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The Tie Break: 2023 Big 12s Floor

During the NCAA offseason, there’s a lot we miss about college gymnastics, from the sparkly leotards to the fierce rivalries. But the thing we miss most is every NCAA gymnastics fan’s favorite hobby: arguing about scoring. In fact, we were so sad about it that we decided to get our discourse fix in the form of this article series. What are we going to argue about? Every gymnastics fan’s pet peeve: ties where the routines are not equally good.

In each edition of The Tie Break, we’ll choose a tie from NCAA gymnastics history and debate until we decided how the routines truly should have been ordered. This week, we’ll tackle the floor title at the 2023 Big 12 championship, in which four gymnasts tied with a 9.950.

Our weekly contributors, editor-in-chief Elizabeth Grimsley and GEC editor Rebecca Scally, will be joined by Big 12/MRGC editor Savanna Whitten and data editor Emma Hammerstrom.

The Contenders 

The Debate

Rebecca: Welcome back to the Tie Break for 2023, everyone! We had approximately one million ties this postseason, so while I’m sure we’ll also get to review some older material as this offseason goes on, I’m excited to sort out some of the recent nonsense. We’re starting with the Big 12 floor title, which was a tie between Jessica Hutchinson, Faith Torrez, Jordan Bowers and Maddie Diab. Broadly, what did you all think of these routines?

Elizabeth: I was actually impressed with how few errors there were across the board. I have a pretty clear order in my head, but I was expecting there to be more truly visible mistakes.

Emma: I thought overall, they were relatively clean. It did take some rewatching and pausing to find some of these errors.

Elizabeth: I definitely watched them all on half speed!

Savanna: They were all good, but they all had their faults when I went back and watched. Maybe it’s because I’m super critical.

Elizabeth: That’s what we’re here for, Savanna!

Savanna: Look, summer brain is real in my career field.

Rebecca: I definitely don’t think we’ve got a slam dunk winner this time. There’s something for everyone and we’ll have to pick out what matters more both to NCAA judges and to ourselves.

Emma: I always get stuck in the mindset of “Oh, an NCAA judge wouldn’t really deduct for that.” But that’s the point here, really separate those routines.

Elizabeth: Should we all way our personal winner on the count of three for funsies?

Emma: I’m scared.

Savanna: Chaos. I love it.

Rebecca: I feel weird about my order.

Emma: Me too. I don’t feel secure about it. I feel like if I went back and watched again, it would definitely switch around.

Elizabeth: 1… 2… 3…

Elizabeth: Torrez

Rebecca: ……………………………….Torrez……?

Emma: Bowers…

Savanna: Hutchinson………

Elizabeth: Hutchinson was my close second.

Rebecca: OK, fair enough.

Emma: Torrez was my close second too. It was hard to choose between her and Bowers.

Elizabeth: But can we all agree that Diab was in fourth after that wonky last-pass landing?

Rebecca: Diab was looking so good. That last pass squat bummed me out.

Emma: Diab last.

Elizabeth: I thought she was about to be my winner until then!

Emma: Her leaps in slo-mo made me sad.

Rebecca: I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!

No. 4: Maddie Diab (Iowa State)

Rebecca: The thing with Torrez is super obvious foot form on both passes. It’s barely a real NCAA deduction, but it is very much there. Torrez’s landings were far and away the best, though.

Emma: Agree. She definitely had noticeable foot form on the first pass. That’s really all I had from her except for the teeniest slide on her last pass, which you really couldn’t see in real-time.

Elizabeth: I did note Torrez’s flexed feet for sure. But I noted Hutchinson cheating into her switch half and a touch into the jump, as well as landing with her feet apart after her straddle jump on her last pass. That’s what put her just slightly under Torrez for me.

Emma: I noticed that too. The leaps were slightly cheated and that put her under Torrez and Bowers for me.

Savanna: My thing with Torrez was the foot form in the first pass, and I thought maybe the last pass landing was slightly unsteady. 

Elizabeth: I had to weigh what I felt like was a more offensive deduction and settled on the Hutchinson ones.

Rebecca: In terms of things that aren’t real NCAA deductions, I just want to register that Hutchinson’s attitude turn is…not cute. Ended on a bad note there.

