Sunday, January 10
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – William & Mary @ North Carolina
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Temple @ Kent State
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
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – UW-Whitewater @ Hamline
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Nor Cal Classic (Stanford, Cal, UC Davis. Sacramento State @ San Jose State) - SCORES - FLO PRO($)
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.
But now, UCLA and Alabama. (With perhaps a bit of Oregon State and Auburn thrown in.) UCLA is always among the most anticipated season debuts because...who even knows? Is Katelyn Ohashi going to enter from the ceiling on a hang glider? Will there be a dragon there? Will they hit six beam routines? It's a mystery.
Peng is going to be limited because of her thumb surgery but is still expected to go on beam in what is becoming an unsettling tradition of UCLA hands-free beam routines. Georgia bequeaths the moonwalk, UCLA bequeaths the debilitating hand injury.
In other action, Auburn has a pretty sizable contingent of freshmen competing today, with Krippner on VT, UB, BB, Engler on VT and BB, Cerio on UB, and Phillips on VT. We'll learn a lot about how competitive Auburn will be this year from their performances. Engler is doing exhibition on bars and Cerio the same on beam. Both could also be contributors on those events.
VT: Ohashi, Honest, Cipra, Hall, Bynum, Preston
UB: Francis, Honest, Ohashi, Metcalf, DeJesus, Meraz
BB: Gerber, Meraz, Ohashi, DeJesus, Lee, Francis
FX: Hall, Ohashi, Francis, Mossett, Cipra, Bynum
Ohashi is doing the AA. Melissa Metcalf is a person. Yes, I see that bars lineup too.
Of course, it's UCLA, so the pre-meet lineup is kind of like when Russia announces its Olympic team nine months early.
Also, Stanford has six people to go on all the events! It's a January miracle!
Maxwell is doing bars, Fitzgerald is doing VT and FX, Nicole Hoffman is in on FX, and Chuang is back for vault and (!) beam. Everything else is pretty much as is.
Kiana Winston is in on three events for Alabama (no FX), and Carley Sims and Mack Brannan will be the AAers. Of the freshmen, Giancroce is in on floor and Bresette on vault, but I was hoping to see a couple more of them.
Marsden making his broadcast debut. Amanda says Ohashi is on 3 events today, not the AA. ?
ROTATION 1 - UCLA vault, Bama bars
Ohashi VT - a little sluggish on her full - but fine - solid legs together - step back, not huge distance - 9.700.
Brannan - UB - good first hs - nice 1/2 turn - strong amplitude on jaeger - keeps her leg form through the bail - good toes - sticks a slightly staggered DLO - clean opening - 9.825
Honest - VT - Better distance than Ohashi - slightly off to the side and a hop in place - some mushy knees on the block - 9.800.
McNeer - UB - does well to control the Ray and cast out of it - had too much power there but pulled it back - not quite as crisp on the handstands - DLO with a leg separation and a lunge forward - OK, but issues - 9.825. Thought Brannan was cleaner and better overall. Same score.
Cipra - VT - comes in a bit short on her full - great legs - medium OK distance - hint of Parkettes hair today - has to lunge forward on landing - eh 9.850. Oh, home scoring.
C Sims - UB - good first hs - pretty strong finish on the full - very close catch on a high tkatchev - loses leg form on the bail but holds onto the routine - very very squatty on tuck full dismount with a large lunge back - not a good one for her. 9.675.
Hall - VT - good enough 1.5 - where was that last year? - step forward on the 1.5 and loose knees, so not ideal, but they'll take it. UCLA was desperate for this vault this year, so that's a relief that it's here. 9.775. Hit on the legs there. Not impressed by the difficulty at this meet I guess.
Marsden already bringing the truth and honesty, about the judges overdeducting fulls and underdeducting 1.5s so far this year!
Winston - UB - HUGE on all her releases - tkatchev and pak are gigantic - some short handstands and a leg break there - hop in place on DLO, but give this a little more time to get refined, and it will be exceptional. 9.900. Didn't mind the short hs there, apparently.
Bynum - VT - her usual vault, but now it counts as a 10.0 - to be honest, hers is one of the closest to being a true arabian - lands short with a lunge back. 9.700.
Jetter - UB - excellent first hs - high tkatchev, catches only slightly close - clean legs on bail - HUGE stumble back on double front, multiple steps - that's always the challenge for her. 9.675.
Preston - VT - Excellent height on full, but lands a little squatty with a hop back - can't tell is Valorie is proud or choking back some vomit. It's kind of a similar face.
Bailey - UB - great jaeger - hitting hs well - legs together through the bail - borderline final hs - brilliant full out and stuck - clearly the routine of the rotation. Very pretty, very well done.
