The Dismount: Week 2

With nearly all teams in action for the second week of the 2020 season, we had a lot of exciting moments. While some under-the-radar teams impressed, some big names faltered. Below you’ll not only find fast facts from every DI meet this weekend (for more on USAG and NCGA teams, check out their respective Dismounts), but a few superlatives for some of our favorite moments as well.

Routine of the Week

Mia Takekawa, Illinois, beam

Another week, another surprise beam 10.0 from a team you wouldn’t expect! We knew Takekawa would be special for Illinois when she scored a 9.950 at a tightly scored intersquad during preseason, but the freshman scored the first perfect mark on beam in Illinois program history—and its first 10.0 on any event since Amber See on vault in 2014. 

Stick of the Week

Taylor Houchin, Nebraska, vault

Once again, Houchin puts up one of the best Yurchenko one and a halfs we’ll see in the NCAA, and once again she goes 9.975 because one judge just won’t go there.

Most Exciting Debut

Maddie Quarles, Minnesota, vault

Minnesota redshirt freshman (and Denver transfer) Maddie Quarles made her collegiate debut with a stunning, nearly stuck Yurchenko 1.5. We don’t know who was happier: her or her teammates.

The Highlights

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 14 Arizona State
Full Results Oklahoma: 197.675 Arizona State: 194.600
VT: Nichols 9.950 UB: Smith 9.925 BB: Nichols 9.975 FX: Nichols 9.925 AA: Nichols 39.750

The Big Storyline: The Sooners cruised to victory over Arizona State while posting the nation’s top score thus far behind Maggie Nichols’ NCAA-high 39.750 in the all around. The only non-Nichols winner of the night was Oklahoma’s Ragan Smith, who continued her strong freshman season by taking the bars title. Arizona State’s freshmen-heavy lineup faltered on beam and had to count a sub-9.0 score, but was otherwise consistent throughout despite star all arounder Cairo Leonard-Baker only competing bars.

Implications: Oklahoma will easily remain No. 1 as it has posted the top two scores in the NCAA this season. The Sooners, however, take a hit in losing Olivia Trautman indefinitely to a broken heel.

Records: Arizona State senior Jessica Ginn broke her career high on floor for the second week in a row, posting a 9.900 on a crowd-energizing ’90s hip-hop mashup routine.

Minnesota at No. 2 Denver
Full Results Denver: 196.750 Minnesota: 196.475
VT: Karr, Ramler, Quarles 9.900 UB: Karr 9.950 BB: Vasquez 9.975 FX: L Brown 9.925 AA: Karr 39.625

The Big Storyline: Denver built on its performance at the Collegiate Challenge while Minnesota opened its season with a good score. Maddie Quarles returned to Denver after transferring to Minnesota, tying for the win on vault with a 9.900. There’s a lot of room for both teams to improve on floor while bars and beam were the standouts for both teams.

Implications: This is a good way for Minnesota to start its season, and it will certainly be a good way to start the season. Minnesota moves into sixth in the nation and first overall in the Big 10. Denver’s ranking remains unchanged.

Controversies: There was some discourse surrounding the lights and bars pre-meet from Denver’s associate head coach Linas Gaveika. Also, multiple coaches took issue with scoring at times. 

Boise State at No. 3 UCLA
Full Results UCLA: 196.800 Boise State: 195.475
VT: Poston 9.900 UB: Ross 10.000 BB: Glenn 9.975 FX: Ross 9.975 AA: Ross 39.725

The Big Storyline: Boise State led after one rotation and outscored the Bruins on beam, but the starpower of UCLA was too much for the Broncos to overcome in a season opening road loss. UCLA opened strong on vault and bars—where Kyla Ross earned her 20th career perfect 10—before counting two 9.3s on beam after Grace Glenn lead off with a 9.975. The Bruins turned it around quickly to finish with a nation-leading 49.725 on floor to end the meet. Boise State was led by Emily Muhlenhaupt’s second place finish on beam and third place finish on bars, but the Broncos lost senior leader Courtney McGregor in the second rotation after a scary vault and the team proceeded to fall flat on the proceeding floor rotation.

