LIVE BLOG: Raleigh Regional Round Two, Session One

Hello and welcome to the first of three live blogs I’ll be bringing you direct from N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum! 

To my mind, this is the most competitive session we’re going to see in Raleigh (maybe even nationally), and one of the few where any combination of the four could plausibly advance. 

No. 6 LSU has the clear advantage, but its coming off back to back disappointing losses. Will this galvanize the Tigers or will their tough luck continue? 

Missouri, on the other hand, closed out its regular season with its highest home score in program history and a surprise fourth-place finish at SEC championships (upsetting the aforementioned LSU). 

Iowa, while lower ranked, outscored both sets of Tigers en route to its second consecutive third place finish at Big 10 championships. If the Hawkeyes hit bars, they’re in the mix. 

Finally, we can’t overlook last year’s Cinderella story, N.C. State. The Wolfpack turned in a trio of gutsy performances to advance to the 2021 Athens regional final (and that was without a home advantage). Also, their 2022 season high is just a shade off Iowa’s. 

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for the individual competitors:

  • George Washington’s all around qualifer Deja Chambliss will be rotating with N.C. State. The graduate student was recognized as the 2022 EAGL Gymnast of the Year after leading her team to a surprise conference championship. She’s especially great on the leg events, with season highs of 9.950 on both vault and floor. 
  • Pitt’s star freshman Hallie Copperwheat will be rotating with LSU and competing on bars and beam. The EAGL 2022 Rookie of the Year is known for her precise technique and execution; even her side somi on beam is pretty. 
  • Bridgeport senior Kathryn Doran is the only DII qualifier in Raleigh, and her flawless technique on bars rivals the best of the best in DI (her blind change to piked Jaeger is outstanding). She’ll be rotating with Missouri. 
  • This is Rutgers grad student Belle Huang’s fourth consecutive appearance at regionals and will be competing on beam and floor alongside Missouri. Her beam composition is one of the most unique (and difficult) in the competition. 

You can watch live on ESPN+ and find live scoring here

Full disclosure, my view of bars is not the best so apologies if I miss some of the finer details!

Round One: Missouri vault, Iowa bars, N.C. State beam, LSU floor

Schaffer (Mizz): BIG Y full to open, slight pike down but clean in the air (couldn’t see her feet on the landing): 9.750

McCrary (Mizz): Very nice height on her Y full, cleaner than usual in the air. Fair bit of pike down. 9.750

Schreiber (Mizz): Tons of height and distance on her Y full. Stuck but with chest forwward. 9.850

Davis (Mizz): Massive Y full, very clean in the air. 9.825

Celestine (Mizz): Huge Y 1.5 with a hop forward. 9.825

Moore (Mizz): Her usual enormous Y 1.5 flared out. If her feet moved, it wasn’t much. 9.900


Zuhlke (Iowa): Nice Hindorff, Pak a touch close. Blind full to double tuck, stuck. 

Rojas (Iowa): Lovely Gienger, legs glued together. Slightly shy on her final handstand and a step back on the dismoutn. 9.725

Tolan (Iowa):  Blind change to straddled Jaeger with a little foot flex, good tension on the bail. Excellent full pirouette to double tuck. 9.825

Greenwald (Iowa): Nice height on her Tkatchev. Looks like she fell out of the half pirouette on the low bar. Lost her shape a bit on the DLO, but a good landing. 9.675

Steffensmeier (Iowa): Floaty Pak. Crisp, deliberate final handstand and full pirouette to double tuck with a small hop back. 9.850

Kenlin (Iowa): A little leg sep on the backswing of her Maloney, but gorgeous Pak. Excellent final full pirouette to stuck double tuck. 9.900


Diaz (NCSU): Very short on her switch half. Back 1.5 with soft knees but a good landing. 9.725

Foland (NCSU): Front toss with a slight waver to bhs bhs, will get dinged for soft knees but should get the connection. Leg up check on her front aerial. Rudi to to rebound split jump, travelled well back with some wild arms. 9.725

Jennings (NCSU): Bhs loso, rock solid. Small bobble on her cat leap. Side aerial to a stuck full. 9.850

Ortega (NCSU): Full L turn, lovely. Bhs to Onodi with a leg-up check and she comes off. Too bad. 8.875

Shepard (NCSU): Lovely L turn. Switch leap to switch side, great position on both. Bhs loso, solid. Looked like a slight adjustment on the side aerial. Back 1.5 looked nice in the air (couldn’t see the landing). 

