Three Considerations for Building a Powerful College Athletic Recruiting Mission Statement

By: Tom Kovic

4/26/18

College coaches are brilliant recruiters and look for three key components when evaluating prospects. Firstly, they look for strong students who meet and exceed academic eligibility and admission standards. Secondly, they are looking for direct impact athletes who thrive at their position and help drive the team to higher levels. Finally, they desire self-aware young men and women who bring strong character components to the table.

The 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships were held in St. Louis/NCAA

Building a Powerful College Athletic Recruiting Mission Statement can help “identify yourself” and elevate your position on a college coach’s radar. Below are three considerations for developing your statement:

College goals

When you share your college mission statement with a coach it should be powerful and display a high level of self-awareness. Sit down as a family and identify critical operatives that your ideal college choice will possess. Primary on the list and the glue that binds a definitive college vision should be the quality of the academic experience.

A good college coach and exceptional educator should not be recruiting you just for the next 4 years, but for the next forty years. A caring coach desperately wants you to impact his program on the athletic side, but he also wants you to thrive academically and position yourself for future advancement. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression… make this point stand out.

Athletic Contributions

The athletic part of the equation may appear simple, but considering you likely have a long list of athletic accomplishments, you want to streamline these accolades into a clear and vigorous statement to how you plan to impact a college sports program.

There is a fine line between being cocky and confident and you want the coach to believe in your personal conviction at  face value. Create a bold statement that combines your current athletic skill set with an elegant confidence that you have not nearly met your full potential.

Leadership

College coaches are looking for the best and the brightest prospects to help drive their program to higher levels, but they are putting a greater premium on the inner makeup of the prospect. Coaches are looking for boys and girls who display loyalty, dedication, perseverance and a diligent approach to their everyday lives. They are no doubt seeking direct impact athletes on the team, but they desperately want kids who will become “strong links in the team chain.”

Given a choice between a blue-chip prospect whose statistics are off the charts, but a potential “loose cannon” on the inside of the team and a solidly skilled athlete who offers the prodigious potential to lead the team from the inside, most college coaches will support the latter candidate nine times out of ten! Team leadership offers intangible growth at the core of the program but it also builds consistent team momentum… the ship always remains on course.

Below is an example of a balanced mission statement:

“I envision my college years to be an all-around personal growth period where my goal

is to explore my interests in orthopedic medicine, while positively impacting a worthy college

baseball team. I will apply myself not only as an athlete but as an integral team leader. I am

confident that my work ethic, determination, leadership ability, and time management skills will

position me to be a successful student-athlete." Most importantly, I will conduct myself with

honor and respect, knowing that the way I carry myself reflects my team, my coaches and the

university I attend.”

The final draft of your mission statement should be intrepid, confident and well-balanced. Give coaches every reason to believe you are looking for a quality education that will position you strongly upon graduation. Drive home the point clearly and confidently that you have the athletic tools to impact a worthy college program. Finally, establish yourself as a team player and extend your loyalty and respect to the coaches as a prospective student-athlete who is the “complete package.”

 

 

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the current President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

 

Copyright © 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

UCLA inch-perfect to win seventh national championship, edging out defending champions Oklahoma in Super Six

By: Thomas Cluck

4/21/2018

In the last team final of the Super Six era, it was a legendary, storybook finish for a legendary program as the UCLA Bruins entered perfection to edge out two-time defending champions Oklahoma. Amdists a raucous, passionate Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, all six teams on the floor brought their total best, one-upping another to incredible performances, with the third-ranked Bruins coming out on top in the end to claim their seventh national championship in program history with a huge team score of a 198.0750.

“I've been doing this at UCLA for 35 years and I have said the last few months and have said repeatedly the last few weeks that in all of my time we've had tremendous, tremendous teams and tremendous, not just athletes, but student-athletes and people. Just human beings. Which is the reason I feel I have the greatest job in the world. But this team truly is the easiest team that I've ever coached,” said Bruins head coach Valorie Kondos Field.

“This time last year we said if we need, if we want a different result we've got to do things differently and what started that was me and our coaching staff just getting real with them about getting physically fit as you individually can get as making choices outside of the gym, those of a champion. And on and on and they did it. They decided to do it at literally last April and they've been consistent with it and because of that we my job has been so easy this year. This is a this truly is a dream team,” concluded the legendary Bruins head coach.

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the national championship at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team final in St. Louis/UCLA Athletics

The Bruins brought the difficult gymnastics, flawless execution, and stunning performances required to win a championship against this caliber of teams and the title-winning performance came across all four events. Starting on the floor exercise, UCLA showed off their intricately-choreographed routines, energizing the crowd with a 9.900 from Felicia Hano and a near-flawless 9.950 from national floor champion Katelyn Ohashi.

UCLA finessed the landings to post an impressive number on vault too, where Anna Glenn’s beautiful Yurchenko full went 9.8875 before Napualani Hall anchored the rotation with a powerful Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.875 to keep the Bruins competitive going into their best two events.

After a bye before bars, the confidence and calm of Bruins head coach Valorie Kondos Field really seemed to set in, with four stunning bars performances coming from JaNay Honest with a 9.900, Madison Kocian with a 9.9375, Kyla Ross with a 9.9500, and Peng-Peng Lee with perfect 10.0 to catapult the Bruins up the standings and into a potentially winning position.

While normal teams would have cringed at the prospect of seeking to win a national championship on the beam, the Bruins unique, uber-talented lineup embraced the challenge full-on, heading into their best event ready to put it all on the line. Despite a fall midway through from Kocian, UCLA owned the pressure and the challenge, with Grace Glenn and Brielle Nguyen putting up scores of 9.9375 and 9.8750, respectively.

The final half of the Bruin beam lineup seized the moment with flawless gymnastics, as Ohashi wowed with a 9.950 and Ross kept up her impeccable night scoring a huge 9.9875 to set up anchor Peng-Peng Lee to win the national title. Under the pressure of competing for the national championship, sixth-year senior Lee ended her gymnastics career with utter perfection, scoring her second Perfect 10.0 of the night to send the Bruins soaring to their seventh national title in the illustrious program’s history. Lee’s routine couldn’t have been better and the storybook ending to her legendary gymnastics career and to this NCAA gymnastics season couldn’t have been scripted.

“I did not know what score I needed to win, I didn't even know we had a chance of winning at that point to be honest. So I said you know what, this is going to be the last beam routine in my life life being Raquin ever. I'm just going to soak in every single moment. I'm going to take a deep breath and just look in the eyes look at the judges and just take my time and as soon as everyone starts cheering I thought I got a 10.000, personally, and then I looked at the scoreboard and I saw UCLA on top and I am still in shock,” said an ecstatic Peng-Peng Lee.

“We had our mind set on a national championship the whole year and to know coming back after the vault rotation on a bye. We got our heads back in the game and we said this is what athletics is all about. It's about the fight. And so I knew somehow, somehow in my head we were going to pull it off I just didn't know how we would pull it off.”

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the national championship at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team finals in St. Louis/UCLA Athletics

“We have so much respect for their coaching staff, for their athletes. A lot of them grew up together have been through a lot of the same things together but. They're there. They're an opponent that reaps class. Oklahoma's made us better because the last two seasons, my staff and I we get together after the championships. We have to do something different,” explained Kondos Field.

“I can't say enough about K.J. (Kindler) and Oklahoma. They're, you know. They've made us all better.”

The Bruins were no doubt pushed to their limits to earn this national championship, edging out the winners of the last two years, Oklahoma, for the trophy. The Sooners didn’t put a foot wrong the entire competition either, coming out impressively on the beam, where they too recovered from a mid-lineup fall from Nicole Lehrman with impressive routines from Anastasia Webb and Maggie Nichols for 9.9125s.

The floor exercise saw continued consistency from Oklahoma, with Brenna Dowell joining Webb and Nichols with powerful, dramatic routines for scores of 9.9375, 9.9250, and 9.9625, respectively. Nichols, who was crowned the NCAA all-around champion yesterday, kept up her impeccable night with a 9.9375 that was replicated by Dowell on the vault, putting the Sooners in a winning position heading into the bars on the final rotation.

Hoping to round out another consistently impressive competition for the national title on bars, Oklahoma couldn’t have done any better to help their championship hopes, with Bre Showers and Dowell going 9.9000 and 9.9125, respectively before Nichols closed out the Sooners’ competition with a flawless routine for a 9.9625, putting Oklahoma’s score at a 198.0375, just missing out on their third consecutive national title.

Natalie Brown celebrates after performing on the balance beam for the Oklahoma Sooners at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team finals in St. Louis/Sooners Sports

The Super Six competition was the most fiercely fought ever, with the third and fourth place teams not too far behind. The Florida Gators finally put it all together for their best meet of the season with a 197.8500 featuring stunning bars and floor performances. Just getting edged out by Florida for third was LSU, who finished fourth with an incredibly impressive performance for a 197.8375, courtesy of impeccable performances on vault, bars, and floor.

Finally, finishing fifth was Utah, who struggled to hit to their potential particularly on their best events of vault and floor, finishing with a 196.900, overcoming Nebraska, the upset story of this NCAA gym postseason, who finished sixth with a solid 196.800 to round out the truly super six teams.

Oklahoma soars into Super Six with Florida and Utah close behind in semifinal two

By: Jess Stephans

4/20/18

The top three seeds in semifinal two, Oklahoma, Florida, and Utah, finished as the top three in the second semifinal of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, earning all three teams a coveted spot at tomorrow’s Super Six team final.

The reigning national champions Oklahoma Sooners started out a little slow on beam, but a 9.95 from sophomore star Maggie Nichols in the anchor position brought them back on track to be just behind Florida after the first rotation. The Sooners then took the lead back after a floor rotation that scored a 49.5875, and they held the lead for the remainder of the meet. Senior AJ Jackson and freshman Anastasia Webb put up huge scores of 9.925 and 9.9375 in the fourth and fifth spots, and Nichols anchored with a near-perfect 9.9625.

Maggie Nichols performs for the Oklahoma Sooners on the floor exercise at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/Emily Howell-Forbes

The Sooners expanded their lead on vault, with junior Brenna Dowell sticking her Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.9375, and Oklahoma ended on the uneven bars with their best rotation of the night, scoring a 49.6125. Junior Nicole Lehrmann scored a 9.9500 in the fifth spot to lead into Nichols, and she closed out the semifinal for Oklahoma with a Perfect 10.0, giving her an eighth 10.0 this season and 15 overall in her career. The Sooners finished with a 198.05, their ninth score of 198 or better this season and easily posted the highest score of the day from both semifinal sessions.

“Starting on balance beam was new for us. We haven't done that this year. We kind of had a mixture of super aggressive strong routines and then a little nervous coming out and we get to start again tomorrow. So I'm glad that we at least have had that practice today and can learn from it and be more aggressive tomorrow there. But I think once the beam was over they felt very free and performed very well from that point forward they seemed really to loosen up a lot,” described Sooners head coach KJ Kindler.

“They got into a groove and settled in much better the last two bar routines in our lineup were their two best of the season. There's no doubt about it. So it was great to end on that note I'm really consistent floor and vault. We didn't make a switch today. I mean very pleased overall we were pushed you know pushed by the teams on the floor and. It was good. Now we're ready to get some rest,” concluded a satisfied, but still hungry Kindler.

