begins at 5:00 ET/2:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.

February 14, 2014

Friday Live Blog - Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn

Friday – 2/14/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [11] Arkansas @ [1] Florida (Scores) (Video - school subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [8] Michigan @ [7] Nebraska (Scores) - (btn2go.com - with Big Ten Network TV subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [5] Alabama @ [12] Auburn (Scores) (Video - all-access)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [20] Ohio State @ Iowa (Scores) (Video - all-access)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [18] Denver @ Southern Utah (Scores)

Current top 10:

February 13, 2014

The Weekend Ahead – February 14th-17th

We're heading into our final Monday of rankings being based on season average, and the race for the #1 ranking is open. Oklahoma and LSU are so close together in the second and third places that whichever team scores higher at Metroplex on Saturday will jump ahead, but they're both also within sight of Florida. Oklahoma would need to outscore Florida by .350 this weekend to go ahead, and LSU would need to do so by only slightly more to take over #1. This will be a challenge because Florida is competing at home this weekend, but it is conceivable.

Compared to the usual bushel of Friday meets, tomorrow's schedule is fairly light, especially now that Georgia's meet against Missouri has been cancelled. Still, there are a few must-follow meets remaining on the schedule. Michigan and Nebraska will go at each other in a Joanna Sampson v. Emily Wong battle royale to claim the official Tiara of Awesomeness along with momentary supremacy in the Big 10. Michigan would need to win the meet by .200 to climb ahead of Nebraska in the rankings.

ANNUAL TANGENTIAL RANT ALERT: The Michigan and Nebraska fight for the #7 ranking may not seem like a thing, but while I was going through the RQS numbers yesterday, I was reminded of the annual complaint I have (and everyone who has ever been alive has) about the backward way the seeding for regionals is conducted, which results in cases when it is more advantageous to be ranked #7 than to be ranked #1. For instance, if the season ended today, the top-seeded regional would contain [1] Florida, [12] Auburn, and [13] Oregon State, while another would contain [6] Georgia, [7] Nebraska, and [18] Denver. With two teams advancing from each regional, the 6th and 7th seeds have the far cushier deal there. Not only does the current system make it not really worth it to be #1, but it also makes regionals less interesting. Put Oregon State, as the #13 team, in with Georgia and Nebraska, and you have a real showdown for both advancing spots and a completely exciting meet. But that's not going to happen. Ugh. The sighing. Oh, the sighing. It's out of my system for the moment but will surely come up again when regionals come around.

February 12, 2014

RQS Progress

It's coming. Whether you're ready or not, the annual nightmare that is RQS is coming. On February 24th, RQS will take over from season average in determining the rankings, so now is a good time to check out where teams stand and what they still need to do to achieve a worthwhile RQS.

The rules: RQS (Regional Qualifying Score) is used to determine which 36 teams advance to the Regional Championships. It is calculated by taking a team's six highest scores on the year, of which at least three must be road scores, dropping the highest score, and averaging the remaining five.  

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I have a love/hate relationship with RQS. I love the fact that it involves calculations and spreadsheets, but I hate the fact that it imposes an artificially small sample size on the rankings in a sport that already has a small sample size of meets to begin with. It throws out a majority of the data points and shouts, "Do-over!" on most of the routines during the year so that there are few repercussions for top teams having bad meets.

1. Florida (Current RQS: X)
Road Score 1: 197.175
Road Score 2: 197.075
Road Score 3: 196.650
Road/Home Score 1: 198.050
Road/Home Score 2: 197.875
Road/Home Score 3: X

Florida is in a perfectly solid position for RQS and will end the season with a large number, but for a team looking to finish the year in the top spot, those road scores are not devastatingly amazing. The Gators are currently trailing both Oklahoma and LSU in the road race, so even though having a counting 197.875 home score is an asset, Florida will probably need to put up a couple mid-197s in the remaining three road meets to feel comfortable in maintaining that #1 spot. The Gators will not have a chance to bounce that road 196 until the meet in Alabama on the 28th, which is after RQS kicks in, so don't be surprised if the Gators drop a couple ranking places in the first week of RQS from where they are now.

