January 30, 2016

Metroplex Live Blog

It's Metroplex! 8:00 ET/5:00 PT, streamed on Aunt Flogymnastics for those who have signed up for the arm-and-a-leg subscription. For those who haven't, let me be your guide. There are no windows and no doors.

Five teams compete tonight (Oklahoma, LSU, Stanford, Missouri, Washington) because nothing says compelling entertainment like a bye. If there's one thing sports fans love, it's when their favorite team just leaves for a while. They go crazy for it.

Obviously, the judges will have viewed the excessively baroque scoring from the Florida meet last night as a challenge. Do I hear four 10s per team? Everyone is a perfect star! Who wants a juice box and a hug?

January 29, 2016

Friday Live Blog – [5] Alabama @ [1] Florida; Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia's Crazy Beam

Friday, January 29
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Temple, Ursinus, Centenary @ West Chester
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Alabama @ Florida - SCORES - SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Michigan @ Nebraska - SCORES - BTN2Go($)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Georgia @ Kentucky - SCORES - SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Illinois @ Penn State - SCORES - Stream(free)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Hamline @ UW-Eau Claire
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Gustavus Adolphus @ UW-Stout - SCORES - Stream
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – NC State, Lindenwood @ Iowa State - SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Whitewater @ SEMO - SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Winona State @ UW-La Crosse
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Auburn @ Arkansas- SCORES - SECN
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BYU @ Boise State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Southern Utah @ Utah State - SCORES - Stream
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Texas Woman’s, William & Mary, Seattle Pacific @ San Jose State - SCORES
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – UC Davis @ Sacramento State

Alabama and Florida. We're not goin' for no city championships.

January 28, 2016

The Weekend Plans – January 29-February 1

The top 25 schedule looks like a rather paltry affair this week, but that's mostly because it's heavily incestuous with most of the top teams competing against each other. So, what we lose in quantity we should make up for in quality with a few legitimate marquee 50/50 meets. It's worth getting excited about.

Top 25 schedule
Friday, January 29
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [5] Alabama @ [1] Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [3] Michigan @ [17] Nebraska
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [13] Georgia @ [23] Kentucky
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [19] Illinois @ Penn State
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [9] Auburn @ [8] Arkansas
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – BYU @ [10] Boise State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [24] Southern Utah @ Utah State

Saturday, January 30
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [11] George Washington @ North Carolina
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [18] Minnesota @ Ohio State
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [14] Denver @ Bowling Green
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Northern Illinois @ [24] Eastern Michigan
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Arizona State @ [15] Oregon State
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Metroplex Challenge ([2] Oklahoma, [6] LSU, [12] Stanford, [16] Missouri, Washington)

Monday, February 1
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [20] Arizona @ [7] Utah
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [4] UCLA @ [21] Cal

Live blogging
Friday will be the usual, with special focus on Alabama/Florida since that's kind of a massive meet. It doesn't look like there will be live streaming of the Michigan/Nebraska meet, which is a shame, so we'll just have to keep ourselves warm with SEC action and the cozy glow of Kathy Johnson's sigh of dismay. I'll then be back on Saturday to get sloppy with Metroplex, which should be the amazing, competitive, crack-smokingly-scored meet we've come to know and love.

-We've got some serious showdowns headlining Friday in which the results are actually up in the air (!), so let's get into it. Alabama and Florida is always a worthwhile experience, but with both teams at a point in the season where they're still showing flashes of brilliance mixed with flashes of vulnerability, the outcome will probably be determined by which team can minimize those pesky January errors we've been seeing rather than which team is the most brilliantly, spectacularly amazing.

If both teams do end up hitting to their capabilities, give to edge to Florida for having shown higher scoring potential so far this year and (primarily) for being at home. Still, these teams are both at a level when even counting a 9.700 would change the outcome, let alone counting a fall, so there's no margin for the Gators.
Florida's clear advantage event is bars. The Gators devlier a much stronger lineup with several more 9.900-9.950s, while Alabama is more a 9.850 team because of scoring vulnerabilities like those double fronts. It's unlikely that Alabama can keep pace with hit Sloan/Caquatto routines, so Florida will need and expect a lead at the halfway point. That's especially especially true because I also give Florida the edge on vault, with bigger 1.5s (though Alabama should have more 1.5s—Beers, Brannan, Guerrero vs. Baker, Boren—which could mitigate that) and two of the best fulls in NCAA in Sloan and McMurtry, fulls that Alabama cannot match with its own. That advantage, however, is so dependent on the landings, and Florida is definitely not on stick patrol yet and giving up quite a bit there right now. If Alabama can land and minimize the two-event deficit to something around two tenths, we've got a real meet.

All eyes will be on Alabama's beam after the catastrophe last weekend to see if it becomes a Georgia or not. Theoretically, I do think Alabama's beam is stronger than Florida's 1-6 with more pristine form and potential 9.9s, but of course, hitting. Florida has been better at hitting beam than any other team so far this year. If Alabama is to take the meet, winning beam is absolutely essential, especially because Florida ends on floor at home, a scoring situation that may counteract any lineup advantage Alabama may have on the event.

While Florida boasts the two strongest floor routines from either team in Baker and Sloan (especially in the absence of Carley Sims), Alabama has many, many more options for realistic 9.850-9.875 routines than Florida does and can use those early spots in the lineup to gain a floor edge. Much as Florida needs comparatively stronger bars scores 4-6, Alabama needs comparatively stronger floor scores 1-3.

January 25, 2016

Week 3 Rankings + Notes

It sure was a cap-popping blizzard of a weekend.

The champion of the week was Ashleigh Gnat, who recorded the first vault 10 of the new vault era by sticking her DTY. Because that's what happens when you stick DTYs. You get 10s. Do I hear an Amanar? Sorry. I'll stop. OMG YOU GUYS, my aunt's cousin's best enemy's roommate totally saw Ashleigh Gnat training an Amanar. I SWEAR.

"Oh snap, she stuck it!" Oh Sac, never leave us ever. What if KJC said "Oh snap" when someone landed a vault? I'll let you go enjoy your made life.  

