After an incredible week that should be renamed ‘The Katelyn Ohashi Week’, gymnasts were back on the competition floor. It was gymternet drama after two VERY close meets between Florida and LSU and Alabama and Georgia, but it was also a week of historic performances for Denver and Washington and of stunning routines by so many unsung heroes. This and much more in this recap of Week 3!
1. Florida 197.500; LSU 197.425. After last week’s performance, I was worried Florida would travel to Baton Rouge and dominate the LSU Tigers. It would have been a humiliating defeat. Instead it was a fired-up tight battle between the two teams. It was a close defeat in the end for LSU, but the Tigers posted their first 197 of the season and, most importantly, found back that infectious enthusiasm that was still missing this season. I felt that scores were a bit objectionable at times (on both sides), but with the two teams almost tied after the third rotation, the Gators (Florida’s highlights here) deserved the victory because of a gorgeous final rotation on beam, while LSU struggled slightly on floor (LSU’s highlights here). Overall, it is great to see LSU back in the 197s and to see Florida thrive as they deserve. Fun fact: two daughters of 1980s Olympians were competing at the PMAC: LSU’s McKenna Kelley, daughter of 1984 Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton and Florida’s Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, daughter of 1988 Olympian Brandy Johnson. Among the highlights, LSU senior Sarah Finnegan was the queen of the PMAC, sticking her FTY, scoring a near-perfect 9.975 on bars and killing floor. Total all around score of 39.700, insane! LSU red-shirt junior McKenna Kelley debuted on vault (and is finally anchoring floor, she really is the right gymnast in that spot!), Florida sophomore Alyssa Baumann was back on floor and beam, and please have a look at the Gators’ whole floor rotation – I LOVE it all!
2. Alabama 196.900; Georgia 196.875. It was another nail-bitingly close competition between Georgia and Alabama. The Crimson Tide in the end won their first meet of the season, with a more-like-it score of 196.900. They may have started slowly, but Alabama have so much depth and potential that if they keep going like this, they will be a serious threat in the post-season. Georgia (highlights here) was VERY close behind (0.025) and also posted a season-high score. It may have been a defeat on paper, but this competition had nothing of a defeat for the Gymdogs. Courtney Kupets Carter tried out new gymnasts and lineups this week, which is always a smart move (and a luxury Georgia hadn’t had in a long time) and everyone delivered. The future looks bright for them too. Among the highlights, Georgia freshmen lit the show for me: Megan Roberts impressed on bars with a difficult routine and an insanely floated double layout dismount, Alexa Al-Hameed killed her bars routine for a 9.925 (her height on that Tkatchev, people!) and Rachael Lukacs performed a huge double layout on floor. Senior Sydney Snead impressed on beam, leading off her team with a career-high 9.925. For Alabama, super solid was sophomore Lexi Graber on beam, while senior Ari Guerra showed off both her tumbling and choreography on floor. Sophomore transfer Tia Kiaku debuted on floor. She had way too much power at times, but look at her precision and sass – she reminds me of Aja Sims!
3. Oklahoma 197.000; North Carolina 195.150; Ball State 193.600. Oklahoma proved that they are human after all, especially when their superhuman star is not competing: Maggie Nichols was out of the lineup with what is rumoured to be a bruised heel. The Sooners may have been missing the icing on the cake, but the rest of the team stepped up and competed flawlessly until floor, where unfortunately they had to count a fall. Coach K.J. Kindler said last week that floor was the apparatus they still needed to improve on and it showed this week, though I am sure they won’t let it happen again! Among the highlights, sophomore transfer Karrie Thomas debuted on bars and scored a 9.900; freshman Olivia Trautman outperformed herself on floor for a 9.975; and senior Brenna Dowell won her first all around title with a career-high 39.625. Carolina and Ball State had a few mistakes here and there, but overall a pretty solid competition. Carolina impressed particularly on floor, where Khazia Hislop posted a big 9.925 and Mikayla Robinson, the sister of Cal alumna Ariana Robinson, used her sister’s floor music from her freshman season! Ball State impressed particularly on beam, where they showed off great difficulty, including two double back dismounts. A standout performance was Rachel Benoit‘s, who competed a triple series (BHSO + BHSO with one hand + LOSO) and a double back dismount. Also impressive for the Cardinals was Maddie McDonald‘s stuck Yurchenko half.
And wasn’t Carolina’s leotard beautiful?
4. Utah 197.150; Oregon State 195.450. Utah (highlights here) continued its consistent ride this season with another score in the 197+. The Utes had a good competition, though I am sure Megan Marsden is growing impatient to see some more spark. The Red Rocks had indeed another solid competition, but not a National Championship victory one. It is still early in the season, mind, but Utah has been struggling since the beginning of the season to find their rhythm on beam, and they failed to break into the 9.9s for the second week in a row. I am sure they will be working on it. The highlight of the competition was junior Mykayla Skinner‘s stuck DTY for the third week in a row for a 9.975. Will she ever get a 10.0? Oregon State (highlights here) suffered on beam, where they had to count a fall and failed to break into the 9.8s, but had a solid competition on the other three apparatuses. Floor was the Beavers’ best apparatus, where they posted five scores of 9.800 or better, including an outstanding 9.925 by sophomore Savanna Force.
