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2023 Pittsburgh Regional Preview

It’s almost time for NCAA gymnastics postseason again! We know where each of the top 36 teams in the country will travel to compete for a chance at advancing to nationals, and in the days leading up to the championships, we’ll preview and analyze each of the four regionals, discussing which teams have a chance of moving on each day and which individuals could qualify as well.

First up is the Pittsburgh regional. Thursday will feature No. 31 Towson and No. 32 Penn State in round one. Friday we jump into round two action with No. 7 California, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 26 Western Michigan, and No. 29 West Virginia competing in the afternoon session and No. 2 Florida, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 24 Maryland and the winner of round one in the evening session. Two teams from each of these Friday competitions will advance to the regional final on Sunday where the top two from that meet make it to nationals.

There’s also a handful of individuals that will compete on Friday in both of the round two meets. Simply put, the top all-arounder and event specialists qualify to nationals. To determine those gymnasts, combine Friday’s individual event and all-around results, wait until Sunday’s meet concludes, take out all the gymnasts from the two qualifying teams, and take the top individual on each event and in the all-around.

Easy enough, right?

Check out our NCAA postseason resource guide for a more in-depth explanation, including how the tie-breaking procedure works (it’s complicated), how the whole format is structured, and even how judges are selected.

Round One

Date: Thursday, March 30 at 2 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 31 Towson vs. No. 32 Penn State

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 31 Towson196.450196.104196.775Vault
No. 32 Penn State196.415196.131197.025Bars


Towson has been strong all season, with its 16th-ranked bars team propelling the Tigers to the program’s first EAGL title and a second straight regionals appearance. Penn State started the season slowly, but the Nittany Lions built momentum as the season went on to qualify back to regionals after missing the cutoff last season.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

If we look at conference championships and both teams’ NQS, Towson should come out on top. It’s a razor-thin margin, and Towson’s lineups have been in flux lately. While both teams have a similar average, and Towson has the higher NQS, Penn State has the higher maximum score and could pull an upset here with a good day.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

If you have not seen Towson’s bars lineup yet this season, you’re overdue for a treat. Freshman Isabella Minervini has been a star for Towson on this event and will qualify for day two even if the team does not, along with her fellow bars star Grace Vaillancourt. Penn State has been strong on vault this season and showcases huge variety, including beautiful Omelianchiks from Ava Piedrahita and Bella Salcedo. You won’t want to miss a moment of the second rotation.

Round Two

Session One

Date: Friday, March 31 at 2 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 7 California, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 26 Western Michigan, and No. 29 West Virginia

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 7 California197.825197.608198.275Beam
No. 10 Michigan State197.595197.206198.225Floor
No. 26 Western Michigan196.590195.957197.100Bars
No. 29 West Virginia196.515195.954197.325Vault


California was strong right out of the gate this season and kept improving, scoring multiple 198.000s and keeping pace with Utah and UCLA throughout the Pac-12 Championship. Michigan State has had a breakout season, living up to the promise of years of fantastic recruiting to establish itself as a bona fide top-10 team with giant-slayer potential. West Virginia and Western Michigan had very similar trajectories this season, but Western Michigan stumbled a bit on bars in the conference championships and will be looking to bounce back. Both have high peaks matched by high variance.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

California and Michigan State should easily qualify here and have a buffer to do so. There is a point gap in both NQS and maximum score over Western Michigan and West Virginia. The door would have to be opened by another team for either Western Michigan or West Virginia to advance.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

California beam has gone over 49.600 in the last three meets. It’s a lineup that excels from top to bottom, but Mya Lauzon, a new member of the 10.000 club, is perhaps the biggest attraction. Sage Kellerman from Michigan State just became the Big Ten vault champion with her front pike half and is in the back half of the lineup with Nikki Smith, who has a stickable one and a half. West Virginia and Western Michigan have some floor stars to watch, with Kendra Combs and Kianna Yancey from West Virginia and Payton Murphy from Western Michigan will be one to watch there. 

