The national championship starts tomorrow. Already. So disrespectful.
If you haven't checked out my semifinal ramblings yet, here they are:
And the rotation order.
Before we get to what's happening tomorrow, there's also the matter of the regular NLI signing period (as opposed to the early period in November), which began yesterday. Mostly, this period is used to confirm what we already know, like Lizzy LeDuc's switch to Illinois. The most significant announcement in terms of name recognition came from UCLA, as they confirmed the coup of seizing Kyla Ross from Stanford (deferring until after the Olympics, obviously), along with the signing of Katelyn Ohashi and Madison Preston for next season. Preston is a Cincinnati refugee who won the vault title in her division at JOs last year. Looking at the gaps that will reappear on vault next year without Peszek and Williams, and since Pua Hall's vault is apparently MIA, anyone with a yfull as big as hers is a thing.
In other news, Georgia Dabritz won the AAI Award. It was a tough field this year, but Dabritz was probably always the favorite, having competed more regularly than some of the other competitors (like Peszek), being the biggest star on her team (unlike Hunter), and having the academic recognition to go along with it. She had narrative in her favor.
Now, let's get to what we need for tomorrow.
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Semifinal #1 (Live Video)
Florida, Utah, Michigan, UCLA, Georgia, Stanford
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Semifinal #2 (Live Video)
Oklahoma, LSU. Alabama, Auburn, Nebraska, Oregon State
These semifinals will be used to determine the six teams advancing to Super Six on Saturday (three teams from each), along with the national all-around champion and the competitors advancing to Sunday's event finals. On each event, there will be a minimum of eight and a maximum of one trillion qualifiers because the top four people advance from each semifinal, and ties are not broken. That means when 24 people tie for 4th place on vault with a 9.900, they all go to event finals. It is hellish.
I don't do any previewing or prognostication for event finals because the qualification is always nonsense. You might as well just pick four people out of a hat. The best people never qualify to event finals since it only takes a little step on landing to drop out of the top four. Example: Lloimincia Hall has never competed in the floor final. Which means she probably needs to make it this year.
I also refrained from doing a preview of the all-around because I learned my lesson last year when I basically said, "And then there are other people like Kim Jacob who DEFINITELY can't win." So go me. In my defense, it was a screwed-up day for the AAers and all the favorites had mistakes. This year, Bridget Sloan has to be pegged as the favorite now that she's back to doing floor, but it's not prohibitive since nothing is in the AA. If the winner isn't Sloan, then we have to look to Courville, who is always the second-best SEC AAer, Dabritz now that she has joined the illustrious company of sudden senior beamers, Sam Peszek, Kytra Hunter, and Lindsay Mable as the likeliest contenders to get 39.7s. If the winning score falls down to the low 39.6s again, then about two dozen more people are suddenly in it.