The brackets are set for the 2017 NCAA Gymnastics Road to the Nationals. Thirty six teams compete in six regionals, all vying to be one of the twelve survivors who move on to the semi-final round April 14th in St. Louis.
Drum roll please.
The #6 Tide will travel to West Virginia for the Morgantown Regional. (A point of interest: a team that actually put a couch on the floor of Coleman Coliseum all last season for lucky gymnastic fans to get a ringside view of the meet, now goes to a town famous for couch burning. Ahh the symmetry!) The Morgantown bracket includes the overall #7 seed Michigan Wolverines, #18 Southern Utah Thunderbirds, the Kent State Golden Eagles, the George Washington Colonials, and the West Virginia Mountain-mama-neers. Another joke at West Virginia’s expense, which hopefully can be forgiven since the regional round will be held April Fools Day, Saturday, April 1st.
The top two teams from each bracket qualify for Nationals. The other regional locations, outside Gainesville, don’t seem very gymnasticky: Fayetteville, Seattle, Champaign, and Lincoln. The top six teams from the left side of the brackets will compete in the first semi-final round on April 14th; the top six from the right side compete in the day’s second semi-finals. The top three from each semi make up the Super Six and compete April 15th. Interestingly, Alabama, LSU, and Florida would all be clumped together in their semi-final. But first things first.
All Important Order of Rotations
Because there are six teams and only four pieces of equipment, regionals, like nationals, have six rotations. Each team competes in four rotations and sits out two. And which two you sit out matter! In Morgantown, the rotation order somewhat favors the Tide in that Bama starts, rather than ends, on its worse event the uneven bars (ranked 7th nationally) and gets it out of the way early. The Tide needs to replicate the 9.95 Katie Bailey got Saturday, not Shea Mahoney’s fall. The ladies then move to the balance beam, in rotation two where Maddie Desch, Kiana Winston, Nickie Guerrero, and Aja Sims have been lights out, the team is ranked fourth nationally. After bars and beam, Bama sits out rotation three. Rotation four has Bama on floor, where the third ranked floor team needs to pad what should by now be a decent lead. Rotation five is vault, where believe it or not, the Tide is ranked fifth. I say that because recently there has been a good deal of sloppiness on vault. (read: not enough stuck landings) Can’t have that in WV, because the 5th rotation is Alabama’s last. The team sits out the 6th and final rotation. Dana Duckworth’s squad can only watch and hope whatever lead they have holds up, while others, including Michigan, are adding to their point totals.
Numbers to watch: If Alabama and Michigan get their average scores
1. Bama 49.3 bars MI 49.2 vault Bama should lead by .10
2. Bama 49.425 beam MI bye Bama needs a big beam score
3. Bama bye MI 49.25 bars Bama should have lead of 98.725 to 98.450
4. Bama 49.505 floor MI 49.335 beam Bama lead needs to be 148.23 to 147.785
5. Bama 49.3 vault MI bye Bama’s final score, by average, 197.53
6. Bama bye MI 49.44 floor Bama 197.53, Michigan 197.225.
Emma McLean is ranked 9th on vault, highest Tide vaulter is 23rd ranked Katie Bailey. Michigan’s Paige Zaziski is tenth best nationally on bars, the Tide’s Kiana Winston is 12th best. The Wolverines have two ranked all around gymnasts: Nicole Artz is 13th, Olivia Karas is 23rd. Bama’s Winston is 4th.
Let’s hope the Tide gymnasts whoop up on Michigan like their football counterparts!