Vanessa Deniz

LIVE BLOG: No. 6 Alabama at No. 3 Oklahoma

Welcome to MAIN CHANNEL ESPN for the only top 10 matchup on the week one schedule! These two teams are both poised to have great 2022 seasons and could contend for the team final, so it’s super exciting to see them face off so early… Not to mention all the, ah, excitement that Oklahoma home meets bring us.

Oklahoma graduated more routines than most top teams, with Anastasia Webb, Jordan Draper and Evy Schoepfer all departing, but don’t expect depth trouble for the Sooners. The Oklahoma freshmen include Jordan Bowers, who seems prepared to step into Webb’s all-around position, as well as a number of talented leg-event gymnasts who might help alleviate some of the peculiarities of the Oklahoma floor lineup in recent years.

The biggest thing to watch for Alabama, meanwhile, is the injury status of the juniors. Luisa Blanco hasn’t been seen on anything but beam in around a month for reasons we don’t know for sure but that we assume are related to some kind of tweak or minor injury. Mati Waligora and Makarri Doggette, on the other hand, finally seem to have their leg events ready to go after long recovery journeys.

Rotation 1: Oklahoma VT, Alabama UB

Davis (OU): FTY, leg separation on the table, flare out with a hop straight back. Of course she can do the 10.0 SV but it makes sense to start a little slow. 9.775

Gaskins (UA): Ray to Pak, leg separation but super straight knees, double layout with SLIGHTLY soft knees with a small hop. 9.825

Ramsey (OU): FTY, comes in a touch short with a hop forward. 9.775

Waligora (UA): Blind to Jaeger to overshoot, little flicker of feet but not a catastrophe, FTDLO pin-straight with a small hop back. Great. 9.8

LeVasseur (OU): One and a half SO CLEAN and stuck on her heels. Wow. Could have easily stepped back but had faith and got it done. 10. Boom. 

Adams (UA): Maloney to Pak great. Crowd just screamed, I assume that’s the LeVasseur score. Blind change a tiny bit late to double back, stuck-ish with heels pulled in. 9.85

Stern (OU): One and a half, slightly soft knees compared to LeVasseur but much more fun to watch than we’ve seen from her in the past. Holds it for a second and then hops her feet together. 10 LOL

Machado (UA): Maloney with leg separation to Pak. Toe on to van Leeuwen gorgeous. Toe full late to double back stuck. 9.875

Bowers (OU): One and a half, where’s the block… Yeah, sat that down, never had a chance. Tough mental position to be in as a freshman, her brain must have been going 10 10 10 10 10?!?!?!?! the whole time. She’ll be fine. 

Blanco (UA): Maloney to Pak, pretty, slightly rushed half turn. FTDB stuck with beautiful leg form. 9.85

Sullivan (OU): FTY, not very high off the table but good form, step back. 9.85

Doggette (UA): Tkachev to Pak, great form, her usual. Double lay, little skitter backward. 9.85

After 1: Oklahoma 49.300, Alabama 49.250

Oklahoma has NO depth on vault. We’ve heard there are a few Sooners in COVID protocol, so let’s hope that the situation eases up in the next few weeks. But dang, LeVasseur couldn’t have been any better and Stern’s landing instincts are unmatched. 

Alabama’s bars rotation is really lovely and it’s good to get a steady, no-nonsense rotation under its belt to start the season. The landings need work but it’s week one, that’s how it goes.

Rotation 2: Alabama VT, Oklahoma UB

Gaskins (UA): Yurchenko full, a little flat off the table but lots of distance, big hop back and fights to avoid taking more steps. 9.725

LeVasseur (OU): Tkachev good with a bit of feet, absolutely gorgeous bail, hips couldn’t be any straighter. Double layout stuck dead. Really aggressive for a lead off. 9.85

Adams (UA): Yurchenko full, piked down a bit with a hop back. Obviously can do the 1.5 but also can sit it when she’s off so… this is fine for today. 9.8

Sievers (OU): Slightly shy on the first handstand maybe? Maloney to Pak, great, super straight position. Leg flicker on the low bar half turn. Another borderline cast handstand and then beautiful stuck FTDB. 9.85

