Neveah DeSouza Beam

The NCAA Report Card: February 16, 2022

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 will 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.

Just as we eclipsed the halfway point of the season and all had seemingly calmed down, some Pac-12 upsets started to shift the postseason picture. The Michigan-led quartet at the top of the rankings has effectively shrunk to a trio with Utah now racing LSU to see who can hit 198 first and join the popular crowd, while California earned a statement win to make a repeat nationals trip seem much more realistic. With plenty of teams still looking capable of advancing to the big show, a handful of key non-conference matchups in the second half of the season should help eliminate the posers.

Top of the Class


Vault: A++ Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: Leading off a rotation with three consecutive 10s literally made me change the grading system—“++” is now a thing. The Wolverines have overcome every challenge they’ve faced so far this season, rank in the top five on every event, have rested their star athletes, remain healthy and are simply dominating in every aspect.

Concerns: To no fault of its own, Michigan hasn’t actually faced any challenges this season in terms of competition. Besting second place in each of their meets by an average of 1.8375 points, the Wolverines haven’t had to deal with much pressure. But, with Oklahoma and Auburn to close out the regular season, this will change soon enough.

Honor Roll


Vault: A Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: The Gators continue to chomp, still undefeated on the season and frontrunners for conference and national titles, albeit with a few close-calls the last two weekends. Roster management through the first half of the season should allow for full-strength lineups (or close-to) for the challenging second half of Florida’s regular season slate, with the combination of rested superstars and freshmen with competition numbers providing proper preparation for a productive postseason.

Concerns: Part of the reason Florida was a combined 0.450 away from going 0-2 the last two weeks has been its inability to actually hit six-for-six. A sub-9.8 score is a miss for any title contender, and the Gators have had seven over the past two weeks with Sloane Blakely struggling across the board. There have been enough 9.9s to overcome those mistakes for now, but the room for error is shrinking weekly with a visit from Oklahoma and a trip to Auburn still to come.


Vault: A Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: The Sooners climbed in the rankings this week, jumping the Utes to quasi-avenge the dual meet loss earlier in the season and keep the overall trajectory positive. Amongst all the chatter about the other Olympians, 2016 U.S. alternate Ragan Smith hasn’t warranted a deduction on beam in two weeks, even with the pressure of early lineup falls. Oklahoma has shown greatness on every event this season, and now just has to do it all again at the right time.

Concerns: Jordan Bowers’ insane scoring potential makes her a necessary all-arounder for Oklahoma, but she hasn’t adjusted to collegiate gymnastics as easily as we assumed she would. She’s fallen victim to vault or beam four times in six meets and is continually adding pressure to the rest of the Sooners’ roster by putting them in must-hit situations. These next few weeks will be crucial for KJ Kindler to decide if the risk of having the freshman in those lineups is worth it with the postseason quickly approaching.

Plenty of Potential


Vault: A- Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: Alabama rebounded extremely well from a close Iron Bowl loss to rival Auburn with two convincing home wins to firmly cement itself in the top 10. The Crimson Tide is also a member of an exclusive group that has posted a 49.500 or better on every event this season, with title favorites Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma and Utah as the other club members. That scoring potential will always make Alabama a threat.

Concerns: While the Crimson Tide’s recent streak of 197s has done a lot to distance itself from the opening meet 195, it has still been flirting with disaster. Alabama has had two falls or major errors in each of its last four meets, leaving tenths on the table by counting 9.7s and giving itself unnecessary added pressure. The vault lineup also has yet to truly make the most of its difficulty.


Vault: A- Bars: A- Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: The Tigers continue to assert themselves as a surprise NCAA finals contender behind the strength and hype of Sunisa Lee and remarkable rise of the program. Auburn already has five scores of 197 or better on the season after having only hit that score a combined six times from 2019 to 2021, and tied the program best score in a thriller against LSU. In the preseason most assumed Lee would be representing the Tigers at nationals alone or with only a teammate or two by her side, but now it looks like we need to pencil in the entire roster.

Concerns: Even with an Olympic gold medalist who excels on bars in the anchor spot, Auburn’s lineup on that event has plateaued in the 49.3s in a conference where lineups commonly go 49.5-plus. Early lineup vaults and bar routines will need to be cleaned up if the Tigers want their spoiler title to come to fruition.