After 1: Alabama 49.125 UCLA 48.900
Eh vault rotation for UCLA. Judges did not follow the trends of over-rewarding difficulty there, with the most over-rewarded vault being Cipra's 9.850. Some potential there, but not an awe-inspiring group of vaults yet. And of course the landings aren't there, but once they are, this should at least be a relatively competitive group. That's a team of 9.850s with an occasional 9.9 in it. They're just missing a Zam, Peszek, Courtney vault these days.
Some encouraging work from Alabama there. I thought Winston's score was a little high, but the potential is huge and she'll be one of the best. THOSE RELEASES. Give it a couple weeks. Bailey was excellent and McNeer and Brannan were clean enough in the early spots. Sims is probably not long for the lineup (it's just not her event), and that Jetter dismount remains terrifying. Without having to count one of those 9.675s, though, it would have been a great score.
Just saw a 1.5 from Dessaints on vault for OSU - knees and a step, but she has the 1.5
Atkinson - UB - OHHHHH GIRL. Arches and casts over - then comes off the bar. Sad. Tough start. Sam Peszek is telling us about how much pressure it is to anchor. Can afford to drop it though.
ROTATION 2 - UCLA to bars, Alabama to vault
McNeer - VT - Clean full - medium hop back, so not the stick she was getting last year, but fine if not a lot of distance, body position is good. 9.700.
Francis - UB -Still leading off - excellent opening hs - little legs breaks on the shap and bail - some arch in final hs - step on double pike - not quite as clean as she was doing last season and didn't stick the double pike this time, which she usually does, but good start. 9.825.
C Sims - VT - very short landing on her full - comes in low with a lunge - also had some sloppy legs in the air - where did that come from Carley? Not having a great day so far. 9.525.
Honest - UB - leg break on hip circle - big tkatchev but TOES - hits bail - not a lot of swing in this routine - short handstand - lunge back on tuck full - Amanda thinks she has tightened up her feet, but it's still an issue. 9.775.
Brannan - VT -She is bringing the 1.5 this year and a near stick on it - just a small slide - only a minor knee break, but that was very good - hopefully will get rewarded for control and legs versus Hall's 1.5 - 9.900. That's right.
Ohashi - UB - some arch on opening hs - leg break on the bail - short on hs up to high bar - does a WOGA butt-scraper tkatchev and can't catch it - she looked a little off from the start. Not a great debut for our girl so far - low landing on tuck full and a hop forward. It's getting there, but it's not there yet.
Bresette - VT - does a full - some crazy legs on the block - hop back with a little pike at the end - just OK -
Marsden thinks Brannan's vault would have gone 9.950/9.975 at end of season. Yeah, at Utah maybe...
Metcalf - UB - small leg separations on the shap and the bail - close on shoot to high bar - short on final handstand - then hits her legs on the low bar- but sticks the double front - 9.725.
Winston - VT - Exceptional height on her full - good position and direction - sizable hop back, but otherwise strong.
DeJesus - UB - good full turn finish - usual sophina legs on her gienger - hits bail with a small angle - short on last hs - usual very low chest on tuck full and a lunge forward. This is not a clean rotation for UCLA at all. Trouble after trouble. 9.750.
Beers - VT - the full - she can go a 1.5 but is coming back from injury - also lands quite short with a step forward.
Meraz - UB - solid first hs - leg break on bail - better hs this year and a little more counterrotation on that tkatchev - still not big though - huge leg separation on the DLO, same as last year - hop forward -
Very poor rotation for both teams.
After 2: Alabama 97.825, UCLA 97.675
Alabama had three weak vaults in that rotation with short landings and lunges forward - looked a bit unprepared except for Brannan, who was quite good, and Winston, who had great form and dynamics just didn't control the landing. Just showed the single 1.5, but can have more difficulty as the season goes. and as Beers gets back.
UCLA a lot of 9.7 messiness in that rotation. Toes, weak dismounts, the fall from Ohashi. This is a worry because...who is going to get the scores on bars without Peng? They need Ohashi and Metcalf to deliver, since they're the ones with potential, but both had relatively sloppy showings in addition to the errors.
Ivana Hong fell on beam. So...no point to life.
Caitlin Atkinson stuck her 1.5. You go.
Rotation 3: UCLA on beam, Alabama on floor
Gerber - BB - single wolf open "creative turn" - arm waves out of her walkover to avoid a wobble, well done - secure landing on the loso - pretty good position on the switch and split - works out the side somi well this time, that's the trouble element for her usually - hop back on gainer full, which shouldn't be a thing, but a good opening routine without many mistakes. 9.775.