Implications: McGregor was unable to walk immediately following her vault and was spotted in a boot and on crutches later in the meet. A long-term or season ending injury would be hard to overcome for Boise State, especially as McGregor was one of only five bar routines performed tonight for the Broncos.

Records: Despite her numerous perfect 10s, this was Ross’ first on bars in Pauley Pavillion.

Best of Utah with No. 4 Utah, BYU, Southern Utah and Utah State
Full Results Utah: 197.000 BYU: 195.575 Southern Utah: 194.650 Utah State: 194.150
VT: S. Miner 9.900 UB: Tessen 9.950 BB: Paulson 9.900 FX: Tessen 9.900 AA: A. Miner 39.250

The Big Storyline: Utah continued to erase any preseason doubt with its week two performance, becoming only the third team this season to hit 197 despite a lot of lineup turnover from last season. Kim Tessen once again led the way for Utah, taking the bars and floor titles while also placing third on vault. The Miner sisters paced second place BYU, with Sadie winning vault and Abbey winning the all around as the Cougars opened their season with two scores of 195.500 or higher for the first time ever. Heading into the final rotation, Southern Utah and Utah State were tied for second place, but unfortunately two falls on bars for the Aggies dropped them to fourth and an error-laden beam rotation caused the Thunderbirds to finish third in their second meet of the weekend.

Implications: After competing without her in week one, Shannon Evans returned for BYU on vault and beam. Getting her back into the all around will be pivotal for the Cougars this season.

Records: Tessen notched a new career high on bars after tying her previous high score in week one. 

Controversies: The attendance at this meet was lackluster compared to what it should have been given how good these teams are expected to be this season and its proximity to a venue that frequently sells out with 15,000.

NorCal Classic with No. 5 California, No. 9 Stanford, No. 22 Sacramento State and San Jose State at No. 21 UC Davis
Full Results California: 194.950 Stanford: 194.700 San Jose State: 193.850 UC Davis: 193.550 Sacramento State: 189.675
VT: Clausi 9.950 UB: Watterson 9.875 BB: George 9.875 FX: George, Hebert 9.825 AA: George 39.425

The Big Storyline: It was a close meet between California and Stanford, but it was the Golden Bears who prevailed even after starting the meet with a rough floor rotation that didn’t go above 48. California also swept the event titles, led by Kyana George’s wins on beam and in the all around, her second strong all around performance in a row. Chloe Widner led the way for Stanford in only her second collegiate performance, and UC Davis boasted the only non-Cal winner of the night in Kelley Hebert, who tied for the floor title.

Implications: Only UC Davis was able to improve on its opening week score at this meet. California, Stanford and Sacramento State all scored higher in week one while this was San Jose State’s first meet.

Records: California’s Milan Clausi tied her career high on vault with a 9.950.

Lindenwood and Temple at No. 6 Illinois
Full Results Ill.: 195.525 LU: 192.675 TU: 192.550 4th Team: Score
VT: Castrence 9.800 UB: Takekawa, O’Donnell 9.875 BB: Takekawa 10.0 FX: Simons 9.875 AA: Takekawa 39.350

The Big Storyline: The big moment of this meet was certainly Mia Takekawa’s perfect 10.0 on beam to anchor an Illinois rotation that hilariously included two falls, a 9.675 and two scores in the 9.9s before her. Freshmen won the day for the Illini, putting in the highest team scores on each event. Outside of the 10.0 glow, each team here counted falls. Lindenwood had a semi-disastrous floor rotation that was saved by a stellar performance from freshman Gayla Griswold. The Lions also counted a fall on beam. Temple, which put up only five vaults, likewise struggled on beam and floor. Ariana Castrence was the highlight for the Owls, leading the way for the team in the all around and winning vault with her lovely Yurchenko full—we hope to see her double sometime this year.   

Implications: Lindenwood is the first major USAG player to compete; this score bests its season opener in 2019, and while it isn’t exceptionally high, it bests USAG-rival Texas Woman’s Friday night score by more than two and a half points. Illinois continues its strong start and will be happy with another mid-195 in January. Pressure will be lower later in the season to put up big scores with these two solid first meets filed away. Temple walks away with a good starting point and obvious places for improvement; it will be happy that this score came with big mistakes that are fixable, rather than a hit meet for this total. 

