While you’ve all been angsting over the Minnesota-Denver-Georgia situation, this was my favorite regional session on draw day, and I stand by that. The MRGC has had a spectacular 2020, with all four teams ranked in the top 25, and Arizona State is in major danger.
Boise State is the obvious threat. The Broncos are (obviously) the top-ranked No. 3 seed in the country, and nobody wants to have to face that. They’re also hot right now, turning in a score several tenths higher than Arizona State’s on conference day. Boise State hasn’t cracked 19 in 2021, leaving Arizona State with a convincing route to Saturday if it can surpass that number, but the Sun Devils’ own 197-plus scores are now a full month in the rearview mirror.
Southern Utah also peaked in February, but there’s an easy explanation for why: The Thunderbirds haven’t been able to assemble their best lineups since then. Numerous key contributors have skipped weeks or events throughout the month, and we don’t have satisfactory explanations for most of the absences. But since as far as we know none of them are due to season-ending injuries, there’s still a chance that Southern Utah can bring its best team to Salt Lake City and with it, its monstrous 197.275 season high.
Rotation 1: Southern Utah VT, Arizona State UB, Utah BB, Boise State FX
McClain (SUU): She’s vaulting, that’s good news. FTY, hop in place.
Tervort (SUU): Twisting onto the table hard, lands with her arms down. Super strange vault, mistimed from the start. 9.075
Kho (SUU): Touch of knees on vault but good dynamics, decent sized hop. 9.725
Smith (SUU): Yurchenko full on, tuck off, nearly stuck. 9.725
Alfaro (SUU): Her usual great FTY, hop. Judges love this one. 9.775
?? (SUU): No idea who this is, but it was rostered to be Molly Jozwiakowski and it’s not. Solid FTY, step back.
Kofmehl (NIU): Huge Yurchenko half, open and pretty with a step to the side.
Barbanente (ASU): Blind to pike Jaeger to overshoot, bit of feet and leg break as she releases. Double lay with a big hop. 9.8
Boyer (ASU): Maloney to Pak, lovely, FTDB with pointed toes and a baby step. 9.85
White (ASU): Missed the top, bail, toe hecht, double lay pretty and stuck. 9.85
Scharf (ASU): Maloney to Pak, slight leg separation, very clean half turn. FTDB huge with messy legs and a hop. 9.825
Clark (ASU): Blind to Jaeger, solid Pak. Double lay stuck. 9.85
Leonard-Baker (ASU): Maloney to bail, piked toe hecht, FTDB stuck. Her best routine. 9.95
Burch (UU): BHS LOSO, switch to double stag. Front aerial. Gainer full stuck. 9.9, oh the judges are prepared for this. Can’t say she didn’t deserve it, though. Changed to 9.875 after
Stanhope (UU): Still kinda odd that she’s in this lineup. Kochetkova BHS, leg up check, grabs the beam and falls. Step on dismount. 9.0
Isa (UU): Not someone who I worry about following a fall. Candle mount, triple series with panache. Straddle straddle quarter with a check, BHS gainer full. 9.9
Paulson (UU): Side aerial BHS, full turn, presumably some leaps, side aerial back full. Very chill, very good routine. 9.925
Randall (UU): BHS LOSO, split to usually sketchy sheep with a little check. Rulfova solid.
O’Keefe (UU): Side aerial LOSO, great, switch split. Side aerial back full and Kathy screamed a little. 9.95
Masiado (BSU): Double pike, close to the line but Kathy thinks she’s safe. Rudi well done.
Elkabchi (BSU): Slightly off balance on her double pike landing, missed the punch on a front lay and landed flat on her back, owie. 9.025
Popp (BSU): Front through double back, overrotated but avoids taking an extra step. Landings not behaving for the Broncos. Double pike well done.
Smith (BSU): Bouncy double pike, one and a half front lay. 9.85
Blackson (BSU): Front double full, great control. Front lay front full.
Nilson (BSU): Sorry I got distracted singing Dancing Queen and forgot to write down skills. She’s doing well though, slight shuffle on the leaps.
Kaziska (SEMO): USAG representtttt. Front double full, great control, switch side Popa truly stuck. One and a half front lay, well done. Slight front foot shuffle on the Rudi. Well done. 9.9
After 1: Utah 49.550, Arizona State 49.325, Boise State 49.050, Southern Utah 48.725
Well, that wasn’t encouraging for the upset prospects. Great resilience for Utah, Arizona State took advantage of its best event and Anna Kaziska rocked on floor as a specialist.
