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NCAA Power Rankings Week 8

It's Tuesday and that means it's Power Rankings day.

These are not the official rankings, but they are stories, people, topics and/or events that are interesting or worth talking about.

To refresh, last week I talked about:
#1 RQS
#2 Southern Utah and Upsets in General
#3 Joslyn Goings & Myia Hambrick and all underrated athletes
#4 LSU's floor line-up
#5 Ebee Price's back up dancers

Without further pause, let's get into this week's NCAA power rankings,

# 1 LSU at Florida - Florida's home scoring benefits the visiting team, LSU

It's no secret that Florida home scoring is incredibly generous and sometimes bordering on mathematically impossible. Seriously, the judges are this-close to giving Bridget Sloan an eleven, because, Florida. No, really, how many times have you caught yourself shaking your head because the judges give out tens like they're candy. This is usually to the benefit of Florida. However, this weekend, Florida home scoring seemed to really benefit the visiting team, LSU.  LSU started by outscoring Florida on vault by 0.050 and by the end, LSU had outscored Florida on beam and had beat them at home by 0.025. But, to be fair, LSU had a better night than Florida. They had a fall from Alex McMurtry on bars and Bridget Sloan fell on beam and went out of bounds on floor, so aside from some very generous gifts they were given, LSU deserved the win. They've looked as good or better than they've looked all season. While they had some small errors here and there, they didn't have any falls. Florida, however, did. So regardless of over scoring or not for either team, at the end of the day, the ranking was correct.

# 2 Oklahoma meet commentary by Kelly Garrison

If you tune into Oklahoma's home meets (or you catch a replay on YouTube), you will hear the perky tones of one Ms. Kelly Garrison-Funderbunk. Kelly is a former Olympian for the US (1988) and she was simultaneously doing NCAA gymnastics at... The University of Oklahoma. That's right, the world famous 2014 NCAA champions, Oklahoma. Kelly serves as commentator for the Sooners' home meets, (sometimes along side Bart Conner when he's not teaming up with Kathy Johnson).

Kelly's commentary is colorful in all sorts of hilarious and entertaining ways. For starters, as an alumna, she is completely biased towards Oklahoma. Ok, understandable, it is local sports commentary, but she let's her Oklahoma pride fly and it's pretty easy to figure out who her favorites are. For example, while commentating on last weekend's home meet against Michigan, she couldn't hide how sad she was about the fact that Keeley Kmieciak and Haley Scaman were both seniors and would be graduating. She would keep saying "I don't want to think about it!" When describing Taylor Spears, who graduated in 2014, Kelly described her as being "Ooey gooey gorgeous" on beam.

She also has no problem letting her uber gym nerd out. She nearly had a rage stroke when AJ Jackson got a 9.975 on her Yurchenko one and a half instead of receiving a 10.00. She said "I'm going to have to have a talk with those judges!" She countered herself later by saying "Ok, I won't actually go talk with the judges. No one goes to talk to the judges, unless it's Bela Karolyi."

And of course, there is her colorful expressions. Who could forget the "Oh boogers!" incident.

# 3 Maddie Gardiner is basically holding her whole team together.

Oregon State has suffered some injuries this year and they've experienced a lack of depth and a little bit of lack of consistency because of it.

Junior all-arounder Maddie Gardiner has been a consistent and much relied on gymnast for the Beavers this season. She is absolutely beautiful to watch, gorgeous extension, flexibility and toe point and that wolf turn to split she does on beam? Heavenly! She's also completely under-rated in my book.

She's currently ranked 20th in the all-around, tied with Mollie Drenth of Iowa. I really felt like she was a bit underscored at yesterday's home meet (seriously though, she got a 9.85 on vault for a near perfect Yurchenko full, at Florida, that would be given a 10 even though the vault is only out of a 9.95. Again, because Florida). Plus, with all the injuries and setbacks Oregon State has experienced this year, she's been one of the most reliable performers every week and has done the all-around every meet for the past 8 weeks. She's a leader for her team and she deserves so much credit and praise.

# 4 Epic Beam Saves

Speaking of Oregon State, Maddie's teammate, Risa Perez had the most epic beam save ever last night. She was slightly off on her back-handspring to layout step out series and her leg came up in a balance check. In a move of thinking on her feet, Risa grabbed the leg that came off the beam and immediately did a side scale as if the balance check never happened. Risa got a 9.85, so her quick thinking paid off.

