The Dismount: Week 14

As soon as regionals came, it was over. And over the course of those five hours of competition, so much happened and we bet you didn’t see it all. Catch up with event winners, nationals qualifiers and full recaps of each meet.

Columbus Regional
UCLA: 197.650 Arkansas: 196.775 Ohio State: 196.500 Boise State: 196.225 Pittsburgh: 195.125 Kent State: 194.900
Full Results VT: Speed, Stone, Glenn, Tratz 9.900 UB: Ross 9.975 BB: Ross 9.950 FX: Ohashi 9.925 AA: Remme, Wellick 39.425
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Teams: UCLA and Arkansas
  • All Around: Shani Remme (Boise State) and Jovannah East (BGSU)
  • VT: Jamie Stone (Ohio State)

UCLA, as expected, advanced comfortably out of the Columbus regional despite an imperfect day on floor, continuing the Bruins’ best season in years. The Bruins began on floor, where Kyla Ross sat out to allow both Gracie Kramer and Nia Dennis a chance to compete. Dennis nailed her piked full-in, taking a large lunge but staying in bounds, but then underrotated her closing double back. Pauline Tratz had chest position problems in two passes, keeping her score down from its typical levels. However, things got back on track in the second half of the rotation, with Katelyn Ohashi spectacularly sticking her double layout to pick up the individual title. On vault, the Bruins picked up an anomalous 0.1 neutral deduction for competing out of order—it seems that Ross and Tratz were switched by accident—but had two sticks on Yurchenko fulls from the latter, as well as Anna Glenn. On bars, Madison Kocian made her much-anticipated return, showing a Stalder-less but overall more sensibly constructed routine that went 9.875, and Ross was near-perfect to pick up the event titles both there and on beam.

Many fans considered Arkansas to be at risk for upset due to its lower road scores throughout the season, but the Razorbacks didn’t end up needing a 197 to advance; third-seed Boise State faltered, opening the door for an easy Arkansas advancement. Senior Amanda Wellick brought home the Razorbacks’ first regional all around title since Kat Grable with a strong showing and a season high 9.850 on floor.

Ohio State held much closer to a qualifying position than anyone expected and could easily have qualified if not for a tentative beam rotation that kept most scores in the 9.700s. The Buckeyes will be reassured by the fact that its strongest performers at the meet, Olivia Aepli and Jamie Stone, will both return in 2019. Stone will also advance to compete at the national championship on vault. Boise State had a heartbreaking meet, failing to qualify to nationals for the second year in a row after a fall from Ann Stockwell on floor forced the Broncos to count earlier landing errors. Junior Shani Remme will advance as an all arounder, but redshirt senior Sandra Collantes will not, having lost the tiebreak for the second spot. For Kent State, the biggest story is that senior Rachel Stypinski was able to return on bars for a 9.800 after what looked like a career-ending injury on her senior night a few weeks ago. Freshmen Abby Fletcher and Nasha Manitkul-Davis also excelled, finishing second and 11th on floor, respectively, indicating a bright future for the Golden Flashes. Pittsburgh did have to count a fall on beam, finishing fifth overall, but as it only scored 195+ once and failed to qualify to regionals in 2017, scoring one at regionals with a counted error gives some perspective about how far this team has come in just a year.

Individual qualifiers shone in Columbus, with Bowling Green sophomore Jovannah East qualifying to nationals in the all around as only the second national qualifier in school history. India McPeak, who qualified as a beam specialist, threw the standing full that was her trademark in elite to close her collegiate career with a bang. Rachael Underwood of Western Michigan also shone, registering a 9.900 on floor that was good to tie for second.

Minneapolis Regional
OU: 198.000 Kentucky: 197.050 DU: 196.275 Minn.: 196.100 ISU: 195.925 Iowa: 195.050
Full Results VT: Sievers 9.925 UB: Lehrmann 9.950 BB: Nichols 10.000 FX: Nichols 9.975 AA: Nichols 39.775
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Teams: Oklahoma and Kentucky
  • All Around: Lynnzee Brown (DU) and Lexy Ramler (Minn)
  • VT: Meaghan Sievers (Iowa St)

This meet wasn’t quite as close in the end as expected, but it did prove to be exciting down to the final rotation. Kentucky and Denver were neck and neck as Kentucky was on bars and Denver on beam. Denver had the lead by 0.150, but Kentucky had a lights-out bars rotation for a 49.400 while the Pioneers weren’t perfect on the beam. Despite this, the total came out to be Denver’s second-highest at regionals in program history, behind last season’s 197.050. The Pioneers weren’t the only team who struggled on beam in this meet, though. Every team had errors on the event aside from Oklahoma. At the end of the day, Oklahoma claimed its ninth straight regional title and Kentucky advanced to nationals for the first time in program history.

