The MRGC is possibly the most up-for-grabs conference title of the 2021, with its four teams all falling within 10 spots in the national rankings. Boise State, the conference’s traditional frontrunner, is roaring back after a rough ride with injuries in 2020. In her senior season, bars specialist Emily Muhlenhaupt is a weekly threat for a 10.000. Mercurial Southern Utah pairs some of the country’s highest highs with bitter consistency struggles. The Thunderbirds accomplished a massive road-meet program record of 196.650 last weekend and are capable of reaching 2020’s 197.000+ highs once again, but will have to string five beam hits together to pull it off. And to add a bit of spice to the whole thing, scoring in the MRGC is well-known for its generosity.
Keep an eye out for high-profile absences in these two teams’ lineups. SUU’s Hannah Nipp was scratched from beam and floor last weekend after a nasty fall on bars, and her status since then is unknown. Boise State junior Alexis Stokes is once again AWOL after having missed most of her sophomore season as well.
Rotation 1: SUU vault, BSU bars
McClain (SUU): Okay FTY, a bit lower than she often does and piked down with a hop. 9.825
Cavinta (BSU): Clear hip to Tkachev, gorgeous open hips on her bail. Pretty DLO with a hop. 9.8
C. Kho (SUU): Piked down pretty hard on her FTY and rebounds, dives forward a bit. 9.6
Bruden (BSU): Slightly soft knees on her Jaeger, good bail. Bit shapey on her DLO but stuck.
Smith (SUU): Full on back tuck, pretty big with a little step. One of the more controlled full-ons I’ve seen. 9.775
Blackson (BSU): Bail, super clean. Blind to Markelov big and pretty. Misses her cast straight afterwards, has to recast, double lay with a hop. 9.5
Alfaro (SUU): FTY with super open hips and a hop in place. This vault can go HIGH because it’s tangibly more powerful than most FTYs she can go before or after. 9.875
Nilson (BSU): Veteran is well-equipped to follow a mistake. Clear hip to Tkachev, double lay stuck. Easy. 9.85
Tervort (SUU): Another nice, pretty FTY. SUU is making tangible improvements on this event as the season progresses. 9.825
Lopez (BSU): Blind to pike Jaeger, super clean, bail great. Double layout with her chest a little forward and a small step. 9.8
Jozwiakowski (SUU): Pretty leg form on her Tsuk tuck full. She finishes it so early, I SO want to see her do the one and a half this year. 9.675 🙁
Muhlenhaupt (BSU): Gorgeous toe point on her first cast, Jaeger to overshoot, just as pretty as it is in my header pic today. Double lay, leans super far forward to hold the stick. 9.825
After 1: BSU 49.000, SUU 48.975
Well. Not much daylight in this one, huh?
Disproportionately disappointed in the Muhlenhaupt landing there and I’m sure she is too, just because she needs, wants and deserves a ten sometime this year and throwing away opportunities is frustrating. There’s lots of time, though.
Rotation 2: BSU vault, SUU bars
Masiado (BSU): Barely got to see this one but looked like an average FTY. 9.775
Thomas (SUU): Maloney to Pak, clean, hitting handstands, double layout absolutely planted. She looked as surprised as anyone by that landing. Bit shapey in replay but nothing to complain about. 9.825
Nilson (BSU): Piked throughout on her FTY with a hop back. 9.75
Schwartze (SUU): Cast over to pike Jaeger, sliiightly shy on her bail. Blind full double back with a hop forward. 9.775
Cavinta (BSU): FTY with a little shuffle back. 9.775
Bentley (SUU): The surprise hero of the bars lineup this year. Step forward on her double lay but otherwise pretty much the same routine that’s been working so well for her.
Lopez (BSU): Bigger FTY than we’ve seen so far, bit of a bounce.
McClain (SUU): Clear hip to Gienger, bit of leg separation. Double layout with a hop back.
Smith (BSU): Interesting shapes on her FTY, a bit piked at the beginning but flared at the end. 9.8
Murakami (SUU): Got 9.9 last week. Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, tons of flight, really good. Dead stick on the FTDB. Could be another 9.9 or even higher. Yeah there we go, 9.9.
Blackson (BSU): Pretty FTY, open hips at the end, bounce at the end. 9.7
Jozwiakowski (SUU): This is weird, I legitimately didn’t know she even owned grips, she’s been such a leg event specialist. No Hannah Nipp again today is probably bad news 🙁 Hop change to front giant to Jaeger, huge and caught with bent elbows, clear hip to bail with a bit of leg separation. Double layout with a step back. That was good???? What???? 9.775
After 2: SUU 98.025, BSU 97.900
Molly Jozwiakowski is some kind of sorcerer and that’s all I have to say about that.