Vault: A- Bars: A Beam: A- Floor: A

Compliments: The Wildcats continue to impress week after week, with only one loss on the season, and are currently tied with Auburn for second in the SEC regular-season standings. A lineup shakeup on beam has resulted in three consecutive hits and has started to erase the early-season woes, paving the way for repeat 197.450s at home. Kentucky is asserting itself as a fighter for a spot in the SEC championship evening session, as well as a favorable regionals seed.

Concerns: While the barrage of front handspring vaults are much improved from last season, they’re still struggling to hit 9.9 like the 10.0 start value Yurchenkos other teams are putting in their lineups. If Kentucky is going to vault more difficulty than a team like LSU, it needs to find a way to capitalize on it.


Vault: A- Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: Overall, LSU responded well to barely getting to compete in January with back-to-back strong performances, including perfect 10s from Haleigh Bryant and Kiya Johnson in their first all-around appearances this season. Both of those meets had the Tigers knocking on the door of a 198 with room for improvement, and have reassured the nation they will continue to be a title threat.

Concerns: With the fragility of Bryant and Johnson, their health and leg-event lineup status will continue to be of concern for the Tigers. Unusually, LSU is at a bit of a difficulty disadvantage on vault, using only a trio of 10.0 start values over the last two meets. Its three Yurchenko fulls are consistently some of the best in the country, but it simply cannot make up the tenths other teams could score if they stick a lineup of one and a halves.


Vault: A- Bars: A- Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: Although they’ve been up and down, the Tigers have been above 196 for the entire season, a number they didn’t even hit until this week last year. Missouri rose to the challenge against Florida, nearly knocking off the Gators in a memorable performance that showed just how great this team can be when things go right. That all has the Tigers in the thick of the SEC conversation.

Concerns: The limited status of Helen Hu is being felt most on bars, where Missouri is struggling to break out of the low-49s with small errors continually adding up. Vault landings have also taken their toll on the score at times and ended the Tigers’ streak of every event total of 2022 being 49 or better. If Missouri wants to contend for nationals, it can’t always rely on beam to save the day.


Vault: A Bars: A Beam: A- Floor: A

Compliments: Utah continues to show it can put up big numbers, with Grace McCallum, Maile O’Keefe, Jaedyn Rucker and Sydney Soloski each being flashed at least one judge’s 10.0 in the last two weeks’ less-than-ideal performances. The Utes have also done well to minimize the mistakes they’ve made, having always stayed above 49 on event totals and having yet to dip into the 196s as a team, a feat only replicated by current No. 1 Michigan.

Concerns: The loss to California stings for a variety of reasons. Not only did the Utes likely lose out on a shot for their third-straight Pac-12 regular-season title, but they dropped a spot in the rankings and failed to break 198 yet again due to issues on their best event. Their beam reputation is at stake moving forward with LSU creeping closer to the team final picture with a decisive dual looming between the two in less than a month.

Room for Improvement


Vault: B+ Bars: A Beam: A Floor: A

Compliments: Showing up when it mattered most, the Golden Bears now have a chance to win the Pac-12 regular-season championship after defeating Utah’s star-studded roster and reminding the nation they’re a legitimate nationals contender once again. Every bars lineup this season for California has been above 49.300 with the other three events having also hit the mid-49s to show the potential for a score in the upper 197s. The victory over the Utes also came without multi-eventers Milan Clausi and Mya Lauzon, allowing for fan-favorite Gabby Perea to make her NCAA debut and hit two events to show some critical depth for California.

Concerns: Two athletes have combined for three total 9.9s on vault this season, an event that continues to hold the Golden Bears back. The lineup needed a near stick-fest to barely edge the Utes’ high-difficulty yet landing-deduction-heavy vault total, which means even perfect landings will still leave California vulnerable while it continues to lack 10.0 start values. With the other three events starting to consistently hit, this is where a difference can be made to boost team totals.


Vault: B+ Bars: A Beam: A- Floor: B+

Compliments: There’s no good way to respond to losing Lynnzee Brown, but Denver managed well with two solid outings above 196. Bars and beam also reached the mid-49s with Jessica Hutchinson and Rylie Mundell stepping up to lead the Pioneers, who are carrying good momentum ahead of this weekend’s test at the Metroplex Challenge.

