January 31, 2015

[7] Nebraska @ [4] Michigan Live Blog

We have another day of truly competitive head-to-heads, with Michigan taking on Nebraska and Oklahoma and LSU meeting at Metroplex later on. It's not just a cop out to say these meets could fall either way because they really could. I know a lot of people don't have access to watching the Michigan/Nebraska meet because it requires yet another subscription, so I'll be here live blogging it.

If you haven't seen Lambert's second 10, it's in the highlight video on this page, and I think it's stronger than the first one. Can she make it three?

The meet begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT.

January 30, 2015

Friday Live Blog – [11] Georgia @ [3] Florida

Friday, January 30
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Georgia @ Florida (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Alabama @ Kentucky (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Pittsburgh @ Kent State (Scores) (Stream)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Missouri, Lindenwood @ SEMO (Scores) (Stream)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Air Force @ Auburn (Scores) (ESPN3)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Maryland @ Iowa
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, UC Davis @ Utah State (Scores) (Stream)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BYU @ Southern Utah (Scores)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Washington, Sacramento State, Hamline @ Oregon State (Scores) (Stream)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Alaska @ Seattle Pacific (Stream)

Get ready. I'll be here for the Georgia/Florida meet and whatever other meets I happen to be glancing at at the time, which begins at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT on the SEC Network.

January 29, 2015

The Weekend Ahead – January 30th-February 2nd

In case you missed it, I was a guest on GymCastic this week, so you should give it a listen if you haven't already. Jessica and I talked Florida/Alabama, UCLA/Utah, Georgia/Kentucky, and the greatness of Tabitha Yim. 

Also earlier this week, Elizabeth Price recorded the seventh 10.0 of the young season, the sixth on vault. She continues to perform the full as she returns from injury (we'll expect more difficulty eventually once she is 100%), but she has such crazy amplitude that pretty much whenever she sticks she's going to be in line for a 10. Methinks this isn't the last 10 we'll see from her. Not much incentive to upgrade, is it?

Damn, girl.

Rounding out the discussion of things that have already happened, Oklahoma competed earlier today and continued to bolster their claim as the best team in the country with a 197.650. The Sooners currently own all three of the top scores recorded so far this season, and that trend can only be expected to continue as they head to Metroplex on Saturday, where everyone always gets an 11. 

Friday is going to be a little different this week. Normally, Friday is the night of main events with most of the top teams in action, but this weekend relatively few of the top teams showing their wares. Still, I'll be here blogging, and be sure to be ready right at the start because we do have a good one early on between Georgia and Florida. That will be a showdown. Florida enters as the favorite. Being the higher-ranked team, the stronger team, and the home team will usually do that for you. Plus, they will certainly be eager to erase the rancid taste of meh from their mouths coming off the disappointing loss to Alabama last weekend. No sucky handstands this time, deal? Deal. I fully expect a non-meh performance. That said, Georgia is in this thing and should come into town with optimism. They made huge strides against Kentucky by getting Rogers back in the lineup and hitting their least terrifying beam and floor rotations of the season. Recall last year, Georgia was leading this meet after three events and about to pull off the upset. Then, they had a beam fall and Florida had that infamous floor score. Does history repeat?

January 26, 2015

Week 3 Rankings and Notes

This weekend, we saw three more routines join the 10 club, with Ashley Lambert getting her second 10 on vault, and Brenna Dowell and Haley Scaman of Oklahoma getting their first 10s of the season on bars and vault respectively. We're on a pretty furious pace for 10s considering that it's only January 26th. Six 10s have been awarded so far, compared to two at this point last season. We've already seen more 10s in 2015 than in the whole 2012 season.

Dowell's 10 highlights why Oklahoma has included the DLO 1/1 in her routine. She doesn't get any SV benefit for it and could be doing the DLO instead, but since she's one of the rare gymnasts who can stick it while maintaining a pretty straight position throughout, it makes sense to put it in her routine so she can bank on the stuck DLO 1/1 WOW factor.

Now, to the rankings.

Week 3 Rankings - (Gym Info
1. Oklahoma - 197.325
Week 3: 197.850
Week 3 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman 10.000; UB - Dowell 10.000; BB - Capps 9.950; FX - Dowell 9.975

The Sooners regain their comfortable lead after a national-high 197.850 over the weekend, featuring the two 10s above. Two 10s in the same meet is perhaps not the accomplishment it used to be (both LSU and Florida also managed that last year), but it speaks to how far along this team is for January. They were looking solid for a 198 until floor, when having to count an OOB put them down to a paltry 49.275 and took them off the pace.

