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.

The key event to watch for UCLA today is going to be vault. While beam has been the biggest problem area in terms of consistency and counting mistakes, vault has deteriorated over the last three weeks to the point where we're seeing all kinds of piking and short landings from the beginning of the lineup.

Jim and Amanda preview the action, telling us that the big rock for UCLA is Hallie Mossett. Um sure, she's been good for 9.825s on each event as a freshman, but the rock is Sam Peszek. That's not even a question. I was like . . . huh?

It's funny hearing Jim and Amanda talk about how UCLA finally came through and put it all together last week, contrasting that with Val's . . . different feelings about the exact same performance. You can construct the narrative of a meet so many different ways based on expectations and the story you're trying to tell.

Apparently, UCLA is changing up the lineups today. Um yeah, it's a day that ends in y. Jessy MacArthur is making her non-exhibition debut this year. 

Rotation 1- Washington on vault, UCLA on bars
Washington vault:
1. McCartin - Just a layout Yurchenko - no twists. Fine but irrelevant, just to put up a sixth routine.
2. Podlucky - Yfull, some messy legs and rather significant piking at the end with a step back. 9.725.
3. Janik - Yfull, looked like she went very high on her vault but pikes very significantly to get the landing - controlled 9.750.
4. Vaccher - Yhalf - good power and height, clean form, squatty landing with a lunge forward. 9.825.
5. Northey - Yfull - strongest of the yfulls so far for this team, still pikes but less so than the others, fairly large step back. 9.825. 
6. Yacalis - Similar to Northey for the most part on her yfull, good power but small pike at the end with a largish step back. 9.800

UCLA bars:
1. Sawa - Nice Ray, clean hs, leg break on the bail and maybe a little short, a few leg breaks in this routine and a large step back on the double pike. Handstands were hit, but there are several areas to take. 9.825
2. MacArthur - Clean first hs, very late on her giant full and crazy legs on her gienger, wobble on her step up to the high bar - hop back on double tuck to salute. She got through it. It won't be a big score and I don't expect her in the final lineup, but she hit it. 9.750.
3. Mossett - Good stalder shoot, and strong jaeger, hits her pak, the stalder was as we've come to expect with the bent elbows, small hop on double back. I'm still not wild about this composition with the stalder and how many times she casts to handstand. It seems inefficient and asking for deductions. 9.850.
4. Courtney - Great stalder, clean bail, looks a little more rushed in her handstands this week than last week, has to fight for the stick on the tuck full and bends for it but doesn't move. 9.925.  
5. DeJesus - good first hs, giant full looks OK, still the leg break on the gienger which will need to be cleaned up, but she does get the stick on the tuck full again this week. That dismount is really becoming a strength this season. 9.875.
6. Peszek - Giant full is right on vertical and the gienger is exceptional as always, bail is clean and secure. Everything looked great within the routine, small hop back on the DLO this week but otherwise it was similar to last week's showing. One of the major improvements in this routine is her shoot to the high bar. She gets better counter rotation than she did earlier in her career, so she's not muscling up that handstand afterward quite as much. The DLO is still just sort of whippy. She can stick it sometimes because of her extreme talent level, but it never looks like she's going to. 9.925.

After 1: UCLA 49.400, Washington 48.925
That was a fairly respectable bars rotation for UCLA. All of the final three looked strong, none quite as strong as last week, but they were solid routines that the team will be happy to have in the postseason. I'm not convinced about the beginning of this lineup - though I'm not sure where the better options would come from, but once Danusia comes back, they should be buoyed a bit and not have to throw in a lower-quality routine. Washington has some power and possibility at the back of that vault lineup, but they need landings and they're having to make up for the scores from the first three in the lineup.  

