2019 Athens Regional Preview

It’s finally that time of the year! We know where each of the top 36 teams in the country will travel to compete for a chance at advancing to nationals. In the days leading up to the championships, we’ll preview and analyze each of the four regionals, discussing which teams have a chance of moving on each day and which individuals could qualify as well.

First up is the Athens regional. Thursday will feature No. 31 N.C. State and No. 34 New Hampshire in round one. Friday we jump into round two action with No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Kentucky, No. 19 Missouri and No. 22 Iowa State competing in the afternoon session and No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 15 California, No. 28 Maryland and the winner of round one in the evening session. Two teams from each of these Friday competitions will advance to round three on Saturday where the top two from that meet make it to nationals.

There’s also individuals that will compete on Friday in both of the round two meets. Simply put, the top all arounder and event specialists qualify. To determine those gymnasts, combine Friday’s individual event and all around results, wait until Saturday’s meet concludes, take out all the gymnasts from the two qualifying teams and take the top individual on each event and in the all around.

Easy enough, right?

For a more in-depth explanation, including how the tie-breaking procedure works, how the whole format is structured and even how judges are selected, check out our NCAA postseason format explainer.

Finally, don’t forget to enter your postseason predictions in the 2019 bracket challenge! The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. ET. Once you enter, you can follow your progress here.

Round One

Date: Thursday, April 4 at 3 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN3

Teams: No. 31 N.C. State vs. No. 34 New Hampshire

Team NQS Average High Score Starting Event
No. 31 N.C. State 195.715 195.337 196.400 Vault
No. 34 New Hampshire 195.680 195.165 196.175 Bars


These teams have been No. 1 and No. 2 in the EAGL for the majority of the season. New Hampshire started off slow but steadily climbed in the rankings as the season progressed. The Wildcats are coming off their third EAGL championship win in program history and are led by a strong senior class, including all arounder Danielle Mulligan. N.C. State has held the No. 1 spot in the EAGL for the majority of the season, but was not able to defend its conference title, falling to New Hampshire last week. This meet will be a rematch for the two teams and the third time they’ve met this season.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Looking strictly at the rankings, N.C. State appears to have the edge, but things aren’t that simple. The teams have faced each other twice this season, with New Hampshire coming out on top both times. New Hampshire will be hoping to use its stronger vault and beam lineups to capitalize on any mistakes that N.C. State might have. It would not be surprising to see this one come down to a tenth or two—or even less.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

New Hampshire senior all arounder Danielle Mulligan has lovely work on bars, where she holds the school record of 9.950, and has a unique routine on floor, featuring a triple turn connected to a double turn. Teammate Lauren Diggan has a unique hop full to Gienger combination on bars. N.C. State junior Drew Grantham has a big, stickable Yurchenko full that she’s scored 9.900 on four times this season, as well as some big tumbling on floor. Senior Alexa Phillips brings the difficulty on floor with a double Arabian, and Nicole Webb, who transferred from Florida after the fall semester in 2018, is lovely to watch on beam and floor.

Round Two

Session One

Date: Friday, April 5 at 2 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN3 & SECN+

Teams: No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Kentucky, No.19 Missouri and No. 22 Iowa State

Team NQS Average High Score Starting Event
No. 8 Georgia 197.315 196.838 197.525 Vault
No. 9 Kentucky 197.085 196.460 197.525 Beam
No.19 Missouri 196.385 195.969 196.800 Floor
No. 22 Iowa State 196.080 195.483 196.700 Bars


Georgia and Kentucky have a chance here to prove that any tough meets from the season were flukes compared to the levels of greatness they also achieved. Because while they’ve both achieved program-defining (or for Georgia, program-redeeming) scores in 2019, they’ve also had some rough showings (particularly Kentucky, just last week at SECs) that are keeping them in the question mark category. Missouri and Iowa State didn’t see quite their levels of success this season, with both struggling with injuries. But the fact that both are top-25 ranked teams should still show you the quality of gymnastics they can bring, particularly Iowa State on vault and Missouri on floor.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Georgia and Kentucky will expect to advance, but it’s worth noting that each has scored lower than Missouri’s and Iowa State’s NQS by at least a point in 2019. Kentucky’s performance at SECs shouldn’t be disqualifying per se, but a day like that Friday might not be enough to send it to round three. Missouri has arguably the best chance to upset out of any of the unseeded teams; it hasn’t hit 197, but the flashes of brilliance the team has shown could easily put it on the level of Georgia and Kentucky on the right day.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

Georgia’s home crowd should be a big advantage for the Gymdogs, which should carry over into their floor rotation and make it even more exciting than usual. Expect especially fun routines from Sabrina Vega and Sydney Snead, the latter of whom will be performing in Stegeman Coliseum for the last time. In terms of high scoring potential, Kentucky’s Katie Stuart went 9.975 on vault a few weeks ago; she, along with Mollie Korth and Sidney Dukes make Kentucky’s vault lineup one you won’t want to miss. Plus, we would be fools to end this section without talking about Alex Hyland’s Fresh Prince floor routine. Missouri also has an impressive vault lineup, but look for fun and exciting floor routines from Gabrielle Gottula and Morgan Porter. Iowa State senior Meaghan Sievers has solid routines on all four events, having established herself as one of the top all arounders in program history and has qualified to nationals on vault in two of her three attempts.

