Julia Knower competes on floor exercise

Bubble Watch: March 8

With two weeks left of competition before regionals selection, the postseason field is beginning to take shape. Who has likely secured their position and who has work left to do? We’re breaking down every bubble team’s qualification scenario below.

Regionals Projection: Teams

Here are the projected regionals placements if the current standings were to hold, attempting to take geography into account.

NormanPittsburghDenverLos Angeles
1. Oklahoma2. Michigan3. Florida4. Utah
8. Alabama7. California6. LSU5. UCLA
9. Auburn10. Michigan State11. Denver12. Kentucky
16. Arkansas15. Ohio State14. Arizona State13. Oregon State
19. Minnesota21. Maryland17. Missouri18. Georgia
22. Illinois28. Western Michigan22. Southern Utah20. Stanford
24. Iowa30. Towson25. Washington26. Nebraska
27. N.C. State34. Ball State29. Arizona31. Boise State
33. BYU35. West Virginia36. North Carolina32. San Jose State

Teams in bold are geographically tied to that regional due to being ranked outside of the top 16 and located within 400 miles of the host. BYU could technically switch with Boise State in this projection, as both the Norman and Los Angeles regionals end on Saturday, but we kept BYU in Norman due to its lower ranking than Boise State. All of the other non-seeded teams were placed within the bracket in an attempt to keep in-conference pairings to a minimum, but these are certainly not set in stone. Due to the high number of teams automatically allocated to the Pittsburgh regional, it seems likely that a top-28 team will again find itself participating in the first round; using this week’s rankings, that team would be No. 27 N.C. State.

Bubble Watch: Teams

Road to Nationals debuted its “Regionals Locked In” chart this week, so we’ll be taking a look at every team who is not at least “likely locked” or “likely out” of a regionals berth. These teams range from No. 26 Nebraska to No. 43 Pittsburgh.

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. 26 Nebraska

Current NQS196.410
Highest three road scores197.500, 196.325, 196.150
Other NQS scores196.925, 196.850, 195.800*
NQS with season high this weekend196.750 (19th)
Meets remaining1 home, 1 road

Nebraska put up a season high on Friday to continue its rise up the rankings. While the Cornhuskers are still counting a sub-196 score at the moment, scores appear to be trending in the right direction, with the top three scores of the season coming in the last three meets. If they can continue the trend, a regionals berth is very likely.

No. 27 N.C. State

Current NQS196.380
Highest three road scores196.475, 196.275, 196.125*
Other NQS scores197.225, 196.650, 196.375
NQS with season high this weekend196.600 (25th)
Meets remaining2 road

N.C. State is currently in the unenviable position of being the top-28 team most likely to be forced to compete in the play-in round, so a rankings increase would be most welcome for the Wolfpack this week. With several low-196 scores still counting toward its NQS and a high over 197.000, another season high this weekend would go a long way toward securing a first-round bye.

No. 28 Western Michigan

Current NQS196.305
Highest three road scores196.725, 195.925, 195.525*
Other NQS scores197.100, 196.750, 196.600
NQS with season high this weekend196.620 (24th)
Meets remaining2 road

Western Michigan put up the highest score in program history at home on Saturday to climb four spots in the rankings. With two sub-196 road scores still factoring into the team’s NQS and two road meets remaining, the Broncos are poised to remain within regional qualification range, provided they can replicate some of their success at home on the road.

No. 29 Arizona

Current NQS196.300
Highest three road scores196.675, 196.475, 196.375
Other NQS scores196.800, 196.100*, 195.875*
NQS with season highs this weekend196.625 (22nd)
Meets remaining1 home, 2 road

Arizona put up a season high road score on Friday, but slid back one place in the rankings. With two chances this week to drop its last counting sub-196 score, the Wildcats stand a good chance of making their way back up in the standings.

No. 30 Towson

Current NQS196.270
Highest three road scores196.450, 196.350, 196.050*
Other NQS scores196.775, 196.375, 196.125*
NQS with season highs this weekend196.545 (25th)
Meets remaining3 road

Having exceeded the 196 mark at just one of its two meets last week, Towson was unable to capitalize on its double header to raise its NQS by a significant enough margin to climb the ranks and found itself falling three places instead. The Tigers will be on the hunt for stronger performances in this week’s double header to reclaim a top 28 ranking.

No. 31 Boise State

Current NQS196.225
Highest three road scores196.825, 196.525, 196.075
Other NQS scores196.500, 196.325, 195.700*
NQS with season high this weekend196.450 (26th)
Meets remaining2 road

Boise State notched a season high to drop an earlier score in the 195s and climb three positions in the rankings, but with a sub-196 score still factoring into their NQS, the Broncos will need to secure another score over 196 to feel more confident in their chance of making an appearance at regionals.