January 25, 2015

[11] Illinois @ [4] Michigan Live Blog

Let's get going!

The meet begins at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT.

If you're a BTN Plus subscriber, you can watch the meet here. Scores are here.

January 23, 2015

Friday Live Blog – UCLA @ Utah, Florida @ Alabama

Friday, January 23
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Western Michigan @ Kent State (Scores) (Stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Ball State (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Florida @ Alabama (Scores) (ESPN3
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – UCLA @ Utah (Scores) (Pac-12 Network)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – SEMO, TWU @ Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Arkansas @ Auburn (Scores) (ESPN3)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Northern Illinois (Scores) (CSL)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Missouri @ LSU (Scores) (ESPN3)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @ Boise State (Scores)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State @ BYU (Scores) (BYUtv)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – UC Davis @ Sacramento State (Scores) (Stream)

UCLA, Utah, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Arkansas, and Auburn all going at the same time. What more could you want? Them all going separately so you could watch each of them? I know. Me too.

I'll be here to start blogging at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT. As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be doing a live blog for UCLA/Utah followed by a not-live blog for Florida/Alabama. It should be a good one.

January 22, 2015

The Weekend Ahead – January 23rd-26th

Get ready because Friday is a big one. All the top 4 teams, and 6 of the top 8 teams, will be in action at the exact same time. I'm already tired about it. I mean excited. But I really mean tired.

Oklahoma and Florida enter the weekend tied for the top spot in the nation after Florida recorded a national high of 197.200 last weekend while Oklahoma's first week lead dissipated during an uncharacteristically 9.4 beam rotation. Neither team seems more likely than the other to grab the #1 ranking after this weekend, and LSU, Michigan, and Utah are all within striking distance if things happen to go south for both of them.

Even though everything in the world is happening at once (not an exaggeration), the big grudge matches on Friday will be UCLA/Utah and Florida/Alabama, and for both of those meets, I'm just not pretending they could go either way to make it more interesting for myself. They really could. Here's my plan: Rather than having 18 panic attacks while trying to watch every routine from both of these meets at the same time like I'm a malfunctioning robot, I'm going to blog about UCLA/Utah as it's live, and record Florida/Alabama and then watch and write about it after UCLA/Utah. Deal? Deal. 

First, Utah/UCLA. As is always the case when UCLA and Utah square off at the beginning of the season like this, Utah comes in looking like the steadier team. The Utes have two hits meets in two weeks under their belt, while UCLA has those four falls from Monday under their belt. The key to a Utah victory will be exactly that. Stay steady, hit those routines, be the more consistent team, and let Dabritz do her thing. Utah, however, is still vulnerable to 9.825itis, so they're going to need stronger supporting scores than they've been getting so far to defeat a hit meet from UCLA.

The most important rotation for the Bruins will be beam. UCLA should be phenomenal on that event, which we saw flashes of on Monday, and if they hit beam to their capabilities, they can open up a major lead on Utah solely with that apparatus. Of course, hitting beam like beasts doesn't amount to much when you're counting a fall on floor and botching dismounts. Hint hint. There's no reason for that to be happening. Maybe they can use the inspiration of Katelyn Ohashi's commitment to get through the whole three passes this week.

As for Alabama, this is a pressure meet. It was always going to be a pressure meet because they have not lost in Tuscaloosa since that infamous February 2009 clash with LSU, but this new-look Alabama team is the underdog against the reigning co-champion. That pressure is only compounded after last weekend's shock loss and beam implosion against Arkansas. Is it bad that I kind of can't wait for Alabama's beam rotation tomorrow? All eyes will be on that. I know it's only January, but it's an important rotation. Hit, and they basically erase the Arkansas disaster. Miss, and their beam rotation is a thing. No one wants their beam to be a thing. The only step after thing is full-on balance beam situation. The horror.  

January 19, 2015

[22] Arizona @ [8] UCLA Live Blog

Do this again, please.

The meet will begin at 4:00 ET/1:00 PT on the Pac-12 Network.


Week 2 Rankings and Notes

Another weekend done. Before getting to the rankings, a few new topics have emerged.