Florida was consistent across all four events to finish second with a 197.5875, and the Gators were led by a trio of all-arounders in Alex McMurtry, Alicia Boren, and Amelia Hundley. McMurtry was the highlight for the Gators on both vault and bars, scoring a 9.9375 on vault and a 9.9500 on bars. Rachel Gowey came up big for Florida on beam, scoring a 9.125 for a near-perfect routine, while freshman Alyssa Baumann anchored on floor for a huge 9.9500.

“Yes it really is an honor to be here and to make it to Super Six you lived to compete another day and that's what we're all looking to achieve. The Gators did a very good job tonight. They had a solid performance started off bars quite well. Little details we've been working on we're paying off tonight. Beam was a little rough, but not everything is going to be perfect every night and again we live to compete another day,” commented Florida coach Jenny Rowland.

Alyssa Baumann performs for the Florida Gators on the floor exercise at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/Emily Howell-Forbes

Utah also had a consistent competition, finishing third with a 197.1375 to advance to Super Six, holding off the fourth place Cal Golden Bears in the final rotation. The Utes were led by sophomore MyKayla Skinner, who scored above 9.900 on every event to finish second in the all-around competition.

“I felt like at the started the meet a little tentative, a little tight on vault.  We didn’t really stick a vault. I told them to relax a little bit more and it was a great bar set for us. Balance beam our second kid up had an uncharacteristic fall and then things tighten up a little bit and we went into a little bit of a survival mode. With that being said they didn't they didn't quit or throw in the towel. Came out of that bye then and floor they really did the floor like they were with command and confidence. I was super happy with that. And we live to play another day so we're excited and happy to be amongst all these great teams,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden following the meet.

Cal finished fourth with a 196.5 after a strong meet across the board, and senior Toni Ann Williams was a star on all four events. Washington finished fifth with a 196.25, and they were led by all-arounders Evanni Roberson and Hailey Burleson. The Kentucky Wildcats rounded out the pack with a 196.0625, and sophomore Mollie Korth had an incredible meet, scoring a huge 39.5000 in the all-around and sticking her vault cold to end Kentucky’s meet with a 9.925.

The individual all-around competition was exciting as always, but Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols cruised to the title with a 39.8125 after winning two event titles and scoring 9.9000 or better on all four, while Utah’s Skinner also surpassed 9.9000 on every event and tied for the vault title to finish second with a 39.725. Senior Elizabeth Price of Stanford concluded her stellar gymnastics career with a thrilling all-around performance that included a Perfect 10.0 on bars, scoring a 39.675 to finish third.

“Today I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.  I wanted to help the team qualify for Super Six, so I just wanted to go out there and have fun, which I did,” explained all-around champion Nichols.

“I have been working really hard in the gym and fixing all the little things like landings, form and all of that.  It was really awesome to go out there and hit one of my best routines, so I want to do it tomorrow too.”

“This team has put in the numbers in the gym and we’ve worked our butts off for this, so I can’t wait to go have our hard work pay off.  It is going to be something special,” concluded the sophomore star for the Sooners.

Multiple individual champions came out of this session, with the Sooners’ Nichols winning the all-around with a huge 39.8125. McMurtry of Florida, Skinner of Utah, and Dowell of Oklahoma all tied for the vault title with 9.9375s. Nichols and Price of Stanford scored Perfect 10.0s to tie for the uneven bars title and Nichols tied Katelyn Ohashi of UCLA for the floor exercise title, while sixth-year senior star Peng-Peng Lee claimed the national title on the balance beam to round out the individual titles.

The entire NCAA Gymnastics season comes down to tomorrow night with the thrilling Super Six team finals, featuring Oklahoma, Florida, UCLA, LSU, Nebraska, and Utah back again at the Chaifetz Arena Saturday night in St. Louis.

UCLA squeezes by LSU to win semifinal one while Nebraska upsets for final Super Six spot

By: Tom Kovic

4/20/18

Third-seeded UCLA snuck by LSU to win session one of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships. Led by semifinal one all-around winner Kyla Ross (39.6375), the Bruins notched a very solid 197.5625. Second seed LSU, seeking the program’s first national title, finished in second place less than one-tenth behind (197.475). The Nebraska Cornhuskers secured the third qualifying spot with a team score of 197.0125 in the first of two national semifinals today at the Chaifetz Arena.

 

Georgia (196.6875), Alabama (196.625), and Arkansas (196.425) rounded out the team competition finishing fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, marking an end to their seasons.

 

For UCLA, Bruin gymnasts were first place winners in semifinal one on four out of five individual events. Sophomore stalwart Ross posted the highest score on the uneven bars with a 9.950 while sixth year-senior Peng-Peng Lee topped all beam competitors in the first session with a nearly-flawless 9.9875, helping her to the national title on the beam. Junior Katelyn Ohashi won the floor exercise title with a massive 9.9625 and Ross secured the top all-around score from semifinal one with a 39.6375.

Katelyn Ohashi performs on the floor exercise for the UCLA Bruins at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/Emily Howell-Forbes

The Bruins began the day on vault and were a little slow out of the gates notching only 49.1875. After their first bye, the team rebounded brilliantly on bars, notching a 49.375. The beam was the marquee event of the session for the Bruins and the highest team score of the session, a huge 49.5375. Ross, Lee, and Ohashi placed first, second, and third respectively and UCLA closed out the meet with an impressive 49.4625 on the floor to top the standings after the first session.

 

The biggest challengers to UCLA in semifinal one, the LSU Tigers were rock solid on every event and neck and neck with the Bruins from start to finish. LSU recorded impressive individual event totals of beam with a 49.225 despite a mid-lineup fall from freshman Christina Desiderio, floor with a 49.4, and vault with a 49.35. The team uneven bars total of 49.5 was a new LSU postseason record and the highest team total on the bars of the entire session.

 

Myia Hambrick performed near impeccably on floor scoring a 9.9500 for third place in the individual standings. In addition, the Tigers took three of the top six places on bars from semifinal one with Ruby Harrold going 9.900, Lexie Priessman 9.9125, and Kennedi Edney 9.9375 to lead the team in a dominant uneven bars performance.

 

Lexie Priessman performs on the floor exercise for the LSU Tigers at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/LSU Athletics

“It being the third straight year, it’s the first time we’ve done 3 straight years. We just felt like this meet we wanted to be a little be more laid back and not put so much pressure on our kids. Last year we felt like we put too much into this night. Hoping that we can represent the university and the fans. I just can’t say enough great things about the support I’ve gotten from the program over the last eight years… it has just been phenomenal. And three years back to back and Super Sixes is is pretty wonderful,” commented an excited Tigers head coach DD Breaux.

“And I tell the media at home that if good wishes and wishes of good luck and we're praying for you... If all of those things plus hard work will win a national championship we'd have been winning him a long time ago. So we're happy to be in this early session and to be able to go home and have a little bit of recovery and come back tomorrow hopefully fresh and ready to be fighting Tigers tomorrow. And congratulations to Dan and Val because this is the final Super Six and I hope we call are great four something really cool.”

An annual and feisty NCAAs contender, The Nebraska Cornhuskers grabbed the third and final spot in Saturday’s Super Six team finals. After a bye to begin, the Cornhuskers started bars a little wobbly notching an aggregate 49.0625. They rebounded brilliantly on the final three events however, scoring a 49.3375 on beam, 49.3375 on floor, and 49.2375 on vault to lock up another Super Six spot for the program.

 

Individually, Taylor Houchin posted the highest score on vault from session one with a 9.900 and both Houchin and Grace Williams were impressive on the beam as well with 9.8875s. Sienna Crouse was equally up to task, posting a big 9.9000 on floor.

“We knew that this was the final Super Six and that’s very special. I remember last time I did a phone call to a friend of mine, Isabelle, from back in the day. I remember it being ‘97 in Florida the first time we made it. It was an unbelievable feeling. The year before we miss it by .025 and I didn’t think it was possible to get closer that year,” said Nebraska head coach Dan Kendig.

“Tied for third and I’m thinking oh God, here we go again, but we won the tie breaker. Tonight was just as exciting. I’m proud of our team, our coaches, our support staff and everybody at the University of Nebraska. What a great day to be a Husker!”

 

UCLA, LSU, and Nebraska will compete in the NCAA Super Six team finals at 7 PM ET on Saturday in St. Louis. The final three teams to compete Saturday night will be determined during semifinal two. Both the second semifinal and the Super Six will be broadcast on ESPNU.

2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Master Preview

By: Thomas Cluck, Mary Fay Carr, Tom Kovic, Hannah Lerner, Casey Shearns, Jess Stephans

4/18/18

One of the biggest, most highly anticipated gymnastics competitions of the year is just days away and with 12 top tier teams and highly accomplished individual competitors coming together in a weeks time in St. Louis, the Meet Scores Online team is here to give you a full preview of the action. After one of the most tightly-contested, impressive seasons in years, many teams will be eyeing down the championship trophy. Here are our team-by-team and individual previews along with predictions for the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis.

The 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships will be held at the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis/St. Louis Sports Commission

#1 Oklahoma

The Sooners, the top ranked team in the country, are heading into nationals with high hopes for a third straight national title. Oklahoma broke the regular season record for the highest team RQS ever and sophomore star Maggie Nichols also broke the individual all-around record and will be the favorite not only to capture the individual all-around title but also snag a few event titles as well.

The Sooners finished the regular season ranked first on vault and beam, second on bars, and third on flood and they are consistent across all four events and will be extremely difficult to beat. Along with Nichols, Oklahoma also has freshman all-arounder Anastasia Webb, reigning bars co-national champion Nicole Lehrmann, former world champion Brenna Dowell, and an entire team full of gymnasts capable of grabbing huge scores.

Watch out for the Sooners on floor however throughout this meet, because if they are to open the door for other teams, floor will likely be the event given the lineup’s relative lack of experience. Oklahoma looks poised and ready to go after their fourth national championship and will compete in the evening session of semifinals to start their competition, along with fourth-ranked Florida, number five Utah, number eight Kentucky, ninth-ranked Cal, and 11 Washington.

The Oklahoma Sooners celebrate after winning the 2017 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/Sooner Sports

“We are honored to qualify to the NCAA Championships in St Louis. Our team looks forward to the opportunity to compete against the best teams in the country,” said Sooners head coach KJ Kindler.

“We never take for granted our ability to impact others on this journey as we pursue our Championship vision. It is so inspiring to see the young people who look to all our NCAA athletes for motivation and support. Our collective impact and leadership as strong women has been felt all over the nation this season. We are so proud to be a part of that.”

#2 LSU

Having yet to win that elusive national championship trophy and finishing second the last two years, the LSU Tigers are a team on a mission for themselves and legendary 41-year head coach DD Breaux. The Tigers, ranked second in the country, have proven themselves to be the biggest, most consistent title threat to defending champions Oklahoma this season. LSU has all the talent and difficult skills to contend for the title, but having a crisp and clean meet on each event will be the key for the Tigers.

