Here we are, old friends. You and me, on the last day. Well, the second-to-last day. But the big day. The conclusion of what everyone has been working toward all season. In a few hours, we'll have a team champion. The meet will begin at 6 CT.
I will use this opportunity for my annual banning of the phrase "wanted it more." They won because they wanted it more? Good thing none of the other teams wanted to win, then. Just once I would like a coach to credit victory to something honest like "we won because our gymnastics is better than that of the other teams." I'm not holding my breath.
Here's the rotation order for the day:
I'm done saying that I don't like starting on floor as a rotation order for Nebraska because, counter-intuitively, they seem to be doing just fine with it. Going to the last rotation last night, they had the hardest job - behind both Utah and UCLA and finishing on beam compared to vault and bars - but performed the best, while the others did the hoppity hoppity hop on their landings.
I don't think any of the teams should be all too pained by this order. I don't love it for LSU because I think it's really tough for teams to begin Super Six on an event where they need a big score, especially if it's a weaker event for them. LSU has to hit bars much better than they did yesterday to keep up, so they can't afford any of those telltale signs of big-meet tightness like short handstands. Last year in Super Six, LSU also started on bars, and their 49.200 was the low bars score and very much hurt their ability to contend.
I still think Florida enters as the favorite. There is just so much room for improvement on yesterday's gymnastics, and they did manage to tie Alabama for the top score. But then again, I didn't even mention Kim Jacob as one of the nominees for the AA title, so me . . .
If we follow yesterday's scores, the standings after the first rotation would be Florida 49.375, Nebraska 49.350, LSU 49.225, Georgia 49.200. All of those teams besides Nebraska should be looking for higher scores than that today. Nebraska would take that 49.350 again since that was a step up on previous meets already.
The stream is live. I repeat, the stream is live. It's telling us to stand by. Yeah, we're doing it. We've been doing it for hours . . . some of us.
The judges are switched around after the first day, so we'll see how that influences the scoring. I thought a couple events yesterday were clearly more forgiving than others, but it's unlikely to maintain today.
The feed is beginning. Good punctuality, ESPN. We're gymnastics
fans. If you are three seconds late for anything, we will cut your face
out. We're not some hippie soccer fans who stroll in with their
dreadlocks and pencils in their hair 23 minutes late. No, sir.
Georgia's leotards . . .
Phew. The sound of Kathy's voice is making me less nervous. Her grace and stability are a beacon in these trying times.
We're profiling the Milliner and Sloan falls from yesterday. "Oklahoma is clean and beautiful."
Wait, are we starting? I didn't even realize. It was so abrupt. Strong start for Dickson on bars - good landing on tuck full dismount. 9.900. Huge opening score.
Good, Bart told us it was a four-ring circus. I was waiting.
M Caquatto - UF - VT - Good dynamics, stuck landing. Great yfull. Big and pretty.
Reynolds - UGA - BB - Big wobble on her front tuck, bends and adjusts - and she comes off on the loso. You could tell she was so tight from the start. Here we go, Georgia.
Beautiful jaeger and bail from Jordan on bars, step back on the DLO. Solid. LSU is getting much higher bars scores than yesterday. It's what they need.
Johnson - UF - VT - Excellent power as well, solid yfull. She can Macko have stepped up these vaults significantly since mid-season.
Ranzy - LSU - UB - Just catches that tkatchev, a couple short handstands here and there, but a nice stick on her pike open pike.
Sloan - UF - VT - There's the stick. They've been stuck down in the 9.8s, so they needed that one. Meanwhile, Stephens for Nebraska is hitting floor.
Courville - UB - Lovely jaeger, hand to muscle up her cast after the shoot but got up to handstand well, fights for the stick on the landing. Solid routine but a couple places there - not quite as dynamic on her shoot.
Hunter - VT - They need one of her good ones, and this was. It has been a while since she nailed one, but that was very strong on the 1.5, just a tiny hop in place, but it could go 9.950 along with Sloan to bring up the rotation score. And it does.
