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.
Who do you have taking this one? More importantly, why have I had "Rockin' Robin" stuck in my head all day long? STOP IT. I never thought I'd say this, but I could use some terrible gymnastics meet pop songs right now, just to rid myself of his infernal, repetitive plague. In other news, gymnastics.
Intros soon now. Nebraska first. I only have a few more months to learn the difference between the Lauers. I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen. A few feed problems early. It's jumping in and out.
Michigan intros now. Still no Sheppard on vault, but her introduction on bars has been a boost. Without her vault, though, it's even more important that they stick this week. We know Nebraska can stick.
This is the autism awareness meet, and the Michigan gymnasts are giving us some background facts on autism now during the touch warmup.
Now the fans are being encouraged to bray for t-shirts like Romans in the Colosseum.
Rotation 1 - Michigan vault, Nebraska bars
1. Casanova - Yfull - large lunge back out the yfull - small break on the table - lack of landing control will hurt that one.
2. Parker - Yfull - Good, controlled landing on the yfull, just small hop - some piking, but well landed and solid direction.
3. Brown - Yfull - Another pretty secure landing - small hop - some soft knees in the air, but stronger height than the first two.
4. Chiarelli - Yfull - Really strong vault in the air - excellent height and distance, but did not control the landing, another large lunge back.
5. Artz - Yfull - Excellent body position in the air - she has really improved this event - small hop back, but she took that very far and should score well for it - no problems with distance, height, or form, really.
6.Sugiyama - 1.5 - Very strong 1.5 - Looks like she either stuck or just hopped her legs together, but some of her best distance of the season and a controlled landing with good direction.
1. Breen - Hits jaeger - a little short on pirouettes, but clean on the bail - not as precise in handstands as the others we'll see, but good control on DLO dismount.
2. Lambert - Some leg form going into the jaeger but hit - overshoot - short on final handstand - good stick on the tuck full - will get hit for flexed feet.
3. Williams - good first hs - a little short on giant full turn - that was a deltchev - wonky legs on that - strongest handstands so far - step back on tuck full -
4. Blanske - good toes point on the jaeger - very piked on her overshoot (non-hs) to the low bar - very strong DLO to finish - just a small bounce in place if anything.
5. DeZiel - short on first hs - strong piked jaeger - another doing a regular overshoot not to handstand - college sticks the tuck full with a quick salute -
6. Laeng - best line on the team and great height on her gienger - strongest line and toe point - sticks a staggered tuck full - did look late on her giant full turn, but not bad.
After 1: Michigan 49.300, Nebraska 48.900
A bigger margin than I expected after the first event. Michigan had some problems with landing control on a couple of the early vaults, but strong outings from Artz and Sugiyama pulled the score up into solid territory. That was Sugiyama's best 1.5 of the season. She didn't give away that step forward she often does.
Nebraska was just meh on bars. A lot of regular overshoots, not bail handstands, and quite a few short handstands bringing the total down. It could have scored higher with a more forgiving panel, certainly, but not a lot of really precise bars work in that rotation this week. Props to Williams for the deltchev and Laeng for a very strong gienger. Those were the highlights of that rotation.
Choppy feed is making it difficult to tell if many of these landings really are stuck or just close-to-stuck.
Rotation 2: Michigan on bars, Nebraska on vault
Time for Nebraska to make up some ground with these vaults.
1. Christopherson - solid Ray to start - handstands look clean - bail is hit - sticks the tuck full with good leg form. She has cleaned up this routine. Probably her best so far.
2. Williams - ggood first hs - nice toe point on jaeger - clean bail handstand - a couple borderline cast handstands here - strong form on the DLO -
3. Artz - Very good piked jaeger - overshoot - great leg form and an excellent DLO - stuck and higher than the others we've seen so far.
4. Sugiyama - hits first hs - a little late on full - solid gienger and maintained leg form on it - hits her pak well - good final handstand - hop back on tuck full dismount but strong on the bars themselves.
5. Brown - Great ray to start - hitting handstands - solid pak and not too bad on the half turn on the low bar - sticks the DLO - very nice routine.
6. Sheppard - good finish on the full turn - huge tkatchev as always - strqaddle back - half turn to double front - could see that coming - she didn't have enough height on that to finish the double front and sat it down. Boo.
1. Laeng - That's quite a start. Yfull - great height and a stuck landing, not the same distance we'll see later. There you go, Nebraska.
