Hello live from Pauley Pavilion! This is my first time in L.A., and I can’t think of a better reason to be here.
As far as NCAA gym play-in rounds go, this one is fairly uncontroversial and—dare I say—potentially really fun?
This will be the fourth time these MRGC rivals have faced off this season, and the previous results have been all over the map: Both teams won at home (BYU by less than two tenths, Boise State by over a point and a half), but BYU finished second at the recent conference championship by half a point over Boise State, who uncharacteristically counted sub-9.700 scores on bars and beam.
TL/DR: This is anyone’s meet.
As charged as the team competition is going to be, the individual stakes are arguably even higher. Each team has multiple individual qualifiers—Kylie Eaquinto (VT), Sydney Benson (VT), Anyssa Alvarado (UB), and Elease Rollins (BB) from BYU and Courtney Blackson (VT, UB, FX) and Emily Lopez (VT, UB) from Boise State—who will be competing tomorrow regardless of today’s outcome and could realistically challenge for a coveted berth to NCAA nationals.
Find links to the broadcast and live scoring here.
For context, I have a perfect view of bars, a good view of floor, and a head on view of vault and beam from across the arena.
onveniently, the Broncos are wearing the leo from the live blog header! I’ve been told Boise State has a new leo that also says Bronco in script across the chest! BYU’s in the new one with the mountain scene on the back. The (male) BYU coaches are in blue Hawaiian shirts.
Rotation One: BYU vault, Boise State bars
Dudley (BYU): Powerful Y full, good height but not a ton of distance. Slight pike-down, I think? Again, my view isn’t great. Small hop back. 9.750
Raesly-Patton (BYU): RO full-on, tuck off with a small hop back. 9.750
Benson (BYU): Y full with bent arms on the block and some pike-down with a hop. 9.800
Bean Ripley (BYU): FHS pike, great block and form with just a medium hop forward. 9.725
Eaquinto (BYU): Strongest full of the bunch so far. Little arm bend on the block, but a beauty in the air and more-or-less stuck. 9.825
Mason (BYU): Y full with soft form throughout. Couldn’t see the landing. 9.750
Little (Boise): Maloney with a little pike. Pak with some foot form. Lovely full pirouette to double tuck, didn’t get as much rise so forward chest and a little hop on the landing. 9.750
Morden (Boise: Beautiful blind change to piked Jaeger. Textbook bail to handstand, great tension. Cheats the final handstand but an excellent, high FTDT with minor foot form and the smallest hop. 9.775 is pretty tight. I can get there, but doesn’t feel like enough separation from the previous routine.
McGovern (Boise): Slightly shy handstand. Clear hip to Gienger with some leg sep. No problems on the bail. Tidy FTDT just a hair underrotated and takes a hop back. 9.725
Hamby (Boise): Excellent first handstand. Oof, comes off on her Ray (looked pretty in the air though!). Lovely final handstand. DLO good in the air, but lands pretty crunched and takes a lunge forward. 8.425
Blackson (Boise): Rechalking as they’re waiting for Hamby’s score. Beautiful first handstand to clean bail to handstand with good control. Big amplitude on the Khorkina. Textbook DLO, stuck. Clutch routine. 9.875
Lopez (Boise): Great first handstand. Blind change to piked Jaeger, gorgeous. Perfect bail to handstand. Slightly shy final handstand (but may have been within 10 degrees; negligble either way). Pristine DLO, stuck. Fantastic finish for Boise State. 9.900
AFTER ONE ROTATION: Boise State 49.025, BYU 48.875
As expected, it’s neck-and-neck after the first rotation. Scoring was tight on both events, so we’ll see if that carries over to tomorrow’s sessions.
Boise State avoided counting a fall, but obviously didn’t get quite as much of a buffer as they might have hoped. Similarly, no disasters for BYU, just a lot of tenths that added up.
I’m also glad to see a fair number of fans in the stands on a Wednesday afternoon!
Rotation Two: BYU bars, Boise State vault
Kho (Boise): Nice, high Y full. Little crooked in the air and had to pike down. Small hop. 9.725
Loyim (Boise): I do love a Y half. Some leg sep on the block and underrotated, necessitating a couple steps back. So pretty and straight in the air, though! 9.575
Vulaj (Boise): RO full-on pike off, excellent! Great form throughout and stuck. Best vault of the day so far, and she gets big hugs from the team. 9.900
Popp (Boise): FHS pike half with a tiny, tiny hop back. 9.800 feels low compared to other scores today, but admittedly my angle isn’t great.