Webb (NCSU): Love her low beam choreography. Good full turn. Bhs loso, looked a little surprised on the landing but no adjustment. Switch leap, good. Front aerial with a leg up.

Chambliss (GW): Wonderful extension on her bhs loso. Pretty full turn. Switch leap to switch side, high amplitude on both. Split leap to split full, a hair shy on the latter, but dang. Bhs bhs to a STUCK double full. Big high fives and hugs from the Wolfpack. Sorry, no… 9.825 is too low even with the shy split full. 


Desiderio (LSU): Pretty DLO. Fhs full to front lay, slightly underrotated the lay, but good landing. Beautiful position on her switch half to switch full. Tidy double tuck. 9.850

Shchennikova (LSU): A little underrotated on her front double full, but dances out of it. Back 1.5 to front full, again a little iffy on the landing. 9.800

KJ Johnson (LSU): High, high, high FTDT. Just a foot slide. Front full to lay, a little stutter step on the landing. Good position on her Popa series. Drilled her final double tuck. Awesome. 9.900

Finnegan (LSU): Excellent front double Arabian to stag, well-controlled. Back leg a touch low on her switch full. Fantastic Back 2.5 to front lay, stuck. One of her best routines this season. 9.900

Dunne (LSU): Front tuck through to double tuck, iffy landing but makes it work. Switch leap to switch half, not quite horizontal on either. Double Y turn, very nice. Double pike with chest down, but a clean landing.9.900 is way too high compared to what we saw from KJ Johnson and Finnegan.

K. Johnson (LSU): Uh, Kiya Johnson just stuck her FTDT dead cold 5 feet from me, so that’s how my day is going! Front full to front lay, just floated in the air. Really dynamic Popa series. Kicked out the double pike, minor front foot slide. Fantastic routine, and Coach McCool almost knocks her over with a hug. 9.950

AFTER ONE ROTATION: LSU 49.350, Missouri 49.150, Iowa 49.125, NC State 48.950

Missouri and Iowa did exactly what they needed to do to keep pace with LSU. I’m pleasantly surprised by the score separation on those two events? 

NC State had some struggles on beam, but managed to sneak through without having to count a fall. Chambliss’s 

LSU brought it on floor. I’m decidedly not pleased by the lack of separation in these scores. I’m sitting right by the judges, and those six routines did not all look within a tenth and a half of one another. Seriously though, both Johnsons’ FTDTs are the highlight of my day so far. 

Round Two: LSU vault, Missouri bars, Iowa beam, N.C. State beam

Apologies, I had some technical difficulties and wiped out several routines. I’ll try and recreate them, but apologies for any missing pieces or inaccuracies!


Arenas (LSU): Solid Y full to open. 9.825

Shchennikova (LSU): Y 1.5, tons of distance and maybe a hop forward? 9.900

KJ Johnson (LSU): Y full went straight up but not so much out. Bit of an adjustment on the landing. 9.850 is high for me.  

Edwards (LSU): Y 1.5 with a large step forward. 9.825

K. Jonson (LSU): Her best Y double full of the season, well-controlled and stuck. 9.950

Bryant (LSU): Gorgeous fhs pike half in the air, looks like a hop back. 9.950


Marshall (Mizz): Some leg sep on her blind change, but a lovely HIGH straddled Jaeger. Big FTDT, stuck. 9.875… FINALLY, Amaya Marshall gets scored correctly on bars. 

