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.
UCLA's meet is available on streaming here beginning at 9:00 ET/6:00 PT. I'm going to try to do double-duty blogging when the meets are overlapping, and it's going to be a disaster. Hooray! Good practice for Regionals.
Starting with Utah, we don't know yet whether Breanna Hughes or Georgia Dabritz will be in the beam lineup for Utah tonight, which could be an interesting choice. It'll be telling to see where they go with that.
Coverage is starting, and we've already learned that the beam is four inches wide. Coverage B Team today: Brian Webber and Carly Patterson are doing the commentary, and the focus is, as expected, on Utah's beam issues. It's certainly the rotation of the day.
Rotation 1 Utah on vault, OSU on bars:
1. Tutka - yfull - one of her best landings of the year, good stick. She was a question mark this week, but maybe she should be a question mark more often. 9.900
2. Lofgren - yfull - Another who sticks. They're bringing the landings this week. She has a bit more piking in the air and not the height of the others, but a secure finish. 9.900.
3. Damianova - yfull - doesn't have the landing of the first two, bounces back and then takes another step afterward, but her leg form is the strongest of the three - together on the block and less body piking in the air. 9.800
4. Delaney - yfull - Her usual great vault, but didn't get the stick this time - a small hop in place. But good height, body shape, and chest up on landing. 9.950. Same score she has been getting for sticks.
5. Wilson - yfull - Her height is crazy as always - there's only so many times you can say it. Also has a small hop in place. Delaney's is a bit stronger in the air form in my view, but the landings were basically equivalent, so we'll see what they do. 9.950. The final score is fine, whatever. But one of the judges gave her a 10, which is not acceptable. She clearly didn't stick that.
6. Dabritz - Yfull - doesn't do the 1.5 this week. She does stick it, but she lands pretty squatty and low, so they'll take for that. Maybe not accustomed to bringing it back in to just do the full right now. 9.925. That's high for that vault because of the landing. Doesn't adequately separate it.
1. Gardiner - Clean legs on the bail handstand, a bit of a dead hand on her shoot to high bar, strong full turn and a stuck double back. Not a ton of content there, but fairly well executed. 9.775.
2. Keeker - Clean piked jaeger, she has a couple leg separations here - on a turn and on the bail as well - but sticks her DLO. Lots of sticks to start this meet. 9.800.
3. Tang - Her full turn looked a little past vertical and a leg break on the bail handstands as well - otherwise strong - hop back on tuck full dismount. 9.800.
4. Harris - Clean shaposh, but arches on her bail so much that she was never going to be able to save it and comes off the bars. No chance there. Finishes up by sticking her dismount, as most of them are doing. 9.075.
5. Aufiero - Great first handstand, very precise in the legs, great tkatchev, misses her handstand after the release, but everything else is strong. Amazing DLO height, just does hang onto the stick. I'd give it to her. 9.875.
6. Casey - Works very quickly, and sometimes looks a little rushed, great gienger and clean handstands, hop back on the DLO. 9.900.
After 1: Utah 49.625, Oregon State 49.150.
Utah vaulted very well, as we have been seeing every week. It was important for them to see those first few get sticks because they don't have the same exceptional quality of the later lineup gymnasts. But sticking helps them push the scores up. Of course, I would still like to see more accurate and appropriate separation, but the story will be the absolutely ridiculous judge who gave Wilson a 10 for a non-stuck vault. We've seen this story before, and it's frustrating.
Oregon State did well enough on bars. They were able to drop the fall, and Aufiero and Casey finished with fairly precise routines, strong line and handstands and largely well-performed skills. A few form breaks early in the rotation, and everyone had at least one or two little problems with precision to bring the scores down.
In the commentary department, Carly is doing a fine job. She's a little meek and quiet, but she's pointing out deductions appropriately and providing helpful analysis of the routines.
Rotation 2 - Utah on bars, Oregon State on vault
1. Hughes - Good opening handstand, catches her tkatchev, clean legs through the bail hs, small hop back on the tuck full, but a strong first routine. 9.850.