Records: Takekawa’s 10.0 on beam is the first on that event in Illinois program history and only the fourth perfect score on any event. This is the first time the Illini have started the season 4-0 since the 2004 season when they began the year 6-0.

Controversies: There has been the usual hand-wringing about the 10.0. We can find a slight pause in Takekawa’s front-to-back series but otherwise believe it is a legitimate score. While we didn’t think scoring parity would come in this direction (higher scores at lower-ranked teams, rather than a dampening of top teams’ totals), it seems disingenuous to complain about parity any way it happens when fans have railed on scoring discrepancies for so long.

No. 7 LSU at No. 12 Georgia
Full Results LSU: 196.725 Georgia 196.150
VT: Johnson 9.925 UB: Durante 9.850 BB: Campbell 9.975 FX: Hawthorne, Lukacs, and Vega 9.950 AA: Johnson 39.525

The Big Storyline: For the second week in a row, LSU failed to break 49 on bars. This week, it also went sub-49 on floor. Georgia had a rough bars rotation of its own, which kept it from being able to capitalize on LSU’s missteps despite strong scores on the other three events. Both teams’ freshmen turned in clutch performances, hitting 14/15 routines. 

Implications: The SEC is arguably the most competitive conference in NCAA gymnastics, and this year is no exception. With Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Alabama all turning in 196-plus performances this week, LSU and Georgia can’t afford to keep counting falls if they want to stay in the conversation for the night session of the conference championship.

Records: Kiya Johnson earned her first collegiate all around title, Raegan Campbell tied her career high on beam and Rachael Lukacs earned a career high on floor. 

Controversies: The scoring stayed relatively sane through the first two rotations, then went completely off the rails. Alyona Shchennikova struggled through a scary bars routine and ultimately received a 0 after taking too long to remount the bars.

No. 8 Missouri at No. 10 Kentucky
Full Results Kentucky: 196.525 Missouri: 195.500
VT: Korth 9.925 UB: Korth 9.925 BB: Hu 9.950 FX: Korth 9.925 AA: Korth 39.250

The Big Storyline: Once again, it was the Mollie Korth Show for Kentucky, but the rest of the team showed a marked improvement from the season opener. Missouri used only eight gymnasts for its 24 routines but also did fairly well minus Aspen Tucker, who was out sick.

Implications: Kentucky should rise this week after scoring a full point higher than last week, while Missouri should remain around the same even though it scored slightly lower. The Tigers should feel confident in the fact that their total score didn’t take a huge hit from Tucker’s absence, but they will look to get some of those 9.7-range scores out once she returns.

Records: It was Kentucky’s annual Excite Night in the school’s biggest arena, and Kentucky’s attendance of 11,952 was just shy of breaking the school record. It also surpassed any other SEC venue this week. 

No. 11 Western Michigan, Iowa State and Rutgers at No. 13 Arizona
Full Results Arizona: 195.950 Iowa State: 195.750 Rutgers: 194.250 Western Michigan: 191.800
VT: Steinmeyer 9.875 UB: Berg, Brovedani 9.875 BB: Joyner 9.900 FX: Leydin 9.900 AA: Belle Huang 38.900

The Big Storyline: In a meet with only a duo of 9.9s awarded, Arizona used a flurry of 9.8s and three event titles to take first in its opening home quad meet and outpace its first week score by nearly a point. Iowa State took second in its first meet of the season behind Sophia Steinmeyer’s top five finish on beam and vault win. Rutgers notched wins from Hannah Joyner on beam and Belle Huang in the all around en route to its highest opening meet score since 2014. Western Michigan struggled without superstar freshman Payton Murphy, finishing last and recording a score several points lower than its stellar first meet.

Implications: The Broncos will likely be without Murphy for the rest of the season after she fractured her neck in practice late last week.

Records: Iowa State’s score is the second highest opening meet score ever for the Cyclones; only their 196.300 from 2004 ranks higher.

