LIVE BLOG: No. 51 Air Force at No. 63 Centenary

As only Centenary students and staff are allowed at meets in the Gold Dome for the month of January, I’m glad to provide the inside scoop on this week’s match up between the United States Air Force Academy and Centenary College. This will be our first look at Centenary since it was featured on SEC network week one due to Covid protocol cancellations last week. Last meet, Centenary was held back by some start values on vault, bars and floor. The Ladies will be looking to do some upgrades and hit clean routines this week to hang with Air Force. Hopefully, Chloe Armentor will make her way back into the vault lineup because her Yurchenko full has the potential to be the best on the team. Expect floor scores to go up for Emma Lavelle, Kendall Sanders and Lacey Wedge this week as they all made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the PMAC. Senior Kendall Knaps has been seen back training, so maybe that means she will make her 2022 debut this weekend too. 

Air Force’s week two meet against Utah State flew largely under the radar. The team’s bar performance kept it just shy of the 192 mark. Air Force was led by its beam team including Genevieve Sabado and Valerie Smith’s matching 9.8s on the event. Sabado made her all around debut with an impressive 38.475. All around All American Daija Stevenson had uncharacteristic struggles on bars and was held out of the vault lineup. 14/24 routines were from underclassmen, so some inconsistency at the beginning of the season can be expected. With more hit bar routines, Air Force could drastically improve its team total this week. 

Depending on individual team performances, this matchup could be really close, or really not. Bars will likely be the determining factor for both teams. I’ll keep you updated as it all unfolds!

Update: Coming to you live from the Gold Dome in Shreveport, LA where warm ups are underway! Grace Bardes bar warmup looked lovely, and it looks like she’s slated to be reinserted into the lineup today. Daija Stevenson is in some sort of wrist brace and has not warmed up vault or bars. I’ll keep y’all updated. Seniors Kendall Knaps and Xian Baumgartner are also warming up bars for the Ladies. It looks like Centenary will be going with a different lineup strategy today than in the first meet. Emma Lavelle warmed up her upgraded double layout dismount as well, so that’s something to look out for.

Stevenson warmed up beam and floor for Air Force. She looked strong and ready to go. Side note, the Air Force Academy has some pretty beam workers. Genevieve Sabado did one of the most beautiful Liukins I’ve ever seen. Some upgrades are in store during the Ladies’ floor lineup. This is going to be such a fun competition!

Not me accidentally sitting in the student section because I was trying to scout out the spot in the arena with the best view… Oops.

Introductions are underway! There may or may not be an introduction video. Technical difficulties.

No video. Maybe next time.

Knaps sang the anthem a la TWU’s Abigail Versemann back in the day (and by “back in the day,” I mean in 2018). Now we might be almost ready!

Rotation 1: Centenary VT, Air Force UB

Lavelle (CC): Yurchenko layout, a little piked in the hips with a bounce back. 9.400

Shearns (USAFA): Blind to Jaeger to overshoot. Just got the shoot. Double layout stuck-ish. A little piked in the air. Some handstand deductions there, but good start.

Plaza (CC): Tsuk layout. Way better than in the warm up. Small hop back. Good initiation of the layout position. 9.475

The bar judging is… not happening? There’s a delay.

Johnson (CC): Huge layout yurchenko with just a hop in place. Good chest up. 9.650

Sanders (CC): Yurchenko half, A little low and long with a low squat. Step back. 9.500

Nelson (USAFA):Toe hand to maloney to overshoot. Nice swing. Blind change to double front. Kind of missed her hand and had to make an adjustment on the blind. Sat the dismount down. The very long wait did not help her there. 8.875

Huff (CC): Beautiful tucked Yurchenko full with the slightest slide back.

Bardes (USAFA): Piked Delchev, clear hip to overshoot handstand. Nice shape. Blind full, double tuck. Over rotated that dismount and sat it down.

Wedge (CC): FHS front tuck. So much better this week. Short on the landing with a couple steps back to save it. Puts her hand down. 8.900

This has to be some of the most painfully slow judging I’ve ever sat through. Feeling for the Air Force Athletes right now. The next athlete is dancing to stay warm. You got this !