2. Wilson - Small leg break on the full turn, but a big gienger to overshoot combination - not too bad on the form this time, hop back on the tuck full. 9.850.
3. Hughes - First handstand was borderline, but the jaeger was good, hits her pak and works it out on the low bar this week. Bends to hang onto her stick for the tuck full. Strong showing, a few areas, but good. 9.825.
4. Lothrop - Good jaeger, clean showing so far, good bail handstand, short last handstand before her dismount and a fairly large hop back on the DLO. She was going great for a while there, but gave away too much right at the end. 9.850.
5. Damianova - Good opening handstand, she breaks her legs on the shaposh each time, but everything else looks good. Most precise handstands of the group and a clean, well-executed stalder. Sticks her double back dismount. They needed that kind of stick. 9.925.
6. Dabritz - So clean, jaeger is easy for her and bail is ideal. No question on the handstands. Sort of stuck her tuck full - shuffled her leg a little bit it was minor. 9.950.
1. Tang - yfull - not a huge amount of height, hops back fairly far on landing. Fine start. 9.825.
2. Aufiero - yfull - similar to Tang in that the block is fine but not that big, pretty secure landing, just a hop in place. 9.875.
3. Keeker - Yhalf - pretty good form, breaks her legs a little to land, and a hop forward. 9.875. Oregon State getting the same scoring benefit as Utah did, so that's at least good to see.
4. Blalock - Yfull - She gets great distance, but does not have much height, has to pike to complete the vault and bend forward to save the stick. 9.825.
5. Harris -yfull - She also came in high on the horse and didn't get a lot of power, but she does well to get it around - though she does have to break in form - both pike and bend the knees - to finish the vault. So, not her best. 9.875. WHAT?
6. Witherby - Tsuk full - another who has to pike a little to get it around - hops back a bit. 9.800.
After 2: Utah 99.050, Oregon State 98.425.
Utah gets another good score on bars. The first four all had at least an error or two in their routines to bring the scores down, but the final two were quite strong. They need to get a few more landings in those early routines to really get the scores. Dabritz is the clear class of the field on bars.
We can conclude that vault scoring is just funky tonight. First Wilson gets a 10 for not sticking, then Harris gets a 9.875 - tied for the highest of the rotation - after legitimately struggling on her vault and breaking form and landing low. The vault score is fine, but that event is still a bit of a struggle for Oregon State. They're not getting big blocks and aren't able to maintain their form throughout. They fought for a couple sticks, but they had to fight. The landings don't look comfortable or easy yet.
Is that Becky Tutka with a pillow taped to her back? The height of medical treatment.
Rotation 3 - Utah on beam, OSU on floor:
1. Rowe - Here we go. Moment of truth. Good creative mount, wobbles slightly just getting up onto the beam, but it was tiny. Waves the arms on her straddle 1/4 to not wobbles. Step back and adjustment on her loso. Good switch side, and front toss. Improving and getting less tight as the routine goes on. Lands a little low on the 1.5 with a step back. Definitely tight with some issues, but she got through it. 9.775.
2. Dabritz - She's still in the lineup. It's a good decision even if it doesn't work out. Pretty full turn. Hits her back tuck to swingdown. Switch half is fine, small check on side aerial. She's working quicker this week, which may help her. A little quick through those leaps but fine. Sticks her double full dismount. There it is, Georgia. Good for her. 9.875.
3. Wilson - Secure two layouts series, that switch split just kills me each time, but everything else is OK so far. Wobbles on her full turn, and saves from a small check on the straddle jump. Small hop on 1.5 dismount. 9.875.
4. Lofgren - Side somi is fine - slides her foot a little, no problems on the walkover to bhs this week, solid stag jump, sticks her roundoff to (piked) gainer full. 9.925. OK, calm down judges.
5. Delaney - Wobble on the opening loso series and the leg comes up, great straddle jump but a fairly big bend on her tuck full jump landing, smallest check on the standing loso, sticks gainer full. Well, they're not counting a fall this week. 9.725.