Centenary and Seattle Pacific at No. 15 Oregon State
Full Results Oregon State: 195.325 Seattle Pacific: 189.525 Centenary: 182.625
VT: Yanish 9.850 UB: Briscoe 9.850 BB: Lowery 9.875 FX: Lowery, Yanish 9.925 AA: Austin, Burns 36.775

The Big Storyline: In its first home meet of 2020, Oregon State had no trouble getting past visiting Centenary and Seattle Pacific while posting a score nearly a point higher than last week’s debut. Isis Lowery and Kaitlyn Yanish were both double winners for the Beavers, who only had one fall this meet after suffering several in the opener. Centenary’s Cami Bea Austin and Seattle Pacific’s Darian Burns tied for the all around title in each team’s first meet of the season.

Implications: With its score, Oregon State will likely continue to fall down the rankings after finishing the 2019 season at sixth in the NCAA.

Records: Seattle Pacific senior Lena Wirth tied for third on vault with a career high 9.800.

Alabama at No. 16 Auburn
Full Results Auburn: 196.625 Alabama: 196.025
VT: Watson 9.900 UB: Gobourne 9.925 BB: Sheppard 9.925 FX: Gobourne 9.95 AA: Watson 39.450

The Big Storyline: In the middle of a fairly messy night of SEC gymnastics, this meet just felt great. The scoring was sane. Both teams got to show what they could do. The result was not certain until the last few routines, and the pressure never let up. The gymnastics was, for the most part, really fun to watch, and we got some really exciting freshman debuts. The last rotation featured some injury scares, as Emma Slappey had a painful low landing on floor and chose to tumble only a back layout as her last pass, and Lexi Graber flipped her ankle frighteningly on beam and fought through to finish her routine.

Implications: Alabama enters the live rankings at No. 9. Auburn increased its average by around a point and will be looking forward to NQS time when it can finally drop that nasty first week score.

Controversies: The last rotation was a bit of a flop for both teams, with dramatic mistakes just as we were starting to wonder if Alabama could pass UCLA and Denver in the live rankings. Emily Gaskins did not compete, and we don’t know why.

West Virginia at No. 17 Penn State
Full Results PSU: 195.750 WVU: 195.350
VT: Pierson 9.900 UB: Rushlow 9.925 BB: Pierson 9.900 FX: Cluchey 9.850 AA: Rushlow 39.250

The Big Storyline: Between Penn State’s Cassidy Rushlow and West Virginia’s Abby Pierson, plus the Yancey sisters, freshmen ruled the day in Rec Hall. This was a close one that came down to the final routines. Both teams put up largely clean meets, with some struggles on floor that we expect in January.

Implications: Both teams will be thrilled to have freshmen performing so well. That’s a good sign both for season and for the future of the programs. Penn State is right in the mix in the Big Ten, which is shaping up to be quite a knock-down conference so far, with a cluster of teams all in the mid-195s to start 2020. The question will be which team can break out into the 196s consistently first, and the Nittany Lions are in that hunt. 

Controversies: Let’s not even talk about this stream. We could only watch it for short amounts of time before getting furious at the quality and needing to walk away and collect ourselves.

No. 18 New Hampshire at Pittsburgh
Full Results New Hampshire: 194.225 Pittsburgh: 193.800
VT: Gorgenyi 9.800 UB: Burton 9.850 BB: Burton 9.850 FX: Burton 9.825 AA: Freehling 38.550

The Big Storyline: Judging at this meet was tight, so the final scores do not reflect the quality of the meet, in which neither team counted a fall. Pitt senior transfer Michaela Burton lived up to the hype, winning all three events that she competed. New Hampshire freshman Kylie Gorgenyi continues to impress, winning the vault title with a 9.800.

Implications: After scoring nearly a full point higher than last week, New Hampshire will increase its average and move just ahead of Pitt and N.C. State in conference standings.

Controversies: Scoring was overall very tight for both teams, and a Pittsburgh assistant coach was actually given a yellow card.