A Sims - FX - opens double pike - feet apart but secure - Jim doesn't know the difference between Carley and Aja Sims - 1.5 to layout with a somewhat uncontrolled lunge, some of the legs break we see on bars on these tumbling passes - fine double tuck -
Meraz - BB - better legs this year in those bhs - secure into the loso - wobble on switch 1/2 but not disastrous as far as switch 1/2s go - hits switch and straddle - legs apart on 1.5 but holds the stick - similar to last year overall, not elegant but the sturdiness the team needs - 9.850.
Brannan - FX - takes her double arabian right to the edge but stays in and sticks it very well and pretty good form on it - bounces back on double pike, though once again she's maintaining leg form through her double saltos, which is nice to see - 1.5 to layout and dances out of it - one somewhat uncontrolled pass, but solid work -9.850.
Ohashi - BB - Been a rough day so far, but this is the one she needs to show who she is - hits the layout 2ft and hangs on without a wobble - dance element combo is strong - college switch ring but fine overall - double pike dismount, low chest and step back, but she's doing the double pike, so props. That's more like Ohashi. 9.800.
Jim deems that she has recaptured her love of the sport. Glad you know that.
Giancroce - FX - adore the way she moves on the floor, that's why she's in this lineup - slides back on double pike, though - secure 1.5 to layout - Dana Duckworth really does have some of the best coach face in the country - short on double tuck with low chest and bounce forward. 9.825.
DeJesus - BB - slow on the connection from walkover to back tuck to bhs, though no wobbles - low on kickover front landing but holds without a wobble - slow on connections is the biggest issue with Sophina's beam and it can hurt her - attitude turn - dismounts with a FRONT gainer full - no major wobbles, but a low body position and missed connections - 9.850. Got credit for her combos.
Bailey - FX - a little squatty landing her double arabian, but good control - good switch ring position - front lay to front full - am I not paying attention, or is Alabama suffering from less "itunes vomit" than last season - front 1.5 dismount with a small bounce - some leg iffiness in the twisting - not her ideal floor routine or what we've seen before, but nothing major - 9.900 still. Slight gift?
Peng - BB - excellent switch and split - side aerial to layout 2 ft series, no wobbles, just amazing - she's just so much better than everyone else - small check on double turn - side aerial to layout full dismount - small slide - excellent routine - 9.950. Routine of the day for UCLA so far and the other nominees are none of them. Yet.
Beers - FX - Interesting she's in on floor - had trouble with that vault that shouldn't be trouble for her - how is her comeback? - slide and a lunge back on the double pike - front lay to front full with a step to the side - the splits look OK, she's just not ready yet or confident yet in these landings - good final double back, though -
Francis - BB -My sun and stars - "it starts one way and it ends another" - Oh, OK - solid walkover - bends a bit to hold her loso without a check - excellent switch and split - just looking ever so slightly tight and slower to start, but that's a very minor concern and not showing up in wobbles - NICE y spin - Dismount - transverse aerial to full - keeps it going enough to earn the connection and her usual stick with a low chest that we'll ignore because THIS DISMOUNT. Will be another strong score.
That's right you give that routine a standing O.
C Sims - FX - her usual huge DLO, though also landing it pretty hunched over as she often does - solid 1.5 to layout - also a bit low-chested on double pike but controlled landing - appreciate anyone who kills you with her hips during a routine.
After 3: Alabama 147.125, UCLA 147.075
Can't get much tighter, so that's fun. A much better rotation for both teams. Beers is not back yet, but Alabama had some confident landings on floor and didn't show any signs of endurance issues. They'll need to work on landing control, but they will in time. Lots of big potential scores there. Wonder what the Guerra status is, though.
Beam is obviously UCLA's event, and Francis and Peng were both absolutely brilliant. Ohashi will get there as well. Sophina needs to speed up those connections, but I like this new dismount for her, especially if she keeps sticking it. This could very well be a final lineup for UCLA, and we would all be good with that. Sadly, there are several more options who could go for UCLA on beam and also score well. If only that were the case on bars.
Atkinson - FX - huge full in - travels several miles and takes it right to the edge of the floor, but controlled on the landing - front full to layout to wolf jump is exceptional, form precise throughout - damn - slides back out of double pike and goes OOB. Was great until then.
Interview with Val. Who's the star of the meet? Oh, it's Val. It's always Val.
Stanford's top rotation score so far is 48.675. Stanford in January. Even Ebee got only 9.850 on vault. And she's Ebee.
Rotation 4: UCLA to floor, Alabama to beam
McNeer - BB - almost had a wobble just stepping onto the beam, pull it together - good on the walkover into bhs, comfortable a clean - just looking somewhat slower and tighter as well, but it's the first meet - the actual elements are great, just the movements in between that are betraying her - solid switch and split - sticks 1.5 with some leg break - very well worked through, gave away very little. 9.850.
