LIVE BLOG: NorCal Classic

California will unfortunately be skipping this year’s NorCal Classic in favor of Friday’s trip to LSU, but the four-way battle in Sacramento should be exciting either way. This meet is reliably 60 percent chaos and 40 percent spectacular, and I’d like to take a moment to be thankful that I can actually watch it since it’s not on a freaking Monday night this time.

Home team Sacramento State graduated basically its entire team in 2018, and while there’s more than enough young talent to fill the holes, some critical underclassmen have struggled with injuries. Expect freshman Amber Koeth to step up majorly, potentially in the all around, while upperclassmen like Tara Catour and Lauren Schmeiss will need to not blink while the youngsters get used to the pressure. There’s some incredibly fun gymnastics in Sacramento this year but depth-wise the Hornets might be flirting with the abyss at times.

I’ve gotten a fairly skewed idea of the situation in San Jose from a set of Instagram training updates that are admirably regular but tend to focus on the core group of gymnasts from day to day, leaving important facts like the status of supposed star freshman Tia Gin ambiguous. We’ll learn a lot about the Spartans today. I’m really excited for sophomore Nikki Duggan to debut bars and beam after missing out last year due to what I assume was an injury, and 2018 MPSF vault champion Chelsey Andrada has looked really strong.

UC Davis is the heavy favorite for the MPSF title this year as last year’s monster freshman class hits its stride—the trio of Hebert, Kessler and Landess alone will account for almost half of the team’s routines week to week, and Kessler has teased a Yurchenko one and a half that doesn’t look extremely unrealistic. I’m hoping redshirt sophomore Susanna Iakounitcheva finally gets her shot to compete beam so that her gorgeous gainer layout dismount can become a cult hit. I’m also very excited for Shanae Oishi, who started gymnastics at age fourteen and walked on in 2018 only four and a half years after her very first Xcel Gold meet. She sat out last year, likely to focus on getting her skills to a collegiate level, but in 2019 she has a very realistic shot at the bars and beam lineups.

See what I did there? I made you dig through all those fun stories about my MPSF faves to get to Stanford. Smart, right? The Cardinal will feel the sting of losing Elizabeth Price this year, but sophomore Kyla Bryant seems undaunted by the team leader role she inherited. The return of Aleeza Yu and Grace Garcia won’t hurt matters at all, and I’m hoping Catherine Rogers can emerge as the serious competitor she deserves to be after a disorienting rush back from injury held her back in 2018. No one really knows where the freshmen will fit yet, but I’ve seen a lot of Wesley Stephenson on bars and beam recently and individual skills, like Morgan Hoang’s double layout on floor and Madison Brunette’s Deltchev, look really promising.

Soooo a lot’s going on here. UC Davis sophomore Kyla Kessler is in a boot and out of lineups. No star freshman Liah Bosworth and no Lauren Chu, so the Aggies are putting up five on floor. Sac State is only getting a beam routine out of Amber Koeth, who I expected in the all around if she was healthy, and zero Karissa Hoffman either, but Marquez being back is great. San Jose State looks surprisingly healthy. No Lauren Navarro for Stanford, as she’s struggling with residual ankle pain, but those lineups also look solid enough.

They’ve also warned us that the broadcast will be Sac State-heavy, which is expected but might cause some stress.

ROTATION 1: CSUS VAULT, UCD BARS, SJSU BEAM, STANFORD FLOOR

COLE – STANFORD: 2.5 punch front. Choreo is okay this year. Then it cut away to vault.

DERIOT – CSUS: Yurchenko full, twisting on AGGRESSIVELY, lands way short and falls forward. Looks like she’s in pain, commentators think she’s hurt.

CUNNINGHAM – UCD: Maloney, caught with bent arms, well short on a handstand. Okay bail, another short handstand, blind full double back and stuck with an arm swing. Solid freshman debut!

WATLEY – CSUS: Weak block on vault, Yurchenko tuck full and rebounds hard forward but stays on her feet.

H. HOFFMAN – STANFORD: Rudi to double stag, almost loses control in the jump but keeps it together. That must have been her last pass.

SCHMEISS – CSUS: Another tuck full with a nearly identical rebound forward.

