Live Blog: Norman Regional Round Two: Session One

Featuring: No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 California, No. 24 Boise State, and No. 25 Utah State

Starting day two of the Norman regional is a quartet of top 25 teams battling it out for two spots in the regional final. We’ll get a preview of a likely Saturday showdown between the Gophers and Golden Bears as to who will make nationals out of this regional, while the MRGC’s two top teams will try and play spoiler.

Leading the way for Minnesota is its trio of stars – Lexy Ramler, Ona Loper, and Mya Hooten. All three have reached perfection this season and help the back end of each lineup contend with the best in the country. The Gophers rank second on floor, in the top ten on bars and vault, while beam lags behind ranking 22nd. That event has been their Achilles heel at times this season, and is the culprit in Minnesota’s fourth place finish at Big Tens and a few upsets throughout the regular season. Hitting beam today will be crucial to make a statement as well as pick up momentum on the event theoretically heading into Saturday’s final.

The Gophers’ biggest challenger today, California, has the opposite profile. The Golden Bears rank highest on beam at eight, and lowest on floor at 15th. Despite leading the nation last season on bars and returning defending national champion Maya Bordas, California has slipped to 10th on the event this year having yet to replicate its big scores from 2021 until just a few weeks ago. With competitive lineups on the other three events bolstered by Bordas, Andi Li, and Neveah DeSouza, getting bars back to standout status will be crucial for the Golden Bears’ chances at making a return trip to nationals.

Boise State enters this session as the third highest ranked team, however, Utah State just defeated the Broncos at the MRGC Championships in their last outing. Even though both California and Minnesota excel on bars, Boise State has a legitimate chance at topping this field on the event thanks to Alexis Stokes and Emily Muhlenhaupt. Both have hit 9.975 this season, with Muhlenhaupt having been knocking on the door of the 10.0 club for several seasons now. The Aggies’ must-see routine is Brie Clark on floor, who is in the conversation to snag the qualifying bid to nationals on floor after earning second-team all-American status in the regular season.

Of this session’s individual competitors, it’s Ball State’s Suki Pfister with arguably the best chance to advance on paper. This regional is weak on vault, outside of projected team qualifiers Oklahoma and Minnesota, leaving the vault qualifying spot wide open. Pfister has an explosive front pike half that’s gone 9.950 already this season and should challenge with a stuck landing. She’ll vault with Boise State in the last rotation.

This session, like all at regionals, will rotate in Olympic order with California starting on vault, Boise State beginning on bars, Utah State leading off beam and Minnesota opening on floor.

Follow along with scores and video! (ESPN+)

Rotation One: California Vault, Boise State Bars, Utah State Beam, Minnesota Floor

Bordas (Cal): Yfull. Clean in the air, good chest up on the landing, small hop forward. 9.775

Wells (USU): Smooth full turn to start off, side aerial, switch leap to tour jete quarter, small lean forward, interesting combo, BHS LOSO, soft knees, RO double full dismount and sticks! 9.900

Blackson (BSU): Mounts to the high bar, nice first handstand, bail, slightly crooked, jumps to high bar, good handstand, giant half to Markelov, nice, sticks the double layout! 9.800

Schank (Cal): Yfull. Good in the air, flairs it out a bit, slides back. 9.800

Clark (USU): Opens with a standing front tuck, leg check, BHS LOSO, lean to one side but controls it, switch leap to straddle to straddle quarter, slight hesitation between last two leaps, full turn, front full dismount, gorgeous body position and sticks. 9.700

DeSouza (Cal): Y1.5. Leg separation on the block but better knees in the air than usual, just a small hop. 9.825

Lauzon (Cal): Yfull. Tight form in the air, hops back. 9.750

Stokes (BSU): Giant half to piked Jager, flexed feet, nice handstands and bail, dismounts double layout and sticks! 9.800

Ramler (Minn): Begins with her RO 1.5 through to double full, great landing, switch ring to switch half, FHS Rudi, slightly chest down, weird slide back, finishes up with a RO 1.5 front layout. Easy. 9.875

Remlinger (Minn): Mounts with a full-in, done well, switch side to Popa, RO 1.5 front layout, good height in the last salto, closes with a double tuck, problem-free. 9.925

Sullivan (USU): Front aerial to back pike, slightly long pause, switch leap to back tuck, much better connection, full turn, dismounts RO 1.5 with a step. 9.800

Loper (Minn): Front layout to Rudi, steppy landing, great leap series, RO BHS 2.5, well controlled landing, ends with a RO 1.5 front layout, no issues. 9.900