6. Lothrop - Steps a little to avoid giving away a wobbles on her opening leap, clean loso series. Just a few steps out of her skills here and there, but doing a fine job. She's hitting. Pretty big bound forward on her 1.5 dismount.9.650. Did she not get her full difficulty? It seems like she must not have.
1. Witherby - Secure landing on the full in mount, definitely some knee-chest but secure. 1.5 to layout is clean. Again with the bend over landing on the double pike, but she didn't give anything away on control. 9.825.
2. Turner - Bounds forward a little on her double arabian landing but does stay in bounds, another one with a clean 1.5 to layout middle pass. The classic switch side to popa combo dance element combo, and hers is fine. Hits double pike. 9.825
3. Tang - Punch rudi mount with a little bounce, good switch ring, just got her double pike together - low landing and drifts backward - but it could have been worse, finishes 1.5 to layout. These are fine but not big floor routines. 9.825.
4. Blalock - Big double back to open, overdoes it a little and steps back - also overdoes her 2.5 middle pass and bounds out of it and continues running right off the floor and out of sight. Just couldn't control it, so they'll need to drop this. Pretty 1.5 to loso though. Ha. Carly wants her to do a punch layout out of her 2.5. 9.175.
5. Gardiner - Opens with a triple full - a little bounce but love to see it and well executed overall. She just moves comfortably through all her gymnastics and choreography, and it's engaging because of that. Finishes with a double pike, a bit low but well done overall. 9.850.
6. Harris - Strong 2.5 to start, controlled landing and good form in the air. Secure double pike and high. First split jump was short of 180. Full to front pike to finish. Best routine of this rotation but quite a way. Or not. 9.825. OK.
After 3: Utah 148.225, Oregon State 147.575
The important development is that Utah hit beam. They didn't come very close to having a fall and dealt with the event well. There is still work to be done. It was a tight rotation with some wobbles and breaks here and there, so it was good but still needs to get better to be competitive.
Over in the UCLA and Stanford, both teams had a little it of an issue to start, with Pinches getting very bouncey on her vault landing and Morgan falling on bars, but they appear to be getting it back together as we go through.
Rotation 4 - Utah on floor, Oregon State on beam, plus UCLA on vault and Stanford on bars
Bynum - VT - UCLA - lands a little short on her yhalf this time with a bounce back, not the strength we saw last week. 9.875 is high.
D McNair - UB - Stanford - Solid handstands, clean straddled jarger and an efficient overshoot, step back on DLO. Good routine. They're already counting a 9.750, so they need it.
Peszek - VT - UCLA - She's back, and they need it. Pretty good yfull - strong form - not all the way back there yet with a hop on landing, but very good. Should be 9.9ish still because there was little else of issue there. 9.925.
Shapiro - UB - Stanford - lovely toe point as usual, great high jaeger and a hit pak salto, a little low on that DLO dismount with a bound forward. They're almost there but just missing that final touch on these routines.
Courtney - VT - UCLA - big high yfull with the usual strong form - does bounce back, so not the great landings we saw at the very beginning of the year, but that's really the only thing to take. 9.925.
Vaculik - UB - Stanford - Clear hip shoot. Amazing gienger, Hitting her handstands, maybe a leg separation on the bail handstand, good routine until the DLO. Another with a large bounce back. This was a weaker bars rotation by a margin than we saw last week, too many people giving away full tenths on their dismounts. They can't afford that. 9.825.
Witherby - BB - Oregon State - Checks after her walkover and breaks the connection to the bhs, otherwise looks contained and solid. Double pike dismount is well done with a hop back. 9.775.
Alex Archer comes off the bars almost immediately doing exhibition for Stanford. UCLA gets a 49.400 on vault, which they desperately needed. It's amazing what a little Peszek and a little home scoring will do for you. Stanford goes 49.000.
Del Priore on floor did her mount behind the rest of her team on camera, so it was tough to tell about the landing, but she landed her double back dismount very low and lunged forward, almost had to put her hands down on it. 9.825. is charitable.
