Now that everyone has recovered from the American Cup, where Simone Biles won by a million points, everyone got eaten by the pommel horse, dear sweet Oleg stole our hearts, Mykayla Skinner enjoyed some fancy execution scores, and Sam Mikulak continued being every boy you had a crush on when you were 15 in spite of falling twice, it's time to turn our attention back to NCAA for an interesting little Saturday of meets.
Georgia is at home, and it's time for the Gym Dogs to break out with a big 197. They have the gymnastics, at least on 3.5 of the events. They just need to bring it. Now or never. Well, now or next week. Or the week after. Or the week after that. Whatever. Arkansas is so good at getting that solid 196.3 (perhaps higher at a Georgia meet) that can destroy you if you're not on point through all four events.
It's Senior afternoon for Sam Peszek at Pauley, so if last night's senior-night enthusiasm is any indication, she will get a 40.000. Do the back with a full.
Flashback to "Samantha Pessik"
Both UCLA and Stanford appear to be rounding into form now that it's March, as they often do, but neither team should feel very comfortable with the current RQS standard. They'll need to keep up the not-bad today. No excuse for scoring under 197, right? I don't think there is.
Georgia/Arkansas begins at 6:00 ET/3:00 PT, with UCLA/Stanford an hour later. At the same time, Oregon State is visiting Nebraska in another meet with vital RQS implications.
Georgia, UCLA, and Nebraska are all currently chasing Auburn, who jumped ahead of them into a provisional ranking of #7 with yesterday's score. UCLA and Nebraska both have a chance to jump just ahead of them for the time being with 197.3s today (Georgia would come up just short even with a season high), but Auburn will look to solidify that #7 ranking with a solid score tomorrow to drop yesterday's 196.3 and keep the rest of the challengers at bay.
I also haven't talked about Arizona State only putting up half a gymnast yesterday for a 162. A 162. Dear dear dear. It's just sad now. They were without Allex and Sundby and so had nobody to go. I can't remember the last time a DI program was this much of a shambles. A score in the 160s, you guys. It's not as though the program was in great shape going into this year, Rene was basically left with a skeleton of former glory, but basically the entire roster either left or is looking to cash in some frequent ambulance miles.
Melissa and Kupets are showing us an Arkansas beam disaster-reel.
Kupets is almost sputtering with frustration about Georgia's lack of 197s.You know she can barely keep herself from jumping up on that beam and getting a 10.
Can we please invite Suzanne onto the broadcast? I really want to hear some thoughts.
OH GOD. Brandie Jay has an ankle injury and is out of the meet. Like Georgia needed that.
Rotation 1: Georgia on vault, Arkansas on bars
Vaculik - VT - good distance but not as much control on her full - one step back and then another to salute.
Glover - UB - half turn to jaeger - good height just a little loose in the legs - clean on the bail - final handstand short - nice distance on double back with a stick -
Roberts - VT - Someone is sitting behind Georgia's vault rotation praying. I understand. One of her better vaults in the form and distance department - some piking - but a gigantic seven million mile bounce on the landing.
Elswick - UB - opens with a solid jaeger - very short of vertical on her bail handstand with a leg break - full into a double back - way close to the bar but does stick with a leg separation.
Marino - VT - Still doing the 1.5 and has improved since early in the year - larger lunge forward and still some knee bend.
Freier - UB - Love this one. Always hope she hits to her best - opens with a shaposh - great handstands - a little floppy in the bail but fine - almost sticks the DLO - leans forward with a step to salute, but still a good one.
Davis - VT - There it is, girl! The usual Chelsea Davis stick. Good height, excellent control on the landing. Gets a 9.950. You can argue some landing position and distance, but it was a good one. And it's Georgia at home.
Canizaro - solid shaposh to bail combo to start - also hitting her handstands - hits that Ray with some real toe point action - just holds onto her final handstand with a little arch - step back on DLO.
Broussard - VT - Also trouble controlling her landing - Good position and power but a pretty big bounce back.