Keep it simple
Just go clean. As long as you're starting out of a 10, performing relatively simple skills while showing proper amplitude and form has been the way to go for big scores. For evidence of that, we need look no further than Arkansas's 49.600 on Saturday, which is the highest floor score in the country this season by over a tenth and featured zero passes more difficult than a double pike. Sure, the scoring was crazy high to the point of being silly at times in that meet, but those judges were all about those double pikes (and did not care so much about the chest position, amiright?) We also had Kara Lovan with her rudi mount and general wondrousness continuing to get 9.9s, and Alex McMurtry on bars. She was certainly not a bars worker before Florida but showed up with a bare bones routine until the dismount, and got 9.925 for it. Because she kept it simple. And because she was positioned well in the lineup. And because Florida.

We had two more 10s this weekend on vault, coming from Florida's Alex McMurtry and Nebraska's Ashley Lambert. McMurtry's vault was tremendous, and the more I watch it (four times now, which is normal, right?) the more I'm happy with it getting a 10. It's certainly the strongest vault we've seen this year. If I'm ranking the 10s so far, it's McMurtry, then Sloan, then Lambert. How about you?

The beam, you guys
Alabama had three falls. Oklahoma counted a 9.425. What is the world coming to? Plus, Michigan nailed it for 49.225. Up is down. Down is up.

We're still seeing a somewhat erratic standard, but there was a noticeable increase in the scores this weekend, which can be accounted for both by improvement in areas like floor landings as teams work their way into the season as much as an increased frequency of crazy, drunken judges. (What even was the Arkansas vault rotation?) But there were some tightly scored meets as well. I was pleased overall with the judging at Oklahoma/Minnesota. The scores were restrained enough to be realistic and accurate for those routines, yet the judges also showed a willingness to give it up for great performances like Dowell on bars. If all the meets were judged at about that standard, we would be in good shape.

Now, to the rankings.

Week 2 Rankings – (GymInfo)

1. Oklahoma – 197.063
Week 2: 196.500
Week 2 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman, Capps 9.900; UB - Dowell 9.950; BB - Capps 9.875; FX - Scaman, Lovan 9.900

The Sooners looked on their way to another comfortable low-mid 197 this week until beam, and it was pretty bizarre to see them struggle there. Haley Sorensen and her beautiful flexibility came into the lineup, but what looked like a break on her series dropped her SV, and Oklahoma ended up counting her 9.425 after Clark fell. Odd, but not a worry. Just that random time Oklahoma wasn't awesome on beam. We'll see if they settle on a lineup soon or keep running through all 45 options that they have. I love "exploring depth," so hopefully we see a few more people.

I was quite impressed by the other three events, though. In the majority of the floor routines, the performance was engaging and the tumbling was clean and comfortable especially for this point in the season (Kanewa still needs time to work back into her passes, but otherwise). They also incurred very few handstand deductions on bars while throwing in a good amount of sticks. Before that beam rotation, I was ready to call this the best performance of the year so far, regardless of score, and it still was for three events.

1. Florida – 197.063
Week 2: 197.200
Week 2 leaders: AA - Hunter 39.500; VT - McMurtry 10.000; UB - Dancose-Giambattisto 9.950; BB - Hunter 9.900; FX - Hunter 9.875

The Gators jump into a tie with Oklahoma this week by virtue of not counting a fall this time. Progress! They still had mistakes (including weird ones like Caquatto falling on floor), but it was a mostly comfortable meet. The floor and vault landings and beam dismounts are still pretty January, but it is January, so that makes sense.

197.200 is a perfectly fine score—the best of the weekend—but not one that reflects how good this team can be, nor one they will want to keep as a home score. Baker and McMurtry came into Sloan's spots on a few events, as expected, and posted solid scores that should improve as the year goes on, but that were still not at the same level as Sloan would have been (9.8s vs. 9.9s). Interestingly, Florida had just one score of 9.9+ on vault and beam and none on floor. Now, Hunter didn't get a 9.9 on vault or floor this time (which happens never), so the number of 9.9s will go up, but it's also going to be down to McMurtry and Baker to continue growing into their routines to act as sufficient replacement 9.9s until Sloan comes back. Then, Florida can expect to do much better than 197.200 for a hit meet.

