LIVE BLOG: California Grand with No. 7 Denver, No. 13 Auburn, No. 21 Arizona State and No. 25 Penn State

While this earlier session of the California Grand Invitational doesn’t have the huge names that headline the prime time meet, all four teams are going into it feeling like they have something to prove. Plus, how often do we get to see teams from all of the Big Four conferences face off in a quad meet?

Denver is coming in hot off its run to national finals and is hoping to prove that appearance wasn’t a fluke. Senior all around star Maddie Karr recently had knee surgery but has been seen in training clips over the last week–her health and readiness to compete are essential factors in Denver’s quest to return to nationals. Others to watch for are the stellar freshman class, particularly AK Subject and Amoree Lockhart. Lockhart just joined the team in December, so her readiness is a factor as well.

Auburn has brought in a supersized recruiting class to help prove it belongs in the top tier of the SEC. The freshmen most likely to make an immediate impact are Cassie Stevens and Aria Brusch, but I’ll also be watching to see how the bars lineup adapts to the loss of last year’s senior class.

Arizona State has now made regionals two years in a row and is looking to build on that success to continue its climb up the rankings. It’s been a long time since ASU’s Super Six days—the freshmen weren’t yet born—but the program is rooted in excellence and is longing to return there. Here to assist is another large freshman class (do I sense a theme of this meet?), which is sorely needed after the graduation of six seniors. Hannah Scharf, Gracie Reeves and Juliette Boyer could all be stars for the Sun Devils, but how ready are they to join forces with Cairo Leonard-Baker and Morgan Wilson to help the team achieve its potential?

Over the last three seasons, Penn State has laid a strong foundation under its new coaches and will be hoping to add more flash and draw attention this year. This meet is the perfect opportunity to do that.

Want to watch along? Tune in via Flo. Score availability is an unknown at this point, but I’ll update with a link if one pops up.

In pre-meet news, Denver is teasing new leos.

Penn State wins the competition for who can post its lineups first! Freshman Cassidy Rushlow will compete in the all around!

Well, now ASU has tweeted that Cairo Leonard-Baker won’t compete today due to “precautionary measures.” It’s good to see teams taking health seriously.

Denver lineups featuring Maddie Karr in the all around, which is fantastic news considering her recent surgery. AK Subject also doing three events, Amoree Lockhart two, and Emma Brown one.

Denver has confirmed that there are no live scores for this meet, which is expected for a Flo meet by now but still annoying.

The live stream has finally started and the view of the arena is not particularly flattering. It looks to be about 95% empty and I’m not even exaggerating.

Teams are marching in behind volunteers holding surfboards. Because…California?

Denver will start on vault, Auburn bars, Arizona State beam, and Penn State floor.

The quad screen on this stream is in FX, UB, BB, VT order, but hey, we have one-touch happening!

Rotation 1

Becker UB Auburn: only got to see her double layout dismount.

Allen FX PSU: Double pike with a large step back OOB. Didn’t see the end since they moved to vault.

Subject VT Denver: Y-full with some form issues in the air, landed short and took a step forward. I like the new leos though.

Sundstrom VT Denver: Y-full, nice in the air with a hop back.

Brusch UB Auburn: Shaposh to a bail to handstand. Double lay dismount is very clean with a small hop back. 9.85

McCracken FX PSU: 2.5 to a stag jump to open but slightly off balance on landing. Front full to front layout is well-controlled. Another FX cut off by vault!

Brown VT Denver: Great 1.5 almost stuck but takes a step back, she looks happy with that.

Karr VT Denver: 1.5 also almost stuck, just leaning forward a bit into salute. 9.875

Day UB Auburn: Beautiful blind change to Jaeger. Handstand a little short before double arabian dismount which had a step forward. 9.825

Gobourne UB Auburn: Too far from the bar on the tkatchev and falls. Gets back up and does the Pak, some leg separation. Misses last handstand but has a great FTDT dismount, stuck. 9.000

Wilson BB ASU: BHS LOSO is great. Cat leap to switch half is a little short of horizontal. Front tossover to beat jump. Gainer full off the side is stuck. Nice! 9.8

Stevens UB Auburn (Exh): Nice tkatchev, some short handstands. Double layout has some form issues and a hop back but she’s promising. 9.75

Rushlow FX PSU: Starts with a nice double pike. Some problems on her leap series, then sits her front layout on her next pass. Rudi to close and landed short. Announcers are speculating she injured her ankle slightly on the leap.

Scharf BB ASU: Looks like she had a fall in the background of Rushlow’s floor, but all we properly saw on the stream was a 1.5 dismount with a step.

Ruiz scratched vault on Denver, which isn’t a huge surprise.

