The USAG Dismount: Week 8

Despite several byes from USAG key players like Bridgeport and SEMO this week, it was an absolute blast. Lindenwood finally put a great meet together after weeks of struggle and joined Texas Woman’s in the 195-plus club. The Ivy Classic was a beauty of a meet, with three teams setting season highs and Penn soaring to an upset win on the power of its second-best score in program history. This season’s little team that could, West Chester, got a season high of its own and looks to be in a groove. 

Below you’ll not only find fast facts from every USAG meet this weekend (for more on DI and NCGA teams, check out their respective Dismounts), but the overall USAG standings, top scores and a few superlatives for some of our favorite moments as well.

Routine of the Week

Darian Burns – Seattle Pacific (FX) 9.925

In an emotional farewell to an arena that has lived and died for her floor routine for four years, Burns delivered a career best on her senior night in front of one of the loudest crowds you’ll find in small-arena gymnastics. If the stuck double back final pass with a mega-dramatic college salute doesn’t pull your heartstrings, watch her face as she runs to her teammates at the end.

Stick of the Week

Mei Li Costa – Brown (VT) 9.850

Costa drilled her Yurchenko full in breathtaking form to pick up one of her two Ivy Classic titles.

Amazing Former Clubmates of the Week

San Mateo Gymnastics’ Jacey Baldovino, Darcy Matsuda and Natalie Yang

These three do some of the most stylish gymnastics in the Ivy League—Baldovino for Yale, Matsuda and Yang for Penn—and it’s always a special day when they get to meet up. Counting Cornell alumna Morgan Chall, who made an appearance in Ithaca this weekend to support her friends, a San Mateo gymnast has contributed to each of the last five years’ Ivy Classic-winning teams.

Overall Standings

Place Team RQS
1 Lindenwood 193.710
2 Bridgeport 193.625
3 Texas Woman’s 193.410
4 Yale 193.075
5 Air Force 192.735
6 West Chester 192.685
* Penn 192.685
7 Seattle Pacific 192.235
8 SEMO 192.050
9 Brown  191.530
10 Cornell 189.760
11 Centenary 189.715
12 Southern Conn. 189.555

*Penn chose not to contend for the USAG national championship this year.

Top Scores

Gymnast Team Event Score
Claire Haklik Cornell FX 9.925
Darian Burns Seattle Pacific FX 9.925
Jade Buford Yale FX 9.925
Lindsay Chia Yale BB 9.900
Sydney Kraez Pennsylvania FX 9.900
Darian Burns Seattle Pacific UB 9.875
Darby Nelson Pennsylvania BB 9.875
Natalie Yang Pennsylvania BB 9.875
Mackenzie Kunzman Texas Woman’s BB 9.875
Aleah Leman Lindenwood VT 9.850
Mei Li Costa Brown VT 9.850
Mei Li Costa Brown UB 9.850
Courtney Mitchell Lindenwood UB 9.850
Charlotte Cooperman Yale BB 9.850
Emma Firmstone Yale BB 9.850
Jacey Baldovino Yale BB 9.850
Natalie Meyer Air Force FX 9.850
Bria Northrop Air Force FX 9.850
Samantha Henry Cornell FX 9.850
Rebekah Lashley Pennsylvania FX 9.850
Charlotte Cooperman Yale FX 9.850

The Highlights

No. 71 UW-Stout at No. 48 Lindenwood
Full Results Lindenwood: 195.075 UW-Stout: 189.725
VT: Aleah Leman 9.850 UB: Courtney Mitchell 9.850 BB: Emily Milliet 9.800 FX: Kyndall Baze 9.775 AA: Brooke Terry 37.850

The Big Storyline: Lindenwood remains the most capable team in USAG gymnastics, but its season until this weekend has been bewildering at best. The Lions have stumbled through typically strong events, with injuries triggering disorienting lineup changes and lineup newcomers taking time to find their feet. That all changed on Sunday, when the Lions put it all together for the first time in 2020 to finally score over 195. They started the meet in dramatic fashion, becoming the first USAG team to score a 49 on vault, and really didn’t stumble through the rest of the meet. There’s room to improve, too: No Lions scored 9.800-plus on floor, which obviously should change as the season progresses, and I don’t anticipate a repeat of Ryan Henry’s difficult day anytime soon either.

