eMjae Frazier California

LIVE BLOG: NCAA National Championships Semifinal I

The 2023 NCAA Gymnastics Championships are finally HERE, and the first of two semifinals officially kicks off the festivities! The two top teams from this afternoon advance to Saturday’s championship final, and individual scores today will determine event winners. This session features No. 2 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 California, and No. 13 Denver, alongside individuals from Boise State, Ohio State, Stanford, Penn State, Missouri, and Michigan State. View the full slate of individuals and their events here.

With just one top-five team in this semifinal (compared to three in this evening’s), this is considered more of an open race between the two. Denver made it here in upset fashion—winning its home regional—while the Tigers won a tiebreak over third-seeded Michigan to qualify as well. California upended Florida to take the Pittsburgh regional title after Gator superstar Trinity Thomas withdrew from regionals mid-floor routine in round two to injury.

The biggest storyline will be Florida and how much/little Thomas competes, as her status is day-to-day. While the Gators are strong enough without her to be a favorite to advance to the final, it’s no gimme, as the trio of other teams have been above 198 this season. But Leanne Wong and Kayla DiCello have also been studs for Florida throughout this season and have the capability to propel it to a trophy—along with plenty of individual hardware on the way.

California, LSU, and Denver all have key pairs of athletes to watch as their team’s success usually goes with theirs. Mya Lauzon and eMjae Frazier have both broken the Golden Bears’ all around program record this season, Aleah Finnegan and Haleigh Bryant each have 10s on three events this season for the Tigers, and Lynnzee Brown and Jessica Hutchinson are darkhorse all arounders with plenty of experience.

Of the individual competitors, keep an eye on Boise State’s Courtney Blackson and Stanford’s Chloe Widner. Earning her first perfect 10 at regionals, Blackson’s dynamic Yurchenko one and a half can compete with the best, while all-arounder Widner’s powerful gymnastics should fit in well at the end of LSU’s lineups.

Follow along with live scores and video! (ESPN2)

Rotation 1: Denver Vault, Florida Bars, LSU Beam, California Floor

Blakely (UF): Maloney and falls immediately, repeats fine into Pak, a bit close, dismounts toe half double front, stuck. 9.2375

DeSouza (Cal): Rudi LOSO, no issues, clean leaps, RO 1.5 front full into dance easily. 9.8375

Brusch (Den): FTY. Stuck and flared. 9.850

Somehow between four events no gymnastics is happening…

Hutchinson (Den): Y1.5. Nice in the air, hop forward. 9.8375

Shchennikova (LSU): Front aerial BHS BHS, slow in the direction change but kept moving, switch leap split jump, side aerial with a lean to the side, dismounts BHS gainer full, stuck. 9.775

Hit from Nguyen on bars for Florida. 9.825

Brown (Den): STUCK Y1.5!! 9.925

DiCello (UF): Ray, massive, Pak, toe handstand to Shaposh half, easy, dismounts stuck FTDT. 9.875

Ruiz (Den): FTY. Tight block, a bit short but just a small hop in place. 9.825

Thomas (UF): Maloney to Pak, Shaposh half, dismounts STUCK double layout, hit every handstand. 9.950

Blackson (Boise St): Y1.5. Comes in a little under but holds for the stick. 9.925

Li (Cal): FHS front double full, bouncy into the arabesque, FHS front full front layout, gets that landing, great leaps. 9.875

Wong nails a bars set with a stuck dismount. 9.9375

McCusker (UF): Maloney to Pak, nice, Shaposh half no problems, stalder to double tuck, deep squat but sticks. 9.900

Bryant (LSU): Front aerial BHS, quick, switch leap split side, standing front tuck, stuck Rudi dismount. 9.9375

Lauzon (Cal): Good front double full front tuck, nice leaps, RO 1.5 front full, controlled landing. 9.9375

Finnegan (LSU): Candlestick dive mount half, BHS LOSO LOSO, secure, switch leap split jump, front aerial, snaps the arms down, sticks the gainer full dismount. 9.9125

Frazier (Cal): Huge double layout, switch ring switch leap half solid, front through to double tuck, easy. 9.9375

Widner (Stanford): Switch leap split jump, aggressive and good height, BHS LOSO, smooth, front aerial split jump, dismounts stuck gainer full.