January 16, 2015

Friday Live Blog – Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, and (possibly) more

Friday 1/16/15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Auburn @ Florida (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – LSU, Arizona State @ Kentucky (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Washington @ NC State (Scores) (ESPN3)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Western Michigan (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:30 PT – Missouri @ Georgia (Scores) (ESPN3)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Kent State @ Northern Illinois (CSL)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Alabama @ Arkansas (ESPN3)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, Southern Utah, UC Davis @ Utah (Scores) (Video)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Sacramento State, UIC, UW-Stout @ Arizona
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Cal, UW-La Crosse @ San Jose State (Video)

Another Friday, another ton of meets. Get excited. I'll be here starting at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT for the Florida/Auburn action and perhaps some of the other simultaneous meets, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

January 15, 2015

The Weekend Ahead – January 16th-19th

Week 2! We come off an eventful first week where the major talking point was the dramatic variation in judging standards from meet to meet, with the Florida/Ball State and Oklahoma/Arkansas meets being held up as the exemplars of looseness and the UCLA/Oregon State meet as the same for strict code construction. Those meets were certainly not judged with anything resembling the same standard or expectations of what a 9.900 means, which is not acceptable. One or the other, judges. One or the other. Someone needs to get everyone on the same page. I prefer the scoring of the UCLA/Oregon State meet because it allows for more room to separate routines, but only if that is being applied nationally. Otherwise, it just comes across as silly.

Sometimes, people hide behind the explanation of "Well, the judging was consistent within the meet," which is true, but also not good enough. That might make sense if wins and losses mattered. If the only thing that mattered was UCLA getting the win and Oregon State getting the loss, then judge it with whatever standard you want. But that isn't what matters. The teams are ranked by their scores and compared to all the other teams through their scores, so each score is important not just in its own meet but relative to all the other scores nationwide over the whole season. These results don't exist in a vacuum and the scores must strive to be as consistent as possible. Otherwise, what's the point?

In other news, the #2 theme of the weekend was terrible final passes on floor. Endurance. Let's hope for some improvement this week.

Bridget Sloan Injury Watch 2015 has also been a big deal, and news came mid-week that she has a severe ankle sprain and will miss 6 weeks. It could have been so much worse. Now we can start Bridget Sloan Comeback Watch 2015. When watching Rhonda Faehn's press conference this week, it buffered on a hilarious face of hers, and since I'm horrible, I screen capped it. 

This is exactly how I looked when Bridget did that double pike. I feel you, Rhonda.

Now let's move on to this week. There's a ton happening right at the beginning of action on Friday, so be sure to be as punctual as possible with your streams and scoring windows. All three of the 7:00/4:00 SEC meets will be available, with the Florida/Auburn meet on the SEC Network and the other two online.

January 12, 2015

Week 1 Rankings and Notes

The first full weekend of NCAA gymnastics competition is now in the books, and the season's first rankings are out. Oklahoma currently leads the way by a pretty healthy margin after Friday's 197.625, coming up just short of their season-opening mark from last season of 197.700. We also saw the 10 club welcome its first member of the year, with Bridget Sloan earning the first vault 10 of her career with a stuck yurchenko full. Then, on her very next routine, she injured her foot (no broken bones, MRI to come — Sloan Watch 2015) and crutches ensued. Because gymnastics.

Of note, last year at this time, the #10 score in the country was 196.200. This year it's 195.025. We certainly saw some big scores given to major schools this weekend in meets no one would describe as tightly scored, but let's keep an eye on the separation between the top teams and everyone else as the weeks pass. 

For now, here's how the teams stack up. Note that UCLA, Oregon State, Washington, and Kentucky are not included in these rankings because they don't begin competition until tonight. And let me use this opportunity to once again say BOO to Monday meets. 


1. Oklahoma - 197.625
Week 1 leaders: AA - None; VT - Scaman 9.950; UB - Wofford 9.925; BB - Capps 9.925; FX - Scaman 9.950

Oklahoma takes the #1 spot because, of the teams with 197 potential, they were the only one to put together a meet of four very strong rotations. Like pretty much all the teams, they had mistakes we wouldn't expect to become trends as the season progresses (Rebecca Clark just doesn't fall on bars), but their nine 9.9s indicate that the Sooners are picking up where they left off last season, but with some added pop. Ali Jackson is certainly in the conversation for best freshman debut, scoring 9.925 on both her events.