Boll (USAFA): Toe hand, maloney to overshoot. Pretty handstand. Toe hand to double tuck. The smallest hop back. Nice routine! Best one so far! 9.625

McKean (USAFA): Blind, Piked Jaeger. Nice. Toe hand to overshoot. Blind full to double tuck. Small hop back. Air Force is really bouncing back here! 9.75

Sabado (USAFA): Maloney to pak salto, a little leg separation on both. Double layout, stuck cold. Wow! That should score big. 9.800

AFTER ONE: Centenary 47.750, Air Force 47.725

Well, that was an interesting experience. The back half of Air Force’s bar lineup really brought it back after a slow start. That overall bar score is much improved over last weekend’s opener, so everything is headed in the right direction. Sabado was lights out here. I can’t wait for the rest of her events today! Centenary put up an all around better vault rotation which was reflected in a four-tenth boost over its last outing. This one is really close right now… Time to switch events!

Rotation 2: Air Force VT, Centenary UB

I think there’s supposed to be a live scoring link, but I currently cannot access it. Unless I’m crazy. So all scores are just what I see in the arena.

Volpe (USAFA): Beautiful Yurchenko layout. A small hop back. 9.525

Deshler (CC): Vault over mount, Blind full, swing half, overshoot. A little loss of control on the blind full. Blind full to double tuck. Two steps back. 9.300

Meyer (USAFA): Yurchenko layout with a hop back. A little piked in the air. 9.525. Consistency.

Baumgartner (CC): Clear hip handstand, falls over. covers with a swing half to pak salto. Hits her feet on the floor. Tries to keep swinging but has to come down. Toe up to high. Casted over again. Trying to figure out what to do now… One moment. Double tuck. Small slide back. Not her best today. (To be fair, she was not training bars most of preseason due to a wrist injury)

Boll (USAFA): Yurchenko layout with a hop back “LETSSSS GOOO!” I love the enthusiasm. 9.600

Judging conference is commencing on Baumgartner’s bars. 7.550

Brochi (USAFA): Yurchenko full, Nice in the air with a hop back. 9.775

Knaps (CC): Swing half to Geinger, just a touch far. Overshoot, taps her feet on the floor. Double tuck. Step back. 8.200

McKean (USAFA): Yurchenko full with a hop to the side. A little loss of control. 9.725

Sabado (USAFA): Yurchenko full, came in just a little short with a lunge forward. 9.500

Lavelle (CC): Blind change to Jaeger. A touch close on the catch. Clear hip handstand to overshoot. Drops down? She must’ve felt too far on the catch to kip out? Goes for the double layout with just the smallest hop in place. Good dismount. Was dropping down strategy? 9.000? It says Knaps next to it, but they must mean Lavelle.

Sanders (CC): Clear hip Geinger to overshoot. Good last handstand. Double layout. Almost stuck it, but couldn’t quite hold it today. Small step forward. That was a veteran performance from the senior. 9.525

Wilson (CC): Toe handstand, Maloney. Doesn’t quite get her dowel around and comes off. This will impact her start value. Swing, swing, pak salto. Good handstands. Stuck that full in like she was absolutely furious. Way to finish. 9.00

Air Force was cheering for Centenary through those last few routines. I love college gymnastics so much y’all. It’s so heart warming.

AFTER TWO: Air Force 95.875, Centenary ??? 92.775

Well Air Force definitely won the battle of the bars today. Centenary was struggling to stay on the equipment more today than in its season opener. However, several new members were added to this lineup who are coming off of injury. The Ladies will need to put that event behind it to finish the back half of the meet strong. Air Force looked strong on vault, with a lineup composed of half layouts and half fulls. I feel like normally the Falcons have more fulls in the lineup, but I can’t be 100% sure off the top of my head. Regardless, the landings were minimized on every vault. That’s what counts.