Lopez (Boise): Big Y full, super clean throughout. If there was an adjustment on the landing, it wasn’t much. 9.850
Blackson (Boise): Y 1.5 with some leg sep on the preflight. Lands shifted to the left somewhat, but a definitive stick! 9.950
Mason (BYU): Good first handstand, held forever. Toe-hand, good. Significant leg sep and form on the Maloney and Pak. Rushed the half pirouette. Final handstand a bit shy. Nice DLO in the air with a small hop back. 9.700
Benson (BYU): Great first handstand. High Tkatchev with soft legs and feet. Bail to handstand a touch short. Same on the final handstand. Fabulous DLO with a minimal scoot back. 9.750
Eaquinto (BYU): Good first handstand. Some arm bend on the toe-hand. Very strong Maloney to Pak, no breaks that I could see. Tight DLO with a slight pike-down, but a stick! 9.850
Hunter (BYU): Slightly short first handstand but a MASSIVE Tkatchev and clear-hip to hand. Bail looked good. Shy final handstand. DLO with chest way forward and a swim, but another stick for the Cougars. 9.850
Alvarado (BYU): Lovely first handstand. Some arm bend on the toe-hand. Beautiful Maloney to floaty Pak. Has to readjust on her low bar handstand and falls out of the half pirouette, but sells it nicely. Clean DLO landed deep, but a third stick. 9.825
Bramblett (BYU): Blind change to staddled Jaeger, well done. Smooth bail. Final handstand a bit shy. DLO very clean in the air, landed deep with a small step. 9.800
AFTER TWO ROTATIONS: Boise State 98.250, BYU 97.950
Really strong vault rotation from start to finish for the Broncos, but the back half was lights out. Similar to vault, a good but not great rotation for the Cougars, with lots of minor deductions that added up.
Curious to see if the teams ramp up the intensity heading into the final two rotations. There’s a fine balance to strike in these play-ins: Do enough to advance, but not so much that you’re too exhausted banged up to compete in the second round.
Rotation Three: BYU beam, Boise State floor
Reminder that my beam view is sketchy at best.
Millar (BYU): Bhs loso with soft legs. Full turn with a big shoulder dip. Cat leap to switch half with a moderate hip check. Low beam cartwheel is cool. Beat to switch half, fine I think? Punch front full with soft knees again, but a good stick. Solid lead-off for the Cougars. 9.800 seems high with those two checks and the leg form.
Raesly-Patton (BYU): Front aerial to split jump, good. Switch split to split jump. Bhs loso with some form and a hip check. Full turn, a little indistinct in her position. RO back 1.5 with soft knees and a scoot back. 9.800 again seems high compared to how tight scoring has been today.
Margraf (BYU): Cat leap to split jump, good. Solid front aerial to back tuck. Switch half to beat, didn’t quite hit the position on the former. Full turn, no problem. Lovely punch front full with a small hop forward. 9.800
Dudley (BYU): Bhs loso with pretty significant leg form and a hip check. Missed her leaps, sorry! Cat leap to side aerial with another large hip break. RO back 1.5 a little flat, but a stick! 9.800 is exceptionally high, particularly compared to the other 9.800 routines from this lineup.
Rollins (BYU): I’m excited about this! Switch leap to switch side, gorgeous. Front aerial to bhs loso with a touch of foot form, but so steady. Full turn with free leg extended, beautiful. Bhs side gainer full, stuck. 9.900 is fine in a bubble, but not compared to the rest of the scores. Sigh.
Schooley (BYU): Bhs loso with soft form and a hip check. Full turn with a small check. Front aerial to split (?) with another significant check. One more big check after her final leap. Side gainer with a little adjustment in place. 9.700… Not that it affects the team score, but how do you give a routine with three significant checks (i.e., >45 degree waist bend) a 9.700 and give Rollins a 9.900? Make it make sense!
