Judge's Inquiry

Judge’s Inquiry: Rejudging the 2024 Tennessee Collegiate Classic

As my colleague Emily Minehart so eloquently stated in The Dismount this week, the judging at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic held in Lebanon, Tennessee, was “disgraceful” and in my opinion, unethical. Seven teams competed in two sessions with record-breaking results for every single team in attendance, with teams like Ball State shattering previous teams’ high scores by over a point.

The integrity of the entire sport is called into question when athlete performances are not evaluated consistently among different officials and competitions. Judges have a responsibility to provide accurate and consistent scoring across competitions, regardless of which athlete or team is competing. At the minimum, judges should show up prepared, knowing all the rules and requirements and be able to apply them correctly. This did not happen consistently at the Tennessee Classic. Perhaps the judges were inexperienced NCAA judges. If so, then why were so many assigned to the same competition? How much influence does a meet director, head coach, or judging assigner have in creating an environment where score inflation can run unchecked? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I hope I am not the only one asking them.

I ran into several difficulties in trying to rejudge this competition. This event was not broadcasted or recorded. Lindenwood was the only team that recorded and posted all of their routines, and there were no routines available from Kent State. The other team’s routines were cobbled together from social media posts by fans or the teams. Despite this, I’ve re-evaluated every routine I could find to try and make some sense out of this competition for us all.

I scored the routines in real time on the first viewing, trying to make it as close to the experience of the judges as possible, with some concessions made for differences in viewing angle and quality of footage. I then compared them to the judging panels’ score and assigned it one of the following ratings.

🔺🔺 Very overscored 

🔺 Overscored

✅ Just right

My results are organized in the tables below, first by event and then by team. If I had four or more mostly complete routines, I calculated an event “differential,” which is the difference between the panel’s team total and my own. 

As you’ll see below, there were a couple of scores that matched or were close to mine, especially for the routines that were truly exceptional. With a few exceptions, most of the overscores were overlooking details like knees, feet, leg separation, body posture on landing, etc. The good form in a routine is the “polish” that really makes the exceptional routines shine. Just because you catch a release on bars, stick a skill on beam, or land a dismount without moving your feet does not mean that it is without deduction. When judges do not take these noticeable form or amplitude deductions, it bunches together routines that are executed well with those that are executed nearly flawlessly. Judges should have a trained eye to be able to spot and quantify these differences, and without using it, scores cease to have meaning.

Vault

Ball State

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Suki Pfister(10.0 Start Value)10/10🔺9.85(On the table) head alignment, excessive arch, leg separation

Fisk

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Ziya Coleman(9.75 Start Value)9.55 (9.55/9.55)🔺🔺9.25Failure to maintain body position, large hop back, large step forward, small foot adjustment

Lindenwood

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Hannah Appleget(9.95 Start Value)9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺🔺9.5Arm bend on table, height, pike down, chest position on landing, hop
Jaly Jones(9.95 Start Value)9.8 (9.8/9.8)✅9.7Pike down, chest position on landing, foot adjustment, foot and leg form
Reese Baechle(9.95 Start Value)9.825 (9.8/9.85)🔺🔺9.6🔺🔺Shoulder angle and early twist on table, leg form and pike down, step on landing
Allie Berkley(9.95 Start Value)9.825 (9.85/9.8)🔺9.75🔺Shoulder angle, pike down, distance, small hop on landing
Trinity Caffey(9.95 Start Value)9.875 (9.85/9.9)🔺9.7🔺Arm bend and early twist on table, leg form, pike down, small foot adjustment
Gayla Griswold(10.0 Start Value)9.95 (9.95/9.95)✅9.9Leg form, landing adjustment
Differential+0.975

Northern Illinois

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Isabella Ross(9.95 Start Value)9.7 (9.7/9.7)🔺🔺9.45Arm bend and shoulder angle on table, height, pike down, low chest and hop on landing
Emmalise Nock(9.95 Start Value)9.825 (9.85/9.8)🔺🔺9.55Arm bend on table, leg separation and pike down in air, medium step and balance error on landing
Dawsyn Sallee(9.95 Start Value)9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺9.75Shoulder angle, medium step back
Kiera O’Shea(9.95 Start Value)9.90 (9.9/9.9)🔺🔺9.65Arm bend on table, leg separation, height, hop back and low chest on landing
Differential+0.875