Blalock - BB - Oh, Kelsi. She really struggles here. Front toss is off line and she comes off the beam. Comes off again on her loso series. Ouchie, ouchie. Brilliant gainer full to finish, so there's something, but that's a sad one. 8.625.
Delaney - FX - Strong tuck full mount and secure, front layout front full middle pass - she slides that back foot forward on landing - Good straddle elements - and a stick on the double back. Well done. 9.875.
Harris - BB - Oregon State - nice front toss, does check on the bhs after it - nice split jumps and a three series into a stuck gainer full. A few minor things, but a necessary hit and comfortable routine.
Chuang - VT - Stanford - Comfortable yfull - a little leg form and a near-stick on landing. Good job.
Wilson - FX - Utah - Strong and high DLO to start with a little slide back, and an overall solid routine, except she lacked a little control on some of those passes. Bouncing a little too much and not nailing them. 9.825.
Sawa - UB - UCLA - Great tkatchev to start, leg separation on the pak, and a big lunge backward on the double pike dismount. Saved on the low bar by swinging around to save it.
Mossett - UB - UCLA - Had one of her better routines going but way missed a handstand and then had to take an extra swing on the low bar afterward. Not a great start for UCLA here. Some people aren't going to be getting stickers.
Oregon State has a fairly big wobble from Ohlrich early in her beam routine, but she stays on.
Tutka - FX - Good tuck full to start, followed by a clean rudi to a strong split jump, this is the strongest of the rotation so far, confident double tuck to finish. I don't believe that this girl is injured. 9.875.
Danusia returns to UCLA's bars lineup and gets them back on track a little bit, and Taylor Rice lands a secure yfull.
Gardiner - BB - Oregon State - opens with an early wobble and had another on her walkover. She's hitting these skills and then just wobbling as she begins to move afterward, but she becomes more secure as the routine goes along. Step to the side on double full. They're already counting a 9.6, so they'll take this, which was much better.
Dabritz - FX - Utah - Just that little, little hop forward on her pike full in again this week. Rudi to loso is great, and just the smallest slide on the triple full dismount. Not the complete stick fest we have seen a couple times this year, but still a good routine. 9.875.
UCLA is having a big struggle on bars coming off a pretty good vault score. Even Peszek didn't have a great routine by her standards with an arched handstand and not sticking her dismount. Stanford put together some vaults with very good form at the end of that rotation, and only some small movement on landing to get themselves a 49.350. They'll have the lead at the midway point.
Damianova will finish the meet for Utah on floor, going right after Tang nailed a beam routine for OSU to help saves the rotation a bit. Strong double back for Damianova. It will be a big final score for Utah at this meet after four hit rotations.
Final Score: Utah 197.575, Oregon State 196.450.
Utah pulled it together this week for another strong score. The judging is the judging, but wasn't too untoward after the crazy 10 from one judge to Wilson. Just a few overscores here and there. They put a full meet together with solid hits. Oregon State had a pretty acceptable score going until giving too much ground away on beam with a minor wobble fest. The 196.450 is fine, but as I mentioned, nothing that will separate them from that dangerous 11-15 pack in the rankings.
Switching over to the affairs of UCLA and Stanford, the Bruins had a chance to get toward that elusive 197 after starting with a couple of strong vaults and a solid score, but they gave it back with a sloppy bars rotation, and now Stanford holds a slight lead. It's still up to be won by either team, but lowish bars scores results have dashed the dreams of a big score.
Rotation 3 - UCLA on beam, Stanford on floor
1. Mossett - UCLA needs a recovery here, and Mossett appears to start well with one of her more confident beam routines of the year with less of the wobbling and tentativeness. Well done for her. 9.875.
2. DeJesus - Clean walkover, and well connected into the loso series. Good leaps, and front toss is right on. Sticks front full dismount. Whatever Val said to them at halfway, they are bringing it so far on beam. 9.900.
3. Courtney - Wobble on the front toss but probably pulls off the connection to bhs. Good splits. Almost, almost sticks her double back but just has to bend and step, landed too low to hold onto the stick. A few areas there, but she looks much improved on this event the last couple times we've seen her here compared to that terrified girl we used to see here. 9.875.
