February 23 Power Rankings

RQS started this week! But that still doesn’t mean we agree with the rankings. RQS typically rewards those with a handful of high scores and not those who are consistent throughout. So this week Casey and Elizabeth ranked our top 15 teams based on the 1996 Olympic Team. As always, Let us know who you have in your top 15 and what Magnificent 7 member (or almost member) you think they take after in the comments or on Twitter. And if you’re a traditionalist, you can check out the official rankings on Road to Nationals.

Oklahoma – Amy Chow
Amy Chow was always all about the execution. She was beautiful and artistic and people loved watching her perform her routines. Oklahoma is clean and precise just like Chow. Everyone loves watching the Sooners do gymnastics, especially on beam and floor. Chow has gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals to her name. And Oklahoma has a little bit of everything as well. They’ve won nationals, finished second and last year came in third. However, it’s never enough, and the Sooners are looking to add another piece of hardware to the collection in April.
Florida – Shannon Miller
Shannon Miller was a household name (and still probably is). She was the big star of her era and had big gymnastics to back it up. Florida has been on top of the gymnastics world for the past three years. It also has the piked double Arabians, Yurchenko one and a halves and double back beam dismounts to make fans want to pull up the live stream and watch. However, like Miller had broken wrists, the Gators are not the best in the choreography department. They could take a tip or two from Oklahoma. But even without that grace, they’re doing pretty well for themselves, thank you very much.
Alabama – Dominique Dawes
Dominique Dawes always seemed to be around, coming back and making yet another Olympic team. She was powerful and never someone you wanted to doubt. Alabama never seems like the true contender to start out but sneaks up and BAM wins SECs or makes Super Six yet again. The team as a whole is powerful and is always a threat for that title.
LSU – Kerri Strug
LSU seems to be the team of broken girls. Lexie Priessman can never catch a break and is on crutches yet again (is she never not hobbling around??). Sarah Finnegan is finally healthy but is fragile. Even Jessica Savona was out for a while on her best event with ankle issues. But despite these vulnerable gymnasts, the Tigers are still there and contending. One goes down and two more strong competitors take over. They may be broken, but they’re always fighting.
Utah – Amanda Borden
Can you honestly say you expected Utah to finish second in the nation last year? And even this year, a lot of people counted the Utes out after the team lost a star-filled senior class that included the likes of Georgia Dabritz, Tory Wilson and Corrie Lothrop. However, it is still hanging in there, sitting right around that No. 1 regional seed position. Amanda Borden was a phenomenal gymnast but often overshadowed by the bigger names like Shannon Miller and Kerri Strug. Yet she was a star in her own right and just as much a part of the gold-medal winning team as the other six.
Michigan – Jaycie Phelps
If you ask someone on the street or even a casual gym fan to name the Magnificent Seven, Jaycie Phelps would probably be the last on the list or maybe even forgotten by the majority of people. Michigan is often overlooked as well. The Wolverines have quiet success, hitting consistent and confident routines that people only start to notice come post season when the team makes noise.
UCLA – Dominique Moceanu
Dominique Moceanu was everyone’s favorite. How could you not love that little ball of energy and personality? That’s exactly how you can describe UCLA, too: personality. Each floor routine oozes it and everything is choreographed, from the fingertips to the student section. There was a reason a routine from UCLA went viral and not something potentially more deserving like an Oklahoma masterpiece or Nina McGee in all her glory. While Monceau wasn’t the best, she still was a favorite among gym nerds and four-year fans alike.
Auburn and Arkansas – Theresa Kulikowski
Auburn and Arkansas are perfectly good teams. But they’re second tier. Both are fighting for that final spot in the night session of SECs, but both aren’t considered the best in the conference. Yeah, they’ve had their time in the spotlight, but they haven’t been good enough to stay there and get the real fame. Theresa Kulikowski was relegated to alternate status. She was good enough to make it that far but not good enough for the big time.
Georgia and Stanford – Bela Karolyi
Bela Karolyi was fantastic in his prime. No one has arguably achieved the success he has as a coach in the sport. But now he’s a bit past his prime. Georgia, and to a lesser extent Stanford, are current-era Bela. Georgia had its time in the Suzanne Yoculan years, sitting at the top of the NCAA gymnastics world for years and years. But now the Gymdogs are struggling to find the same success. Stanford was one floor rotation away from a national title last year (I know, right?) but is struggling this year to find that same success (so far — because we all know what Stanford is like during the regular season).
Boise State and Denver – Kristen Maloney
Denver and Boise State each have a star in Nina McGee and Krystine Jacobsen but haven’t had that big moment as a team yet. Right now, the Pioneers and Broncos are 1996 Maloney. Overshadowed by the Mag Seven and not yet good enough for the Olympics, she persevered until she finally made it. Denver and Boise State are on the brink of greatness but not there yet. But wait a few years for 1998-2000 Maloney to roll around and we’ve got ourselves some excitement.
California and Missouri – Mohini Bhardwaj
Mohini Bhardwaj accomplished a rare feat. It took her until after she competed college to reach her prime, breaking the age stereotype with a sledgehammer. California and Missouri are pre-UCLA Mohini, but in a couple years, will be ready for the big time and good enough to challenge for not only a spot at nationals but maybe even a conference title or Super Six finish.

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