Welcome to Crack-land, ladies and gentlemen, the island where all your loveliest dreams and your most dreaded nightmares all come true in one overwhelming weekend.
1. Let us walk down the Val(e) of Tears that was Miss Val’s final meet in Pauley Pavilion. Her gymnasts were so emotional that they made uncharacteristic mistakes in the first two apparatuses, but honoured her on beam and especially on floor, which from now on will be officially called the Valorie Kondos Field Floor. Kyla Ross scored her first perfect 10.0 on floor and joined the Gym Slam club, and Katelyn Ohashi also scored yet another perfect 10.0 in her last routine in Pauley. Then a flash mob invaded the arena to pay tribute to Miss Val and we now have to change path, because it was so good and so perfect that our road is flooded with tears. Miss Val, by the way, has been a gift to all of us. She saw new beginnings where others saw simply an end. She saw life victories where others saw sports defeats. She saw women in the making where others saw only girls. And she saw brightness where others saw darkness.
2. It is now our turn, however, to turn into a dark alley, also known as Carol-land. LSU junior Kennedi Edney and Oklahoma senior Brenna Dowell scored two perfect 10.0s on vault for not-quite-stuck landings, while LSU junior Ruby Harrold and LSU sophomore Sarah Edwards scored two 9.950s for vaults with steps, legs, feet, knees and it all. Again, we love the gymnasts and this is not their fault, but we need to get rid of this over scoring sickness before it turns into an epidemic!
3. We rush on and the magic is back. LSU senior Sarah Finnegan scored a well-deserved perfect 10.0 on bars – Sarah deserves all the perfect scores she gets and we are not taking nos or buts for an answer.
4. Magic, however, can also be dark… I need to join the complaints club (as sometimes works on the judges) and reiterate that UCLA junior Gracie Kramer is constantly underscored compared to the rest of the lineup (9.925 this week). And do not talk to me about twists being easier than flips. That front double twist into front pike is bloody HARD. Also, in the plain of underscoring, Lindenwood junior Taylor Colwell scored a 9.775 for a lovely routine (career-high) that would have got a 9.9 in other schools, while Penn freshman Sydney Kraez scored only a 9.650 for a nearly-stuck Yurchenko full on vault. I am not ok with it. As I am not ok with the fact that Auburn senior Abby Milliet did not compete on Senior Night. Butchering our dreams is rude…
On the bright side of Senior Nights, however, Oklahoma senior Ashley Hiller got to compete her first ever beam routine for the Sooners in an exhibition (and it was GREAT!) (here at 57:10), while at Arizona junior Christina Berg scored a near-perfect 9.975 on bars (here at 52:25).
Now, let’s bounce on, playing ‘basketball’ with UCLA freshmen Norah Flatley and Margzetta Frazier.
5. Let’s keep walking in the near-perfect path and here is Washington junior Madison Copiak, scoring a 9.975 on bars, followed by a 9.925 by Yale senior Jessica Wang. Life is good and Crack-land is not that scary anymore…
Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the view: the future is bright ahead of us. Sierra Brooks announced that she will join Michigan in the fall, one year early. Lauren Pearl announced that she has committed to Minnesota. And Cal commit Nevaeh DeSouza scored a perfect 10.0 on vault at the NorCal State Championships!
Landing on us from a parallel world, moreover, Oregon State signee Jade Carey won two golds at the Baku World Cup, on vault and floor. She shone particularly on floor, where she competed the most beautiful Moors I have seen… ever?! She is one step closer to her Olympic dream and once 2020 is over, she will fulfil my dream to see her compete in college.
You can keep dreaming, because more gymnastics fairies are awaiting ahead…
6. Pure magic took possession of the Southern Utah at BYU meet. BYU junior Shannon Evans performed a stunning Yurchenko half on vault for a perfect 9.950 and teammate sophomore Abby Miner had a gorgeous routine on floor for a 9.900. Southern Utah freshman Karley McClain was fantastic on floor for a 9.925 and teammate sophomore Shylen Murakami hit beam beautifully once again (9.875).
7. There is nothing better than improvements and career-high. Georgia freshman Rachael Lukacs has improved so much this year on her DTY on vault. This week’s one was the best to date (9.950).
9. Do you fancy a smile before the conclusion of this week’s journey? Cornell freshman Donna Webster scored a 9.900 for this gorgeous Yurchenko half on vault!
10. And let’s conclude our journey with some California dreaming. Cal posted a season-high 197… Among a number of mesmerising performances, freshman Milan Clausi (she’s my bid for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year!) scored a 9.950 for a nearly stuck Yurchenko 1.5 on vault; sophomore Emi Watterson scored a 9.950 on bars for a stunning routine; and senior Chelsea Shu posted a 9.950 on floor for a lovely and poised routine. I am so happy for this dream-team, after this week’s performance, they are a serious contender for the Pac-12 title!
Highest scores of the week
Team: Oklahoma – 198.275
All around: Sarah Finnegan (LSU) and Kennedi Edney (LSU) – 39.725
Vault: Kennedi Edney (LSU) and Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma) – Perfect 10.0
Bars: Sarah Finnegan (LSU) – Perfect 10.0
Beam: Kyla Ross (UCLA) – 9.975
Floor: Kyla Ross (UCLA) and Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA) – Perfect 10.0
Kennedi Edney (LSU) – Vault
Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma) – Vault
Sarah Finnegan (LSU) – Bars
Kyla Ross (UCLA) – Floor
Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA) – Floor
Routine of the week
UCLA’s Kyla Ross scored a perfect 10.0 on floor and became only the eleventh gymnast in NCAA history to have scored a perfect 10.0 on all four events. Welcome to the Gym Slam club, Kyla!