While the official rankings are a great indicator of how a team is scoring, they don’t always tell the full story of how a team is actually doing. Overscoring, injuries, upgrades and downgrades are all things a score can’t necessarily tell you about, so I will. In my biweekly Report Card, I’ll grade our top teams on each event while giving feedback on what’s working well and what needs to improve to make the Honor Roll—where you want to be to truly contend for an NCAA championship.
After two weeks, countless cancellations, surprises, disappointments and drama, we finally got a semblance as to what every team is going to be bringing to the table this season. If the season ended today, it would be the preseason big four of Michigan, Utah, Florida and Oklahoma filling out the team final lineup, but the rest of the nationals picture gets quite busy with the bubble teams giving us a mixed bag of offerings throughout two weeks of competition.
Top of the Class
|Vault: A+||Bars: A||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: It’s quite early into the year to be giving out A-pluses, but there aren’t enough good things to say about the Wolverines on vault at this point. So, without major issues to discuss on the other events, let’s state a few. Michigan has set the new standard on vault by putting up six clean and consistent Yurchenko one and a halves in consecutive weeks to open the season. That’s any coach’s dream scenario. With the difficulty edge the Wolverines have, sticking isn’t even essential right now, yet Michigan is already doing that, too.
Concerns: Reyna Guggino wobbled and Gabby Wilson fell on beam in the same meet once, but I’d say the Wolverines recovered well in putting up the highest score of the season.
|Vault: A||Bars: A-||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: There’s no doubt that Florida’s slim victory over Alabama wasn’t the Gators’ ideal performance, but through two weeks of the season, any team should be happy with a 197 and a win in the same meet. Trinity Thomas completing her gym slam has been a highlight of the young season, with highly anticipated freshmen Sloane Blakley, Riley McCusker and Leanne Wong all solid to start their careers, too. Resting Thomas on beam and floor and general lineup shuffling between meets has allowed Florida to flex its depth as Jenny Rowland tries to piece together her lineups with lots of talent to choose from.
Concerns: Oddly, bars has been a bit lackluster to start the season with not a single 9.9 yet despite no big misses, and the 10.0 start value vault debuts of Savannah Schoenherr and Wong both landing short of expectations—and vertical. The Gators aren’t lacking in vault difficulty per se, but the difficulty hasn’t been worth it yet. Morgan Hurd’s surprise Instagram reveal of a torn ACL can also be filed under “unfortunate news” for Florida.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: While early to make a full assessment, Jade Carey displayed a difficult repertoire of skills yet looked so comfortable and prepared in her NCAA debut that she looks like she could sweep NCAAs next week. The Yurchenko double was controlled, she kicked out of the double-double, and she pulled in her highest score on her “weakest” event. Smart routine construction seems to have made the Olympics-to-college transition much easier for Carey than it has for some of her fellow elites, and it appears she could have a special season in store for us.
Concerns: The only caveat to such a promising premier is the pressure of continuing to live up to it. To avoid scrutiny from the gymternet on Twitter, the rest of Oregon State must now live up to it, too.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: A-||Floor: A|
Compliments: The Gophers got underway in a big way, notching the program’s first ever win over blue blood UCLA in a consistent performance across the board. Minnesota got to showcase a bit of depth with the absence of the injured Tiarre Sales, and Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper made every fan immediately grateful for their fifth-year returns with Loper’s stuck vault and Ramler’s nation-leading 39.700 in the all-around. There’s a lot of room for growth in a vault lineup that showed four 10.0 start values and totaled over a 49 with some underrated landings, and Mya Hooten stole the show on floor against a team notorious for its virality.
Concerns: A fall on beam forced Minnesota to count a miss, and while Ramler can make up for that for now, the Gophers won’t have that margin for error come postseason. Vault and floor also had dropped misses that need cleaning up before they become issues in the future.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: A||Floor: A-|
Compliments: After a tentative opening meet, the floodgates opened for the Utes in their home opener where they put together a complete performance and notched the nation’s second-highest score of the year. Promisingly, that was without Kara Eaker, who will now raise the ceiling on scoring potential when she returns from an ankle sprain. Utah also showed five 10.0 start value vaults, with the potential for a sixth from either a healthy Eaker or fellow freshman Sage Thompson, who has already helped up the level of the bars lineup.
Concerns: Although vault and bars already look stronger than last season, shuffled landings have left plenty of points on the table. Showing consistency on floor will also be a point of emphasis as the season moves on.