Wellick - UB - Good hip shaposh but also WAY short on her bail handstand - misses the hs before her tkatchev - hits her double front this time but a number of short handstands in that one, so not her best showing -
Rogers - VT - Solid on the 1.5 - a small step or two back and some crazy legs on the block - but should still be a good score -
Zaziski - UB - nice opening hs - good finish on the full turn - solid tkatchev - a little floppy on the bail but OK - short final hs - small step on DLO and then another step to salute - good rhythm and general form, though.
After 1: Georgia 49.275, Arkansas 49.075
Not a great first rotation for either team. Georgia was saved by Davis's excellent stick for a big score, and Rogers was also solid enough, though there were certainly areas to take there. The rest did not have enough control on their landings, but I was pleased to see Marino get another look in. They need Jay. Get Brandie in there and this rotation is probably a 49.4, which is much more what we expect from Georgia on vault at home.
Arkansas did what they needed to do, but everyone had small errors. A few people had serious handstand problems, an arched handstand here, a leg break there, and they didn't stick enough dismounts to squeeze a big score out of that one. No major breaks, but a lot of 9.825ish work.
Suri is interviewing Suzanne. She's talking about relationships with the athletes. Ask her about who should be getting 9.9s but isn't.
Um, that RQS graphic was not right.
Nelson - VT - yfull - fine distance, chest down on landing and a bounce back.
Vaculik - UB - good halt turn to her huge jaeger - short on handstand - solid bail with a slight leg break - fine final hs - very low chest on her tuck full dismount - barely around with a lunge forward - shame about that dismount.
Canizaro - VT - late twist on her full - also a bit low in the chest and with some piking - pretty big bounce back as well.
Persinger - UB - good first hs - nice half turn to big jaeger - hitting handstands - clean bail - excellent extended hold on handstands - lateish on final full turn - and sticks the double back - best bars routine she has done? - quite nice.
Elswick - VT - yfull - smaller bounce than the first two but still a bounce - a bit of piking and not the biggest vault we'll see in the meet, but should be a good score improvement. 9.900. Well now.
Brown - UB - hits her huge tkatchev as always - strong pak - hitting handstands well - does the tuck full dismount this time - two steps back. Would have been a huge score if not for the dismount.
Zaziski - VT - Good body position on her full - not much distance and another bounce back.
Kupets is becoming much more comfortable giving criticisms.
Davis - UB - Also great on the tkatchev and excellent rhythm out of it - clean on her bail and shoot to high bar - hitting hs - small hop on tuck full dismount, but great on the bars.
Wellick - VT - Best vault of the team so far in the distance and dynamics department - maintains good body position and a smaller hop back.
Rogers - UB - Did PA guy just introduce her as "Mrs. Brittany Rogers?" Oh "This is Brittany Rogers." I see - Ricna - yes yes yes - pretty bail and stalder shoot - precise on hs - sticks DLO. There you go. Best of the rotation. Very pretty and very clean.
Arkansas won't vault a 6th. Finishes 49.275 on vault, which they'll take any day.
Sanders - UB - OH YEAH. Coming in for Jay. short on first hs - high piked jaeger and well done - a little arch on hs afterward and basically sideways on her bail - a couple short handstands and almost sticks - a lean and a step on the double back. Not bad. Won't make the lineup but potential for next year. This is her event.
Danna is telling everyone how much better they need to land.
After 2: Georgia 98.550, Arkansas 98.350
Georgia is on that 197 pace but still has beam and floor to come, so scary. Some solid bars routines from the usual suspects there. Rogers was phenomenal, and Davis and Brown were both strong until the dismount, and Persinger did one of her best. Once again missing Jay. They had two sloppier performances and had to count Vaculik's score, which brought them down.
Arkansas will be happy with that 49.275 on vault, which was the same score Georgia got. Wellick was excellent, but the rest need more control on those landings going forward to really put pressure on other teams once Regionals comes around. Well, Wellick needs more control too since she bounced like the rest, but the vault was strong enough to withstand it.
Rotation 3 - Georgia on HORRORBEAM, Arkansas on floor
Vaculik - BB - good switch and split 1/4 - always her strength on beam - tight but solid on loso series - check on the aerial - full turn - side aerial but off line into layout full - and then a hop to the side as well.
Canizaro - FX - double pike - chest down with a bounce - wolf jump full - also bounce back (nearly OOB) on the double tuck - switch ring is slightly college - 1.5 to layout is fine - but needed more control on those opening passes.