Week 3 rankings

1. Florida – 197.192
Week 3: 197.075
Week 3 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.575; VT - McMurtry 9.900; UB - Sloan 9.925; BB - McMurtry 9.900; FX - Baker 9.950

2. Oklahoma – 197.094
Week 3: 197.475
Week 3 leaders: AA - Capps, Kmieciak 39.500; VT - Scaman, Jackson, Capps 9.875; UB - Wofford, Kmieciak 9.925; BB - Brown 9.925; FX - Scaman 9.925

3. Michigan – 196.938
Week 3: 196.900
Week 3 leaders: AA - Karas 39.550; VT - Karas 9.950; UB - Artz 9.900; BB - Artz, Marinez 9.900; FX - Karas 9.900

4. UCLA – 196.758
Week 3: 196.800
Week 3 leaders: AA - Ohashi 39.375; VT - Hall 9.900; UB - Ohashi 9.925; BB - Francis, Meraz 9.850; FX - Bynum 9.925

5. Alabama – 196.688
Week 3: 196.400
Week 3 leaders: AA - Beers 38.950; VT - Guerrero 9.900; UB - Winston 9.900; BB - A Sims 9.950; FX - Jetter 9.925

6. LSU – 196.450
Week 3: 196.575
Week 3 leaders: AA - Hambrick 39.325; VT - Gnat 10.000; UB - Priessman 9.925; BB - Finnegan 9.900; FX - Gnat 9.950

7. Utah – 196.342
Week 3: 196.125
Week 3 leaders: AA - Lee 39.100; VT - Hughes 9.900; UB - Rowe 9.950; BB - Stover 9.925; FX - Schwab 9.925

8. Arkansas – 196.113
Week 3: 196.700
Week 3 leaders: AA - Wellick 38.950; VT - Wellick 9.900; UB - Zaziski, Freier, Glover 9.775; BB - Wellick 9.900; FX - Canizaro, McGlone, Nelson 9.900

9. Auburn – 196.106
Week 3: 195.900
Week 3 leaders: AA - Atkinson 39.275; VT - Atkinson 9.825; UB - Atkinson 9.875; BB - Krippner, Hlawek 9.775; FX - Demers 9.925

10. Boise State – 196.063
Week 3: 196.425
Week 3 leaders: AA - Remme 39.250; VT - Stockwell 9.925; UB - Stockwell 9.875; BB - Means, Remme 9.800; FX - Collantes 9.925

11. George Washington – 195.800
Week 3: Cancelled

12. Stanford – 195.783
Week 3: 196.675
Week 3 leaders: AA - Price 39.500; VT - Price 9.925; UB - Price 9.925; BB - Hong 9.925; FX - Price 9.875

13. Georgia – 195.769
Week 3: 195.350
Week 3 leaders: AA - Jay 39.475; VT - Jay, Rogers, Snead 9.875; UB - Vaculik 9.875; BB - Box 9.875; FX - Jay, Box 9.900

14. Denver – 195.642
Week 3: 195.650
Week 3 leaders: AA - McGee 39.500; VT - McGee 9.900; UB - McGee 9.875; BB - Ross 9.800; FX - McGee 9.975

15. Oregon State – 195.633
Week 3: 195.125
Week 3 leaders: AA - Gardiner 39.150; VT - Gardiner 9.850; UB - Singley 9.875; BB - McMillan 9.850; FX - Gardiner 9.875

16. Missouri – 195.600
Week 3: 195.800
Week 3 leaders: AA - None; VT - Ward 9.875; UB - Kelly 9.850; BB - Ward 9.900; FX - Harris 9.925

17. Nebraska – 195.342
Week 3: 195.825
Week 3 leaders: AA - Blanske 39.500; VT - Schweihofer 9.900; UB - Williams 9.875; BB - Williams 9.900; FX - Blanske 9.950

18. Minnesota – 195.267
Week 3: 195.675
Week 3 leaders: AA - Gardner 39.100; VT - Haines 9.825; UB - Holst 9.850; BB - Nordquist 9.950; FX - Mable 9.900

19. Illinois – 195.242
Week 3: 195.150
Week 3 leaders: AA - Horth 39.275; VT - O'Connor 9.850; UB - Horth 9.900; BB - Kato 9.875; FX - O'Connor 9.925

20. Arizona – 195.217
Week 3: 196.475
Week 3 leaders: AA - None; VT - Cindric 9.825; UB - Laub 9.875; BB - Cindric 9.875; FX - Sisler Scheider 9.900

21. Cal – 195.150
Week 3: 195.650
Week 3 leaders: AA - Williams 38.800; VT - Williams 9.875; UB - Williams 9.850; BB - Owens 9.850; FX - Williams 9.925

22. West Virginia – 195.083
Week 3: 195.800
Week 3 leaders: AA - Muhammad 39.325; VT - Koshinski 9.900; UB - Goldberg 9.875; BB - Galpin 9.875; FX - Muhammad 9.950

23. Kentucky – 195.033
Week 3: 195.100
Week 3 leaders: AA - Dukes 39.200; VT - Dukes, Stuart 9.800; UB - Stuart 9.800; BB - Dukes 9.900; FX - Stuart, Roemmele 9.775

24. Eastern Michigan – 194.992
Week 3: 195.050
Week 3 leaders: AA - Valentin 39.025; VT - Slocum 9.900; UB - Conrad 9.800; BB - Rubin 9.875; FX - Slocum 9.850

24. Southern Utah – 194.992
Week 3: 195.275
Week 3 leaders: AA - Ramirez 38.725; VT - Webb 9.850; UB - Shettles 9.850; BB - Trejo, Webb 9.875; FX - Webb 9.825

-Florida retains the #1 ranking after a fine-not-great showing at Auburn, a score brought down by some discomfort/Bridget Sloan improvisation on beam that had not been a factor in earlier performances, along with the continued half-a-floor-lineup situation. Oklahoma gained ground in the rankings after putting up a much more Oklahoma-January type performance, still having to endure one beam fall but without the total number of mistakes that kept the first couple meets in more pedestrian territory.

-The emergence of Natalie Von Lovelyton has been a pleasant develop in the reconstruction of Oklahoma's lineups this season, with her pretty, twisty routines characteristic of the early-KJ Oklahoma era. Brown has a front 2/1 on floor, an E pass but not a double salto E pass, though I've noticed that overall the Sooners are going much simpler than their capability on floor, aside from Scaman. Jackson, Jones, and Capps sometimes are all more than capable of big double-salto E passes, but they haven't been bringing the big. At least not yet. That's even more true for UCLA's lineup, which is a march of the double pikes until Bynum in the anchor spot. It will be interesting to watch when or if the in-your-face difficulty is reintroduced to some of these routines, or if these coaches just decide to say, "Hey, this is what we can do cleanly, and we don't need to do more. Over the last two or three years, clean, amplitudinous double pike routines have received 9.950s and even 10.000s in anchor spots, so.....deal with it."

January 23, 2016

Saturday Live Blog – [5] UCLA @ Arizona

Saturday, January 23
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Pennsylvania @ Yale
1:00 ET/10:00 PT ­ – Cornell @ Cortland
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – UCLA @ Arizona - SCORES - Pac-12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Oregon State @ Utah - SCORES - Pac-12
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh @ UW-Whitewater - Stream
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Winter of our discontent @ Pittsburgh - SCORES - Stream
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Alaska @ Bowling Green - SCORES
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Rutgers @ Nebraska - SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Michigan State @ Minnesota - SCORES - BTN2Go
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Washington @ Denver - SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Ohio State @ Iowa

Today, the Pac-12 schools get their chance to head to the club and get all Ukrainian up in these here beam rotations, though the marks set by Georgia and Alabama yesterday will be pretty tough to beat. Alabama is the clubhouse leader with two falls and a routine-ending injury. Then again, 42% of Georgia's beam routines so far this season have been falls, and 54% have scored under 9.700, so...