Brown - BB - UGA - They need a big hit for her, they're already counting some lower scores. A couple small areas, but she's hitting so far. Bart just said Broussard went to the Olympics for Canada but corrected himself so it's OK. Small hop on 1.5 dismount. OK, they'll take it but they won't gain here.
Morrison - LSU - UB - Solid piked jaeger, not huge but secure, clean bail, really hits that last handstand, and a comfortable landing. Good performance. That should score better than yesterday.
Cheek - BB - OK Lindsey, let's get this done. Your gymnastics is too pretty for a fall. She'll go at the same time as Blanske on floor -
small slide on the tuck full - they need to get out of the 9.8s - good leaps, well completed - another small bounce on her rudi - just needs to hold it in a little bit more. Short on her double tuck with a lunge. Pressure on Wong now. 9.850 is an overscore for those passes.
Now Cheek - She has to get them into the 9.9s. Solid loso, amazing switch side, pretty side aerial, she looks slightly nervous but it's not manifesting in wobbles. Sticks gainer full.
Wong - FX - I missed her triple full because of Lindsey Cheek going. Too much good at one time. She's nailing it - and a stuck rudi to finish. Got to see the triple full on replay, and it was perfect, obvi. Could have gone higher than 9.900 IMO.
Earls - BB - Hits her three series well, strong switch and straddle 1/4, hits her side aerial to side position, lands a little squatty on her double back with a hop, but they got through the rotation. They'll be in a hole now, though.
Wyrick on replay - she is swinging with more freedom than yesterday, less tight. Kathy points out some foot form, accurately, also a step on dismount and a borderline handstand. Also Bridgey replay, that larger hop back that we saw early in the year.
After 1: Florida 49.450, LSU 49.400, Nebraska 49.225, Georgia 49.075
I'm hearing a lot of Grable floor music, and I approve. Just in spirit because we need it.
Most important rotation there for LSU. That's an enormous 49.400 for the team. Florida will take that 49.450, but they could have gone higher, so advantage LSU right now. Nebraska and Georgia needed bigger scores there. Georgia looked tiii-iiight in those routines we saw, even Cheek a little.
Oklahoma is joining the competition on bars now, and they need to take advantage of the same scoring that LSU got. Alabama also comes in on floor, and it will be interesting to see how their scores compare to yesterday. LSU to beam. If they can nail beam as well, they're in this thing.
Frost - Ala - FX - Solid DLO, (and Clark is also going on bars - oooh lands hunched over on her dismount with a big lunge). Short on her layout out of the full with a step back, solid dismount while Martin of Nebraska also has a fine vault - good power with a step back.
Hall - LSU - BB - Hits her switch side, she always looked petrified on beam, but she has improved her consistency and execution so much - check on her loso series. Double tuck with a hop back. Look at DD. LOL. Solid start.
Wong - VT - Glorious full - should score well. While Bailey goes on floor, but her double arabian got usurped by Wong's vault. Small step to the side on her side pass - a little lacking in control I would say - finishes with a rudi with a bounce. Just a couple landing errors so far for Alabama, but nothing major. 9.875 is too high for that.
Ewing - BB - LSU - Very strong layout to 2 feet, she is following two 9.825s, (also Scaman on bars - very strong bail - one borderline handstand - and a stuck-ish dismount?) Small hop to the side on the dismount for Ewing.
DeZiel - VT - Very strong stick on the yfull, good distance - only thing is that she lands with her legs apart, but it could score equivalently to Sloan's vault.
Brewer - UB - Great tkatchev - hits her bail very solidly - and an excellent stick on the DLO. That's why she's back in the lineup.
Gnat - BB - LSU - They're hitting so far - nice walkover, switch side to straddle 1/4 are both hit - big wobble on her switch side and the leg goes up - recovers to hit the loso - hop back on double full. It will be a bit lower score. Still gets a 9.800. Hmm.
Beers - FX - Hits her DLO with good strong, solid leaps - hitting her positions - OK middle pass - I'd like to see a little more control int he step forward, but it wasn't a problem. Big pause before her final pass - Nellie Kim would burn her for that - strong double back. Good passes overall.
