The NCAA Report Card: March 2, 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.

As senior nights fill our weekends, we’re reminded that the postseason is approaching quickly, and now with only two weeks left of the regular season it’s time for teams to be tightening things up in pursuit of titles. Thus, grading is getting stricter as well. Record-high NQSs indicate it should take something in the realm of a 198-plus to win nationals this year, meaning any true contender is going to be capable of around a 49.500 on any event to stay within reach of doing so. That’s going to be a key figure moving forward as we separate the contenders from pretenders.

Top of the Class


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

Compliments: The Wolverines and No. 1 are becoming synonymous at this point. Michigan has been No. 1 in the rankings the entirety of the season, it’s ranked No. 1 on vault, bars and floor, and Gabby Wilson sits at No. 1 on floor individually. All those No. 1s have culminated in the program’s highest-ever NQS already, and the title favorites are expected to keep building upon it. Coming away with a win counting two falls against another Big Ten foe also shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Concerns: The unthinkable happened with that three fall vault lineup against Nebraska, but the Wolverines have shown too much greatness this season for one bad performance to be a legitimate concern. However, there is no room for a repeat performance with a trip to Oklahoma this weekend. At this point, Michigan’s only “concern” is elevating beam to the level of its other three events, which means avoiding counting 9.7s from upperclassmen.

Honor Roll


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

Compliments: Sunisa Lee continues to be exactly what this sport needs right now, accepting the responsibility of being the first Olympic all-around champion to compete collegiately and running with it. She is not only bringing in scores that are completely transforming the Auburn program, but she’s debuting difficult and unique skills that are pushing boundaries and attracting more attention and viewers to the sport. Her impact continues to go beyond her actual stunning routines, and I won’t stop giving her credit until she gives me a reason not to. The Tigers have the chance for a statement victory with this weekend’s home meet against Florida, which would surely give Auburn incredible momentum heading into a postseason in which it hosts a regional.

Concerns: Even with upgrading to five 10.0 start value vaults that’s competitive difficulty-wise, the Tigers still haven’t managed to hit 49.500 on the event that’s one of its lower scoring more often than not. Bars scoring has also been a little bit tight throughout the season, but last week’s 49.575 is showing signs for optimism.


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

Compliments: What a joy it has been to watch Trinity Thomas. She capped off an impressive home finale win over title contender Oklahoma with a perfect 10 on a night where she improved her score a quarter tenth with every routine. If that’s truly her last performance in the O’Dome, it was an incredible one. All Thomas really has left to do in her career is win the team title, and the Gators’ mid-198s with some imperfect performances indicate she has the pieces around her to win one.

Concerns: Florida is still a smidge inconsistent overall and without any real trends from week to week as to which event the issues are going to pop-up on. The inconsistency hasn’t impacted the undefeated Gators anywhere outside of the rankings yet, but it’s a dangerous way to live—especially when that’s been your postseason Achilles heel in recent years.


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

Compliments: Despite losing to Florida, the Sooners got to pull the power move of staying ahead of the Gators in the rankings thanks to their bevy of success throughout the season. Oklahoma has actually put itself in a position to pull a similar move over Michigan this weekend, with a loss to the Wolverines not even necessarily preventing it from ascending to No. 1 depending on scores. Year after year KJ Kindler continues to put her teams in prime postseason positions.

Concerns: Ultimately, Oklahoma did lose to Florida and is currently 0-2 against the current top four teams with the toughest test still to go. Regardless of ranking, if the Sooners go winless head to head against their three top competitors, it’s hard to envision them beating all three at the same time at NCAA championships. There’s a lot more riding on this weekend’s meet for the Sooners compared to the Wolverines. 

Plenty of Potential


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

Compliments: It hasn’t been flashy, but the Crimson Tide has quietly been churning out mid-197s on a weekly basis and continuing to challenge the likes of every foe. Alabama has shown an insane eight Yurchenko one and a halves this season with every single one having a season high of 9.875 or better for a feat not enough people are talking about. That incredible depth translates to the other events as well with eight gymnasts at 9.8 or better everywhere, with this depth being incredibly beneficial in a postseason meet with a quick turnaround like regionals (or nationals).

