CMU gymnast Sierra Demarinis salutes after balance beam routine

Bubble Watch: March 9

With two weeks left in the regular season, the postseason field is beginning to take shape. Oregon State and Arkansas finally reached enough scores to calculate an NQS, meaning every team capable of figuring into the regionals discussion is now ranked.

Regionals Projection: Teams

Let’s start with the teams not on the bubble. Here are the projected regionals placements if the current standings were to hold.

Norman Raleigh Seattle Auburn
1. Oklahoma 2. Florida 3. Michigan 4. Utah
8. Minnesota 7. LSU 5. Alabama 5. Auburn
9. Kentucky 10. California 11. Missouri 12. Oregon State
16. Ohio State 15. Arizona State 14. Denver 12. Michigan State

Auburn and Oregon State win their tiebreakers (over Alabama and Michigan State, respectively) by virtue of having the higher scores remaining once all scores counting toward NQS calculation are removed.

The following teams would then be distributed to the four regionals according to some combination of geographical and conference criteria that only makes sense to the committee that decides these things, with teams in the bottom two rows participating in the first round “play in” (though last year the No. 26 team was inexplicably forced to compete in the first round, so take that with a grain of salt):

17. UCLA 18. Arkansas 19. BYU 20. Iowa
21. Boise State 22. Utah State 23. Stanford 24. Georgia
25. Illinois 26. N.C. State 27. Iowa State 28. Maryland
29. Towson 30. San Jose State 31. Washington 32. Southern Utah
33. West Virginia 34. North Carolina 35. Arizona 36. Western Michigan

Bubble Watch: Teams

This week we’ll assume that every team currently ranked No. 28 or higher is a lock to make regionals, so we’ll examine the scoring outlook and qualification scenarios for teams ranked No. 29 to No. 43. Scores in bold can no longer be replaced, and crossed out scores are the current season high (which does not factor into NQS). Scores with an asterisk are replaceable this coming weekend. If a team has two meets this weekend, the max NQS is calculated using its current season high for both meets.

No. 29(T) San Jose State

Current NQS 196.165
Highest three road scores 196.550, 196.325, 196.025
Other NQS scores 196.625, 195.975, 195.950*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.300 (26th)

San Jose State continued its hot streak with its third 196-plus in a row last weekend, though other teams’ successes meant that it still dropped in the rankings. Still, if the Spartans can keep that streak alive, they should have no problem remaining in the regionals field.

No. 29(T) Towson

Current NQS 196.165
Highest three road scores 196.100, 196.000, 195.975
Other NQS scores 196.700, 196.525, 196.225*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.260 (27th)

Like SJSU, Towson has been better in the second half of the season, though it has had some high-195 scores mixed in with the 196-plus performances. It feels unlikely that the Tigers will fall out of regionals contention at this point, but another mid-196 would make things a little more comfortable.

No. 31 Washington

Current NQS 196.160
Highest three road scores 196.825, 195.800, 195.100
Other NQS scores 197.275, 196.825, 196.250*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.365 (25th)

Washington’s season high of 197.275 is higher than that of any other team ranked 18th or lower and yet the Huskies find themselves at No. 31 due to inconsistency. One sub-196 score is already locked in and can no longer be replaced, and the other one can’t be replaced until the Pac-12 championship on March 19. A 197-plus score at home this weekend would certainly make things more comfortable, but otherwise it’s going to be a nail-biter end of the season.

No. 32 Southern Utah

Current NQS 196.150
Highest three road scores 197.000, 195.550, 195.000
Other NQS scores 196.975, 196.675, 196.550*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.240 (27th)

Southern Utah’s situation is remarkably similar to Washington’s: A 197-plus season high, a locked-in sub-196 score and a low-195 road still to drop with a home meet on deck this weekend. However, the margin between SUU’s season high and the score that can be replaced this weekend is lower, meaning that the Thunderbirds can’t improve their NQS all that much this week. Last week’s 194.425 performance at Penn State was a missed opportunity to drop the 195.550, so SUU needs to be laser focused on the MRGC championship in order to remain in the regionals field.