Hooten (Minn): Here we go! Gets going with a massive full-in, perfectly stuck, didn’t need to lunge, switch side Popa, great, RO 1.5 front pike, finishes with a sky-high double tuck. 9.950

Rotation One: Minnesota 49.550, Boise State 49.225, Utah State 49.125, California 48.950

Minnesota capitalized on its floor prowess and have asserted itself to a good lead after the first rotation. The Gophers just need to ride that wave from here on out. Boise State will be happy to sit in second after its best event, but could have dialed in on landings more to nab a few extra tenths. Utah State put together six good ones on beam to keep itself in contention and ahead of favorite California, who struggled with difficulty on vault with just one 10.0 start value in the lineup. The Golden Bears should, however, be able to get back to second place with a good showing on its best event, bars, in the next rotation.

Rotation Two: Minnesota Vault, California Bars, Boise State Beam, Utah State Floor

Gerdes (Minn): Yfull. Good through the air, nearly a stick but a very last second shuffle into salute. 9.850

Perea (Cal): Nice opening handstand and pak, toe on, Maloney half, good final handstand, double layout with a small hop. 9.850

DeSouza (Cal): Giant half to piked Jager to overshoot, done well, sticks the FTDT dismount after some nice handstands. 9.925

Ramler (Minn): Y1.5. STUCK COLD. 9.950

Hooten (Minn): Y1.5. Almost another stick, small slide forward. 9.900

Brown (USU): Starts off with a front tuck to double tuck, nice chest position, FHS front full front pike, switch side to Popa, closes with a double pike. 9.850

Li (Cal): nailed her bar routine with a stuck dismount. 9.875

Loper (Minn): Y1.5. STUCK COLD. 9.950

Bordas (Cal): Starts with a great handstand, giant half to Jager to overshoot, great height, hits the final handstand, giant full to double tuck, slides back. 9.850

Lopez (BSU): Gets going with BHS LOSO, great, full turn, switch leap to straddle half, front toss, secure, dismounts BHS 1.5, small hop. 9.825

Schank (Cal): Giant half to piked Jager to overshoot, great extension, dismounts double layout and gets the stick. 9.900

Popp (BSU): Front aerial, leg up check to the side, another bobble in some choreo, BHS BHS back pike, sturdy, cat leap to switch half, a bit shy of 180, gainer full dismount, stuck it. 9.825

Clark (USU): Double layout to open, doesn’t even get near the corner her run is so short and she’s so powerful, tour jete half to Popa, she’s really enjoying her dance, RO 2.5 front tuck to close, phenomenal pass. 9.925

Evans (USU): Front layout Rudi opening pass, step to the side, possibly OOB, switch ring to tour jete half, great height in that series, ends with a RO double tuck, chest down but controlled lunge. 9.900

Rotation Two: Minnesota 49.525, California 49.450, Utah State 49.325, Boise State 49.150

Through Rotation Two: Minnesota 99.075, California 98.450, Utah State 98.450, Boise State 98.375

As predicted, California shone on bars and now finds itself back in the thick of things in second place halfway through. The Golden Bears now have the upper hand in terms of snagging that second spot to Saturday, but are tied with Utah State currently after the Aggies put up some 9.9s on floor. Boise State hit beam to keep itself in the race, but saw its bars lead already evaporate and now have little room for error moving forward. Oh, and Minnesota is still comfortably in front after an outstanding vault rotation. Now, the Gophers must just be normal on bars and avoid falls on beam.

Rotation Three: Utah State Vault, Minnesota Bars, California Beam, Boise State Floor

Brown (USU): Yfull. Stuck, turned out of it slightly. 9.825

Clark (USU): Yfull. Such a short run, good distance, slide back. 9.775

Hooten (Minn): Starts on the high bar, good handstand, giant half to Jager to overshoot, another good handstand, FTDT, near stick but small shuffle in place with one foot. 9.900

Clausi (Cal): Starts with a front toss, secure, BHS LOSO, no issues, full turn, switch leap switch leap, well controlled, side aerial to tuck full, small hop back. 9.875

Williams (Cal): Fluid double wolf turn, BHS LOSO, great, front aerial, switch leap to split leap, side aerial tucked full, chest forward but hangs on for the stick. 9.850

Hit bar routine from Loper (Minn). 9.925

Jackson (USU): Great height on a Yfull. Nice form too, just a slide back. 9.825

Sales (Minn): Mounts to the high bar, archy first handstand but nice bail, jumps to high bar, giant half to Markelov, misses her hand on a pirouette and hops off the bar, almost falls after hopping onto the low bar to remount, dismounts double layout, sticks. 9.350