Courville - BB -Nice L turn, arabian is exceptional this time - clean loso series as well, beautiful sheep. Kathy isn't happy with the back leg on her leap. Pick your battles, Kathy. We'll see so much worse. Has to lean way forward to keep the stick on the gainer pike, but that's the only thing.
Jacob - FX - Strong double pike as we come to this routine. Alabama already has two 9.950s in this rotation, so there's that. 1.5 to full finish is solid. She was a little energetic bouncy on that, but not necessarily enough for a deduction.
Kmieciak - UB - Great tkatchev, solid bail as well, very clean, nail her final handstand, and sticks her tuck full. Excellent routine.
Milliner - FX - Sticks her double arabian, excellent, has to pull around her layout on that middle pass a bit - it's usually higher and more solidly completed, which I'd like to see - small bounce in place on the double pike, but very strong routine."Just a little funky," Kathy says of her middle pass. 9.950 again, and that's too high. There were errors.
Jordan - BB - Pretty walkover, hits her loso series. Nice splits and no problem with the position or security, small correction to balance her center of gravity on the side somi. Sticks her dismount. Well done.
Blanske - VT - Good distance on the yfull, some piking and a step back. Kathy is stealing all my comments.
Spears - UB - Beautiful jaeger, nails her bail as well, very clean handstands, just the smallest hop in place on the double arabian dismount. Strong finish to that rotation for Oklahoma.
DeMeo - Very strong double arabian, good splits and controls her 1.5 to layout. I hate the music, but she nailed this routine. Almost sticks her 2.5. Just a small shudder on the landing. That routine clearly helped bump up the later scores. Really strong rotation for Alabama, but I saw more 9.900s to the judges' 9.950s.
After 2: LSU 98.725, Nebraska 98.500, Alabama 49.675, Oklahoma 49.500, Florida 49.450, Georgia 49.075
No one really did themselves a disservice in that rotation. Nebraska's scores are just coming in a little low to be in contention, but LSU hit a much-improved beam rotation with fewer wobbles to put them in a solid position going into their final two events. Oklahoma nailed bars for one of those 49.5s we've been talking about, and Alabama got that huge score on floor.
Mooring - BB - very pretty loso series, very secure leaps. Some small adjustments here and there but nothing major. Sticks her 1.5 dismount. They'll take that as a starting score.
Kaitlyn Clark just NAILED her yfull. Exceptional vault.
B Caquatto - UB - Excellent ray - will be one of many - strong handtands, hits her bail, finishes with a perfect hs - and sticks her DLO. Great, great routine.
DeMeo - VT -Looked like it was going to be great - excellent distance but a pretty big bounce back.
Broussard - FX - Great security on the DLO landing, but there's still the problem of piking the second salto. Kytra looks like she is nailing bars, and sticks her double back. That's one of Kytra's best bars routines of the year.
Jacob - Nice vault - she didn't need that yesterday to win the AA, but that was a strong and near-stuck landing on the 1.5. They can still knock her for height, but she's so tiny she pulls around her 1.5 nonetheless.
Brewer - BB - a little tight on her straddle half and misses her 180, finishes with a solid double back with a step back, but a couple areas to take more than her teammates.
Beers on vault opens very well and sticks her yfull. Another great stick. Alabama, you guys.
Sloan - UB - Another great Ray, no question on these handstands - better bail than yesterday, and a stuck DLO. I'd give her that stick, but it was borderline to the salute. Maybe not.
Milliner hits her 1.5 this time, but a medium step forward, so more room to take than on some of these sticks. They're sticking much better than last year. I kind of think this vault rotation is better than the floor rotation, but she score won't match it.
Lovan - BB - Clean loso series, small hesitation on the walkover before connecting it to the split jump. Layout stepout to a stuck layout full. Clean, solid, hit, Oklahoma.
Johnson - UB - Another great Ray, but with better toes - hits her bail - I struggle with her DLO because it's less clean than her other work, but just a small hop back on the landing.
Capps - BB - Kathy loves her. Of course she does, she's a human being. Hits her loso series to sissone. We're also seeing Earls on floor, but UGA is falling out of this quickly. Capps is fine on her walkover, a little short but pulls it around with no wobble. Clean leaps and a stuck gainer full. Oklahoma it HITTING so far.