Paradise (UA): Solid FTY, another minor pike down with a hop. 9.775

Thomas (OU): Toe blind a little late to Jaeger, slightly loose with foot form. Double layout with a small step back. 9.875

Waligora (UA): One and a half, undercooked and a little lock-legged with two big steps backward. 9.625

Smith (OU): Ray with great counterrotation to good Pak. Double layout shapey and a bit of leg separation with a TINY hop in place. 9.9

Doggette (UA): One and a half, huge and powerful, big step forward. 9.85

Bowers (OU): Ray with great counterrotation again, toe on to Pak with great leg form. 9.9

Graber (UA): One and a half with a big step forward, much like Doggette’s but a little flatter. 9.8

Davis (OU): Precise cast handstands, Higgins to Jaeger great, blind to front giant to DOUBLE FRONT HALF OUT STUCK. 9.95

After 2: Oklahoma 98.775, Alabama 98.200

That’s a postseason-worthy bars rotation for the Sooners. The bars judges honestly could have been a little more generous, but there are of course still tweaks to make in terms of landing and a few of the early-rotation cast handstands.

Alabama vault has been an issue for a while and it didn’t look great today, but there’s time to try to teach everyone where the ground is.

Rotation 3: Oklahoma BB, Alabama FX

Dunn (OU): Triple series, slightly off line but keeps it on with her arms. Split straddle 1/2 good. Gainer full stuck. Very solid. 9.875

Gaskins (UA): Front through double back, skitter back, I think that’s out of bounds but it’s hard to see. Y turn to wolf turn full with a hop. Pique turns! Her dance is so fun to watch. Switch ring switch half, hop. Double pike, more or less keeps the front foot down that time. 9.585

Bowers (OU): BHS LOSO, slightest touch of knees. Switch switch half beat super steady. Double twist dismount, step back. 9.875

Machado (UA): Double pike, bit of a hop. Double wolf turn actually really nice, First State knows how to do that, switch ring switch half. One and a half, missed the punch badly, made the punch front but NARROWLY avoided her butt hitting the floor. 9.15

Davis (OU): Full turn, BHS LOSO good. Switch leap, backs up, maybe that was meant to be a connection. Split to front aerial with slightly soft knees. Beat to ring. Double full dismount with a hop back. 9.875

Adams (UA): Double pike. Tour jete half, hops around another half twist. Does a vague jump with a full turn in a spot that was definitely supposed to be a leap. Um, no leap pass. Made the combo pass to finish but that was a big problem and she knows it. 9.45

Thomas (OU): Cat leap side somi, major check. BHS LOSO. Switch straddle 1/4. Side aerial back full underrotated, step forward. 9.6

Waligora (UA): L turn, good. This is such a tough position mentally after three big mistakes. Front lay front 2/1 good, a touch of knees. Tour jete half wolf full. Orphan side aerial, what a throwback! One and a half front lay, big step and narrowly keeps it in bounds. My stream flickered for the last pass but the landing looked solid. 9.825 good recovery 

Woodard (OU): Side aerial BHS aggressive and solid. Kickover front to beat. Switch to split. Side aerial back full stuck.

Blanco (UA):  Double pike, minor front foot scoot. Switch ring half… was that switch half split full?? I blanked for a second but the positions were good. Great double back. I just love how much Kathy loves her, she’s definitely the Kathy’s Favorite Gymnast (TM) of this generation. Front full front lay lovely. 9.875

Smith (OU): BHS LOSO and fall. Front aerial steady. Straddle half Korbut great. BHS huge gainer full stuck. 

Graber (UA): Full in huge, chest forward and steps forward. Good Popa. Switch side to wolf 3/2, intricate choreography in the leap pass is fun to see. Front through double pike good. 

After 3: Oklahoma 147.950, Alabama 146.775

This is a meet to forget for Alabama. Got better at the end but man, the vibes are just not good today.

Oklahoma survived beam narrowly with a 9.6 counted but I wouldn’t sweat it… yet. I’m honestly more worried about the stickability of the double twist dismounts than I am about a repeat of the Smith fall, but we’ll see. 