Implications: Lindenwood’s three top scores this season are at home, which is not the most comfortable RQS place to be for any team. With only two road score opportunities left this year, a great score this coming week at a quad meet against three DI opponents is absolutely key.

No. 57 Air Force at No. 53 Texas Woman’s
Full Results Texas Woman’s: 194.125 Air Force: 192.175
VT: Woodring 9.825 UB: Salamone 9.825 BB: Kunzman 9.875 FX: Meyer 9.850 AA: Northrop 39.150

The Big Storyline: Bars was a hot mess at this match-up between two teams who favor leg events—neither team cracked 48—with counted errors and atypically questionable execution from lineup stalwarts on both sides. For Air Force, beam wasn’t any easier, with three falls coming in the Falcons’ final rotation. But for Texas Woman’s, the bars situation was a brief aberration from a great meet. The Pioneers set season highs on vault and bars and benefited from a personal-best all around meet by sophomore Domi Bonzagni to turn in a perfectly respectable team total despite the counted fall.

Implications: TWU’s USAG ranking holds steady, but its national ranking will improve by two spots with NQS. It’s now only about two tenths behind Bridgeport and exactly three tenths behind Lindenwood, so things could get close in coming weeks. Air Force also improves to No. 55. Pioneer freshman Daisy Woodring’s debut vault RQS of 9.815 makes her the No. 1 USAG vaulter, while the Falcons’ Anna Salamone is No. 1 on bars, as usual.

Ivy Classic with No. 54 Yale, No. 56 Penn & No. 64 Brown at No. 66 Cornell
Full Results Penn: 194.850 Yale: 193.800 Brown: 193.050 Cornell: 192.975
VT: Costa 9.850 UB: Costa 9.850 BB: Chia 9.900 FX: Haklik, Buford 9.925 AA: Kraez 39.050

The Big Storyline: Penn was imperious in Ithaca, picking up its second-best score in program history and its first Ivy title since 2015. The Quakers began with a monstrous 49.125 on beam and gave up virtually nothing until their final rotation on bars, where handstands began to eat into the scores. But by that point in the meet, the margin was too great for a surging Yale to have a chance. Yale let off the pace early, counting two falls on bars, but sparkled on beam and floor. Brown and Cornell both set season highs, cleaning up their best events substantially despite some counted mistakes. Brown sophomore Mei Li Costa defended her Ivy Classic vault title and added a bars win to her resume. Yale’s Lindsay Chia grabbed the beam title and Jade Buford and Cornell’s Claire Haklik walked away victorious on floor. Three-time defending Ivy Classic all around champion Buford was unable to complete the four-year sweep, surpassed by Penn sophomore Sydney Kraez after Buford had a fall on bars.

Implications: Brown gained one spot and Cornell two in national rankings this week. Cornell did well to produce a top score when it did, because it was in serious danger of being passed in the rankings by Centenary this week. Due to a bout of flu, Mei Li Costa has disappeared from national rankings on vault and bars due to not having enough scores, but with luck next week she’ll return in a strong position on bars.

Records: Kraez, who debuted as an all arounder this year after competing three events as a freshman, scored above 39 for the first time in her career.

Controversies: There was a slight Jim-Watson-can’t-do-math moment in the last rotation when the commentators tried to convince us that Yale could win the meet if it was juuuust clean enough on its last few floor routines, despite entering the rotation around two points behind and leader Penn having already hit five bars routines. Likewise, we were told that Jade Buford had a chance to win the all around with a great floor routine, when she had fallen earlier in the meet and would have needed a 10.675 on floor to lock up the win. That said, Kevin Copp’s commentary is excellent and by far the most professional you’ll find in USAG gymnastics, so we don’t hold it against him if scores were unclear.