It all stars on the vault for LSU, traditionally their best event, where they will need to go for the big vaults and show clean form and landings. The Tigers have struggled at times with consistency on landings this season and for the best possible chance at dethroning the favored Sooners, LSU will need to put up as many 10.0 start vaults as possible. If the Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs from Myia Hambrick and Kennedi Edney post big scores, the Tigers will like their shot at the title.

This season has been a role reversal from prior years with the uneven bars becoming LSU’s best event, with the top-ranked bars lineup in the nation. The lineup is stacked from head to toe and it all stems from the rock-solid, ultra-clean freshman Sami Durante. Durante has proven to be the foundation of the stellar LSU bars lineup, with the big scores flying from the first spot on. Hambrick, Edney, Lexie Priessman, and Sarah Finnegan have all shown 10.0 potential throughout the season and if the Tigers can stick their bars landings, the make or break for them in posting a high 197 or 198, LSU will be hard to stop.

Sarah Finnegan performs on the balance beam for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge/LSU Athletics

The balance beam has been a very impressive strength as well, with the lineup settling in and maturing as the season has progressed, making for a very sturdy, reliable six routines. While the beam lineup features two freshman in Christina Desiderio and Reagan Campbell, the veteran leadership from leadoff Erin Macadaeg, Hambrick, and Finnegan has propelled the beam to being a big event for the Tigers, a reliable day in and day out.

Finally LSU will look for to correct the floor landing mistakes that hurt them in Super Six last year and plagued them as well at regionals with a big floor exercise rotation. The Tigers’ floor lineup is one of the finest in the country, ranked second nationally, and features some big tumbling passes from Desiderio, Edney, Finnegan, and Hambrick, making the landing control from those four crucial for LSU to have a shot at the trophy. If LSU wants to have the best possible chance to be right up there for the national championship, the Tigers will need to capitalize on floor with a big score there.

"I was really proud of our performance in Raleigh. I thought our team went out there after a slow start and we did what we needed to do. Our freshmen really stepped up to the plate, and I was also happy to see (senior) Myia Hambrick step up and compete. We now have a really good plan in place for the next week and a half to train before we get to St. Louis,” said LSU head coach DD Breaux.

#3 UCLA

UCLA will go into NCAAs ranked number three in the final season rankings, and for good reason. Their team RQS is a huge 197.650, and their highest score of the season is a 198.275, the second highest score recorded in the NCAA all season.

Vault is said to be their weakest event as a team, and yet they are ranked fourth in the country, one of many examples of how strong this team is. However, they have shown great improvement on the event this season. The Bruins will look to several of their stronger vaulters to prevent the event from causing them to fall behind other teams, as it has a few times in the past. Perhaps their biggest asset on vault is sophomore Felicia Hano, who is capable of big scores. Her average on the event is a 9.867, and her season high is a 9.925. Sophomore Kyla Ross is also a great help on the event with the highest vault average on the team, a 9.877. UCLA will also look to Nia Dennis, Pauline Tratz, and Napualani Hall who have both scored above a 9.900 on the event this season.

The Bruins have several incredibly strong uneven bar workers that have put up several perfect scores throughout the season. They are ranked number four in the country on this event as well. Ross is UCLA’s best athlete on the bars, with a massive average bar score of 9.942, and has scored several perfect 10.0s. They will need another big score from Ross for a competitive team uneven bars score. Another one of the Bruins who is impressive on bars is senior star Peng-Peng Lee, who’s bar scores average out to a 9.863. The sixth-year senior has also scored a perfect 10.0 on bars this season, and has a routine packed with difficulty and unique transitions. The Bruins will need her to come up with the big score she is capable of as well. UCLA will also look for solid scores from JaNay Honest and Nia Dennis to help put them ahead on the uneven bars.

UCLA is quite strong on balance beam, currently ranked in the top two in the country on the event. They will again look to Lee to score big, whose consistency and innovative routine earned her a huge average beam score of 9.943.  She also has earned a perfect 10.0 on the event this season. UCLA will also be needing a big score from freshman Anna Glenn, who has a beam average of 9.9. Junior Katelyn Ohashi will be another big asset on balance beam for the Bruins, who has scored a near perfect 9.975 this season as well. Other Bruins who can help the team’s balance beam score include Kyla Ross and Grace Glenn.

Peng-Peng Lee performs on the balance beam for the UCLA Bruins against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Westwood/Daily Bruin

UCLA’s strongest event is floor exercise, where they are ranked the top team in the country on the event. The Bruins have several great floor workers, but perhaps the best this season has been the anchor, Katelyn Ohashi. Her average score on floor is a huge 9.925, and she has scored a perfect 10.0 on the event multiple times this season. If she performs as she usually does, she will be a huge boost in UCLA’s team floor score. Another important floor routine belongs to Felicia Hano, who also averages a 9.925 on floor and has scored a perfect 10 this season. Although Ohashi and Hano are the top floor performers, UCLA has a deep floor lineup with many athletes capable of big scores. Gracie Kramer, Madison Kocian, Nia Dennis, and Pauline Tratz have all scored above a 9.900 this season, helping to give the Bruins the nation’s best team floor average.

If UCLA performs the way they are capable of, they can definitely contend for a national title. They need to rely on their stacked floor and beam lineups to earn the huge scores they have been getting all season to get ahead of the competition early. If they can do that, and make sure they keep their uneven bar routines and vaults as clean as possible, they have a great shot at bringing the national title back to Westwood for the first time in eight years.

#4 Florida

The fourth-ranked Florida Gators will compete in semifinal two at 7 PM ET on Friday, April 20 and face five Utah, eight Kentucky, top-ranked Oklahoma, nine Cal and 11 Washington. The top three teams from semifinal one and two will advance to the Super Six Team Final on Saturday night.

All rotations were predetermined by random draw and the Gators will open on bars and rotate through the remaining events (beam, bye, floor, vault, bye, vault, bye, bars).

No stranger to the national stage, the Gators return for their 36th appearance to NCAAs. Florida is coming off a brilliant and dominant performance at last weekend’s University Park Regional where they put together a great meet to claim their seventh consecutive NCAA Regional title. The Gators have advanced to the Super Six Team Final 12 of the last 14 years.

Alex McMurtry celebrates after performing on the vault for the Florida Gators at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/ESPN

Florida has been sensational on vault and bars this year and is ranked amongst the top three in both events nationwide. The final quarter of a season defines a championship team and vault has been the most consistent event for the Gators (49.4 avg. past three meets). Uneven bars (49.54 avg. past three meets) and balance beam (49.49 avg. past three meets) have been “fortress events” for Florida where they are currently nationally ranked third and fourth respectively. The floor is potentially the Gators strongest event (48.4 avg. past three meets), but their most inconsistent event during the past three meets, ranging between 48.4 and 49.45.

There is certainly no lack of talent on this very deep and resourceful team with impactful veteran leadership that the underclassman can depend upon and look to for guidance. Seniors Alex McMurtry, the defending NCAA all-around champion, Rachel Solcum, and Junior Alicia Boren will spearhead the team. Florida will likely advance to the Super Six as a second or third seed and save the best for Saturday night in hopes of the program’s fourth national championship.

#5 Utah

The Salt Lake City regional saw Utah and Cal to advance to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships. Utah, being ranked fifth, is expected to have a strong showing at NCAAs next weekend in St. Louis. The Utes have several standout gymnasts that will contribute big scores for the team including MyKayla Skinner, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Tiffani Lewis, Kari Lee, and Missy Reinstadtler. Strong performances from these gymnasts will allow the team to have a good showing at the championships and hopefully contend for the program’s tenth national championship.

MyKayla Skinner performs on the floor exercise for the Utah Red Rocks against the Georgia Gymdogs in Salt Lake City/Utah Athletics

“We’re excited to be returning to St. Louis for the national championships. Our team has prepared all season for this opportunity and we are continuing to work on the smallest details so that we will be at our best at the most important time. It will be a highly-competitive atmosphere with many incredible teams and Utah is one of them,” commented a confident Utah head coach Megan Marsden.

#6 Alabama

Alabama, ranked sixth, is vying to win the another national title in St. Louis. This is the 36th year in a row that the Crimson Tide have qualified to this prestigious competition. Alabama earned the national title in 2011 and 2012, where they scored a 197.65 and 197.850, respectively. At the Tuscaloosa Regional, the Crimson Tide posted the top score on all four events.

Leading the team was Lexi Graber, who won the all-around at with a career-best score of 39.575.  Graber won vault with a 9.950 while Nickie Guerrero and Ari Guerra tied for second with 9.900s, leading Alabama to sweep the podium on vault. Strong competitor Kiana Winston won beam with a 9.925. Alabama’s season high score is a 197.525, averaging at a 196.835, a score they will need to improve to keep themselves from the possibility of an upset in semifinals and to secure another Super Six appearance.

image 7

Ari Guerra celebrates with her teammates after performing on the floor exercise for the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa/Alabama Athletics

“We’re very excited to be back at the NCAA Championships for the 36th year in a row. Our attitude is always to be grateful for everything and entitled to nothing – we must earn it every day, and that’s certainly the case in making it to nationals and everything that goes along with this week. I think our goal, as far as our preparation, is to continue to hone in on all the small details that these ladies are completely capable of. We talk about how to become the best version of yourself and it’s through accountability and ownership - what do we need to do to be one percent better. I’m excited for the ladies to work on those little things,” explained Tide head coach Dana Duckworth.

“We did well at regionals - we hit 24 for 24 - but we didn’t hit 24 for 24 the way I know we can. We saw glimpses of it. Looking back at the score sheet, I feel like on every single event we were three or four deep with the very best we can do, which means we still have room for improvement. That should have them fired up and excited. When we get to the first night, we have to go after it, not hold back a single second and just be confident in our preparation, trust our training and do what we do every day. We have some fiery young women.”

#7 Nebraska

Seventh-ranked Nebraska will compete for their first ever national championship this weekend, after a top ten finish during the regular season. The team’s strongest event is vault, where they are currently ranked ninth in the country. Their best vaulter is sophomore Taylor Houchin, who’s vault scores average out to 9.89. She scored a near perfect 9.975 on the event this season, and the Huskers will need her big scores to compete in a competitive vault field. Junior Sienna Crouse will also be very important on the event, as she averages a 9.881 on vault, and has scored a 9.975 on vault as well. They will also look to Megan Schweihofer to come up big on vault, who is also capable of scoring above a 9.900.

        

The Huskers are also good on the uneven bars, where they are ranked 12th in the country. Senior Abbie Epperson is Nebraska’s best asset on uneven bars, as she has the highest average on the team with a 9.840. Houchin and Crouse are also great on the bars, as they both have a season high score of 9.925.

        

Nebraska’s biggest struggle is on balance beam, where they are ranked just 21st in the country. Many athletes in Nebraska’s lineup are capable of big scores, but the team collectively struggles with consistency. Four members of Nebraska’s beam lineup have scored a 9.900 or higher this season, however, there is only one member who’s average score is above a 9.800. The Huskers will need to try to be more consistent as a team on the event in order to have a chance at competing in the Super Six. However, they are very much capable of a good team beam score, as Sienna Crouse and Taylor Houchin have both scored a 9.925 this season, and Megan Schweihofer, Kynsee Roby, and Abbie Epperson can score 9.900s.