Plenty of Potential
|Vault: A-||Bars: A||Beam: A-||Floor: A-|
Compliments: Week two was a good response from Alabama after depleted lineups spoiled the season opener, with only a walk-off perfect 10 from Trinity Thomas preventing the Crimson Tide from snagging a giant upset on the road against the Gators. Bars is once again looking like it will be a strength as the most consistent event thus far, and there’s a promising amount of difficulty in the vault lineup with five gymnasts already showing 10.0 start values and a sixth on the way once Luisa Blanco’s shoulder allows her to return to the all-around.
Concerns: A few too many of the errors in the opening performance were from returnees, meaning inconsistency is a concern that can’t fully be swept aside for the Crimson Tide at this point. Adding to that concern is the consistency of those five difficult vaults they’ve shown, as neither week’s lineup featured all five or any scores in the 9.9-plus echelon.
|Vault: A-||Bars: A-||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: Head coach Jordyn Wieber’s floor notoriety lives on as that’s where the Razorbacks have been most impressive and consistent to start the season while Fierce Five teammate and volunteer assistant coach Kyla Ross is having the same effect on an improved beam lineup. Last week’s 49.550 on bars showcased the scoring potential of that lineup in front of 10,345 fans, which means Arkansas is doing something right if that many Arkansans showed up to watch gymnastics.
Concerns: The other bars score the Razorbacks this year is a 48.225, and it wasn’t the replacement athletes in the lineup who faltered either. Arkansas, unfortunately, lost Cami Weaver’s Yurchenko one and a half to injury as soon as she debuted it, putting the Razorbacks in a slight difficulty hole on the event compared to the top of the SEC.
|Vault: A||Bars: A-||Beam: A-||Floor: A-|
Compliments: The Tigers responded phenomenally to the pressure of a record-breaking crowd at Arkansas after a nervy week one performance. Four 10.0 start value vaults two weeks into the season is good for this program, especially when vault is the sole event where Auburn has been over 49 both weeks. Also, extra credit for having the Olympic all-around champion anchoring two events.
Concerns: With only two meets to grade, it’s been an overall inconsistent season thus far from Auburn, with “the little things” showing in the opening meet score. The ceiling is clearly high for the Tigers, who should be aiming to capitalize on the opportunity of having the aforementioned gold medalist.
|Vault: A-||Bars: A||Beam: A||Floor: A-|
Compliments: With just a single fall on the season, the Pioneers should commend themselves on their ability to hit. Denver has three steady 10.0 start values to close out its vault lineup, and after avoiding counting the lone fall on beam in week one, the beam lineup improved last weekend to earn the Pioneers’ highest event total of 2022. This consistency could be a major asset if it continues all season long.
Concerns: While the hitting is impressive, minor errors have plagued Denver and prevented it from reaching the mid-197s that the title hopefuls have been putting up. The number of hoppy vaults, unstuck dismounts and steps out of bounds will need to shrink from one or two a rotation to one or two a meet for the Pioneers to fully ascend to contender status.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: B||Floor: A|
Compliments: After being canceled on twice, Kentucky convinced Ball State it needed to compete twice last weekend so the Wildcats could notch themselves a top 10 ranking and make everyone regret not putting Raena Worley higher on their fantasy gymnastics draft order. Worley casually posted the top score on every event en route to an all-around total that lands her third in the country and anchors a four 10.0 start value vault lineup.
Concerns: Falls and a slew of 9.7s that could’ve been 9.8s on beam on floor became the difference between a good opening performance and a great one, and between a ninth- and fifth-place ranking. If the Wildcats can clean up landings and keep everything consistent, they could make themselves a top-10 mainstay and put themselves on the good side of the nationals bubble.
|Vault: A-||Bars: A-||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: Two weeks into the season, Missouri sits in a great spot within the top 10 of the rankings and the top half of the SEC after an opening-weekend meet that remains one of the most complete performances of 2022. The Tigers were one of only a handful of teams to hit 49 on four events that week, and Helen Hu graced our presence once again on beam to raise that event ranking to second in the country. Former five-star recruit Amari Celestine also had a welcome first meet, notching 9.875s on vault and floor to lead Missouri’s efforts on both events.
Concerns: The challenge the Tigers must now face is living up to the expectations they set, lacking the pedigree of a perennial top 10 team or second meet to judge to set aside doubt they can repeat the performance. With Hu currently only in the beam lineup, what Missouri lacks most right now compared to the major players is a gymnast who can provide a realistic 9.9 on any event in any situation. Ideally, that’s what the Tigers are going to morph Celestine into.