Celestine (Mizz): Gorgeous Celestine dismount, stuck. 9.800

Patrick (Mizz): Stuck DLO. 9.850

Schreiber (Mizz): Lovely bail position. Almost went over on her final handstand but reined it in. Couldn’t see the dismount at all. 9.775

Sheremeta (Mizz): Blind change to a huge straddled Jaeger. Perfect handstand positions throughout. Blind change to flyaway 1.5, chest a bit down and a hop forward. 9.800

Hu (Mizz): Floaty Maloneyt to Pak. Gorgeous final handstand. Pristine full pirouette to double tuck with some shuffling. 9.850

Doran (Bridgeport): Fabulous blind change to piked Jaeger. Clean bail. Slightly short on her final handstand. Full pirouette to double tuck with a hop back. Beautiful! 9.750, meh… 


Henderson (Iowa): Small leg-up check on her bhs loso. 9.825

Vance (Iowa): Soft knees on her bhs loso but very steady. Side aerial to tucked full, a little crooked in the air but stuck. 9.850

Killian (Iowa): Bhs loso, minorh hip adjustment. Switch leap series, just shy of 180. RO double twist, good rise. 9.875

Kaji (Iowa): Bhs loso with a big leg-up check. Side gainer full with a hop back. 9.775

Rojas (Iowa): Comes off on her bhs loso, ugh. Punch front with a step back, I like that she’s still eing agreessive. 9.250

Kenlin (Iowa): Bhs loso, no problem. Hitch kick to front aerial to beat jump. Lovely! Couldn’t see her switch split but I’m sure it was beautiful. Side aerial to a stuck full. Redemption for last season’s beam mishap. 9.950


Diaz (NCSU): This is one of the routines that got erased, which is a bummer because it was fabulous. 9.850

Merchant (NCSU): Back 1.5 to front lay, clean and controlled despite to noise from both Kiya Johnson’s vault and Patrick’s stuck DLO. A little form and staggered landing on her Rudi. 9.800

Webb (NCSU): Rudi to double stag, a little wild in the air. Wolf full to Popa, shy on he former. 9.625

Rutherford (NCSU): Nailed her opening front double twist to front lay. Good height on her wolf full. BIG double tuck to finish, great landing. 9.825 seems low. 

Shepard (NCSU): Perfect double pike, just dropped the landing in. Switch full series with back leg a bit low. Front lay to front full, both a little flat but controlled the landing well. Overcooked her double tuck, went juuust OOB. 9.625

Jennings (NCSU): Front lay to front full, not a ton of rise on either but good landing. Switch full to wolf full, just shy of 180. Double tuck with chest down. 9.750

Chambliss (GW): Gorgeous opening double pike with a front foot slide back. Back 1.5 to front pike, perfect control. Gogean to switch full, good position on both. Tight double tuck, STUCK. Fantastic routine. 9.850

AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: LSU 98.975, Iowa 98.400, Missouri 98.325, NC State 97.850

Barring disaster, LSU has all but punched its ticket to tomorrow’s final after a spectacular vault rotation, so this is really shaping up to be a two-way race between Iowa and Mizzou. 

The Tigers are heading into their strongest two events; the Hawkeyes are phenomenal on floor and thoroughly inconsistent on vault. If everyone hits, this is going to come down to the wire. 

Not exactly a surprise, but the individual qualifiers’ scores seem pretty stingy compared to what the teams are getting. We’ll save that conversation for another day!

Round Three: N.C. State vault, LSU bars, Missouri beam, Iowa floor

Diaz (NCSU): Y full with a bit of pike throughout. Couldn’t see the landing. 9.825

LEhman (NCSU): Sorry, I missed this one! 9.800

Ortega (NCSU):Y full, twisted late and had to take a small step forward. 9.725

Rutherford (NCSU): Gorgeous Y full in the air, looked like a tsick. 9.800

Shepard (NCSU): Big Y half, small hop foward. 9.800

Merchant (NCSU): Strong Y full to finish, good distance but not a ton of height. 9.800

Chambliss (GW): EXCELLENT Y full, maybe the best of the day. 9.900


K. Johnson (LSU): Maloney to bail, lost a little tension. Great final handstand. Beautiful DLO, stuck (I think). 9.900

Arenas (LSU): HUGE Tkatchev, just gorgeous. DLO with a big stumble back. 9.700

Dunne (LSU): Tkatchev to Pak tooked nice. Shy final handstand. Soft knees and hips on the DLO, but a stick. 9.850

Bryant (LSU): Blind change to straddled Jaeger, very far and comes off. Good bail. Shy final handstand. Blind change to tucked double front half out with a hop back. 9.050

