Get ready for some conference rivalry fun, folks! North Carolina is off to a strong start, securing the top spot in the EAGL rankings. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the Tar Heels are still great on vault and floor. More of a surprise? Their beam lineup has looked pretty impressive and bars have been pretty okay (excuse me while I go knock on wood while throwing salt over my shoulder). Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is still finding its groove, though it has turned in impressive performances on bars and floor in its first two meets (not to mention several individual event titles).
What to Watch For
- Michaela Burton: We predicted the transfer from Arkansas would be a game-changer and she’s certainly living up the hype, posting Pitt’s top scores on bars, beam and floor and earning EAGL Gymnast of the Week honors.
- Emily Liszewski: She may have only arrived after Christmas, but the freshman is already a fixture in the vault lineup (and exhibitioned on beam).
- Khazia Hislop: What else can we say about the senior phenom? Her lowest score thus far in 2020 is a 9.825 on beam, which pretty much sums her up.
- Elizabeth Coulton: The freshman has so far delivered on her JO promise, scoring 39-plus in the all around in her first two collegiate meets (and giving a much-needed boost to the Tar Heels’ historically anemic bars scores).
- Other: Keep an eye out for both of these teams on floor. They’ve both got powerful tumbling and fun routines guaranteed to impress. Each team has come within a tenth (or less) of breaking 49 on floor.
Rotation One: North Carolina vault, Pittsburgh bars
Coulton (UNC): Yurchenko full. Doesn’t get a great block, has to pike down pretty significantly. Large bound forward. 9.600
Dugan (Pitt): Geinger, a little flat. Great bail. Beautiful last handstand. Very nice DLO with a small hop back. Great start. 9.675
Bless you, Christina, for confirming this is a new leo!
Allen (UNC): Solid Yurchenko half. Not a ton of amplitude, but good body position. Small hop forward. 9.700
Brechwald (Pitt): She’s just chilling waiting for the judges to finish conferring over Dugan’s score. Blind half to straddled Jaeger (some feet). Good bail, a touch close on her hecht shoot. Good DLO with some leg form and a hop. 9.725, a season high.
Aldridge (UNC): Yurchenko full, a little low but with a ton of distance. Has to pike down a bit and a hop. 9.725
Ward (Pitt): Straddled the Shaposh and Pak a bit. Love a clear hip. Pretty full pirouette to high double tuck, stuck. 9.700
Robinson (UNC): She’s so remarkably consistent. Hasn’t scored below 9.8 in 10 meets. Really nice Yurchenko full. Small hop, but the Heels’ best vault so far. 9.800
Weiss (Pitt): Lots of amplitude on her Tkatchev, some feet. A little off center on her bail. Muscling these handstands a bit, but hitting her positions. Big DLO nearly stuck. 9.625
Floyd (Pitt): Lovely Maloney. Beautiful handstands, easy swing. Great form on her Pak. A tad short on her pirouette. Front giant to excellent stuck double tuck. 9.700 feels low
Hislop (UNC): Textbook Yurchenko full. Seriously, wouldn’t be mad about a 9.9-plus for that… 9.875 is too low, IMO
Burton (Pitt): Maloney with some leg sep. Beautiful Pak. Aggressive handstands, great. Nice DLO with a small hop. 9.850
Antinori (UNC): Nice Yurchenko lay, slightly closed angle on hips and a big bounce back. 9.525
AFTER ONE: North Carolina 48.675, Pittsburgh 49.650
Solid starts for both teams and fairly tight scoring all around (such a breath of fresh air!). Neither team had significant technical issues, just lost points on landings and minor form breaks. UNC will want to rein in those vault landings sooner rather than later if they want to stay on top of the EAGL standings; those are valuable tenths that can make the difference in such a closely-matched conference.
Rotation Two: North Carolina bars, Pittsburgh vault
Brechwald (Pitt): Tons of distance on her Yurchenko full. Twisted early and slightly off center. Soft legs and a small hop back. 9.650
Summey (UNC): Pretty straddled Jaeger caught a little close, good position on the bail. A bit shy on handstands, and is late on the full pirouette. Double tuck with a small hop. Good start for UNC. 9.650
Ceccarini (Pitt): Yurchenko full landed with chest way down, small step back. 9.625
Williams (UNC): Pretty straddled Jaeger. Holds the handstand on the bail for a looong time. Short on last handstand. Great DLO, slightly piked down, nearly stuck. 9.725
Milller (Pitt): Yurchenko full. Twists late, has to pike it down. Low chest. 9.575
Gneco (UNC): Blind change to beautiful straddled Jaeger. Rushes through the bail, way too close. Wonky and late pirouette, but a nice double tuck with a big step back. 9.125… Um, even with UTL deductions, not sure if that’s correct.
