Friday – 2/28/14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Kent State, BYU @  Michigan (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Auburn @  Kentucky (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Bridgeport, Western Michigan, Yale @  Penn State (Scores) (Video - all-access subscription)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT –  Denver @ Michigan State (Scores) (Video - free)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Nastia Cup (Scores) (Video - free)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Missouri @  LSU (Scores) (Video - school subscription)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT –  Illinois @  Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Washington @  Utah (Scores)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT –  Florida @  Alabama (Scores) (Video - free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Iowa @  Boise State (Scores) (Video)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT –  Southern Utah @ San Jose State (Scores) (Video)
Current top 15:
We have our preview of the future with the Nastia Cup going on today, but I'll also be focusing on the present with a Michigan team looking to recover from a couple recent disappointing scores and starting off the day's action from 7:00 ET/4:00 PT.
Oddly, this is the first Michigan home meet I've watched this season. Introductions of the visitors happening now. There are 11,000 people on Kent State's team.
I'm not sure how it's going to go with trying to watch this meet and the Nastia at the same time. My router is already looking at me like a harried businesswoman at the beginning of a romantic comedy before she learns that looking for marriage is more important than all her personal goals. We'll see what wins out as we go along.
Joanna Sampson's introduction is so much longer than everyone else's. She has like 10 times more accomplishments.
Artz is back in on vault this week for Michigan instead of Brooke Parker, who competed last week, and Sampson will not be competing on bars this week, according to Michigan's twitter, to rest.
Beilstein warms up on vault and sticks a 1.5 with a fist pump. We need more fist pumps in women's NCAA gymnastics.
Rotation 1 - Michigan on vault, Kent State on bars, BYU on beam
Chiarelli - Mich - VT - Good power on her yfull, very nice height, fairly far on the bounce back, but a strong start.
Follett on beam for BYU takes one bend at the waist on her acro series but stays on. No other major wobble errors.
Artz - Mich - VT - Strong form in the air, not the distance of Chiarelli, but a good showing. Another with a fairly large hop back, though.
Sugiyama - Mich - VT - Excellent 1.5 in the air, great form and flight, one step forward but she controls it fairly well. One judge gave it a 9.900 and the other a 9.800. I'm closer to the 9.900 judge with that one myself, but 9.850 evens out appropriately.
It's a tri-meet, so the broadcast focus is almost entirely Michigan's routines, expect for half routines from some others before they cut away to show the scores.
Beilstein - Mich - VT - 1.5 - not the stick we saw in warmups, but a strong vault. Great form and distance, step forward similar to Sugiyama's.
Nice height on the tkatchev from Osmer of Kent State.
Sampson - Mich - VT - Another very strong yfull. She opens out of it much more than the early yfulls in the lineup, which sets her apart. A hop in place, but not a big one.
Sheppard - Mich - VT - Her vault is kind of ridiculous. Exceptional height and not a form issue in sight. She steps, so not the height of her potential, but there's little you could find to take other than the step. 9.975. One judge gave it a 10, which . . . you guys. We've got to have a conversation about giving 10s to vaults that aren't stuck. I fully support 9.950 for that, especially given the overall scoring landscape this season, but not 10.
Parker does exhibition for Michigan, but I don't see her in the lineup come the postseason. She has a few more issues than the others with the leg separation on the block and piking.
BYU just avoiding falls in most of these beam routines, the Vidmar girl almost coming off as well on her acro series. They need some solid hits from the back of the lineup.
Michigan gets a 49.425 on vault, which is a strong score considering they had no sticks out of 6 routines. Those landings will have to come into line to be competitive with the top teams, but the final four in that lineup Sugiyama, Beilstein, Sampson, and Sheppard were quite strong in the air, great power and clean form, so they are giving up little besides the landings and have the potential for scores competitive with nearly any team on this event.
Unfortunate news, Auburn just opened their meet in Kentucky with a barstastrophe of epic proportions. 47.625 after three falls. Yikes. Kentucky, however, got a 49.200 on vault, which is a season high.
BYU got the necessary hits from Raymond and Hatch at the back of the lineup to save the rotation score, but both BYU and Kent State are well behind Michigan after one rotation. A shame for Marie Case to have a 9.400 on bars to start. She's Kent State's star and has been scoring well in the AA this season. She's a contender to make Nationals as an individual depending on the depth of the Regional they get placed in.