Saw FLAM – STANFORD step OOB on her double Arabian. Saw the tiniest flash of Sarah Liddle on bars from Davis, who is great there.

BRENT – CSUS: Didn’t see the actual vault, just the celebration, but it was a FTY and the commentators think it’s great.

Saw PASCOE-LONG – SJSU finish off beam with a gainer LOSO – back full dismount combination. Baller.

LANDESS – UCD: Gorgeous Gienger, double Arabian dismount with a stumble back but stays on her feet.

BELKOFF – CSUS: Yurchenko Arabian, a touch piked in the air but she knows where the landing is, just a little step.

RAY – SJSU: Flic loso with bent legs, bends sideways but hangs onto it. Side aerial with an adjustment, split to split 3/4 is short of positions, cameraman just tripped I think lol

MATHIAS – CSUS: Yurchenko layout with a bounce back, she’s “coming back from a little bit of injuries” and will try to throw a full later on in the season.

Amber Koeth in exhibition for Sac State!! That’s my girl. Just a layout but at least she’s not broken. Maybe just a bad week in practice.

Exhibition for UCD too… huge Tkachev, okay bail, double lay underrotated and falls forward but her technique is good. OH it’s Shanae Oishi! Good for her, that’s the first routine she’s done in college afaik.

HOANG – STANFORD: Her double layout is glorious, I think they recruited her just for that. Flies out of frame but I think it was in bounds. Front lay front full is great… before that she did a leap series which was a bit chaotic but not awful. Double pike, flies back, both feet out of bounds there. Freshman nerves, probably. 9.7 is probably not a real score with the landing on that last pass, but she has so much potential and I don’t want her blacklisted so I’m cool with it.

CHAN – SJSU: Really pretty split handstand choreo, flic loso gorgeous. Switch straddle 1/4, splits are perf, just a little lean on the landing. Full turn is there. Side aerial back full. Nailed it! This is the San Jose State

BRYANT – STANFORD: Really high quality dance here. I think I missed some skills off the top because of buffering. Open double back GORGEOUS.  Oh, that’s the end of the routine haha. 9.9 yaaaas.

I saw a brunette person waiting to exhibition for SJSU… looks like Nikki Duggan. She might be a useful addition to that lineup.

STANFORD 48.95, SJSU 48.6, UC DAVIS 48.225, SAC STATE 47.9

Rouuuugh start for Sac State. The Hornets couldn’t afford any injuries to be okay this year and it looks like they have had them. Stanford had a pretty solid start—two OOBs but everyone stayed in the floor—and San Jose State should be thrilled with a 5/6 beam rotation given how many falls it counted early in 2019.

ROTATION 2: STANFORD VAULT, CSUS BARS, UCD BEAM, SJSU FLOOR

SUZUKI – UCD: Beat jump to side aerial I want to say? Switch leap to straddle 1/4 short of splits. Cut away.

BELKOFF – CSUS: Way over on her bail and hits her feet. Short on handstands, double lay aggressively piked dwon with a hop.

FITZGERALD – STANFORD: Yurchenko full, extremely soft onto the table, no block but gets it around and actually lands it really well.

RAY – SJSU: Saw a 3/2 front lay with a gorgeous landing.

BRYANT – STANFORD: Gorgeous full,  great body position, a little off to one side with a hop back but technically the strongest of the bunch by a million.

LIDDLE – UCD: Just saw the end, really pretty back full dismount stuck.

KONE – CSUS: Collegiate debut I think. Great Gienger, way short on a cast, drops out and recasts. Nice straddle back, there’s your handstand kiddo, double back with chest down and a step forward.

Stephanie Relova doing floor for San Jose State in the back. I think it’s her collegiate debut on this event. She’s such a beauty. One and a half to front pike? Gorgeous.

FLAM – STANFORD: Omelianchik, not one of the good ones. Massive bound forwards, manages to not take any more steps but the first one was at least like five feet.

Just saw Alyssa Ito finish off beam with a gainer tuck I think.

YU – STANFORD: Full actually pretty high! with a big hop back. Wondered if that’d be a scratch but it’s useful.

MARQUEZ – CSUS: Blind to Jaeger, turnover is very slow, catches it but drops to her knee.