Air Force and Ball State at No. 19 Iowa
Full Results Iowa: 195.550 BSU: 192.775 USAFA: 188.650
VT: Schweikert 9.825 UB: Greenwald 9.875 BB: Carswell 9.850 FX: Guerin 9.900 AA: Ostendorf 38.550

The Big Storyline: This was a weird one. A week two pink meet. Big Ten meets MPSF meets MAC. It was slow, the stream was bad and it was an overall strange way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. Iowa was OK on vault and beam and strong on bars and floor to put together a much better performance than last week. We still didn’t see Kaji on floor, which is concerning. Ball State begins its season a pace behind its 2019 opening meet score, but it’ll be happy with a number of its performances, especially on vault where Bri Slonim made her return for a 9.850 after missing last season with injury. This was a forgettable one for the reigning MPSF champs. A solid floor showing couldn’t make up for a truly abysmal beam performance for Air Force where only the leadoff set from Briona Caswell went above a 9.300.

Implications: Air Force’s bumbling performance reminds us that the MPSF title is wide open this year. It falls even behind Division II conference foe Seattle Pacific after this showing, while UC Davis, Sacramento State and Alaska are neck-in-neck in the 191s. Iowa joins the middle of the pack in the Big Ten with this mid-195 and should be pleased. That said, it is a home score. The Hawkeyes will want to replicate it or improve at Maryland next week before it feels comfortable. MAC action is just getting underway this week; Ball State has proven that it has the vaults to contend on that event, but will need to pull the other three up if it wants to be competitive in the conference this year.

Controversies: This meet did not have enough judges. It happens, especially in the midwest in the winter. Ice storms and such. However, in this meet with not enough judges, exhibitions were allowed. This meet could not have moved slower. Help us.

No. 25 Illinois State and Central Michigan at No. 20 Michigan State
Full Results Central Michigan: 195.675 Michigan State: 195.225 Illinois State: 192.850
VT: DeMers 9.850 UB: DeMers 9.900 BB: Douglas 9.950 FX: Pedrick 9.875 AA: Mitchell 39.375

The Big Storyline: Central Michigan walked away from its season opener with a win and a good score to boot. The Chippewas looked really good overall, and despite some mistakes here and there showed that they are going to be hard to beat in the MAC. Freshman Hannah DeMers kicked off her collegiate career with a bang, scoring a 9.900 on the uneven bars and a 9.850 on vault and winning both events. Senior Denelle Pedrick won the floor exercise with a 9.875 for a fantastic routine (seriously, her triple full is BEAUTIFUL). Michigan State junior Lea Mitchell won the all around with a score of 39.375, and senior Gabriella Douglas continued to shine on beam, where she won the event title with a career high 9.950. Also noteworthy: Illinois State freshman Angelica Labat took second on beam with a stunning routine that earned 9.925. 

Implications: All three of these teams compete in different conferences, but what was truly interesting to see was how well some of the individual gymnasts performed on each event. DeMers has already proven just how key of a player she will be for the Chippewas, and the impact Labat will have on the Redbirds cannot be overstated. 

Records: Gabriella Douglas scored a career high 9.950 on beam. 

No. 22 SEMO with UW-Eau Claire at Alaska
Full Results Alaska: 191.125 SEMO: 189.500 UWEC: 177.600
VT: Kaziska 9.675 UB: Nelson 9.800 BB: Kaziska 9.875 FX: Fox 9.825 AA: Kaziska 38.950

The Big Storyline: Alaska rallied from a series of preseason injuries and the absence of senior Mackenzie Miller to produce a strong total, several points above last year’s season opener. Freshman Kenadi Brown had a strong day, producing the second-highest Seawolf score on all three of her events, while senior Louisa-Marie Knapp returned from an injury outage that spanned almost three years.

Implications: Alaska made a strong debut, but with a double-meet weekend it had to wait to see where it would enter the rankings.

Controversies: Almost the entire Alaska floor lineup had music issues and had to restart its routines. Apparently, the staff member playing the music kept accidentally starting the routines from several seconds in, not from the beginning.

No. 22 SEMO at Alaska
Full Results SEMO: 191.225 Alaska: 190.825
VT: Solorzano-Caruso 9.800 UB: Hyderally 9.825 BB: Hyderally, Solorzano-Caruso 9.900 FX: Brown 9.825 AA: Solorzano-Caruso 39.175

The Big Storyline: Alaska dropped a little from Friday after errors on beam and floor, but improved by around half a point on bars. Freshman Brown made her all around debut with a strong 38.725 and registered her first individual title in college. Kennedy Green competed floor, allowing the Seawolves to field a full lineup of six versus just five on Friday.

