Sloane Blakely celebrates after her beam routine

LIVE BLOG: No. 33 West Virginia, Ball State, Lindenwood at No. 2 Florida

Happy first day of the 2023 season! Florida is kicking off its season with a quad meet hosting No. 33 West Virginia, Ball State and Lindenwood. While this may not be the most competitive meet ever, it will still be very exciting. The national runner up Florida Gators are looking to start the season with a bang. The Gators reloaded their arsenal with transfers Victoria Nguyen and Rachel Baumann from Georgia, as well as elite freshman Kayla Dicello. The question for Florida is how fast all of its stars will get going. Reigning national champion Trinity Thomas was paced last season, slowly adding events. She’s expected to do the same in her final year. With Savannah Schoennerr breaking her foot yesterday, expect to see the Gators utilize some depth today on vault and bars.

West Virginia is entering the 2023 season reloaded with a promising freshman class, although only two of them are making their collegiate debuts today according to potential lineups. We’ll also get see fifth-year Kendra Combs on bars and beam. Today’s lineups don’t look like West Virginia’s ideal end-of-season lineups, but it will still be exciting to see how the Mountaineers look. Ball State brings a massive freshman class to help fill lineup holes left by transfers Sandra Elsadek (Georgia) and Alivia Ostendorf (Utah State). Watch out for junior Suki Pfister on vault and for freshmen Aislyn LaBadie and Zoe Middleton.

Last but not least, Lindenwood will start its first season as a Division I team. The Lions are looking to fill some significant lineup holes left by transfers and graduated seniors, but freshman Allie Berkley should help fill some of these holes. Nationals qualifier Gayla Griswold will also be a standout with her Yurchenko one and a half on vault. This quad will probably be a little hectic, but I’ll try and catch as much as many routines as possible!

Touch warmups are starting now! Oh, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf is making her broadcasting debut, that’s nice.  Sounds like Florida will be vaulting four 10.0 starts tonight.

Rotation 1: Florida VT, West Virginia UB, Ball State BB, Lindenwood FX

Edwards (UF): Nice Yurchenko full, great distance, hop backwards. 9.850

Henry (Ball State): Fall on her opening LOSO series. 9.0

Dicello (UF): Yurchenko full, nice amplitude, bit of a pike down and hop backwards.

Baumann (UF): Yurchenko one and a half, great vault, very small movement on the landing. 9.9

Combs (WVU): Maloney to Pak, leg separation. Nice final handstand, giant full to double tuck with a hop. 9.725

Richards (UF): Yurchenko one and half with a step backwards, not as good as the ones she did in touch warmup.

Pierson (WVU) Fall on transition to low. Dismounted with a stuck toe on pike half.

Thomas (UF): Huge one and a half with a small hop forward. 9.925

Cooper (Lindenwood): Solid double tuck to finish on floor.

Summer (Ball State): Large check on the acro series, short of split on the switch leap. Dismounts with a 1.5 that was out of the frame. 9.600

Lopez (Lindenwood): Double tuck to open, large step back. Switch half, wolf full, switch half was short of split. Front full, front pike nice control. Final pass is a back one and a half to front lay with great control. 9.800

Volpe (Ball State): Solid triple series with just a little leg form. Split 3/4 was short of split. Stuck gainer full to finish. A good routine for Ball State, 9.600.

Holmes-Hackerd (WVU): Solid final handstand, stuck double tuck to finish. Nice routine. 9.825

Asper (WVU): Khorkina, short handstand, bail was a little loose. Full pirouette to double tuck is a bit of a struggle and she lands very deep.

Griswold (Lindenwood): Front full to front layout, nice body position on both saltos and the landing. Switch half to wolf full. Double tuck to finish, good chest up landing with a controlled step.

After 1: UF 49.300, Lindenwood 48.725, WVU 48.500, Ball State 47.800

Florida looked okay on vault during that rotation, showing four 10.0 vaults highlighted by Baumann and Thomas. Lindenwood was impressive on floor, I was really impressed by their tumbling control, just thought the leaps needed a little fine tuning. West Virginia did not get out to the start they wanted on bars having to count a pair of 9.575s, but Holmes-Hackerd really stood out. Ball State had some issues on beam and had two falls to start the rotation. I was impressed by it’s ability to get the rotation back on track after that, and Volpe’s triple series was very impressive.

Rotation 2: Lindenwood VT, Florida UB, WVU BB, Ball State FX

Caffrey (VT): Yurchenko full is short and has to take a hop forward. 9.575

Daniels (VT): Stuck Yurchenko full, not the most amplitude, but nicely done.

Nguyen (UB): Nice opening handstand. Maloney to Pak, good final handstand, stuck double layout with a leg sepaa

Dicello (UB): Missed most of the routine, but ended with a stuck FTDT. 9.925.

Middleton (FX): Lacking some control on the opening pass, really love this low to the ground choreo.

Griswold (VT): Big one and a half with a large stumble out of it. 9.675

Thomas (UB): Nice opening handstand. Maloney to Pak, great handstand afterwards. Van Leeuwen to an awesome final handstand. Double Layout with a tinyyy movement on the landing. Picking up where she left off 9.950.

Combs (WV): Nice position on the switch 1/4, front full dismount is stuck!

Wong (UB): Maloney to Pak, small leg separation. Van Leeuwen, great final handstand. Fights to stick the double layout, but takes a step into the salute. 9.950.

Henry (FX): Double pike, nice amplitude and a controlled step back. Gets really into the Thriller ending, nice commitment to the performance.

Hurd (UB): Ray to Pak was awesome. Struggles with the pirouette, tries to save it and has to come off. Peels off the bar on her dismount and just salutes.