Rotation 4: Alabama BB, Oklahoma FX

Burgess (UA): Back from an Achilles injury. Full turn, BHS 1-arm to LOSO emphatic and she’s grinning. Cat leap switch side, drilled again. Switch split, side aerial back full. FANTASTIC start. Blanco is the first to reach her and it looks like they both started crying immediately. 9.85

Davis (OU): Front double full to sissone, nice and high. One and a half front lay, delicately tiptoes out of bounds. Switch full a bit underrotated. Rudi with a little bounce. 

Doggette (UA): Full turn, BHS LOSO super high and well controlled. Apparently it was her request to go earlier in the beam lineup. Beat jump switch half, adjustment. Split to tucked Korbut (called a Chen I think…?, kind of low and indistinct. One and a half twist with a big step forward. 9.725

Johnson (OU): Front lay to Rudi, cross step backwards. Double back a little overrotated. Switch half wolf full. 

Gaskins (UA): Iffy candle mount, Y turn, BHS LOSO secure. Switch straddle 1/4. Gainer full with a hop back. 9.75

LaPinta (OU): Triple twist, crossed legs as usual, hop to lunge. Front full front lay, floaty but a touch of knees. Tour jete half split full imprecise. Double back, chest a little low. 9.825

Adams (UA): Front aerial, BHS LOSO emphatic with great form, check on choreo oh no!! Double wolf, leaning back slightly but kept it under control. Switch….. pause. Step back. Split. Is she going to have two routines in a row with no dance series, are you serious… Solid dismount. 9.525

Woodard (OU): Front double twist, larger step forward. Whip half front full, twists with one arm up which is really fun to watch. Front full front lay nearly stuck. Good one! 9.9

Waligora (UA): Full turn. BHS LOSO, slightly tentative but landed well. Side aerial. Split to tuck full. One and a half twist stuck. Good one! Nice steady routine. 9.925

Bowers (OU): Double pike FLOATS, well controlled. Front double full front tuck, baby hop, narrowly stayed in bounds. Good combo to finish. On replay that second pass WAS out of bounds but sounds like there wasn’t a flag. 9.925

Blanco (UA): Front aerial, full turn, triple series with a little check. Beautiful penche. Switch switch half, little lean, fights for it. Double full dismount with a baby step back.

Smith (OU): Double back overrotated. One and a half front lay (soft knees) front tuck, fun to watch, little bounce. Double pike, slightly scooty landing. Gonna want to get those landings under control but there’s potential there. 9.9 oh

FINAL: Oklahoma 197.400, Alabama 195.875

Very robust start for Oklahoma and the Sooners will be able to see very clearly what to improve over the season. The first two rotations were extraordinary, but beam could be a little steadier and floor was lukewarm at times. That’s fine: It’s January. We’ll see how lineups and personnel change for the Sooners as the season wears on.

For Alabama… not much went right between bars and the last few beam routines. The leg events are just not ready physically or mentally. A single gymnast missing a mandatory combination on two events and not being able to cover or execute a backup plan is baffling. A lot of this could be explained if the latter part of the preseason was disrupted by COVID, but let’s hope it was a one-off.

AA Champ: Audrey Davis 39.325
VT Champ: Kat LeVasseur, Allie Stern (OU) 10.000
UB Champ: Audrey Davis (OU) 9.950
BB Champ: Carly Woodard (OU) 9.950
FX Champ: Jordan Bowers (OU) 9.925

Live Blog by Rebecca Scally

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  1. yeah Bama is never good early for whatever reason. Did have 3 normal gymnast out on Vault, but Coach never has this team ready. I get that most are similar, but not the big dogs. Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida, Utah and LSU are ready to go first meet. Very disappointing. Shania unfortunately doesn’t need to do all around. Proved that last year. She just gets in her on head, but very talented.

  2. Do you think the fact that Shallon Olsen, Lilly Hudson, and Kaylee Quinn were nowhere to be found might have been worth mentioning somewhere in your entire blog?

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