Saturday culminated a tough but rewarding 2021 season of NCAA gymnastics. Michigan won its first title in program history, becoming just the seventh school to stand atop the podium and doing so with its highest team score ever. Oklahoma isn’t going home empty handed, though, as senior Anastasia Webb won vault, floor and the all around, and helped the Sooners to a second-place overall finish by a slim margin. It was an eventful weekend to top off an eventful season in the midst of a global pandemic, and we mostly made it to the other side in one piece.
|Full Results||UM: 198.2500||OU: 198.1625||UU: 197.9875||UF: 197.1375|
The Big Storyline
Michigan led the way all afternoon, but that didn’t mean this one wasn’t a thriller. It came down to the final score. The Wolverines and Sooners were tied with Abby Heiskell’s beam and Olivia Truatman’s floor scores to come. Trautman’s came in first, and Michigan watched and waited to see if the number for Heiskell’s hit would be enough. Utah was in the hunt throughout, only held back by lower difficulty and landings on vault in the last rotation.
Utah had an incredible meet, especially on beam where the Utes notched a massive 49.700. Beam turned out to be Florida’s downfall, where the Gators had to count Trinity Thomas’ fall onto the beam after Payton Richards fell in the leadoff for the second day in a row. Florida’s Savannah Schoenherr also had a tough day. She had a tough vault one touch, but managed to compete an excellent Yurchenko 1.5. On bars in the final rotation, though, she injured her back trying to save a handstand and couldn’t finish her routine.
Semifinal one was thrilling, with Minnesota and Claifornia in striking distance the whole way. A wobbly beam rotation kept the Gophers behind, while a lower-than-usual bars total kept the Golden Bears back. Florida and Michigan both had some hiccups, with struggles from Payton Richards for the Gators and some hoppy landings for the Wolverines, but both advanced as expected.
The second semifinal was even closer. Utah shocked LSU in the last rotation when beam did the Tigers in despite stellar vault and floor outings. Alabama finished in third after too many 9.8s on vault held the team just behind the top two. Oklahoma sailed through for No. 1 seed going into finals with the only 198 of the semifinal round.
“We’ve been second a couple of times earlier in my career. It’s just an unbelievable pride and admiration for what our team has been through and the sacrifices they have made and the work they put in to be where they are today.” – Bev Plocki, on winning her first championship
This is the third highest national championship-winning score in NCAA history and the first win for both the Wolverines and the Big Ten conference. It is also a new program record team total for Michigan.
- Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma), 39.7875
- Luisa Blanco (Alabama), 39.6500 and Sierra Brooks (Michigan), 39.6500
We knew this was going to be a tight race and it definitely did not disappoint. Webb was absolutely on fire, sealing her victory with a near-perfect Yurchenko one and a half that also earned her a share of the vault title. Both Brooks and Blanco had stellar days as well, with 15th-ranked Brooks proving that the rankings meant little in the face of performing under pressure and matching her career-best all around score.
- Haleigh Bryant (LSU) and Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma), 9.9750
- Ona Loper (Minnesota), 9.9625
Senior Loper threw down the gauntlet in session one with a near-flawless Yurchenko one and a half. In session two, SEC Freshman of the Year Bryant delivered when it counted, nailing an impeccable front handspring pike half to take the lead from Loper. Oklahoma senior Webb responded in the final rotation, sealing her all around victory by matching Bryant’s mark and taking a share of the vault title.
- Maya Bordas (California) and Maile O’Keefe (Utah), 9.9500
- Luisa Blanco (Alabama), 9.9375
Though neither Bordas nor O’Keefe were ranked in the top 10 on bars coming into championships, the sophomores capitalized on minor mistakes from higher-ranked competitors to edge out Blanco for the title. It’s the first national title for California, and Utah’s first on bars since Georgia Dabritz in 2015 and sixth on the event overall.
- Luisa Blanco (Alabama), 9.9625
- Sierra Brooks (Michigan), 9.9500
- Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma) and Ragan Smith (Oklahoma), 9.9375
Michigan’s Brooks put up a big 9.950 in the first rotation of the afternoon semifinal that nearly held on to win until Blanco put up a near flawless set in the anchor spot for the Crimson Tide to become the only sole event winner of the meet. Webb nearly notched another national title on beam but had to settle for third, tying with teammate Ragan Smith.
- Lexi Graber (Alabama), Anastasia Webb (Oklahoma) and Maile O’Keefe (Utah), 9.9625
In the penultimate floor routine of the semifinals, Alabama’s Graber wasn’t able to pull in a score big enough to advance the Crimson Tide to the finals but was able to notch a score to tie for the national title on the event. The two other gymnasts tying for the title also came from the evening session, with Webb and O’Keefe putting up the big 9.9625 to help each of their teams make the national final.
Click and expand the events below to see results and even links to watch archived broadcasts.
NCAA National Championships Semifinal One
NCAA National Championships Semifinal Two
NCAA National Championships Team Final
Article by the editors of College Gym News
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