SEMO

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Taylor Ingle(9.95 Start Value)9.825 (9.80/9.85)🔺🔺9.5Early turn, height, leg form, piked body position, hop back
Ailey Kuehn(9.95 Start Value)9.775 (9.75/9.8)🔺9.65arm bend on table, height, Underrotation, hop on landing. 
Lydia Webb(9.95 Start Value)9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺🔺9.6Early turn and arm bend on table, foot form, body position, pike down, hop back.
Janelle Lopez(9.95 Start Value)9.8 (9.8/9.8)🔺🔺9.4Early turn on table, height, pike down, low chest and large step back on landing
Madison Greene(9.95 Start Value)9.875 (9.85/9.9)🔺🔺9.65Leg and foot form, pike down and step back on landing
Lindsay Ockler(9.95 Start Value)9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺🔺9.6Early turn and arm bend on table, foot form, large step back on landing
Differential+1.300

UW-Whitewater

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Carleigh Moore(9.9 Start Value)9.775 (9.75/9.8)🔺🔺9.5 Bent arms, shoulder angle, Early tuck, chest low on landing, step backwards, not holding landing

Bars

Ball State

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Megan Teter10.0 (10/10)🔺🔺9.8Leg separation and bent legs on Tkachev, arm bend cast HS, foot adjustment on landing
Zoe Middleton10.0 (10/10)🔺🔺9.85Arm bend on pike circle, leg separation

Fisk

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Ziya Coleman*9.775 (9.75/9.8)🔺🔺9.55(9.9 Start Value)-0.1 UTL (up to the level for her dismount), bent legs and separation on Maloney, leg form and body position on shoot over, unable to see dismount 

Lindenwood

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Hannah Moon9.775 (9.8/9.75)🔺🔺9.5Leg separation on releases, bent legs in cast HS, medium and small step on landing, failure to hold landing
Jaly Jones9.8 (9.8/9.8) ✅9.75Knees and feet on release, arms on shoot over, step on landing
Savannah Newsome9.85 (9.8/9.9)🔺9.65Leg form on release, amplitude and pike on shoot over, short cast HS, hop on landing
Nya Kraus9.85 (9.85/9.85) ✅9.85Leg separation and amplitude on shoot over, small step on landing
Kaylee Cooper9.85 (9.9/9.8)🔺🔺9.6Knees, arms bent and amplitude on release, pike and amplitude on shoot over, arch cast HS, chest forward and small step on dismount
Hannah Appleget9.9 (9.9/9.9)🔺9.75Amplitude shoot over, knees on taps x3, body shape in dismount.
Differential +0.925

Northern Illinois

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Kiera O’Shea*9.775 (9.8/9.75)🔺🔺9.55(9.9 Start Value)First four skills only: short HS, leg and foot form, body position on shoot over (C not D credit),  -.1 UTL for D and C release. Start value is based on previous routine composition. 

SEMO

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Ava Johnston9.80 (9.8/9.8)🔺9.7Leg separation on releases, late turn on blind full, low chest on dismount
Taylor Ingle9.875 (9.85/9.90)🔺🔺9.55Knees on every giant swing tap, body position on blind changes, amplitude and arm bend on release, hop back on landing
Lydia Webb9.875 (9.85/9.9)🔺🔺9.65Flexed feet, bent knees on release, amplitude of shoot over, cast HS body position, hop back on dismount
Lindsay Ockler10.0 (10/10)🔺🔺9.85Bent arms on toe-on HS, leg separation on Maloney, low chest on dismount landing
Janelle Lopez9.8 (9.8/9.8)🔺🔺9.6Bent arms and amplitude on release catch, short cast HS, medium step and small foot adjustment on landing
Differential+1.000

UW-Whitewater

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Paige Magel9.775 (9.8/9.75)🔺🔺9.35Lots of bent legs, flexed feet, arched body positions. -0.25 on her dismount alone for body position, medium step back, and failure to hold landing
Kelsey Kolhoff9.775 (9.75/9.8)🔺🔺9.3Amplitude of releases, short casts, a very late turn on the blind full, and a step and no landing hold on the dismount