After yesterday's Alabama performance, UCLA currently sits in 4th, having put together one of the more complete/least horrifying starts to the season so far, though they would need a 197.350 to move ahead of Michigan in the rankings and are susceptible to being passed by Utah depending how things go today.

January 22, 2016

Friday Live Blog – Every Team Ever

Friday, January 22
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Arkansas @ Alabama - SCORES - SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – SEMO @ Centenary - SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-La Crosse @ Hamline
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa State, Arizona State @ Oklahoma - SCORES - TV: Various Fox Sports outlets
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Georgia @ Missouri - SCORES - SECN+
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan @ Illinois - SCORES - BTN2Go
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Central Michigan @ Northern Illinois - Stream($)
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Lindenwood, Ball State @ Illinois State - Stream($)
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Florida @ Auburn - SCORES - SECN
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Kentucky @ LSU - SCORES - SECN+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State @ Southern Utah - SCORES
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Boise State, UC Davis @ BYU - Stream
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Sacramento State @ Seattle Pacific - SCORES? - Stream

With all the SEC meets and an Oklahoma home meet that's actually televised for human people to watch, we'll have quite a bit to get through today. There will be a period when I'm trying to watch Georgia/Missouri, ISU/ASU/Oklahoma, Auburn/Florida, and Kentucky/LSU, and blog about it all at the same time. It's going to be freaky and monstrous. Get ready. I'm going for the land-speed record for mistyping tkatchev in a single blog post.

January 21, 2016

The Weekend Plans – January 22-24

Apparently, the east coast broke, so some of these teams will not be competing this weekend because they're being preserved in ice for future archaeologists to find. George Washington is out of Saturday's meet, but as of now, the meet is still expected to go ahead. Penn State was supposed to travel to Maryland, but that meet has been postponed because of "as if."

Top 25 schedule + other notables
Friday, January 22
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [10] Arkansas @ [4] Alabama
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Iowa State, Arizona State @ [2] Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [9] Georgia @ [14] Missouri
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [3] Michigan @ [17] Illinois
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [1] Florida @ [8] Auburn
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [20] Kentucky @ [7] LSU
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah State @ [23] Southern Utah
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [13] Boise State, UC Davis @ BYU

Saturday, January 23
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [5] UCLA @ Arizona
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [11] Oregon State @ [6] Utah
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – *[12] George Washington, [15] New Hampshire, Temple @ Pittsburgh
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Rutgers @ [18] Nebraska
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Michigan State @ [19] Minnesota
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Washington @ [16] Denver
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [25] Ohio State @ Iowa

Sunday, January 24
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [21] Eastern Michigan, Illinois State @ Ball State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [22] Cal, San Jose State @ [24] Stanford

Live blogging
I'll be here live blogging all the Friday slop as usual—get all your devices and alternate monitors and time machines ready because there will be periods when you want to watch three meets at the same time—as well as UCLA/Arizona on Saturday (but not Oregon State/Utah, just a heads up).  

-Most of the top teams are getting their meets out of the way on Friday, with only the major Pac-12 sides holding out until the weekend. Though the result is in doubt for very few of these meets, many of these teams are coming off nasties of varying severity in their most recent showings, so there are a couple key rotations to watch. Yeah, I'm talking about Georgia's beam. The SEC Network should definitely cut in to Florida/Auburn when Georgia is going on beam with a breaking news update because we all need to see that thing.

-The premier meet of the week is Florida's visit to Auburn because it features the highest-ranked underdog and because I haven't seen a full Auburn meet yet this season. My needs make things important. Florida is the heavy favorite in this one, with a fuller contingent of both starring 9.9s and supporting 9.8s that would have to thrown up a relative splatfest for Auburn to come out on top. The Gators turned in the strongest and most complete performance in the country so far this season in their last meet, though the scoring was crazy-pie, so part of the interest in this meet will be how similarly hit routines are scored away from home. It should be a better indicator of where Florida is at this point in the season.

Perhaps surprisingly, or not, the floor rotation is the biggest question for Florida so far this year, once again last weekend featuring three great routines and three weak routines. Bridgey will chug along and get into form eventually, but that is a lineup that looks a step behind where it could be given the quality of Baker, Sloan, and Boren. Right now, they're just missing that DLO from Wang or piked full-in from Spicer, or even the 9.850 that Boyce could bring in the first spot to make this a complete and dominant lineup 1-6. For a championship side, everyone in the floor lineup should be a possible 9.900. We've seen Florida, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, etc. do that recently, but that's not the case for Florida right now. That wouldn't be a real problem until Super Six, because this floor lineup is still great, but it's something to keep in mind.

For Auburn, the first couple meets have been fine but not ideal. At this point, the team is still expecting to count some 9.7s and will need more time to develop routines from Krippner and Engler into 9.825-9.850 early-lineup options, rendering a 9.750 a drop-score rather than a phew-score. It will take more than a single January to get to that place, but those are the freshmen I'm watching with the biggest vulture-eyes in this meet. It has been encouraging to see Abby Milliet develop into a true and viable second-in-command to Atkinson on bars and beam (she even did floor last week). The question about Auburn this season is whether this will be a complete contending team or just the Caitlin Atkinson show, especially on bars and beam in the absence of Megan Walker. Milliet has already stepped up the quality from last year to fill that role.

January 18, 2016

Monday Live Blog - [24] Stanford @ [9] Georgia + Ranking Notes

#24 Stanford. So, you know, there's that. Stanford has some assets compared to Georgia, particularly on bars and beam, but if we don't see fully competitive lineups on vault and floor, it's going to be a long old day.

It's also Monday, so before the meet gets going, let's jump into the rankings and important notes from the weekend just passed.

The top score was a 9.975 on bars recorded by Bridget Sloan, getting a Sloan10 from one of the judges. This angle particularly illuminates the bail, which is why this isn't one of her stronger 9.975s. (The fact that that's a comment.) Sloan Bail is very dependent on angle and usually goes through ups and downs during the course of a season, but if that were crisper, this would have been a legit 10 since we know that NCAA gym takes a see-no-evil approach to flexed feet on single-bar releases.

For your stat note of the week, so far on floor we have seen 13 scores of 9.950 or higher, compared to 5 on beam, 4 on bars, and 2 on vault. So that's new.