Grace Garcia got a 9.65 for her Tsuk full for Stanford. Wonder what happened there?

ANDRADA – SJSU: Love her, she’s such a delicate gymnast to watch. Plus her teammates actually call her Bean which is too adorable. AND WE CUT AWAY SIGH. Okay back, overrotated her Rudi a touch but I think it went well.

WATLEY – CSUS: Good toe shoot, full in dismount is HUGE with a step forward. Nice!

Saw Yektaparast finish beam with a step back and a huge smile, which is literally how I identify her.

Three scores starting with an 8 for Sac State. 🙁

HEBERT – UCD: MPSF GOTY making her debut here. Two back handsprings and step off. Luckily the Aggies already have five great skills recorded – 49.1 on beam is absurd for this team.

BRENT – CSUS: messy Maloney, okay overshoot, clips her feet I think, missed the dismount.

PASCOE-LONG – SJSU: Front lay front 1/2 connected to a jump. She’s absurdly powerful on this event. Switch tour jete… full? The landing position was ambiguous. Fun chore, though.

Back to NEBEL – CSUS. Half turn to Gienger, pretty good, leg sep on bail but she made it to handstand. Cast handstands are good, double layout hollow and RIGHT to her knees. Ouch. The guts of that routine were really good.

Cammi Johnson exhibitioning for Davis. This is the girl who swapped in from the diving team last year. Switch switch, just a touch short, flic loso with a step back. Full turn with another step.

CHAN – SJSU: PFI is gorgeous. Cut away to see Johnson celebrating. One and a half front pike stag jump is very pretty. Double pike great.

HENLEY – SJSU: Double back, a little undercooked and lunges forward. Great leap series, one and a half front lay very nice.

Marquez in exhibition for SJSU. Good double back, leap series really solid, whip half front full, lands on the line.

STANFORD 97.775, UCD 97.325, SJSU 97.275, SAC STATE 93.650

Ohhhh Sac State. We knew this year could be difficult, but this is still tough to stomach. They just needed much more out of the underclassmen… but if people are injured, what can you do? Meanwhile, Stanford had a solid start on beam and UC Davis’ 49.1 on beam is RIDICULOUS.

Meanwhile, a gymnast who left the team at Sac State last year is in a twitter argument with two alums. Shit is going DOWN.

ROTATION 3: SJSU VAULT, STANFORD BARS, SAC STATE BEAM, UC DAVIS FLOOR

STEPHENSON – STANFORD: Wonky on her bail, great double layout. Sorry, rejoined the meet a little late because I’m too busy reading the twitter drama.

SCHMEISS – CSUS: Flic layout with feet,  switch side 1/4 to straddle 1/2 is kind of awesome. Great full turn, she’s got so much presence here. Gorgeous straddle 3/4, gainer full piked with a hop back.

LIDDLE – UCD: Chest down a bit on a double back(?), switch ring to tour jete 1/2 short or positions.

GARCIA – STANFORD: Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, short on handstands, double front and bounces straight back onto her butt.

KOETH – CSUS: Should bea good one. Triple series NAILED. She’s gorgeous. Beat to ring jump that almost looks more like a Yang Bo. Front aerial great, smiling, she’s absolutely killing this. Full turn with a fun bit of dance, scale choreography, back handspring gainer full. Nerves of steel on her freshman debut.

JONES – UCD: First pass didn’t make it to the stream. Front full front lay great, good choreo, side aerial for requirements, Rudi hop to lunge gorgeous. Nice one!!

BRENT – CSUS: Flic lay is okay, switch split short of splits. Switch half actually a better split. Side aerial with knees but makes it. Gainer pike with a hop in place. Sac State is having a really strong beam rotation.

YEKTAPARAST – UCD: Front lay front 1/2 LOSO, gorgeous. I

BRYANT – STANFORD: Great handstands, double layout with a little hop back. She is completely undaunted by the leadership role this year. Switch side Popa pretty.

MARQUEZ – CSUS: Full turn to beat. She’s got fantastic presence. Flic loso with leg form. Sheep jump with a check. Kickover front? or maybe it was an aerial? over and puts her hand down. Good gainer full.