Megan Schweihofer performs on the floor exercise for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln/Nebraska Athletics

The Cornhuskers will look to make up for a possibly lower beam score on the floor exercise, where all-arounder Schweihofer will help lead the lineup and put Nebraska in a favorable position to upset one of the favorites for a Super Six spot.

#8 Kentucky

Kentucky has qualified to nationals for the first time in program history, and the number eight Wildcats are poised to have a solid first appearance. Kentucky has had an incredible season, and they are led by a duo of all-arounders in Mollie Korth and Alex Hyland that are two or the best in the country.

Kentucky’s best event is balance beam, where they are ranked ninth in the country, and although it would be a major upset for Kentucky to advance to the Super Six team finals, they will look to hit all four events and put up a score around 197 to place as well as possible in the evening session of semifinals, where they will compete against top-ranked Oklahoma, four Florida, five Utah, ninth-ranked Cal, and 11 Washington.

The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after finishing second at the Minneapolis Regional/Kentucky Athletics

“It means a great deal. We set a lot of goals coming into the season and going to nationals was definitely a part of it. To be able to work all season long and get into a position to get into nationals and be able to pull it out at the regional meet, and have an outstanding performance, not only means a lot to our staff and to our team but also to our athletic department and University,” stated Wildcats head coach Tim Garrison.

#9 Cal

Cal is ranked ninth and will have to fight for a spot in the Super Six Team Finals during the semifinals. It would be difficult for the team to make it into the season finale, however, with strong performances from all-around stars Toni-Ann Williams and Kyana George, the Golden Bears would be able to better their chances and be a prime candidate to upset one of the three favorites in the second semifinal.

“We have so much more depth than we've ever had, which has been wonderful.  To be able to make some changes on the fly and week-to-week to see what lineup is going to jell -- we've never been in that situation before.  We've had a couple of instances where we've made lineup changes on the fly up to the very last minute, and it's been a good stress that we're that deep and that good that we're in that situation,” explained the head coach of the Golden Bears Justin Howell.

Toni-Ann Williams performs on the floor exercise for the Cal Golden Bears at the NorCal Classic at Stanford/Cal Athletics

“We have a really good mix of underclassmen through upperclassmen. We have seniors that have a lot of experience and have been to the NCAA Championship before, so that will be great for them to bring that into next weekend. We have freshmen with lots of responsibility on their backs, and juniors and sophomores who have handled it really well and have grown a lot through this season.”

#10 Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks finish at tenth in the regular season, and will compete for their first ever national title this weekend. The Razorbacks biggest advantage is on the uneven bars, where they are ranked number seven in the country. Senior Braie Speed averages a 9.900 on the event, and has a season high score of 9.950. Arkansas will also look for a big score from Sophomore Hailey Garner, who averages a 9.875, and this season scored a near perfect 9.975 on the event. The Razorbacks will need to come up with those big scores again on their strongest event to stay in contention with tough competition.

Another spot Arkansas will look to score big is the balance beam, where they are ranked number ten in the country. Four members of their beam lineup have earned season high scores above a 9.900, and five have an average score above 9.800. The Razorbacks will mostly look to sophomore Michaela Burton, who has the team’s highest season average score, and freshman Sophia Carter, who has scored a 9.975 on the event and has scored above a 9.900 in several meets throughout the season. Jessica Yamzon will also be an asset for Arkansas, with a season high score of 9.95.

The weakest event for Arkansas is vault, where only two members of the team average above a 9.850. However, Arkansas has a good vaulter in Braie Speed, who averages a 9.875 and the team’s season high score of 9.925. Speed will have to hit a great vault to help keep her team in contention. Amanda Wellick and is also capable of 9.900s, and will have to do her best vault as well to prevent the Razorbacks from falling behind.

Sophia Carter performs on the floor exercise for the Arkansas Razorbacks/Arkansas Athletics

On floor exercise, Arkansas will rely on freshman Sarah Shaffer, who hold the team’s highest average floor score with a 9.900. She also scored the team’s season high 9.950 on the event. Floor is not Arkansas’s strongest event, so Shaffer and her teammates will need to be at their best. Sophia Carter is also capable of big scores on floor, with a season high of 9.950 as well.

Although they will be facing tough competition, Arkansas could potentially pull off an upset to move on to the Super Six if they can execute to perfection. They have great talent on balance beam and uneven bars, where other teams can have struggles. Arkansas will be looking for a solid, consistent team performance and big scores from their top performers on Friday for a chance to compete for the national title.

#11 Washington

The 11th seed Washington Gymdawgs qualified for nationals for the second straight year, placing second at last weekend’s University Park Regional with a score of 196.275. This will be the seventh trip to nationals in Washington history and just the second time Washington has made it in back-to-back years.

The Huskies will compete in semifinal two at 7 PM ET and begin competition on the floor exercise. Washington continues the competition on vault, bye, bars, beam, bye. The Gymdawgs have experienced an admirable season lead by Maya Washington, Zoey Schaefer, and Kristyn Hoffa who all tied for the NCAA regional title on the floor. Washington, Schaefer, and Hoffa all recorded scores of 9.900 to help Washington put up its highest event score (49.350) of the 2018 season.

Balance beam (ranked seventh in the nation) and floor exercise (ranked ninth) are Washington’s strongest events. Bars and beam are solid events across the board, but if there is a potential achilles heel for the Huskies it is vault where the team has scored over 49.0 only five times this season.

Hailey Burleson competes on the balance beam for the Washington Huskies in Seattle/Washington Athletics

The Huskies are a tough and gritty team, but they need to bring their A-game to the table if they want to make a run at the Super Six. Bars and vault performances must rise up on par with beam, and floor if Washington wants to move on and compete for a title come Saturday night.

“To advance for the second year in a row was incredible. The last thing we wanted is to be thought of as a Cinderella team, so this year carried a lot of expectation. We wanted to show everyone Washington is getting better and better, and making it to Nationals consistently is the beginning of that process.  The team is motivated more than ever and are excited to have another shot at competing at their very best,” commented Huskies head coach Elise Ray.

#12 Georgia

Number 12 Georgia, coached by former NCAA great Courtney Kupets Carter, is looking to have a strong performance this weekend. The Bulldogs dominated nationals from 2005 to 2009 under legendary head coach Suzanne Yoculan. Last year the Gymdogs finished in 12th place at NCAAs. Georgia’s season high is a 197.525, averaging at a 196.773.

At the Tuscaloosa Regional, the Bulldogs placed second in the six-team meet, scoring a 196.500. Sophomore Sabrina Vega scored a 9.900 on floor to share the title and helped the team move into second place with her clutch beam performance, scoring a 9.875. Georgia scored a 49.025 on vault and dominated bars with a 49.350 with the help of Sydney Snead and Marissa Oakley, who both posted huge 9.925s.

18GYM Postgame - NCAA Regionals

Sabrina Vega celebrates after performing on the balance beam for the Georgia Gymdogs in Athens/Georgia Athletics

"We are very proud of this team for their perseverance and determination all season long. When everything was on the line at regionals, this team was relentless. They refused to be denied their advancement to the NCAA championship. While our coaching staff is proud of our athletes and all that this team has overcome all season long, we are continuing to build momentum as we head into St. Louis. Do not underestimate us,” concluded a confident and determined Georgia head coach Kupets.

Lexy Ramler- Minnesota (all-around)

Coming off an outstanding freshman season, Ramler is heading into her first nationals with hopes of placing high in the all-around. She has been a freshman phenom for Minnesota this season and finished the regular season as the second-highest seeded freshman all-arounder in the country at number 13. Her best event is the balance beam, where she is tied for sixth nationally, so watch out for her to potentially place high there as well in St. Louis as the sole representative for the Golden Gophers.

Lynzee Brown- Denver (all-around)

After not being able to compete all-around most of the season due to injury, Brown added back floor at regionals to advance individually to nationals for the Pioneers. She will hope to represent Denver well at nationals, as they narrowly missed advancing as a team and she is their sole competitor.

Elizabeth Price- Stanford (all-around)

Despite competing in St. Louis as an individual, Price is one of the favorites for the all-around title in what has already been a stellar senior season for Stanford’s top gymnast. Price has finally been able to reach the heights many expected from her in NCAA this season, with multiple perfect 10.0s and a number three ranking in the all-around.

Price has excelled on vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise in her collegiate career, with massive scoring potential on those three, but if she can hit balance beam for a big score, her hopes of taking home the all-around title look very good.

Drew Watson- Auburn (all-around)

Even though she is only a freshman, Watson has been one of the leaders for Auburn this season. Gradually gaining more experience throughout the season, Watson is consistent and dynamic across the board and has competed all-around for the Tigers the second half of the season. She is super powerful and her vault and floor have massive scoring potential, and her clean form on every event makes her gorgeous to watch.

Cairo Leonard-Baker- Arizona State (all-around)

Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Cairo Leonard-Baker, also earned an individual all-around berth to NCAAs with a tally of 39.200 and an overall third place tie at last weekend’s University Park Regional. She had a tremendous 2018 season scoring 39.0 plus in the all-around in every competition except for one meet. To date, Leonard-Baker’s top all-around score is 39.575 against Cal.

The first round of NCAAs will be a barnburner. The team that follows scores during the meet will only be distracted. It is all about performance and minimizing errors. There could very well be less than two tenths separating the third and fourth place teams in each session. Staying in the moment and minimizing errors will offer the best chance to advance or contend for an individual title in Leonard-Baker’s case.

Shani Remme- Boise State (all-around)

Shani Remme had been a huge asset to her team, Boise State all season, and now she will get the chance to compete for her own individual title. Remme will compete in the all-around during NCAAs semifinals to earn a spot as one of the top all-around gymnasts of the season. She consistently finished with one of the top all-around scores all season, averaging a 39.450, and a season high score of 39.575.

Her strongest events are the uneven bars where she averages a 9.875, and balance beam where she averages a 9.900. However, she is also capable of big scores on floor exercise, where her season high score on the event is a 9.950. A spot she will need to improve in if she is going to contend for an all around title is vault, where her season high score is only a 9.850. Remme is capable of competitive scores, and will look to hit four clean routines to try and earn a spot on the all-around podium.

Cami Drouin-Allaire- George Washington (all-around)

As George Washington’s only representative at nationals, Drouin-Allaire will once again have the Colonials’ season on her back with a shot at making program history with an individual title. Drouin-Allaire has been the star senior for George Washington and has led the team for many years. Drouin-Allaire is ranked 18th in the all-around and will have her best shot at an individual title on the vault, where is ranked tenth, and can vault a huge Yurchenko double full, making her a major contender for that title. Drouin-Allaire will look to ride her strong vault and floor scores to an impressive all-around finish for the Colonials.

Morgan Lane- North Carolina (all-around)

With North Carolina surprisingly missing regionals, Lane was sent to the Raleigh regional as the Tar Heels’ best hope to qualify a gymnast to nationals and the senior delivered. Lane had one of the most complete competitions of her career, impressing on all four events as an individual, something she’ll hope to do again in St. Louis.

Lane is ranked 37th in the all-around but her best chance at an individual title will come on either the balance beam, where she’s 24th in the nation, or the floor exercise, where she’s 33rd nationally. Lane will hope to showcase her impressive, artistic gymnastics to score highly as an individual and contend for a podium spot on one of her better events or possibly in the all-around.