Earls finishes with a solid double back, but it's a day of 9.8s so far, and the leaders won't have that.
M Caquatto - UB - Very nice shaposh with her legs together , and a great stick on the tuck full. One of her good ones. Florida just slayed that bars rotation. Great releases, handstands, form, and landings.
Spears - BB - beautiful onodi to swingdown, she is moving very well through this. Meanwhile Jay on floor is solid on her tuck full but with a slide back. Spears sticks her gainer full. It's a fine hit for Jay. She stepped up this routine as we moved toward the end of the season, but there are landing deductions in multiple places with another slide on dismount.
We see Bailey's stuck yhalf - just fights for it a little bit so not quite as strong as yesterday's vault.
Clark - BB - She struggled yesterday, so she needs a recovery. Walkover to swingdown is perfect this time, fine full turn. Solid sheep jump. Oklahoma's sheep jumps can actually qualify as sheep jumps. Hits her side somi - but also adjusts her center of gravity there - and a stuck 1.5. Another great hit. Oklahoma, you guys.
After 3: Alabama 99.150, Florida 99.050, Oklahoma 99.025, LSU 98.725, Nebraska 98.500, Georgia 98.250
Amazing performances from the top four teams so far. There's so little in this between them. LSU is a few tenths back but right in this going to their better events. Oklahoma was amazing on beam, Florida amazing on bars, and Alabama hitting lights out. That vault rotation was excellent. It washed away the taste from the .100-.150 overscore from floor.
There's so little break between the rotations because we are (thankfully) getting to see routines we missed in between the rotations. I can't breathe. Huge beam rotation for Florida now.
Boyce - BB - hits her walkover to back handspring very well, strong loso series as well. She looks more fluid and is performing a bit more than in the beginning of the season. Switch to split. Sticks her gainer full. Great start.
Stephens - UB - I was going to say that her gienger is HUGE, but it was too huge, she couldn't catch, and it looked like she banged her face on the mat. She's fine, just shaken. Big hop on the dismount. Rough.
Spicer - BB - hits her loso - she has been that solid 9.825 for them in her career, and she's showing that security now. The dance elements are OK but not amazingly extended. Hires hits her yfull with a small hop, and Spicer hops in place on her gainer full.
Cheek - VT - Amazing yfull again. Great and stuck as usual. Leans just a bit on the landing, but great. She gives me the fist pump that I love, always, which gives her bonus tenths.
Savona - BB - 1.5 through to double back is solid with a small slide, (Jay downgrades to the full with a large step back. Huh?) For Savona, the dance elements looked solid this time, good double pike as well. She's a power house but just a couple small slides on those landings - hips just heading backward.
Sloan - BB - OK here we go. THE ROUTINE. Great loso. Strong walkover to bhs - you can tell she's freaked, but she's hitting. Great full turn, solid aerial cartwheel as well. Just the dismount. Sticks her double full. She is about to jump out of her skin with joy. Nailed it.
DeZiel - UB - They're already counting a low score on bars, but the victory was getting here. She performs well, sticks her tuck full dismount. We didn't see all of it, but it ended very nicely.
M Caquatto - BB - Strong loso, hits her walkover to swingdown - sort of elite-connected those forward to backward skills but fine - Switch to split. Was going great but hops on her gainer full. Macko! Stick that thing. Still good.
Johnson - UGA - VT - Solid vault, but some leg separation and lands a bit short with a hop forward.
Wong - UB - Strong full turn to excellent gienger, and finishes with a small hop on her tuck full dismount, but she's still not giving up an inch in any of her routines at these championships.
Hunter - BB - Small check on her loso series, good switch side, hops back on the double back. OK, but it's already a hit beam rotation. They could have had a few more 9.9s, but they'll take this score.
Hall - FX - Good scores so far for LSU. Gets the DLO as she always does. She tends to struggle more with the final pass, as she did yesterday. Front full to layout is hit, and a much better landing today on the dismount, so that should get a strong score. I think the judge who gave Sloan a 10 for that beam routine judged the narrative more than the routine, so we'll see what happens here. A "redemption" routine can score more. 9.950. I'm fine with that, but 1 judge gave it a 10, just like Sloan's.