No. 33 West Virginia

Current NQS 196.085
Highest three road scores 196.575, 196.250, 195.925
Other NQS scores 196.250, 196.100, 195.900*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.220 (27th)

West Virginia has been extremely consistent this season, with the last eight meets all scoring in the mid-195 to mid-196 range. Unfortunately, that might not be enough to make the regionals field this year. Six of the seven teams below the Mountaineers in the rankings have higher season highs, meaning they are more capable of improving their NQS this weekend. WVU needs to break out of its consistent scoring range and set a new season high to stay in the conversation.

No. 34 North Carolina

Current NQS 195.995
Highest three road scores 196.625, 196.475, 195.325*
Other NQS scores 196.475, 196.000, 195.700
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.255 (27th)

North Carolina took care of business last week, moving into the regionals field with a 196.475 road score despite star freshman Lali Dekanoidze being out with injury. However, the Tar Heels can’t breathe a sigh of relief yet, with two sub-196 scores to drop and two opportunities left to replace them. There are seven teams capable of passing UNC in the rankings this weekend, so the bubble is a precarious place to be.

No. 35 Arizona

Current NQS 195.980
Highest three road scores 196.050, 196.025, 195.500*
Other NQS scores 196.850, 196.400, 195.925*
Meets remaining 2 road, 1 home
NQS with season highs this weekend 196.435 (22nd)

Arizona is the only team on this list with three meets left, including a double meet (1 road, 1 home) this weekend. That gives more opportunity to increase its NQS and move up the rankings, but repeating that season high performance multiple times in the remaining meets is going to be a tough ask when the Wildcats have barely cracked 196 on the road this year. Still, the opportunity is there for the taking, starting with the home meet against Sac State tomorrow.

No. 36 Western Michigan

Current NQS 195.895
Highest three road scores 196.675, 196.100, 195.750
Other NQS scores 196.225, 196.000, 195.400*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.150 (32nd)

This is where the bubble starts to get even more interesting because every team ranked No. 37 through No. 43 is capable of rising to at least No. 36 this weekend. This means that Western Michigan needs to increase its scores to fight off all the other teams. Last week’s 196.675 road performance was a great place to start, but even a repeat showing this week would only move the Broncos up to a maximum ranking of No. 32. WMU needs to take care of business but also hope that the lower-ranked teams falter.

No. 37 Pittsburgh

Current NQS 195.860
Highest three road scores 196.450, 195.600, 195.575*
Other NQS scores 196.775, 195.875, 195.800
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.100 (33rd)

Pittsburgh is already counting two sub-196 scores, but it also has the highest season high of any team currently outside the bubble. The Panthers likely need two scores in the mid-196 range in order to make regionals.

No. 38 Nebraska

Current NQS 195.845
Highest three road scores 196.750, 195.625, 195.525
Other NQS scores 196.350, 196.225, 195.500*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.095 (33rd)

Nebraska can now no longer drop a 195.625 after its 194.925 performance at home last weekend, a big blow to its chances at making regionals. However, the other locked-in scores are decent, so with season-high performances in its remaining two meets, a regionals berth would remain possible.

No. 39 Penn State

Current NQS 196.060
Highest three road scores 196.425, 196.125, 195.875
Other NQS scores 196.400, 195.475, 195.325*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.060 (34th)

Penn State’s regionals chances are looking grim, with the team seemingly unable to surpass the mid-196 hump. However, repeating their season high in each of the last two meets would keep the Nittany Lions in the conversation.

No. 40 Central Michigan

Current NQS 195.815
Highest three road scores 196.275, 196.125, 195.550
Other NQS scores 196.650, 196.475, 194.650*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.215 (28th)

With a 194.650 still to drop and no sub-196 scores locked in, Central Michigan has the best opportunity to move up this rankings this weekend out of any team currently outside the bubble. The Chippewas are on a hot streak, scoring 196-plus in the last four weeks after starting the season with four sub-195s. If that streak can be maintained through the last two meets, this team should be at regionals.

No. 41 Kent State

Current NQS 195.805
Highest three road scores 196.375, 196.200, 195.600
Other NQS scores 196.550, 195.550, 195.300*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 home
NQS with season high this weekend 196.055 (34th)

Kent State’s situation is very similar to Penn State’s with one sub-196 score locked in and two more left to drop, but with the lower current ranking, the chances are even slimmer unless the Golden Flashes can put up two season high scores in their remaining meets.