All AroundVaultBarsBeamFloor
Hallie Copperwheat, Pittsburgh (West Virginia)Katrina Mendez Abolnik, Bowling Green (Michigan State)Natalia Pawlak, Pittsburgh (Western Michigan)Reyna Garvey, Pittsburgh (Western Michigan)Keanna Abraham, UC Davis (Michigan State)
Keanna Abraham, UC Davis (California)Brianna Brooks, Utah State (Michigan State)Sofi Sullivan, Utah State (Michigan State)Megan Ray, UC Davis (Western Michigan)
Megan Ray, UC Davis (UC Davis)

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

This set has some lovely routines, but it would take a great meet to get any of them to nationals. Abraham has scored 9.975 on floor and could reach the top of the rankings there. Keep an eye on Copperwheat, who is set to do the all-around here but has been out for several meets with a presumed but fundamentally unknown injury. If she’s fit, her most likely chance would be on bars or beam, which peaked at 9.950. Copperwheat’s Pittsburgh teammates Pawlak and Garvey have also hit 9.950 on their respective events this season.

Session Two

Date: Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 2 Florida, No. 15 Arizona State, No. 24 Maryland, and the winner of round one.

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 2 Florida198.110197.950198.425Beam
No. 15 Arizona State197.105196.734197.725Floor
No. 24 Maryland196.710196.231197.100Bars
No. 31 Towson OR No. 32 Penn State196.450 or 196.415196.104 or 196.131196.775 or 197.025Vault


Florida had a solid start to the season, and after resting key contributors a couple of weeks ago, the Gators are peaking at the right time with a season-high at the SEC Championships. Arizona State had a slower start, but key wins over Utah and Oregon State will give the Sun Devils confidence going into regionals. Maryland backloaded its schedule to escape the play-in round, but with sub-196 performances at both conference meets, the Terps have yet to prove they can produce in tournament meets this year.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

It would take a catastrophe for Florida to struggle here, but recall that Arizona State did have a rough beam outing in the last regular season meet, and all it would take was a similar performance here coupled with a strong day from Maryland or the winner of Towson vs. Penn State to take advantage. Everyone else in this meet is within a one-fall range of Arizona State’s best day, so if an error occurs, it’s a free-for-all.

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

Trinity Thomas is one 10.000 away from tying the all-time 10.000 record and two away from breaking it. That could easily happen this weekend. Arizona State’s Sarah Clark has gone as high as 9.975 on bars this season and will be one to watch, and we can’t take our eyes off nationally-ranked Sun Devil Hannah Scharf in the all-around. Maryland’s Emma Silberman has been a rock all year, with her best all-around performance coming in two of the last three meets and will be one to watch here.

All AroundVaultBarsBeamFloor
Ava Piedrahita, Penn State (Towson)Polina Belanovski, Towson (Maryland)Cassidy Rushlow, Penn State / Isabella Minervini, Towson (Maryland)Ella Chemotti, Eastern Michigan (Maryland)Brooke Donabedian, Temple (Florida)
Maddie Johnston, Penn State (Arizona State)Grace Vaillancourt, Towson (Florida)Renee Schugman, Temple (Maryland)

*Note: Individuals from both round one teams are included in the individual draw to account for one team being eliminated after Thursday’s competition. The spots from the individuals on the advancing team will not be filled.

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

Piedrahita’s Omelianchik is ranked No. 23 nationally. If she sticks, she can top the table among non-qualifying team vaulters. All three of the bars qualifiers—Rushlow, Minervini, and Vaillancourt—have scored at least a 9.95 this season and will be contenders for the bars spot. Donabedian is the leading contender of the Temple floor qualifiers and could awe the judges with her lovely performance quality. Still, it would be an uphill battle to beat the whole floor lineup of a team like Michigan State.

Round Three

Date: Sunday, April 2 at 5 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: Top two teams from each Friday session

VaultTeam with the second-highest NQS
BarsTeam with the highest NQS
BeamTeam with the third-highest NQS
FloorTeam with the fourth-highest NQS

The Bottom Line

If everything goes to plan, this will be a meet where Florida is expected to come out on top, and there will be a battle for the second spot between Michigan State and California, which have both been on a hot streak as of late. You will not want to miss the battle between the Spartans and the Golden Bears. Since each has some of the country’s greatest individuals, the individual qualifying implications will also be remarkable. If Arizona State also qualifies, it’ll certainly be a disadvantage, but with a season-high, only a few tenths below the others, don’t take your eyes off the Sun Devils entirely.

READ THIS NEXT: The NCAA Postseason Format, Explained

Article by Rebecca Scally and Alyssa Van Auker

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