Bordas (Cal): Opens with front aerial to very high split jump, BHS LOSO, easy, switch leap to split jump, small lean, check on the full turn, BHS gainer full dismount, sticks. 9.900

Ramler (Minn): Starts on the low bar, Maloney to pak, perfect toes and handstands, Maloney half, toe on to FTDT, chest low but sticks. 9.900

Li (Cal): Front aerial to start, BHS LOSO, so floaty, full turn, beat jump to sheep jump, done well, tucked gainer full dismount and sticks. 9.900

Lauzon (Cal): Beautiful mount sequence showcasing her flexibility, switch leap to split jump, BHS BHS LOSO, good, cat leap side aerial to stuck layout full. 9.875

Popp (BSU): Starts off with front tuck through to double tuck, good leap series, closes with a double tuck, low but lunges out of it. 9.850

Rotation Three: Utah State 49.075, Minnesota 49.400, California 49.400, Boise State 49.150

Through Rotation Three: Minnesota 148.475, California 147.850, Utah State 147.525, Boise State 147.525

Although Minnesota enjoys a healthy lead at this point, the Gophers have struggled on beam at times this year, and will need to make sure to stay on with all three teams still within striking distance if they leave the door open. California currently sits in a good spot to nab that second spot with floor to go, but cannot afford any big mistakes with both Boise State and Utah State lurking just a few tenths back. Neither the Broncos or Aggies rotate to strength events, but this is the postseason, anything can happen.

Rotation Four: Boise State Vault, Utah State Bars, Minnesota Beam, California Floor

Masiado (BSU): Yfull. Low on the block but nice in the air, small slide back. 9.750

DeSouza (Cal): A switch from Bordas in the leadoff spot in the OG lineups. Starts off with a double pike, overrotates and falls backwards OOB, switch side to wolf full, no issues, RO 1.5 front full, slides forward onto the OOB, didn’t see the flag go up, Rudi to double stag to close. 8.850

Gerdes (Minn): Opens with a front aerial, BHS LOSO, big lean to the side, full turn, split jump to double stag, side aerial to layout full, hops back. 9.800

Blackson (BSU): Y1.5. Big block, squats and gets the stick, clean in the air. 9.800

Rojas (USU): Starts with a nice handstand, Maloney to bail, flexed feet, dismounts double layout. 9.850

Bordas (Cal): Nice double tuck to open, RO 1.5 front layout, well done, switch leap to switch ring half, funky step, nice Rudi to end. 9.875

Pfister (Ball State): Front pike half. Nice pop from the block, slightly crunched on the landing, slides back. 9.850

Loper (Minn): Gets underway with her flight series, BHS LOSO, wobbles, full turn, piked front toss, secure, switch leap to split side, RO 1.5 dismount, sticks! 9.900

Jackson (USU): Mounts to the high bar, short on first handstand, nice giant half to Jager to overshoot, hits the last handstand, dismounts FTDT, just a hop forward. 9.850

Ramler (Minn): Great full turn to open, BHS LOSO, beautiful, front aerial to beat jump, everything she does is so well controlled, beat jump to ring jump, awesome, side aerial to stuck layout full! 9.950

Li (Cal): Mounts with a bouncy front double full, FHS front full front layout, great body position, switch ring to switch half to wolf full, could use a little more control. 9.900

Quinn (Cal): Needs to erase the opening fall to advance. Starts off with a front layout to Rudi, great landing, switch side to Popa to wolf jump, done well, ends with a double pike and seals the deal. 9.925

Pierson (West Virginia): Massive opening double layout, front layout front full second pass, amazing layout position, switch side to Popa, ends the session with a double tuck, tiny bit under rotated.

Rotation Four: Boise State 48.900, Utah State 49.300, Minnesota 49.350, California 49.525

Final: Minnesota 197.825, California 197.375, Utah State 196.825, Boise State 196.425

As expected, the Gophers and Golden Bears advance from today’s afternoon session onto Saturday’s regional final. This is the type of performance that Minnesota will want in that final to again beat California, with the expected battle for the second spot advancing to nationals expected to be between these two squads. While Boise State and Utah State had great day’s and were in contention until the final rotation, the scoring potential California had on floor came to fruition and could not be matched by the Broncos or Aggies.

Event Leaders From this Session

Vault: Loper (Minn), Ramler (Minn) 9.950

Bars: DeSouza (Cal), Li (Cal), Loper (Minn) 9.925

Beam: Ramler (Minn) 9.950

Floor: Hooten (Minn) 9.950

All Around: Loper (Minn), Ramler (Minn) 39.675

Live blog by Brandis Heffner

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