2. Oklahoma (Current RQS: X)
Road Score 1: 197.575
Road Score 2: 197.225
Road Score 3: X
Road/Home Score 1: 197.700
Road/Home Score 2: 197.325
Road/Home Score 3: 196.675

While currently ranked lower, Oklahoma is in a nearly identical RQS position to Florida with their stronger road numbers balancing out Florida's stronger home numbers. Over the next two weeks, Oklahoma has Metroplex and then the "road meet that's not a road meet" in Oklahoma City, which is a very advantageous position for extending the road advantage over Florida and settling into a comfortable mid-197 RQS with a whole month of the season remaining.

3. LSU (Current RQS: 197.225)
Road Score 1: 197.650
Road Score 2: 197.225
Road Score 3: 196.875
Road/Home Score 1: 197.650
Road/Home Score 2: 197.200
Road/Home Score 3: 197.175

Kick back and relax, LSU, because 197.225 is already an excellent RQS. Based on precedent and the scores currently being recorded, it shouldn't take all that much more to secure a top 6 ranking and a #1 Regionals seed. There are no clunkers in this group of scores already, and they'll have a chance to go straight 197s across the board after Metroplex this weekend. The Tigers' only wish will be that RQS kicked in this coming Monday instead of the next week, because they may very well finish this weekend with the #1 RQS given the 196.6s that Florida and Oklahoma will still be hanging onto.

4. Utah (Current RQS: X)
Road Score 1: 197.200
Road Score 2: 196.875
Road Score 3: X
Road/Home Score 1: 197.825
Road/Home Score 2: 197.125
Road/Home Score 3: 196.650

While the Utes are mostly keeping pace with the current top 3 in the season average department, they won't be able to count that big home 197 for the time being, so they're going to need a couple more scores in the mid-197 family to keep within striking distance. They've got a nice edge over the teams below right now, but a high road score at Stanford this weekend would help them become part of the lead pack instead of the leader of the second pack.

February 10, 2014

Week 5 Rankings and Notes

This video has been making the rounds for the past day or so. If you happen to be new to NCAA gymnastics and are perhaps curious about why there is an intense cult of adoration around Valorie Kondos Field, this is the reason. It's not the floor routines; it's this–sharing all the explicatives she's feeling with the rest of us in contrast to the stream of positivity and lies we are usually subjected to. Apparently, the theme of this week is Everyone except Sam Peszek is garbage.

Week 5 Rankings - (Gyminfo)
1. Florida – 197.365
Week 5: 197.175
Week 5 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.675; VT - Hunter 9.925; UB - Sloan, M Caquatto 9.900; BB - Sloan 10.000; FX - Hunter 9.925

It's a respectable road score for the Gators and enough to keep them in first place for the moment, though the margin is getting tight and interesting. Florida didn't put out entirely full lineups over the weekend (Macko sat out on the leg events), but it was mostly a first-team experience. A couple people had marginally weaker showings than what they have produced recently, but the scoring also did not hit the heights we saw at the home meets over the past few weeks. That is, except for Sloan's 10, which was suddenly and surprisingly big. I don't begrudge this 10 all too much, but Sloan has done her routine in that exact same way a number of times without getting a 10.

2. Oklahoma – 197.300
Week 5: 197.325
Week 5 leaders: AA - None; VT - Capps 9.950; UB - Scaman 9.925; BB - Brewer, Kmieciak 9.875; FX - Scaman 9.975

The Sooners were on pace to take over the #1 spot after the first two events of their meet on Sunday, but it was a beam problem that pushed them back into second and back behind LSU for a loss. A beam problem? What is this? How are you supposed to be the undisputed, swooned-over queens of beam if you're going to count a fall and be ranked third in the country on the event like some common raggedy peasant children? I expect this problem to be resolved instantly. Are we clear?