Back to Johnson on beam, clean walkover to bhs, she has been just a walking 9.900 in these championships so far, and sticks her layout full after the side aerial.
Courville - FX - Nails her double arabian, front tuck through to double back and just drops out of it like butter. And a huge stick on her double pike. Great, great routine. One of her best.
After 4: FLORIDA 148.550, LSU 148.275, GEORGIA 147.525, NEBRASKA 147.375, ALABAMA 99.150, OKLAHOMA 99.025
Florida's 49.500 on beam has put huge pressure on the remaining two teams, especially Alabama going to bars which can be an issue for them at times, and we saw a few too many 9.8s for them yesterday. They'll have to Kim-Jacob-stick the hell out of that rotation to keep pace with what Florida is doing. Don't forget about Oklahoma, either, going to floor where they scored exceptionally well in semifinals. LSU got a big 49.550 but still has a gap, maybe too big of a gap, to Florida.
Was it a DTY from Jay? I admit to watching the other frame at the time, so I just went with what Kathy and Bart said.
Kathy is chatting with Rhonda. Invite me?
Bailey - UB - Great jaeger, clean bail, really trying to get those handstands as much as possible, small step back on the double back, but a solid routine. A tough behind yesterday. Great vault from Jordan as well with a hop in place this time.
DeMeo - UB - (Hall also on vault, powerful yfull with a step back) Now to DeMeo - solid straddled jaeger, hits the handstand on her bail this time, which doesn't always happen, short on the final handstand, and a stuck DLO. Nice. 9.950? Hi, Alabama.
Blanske on beam now - bent legs on the series a small wobble on the turn, a yesterday stick, though. Ranzy on vault - Sticks her yfull but leans forward on landing with some form to take as well.
Capps - FX - strong front layout to front full - watch out for Oklahoma. This is anyone's game between those three right now. LSU just falling out a touch on vault. Capps finishes with a beautiful double full to layout stepout. Excellent.
Gnat - VT - Still doing the full, huge - high - completed early - well done.
Jacob - UB - Great Ray, smallissue of feet flying apart on the bail, otherwise pretty strong, and she sticks the DLO as usual.
Jetter - UB - Good Ray as well, hits her bail, best handstands so far, but a hop forward on the double front. It will be a lower score because of the overjudging landings we're seeing on bars today.
Courville - VT - Great distance on that yfull as always, and sticks the landing - also a lean forward on landing.
Going back to Spears on floor now, nice front double full - controlled landing, 1.5 to layout is clean as well - she doesn't always hit her dance elements on floor as well as possible but this is one of her better routines. Solid rudi.
Clark - UB - Legs apart on the shaposh but hit, nice bail handstand - one short handstand before the dismount, sticks the dismount. A couple areas there, but a better routine than last year. 9.950. OK. Alabama will have a lead on Florida going to the final event.
Laeng - BB - They're already counting a 9.600. Nice front tuck, Kathy doesn't like the scores Nebraska has been getting on beam because of the leg form.
Kanewa - FX - Oklahoma is killing floor, and Kanewa just nailed her pike full in - very secure, just a tad bouncy on the middle pass, nice straddle positions hitting her 180, hips going back just a little on the double pike dismount, a little lack of control.
Morrison - VT - Nice yfull in the air but a hop back. It's a good meet for LSU, but not a great meet, and they won't be able to pass the teams getting those huge scores. Can't really knock a 197.600, though.
Scaman - FX - Just bounces back on her DLO a bit, so it will be a bit lower than the scores we have seen. Pretty rudi to loso, no problem on the switch side or popa. Strong stick on the double back, so just the small bounce on the DLO.
After 5: LSU 197.600, Nebraska 196.500, Alabama 148.700, Oklahoma 148.625, Florida 148.550, Georgia 147.525.