Brianna Brown- Michigan (all-around)

Senior Brianna Brown will represent Michigan as an individual all-around competitor. Brown is the Tuscaloosa regional and Big Ten uneven bars champion as she dominated both competitions with huge scores of 9.950. Brown truly shines on bars where she performs a Ray, pak salto, and a huge double layout dismount. On floor, Brown competes a back two-and-a-half twist, back double pike, and a back one-and-a-half to front layout.

At the Big Ten Championships, Brown also placed third in the all-around with a 39.450. She had her career best all-around score in 2015 where she earned a 39.550. This year Brown has scored a 9.900 on eleven routines and has claimed nine all-around or event wins. Nationally, she is ranked 28th in the all-around and is tied for 20th on bars.

Jamie Stone- Ohio State (vault)

Ohio State junior Jamie Stone will compete for the NCAA vault title on Friday during semifinals. Stone’s big vault scores had been a huge part of the Buckeyes’ success this season, and she will go up against the nation’s best vaulters to compete for a spot on the podium. She averaged a 9.850 this season, with a season high of 9.900 on the event.

After a somewhat slow start to the season on the event, Stone hit her peak right on time in the postseason, scoring 9.900s at both conference championships and regionals when her team needed it most. Her clean vaults and consistent performance in big meets earned her a spot at nationals to compete for a the national title on vault.

Sam Cerio- Auburn (uneven bars)

One of Auburn’s several individual qualifiers to NCAAs, Cerio has been the Tigers’ best bars worker this season and her presence in lineups has helped Auburn all season long. Cerio performs a well-executed, very difficult bars routine and her consistency, something that Auburn has lacked this season, makes her a threat any day for a bars title.

Abby Milliet- Auburn (balance beam)

A senior from Auburn, Milliet heads to St. Louis to compete on her best event, the balance beam. Milliet accomplished the extremely difficult task of winning an event at regionals to qualify individually, and she is heading to nationals ready to put on a show on her best event. With consistent scores around 9.900, Milliet’s beam is a routine packed with artistry and presentation you do not want to miss.

Meaghan Sievers- Iowa State (vault)

Completing the extremely difficult task of winning an event outright at regionals, Sievers is advancing as a vault specialist to nationals. Sievers helped lead Iowa State the whole season on this event, and her 9.925 performance from regionals could place very well, if repeated as the Cyclones representative in St. Louis.

Predictions:

Semifinal one:

Thomas Cluck- LSU, UCLA, Alabama

Mary Fay Carr- LSU, UCLA, Georgia

Tom Kovic- LSU, UCLA, Nebraska

Hannah Lerner- LSU, UCLA, Alabama

Casey Shearns- LSU, UCLA, Georgia

Jess Stephans- LSU, UCLA, Georgia

Semifinal two:

Thomas Cluck- Oklahoma, Utah, Florida

Mary Fay Carr- Oklahoma, Utah, Florida

Tom Kovic- Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky

Hannah Lerner- Oklahoma, Florida, Utah

Casey Shearns- Oklahoma, Utah, Florida

Jess Stephans- Oklahoma, Florida, Utah

All-around:

Thomas Cluck- Elizabeth Price (Stanford)

Mary Fay Carr- Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)

Tom Kovic- Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)

Hannah Lerner- Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)

Casey Shearns- MyKayla Skinner (Utah)

Jess Stephans- Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)

Super Six:

Thomas Cluck- 1. Oklahoma, 2. LSU

Mary Fay Carr- 1. Oklahoma, 2. UCLA

Tom Kovic- 1. Oklahoma, 2. LSU

Hannah Lerner- 1. Oklahoma, 2. LSU

Casey Shearns- 1. Oklahoma, 2. UCLA

Jess Stephans- 1. Oklahoma, 2. Florida

Emma Malabuyo and Ragan Smith collect more medals in Jesolo event finals

By: Jess Stephans

4/15/18

The 2018 City of Jesolo Trophy wrapped up Sunday with event finals, and the event finals were largely dominated by Emma Malabuyo and Ragan Smith, of the USA, the two who also took home the top two spots in the senior individual all-around competition. The medal total, country by country, for the senior competition had the US with five medals, Russia with four, and China, Italy, and Brazil all with one.

Emma Malabuyo competes for the US on the balance beam at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy/The Gym Specialist

The vault competition was incredibly closely contested, with the top three all separated by less than a tenth of a point. Liu Jinru of China took home gold after two strong vault, while Russia’s Angelina Melnikova competed a Yurchenko double full and half on half off combination won her the silver. Eleonora Afanasieva, also from Russia, finished with the bronze after competing the same combination of vaults as Melnikova. Grace McCallum, from the United States, competed a gorgeous stuck Yurchenko double full for her first vault, but struggled a little on her second to fall to fifth, although she was less than three tenths from first. McCallum also is training and Amanar, so look for her to debut that in the near future.

The uneven bars final was also extremely exciting, with the top four within five tenths of a point. Anastasia Iliankova of Russia, the bronze medalist in the all-around and one of the world’s current best bar workers, finished first after a gorgeous routine which scored a 14.6, while Ragan Smith of the US finished right behind her with a 14.577 after one of the best bar routines of her career. Melnikova followed her silver on vault up with a bronze on bars after a gorgeous routine scoring a 14.333, while Alyona Shchennikova of the US finished just out of the medals in fourth after scoring a 14.167.

Ragan Smith competes on the balance beam for the US at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy/FloGymnastics

Smith and all-around champion Emma Malabuyo took home the top two spots in the balance beam final in dominating fashion for the US, with Smith’s silver medal score over a point higher than the score for bronze. Malabuyo took home gold after a great routine that scored a 14.3, just edging out Smith who scored a 14.2. Melnikova took home her third medal of event finals with a 13.167 to finish third for Russia.

Emma Malabuyo competes on the floor exercise for the US at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Jesolo, Italy/City of Jesolo Trophy

The event finals wrapped up with a intense floor competition, and Malabuyo took home her third gold medal of the competition in her senior debut. She hit all of her incredibly difficult passes, a double-double, double layout, front double full, and a full in, to finish first with a 14.1 to end her first senior competition very successfully. Flavia Saraiva of Brazil finished second with a 13.9 after a magnificent routine, and her fun music is always a highlight. McCallum of the United States tied with Desiree Carofiglio for third place, and McCallum showcased her stellar form throughout all four of her passes while Carofiglio dazzled with giant front tumbling passes such as a front layout- front double tuck-front tuck and a punch front double pike. The floor competition was a great way to wrap up an incredible weekend of competition in Jesolo, an exciting preview for the major international competitions to come this elite season.

UCLA soars to win Columbus regional, advance to nationals along with Arkansas

By: Casey Shearns

4/7/18

At the Columbus regional on Saturday, the UCLA Bruins and Arkansas Razorbacks secured their spots in St. Louis at nationals. The Bruins came in first, finishing with a 197.650, followed by Arkansas who earned a 196.775. The Columbus regional also featured hosts Ohio State in third (196.500), Boise State in fourth (196.225), Pitt in fifth (195.125), and Kent State (194.900) in sixth. There were also several individual athletes from Michigan State, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Ball State.

        

Third-ranked UCLA was the first team to punch their ticket to St. Louis with a solid team performance. They started the meet of strong on vault, where Anna Glenn and Pauline Tratz both scored 9.900s for the Bruins, in a four way tie for the highest vault score of the meet. Felicia Hano followed closely with a 9.875. On the uneven bars, sophomore Kyla Ross anchored with a near perfect 9.975 to earn the Bruins the highest uneven bars score of the meet. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Madison Kocian also made her season debut on the uneven bars, scoring a 9.875 on her first routine back from shoulder surgery. On balance beam, Ross continued her impressive night with a 9.950 on the event, to take the beam title as well. She was followed by very solid 9.900s from Grace Glenn and Katelyn Ohashi. On floor exercise, the Bruins sealed their regional win with a beautiful 9.925 routine from Katelyn Ohashi to finish. Gracie Kramer and Felicia Hano also scored 9.900s to send UCLA to their 34th straight NCAAs in two weeks.

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the Columbus regional/UCLA Athletics

Number 10 Arkansas was the second team to earn a spot at nationals after several impressive individual and team performances. Braie Speed tied for the highest vault score of the night, scoring a solid 9.900 for the Razorbacks. On the uneven bars, Hailey Garner anchored Arkansas’s rotation with a nice 9.875 routine, their highest bars score. Arkansas shined on balance beam, where Amanda Wellick and Michaela Burton both performed well done routines to score two 9.900s, keeping Arkansas a close second to UCLA. The teammates tied for the second highest beam score of the meet. On floor exercise, Sarah Shaffer helped earn Arkansas’s sport in St. Louis with a 9.900. Amanda Wellick and Jessica Yamzon both were big assets in the success of the Razorbacks, coming in second and third in the all-around respectively. Arkansas will look to compete for their first ever NCAA title in a few weeks.

The hosts of the meet number 18 Ohio State just fell short of a chance to compete at the NCAA championships, but some impressive performances on Saturday points to a bright future for the Buckeyes. Jaime Stone earned a 9.009 on the vault in a four way tie for first on the event, sending her to St. Louis as an individual on vault, with teammate Olivia Aepli close behind with an 9.875. On uneven bars, Aepli continued to be a leader for her team, scoring another 9.875 for the Buckeyes’ top bars score. On balance beam, Ohio State struggled as a team with connections and wobbles, just barely taking them out of the competition. Alexis Mattern lead the team on the event with a 9.825. On floor exercise, Stone came up big again with a solid 9.900 routine to tie for the second highest floor score of the meet. Janelle McClelland and Stefani Merkle also scored 9.875s for a great floor rotation for Ohio State in their final meet of the season.

16th-ranked Boise State had a somewhat disappointing finish to a great season, however, Bronco gymnast Shani Remme had an outstanding meet. Remme won the all around with a 39.425, sending her to nationals as an all-arounder, and put up a 9.900 on the uneven bars for the second highest score of the meet on the event. Anne Stockwell and Courtney McGregor also had good days on bars, both scoring 9.85. On balance beam, Remme put up another high score with a 9.875, and a 9.85 from Sarah Means for the Broncos. On vault, Sandra Collantes put up a 9.85 to lead the Broncos on the event. Boise State will look to continue to improve with great talent for next season.

Pitt had a good final meet of the season, with several nice routines. Deven Herbine scored a 9.850 on a nice vault to tie for the third highest vault score of the meet. On uneven bars, teammates Lucy Jones and Taylor Laymond tied for fourth place with a pair of 9.850s. Unfortunately, Pitt struggled on balance beam with two falls, and had to count a fall in their team beam score to fall behind a bit. On floor exercise, Haley Brechwald scored a big 9.875, tying for the third highest score on floor of the meet and finishing Pitt’s season on high note.

Kent State also got the opportunity to compete in their home state of Ohio. KSU gymnast Abby Fletcher had a great floor exercise, scoring a big 9.900 to tie for second on the event. Nasha Manitkul-Davis and Toshi Richards also both put up 9.850s on the event to earn a great team floor score for the underdog Kent State, and great potential for next season.

