It’s fun to watch rankings change every week, but they only tell us so much about the status of a team. Which teams are on the rise and which are barely hanging on? Which ones have a competitive ranking by the grace of their RQS drop scores and which will pose a real threat in postseason? I’ll dig into the real dynamics of NCAA gymnastics in this biweekly column that’s part power ranking, part high school yearbook awards, all serious analysis.
Just kidding, almost zero serious analysis.
I finally feel like we’re starting to understand the landscape of this season—and yeah, I know RQS is going to ruin it, but for now we have enough to work with. I’m still waiting for a team outside the top three nationally to assert itself well enough and consistently enough to feel like a valid finalist. I’m a little worried the fight for that fourth spot will be so tough that whichever team qualifies will flake out in the final, but that wouldn’t be news—it’s not like surprise qualifiers to Super Six have traditionally had strong meets there.
Fascinating storylines are taking shape in the lower ranks too. There are four legitimate contenders for the Big Ten title for the first time I can remember. UIC’s domination of USAG continues, but it finally has a challenger as Lindenwood surges, setting up a compelling faceoff between the most recently added and the most recently cut teams in NCAA gymnastics. The Ivy League is climbing wholesale up the rankings, and the NCGA standings have been laugh-out-loud bizarre all year. There’s a lot going on. Here are some of the best moments of the last two weeks.
This category was designed for a team, but I’m going to break my own rules and award it to a skill this week. Taylor Lawson becoming one of Stanford’s core beamers this year has been a surprise, but the fact that she kept her standing Arabian in her routine and is nailing it week after week is nothing short of jaw dropping.
Great Except for That One Event
Stanford cracked 49 for the first time in 2019 in Tempe last weekend, excelling on the event that’s usually its worst, only to turn around and count a fall on vault. I’m sorry, what?
Minnesota has now scored three high 196s in a row and its already strong ranking should improve once RQS kicks in. I don’t want to look too hard at the Gophers in case they get skittish, but at this point they look like a conference championship contender.
Just When you Thought They’d Done It
Oh, Nebraska. You do this every year, and it’s still shocking. The Huskers put everything together versus Illinois two weeks ago and then took two consecutive conference losses after counting errors. If it doesn’t shape up, it could be in for a third one this week—Ohio State is no pushover.
On the Struggle Bus
At the beginning of the season Illinois looked like a team that could threaten for 197s, which makes its actual results all the more frustrating. It’s not even the top-ranked team in Illinois as of this week, coming in eight spots behind UIC; it’s one more iffy meet away from dropping behind Northern Illinois too. The Illini have a fantastic complement of routines even without Rae Balthazor, but they have to find a way to hit them.
Was That Just a Fluke
Rutgers apparently gets 196s now.
Well That’s Different
California’s Sylvie Seilnacht was subbed into the Bears’ floor lineup at the last minute versus Utah. All her skills went perfectly, but one foot went out of bounds on her back shoulder roll choreography, costing her a tenth. (If anyone has video of this, I NEED it.)
Was That Just a Fluke, Part II
Air Force traveled to Wisconsin two weeks ago and scored a 188, three and a half points lower than its previous season low, and then returned home and put up a high 194 with no drama. Some of the difference was due to tighter scoring at a Division III school, but the Falcons had plenty of nightmare routines that scored lower than their DIII opponents too.
Next Week, I Swear
Not a single SEC gymnast has received a 10.0 this year, and it’s frankly getting quite rude. Let 👏 Trinity 👏 live 👏.
(Seriously, it has to end soon, right?)
You’re Beautiful but Please Hit
Washington having wobbly beam rotations is a thing that happens now, and I’m not into it.
Glad You’re Having Fun
Please Never Leave
I’m not the only one who cries after every Emma McLean or Olivia Karas routine, right?
Fall of the Week
Honorable mention to Evanni Roberson of Washington, whose bar routine was going on when the 10.000 was posted for Kyla Ross’ vault. Roberson caught her overshoot wrong and went straight into a back hip circle to save it.
Next time I see you, we’ll have some shiny new RQS rankings and a half dozen season-ending injuries to discuss. In the meantime, try not to worry about your faves’ national qualifying scenarios (remember, it’s all fake at this point), but do definitely worry about their beam rotations and that one trash road score.
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Article by Rebecca Scally
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