Beam

Lindenwood

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Gayla Griswold9.775 (9.7/9.85)🔺🔺9.55Knees bent in acro series, bent knee and split amplitude on switch half, balance error full turn, medium hop on landing
Hannah Moon9.9 (9.9/9.9)🔺9.8Split amplitude and evenness, knee bend on front aerial, pike down on dismount
Madison Rush9.8 (9.8/9.8)🔺🔺9.55Balance error on aerial and acro series, concentration pause, leg form switch leap, ring jump position, pike down dismount
Jaly Jones9.75 (9.8/9.75)🔺9.6Balance error on full turn, rhythm on dance series, poor split amplitude and uneven on switch half, hop on landing
(I think her dance series was broken, but in the NCAA world, they would probably still credit so I did here as well)
Hannah Appleget9.825 (9.85/9.8)🔺🔺9.65(9.9 Start Value)Split and pike shape in dance series, knees on acro series, balance error on second layout stepout
Nya Kraus9.9 (9.9/9.9)✅9.8Knee bend switch half, leg form and step on dismount
Differential+1.000

SEMO

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Ava Johnston*9.725 (9.7/9.75)🔺🔺9.25Amplitude and evenness in split positions, balance error on aerial and full turn, concentration pause, step on dismount
Assumes 10.0 start, which she likely did not have since both her dance dance/acro series were broken. Acro series not shown.
Madison Greene*9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺🔺9.45Leg and foot form on acro series, splits amplitude and uneven, rhythm in dance series (technically it was broken but this is NCAA and they rarely break them), feet in side aerial
Mount and full turn not shown, assumes 10.0 start value
Jordan Napolitano*9.8 (9.8/9.8)🔺🔺9.65Amplitude and evenness in split position, balance errors on acro series and side aerial, loose knees and pike down on dismount
Mount and full dance series not shown
Taylor Ingle*9.875 (9.9/9.85)🔺🔺9.45Flexed feet, bent knees, balance error in series, feet and rhythm in dance series, balance error on full turn, hop back, crossed legs and under-rotated double full dismount
First skill of acro series and mount not shown
Lydia Webb*9.925 (9.95/9.9)🔺9.85Balance error full turn, bent knee front aerial, amplitude on split
Mount not shown
Differential +1.55

UW-Whitewater

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Sarah Knetzke9.925 (9.95/9.90)🔺9.8Split jump angle, uneven split, bent legs on pike, small step on landing

Floor

Lindenwood

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Simone Evans9.7 (9.65/9.75)🔺9.5Knees and body position on first acro pass, knees and rotation on dance series, landing control, rotation, and split on tour jete full, chest forward on double back 
Hannah Moon9.725 (9.75/9.7)🔺9.55(9.9 Start Value)Leg form and landing control on back 2.5, leg form on second acro pass
Part of the video cut, so it’s possible there’s a D dance element that was in the routine that was not in the video
Reese Baechle9.825 (9.85/9.8)🔺9.65Landing front double full, body position and rotation of ring full, precision of turns in dance series
Sydney Lopez9.85 (9.9/9.8)🔺🔺9.2Lack of open, chest low, large hop and step on double back, poor precision of dance turns, bent leg and poor landing control on wolf full, leg separation last acro pass
Jaly Jones9.925 (9.85/10)✅9.85Precision of turn in tour jete full, leg form in back 1.5 
Gayla Griswold9.975 (9.95/10)✅9.95Knee bend on switch half
Differential+1.300

SEMO

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Lindsay Ockler*9.875 (9.85/9.9)🔺9.75Under turn on all three jumps, uneven straddle, foot adjustment on double back landing.
Assuming 10.0 start value. Only judged one acro pass and dance pass.
Sydney Crouch*9.675 (9.65/9.7)🔺🔺9.45Major error on front one and a half, chest down, pike down, missed jump connection; leg form and under-rotation in leap pass
Assuming 9.9 start value since she missed one of her connections; only judged one acro pass and dance pass
Taylor Ingle*9.925 (9.95/9.9)🔺9.8Foot and leg form in back 2.5, amplitude front tuck, chest down and foot adjustment on front 1.5   
Dance pass not shown
Lydia Webb*9.925 (9.9/9.95)🔺🔺9.7Leg form and landing control on back 2.5, split and leg form on tour jete half, leg form on front 1.5   
Third acro pass not shown

UW-Whitewater

GymnastScore (Judge 1/Judge 2)My ScoreMajor Deductions
Carleigh Moore9.85 (9.85/9.85)🔺9.7Leg form and precision of jumps/leaps, leg form in back 1.5,  landing on last pass

READ THIS NEXT: Judge’s Inquiry: Taking Another Look at 9.975s – Which Judge Was Right?


Article by Rhiannon Franck

Rhiannon Franck is a former national-rated NAWGJ women’s gymnastics judge with over 15 years of USAG judging experience and nine seasons judging NCAA gymnastics. Outside of gymnastics, Franck works at a university as a nursing professor and loves to travel.

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