We’re here! We made it! It’s nationals! Did you think we’d get here in the darkest days of last winter? I had moments where I truly did not, but man am I thankful and grateful for all the sacrifices folks made to keep this season rolling.
I hope you’re ready to enjoy some intense competition on this glorious Friday afternoon. Both semis are stacked, and this nationals, as Jay Clark pointed out in the NCAA pre-nationals press, may be the closest one ever, but I chose this particular session to blog for a reason. I think this gal is the real nail biter. Michigan surged ahead of Florida with its post-regionals NQS (calculated by adding the regional final score to the previous NQS) on the heels of a program-record tying 198.100. But you know and I know that the Gators are no schlubs. We have two unknowns for Florida: Trinity Thomas’ health and who will be in the floor lineup post-Sydney Johnson-Scharpf Achilles tear. If I had to guess, I’d say we see Thomas on bars and one other event (beam or vault?) with her return to the all around reserved for the finals should Florida advance. But that’s truly just a guess.
While Michigan and Florida are definitely favorites, neither of California or Minnesota is here just for giggles. Either could advance with just a slightly-better-than-normal day, and we can be sure that both the Golden Bears and Golden Gophers have the national finals on their hotel conference room vision boards in their pre-meet team meetings. Michigan has had sloppy events, especially on beam and floor, at various times throughout the year, and Florida has shown cracks from time to time. Neither is invincible, and this field is just too good to make mistakes and sail through.
There’s a crucial event for each team. Minnesota needs to stick vaults. It is brilliant on beam often and floor usually, but it can set itself apart from California and stay competitive with the top two with its three end-of-lineup Yurchenko 1.5s if all five counting landings are spot on. Vault is big for Michigan, too. It started hitting 198s when it started throwing six 10.0s. A big vault number will do a lot to help the Wolverines surge ahead. Florida will be focusing on bars, an event where it can be excellent, but it has also had one big miss and a few “ehh” performances this year. Ehh won’t cut it in this stacked session. Handstands, landings, details—think everything that makes Kathy Johnson-Clarke happy—are critical today. California is in a similar position on beam, an event that is often great but can be just a bit off. If the Bears are going to get the upset, beam needs to be clean and steady. That plus California’s usual floor and bars will put it in a good position, needing just to minimize vault deductions to close out a great meet.
A small aside: Remember that today is the day that matters for individual titles and All-American status. Check out our individuals preview for the scoop on who to keep an eye on.
PHEW OK! On to the gymnastics!
We’re a half hour out and I’m here early with some in-arena updates from folks in Fort Worth! Abby Brenner, who has been out since Big Fives with an ankle injury, warmed up bars, and Trinity Thomas warmed up all four, including her double layout on floor.
Something slightly weird happened with Cal’s warmups. They left the floor with time left, changed into competition leos and then returned. The arena announced they had 18 minutes to warm up all four. Seems that once they were back things were going just fine, despite the alarmism on Twitter.
Rotation 1: Minn. VT (Worley), UF UB (Brown), UM BB (Scharf), Cal FX (McCrary)
Grotenhuis (Minn): FTY, crooked and hips.
Richards (UF): Messy Maloney to short bail hand. Short handstnd. DLO deep knees.
Bauman (UM): Solid bhs loso. Check on side somi. Step on dismount.
Quinn (Cal): Lay to rudi some leg sep. Good, clean splits on her leaps. Solid double pike to close, bit deep in the knees but lunged well.
Just endless waits for everyone on every event oy ve.
Gerdes (Minn): FTY, some soft knees and hip angle.
Larzzari (UF): Good handstand to clean Tkatchev. Archy pak. FTDB, feet apart on the landing but she covered.
Wilson (UM): Bhs loso HUGE amplitude. Big splits on her leap series, solid. RO double tuck, small hop, one of her better landings on that.
Bordas (Cal): Bounced in her double tuck landing a bit. FHS rudi, clean.
Hooten (Minn): Y1.5, VERY crooked on the table, but pulled it around and stuck. She’ll get a directional deduction I think.
Skaggs (UF): Usual huge Tkatchev. Missed toes on squat on, extra kip. Great handstands. DLO stuck cold.
Farley (UM): Solid triple series, she’s a machine on that. Check on her leaps, maybe shy on one split. Side aerial to split, better shape there. Gainer pike stuck.
Clausi (Cal): Very clean double pike landing. Arched her combo pass down some but a good landing. Deep double tuck landing, slid back a bit.
Ramler (Minn): Y1.5, knees in the last half twist and a hop.
Schoenherr (UF): Toe half late to big Jaeger. Toe hand to bail hand, good, maybe touch shy. Stuck landing.