Oklahoma started the meet on floor, where it dominated from the get go, tallying the highest event score of the meet at a 49.600. The Sooners vaulted well and maintained their momentum through bars before ending the meet with the best beam rotation of the meet. Minnesota, suffering from the loss of Rachel Rowland on bars, struggling on the event. The highlight of the Gophers’ meet was floor, where they tallied a 49.300. The Cyclones, too had a shaky start to the meet, failing to reach 49 on bars and beam. The second half of the meet went better, though, with the highlight being vault as junior Meaghan Sievers performed her front handspring pike half well enough to advance as an individual to nationals for the second time in her career. Much like the Cyclones, in-state rival Iowa also struggled on bars and beam. The Hawkeyes did excel on floor, however, tallying the second highest team floor score of the meet and a season high at a 49.425.

As expected, it was difficult for individuals to qualify out of this regional. Madison Ward’s (Utah State) 9.925 on floor was the highest score for a Utah State gymnast at regionals in program history and was only topped by Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols and Anastasia Webb, Minnesota’s Paige Williams and Denver’s Brown. Lastly, Brown and Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler punched their tickets as all arounders, scoring 39.525 and 39.500, respectively.

Raleigh Regional
LSU: 197.675 Neb: 197.525 NCSU: 196.050 UMD: 195.850 GW: 195.425 OSU: 194.975
Full Results VT: Edney, Hambrick, Houchin 9.950 UB: Houchin 9.975 BB: Hambrick 9.925 FX: Finnegan 9.950 AA: Finnegan, Hambrick 39.625
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Team: LSU and Nebraska
  • All Around: Morgan Lane (UNC) and Camille Drouin-Allaire (GW)

The Raleigh regional was perhaps the most anticlimactic meet of the weekend. With both the No. 19 and No. 20 teams allocated to this regional, it could have been the site of an exciting upset, but as Nebraska excelled and other teams faltered it was clear by the second rotation that anything other than the top two seeds advancing was unlikely. LSU narrowly won the meet, recovering well from a bizarre opening floor rotation in which every gymnast had an imperfect landing on one tumbling pass. On vault, a fall from Sarah Edwards presented a challenge to the Tigers, but the rest of the lineup recovered well to drop it. On bars, some questionable handstands and foot deductions limited the Tigers’ total, but they closed with a meet-best 49.500 on beam.

Nebraska scored a season high, led by sophomore Taylor Houchin who picked up two event titles, the first Husker to do so since Emily Wong in 2014. Sienna Crouse also excelled, scoring over 9.900 in all three of her events. Nebraska began with an exceptional beam rotation with six stuck landings and continued almost flawlessly throughout the rest of the meet; only two routines scored under 9.800 and both were dropped. All arounders Megan Schweihofer, Abbie Epperson and Kynsee Roby ranked fourth through sixth in the meet, immediately below the LSU three.

North Carolina State excelled at home, but it wasn’t enough to pose a real upset threat. It stayed consistent through what was a tough meet for several other teams to count nothing under a 9.725 and finish a strong third. Maryland should also be very proud of fourth, as the lowest seeded team and also having not qualified for regionals last year. It only had one fall and both all arounders scored over 39.000.

George Washington had a tough day, counting 9.600s on three pieces after some fluke errors including a fall on floor from senior Jillian Winstanley. However, it will be proud to have qualified Camille Drouin-Allaire to nationals as an all arounder. Oregon State had an even tougher ride; it put together three very strong rotations and was the closest to contending with Nebraska before closing with a catastrophic beam rotation featuring three falls and no scores over 9.800 to finish last with its second-lowest score of the season.

North Carolina was very close to qualifying a full team to regionals but eventually missed out, so it’s validating that all around star Morgan Lane had a strong day and will advance to St. Louis to close out her career. Towson’s Mary Elle Arduino was another individual regional qualifier to shine at this meet, scoring a 9.875 on beam to finish seventh on that piece.

