Welcome to the 2023 NCAA gymnastics season! We’re starting hot with a brand new team. The Fisk Bulldogs will make history today, becoming the first HBCU team to compete in NCAA gymnastics. First seasons for new teams are historically tough, so there’s no reason to be disappointed if today is a little hot and cold for the Bulldogs. Fisk isn’t in it for participation prizes, though: This is a strong, exciting roster with the potential to become a real contender.
Jen Llewellyn’s first season at the helm of the Washington Huskies was a resounding success, but as injuries crept in, depth became very tight toward the end of the 2022 season. With a six-woman freshman class and several previously injured gymnasts rehabbed and ready to go, Washington is now a deeper and steadier squad prepared to continue its climb. Also ascendent is North Carolina, which has yet another star-studded freshman class and could pose a challenge to the Huskies. Southern Utah is a wildcard: The Thunderbirds have depended heavily on seniors and fifth-years for the last few seasons, but this year brings a talented and flashy freshman class that seems poised to carry SUU into the future.
Rotation 1: UW VT, SUU UB, UNC BB, Fisk FX
Muhammad (Fisk): Front full front lay, a little soft knees, emphatic choreography. Switch half misses split pretty badly. Looking great in leggings, which are a trademark piece of hers since her JO days because of her religion. Tour jete half split full is solid. Little falter on her double tuck landing but made. She looks EMOTIONAL and so does coach. Fisk is here!! 9.6
Greenlow (UNC): Started with a 9.725 from Nam. BHS LOSO, major leg up check, hangs on. Cat leap side aerial, another major check, saves again. Switch switch half, I didn’t like the look of that split but the angle wasn’t good enough to tell for sure whether it was made. One and a half twist with slightly closed hips and a hop forward. Super resilience there, but still one UNC hopes to drop. 9.325
Ka. McClain (SUU): Isn’t it fun that I have to specify which McClain now? Hoping to see a lot of Kennedi tonight too. Slow and steady first cast handstand, clear hip to Gienger looks great, nice bail. This routine is patient. Double layout a smidge undercooked, hop forward, but still a good one. 9.825
Killough-Wilhelm (UW): Solid FTY, I think higher than last year, medium bounce backwards, pretty uncontrolled. 9.725 that was all landing.
Coleman (Fisk): Front through double pike, big step back, think that was out of bounds. Switch side Popa a smidge underrotated, double tuck comes in short and that looked PAINFUL but with two steps forward she hangs on. Ankle stinger, for sure. 9.4
Cunningham (UW): Great FTY, medium hop back, pretty standard for her. 9.8
Culton (UNC): BHS LOSO, lovely, her extension is so special. Her weight is pretty far back on her leap series but she covers it pretty smoothly. Front aerial to split is so pretty. Full turn, gainer full off the side stuck. Great. 9.825
Mora (Fisk): Front lay front full nice and steady. Split full wolf full, switch ring switch half. This is a leap-heavy floor rotation. Double pike direct from round off, chest a little low but lunges fine. Very very nice.
Goodman (SUU): Such an exciting debut here. Blind right over the bar to pike Jaeger, Pak with perfect leg form, blind full with a smidge of flexed feet to double tuck, stuck. Easy, right? 9.9.
Price (Fisk): HUGE double pike, overrotates and rolls out of bounds. Front lay front full stuck-ish, really nice movement quality in her dance, huge airtime on her leaps. Two and a half twist, lovely. Even the fall was a nice fall. 9.225
After 1: SUU 49.050, UW 48.825, UNC 48.325, Fisk 47.65
Intriguing first rotation! SUU start had a pretty hot start on bars, while the Huskies’ first event was fine but looks like it will continue to be their weakest this year. A bit of a miss for UNC and an exciting start for Fisk with tons of potential.
Rotation 2: Fisk VT, UW UB, SUU BB, UNC FX
Killough-Wilhelm (UW): Hop change to pike Jaeger to overshoot, lovely. Blind to half to double tuck, baby step to the side. Fantastic. Why are you leading off. Stop. Anchor.
Murakami (SUU): A hometown girl! Full turn, little adjustment. BHS LOSO and adjusts the front foot, cat leap side aerial lovely. Split to sheep, cartwheel gainer full piked down with a step. 9.8
Coleman (Fisk): Yurchenko layout, high and whippy, fun to watch. Just a little leg sep and a hop back. 9.525
Shinohara (UNC): Front through double back, little rebound back but keeps it in bounds. Switch side Popa wolf full, tons of height but skewing off axis toward the end, looked a little lost. Double pike also overpowered, barely in bounds. 9.6
Brooks (UW): True Shap to clear hip, just a little leg sep, a smidge short on the bail but works through fine. Blind full a little wonky, holds the stick on her double tuck for a second and then hops to salute. 9.675
Reed-Hammon (Fisk): FTY, piked down with a low chest but hangs onto the stick and the Bulldogs are freaking out. 9.725
Brewer (Fisk): High FTY, closed hips and two or three big steps back. 9.5
Cacciola (SUU): BHS LOSO, steady. Beat to LOSO is GREAT. Switch switch to split, those splits are a little shy, one and a half twist with a step. 9.775
Culton (UNC): Double tuck, tight tuck and amazing landing. Switch ring switch side super precise, front lay to Rudi, switch side to Popa. Really clean so far, UNC needed this. 9.875
Price (Fisk): Drilled FTY, 9.9. Okay. Wow.
