LIVE BLOG: Pac-12 Championship Session Two

This might be a meet of two teams. Utah has looked like the leader of the conference through the whole year, not dropping below 197.000 since the third week of January, but ultimately its consistency wasn’t enough to hold off a surging Cal. The Utes have a phenomenal roster but have struggled to control details like handstands and landings to the level necessary for postseason success, but that could change at any time. Meanwhile, Cal has gotten key contributors into its ideal lineups and is maxing out on fine details. If Cal catches fire today, there might be nothing Utah can do about it, but if the Bears are anywhere near average, it could be very close. Bars is the difference-maker here: It’s Utah’s worst event and Cal’s best.

Arizona State is another team that has nearly maxed out its potential, though the best results are now a few weeks in the rearview. It’s totally possible for the Sun Devils to take an advantage of a mediocre day by the top two teams, though. UCLA is the real mystery of this session. The Bruins are theoretically far better than their scores so far have indicated: The four events haven’t come together yet. A great bars rotation is absolutely key for UCLA, but counting falls on beam has also been a recurring problem.

Rotation 1: California VT, Utah UB, Arizona State BB, UCLA FX

Schank (Cal): Big flared FTY with a substantial hop back. 9.825

Paulson (Utah): Maloney and peels??? So weird. Pak, blind full double back. Never got her left dowel over. 9.275

Thompson (ASU): Triple series, minor check, switch straddle quarter. Side aerial back forth with a scoot back. Solid start. 9.850

Andres (UCLA): Two and a half punch front, mistimes it and is looooow on the punch but gets it around without squatting too hard. Deep on her double back with two squatty steps back. 9.6

Wow, serious gut check on that first round of routines.

Bordas (Cal): Solid FTY, medium hop back. Her average. 9.8

Sabado (Utah): Blind to Jaeger, slightly archy catch, shy on a handstand, toe to bail with minor leg separation. Pings a touch on her double lay, hop back. 9.775

Gutierrez (ASU): BHS LOSO, bend check, grabs the legs and hangs on. Rulfova, full turn, solid dismount. 9.625

Wright (UCLA): Big step forward on the two and a half twist. Rudi double stag bouncy. Front full front lay good. 9.725

Li (Cal): Similar FTY to the last couple, visibly flexed foot in the air, medium hop back. 9.8

Burch (Utah): Straddle Jaeger with a bit of feet. Bail, double layout with leg sep. 9.775

Reeves (ASU): BHS BHS LOSO, awkward with visible form. switch split. Front aerial, bit of knees again. One and a half twist with a hop. 9.75

Frazier (UCLA): Whip through to double back, heel on the line but the commentators say there was no flag. Overrotates the leaps which I’m always into. Good double pike. 9.9

George (Cal): Bigger FTY, same hop back. Wonder if the podium is giving the Bears a bit more kick. 9.85

LeBlanc (Utah): Imprecise first handstand, Jaeger to overshoot with foot form. Double layout whippy and close to the bars, stuck on her toes. 9.875

White (ASU): BHS LOSO, ever so slight adjustment with her arms, probably not deductible. Another one on the full turn. Front aerial to beat slow. Split to double stag. Side aerial back full stuck with a low chest, right around the 90 degree mark. 9.875

Campbell (UCLA): Front double full, true lunge out of it which is so wonderful. Tour jete half Popa. Double back STUCK. Front lay front full, big bounce forward into dance. The first really grown-up routine of the meet. 9.95

DeSouza (Cal): Major leg sep on the table, soft knees with a little hop on her one and a half. 9.9

O’Keefe (Utah): Maloney to Pak, baby leg separations that don’t matter, missed the cast handstand on the high bar, planted the double arabian with usual cowboy. 9.95

Scharf (ASU): Double wolf, BHS LOSO with soft knees and a lean. Switch switch side, one and a half twist with a hop. 9.85

Tratz (UCLA): She’s been hot the last few weeks. Double pike, great landing, switch ring tour jete half with very crisp rotation but iffy positions. One and a half front lay. Chest down on the double back but lunges out clean. 9.95

Clausi (Cal): Has the one and a half back but… barely. Wild, squatty, swivel-kneed landing. 9.675

Isa (Utah): Ray, bail, getting the handstands, full turn to double layout with the usual minimal amplitude but stuck. 9.95

Clark (ASU): BHS LOSO LOSO, crisp but bend check. Switch, missed a foot and can’t connect, covers with another leap connection. Front aerial with a check. BHS to one and a half twist with helicopter legs. 9.75

Dennis (UCLA): Front lay through double back, overrotated substantially. Front lay front full, good, tour jete full split full. Rudi overrotated, big scoot back. 9.9 is a bit generous.

