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LIVE BLOG: NCAA Nationals Team Final

Hello one last time once again from Dickies Arena! 

Hopefully, you’ve all recovered from the absolute chaos that was Thursday’s evening session because I sure haven’t… I’ve been watching NCAA gymnastics for three decades and can confidently say that was one of the most intense and heart-wrenching meets I’ve ever seen. 

Hats off to an  exceptional Oklahoma team that showed grace and grit through it all, and—to paraphrase KJ Kindler—should be immensely proud of the performance despite their loss.

Same goes for the Alabama Crimson Tide. No one would have blamed them for giving up after that beam rotation. Instead, they chose to fight and posted strong scores on their final two events. Their heart and determination may not have been the main headline from that meet, but it did not go unnoticed. They’ll be back. 

As far as today’s prospects go, all of the previously-anticipated outcomes have obviously gone out the window. Thankfully, our always-clutch data queen and Mother of Rudi, Jenna King, re-crunched the numbers well into the wee, small hours, and let’s just say the odds have changed. But, as we saw Thursday, the numbers really don’t mean much. 

With the Sooners out of the picture, all around winner Haleigh Bryant and LSU take over as the favorites to win in 53% of the simulations, followed by Cal at 25%, Florida at 12.5% and Utah at 9.63%. For those of you keeping track, that means we have 3:1 odds of a brand new program hoisting the championship trophy. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll be seeing an eighth coach added to that incredibly short list of previous title-winners.    

You can watch the action live on ABC or ESPN+ and find live scores here.

Decent-sized crowd here tonight. Major LSU presence and they brought a WWF-style belt!

I’m very excited to see gymnasts Leanna Wong, Jabby Perea, Kaleah Finnegan, and Kaylee Bryant competing here tonight 🙃

Rotation 1: Florida VT, Utah UB, California BB, LSU FX

Draser: Big Y 1.5, usual form and a step forward. 9.875

Nguyen: Just under on her Y 1.5,  moderate knee bend and takes a small step back. 9.850

Pilgrim: Not a ton of amplitude or distance, but tidy Y 1.5 with a small hop forward. 9.800

Ferris: One of the best Y 1.5s she’s done this season, just a teeny hop forward. 9.9125

Wong: Tight throughout her Podkopayeva, lands with chest down and has to step forward. 9.8125

Lazzari: Another strong Y 1.5 from Lazzari, just a small hop foward. 9.7875


M. Smith: Clean VL and good toe-hand position with slightly bent arms. Awesome toe-on pike half, stuck. 9.850

Zirbes: Could’t see a thing. Folks standing in the aisles… 9.8625

Morgan: Hopefully, everyone has found their seats now! Toe-hand Maloney to Bhardwaj with some jeg sep on both. Not the cleanest tuck half dismount, but another stick! 9.875

O’Keefe: Toe-hand to Maloney to Pak, nice and clean. Late half pirouette. Bang on with the front double tuck. 9.900

McCallum: Well done on the VL. Strong final handstand and a stuck FTDT. 9.950

Sabado: Missed a few positions throughout. A bit close on the straddled Jaeger and has to readjust on the Pak. Couldn’t see the dismount in the air, but needed a step forward. 9.8375


Li: Nice position on her split leap. Beat to ring with the smallest correction. Tucked gainer full, more or less stuck. 9.875

Williams: Lovely front aerial to her leaps, super precise. Slight correction on the bhs loso, but nbd. Side gainer full with some form and a minuscule scoot. 9.8625

Cesario: Correction on her bhs loso and another on her switch leap to switch half. I like that she’s staying aggresive despite some nerves. Nails the back 1.5. 9.8875

Frazier: Wow, beautifully kicked out full turn and front aerial to loso. Split jump to ring jump, perfect. Cartwheel back 1.5, stuck. Maybe the best beam she’s ever done (including her 10). 9.950

Lauzon: Maybe grabbed the beam on her wolf turn? Bhs bhs loso with a moderate hip check but slams the arms down to steady herself. HUGE RO back double full, stuck. 9.900

Perea: Front toss with a  big check. Wild back tuck to an improvised back tuck for her connection, ends in a scorpion. Says, “Why not?” and chucks the standing tucked full with a check. 9.4125


McClain: Fabulous DLO to open. Fantastic amplitude on her leaps, maybe cheated the tour jete half though. Great back 1.5 to front full to finish. 9.925

Drayton: HUGE DLO with a perfect lunge. 9.9125

KJ Johnson: Exceptional FTDT as alway. Ugh, doesn’t get a punch out of the back 1.5 and sits the front full. Sticks the RO bhs double tuck dead cold. 9.2875