ACK everyone. No margin between Alabama, Oklahoma, and Florida going to the final event. Oklahoma on vault, Florida on floor, Alabama on beam. WHAT IS HAPPENING? We're seeing Albright's strong floor, but I can barely deal at this point.
Beam hasn't been lower-scoring than floor or vault so far, so I wouldn't say that's a disadvantage. Floor has been the highest scoring event, so check out what happens to Sloan and Hunter's scores. Alabama was in a position to win last year going to beam, and it was tough. Do we see that happening this year? I don't.
Here we go. This is everything. Kathy with DD, she knows the deal. She's proud but reserved. They didn't stick enough. "Look how many teams have not won the national championship for gymnastics." Ha.
Georgia looks very deflated, but I hope they can show off bars in the last rotation. We haven't seen much of Sarah Patterson rubbing her hands together in maniacal glee this year, but I'm sure she is.
Boyce - FX - Solid front double full - her usual landing with a normal step, not necessarily a deduction but doesn't nail it like some others - 1.5 to front pike is strong. Solid leaps, and a fine final rudi. Good hit, let's check out the score.
Mooring VT - Solid form on the yhalf, small hop back. Good not great. She can stick that.
Milliner - BB - Clean walkover, wobble on her straddle jump. I've never seen her so that before, and she comes off! Wow. Five pressure routines coming up for Alabama. We're seeing a floor hit from Spicer in the other window, but now Alabama's beam routines get fascinating. 9.300, which is actually kind of high for those mistakes.
Spicer finishing on floor, small slide on the double pike but a good hit. Kmieciak vaults with a bounce in place. She can stick that, but not a bad vault but not a 9.950 that she gets sometimes.
Bailey - Pretty full turn with leg up, clean and hit loso, she works methodically but comfortably - no wobbles here. Hop back on double full. It's a 9.900 parade on beam now.
Johnson - Excellent double arabian, stuck landing. Nice full to layout as well, she's hitting her tumbling so well this week but just a slide on the double pike dismount - just does stay in bounds there but it was a slide.
Oklahoma gets a 49.550 on vault and finishes with a 198.175. They have set the standard and did all they could do. AMAZING stick on vault from Capps.
Sloan - FX - fine front double full but a little funky step landing - no problem. "It's almost like the gymnasts have superseded the rules" - Bart. Yes. Kathy notes the overscoring on so many routines. Great, great double pike from Sloan, and nails the dismount as well. Great routine, let's see what they do with it. She and Kytra both need 9.950s. 9.925.
Finishing with Scaman on vault - great full perhaps a small small slide on landing but amazing vault. Oklahoma could not have performed better today.
Hunter - FX - Great DLO and excellent control on the landing. Beautiful middle pass as always that has the added bonus of giving her routine some creativity since she's not the performer the others are. Nothing wrong here yet, just the dismount to come - nails the open double back. Awesome. Let's see the score because that would have been an auto 10 at home.
It is coming down to the last routine for everyone! We're looking back at DeMeo's hit on beam, which received a 9.900. Kim Jacob would need the 10 routine of her life for Alabama to pass Oklahoma. I WANT TO SEE IT.
It's a 9.950 for Kytra, but Oklahoma has put the pressure on everyone right now.
KIM JACOB FALLS ON BEAM.
Bridgey would need a 9.975, otherwise it's Oklahoma. I don't think she has that in her. This is an awesome Super Six. Just amazing. Great first pass for Bridgey. Everything looks great so far, but just enough of a slide on the double pike. Great meet from Florida, regardless.
I don't think that was a 9.950. I just don't see it. She slid back on that final pass. 9.900 is OK, but I don't see 9.950. Who wins the tiebreaker???
I just can't with that. They have tied.
If they had a tiebreaker of going to the sixth score on each event, I believe Florida would win by .025. Let's wait and see. I'm too stressed to do math.
ARE WE HAVING CO-NATIONAL CHAMPIONS?
We are. Florida and Oklahoma have tied with a 198.175 and are co-national champions. People with hearts and emotions are probably happy right now. I'm thrilled for both teams, but the heartless side of me wants ONE WINNER ONLY.
I have to run immediately, but I'll have a whole heap of thoughts tomorrow.