The NCAA championships selection show always brings drama and intrigue. Whether it’s a team ranked in the top 28 being assigned to round one or a highly ranked individual specialist being assigned to a regional where it will be almost impossible to advance to nationals, there are always a handful of winners and losers on the day. We’re diving into those teams and individuals, why they lucked out or didn’t, and what needs to happen for them to be gymnastics’ Cinderella story in 2023.
As the 28th-ranked team in the nation, the Wildcats would’ve earned a first-round bye if all 36 postseason teams were seeded. But since that’s not how the gymnastics postseason works and there are “geography” rules for selection, Arizona will instead take part in the first-round dual meets. An extra day of competition makes an upset run to NCAAs even trickier for the Wildcats and hopeful individuals.
LIU, UC Davis, and Utah State Individuals
Has the selection committee looked at a map? Apparently only in regard to team placement. Individuals seem to have been thrown at a dart board. Mara Titarsolej, Syd Morris and Ilka Juk will travel across the country from Long Island to Los Angeles, while Keanna Abraham, Megan Ray, Sofi Sullivan and Brianna Brooks head the other direction, from Davis, Ca. and Logan, Utah to Pittsburgh.
Minnesota and Mya Hooten
The Gophers have shown shades of the excellence we came to know them for in previous years recently, upsetting both Ohio State and Iowa from the Big Ten evening session to finish third in the conference out of the afternoon. In most regionals, they’d be a contender to sneak into the Sweet 16, but they’ll be up against a blisteringly good Michigan squad and Denver, which is competing at home. It’s a tough draw for Mya Hooten, too, who has potential to qualify to nationals individually on floor especially. Assuming LSU and Michigan qualify as teams out of Denver, that pits Hooten up against Jade Carey, Jessica Hutchinson and Lynnzee Brown. Yikes.
The No. 16 Buckeyes drew the toughest path for a seeded squad to the Sweet 16. They have to down No. 17 Arkansas in Norman. While the Razorbacks have had inconsistencies, they’re certainly capable of sneaking past Ohio State. That matchup could come down to the wire.
By being a regional host, Denver was going to be a threat come postseason time no matter what seed the Pioneers entered as. Michigan is by no means an easy regional competitor to beat, but the Wolverines have been more inconsistent on the road than at home, which could be just the break that Denver needs to outperform its 14th seed and make nationals.
Thanks to geography, the bracketology implied that Washington would be relegated to a first round placement. Instead, the Huskies will head to Los Angeles to face No. 5 Utah, No. 12 Auburn, and Southern Utah in the second round. That’s still a tough placement to be sure, but it’s always a good day when you avoid the play-in.
No. 32 Hannah Demers from Central Michigan is the highest-ranked all-around competitor named as an individual; she heads to the Los Angeles regional. While the all-around field is still brutal, if we assume that Utah and UCLA will qualify as teams, that leaves Demers’ toughest competition as Sienna Schrieber, Cassie Stevens, and Karley McClain, assuming Sunisa Lee is still not back to top form. Still stiff competition, but it’s the friendliest individual all-arounder path to Fort Worth.
Whenever one team has the misfortune of being dropped to a play-in, another gets the luck of escaping it. The Mountaineers have that good fortune this year.
Assuming the two highest ranked teams—LSU and Michigan—advance to nationals, Dekanoidze doesn’t have to do too much to get an individual spot for bars. Besides the hosting Pioneers, few teams at the Denver regional have individuals capable of consistently hitting the 9.95-plus mark we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Dekanoidze, which easily makes her one of the most likely individuals we’ll see in Fort Worth.
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Article by the editors of College Gym News
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