We're getting ready for the second rotation in Michigan while the Nastia Cup gets underway with the little Retton on beam. She looks solid - nice form and confident work throughout - not that junior tentativeness. She's a little short on the double back dismount with a lunge, but a strong routine.You're welcome, LSU.
Brehanna Showers - future Sooner - also shows a strong bars routine with a Shushunova and a half in half out. Let's keep her in mind, because she show's strong difficulty and works with a powerful style.
Rotation 2 - Michigan bars, Kent State beam, BYU floor
Williams comes in on bars this week for Michigan since Sampson is resting and hits her routine to start.
Sugiyama - Mich - UB - She does very well with keeping the leg form intact throughout her routine. The gienger looks solid - small shuffle on the tuck full dismount.
Artz - Mich - UB - Nice height on the piked jaeger, all the handstands look strong, and another with a smallish shuffle on the dismount. Sticks are a problem so far through a rotation and a half, but I'm impressed by the overall quality.
Gies - Mich - UB - She works slower than the other members of Michigan's team, and that works when you have the line and precision that she does. It gives her bars routine a more refined and confident look in some ways. Tkatchev is strong, good hit overall. I saw one questionable handstand and the dismount had a very small movement/twitch, but excellent routine.
Sheppard - Mich - UB - She has gone to the regular tkatchev instead of the piked, which is a fine decision because the regular tkatchev is so big that she doesn't need the extra difficulty to be impressive. She holds onto the handstand on her transition to the low bar, and she does cowboy her double front dismount significantly, but she's also the first one to give us a real stick with no room for a question.
Beilstein - Mich - UB - Excellent height on the gienger. It's crazy big. Clean and powerful throughout, but then she tried really hard to hold onto the stick on her tuck full dismount and ended up taking a pretty large lunge forward. Good routine, but the dismount will keep the score from being too strong.
It's a 49.225 for Michigan on bars. They looked pretty good throughout the rotation, especially considering they were missing Sampson. Lots of clean work and no major errors, but they also need a few more sticks on those dismounts. They gave away a couple tenths in the rotation score just on those landings.
Auburn recovered a little bit on vault with a 49.150, but that is also low for this team's capability on the event. They got the big scores we expect from Atkinson and Rott but also had to overcome some lower showings. Kentucky retains a big lead at the halfway point.
Eastman for Kent State up on beam - she's having a few breaks and wobbles early but hits her walkover and is secure on a slightly wonky switch side and hits her front full dismount with a small step. It has been a catastrophe rotation for Kent State, so they needed that hit.
Over at the Nastia, they're fawning over Morgan Hurd, who is 2 years old and smaller than the Chinese elites. Great leg form and toe point, but of course the releases and transitions are challenging for her, as we would expect given her size.
Reagan Campbell, a Texas Dream, shows a fine Yfull. In NCAA, it would probably score in the 9.7s.
Kentucky is continuing to hit. I haven't seen them get these kinds of scores at home before, especially on beam, where Harrison (whose beam work I've always enjoyed - very confident) just got a 9.925.
Michigan is currently sitting at solid low 197 pace after two events, but beam will be telling as it always is.
Utah, Oklahoma, and LSU are all getting started now, so score watching is going to get interesting.
Rotation 3 - Michigan on beam, Kent State on floor BYU on vault
Artz - BB - Nice straddle 3/4 to open, good form, wobbles on her walkover with a little leg raise, but her work is pretty. Hits her front toss to bhs. Small step on the front 1.5 dismount, but a good routine. One significant break, but this should start them well.
Chiarelli - BB - Good loso series - solid landing, hits her straddle half, wobble on the side aerial and the leg flies up to balance it, strong double back dismount with a medium hop back. A couple areas, but she works pretty confidently, which was an area of concern coming into the season. It's still work, but she works it out.
Gies - BB - Stops her series after her bhs and starts again, gets it this time with a small adjustment on landing. She has had a few more consistency issues this season than I was expecting, but she's working through this one well after a shaky false start at the beginning. Step to the side on 1.5 dismount.