After 1: UCLA 49.525, Utah 49.325, Cal 49.175, Arizona State 49.075

Cal and Arizona came in a tenth and change behind their event NQSs on their respective events, so advantage UCLA and Utah to start, both of whom beat theirs by around a tenth. UCLA needed this number to have a chance of holding up later on, while Utah didn’t change the game but looks in position for one of its better meets.

Rotation 2: UCLA VT, Cal UB, Utah BB, Arizona State FX

Tratz (UCLA): FTY, her usual strong technique, small hop back. 9.9

DeSouza (Cal): Blind to pike Jaeger to overshoot, solid. FTDB with chest down and a hop in place. 9.9

Burch (Utah): Full turn, BHS LOSO very secure. Split double stag, check. Cat leap front aerial. Gainer full stuck. 9.9

Gutierrez (ASU): Two and a half twist strong, good Rudi. Switch side Popa, yikes, didn’t quite punch between that and it was a journey to rotate. 9.725

Poston (UCLA): FHS pike 1/2, not the most amplitude as usual, little hop. 9.825

Li (Cal): Aw, Anna and Jiani are in the crowd and decked out in Cal gear. Solid Pak, van Leeuwen, blind full with a foot flicker to double back, stuck on her heels. 9.9

Stanhope (Utah): Kochetkova BHS, crooked with a bend check. One and a half twist with a little hop. 9.825

Clark (ASU): Clean double pike, straight back with a double tuck, the lunge goes forward. Switch switch ring 1/2 with the position badly missed. One and a half front lay, little bit shapey on the layout. 9.8

Wright (UCLA): Soft knees in the one and a half but stuck absolutely DEAD. The fistpump-scream after she realized what she did was magnificent. 9.95

Schank (Cal): She’s top ten in the country, she’s the highest ranked Cal bars gymnast, she has five wins, what does she have to do to get moved deeper in this lineup… Anyway, nailed it, stuck the double lay. 9.9 is too low for my taste.

Isa (Utah): Candle mount, triple series with an adjustment, split straddle quarter. Gainer full dismount stuck. 9.95

Boyer (ASU): Rudi solid. Back with a double pike, overrotated, two steps back and one out of bounds. Tour jete half wolf full. One and a half front lay shapey. 9.65

Frazier (UCLA): FTY, piked throughout with a hop back. 9.825

Bordas (Cal): Jaeger, bail, little bits of feet throughout and slightly imprecise handstands. Blind full double back stuck. Underwhelming this late in the lineup. 9.875

Paulson (Utah): Side aerial LOSO, nailed it. Switch split. Full turn, side aerial back full stuck. 9.95

Mangahas (ASU): Full in, chest down. Double back solid. She likes to land with her legs a bit split and then lunge the front one back. Switch half wolf full wolf full. 9.9

Dennis (UCLA): Great FTY, baby scoot that could be chalked up to pulling heels together even though it definitely wasn’t. 9.9

Kuc (Cal): Maloney to Pak. Lovely positions and extension. FTDB with great leg form, big hop back.

Randall (Utah): Full in, BHS LOSO very aggressive. Beat to sheep, Rulfova cleaner than usual and dead center on the beam. One and a half twist stuck. 9.925

Scharf (ASU): Front through double back. Front full front tuck. Switch half wolf full. Double pike, deep and a hop to the side.

Campbell (UCLA): Huge FTY, medium hop back. 9.85

Watterson (Cal): Pak with leg separation, toe on to van Leeuwen. Toe full double back close to the bar and stuck but deep. 9.9

O’Keefe (Utah): Side aerial LOSO with flexed feet but aggressive. Switch to split, awkward, cat leap side aerial back full stuck. 9.95

Leonard-Baker (ASU): One and a half front full, lukewarm landing and a bit of leg form. Tour jete half wolf full, missed the punch and yanked it around, that should be serious deductions. Double pike with her chest wayyyyy down.

After 2: Utah 99.000, UCLA 98.950, Cal 98.650, Arizona State

Definitely judges feeling happy but that was also an immense rotation for all three top teams. So glad to see another great Utah beam rotation—the potential is immense. UCLA is finally, finally in the game while Cal bars is still Cal bars.

