OK, this should be a good one! Big 12 gymnastics has been—in a word—unpredictable this season, thanks in large part to these two teams.
West Virginia has faced off against Oklahoma twice to unexpected results: The Mountaineers outscored the Sooners on beam and floor in the first match-up and actually lead them going into the final rotation last weekend.
Similarly, Iowa State has been impressive in back-to-back meets against Denver and managed to pull off a decisive upset last Sunday (the Cyclones’ first victory over the Pioneers since 2013). Oh, and Addy De Jesus scored the year’s first perfect 10 on vault.
So how will these two upstart teams fare against each other in their first meeting of 2021? Iowa State has a significant scoring advantage over West Virginia on vault, but the margins are much thinner on the other three events. Don’t get me wrong, the Mountaineers would need some help to overtake the Cyclones, but it’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
Ooh, Kianna Yancey is making her 2021 all around debut today 👀
Rotation 1: West Virginia vault, Iowa State bars
Ki. Yancey (WVU): Big Yurchenko full with a small hop back. Tiny leg sep in the pre-flight. 9.725
Langkamp (ISU): Blind change to piked Jaeger, well done. A little loose on her bail. Doesn’t quite hit the final handstand, but a fabulous almost stuck DLO. 9.825
Waldron (WVU): Very similar Y full to Yancey’s, just a tiny small hop back. 9.825
Maxwell (ISU): Blind change to a HIGH straddled Jaeger. Perfect handstand positions throughout. DLO is close to the bar, but stuck cold. Fist pump before the salute, love it. 9.850
Lewis (WVU): HUGE Y full with a big hop back. So powerful and lovely form. 9.725
Horowitz (Iowa State): Blind change to close straddled Jaeger. Bail right to handstand, nice. Shy on final handstand and another stuck DLO. Wow, the Cyclones aren’t messing around. 9.825
Pierson (WVU): Clean Y full with a hop back. 9.800
Basuel (ISU): Blind change to a massive straddled Jaeger. Legs come apart on bail. Blind full to double tuck, nails it. 9.775
Linnen (WVU): Y half with a large bound forward, but pretty in the air. 9.700
Vella-Wright (ISU): Maloney to Pak, just flawless. Van Leeuwen, gorgeous. FTDT with low chest, but stuck. 9.875
Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): Y full with a ton of distance, but big leg sep on pre-flight and significant pike down. Her first non-Y lay of the season though! 9.450
De Jesus (ISU): Step-out to big Ray. Bail, nice. A tad short on final handstand, and a college stick on a really clean DLO. 9.825
AFTER ONE ROTATION: IOWA STATE 49.200, WVU 48.775
Really nice opening rotations for both team. This is usually the point in my live blogs that I complain about lack of score differentiation, but the Cyclones put up very similarly executed routines. Top to bottom, they looked great. Those dismounts were especially impressive.
The Mountaineers are still being fairly conservative on vault, but it’s an overall clean and solid lineup. Even if they don’t add the potential upgrades, just a few stuck landings should get them to that magical 49.0 mark.
Rotation 2: West Virginia bars, Iowa State vault
Turner (ISU): Y full slightly underrotated, has to hop forward. 9.750
Abarca (WVU): Pretty opening handstand. Pirouette to Gienger, nice. Blind full to double back and a stick. Very nice. Also, per the commentary, she only practices once a week?! Wow… 9.825
Hong (ISU): Clean Y full with a hop back. Hong’s debut for the Cyclones. 9.800
Combs (WVU): Step-out to Maloney, good. Floats her Pak with leg sep and leg form. A hair shy on the final handstand. Blind full to double tuck with a small step.