Elsewhere, Oklahoma's vault scoring started a little slowly, but they get 9.925s from Capps and Scaman at the end of the lineup for a 49.400, which is right on track for them.
Sheppard - BB - very strong on the front tuck mount, love the power and difficulty she shows in this routine. A layout (two feet) series ends with a couple steps and a wobble to keep in on the beam. That and a step on dismount will probably keep the score down a bit, but they have begun with four acceptable hits in this rotation.
Vault watch for LSU - Dickson and Jordan both begin with 9.925s and we've barely started. Even Hall comes in for a 9.900 on vault.
Sampson - BB - Hits her opening loso series, full turn, break at the waist on her sheep jump landing but she pulls it back, hits side aerial, step on double full dismount. She gets through this routine, as it usually goes. It's a fight, but a hit, but like the others, she has one biggish error that will keep the score down.
Interestingly, Utah gets a 49.325 on vault, which is pretty low for them. Delaney leads the group with a 9.925, but it's just a 9.900 for Wilson and a 9.850 for Dabritz. They usually expect more, and should. With Wilson, it was another occasion of the judges being a tenth apart on her score, one giving a 9.950 and the other a 9.850. For Tutka, the spread was 9.750-9.900. Washington goes into the 47s on bars after a number of mistakes.
Casanova - BB - Great punch front to start, confident, smallest of adjustments to step back on the loso series and pulls her center of gravity back onto the beam on the switch side, but she sticks her gainer pike dismount, and that should score fairly well.
LSU - 49.575 on vault to set the pace for the day. Florida, this is your mission if you want that #1 ranking. Three 9.925s in that rotation and the low score was a 9.850 for Gnat. Again, with Courville getting a 9.900 and Gnat getting a 9.850, it looks like LSU is getting a massive score and still not performing up to their absolute best. Are we going to see some 49.7s this year? Judging by what we've seen so far, it's quite possible.
Michigan squeezes out a 49.000 on beam with Casanova's rotation-leading 9.850. Basically everyone had one significant error in her routine, and if they had avoided those, this would have been a rotation of 9.875s instead of 9.775s.
We've still got a little time before all attention switches to the affair of Alabama and Florida, but for now LSU is setting the standard. It looks like the Nastia Cup lost the battle for my blogging attention, which was to be expected. I have no background with these people yet. I'm sure I'll get to know them on youtube as their NCAA careers come around.
Introductions are currently underway for Florida and Alabama.
Oklahoma stuck in the low 9.8s so far on bars. No Kmieciak this week? It's an uncharacteristically tame-scoring bars rotation for the Sooners, especially at home, for a 49.125.
Brooke Parker doing floor for Michigan this week. She had a lunge out of her opening double arabian, but hits her double pike dismount comfortably. 9.900 is the score, so there's that. Beilstein follows her with an exceptional routine, stuck with an exclamation point on the dismount (oh, that was so Daggett of me, I apologize), so we'll see what they do with that. 9.950.
Michigan needed a pretty strong floor score to go into the 197s this week, and they're getting it. Artz with another strong hit, featuring a nailed pike full in mount. They went high for Parker early, so there's nowhere for the judges to go for everyone after, so it will be a big number if they can all come through and hit.
But sorry, Michigan, you're running too close to Florida and Alabama, so it's time for the big switch.
Oklahoma and Utah are scoring just sort of regularly at the halfway point, both on pace for something around a 197 with a chance to step that up on floor, of course. But LSU is setting the pace with two 49.5 rotations to start, looking for that elusive 198.
Rotation 1- Alabama on vault, Florida on bars
1. Clark - yfull - Excellent power and distance, clean form, just a small shuffle on the landing. Alabama is bringing it to start.
2. Bailey - yhalf - great form throughout - medium-sized lunge forward.
3. Pegg - yfull - Good vault - not quite the massiveness of someone like Clark, and a step back on landing, but strong.
4. Jacob - does the 1.5, which is a choice I'm fine with right now - she has a bit of crazy legs on her block and steps forward, but she completes the rotation well.
5. Beers - yfull - Stuck, excellent. Good form, nailed landing. What can you say?
6. Milliner - 1.5 - ooooh, it looked like she was going to have the stick on that one, but just does take a step back. Is it me, or has her leg form improved this year over the past couple? Just imaging things?