Unite for Her with No. 52 Temple, No. 55 Illinois State, No. 58 West Chester, No. 65 Southern Connecticut & No. 75 Ursinus
Full Results Temple: 194.450 ISU: 193.800 WCU: 192.000 SCSU: 190.250 Ursinus: 186.250
VT: Castrence 9.850 UB: Estrella 9.950 BB: Garin, Estrella 9.800 FX: Cooke 9.850 AA: Cooke 39.075

The Big Storyline: This was a fine meet for both West Chester and Southern Connecticut, highlighted by some great individual performances, but wasn’t majorly impactful for either team. After a slightly bouncy start to the season, freshman Kiah Johnson has settled in and become the force we always knew she should be, leading the Rams on two of her three events at this meet and hitting her double tuck beam dismount consistently.

Implications: While Southern Connecticut didn’t have a bad meet by any means, it wasn’t enough to hold off Centenary in the rankings when the Ladies were suddenly able to drop two very poor meets.These two could continue to trade places through the rest of the season. West Chester competed again later in the weekend.

Controversies: Southern Connecticut had bigger worries than the team score this week, as head coach Mary Fredericks disappeared from the coaching roster, apparently removed from the staff. While there’s little formal information about the status of the team, former (and formerly retired!) head coach Jerry Nelson was on the floor with his Owls at this meet, and based on the athletes’ social media they seemed delighted to have him back. Beam program record holder Bianca Leon did not compete for SCSU.

No. 58 West Chester at No. 63 William & Mary
Full Results William & Mary: 194.550 West Chester: 193.775
VT: Waldman 9.800 UB: Waldman 9.825 BB: Nodarse 9.825 FX: Greenlow 9.800 AA: Gordon 38.950

The Big Storyline: At its second meet of the weekend, West Chester excelled on beam, registering an impressive 48.750, on its way to a season-best team total. It’s a historic rarity for the Golden Rams to score above 194–the program record is only 194.400–but every indication is that they’re capable of it this season. This was a great day for Jessica Meakim, who turned in a 38.850 all around score, and for beam stars Sarah Boyd and Yolanda Nodarse who haven’t quite found their groove yet in 2020.

Implications: West Chester keeps creeping up the rankings, landing at No. 56 nationally in the first week of NQS. The Rams are in a very strong position to qualify to USAG Nationals this year and are currently tied in the rankings with DI conference rival Pennsylvania.

No. 46 San Jose State at No. 60 Seattle Pacific
Full Results San Jose State: 194.900 Seattle Pacific: 191.925
VT: Burns


UB: Burns


BB: Milne


FX: Burns


AA: Chan


The Big Storyline: Some beam issues depressed the Falcons’ final score on their senior night, but they were able to end on a high: In her final routine in Royal Brougham Pavilion, Darian Burns set new personal best scores of 9.925 on floor and 9.875 on bars. The Falcons produced a season high on the vault as senior Lena Wirth stepped back in after a few weeks out and Shelbi Spivey upgraded to a Yurchenko half.

Implications: Nothing major changed for Seattle Pacific this weekend, but the Falcons have a great opportunity to bulk up their RQS with a double meet weekend on the road in Anchorage coming up.

Records: Burns’ 9.925 on floor is second in program history, while her 9.875 on bars comes eighth all-time for the Falcons.

No. 63 William & Mary & No. 67 Centenary at No. 30 N.C. State
Full Results N.C State: 196.500 W&M: 192.975 Centenary: 189.250
VT: Shepard 9.850 UB: Shepard, Kent, Robinson 9.875 BB: Grantham 9.850 FX: Grantham 9.925 AA: Grantham 39.450

The Big Storyline: This was one of Centenary’s best road meets of the season and a typical result for a team that has been very steady and reliable this year after a few challenging meets early on. While the Ladies counted a few misses, nothing uncharacteristic or disastrous happened. Dorothy Mims’ 9.775 beam routine was a stand-out—she’s developed into a rock on that event this year.

Implications: This meet was key to Centenary’s strong opening RQS: The score it replaced was only a 182. This means that the Ladies were able to jump up a spot in USAG rankings, passing Division II rival Southern Connecticut. While Centenary excels in a Division III context, it is the only Division III team in the USAG division and to step out of last place is a milestone and a victory.

Article by Rebecca Scally

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