Best save ever?
Posted by GymCastic on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Nicki Shapiro of UCLA had her first beam fall of her career over the weekend at their home meet against Arizona. On her back handspring to layout step out series, her foot slipped, causing her to crotch the beam. Instead of melting down into a look of utter despair, Nicki pointed her toes, saluted and smiled as if to say "I totally meant to do that!" Since she did have a pretty obvious fall, she only received a 9.25 for her routine. But, Nicki did teach us a valuable lesson, if you fall, smile, salute and move on. A good life lesson and a good gymnastics lesson.

# 5 If Ebee Price Deserves a Traveling Group of Back-Up Dancers then Risa Perez deserves her own act in Vegas.

Risa Perez is easily spotted in any gym competition because she has the biggest, widest smile on her face. Risa is known for her dance on floor exercise. When she goes on floor, she is performing her heart out. She did her club training at Gym Cats in Las Vegas (with Taylor Rice at Stanford). She's highly trained in many dance forms and has been choreographing her own floor routine since her club days.

There is no doubt, when she walks out on the floor, she owns it. Risa, per the PAC12 commentary team wants to perform in Cirque Du Solei, however, I'm proposing that she get's her own headlining show on the Strip. Seriously. She could have her own digital billboard outside the Bellagio or something...

# 6 Julia Ross of Denver FINALLY is Rewarded for her Glorious Beam Routine

Of course, as a resident of this fair city, I gotta root for Denver, especially since they are doing so well this season. Besides Nina McGee, I adore Julia Ross, especially on beam and bars. She has such pretty toe point and lovely extension, she is so beautiful and fluid on beam.

This past weekend, at their quad meet against Iowa, UIC and Southeast Missouri, Denver scored a huge season high of 197.525, with huge scores on all four events. For beam, they earned a 49.475. My favorite Denver beam worker, Julia scored a 9.925, this prompts me to say "Finally!" I have loved watching her on beam this season and I will shout at the judges saying they're greatly underscoring her (not really, that would probably not bear well for me). But this meet, she finally, finally was given a score reflective of that glorious Silivas mount.

Watch her routine in the video below (it starts at 2:12). Now, I just hope the judges keep giving her these wonderful scores for all the three weeks left in the regular season. Seriously, because if this were Florida, she would get like a 9.975-10.00 every week, you know, because, Florida.

# 7 The Push to the Post Season

There is three weeks left in the regular season, so now is the time where the NCAA teams must be preparing for that big push into the post season.  Consistency is not an expectation at this point, it is a requirement. The pressure is starting to build and some teams are really showing it. Of course, it seems others thrive on it.

Florida is definitely feeling that pressure. They practically have targets on their backs with being the reigning three-time NCAA champions and all.  At this point, if they get anything less than first place at NCAAs this year, it will be a Shakespearean tragedy.  They've definitely looked good, but I wonder if they were spoiled by getting that  198 early in the season. It's impossible to stay at that level for ten weeks and I think they may be realizing that now.  Next weekend, Bridget Sloan is going to come back with some seriously angry gymnastics after her blunders last week. Maybe some good old fashioned anger will be what Florida needs to get to the post season.

Oklahoma's strategy to get through the rest of the season is just to focus on the little details and just to slow it down a bit. This seams to be working. They scored the first 198 plus since Florida got that 198 like a month ago. So yeah, it's a good strategy. Control the control ables  (handstands, consistency, not falling on beam) and don't worry about the un-control ables (the other teams, the judges).

Then there is Georgia. Oh Georgia, you were doing so well and your old enemy, the bean came back to  After three weeks of solid beam rotations, Georgia had a complete beam meltdown. They had to count a fall from Natalie Vaculik after Ashlyn Broussard fell and only got a 9.150. Bars didn't go much better either, they also had to count a fall on bars when the normally solid Brittany Rogers went splat during her routine. Is the pressure of the post season push starting to become a reality and they are now going into panic mode? They've got three more weeks of the regular season and then it's regionals and there is no  room for beam-tastrophes at regionals.

YouTube Playlist for Week 8


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