Maxwell (ISU): Big ol’ Y 1.5 with a hop forward. SO. MUCH. DISTANCE. 9.900
Hornung (WVU): Gets a little hung up on her blind change, good straddled Jaeger. Again, gets hung up on her front giant. Double front with a step. 9.675
Steinmeyer (ISU): Another big Y 1.5 with some knees and a bound forward. 9.825
Norris (WVU): Looks like Coach Butts is having a conference with the bars judge… Short first handstand. Blind change to piked Jaeger, a little close. Short on final handstand and a really high DLO with a small step back. 9.750
Boychuk (ISU): Y 1.5 with soft knees and a small hop forward. 9.800
Ki. Yancey (WVU): Maloney/Pak combo with some feet. Loses momentum from the Pak and gets hung up on a low bar pirouette; tries to fight through, but eventually comes off. Only does a DLO today, but very well done and a stick. 8.975
De Jesus (ISU): Y 1.5 is slightly underrotated and takes a small hop back. Crazy backbend trying to finesse the salute. 9.775
Lewis (WVU): Went hard on the first handstand and has to come off. Remounts and it’s great the second time around. Huge Ray with some feet to bail, well done. FTDT with a small step. 9.250
AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: IOWA STATE 49.100, WVU 48.300
Good vault rotation for Iowa State, especially given De Jesus having a flukey underpowered vault. Coach Jay Roynane says the team’s goal is to be top five on vault (it’s currently sixth), and that seems very possible.
West Virginia obviously won’t be thrilled to count a fall, but should be extremely pleased by the strength of the front half of the rotation.
Rotation 3: West Virginia beam, Iowa State floor
Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): Pretty kicked out full turn. Cat leap to front aerial to back tuck, just the slightest hip check on the tuck. Cat leap to switch leap to straddled quarter, slightly low on the straddle. Tucked punch full dismount, stuck. Great lead-performance. 9.800
Boychuk (ISU): Fantastic opening double pike. Back 1.5 to front lay, didn’t get the rise and hand to bend her knees. Switch half to Popa, great amplitude. Easy double tuck to close, smallest slide back. 9.600 seems low, even with the front lay downgraded.
Pierson (WVU): Standing front tuck to wolf, awesome. Bhs two-footed layout. Switch leap to back pike; was a little off, but readjusted and didn’t even wobble. Punch tucked front full, another stick. Love the fight. 9.800
Turner (ISU): Front tuck through to double tuck, excellent. I’m choosing to believe that her choreo is supposed to look like she’s making snow angels. Switch ring to switch half to Popa, good positions. Low chest on double pike and has to take a step forward. 9.650
Hornung (WVU): Wolf turn, well done. Cat leap to front aerial to one-armed bhs with some leg form. Very nice leap series. RO 1.5 with a step forward and stumbles off the mat. 9.675
OK, floor judges… Get your s#!t together. This is taking an inordinate amount of time.
Langkamp (ISU): Whip to double tuck, hops out a little but covers it well. Switch full series maybe just under 180. Front lay to front half to split jump, very dynamic. Strong double tuck to finish. 9.775
Ki. Yancey (WVU): Bhs loso loso with a little leg form, but so solid. Cat leap to switch leap, lovely. Love how poised she is on this event. RO 1.5 with a small hop back. Great beam debut for her. 9.850
Diab (ISU): Excellent fhs double full to front lay. Big amplitude on leap series. Front lay to front full to split jump; didn’t get a big rise on the full. Fhs rudi to loso, gorgeous. 9.900
Linnen (WVU): Cat leap to front aerial to bhs, extremely well done. Cat leap to front aerial to switch half. Punch tucked full with a college salute. Great routine. 9.825
Steinmeyer (ISU): Fhs double twist, stuck. Big Popa series. Back 1.5 to front lay; again, doesn’t rise on the front lay, but really nice otherwise. Huge double pike to finish. 9.850 ties her career high.
Abarca (WVU): Love her shoulder stand mount. Slight check on her full turn. Cat leap to side aerial, good. Ugh, comes off on her side somi. Bhs loso, well done. Switch leap, switch leap to cat leap. RO 1.5 stuck. Other than the fall, very nice routine. 9.300
De Jesus (ISU): Huge double tuck stuck cold. Makin’ it raaaain! RO 1.5 and kind of fumbles the front loso, but not disastrous. Gorgeous Popa series. Another dead cold stick on her double pike. Should score well even with the loso weirdness. 9.625
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: IOWA STATE XXX, WVU 48.950
West Virginia has done such a great job with this season’s beam composition. I love the variety of skills, but the strategy is even more impressive (e.g., skill redundancies and back-up connections). Other teams, take note!