2. LSU - 197.125
Week 1 leaders: AA - Jordan 39.550 ; VT - Courville 9.900; UB - Courville 9.975; BB - Jordan 9.925; FX - Jordan 9.925

LSU could very well have matched Oklahoma's score if not for a floor rotation starring a bunch of extremely January landings. Four of the six floor routines contained what I would consider major errors, but that was the only real issue with LSU's first meet. By far the most encouraging part of the performance came on bars. The Tigers scored a 49.600 for that rotation, largely because it looked the farthest along of any of the teams competing this weekend, particularly in the handstand and sticking department, which they have clearly focused on earlier than many of the other teams do. Handstands and sticking are often scrappy in January, but that looked like a March bars performance. 

January 10, 2015

[8] Michigan @ [7] Georgia Live Blog

It's DAY 2 of the (real) NCAA gymnastics season, and we've got a good one. Well, I shouldn't say that yet. It may be a terrible one, but it will be interesting if nothing else. The Georgia/Michigan showdown is a fixture in NCAA gymnastics, and I'm glad it's back after a two-year hiatus. While Georgia has traditionally won because Georgia, the last few meetings have been more competitive, with Michigan taking two of the last three. Remember in 2010 when there was all that controversial Michigan scoring going on and Georgia didn't break 196 and was super upset about it? We'll always have these memories of people being super upset about things.

The teams are already chasing a high standard set by Oklahoma last night with a 197.625, but LSU's 197.125 was also impressive considering they had a pretty weak floor rotation and still broke 197.  We did see some struggles yesterday as well. Alabama debuted with mistakes in the fairly lackluster 196.225, and Nebraska had a very rough start with a low 195.

As for Georgia and Michigan, I'm eager to see what we get from them out of the gate. Georgia should do well. They have enough of a core of strong routines returning that there's no excuse for a flop. They should at least be in that solid 196 zone. For Michigan, I have lower expectations starting out because it's a brand-new team with reinvented lineups, so much like with Alabama yesterday, I would not be surprised or particularly concerned if a few mistakes creep in. There will be an adjustment period for some of these newbies, or oldbies thrown in on new events, but that's not an excuse for disaster. They still have strong returning routines and a freshman with a lot of potential in Brianna Brown, so there's no need for something like what Stanford did last weekend.
[Post-meet edit: I love when I make proclamations like this at the beginning of the meet. It helps to go back later and remember what the expectations were. Georgia did not meet expectations today, and Michigan exceeded them.]

Let's get to it. 

January 9, 2015

Friday Live Blog — LSU/Iowa, Alabama/Arizona, and more

Friday 1/9/15 - Key meets
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [12] Auburn @ North Carolina (Scores)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [18] Ohio State @ Pittsburgh (Scores) (CSL stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [20] Denver @ NC State  (Scores) (ESPN3 Stream)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – West Virginia, George Washington @ Maryland (Scores)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Kent State, Towson @ Missouri (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [13] Arkansas @ [2] Oklahoma (Scores)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood @ [9] Nebraska (Scores)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Iowa @ [3] LSU (Scores) (SECN+ stream)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [21] Arizona @ [4] Alabama (Scores) (SECN+ stream)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [6] Utah @ BYU (Scores) (BYUtv - free)
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @ Arizona State (Scores) (ASU stream - free)
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [10] Stanford @ San Jose State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [14] Cal @ Sacramento State (Scores) (Youtube stream - free)

It's here! I'm ready. The meets begin at 7:00 ET/4:00 PT, so check back for all the live blogging I can handle. Now I just have to remember how to do that.

January 8, 2015

The Weekend Ahead – January 9th-12th

It's happening! A real weekend of meets! Lots of them! Of course, I'll be here live blogging like no one's business, so be sure to stop by. Here's what you need to know.

Friday begins with a few of the second-tier teams, including Auburn going up against North Carolina. I didn't preview Auburn this season, but I'm excited about the team this year and their chances to move into the first tier. They're returning the full roster from last season, so once again expect Caitlin Atkinson and MJ Rott to lead the way, but Auburn won't be at full strength tomorrow with some essentials still trying to return from injury. Bri Guy is beginning with just bars and beam this weekend as she comes back from her Achilles-mageddon, and Abby Milliet is slated just to exhibition on bars and beam tomorrow. Both will eventually be integral if Auburn is to ascend into the top 10. We need Abby Milliet in NCAA gymnastics as soon as possible.

That meet is only available on UNC's premium streaming, but there is free streaming of Denver/NC State for those with access to ESPN3. It will be interesting to gauge where Denver is now that Moriah Martin isn't there to steady lineups with 9.9s. Nina McGee will need to have a big season on all events if they're going to remain in that usual 15-20 range. Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah are all getting their seasons started on Friday as well, but my primary focus will be the simultaneous SEC broadcasts of the LSU/Iowa and Alabama/Arizona meets. I know a lot of people don't have SEC+ access, so I'll do my best to keep you updated with quick hits and honesty.