Brooks (UM): Solid triple series. Through her leaps cleanly. Front toss, dropped one shoulder a touch. Small hop on double tuck.
Loper (Minn): Y1.5, hips and a hop.
Thomas (UF): Maloney uprise to clear hip hand immediate pak, through cleanly. Van Leeuwen some foot cross. DLO, hop.
Wojcik (UM): Front aerial to beat, steady. Switch to split, great oversplits as usual. Clean bhs loso. RO 3/2 hop.
Li (Cal): Good double pike landing. Little low on her combo series.
Quarles (Minn): Y1.5, good landing.
Gallentine (UF): Floaty Maloney pak combo, ah she got tripped up on the low bar, it was weird, but she fell on her pirouette. DLO to her knees. Ah, that’s rough, but everyone else was through cleanly.
Heiskell (UM): Cat to side aerial, she was a little off but covered very well. Great splits on leaps, step back on her bhs loso landing. RO 3/2 stuck? I think.
George (Cal): Landed on her heels on combo pass, hopped back. Better closing landing.
Worley (UK): Y1.5, big step back.
Scharf (ASU): Bhs loso, clean. Side somi, good. Maybe the littlest bit short on one split. RO 3/2 biggish hop forward.
Desouza (Cal): Double pike, good lunge. Switch side wolf 1/1, clean. RO 3/2 front 1/1, lunged forward a little quickly but brought it into control. FHS rudi double stag to close, no issues there.
McCrary (Miz): Oops, problem with her music! That’s extra rough when you’re here as an individual. She stepped off the floor while they sort it out. Front lay to rudi OOOH holds the stick! Love that to open. Double pike, deep knees and she hops a little. Switch side Popa was a little weird in her upper body but splits were strong.
Brown (DU): Maloney some leg sep on backswing to Pak. Good Van Leewuen. DLO true stick.
AFTER 1: UM 49.475, Cal 49.425, Minn. 49.3875, UF 49.2375
Phew as suspected this one is close after one! Minnesota did its job on vault to stay in it early. Florida on the other hand had an eh bars day, just like I was a little worried about. Hopefully that’s out of the Gators’ systems. Overall, this has been really clean and a pleasure so far.
Rotation 2: Cal VT (Labat), Minn. UB (O’Hara), UF BB (Brown), UM FX (Scharf)
Sadighi (Cal): FTY, knees and a hop back.
Remlinger (Minn): Knees on her Tkatchev catch. Good landing.
Richards (UF): Fall on her triple sereis oof. Clean dismount.
Bauman (UM): Big lunge back on her double pike, traveled a bit on her leaps. Great double tuck landing. Clean combo pass.
Li (Cal): FTY stuck.
Hooten (Minn): Short handstand. Blind to big pike Jaeger immediate bail. Short last handstand. Step back on her double front.
Skaggs (UF): Clean wolf turn. Good splits on her leap series. BHs loso steady. Stuck dismount.
Koulos (UM): Clean 5/2 to open. Good double pike landing. Clean through last pass.
Schank (Cal): FTY hop in place, little crooked.
Willmarth (Minn): Ray, good. Bail hand was clean. Great handstands. Blind 1/1 double tuck, leaned forward but held the stick.
Lazzari (UF): Bhs loso loso, adjusted front foot. Clean leaps. Stuck landing maybe? I caught the very end.
Wojcik (UM): Good double pike, had time to really open and see the floor. Clean leaps. Stuck combo pass, that’s where she has problems sometimes. FHS rudi to split, good. Wow, great set for her after a few rocky ones this year!
George (Cal): FTY hop back.
Loper (Minn): Maloney clean to pak, better feet than most. Stuck dismount. Very very clean.
Baumann (UF): Bhs loso, small check. Florida is just tight up here. Switch to split, stunning posiitons. Front aerial leg up check. Switch half, gorgeous. Stuck dismount.
Heiskell (UM): Good double pike. Clean combo pass. Punch rudi to split, travelled forward on jump.
Desouza (Cal): Y1.5 hop.
Sales (Minn): Bail hand, great. Missed her release, team big cheered. Big step forward on her dismount.
Thomas (UF): She’s baaaaaaack. Bhs one arm loso, no issues. Front aerial beat bhs swingdown, smooth and steady. Side aerial 1/1 hop.
Brooks (UM): Full-in textbook lunge. Front through double tuck, slide on the lunge this time. Double pike, stick, moved one foot a smidge.
Clausi (Cal): Y1.5, knees, short and a big step back.
Ramler (Minn): Maloney to pak, clean, her usual. Van Leeuwen was good. Tiny arch on the last handstand. FTDB arm swing but holds the stick.