4. Peszek - Lovely aerial to back tuck - perfectly on, splits look good, and she sticks her layout stepout layout full dismount. We expect no errors from her every week, and that's just what we get. 9.950.
5. Francis - Excellent easy flexibility on her mount, does her walkover to bhs - maybe a small pause in the connection but really nothing. Splits are supreme, and she makes that Y spin look like it's not terrifying. Here we come to the dismount - just the transverse side aerial this time - she'll simply throw in a layout stepout to layout full dismount off the end instead. Not great, but more than respectable for an improvised dismount. Large hop back. Oh, Danusia. Welcome back. We needed you in our lives. 9.925. She got some Danusia bonus there, for sure, but I can't stay that mad at it.
6. Sawa - Switch split was a little short but secure in her opening dance elements, hits loso series. Way short on her side aerial and comes off. They don't need this routine by any means, so it's not a big deal, but she had such a good one last week, and this is back to what we've seen mostly in the past. 9.350
1. Morgan - strong double back, a bit of lack of control coming out of her layout middle pass. I'm not sure if she sells the "staring as choreography" thing still, but I appreciate the attempt. I'm not mad about it. It's weird and mostly in a good way. Hits double pike dismount. 9.825.
2. Chuang - Secure double pike, could be landed higher, opening split leap was well short of 180, very low on her front full middle pass and lunges forward several miles - perhaps OOB. Finishes strong, but they'll want to drop this. 9.200.
3. Daum - A buffering affair for me, but it looked like she hit it well in that 9.850ish way we've seen from her. Strong double back to finish, high and securely landed. 9.875.
4. Hanset - Good 2.5 to punch front to open, nice high double pike with a small slide back - dance elements look fine (one straddle was a little angled) - and a comfortable front full to pike to finish. Solid. 9.875.
5. Rice - Opens with a good double pike and the routines is clean and confident until the double back dismount, where she just comes in way low and stumbles on it. Had a good one going. 9.725
6. Vaculik - Needs a good one here to drop Rice's score, and she's certainly capable. Excellent double tuck mount, and 1.5 to layout to stag is clean. No trouble on those dance elements. She's working exceptionally well. Kristina! Stumbles several paces back out of her double pike dismount and goes OOB. You had it! 9.675.
The Pinch is doing an exhibition on beam. Good full turn, wobble on dance, and off line on her bhs layout series and comes off the beam. In the words of Christine Still, "Oh, JENNI!"
After 3: UCLA 147.800, Stanford 147.325
Well, through the first five routines, that was the UCLA beam rotation we've been waiting for all season. They've been painfully capable of it, but we finally, finally saw people like DeJesus and Mossett come up with wobble-free, confident performances. If not for the bars issues, UCLA would be in line for a massive score. There's still a lot to be pleased about in terms of improvements on what have been weak events so far, but as Miss Val mentioned in that gymnastike interview, at this point in the season to still have the highs and then the lows is a problem.
Just a few key mistakes destroyed Stanford's chances on floor. With Chuang, I'm not sure if she ended up putting something down on her struggle pass to get that 9.200 or exactly what happened, but it had significant errors nonetheless. They would have gotten away with it, but both Rice and Vaculik gave away potentially big scores by botching their dismounts. They can't afford that. A good beam rotation can still get them into the high 196s, but this could have been better. UCLA's beam rotation put them back on track for that elusive 197, and they just need a competent floor rotation to get there.
Who on earth has been commissioned to be UCLA's in-stadium commentator who is screaming at us and ordering us to dance? Unwelcome. Mandatory enthusiasm may be my largest pet peeve of all.
Rotation 4 - UCLA on floor, Stanford on beam
1. Mossett - Opens with a y spin and great display of flexibility, but she bounces completely out of her double back and goes OOB. Maybe that's why she was held out last week in that sixth position. Layouts middle pass. They're going to be working against a need-to-drop now for five routines. 9.625.