Salt Lake City Regional
Utah: 197.475 Cal: 196.725 Aub: 196.625 BYU: 196.300 Stanford: 195.600 SUU: 194.625
Full Results VT: Watson 9.925 UB: Cerio, Hortman-Evans, Price, Skinner 9.900 BB: Milliet, Reinstadtler 9.925 FX: Merrell-Giles, Price, Skinner 9.950 AA: Skinner 39.650
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Teams: Utah and California
  • All Around: Elizabeth Price (Stanford) and Drew Watson (Aub)
  • UB: Sam Cerio (Aub) and Shannon Hortman-Evans (BYU)
  • BB: Abby Milliet (Aub)

The Salt Lake City Regional ended up being a closely-fought battle throughout the entire evening with plenty of suspense and tension until the very end. The Utes advanced comfortably to their 43rd-straight national championship, but they did keep things interesting. They came out of the gate on fire and scored a huge 49.600 on floor, maintaining their lead throughout all six rotations. However, they came in the fifth rotation with less than a half-tenth lead over Cal while Auburn was only 0.275 behind California and ready for a potential upset if either faltered. The Utes started beam confidently, but a fall from Kari Lee in the middle of the lineup followed by a shaky routine from Sydney Soloski put the pressure on Missy Reinstadtler and Mykayla Skinner for hit routines. Thankfully, the two delivered clutch performances, and the Utes were able to head into their bye in the sixth rotation essentially locked in for nationals.

The fight for the second spot was tense between California and Auburn, and it all came down to the final rotation. The Golden Bears headed into bars, with a slight lead over the Tigers who were on beam. Fans were on the edge of their seat as bars has been tricky for the Bears more often than not this season, and a fall from Sofie Seilnacht in the final lineup spot upped the tension even more. The Bears did not count anything above a 9.850, and Auburn needed a 49.300 on beam to tie. It all came down to the final routine from Taylor Krippner who needed a 9.950 to match California’s total, but the pressure was too much and she missed, securing Cal’s return to nationals. Auburn still qualifies three individuals in Drew Watson (AA), Sam Cerio (UB) and Abby Milliet (BB).

BYU was right in the thick of things throughout the night and posted its highest regional score in school’s history. The Cougars started the meet strongly on uneven bars, highlighted by a 9.900 from Shannon Hortman-Evans, which was good enough to advance her to nationals as an individual on bars. This marks the first time in 14 years that BYU has had an individual qualifier for nationals. The Cougars moved on to beam and posted the second highest event score of the meet with a 49.200 but had difficulties keeping up with Auburn and Cal after some shaky floor routines and a weaker vault rotation.

It was always going to be difficult for Stanford, but yet another subpar bar rotation (48.050) made it impossible for the Cardinal to climb out of the hole. The Cardinal did have a stellar floor rotation, though, totaling 49.450 and matching its season-high on the event. Senior superstar Elizabeth Price remained unfazed and clinched a spot to nationals as an all arounder.

The Thunderbirds finished sixth place after having to count misses on multiple events. The best showing for individual competitors came from Taylor Chan (SJSU) and Alexis Brown (UC-Davis) who both scored 9.900 on floor.

Tuscaloosa Regional
Ala: 197.225 UGA: 196.500 Ill: 196.425 UM: 196.350 Mizz: 196.100 CMU: 195.825
Full Results VT: Graber 9.950 UB: Brown 9.950 BB: Winston 9.925 FX: Pedrick, Vega 9.900 AA: Graber 39.575
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Teams: Alabama and Georgia
  • All Around: Brianna Brown (UM) and Rae Balthazor (Ill)
  • FX: Denelle Pedrick (CMU)

The Tuscaloosa regional was the meet most gym-nerds had their eyes on Saturday and for good reason. Three of the six teams were ranked in the top 20 nationally, two teams are NCAA dynasties and a few others are having breakout seasons. Alabama swiftly dominated the competition, remaining clean and consistent to easily qualify to St. Louis. Lexi Graber delivered a standout performance on vault while seniors Nickie Guerrero and Kiana Winston performed for the final time at home, helping Alabama to reach its 36th national championships. As the Crimson Tide mathematically locked themselves in for a spot, it was the fight for second that kept fans biting their nails until the very last flip.