LSU should win comfortably. Alabama shouldn't have problems either unless the change to a new staff is far more drastic than any of us are anticipating. Still, there are some important areas to watch for both these teams in their opening meets. For LSU, keep an eye on bars. I have my questions, but if bars is at the same level as the other events from the first meet, that bodes very well for the Tigers. Who is replacing the Morrison and Dickson routines? Is it Shae Zamardi, and is the scoring potential equivalent? I'm also excited for Macadaeg to come into the beam lineup and to see whether beam looks like the dominant event I expect it to be.

For Alabama, I'm mostly interested to see who on earth makes these lineups. They have a lot of empty spots to fill and a lot of equivalent options, many of which seem realistic. With injuries limiting a few of the freshmen, one of the concerns about Alabama is that they will simply be forced to slot in a bunch of 9.825s that couldn't make the lineup last season, which would mean taking a scoring hit. The first month of the season will be about proving they do indeed have reinforcement 9.9s at their disposal. A fully healthy Kayla Williams would help in that department, but she can't do it alone with her two events.

January 7, 2015

Routines We Won't See in 2015

With just two days to go until the season begins for realsies, I probably should be all previewy and forward looking. Nope. After the last month, I'm previewed out. Let's just get this thing started already.

Instead, before we get caught up in all our new obsessions with our various Elizabeth Prices and Peng Peng Lees and Alex McMurtrys and forget about all the routines from before they existed, I'm taking one last opportunity to watch and compile a few memorable routines from last year's seniors while I still remember that they happened.

After that, it's a clean slate and the new season is allowed to begin.

Katherine Grable - Floor

Lindsey Cheek - Beam

Alicia Asturias - Floor

Emily Wong - Floor

Shona Morgan - Beam

Sarie Morrison - Bars

Kim Jacob - Beam

Sarah DeMeo - Beam

January 5, 2015

Week 0 Ranking and Notes

Since there were only two meets over the weekend, the actual ranking won't debut until next Monday, but that doesn't stop me.

Week 0 Ranking
 1. Cal — 195.175
Week 0 leaders
AA – Owens 38.425
VT – Williams 9.875
UB – Takara, Williams 9.850
BB – Palomares 9.825
FX – Williams 9.875

2. UC Davis — 194.350
Week 0 leaders
AA – Judal 38.925
VT – Nogaki 9.850
UB – Wiktorski 9.775
BB – Stamates 9.850
FX – Stamates 9.850

3. San Jose State — 194.050
Week 0 leaders
AA – Guyer 38.925
VT – Herr 9.800
UB – Heinl, Guyer 9.750
BB – Unpingco 9.775
FX – Guyer 9.775

4. Stanford — 193.450
Week 0 leaders
AA – Rice 39.350
VT – Price 9.950
UB – Hong, Rice 9.825
BB – Hong, Rice, Daum 9.825
FX – Spector, Rice 9.850

4. Sacramento State — 193.450
Week 0 leaders
AA – McCartney 39.000
VT – McCartney 9.825
UB – Benning 9.775
BB – McCartney 9.750
FX – McCartney, Juarez 9.825

6. Central Michigan — 192.550
Week 0 leaders
AA – None
VT – Moraw 9.650
UB – Fagan 9.900
BB – Moraw 9.750
FX – Moraw, Druien 9.725

7. UW-Eau Claire — 183.800
Week 0 leaders
AA – Erickson 37.025
VT – Stanton 9.500
UB – Robinette 9.375
BB – Stubbs 9.700;
FX – Stubbs 9.625

Cal has officially declared an end to the regular season. Done! You're the winners.

  • Cal had the best showing of the weekend, breaking 195 and improving on the opening score from last season by a half point. It's still a performance they'll hope to drop for RQS down the road, but with a lineup featuring just 10 of the 24 routines from last year's regional performance (and a noticeably absent Jessica Howe), it's not a bad start.

January 3, 2015

January Pac-12/SEC TV and Streaming Schedule

The season started today! Well, sort of. There was a meet. Central Michigan hosted Wisconsin-Eau Claire, beginning the season with a fairly rough 192.550 to Eau Claire's 183.800. By contrast, the two teams met on the first weekend of last season and CMU recorded a 194.450. Lots of 9.5s and 9.6s, though Kylie Fagan did record a 9.900 on bars, so the judges showed they were willing to throw a bigger number for a high level routine. Here's the full rundown.