Week 2 ranking

1. Florida – 197.250
Week 2: 197.675
Week 2 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.650; VT - Baker, McMurtry 9.925; UB - Sloan 9.975; BB - Sloan, McMurtry 9.925; FX - Baker 9.950

2. Oklahoma – 196.967
Week 2 A: 197.125
Week 2 A leaders: AA - Kmieciak 39.425; VT - Jackson, Scaman 9.900; UB - Wofford, Capps 9.925; BB - Lovan 9.925; FX - Jackson 9.925

Week 2 B: 197.050
Week 2 B leaders: AA - Kmieciak 39.400; VT - Jackson 9.950; UB - Wofford 9.900; BB - Capps 9.925; FX - Scaman 9.900

3. Michigan – 196.950
Week 2: 196.950
Week 2 leaders: AA - Karas 39.425; VT - Karas 9.875; UB - Brown 9.900; BB - Chiarelli 9.950; FX - Artz 9.900

4. Alabama – 196.783
Week 2 A: 197.175
Week 2 A leaders: AA - None; VT - Beers 9.900; UB - Jetter 9.875; BB - Beers, McNeer 9.850; FX - Jetter, Beers 9.950

Week 2 B: 196.875
Week 2 B leaders: AA - None; VT - Brannan 9.875; UB - McNeer, Winston 9.875; BB - Beers 9.900; FX - Bailey, Brannan, Giancroce 9.850

5. UCLA – 196.738
Week 2: 196.925
Week 2 leaders: AA - None; VT - Hall 9.900; UB - DeJesus 9.925; BB - Francis 9.950; FX - Cipra, Bynum 9.900

6. Utah – 196.450
Week 2: 196.725
Week 2 leaders: AA - Lee 38.775; VT - Hughes 9.900; UB - Lopez, Hughes 9.925; BB - Lee, Partyka 9.900; FX - Hughes 9.875

7. LSU – 196.388
Week 2: 195.825
Week 2 leaders: AA - Gnat 38.975; VT - Ewing 9.925; UB - Finnegan 9.950; BB - Macadaeg 9.875; FX - Macadaeg 9.950

8. Auburn – 196.175
Week 2 A: 196.275
Week 2 A leaders: AA - None; VT - Demers 9.900; UB - Atkinson 9.900; BB - Atkinson, Demers, Milliet 9.850; FX - Rott 9.800

Week 2 B: 196.075
Week 2 B leaders: AA - Atkinson 39.375; VT - Demers 9.875; UB - Arkinson 9.875; BB - Milliet 9.850; FX - Atkinson 9.825

9. Georgia – 195.988
Week 2: 196.775
Week 2 leaders: AA - Rogers 39.425; VT - Jay 9.950; UB - Rogers 9.900; BB - Rogers 9.900; FX - Jay 9.875

10. Arkansas – 195.917
Week 2 A: 196.700
Week 2 A leaders: AA - Wellick 39.150; VT - Wellick 9.850; UB - Zaziski, Canizaro, Speed 9.875; BB - Dillard, Zaziski 9.875; FX - Wellick 9.900

Week 2 B: 195.900
Week 2 B leaders: AA - Wellick 39.125; VT - Wellick 9.900; UB - Zaziski 9.900; BB - Zaziski 9.875; FX - McGlone 9.825

January 16, 2016

Saturday and Sunday Meets

For Saturday and Sunday, I probably won't be doing much of the normal routine-by-routine live blogging (save that for Monday, when I'll be all over it), but I'll be popping in and out watching bits of things over the two days and will keep this post here for some basic reactions and impressions as needed. Feel free to use the comments to communicate all your feelings/profanities/side-eyes/insane commentator quotes/crack-smoking-judge reports from whatever you're watching. I'd love to know what I'm missing. We're all in this together. We can get through NCAA gym as a family.

Saturday, January 16
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Illinois @ Rutgers
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Brown, Springfield, Ithaca @ Southern Connecticut
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Ursinus @ Brockport
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Cortland, Rhode Island @ West Chester
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Hamline, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse @ UW-Oshkosh
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Ohio State @ Michigan
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Nebraska @ Penn State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Maryland @ Minnesota
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Illinois-Chicago @ Northern Illinois
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Ozone Classic (Iowa State, Pittsburgh, SEMO, Air Force)

Sunday, January 17
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green @ Western Michigan
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Towson @ Ball State
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – North Carolina, Penn, Cornell, Temple @ George Washington
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Arizona @ Texas Woman’s
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Oklahoma @ Arkansas
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Alabama vs. Auburn (Birmingham, AL)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – New Hampshire @ West Virginia

The Rutgers/Illinois feed was going Rutgers-only for the first half of the meet (it's also fun when they cut away from a floor routine to show a judge just doing some judging), but I'm still slightly appalled that a team with Horth, Kato, and O'Connor all going on bars can keep scoring a 2. Those are three would-be 9.9s. I picked Illinois to have a big year before the season started, and I'm sticking to it. The pace at halfway is still an improvement on last week, though. Ish. This will not be a usable score for Rutgers after a bars rotation in which every single person fell on a gienger. Did I spy with my little eye a Mustafina dismount, though? You go, Rutgers.

January 15, 2016

Friday Live Blog: [5] UCLA @ [3] Florida; Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas

Friday, January 15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UCLA @ Florida - SCORES - SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Missouri @ Alabama - SCORES - SECN
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Oregon State, Bridgeport, Illinois State, Wisconsin-Eau Claire @ Lindenwood - SCORES - FLO PRO
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – BYU @ Central Michigan - SCORES - ESPN3
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Iowa @ Michigan State - SCORES - Stream($)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Temple @ William & Mary
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout, Gustavus Adolphus @ Winona State - SCORES - Stream
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Cal, Texas Woman’s @ Oklahoma - SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Kentucky @ Auburn - SCORES - SECN
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – Georgia @ Arkansas - SCORES - SECN
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah @ Southern Utah - SCORES - FLO PRO
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Kent State @ Utah State - SCORES
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Sacramento State @ San Jose State - SCORES - Stream
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Boise State, Seattle Pacific @ UC Davis - SCORES

Week 1 ranking

Here we go, yet again. Some big meets will get underway right at 7:00/4:00, so remember to be a Punctual Percy otherwise you're going to miss things. Important things like Bridget Sloan's vault or covering your eyes while UCLA is on bars.

January 14, 2016

The Weekend Plans – January 15-18

Keep in mind that this is a super-extendo-weekend, beginning tonight and going through Monday, on which we fulfill the national tradition of celebrating the memory of Martin Luther King by bitching about vault landings. As he would have wanted. It's a busy one, with many many teams forcing themselves into two meets in three days for some horrible reason.