Rotation 3: SUU beam, BSU floor
Murakami (SUU): Full turn, BHS LOSO BHS, slow and steady. Split to sheep, side aerial tuck back full with a tiny step. 9.825
Masiado (BSU): Double pike, mildly overrotated but keeps it under control, switch half wolf 3/2. Front lay front full, really pretty, Rudi great. 9.825
Hernandez (SUU): Front aerial, little check, split double stag, BHS LOSO with a check, side aerial tuck full with a step. 9.675
Smith (BSU): Overrotated the double pike just a touch, it’s freaking Seven Rings again. Pretty one and a half front lay, iffy splits on her leap series, really nice landing on her double back. 9.85
Smith (SUU): Round off LOSO, cat leap tour jete half!, one and a half twist with a step forward. 9.775
Blackson (BSU): Two and a half twist I think?, bit bouncy. I think this is her college floor debut. Rock music medley but I can’t identify any of the songs because it’s SUPER quiet. Whip half front full, switch ring with slightly sketchy front leg. Rudi super clean. 9.825
Nipp (SUU): Super glad she’s healthy, couldn’t track down how she was doing after scratching two events last week. Front aerial to beat jump, BHS LOSO with a little check, full turn, split split 3/4. Gainer full stuck. 9.85
Elkabchi (BSU): Double back OOB. One and a half front lay good, double pike looked a little low but she got the landing. Really pretty routine. 9.75
McClain (SUU): BHS LOSO, cat leap side aerial, steady. One and a half twist stuck. 9.85
Nilson (BSU): The ABBA routine is just so perfect. Rudi great. I got distracted crying a little because the crowd is singing along to Dancing Queen loud enough that you can hear it on the broadcast. 9.725
Wissman (SUU): Switch switch split, full turn, cat leap kickover front beat jump. I’m sure there was an acro series that I just spaced on, good dismount. 9.75
Popp (BSU): Double pike, switch half Popa Popa. Front thru one and a half twist, I think that was? I should remember this from the time two weeks ago when I also live blogged BSU. My attention is flagging a bit, I’ve been doing this since 5pm. 9.9!
After 3: Southern Utah 147.075, Boise State 147.050
This is CLOSE. Southern Utah has looked like a much more robust, reliable beam lineup this year than I’ve seen in a long time. Boise State is a great beam team but advantage to the Thunderbirds heading into home floor.
Rotation 4: BSU beam, SUU floor
Cavinta (BSU): BHS LOSO, pretty, picks up the front foot but gets through. Cat leap kickover front, minor check, accelerates into a major check and falls. Split split 1/4, full turn, front aerial to beat to split, gainer pike stuck. 9.05
Vultaggio (SUU): Front lay front full pretty! Bounds weirdly out of an underrotated leap, good landing on her double tuck. Tour jete half Popa, good last pass. 9.8
Lopez (BSU): BHS LOSO, full turn, switch to one-arm BHS. Kickover front to beat, front full with a step. 9.75 following a fall is great from a freshman.
Schwartze (SUU): Front double full, tour jete half wolf full, Rudi LOSO with a step to the side, FHS Rudi good. 9.85
Popp (BSU): Front aerial, full turn, looking super steady. Falls on her two-foot layout which means Boise State will be counting a fall. Switch half great, hop on dismount.
Smith (SUU): Whip double back solid, couldn’t see if she scooted her feet back or not. Slightly chaotic leap combo, punch Rudi really good. 9.875
Masiado (BSU): L turn slightly unsteady, BHS LOSO, switch switch half with a pause in the middle and a split issue on the switch half. Side aerial tuck back full nailed. 9.425, yeah they took that series.
Jozwiakowski (SUU): Her routine opens with the same music she used as a freshman, that’s cute. Front double full front tuck. Switch half wolf full. Double full, really pretty, pulls her front foot back just a touch on her Rudi. 9.9
Elkabchi (BSU): BHS LOSO good, nailed the aerial round off, straddle 1/2 jump, beat jump side aerial. She’s such an understatedly pretty gymnast. One and a half twist with a big hop. 9.65
Nipp (SUU): STUCK the double pike. I guess she’s fine, guys. Front full front lay, super clean, switch ring tour jete half well landed. This is going GREAT. Deep on the double back and bigger step back, that’s deductible but the rest was super clean. 9.8
Muhlenhaupt (BSU): BHS LOSO, according to the commentators she has spunk and groove on this event??, beat to sheep to split is a fun leap combo. Side aerial, hesitant with the back foot, round off 1.5 with a step into salute.
McClain (SUU): FULL IN. New pass for her. Chest a touch low but good lunge. One and a half front lay, switch half Popa. Great double back. 9.925
FINAL: Southern Utah 196.425, Boise State 194.825
It really will only take a little bit of cleaning on vault landings and a lucky beam weekend for Southern Utah to be back in 197.000+ territory. It’s all happening for this team, the energy and belief seems immense, the difficulty is piling up. Another really encouraging meet.
Boise State has some consistency work to do, but this roster is just so pretty. The counted mistakes on beam tonight were a bummer but without them, 196 is very much in reach.
VT: Morgan Alfaro (SUU) 9.875
UB: Shylen Murakami (SUU) 9.900
BB: Hannah Nipp, Karley McClain (SUU), Emily Muhlenhaupt (BSU) 9.850
FX: Karley McClain (SUU) 9.925
AA: Karley McClain (SUU) 39.300
Live blog by Rebecca Scally
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