Concerns: Now with three close losses after the defeat at LSU, Alabama has found out the hard way that those competitive mid-197s don’t always guarantee a win. The Crimson Tide needs to find a way to reach the high-197s like the other nationals bubble contenders have. An easy solution is actually capitalizing on all that vault difficulty; hitting 49.500 only once on an event where it should have a significant advantage over most teams isn’t it.

Arizona State

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

Compliments: A slow start and spending most of the early season ranked in the 20s (thanks to a clunker of a meet at Washington), the Sun Devils have flown under the radar all year. But back-to-back 197s and upset wins over Pac-12 powerhouse UCLA and regular season conference champion California have justly reminded us that Arizona State was less than two tenths from qualifying to nationals last year. Not only is Hannah Scharf once again in top form, but freshman Alex Theodorou has settled in as expected and the Sun Devils are once again showing top contender potential.

Concerns: A pair of good scores in the two most recent meets can’t erase the slow start yet, but the Sun Devils will have the opportunity to pull a stunner over Oklahoma in the home finale. The scoring potential on vault is the biggest area of concern for Arizona State, with only a duo of 10.0 start values and the most stickable lineup of Yurchenko fulls maxing out in the low 49s.


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

Compliments: Even after losing Kyana George in the preseason, mid-season injuries and missing gymnasts due to illness and loss in the family, the Golden Bears found a way to win their first regular season Pac-12 title (at least a share of it at this point). California’s lack of a truly bad meet has it sitting in a position where it would make nationals by NQS standing if the season ended today, which is exactly where it hopes to be when the season ends.

Concerns: A mistake from California is rare, but unfortunately so is a high-49 event total. The Golden Bears have yet to even hit 49.500 once this season and are truly suffering from an overall lack of scoring potential. Nobody is providing a 9.9 in the second or third spot on any event to kickstart some high judges scores, making a 198 seem unrealistic in a year where that number has been hit often by other teams.


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

Compliments: Aleah Finnegan’s delayed and limited debut has been worth it, going 9.9 or better in half of her collegiate routines with only two misses. Her presence in the beam and floor lineups gives the Tigers much needed scoring potential on those two events, with Finnegan already making a push for the team’s best beam worker and also providing a viable option on bars. LSU’s dynamic duo of Haleigh Bryant and Kiya Johnson has also returned to their 10.0-grabbing ways, making it even clearer how important their injury status will be throughout the rest of the season.

Concerns: The Tigers’ No. 2 ranking on vault is deceiving, as they’re consistently only putting forth a trio of 10.0 start values that puts them at a significant disadvantage compared to the rest of the top 10, and especially the top four. Yes, KJ Johnson has the ability to go 9.95 on her Yurchenko full, but relying on a freshman to stick and the judges’ willingness to throw a perfect score is far from an ideal situation. LSU has also shown a lack of 49.5-plus ability compared to the title contenders, only surpassing that barrier twice this deep into the season.


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

Compliments: Having surprisingly been previously excluded, Minnesota joined the 198 club after its program record-breaking performance against Iowa and finally looked convincing in the role of nationals contender. The Gophers’ now own the fourth highest score of any team after finally reaching their potential on beam, and have hopefully removed the lid off the should-be bucket of 10.0s for Lexy Ramler this season after her perfect beam set to cap-off the historic meet..

Concerns: The program record came right after the Gophers’ most important meet of the season where counting a fall on beam cost them two losses and nearly a spot in the evening session of the Big Ten Championship. In the meet before that they counted two beam falls and suffered two more losses, so although the beam lineup hit very well last weekend, there’s still some issues to be worked out.


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

Compliments: Like Oklahoma, Utah has put itself in a position where it can still maintain a high ranking and status despite a loss. In gymnastics lately, being compared to Oklahoma is a great thing. Grace McCallum seems to have also figured it out, bouncing back from some mid-season misses with three good all-around outings. McCallum living up to her Olympic expectations is an absolute must for the Utes’ title hopes, so maintaining her current form is critical with just Minnesota, LSU and the postseason left on the schedule.