No. 32 San Jose State

Current NQS196.215
Highest three road scores196.625, 196.600, 196.300
Other NQS scores196.175, 196.150, 195.850*
NQS with season high this weekend196.370 (28th)
Road Meets remaining remaining2 road

San Jose State has scored over 196.000 in four consecutive meets, and that trend will need to continue in order to maintain its status in the top 36 over the remaining two weeks before postseason.

No. 33 BYU

Current NQS196.200
Highest three road scores196.650, 196.475, 195.575*
Other NQS scores196.450, 196.350, 196.150
NQS with season high this weekend196.415 (26th)
Meets remaining2 road

With a mid-195 still to drop, BYU can make a leap of up to seven places in the rankings with a season high performance this week. But with its season high coming over a month ago, the Cougars need to start picking the pace back up to secure a regionals berth. 

No. 34 Ball State

Current NQS196.190
Highest three road scores196.550, 196.375, 196.125
Other NQS scores196.300, 196.100*, 196.050*
NQS with season highs this weekend196.380 (27th)
Meets remaining1 home, 2 road

Ball State has two meets this weekend but very little spread in its current NQS-counting scores. While it’s technically possible for the Cardinals to rise to 27th or higher in the rankings before conference championships, setting a new season high would allow more breathing room in holding off the teams currently chasing them in the rankings.

No. 35 West Virginia

Current NQS196.165
Highest three road scores196.625, 195.675*, 195.575*
Other NQS scores197.325, 196.575, 196.375
NQS with season highs this weekend196.845 (19th)
Meets remaining1 home, 2 road

West Virginia was two road meets this weekend with two mid-195 road scores remaining to be dropped from its NQS calculation, leaving little room for error. A season high score at home on Sunday was a nice boost to its postseason prospects, but there is still work to do to secure a regionals appearance.

No. 36 North Carolina

Current NQS196.105
Highest three road scores196.275, 195.975, 195.700*
Other NQS scores196.475, 196.325, 196.250
NQS with season high this weekend196.260 (31st)
Meets remaining2 road

While North Carolina is currently safe in the top 36, that position is by no means secure. The Tar Heels have two sub-196 scores to drop and two attempts to do it, so there is no room for error if they want to maintain their position inside the regionals field.

No. 37 Penn State

Current NQS196.080
Highest three road scores196.100, 195.875, 195.525*
Other NQS scores196.875, 196.550, 196.350
NQS with season high this weekend196.350 (28th)
Meets remaining2 road

Penn State put up a strong 196.875, but still fell four spots in the rankings as quite a few other teams recorded season highs this week. That said, with the opportunity to replace two sub-196 scores still on the table, the Nittany Lions can keep themselves in contention for regionals –– but only if they can figure out how to replicate their home success on the road.

No. 38 George Washington

Current NQS195.855
Highest three road scores196.400, 196.075, 195.550*
Other NQS scores196.550, 195.875, 195.375*
NQS with season highs this weekend196.290 (30th)
Meets remaining1 home, 2 road

There is a bit of a gap in NQS between No. 37 Penn State and No. 38 George Washington, but GWU has the advantage of having a double meet weekend which can help to close the gap. However, the Colonials have three sub-196 scores to drop in its three remaining meets, so in order to make the regionals field they will have to be at their best in every outing.

No. 39 Central Michigan

Current NQS195.835
Highest three road scores196.500, 196.075, 195.825
Other NQS scores196.250, 195.600, 195.425*
NQS with season high this weekend196.050 (38th)
Meets remaining2 road

Central Michigan is the first team on this list who cannot make the top 36 this week, but luckily there are two weeks remaining before the regionals field is determined. It is also the highest ranked team that is guaranteed to count a sub-196 score toward its final NQS, a significant disadvantage. In order to overcome that obstacle, the Chippewas will likely need to score in the mid-196 range over its remaining two meets to have a chance at making the postseason.

No. 40 Kent State

Current NQS195.790
Highest three road scores196.025, 195.925, 195.750
Other NQS scores195.925, 195.725, 195.625*
NQS with season high this weekend195.870 (38th)
Meets remaining2 home

After posting a season high this week, Kent State was able to raise its NQS, but was unable to move up the rankings. With just four tenths separating its season high from its current lowest counting score, the Golden Flashes will need to see huge improvements in their final two meets of the season to have a shot at a spot at regionals. 

*Road to Nationals marks the Golden Flashes as likely out of regionals contention, but we still included the team in our projections this week.