Shchennikova (LSU): Big Tkatchev to Pak. Usual non-descript shape in the DLO but a definite STICK! 9.900

Durante (LSU): Blind change to straddled Jaeger, a hair close on the regrasp. No problems on her bail. Tight FTDT, looked stuck from here. 9.650

Copperwheat (Pitt): Blind change to straddled Jaeger, well done. Good tension on the bail to handstand. High FTDT, stuck. Nice! 9.850


Marshall (Mizz): Looked like a break between her front aerial and bhs, not sure if she repeated. Fantastic switch jump to switch side. 9.850

McCrary (Mizz): Solid front toss. Usual form on the bhs loso, but solid. Switch half, nice. Bhs tucked 1.5 with a miniscule hop forward. 9.875

Schaffer (Mizz): Bhs loso bhs, slight softness but very fluid. Front aerial, great. Beautiful height and position on her switch leap series. RO back full with a large step back. 9.800

Sheremeta (Mizz): Slight bobble on her opening choreo. Bhs loso and splits the beam, ouch. Split jump to double stag, good. Gainer tucked full off the end with a microhop. 9.250

Hu (Mizz): Beautiful handstand in split. Y full, very deliberate. Front aerial to bhs, perfect. She’s so calm. Front aerial to scale. She literally looks like she’s in slow motion. Couldn’t see her split position, but her head didn’t move, lol. Bhs gainer full, stuck. Give her a 10, that was flawless. 9.950

Schreiber (Mizz): Kicked out full turn, lovely. Bhs loso loso, fabulous. Perfect extension and rhythm. Switch half to split jump, nothing to take. Side gainer full, stuck. I’d also be fine with a 10 for that. 9.975

Huang (Rutgers): Cat leap to side aerial to one foot immediately to front aerial, wow. Y scale, gorgeous. Beat jump to straddle 3/4, no problems. RO back double full, stuck. Beautiful. 


Killian (Iowa): Triple full a touch underrotated but sold it. Front full to front pike, good. Strong positions on her Popa series. Great double tuck to finish. 9.800

Greenwald (Iowa): Strong half in half out to open. Hit 180 on her Popa but a little crooked in the air. High amplitude, though. 9.825

Kaji (Iowa): Back 1.5 to double full, great. Completely stuck the double pike. I swear she maintained eye contact with Adeline Kenlin the entire routine. 9.875

Kenlin (Iowa): Lost her leg form a bit on her opening double twist. Gorgeous back 1.5 to front lay. Switch full ring, very nice. 9.875 is high for me given the opening pass. 

Henderson (Iowa): Huge FTDT with a front foot slide back. SUPER high Popa series to straddle. Front tuck through to double tuck, back foot landed OOB (but it was still so beautiful!). 9.750

Guerin (Iowa): Absolutely nailed her opening half in half out. Popa series to straddle, she was legit a good six feet in the air. Front ruck throught to double tuck, perfect. For the third time in a row, I’m going to say, “GIVE HER A 10!” 9.900… What the actual hell did the judges take?! 

AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: LSU 147.975, Missouri 147.775, Iowa 147.675, NC State 146.875

Well, LSU opened the door and Mizzou and Iowa certainly capitalized! The LSU Tigers are still in good shape to advance, but absolutely cannot afford to count a fall. 

Advantage Missouri heading into the final round. They’re in position to upset LSU for the third straight time, but will need to be at their best. 

Iowa had a good but not great floor rotation with Henderson’s score dropped, and will be playing catch up on vault. 

The Wolfpack had a strong showing on vault, but–with two sub-49 rotations–won’t be able to catch up to the rest of the field. 