Rotation 3: Arizona State VT, UCLA UB, Cal BB, Utah FX

Mangahas (ASU): Decent FTY, chest forward on landing and hops forward to catch it. 9.775

Campbell (UCLA): Maloney with leg separation to bail with a foot flicker, blind to double front stuck on her heels. Step to salute. UCLA finally looks like it’s here to play. 9.8

Clausi (Cal): Kickover front to beat, BHS LOSO with a lean. Check on the full turn, side aerial back full with a hop. 9.775

Isa (Utah): Double back, scoot, double pike looks overrotated but she keeps the front foot down. Switch side Popa wolf 1/1 underrotated. One and a half front full, awkward landing, looks like one ankle tries to roll.

White (ASU): FTY, nice open hips, hop back. 9.725

Esparza (UCLA): This is early to see her. Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, double lay. Nailed it. 9.925

DeSouza (Cal): Cat leap front aerial, slow but well controlled. BHS LOSO with major form and a lean. Solid leaps, one and a half twist with a hop to the side. 9.875

Paulson (Utah): Front lay front full stag jump, two and a half twist. Strong switch full. Good combo pass. Utah on the landings today, definitely a team that’s vibing with the podium. 9.925

Barbanente (ASU): Decent FTY, didn’t look aggressively stretched, hop back. 9.775

Ulias (UCLA): Toe blind to Jaeger, massive and clean, turnover just masterful. Toe on to bail a little off but very minor. Stalder to double back and a hop forward. 9.8 excuse me?

Li (Cal): Good acro, nice detail work, split to ring jump with a minor lean and I don’t think that’s a satisfactory ring position. Gainer pike stuck. 9.9

Stanhope (Utah): Full in, good control. Double back. These landings are really so much better than I’ve seen Utah produce this year. Switch side wolf full decent. Good combo pass. 9.9

Scharf (ASU): FTY, serious distance and tiny hop in place. First really good one for ASU. 9.875

Flatley (UCLA): Blind to Jaeger, toe on to bail, really solid. Double layout with a hop back. 9.875

Hang on, they pulled Dennis for Flatley and left Kooyman in? I didn’t look at lineups. What the?

George (Cal): Front aerial, little swim, back tuck. She’ll probably get credit but she shouldn’t. Double wolf turn. Ring jump, better position than Li but still ehh, gainer full stuck. 9.85

Rucker (Utah): Great half in half out, switch full split full wolf full. Front lay front full, bit of leg separation. 9.95

Leonard-Baker (ASU): Decent FTY, hop back. 9.85

Kooyman (UCLA): Maloney to Pak, the usual major leg separation and some iffy stuff on the high bar, cast handstand short, double lay to her knees. This was not necessary. There was no need for this.

Bordas (Cal): Front aerial, check. BHS LOSO. Split to double stag, ish, slightly weird. BHS gainer full stuck. 9.8

O’Keefe (Utah): Double pike, looked like a touch of front foot movement to me. Front lay front full solid. One and a half front lay solid. 9.95

Smith (ASU): Solid form, she’s improved her form lately, one and a half stuck. Not super amplitude, doesn’t really go up from the table. 9.925

Frazier (UCLA): Maloney to Pak, great form, van Leeuwen. Double lay great and stuck. Gamer. 9.95

Watterson (Cal): Wolf full, BHS LOSO, leg up and falls. Side aerial back full stuck.

Soloski (Utah): Double lay, good landing, switch half split full good. Front lay front full, I love the leg switch walkover choreography. One and a half front lay. I would not be furious if that were her 10. 9.95.

After 3: Utah 148.625, UCLA 148.300, Cal 147.850, Arizona State 147.250

Utah is just untouchable right now and it’s about freaking time. We knew the Utes were this good and it’s been so frustrating to watch them still lukewarm in March. This is the Utah that Utah deserves to be.

Cal’s likely out of it and there’s not a realistic route for UCLA to win on its weak event unless things get reaaaaaaal weird but any sort of five-hit rotation would be a huge moral victory for the Bruins, who have been waiting so long to prove that they’re a real contender.