Stanford, Cal, you have your mark to beat tomorrow.

In other news, I've put together a TV and streaming schedule for January's meets involving Pac-12 and SEC teams. Below are all the meets featuring teams from those conferences that will, as of right now, be broadcast in some way this month. Not all the Pac-12 streaming has been confirmed, so there may be some additions.

January 1, 2015

#1 Florida Preview

Recent History
Winning. That basically sums up the recent history of Florida gymnastics. Being good. Done. For the first decade of the Rhonda Faehn era, Florida was the almost team. An extremely talented group that became sort of the cool, alternative pick to win a championship because they weren't one of the usual members of the big four. Then they would finish 4th every year. But following the beam-disaster-that-shall-not-be-named that was the 2011 postseason, Florida finally managed to emerge from the shadow of always finishing 4th. In 2012, they improved to a close 2nd after a heartbreaking and vaguely controversial final, and then, of course, followed that up with back-to-back titles the next two seasons.

2015 Outlook
After Suzanne retired and the Georgia dynasty ended, a few coaches talked about how there would never be another dynasty in college gymnastics because the talent is so spread out now and the level of coaching is so high. That is false. There will still be dynasties, and judging by Florida's roster this year and in the years to come, the Gators are a pretty good bet to do it. It's far, far from a guarantee (this isn't another 2013 where Florida can count a fall and still win), but Florida remains the safest pick to win the championship in 2015. 

The biggest challenge for Florida this year is the quality of routines they'll have to replace from last year's team. They haven't lost a colossal number of routines (it's not an Alabama or Michigan situation), but the significance of the departed routines from Alaina Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto puts the Gators in the position of needing a bit more from their freshmen than other teams will. Florida has more new 9.9s to find than either Oklahoma or LSU do, but the freshman class of Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry, Ericha Fassbender, and Grace McLaughlin should be able to manage it. There's a hefty number of 9.9s in that group, enough to expect that Florida can stay on the same scoring track as last year, especially with the returning bag of 10s that Bridget Sloan and Kytra Hunter will bring with them in the all-around. 

Early in the season, keep an eye on bars and beam. Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto contributed their most essential routines on those events, but the incoming class as a whole leans a little bit more to the power side. If they can find a way to effectively replace (or even near-replace) those bars scores in addition to beefing up the power events with new 9.9s, they'll have the kind of advantage that wins titles.


Returning lineup — Bridget Sloan (9.950), Kytra Hunter (9.945), Rachel Spicer (9.850), Bridgette Caquatto (9.845)

When we talk about the top teams, "weak event" is a relative term, but vault was the Gators' lowest-ranking event last season (at #5 in the nation). On vault, they were more likely to get a 49.400 instead of a 49.600. It took a while for the landings in the first three positions to come into line (a lot of big bounces for 9.800s), which meant that much of the scoring onus was placed on Sloan and Hunter to get 9.950s rather than having it spread out across the whole lineup. With Oklahoma improving on vault this season, it's critical that Florida do the same.

Both Caquatto the Elder and Johnson contributed vital scores around 9.850-9.900 depending on the control of the landing, but with Baker and McMurtry presumably slotting directly into those vacated spots in the lineup, Florida has reason to expect a net vault gain this season. McMurtry has the makings of a vault star who can rival the best on this team and the best in the country, and Baker brings the comfortable power that comes from having a very competitive DTY as an elite, but without quite the same history of shattered ankles as, say, Mackenzie Caquatto. Of course, leading the way will be Kytra Hunter with her 10-able, gigantic 1.5 and Bridget Sloan with her 9.950-able, similarly gigantic full. Those four exceptionally strong vaulters will keep Florida competitive with the top vaulting teams and should push them toward 49.5s.

The one remaining question about Florida's vaulting is whether they can get the same quality from the other two spots in the lineup. Bridgey Caquatto should be there, though she was among those who had a tendency to bounce for 9.800 last year. A few more sticks or tiny .050 steps would be a big help. The Gators will also have options from Rachel Spicer, Kiersten Wang coming back from injury, and perhaps more of the freshmen, but keep an eye on those early routine scores because those are often the real difference when every team can anchor with 9.950s.