There were also some great performances for gymnasts competing as individuals. Jovannah East from Bowling Green tied for third in the all around with a 39.25, and scored a 9.850 on balance beam and floor exercise, qualifying her to compete at nationals as an individual. Rachel Underwood from Western Michigan scored a 9.850 on vault to tie for the third highest score of the meet, and a huge 9.900 floor routine to tie for second on the event. Lea Mitchell of Michigan State also had a solid all around performance, scoring a 39.175 for the Spartans.

Utah dominates Salt Lake City regional at home and Cal locks up second spot at nationals

By: Mary Fay Carr

4/7/18

Six NCAA gymnastics teams competed at the regional championship in Salt Lake City on Saturday in hopes of advancing to the nationals in two weeks. The teams competing were Utah, Cal, Auburn, BYU, Stanford, and Southern Utah. Out of these six, Utah and Cal will be advancing to nationals in St. Louis.  

The Utah Red Rocks celebrate after winning the Salt Lake City regional/Utah Athletics

The Thunderbirds of Southern Utah began their competition on vault and posted an event total of 48.250, with a standout performance from Autumn Jorgensen who scored a 9.800. Stanford competed on bars in the first rotation and posted a mere 48.050. Despite many low scores, senior star Elizabeth Price managed to post an impressive 9.900 for the Cardinals. The Cal Bears competed on beam in the first rotation and posted a solid 49.125. The highlight of their rotation was three 9.850s from Alicia Gallarzo, Sofie Seilnacht, and leader Toni-Ann Williams. The Utes began the competition on their strongest event, floor. With three 9.900s from Kari Lee, Missy Reinstadtler, and Sydney Soloski, and two 9.950s from Makenna Merrell-Giles and Mykayla Skinner, Utah was able to take an early lead with an event total of 49.600. Both Auburn and BYU were on byes in the first rotation.  

In the second rotation, the Red Rocks of Utah moved to vault and scored an event total of 49.350. Kim Tessen and Skinner both contributed to this score with two 9.900s. After being on bye in the first rotation, BYU began their competition on bars in the second rotation, posting a 49.075. Shannon Hortman-Evans posted a high of 9.900, while Brittni Hawes scored a 9.850. Stanford moved to beam in the second rotation and scored a solid 49.125 with Kyla Bryant posting an impressive 9.900 while both Taryn Fitzgerald and Price scored 9.825s. Auburn also began their competition in the second rotation after being on bye in the first. The Tigers started on floor, posting a solid 49.325 with both Gracie Day and Abby Milliet scoring a 9.900 while Emma Slappey posted a strong 9.875. Cal and Southern Utah were on byes in rotation two.  

In the third rotation Auburn moved to vault and scored a 49.025. Drew Watson greatly contributed to this score with a 9.925, while Jada Glenn posted a solid 9.825 for the Tigers, who were fighting with Cal for the second spot at nationals. The Thunderbirds got back into the competition in rotation three when they scored a 49.025 on bars. Kirsten Yee scored a high of 9.875 on the event while Madison McBride scored a 9.825. BYU advanced to beam in the third rotation, scored an event total of 49.200. Jill Van Mierlo scored an impressive 9.875, while both Abby Boden and Hortman-Evans posted scores of 9.850. The Golden Bears of Cal moved to floor in rotation three after being on bye in the previous rotation. Williams posted a huge score of 9.925 for Cal on the event, while freshman phenom Kyana George also posted an impressive 9.900. Both Utah and Stanford were on byes during this rotation.

The Cal Golden Bears celebrate after finishing second at the Salt Lake City regional and advancing to nationals/Cal Athletics

The Golden Bears then moved to vault in rotation four and scored a solid 49.175. Arianna Robinson scored a high of 9.875 with her unique vault. After being on bye for rotation three, Utah re-entered the competition to post a 49.200 on bars. Skinner added an impressive 9.900 to the event total, while Tiffani Lewis contributed a 9.875. Southern Utah moved to beam in rotation four where Hannah Nipp scored a high of 9.850. Stanford also re-entered the competition in the fourth rotation and posted a big 49.450 on floor with Price scoring a huge 9.950 on the event while Bryant tied her career-high with a strong 9.925. BYU and Auburn were on byes in rotation four.  

The Cardinals moved to vault in the fifth rotation before their final bye in the last rotation. Price scored her second 9.900 of the meet on vault, which contributed to the team’s final score of 195.600 and allowed the London 2012 US alternate to advance to nationals as an individual in the all-around. Auburn returned to the competition on bars in the fifth rotation and scored a 49.075. Sam Cerio scored a 9.900 for the Tigers on the event and both Day and Watson posted 9.850s. Utah closed their meet on beam in the fifth rotation with a 49.325. Two 9.900s from Merrell-Giles and Skinner and a 9.925 from Reinstadtler allowed the Utes to score a total of 197.475.  BYU moved to floor in the fifth rotation and scored a 49.075. Their rotation was lead by Jill Van Mierlo who posted a 9.900.  

In the final rotation no team was able to outscore the Utes and they won the competition by 0.75. Cal placed second and secured the second spot to advance to NCAAs. Elizabeth Price of Stanford, who scored the highest all-around score of a non-qualifying team, will also advance to the championships as an individual all-around competitor, with Auburn’s Drew Watson joining her there. The Tigers also qualified Cerio on the uneven bars and Abby Milliet on the balance beam.

Florida Gators dominate University Park Regional, Washington advances to NCAAs

By: Tom Kovic

4/7/18

In a prominent all-around team performance, the number five Florida Gators posted a 197.725 to claim the University Park Regional last night in Rec Hall at Penn State. Washington was the runner-up team (196.275) and joined Florida for qualifying to nationals. Arizona State (195.75), New Hampshire (194.95), Penn State (194.900) and West Virginia (194.40) rounded out the six-team field.

Fifth-ranked Florida put together a complete meet to claim their seventh consecutive regional title. 2018 marks the 36th time the Gators have advanced to the national championships. Even with two missed routines on the night (bars and beam) Florida had extraordinary athletic depth and talent that simply could not be challenged.

Rachel Slocum performs on the floor exercise for the Florida Gators at the University Park Regional/Florida Athletics

Florida dominated the awards stand winning every individual event. Senior Alex McMurtry was on fire, winning three events including the all-around title. Vault: Rachel Slocum (9.95); uneven bars McMurtry (9.975); balance beam: McMurtry (9.95); floor exercise : Alicia Boren and Rachel Slocum were crowned champions (9.90). This Gators team is just hitting its stride and will be a viable team contender for the national crown.

Number eight Washington was steady and clean from start to finish hitting 24 for 24 routines to place second and advance to the national championship. Kristyn Hoffa was the lone individual (co)-champion on the floor (9.90) that clearly capped off a total team effort by the Huskies.

In addition, Hailey Burleson (11th vault/9.775); Monica Riley (sixth bars/9.85); Evanni Roberson (fourth beam/9.875) and Burleson (third all-around/39.20) were the pacemakers on each individual event.

The Washington Huskies celebrate after finishing second at the University Park Regional/Washington Athletics

17 Arizona State made a bold run at the second NCAA Championship qualifying position but came up .525 short. Freshman Cairo Leonard-Baker placed an impressive third all-around (39.20) and earned automatic berth to NCAAs. The Sun Devils placed third (their best finish since 2013 with a team score 0f 195.75).

30 UNH performed relatively unblemished in an impressive team performance leap-frogging past 29 Penn State and 27 West Virginia to claim fourth place, their best NCAA Regional Championship finish since 2010. Casey Lauter scored a team-high 9.825 on balance beam and Lauren Diggan notched 9.80 on both uneven bars and floor exercise.

29 Penn State hosted the regional competition and finished fifth with a team score of 194.900. Lauren Bridgens had a standout meet placing third on vault (9.90) while placing third in the all-around (39.20) to secure one of the two all-around qualification spots to the NCAA Championships.

27 West Virginia may have been a little rough out of the gates but had their best showing of the afternoon on floor exercise (49.0), the third-best aggregate floor score of the meet. Abby Kaufman led the Mountaineers on floor (9.85), good enough for seventh place overall.

Yale’s Jade Buford placed tenth all-around with an impressive 38.775, the top individual all-around competitor who did not compete as part of a team.

A complete listing of team and individual event results can be found at: http://www.gopsusports.com/livestats/w-gym/20180407.htm.

Official selection information for the 12 team field and individual event competitors will be available at ncaa.com shortly after noon ET on Monday, April 9.

Alabama is victorious, qualifies to nationals with Georgia out of Tuscaloosa Regional

By: Hannah Lerner

4/7/18

Alabama hosted Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Illinois, and Central Michigan at the Tuscaloosa Regional and had an outstanding competition. Alabama’s Lexi Graber won the all-around with a 39.575, a career-best. Michigan’s Lexi Funk and Paige Zaziski took second and third for the all-around title, scoring a 39.250 and 39.075 respectively. Alabama swept the vault podium as Graber scored a 9.950 with a Yurchenko one-and-a-half and Nickie Guerrero and Ari Guerra tied

for second with 9.900s.

Lexi Graber competes on the vault for the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Tuscaloosa Regional/Vasha Hunt

On the uneven bars, Michigan’s Brianna Brown posted a massive 9.950 with a huge straddled tkatchev, beautiful pak salto, and double layout dismount, winning the bars title and advancing to nationals in St. Louis. Georgia’s Sydney Shead and Marissa Oakley shared second place with scores of 9.925. Alabama’s Kiana Winston dominated beam with a 9.925, showing incredible flexibility and presentation throughout the routine and finishing with a sky-high double back dismount. Missouri’s Briney Ward and Central Michigan’s Katy Clements tied for second with 9.900s.

On floor, Georgia’s Sabrina Vega and Central Michigan’s Denelle Pedrick scored 9.900, winning the event, allowing Pedrick to advance to NCAAs as an individual on floor. Along with Vega’s dynamic choreography, she nailed a double pike and double tuck. Pedrick opened her routine with a very difficult triple full and dismounted with a double back pike. Lexi Graber took third on floor with a 9.875.

Alabama and Georgia will look ahead to nationals on April 20 and 21, where they will join the other first and second place finishing teams at each of the regional competitions. Advancing as individual all-arounders were Michigan’s Brown and Illinois’ Rae Balthazor, with Central Michigan’s Pedrick joining them as an individual on floor exercise.

Final scores:

Alabama: 197.225

Georgia: 196.500

Illinois: 196.425

Michigan: 196.350

Missouri: 196.100

Central Michigan: 195.825

Oklahoma and Kentucky advance to nationals after a hard-fought regional competition

By: Jess Stephans

4/7/18

The Minneapolis regional lived up to all of the hype, and it was incredible to watch from start to finish. Number one Oklahoma, 12 Kentucky, and 13 Denver came into the regional as the favorites to advance, and the Wildcats and Pioneers fought for the second spot all evening long.

The Oklahoma Sooners cruised through their regional, easily taking home the title with a huge score of 198.000. The Sooners started on floor and established a lead early, scoring a 49.6 with a 9.900 from junior Brenna Dowell, a 9.925 from senior AJ Jackson, a 9.950 from freshman Anastasia Webb, and finishing up with an almost-perfect 9.975 from sophomore phenom Maggie Nichols, who was competing in her home state.