Rotation 3: Centenary BB, Air Force FX

Molina (CC): Beat to straddle half, a little short on the turn. Handstand, BHS LOSO. Small check. switch leap, tuck 3/4. Solid. Cat leap, front Aerial. Very long, but pulls it around with a small correction. Gainer front full off the end with a small hop in place. 9.45

Brochi (USAFA): Back 2.5. So nice. Switch side to popa. Good extension. Front double full. We love the difficulty Air Force! And in the lead off?! Front full, front layout. A VERY strong lead off routine there. 9.725

Baumgartner (CC): Beat, split 3/4. Mic drop. BHS BHS LOSO. Upgraded that from last meet. Small check. Split, tuck 3/4. Chest lean. This on the beam choreography though. Punch front full. Small step to the side. 9.575

McKean (USAFA): Still I rise music. Double pike. Squatty on the landing with a large lunge. Front full, front lay. Good amplitude. This music change is so interesting. Switch half, popa. Pretty! Double tuck. Some chest down but better control on the landing. 9.525

Deshler (CC): Front Aerial, very large check. Tried to keep it moving, but too much bend at the hips. Ring jump. Switch leap, check. Straight jump, tuck 3/4 to get a leap connection. Gainer full dismount. Will have some SV things there. 9.400? Okay.

Meyer (USAFA): Double tuck. Nice control. Some chest down. Switch side, popa. Good height. Front lay, front lay. Down graded from what she warmed up on that pass. I love the intensity of this routine! Double pike. Didn’t quite have enough height and had to put her hands down. 8.975

Martinez (CC): Switch leap, switch side. Didn’t quite get the feet together on the side. Front toss, very low squat and a fall to the side. Back tuck, by itself so no series here either. Beat to straddle 1/2. Good. Gainer pike. Some small corrections in place.

Stevenson (USAFA): Split full, wolf 1.5. A little under, but maybe enough for credit. Front full, front layout. Clean. A little bouncy. I love her choreography so much! How can you not smile watching this? Double tuck. Good control on the landing. Should be a good score. 9.750

Lavelle (CC): BHS LOSO. A little too much weight on the back foot, but good. Cat leap, pause… switch side. Nice. Sideways full turnnnnnn… bend at the waist. Switch kick, side Aerial. Lovely. straddle 1/4? . RO back 1.5 dismount. Large step. 9.450

Sabado (USAFA): Double pike. So nice. Front lay, front full. Jump out. Beautiful switch ring. Perfect shape. Back 1.5 to front layout. A little off center on the punch but controls it well with a hop to the side. 9.825

Sanders (CC): BHS Layout two-feet. No wobbles here. Switch leap, tuck full, beat. Tucked front full dismount. Small hop forward. Nice routine for her. 9.600

Stapleton (USAFA): So sassy. I love. Double pike. Very good. Chest up and everything. Whip half, front full. A little less control on that one. Switch side, popa? She landed facing the wrong direction, so confused. Double tuck. Chest a little low. Air Force is rolling through floor, right now. 9.825


Carswell (USAFA): Okay just kidding. She warmed it up though! Maybe later in the season? I’m hopeful.

AFTER THREE: Air Force 144.525, Centenary 140.250

Air Force was able to rebound from a mistake by Meyer to come up with five hit routines in the rotation. The Falcons have some strong floor workers this year! Their routines are fun, and the tumbling looks very strong to boot. Centenary looked a little shaky today on beam, but there were some bright spots in there. Kendall Sanders proved why she’s the anchor with a near flawless routine, while classmate Baumgartner added in her triple series today. The Ladies had some series connection issues today. Hopefully, more confidence in competition will help with that. Onto the last rotation!

Rotation 4: Air Force BB, Centenary FX 

Stapleton (USAFA): BHS LOSO. Solid, soft legs and feet. Beat, switch side. Solid. Straddle… Straddle, popa. Wow. So hard. So nice. Gainer pike dismount. Stuck. 9.575

Martinez (CC): Double tuck. Chest down, but good control. Rudi. She looks so happy with that. Good leap pass. This is new dance I think? Or maybe I have amnesia. Can’t be sure. Front lay, front full. Not quite enough rotation to pull that full out. That’ll be a crowd pleaser, once there’s a real crowd. 8.95

Brochi (USAFA): BHS LOSO. Large check with the leg up and a couple steps. Switch, straddle 1/4. Beat, Side Aerial. Clean on that. RO back 1.5. Near stuck. Small step back. 9.45

Baumgartner (CC): Double tuck. So good. These facial expressions. I cannot. Front full, front lay. Stuck. CARWASH. Shout out Liz Sander! Switch half ring. Back 1.5 to front tuck. Large step but keeps it in bounds. Best routine of her career. Easy. 9.425 (guess not lol)