Clapper (UF): Bhs loso loso, clean. Switch to split, great. She’s such a steady gymnast. Side aerial 1/1 hop.
Wilson (UM): Full-in, another great landing. FHS front lay front, full, slid one foot. Messy rotation on her leaps. Adjusted front foot on double tuck lunge.
Labat (ISU): Y1.5, big lunge forward.
Brown (DU): Clean front toss bhs series. Front aerial to wolf, good. Stuck dismount.
O’Hara (Ark): Blind to Jaeger, little late on the blind. Bail hand, great. Good last handstand. DLO truest stick of the day so far, wow.
Scharf (ASU): Front through double tuck, good. FHs front 1/1 front tuck, landed on her heels a bit and lunged back. Clean leaps. Double pike, deep knees but covers by hopping into her lunge.
AFTER 2: UM 99.1250, UF 98.6250, Cal 98.5500, Minn. 98.5125
Mmmm, the Gophers lost some ground there. Landings were a little steppy. Florida came back, especially bolstered by Clapper’s clutch anchor set and Thomas’ return. Michigan is decidedly in the drivers’ seat, but Cal has it’s best event next.
Rotation 3: UM VT (Scharf), Cal UB (Leonard-Baker), Minn. BB (Bunn), UF FX (Brown)
Heiskell (UM): Y1.5 hop.
Desouza (Cal): Big hop on her dismount, I missed the first half, sorry!
Koch (Minn): Fall on her bhs Loso. Check on leaps. Another bobble on a front aerial to scale. Hop on dismount.
Skaggs (UF): Wolf turn was good. Little low on her opening combo pass. Low on her closing pass too.
Wojcik (UM): Y1.5, step back.
Li (Cal): Good handstand. Huge pak. Clean van Llewuen. Deep squat on dismount but stuck feet.
Montgomery (Minn): Pressure’s on now. Big test for her only event of the day. Clean so far through series and leaps. Arm swing and salute to cover a big step on dismount.
Richards (UF): Good DLO lunge. Bounded into her double tuck lunge. Really nice combo pass, good shapes.
Wilson (UM): Y1.5, big step. These are sloppy today.
Schank (Cal): Blind to pike Jaeger immediate bail, clean. Good handstand. DLO, low, hop back.
Loper (Minn): Great bhs loso. Front toss to beat, clean. Switch to straddle 1/4, short of 180 on the latter. Hop on the dismount.
Lazzari (UF): Clean opening pass. RO 3/2 front lay, stag, nice. I missed her leaps. Clean double tuck landing.
Morrison (UM): Y1.5, hop forward.
Bordas (Cal): Blind to Jaeger, huge! bail good. Blind 1/1 double tuck stuck.
Sales (Minn): Bhs bhs loso, no problems. Switch to switch side, big leg up plus arm swing check. Hop on dismount.
Thomas (UF): DLO, bounced up a good bit on the landing. Clean leaps. FHS front 1/1 front lay, no issues there.
Brooks (UM): Y1.5, hop and a step.
Kuc (Cal): Maloney to pak, good. FTDB true stick.
Korlin-Downs (Minn): Bhs loso, solid. Beat to split to double stag, no problems. She has such great lines. Side aerial 1/1 stuck. Wow. She has gone 10 before…
Baumann (UF): Huge double tuck, great landing. Little too bouncy on her combo pass landing, but she covered it well. Gorgeous extension on leaps. Double pike, another great landing.
Guggino (UM): Y1.5, step forward.
Watterson (Cal): Pak, caught close and I think bend her arms. Can’t get the rhythm back and she falls. Van Leeuwen, good Hop on dismount.
Ramler (Minn): Clean bhs loso. Front aerial to beat was good, if she was going to have an issue that would’ve been it. Beat to ring jump, little check. Hop on the dismount.
Reed (UF): DLO, bouncy landing. Much cleaner combo pass landing. Switch half wolf 1/1 good. Double pike, adjusted her front foot.
Scharf (ASU): FTY, hop.
Leonard-Baker (ASU): Maloney to bail hand was clean. Good pike toe shoot. FTDB hop.
Bunn (UK): Bhs loso loso, medium check. RO 2/1 arm swing but held her feet.
Brown (DU): DLO HUGE holds the stick, just a little low chest there. Switch 1/2 wolf 1/1, dropped her chest a little in the wolf. Clean combo pass, maybe a little low on her last front lay. Double pike, slid her front foot a bit. What a fun routine to close the rotation on!