Top 25 schedule + other notables
Thursday, January 14
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Yale @ [18] New Hampshire
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – [1] LSU vs. [23] NC State (Las Vegas, NV)

Friday, January 15
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [5] UCLA @ [3] Florida
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [14] Missouri @ [6] Alabama
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [12] Oregon State, Bridgeport, Illinois State, Wisconsin-Eau Claire @ Lindenwood
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [11] Cal, Texas Woman’s @ [4] Oklahoma
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [21] Kentucky @ [7] Auburn
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [15] Georgia @ [16] Arkansas
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [7] Utah @ Southern Utah
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [16] Kent State @ Utah State
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Boise State, Seattle Pacific @ UC Davis

Saturday, January 16
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [19] Illinois @ Rutgers
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Ohio State @ [1] Michigan
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Nebraska @ Penn State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [25] Maryland @ [23] Minnesota

Sunday, January 17
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [20] Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green @ Western Michigan
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – North Carolina, Penn, Cornell, Temple @ [7] George Washington
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [10] Arizona @ Texas Woman’s
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [4] Oklahoma @ [16] Arkansas
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [6] Alabama vs. [7] Auburn (Birmingham, AL)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [18] New Hampshire @ West Virginia

Monday, January 18
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [22] Stanford @ [15] Georgia
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [13] Denver @ Iowa
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Washington @ Arizona State

As always, the full schedule can be found at the link at the top.

Live blogging
I will definitely be here live blogging on Friday for UCLA/Florida and Georgia/Arkansas and on Monday for Stanford/Georgia. Other than that, it's a maybe. So stay tuned, but don't weep into your handkerchiefs if it doesn't happen. Or do.

-The day starts with the big matchup, Florida and UCLA. UCLA will take relief from the win over Alabama, but beating Florida in Florida would be quite the little upset. For some reason, I don't think Bridget Sloan is going to get stuck in the 9.8s again this weekend. Watching how Florida Scoring (TM) plays out in the post-Rhonda era should be one of the more interesting parts of the meet. Remember that time Florida got a 49.8 on floor? Ah, the memories.

The Gators were just OK in the opening meet, but even though it's early, I think we all expect to see a real step forward this weekend, particularly on vault. As in, Alicia Boren is probably not going to fall again. I'm also eager to see how the vault and floor lineups develop in the coming weeks as they looked a little...unsettled in the opener, featuring a couple backup routines. That floor lineup needs the Bridgey anchor score this year much more than ever before since they may be throwing in two routines in the lower 9.8s. 

Really, if Florida was able to go 196.825 last weekend when hitting just one of four events at an expected level, a serious 197 must be the task on Friday.

-This weekend, UCLA should be happy with replicating the beam and floor performances from the first week. Floor won't score the same on the road, but if the Bruins compete those two events at a similar level, that should be enough to earn an early road 196 to rest on. Beam remains the team's best event, the only potential weakness being an attack from the inconsistency monster, so finishing on beam in front of a bigger road crowd cheering some (presumably) giant floor scores this week will be a valuable and necessary challenge. While Florida also scored well on beam in the first meet, this is the one event where the Bruins are the stronger side, so they'll have to take advantage.

January 11, 2016

Week 1 Ranking and Notes

Well, well well. Look at yourselves. No 197s. No accidental 10s given for Yurchenko fulls. You disgust me. If it hadn't been for the crazy home-team floor scoring at literally every meet, I would hardly even recognize you.

For the moment, Michigan and LSU are riding the "not really doing anything wrong" train to the top spot, but very, very few of the scores recorded this weekend will be expected to stick around once RQS rolls into town. No one burst out of the gate with a shocking or overwhelming performance, except for Nina McGee, who tallied the first 10 of the season with her usual McGeeificiation of the floor exercise. She wins the award for best control and body position on a DLO this week. Now, let's get to the standings and some general thoughts about the scoring changes based on week 1.

Week 1 Ranking (RTN)

1. Michigan – 196.950
Week 1 leaders: AA - Artz 39.450; VT - Karas 9.900; UB - Artz 9.900; BB - Artz, Chiarelli 9.875; FX - Artz, Karas 9.950

1. LSU – 196.950
Week 1 leaders: AA - Hambrick 39.450; VT - Gnat, Wyrick 9.900; UB - Finnegan, Zamardi 9.850; BB - Finnegan 9.925; FX - Gnat 9.950

3. Florida – 196.825
Week 1 leaders: AA - Sloan 39.500; VT - McMurtry 9.925; UB - Sloan 9.875; BB - Boren, Fassbender 9.900 9.875; FX - Baker, Sloan 9.900

4. Oklahoma – 196.725
Week 1 leaders: AA - Kmieciak 39.250; VT - Kmieciak 9.875; UB - Wofford 9.950; BB - Lehrmann, Brown 9.875; FX - Scaman 9.925

5. UCLA – 196.550
Week 1 leaders: AA - Ohashi 38.650; VT - Cipra 9.850; UB - Francis 9.825; BB - Lee, Francis 9.950; FX - Mossett, Bynum 9.950

6. Alabama – 196.300
Week 1 leaders: AA - Brannan 39.350; VT - Brannan 9.900; UB - Bailey, Winston 9.900; BB - Beers, McNeer 9.850; FX - Bailey, Sims 9.900

7. George Washington – 196.175
Week 1 leaders: AA - Winstanley 39.350; VT - Winstanley 9.925; UB - Winstanley 9.900; BB - DeMoura, Mermelstein 9.875; FX - Drouin-Allaire 9.825

7. Utah – 196.175
Week 1 leaders: AA - Lee 38.400; VT - Delaney 9.850; UB - Rowe 9.925; BB - Stover 9.825; FX - Schwab 9.900

7. Auburn – 196.175
Week 1 leaders: AA - Atkinson 38.300; VT - Atkinson 9.925; UB - Milliet 9.875; BB - Milliet 9.875; FX - Demers 9.875

10. Arizona – 195.700
Week 1 leaders: AA - None; VT - Cindric, Mattson 9.825; UB - Laub 9.850; BB - Sheppard 9.825; FX - Schneider 9.825

11. Cal – 195.575
Week 1 leaders: AA - None; VT - Williams 9.850; UB - Williams 9.800; BB - Howe 9.800; FX - Howe 9.875

12. Oregon State – 195.425
Week 1 leaders: AA - Gardiner 39.225; VT - Dessaints 9.900; UB - Dessaints 9.850; BB - Gardiner 9.850; FX - Radermacher 9.875

13. Denver – 195.375
Week 1 leaders: AA - McGee 39.250; VT - Fielitz 9.850; UB - McGee 9.900; BB -Hammen 9.825; FX - McGee 10.000

14. Missouri – 195.275
Week 1 A leaders: AA - Porter 38.900; VT - Miller 9.850; UB - Kelly, Porter 9.875; BB - Ward 9.850; FX - Harris 9.900

Week 1 B leaders: AA - Porter 39.250; VT - Porter, Ward 9.825; UB - Porter 9.800; BB - Kelly 9.850; FX - Harris 9.875

15. Georgia – 195.200
Week 1 leaders: AA - Rogers 39.100; VT - Snead 9.875; UB - Snead 9.900; BB - Box, Rogers 9.800; FX - Marino 9.875

16. Arkansas – 195.150
Week 1 leaders: No meet

16. Kent State – 195.150
Week 1 leaders: AA - None; VT - Williams 9.850; UB - Stypinski 9.900; BB - Lippowitsch 9.750; FX - Stypinski 9.900