3. LSU – 197.296
Week 5 A: 197.225
Week 5 A leaders: AA - Courville 39.600; VT - Courville, Gnat 9.900; UB - Morrison 9.925; BB - Courville, Jordan 9.925; FX - Courville, Hall 9.925

Week 5 B: 197.650
Week 5 B leaders: AA - Jordan 39.525; VT - Morrison 9.975; UB - Morrison 9.925; BB - Gnat 9.900; FX - Hall 9.950 

The Tigers should be quite pleased by the weekend's showing, taking a chunk out of the Florida advantage with two strong meets and a whole heap of 9.9s. It may have taken an opponent's fall to do it, but beating Oklahoma away is a significant feather in their caps if they want to keep up this assault on a historic ranking position and remain in the conversation as a spoiler for the "next team to win a title" debate. The most important LSU routine of the weekend was Gnat's 9.900 on beam from Sunday. She has had some falls recently and seemed like a major question mark, but they need her score to help them through their weak event, so her winning beam against Oklahoma is a big deal.

4. Utah – 197.135
Week 5: 197.825
Week 5 leaders: AA - Wilson 39.600; VT - Wilson 9.975; UB - Dabritz 9.975; BB - Lofgren 9.925; FX - Dabritz 9.975

The Utes used a massive home score to keep pace with the lead pack of three, ranked top in the country on both vault and floor, and Dabritz continues to be the sultan of three events. Well, really the whole team continues to be the sultan of three events. There's enough strength on vault and floor for the most part to expect these scores to continue (not 49.7s, but strong numbers), and for the time being at least, stunted performances on beam are not significant enough to hurt the team score. Facing off against Stanford away on President's Day next week will be telling in that regard.

February 8, 2014

Saturday Notes

We enter a solid day of Saturday competition, starting with UCLA and Arizona State in Pac-12 action, coming off a Friday marked by highs and lows. Utah finished the day yesterday by putting up a colossal 197.825, led by a 49.725 on floor in a season already characterized by big floor scores. Going into this season, we hadn't seen a team score over 49.700 on floor in the regular season since 2008, and it has already happened twice so far.

Alabama also recorded a huge floor number of 49.625, which seems frankly paltry this year by comparison even though it is Alabama's 4th-best floor score in the history of the program, en route to a 197.500, which will see them bounce up a couple places in the rankings to a place closer to where we expect to see Alabama. LSU and Florida also managed low 197s in road performances that they will gladly take for RQS and that will keep them in a comfortable ranking position.

On the contrasting side, we saw Michigan record a score in the high 195s in a meet with just weird scoring, a fair amount of the scores–but notably not each and every one of the scores–were lower than we would expect. You can always find reasons to justify a low score because the deductions exist even if the judges rarely elect to take them, but in the two rotations of that meet that I saw before Georgia and Alabama started, the standard of scoring was different from and inconsistent with what we have seen throughout the country this season. The Wolverines didn't look great, we've seen much better from them, but they didn't look all that bad either. They were evaluated with a different standard, which primarily accounts for the 195.

Bev Plocki had this to say about it:
"You can only control what you can control. You can't control the judging. This was one of the strictest-officiated meets I've been at across the board in all my years. There were some really high-quality routines that were being scored well below their average. No matter how upset or disappointed we are with the way they were judging, we still opened the door for them to take those deductions. Tonight, they just chose to take more. We have to button those things up."

The Oregon State and Cal meet has been cancelled because of poor weather, which is rough for everyone, especially if you were relying on Erika Aufiero's bars score in your fantasy lineup to offset the low scores from Michigan. Just as an example.

I'll be watching UCLA against Arizona State, which begins at 3:30 ET/12:30 PT and giving some general notes on the rotations as we go along.

February 7, 2014

Friday Friday Friday, Meets Meets Meets: Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama

Friday, February 7th
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [1] Florida @ Kentucky (Scores) (Video - All-access)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [15] Minnesota @ [21] Ohio State (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [19] Central Michigan @ Eastern Michigan
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Northern Illinois @ [25] Kent State (Scores) (Video)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [3] LSU @ [11] Arkansas (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [6] Michigan @ [14] Illinois (Scores) (Video - All-access)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [5] Georgia @ [7] Alabama (Scores) (Video - free)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Chicago Style - [18] Boise State, North Carolina, Illinois-Chicago, Bowling Green
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [13] Arizona @ [4] Utah (Scores)

This week's top 10:

Major action begins with Florida and Kentucky at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT, with the big question being exactly how too cool for school Florida's lineups will be in this meet. Because of the schedule this season with many teams beginning competition in the second weekend of January instead of the first, most teams do not have a week off during the regular season this year, so expect most coaches to look for opportunities like this at winnable away meets over the next month or so to Miss Val some of their lineups, "explore depth," and give their major contributors a chance to back off on a couple of events so they're not doing the AA every single weekend right into the postseason. [At least, this is what I expected based on Florida's schedule. We didn't end up seeing much resting at all.]