Michigan was one of the favorites coming into Tuscaloosa. The Wolverines were in good position: They ranked seventh nationally, had beaten Alabama once already and were just coming off a big conference championship win. While Michigan had all the pieces of the puzzle to put together a great regionals performance, it couldn’t quite deliver on the promise. Starting off on beam with a low 49.075, floor is where its composure fell apart, notching only a 48.850 after a fall and and an out of bounds pass. It was able to rebound with comfortable scores on vault and bars but wasn’t enough to overcome fellow Big Ten member Illinois, who had one of its best meets of the season.

The Illini hit 49+ on every apparatus, defeating Michigan for the first time since 1990. As Michigan’s deficit grew, it became clear the second spot would come down to Illinois and Georgia. The narrative of Georgia this year has been one of an underdog team. It’s been plagued by injuries—including an Achilles tear from senior Lauren Johnson one day before regionals—that forced the Gymdogs to put up only five routines on some apparatuses. Needing to hit for solid scores on every routine, the meet came down to Georgia on beam. The Gymdogs were steady through four routines but, after a low score from Vivi Babalis, needed a big hit from Sabrina Vega to seal the nationals berth. The sophomore hit, notching a 9.875 and clinching the second qualifying spot for the team.

Despite setbacks, this regionals proved that adversity is nothing for Georgia, and its still the team that dominated the NCAA for so many years that set a precedent for champions to come. While Michigan and Illinois didn’t manage to extend their seasons, Brianna Brown (UM) and Rae Balthazor (Ill) are headed to nationals after qualifying in the all around. The final two teams for Tuscaloosa were Missouri and Central Michigan. Mizzou has had quite a year, highlighted by a Florida victory, but didn’t quite make it for regionals. Central Michigan performed steady, highlighted by some of the top individual gymnasts in the country, and while it didn’t qualify a team, Denelle Pedrick will represent the Chippewas on floor in St. Louis.

University Park Regional
UF: 197.725 UW: 196.275 ASU: 195.750 UNH: 194.950 PSU: 194.900 WVU: 194.400
Full Results VT: Slocum 9.950 UB: McMurtry 9.975 BB: McMurtry 9.950 FX: Boren, Hoffa, Schaefer, Slocum, Washington 9.900 AA: McMurtry 39.725
Advancing Teams and Individuals:

  • Teams: Florida and Washington
  • All Around: Cairo Leonard-Baker (ASU) and Lauren Bridgens (PSU)

As anticipated, Florida and Washington prevailed and will advance to nationals out of the Penn State regional, one of the more clear cut competitions of the day. The Gators dominated across the board, taking at least a share of every event title and the top two all around spots. They also posted the highest rotation scores on every event except floor, where Washington topped them by 0.025. The Gators had two misses, though neither counted. Washington went 24-for-24 yet only managed a 196.275, the lowest total of any team advancing to nationals. Arizona State, which also hit every routine it performed, just didn’t notch the big numbers in late lineup routines to contend with Washington. Stronger bars and beam weren’t enough to make up for lower floor and vault totals or catch a Washington team that had a solid but not stellar day.

Freshman phenom Cairo Leonard-Baker was steady across all four, highlighted by a 9.850 bar routine and third place all around finish that secured her a trip to nationals. The other three teams, New Hampshire, Penn State and West Virginia, were well behind the top three. The Nittany Lions counted a bars fall in the first rotation, keeping the team total below 195. Lauren Bridgens, who tied Leonard-Baker in the all around, led the team on vault and bars and will advance to nationals as an individual as well. For West Virginia, beam in the third rotation was the problem; the Mountaineers counted a fall—the first fall they have counted all season. New Hampshire didn’t have a similar rough event, but simply didn’t post the big numbers necessary to contend with the top teams. Finishing with a strong floor rotation wasn’t enough to propel the Wildcats above 195.

The best showing for an individual competitor was Rutgers’ Belle Huang, who was initially named the all around alternate. She stepped in when Yale’s Jacey Baldovino dropped out and notched a 9.825 on floor that was good enough for a tie for ninth on the event. Bridgeport’s Maya Reimers was also solid on floor, scoring a 9.800. Yale’s Jade Buford had the highest all around finish of the individuals; her 38.775 was good enough for 10th.

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Article by the editors of NCAA Gym News

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