Room for Improvement
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: B||Floor: A|
Compliments: In a season with high expectations, the Golden Bears started their season with their best opening score in program history and the second best total in the Pac-12. The all-arounder-heavy lineup strategy is also still in effect as Maya Bordas, Nevaeh DeSouza and Andi Li all hit 39.300 or higher across the four events. If you combine former four-star recruits Mya Lauzon and Madelyn Williams into one super freshman, she debuted with a promising 39.375 as well.
Concerns: Beam has the potential to be the highest-scoring event for California as the only apparatus to earn multiple 9.9s, but it’s also the event that keeps it outside of the top 10 with two falls sabotaging the score. Veterans Milan Clausi, Grace Quinn and Nina Schank unexpectedly combined for a majority of the Golden Bears errors in the first meet and have a slim margin for error moving forward if they’re to keep pace with the conference-leading Utes this season.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: B||Floor: B-|
Compliments: The Tigers started their season on a high note, looking nearly postseason ready on vault and going 49.500 on bars while dropping Sami Durante’s score. Former three-star recruit KJ Johnson proved she’s an underrated freshman to keep an eye on by snagging a pair of 9.9s on the leg events and an event title in her first collegiate competition.
Concerns: Unfortunately, an injury to Durante in the anchor spot on bars was the turning point for LSU in the team’s lone appearance of the year. A wobbly beam rotation preceded a landing deduction-heavy and five-member floor lineup after superstar Haleigh Bryant was pulled due to injury after warmups. Depth will now be put to the test as the Tigers have several crucial scores missing to contend for a championship. Hopefully, the cancellation of LSU’s week two meet gave injuries the opportunity to heal or new lineups to be solidified.
|Vault: A||Bars: A||Beam: B||Floor: A|
Compliments: The Sooners got to claim the first two perfect scores of the season with Katherine LeVasseur and Allie Stern
sticking hitting consecutive vaults in a lineup that made an overall improvement from week one to week two. The entire bars lineup is pulling its weight and is setting up Audrey Davis’ toe point to anchor with a 10.0 whenever the judges finally give in. A couple short landings popped up in the Utah meet, but there haven’t been any major issues; the height on Jordan Bowers’ double pike makes up for that, for now.
Concerns: Despite Oklahoma’s legacy as a “beam team,” the average outing followed by counting a fall on beam is very reminiscent of the Sooners in weeks two and three in 2021. If history repeats itself, we’re going to see Oklahoma’s beam go sub-48 next week but rebound with three straight 49.5-plus totals. Arizona and Stanford, the Sooners’ next opponents, are hoping history repeats itself.
|Vault: A-||Bars: C||Beam: A||Floor: A|
Compliments: Iowa’s greatest talent so far this season has been its ability to schedule meets, having competed three times already while COVID has run amok through the Pac-12 and SEC. Floor picked up right where it left off last season—with Linda Zivat fitting right in—and three fall-free beam lineups is a feat plenty of teams can envy. Zivat is also fitting in very well on vault with her Tsuk full adding difficulty the Hawkeyes have desperately needed since the Yurchenko full was devalued.
Concerns: Every Iowa handstand will now be a hold-your-breath moment as arched backs, falls, overcasts, late pirouettes and feet clipping the floor have spelled disaster on bars in every meet. Those issues were agonizingly apparent when the Hawkeyes had the opportunity for a program-defining victory over Minnesota and UCLA leading heading into the final rotation of Monday’s tri meet. A lack of vault difficulty compared to the top 10 means Iowa will have to rely on sticks, but if it can work its way back to 49s on bars, the ceiling raises quite a bit.
|Vault: B||Bars: C||Beam: B||Floor: A|
Compliments: Watching Norah Flatley compete in the all-around, especially after not being slated to, was an encouraging sight to see after injuries sidelined her for much of last season. Flately joined Chae Campbell and Brooklyn Moors as the few bright spots for the Bruins, with Moors’ vault and stuck double front on floor a pleasant reminder of the potential this roster has.
Concerns: Two falls and an injury to Margzetta Frazier in the first rotation of the season spelled disaster for UCLA, who turned it into a worst-case scenario by following up with misses on beam and vault. Kendal Poston crashed the same vault she’s had trouble with for four years, and Jordan Chiles’ Yurchenko double also barely made it around to spoil two of the three 10.0 start values the Bruins put forth. Plus, a bars lineup with five former elites shouldn’t be ranked 38th in the NCAA. Every program is dealing with a lot right now, and UCLA hasn’t been able to make the adjustments other teams have.
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Article by Brandis Heffner
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