AFTER 3: UM 148.4750, UF 148.2125, Cal 147.9250, Minn. 147.7250
The Gophers really gave away ground there. Florida was good but not extraordinary on floor with some bouncy landings, but was tidy enough to avoid a Cal comeback. The Bears will be upset not to have gotten the stratospheric score on bars they’re capable of. Michigan also lost a little ground to Florida, but remains comfortably in first.
It has come to my attention that there is Floor Score Discourse on Twitter. Scores are high on floor. They’ve been high for everyone. Shrug.
Rotation 4: UF VT (Brown), UM UB (Scharf), Cal BB (Schaffer), Minn. FX (Miner Alder)
HERE WE GO FRIENDS.
Baumann (UF): FTY, I missed her landing.
Clausi (Cal): Check on front toss to beat. Switch side, great. Cat to Side aerial tuck 1/1, little hop.
Heiskell (UM): Blind to Jaeger clean. Good handstand. Pak, archy. Hop on dismount.
Koch (Minn): Little form breaks on her opening combo pass. Back 1/1 side pass was clean. Good last landing.
Lazzari (UF): FTY, hop back.
Desouza (Cal): Clean front aerial. Bhs loso, good. No problems on beat to sheep.
Bauman (UM): Hop change to Jaeger immediate bail, maybe a touch of soft knees on the Jaeger. Small hop on double front.
Nylin (Minn): Double pike, little low but good landing. Almost OOB on combo, I think she stayed in? Rotation issues on jumps. I missed her last pass.
Skaggs (UF): FTY, stuck.
Li (Cal): Front aerial to beat, good, just really flat footed. Bhs loso clean. Small check on jumps. Hop on landing.
Wilson (UM): Blind to pike Jaeger, some knee softness on catch. Good bail hand. DLO stuck.
LeNeave (Minn): Double pike, good lunge. Clean leaps. Good closing pass.
Schoenherr (UF): Y1.5, almost sat it, big step back.
George (Cal): Frone aerial back tuck, really imprecise position in the tuck, just sloppy; they could take for the shaping. Beat to stag, completely solid. Gainer 1/1 stuck? Maybe moved one foot a smidge.
Koulos (UM): Blind to Jaeger good catching posiiton. Bail hand, arched a bit. DLO stuck I think scott Sherman was in the way.
Ramler (Minn): Double pike, bouncy lunge. Clean leaps. Low chest and step forward on combo pass, not huge but deductible. Great final landing.
Reed (UF): Y1.5, hop forward.
Bordas (Cal): Bhs loso, small check. Stuck dismount.
Brooks (UM): GREAT first handstand. Blind to pike Jaeger, clean. Toe hand to bail hand, touch short on the bail. FTDL true stick, just brought her heels together. Very strong.
Hooten (Minn): Full-in, HUGE good landing, moved front foot a tiny bit. Good combo pass. Double tuck, went for a stick but did move one foot.
Thomas (UF): Y1.5, step forward. She’s back folks.
Watterson (Cal): Wolf turn 2/1, clean. Bhs loso, good. Steady leaps. Hop on dismount.
Wojcik (UM): Toe hand to Deltchev, took it too big, falls. Bail hand. DLO, step.
With Watterson’s score in Florida knows it will advance, lots of screaming. Michigan holding off on celebrating. Oooop, okay there we go, they figured it out.
Loper (Minn): Front lay rudi, lunged forward a litle messily. Clean leaps. 5/2, great landing on that one. RO 3/2 front lay, little leaned forward on landing but held in bounds.
Brown (DU): Sat her Y1.5.
Scharf (ASU): Maloney to pak, leg sep on both. Clean dismount.
Schaffer (Miz): We’re missing this to watch Cal watch her. Booo. I can hear the beam.
Miner Alder (BYU): DLO, controlled the lunge. Tour jete 1/2 split 1/1, nice. RO 3/2 front lay, very good control. Double pike, ahhh went too hard! Knees buckled under her and I think they touched the ground.
FINAL: UM 197.8625, UF 197.4375, Cal 197.3625, Minn
Michigan and Florida advance! That was probably closer than the Gators would’ve liked, but they managed to hold off Cal at the end and get another shot at fixing some funky issues tomorrow. Bouncy landings and continued issues for Payton Richards are the pain points. Michigan will want to tidy up vault and bars landings before the final.
What stellar seasons for Minnesota and California. Really a pleasure to watch all year.
Semifinal one event winners:
VT: Ona Loper, 9.9625
UB: Maya Bordas 9.9500
BB: Sierra Brooks 9.9500
FX: Sierra Brooks, Mya Hooten 9.9500
AA: Sierra Brooks 39.6500
Remember to stay tuned after semifinal two when we’ll determine individual national champions on each event and in the all around, as well as All-Americans.
Live blog by Emily Minehart
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