Harkness (Michigan St): Opens with a great full-in, a bit oof-line, fully rotated leaps, closes with a front tuck to double tuck, another good landing.

After 1: Florida 49.4875, California 49.4375, LSU 49.275, Denver 49.225

Thomas made her presence known with her huge 9.950 to lead the Gators and put them in front after one rotation. California has done itself a solid, putting itself in second already with its best events to go and with a tiny cushion for its worst event, vault. LSU and Denver did what they needed to on weaker events of their own, staying in contention with their best events ahead of them. It’s going to fun a fun one, folks!

Rotation 2: California Vault, Denver Bars, Florida Beam, LSU Floor

Li (Cal): FTY. Good off the table, flares it, tiny hop back. 9.825

Blakely (UF): Front aerial BHS, switch leap switch half beat jump, moved quickly, stuck gainer full dismount. 9.9375

Williams (Cal): FTY. Not as dynamic as Li’s but just as clean, sticks chest forward a tad. 9.8625

Lazzari (UF): BHS LOSO LOSO, tiny hip movement, switch leap split jump, front aerial, under a bit and takes a step back, cartwheel gainer full, step back. 9.8125

Hits all around in this rotation so far.

DeSouza (Cal): Y1.5. Legs apart on the table but good rotation, small hop forward. 9.8625

Rorich (Den): Blind into huge Jaeger, dismounts double layout, great form, small hop. 9.9125

Lauzon (Cal): Y1.5. Hop forward. 9.900

Brock (LSU): Double pike to open, perfectly stuck, double tuck, opens a bit early and steps forward, switch side Popa, dismounts RO 1.5 front full, missed the punch and tucks and sits the last salto. 9.000

Piedrahita (Penn St): Omelianchik, small hop in place. 9.875

Wong (UF): Switch leap Sissone, BHS LOSO, big leg check, front aerial beat jump, easy, RO double full, hop back. 9.800

Hit bars set from Hutchinson for Denver. 9.850

Johnson (LSU): Massive full-in to mount, RO 1.5 front layout, flat but good landing, switch leap to switch side 1/2, a tad short. 9.875

Cooley (Den): Toe handstand, big Ray, bail, dismounts double layout, hop forward. 9.775

McCuskser (UF): Good wolf turns, beat jump front aerial, under and big check to the side, BHS LOSO, leg up check, switch leap split leap, a small lean, stuck gainer full. 9.6125

Finnegan (LSU): Perfect double Arabian to stag, RO BHS 2.5 front tuck, another stick, easy leaps. 9.9625

Richards (UF): Small check on her full turn, BHS LOSO, leg check, switch half, another huge check, switch leap straddle jump x2, tentative, dismounts BHS 1.5 hop forward. 9.275

Bryant (LSU): Double front stuck COLD, standing LOSO, front layout Rudi, nice leaps. 9.950

Widner (Stanford): Double layout mount, a bit short and chest down, sits a double pike. 8.7875

They’ve been discussing Richards’ score so long I took a bathroom break and they’re still going… literally.

Harris (Ohio St): Switch leap split side, front aerial back tuck, dismounts double full, bounce in place.

After 2: California 98.7875, LSU 98.750, Denver 98.5875, Florida 98.575

It’s a tight one! Florida opened the door in a big way with checks all throughout beam and now finds itself in last place. The Gators are still in it, but now have no room for error. LSU rebounded well from a fall on floor to surge into second, while Denver rocked bars to move ahead of the Pioneers as well. California just hit vault, but that’s all it needed to do to nab the lead, and could see that margin grow with it’s two top events left.

Rotation 3: LSU Vault, California Bars, Denver Beam, Florida Floor

Brown (Den): Quick front toss BHS connection, switch leap split jump, front aerial wolf jump, dismounts gainer full, stuck.

Arenas (LSU): FTY. Floaty and nearly stuck. 9.825

Shchennikova (LSU): Y1.5. Goes for the landing and nearly gets it, tiny hop. 9.8375

Frazier (Cal): Maloney to Pak, whipped a bit, nice half pirouette, dismounts double layout, hop forward chest down. 9.7875

Brock (LSU): Y1.5. Great block, clean in the air, step forward. 9.850

Blakely (UF): Opens RO 1.5 front layout, switch ring switch half, switch ring half, dismounts double pike, step forward. 9.850

Fall from Mabanta on beam for Denver.