1. BDG - Confident first hs, clean shaposh, bail to stalder shoot combo is great, hitting all her hs, lands a little low on the DLO with a hop forward, but that DLO looks way better from side view than front on.
2. Hunter - Excellent Hindorff, looked a little short of vertical on her bail handstand - not quite as crisp as we usually expect from her - step back on the tuck full dismount.
3. B caquatto - Enormous Ray, hits bail well, one handstand at the end looked questionable, but the major thing was a stumble on her DLO dismount - she landed a little locked and the mat moved on her and she stumbled getting her footing on the moving mat.
4. Sloan - Another amazing Ray opening as always, secure bail handstand and a great stalder shoot - hangs onto the stick on the DLO with a slight bend, but a great showing overall. Should be 9.9s.
5. Macko - that's how you so a shaposh and bail combination - great leg form throughout the routine which sets her apart - not sure about that dismount landing - looked like she had the stick but then she look a major lunge back to salute - a harsh person could take, and I'm a harsh person in all things always. Also agreed to the commenter who pointed out the handstands - there was an issue or two.
6. Johnson - Final entrant in the Ray parade, looked like the legs came apart a little on the bail - and then her usual DLO, this time with a step forward.
That rotation went at a furious pace. They did all the routines for both teams in 9 minutes. I'm a little exhausted by that. Scores overall in this rotation look mostly appropriate to me, so I'm pleased. They didn't really go over the top for anybody, but still rewarded the best routines. I'm glad, because a showdown like this, between these two teams, is made better when the scoring isn't a frustration.
After 1: Alabama 49.425, Florida 49.425.
Alabama showed a strong vault rotation, great power as we would always expect. They got the stick from Beers, but will need a couple more of them to really score as they can, especially in the 2-4 positions, where the vaults aren't as amazing, either with lower difficulty or some form issues. Those vaults in particular need the landings to keep the scores up.
Florida had a few breaks here and there and a few missed sticks, and then a couple strange issues like Bridgey's dismount, but other than that it was a pretty good showing. A few handstand concerns in two or three of the routines (and then just the one true stick in the six routines) hurt what otherwise could have been a bigger score.
Rotation 2 - Alabama on bars, Florida on vault
1. Bailey - Nice high straddled jaeger and a clean routine throughout as she usually shows. No major mistakes, solid 9.8ish leadoff.
2. Sims - She has a few areas of leg form, like in the bail handstand and the DLO dismount, which will bring the score down. Step back on the DLO.
3. Milliner - Good opening hs, but she was CRAZY far away from the bar on her jaeger. She was basically in Mississippi on that thing. Splats.Everything else was clean, though, but now there's a little hit pressure.
4. Jacob - Strong Ray as walways, but I'm still not convinced by a couple of these handstands, and the one before the dismount was well short of vertical. Sticks the DLO, which always helps. 9.925 is too high for those handstands.
5. Jetter - Good Ray and clean bail handstand, small hop on the double front dismount, but it's the solid routine she has been showing for most of the year.
6. Clark - It's a Ray parade at this meet, the bail was borderline in the vertical department, and like Jacob she missed her handstand before the dismount fairly significantly, smallish hop back on the DLO dismount.
1. Spicer - yfull - pretty good in the air - improving - but a bounce back out of it.
2. B Caquatto - yfull - That's more of the landing we have been looking for from her, very little movement - not the bounce she has been giving away.
3. M Caquatto - yfull - she landed that kind of like she did on bars - almost a stick and then a huge lean/lunge back. Opens well out of it, though, and it's a very strong vault if she could stick it for real.
4. Johnson - yfull - Another clean vault - didn't open the way Macko did on this one - but strong form and just a small movement of one foot on the landing.
5. Sloan - yfull - Bam! Nailed it. No question on that stick. Exceptional job. I would say that was stronger than Beers' stick that got a 9.925, so let's see what the judges do. 9.950.
6. Hunter - the speed of this meet made me miss Kytra! How dare they? The score is a 9.825, so it appears I didn't miss one of her good ones, which I could have told you from her face afterward.