Concerns: The Utes’ biggest asset continues to be its biggest detriment. Just as Cristal Isa’s perfection had us thinking Utah had figured beam out, the presumed postseason lineup put forth the team’s worst event total of the season to give Arizona its first win in 2022 sans its biggest contributor. It’s also becoming apparent that the Utes’ best vault lineup only includes five 10.0 start values, making two recent misses by Cammy Hall even more glaring.

Room for Improvement


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

Compliments: Putting up two good scores in losses to SEC-leading teams, Kentucky remains a threat for everything sitting in the top 10 and primed for a regionals seeding. Raena Worley is the surprise NCAA all-around leader currently amongst a crop of outstanding gymnasts, but her gymnastics warrants the big scores she’s receiving and continues to keep the Wildcats relevant.

Concerns: Just as beam started trending in the right direction, two off outings took Kentucky out of contention in meets against Auburn and Florida that it legitimately had a shot at winning. Those are two huge missed opportunities for a team in need of a statement win and a statement score to start inching up the rankings toward eighth place. A win at LSU this weekend could go a long way.


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

Compliments: After the near upset over Florida, Missouri got its statement victory of the season, winning the battle of the Tigers over LSU while nabbing a very important home 197 that will bode well for its NQS. At this point last season the Tigers were ranked 22nd and dead last in the SEC, so currently battling for a top three regionals seed and SEC night session berth is a vast improvement.

Concerns: Missouri has yet to put together any repeat 197s this season, something that is crucial for a respectable SEC showing and regionals run appropriate for the talent on this team. The second lowest bars total of the season in Helen Hu’s event debut was disappointing, but it provides an obvious area for improvement along with controlling the landings of the Yurchenko one and a halves on vault.

Oregon State

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

Compliments: In what’s been an especially chaotic season in the Pac-12, the Beavers have made the most of having Jade Carey, winning the meets it should have and only suffering defeat against the conference frontrunners. The Beavers did what they needed to do in the home stretch of their schedule while putting themselves in a good position to nab a seeded spot at regionals, giving them positive momentum headed into the final stretch of the regular season.

Concerns: While beam has started showing signs of 49.5-ability, vault scoring has plateaued at 49.350 and bars even lower with these two events having been a problem area all season long. Floor is now putting up big numbers more consistently can make up some of the ground, but Oregon State is going to have to elevate those two other events to have any shot at nationals.

Tutor Time

Michigan State

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

Compliments: Surprisingly winning their session of the Big Fives meet, the Spartans continue to have the biggest turnaround of any team this season after barely getting to compete in 2021. Michigan State’s already put itself in a position to be seeded at regionals, and still has a chance for a statement win at Kentucky and a standout showing in the evening session of the Big Ten championship.

Concerns: Not even Gabrielle Stephen’s heavenly Yurchenko full is enough to boost the scoring potential on vault to where it needs to be to contend for a spoiler spot at nationals, with vault and bars trending in the wrong direction recently. Beam and floor are at the level of challenging in the postseason, but the other two are going to need to be nearly flawless.


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

Compliments: The Bruins continue to make the most of their home meets, drawing on the crowd’s energy to noticeably perform better and bring in good scores. Home-crowd advantage is a bigger asset at UCLA than most other schools, and it helps show the potential this roster has. Plus, we saw video proof of Emily Lee working beam in warmups, which could provide a scoring boost and, most importantly, an extra routine for much needed depth.

Concerns: That potential continues to disappear every time the Bruins hit the road, yet again leading to a defeat and forcing them into a lower ranking while counting a low score. Health issues are also continuing to grow for UCLA rather than shrink, making a shot at a regionals seed shrink instead. To do so, the Bruins would need a massive score at Pac-12s, with a shot at competing in the evening session already unlikely.

READ THIS NEXT: The NCAA Report Card: February 16, 2022

Article by Brandis Heffner

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