Selena Harris cries with emotion while the crowd cheers.

CGN Roundtable: Our Favorite Single Day of College Gymnastics

College gymnastics has had some pretty phenomenal days over the years, from Karin Lichey’s perfect 40 to the Oklahoma-Florida team title tie to Haleigh Bryant’s recent three 10 performance. And while these moments are all universally remembered by fans around the country, there are so many other memorable moments that folks cling onto for one reason or another. And that’s the topic of this week’s roundtable! Whether because of nostalgia, a certain feeling, or a personal connection, the following moments are some of our contributors’ single favorite days of college gymnastics.

Have a single favorite day from being a fan of the sport? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: April 17, 2009 – NCAA Nationals Team Final

Lincoln, Nebraska, 2009. Courtney Kupets is in her senior year, essentially her final meet in her Georgia career with just event finals (RIP) remaining the following day. She won her third all-around title the previous day with a 39.800 and a 10.0 on beam, and at this meet, Georgia was gunning for its fifth NCAA title in a row and record-breaking 10th overall. That team stuff did happen, but what makes this specific day special in my mind is Kupets’ all-around performance. It didn’t matter in any individual sense, but that day Kupets scored two 10s, on vault and bars, as well as 9.950s on beam and floor, for a massive all-around total just one-tenth away from absolute perfection. It sticks in my mind having grown up a Georgia fan and having attended the 2008 national meet in Athens, and it sticks in my mind because it solidified Kupets, to me, as the greatest gymnast in college gymnastics history.

Illustrated headshot of Peri GoodmanPeri: April 21, 2018 – NCAA Nationals Team Final

The hometown hero isn’t a role I see filled often watching college gymnastics, much less seeing my suburb listed instead of blanketing all of them as ‘Toronto’. I grew up often trying to draw parallels between gymnastics and hockey to better explain my excitement at the meets I watched, with extremely mixed results (note: Torontonians take immense pride in public figures from their specific suburb, especially athletes). Enter the 2018 roster of Bruins and their beam rotation in the team final that came down to the last routine. Peng Peng Lee’s now-famous title-clinching 10.0 was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a game-winning goal in college gym, and to this day she is one of the most recognizable names out of Richmond Hill in gymnastics. Putting together her massive anchoring score and geographical connections led to my aha moment –  I finally understood how similar the fan experiences can be between what I love to watch and what my city has in its veins.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: April 17, 2021 – NCAA Nationals Team Final

Witnessing NCAA gymnastics history is something that I will never forget. My sister and I decided on a whim to go to Fort Worth for our first trip to nationals. We were hoping to see our home-state team compete and were slightly disappointed when it didn’t qualify, but we were determined to have a good time. Florida counted an early fall and Utah struggled some with consistency, so our attention focused on Oklahoma and Michigan. Each routine was an improvement upon the previous and the energy was palpable. As the last rotation began, the arena alternated between radio silence as Michigan initially struggled on the beam and booming noise as Oklahoma shined on the floor. When Abby Heiskell clinched the title with her beam routine and Michigan got to hoist the trophy for the first time ever, I got goosebumps. Witnessing that moment live cemented my status as a gymnerd and ultimately gave me something to push through the hard days that followed. It was the best last-minute road trip ever.

Illustrated headshot of Alyssa Van AukerAlyssa: April 14, 2022 – NCAA Nationals Semifinals

Trigger warning for the Michigan fans. This competition holds a lot of sentimental value for me. Before the 2022 season, I had never gone to a gymnastics competition in person, and that April in Fort Worth was the first competition that I traveled to where I was able to meet other gymnastics fans. I ended up sitting right in front of a group of Michigan fans who were amazing to talk to throughout the competition. They gave me a yellow shaker that I still have to this day. Even though Michigan started to fall apart in session two, all of the teams that I had wanted to compose the final four at the beginning of the season made it through. Seeing Auburn set a program record simply by moving on to the last day was really special. That day was one I will never forget.

Aaron: April 1, 2023 – Los Angeles Regional Final

Watching UCLA punch its ticket to NCAA nationals after just barely missing out the year prior is something I will never forget. The Bruins were on fire that entire weekend, matching their season high of a 198.275 on the previous day of competition. It was amazing watching the reaction of the team after all the adversity and change they had to deal with. After watching them struggle on vault all season, they finally put it together and freshman Selena Harris scored her first perfect 10.0, sticking her Yurchenko one and a half cold. Immediately, she burst into tears and the team went crazy. At that moment, I knew they were going to qualify and I couldn’t help my excitement. This team had so much potential, and watching them put four events together in a meet was unforgettable.

READ THIS NEXT: Data Deep Dive: Determining the All-Time Greats

Article by Aaron Doyle, Peri Goodman, Elizabeth Grimsley, Alyssa Van Auker, and Savanna Whitten

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