Skip to main content

NCAA National Champs - Is it 2018 Yet?

The NCAA Gymnastics Championships has concluded for 2017.

Thus begins the void between the end of NCAA season and the start of elite season heading in to world championships.

I have been in St. Louis last weekend catching all the action.

We're still 8 months out from the start of NCAA season in 2018, so lets take some time to recap real quick and provide some closing thoughts.

First day semi-finals, first semi final featuring Utah, Oklahoma, Washington, Oregon State, Denver and UCLA. Qualifying out of that semi final was Utah, UCLA and Oklahoma, not necessarily in that order.

Oklahoma -

Not Oklahoma's best day, still a really solid day but not outstanding.  They qualified first from their semi final with a 197.725. Basically parThere were some issues on floor with their landings and then there was the fall from Maggie Nichols on beam, who has not fallen on anything at all this season.


Of course, I was there supporting Denver. Denver had a pretty good meet, not their best of the season and they could definitely do better. They started off on beam with a fall from Nikole Addison, even after a strong start from Sam Ogden. The rest of the line-up was solid and they came out ok, not great.

On bars, Leah Lomonte had a very uncharacteristic fall. Poor girl fell twice on her shaposh, scoring an 8.125. From my angle, looked like she maybe didn't get her hand all the way around the bar and just kept going backward. She repeated it and had her second fall. By then, she just said "fuck it" and completed the routine.

They finished 5th in their subdivision and 9th overall, which is Denver's highest post-season ranking in school history. Maddie Karr got All-American honors on vault and the all-around (despite crack scores from the judges).

Next year, Denver is not only going to be shooting for the nationals, they're shooting for that Su[er Six slot.

Second semi final, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Nebraska, Georgia and Michigan. Alabama, LSU and Florida qualified out of the second semi-final.

Florida actually scored higher than Oklahoma in the prelims with a 197.812. Alex McMurtry won the coveted all-around title despite basically never competing all-around for fear she will wind up more broken than a Russian gymnast. She scored a 39.8125, which is Maggie Nichols level (when she's not falling on beam).

Event awards were basically a billion way tie between everybody. There were at least 8 co-bar champions, which is a little ridiculous. Everyone was having to practically sit on each other's laps because there wasn't enough room on the podium for all.

Super Six final was balls to the wall

From the first rotation, Oklahoma was not going to let anyone else in at all. They started on bars and were immediately on their A game. They put up six outstanding routines all scoring 9.88 or better. Brenna is amazing and so is Maggie, who put her shit-tastic Friday behind her and went to beam, where she fell the previous night and casually just put up a 10.00 and scoring a huge 39.8625 in the all around, averaging a 9.966 on every event.

By the time they got to floor and vault, it was obvious, they were there for the championship title and they weren't going home until they had it. Charity Jones lead off on floor and set her team up for success in their last two rotations.  Chayse Capps went lights out and went for her double layout on But it was AJ Jackson who stole the show and sealed the deal. Her tumbling was so dynamic and the heights she attained in the air were amazing to see. Of course, the chalk-o-graphy rebellion was the icing on the cake. You look up in the middle of her routine and a cloud of chalk suddenly surrounds the OU section.

Ending on vault, they had it in the bag. Maggie Nichols nailed her vault in the anchor position and sealed the win. Big sloppy tears were in effect at this point.

They finished with a 198.3785, which is not only huge, but is a record for the highest team score ever. They also finished with a completely undefeated season, another record.

Oklahoma came to St. Louis, they saw the competition and they obliterated the competition. Story over, give us the first place trophy now because, literally this is just a formality for us.

LSU, Oklahoma's biggest threat to the national title, were second for the second year in a row. Starting on floor, they had an out-of-bounds from Sydney Ewing right off the bat, and counted a 9.7625 from Shae Zamardi. They brought up their score from the first two gymnasts, and had four solid routines from the rest of their line up, with three 9.9 +'s from Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelly and Ashleigh Gnat. But, by the time it was all said and done with, they had scored a 49.3250. An excellent score, but not enough to beat Oklahoma's 49.5875 on bars.