Rotation 2: Boise State VT, Southern Utah UB
Masiadi (BSU): FTY, big with slightly closed hips, hop back. 9.8
Nilson (BSU): Pretty, straight FTY with a big hop back. 9.75
Otuafi (BSU): Yurchenko half, soft knees and a hop. 9.7
Lopez (BSU): FTY slightly sideways but good with a small hop.
Smith (BSU): Super high FTY, a little shapey and some feet, hop.
Blackson (BSU): One and a half twist, pretty, little hop. Kathy is a fan.
Thomas (SUU): Maloney to Pak pretty clean, little foot separation on the Pak. Great double layout. 9.825
Schwartze (SUU): Pike Jaeger, solid, great position on the bail. Blind full double back slightly undercooked with a big hop forward.
Nipp (SUU): Blind to Jaeger, close with arched back, almost goes over on a handstand, messy bail. Shy on a handstand, double lay deep but stuck.
Murakami (SUU): SLightly late blind to good Jaeger to overshoot. FTDB loose with a hop.
Kho (SUU): Maloney to Pak with some leg separation. Toe on to FTDB, pings a bit but lands well, hop in place.
Bentley (SUU): Tkachev a little loose with feet to overshoot. Double lay nearly stuck.
Kofmehl (NIU): Blind to Jaeger, super clean, blind to double front with legs together WOW. 9.8
Hamp (NIU): Tkachev, blind full double lay stuck. DANG. 9.9 let’s go! I’ve only seen one other gymnast do that combo (and she’s also at this meet) and it’s always quite low and awkward. I didn’t know it could look as easy as Hamp makes it.
Thompson (ASU): Triple series, little check. Double full dismount with a hop. 9.775
Gutierrez (ASU): BHS LOSO, extra step. My favorite Rulfova. One and a half twist with a big step forward 9.725
Reeves (ASU): BHS BHS LOSO with flickers on the back knee. Switch split, full turn, big step forward on dismount. 9.725
White (ASU): Lovely airy BHS LOSO. Side aerial back full with a step.
Scharf (ASU): Double wolf, BHS LOSO, baby leg up check. One and a half twist stuck.
Clark (ASU): Triple series and falls. Front aerial to split.
Randall (UU): Double back solid. Switch side wolf full wolf full. STUCK double pike. Front full front lay, a little low. 9.85
Paulson (UU): Great control on the front lay front full. Two and a half twist with flexed feet. 9.85
Stanhope (UU): Full in, lots of oomph but keeps the lunge. Double back goes back more than up, slightly overrotated. Switch side wolf full good.
Rucker (UU): Half in half out, heel over the line I think. Switch half split full wolf full. Bouncy combo pass.
O’Keefe (UU): Double pike, front full front lay. I’m such a sucker for front twisting with the gymnast’s arms over her head. One and a half front lay.
Soloski (UU): Bouncy on the double lay, the rest was normal but it won’t be her biggest score. 9.9
After 2: Utah 98.925, Boise State 98.125, Arizona State 98.075, Southern Utah 97.875
Rotation 3: Utah VT, Boise State UB, Southern Utah BB, Arizona State FX
Isa (UU): FTY, small hop back.
Hall (UU): Ooh interesting strategy to move her to the 2 spot. Into it. One and a half twist with the usual bits of form and a hop.
Stanhope (UU): Leg sep on the table on her one and a half but good landing, hop forward. 9.875
Burch (UU): One and a half, leg sep on the table and a touch of knees, hop forward.
Cavinta (BSU): Tkachev, great bail, got a “Wooooooow” out of Kathy. Little hop back on the pretty double lay.
Blackson (BSU): Great bail, blind to Markelov huge and gorgeous. Double lay deep, avoids putting her knees down, hop forward.
Nilson (BSU): Clear hip to Tkachev, okay bail, scoot in place on the double lay.
Lopez (BSU): Blind to pike Jaeger, great, DRILLED the double lay there. That’s what Boise bars can be and it’s great setup for Muhlenhaupt. 9.9
Muhlenhaupt (BSU): Blind to Jaeger, bent elbows are gonna kill the 10 chance here, double lay stuck.