18. New Hampshire – 195.100
Week 1 leaders: AA - Lauter 39.200; VT - Mahoney 9.825; UB - Mulligan 9.900; BB - Aucoin, Lauter 9.875; FX - Lauter 9.850

19. Illinois – 195.075
Week 1 leaders: AA - O'Connor 39.275; VT - O'Connor, Foley 9.700; UB - Horth 9.900; BB - O'Connor 9.850; FX - O'Connor 9.900

20. Eastern Michigan – 194.875
Week 1 leaders: AA - Conrad 39.050; VT - Valentin 9.875; UB - Valentin 9.850; BB - Valentin 9.850; FX - Slocum 9.750

21. Kentucky – 194.825
Week 1 leaders: AA - Dukes 39.125; VT - Dukes, Stuart 9.850; UB - Dukes 9.825; BB - Hyland 9.875; FX - Puryear 9.875

22. Stanford – 194.800
Week 1 leaders: AA - Price 39.500; VT - Price 9.850; UB - Price 9.900; BB - Price 9.850; FX - Price 9.900

23. Minnesota – 194.700
Week 1 leaders: AA - Mable 38.900; VT - Mable 9.900; UB - Hanley 9.850; BB - Mable 9.850; FX - Mable 9.800

23. NC State – 194.700
Week 1 leaders: AA - Knight 39.000; VT - Knight 9.825; UB - Turner 9.825; BB - Wild 9.900; FX - Woodford 9.800

25. Maryland – 194.400
Week 1 leaders: AA - Kathy Tang 39.025; VT - Kathy Tang 9.850; UB - Epperson 9.875; BB - Kathy Tang, Nee 9.875; FX - Brauckmuller 9.675

The scoring
-The significant story heading into the season was how the downgrading of the yfull would affect overall vault scoring. It's too soon to draw any grand conclusions because the approach was not consistent from meet to meet. In several meets, we saw the judges being noticeably stricter on yurchenko fulls, not just accounting for the 0.05 downgrade but taking probably another 0.05 after that, at least compared to the last three or so seasons. For instance, Haley Scaman got a 9.825 for her yurchenko full with a hop back that would have received a 9.900 last season, as all her vaults did at the very least. Plenty of 9.750s popped up for yfulls, especially early in the lineup, that would have gone 9.825-9.850 last season. So in some cases, the judges were adding an additional level of scrutiny to the fulls, which is a positive development and should help create more separation in the vault scores, a desperately needed change.

January 10, 2016

Sunday Live Blog: [3] Alabama @ [6] UCLA

Sunday, January 10 
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – William & Mary @ North Carolina
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Temple @ Kent State
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Maryland, Eastern Michigan, Towson @ Pittsburgh
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – UW-Whitewater @ Hamline
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Missouri @ Lindenwood - SCORES - FLO PRO($)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Alabama @ UCLA - SCORES - TV: Pac-12 Net
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Nor Cal Classic (Stanford, Cal, UC Davis. Sacramento State @ San Jose State) - SCORES - FLO PRO($)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Auburn @ Oregon State - SCORES - TV: Pac-12 Net (Oregon)

Third live blog of the weekend! I know. 

After I abandoned you in the cold yesterday, two things happened. One was George Washington breaking 196. The....Fightin' Wooden Teeth (?) are currently tied for 5th in the country. So that's a thing.

Also, Nina McGee.

She happened.

January 9, 2016

Saturday Live Blog – Oklahoma @ LSU, Georgia @ Michigan

Eeeeeee! Competitive meets! (We hope.)

Michigan's 196.975 still stands as the top score in the country after yesterday's very first-meet showing from pretty much every team. We've got two big meets happening somewhat simultaneously today, but I'll try to keep on top of it. Here's the whole schedule:

Saturday, January 9
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – UW-Oshkosh @ Gustavus Adolphus
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Georgia @ Michigan - SCORES - Stream (free)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – NC State @ Penn State - SCORES - Stream (free)
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Illinois-Chicago @ Western Michigan - SCORES - ESPN3
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Rhode Island @ Springfield - Stream
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Oklahoma @ LSU - SCORES - SECN Stream
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Northern Illinois @ Iowa - Stream ($)
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – New Hampshire, George Washington, Rutgers (Boston, MA) - SCORES
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Iowa State @ Minnesota - SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Southern Utah, West Virginia @ Denver - SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Illinois State, Seattle Pacific @ Air Force
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Ohio State @ Washington - SCORES - Pac-12 Net Stream

Of note in this LSU intrasquad video from yesterday, we see a lot of Lexie Lee and no McKenna Lou. (Right?) Though there are a number of gymnasts we don't see, so...

A team of the people this season, Michigan's stream will be free for everyone. LSU's, as always, requires a login.

January 8, 2016

First Friday Live Blog – It's All Downhill From Here

Friday, January 8
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ [21] Kentucky - SCORES - SECN Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [25] Central Michigan, UW-Whitewater, Winona State @ UW-Eau Claire
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – UW-La Crosse @ UW-Stout - SCORES - Stream
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Lindenwood @ SEMO - SCORES
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [2] Florida @ Texas Woman’s - SCORES - Flogymnastics Pro stream
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – BYU @ [4] Utah - SCORES - TV: Pac-12 Network
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan State @ [18] Arizona - SCORES - TV: Pac-12 Network Arizona
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ [23] Missouri - SCORES - SECN Stream
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Centenary @ Utah State
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11] Nebraska, Bowling Green @ Arizona State - SCORES - Pac-12 Stream

Preseason rankings
This is how everything stands before anything stands. So let's change it up.

I'll be here starting at 7 ET/4 PT to have all kinds of feelings. At least three of them. Are there more than three feelings? 

January 7, 2016

The Weekend Plans – January 8-10

It's here! Wait, how do we do this again?

Top 25 Schedule
Friday, January 8
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ [21] Kentucky
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [25] Central Michigan, UW-Whitewater, Winona State @ UW-Eau Claire
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [2] Florida @ Texas Woman’s
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – BYU @ [4] Utah
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – Michigan State @ [18] Arizona
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [15] Illinois @ [23] Missouri
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [11]Nebraska, Bowling Green @ Arizona State

Saturday, January 9
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [9] Georgia @ [7] Michigan
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – NC State @ [17] Penn State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ [5] LSU
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Iowa State @ [20] Minnesota
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [24] Southern Utah, West Virginia @ [16] Denver
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [22] Ohio State @ Washington

Sunday, January 10
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [23] Missouri @ Lindenwood
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [3] Alabama @ [6] UCLA
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Nor Cal Classic ([8] Stanford, [14] Cal, UC Davis. Sacramento State @ San Jose State)
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – [10] Auburn @ [12] Oregon State

As always, the full schedule is available at the link at the top. Note that Arkansas and Boise State will not be competing this weekend. 