Round Four: Iowa vault, N.C. State bars, LSU beam, Missouri floor

Zuhlke (Iowa): Tsuk tucked full with a hop back. 9.875

Laplante (Iowa): Y full, good form in the air and a hop back. The Hawkeyes are going to need to clean up the landings if they want to challenge either Tigers. 9.800

Killian (Iowa): Another Y full with a bounce back. Good distance, lacking a bit of height. 9.800

Zivat (Iowa): Tsuck full with a hop back. Such a dynamic vault. 9.875

Guerin (Iowa): Huge, flared out Y full with a hop back. 9.825

Henderson (Iowa): Another big Y full, flared out with a hop back. 9.850


Merchant (NCSU): Pak very close, but she muscled through. Short final handstand. DLO with a step forward. 9.475

Ortega (NCSU): DLO with several steps back. 9.700

Rutherford (NCSU): Gorgeous stuck full. She’s been a tockstar today. 9.850

Shepard (NCSU): Blind change to straddled Jaeger, excellent. Milked her final handstand. High FTDT, close to the bar, maybe a stick? 9.825

Childs (NCSU): A little loose in the bail. Good full pirouette to double tuck with a hop back. 9.675

Chambliss (NCSU): Not a ton of amplitude on her Tkatchev. Stuck full pirouette to double tuck. Excellent day for her! 9.800


Desiderio (LSU): Switch split to switch half, back leg low on the switch half. Front aerial looked good. Side gainer full, stuck but no celebration so apparently I missed something. 9.300

Rivers (LSU): Really pretty and really aggressive bhs loso. Switch half with a small bobble. Switch leap to switch side, good. RO double twist, a little off baclance but hung on. 9.800

Dean (LSU): Full turn, good. Sider aerial to loso with very soft knees and a minor front foot adjustment. Front aerial with form to beat. Side aerial to a stuck full. 9.875 is way too high with the number of form breaks. 

Shchennikova (LSU): Front aerial to bhs bhs, very nicely done. Switch leap to split jump, front leg a touch low on the jump. Side aerial with a hip check. Cartwheel to side gainer full, little pike but a stick. 9.875

Finnegan (LSU): Bhs loso losos and comes off, ugh. High amplitude on her Popa series. Side aerial to tuck full with a scoot back. 9.075

K. Johnson (LSU): Sooo LSU’s in a little trouble, but Johnson is absolutely who I’d want up in this position. Bhs loso with a large hip check but manages to hang on. A little readjustment on her switch leap. Front toss to beat, slight hesitation but should get credit. Back 1.5 with a step. My scores aren’t updating, but I’m not sure that’s gonna do it… 9.750

Copperwheat (Pitt): Switch leap to split jump, tiny bit shy of 180. Side somi, very well done. Bhs loso, a little leg form but very secure. Full turn, great. Side aerial, rock solid. RO back 1.5, couldn’t see her feet. Strong finish for the freshman. 9.800


Schreiber (Mizz): Beautiful back double full to back lay to double stag, great contro. Punch front full to front loso, wonderful. 9.850

Schaffer (Mizz): Switch ring to split full, 180 but not quite horizontal. Excellent control on her double tuck. 9.850

Sheremeta (Mizz): Fhs double front full, lovely. Lord, she’s got a big strawberry on her leg. Nice position on her Popa series, small adjustment on the landing. Rudi to loso, so floaty. Back 1.5 to loso, no problems. 9.875

McCrary (Mizz): Front lay to Rudi, excellent! Double pike, just dropped into the landing. Absolutely drilled her back 2.5 and does a fist pump (she kept missing it in warm ups). 9.900

Moore (Mizz): Fabulous DLO. Switch half to Popa series, leg slightly low on the switch half. Front tuck throught to double tuck, a hair underrotated and has to take a small hop forward. 9.900

Celestine (Mizz): Sky high FTDT. Pretty sure her back foot was OOB. Switch half to switch full, gorgeous! Back 1.5 to front lay, just hangs in the air. And a stuck double tuck to close out. That should do it for the Tigers. 9.800

Huang (Rutgers): Underrotated her opening double twist but kept it in bounds. Fhs full to loso, beautiful! Popa to wolf full, a little shy of 180 on the latter but still pretty. Fhs Rudi, gorgeous. She’s just a joy to watch. 9.825

AFTER FOUR ROTATIONS: Missouri 197.150, Iowa 196.900, LSU 196.575, NC State 195.700

Hey, I said, “Barring disaster…” and that’s pretty much what happened. Both Iowa and Missouri put on an absolute CLINIC today and look every inch like they belong in the final. Jay Clark went over to congratulate both teams, so good on him.

OK, I’m going to go grab some food and regroup before session two! 

Live blog by Claire Billman 

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