Implications: Alaska enters the live rankings at No. 55 and is third out of six in the MPSF.

Arkansas at Florida
Full Results Florida: 197.350 Arkansas: 194.400
VT: Reed 9.875 UB: Thomas 9.925 BB: Thomas 9.975 FX: Thomas 9.975 AA: Thomas 39.700

The Big Storyline: Florida came out swinging in its season opener, posting what was then tied with Oklahoma for the highest team total. Trinity Thomas once again looks formidable and ready to take what was once Alicia Boren’s place as Florida’s marquee all arounder. Arkansas was depleted without Hailey Garner and a limited Sarah Shaffer and will look to drop this score come NQS time.

Implications: Florida will lead the SEC with the highest score in the conference so far. Arkansas will enter at the opposite end of the spectrum, but it sounds like Garner and Shaffer should be back in business soon—good news for the Razorbacks’ scoring prospects.

Records: Florida’s 197.350 was its highest ever total for a season opener. 

Controversies: Arkansas senior Jessica Yamzon’s bars score raised some eyebrows on Twitter; she earned a 9.675 for a hit routine. It was pointed out that her release amplitude probably caused the deductions, but others were quick to respond that other SEC routines have similar issues and don’t get penalized as much.

Eastern Michigan at Bowling Green
Full Results Eastern Michigan: 194.875 Bowling Green: 193.325
VT: East: 9.850 UB: Rondeau 9.850 BB: Marion, Satler 9.875 FX: East 9.875 AA: East 39.300

The Big Storyline: Eastern Michigan was victorious over Bowling Green in its season debut. Unfortunately this event was not streamed, so all we have to go off for this recap is the scores. Bowling Green senior Jovannah East took the all around title with a 39.300, even with some marks that are below what she is usually capable of scoring. The Eagles had a particularly strong beam rotation, which was the highest scoring rotation of the meet, coming in at 49.100. Bowling Green freshmen Olivia Williams and Taylor Jensen stood out with 9.825s on beam and floor, respectively. All in all it was a solid opening meet for each team and one they will be looking to improve upon in the weeks to come.

Implications: This meet will land the Eagles second overall in the conference, which is a big jump for them. The MAC is always competitive. This year more than others seems to be even more ripe for some upsets.

Little Boston with George Washington, Maryland and West Chester
Full Results Maryland: 196.150 GW: 193.775 WCU: 193.250
VT: Farina, Rubio 9.875 UB: Barber 9.850 BB: Zona, Barber, Wright 9.850 FX: Barber, McClure, Rouse, Meakim 9.825 AA: Barber 39.325

The Big Storyline: Maryland recorded a huge opening total (its highest ever) to blow away the rest of the field in the final standings. George Washington had to count a couple of falls but still finished with a respectable total. Notably, Deja Chambliss returned after tearing her achilles last year to compete on three events.

Implications: Maryland’s big total here puts it in the top 10 nationally and No. 2 in the Big Ten. While early season rankings do not usually hold throughout the season, this is a significant accomplishment for the Terrapins who are usually in the bottom half of the Big Ten. George Washington’s total puts it within half a tenth of three other EAGL opponents in the rankings, giving an early indication of the competitiveness of the conference.

Records: West Chester and Maryland both set program records for highest opening score.

N.C. State at Ohio State
Full Results Ohio State: 194.025 N.C. State: 193.800
VT: Aepli 9.850 UB: Aepli 9.850 BB: Hodges, Lowe 9.825 FX: Gagliardi, Aepli 9.875 AA: Kent 38.850

The Big Storyline: Olivia Aepli was a force in her senior year opener. She was pulled from the beam lineup after one-touch, and then hit an exhibition set on that event that would have outscored most of the competition routines. She won or tied for every event she competed. Keep your eye on her this year. Both teams had some struggles in this close battle of up-and-comers. For the Buckeyes, some sub-par vaults and a rocky beam rotation suppressed the score while the Wolfpack was held back by a lack of late-lineup big scores in what was overall a quite clean meet. Notably, all around star Drew Grantham only vaulted a Yurchenko layout (9.750 start value). 