Finnegan: Terrific height on the tucked double Arabian, but  a little wild on the stag. Beautiful extension on her leaps. Excellent back 2.5 to finish. 9.9125

Bryant: fhs front double tuck with a controlled step forward. Really good, deliberate leaps. Front lay to Rudi, a little deeper than usual, but nothing major. 9.9375

Ki. Johnson: Her usual huge FTDT with a controlled lunge and no foot movement. Perfect back 1.5 to front lay. Switch half to Popa was a little shy. RO bhs double pike to finish, no problems. Tigers will drop KJ Johnson’s score. 9.925

After 1: LSU 49.6125, California 49.4750, Utah 49.4375, Florida 49.2500

Strong, if not error-free, rotations from all four teams and no major errors counted, so we’re already off to a good start!

Obviously, Perea’s 9.4ish beam was the drop score, but I appreciate the quick thinking and pure gumption to keep throwing saltos. Although it didn’t end up counting, it’s a shame about KJ Johnson’s fall because that was an otherwise phenomenal routine.

Shoutout to the ESPN crew!

Rotation 2: LSU VT, Florida UB, Utah BB, California FX


KJ Johnson: Booming Y full, right at the edge of the mat, and small steps in place. 9.800

Finnegan: Beautifully done Y 1.5, small step forward. 9.8375

Drayton:  Just under on her Y 1.5, and has to take a step. 9.825

Schoenherr: Big Y 1.5 with the usual form and a controlled small step forward. 9.875

Ki. Johnson: DTY much better than yesterday. Tons of height, clean in the air until some knees right before the landing, and a small hop back. 9.9125

Bryant: Gorgeous fhs pike half, tiny slide back. 9.950


Blakely: Her usual Maloney to Pak, front giant with a touch of leg sep to cowboyed front double tuck, stuck with chest forward. 9.8625

Nguyen: Toe hand to Maloney, very well done. Crisp half pirouette. Excellent DLO, stuck. 9.875

Lazzari: Floaty Pak to a clean half pirouette. Zero problems on the FTDT, more or less stuck. 9.850

Pilgrim: Maloney to Pak stalled a little, but super clean half pirouette and another stuck FTDT. Pilgrim is an Ice Queen (and I mean that in the best possible way). 9.8875

Draser: Steady kch to a very well done Maloney to Pak. Tidy half pirouette and excellent final handstand. Some leg sep on the stuck DLO was the only error. That was one of her best. 9.900

Wong: Toe hand to a perfect Maloney to Pak. Clean VL. Flawless DLO. This Leanna Wong that the announcer keeps talking about is going places. Gator fans are calling for a 10. Don’t think it was quite there, but will certainly be a big score. 9.950


Morgan: Rock solid triple series with some form. Very slow connection on the switch half series, and slightly shy on the switch half itself. Stuck front gainer full, always a showstopper. 9.9125

Smith: Bhs loso with foot form and a little side-to-side waiver. Beat jump to switch side with a minor lean back. Small correction on the full turn.Almost missed her foot on the cartwheel side gainer full, but stuck the landing.  9.8375

McCallum: Good candle mount and clean wolf tuns. Bhs loso series with soft knees and feet, but very steady. Tucked gainer full slightly off to the side, but much better than yesterday. Another stick. 9.9375

Paulson: A little nervy on her acro and leap. Switch leap to split leap much better. Side gainer full landed super deep, but she was NOT moving. 9.850

O’Keefe: So steady on her side aerial loso. Strong side gainer full, similar to Paulson’s with chest down and a swim but zero foot movement. 9.900

Gantner: Bhs loso with a check to straddle jump. Switch half to beat with a well-finessed hip check. Punch front full with a small hop forward. 9.875


Williams: Nicely done front lay to Rudi, much more relaxed and controlled than yesterday. Fell out of her switch ring half but no problems on the RO back 1.5 to front lay. 9.8625

Cesario: Super tight back 1.5 to front full, nice amplitude and control. Bounced into the lunge on the RO bhs double tuck. 9.8625

Mayhew: Awesome front double full. Solid positions on her switch ring to tour jete. Missed the punch on her RO back 1.5 to front full and sits it. 9.200

Li: Clean RO bhs double tuck. RO back 1.5 to front lay, well done. Switch leap to a shy switch ring half. 9.825

Lauzon: Fhs front double full to a punch front. Switch ring to switch half, beautifully done. RO back 1.5 to front full, excellent. 9.9125

Frazier: Decisively-stuck DLO. Leap series not quite as precise as yesterday, but nothing significant. Front tuck through to a perfect RO bhs double tuck. Clutch routine from the sophomore. 9.9125

After 2: LSU 99.0125, Utah 98.9125, California 98.850, Florida 98.725

OK, we’ve got ourselves a meet! Can’t really ask for much more than less than three tenths separating all four teams. Everyone’s still showing some nerves here and there, but no disasters and–more importantly–no counted falls or injuries!