All Around Vault Bars Beam Floor
Alexa Phillips, NC State (w/ Georgia) Morgan Spence, Western Michigan (w/ Iowa State) Khazia Hislop, North Carolina (w/ Iowa State) Belle Huang, Rutgers (w/ Kentucky)
Nicole O’Leary, New Hampshire (w/ Georgia) Monica Servidio, Temple (w/ Missouri) Alexa Phillips, NC State (w/ Georgia)
Drew Grantham, NC State (w/ Missouri) Khazia Hislop, North Carolina (w/ Iowa State)
Ariana Castrence, Temple (w/ Kentucky)
Khazia Hislop, North Carolina (w/ Iowa State)

*Note: Individuals from both round one teams are included in the individual draw to account for one team being eliminated after Thursday’s competition. The spots from the individuals on the advancing team will not be filled.

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

Khazia Hislop has qualified on three events, but floor is where she really shines and has the best chance to move forward. She and Belle Huang of Rutgers are individuals you won’t want to miss on the event as they look to make a nationals run as well. Temple’s Monica Servidio has scored 9.900 on beam several times, and her big triple series could be enough to send her forward if done well.

Session Two

Date: Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN3 & SECN+

Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 15 Cal, No. 28 Maryland and the Winner of Round One

Team NQS Average High Score Starting Event
No. 1 Oklahoma 198.115 197.808 198.325 Vault
No. 15 Cal 196.625 196.308 197.575 Beam
No. 28 Maryland 195.840 195.225 196.525 Floor
No. 31 N.C. State OR No. 34 New Hampshire Bars


Oklahoma has been the No. 1-ranked team all year and is the only team to have consistently and successfully fielded a full lineup of 10.0 start value vaults. However, the team does have some areas of vulnerability. For starters, reigning national all around champion Maggie Nichols has been limited to bars and beam for most of the season. Also, beam has not been as solid of an event this year as we have come to expect from the Sooners with the same going for their floor lineup as well. Cal has had an up-and-down season. It lost its senior leader Toni-Ann Williams to an Achilles injury halfway through the season and has had some consistency struggles on bars. However, the Golden Bears have also broken their beam and team total score records this year and have some exciting underclassmen who have stepped up in a big way in the wake of Williams’ injury. Maryland has been a team on the rise. It has some exciting underclassmen who have been huge contributors for the team this year. While beam has been a struggle at times, its bars and floor lineups will be ones to watch.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Barring disaster, Oklahoma and Cal should advance from this session fairly comfortably. However, the other contenders have reached 196 this year more than once, so if there is a disaster from one the top two teams, things could get interesting. Oklahoma’s season low is nearly a half point higher than Maryland’s season high, so it would take a complete meltdown to not advance. However, if Cal has another bars-tastrophe, things could get interesting if one of the unseeded teams is having a great day.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

It goes without saying that you do not want to miss Maggie Nichols on bars and beam, where she’s ranked No. 2 and No. 1, respectively. In addition, freshman phenom Olivia Trautman has already notched a perfect 10 on floor. For Cal, the Pac-12 freshman of the year Milan Clausi has lovely routines on beam and floor in addition to a huge Yurchenko one and a half on vault while teammate Emi Watterson is ranked in the top 20 in the country on bars. Both should be contenders to advance to nationals if Cal doesn’t qualify a team. Maryland sophomore all arounder Audrey Barber has a huge full-in on floor and has beautiful routines on bars and beam and is another one to watch in the individual qualification race. Teammate Collea Burgess opens with a lovely triple full on floor that you won’t want to miss.

All Around Vault Bars Beam Floor
Rachael Underwood, Western Michigan (w/ Maryland) Mikayla Robinson, North Carolina (w/ Cal) Jessica Wang, Yale (w/ Oklahoma) Brittany West, Pittsburgh (w/ Cal) India Anderson, Temple (w/ Oklahoma)
Danielle Mulligan, New Hampshire (w/ N.C. State) Mei Li Costa, Brown (w/ Cal)

*Note: Individuals from both round one teams are included in the individual draw to account for one team being eliminated after Thursday’s competition. The spots from the individuals on the advancing team will not be filled.

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

Danielle Mulligan is a contender to advance to nationals either on bars or in the all around. Jessica Wang has put up a 9.925 on bars this year and could certainly contend with a repeat performance, as could Mei Li Costa, who has scored 9.900 this year. With so many great floor workers at this meet, it will be a tough event to qualify on, but India Anderson has reached 9.900 a couple of times and shouldn’t be left out of the conversation.

Round Three

Date: Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. ET

How to Watch: SECN+

Teams: top two teams from each Friday session

Starting Event Team
Vault Session 2, Team 2
Bars Session 1, Team 2
Beam Session 2, Team 1
Floor Session 1, Team 1

The Bottom Line

If it all goes to plan, Oklahoma, California, Georgia and Kentucky should battle it out for the two nationals spots Saturday night. Remember, all four went to nationals last year and only two can qualify this year. This regional, along with Ann Arbor, is going to be one of the cruelest in terms of who loses out under the new system. Either way, it will be two that are more than capable of contending on a big stage.  

READ THIS NEXT: The New Postseason Format, Explained

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Article by Katherine Weaver and Mary Emma Burton

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