Athens Regional Analysis

Starting with Athens, we’ll be previewing and analyzing all six regionals leading up to Super Saturday on April 2. Learn more information about the matchups, who has the best chances of advancing and if your picks in the 2016 NCAA gymnastics bracket challenge were smart.

High Score
Starting Event
No. 3
Bye before Bars
No. 9
Georgia (host)
No. T-13
Oregon State
No. 22
Bye before Floor
No. 27
George Washington
No. 36
Michigan State
Individual Competitors

  • Brittni Watkins (NCSU)- AA
  • Morgan Lane (UNC)- AA
  • Tyra McKellar (Towson)- AA
  • Brittany Stover (W&M)- AA
  • Chelsea Knight (NCSU)- VT, AA Alternate
  • Kathy Tang (UMD)- VT, FX, UB Alternate
  • Abbie Epperson (UMD)- UB​
  • Kaitlynn Hedelund (UNC)- UB
  • Mary Elle Arduino (Towson)- BB
  • Nicole Wild (NCSU)- BB
  • Macey Roberts (UMD)- FX
  • Dominiquea Trotter (UMD)- VT Alternate
  • Evelyn Nee (UMD)- BB Alternate
  • Emily Braukmuler (UMD)- FX Alternate


This regional will be all about beam. The top two seeds have had struggles on the event in 2016 while those fighting for the upset have been pretty consistent. LSU has had less trouble than the others. It was really only during the beginning of the season but the Tigers have hit above 49 the past seven meets in a row. The real question mark is Georgia on the event. The Gymdogs have stayed on for at least five routines the past four meets, but are still a team you want to shut your eyes during the beam rotation for and pray for it to end quick and easy.

The outcome of the meet will have two outcomes. If Georgia hits beam, it and LSU will advance to nationals. If Georgia has trouble on beam, things will get really interesting, really fast. Oregon State is a beam team. Both Maddie Gardiner and Risa Perez earned 9.95s on the event lat weekend at the Pac-12 Championships and Kaytianna McMillan is capable of big numbers as well. The Beavers need to capitalize on this event if they want any chance at upsetting Georgia or LSU and qualifying to nationals again. Arizona and George Washington are also not half-bad beam teams or upset contenders either. However, it will take more than a mistake here or there to make the trip to Fort Worth.

And while it doesn’t matter who finishes first or second, don’t forget Georgia already beat LSU at home once this season. it was early on, and both teams are much better than they were then, but it’s still something to keep in mind. Georgia’s also at home. And a Gymdog squad competing in front of its home crowd in Athens is deadly.

Starting on beam, we’ll get a good idea where Georgia will stand going through the remaining five rotations. If Georgia hits, it’s almost smooth sailing from then. But if it falters, fans will have to pay more attention to that race for the second qualifying spot. Not to mention it’ll make the meet that much more exciting to watch.

But it’s not just teams that qualify to nationals out of this competition. Two individual all around spots to gymnasts not on a qualifying team advance as well as any individuals not on a qualifying team that finish first on an event. If Oregon State is the odd-team out, Maddie Gardiner will almost certainly qualify in the all around. Arizona doesn’t have any consistent four-event gymnasts, so other contenders include EAGL all-around champion and Gymnast of the Year Jillian Winstanley and 2015 nationals qualifier Cami Drouin-Allaire from George Washington and Lisa Burt from Michigan State. All four gymnasts have a great chance of making it to Fort Worth.

If Gardiner doesn’t qualify as an all arounder, she could make it as an event specialist on beam. McMillan is also great at bars and beam and Winstanley and Drouin-Allaire as well as Chelsea Raineri are rocks on vault. But typically, for event specialists, it comes down on who is on that day and most of the time no individuals on a non-qualifying team make it to nationals as those that send teams have individuals winning the various events. There’s also Morgan Lane who’s gorgeous on beam and even scored a 9.95 on the event at Florida earlier this season. If she hits her usual, she could make the trip to Fort Worth.

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