Questions, Comments, Concerns: Week 11

The regular season is over just as it was threatening to outstay its welcome. I’m ready for some stakes. Here’s what I’m watching, anticipating, and worrying about as we count down the minutes until a thrilling conference championship slate.

Question: What will the conference meets for those realigned West Coast conferences be like?

One of the big events of last offseason was the Mountain West beginning to sponsor gymnastics, resulting in a huge reshuffling of the former MRGC (minus BYU, now in the Big 12) and MPSF teams. At first it seemed like the move had made both conferences less competitive. The Mountain West got more interesting over time as San Jose State heated up and Boise State took some late-season injuries. But Southern Utah has rolled through the MPSF in its inaugural season in that conference, currently leading the NQS standings by over a point. 

I’m curious what these new-look conference championships will look and feel like. Will a tradition of upsets at MPSFs matter against a team as strong as Southern Utah? And what will a brand-new conference championship bring to the table this year?

Bonus Questions:

Why is MICs on Saturday this year? I’ve always loved this conference meet taking place on Friday, allowing it to own the stage at a time when nothing else is going on. I’m sad that it’s bowed to peer pressure and moved to Saturday. We deserved a whole day devoted to crying about Lindenwood’s last home meet.

Why is there a tie for every Big Ten conference award now? EIGHT gymnasts got one this week. There are only three awards. Please stop.

Comment: Thank you, George Washington. 

Our only hope for having an interesting bubble this year was if a team with a double-meet weekend did incredibly well in the last week of the regular season. George Washington saw the opportunity and stepped up. 

A huge season high 197.200 on the road at Towson on Friday provided the ranking mobility, and a great home meet on Sunday launched the Revolutionaries from No. 45 to No. 38 with a chance to squeak into a regionals spot. They’ll need a minimum of a 196.500 at the conference championship to have a chance, and depending what Iowa State does, it might not be possible at all. But whatever happens, it was so exciting to see an inconsistent team put the pieces together at exactly the right time and keep the bubble alive. 

Bonus Comments:

I thought overscoring couldn’t surprise me anymore, but that UCLA meet was really something remarkable. Bravo for keeping me on my toes.

Still kind of baffled by the decision to combine the last two weeks of the fantasy regular season. The teams that didn’t compete last week were the NCGA teams and Alaska. Missing that week is something you would completely anticipate if you built your team around NCGA and Alaska, and you won’t be getting scores from them at regionals either, so I don’t really get why it was suddenly an emergency.

Concern: How much of a bummer is the final Pac-12s going to be?

The closing days of competition in such a storied conference are always sentimental, but at least some Pac-12 championships this season, like football, have been real barn burners. We’re unlikely to get that this year. Utah will likely be comfortable as usual in the Maverik Center, but that shouldn’t be enough to overcome California’s technical superiority, while UCLA is still yet to prove that it has any kind of ceiling on the road. (Very possibly it will never happen.) We might get a bit more action in the first session, where all four teams are within a couple tenths in NQS, but that’s not quite the same. It’s easy to imagine Pac-12 women’s gymnastics ending not with a bang but a whimper, which would be really sad, but this season just hasn’t been that exciting.

Bonus Concerns:

We haven’t had a viral floor routine yet this year. There was a little buzz for both Nya Reed and Kennedy Griffin, but neither developed into a full-scale phenomenon. I wouldn’t say the sport’s publicity has been suffering in any big-picture way because of this, but it’s odd after how routine the viral phenomena have become in recent years. 

We’re approaching the time of year when the wheels might come off for LSU. I don’t expect it to happen at a conference meet in the state of Louisiana, but I’m definitely on alert for signs that the pressure is building, because in one way or another, that tends to happen in the postseason.

READ THIS NEXT: Bubble Watch: March 20

Article by Rebecca Scally

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