Forbes (UNC): Full in, messy legs and a step forward. Super straight body position on her front combo and a great landing. Tour jete half split full, double tuck with a fidgety stick-ish landing. 9.85
Ka. McClain (SUU): BHS LOSO, nice and steady. Switch to split, splits not great. Cat leap side aerial, split to straddle quarter, iffy splits again. One and a half twist, hop forward. 9.75
Knower (UNC): Sweet Child of Mine! Great double pike, front full front lay and JUST goes out of bounds. Great leap positions, honestly haven’t seen a ton of those today. Double tuck undercooked, step forward. 9.575
Schwartze (SUU): BHS LOSO, a smidge shaky but gets it under control fast. Beat jump to LOSO is good. Beat to sheep, gainer full stuck with a little lean forward. 9.8
After 2: SUU 97.900, UW 97.700, UNC 96.950, Fisk 95.725
It’s close at the top with two strong events ahead for both of the top teams. UNC rallied in the second half of floor, which is great. We’ll see how much vault difficulty the Heels have for us today. Morgan Price’s FTY might be the most memorable moment of this meet at the end of the day, though.
Rotation 3: UNC VT, Fisk UB, UW BB, SUU FX
Schwartze (SUU): Front double full, great landing, almost stuck. Steady leaps, Rudi LOSO a little unsteady, has to shuffle the front foot a bit, but solid start. 9.85 is a big number for a lead off.
Shinohara (UNC): FTY, pretty high but piked throughout, hop in place.
Cacciola (SUU): Double tuck, a smidge overrotated. Front full front pike nice and steady, switch ring switch half well-rotated. Rudi to split to finish.
Russon (UW): Front aerial, tentative, little check. BHS LOSO and falls. One and a half dismount with a hop forward. 9.15
Lost stream for a couple minutes there unfortunately, I think we missed Alyssa Wiggins and Morgan Bowles.
McClain (SUU): Full in! She looks SO much better this year than at any point last season. One and a half front lay lovely. Big bounce out of her double back but stays in bounds. 9.85
Navarro (UW): Gorgeous triple series. Switch switch side, a bit off but hangs onto it, full turn. One and a half nearly stuck. The first really good beam routine for UW.
Ingrassia (SUU): Front through double pike, OOB. Great double tuck! 9.875 what. Did they take back the OOB?
Davis (UW): Triple series, off line but saves it with her arms, no problem. Big hop on the one and a half. Bummer, was going great. 9.75
Smith (SUU): Chest way down on her double tuck, step forward. Tour jete half split full, iffy splits. Rudi to sissone. These SUU floor routines are so FAST. 9.7
Killough-Wilhelm (UW): Front aerial, arm wave, BHS LOSO nice and steady. Not sure if she needed that CV. Usually this team is pretty good at backup plans. Switch to split, side aerial one and a half stuck cold. Great. 9.9
After 3: SUU 146.850, UW 146.500, UNC 145.775, Fisk 141.350
Bars isn’t Fisk’s event, but beam should be an exciting one. It’s Liberty Mora’s specialty, for one. Washington fought its way through beam while SUU had the highest highs on floor combined with some wobbly landings. Okay vault rotation for UNC, but this is looking like a 194 for the Heels unless something really special happens on bars.
Rotation 4: SUU VT, UNC UB, Fisk BB, UW FX
Vultaggio (SUU): Solid FTY, hop back. 9.7
Killough-Wilhelm (UW): Front double full, quick step forward. Switch ring switch half, one and a half front lay is lovely. Great start. 9.8
Cacciola (SUU): FTY, step to the side, foot on the line. Isn’t it neat that we have lines now? 9.775
Innes (UW): Front double full, mildly outrageous leg form, awkward landing with a cross step. Wolf full wolf full, a little underrotated, one and a half front lay with soft knees. Rudi, shuffle back. 9.575
C. Kho (SUU): One and a half, soft knees, locks her knees out HARD on the landing which looked intensely painful but she’s okay.
Reed-Hammon (Fisk): Iced for a while by the judges. Shaky full turn, kickover front BHS wonky but gets through it. Cat leap, not quite right, cat leap side aerial, big check and grabs her legs. Some split issues on her leaps, gainer full off the side with a step. 9.35
Navarro (UW): Double tuck, perfect landing and MILKS it. Switch side Popa great, one and a half front lay great. Double pike, chest a little low but lunges out fine. 9.875
Daniels (Fisk): BHS LOSO, gnarly leg form, off. Split, breaks the connections, off again on her leap series. Full turn. Switch to straddle… looked like quarter but then she landed it forward. Interesting twisty cartwheel thing, gainer pike with a big hop. 7.925
Roberts (UW): Wonky landing on her double tuck, also a little off on her combo pass but fakes it convincingly that time. Double pike a little awkward. 9.775
Richmon (Fisk): BHS LOSO, switch straddle quarter, steady so far. Side aerial, bent knees, absolute odyssey of a save there. One and a half twist with a baby hop. That’ll do just fine.
Cunningham (UW): Front through double tuck, great. Switch half wolf full wolf full, great. Nailed double pike. Good one!
Price (Fisk): Full turn, front aerial, check. BHS LOSO, two steps and a fall. Great one and a half twist.
Davis (UW): 9.9 ties SUU. Rudi BHS, out of bounds, what was THAT. Congrats SUU! Twists front double full into the ground, looks painful but she’s smiling. That won’t be a great score but what can you do.
Mora (Fisk): Front aerial back tuck, deep but hangs onto it. Side somi. Cat leap gainer full, stuck. Nice finish for the Bulldogs. 9.675
FINAL: SUU 195.800, UW 195.475, UNC 194.625, Fisk 186.700
VT: Morgan Price 9.900
UB: Trista Goodman 9.900
BB: Skylar Killough-Wilhelm 9.900
FX: Amara Cunningham 9.900
AA: Skylar Killough-Wilhelm 39.325
READ THIS NEXT: Fisk Prepares for Inaugural Season With Goal of “Competing With the Big Dogs”
Live blog by Rebecca Scally
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