2023 Denver Regional Preview

It’s almost time for the 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.

Next up is the Denver regional. Thursday will feature No. 28 Arizona and No. 35 North Carolina in round one. Friday we jump into round two action with No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Oregon State, No. 19 Georgia and No. 23 Nebraska competing in the afternoon session and No. 3 Michigan, No. 13 Denver, No. 18 Minnesota, 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 4 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 28 Arizona and No. 35 North Carolina 

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 28 Arizona196.570196.204197.275Vault
No. 35 North Carolina196.295195.865196.475Bars


Arizona has had a solid season. It’s had several upper-196 scores and one 197.000 at home against BYU. The Wildcats had a stellar 49.400 on beam at PAC-12 championships, which they’ll be hoping to reach again at regionals. As for North Carolina, the Tar Heels have also had a reasonably consistent season. While it has been consistent, North Carolina’s problem is that its season-high is much lower than Arizona’s. So, if Arizona hits its highest potential, North Carolina might not be able to put up much of a fight. 

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Even though Arizona has a higher ceiling than North Carolina, these teams had an almost identical performance at their conference championships. Arizona scored 196.375, and North Carolina scored 196.350. If conference championships indicate how the play-in round will turn out, this meet could come down to the minor details. 

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

Arizona’s Sirena Linton has been a star on beam for her entire career. She scored a 9.900 at PAC-12 championships and is capable of even higher. Watch out for her when the Wildcats get to beam. Malia Hargrove is another of Arizona’s stars who excels on floor. Hargrove scored a 9.875 at PAC-12s. As for the Tar Heels, they have their beam queen in Elizabeth Culton, who also scored a 9.900 at the EAGL championships. Julia Knower is another one to watch; she especially shines on beam and floor. 

Round Two

Session One

Date: Friday, March 31 at 4 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 6 LSU, No. 11 Oregon State, No. 19 Georgia and No. 23 Nebraska 

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 6 LSU197.840197.500198.100Beam
No. 11 Oregon State197.490197.210198.075Floor
No. 19 Georgia196.955196.615197.325Bars
No. 23 Nebraska196.730196.248197.500Vault


LSU has battled many injuries this season and has fought up to No. 6 nationally. Regionals may test just how good the Tigers’ depth is. Oregon State has been proving that last year’s 17th-place finish was not up to its standards and that the goal is to advance further into the postseason this year. We’ll have to wait and see if the Beavers’ hot streak will continue. Finally, this season has been much kinder to Georgia and Nebraska than last year. Last year Georgia finished 30th nationally after placing last at the Auburn regional, and Nebraska failed to qualify for regionals.  

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Looking at the numbers, LSU and Oregon State are clear favorites to advance to the final. Except for a few 197s, it’s been a relatively quiet season for Georgia and Nebraska. But both lower-seeded teams may have a chance to advance if the top seeds make silly mistakes. If LSU or Oregon State get tripped up on a few too many landings, Georgia or Nebraska may just be ready to pounce on their spot in the final session. 

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

There will be so many outstanding routines this session that you won’t want to look away for even a second. LSU has many great routines, but keep your eye out for Haleigh Bryant on vault. It’s pretty much a guarantee that if she sticks her landing, she’s getting a 10. Almost all gymnastics fans know that Jade Carey is one to watch, but she isn’t the only star on the Beavers’ roster. Look out for sophomore Lauren Letzsch, who scored a 9.900 on beam and floor at the PAC-12 championships. Speaking of floor, Georgia’s Soraya Hawthorne is always a showstopper on her signature event, and she scored a 9.900 at SEC championships. Finally, keep your eye on Clara Colombo when the Huskers get to bars. Colombo scored a 9.925 at the Big Ten championships. 

All AroundVaultBarsBeamFloor
Deja Chambliss, George Washington (with Nebraska)Alyssa Al-Ashari, Northern Illinois (with Georgia)Alyssa Al-Ashari, Northern Illinois (with Georgia)Kendall Whitman, George Washington (with Oregon State)
Natalie Hamp, Northern Illinois (with Oregon State)Emmalise Nock, Northern Illinois (with Georgia)

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

Deja Chambliss will be one to watch in the all-around competition. She boasts a high score of 39.500, which could challenge for a spot at nationals if she hits her full potential. Also, look out for Kendall Whitman’s floor routine. She performs three E passes and has a season-high of 9.950. 

Session Two

Date: Friday, March 31 at 9 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPN+

Teams: No. 3 Michigan, No. 13 Denver, No. 18 Minnesota, and the winner of round one

TeamNQSAverageHigh ScoreStarting Event
No. 3 Michigan198.080197.816198.300Beam
No. 13 Denver197.445197.320198.150Floor
No. 18 Minnesota197.015196.707197.600Bars
No. 28 Arizona OR No. 35 North Carolina196.570 OR 196295196.204 OR 195.865197.275 OR 196.475Vault


Michigan has been having a great year with few missteps. The Wolverines beat Oklahoma in the regular season and will be looking to bring that energy into the postseason. Denver has also had a successful year. The Pioneers scored their first above 198 and have set numerous records on multiple events. Minnesota has been doing a great job of navigating its first season without Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper, and now that regular-season success will be put to the test. 

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

Michigan is a pretty clear favorite to come out on top of this session. If the Wolverines don’t have too many mistakes, they should have a spot in the final session. Denver should be right there with them, but the Pioneers cannot look past Minnesota. Denver’s average score this season is just above 197.300, and the Gophers have scored above or near that score a handful of times. Each team must stay focused on the present and hit their best routines to have a chance at the final. 

Routines You Shouldn’t Miss

Michigan’s roster is stacked with amazing gymnasts who can reach perfection on any given day. But the most recent Wolverine to earn a perfect 10 is Abby Heiskell, who scored a 10 on beam at the Big Ten championships. Keep your eye on her when the Wolverines make it to beam. But Heiskell isn’t the only one who’s scored a 10 on beam this year. Jessica Hutchinson has been perfect on beam and floor this year, and she may just do it again at regionals. Minnesota’s Mya Hooten is also one to watch. Her floor routine has stellar tumbling, and she has also received a few perfect 10s this season. 

All AroundVaultBarsBeamFloor
Julia Knower, North Carolina (with North Carolina or Arizona)Malia Hargrove, Arizona (with Denver)Alysen Fears, Arizona (with Denver)Sirena Linton, Arizona (with Michigan)Malia Hargrove, Arizona (with Denver)
Lali Dekanoidze, North Carolina (with Denver)Jessica Castles, Arizona (with Minnesota)Maddie Diab, Iowa State (with Minnesota)
Malia Hargrove, Arizona (with Denver)

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

Individuals to Keep an Eye on

This year, Alysen Fears has become a staple in the Wildcats’ bar lineup. She hit three 9.925s in a row at the end of the season, so watch out for her on bars! Iowa State’s Maddie Diab will also be competing on floor, and you definitely won’t want to miss her routine. She hasn’t scored below 9.850 all season and scored 9.950 three times. Diab has a great chance at qualifying for nationals, so tune in! 

Round Three

Date: Sunday, April 2 at 7 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

Unless something goes wrong for some top-seeded teams, this session will probably feature Michigan, Oregon State, LSU, and Denver. Only two teams can qualify for nationals, so everyone must bring their A-game. When looking at the numbers, Michigan and LSU are favorites to advance. But LSU was also a favorite to advance last year when they missed out on qualifying for nationals. Anything can happen, so make sure to tune in to see if Oregon State or Denver can pull an upset against the top seeds. 

READ THIS NEXT: The NCAA Postseason Format, Explained

Article by Emily Lockard

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