Flam in exhibition for Stanford pings off on her ftdlo dismount and gets it to her feet but it’s wild.

HEBERT – UCD: Good double pike. YES her music is Seven Nation Army. One and a half front lay stuck dead. She’s such an experience on floor. Switch ring switch side, cutting away…

MATHIAS – CSUS: Front aerial bhs, solid. Nice full turn. Kickover front to split is great.

Mariah York in exhibition for Sac State. Good for her, she’s been recovering from shoulder surgery. One day she’ll be in the AA if her body cooperates.

STANFORD 146.225, UC DAVIS 146.2, SJSU 145.65, SAC STATE 142.5

Oh uh hey Davis how are you doing there? Stanford barely clinging to the lead moving to beam. This got interesting. San Jose State having a strong meet but probably out of it now.

ROTATION 4: UC DAVIS VAULT, SJSU BARS, STANFORD BEAM, SAC STATE FLOOR

CHAN – SJSU: Markelov, actually super clean! Really nice routine. Amplitude can be an issue, this definitely her weakest of the four but she got through that well. Cracks 39 AA.

A Sac State, I think Nicole Nebel, went OOB on two passes and sat the third so that won’t be a hot score.

TAI – STANFORD: Goes for the triple series OUCH HOLY SHIT. Tucks the LOSO, lands off to one side but manages to keep one leg over the beam so she swings down and lands on I think her upper back? She wants to keep going and coach Yim okayed it so she kept going.

Saw Nikki Duggan of SJSU catch a GORGEOUS pike Jaeger before it cut away.

BELKOFF – CSUS: Front combo pass good, double back to close, pretty much there but has to step forward. That’s a good hit.

PASCOE-LONG – SJSU: Blind to pike Jaeger, super high but can’t catch it and falls to her knees.

STEPHENSON – STANFORD: The Legacy Elite alum had a great bars routine. Switch sheep is great, commentators said she hit her acro series, nice full turn. She’s really pretty.

PRATT – CSUS: Apparently she has the fly so that’s cool I guess? Front double full, a little underrotated but landed on her feet. Front lay front pike is pretty. Good hit.

RELOVA – SJSU: Saw a pirouette combo to her toe on front dismount with the most exquisite toes.

FLAM – STANFORD:  BHS with knees to two foot layout. Good landing there. Front tuck with a check, cat leap switch side. Punch front full feels low but lands it with a hop.

PROBST – SJSU: Nice Tkachev, really pretty bail. Tiny bit loose in body position but I’ve seen a lot worse. Pirouette combination to double back with a step forward.

WATLEY – CSUS: Double back, couldn’t see the landing. One corner of the floor is cut off by the stream. Good Rudi second pass, this is an Iphone ringtone music which I’m kind of over. Double full… got lost in the air and fell really awkwardly.

BRYANT – STANFORD: Saw a super gorgeous double back with just a tiny hop.

FITZGERALD – STANFORD: A hit would win this for Stanford. Front aerial back tuck is okay, switch to split really pretty. Cat leap kickover layout, that one gets me every time and I’ve seen her do this routine for years. One and a half dismount stuck. Great!

BRENT – CSUS: Double pike great. She can dance and her tumbling is super dynamic.

FINAL: STANFORD 195.15, UC DAVIS 194.95, SJSU 193.3, SAC STATE 190.00

AA: Kyla Bryant 39.475
VT: Kyla Bryant, Cammi Johnson 9.825
UB: Kyla Bryant 9.850
BB: Kyla Bryant 9.900
FX: Kyla Bryant, Taylor Chan 9.900

Good for Sac State cracking 190 in the end there. Stanford had a really solid first meet led by an absolutely dominant performance by Kyla Bryant. It wasn’t all her, though—Kaylee Cole also had an amazing day and some of the freshman look very promising.

Davis’ outlook for the season depends heavily on whether Kessler comes back from injury, but it should be heartened by a strong performance today with a good number of 9.8+ routines all around. Sac State likewise needs to get its good freshmen into action. York looked great in exhibition and Koeth needs to happen to keep this team afloat. San Jose State was doing great until the lot fell off bars, but that’s week one for you. The foundations are there, it’s just about hitting for the Spartans.


Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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