This is still anyone’s meet.

Update from our buddy Drew Porche:

Rotation 3: California VT, LSU UB, Florida BB, Utah FX


Williams: A little high up on the table, but a clean Y full with a small bounce back. 9.850

Mayhew: Solid Y 1.5, just a shade back on her heels. 9.900

Frazier: Twisted early on the DTY and made up for it by grinding out the fastest twist I’ve ever seen. Little scoot back. 9.9375

Lauzon: Solid Y 1.5 that was stuck with a minor lean back. 9.950

Silvers: Leg sep in the air on the Y 1.5, but tons of amplitude and distance, and a nice landing. 9.850

Cesario: Good Y full with a hop back. 9.8625


Jeffrey: A little loose on the bail to hand. Her usual sky-high FTDT stuck in a squat. 9.900

Cowan: Huge Ray that she caught by her fingertips. Super tidy DLO with a chest forward swim. 9.8875

Ki. Johnson: Pretty loose in the Maloney and bent elbows. Ditto on her final giant and DLO, but she was NOT giving up another tenth on the landing. 9.8875

McClain: Close catch on her Church. Pak and half pirouette were lovely. Beautiful FTDT with a stuck and slight trunk adjustment. 9.900

Schoenherr: I’m very annoyed that I missed her straddled Jaeger…. Good handstands throughout. Solid bail to handstand. Blind change to front double tuck half with some form and a little shuffle. 9.8625

Bryant: Nice straddled Jaeger. Held the bail to handstand forever, just showing off. Blind change to double front half out landed crunched necessitating a moderate step forward. 9.875


Draser: Very slight adjustment on her bhs loso. Switch leap to switch half a little shy but very steady. RO back 1.5, well-controlled. She’s been such a rock for Florida this season. 9.900

Blakely: Front aerial series was slow but should be credited, very steady and deliberate. A hair shy on her switch half. Stuck side gainer full with her trademark swagger. 9.950

Pilgrim: Stead bhs los, no surprise. Missed everything between that and the dismount because the entire row in front of me decided to stand up and get beer. 9.875

Nguyen: Leg up check on her first Onodi, so she repeats with a moderate hip check but connects the bhs. RO back 1.5 a little flat with some leg form and a hop back. 9.6625

Wong: Switch leap to split leap, good. Bhs loso with a little check. Beautifully done full turn. Ugh, comes off on the front aerial. Nice recovery on the RO back double full. 9.3750

Lazzari: Aggressive bhs loso loso with a moderate check but holds on. Good job on her leaps. No problems with the side gainer full. Big routine for Lazzari after yesterday’s fall, nm dropping Wong’s score. 9.850


Smith: Missed her first pass, but leaps looked very good. Fhs to Rudi to layout rebound was excellent. Back 1.5 to straddle with perfect control. 9.900

Zirbes: A little flat on the first pass. Nicely done back 1.5 to front full, just some softness in the form. 9.9125

Paulson: Awesome front through to front double full. Tidy front lay to front full. Good tour jete half to Sissone. Perfectly stuck back 1.5 to front lay to close.  9.925

Gilstrap: Front lay to Rudi was great, but I think she had a little bobble on the choreo after? Good position on the tour jete, but travelled a decent amount. Front lay to front full, so pretty. 9.925

O’Keefe: Beautifully kicked out double pike. Landing the middle pass on her toes trying to stick and ended up falling forward out of it. Leaps got a little iffy.  RO back 1.5 to front lay, excellent. 9.900

McCallum: Decent sized scoot out of her FTDT. Good height, but not sure she hit the leap positions. Front lay to Rudi with some leg crossing, but a very well-controlled landing. 9.900

After 3: Utah 148.500, LSU 148.4625, California 148.3500, Florida 147.9625

Nervy beam rotation from the Gators puts them in a significant, though not insurmountable, hole heading to the final rotation.

The top three teams remain neck and neck and neck. The Utes head to one of their weaker events while the Golden Bears head to their best. LSU is the third ranked beam team in the country, but that means virtually nothing because it’s beam. Still anyone’s meet!