Really not sure about some of Iowa State’s floor scores… Curious to see how WVU’s scores stack up. Scores aside, the Cyclones are definitely missing the Maldonado boost. Really glad to see Diab back in the lineup; her routine was the clear standout.
Rotation 4: West Virginia floor, Iowa State beam
Steinmeyer (ISU): Front toss to beat, a little off in the air but no wobbles. Bhs loso with soft legs but rock solid. Switch leap to straddle quarter, nice position. Sliiiightly overrotates her full turn but covers well. RO 1.5 with an almost stick. Nice lead-off routine. 9.800
Linnen (WVU): Fhs Rudi loso, beautiful. Her choreography is so fluid and stylish. Switch ring to tour jete half, pretty. Fhs double twist,ery nice. 9.850
Maxwell (ISU): Fabulous bhs loso. Slight bobble on her dance (because of course). Switch half to beat, well done. Front aerial to wolf. Seriously high gainer pike with a stick. A little nervy throughout, but she stayed cool. This was her first collegiate beam routine, and she’s jazzed! 9.775
Pierson (WVU): Massive double pike to open. Fhs front lay front full, no problems. Switch half, wolf full to Shushunova, gotta love it. Big double tuck to finish, just a tiny foot slide. 9.775
De Jesus (ISU): Bhs loso, excellent. Fanning herself off. Straddle to sheep with a large, leg up check. Cat leap to side aerial, great. Cartwheel double twist, stuck. 9.775
Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): This is such a dramatic, “pain of the nation” routine. Nice double tuck to open. Switch half to Popa, good positions on both. Fhs front lay to front full, nice rise on the full. Excellent double pike to finish. Really not much to take here. 9.875
Boychuk (ISU): A little wobble on her wolf full. Bhs bhs loso with a leg up. Side somi, very floaty. Cat leap to switch half, doesn’t quite hit 180. Gainer full dismount, stuck. 9.775
Combs (WVU): Front tuck through to a stuck double pike, wow! Straddle half, wolf full, Popa; excellent. Seriously, she just hangs in the air. Big double tuck with a slight readjustment. Fabulous routine. 9.900
Orrego (ISU): Glad to see her back! Bhs loso with a full bend at the hips, but stays on. Switch leap to switch half to beat, a bit low on her back leg. Front aerial with a slight check. Gorgeous RO 1.5, stuck. 9.675
Ki. Yancey (WVU): Bounces out of a powerful double pike. Switch full to Popa, a little off-kilter in the air but good amplitude. RO 1.5 to whip half to double stag, nice. High double tuck with a hop back to finish. 9.750
Semple (ISU): Bhs loso, slightest readjustment but lovely in the air. Cat leap to switch half to beat, very well done. Switch leap to split jump, great. Side aerial to full, little shuffle. Lovely routine. 9.850
Lewis (WVU): Rudi to loso, so good! Gogean to switch full, nice height and position. Her style reminds me a lot of Trinity Thomas, everything from acro to dance looks so effortless. Chest low on her double tuck and lands pretty crunched up. Still, solid floor debut for the freshman. 9.550
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: IOWA STATE 196.125, WVU XXX
Since I didn’t get to complain about the lack of score separation in bars, I’m going to do it here! Iowa State’s routines ran the gamut and that is simply not reflected in the scores. While I think the event total is about right, the judges got lazy with the scoring; the first four routines did not deserve the same score, and there should have been much more differentiation between Semple and Orrego’s routines. Moving on, Iowa State has got to be pretty pumped with that final score given that this was a less than stellar day for them in the last two rotations.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, should be extremely proud. The added depth plus the overall improvement on the fine details is really paying off for West Virginia (that lights out floor rotation doesn’t hurt either).
Live blog by Claire Billman
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