It’s fun to watch rankings change every week, but they only tell us so much about the status of a team. Which teams are on the rise and which are barely hanging on? Which ones have a competitive ranking by the grace of their RQS drop scores and which will pose a real threat in postseason? I’ll dig into the real dynamics of NCAA gymnastics in this biweekly column that’s part power ranking, part high school yearbook awards—all serious analysis.
Just kidding, almost zero serious analysis.
A lot has happened so far this season, but we’re still at that point where the rankings may as well have been assembled by Courtney Kupets Carter’s newborn child. I don’t have much more idea what’s actually going on in the country than Savannah does—I always feel like everything’s fake until RQS kicks in—but I’ve picked out some narratives that stand out to me, and we’ll see where it goes.
BYU was unreal in its home opener, not quite managing to defeat rival Utah but picking up the No. 6 ranking nationally on the strength of one of the country’s best beam rotations. We all knew that BYU was getting good, but oh my.
Great Except for That One Event
For Alabama, “that one event” is clearly beam, which has been both tentative and harshly scored this season. (The Tide is ranked No. 48 on beam, which is pretty yikes considering that it’s top 10 on the three other events.)
We don’t really have an explanation for why judges have been so magnanimous with what we assume is the new pause deduction in Tuscaloosa (and not really anywhere else). C’mon folks, I know it’s been a weird few years down there, but you’re still an SEC team at a home meet.
Why Is This Happening
There have been about a billion judging conferences so far this season and even more bizarre anomalies, including multiple score changes going through after teams had tweeted final results; one team having a zero on the scoresheet until hours after the meet because a scratch wasn’t cleared so its anchor was registered as an exhibition; one score being changed by almost a point after review; and THIS. Judges, get it together.
Correction from the Rocky Mountain Open ended up affecting a score on Parallel Bars for Oklahoma and dropping their score by almost a point. As a result, Stanford will retain the top spot this week with Oklahoma coming in second.
— RoadToNationals.com (@RoadToNationals) January 15, 2019
Why Is This Happening, Part II
Uh, that whole Rhonda Faehn situation.
I’ve seen next to no Mizzou discourse so far this season. The Tigers are chilling at No. 10 nationally and tied for third in the SEC, and they put up no scores below 9.725 this weekend at Florida.
(You’ll notice my reaction GIFs are almost all cute animals.)
On the Struggle Bus
Sacramento State graduated most of its team in 2018, and with several key underclassmen restricted by short term injuries, it’s had a very uncomfortable start to its season. If the Hornets can string together a few hits on bars, they could take advantage of a big-team scoring environment at Denver this week.
Do You Have a Seventh Routine
UCLA on floor.
Was That Just a Fluke
Western Michigan is ranked No. 22 this week. Let’s talk about that. Seriously, start talking, because I don’t know what else to say. I want to learn, but I’m going to have to start with googling “what’s a western michigan.”
Next Week, I Swear
— Cal Gymnastics (@CalWGym) January 14, 2019
California is rounding into form, but to compete with the top teams it will need underutilized underclassmen to step up and replace some of its less reliable routines. Freshmen Milan Clausi and Maya Bordas have been beautiful, but it’ll likely take a generously-scored home meet to make judges feel like they have permission to go high on the newcomers’ routines.
You’re Beautiful but Please Hit
Rae Balthazor on bars. Everything else she does is fabulous. I’m sure her coaches are working on it, and my pointing out that it’s a bummer helps her in no way… but…
— UAA Gymnastics (@UAAGymnastics) January 14, 2019
The Alaska hype train that I’ve been on since last year is finally gaining momentum thanks to junior Sophia Hyderally’s sizzling performances in the first two weeks of the season and, to a lesser degree, the fact that I screamed at all of my friends that UAA was going to be good this year for months until they got the idea. As the MPSF editor and unofficial chief MPSF advocate for the site, I’m absolutely thrilled.
Should Have Been a Ten
I know this is a basic opinion, but it’s also a correct one.
Social Media GOAT
Also, did you guys catch that whole thing where a former one-year member of a Division I team took to Twitter to talk crap about her former team’s (literal) stick celebration and got scolded for ungratefulness by two alums of the same program? WILD. At least one person in that conversation ended up blocked.
Glad You’re Having Fun
California during Margzetta Frazier’s floor routine at California Grand. Some teams make a point not to watch other teams’ routines. Others jump up and down screaming during routines they like, and then when the gymnast realizes she’s got a fan club and directs part of her choreography at them, they lose their goddamn minds. It was pure gold. Please send me video of it if it exists.
Well That’s Different
I knew in some peripheral part of my mind that Julia Green of Brown did this beam dismount but that didn’t stop me from almost choking when I saw it in real time while live blogging.
Fall of the Week
Honorary mention to Kendra Braida of Sacramento State, who managed to scoot sideways off the beam during her seated mount choreography. If it’s any consolation, we can be reasonably certain that one was a fluke.
I definitely didn’t learn anything about the state of the NCAA from writing this, but I did entertain myself! Let’s do it again in two weeks, and maybe I’ll have something intellectual to tell you. No guarantees though. Might just be puppy gifs.
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