Oklahoma continued rolling on vault, putting up a 49.4 after 9.900s from Jackson and Nichols to have a clear advantage over the other five teams at the halfway point. Junior Nicole Lehrmann put up a huge 9.950 on the uneven bars to lead the Sooners to a 49.475 rotation score and an even more expanded lead, and the Sooners ended their competition on the balance beam with a huge score of 49.525 to hit the 198 mark and clinch the regional win and a berth to nationals. Webb and senior Natalie Brown both scored 9.900s on the beam in that final event, while Nichols closed out their entire meet with a perfect 10.0 and a standing ovation from the Minnesota crowd. Nichols also won the all-around competition with a huge 39.775 and was named the South Central Region Gymnast of the Year.

The Kentucky Wildcats came into regionals this year expecting a close fight with the Denver Pioneers for the second nationals spot, and the two did not disappoint. In the first rotation, the Wildcats scored a 49.025 on beam, led by a 9.900 from Sidney Dukes, but trailed the Pioneers. Denver scored a huge 49.35 on floor to open their meet, with a 9.900 from Nicole Addison and a 9.9500 from Lynzee Brown leading the way.

The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate after finishing second at the Minneapolis Regional and advancing to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/Kentucky Athletics

The advantage switched to Kentucky after the Wildcats scored a huge 49.4 on floor, led by a 9.9 from Alex Hyland, while Denver scored a 49.125 on vault. Denver went on to have a great third rotation on bars, scoring a 49.325 led by 9.900s from Brown and Emily Glynn. Kentucky answered with a strong vault rotation, scoring a 49.225 after a pair of 9.900s from Mollie Korth and Alex Hyland.

Kentucky trailed by .15 going into the last rotation, but the Wildcats came through with a huge 49.4 on bars to take the competition after Denver struggled on beam, and Kentucky finished second in the regional to advance to nationals for the first time in program history. Denver’s freshman phenom Lynzee Brown also advanced to nationals as an individual all-around competitor.

Lynzee Brown competes on the floor exercise for the Denver Pioneers at the Minneapolis Regional/Denver Athletics

Hosts Minnesota also had a great meet, scoring a 196.1 to finish fourth, and Paige Williams posted a 9.950 on floor to lead Minnesota to a 49.3 and their best rotation of the night. Freshman star Lexy Ramler also advanced to nationals individually after a great 39.5 performance.

Iowa State also had a great meet finishing fifth with a 195.925, and Haylee Young was rock solid all meet to lead the team. Iowa struggled on bars and beam, but strong vault and floor rotations helped them finish with a 195.05 and sixth place. Along with Brown and Ramler advancing to nationals as all-around competitors, Iowa State’s Meaghan Sievers won the vault title with a 9.925 and is also advancing to St. Louis for NCAAs in two weeks.

LSU downs rivals Alabama, Florida again to defend SEC Championship trophy

By: Thomas Cluck

3/24/18

Steady and consistent often win the race and in the SEC Gymnastics Championships, that was no doubt the case for second-ranked LSU. The Tigers steadied the ship against a field of talented, but up-and-down competitors, defeating rivals Alabama and Florida to defend their SEC Championship from last season. LSU was consistent across all four events, reaching a 197.400 to hoist the trophy in St. Louis.

The LSU Tigers celebrate after winning the SEC Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/LSU Athletics

In the first rotation, the Tigers started out on vault, their weakest event this season, putting together one of their best rotations of the year on the apparatus, highlighted by 9.900s on Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs from Kennedi Edney and Sarah Edwards. Sarah Finnegan and Julianna Cannamela also posted 9.875s on their Yurchenko fulls. Fifth-ranked Florida started out impressively on the uneven bars, with Rachel Gowey and Amelia Hundley putting up 9.990s and defending NCAA all-around champion Alex McMurtry anchoring with a big 9.950.

Alabama responded well to an early balance beam fall with two 9.950s from Kiana Winston and Nickie Guerrero anchoring the lineup. Kentucky meanwhile was solid on the floor exercise with a 9.900 from Sidney Dukes their high score to close out rotation one at the Chaifetz Arena.

Kennedi Edney celebrates after performing on the vault for the LSU Tigers at the SEC Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/LSU Athletics

LSU really seemed to hit their stride in rotation two on the uneven bars, where they are number one in the nation, with their massive 9.900s Myia Hambrick, Edney, and Lexie Priessman lifting the Tigers to a huge score on the bars. While LSU impressed on the bars, Florida was near-perfect on the beam, with McMurtry and Megan Skaggs receiving 9.900s and Alyssa Baumann delivering a stunning performance, nearing perfection with a 9.975 to win the SEC beam title.

Alabama was solid on the floor, where Ari Guerra and Guerrero posted 9.900s and 9.875s respectively, helping keep the Tide in contention for an 11th SEC title at the midway point of the competition. Kentucky put up their best performance on the vault, with 9.900s from Alex Hyland and Mollie Korth leading the way for the Wildcats.

With both the Tide and Gators having hit balance beam exceptionally so far in the competition, the pressure was on LSU to have a solid showing on the often make-or-break event and the Tigers delivered. In rotation three, LSU’s chances were helped by scores of 9.900 and 9.925 from all-around stars Hambrick and Finnegan respectively, with freshman Christina Desiderio also contributing a very strong 9.875. Floor exercise proved to be the killer event for Florida as two falls from McMurtry and Skaggs and an out-of-bounds from Hundley cost the Gators a chance at the SEC title, with Alicia Boren’s score of 9.900 the only highlight for Florida.

Sarah Finnegan performs on the balance beam for the LSU Tigers at the SEC Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/LSU Athletics

On the vault, Alabama continued its impressive competition with two 9.900s from Guerra and Guerrero helping put Alabama in a position to take the title in the final rotation. Kentucky struggled on the uneven bars, with Korth’s score the only one above 9.850 on the rotation for the Wildcats.

Going into the final rotation it was a two-way battle between LSU and Alabama for the SEC Championship trophy, with LSU looking to defend their title on the floor exercise. The Tigers, the number two team in the country, were not at their usual best on the floor, but Desiderio and Priessman’s 9.875s helped seal the title for DD Breaux and her team. Alabama was unable to challenge LSU, finishing second with a 196.975 after a lackluster bars rotation couldn’t keep up with the Tigers explosive floor routines.

Florida finished strongly on the vault, with Hundley and Rachel Slocum posting 9.900s before Alex McMurtry’s flawless Yurchenko double-full won the SEC vault title with a near-perfect 9.975 to anchor for the Gators, finishing third with a 196.825. Kentucky finished fourth and closed out their competition on the balance beam, ultimately ending with a 196.550 in their first appearance in the SEC Championships evening session.

Earlier at the Chaifetz Arena in the afternoon session, 11th-ranked Arkansas came out on top over the remaining three teams in the conference, earning a strong 196.425 to ultimately finish fifth in the competition in St. Louis. Georgia put together a solid meet as well to come in sixth with a 196.350 and Missouri and Auburn rounded out the field in seventh and eighth with scores of 196.100 and 195.650 respectively.

Oklahoma dominates competition for Big 12 Championship title, Denver finishes second

By: Casey Shearns

3/24/18

Number one Oklahoma was crowned the Big 12 Champions for the seventh straight season with a team score of 197.775, followed by 13th-ranked Denver who earned a 197.075, Iowa State with a 195.650, and No. 25 West Virginia with a 195.625.

In the first rotation, the Sooners, who are the two-time defending NCAA champions, started strong on vault with a 9.950 from senior AJ Jackson, who would tie Denver’s Maddie Karr for the highest vault score of the meet. Maggie Nichols and Brenna Dowell helped Oklahoma start out strong as well, with a 9.925 from Nichols and a 9.900 from Dowell.

On the uneven bars, Denver’s Emily Glynn put up a huge 9.950 to start her team off to a solid rotation. Lynzee Brown and Maddie Karr also scored 9.900s on Denver’s first event to give the Pioneers the lead after one rotation. West Virginia started their meet on balance beam, where they struggled with falls and missed connections. Their highest score on the event was a 9.775 from Carly Galpin. On floor exercise, Iowa State’s Haylee Young lead her team with a big 9.900 to earn Iowa State’s highest score on the event, and later tie for the highest floor score of the night to start the Cyclones’ meet off on a high note.

        

In the second rotation, Nicole Lehrmann executed a near perfect routine on the uneven bars for a huge 9.975 for Oklahoma. The Sooners added to the big score with three 9.950s from Dowell, Stefani Catour, and Nichols. The outstanding uneven bar performance was enough to surge the Sooners past Denver to regain the lead.

The Oklahoma Sooners celebrate after winning the Big 12 Gymnastics Championships in Ames, Iowa/Oklahoma Sports

However, Denver had some standout performances of their own on the balance beam. Teammates Kaitlyn Schou and Maddie Karr went 1-2 on the event, with a 9.925 from Schou to win the event and a 9.9 from Karr to keep the Pios close behind Oklahoma. On floor exercise, Kirah Koshinski earned a 9.875, tying for the second highest floor score of the meet and helping West Virginia come back strong on their second event. On the vault, Meaghan Sievers and Sophia Steinmeyer both scored solid 9.850s for Iowa State’s highest vault score.

In rotation three, Oklahoma had an uncharacteristically shaky balance beam rotation, with several of the Sooners’ top beam performers struggling to surpass a 9.8. However, sophomore star Nichols lead the way with a 9.900 to hang on the lead. On floor exercise, Denver’s reliable all-around gymnast Maddie Karr came up big once again with a 9.900, in the four way tie for the top floor score to keep Denver in second. On vault, WVU’s Kirah Koshinski put up another solid score for the Mountaineers with a 9.875. On uneven bars, Meghan Siever and Haylee Young scored matching 9.875s for ISU’s top score of the day.

In the final rotation, Oklahoma clinched their close win on the floor exercise with three 9.900s from Nichols, Anastasia Webb, and Dowell. The Sooners are usually capable of higher scores, but their consistency throughout the meet was enough to edge out Denver to earn their seventh consecutive Big 12 Championship title.

Denver finished their meet on vault, where Lynzee Brown scored a 9.875 to clinch second place in the conference, finishing only seven tenths behind the consistently top ranked Oklahoma.  On uneven bars, Zaakira Muhammad earned the top score for West Virginia with a 9.875, who would come in fourth. On balance beam, Iowa State’s Kelsey Paz and Meaghan Sievers both scored a 9.775 for ISU’s highest scores on the event and to earn third in the conference.         

UCLA rises past Utah to claim Pac 12 Championship while Cal impresses for third

By: Mary Fay Carr

3/24/18

After a disappointing finish at the Pac 12 Championships in 2017, the UCLA Bruins persevered and fought for the title at the 2018 conference championships. Despite having a rough bars rotation, the Bruins managed to come back on beam and floor to edge out Utah, Cal, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State, Stanford, and Arizona with a 197.500 to hoist the trophy.