Hall - FX - 1.5 to double tuck - short landing on double back with a lunge forward - splits look fine - at least they got rid of that double arabian - 1.5 to pike - secure landing on double pike with a low chest - this is intended to be an elegant routine but just too lifeless. 9.800.
Brannan - BB - Didn't make this event last year and was known in JO for winning nationals on three events and then falling on beam (did it a couple years in a row) - has the talent, it's just about developing the confidence - clean loso series - small check on stag out of switch - a little tentative on full turn, but she's working through - very nice kickover front - hop on 1.5. Tight in places but very happy to see that security in her beam work now. 9.775.
Ohashi - FX - double back to start - fine - slide - but just a double back - 1.5 to front full to front half to split to front tuck - love it - struggles a bit through that illusion - switch ring is fine - a little low chested on double pike as well, but she got through it - this "exhaustion-themed" routine might be hitting a little close to home. 9.850.
Winston - BB - has severe civilizations worth of wrapping on thsoe knees - check on walkover, but great on the bhs+layout combo - bends at the waist on her switch side but holds it - HIGH double tuck and just a step forward - OK routine, a few breaks, but a starting point.
Francis - FX - They're telling us the Bond routine is coming back - this is not that routine - this is a new one. Whip into double back and lands very low with a lunge forward - that is the concern - fine on the 2.5 - as always the splits are excellent - ah, I see, it's ending the same way as last year into the Bond portion. Big bounce back on double pike and OOB. One of her weakest. 9.575.
Beers - BB - good ring opening skill - a little short on side somi but does well not to give away a wobble - secure loso series - fluid full turn - sticks 1.5 - by far her best routine of the day - good recovery -
Mossett - FX - bounces back on whip to double back but stays in - good 180 position on split full - splits are the highlight of the routine - this is my favorite choreographically of the ones shown so far, an athletic and engaged routine - sticks the double pike - also one of her better routines for the team - 9.950. One of the judges gave it a 10. Um, what? What life is this? She bounced back out of her mount. I mean, it was good...but like, normal good. Not like, 10 good.
Was Amanda talking about MLT when discussing her coach yelling, "PERFORM MORE. PERFORM MORE." (use your MIND).
A Sims - BB - missed the beginning because too shell shocked about that Mossett score. break on the loso series with a check but hangs on - she was way off line so did well to pull it back - also a check on her turn - splits are brilliant but just tight - only gainer pike dismount today, so not her difficulty, but a fine showing. Not an Aja Sims showing, though.
Cipra - FX - a little low on her double back mount, bounces up - good 180 positions on her splits as well - this phone-themed routine, seems like a very in-person routine rather than TV - has to control her straddle out of her middle pass - travels but saves it - also low chested on the double pike, but controls well - 9.925.
Guerrero - BB - two loso series - secure landing as all get out - nice switch to straddle, good to see her hitting that position because she has always been great with the acro, if she has the dance too...look out. Solid side aerial - medium step forward on 1.5.
Crack-smoking final rotation floor judging has been a theme so far this year. And always.
Bynum - FX - still a little low chested on DLO but very secure landing and looks improved over last season - love that she's doing a double back side pass - a little bounce out of it - still missing 180 on those splits, though - the wolf full is fine - also a small slide on double back dismount, but it was a strong and solid routine for her (not one of her issue routines from last year), with just minor errors. That will be enough to win the meet. 9.950. Why the hell not?
JUDGES FEELING FANCY.
One again, along with Mossett, DeJesus and Honest had my favorite choreography on UCLA's team, but they're not making the lineup.
FINAL: UCLA 196.550, Alabama 196.300
Alabama will feel the meet was taken from them by crazy floor scores in the final rotation, and they will have a fair argument since UCLA got the benefit at the end. Once again, it's the old story of how tough it is to win on the road when you're not THAT much better than the opponent. In Alabama, this meet goes to Alabama. Winning against Alabama will make this a positive performance for UCLA, but the first half of the meet is still quite worrisome. Beam was very encouraging and beautiful, and floor was perfectly good (just not at the level of those scores, especially right now - what are they going to get when the landings are actually in post-season form - a 52?). But bars is the concern for UCLA because those were some sloppy routines without a starring 9.9. They can get better on bars, certainly, but when you're anchoring with Meraz...
Alabama looked unready on vault, which pretty much took the meet away from them. You can't really expect to win with vaulting that weak. Though I do expect that to come along fairly shortly. It's Alabama on vault. They need to iron out the rest of the bars rotation, and get a little bit more comfortable and loose on beam, but these are normal early-season issues. Somewhat disappointing ultimate performance, but having Beers fully back and in form will make a world of difference.
Cal finishes 195.575. Stanford still on bars.
Auburn finishes 196.175, Oregon State had a bit of a nasty on beam and floor, finishes 195.425.