Brown - BB - pretty full turn - clean on her two loso series, definitely her best since she has returned to the lineup - a little short on her split - fine on straddle 1/4 - and then completely off on her side aerial - fall. And just when I returned you to my fantasy gym lineup! Hop on gainer pike. Trouble for Georgia now.
Dillard - FX - starts with a clean rudi - switch ring is better - nice front full to layout - simple routine but one of the more precise ones on the team - random aerial - 1.5 to layout - clean hit.
Babalis - BB - Solid on her loso series - and clean on the aerial - switch to pike jump with a check - a little tight on full turn - solid kickover front to beat jump - sticks front full dismount - one of her more solid beam routines this year.
Zaziski - FX - solid opening double pike - very short on that double tuck middle pass (no height) and lunges forward - fine switch side and a little short on her wolf jump position - crazy leg separation on her front layout and then goes off line on her front full with a hop.
Rogers - BB - switch to straddle - still not quite hitting that switch - pretty in the air on her loso series - perhaps a slight adjustment but basically nothing - nice full turn - hits her bhs 3/4 well this time - bhs 1/1 to layout full - stuck. One of her solidest beam routine of the year. Or solidest. Well done.
Nelson - FX - another with a large bounce on her double pike - solid on the straddles - clean on the 1.5 to layout - that's well done - another slide on her double back - just looked like she got that around.
UCLA/Stanford getting underway soon but still in pre-meet mode.
Broussard - BB - UGH! One-armed bhs and then off on her loso. Kupets is as exasperated as I am. And now they're counting a fall again. BYE 197! The rest of the work is solid so far. Check on side aerial - hops her feet together on the gainer full. Maybe they'll get their first 197 at Regionals?
Elswick - FX - Nice double pike - good chest position and height - switch side to wolf full - 1.5 to front tuck with a large lunge - didn't get much on that pass but got it around - "Front tuck is still an element" says Kupets. Solid landing on double tuck - lowish chest.
UCLA starts with Honest on vault with mushy legs and a big bounce back.
Wing on bars - (as Box goes on beam) - and Wing misses her shaposh. UGH. Pressure on the rest (Rice) now.
Box rescuing Georgia as much as she can with a hit beam - clean and secure acro. The rest of Wing's routine was lovely as always. Box ALMOST sat that dismount. Just held on but squatty.
Irvin - VT - comes in a little short this time with a hop forward.
Wellick - FX - Nice high double pike - good chest position and perhaps just a little bouncy nothing - hitting her leaps well. Another small slide on double tuck but good position.
McNair - UB - nice height on piked jaeger - clean and hit bail - a little close on shoot - great stick on tuck full. Strong routine.
Bynum - VT - Looked to be one of her nicer halfs in the air, but ended up taking a couple small steps forward on landing.
Rice - UB - good first hs - nice height on shoot to high bar - a little close? - strong jaeger - pretty pak as well - nice half turn on low bar - full turn was OK - hop forward on double tuck - fine.
Lee - VT - OK, UCLA needs some real vaults now. Because those first three were not landed well enough. Lovely. Good form and direction - smallest twitch of the legs on landing, opens out of it - yes.
Shapiro - UB - Good toe shoot - handstands are excellent obviously - hugely high jaeger - pretty on the pak - and sticks the DLO. Massive routine. Very well done.
Peszek - VT - Almost a stick? Looks like she hopped her legs together a little landing that but otherwise magnificent.
Vaculik - UB - nice first hs - Vaculik gienger is Vaculik gienger - some moments of small leg issues but lovely work - one iffy giant in there - flops out her legs in the second salto of her DLO and pikes a bit but sticks it -
Williams - VT - Nice vault - Lot quite as laid out the whole way as Lee or Peszek - but she has power and maintains the direction - also just the smallest movement on the landing like Peszek.
Hong - UB -clean bail and shoot back to high bar - hitting hs - low landing on her DLO and a hop forward.
Scores went big there for UCLA for those last few routines, but they last three did well to control their landings giving away almost nothing. 49.475. Stanford was very pretty on bars, overcame the fall for a 49.200. Seems like a couple of those scores could have been higher. Shapiro was just lovely, but a few did give away too much on dismounts.