Rotation 4: Utah VT, Arizona State UB, UCLA BB, Cal FX

Isa (Utah): Great starting FTY, near-stuck. 9.85

Barbanente (ASU): Shy on the first handstand, blind to pike Jaeger to overshoot, feet throughout. Double lay with a step back. 9.775

Poston (UCLA): Beat straddle 3/4, lean back which was mildly terrifying, BHS BHS LOSO off line and uses her arms to avoid wobbling. One and a half stuck. 9.85

Quinn (Cal): Front lay to Rudi, keeps the front foot down. Switch side Popa. Double pike with a super long lunge but keeps it still again. She just does not mess up landings any more. 9.9

O’Keefe (Utah): FTY, step-hop back. 9.85

Boyer (ASU): Toe on to Maloney to Pak, great form, hairy half turn on the low bar, shy on a cast handstand, full out stuck awkwardly. 9.875

Sakti (UCLA): LOSO LOSO, off. Switch switch. Shaky full turn, side somi, side aerial back full with a step to salute. 9.175

Bordas (Cal): Double pike, overpowered and scooty. One and a half front lay didn’t rise in the second salto and deep step forward, iffy ring position on her leaps. Solid Rudi. 9.875

Stanhope (Utah): Soft on the table, one and a half underrotated with a substantial step back. 9.725

White (ASU): Van Leeuwen, half turn, YANKS it back from a major arch, bail. Double lay with a step back. 9.775

Frazier (UCLA): Switch switch, aggressive and pretty. Front aerial back tuck, check, little check on the full turn. Side aerial. Front gainer full, close to the beam and a bounce in place. 9.8

DeSouza (Cal): Double pike overrotated, minor scoot. Switch side Popa. One and a half front full, a little bouncy, Rudi double stag.

Rucker (Utah): One and a half, huge with her chest already forward when she lands, big step forward.

Scharf (ASU): Maloney to Pak with minor leg separation, good half turn on the low bar, FTDB and looked surprised by the landing, hop back and a bit of additional shuffling as she reconciles herself to the ground.

Campbell (UCLA): Double wolf turn, BHS LOSO with a lean but arrests it with the arms, switch split, switch half with a check. Cartwheel gainer full, little hop forward. 9.75

Clausi (Cal): Double pike, scooty, switch side Popa. One and a half front lay with a bit of bounce. Double back solid. 9.925

Burch (Utah): Major leg sep on the table, never quite right on her one and a half and sits it. 9.3

Clark (ASU): Blind to Jaeger, caught slightly on her wrists, Pak. Double lay with a hop.

Esparza (UCLA): Full turn, BHS LOSO, switch straddle quarter. Front aerial, falls. Counting one now. Side aerial back full, off balance.

Li (Cal): Double pike, yeeeet. Two big steps out of bounds. Tour jete half wolf full imprecise in rotation. Front lay front full super well controlled.

Sabado (Utah): Yurchenko full, normal, step back. All she needed to do was land feet first to win and she’s done it. 9.8 is plenty.

Leonard-Baker (ASU): Maloney to bail to piked toe shoot. Iffy cast handstands, full in stuck. Emphatic.

Shapiro (UCLA): Triple series, switch switch, arabesque turn. Side aerial. Cartwheel gainer full with a step back. Keeps it to one fall counted, anyway.

George (Cal): Front double full punch front. Switch ring tour jete half lovely and precise. Back tumbling choreo, great Rudi, almost stuck. Finally someone wants to do a good routine.

FINAL: Utah 197.725, Cal 197.375, UCLA 196.725, Arizona State 196.375, Oregon State 195.625, Arizona 195.275, Stanford 195.175, Washington 194.400

Loved that coaching call at the very end by Utah. Cammy Hall is the anchor to give her breathing room since she can be a little hairy under pressure, and to realize that a) this was a situation where your original plan might not fly and b) that any old hit at all would be enough to pull out the win is good, quick thinking. Sabado took care of business under preseason and will be able to carry that experience to next year when hopefully her ankle will be healthy enough to allow her to do more events.

UCLA did not handle pressure, and it freaking sucks. Regionals will probably be the end of the road for the Bruins at this rate. Cal produced a pretty decent number (after a late, huge score change for Kyana George on floor) but might have to prove it can do more under postseason scoring conditions to have a good case for nationals. Arizona State didn’t do its best gymnastics today but did enough to finish top four, a historic achievement in itself for a team that has spent most of the last decade on the struggle bus.

VT: Sekai Wright (UCLA) 9.950
UB: Maile O’Keefe, Cristal Isa (Utah), Margzetta Frazier (UCLA) 9.950
BB: Maile O’Keefe, Cristal Isa, Abby Paulson (Utah) 9.950
FX: Chae Campbell, Pauline Tratz (UCLA), Maile O’Keefe, Jaedyn Rucker, Sydney Soloski (Utah), Kyla Bryant (Stanford), Kyana George (Cal) 9.950
AA: Maile O’Keefe (Utah) 39.700

Live blog by Rebecca Scally

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