Asper (BB): Front aerial to backhandspring is nice. Cat leap, to switch half, to beat jump. Lacking split on the split half. Backhandspring gainer full with a small hop.

Teter (FX): Huge double tuck to open, not the most control on the landing. Didn’t have an awesome angle for the leaps, but they looked short of split. Front full to front lay is nicely done.

After 2: UF 98.925, Lindenwood 97.125, West Virginia 97.000, Ball State 96.800

So, Florida is almost on 198 pace in the first meet of the season with a casual 49.625 on bars. The Gators will be thrilled with that bar rotation despite Hurd’s struggles. The other three teams are neck and neck, and it should be exciting to see these last two rotations. Asper on beam was a real highlight for me. Also, the broadcast showed like 15 seconds of Middleton on floor, but what we saw was really pretty. That will be a valuable routine for Ball State throughout the season.

Rotation 3:

Hurd (BB): Nice series, split jump split ring with a small wobble. Another wobble on the full turn, seems nervous. Dismounts with a double full and a bounce back. Not her absolute best, but a nice recovery after bars. 9.775

Freehling (FX): Nice amplitude on the double tuck. Leaps were lacking in split and the wolf full was a little uncontrolled.

Lazzari (BB): Backhandspring, loso, loso is solid and pristine. Switch leap to split jump. Good extension on the front aerial. Backhandspring to one and a half dismount is stuck! Awesome routine, Jenny is pumped. 9.900

Pfister (VT): Front hand pike 1/2, great height, hop backwards. 9.875

Dicello (BB): Double wolf to open is clean. Switch to split jump is well done. Backhandspring loso, works through a check. Great front aerial. Gainer full with a hop. 9.900

Lewis (FX) Rudi to LOSO, nice control. Tour jete half to switch half, lacking split and rotation.  Stream switched to beam…

Richards (BB): Solid series. Leg up check on the switch half. Switch leap, straddle jump, lacking split on the straddle. Hop on the one and a half dismount. 9.750

Newsome (UB): Nice opening handstand, piked jaeger to shootover is nicely done. Short final handstand, and sits the double front dismount. Routine was really nice up to the dismount. 8.975

Thomas (BB): Nice leap series to mount. One armed backhandspring to loso, great control. Front aerial to two feet with a small check. Beat jump to backhandspring swing down is nicely done. Backhandspring one and a half is stuck. Great routine. 10.000, the first of the season.

Yancey (FX): Nice double pike to open. Switch ring to tour jete half, lacking some head release on the switch ring. Back one and a half to front lay.

Wong (BB): Cut into at the end, hop on the double full dismount. 9.850

Pierson (FX): Nice double layout to open, well controlled. Switch side, wolf full, popa. The popa was not all the way rotated around. Front lay, front full, solid control. Overall nice routine,

After 3: Florida 148.350, WVU 146.200, Ball State 145.800, Lindenwood 144.600

Florida had three fine routines, and three great routines on beam for a very good 49.425. Even though Thomas got the 10, I was most impressed by Lazzari. That routine looked like no problem for her and should be a lock for the Gators throughout the season. West Virginia looked solid on floor, scoring a 49.200, and Pierson’s double layout was excellent. The team also looked well conditioned and there were not very many under rotated final passes, whcih is impressive for January. Lindenwood struggled on bars and had to count a few low scores. Ball State did well on vault, and Pfister’s front hand pike half on vault was excellent as well.

Rotation 4:

Brubach (FX): Front lay, rudi, nice control. Tour jete half, popa, landing positions were not the most precise. Double tuck to finish, chest down but great control. Solid opening routine and debut for the freshman. 9.850

Irwin (VT): Yurchenko layout half, with a step to the side. Really good layout shape. 9.750

Nguyen (FX): Front double full, sissone. Sissone is a bit messy and doesn’t get very much amplitude on it. Switch ring to switch half, fabulous position on the switch half. Back one and a half to front lay to finish, well controlled. Nice routine, 9.900.

Jones (VT): Yurchenko full with a hop back. She had very nice amplitude and distance. 9.700

We see a fall on a straddled jaeger on bars for Ball State before panning away.

Dicello (FX): Front double full, leg separation is pronounced. Switch ring, switch half is well done. Back one and a half to front full to finish, nicely done. 9.875.

Richards (FX): Double layout has nice form, but she lands short and has to take a step forward. Switch side to popa. Back one and a half to front full with a very noticeable knee bend on the front full. 9.850.

Baumann (FX): Double wolf turn is a little over rotated but good control. Back one and a half to front full is well executed. Switch side, straddle jump, great oversplit on those. Last pass is a double pike with a larger step back. Solid performance 9.925.

Ruthberg (UB): Tkatchev to overshoot, double front with a hop. Solid routine for ball state! 9.675.

Blakely (FX): Double arabian and sits it down. Switch ring, switch half. Double pike and land shorts, immediately grips her quad and ends the routine. She is walking on her own, which is good in terms of long term injury prospects. A bummer end to what was mostly a great night for the Gators.

Did not get to see very much of the other teams during that rotation. Overall, a nice opening meet for Florida, with bars looking like its best event so far. While we didn’t get to see a ton of the other three teams, West Virginia was very impressive on floor. Lindenwood and Ball State had some struggles on bars and beam that held them back, but definitely have lots of potential for the season.

FINAL: Florida 197.750, West Virginia 194.925, Ball State 194.100, Lindenwood 193.125

VT: Trinity Thomas 9.925
UB: Trinity Thomas, Leanne Wong 9.950
BB: Trinity Thomas 10.000
FX: Rachel Baumann 9.925
AA: Kayla Dicello 39.475

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Live blog by Rebecca Williams

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