Rotation 4: Utah VT, California UB, LSU BB, Florida FX


Winger: Sits the Y 1.5 right as Lauzon stalled. This just got interesting… 9.2875

Zirbes: Overcooks her Y 1.5 and lands it basically on her knees. 9.675

Glynn: Nicely controlled Y 1.5, very minor step forward. 9.9125

Smith: Another beautiful Omelianchik, small hop forward. 9.9125

Rucker: Just under on the Y 1.5, but keeps it up. Small step back.

McCallum: RO half on tuck half with a lot of distance, but not much control on the landing. Chest forward and a decent-sized bounce back.


Lauzon: Beautiful Maloney to Pak, but stalled out on her half pirouette and had to go into a front support. Missed the dismount due to people standing in the aisle again. In the fourth rotation of the national championship. With the top three within a tenth. 9.475

Cesario: Nicely done release, very aggressive handstands. Perfect DLO, stuck. Lauzon is crying happy tears. 9.8875

Li: Blind change to that ridiculous Jaeger. So clean on the Pak to switch kip. Super precise blind full to stuck double tuck. 9.8875

Frazier: No problems, and an absolutely FLAWLESS DLO, stuck once agiain. 9.9125

Perea: Well done Pak to VL and ANOTHER stuck DLO. THIS IS GETTING INTENSE. 9.9125

Williams: AND YET ANOTHER SUCK DLO FOR CAL! I couldn’t see anything before because of the hoarde of LSU fans on their feet. 9.900


Ballard: Solid bhs loso, slight form. Sissone to switch half, very steady (if not quite 180). Nice front toss. DRILLED the RO back 1.5. 9.950

Schoenherr: Beautiful front aerial. Bhs loso, perfect. Seriously, how has Schoenherr never be… and I jinxed her . Stays on by grabbing theunderside of the beam. OK, now things are REALLY interesting. 9.3875

McClain: One of the most famous beamers in the world. Gorgeous switch leap to switch half. Front aerial with a small lean to bhs with another small lean, but well done over all. Textbook wolf jump. Side aerial, excellent. Side gainer full with a ton of rise, stuck. Not the 10 that the crowd is calling for, but certainly a phenomenal routine. 9.9625

Ki. Johnson: Deliberate full turn, nice. Bhs loso with a hint of an adjustment. Switch leap series, perfect. Tiny check on the front tuck. RO back double full that may have been stuck. 9.950

Bryant: Lovely and calm front aerial to bhs. No problems on the leaps. Standing front tuck was rock solid from my view. Rudi with a minor hop back. 9.950

Finnegan: OK, Cal and LSU both have a fall to drop. Bhs loso loso, just flawless. Gorgeous extension on her leaps. Full turn kicked out. Front aerial, no problem. STUCK SIDE GAINER FULL! I don’t say this lightly–I’d be OK if that went 10. Incredible routine from Finnegan. I think LSU just broke the white leo curse! 9.950


Nguyen: A little sketchy on the front double full to Sissone, but lovely leaps. Back 1.5 to front lay was fantastic. 9.9125

Lazzari: Excellent front double full. Good pop on her leaps, though travelled a bit. Flung foward a little on her back 1.5 to front lay, but overall a very well done routine. 9.8875

Pilgrim: Awesome opening pass. Battle of the clutch freshman between her and McClain. Double pike with some leg sep and a quick lunge, but another great routine from Pilgrim. 9.8625

Blakely: Front tuck through to double tuck with a moderate bounce back. A little loose in the back 1.5 to front full, but reined it in on the landing. 9.8625

Ferris: Very nice FTDT. Popa series was a little imprecise, but split position was very nice. 9.850

Wong: Lovely DLO. Leaps as beautiful as ever. Whip half to Couldn’t see anything after that because LSU’s officially won. 9.950

FINAL: LSU 198.2250, California 197.8500, Utah 197.8000, Florida 197.3375

There’s just something poetic about Jay Clark winning LSU’s first national championship today… What an extraordinary, historic meet–a brand new team on top of the podium, a team final freshman as runner up, and Utah’s fourth consecutive third place place finish. Props to the Florida Gators for making the absolute most out of what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Looking forward to great things to come from all four of these teams.

And a special shoutout to Baby Bogantes, who will indeed be born into a world where LSU has a national championship. Miss you guys <3

VT: Haleigh Bryant and Mya Lauzon (9.950)
UB: Grace McCallum and Leanne Wong (9.950)
BB: Konnor McClain (9.9625)
FX: Leanne Wong (9.950)
AA: eMjae Frazier and Haleigh Bryant (39.7125)

READ THIS NEXT: Projected 2024 NCAA Nationals All-Americans

Live blog by Claire Billman

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