Still, their deficit was still manageable, about 0.2625. But, then they moved to vault, and while they had a great vault rotation, scoring a 49.300, it was still below their season RQS of 49.540. After three rotations of about 49.3 ish, it was time for beam. The Tigers were still trailing Florida for most of the meet. By their final rotation, beam they decided to go for broke and it payed off.

Erin Macadeag led the Tigers off with her glorious as usual beam routine, which was glorious. But their rotation was capped off by Ashleigh Gnat in her magnum opus final beam routine, capped off by a beautiful double full, bringing her to tears.

LSU scored a record 49.725 on beam and bumped up to second with a 197.7375, beating Florida by .0375. Florida, despite not beating LSU, improved from their placement from fourth place to third in 2017.  On bars, Alex McMurtry received a 10.00 for a fabulous routine.

Of course, McMurtry was a favorite with her triple full on floor and always pleases with her Shushunova to clear hip circle on beam. Kennedy Baker is amazing with her practically laid out Dos Santos on floor.

On beam for UCLA, Peng Peng Lee was finally rewarded with the 10.00 she's deserved for like, ever. Her flares were gorgeous, Peng's routine was fabulous as it has been. UCLA did also improve their placing from last year from fifth to fourth with a 197.2625. UCLA flourished on bars and beam as they have done all season. Floor is decent. They have standouts like Angi Cipra, who brought back her cell phone routine in the latter part of this season. As much as that routine bugged me last year, dammit if it isn't clever. It's definitely unique. So many of these girls have the exact same floor music, and that at least Cipra's music commands attention. At least long enough for you to say "WTF?" as you turn to look there. Hallie Mossett anchored the floor line-up. Since Oklahoma had finished vault before UCLA. The Oklahoma girls had a dance party to Hallie's Beyonce themed routine.

 Vault was probably what really prevents them from going further. They only have 1 10.0 vault in their line-up, if that. Pua Hall brings a  yurchenko 1 & 1/2 to the middle of the line-up, but form issues really keep her from bringing in 9.9 plus scores. They wound up with a 49.00 on vault and were about a half point behind the leaders, Oklahoma. Here's hoping they can get a couple more clean 10.00 start value vaults in that line-up.

5th and 6th - Utah and Alabama respectively. Utah with a 196.5875 and Alabama with a 196.00. Alabama really had a rough night from the start. Amanda Jetter fell on her Ray on bars, Kiana Winston had some errors in her routine, scoring only 9.5875 and after a 9.75 from Katie Bailey, Bama had a paltry 48.8875. Beam was worse, leaving Bama with a 48.625, having to count a fall from Maddie Desch after Keely McNeer fell before her. Bama got their cool back to redeem their night from being a complete disaster when they had two good rotations on floor and vault.

Then there's Utah. Utah, what can I say? This wasn't their best meet. It wasn't a disaster by any means. They just weren't as strong as they were previously in their season and their performance was really a little lackluster. They had the unfortunate luck of also starting on floor and when Tiffani Lewis and Makenna Merrill went out of bounds. Missy Reinstadtler is a dream to watch on floor. Her extension and lines are the stuff of dreams.

This was definitely a great end to the season. Many records set, which is always exciting to see. Now, we wait for 2018 to come.

I have to say, funniest moment: McKenzie Woffard dropping the big trophy and knocking down the national champions sign.


Popular posts from this blog

Maddie Desch Retires From Elite

Yesterday, US gymnast Maddie Desch announced her retirement from elite gymnastics via her Instagram account.

Maddie, who trains at Great American Gymnastics Express, aka "GAGE" explained she came to the decision to retire due to a nagging injury that prevented her from training at the elite level.

Maddie Gardiner's Glorious Beam Series

I love NCAA gymnastics.

Katelyn Ohashi Sets the Rumors Straight

American Cup winner Katelyn Ohashi has been out of competition for a while due to injuries.

Since she won the American Cup in March, she's been largely absent from the USA Gymnastics scene. In April, she turned down international assignments at the City of Jesolo Cup because she was recovering from shoulder surgery. She was absent from the national championships in August, presumably for the same reason.