Implications: Many teams in the Big Ten got off to pretty explosive starts this year, and the Buckeyes will find themselves a touch behind. That said, their mistakes were largely falls, which are fixable. There’s no need to panic over a 194 in January. N.C. State might be a little more anxious, since its errors were smaller and harder to fix. If this week is any indication, the EAGL title will be closely fought this year. Each team started the year with a 193 with the exception of UNC (194) and Towson (192), so those little errors will be crucial moving forward.

Controversies: This meet had no live scores! A Big Ten meet! In 2020! The press release said a score link would be on the schedule page to no avail. We tweeted to ask for scores, and eventually got them from N.C. State. Yes, the away team.

Nebraska at Southern Utah
Full Results UNL: 196.375 SUU: 195.275
VT: Houchin 9.975 UB: Colombo, Houchin 9.875 BB: Hassel 9.925 FX: McClain, Hassel 9.950 AA: McClain 39.250

The Big Storyline: Clean gymnastics ruled the day in Cedar City, and the big scores rolled in. Overall, scoring was relaxed but not egregious with a few scores on each team trending high enough for a little side eye. Once again, Taylor Houchin performed an excellent Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.975. We also saw Adnerys de Jesus return to the all around after her absence on Monday. For the Thunderbirds, Karley McClain remains a star, and Hannah Nipp and Shylen Murakami continue to have some of the loveliest gymnastics in the country. Both teams have positioned themselves for great Januarys with this showing.

Implications: Nebraska’s 196.375 outscores all but one of its 2019 regular season away totals. This score is an excellent one to have in its back pocket for NQS time. 

Records: McClain put up two career highs, her 9.900 on beam and a 9.950 on floor. 

Controversies: There was some tweeting about the scores here. They did trend high, especially for January and especially for these teams. Aside from the Nebraska leadoff floor score, nothing made us jump out of our seats, and a handful of scores, especially bars and beam for Murakami, seemed low.

Northern Illinois at Kent State
Full Results Northern Illinois: 193.175 Kent State: 193.025
VT: Kofmehl and Manitkul-Davis 9.800 UB: Hooper 9.825 BB: Lord 9.850 FX: Kofmehl 9.750 AA: Sears 38.775

The Big Storyline: Northern Illinois walked away with the win, narrowly defeating the Golden Flashes at home. Both teams had rough bars rotations, counting falls and hoping to put them behind them quickly. Most exciting though was the freshman debuts for each squad, with Huskies freshman Brookelyn Sears taking the all around title. Kent freshmen Karlie Franz and Rachel DeCavitch showed off difficult double Arabians on floor, with Franz sticking hers cold.

Implications: The MAC is so competitive, and each dual meet seems to really showcase just how evenly matched the teams can be. This particular matchup made minor history with Kent State losing to Northern Illinois on its own turf for the first time.

Texas Woman’s and Washington at Michigan
Full Results UM: 195.650 UW: 195.350 TWU: 189.850
VT: Wilson 9.900 UB: Wilson, Copiak 9.875 BB: S Brooks 9.875 FX: Wojcik 9.900 AA: Roberson 39.175

The Big Storyline: This meet was a nailbiter in the final two rotations, even if the commentators didn’t realize it. Michigan was hampered by two falls from stars. Sierra Brooks missed her bars release, causing the Wolverines to count Lauren Farley’s good-but-lower-than-ideal score. Then, Natalie Wojcik fell in the anchor spot on beam after Abby Heiskell also came off in the No. 2 spot. Meanwhile, Washington was cruising, putting up a solid, hit meet despite going five-up on floor and vault when Brenna Brooks was pulled from both lineups. Michigan prevailed in the end on the tails of a strong floor rotation led by a recovery from Wojcik for a 9.900. Meanwhile, Texas Woman’s struggled on its first two events, bars and beam, counting a score below 9.000 on each piece. The Pioneers recovered on floor and vault, but it wasn’t enough to propel the team over the 190 mark.