February 6, 2014

The Weekend Ahead – February 7th-9th

Last week, Florida used a six-tenth home victory over Oklahoma to leapfrog the Sooners into the top position and officially become the chased team. Because we have had a fair chunk of meets in the season now, it's getting harder to move up several tenths in a single weekend, so the Gators should be safe in the first position for the moment as long as they continue doing what they're doing with at least a low 197. Oklahoma would have to outscore them by .500 and LSU by .775 to jump into the first spot. The margin for LSU and Oklahoma is small enough that those two could end up in either order. The second pack is beginning to drop some of its more struggling members, but Utah, Georgia, and Michigan are all still close enough to overtake each other. 

We're into the second month of the season now, which means the margin for mistake forgiveness is going to become a little less cushy over the next few weeks. The "it's only January" excuse for being ragged and/or on the ground is out of play, so if a team has been all manner of bouncy bounce on landings, or perhaps is still holding back on difficulty or still waiting to hit six for six on beam, that starts to become less acceptable now.

We have six of the top ten teams in action on Friday, beginning with Florida, who will go back on the road to face Kentucky. I'll check in on that, but I've seen quite a bit of Florida so far this season, so I also want to spend at least a little quality time with Michigan, a team that has been consistently strong so far this year and should be in 197 contention each week. They got two 9.975s last week and look to be rounding into strong form to challenge for a top five spot.

Of course, the big meet on Friday is Georgia visiting Alabama, which should be fascinating as always. It doesn't have the same bite as in the Suzanne v. Sarah years, but it's still a treat gymnastically.

February 3, 2014

Week 4 Rankings

Week 4 Rankings - (GymInfo)
1. Florida – 197.413
Week 4: 197.875
Week 4 leaders
AA - Sloan 39.750 (Season Best: Sloan 39.750)
VT - Sloan, Hunter 9.950 (SB: Sloan, Hunter 9.950)
UB - Sloan 9.900 (SB: B Caquatto 9.950)
BB - Sloan 9.950 (SB: M Caquatto, Sloan 9.950)
FX - Hunter 10.000 (SB: Hunter, Sloan 10.000)

2. Oklahoma – 197.294
Week 4: 197.225
Week 4 leaders
AA - None (SB: Brewer 39.450)
VT - Scaman 9.925 (SB: Scaman 9.950)
UB - Clark, Wofford 9.875 (SB: Spears, Brewer 9.925)
BB - Spears 9.900 (SB: Spears 9.950)
FX - Scaman, Albright 9.900 (SB: Scaman 9.950)

3. LSU – 197.225
Week 4: 197.650
Week 4 leaders
AA - Courville 39.500 (SB: Courville 39.600)
VT - Courville 9.975 (SB: Courville 9.975)
UB - Morrison 9.950 (SB: Morrison 9.950)
BB - Jordan 9.900 (SB: Courville, Jordan 9.925)
FX - Hall 10.000 (SB: Hall 10.000)

4. Utah – 196.963
Week 4: 197.200
Week 4 leaders
AA - Wilson 39.450 (SB: Wilson 39.450)
VT - Delaney 9.950 (SB: Dabritz, Wilson 9.975)
UB - Dabritz 9.925 (SB: Dabritz, Wilson 9.950)
BB - Lothrop 9.950 (SB: Lothrop 9.950)
FX - Dabritz 9.950 (SB: Dabritz 9.975)

5. Georgia – 196.871
Week 4: 197.300
Week 4 leaders
AA - Rogers 39.175 (SB: Rogers 39.525)
VT - Cheek 9.950 (SB: Cheek 9.950)
UB - Cheek 9.950 (SB: Davis 9.975)
BB - Cheek 9.875 (SB: Earls 9.950)
FX - Jay 9.950 (SB: Jay 9.950)