No. 41 UC Davis

Current NQS195.730
Highest three road scores196.475, 195.300, 195.250*
Other NQS scores196.750, 196.175, 195.450
NQS with season high this weekend196.030 (38th)
Meets remaining2 road

UC Davis is guaranteed to count a 195.450 toward its final NQS, but with two mid-196 scores to its resume, the Aggies are still alive in the postseason race. It will take two more mid-196 scores in its final two meets, to stay in the race, but at least the Aggies have proven they are capable of that score both at home and on the road.

No. 42 Rutgers

Current NQS195.695
Highest three road scores196.225, 195.225, 195.150
Other NQS scores196.375, 196.325, 195.550*
NQS with season high this weekend195.860 (38th)
Meets remaining1 home, 1 road

Rutgers will have to wait until the Big Ten Championships to have an opportunity to drop the 195.150 currently counting toward its NQS, but in the meantime it’s absolutely necessary that the Scarlet Knights score over 196.000 at home this weekend in order to drop the 195.550. Rutgers’ postseason chances are small but not impossible.

No. 43 Pittsburgh

Current NQS195.655
Highest three road scores196.125, 195.775, 195.275
Other NQS scores196.550, 195.950, 195.150*
NQS with season high this weekend195.935 (38th)
Meets remaining1 home, 1 road

Pittsburgh is hosting a regional this weekend but the chances of making an appearance as a team at the regional are slim at this point. The Panthers are locked into counting two sub-196 scores, but if they can add two more mid-196 scores they will have a chance at making the field.

Regionals Projection: Individuals

If regionals were to start tomorrow, the following gymnasts would qualify as all-arounders. Note that individuals from No. 27 N.C. State are included in these lists since they would likely be competing in the play-in round according to the current bracket projection. Similarly, individuals from No. 28 Western Michigan and No. 30 Towson are not included in these lists.

Projected All-Around Qualifiers

GymnastSchoolCurrent NQS
Emily Shepard#27 N.C. State39.380
Lauren Macpherson#32 San Jose State39.370
Hannah Joyner#42 Rutgers39.365
Deja Chambliss#38 George Washington39.345
Hallie Copperwheat#43 Pittsburgh39.330
Julia Knower#36 North Carolina39.285
Ava Piedrahita#37 Penn State39.255
Hannah Demers#39 Central Michigan39.185
Rachel Decavitch#40 Kent State39.180
Hannah Ruthberg#34 Ball State39.170
Isabella Sissi#45 Northern Illinois39.165
Victoria Henry#34 Ball State39.150

Syd Morris of LIU and Malia Hargrove of Arizona are both only one all-around performance away from earning an NQS. If they can perform at their usual level this weekend, they will likely find their way into regionals qualification position. Hargrove hasn’t competed all-around at Arizona’s most recent meets, but with a double meet weekend ahead, she may get another opportunity. The most likely to be knocked out should Morris and Hargrove qualify are Sissi and Ruthberg, as neither has any particularly low scores left to drop, although Ball State has a double meet weekend ahead that will give Ruthberg an extra opportunity to maintain her position.

Projected Vault Qualifiers

GymnastSchoolCurrent NQS
Suki Pfister#34 Ball State9.900
Malia Hargrove#29 Arizona9.890
Lali Dekanoidze#36 North Carolina9.875
Chloe Negrete#27 N.C. State9.875
Jaudai Lopes#32 San Jose State9.870
Keanna Abraham#41 UC Davis9.870
Emily Lopez#31 Boise State9.865
Kylie Eaquinto#33 BYU9.860
Emily Leese#42 Rutgers9.855
Sydney Benson#33 BYU9.850
Kaia Parker#44 Iowa State9.850
Adriana Popp#31 Boise State9.850
Abbie Pierson#35 West Virginia9.845
Kendall Whitman#38 George Washington9.840
Kennedy Duke#43 Pittsburgh9.840
Megan Ray#41 UC Davis9.840

Fisk’s Morgan Price (9.875) is well within the qualification range, but it’s unclear if Fisk is eligible to qualify individuals into regionals at this time, so she has been omitted from the standings. Should she be eligible, Ray would miss out on a tie break. Next in line to qualify is Kaya Forbes (North Carolina; 9.835), Katrina Mendez-Abolnik (Bowling Green; 9.825), Ashley Glynn (Temple; 9.835) and Jessica Johanson (Penn State; 9.835). Mendez-Abolnik has the highest high and the lowest low of this group and has the most opportunity to move up this weekend. Conversely, every one of Johanson’s counting scores are a 9.85 or a 9.825, so there’s not much room for growth there. Whitman is in a similar situation, so should someone move up the rankings, she would be the most likely to fall out of contention. 