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the Pac 12 Gymnastics Championships in Tuscon/UCLA Athletics         

In the first session of the conference championships, Oregon State, Arizona State, Stanford, and Arizona competed at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona. The Oregon State Beavers scored a total of 196.575, winning their session, and placing fifth overall in the conference. On vault, the Beavers posted a high of 9.850 from Destinee Davis, while both Mary Jacobsen and Kaitlyn Yanish scored a 9.825. Dani Dessaints posted an impressive 9.900 for the Beavers on bars while McKenna Singley scored a solid 9.875 on the event. On beam, Davis contributed to the Beavers’ event total with a 9.875. In the final rotation, the Beavers moved to floor where Davis posted another high of 9.850.  

Arizona State began their competition on bars and posted a high of 9.875 from Cairo Leonard-Baker. In the second rotation, the Sun Devils moved to beam and scored another high of 9.875 from Ashley Szafranski. On floor in rotation three, both Anne Kuhm and Leonard-Baker posted an impressive 9.900 and Leonard-Baker posted her second 9.900 of the competition on vault in the final rotation on her full-twisting Yurchenko.  

 

Cairo Leonard-Baker celebrates after her routine for the Arizona State Sun Devils at the Pac 12 Gymnastics Championships in Tuscon/Arizona State Athletics

Stanford opened on beam where Taryn Fitzgerald posted a 9.850 and Elizabeth Price posted a 9.825. In rotation two Price tied for first in the conference on floor with an impressive 9.950, while both Rachael Flam and Kyla Bryant scored a 9.875. Price scored an impressive 9.900 on vault, and when Stanford moved to bars for the final rotation she posted a huge 9.975, which tied for the conference title.  

Arizona started their competition on floor and their rotation was highlighted by Kennady Schneider’s 9.875. On vault, Heather Swanson was the only Wildcat to score above 9.800 with her full-twisting Yurchenko that scored a 9.825. In the third rotation, the Wildcats moved to bars where both Madison Cindric and Haylie Hendrickson scored a 9.850. Victoria Ortiz posted a strong 9.875 on beam in rotation four while Courtney Cowles, Cindric, and Hendrickson all posted a 9.850 to close the first session of the Pac 12 Championships.  

In the second session of the conference championships UCLA, Utah, Cal, and Washington competed for the title of Pac 12 Champion. It came down to the final rotation when UCLA managed to come back from a devastating bars rotation and take the championship title by 0.15. The Bruins got off to a strong start on vault in the first rotation when they posted a 49.275. Kyla Ross posted a 9.900 for the Bruins on her stuck full-twisting Yurchenko, while Napualani Hall scored an impressive 9.875 on her Yurchenko one and a half.

Utah began their competition on bars and posted a high of 9.925 from Mykayla Skinner, which allowed the Red Rocks to take an early lead. The Cal Golden Bears opened the competition on beam and posted three impressive 9.900s from Toni-Ann Williams, Sofie Seilnacht, and Alicia Gallarzo, putting them in second place going into rotation two. Washington started their meet on floor and posted two 9.850s from Kristyn Hoffa and Maya Washington, putting them in fourth place, behind the Bruins.

The Bruins had an uncharacteristic second rotation on bars when they posted a 49.150. The most shocking mistake of the rotation was when sixth-year senior star Peng-Peng Lee struggled on her Bhardwaj, a typically effortless skill for her. This mistake forced the Bruins to count two low scores from Sonya Meraz and Katelyn Ohashi, however, Ross anchored with a near perfect 9.975, to tie for the conference title and save the rotation. Utah maintained their lead after rotation two when they posted a 49.250 on beam. Skinner scored a 9.900 to contribute to the event total, while both Kari Lee and MaKenna Merrell-Giles posted a 9.875. Cal remained in second place after they posted a 49.075 on floor in the second rotation. Their rotation was highlighted by a 9.900 from Williams and two 9.825s from Kyana George and Arianna Robinson. Washington continued to trail behind after two rotations. In the second rotation the Huskies moved to vault where Joslyn Goings posted an impressive 9.900 and Hailey Burleson scored a 9.875.  

Makenna Merrell-Giles celebrates after performing on the balance beam for the Utah Red Rocks at the Pac 12 Gymnastics Championships in Tuscon/Utah Athletics

In the third rotation the Bruins demonstrated their persistence when they redeemed themselves with a 49.600 on beam to take the lead. Lee scored a perfect 10.0 on beam, claiming her first individual Pac 12 title, while Ross scored a huge 9.925 and both Brielle Nguyen and Ohashi posted 9.900s. Utah fell behind the Bruins after they posted a 49.325 on floor in the third rotation. Skinner anchored for the Utes and posted a huge 9.500 to tie for the event title. Cal moved to vault in rotation three and posted a high of 9.925 from Robinson, while Williams scored a 9.900. The Huskies went to bars for the third rotation where Monica Riley posted an impressive 9.875.

In the final rotation UCLA was neck-and-neck with Utah, however, the Bruins edged out the Red Rocks and claimed the conference championship trophy. Both Felicia Hano and Pauline Tratz scored a 9.900 on floor in the final rotation, but Ohashi sealed the deal when she anchored with a huge 9.950 to close the meet and secure the individual event title and the championship title for the Bruins.

Michigan takes home fifth straight Big 10 title as Nebraska comes up just short

By: Jess Stephans

3/24/18

The Big 10 championships featured thrilling action this year, and the favorites coming in, Michigan, ended up on top. The Wolverines finished with a score of 197.2 to take the title after four hit events. Bars and beam were Michigan’s best events, and even with scores going a little low they still managed to hit five routines that scored 9.900 or better. Senior Brianna Brown hit a 9.950 on bars and fellow senior Paige Zaziski, who also scored a 39.5 in the all-around, and freshman Syd Townsend added 9.900s of their own on the same event, with Zaziski and Emma McLean both hitting the 9.900 mark on floor. The number seven Wolverines will be in a regional with Alabama and Georgia along with three other teams yet to be announced, and they will look to return to nationals and fight for a spot in the Super Six.

The Michigan Wolverines celebrate after winning the Big 10 Gymnastics Championship in Champaign, Illinois/Michigan Athletics

Nebraska, relegated to the morning session after a rough Big Five competition, put up a strong fight to score a 196.95 to put pressure on Michigan. Although they ended up second, Nebraska had four hit events, led by a super-strong all-around performance from Megan Schweihofer, and will look to advance to nationals in their regional, which will include LSU, Oregon State, and three other teams yet to be announced.

Illinois finished third in the competition with a 196.625, also hitting all four events. The Illini had an excellent floor rotation that was led by 9.900s from Rae Balthazor and Karen Howell, who also scored a 9.925 on bars. Iowa rounded up the top 4 with a 196.4, scoring above 49 on all four events in a very consistent meet. Iowa was led by all-arounders Nicole Chow and Charlotte Sullivan.

Ohio State hit all four events as well, but a few wobbly routines on beam put them right behind Iowa with a 196.375. Senior Alexis Mattern posted a 39.25 in the all-around and a 9.925 on floor to lead the Buckeyes. Minnesota finished in sixth with a score of 196.225, and freshman star Lexy Ramler, who was named the Big 10 Freshman of the Year, scored a 39.375 in the all-around and a 9.900 on bars, additionally where Ivy Lu scored a huge 9.950, to help her team.

Penn State finished seventh after struggling on beam, but a huge floor rotation that featured a 9.900 from Sabrina Garcia and a 9.950 from Brianna Tsang, later named the Big 10 co-gymnast of the year, helped them score a 195.5. Maryland finished eighth with a 195.25, also struggling on beam, and Rutgers and Michigan State rounded out the pack with scores of 194.4 and 194.275, respectively.

Emma McLean and Polina Schennikova of Michigan celebrate after winning the Big 10 Gymnastics Championships in Champaign, Illinois/Michigan Athletics

Nebraska’s Megan Schweihofer won the Big 10 all-around title after her amazing 39.525 performance, with Paige Zaziski, later named the Big 10 co-gymnast of the year, of Michigan close behind with a 39.5. Taylor Houchin of Nebraska and Jamie Stone of Ohio State tied for the vault title with 9.900s, while Brianna Brown of Michigan, Ivy Lu of Minnesota, and Olivia Aepli tied for the uneven bars title with 9.950s. Grace Williams of Nebraska, Bridget Hodan of Illinois, and Lauren Marinez of Michigan tied for the balance beam title with scores of 9.900, and Schweihofer added the floor title to her all-around win with a 9.95.

NC State Dominates at 2018 EAGL Team Championships

By: Tom Kovic

3/24/18

22nd-ranked NC State captured the 2018 EAGL Women's Gymnastics Championships team title on Saturday. The Wolfpack tallied 196.625 points en route to the team title, their first since 2013. 34th-ranked New Hampshire (196.3) and number 19 and defending champions George Washington (195.875) followed in second and third place respectively in a well contested conference championship. Host Towson (195.675), Pitt (195.475) and UNC (194.775) rounded out the six-team championship field.

4th seed New Hampshire was on the heels of the Wolfpack every step of the way, but a brilliant team effort on vault (49.225) by NC State closed out the conference championship in exciting style.

Final Team Results

Place   Team                  Vault                  Bars                    Beam                  Floor                   Final Team

1.             NC State              49.225                 49.025                 49.100                 49.275                 196.625

2.             UNH                   48.900                 49.025                 49.075                 49.300                 196.300

3.             GW                     49.100                 48.800                 48.950                 49.025                 195.875

4.             Towson               49.000                 48.675                 48.900                 49.100                 195.675

5.             Pitt                       48.950                 49.275                 47.975                 49.275                 195.475

6.             UNC                   49.250                 48.275                 47.775                 49.475                 194.775

The NC State Wolfpack celebrate after winning the EAGL Championships at Towson/EAGL Gymnastics

Individual event awards were also given out following the championships: Cami Drouin-Allaire (George Washington), Madison Nettles (North Carolina), and Drew Grantham (NC State) tied for the individual vault championship (9.9); Danielle Mulligan (New Hampshire) claimed the uneven bars crown (9.95); Mary Elle Arduino (Towson) was crowned balance beam champion (9.95) and Khazia Hislop (North Carolina) place first on floor (9.95). Chelsea Knight won the all-around competition (NC State) with a brilliant 39.425 effort with Morgan Lane of North Carolina (39.375) and Haley Brechwald of Pitt (39.325) rounding out the top three all-around places.

Special Awards:

·      Rookie of the Year: Haley Brechwald (Pitt)

·      Gymnast of the Year: Cami Drouin-Allaire (George Washington)

·      Senior of the Year: Cami Drouin-Allaire (George Washington)

·      Coach of the Year: Margie Foster Cunningham (George Washington)

·      Assistant Coaches of the Year: Stephanie Stoicovy-Worrell and Jason Vonk (George Washington)

·      Administrator of the Year: Jon Dahlquist (Towson)

George Washington, NC State, Pitt, and New Hampshire will all move on to the NCAA Regional Team Championships on Saturday, April 7. Official team and individual selections and corresponding sites will be announced Monday, March 26.


Please support MeetScoresOnline by following our sponsors. MeetScoresOnline is a free service to you made possible by them!

MeetScoresOnline is not responsible, nor claims any liability with regards to scores and stats related to and displayed on this website.

Are you interested in contributing to the site? MeetScoresOnline is looking for writers, photographers, and videopgraphers. Please - contact us! -