5. Washington 196.525; Arizona 195.650. Washington (highlights here) had a stunning competition on the road, which started in the best of ways on bars and carried on to end in the best of ways on beam. On bars, all five counting scores were 9.800 or better, including a huge 9.900 by junior Madison Copiak. And also on beam all counting scores were 9.800 or better, including two 9.900s by Madison Copiak and senior Malory Rose and a 9.950 by junior Evanni Roberson. Arizona also had a solid competition, with particularly solid rotations on bars and floor. Junior Christina Berg impressed with two 9.900s on these two apparatuses to win the two events.
6. Denver 196.175; Central Michigan 193.250; Texas Woman’s 190.200; Sac State 190.150. Denver (highlights here) posted another solid 196+, marred only by a weak rotation on beam, where they had to count two falls. Imagine the overall score with a more consistent beam rotation. I am sure we shall see it soon! Except for the beam hiccup, Denver had a super solid competition, capped by outstanding rotations on bars and floor. On bars, all counting scores were 9.850 or better, including a 9.900 by sophomore Lynnzee Brown, a 9.925 by sophomore Mia Sundstrum and an outstanding 9.975 by junior Maddie Karr. It is the highest bars score in programme history, as well as the highest bars score in the nation so far! On floor, all counting scores were 9.825 or better, including a shining 9.925 by Lynnzee Brown. Beam was overall shaky, but look at senior Kaitlyn Schou‘s 9.950! The other three teams struggled a bit here and there, but impressive was Central Michigan sophomore Nora Fettinger‘s 9.875 on floor.
7. Auburn 195.825; Missouri 194.975. It was not the strongest meet for Auburn (highlights here) after last week’s home victory against LSU, but the Tigers still showed off their claws, posting rotation scores over 49 on all apparatuses but beam. They broke into the 9.9s only once with senior Samantha Cerio on bars (9.900), but had a series of solid 9.8+ for most counting routines, except on beam. Star freshman Derrian Gobourne continued her streak of impressive results with two 9.875s on vault and floor, junior Gracie Day scored two 9.875s on vault and bars and senior Abby Milliet posted a 9.875 on bars. Missouri struggled a bit more with falls and weak landings on all apparatuses. They also showed some very consistent performances, however, including three 9.825s on bars (Morgan Porter, Becca Schugel and Aspen Tucker) and five consistent scores over 9.8 on floor.
8. Michigan 195.975; Michigan State 194.050. Michigan (highlights here) competed in their first duo meet of the season and were pretty consistent with their previous scores this season. What does this mean? I guess it means that the Wolverines are a solid team but they are still looking for that extra something that makes gymnasts shine and stick landings. They may just need some time! Star freshman Natalie Wojcik was once again the gymnast to watch, as she scored a 9.900 on bars, a 9.950 on beam and a 9.875 on vault. Senior Emma McLean stuck cold her FTY for a big 9.900 and another freshman, Abby Brenner, posted a 9.850 on vault for her Yurchenko 1.5. Senior Olivia Karas shone on bars and floor for two 9.875s. Michigan State had an up-and-down competition, which included some shaky routines but also some phenomenal ones – a team on the rise? Among their best routines, senior Jessica Ling posted a 9.875 on bars, followed by a 9.850 by sophomore Tristan Brown, while on floor four scores were 9.825 or better, including a big 9.875 by junior Gabriella Douglas.
9. Kentucky 195.275; Arkansas 193.875. Do not be deceived by the scores: Kentucky (highlights here) had a great meet this week. Despite some problems on beam, where they looked a bit tentative here and there, and some conservative scores on bars, the Wildcats were solid on the other three apparatuses, and they capped off the competition with an outstanding rotation on floor, which included three 9.900s (Korth, Hyland and Duke). Among the highlights, you have to watch senior Alex Hyland‘s new sassy but elegant floor routine, junior Mollie Korth‘s stuck Yurchenko 1.5 and freshman Cally Nixon‘s beautiful bar work. Arkansas had a bit of a weaker meet, having to count a fall both on bars and beam and not really finding their rhythm throughout the competition. But again, it is early in the season and the Razorbacks can still afford some mistakes. Also, how can it be that Sophia Carter’s beam routine scored a 9.900 last week with some wobbles and this week her nearly wobble-free routine scored only a 9.775? Among the highlights, freshman Kennedy Hambrick‘s composure on beam and sophomore Sophia Carter‘s Phantom of the Opera-themed floor routine – I cannot get enough of it!
Shoutout also to Kentucky’s leotard, probably the prettiest of the week.
10. Among individual beauties, West Virginia senior Kirah Koshinski scored a huge 9.950 on vault for this gorgeous Yurchenko 1.5 – a perfect 10.0 in our hearts! Minnesota sophomore Lexy Ramler also scored a 9.950 on beam for another aching it-could-have-been-a-perfect-10.0 routine. William & Mary freshman Samantha Sakti scored a 9.925 on floor. And Maryland junior Alecia Farina shone on bars for a 9.875.
Highest scores of the week
Team: Florida – 197.500
All around: Sarah Finnegan (LSU) – 39.700
Vault: Mykayla Skinner (Utah) – 9.975
Bars: Sarah Finnegan (LSU) and Maddie Karr (Denver) – 9.975
Beam: Kaitlyn Schou (Denver), Evanni Roberson (Washington), Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) and Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) – 9.950
Floor: Olivia Trautman (Oklahoma) – 9.975
Routine of the week
The Queen of the PMAC, Sarah Finnegan, shone on floor as only she can do!