Freier hitting a pretty beam for Arkansas right now in the final rotation. Georgia must recover from that beam on an even that has been a real problem and now is without Jay. Hop back on gainer full for Freier.
Persinger - FX - tuck to double back - did she land right on the microphone? - solid landing - the switch ring looked good - the switch full less so, but her dance elements are usually a strength - nice solid landing on double pike as well - not giving away anything on those landings today so far - rudi with just a small bounce but a strong opening.
Wellick - BB - nice switch to straddle 1/4 - hits aerial to straddle jump - secure on loso series and full turn - some areas of mushy knees but not too bad - holds onto her side somi well with just a swing of the arms - sticks 2/1 dismount. Good work.
Reynolds - FX - Slides back on double pike - it has been the day of the sliding pass - good switch side to popa - rudi to loso is solid - clean 1.5 to layout.
Hanset - VT - handpring pike half - chest down because it's a handspring pike - step back.
Francis - UB - nice first hs - solid form on shaposh and clean into bail - nice shoot to high bar - good full turn and sticks the double pike once again. Every time now! If this were Florida, she would be anchoring for 9.950.
McNair - VT - Good form on the full - just a hop back -
Zaziski hitting a solid beam so far for Arkansas -
Meraz - UB - toe on - floppy legs in bail - hits her shoot well - short on hs and a little flat on the tkatchev - DLO with leg break and piking - bends and bends and bends to hold onto the stick
Rice - VT - Lands a little more piked over on her full this time - a step back and then another slide to salute. Not the distance of the later UCLA vaults.
DeJesus - UB - good full turn - usual legs on the gienger - clean on the bail and shoot back to high bar - one iffy handstand in there - trying for better chest position on that dismount, which she gets, but takes a big hop back -
N McNair - VT - Good height on her vault, not much distance but just the smallest shuffle back - nice work.
Brown came back into the floor lineup for Georgia and hit.
Mossett - UB - high jaeger and nice catch - pretty pak and not as close as it has been this year many time - hitting her hs - tuck full dismount with a step - one of her most composed routines this year. No major errors this time.
Price - VT - Magical on the full. Hugely huge. Looked like a stick to me but she may have twitched a bit there? No, I'm calling that a stick. Great vault. Let's see what the score is. 9.950.
Peszek - UB -excellent full - great gienger as wlays - hitting hs - clean bail - not that high on the shoot to high bar but fine - smallest bounce on the DLO. Nice routine but they're going to be itching to give her 10s and she's not getting them yet.
Vaculik - VT -She's getting there - a little knee bend on the full and comes in a bit short with a step, but closer to her usual level.
Lee - Great Bahrdwaj - hits her shaposh 1/2 as well - nice hs - way short on the DLO with a lunge forward. Would have been a great score until that.
Missed Marino on floor for Georgia, but she got a 9.950. Big wobble for Ellswoarth on beam now.
Babalis - FX - bounces a bit on her double tuck - buit nice in the air - half to front full isn't big but fairly secure - very solid double pike. Good work.
Craddock hits an exhibition beam.
Dillard - BB - Really need this routine because Ellsworth lost some SV - clean aerial to bhs loso series - stag - just some small twitches of correction but nothing major - side aerial to side position is hit - switch to wolf is OK - solid side aerial to split - sticks the 1/5 Needed that routine.
Teams are tied at 196.650 going into the final routine from Box for Georgia, which should give them what she needs if she hits her usual.
Box - Great high double pike as always and pretty good control - 1.5 to layout is also big - dance-runs a little bit out of it - switch side is good, popa is fine - solid and secure double back. Good routine. 9.950
Final: Georgia 196.775 to Arkansas 196.650
Georgia just squeaks through with a victory in spite of counting a fall on beam. But still, it's another of those high 196s and not the 197 they were looking for. What are we going to do about this. They NEED Brandie. But that wasn't the problem on beam. Arkansas will certainly take that road score for a relatively well-hit meet.
UCLA leads Stanford 98.850 to 98.350 after two, though the quality of performances haven't been that different, especially on bars where Stanford was quite good. UCLA was the stronger team on vault, which three great vaults to Stanford's one.