It's a 49.425 parade! Four rotations across two teams, and every score has been a 49.425. At the halfway point, we are still tied, 98.850-98.850.
For Florida, I was pleased by all the vaults that I saw. They could have gone higher if Kytra had hit as we expect her to, but Sloan had an excellent vault, and Bridgey also stood out for better control on her landing. Macko needs to hold onto those sticks a little longer because these fake salute/lunges are hurting her scores.
Alabama was fine on bars, but the scores got a little fancy at the end of that rotation and did not adequately evaluate the quality of those handstands. Alabama's camera angle is not remotely forgiving to any kind of miss, so it's readily apparent who is hitting and who isn't as far as handstands.
This is going to be exciting.
Rotation 3 - Alabama on beam, Florida on floor
1. Milliner -She works very well as the leadoff for this time. Walkover and loso series are both hit, and even on the full turn, which looked like it could have been a problem, she holds onto it to avoid giving away any kind of a wobble. Stick on the double full. Great start.
2. Jetter - Hits loso series and is secure (if maybe a little low) on the punch front. She's another who has to hold onto her full turn but she also does without a wobble. She looks so much happier on this event when she's not doing a popa or an arabian. 1.5 dismount with a hop forward.
3. Bailey - Good L turn. Nice. Clean loso series confidently landed. She keeps her legs straight throughout all these skills. Side aerial to side position and tuck full jump are well done, and then just one step on the double full dismount. Alabama is ON on beam so far.
4. A Sims - This is her event. Just a small adjustment on her loso series, but she nails the positions on all her dance elements. A couple tiny corrections of balance here and there, but a strong routine, and just a tiny step back on a very high double back dismount.
5. Clark - Hits her opening dance and the loso without issue. Sheep jump and full turn are good. Secure front toss. Sticks 1.5 dismount.
6. Jacob - Looked like she rushed her straddle jump a little but got it around without a wobble, but then she is completely off line on her two layouts series, and by the time she got to the second one, she couldn't keep it on the beam. Very surprising. Hangs onto the stick on the 1.5, but Alabama will drop this, which they comfortably can.
1. Boyce - Solid and acceptable opening routine, does well to maintain just enough control on both her front double full and her front pike out of the middle pass to avoid moving that second foot and appearing as though she lacks control.
2. M Caquatto - So Macko is in on floor today and Dabritz is off beam for Utah - I was all off on my AAers earlier in the week with those two. Ack, she bounds out of her mount like she was warming up - many, many steps. Maybe she won't be in this lineup for long. Final two passes are fine, but they'll need to drop this.
3. Johnson - Her double arabian is certainly cowboyed like crazy, but that is common for NCAA. Fine landing. Could have used a little more control on the 1.5 to layout middle pass maybe, but acceptable. She didn't have any real problems in this routine - just nitpicking. Strong double pike to end.
4. Sloan - They need the big Sloan and Kytra showings to have a shot at winning this meet the way Alabama is going on beam. The usual stick on the front double full mount. A little shorter on the landing of her double pike than we have been seeing, so this won't be her best score, but the dismount is excellent.
5. Hunter - Her DLO is Kytra's DLO, which is now an adjective. Everything looks identical to the routines that we've been seeing from her for 9.950/10 at home until she bounces out of her open double back. It's just these little things, her final pass, Sloan's middle pass, that will keep them a step below Alabama if the Tide hits in these last few floor positions.
6. B Caquatto - they just need an OK performance from Bridgey to take the lead for the moment. She's rather bouncy at times in this routine, especially on the middle pass, but she had a pretty good one going until she too lands a bit short on her double pike dismount to hurt the score a touch.
We still have a tie. Both teams go 49.400 in that rotation to break the streak slightly.
After 3: Alabama 148.250, Florida 148.250.
LSU has gone over 198 at home in a final score, becoming the third team this season to join the 198 club, so Florida now must score something around 49.400 on beam in this rotation to take the #1 ranking. I'll have to check the calculations when this is all over.
Much like we've said about teams that visit Florida this year, they need a lead going into the final rotation, and today, I think Florida probably needed a lead after three events to win this thing, given what we can expect from Alabama on floor. They could have done so, but just had a couple small issues in every routine at the end of that lineup, that may have ended up costing them a couple tenths. Alabama had a strong beam rotation and didn't give away anything major (that counted) which puts them in a very solid position going to floor, where the scores often go higher.