Rotation 2 - Washington on bars, UCLA on vault
Washington bars:
1. Duranczyk - Big leg break on the bail and shortish of handstand, does manage to stick the DLO with another leg break in the air. 9.750.
2. Northey - Hits her piked jaeger to the overshoot, stronger leg form - high tuck full but very close to the bar - small steps on landing. 9.750
3. Vaccher - first hs was borderline, catches her jaeger, very strong bail handstand, a little late on her giant full to a double tuck dismount - step back. 9.850. 
4. Metcalf - Legs apart on the shaposh but strong, small adjustment on her step up to the high bar and a step back on her double front - big cowboy and leg form potential deductions throughout, but a hit. 9.775. 
5. Janik - Clean first handstand - hits her shaposh and pak well - though does have leg breaks in each - she has a nice line overall, though, and a lot of potential here - double back dismount with a steppy-salutey out of it. 9.825
6. McCartin - Good first hs, catches a high tkatchev - though it might have been a bit close, best rhythm on the team, hits her pak very cleanly, a little rushed through some of this and one questionable handstand toward the end, but a stick on the double back. 9.925. 

UCLA vault:
1. Pinches - Seemed like she got a bit more height, but still with the piking and the short landing and a hop forward. Not a ton better than what we've been seeing. 9.750.
2. Mossett - Good power and distance, but she's another one still landing short with a large lunge forward. Val will be similarly displeased with this vaulting as last week. 9.725. 
3. Sawa - Yfull, a little bit better than last week in the form, but takes a hop back. 9.800.
4. Bynum - Her best yhalf of the year so far, maintained her power and form that we have been seeing, but much more control on the landing, small hop. First one to show improvement. 9.900.
5. Courtney - Didn't get her usual distance but had a very high vault, also comes in short on her landing but doesn't give away much of a step. Fine but not what we expect from her. 9.900.
6. Pass. They had Gerber in the lineup, which seemed inadvisable, so they'll just take the first five. Oh, UCLA, why can you not put up six vaulters in February, even with Cipra out this week?

After 2: UCLA 98.475 (vault: 49.075), Washington 98.050 (bars: 49.125)
It's another pretty uninspiring vault rotation for UCLA. Piking and uncontrolled landings were the name of the game at the beginning. Sawa has regressed here the last few weeks from the sticks we saw at the beginning of the season. Bynum made a nice improvement for her best vault of the year, and Courtney is good enough that even when she's not her best she can get a strong score. I'm not sold on this team on vault, but a Peszek return would help quite a bit.

Did we need to ask the Pac-12 basketball coaches who their favorite presidents are? I didn't need that information.

Rotation 3 - Washington on beam, UCLA on floor
Washington beam:
1. Vaccher - A little short on her aerial but holds on without a wobble, switch and split combo, pretty full turn, bhs + gainer loso, strong 1.5 dismount with a step back. Secure, fine leadoff. 9.725
2. Northey - Nice full turn, a little short on switch split but connects it to straddle, way off line on her bhs loso and comes off the beam. I had you in my fantasy lineup this week, Allison! Dear. Otherwise it's a hit routine with another good 1.5 dismount. Four routines to get through now without a fall. 9.275
3. Duranczyk - So, so tight on her bhs + loso series. I was sure she would come off from the moment she started, but she saved it after a big wobble, really fought to stay on there. The rest of the routine is more comfortable after that, small hop on loso + layout full dismount, but she'll lose a lot on her series, off line and very short. 9.475.
4. Fechter - Secure front toss, small check on the bhs connected after it, split 3/4 is strong, comfortable full turn, sticks gainer pike. Not a lot of content in that routine, but she hit it. Elise Ray sighting. Hooray! Want to do every event, please? 9.825. 
5. Janik - walkover was pretty but she bends at the waist on it, repeats the skill and it's acceptable. Slightly off line on her side aerial and takes another balance check, also does a gainer pike dismount with a stick. Wobbly throughout, but her gymnastics is pretty. 9.600
6. McCartin - Clean walkover to bhs, good split and stag combo but perhaps had a little shuffle out of the stag. Another gainer pike and sticks it. Too many gainer pikes in this rotation. 9.875.  