No. 42 UC Davis

Current NQS 195.720
Highest three road scores 196.225, 196.000, 195.625
Other NQS scores 196.325, 195.675, 195.075*
Meets remaining 1 road, 1 home
NQS with season high this weekend 195.970 (36th)

UC Davis can technically move into the regionals field with a season high this week, but that would require a lot of help from higher-ranked teams. With the lowest season high of any team on this list, the Aggies’ likelihood of making regionals is very low.

No. 43 Temple

Current NQS 195.595
Highest three road scores 196.675, 195.825, 195.800
Other NQS scores 195.775, 195.425, 195.150*
Meets remaining 2 road, 0 high
NQS with season high this weekend 195.900 (36th)

Like UC Davis, Temple is mathematically capable of moving up to 36th this week, but it is unlikely, especially with only one 196-plus score on its resume this entire season.

Regionals Projection: Individuals

If regionals were to start tomorrow, the following gymnasts would qualify as all-arounders (assuming teams ranked Nos. 29-36 are allocated to the play-in round):

Gymnast School Current NQS
Skylar Killough-Wilhelm #31 Washington 39.395
Payton Murphy #36 Western Michigan 39.345
Hannah Demers #40 Central Michigan 39.340
Jada Mazury #29 San Jose State 39.295
Angelica Labat #48 Illinois State 39.260
Kyla Kessler #42 UC Davis 39.260
Hallie Copperwheat #37 Pittsburgh 39.235
Lauren Macpherson #29 San Jose State 39.220
Deja Chambliss #46 George Washington 39.185
Julia Knower #34 North Carolina 39.180
Hannah Joyner #44 Rutgers 39.170
Lali Dekanoidze #34 North Carolina 38.165

On the outside looking in: Emily Mueller (Arizona; 39.160), Rachel Decavitch (Kent State; 39.160), Kendra Combs (West Virginia; 39.145), Jaudai Lopes (San Jose State; 39.140), Emma Spence (Nebraska; 39.135). The most likely of these to qualify is Spence, who has a season high of 39.375 and still has a 38.875 to drop. Penn State’s Lauren Bridgens has an outside chance at qualifying as well if she can drop two mid-38 scores in her final two meets. Of the currently projected qualifiers, Knower is most in danger of falling out of qualifying position as she has the smallest range among her counting scores with no low scores left to drop. Dekanoidze is injured, so it is likely she will be passed in the rankings.

Projected Vault Qualifiers

Gymnast School Current NQS
Suki Pfister #47 Ball State 9.880
Amara Cunningham #31 Washington 9.880
Caitlin Kho #32 Southern Utah 9.875
Geneva Thompson #31 Washington 9.870
Kylie Gorgenyi #45 New Hampshire 9.855
Emily Leese #44 Rutgers 9.850
Rachel Smith #32 Southern Utah 9.850
Alana Laster #48 Illinois State 9.850
Kinsey Davis #38 Nebraska 9.850
Katie Kowalski #40 Central Michigan 9.845
Ariana Castrence #43 Temple 9.845
Madison Kirsch #29 San Jose State 9.845
Keanna Abraham #42 UC Davis 9.845
Belle Huang #44 Rutgers 9.845
Lana Navarro #31 Washington 9.845
Morgan Alfaro #32 Southern Utah 9.845

On the outside looking in: Julianna Roland (Temple; 9.845), Jaudai Lopes (San Jose State; 9.845), Taylor Jensen (Bowling Green; 9.840), Victoria Henry (Ball State; 9.840), Lauren Bolen (Towson; 9.840), Sarah Moravansky (Western Michigan; 9.840). Roland and Lopes lost out on the nine-way tiebreaker for the last seven spots, but they each have 9.800s to drop so could easily move into qualifying position over their remaining meets. Moravansky is the most likely to move up out of the 9.840 group, with a 9.800 to drop as well. Also keep an eye on Sacramento State’s Emma Morgenthaler who currently has a 9.835 NQS but is still counting a 9.725; Lindenwood’s Gayla Griswold is in a similar position with a 9.750 to drop and a 9.830 NQS. Of the projected qualifiers, Davis and Kowalski are most vulnerable to dropping out of contention.