Little (BSU): Maloney to Pak, great, maybe slightly flat footed on the Pak. Double lay completely drilled again. That was a great streak of landings.
Murakami (SUU): BHS LOSO BHS, little check, side aerial tuck back full stuck.
Nipp (SUU): Front aerial to beat. BHS LOSO way off line but works through. Good gainer full.
Wissman (SUU): Front aerial BHS good, check on the full turn, gainer full stuck.
Schwartze (SUU): Beat to sheep to split iffy, BHS LOSO with bend check but hangs on. Gainer full good.
Schroieder (NIU): Triple series is GORGEOUS but she fell 🙁 One and a half dismount stuck and lovely.
Reeves (ASU): Solid combo pass to start. Switch switch ring 1/2 is not it.
Gutierrez (ASU): Two and a half with a cross step. Rudi a bit overrotated, pulls the front foot. Wolf full switch side Popa.
Clark (ASU): Missed the first half, good double back.
Mangahas (ASU): Full in bananas amplitude but lunges kind of to one side. Double back, step to the side and swims a bit to stay in bounds, she’s off balance.
Leonard-Baker (ASU): One and a half front full. Chest WAY down on the double lay and lunges forward.
After 3: Utah 148.125, Boise State 147.500, Arizona State 147.350, Southern Utah 146.850
Rotation 4: Arizona State VT, Utah UB, Boise State BB, Southern Utah FX
White (ASU): FTY, clean but hop forward is never good news.
Barbanente (ASU): FTY, twists late, big hop.
Scharf (ASU): Touch of knees in the air, flared, medium hop back. 9.9?
Leonard-Baker (ASU): Her normal big FTY, another medium hop.
Smith (ASU): One and a half big with a large step forward.
Chambliss (GW): Pretty FTY with a hop.
Sabado (UU): Jaeger a little close as usual, good bail, double lay with a touch of knees and a step back.
Burch (UU): Feet on the Jaeger as usual, solid bail, double lay… did she clip the bar with her toes? and a hop.
LeBlanc (UU): Blind to Jaeger, a touch of feet, substantial hop back on the dismount.
O’Keefe (UU): Maloney to Pak, little leg separations, double Arabian with a hop forward. WHAT’S THE POINT IF SHE DOESN’T STICK THE DOUBLE ARABIAN.
Kidding, but also not.
Masiado (BSU): BHS LOSO, bend check and falls. Side aerial back full.
Cavinta (BSU): The veteran under pressure. Check on the series, lovely leaps. Cat leap fron aerial beat.
Elkabchi (BSU): Couple awkward steps back, I didn’t even see on which skill. Split straddle half with a small leg up. Side aerial back full.
Popp (BSU): Fall on the two foot layout and it’s over for Boise. That sucks.
Muhlenhaupt (BSU): This could be it for her career but I’d be super, super shocked if she didn’t take a COVID year now. BHS LOSO, one and a half twist with a hop.
Kaziska (SEMO): Front aerial to split a touch slow. BHS LOSO delightful. Switch split 1/4. One and a half stuck. Fantastic and gets a long, long hug plus a shoulder rub from head coach Ashley Lawson. She’s just beaming, she’s rocked it today. 9.875
McClain (SUU): I looked away and didn’t see if she did the full in I’m so SAD. One and a half front lay. Double back, baby hop in place.
Nipp (SUU): Double pike, pulls the front leg. Double back underrotated with a step forward.
Kho (SUU): Front lay front full, soft knees and ambiguous rotation. Overcooked the double pike and bounced back. 9.8
Tervort (SUU) Combo pass, landed well. Switch side Popa. Slightly awkward landing on her double back.
Kofmehl (NIU): Double pike good, oh this music is Blackpink. One and a half front lay, double back slightly bouncy. She’s had a great day.
FINAL: Utah 197.500 and Arizona State 196.600 will advance to the Round 3 regional
In the individual standings, Hannah Scharf leads the non-Utah race on two events and the all around. Cairo Leonard-Baker’s 9.95 gives her a compelling case for nationals, and outside of Scharf Anna Kaziska is the leader on beam and floor, so she has a shot.
Wondering how individuals make nationals? Read up on the complicated process here.
Live blog by Rebecca Scally
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