Concerns: Brown’s injury exposes a big loss of scoring potential, most noticeably on vault and floor. Denver cannot continue to let inconsistency become a problem on beam, as that’s the event where it must capitalize on its ability to bring in the most 9.9s.

Michigan State

Vault: B+ Bars: B+ Beam: A Floor: A-

Compliments: After competing just twice in 2021 and barely making regionals in 2020, Michigan State is the spoiler of the season, so far sitting not too far outside of the top 10 beyond the halfway point. The Spartans’ top 20 recruiting class has been a key factor in their accelerated ascension up the rankings, with former five-star recruit Skyla Schulte the leading candidate for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Threatening Schulte for the award is teammate—and perfect-9.950 recipient—Gabrielle Stephen, giving Michigan State an opportunity for a long-stay in the top 20.

Concerns: The Spartans’ “Team Consistency” tab on RTN looks like an abstract art piece, having never quite hit all four events in the same meet. That does bode well if Michigan State can bring it all together at the right time, but that has yet to be the case.


Vault: A Bars: A Beam: B+ Floor: A

Compliments: Lexy Ramler is one of the nation’s best gymnasts and has proved that all year, but it’s actually Ona Loper who’s contributed most to Minnesota in 2022, having scored a quarter tenth higher than Ramler if you add all their scores. That duo continues to impress as much as any other all-around pair in the country, with Mya Hooten a perfect, complementary third that keeps the Gophers nationally relevant.

Concerns: The first few routines of the beam lineup have had issues scoring well all season and were the Gophers’ demise in the third place tri-meet finish and upset loss to Maryland that likely dashed any shot at a Big Ten regular season championship. Not only hits from those routines, but consistent 9.85s, will be needed by the postseason to match the level Minnesota is at on the other three events.

Oregon State

Vault: A- Bars: B+ Beam: A- Floor: A

Compliments: The Beavers made the most of the home meet-heavy first half of their regular season, notching three scores in the 197s and setting up Jade Carey for the first perfect marks of her career. Floor has been steadily improving throughout the season with Madi Dagen and Kaitlyn Yanish now consistently matching Carey’s 9.9s, giving Oregon State a true standout event and a chance to play spoiler in the Pac-12 and postseason.

Concerns: Overall, the other three events for Oregon State have been incredibly consistent, which, unfortunately in this instance, isn’t a great thing. It alludes to the fact that the ceiling for vault, bars and beam is in the low-49s. Nationals contenders are capable of 49.5s across the board, meaning the Beavers’ leadoff routines need to improve to put Oregon State in the conversation.


Vault: B+ Bars: B+ Beam: A- Floor: A-

Compliments: In their biggest meet of the season so far against Utah, the Bruins showed up to the occasion and put on a performance to be excited about, even with the loss. That season-high 197.650 will threaten any team and is a score that represents a roster loaded with former international elites. Speaking of, Jordan Chiles has now gotten her 10.0-club passport stamped twice, and continued UCLA’s viral floor routine legacy with the Lizzo retweet.

Concerns: Rather than competing to their potential, the Bruins have been competing at the level of their competition, and have already taken themselves out of regular-season title contention with a slew of losses. A full-potential UCLA has the talent to compete with and beat any team, but reaching that continues to get harder as health issues take their toll.

Tutor Time


Vault: A- Bars: C- Beam: A- Floor: A

Compliments: With a low of 49.100 way back in their first meet of the season, floor has been both a consistent and high-scoring event for the Razorbacks since. Beam is not far behind, having only counted one fall on the season with star Kennedy Hambrick absent from the lineup, and posting a mid-49 on several occasions. Arkansas has those two events in which it can comfortably rely on.

Concerns: Although the scoring potential remains high, bars is not an event Arkansas can trust right now. The regular season is more than halfway over, and bars can only claim two hits, which is far from something to brag about. Further complicating the issue is that it’s the gymnasts capable of 9.9-plus scores making the mistakes, resulting in missed opportunities and scores in the 195s. Neither of those will challenge for championships, or even the night session in the SEC.

READ THIS NEXT: The NCAA Report Card: Feb. 2, 2022

Article by Brandis Heffner

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