-Let the live blogging begin! I'll be here from the start, though there aren't any really enticing matchups on Friday (you're not even trying...), so I'll probably bop around from meet to meet, missing everything important. I do want to make sure to watch a fair chunk of Nebraska since we rarely get to see Nebraska during the season. Florida against TWU will be broadcast on Aunt Flogymnastics, so those of you watching it are required to provide updates of honesty in the comments. You have your mission.

-For Florida, this will be a very comfortable win, but as I mentioned in the preview, I'm looking forward to seeing the lineup strategy. I'll also be interested to find out where Peyton Ernst is at this point, how Alicia Boren does in her debut given how important she is to the team this year, and how many 10s Bridget Sloan gets. Over/under?

-There's a little less mystery about Utah because we saw them at the RRP and they diligently release their lineups a million days in advance. This too will be an easy-peasy meet, but we've got a lot of event debuts (Lee and Schwab on bars, Merrell and Partyka on beam and floor), which is always reason for a keen eye. Bars and floor are the most depleted since last season, so watch for stuck-at-9.825-itis, though that may be expected to some degree this early in the season. But, is there potential to go much higher?

-Speaking of depleted, Nebraska has a bunch of empty spots in these lineups, and depth will be a major storyline this season. I'm hoping to see as many different freshmen as possible competing to give the team more options than I currently think there are. Let's not make this not a six-AAers kind of season since that is the most nerve-wracking thing in the world. Someone find the bubble wrap. I'm also interested to see how Arizona State fills out these lineups, as in, can they? There are almost four people on the roster this season, but might it be a little less depressing than last year? A little?

 -Now that's more like it. We've got two fairly huge meets on Saturday, which overlap because, once again, pull it together everyone. 

-Georgia travels to Michigan to open the season, and this will be the first meet of the year that actually has an uncertain outcome. Michigan does enter as the favorite, however, competing at home and coming off an impressive first meet for a team that was in so many pieces so recently, but it's not open and shut. As we know, the Wolverines are still not a deep team and will need the exact competitors they showed in Cancun to be competitive with the best teams in the country this year. But now, after the Cancun success, it's 197 or bust. Anything less is a regression. 

January 2, 2016

#1 Oklahoma Preview

The final preview. We're going on fumes now. Soon, I won't have to use the word potential again for a whole year. Confetti. And also the meets will happen. That's fine too, I guess. Michigan is already out of the gates, winning Cancun with a 196.975, led by Artz and Karas 9.9ing all over the place. That'll do. Arkansas counted multiple falls. That won't do.

Brown, Natalie - Sophomore - BB, FX
Capps, Chayse - Junior - VT, BB, FX
Catour, Stefani - Sophomore - N/A
Craus, Samantha - Sophomore - UB
Hemry, Reagan - Junior - UB
Jackson, Ali - Sophomore - VT, FX (possible UB, BB)
Jones, Charity - Junior - VT, UB, FX (possible BB)
Kanewa, Maile - Senior - VT, FX
Kmieciak, Keeley - VT, UB, BB (possible FX)
Lehrmann, Nicole - Freshman
Lovan, Kara - Junior - VT, BB, FX
Marks, Alex - Freshman
Price, Hunter - Senior - VT
Scaman, Haley - Senior - VT, UB, FX (possible BB)
Thompson, Megan - Freshman
Turner, Nicole - Senior - FX
Wofford, McKenzie - Junior - UB  
Recent History
2015 - 3rd
2014 - 1st
2013 - 2nd
2012 - 7th
2011 - 3rd
2010 - 2nd

2016 Outlook
OK, Sooners. The coaches have spoken, and it's your turn to win this year. The coaches poll is binding. Weirdly, Oklahoma underperformed at Super Six last year, something we're not accustomed to seeing from this team when not ravaged by injury, though I wouldn't really use that as an indicator for how things will go this season. As has been the case every year since the breakthrough in 2010, Oklahoma ranks among the top couple favorites for the title, and given the team's penchant for starting quickly, Oklahoma is the best bet to spend the lion's share of the regular season at #1. The difference between being an easy Super Six bet (a given) and a title favorite this year, however, will lay in the team's ability to manage its sudden Dowellessness and overcome the depletion of the bars lineup, something Oklahoma has proven quite adept at in the past.

Winning this season will be more challenging than it has been in the past couple years because the Sooners have suffered a net routine loss from that 2015 third-place result, putting them in a position of now having to do more with less. Success in 2016 will be borne from developing existing routines into 9.9s they haven't been so far.

Key Competitor
Which brings me to Charity Jones. Jones came to Oklahoma at the tail end of those years when we were still sort of concerned about whether the team had enough power to wake the judges up out of their 9.850 comas (we were so young then). She was supposed to be a huge part of a power renaissance but has been perpetually MIA since then, competing just a bars routine or vault here and there at the very end of seasons. Now without Dowell, with Kanewa still on the comeback trail, and with a class of newbies more likely to make a mark on bars and beam, the team will be exceptionally reliant on someone like Jones to fill out the power-event lineups with competitive scores that keep the Sooners on the 49.5-everywhere track that has made them perennial title contenders. 


Brenna Dowell's 1.5+ vault repertoire would have been an asset this season, so it's natural to expect some dip in the scores without her. Still, Oklahoma retains enough important vaults that this should still be a top-5 vaulting team. (How many teams have I declared top-5 vaulting teams this year? Is it more than 5? I'M THE BEST.) Haley Scaman remains the star. She downgraded from the 1.5 for the scores a couple years ago, but she spent a whole season getting 9.875s for that 1.5 and can upgrade back to it no problem. It's worth it for her to go for the 1.5, but we'll have to see how well she scores for it compared to the 9.900-9.925s she could still get for a full this season. The landing must be there to make the 1.5 valuable. Ah, the strategy of it all. Regardless, it will be the important score in this lineup, along with Ali Jackson, who performed her 1.5 all last season and comfortably scored into the 9.9s for it.  

The remaining places look to be filled by fulls, unless the new values finally get Hunter Price into the lineup for her handspring pike 1/2. She's been borderline-lineup her whole career, so perhaps this will boost her into the group. Or perhaps not. The roster boasts more than enough options for fulls, so we'll just have to see who is the stickiest and amplitudiest, who can get into the high 9.8s and challenge for 9.9s instead of staying stuck at 9.800. Ideally, you'd have Kanewa on vault because her full is the best of the rest. Healthy Kanewa would be a lock for the lineup, and I'd definitely take Jones for her power (she did a DTY back in the JO days) and Capps for the way she opens out of that full. The team will also have fulls from Kmieciak, Marks, Lehrmann and Lovan that could all realistically go, so depth isn't an issue. The only issue would be getting stuck with too many vaults in the middish, lowish 9.8s (as many teams will because of the lowered values). Scaman and Jackson sticking for 9.950 is critical.