Finnegan (LSU): Omelianchik. Good in the air, step forward. 9.850

Fall from Perea on bars for California.

Wilson (LSU): FTY. Huge in the air, tiny tiny tiny slide back. 9.8625

Baumann (UF): Easy double wolf turn, RO 1.5 front full, dances out of it, switch wide straddle jump, super high, dismounts double pike, under and wonky landing. 9.8325

Bryant (LSU): Front pike half. A bit chest down and a step back. 9.8625

Li (Cal): Good on everything under short on final handstand before giant full to double tuck dismount. 9.900

Richards (UF): Opens double layout, solid landing, easily through her leaps, RO 1.5 front full, clean landing. 9.925

Williams (Cal): Maloney to Pak, great, smooth half pirouette, dismounts double layout, stuck. 9.875

Wong (UF): Mounts with a piked double Arabian to stag jump, switch half to split full, great, RO whip half front full, clean landing. 9.9625

Cesario (Cal): Blind to Jager to overshoot, misses her catch and falls, remounts, dismounts double layout, sticks it. 9.2625

DiCello (UF): Front double full, messy legs and step to the side on the landing, switch ring to switch half, great amplitude in the first leap, RO 1.5 front layout, no issues. 9.8875

Hutchinson (Den): Front toss BHS, switch leap to split jump, piked front toss, smooth full turn, dismounts cartwheel gainer full, sticks it. 9.925

Sheremeta (Mizzou): Beat jump, BHS LOSO, fluid, front aerial split jump to jump down to the beam, dismounts with a stuck tucked gainer full.

After 3: Florida 148.100, LSU 148.0125, California 147.4875, Denver 147.1375

With two falls, each, Denver and California are now on the outside looking in as Florida and LSU are looking like the likely two qualifiers from this session.

Rotation 4: Florida Vault, LSU Bars, California Beam, Denver Floor

Wong (UF): Yurchenko half-on, pike half. Great block, good height, small shuffle back. 9.8625

Richards (UF): Y1.5. Clean in the air, legs straighter than usual, small hop to the side. 9.8625

Cowan (LSU): Ray to overshoot, no issues, dismounts double layout, legs together, step back. 9.875

Blakely (UF): Y1.5. Good power, bounding step forward. 9.800

Williams (Cal): Double wolf turn, smooth, front aerial to split jump, BHS LOSO, switch leap to beat jump, stuck gainer full dismount. 9.925

DiCello (UF): Y1.5. Huge height, a hop and off to the side a bit. 9.8125

Thomas (UF): Y1.5. A bit timid on the block but gets it around, small slide back. 9.900

Li (Cal): Front aerial LOSO, a bit off but kept moving, switch leap split jump beat jump, stuck tucked gainer full dismount. 9.850

Hutchinson (Den): Mounts with a great front double full, RO 1.5 front layout, nice leap pass, ends with Rudi to gorgeous straddle jump. 9.950

Shchennikova (LSU): Ray to Pak, some leg form, dismounts double layout, usual form issues but sticks. 9.8625

Bryant (LSU): Blind to pike Jager, great, bail, pencil straight, dismounts blind to double front half, sticks. 9.9375

Brown (Den): Huge double layout to open, clean leap series, RO 1.5 to RO 1.5 front tuck, awesome. 9.950

Lauzon (Cal): Her signature beam choreo to start, small wobble on her wolf turn, BHS BHS LOSO, easy, switch leap split jump, dismounts RO double full, stuck. 9.9375

Edwards (Ohio St): Massive double pike to open, kicks out of it so early, RO 1.5 front layout, nearly holds for the stick, bouncy out of her leap series, dismounts giant double tuck and a great landing. 9.9375

FINAL: LSU 197.475, Florida 197.400, California 196.9125, Denver 196.500

LSU and Florida advance to Saturday’s final!

READ THIS NEXT: LSU Returns to Regional Final After Falling Short in 2022

Live blog by Brandis Heffner.

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