2. Moore -Yfull - Once again, they've got this vault thing down - Great height, power, distance, and another stick.
3. Stephens - Yfull - Another stuck yfull. Look at this. Hers was a little off line and staggered on the landing, so not as strong as the other two, but still very good power.
4. Blanske - Holds onto the stick on that vault as well - legs apart and perhaps not the distance of Moore, but another solid stuck vault. They've not giving away too much here.
5. Lambert - can she make it 3? Didn't stick this time, fairly sizable hop back, so it won't be three - but the amplitude and distance are the same.
6. DeZiel - Great direction and power on yfull - holds onto the stick but has to bend for it.
Just a heads up that the level of choppiness on my feed is becoming almost unbearable, but I'll push through somehow. I'm like a martyr.
After 2: Michigan 98.500, Nebraska 98.225
Thought Nebraska's vault performance was a touch better comparatively than the scores reflect. They started out exceptionally well and were building toward big scores, but I suppose there was just enough to take from the final vaults to halt those expected later-lineup 9.9s. Shame about the landing from Lambert because I think we were all expecting another big score for that one. And then DeZiel had to lean at the waist to hold onto her stick, so the score was never going to be too, too high.
Bars scoring a little tight again this week but that was true for both teams. Brown was excellent and Artz very clean as well, so they're still getting the benefit of those performances in the scores. That's a good bars rotation and will score well throughout the season.
Rotation 3 - Michigan on beam. Nebraska on floor
1. Casanova - strong punch front - very secure - slightly nervy on that full turn but doesn't wobble - hits loso series - switch side - secure straddle jump to back tuck - not giving away wobbles in this one - sticks gainer pike dismount - clean start.
2. Sugiyama - solid on loso series early - switch side is a little crooked - this will never be her event really, but she has developed a comfort level with this routine - pike jump to back tuck - 2.5 dismount - large step forward.
3. Williams - side aerial looked like it would be fine but she corrects a little after landing - not a big wobble though - split jump full - leg up to balance her loso series - 1.5 with a step forward - not her solidest routine, but a hit.
4. Brown - loso series is right on - good switch to split at clear 180 - hits side somi - aerial - pretty and fluid full turn - hop back on double full -
5. Artz -straddle jump 3/4 is excellent - just bends a little landing it - very clean on aerial to bhs - we're entering the pristine form part of the rotation with her - wobble on the front toss - sticks front 1/5 dismount. A couple unusual wobbles there, but no problem.
6. Chiarelli - she has turned into a beam anchor - solid on side aerial and confident on the full turn -pretty large step back on the double tuck dismount, but should be another strong enough score.
1. Moore - solid double pike - perhaps a little slide but good position and all - layout to front full - does she win the award for the gymnast who looks most different from her junior elite days? - does well to hit 180 in this leaps - really lifted for them - low chest on the double back but holds onto it. And then there's some glass breaking at the end of the routine because sure.
2. Stephens - stumble back on double tuck mount, couldn't tell if she went OOB - 1.5 to layout - short on the layout with a step backward to save it - not in control of the landings so far - good straddles - double pike dismount is a little short with the lunge - she's not pleased with that and looks SPENT.
3. Williams - Good amplitude on double pike but a stumble back for a couple steps on it - layout to rudi is solid but gives away a slide she probably didn't have to - secure double tuck to finish - Better, though.
4. DeZiel - Nebraska isn't mounting with the difficulty today at this point in the season, but Deziel gives us a front double full to start to step it up in the second half - then the 2.5 for her second pass and it's pretty strong as well - she's still not at her usual level of execution, it's apparent, coming back from the injury that kept her out of the first meet - still sticks a double pike to finish. Didn't give away much, just not the 9.9 gymnastics she can do. Yet.
5. Blanske - She's bringing the difficulty - good power on the tuck full but it did look like she stepped OOB after it. We'll see in the scores - layout to rudi middle pass with a little slide - very strong double tuck to finish - chest up and secure -
6. Lambert - Secure DLO to open - solid double back as well - perhaps a little low - hits her straddle elements and really performing a routine for us in the face department - dances out of the double pike dismount that may have been a little short but a comfortable and solid enough routine.
Brooke Parker is getting back on the beam in exhibition this week - has a break on her pike jump but stays on - hits the side somi - and sticks a very strong double pike dismount. That's a comeback for her.