UCLA floor:
1. Pinches - competition debut on floor - bouncy on her 1.5 through to double full - needs more control there, short on her double back landing but does a stag out of it and doesn't give away anything. How do we feel about this music? I'm currently ambivalent. A little squatty in her double pike, but she hit it enough. 9.825. 
2. DeJesus - Bounces out of the double pike - pretty secure double back still a little low and a small adjustment, but this looks better than the last couple weeks so far - switch ring is OK, small bounciness on the 1.5 to layout dismount, but a solid performance. 9.875.
3. Bynum - Slightly short on her DLO this week but controls the landing well enough - better than the last couple weeks. 1.5 through to double back has a slide out of it. Another bounce on the final double tuck, but these are small bounces. It was a fine performance, mostly controlled, nothing amazing but they can definitely count it. 9.900. The judges are on the happy juice in this rotation.  
4. Courtney - over rotated and lungey on the double arabian this week - it's hit or miss with that but not a disastrous lunge, also bouncey on her 1.5 to half - doesn't connect it to the layout stepout this week - boo. I'm done with this music of hers. Really strong double pike to finish but not the control we expect on the first two passes. 9.900.
5. Sawa - Pretty good double back mount, could be a little more open but it's fine, slightly short on the double pike middle pass and steps forward, splits look good. Finishes 1.5 + .5 + stag. Strong performance, should score very well based on the scoring we've seen so far on this event. She has been stronger and more comfortable in the tumbling, though. 9.900.
6. Pass. Hallie Mossett won't go this week. What is with all of this passing?

After 3: UCLA 147.875 (floor: 49.400), Washington 146.550 (beam: 48.500)
Not a great beam rotation for Washington. Lots of wobbly performances, which you especially cannot afford when performing fairly sparse routines. Those beam routines get their five tenths of bonus and get out of there without showing any more difficulty than necessary - and all these gainer pike dismounts at the end of the rotation are tough to see. Janik is impressing me in her potential if not her performance. She works beautifully and has the opportunity to be great in time on bars and beam.

UCLA scored very well on floor. I wasn't as enthusiastic about those routines as the judges were because there was a lot of lack of control through those five routines - on multiple tumbling passes in each routine - that could have been deducted, but it was certainly an improvement over last week's showing on the event. They can get much better, though, and should expect to perform routines with more composed tumbling than what they just showed, even though the score was big.

Our weekly Jordyn Wieber update. A shot of her with a stank face while watching beam warmups, which we can all identify with while watching UCLA on beam this year. 

Rotation 4: Washington on floor UCLA on beam 
Washington floor:
1. Duranczyk - Very short on her punch front through to double pike with a large lunge forward, splits aren't quite there. Layouts as a middle pass and short on the second layout with squatting. Low landing on double tuck dismount. They'll want to drop this. 9.550. 
2. Northey - Solid double pike mount, high 1.5 to front tuck as well, split full wasn't quite there and music is a little hellish, slightly short on double tuck dismount with a slide, but a good routine. They'll definitely take it. 9.800. 
3. Podlucky -High double pike with a small bounce back, clean layout to front full with a controlled landing. She's another who doesn't hit the split in her split full which we've been seeing a ton this year in particular. Chest forward on the double pike landing but secure. Solid performance. 9.825.  
4. Janik - Nice high double pike with a small slidey bounce out of it just like the others have been doing - 1.5 to front layout is clean - a little short on her rudi dismount, but another hit they'll take. 9.775.  
5. Yacalis - Strong tuck full mount and controls the landing, high double back as the second pass. This is a big step up over the first four routines in power, difficulty, and overall quality, whip to 1.5 to punch front is hit as well. That should help them get a strong floor score to recover from beam a bit. 9.850.
6. Vaccher - Controlled double back, comfortably performed - looked like she overdid her 1.5 in the middle pass and barely hung onto the layout, but she did hang onto and complete the skill. Still, she gave away a bit there. Secure double pike to finish. Good tumbling. 