Implications: Not a single one of these teams should look at these scores and panic. Keep in mind it was the first meet for each. It seems unlikely that both Brooks and Wojcik will ever fall in the same meet again. That said, Michigan is starting the year a pace behind where it would prefer to be. For Washington, hitting in a five-up setting on two events shows this team’s resilience, and nearly beating Michigan in Ann Arbor is a victory in itself. The Huskies will be able to build from here. Texas Woman’s knows where its mistakes were; in January, we’d prefer to see a team with a low total that results from big, fixable mistakes rather than a proliferation of small built-in deductions that are harder to eliminate; that’s right where the Pioneers are.

Controversies: Geneva Thompson was restricted to bars for the Huskies; they’ll be anxious to get her leg events back and dispense with the five-up lineups. It’s uncertain why exactly Brooks was pulled from vault and floor, but she’s not the strongest choice for those spots to begin with. We saw precious little Washington on the stream, but we did raise an eyebrow at Evanni Roberson’s 9.650 for a clean beam routine. Maybe she had a start value issue. The commentators were also deeply questionable at this meet, repeatedly referring to Texas Woman’s as “Texas Western” (which doesn’t actually exist anymore and is instead UTEP now) and insisting that Natalie Wojcik was virtually guaranteed the all around title with Roberson still to compete. Though Roberson did ultimately win, Washington gymnasts claimed on social media that she was not announced as the all around champion.

Towson at Penn
Full Results Towson: 192.650 Penn: 191.425
VT: Kraez 9.775 UB: Zientek 9.775 BB: Yang 9.825 FX: Kraez 9.800 AA: Kraez 38.725

The Big Storyline: The first meet jitters hit both of these teams (especially on beam), but there’s plenty of bright spots for both to look forward to. Towson hit 22 of 24 routines and looks more confident than it did at any point in 2019. Penn should be excited for sophomore Sydney Kraez’s emergence as an all arounder, especially with her contribution to the Quakers’ fun floor lineup.

Implications: Towson will open the season at the bottom of the EAGL while Penn sits in the middle of the ECAC. Penn had a questionable absence in freshman Rose DeBarberie, a projected key vault and floor contributor; also, sophomore Libby Garfoot went in on bars as a backup but had a scary fall. She got up and seemed OK, but could be limited on the event in weeks to come.

Controversies: Penn once again does not have plans to try to qualify for or attend the USAG national championships.

William & Mary at North Carolina
Full Results North Carolina: 194.775 William & Mary: 190.325
VT: Hislop 9.900 UB: Culton 9.850 BB: Hislop 9.825 FX: Hislop 9.850 AA: Culton 39.050

The Big Storyline: North Carolina had a solid start to its season, posting nearly a 195, despite some errors. Freshman Elizabeth Culton lived up to the hype, winning the all around and bars titles in her first collegiate meet. While William & Mary had a rough go with multiple counted falls, the return of Katie Waldman to the all around is a sign of better things to come. 

Implications: North Carolina skyrockets into EAGL standings in first place, nearly a point higher than New Hampshire in second. With still some room to improve, it’s looking like North Carolina might be the ones to catch this season. Also, UNC freshman Hallie Thompson is out for the season after tearing her ACL.

READ THIS NEXT: Pittsburgh Early Enrolee Emily Liszewski Shows Promise in Debut

Article by the editors of College Gym News

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!


  1. The best of Utah meet was aweful – events ran simultaneously and with only 4 teams it could have been run as the PAC 12 meet runs – it would have been less than a hour difference and we would have been able to see all events. It was also very expensive – $25 plus ticket fees and taxes per ticket and $10 to park. People couldn’t afford to take their kids at that price it was over $100 for me and 2 adult friends. Crazy price. Also people wanted to see all competitors. Worst meet in Utah ever. It is scheduled for the next 4 years and if the format doesn’t change I won’t be attending. Uof U gets over 15,000 per meet – prices are family friendly – this meet cost me more than my 2 searson tickets – felt a little ripped off. Hopefully Rio Tinto will figure it out and make an adjustment for next year. I was excited to see all the gymnasts and left annoyed and irritated. Also, there was quite a snow storm that day so that may have stopped some people from attending

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.