We don't usually expect events to look sparse for Oklahoma, but this one does. Relatively. Because otherwise critical contributors like Capps and Lovan won't be used on bars, there aren't as many options. In fact, the Sooners return just four people who competed even a single bars routines last year. The rest are "well, I guess she could," which will make the bars rotation in the opening meet against LSU the one to watch. Obviously, much depends upon Wofford. She is the most refined and impressive bars worker on the team and has developed into a pretty reliable 9.900-9.950. Without the luxury of a Dowell or Spears to help her out, she's going to have to get at least 9.900 pretty much every week.

Scaman and Kmieciak will both also return to the lineup, and because of Oklahoma, they're precise enough to hit 9.900 here and there. Though they're also more susceptible to a 9.825. Bars has been a 49.500-level strength for a while now, which means everyone gets a 9.900, so to keep Oklahoma within sight of that lofty goal, Lehrmann and Marks need to become not just options but reliably significant scores. Both do have the skill set and surplus toe point to become exceptional bars workers and fit right into this lineup. Mark just joined the team recently, so we'll see how long it takes to develop that routine, but bars was Lehrmann's best event in JO, so look for her to get serious.

January 1, 2016

#2 Florida Preview

It's almost here! False start weekend is nearly upon us, with Michigan, Arkansas, and Iowa off on a Cancun vacation with a gymnastics meet in it (1/2, 7:15 ET/4:15 PT) and Central Michigan getting started on Sunday (1/3, 1:00 ET/10:00 PT). For the rest, there's still time, but if you haven't yet picked your fantasy gym team, pull your life together because the deadline is Sunday. I really need to work on my draft order. It's a shambles.

Baker, Kennedy - Sophomore - VT, UB, BB, FX
Boren, Alicia - Freshman
Boyce, Claire - Junior - UB, BB, FX
Caquatto, Bridgey - Senior - VT, UB, FX
Cheney, Amanda - Freshman
Dagen, Lacy - Freshman
Dancose-Giambattisto, Bianca - Senior - UB (possible BB)
Ernst, Peyton - Freshman
Fassbender, Ericha - Sophomore - VT, UB, BB, FX
Frazier, Morgan - Senior - N/A
Hiller, Ashley - Freshman
McLaughlin, Grace - Sophomore - BB (possible UB, FX)
McMurtry, Alex - Sophomore - VT, UB, BB (possible FX?)
Sloan, Bridget - Senior - VT, UB, BB, FX

Recent History
2015 - 1st
2014 - 1st
2013 - 1st
2012 - 2nd
2011 - 7th
2010 - 5th

2016 Outlook
Three consecutive championships and a predominately (though not entirely) intact roster pretty much tells the story for Florida, a team that should consider anything other than a fourth title an unacceptable result this season. The two serious questions about the Gators' chances in 2016 concern their ability to replace Kytra Hunter's scores and the new coaching staff/absence of Rhonda Power, but with a freshman class talented enough to bring its own respectable bag of 9.9s and what is basically an all-star team of the nation's top assistant coaches now at the helm, neither of those would be particularly convincing excuses for not winning. That's not to say Florida is guaranteed to continue on the same not-losing path, but at this point there's no good reason to expect real regression.

Key Competitor
Alicia Boren. It is essential this season that Florida find a person (or combination of people) to replicate what Kytra brought on vault and at least come close to replicating what she brought on floor, along with shoring up an occasionally too 9.850-9.875 beam lineup. With Ernst in the process of putting herself back together post-elite, that responsibility will primarily fall to Boren. She's quite capable of being that gymnast, and her abilities on the power events should place her toward the end of both lineups right away. She is among the critical freshmen in the nation this year because without her replacing those lost scores, the Gators won't have the comfortable collection of surplus 9.9s that has led them to success—even on just OK days—these past four years and will feel the pressure from Oklahoma and Alabama.


Florida started slowly on vault last season, to some extent by design, but was ultimately able to deliver a 49.450-49.500 lineup replete with enough 9.9s to rank consistently among the top few vaulting teams. That should continue this year led by four vaulters who all look like reliable 9.9 options. Sloan, Boren, and Baker each have a 1.5 to keep the Gators at a competitive SV level, the most appealing aspect of these 1.5s being that they're not "possible, maybe, she has in the past" vaults like many I've discussed in these previews. They have them, and they're good. McMurtry appears to be staying with the full, even though she could do more, which is a sensible choice because her full is among the few that can still go 9.900-9.950 this season. Expect more stuck yfulls to score 9.950 this year because it's not THE TEN. The judges won't be as guarded about giving a yfull a perfect score because a perfect 9.950 doesn't stand out nearly as much as a 10.

Those four are locks and should keep this lineup on pace at 49.4 in spite of the SV decreases and loss of Hunter. Perhaps a half tenth to a tenth lower than last season, but not much more than that. The question is the remaining two spots, which were a bit of an issue last year and look entirely up for grabs right now, especially if Ernst doesn't come along right away. With this roster, they'll be able to produce perfectly fine 9.8s for any remaining spots, but the scoring onus will remain on the big four. Fassbender was borderline-lineup all last season and seems a fair bet to have a bigger role this year. As for Bridgey, she's pretty much always in this lineup but has become progressively more troubling on vault as the seasons go by, getting taken out of the lineup for a while last year and ultimately falling in Super Six. Bridgey's important scores are bars and floor, so if other compelling vault options present themselves, it may make sense just to take her off the event to avoid any issues. If the chance does arise, look for possible lineup upset bids from Hiller and Cheney who both performed quite respectable fulls in JO. 


The bars lineup remains the most intact from last season, so we should have pretty much identical expectations to the scores Florida received in 2015. Bridget Sloan is the Bridget Sloan of this lineup, always getting at least 9.900, then in line for a 9.950-10.000 depending on whether she sticks and whether it's one of her bail-legs days. Sloan is on a streak of 22 consecutive bars routines scoring at least 9.900 (and she was only as low as 9.900 four times in that span) and a streak of 37 consecutive bars routines scoring at least 9.875. She hasn't scored lower than that since a fall on January 13th, 2013. So she's OK at bars.

Sloan's #2 is Bridgey, who isn't quite as likely to score 9.9+ because she's somewhat less consistent on the landing, but she still reaches 9.900 pretty regularly. With those two hitting, Florida's bars shouldn't be scoring under 49.400 and can believably go 49.5s. For my money, this is the best bars lineup in the country. (Really going out on a limb there.) The interesting one to watch will be McMurtry, who has commenced Operation Haters To The Left in response to that time she scored a surrealist fantasy of a 9.950 in Super Six and we all got lost in a sandstorm about it. She's suddenly pulling out a high, well-executed Ray that exists now and could help complete her two-year transformation from "a little Brestyan's-y" to bars star. With the Ray and her dismount, there's no reason to think McMurtry won't continue getting 9.9s this year, especially if Jenny maintains Rhonda's lineup strategy, but we'll get to that more on floor.