Vulaj (Boise): Back 1.5 to front full, nicely done. OK, this choreo is really fun! A+ for the horse whiny. Switch leap to tour jete full, cheated the latter. L hop full. Big double tuck to finish, a little bouncy into the lunge. 9.775
Lucas (Boise): Big double pike to open, a little out of control. Switch side to Popa, nice positions and height. Back 1.5 to front lay, looked good from what I could see but she landed right in front of the team corral so she could’ve fallen and I’d never know, lol. Strong double tuck to finish. 9.750
Loyim (Boise): WOW! Whip to tidy double tuck, bounced into the lunge, but very nice. Switch side to Popa, again, very dynamic. Obligatory front tuck. Strong double pike, clean in the air and nice control on the landing. 9.800
McGovern (Boise): Ooh, punch Rudi to loso, very pretty. Switch half to tucked 1.5, very shy on the former and couldn’t see her landing on the latter. Shushunova, great. Strong closing double tuck. 9.825
Blackson (Boise): Fhs front double full to punch front, fabulous. If you’ve never gotten to see Boise State’s floor rotation, I highly recommend it. Their choreography is really fun and unique. Sissone then switch full to something I couldn’t see. HUGE back 2.5 that just hung in the air. 9.850
Leitch (Boise): Double pike landed on the line, a little uncontrolled out of the lunge. Switch half series, a hair shy. Front lay to front full, lacking just a bit of rise. The ’90s kid in me is loving this music (Eminem and Coolio). HIGH and clean double tuck, strong finish. 9.725
AFTER THREE ROTATIONS: Boise State 147.275, BYU 147.075
That beam scoring was truly sketchy. Not just being too high, but having virtually no separation among six vastly different routines. Come on… Let’s see if the judges keep that same energy for Boise State.
On the bright side, both teams left several tenths on the floor, so this is going to come down to the wire!
Rotation Four: BYU floor, Boise State beam
Vulaj (Boise): Gainer bhs loso with some foot form and a minor check. Switch split to gainer loso with another very slight readjustment. Full turn, great. Front toss, very deliberate on the finish. RO back 1.5, stuck. Excellent lead-off for the Broncos! It’ll probably go 9.800, right? Oh wow, 9.900
Lucas (Boise): Low beam scorpion, how fun! Bhs loso with some arm and leg form and a small hip adjustment. Full turn with another little check. Switch leap to switch half, good. Front aerial to beat, np. Needle scale, very cool. RO back 1.5 with a small hop. 9.850
Elkabchi (Boise): Very crisp full turn. Bhs loso, fabulous. Beat to side aerial with a hint of a hip check. Straddle half to tuck jump, great. RO back 1.5 went up but not so much out, deep landing and takes a hop back. 9.775
Lopez (Boise): Bhs loso bhs with a soft legs, but so steady. Full turn kicked out. Front toss, rock solid. Side gainer full, stuck. Awesome day for Lopez. 9.900
Loyim (Boise): Bhs loso loso, very floaty but a big hip check. Full turn, solid. Side aerial with flexed feet. Switch leap, well done. Side gainer full, stuck. That takes a lot of pressure off of Boise State. 9.850. Trying to do the math in my head, and I’m not sure BYU can catch them actually…
Popp (Boise): Front aerial, full turn kicked out, lovely. Bhs to pike to two feet with a leg-up check. Switch half, great. Side gainer full, stuck. 9.925 is way too high but in keeping with today’s beam scoring. That should definitely put it away for the Broncos.
Millar (BYU): Switch side to Popa, nicely done. Clean double tuck with a little stumble out. Floaty front lay to front full, great. Nice start! 9.800
Benson (BYU): HUGE double tuck, good control. Switch full to Popa, a little wonky in the air but hit the positions (I think). Front lay to front full, a bit flat and had to stutter step on the landing. Double pike a shade low, chest forward but controlled landing. 9.775
Dudley (BYU): Fantastic double pike, great height and position. Punch front full to front lay, nice rice on both. Switch half (?) to Popa to wolf full, I think? Nice height and positions on all three. And a big double tuck to close. Excellent routine. 9.850
Schooley (BYU): Back 1.5 to front lay, a little bit of form on both but plenty of height. Switch ring to switch side, great. Tight double tuck, lacked a bit of control on the lunge, but played it off nicely. 9.775
Rollins (BYU): High double tuck, landed pretty deep but stuck. Switch side to double stag full (?). Digging the Top Gun remix. Front lay to front full a bit crunched. 9.775
Bean Ripley (BYU): FYI, she’s wearing some incredible hot pink eye make-up and lipstick. Front tuck through to high double tuck, a little lean back on the landing. Popa series to wolf half, fantastic height and positions on all three. Back extension roll to straddled front flip to the floor, too fun. Strong double pike to close. Great way to close out the Cougars’ season. 9.850
FINAL: Boise State 196.700, BYU 196.125
All right, folks. Boise State and I will see you back here tomorrow for Round Two!
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Live blog by Claire Billman
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