Projected Bars Qualifiers

Gymnast School Current NQS
Mara Titarsolej #51 LIU 9.930
Shylen Murakami #32 Southern Utah 9.895
Mei Li Costa #61 Brown 9.880
Kinsey Davis #38 Nebraska 9.875
Elizabeth Culton #34 North Carolina 9.870
Katie Chamberlain #37 Pittsburgh 9.870
Sarah Haxton #41 Kent State 9.865
Alissa Bonsall #39 Penn State 9.865
Natalie Hamp #49 Northern Illinois 9.860
Kylie Gorgenyi #45 New Hampshire 9.855
Lauren Bridgens #39 Penn State 9.855
Clara Colombo #38 Nebraska 9.850
Brookelyn Sears #49 Northern Illinois 9.845
Jolie Miller #59 SEMO 9.845
Hannah Nipp #32 Southern Utah 9.840
Cassidy Rushlow #39 Penn State 9.840

On the outside looking in: Kathryn Doran (Bridgeport; 9.840), Steph Macasu (Towson; 9.835), Alysen Fears (Arizona; 9.835), Raegan Walker (Yale; 9.835), Raisa Boris (Eastern Michigan; 9.830), Jordyn Ewing (Pittsburgh; 9.830). Doran lost out on the tiebreaker but has two 9.800s to drop with three meets left. Fears is also in a great position to move up, with a season high of 9.900 and a 9.750 to replace. Also watch out for UNC’s Isabelle Schaefer, who has a 9.925 season high and a 9.775 still contributing to her 9.825 NQS. 

Projected Beam Qualifiers

Gymnast School Current NQS
Hailey Lui #45 New Hampshire 9.895
Elizabeth Culton #34 North Carolina 9.895
Emma Milne #29 San Jose State 9.885
Sirena Linton #35 Arizona 9.875
Alyssa Worthington #45 New Hampshire 9.875
Anna Kaziska #59 SEMO 9.870
Ella Chemotti #53 Eastern Michigan 9.870
Belle Huang #44 Rutgers 9.865
Jenna Weitz #29 Towson 9.865
Amber Koeth #57 Sacramento State 9.860
Raegan Walker #58 Yale 9.860
Kennedi Davis #31 Washington 9.855
Emerson Hurst #29 Towson 9.855
Brenna Brooks #31 Washington 9.850
Lauren Volpe #47 Ball State 9.845
Clara Hong #29 Towson 9.845

On the outside looking in: Kinsey Davis (Nebraska; 9.845), Hadley Roberts (Lindenwood; 9.845) and Amanda Gruber (Western Michigan; 9.845) all lost out on the tiebreaker with Volpe and Hong in this projection, but Gruber is in the best position to move up with a 9.950 season high and two 9.800s left to replace. Lana Navarro (Washington; 9.835) is also in a good position with a 9.775 to drop. Among the projected qualifiers, Weitz and Volpe are the most vulnerable to dropping out of contention with season highs of only 9.875.

Projected Floor Qualifiers

Gymnast School Current NQS
Belle Huang #44 Rutgers 9.920
Sierra Demarinis #40 Central Michigan 9.900
Jaye Mack #48 Illinois State 9.900
Tara Kofmehl #49 Northern Illinois 9.900
Kendra Combs #33 West Virginia 9.900
Bella Salcedo #39 Penn State 9.895
Abbie Pierson #33 West Virginia 9.895
Karley McClain #32 Southern Utah 9.890
Megan Ray #42 UC Davis 9.890
Karlie Franz #41 Kent State 9.885
Kendall Whitman #46 George Washington 9.880
Anna Kaziska #59 SEMO 9.880
Malia Hargrove #35 Arizona 9.875
Caroline Herry #35 Arizona 9.875
Brooke Donabedian #43 Temple 9.875
Amara Cunningham #31 Washington 9.875

On the outside looking in: Alyssa Guns (Kent State; 9.870), Alana Anderson (Northern Illinois; 9.870), Gayla Griswold (Lindenwood; 9.865), Sidney Washington (Pittsburgh; 9.860), Tori Edwards (Temple; 9.860). Guns is in a great position to qualify with a 9.975 season high and a 9.800 to drop. Others to watch out for include Amy Stewart (Towson; 9.855), Aubri Schwartze (Southern Utah; 9.855), Jessica Meakim (West Chester; 9.855) and Hannah Nipp (Southern Utah; 9.845).

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Article by Jenna King

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