Rotation 4 - Alabama on floor, Florida on beam
1. A Sims - Ha, if you looked up Alabama floor routines in the dictionary, this is the routine you would see. This music. Good hit, controlled tumbling, just perhaps a little short on the closing double back, but edge to Alabama so far.
2. Bailey -Ack! Very short on her double arabian and sits it down. It looked like Alabama was going to cruise after the early Florida beam mistake, but now it's back to even, each team trying to get rid of a fall. Strong rudi to finish.
3. Beers - She opens with a comfortable double back that's a little easy for her power level, looked like she was going to be a little short on her front layout to front full but wasn't, jsut landed it a little squatty. Confident double pike to end. Good routine.
4. Jetter - We're completely even going to the final three routines for each team. Crucial showing for Jetter, but she lands her double arabian pretty short. No fall, but a large step backward to save it, so that will hurt her score. Anything they may have just gained after Kytra's wobble they gave back on that landing. OK 1.5 to layout landing, maybe a little lacking in control.
5. Jacob - Great mount as always,and a secure double pike to follow it. They had been going routine for routine through four, but Jacob takes the edge in the fifth slot. Excellent 1.5 to full dismount.
6. Milliner - Sticks her double arabian, no question no problem. Great mount. Solid front layout to front full as well. Small shuffle on the double pike dismount, but that confirms that Alabama will keep the winning streak going.
1. Spicer - Comes off on her opening loso series. OK, this is the test now for Florida. They haven't been in a losing position yet this year. Hits the rest of the routine well, as so often happens, but here we go.
2. Johnson - Strong walkover to bhs, looked like she had her switch half but took a bend at the waist adjusting out of it. Finishes well with her side aerial + full dismount, but they could have done without that pretty major break.
3. Boyce - Clean walkover to bhs opening, hits her loso series as well. Good switch to split combination - hits her 180s. Roundoff to a stuck gainer full. They needed that hit. I didn't necessarily expect her to have an impact on this event, but she is a strong third up, and she's becoming cleaner.
4. Hunter - Oh, Kytra! Pretty big wobble on the front tuck mount. Good loso series this time, though. I hope they don't get rid of her front tuck mount because I love to see it, but it has been causing trouble all season. They can't afford trouble in a meet this close. Step back on double tuck dismount.
5. Sloan - If they could ever use one of those Bridget Sloan routines. This is the situation where she earns that "Next Kupets" title, but just as I say that, she stumbles on her series, big wobble, grabs the beam. Not yet. Oh, Bridget. Sorry, for jinxing you. The rest is brilliant, but Rhonda has quite the pose going on over the end of the beam after that mistake. Man, Rhonda. That body language was positively Val-like.
6. M Caquatto - Excellent loso series. Hits her aerial to swingdown cleanly as well. Hits full turn, and leaps are strong. Good gainer full. Great routine. Ooof, they came within one routine here.
Come on! I don't have the emotional stability for a meet that exciting!
It looked like Florida gave it away in that first beam routine, but then Alabama came right back to them. They were routine for routine throughout the roation, but it just came down to those final two routines for each team. That was all. Two routines to decide the winner. Alabama went 9.950/9.950 and Florida went 9.700/9.925. That was the entire margin of the meet, and that's why it pays to finish on floor. Sloan will be kicking herself about that routine for a while.
Final Score: Alabama 197.675, Florida 197.400
So another undefeated team bites the dust.
Rounding up some of the other significant finals:
LSU 198.050 - Missouri 194.875 - (even with a Courville beam mistake! Massive scores throughout.)
Utah 197.125 - Washington 193.475 - (Big score on floor, but the other events tepid, especially beam again. This is what happens when you take Dabritz out of the beam lineup.)
Oklahoma 197.250 - Illinois 195.850
Kentucky 196.250 - Auburn 194.825 (Ouch. Several mistake rotations there for Auburn.)
Michigan 197.200 - BYU 195.325 - Kent State 194.275
Penn State also managed a 196.600, and Denver a 195.675 to just edge Michigan State.