2. DeJesus - Good double pike to open, maybe a little slidey but I couldn't tell, strong stick on the double back middle pass. I preferred last year's routine choreographically, but she dances well enough that she's always engaging to watch. Good layout to finish. Nice showing for her. She's pulling it together on this event after some low scores early in the year. 9.950.
3. Bynum - good DLO mount - best it has been in a couple weeks. Bounces back out of her front tuck through to double back but she stays in bounds. The tumbling is the highlight of the routine. Another bounce back out of the double tuck dismount. They'll take the score, though. 9.900. OK, so we're fine with the bounces.
4. Courtney - Another week of bouncing pretty far forward out of her double arabian and just staying in bounds (?). 1.5 to half middle pass is fine, but I miss the loso. Not a strong routine for her, though, she comes in stiff on her double pike and stumbles. Rough one. 9.625.
5. Sawa -Very strong double back, a little slide out of the double pike this time. They need a big score from her to overcome these mistakes and since they didn't get a big score from the other go-to in Courtney. They will get that big score. A confident showing. 10? OK, so that happened. I want to see that middle pass again, then, because I think she's been better for lower scores this year. First and final passes were exceptional, though. It's the season of the 10.
6. Pinches - Just needs a 9.725 to give the team its first 197 of the season. Strong 1.5 to double full mount, securely landed. Oh, Jenni again! Bounces back on her double pike middle pass and stumbles and goes OOB. Short on her dismount to her knees (or maybe just close to her knees). They just can't get that 197. 9.500.
1. Morgan - pretty walkover, love her on this event, wobbles on her loso series and leg goes up, and another very small adjustment on the side aerial, but she has great difficulty in this routine performed confidently and elegantly. Just the one real error on the series. Small hop on double full dismount. 9.825.
2. Wing - bhs 1/1 and does well to pull it back onto the beam and hit it because it looked like she was going to be off line. Small adjustment after the stag jump, a little short on her front aerial and holds onto it with a leg adjustment, sticks gainer full. 9.800.
3. N McNair -strong opening loso series, and I'm still impressed how high she gets on her straddle 1/4, side somi is securely on the beam, and side aerial is comfortable. Good switch to back tuck - lots of content in this routine as well. Hops back on double full dismount, but good routine. 9.850.
4. Rice - Fairly good sheep jump and no wobble on it, pretty full turn, hits front toss. Woah, looked like she was fine on her loso series but goes to set her second foot down and it's off the beam, so she stumbles back - doesn't come off but falls back onto the beam. 9.300.
5. Vaculik - Excellent rulfova, maybe the smallest adjustment on her loso series but well performed, along with the rest of the routine, good dance elements throughout, and only a very small twitch of the foot on the double full dismount. 9.600. Must have missed something there because it looked good to me. The feed did jump in the middle, so I assume that's when it happened. Shame.
6. Spinner - Good loso series, she really hits those positions on her straddle jumps and the switch as well. Solid loso. One step back on the double full dismount. They needed that routine. 9.850.
Final: UCLA 196.900, Stanford 196.250
This is why UCLA is the most frustrating team to watch in NCAA this year (and always). They have the amazing potential and the great individual moments, and then it just falls apart somewhere, every time, way too often. The scoring was fanciful in several instances, and I'm sure we'll have some discussion about the Sawa 10. On the two events that have been the weakest for weeks, vault and beam, they finally pulled it together and showed their capability - for the most part - with a number of great routines, but then they have a messy bars rotation - which had been going well - and a completely up and down floor rotation, with half excellent performances and half poor performances. I really think we need to hear from Val again immediately after this showing. Get on it gymnastike. It must be infuriating because they're so close and yet so far.
Stanford didn't put up a weak meet, but they were clearly not the team we saw last weekend at home. The falls cropped up, and the insecure landings really cropped up. They gave away the whole deficit in this meet on landings. Lots of big bounces and big lunges that took away from the scores. They got just two 9.9s, both for strong vaults but vaults that weren't stuck. The potential is so much greater, but it's a bit of a step backward from last week. For UCLA, it's more like two steps forward, two steps back, one step upside down, and one step underground.