Astarita FX PSU: Opens with a GORGEOUS double tuck. Second pass is a 1.5 to front layout. Good leap series. Finishes with a double pike that’s short and she has to take a step forward. 9.675

Reeves BB ASU: Triple series is good! Front aerial to…something I can’t possibly describe, but the announcers are calling it a “back kip.” Finishes with a 1.5 dismount with a step. 9.775

Bridgens FX PSU: Huge double tuck to start, well-controlled. Rudi LOSO is very nice. Nice set.

After 1: Denver 48.875, ASU 48.675, Auburn 47.975, PSU 48.85

It’s hard to summarize the rotation without all the scores in, but Denver did what they needed to do on vault while each of the other teams had at least one fall and will look to bounce back strong in the next rotation. EDIT: Just got the scores and that’s…not ideal, Auburn.

Rotation 2

PSU VT, Denver UB, Auburn BB, ASU FX

Please, Flo, can you stop switching to a different event mid-routine? And a few scores would be nice.

Ruiz UB Denver: Nice handstand, giant full into a tkatchev, bail to handstand is very nice. Another nice handstand, then a double layout with a hop back. Very clean. 9.8

Brusch BB Auburn: Front aerial to beat jump is nice. BHS LOSO is solid. Switch leap to back tuck with a fairly large balance check. BHS 1.5 dismount was stuck. Good debut for her! 9.775

Bonsall (?) VT PSU: Stuck Y-full, though I use the term stuck loosely since she was waving her arms and torso all over to stick it. Announcers said it was Chinnery but it was clearly not Chinnery. If that was in fact Bonsall then she got a 9.675.

Bridgens VT PSU: Y-full with a low landing and a slight step. 9.65

Subject UB Denver: All we saw was her double layout dismount. Yay Flo! 9.825

Watson BB Auburn: Came in late but saw a nice BHS LOSO and then a side aerial. Leaps are gorgeous but a big balance check. 9.65

Wiliams FX ASU: Gorgeous 1.5 to front layout, lots of height and well-controlled. Double tuck to finish but short and a large step. 9.575

Gobourne BB Auburn: Announcers said she had a nice series but we didn’t actually see it. Beat jump to split leap full, short of rotation. Full twisting dismount with a step. 9.575

Glynn UB Denver: Nice Geinger. Went over on a cast handstand but covered it extremely well. Good FTDT.

Sylvia BB Auburn: Great toepoint. Had a balance check between the front aerial and Rulfova so no connection there. Nice triple leap combo. Cartwheel gainer full is stuck, but that missed connection could come back to haunt her since that would mean no series credit. 9.625

Scharf FX ASU: Front tuck through to double tuck, nice height and good landing. Front full to front tuck second pass. Double pike is good with a hop to the side. Nice routine from the freshman. 9.775

Sheppard BB Auburn: BHS LOSO with a slight balance check she covers well. Hitch kick to side aerial is good. Cat leap to switch side is good. 1.5 dismount with a small hop forward. Very clean gymnastics from her. 9.8

Ginn FX ASU: Front tuck through to double tuck is good. Front layout to front layout half is clean. Good extension on the straddle leaps though she’s higher on one side than the other. Double pike to finish, maybe slightly short on the landing? 9.85 so apparently not

After 2: Denver 98.125, ASU 97.2, Auburn 97.05, PSU 95.9

Apparently Denver had a 49.275 on bars which is great for a season opener, though we didn’t get to see much of it. ASU had some very nice floor routines in that rotation.

Rotation 2

Slappey FX Auburn: Opens with a front layout to rudi, well-controlled. Double pike is just about stuck, small step back after a second. She almost seemed surprised she stuck it. Ends with a double tuck, really nice routine! 9.775

Miller VT ASU: Y-Full, piked down a bit.

Ruiz BB Denver: Nice leap series. BHS LOSO but a little off so had to take a step back. Side aerial to split jump is gorgeous. Gainer pike dismount is stuck. 9.825

Day FX Auburn: Double pike with many steps back and ended up way OOB. I love her dance. Front full to front layout is good. Double tuck is short and she has to take a large step forward. I think she’s a zombie in this routine? 9.4

Reeves VT ASU: Yurchenko tuck 1.5 with a step forward. 9.775

Lockhart BB Denver: Really only got to see the dismount, gainer full off the side, stuck. 9.825

Stevens FX Auburn: OOB on double pike. Nice leaps. Aaaand cut to another routine. 9.525

Wilson VT ASU: Very clean Y-full with a step back. 9.8

Bridgens UB PSU: Shaposh to bail to hecht. Handstand is good, a little late on the full turn, double tuck is stuck. Nice and clean as always. 9.8

Sundstrom BB Denver: BHS LOSO is good, side aerial is clean. Balance check on split half. Gainer pike dismount is stuck. 9.85

Brusch FX Auburn: FTDT is a bit of an ankle cruncher, OUCH, has to take a big step forward. Front full to front layout is also short and she almost loses her footing. Leaps are good. Flo skips the rest. 9.575

Karr BB Denver: Side aerial LOSO is great. Hitch kick to…side aerial with one bent leg? Or was it a side somi with one leg straight? Split full is nice. BHS 1.5 dismount is stuck though she had to lean forward. She looks healthy which is great to see. 9.9

Sheppard FX Auburn: 1.5 to front layout with a step forward, not sure if that can be considered a lunge. Wow, triple full is nice! 9.775

Vasquez BB Denver:  Front layout BHS is gorgeous. Leaps are everything they should be. Dismount is great and stuck. Lovely as always. SHE GOT A 10.