Ward (Pitt): Fabulous Yurchenko full, tiniest hop. A little preflight form, but great vault. 9.800 is a little low. Would have scored her between Robinson and Hislop.
So many judges conferences… Oh well, gives me time to type 😉
Petrikis (Pitt): Huge amplitude on her Yurchenko full. Twists really early (and off center?) and has to pike down and hop forward. 9.850 is way too high, sorry. Not the same level as Hislop’s or Ward’s.
Aldridge (UNC): Maloney with leg sep. Good bail, close on the hecht shoot. Really high FTDT, but lands on her knees. Too bad. 9.025
Herbine (Pitt): Yurchenko half looked really nice in the air but completes the twist late and has to take a large hop forward. 9.700
Donaghy (UNC): They didn’t show her routine, but she fell on a Jaeger per the commentators. Short bail, maybe tapped her toes? Great last handstand. Double lay with form, takes a seemingly unnecessary step. 8.825
Coulton (UNC): Saves a majorly overarched handstand. Shy on bail. Gets back on track, lovely full pirouette to between bar Tkatchev. High FTDT with a small bounce. Wow, great fight. 9.625
AFTER TWO: Pittsburgh 97.300, North Carolina 95.825
OK, really confused by some of these scores on both sides. Regardless, Pitt did very well on vault, showcasing their power and snagging a new season high. They’ll want to watch the blocks/early twists, which are forcing them to pike and/or land with less control. UNC UNCed on bars, although I’m still not sure what’s up with Gneco’s score. Also, there were entirely too many judges conferences; half the lineup got iced… Williams, as usual, did her thing beautifully.
Rotation Three: North Carolina beam, Pittsburgh floor
Summey (UNC): Bhs los, solid. Very nice full turn. She’s being very deliberate and intentional with her movements, if not especially fluid. Beat to straddle 3/4, chest a little low, but good. Hitch kick to side somi. One and a half with a small hop. Strong start, wouldn’t be surprised if she beats her career high. 9.600, whatever.. Okay, they’ve changed it to a 9.650. Marginally better.
Miller (Pitt): Nice, high double tucked, kicks it out. Good amplitude on her leaps. Front lay to front full, well done. As a former Boston resident and ’90s child, I’m digging the Aerosmith music. Double pike landed really deep, but controlled. Strong start. 9.675
Oh. My. God. There’s a four tenth discrepancy on Summey’s routine, so Allen is having to wait. Again.
Christina agrees, there’ve been way too many judges’ conferences today, and we’re barely into the third rotation.
Allen (UNC): Very confident. Bhs loso, excellent. Switch split to straddle 1/4, beautiful. Hitch kick to side aerial and she comes off, too bad. Cartwheel to stuck gainer full. Such a nice routine other than the fall. 8.800
Herbine (Pitt): Front lay to floaty front full. Wolf full, good. Switch side to Popa, nice amplitude. Ugh, big double tuck that she lands crunched over on. Has to put a hand down. 9.150
Nam (UNC): Bhs loso looked a little off, but no wobbles. Pretty split series. Hitch kick to side aerial with a tiny leg up check. One and a half dismount with the tiniest scoot back. Clutch. 9.725
Ward (Pitt): Wolf 1.5, great. Front full to front lay, bounces out a bit. Switch ring good, a little shy on the switch half. Ouch, got hung up on her double tuck and lands curled up on the floor but pops up immediately. 8.925
Hislop (UNC): Lovely front aerial to back tuck. Beat to double stag, slightest waver but great cover. Switch split to split, perfect. Full turn, great. Her wrist and finger extension is gorgeous. Side aerial to full stuck but with a bend at the hip. 9.800
Bochenek (PItt): Punch Rudi, bounces out. A little shy on her switch full and full 1.5. Love her energy and engagement. One and a half to front lay, well done. Pitt needed that. 9.700
Coulton (UNC): Bhs loso, flawless. Switch split to straddle 1/4, lovely. Front aerial and misses her foot but saves it. Beautiful flexibility in her low beam work. Cat leap to switch side, good. Side aerial to stuck full. Other than the hiccup on the front aerial, great job. 9.825
Petrikis (Pitt): Really fun choreo to open. Big double pike with a slight slight back. Front lay to bouncy full, stays in bounds. Team clapping along, love it. Switch side to Popa, nice amplitude. Resting a little… WOO, high double tuck to close. Great routine! 9.700
Donaghy (UNC): Bhs loso, some form, but solid. Love the tuck 3/4. A slight wobble after the full turn. Cat leap to side aerial, a little tentative. Double stag leap wasn’t quite there. Stuck piked gainer, a little off center. A few things to take, but a serviceable routine. 9.650
Burton (Pitt): Double tuck drops out of the sky. Apologies, my stream glitched so I missed the middle pass. Really fun choreo. Crunches her double pike, too bad. 9.650
AFTER THREE: Pittsburgh 45.175, North Carolina 144.425
The Tar Heels were able to make up some ground thanks to a solid beam rotation. There were some errors, but they stayed focus and didn’t get rattled. Unfortunately, Pitt had a rough floor rotation. Most of the lineup seemed to struggle with endurance, having significant issues on the last passes (even Burton). Today’s score is over a point lower than their season high, though, so hopefully just a fluke; they’ve got some great skills and routines.