Emma: Hutchinson’s floor music in half speed was definitely an auditory experience.

Elizabeth: That’s actually a good point, Emma. If it comes down to the experience watching the routine, I’m picking Oklahoma every time. But I’ve always been an OU choreo stan. I know the Hutchinson routine has meaning, but it’s just not my thing. For Bowers, I had her third because of the landing on her double pike. It was great, but it was landed with feet slightly staggered. Although now that I lay it out here, I think I’d rank her second above Hutchinson, since Hutchinson had the leap issue, as well as the last pass landing, which was similar to Bowers’.

Emma: She did have the landing issue, but I thought her leap deductions were a little less egregious. When I was weighing that versus Torrez and the foot form, that ultimately put Bowers ahead for me. But I am open to switching around.

Elizabeth: I’m not dead set on Torrez first, though, and could be persuaded to move Bowers ahead depending on how folks are feeling.

Rebecca: I do think we have to prioritize landing deductions a little just because that’s how NCAA floor scoring works.

Elizabeth: Great point. I guess it depends on how we want to compare two feet issues vs. one landing deduction. They sort of cancel each other out, to be honest.

Rebecca: I’m pretty set on Torrez for that reason. I don’t feel strongly about who’s better between Bowers and Hutchinson.

Emma: That is true. Torrez was incredibly clean. Just thinking inside a vacuum, a routine with stuck landings and foot form is better quality than bad landings and cleaner form.

No. 1: Faith Torrez (Oklahoma)

Elizabeth: I have talked myself into being strongly for Bowers second.

Savanna: I had Bowers last, but I’m also biased because I hate that choreography. Sorry not sorry.

Elizabeth: It’s some of my favorite choreo, Savanna! Maybe because I had a coveted shot I attempted to take all season before finally getting it at nationals.

Rebecca: For Bowers, I do think she slightly overrotates the first pass and pulls the back foot forward in addition to the awkward double pike.

Emma: The double pike did seem awkward. I think you have all convinced me to switch around Torrez and Bowers.

Savanna: I also noted a little weirdness in her landings. Was there a side step in that double pike or was my angle weird?

Emma: It was, now that I look back on my notes.

Elizabeth: I noted that as well, Rebecca: “Maybe the slightest bit uncontrolled on the first pass.” I didn’t notice the side step for Bowers, just that she landed feet slightly apart before lunging. Rebecca brought up Hutchinson’s attitude turn, too, which I think is valid. I’d personally go Torrez, Bowers, Hutchinson, which it sounds like what we’re all sort of leaning toward, too?

Emma: I agree with that.

Elizabeth: Or at least the majority of us.

Rebecca: Elizabeth, that’s definitely the order I’m feeling right now too. Hutchinson in some ways has less mandatory deductions, but the little stuff adds up for her.

Emma: I’m feeling that. I think I’ve been convinced. Everyone gets a flat one-tenth deduction for their choreography though.

Rebecca: Interestingly, I looked at the scoresheet and everyone here had straight 9.950s except Hutchinson, who had one 10 and one 9.900.

Emma: Didn’t Hutchinson close the meet out, or at least was in the back half of that final rotation lineup?

Rebecca: Fifth before Brown, I think.

No. 2: Jordan Bowers (Oklahoma)

No. 3: Jessica Hutchinson (Denver)

Elizabeth: I’m a little sad we didn’t fight more! But I suppose this was a good one to start the 2023 offseason with. These are truly a fun surprise to do since it’s never ultimately as cut and dry as we expect going in.

Savanna: I’m the outlier, but honestly, I love the underdogs, so that could have something to do with my ranking.

Emma: The Tie Break I did last season was almost painful to fight through. We were getting down to like tiny tiny leap deductions.

Elizabeth: I definitely prefer something in the middle.

Rebecca: Yeah, this really wasn’t too bad. I wish Diab had done one of her best routines at this meet.

Emma: She is so incredible to watch when she is on. I’m very sad she’s not returning for her fifth year.

Savanna: She deserved a better ending.

READ THIS NEXT: The Tie Break: 2022 NCGA Championships Bars

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Rebecca Scally, Emma Hammerstrom, Savanna Whitten

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