UCLA beam:
1. Craddock - Full turn, does her walkover but goes to connect it to the front handspring and runs right off the beam. So this is happening. Switch leap is strong. Very short landing on the side aerial + layout full dismount with a large lunge forward and to the side. This will be in the 2s.
2. Mossett - Almost pulled a Mikaela and came off on her press handstand mount but pulls herself back together with only minimal awkwardness, small adjustment on her walkover to bhs series, windmills the side somi, step back on gainer pike dismount. Not great. 9.725.
3. DeJesus - wobble on walkover, hangs onto loso series without taking a wobble, but does wobble on her split jump, slips on her front toss and almost comes off and takes a big wobble to save it, sticks front layout full. Another problem beam rotation for UCLA. No wonder Jordyn looked so unhappy when they were warming up. She saw this mess coming. 9.600.
4. Pinches - Rough position to do a beam debut coming after three problems - she looks a little tight but her switch split was good, small wobble on the bhs + pike series but fine, side somi looked wonky in the air but she held onto it. Step forward on 1.5 dismount. It wasn't awesome, but she could be an addition here. Val is super pleased. 9.675. That seems low comparatively. There were mistakes but she hit it well enough.
5. Peszek - Walkover to back tuck - strong. Good that she added the back tuck out of the walkover instead of the bhs. That lame bhs series is way beneath her. Everything looks pretty, but now she's stalling with choreo for about 11 minutes. Does her loso to layout full dismount without the back handspring this time. Small slide back on landing. 9.875. 
6. Sawa - Confident switch to straddle to start, and hits her bhs + loso well this time instead of flying sideways off the beam. Improvement! She has always had potential on beam but never seems to hit, like ever. Small check on her side aerial, but otherwise this is an important hit routine for the team. Sticks her 1.5 dismount. That's the best beam routine she has ever done for UCLA by a fair margin. 9.925. 

Final Score: UCLA 196.675 (beam: 48.800), Washington 195.650 (floor: 49.100)

Another beam mess for UCLA to end things, surprising no one. "Bleep, bleep, explicative." It's easy to say, "Oh, they need Danusia on this event," which they definitely do, but a team like UCLA should be able to muster more than 2.5 beam workers to go in any given week regardless of which regal swans might happen to be sick or resting. Sawa delivered like she never has before on beam, but I'm still convinced by no one except for Peszek and Francis on this event. It's just so upsetting to look at. UCLA ends with another mid 196, which is exactly what they didn't need any more of. No progress was made on vault and beam. Bars was the strongest event again this week, but even that has issues at the beginning. UCLA is a team full of mid 196s, but that doesn't cut it because they're 9th right now, and teams below them like Stanford, Auburn, and Oregon State etc. can all comfortably beat a mid 196 and will begin to do so and move ahead if the Bruins can't pull it together and quickly. It's a frustrating team to watch right now because they should be so much better than this. They're way too talented to be OK with 196s. 

Washington also had potential for a strong performance if not for the beam. There's some solid 9.850 work on the back end of most of these events, but on beam they are missing the consistency and on vault and floor they are missing the six full, solid routines they would need to contend for bigger scores. They can't continue to work against an auto-drop right from the beginning of the rotation. That's a tough position for any team and not the condition of one that will put up a fight at a Regional.


  1. FYI – You might want to keep an eye on Lindsey Mable of Minnesota for a possible 10 on FX. She scored a 9.975 in the Gophers win over MSU this weekend. It was Mable's third 9.975 score this season.

  2. I feel like Craddock can't wait to come off the beam every week, like she is just looking for an excuse. She fights for nothing!! Ugh.

  3. That's Craddock's first fall on BB, though, at least this year - it's bars she's twice had bad routines on (don't know about exhibitions; didn't check her scores for last year). Her scores so far this year, per Troester:

    UB: 9.775, 9.775, 8.1, 9.775, 8.575
    BB: 9.575, 9.725, 9.775, 9.825, 9.825

  4. You're right, I was thinking of bars! Still frustrating.

  5. "This will be in the 2s...." Thanks for the LOL.

  6. There should be some special Wieber rule, where if UCLA has a beam disaster, Jordyn can throw her elite routine & have the E score count =P She must have some mixed feelings about giving up her eligibility at times (until she checks her bank balance)