After 3: Michigan 147.775, Nebraska 147.300
Michigan extends the lead after beam, which is a new sentence this year. 49.275 is a good beam score, but interestingly it could have been better. Williams didn't have a great routine and Artz threw in a couple uncharacteristic wobbles to take her out of the 9.9s. Casanova started them off very well and Chiarelli was solid as has become usual now. Nebraska pulled out a floor score over 49, which is OK, but they lack the control on landings at this point in the year to expect to go any higher than 49 in a meet like this. Just gave away too many bounces and steps. Looks like Blanske didn't go OOB after all because she got a 9.850, and they needed that score.
That lead should be comfortable for Michigna going to floor while Nebraska goes to beam. Nebraska has been fine in this meet, but has given away too much to contend so far. They can't win this meet with uncontrolled landings and missed handstands.
Rotation 4 - Michigan on floor, Nebraska on beam
1. Williams - Once again secure on her double pike - splits are hits as well - 1.5 to layout - and the double back - she has developed the important skill of performing identical routines each time out, and they'll take it each time.
2. Brown - Clean and high double pike to start - also a 1.5 to layout - her leaps are the class of the rotation so far - you don't have to wonder if they're hit - a little low chested on the double tuck dismount but another secure landing. They're starting well.
3. Parker - double arabian to start - better control than the last one I saw - no big bounce this time - that's the key to her success in this routine - hits middle pass very securely - (Oh hey, let's all have a distracting birthday party in the front row while someone's trying to do a floor routine) - very solid performance.
4. Sugiyama - that piked full in is her new best friend - secure and confident again - a little too lungey on her front full to layout - ends with a useful double pike - she has this routine down now.
5. Chiarelli - has to hop to the side a little out of her tuck full but it was big as always - hmm short on the layout out of her middle pass with a step back or two - uncharacteristically uncertain on some of this tumbling, but they have a great score going anyway. Solid double pike to finish, but weird half-miss in that routine.
6. Artz - Strong piked full in as always and the landing looked secure from this angle - no question on the leaps as well - front layout to front full - is fine - and a secure double pike to end - what has become the usual Artz - she gives away so little. What do you even take there technically? Unless you want to get on chest position on the pike full in, but traditionally the judges in NCAA haven't because there's a level of forgiveness there.
1. Breen - hits loso series to start - switch and takes a pretty big wobble on it - then goes for a split 3/4(?) and comes off the beam - thwarted by leaps - comes back and hits a sheep - 1.5 dismount step back.
2. Williams -very strong on her two loso series - goes for a switch 1/2 with a check after it - solid side aerial - step back on dismount - a necessary hit - just a couple little checks - nothing major.
3. Blanske - three series is hit, but the mushy knees were apparent - hits her punch front solidly - a little tight in that switch side - full turn - sticks double full dismount -
4. Laeng -hits loso series - wolf jump full - punch front is secure as well - split jump - gainer dismount is stuck as well - they're recovering from the fall well with clean, calm, and comfortable hits -
5. DeZiel - clean aerial - step back out of her loso series to control it - fine on the switch to beat jump and full turn - a step but no major issues in this routine - easy side aerial - stick or near stick on the 1.5. Best hit in the rotation to my eye.
6. J Lauer -good straddle jump - then wobbles landing a sheep - no chance on her loso series and off the beam. Way short. Counting a fall now. They almost got through it - solid back tuck - sticks 1.5 dismount.
Lambert going exo for Nebraska on beam. She was in the lineup earlier in the year -should have been in the lineup today. Just solid on her acro and a stuck gainer full. One of the more solid Nebraska beamers today.
Final: Michigan 197.300, Nebraska 195.875
It got sort of not close there in the final rotation. Michigan was solid, comfortable, and ready on floor as they have been ever since the first meet, when there were still a few short January landings. And now Michigan has broken 197 and will continue an assault on the top of the rankings. It's still early, but it looks like Michigan is my one annual "I was way off" team this year. I didn't think they would be this solid. I thought they would be in the 9th-12th part of the rankings most of the year.
Nebraska was not at the same level today, but counting the fall on beam will make the performance look worse than it was. In general, it was just a little more ragged than Michigan in pretty much every department. And once they weren't able to develop a big advantage on vault, that was basically the meet decided right there.
Artz wins the AA with a 39.600 after a 9.975 on floor. We've had a lot of floor 9.975s this year so far but no 10s.