Rotation 3 - UCLA on beam, Stanford on floor
Meraz - BB - solid front - secure on loso series as well - she is a good find for this lineup - it's not the cleanest or most extended, but it's solid - has to pause a bit in her dance combination so that will be interesting - sticks 1.5 dismount. No wobbles in there.
Frowein - FX - Back in the lineup this week - solid double pike - a little low chest but high and secure on landing - front full to front pike is right to the edge but she keeps it in - Note: I don't need an aerial view. L turn - struggles with leaps - switch ring was not - solid landing on the 1.5 to pike - holds onto it after it looked like she would be short.
Williams - BB -solid on bhs loso series - hits straddle 3/4 as well - calm and precise so far - full turn - kickover front to wolf is nice - keep her in this lineup? - Dom is so happy about it - gainer full with a step. Very unusual to see a UCLA gymnast with a gainer full unless that's the only option.
Rice - FX - Taylor is barely taller than that low table. Good double pike - better making it rain - half to front full is solid - also right to the edge but it - legs a bit ragged but nbd - switch ring is iffy switch side is fine - hits double tuck - goes a little off to the side, but a worthy hit.
DeJesus - BB - small check/hesitation on her aerial to bhs - switch to split - fine kickover to best jump - solid on full turn - the moonwalk is getting better, but it's still a moonwalk. Sticks front full dismount. Solid work, but she needs to work on moving faster in between the skills on her combinations.
Hanset - FX - 2.5 to front tuck is strong - made sure to keep her back leg planted on the tuck - WOW - can't believe she kept that middle combination to her feet - got one inch of air to do that tuck but pulled it around and may have kept it in bounds as well - doesn't on the double pike, though - stumbles back and goes OOB. They'll need to drop that.
Francis - BB - good side aerial - clean on aerial to bhs as well - good switch to split - always hits those 180s perfectly - y spin - no errors yet - into dismount - sticks it but did have some pause in between the elements this time. I think it should be fine. 9.950. So yes, fine.
Spector - FX - She has the cash register sound effects? Not Taylor? High double pike with a slide - switch side to a slightly crooked popa - front layout to front full - secure on double back - not big work but solid enough work.
Lee - BB - Peszek going last this time as is appropriate. Let's hope Peng hits so Sam has the freedom of composition. Wonderful flares as always - lovely switch and split jump - excellent and stuck on the 2ft layout this time as well - right on with the punch front as well. This is one of her solidest routines so far - strong on double turn. She really packs in the risk, and I appreciate that so much. One step on 2/1 dismount. Well done. This is already a great rotation score. They're starting to find their beam greatness. Another 9.950. Would have been a 10 with a stick.
Vaculik - FX - Nice high, easy, and clean double tuck to start - solid 1.5 to layout to stag as well - short in her split 1/2 - so glad she's back on this event, though. They need her in the AA almost as much as they need Price in as many events as possible. Low chest on double pike with a bounce.
Peszek - BB - good aerial to back tuck - switch + switch leap and splits the beam and comes off. Shame. Also I HATE that dance element combo for her. It's not 180, and makes her look so much worse than she is - and clearly a problem since she has fallen on it twice, and it's dance elements. Goes again and does a straddle as the second element and it's a million times better already. Combo into the full dismount and stuck. They didn't need the score, so it's fine, but still should not be happening.
Daum - FX - No Price today. So what's the point of anything? A little low on her double pike - 1.5 to layout. Squatty on the final double tuck and steps OOB. Too much trouble on that floor rotation for Stanford, still. It looked very January.
Mossett doing exhibition on beam - nice on her leaps - hits her loso series as well and solid on the side somi this time. She's an option but probably not among the most reliable 6 for this team - steps on gainer pike dismount. Craddock next because senior day. Has an acro series now - it's aerial to bhs again, and it's fine but slow - switch to split - Randy thinks it's just OK - side aerial to full and hits.
After 3: UCLA 148.325, Stanford 147.425
Great beam from UCLA until Peszek. The first three did the solid work they need to (though I would like to see a little more rhythm in combinations), and then Peng and Francis were brilliant as always. They need to get Peszek's composition worked out yesterday. UCLA on track for a good mid-197 with a hit floor. Stanford can still pull a solid mid-high 196 out of this if they hit beam the way they should.