Rotation Four: North Carolina floor, Pittsburgh beam
Brechwald (Pitt): Good full turn to start. Falls on front aerial. Repeats the skill to get the series and falls again. Little crooked on sheep jump. Great on her front toss. Stuck gainer pike dismount. Good recovery. 8.150
Antinori (UNC): Front through to double back. A bit short, but good. Little off on wolf full. Split leap is good. Good double pike to close. 9.750
Ceccarini (Pitt): Really cool mount. Walks out of the full turn, clever cover. Bhs loso, fights to stay on. Switch split to straddle slight waver, straddle half; may not get the connection, but nice fight. Front toss with legs up, somehow stays on. Stuck gainer pike. Won’t be a great score because of all the wobbles, but really impressive toughness. 8.900
Dean (UNC): It’s a Queen mashup, so I’m already calling for a 10. Front tuck through to double pike, fantastic. Switch side to Popa, really dynamic. One and a half to front pike, a little out of control on the landing, but not bad. Double tuck with a slide back to finish. Great routine. 9.750
For the record, Christina, I thought your Queen of Gymnastics joke was excellent. In fact, I was about to type the same thing…
Robatin (Pitt): Front toss with a leg up. Redoes to connect to a bhs, good. Beat to straddle half, a touch shy but steady. Cat leap to a Liukin, really cool. Really cool punch tucked front full, stuck. 9.500
Nam (UNC): Stumbles out of her double pike. Punch Rudi (or was it a double front?), well done. Switch full to wolf full, good positions. One and a half to front full, soft legs, but good control. Great routine. 9.800
Liszewski (Pitt): Bhs loso with a large hip and arm wave, but saves it. Cat leap to shy straddle 1/4. Pike to back tuck, great! Love the variety of skills this team is showing. Side somi, really wobbly but she saves it well. Great cartwheel to stuck gainer full. Clutch for the freshman who joined last month. 9.450
Coulton (UNC): HUGE double tuck to open. Switch ring to switch side. Love her commitment to the choreo and performance. Front lay to front full, excellent. Fabulous front lay to Rudi, definition of a “controlled lunge.” Well done. 9.825
Beckwith (Pitt): Bhs loso, a little off but good cover. Switch half, very low front leg. Beat to switch 3/4, leg and chest low. Side aerial to tucked full, small hop back. Good. 9.700
Robinson (UNC): Whip to double tuck, soars. Fhs full lay, looks so easy. Popa series then drops the straddle to the ground, good lord… Her straddle looks like a Tkatchev. HUGE double pike with a front foot up to close. So good. 9.875
Burton (Pitt): Front aerial, lovely. Powerful bhs loso (yes, powerful). Split with an arm wave. Redoes and connects to a sheep, fine for what it is. Gainer full with a tiny step. 9.725
Hislop (UNC): Bounces out of her front lay to Rudi. Front lay to front full, great form and control. Switch ring to split full, good amplitude. Enormous double tuck (a bit cowboyed on the second salto) to finish. Beautiful routine. 9.900
AFTER FOUR: North Carolina 193.575, Pittsburgh 192.450
Wow, did not expect the Tar Heels to come back that hard after the disastrous bars rotation. Way to rally and pull out the win! Their floor rotation was excellent, really polished and energetic (also, a season high 49.150). Pitt deserves major props for powering through a tough beam rotation. They’ve got a great arsenal of skills, and–even with the errors–showed a lot of guts and tenacity that should serve them well this season.
Article by Claire Billman
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