Projected Bars Qualifiers

GymnastSchoolCurrent NQS
Lali Dekanoidze#36 North Carolina9.950
Mara Titarsolej#46 LIU9.945
Emily Lopez#31 Boise State9.935
Courtney Blackson#31 Boise State9.915
Cassidy Rushlow#37 Penn State9.900
Anyssa Alvarado#33 BYU9.895
Natalie Hamp#45 Northern Illinois9.895
Emma Milne#32 San Jose State9.880
Libby Garfoot#38 George Washington9.875
Kylie Gorgenyi#48 New Hampshire9.875
Alyssa Al-Ashari#45 Northern Illinois9.875
Lindsey Hunter#33 BYU9.865
Natalia Pawlak#43 Pittsburgh9.865
Avery Balser#42 Rutgers9.865
Megan Teter#34 Ball State9.860
Brianna Brooks#47 Utah State9.860

Luciana Alvarado-Reid (Central Michigan; 9.855), Elizabeth Culton (North Carolina; 9.855) and Isabelle Schaefer (North Carolina; 9.855) are currently on the outside looking in. Schaefer has the most room to move up the rankings, but most of the athletes currently favored to qualify have even more room to improve, so it will be an uphill battle to break into this group. With a hit routine this weekend, Anna Bramblett (BYU, 9.850) could find herself in qualification position as she has quite a bit more range in her counting scores than those ranked above her. Should Syd Morris (LIU) not qualify through the all-around, one more usable score on bars could put them in a possible qualification position as well.

Projected Beam Qualifiers

GymnastSchoolCurrent NQS
Elease Rollins#33 BYU9.910
Chloe Negrete#27 N.C. State9.890
Ella Chemotti#55 Eastern Michigan9.885
Ilka Juk#46 LIU9.880
Jessica Castles#29 Arizona9.875
Emma Loyim#31 Boise State9.875
Alyssa Al-Ashari#45 Northern Illinois9.875
Emma Milne#32 San Jose State9.875
Sofi Sullivan#47 Utah State9.875
Adriana Popp#31 Boise State9.870
Reyna Garvey#43 Pittsburgh9.870
Emily Lopez#31 Boise State9.865
Amber Koeth#54 Sacramento State9.865
Robyn Kelley#48 New Hampshire9.865
Sirena Linton#29 Arizona9.855
Alyssa Worthington#48 New Hampshire9.855

Currently missing out on qualification are Brooke Donabedian (Temple; 9.85) and Elizabeth Culton (North Carolina; 9.85). Of these two, Culton is the most likely to move up, but Taylor Waldo (Ball State; 9.845) still has a 9.750 to drop and a double meet weekend ahead. She could jump both of them in the standings with a good performance this weekend. A possible spoiler to this group is Elena Deets of Arizona. She needs two more scores to earn an NQS, but has three remaining meets to do it. She has yet to score below 9.85 this season. Linton is the most likely to fall out of qualification standing should anyone move up, but she has two opportunities this weekend to try to hold her spot.

Projected Floor Qualifiers

GymnastSchoolCurrent NQS
Maddie Diab#44 Iowa State9.930
Chloe Negrete#27 N.C. State9.920
Emily Holmes-Hackerd#35 West Virginia9.915
Jada Mazury#32 San Jose State9.910
Brooke Donabedian#49 Temple9.910
Alyssa Guns#40 Kent State9.905
Kendall Whitman#38 George Washington9.905
Malia Hargrove#29 Arizona9.890
Karlie Franz#40 Kent State9.890
Emmalise Nock#45 Northern Illinois9.890
Renee Schugman#49 Temple9.890
Courtney Blackson#31 Boise State9.885
Emily Leese#42 Rutgers9.880
Lauren Rutherford#27 N.C. State9.875
Sidney Washington#43 Pittsburgh9.875
Gayla Griswold#53 Lindenwood9.870

Keanna Abraham (UC Davis; 9.870), Megan Ray (UC Davis; 9.870) and Abbie Pierson (West Virginia; 9.870) miss out on qualification due to a tie break here, but Abraham and Ray both have considerably more room to improve their NQS and could find themselves pushing Griswold out of contention. Ellen Collins (West Virginia) is currently one score short of having an NQS, but she has a double meet weekend coming up and should be considered a qualification threat as well.

READ THIS NEXT: Judge’s Inquiry: Breaking Down February’s Perfect 10s Part 1

Article by Jenna King, Mariah Dawson, Dara Tan, Emma Hammerstrom and Elizabeth Grimsley

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  1. The “regional” nonsense has to end.

    NC State might have to do a play in for a 2nd time and Towson gets a bye because of regional placements. That is completely unfair.
    Now that the regions are down from 6 to 4 there is no real logistical reason for placing teams regionally.

    All teams are seeded due to NQS rankings so distribute them accordingly.

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