In other news, Nebraska is nailing it so far on good 197 pace (9.975 for Deziel on vault), while Oregon State is overcoming a poor vault score to get back on mid 196 pace with beam still to come.
Wing - BB - Nice bhs full - clean aerial to bhs loso - very pretty full turn - switch to a correct sissone and then a stuck gainer full - lovely work. I've always been a fan of this one.
Gerber - FX -Fine double tuck - a little slide - 1.5 to what was supposed to be a front layout - had to pike it to get it around - her dance combination has some 3/4 elements that are a little cheated around but the positions look fine enough - low chest on double pike to finish. Pinches still out?
N McNair - BB - steps back on loso series and bends at the waist but stays on - side somi and side aerial are nice though - good switch to straddle 1/4 - the rest was nice - shame about the early mistake.
Mossett - FX - Opens double back steps and near OOB - layouts to front handspring middle pass - I like her headstand choreography in the middle and the leaps are well done - looked a little short on double pike?
Rice - BB - straddle jump to sheep - more making it rain - important element in the routine - secure on the front as well as the loso series - she has turned into more of a beamer from being a nervous one earlier in her career - gainer full.
Francis - FX - whip to double tuck is fine - a little low but held onto the landing - has the usual slightly awkward stepover on the 2.5 landing, but it is under control and solidly landed - same on the double pike. Very nice routine, controlled and secure, but she does land with a very low chest on some of those passes.
Hanset - BB - solid loso series - switch to straddle 1/4 - aerial to wolf is fine as well - they have to get rid of a 9.700, but everyone since has been solid - including Hanset, just the larger step forward on the dismount.
Cipra - FX - Starting just the double back this time - nice enough - could have been a little higher on landing but not a major issue - 1.5 to layout is well done - switch ring is good - I wasn't that into this routine when she first performed it (preferred last year's), but it has grown on me a lot. Holds double pike. Have I mentioned that I really hate this overhead view? How are we supposed to see anything? Squats a little in the final pass but holds the landing.
Vaculik - BB - Just slightly off line on her rulfova but pulls it back centrally well - check at the hips on her loso series - nice switch and wolf jump - comfortable full turn - 2/1 dismount with steps. OK.
Bynum - FX - Really nice on the DLO this time - one of her better ones - secure on the front tuck through to double back as well - split full to wolf jump full - Another double back as last pass - minus a million for repeated elements, but some of her most controlled tumbling landings. 9.975. OK now.
Hong - BB - Lovely on the mount as always - and on the onodi to bhs - we've seen so few onodis this year - even fewer than usual - high and excellent on the loso series - split to sheep - sticks gainer pike - magnificent routine. They needed that one.
Peszek - FX - How much do they want to give her a 10? I feel like I haven't seen this routine at all. Because I haven't. Nice DLO - does a Peszek bounce on it but a controlled one and keeps her plant leg down - 1.5 to layout - has to pull around the layout a little with a leg break - nice switch to a rushed split full - bounces on the double pike. She can be better, but it's important to have this routine back. The lineup needs it. GROUP HUG FOR SENIORS. Peszek gets a 9.950 anyway. UCLA just missed joining the 198 club.
Elsewhere, Nebraska and Oregon State both hit well in their final rotations for a final score of Nebraska 197.225, Oregon State 196.700. A score both needed.
Ellette Craddock is doing a floor routine. I didn't know she even did floor. She doesn't really, but SENIOR NIGHT.
Final: UCLA 197.950, Stanford 196.625.
Big result for UCLA that will likely be their dropped high score, but once again they're starting to put it together. That beam is beginning to fire, and getting Peszek back on floor was huge. Obviously some senior night scores in there, but probably UCLA's most complete meet of the year. It's also Stanford's highest road score of the year, and they will certainly take that one, though they didn't look quite their best. Floor is flat right now, the vault landings weren't as strong as last week, and there were too many wobbles on beam. We know this Stanford team can be top 5 on both bars and beam when confident. No question. But they need full, healthy vault and floor lineups to make that mean something.