McKean (USAFA): Straddle, straddle 1/4. BHS LOSO. Fixed the front foot, under control. Small check on the turn. Switch, switch half. Off center on the position there. Ro back 1.5 dismount with a hop to the side. 9.500

Huff (CC): Double tuck. Solid. Not the cowboy hats for the cotton eyed joe routine! Rudi. A little chest low. Switch side, wolf full to the stomach. Unique leap there. Back 1.5 to front tuck. A little off on the punch but controlled it well.9.65

Sabado (USAFA): Jump split mount. BHS LOSO. No movement. Zero. Front Aerial. Lacked some height but pulled it around. Switch leap, ring jump. Small correction there. RO back 1.5 with a hop. 9.700

Lavelle (CC): Double pike. We’re in bounds this week! Nice one! This routine is so her. Love. Front lay, front full. Nice. Double tuck. Just gets it around. Way better routine today! 9.675

Smith (USAFA): BHS LOSO. Large correction with a leg up. Pretty turn. Who would’ve thought I’d say that? Split, split full? A little under on the rotation with a check. Cat leap, full dismount. VERY crooked on the take off. Glad there was an eight incher over there. A couple steps to the side. 9.375

Sanders (CC): Double pike. Good control there. Switch side, popa. Better feet. Rudi to double stag jump, right into the dance. Nothing to see here… My favorite college gym move. Front full, front lay. Pretty low squat on the landing, but pulls it out this week. 9.425

Stevenson (USAFA): Hello front tuck mount. Nice one. BHS LOSO, hip a little open but manages it fine. Switch leap, back tuck, wolf jump. Slow on the first connection, but should count. Gainer pike, stuck. Good routine for her! 9.550

Wedge (CC): Double pike. Held on way too long and rolled out of it. Nice leap series. Front lay, front full. Very good amplitude. Double tuck, just so good! I’m sad about that first pass because the rest was solid. 9.075


Boll (USAFA): Split, straddle 3/4. Good. BHS LOSO. Large check. Way to fight. She does an Onodi! A check today. But wow. BHS back 1.5 dismount with a step off the side of the mat. 9.400

Johnson (CC): Double tuck. Nice and high. It’s a drumline routine. That’s all. Back layout for the second pass. I think she just got back to training floor recently. Back 1.5 to front lay last pass. Had to force that one around and a step back. That’ll be a good routine to have in the lineup once it’s upgraded.

Final: Air Force 192.400, Centenary 187.650

Centenary fell prey to inconsistency on bars and beam tonight but was still able to up its team score over the season opener by over a point… So basically typical Centenary behavior. I can say that because I’ve been there, done that. The Ladies’ cause was helped along by more consistent performances on vault and floor. A mid 187 will help Centenary move up some in the Division III standings, but the Ladies will look to creep into the 190-191 range in the near future to move up more in the USAG standings.

Like I said at the beginning of this Live Blog, everything will come down to bars. Centenary didn’t quite have the big scores to swallow the three falls counted on the event, but Air Force came with the big guns at the end of the lineup to salvage its effort there. The Falcons’ five counted routines on floor were so solid, and beam is coming along nicely as well. I honestly felt like the beam scores were a little tight tonight for Air Force, but my opinion means very little in the grand scheme of things. Genevieve Sabado had yet another great all around performance today, helping her team to eclipse the 192 mark. This relatively young team bounced back well after a less than stellar bar rotation to count no mistakes on the rest of the rotations. That’s honestly an impressive feat.

Thanks for coming along to my first in person live blog! It was an experience I’ll not soon forget.

AA Winner: Genevieve Sabado, 38.825

VT Winner: Velandra Brochi, 9.775

UB Winner: Genevieve Sabado, 9.800

BB Winner: Genevieve Sabado, 9.700

FX Winner: Cameo Stapleton & Genevieve Sabado 9.825

Beast Award: Abby Halasi-Kun USAFA, Kendall Sanders CC

This is an award that is given out at every Centenary home meet in honor of Sylvia Keiter, a Centenary gymnastics alumni who lost her life when helping another motorist on the side of the road in need. This award goes to the athlete on each team who best exemplifies Sylvia’s attributes: unstoppable, relentless, committed, exuberant, selfless/team first, run through a brick wall mentality.

Live Blog by Tavia Smith

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