OMG Flo has discovered they can do split screen instead of cutting to another apparatus mid-routine! Why did it take so long?

Gobourne FX Auburn: Opens with a huge double tuck. Front full to front layout is very clean. Her dance is fabulous as always. Double pike to close, really nice routine. 9.75

After 3: Denver 147.55, ASU 146.15, Auburn 145.45, PSU 144.75

Wow, Denver with a 49.4 25 on beam!! Auburn won’t be happy with that 48.4 on floor, but ASU will be happy with that 48.9 on vault.

Rotation 4

Auburn on vault, ASU on bars, PSU on beam, Denver on floor

Sheppard VT Auburn: Y-half with several steps forward, just overpowered it. 9.525

Ginn UB ASU: Tkatchev with flexed feet, overshoot to hecht, loses a little momentum. Double layout with a step back. 9.7

Glenn VT Auburn: Y-full, a little piked down with a hop forward. 9.65

Somebody from PSU just did a side somi to back tuck off the side dismount but the announcers are clueless as to who it was. #flothings (EDIT: looks like it was Verdeflor, with a 9.775)

Day VT Auburn: 1.5 with a low landing and has to hop back, but nice in the air. 9.675

E. Brown FX Denver: Double tuck with chest down a bit. Very nice switch ring. Back 1.5 to front layout is clean. Rudi to close. Nice routine for the freshman. 9.75

Gobourne VT Auburn: Sticks her Y-1.5! 9.9

Romagnano BB PSU: Falls on her BHS LOSO. Aaaand Flo seems to think they’ve shown enough of the freshman so new routine it is. 9.15

Stevens VT Auburn: Solid 1.5. 9.8

Glynn FX Denver: Very nice double tuck to open. Leaps are a little short. I must have missed her second pass. Nice double pike but steps OOB. 9.7

Karr FX Denver: Rudi was a little uncontrolled on the landing but she managed to just take a lunge back. Back 1.5 to front full is clean. 9.875

Boyer UB ASU: Maloney to Pak is gorgeous but she misses her cast to handstand and has to repeat it. FTDT has an awkward landing and she has to take a large step back. Too bad, the first half of that routine was amazing.

Rushlow BB PSU: Beat jump to split 3/4 is very nice. BHS LOSO with a balance check. Split leap to split jump, great extension. Side aerial is good. I’m really liking this routine! Roundoff 1.5 with a college stick and some leg bend in the air. 9.825

Lockhart FX Denver: Double pike to finish is well-controlled (didn’t get to see anything else!). 9.875

L. Brown FX Denver: Textbook double layout, her usual. Good leaps. Back 1.5 to front layout to split jump is good, the split jump may have been a little short of vertical. Stuck double pike to finish. 9.95.

McCracken BB PSU: Beautiful choreo to start. Front aerial BHS is solid. Great scale to releve. Balance check after her leaps. Cat leap to front aerial with another check. BHS gainer full off the side is stuck. 9.75

Waiting for final scores…

Well that was a whirlwind of a meet, and with the lack of live scoring it’s hard to get an overall impression. Denver came out and did what it needed to do to prove it’s still a top team. Karr looks healthy, Brown was her usual underrated but spectacular self, and the freshmen looked solid from what we saw of them.

Flo has now changed to a “This event will begin shortly” screen so it’s unclear whether or not the announcers will be returning with final scores as they promised a few short minutes ago.

Gymnasts are marching in for awards but the announcers are nowhere to be found. Somebody from ASU is on crutches but I can’t tell who. The march-out order was Denver, Auburn, ASU, PSU, so I assume that’s how the meet ended. Still no confirmation! #flothings

All right, we have results: Denver 196.7, ASU 194.675, Auburn 194.375, PSU 193.5. Arizona State will be thrilled to have come out ahead of what should turn out to be a great Auburn team, and Denver won’t be displeased with that score at this point in the year. Auburn and PSU will likely want to put this meet behind them, but luckily the whole season is ahead of them to make improvements.

Thanks for joining me in this live blog! We’ll have the second session covered as well so stay tuned.

Live blog by Jenna King

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