Gymnastics

WGYM Liveblog: SEC Championships Session 1

Y’all ready for some SEC action? The Gators are actually in session two, but we’ll want to keep an eye on what happens in the first session, as the results of the meet are combined from both sessions. It’s unlikely that any of the teams here will factor into the team title race, but there are a few individuals to keep your eye on in the individual races. Here’s a list of the routines you won’t want to miss.

Alabama has had its share of ups and down this year, and it’s been relegated to this afternoon session for the first time since the inception of this format, but it still stands as the top-ranked team in the session. Ariana Guerra has stepped up her game massively in her senior season, competing a Y1.5 and a double layout on floor and earning 9.9+ on all three events she competes. Lexi Graber has also been a force to be reckoned with, showcasing her aggressive attack on beam and electric performance on floor. And former World medalist Shallon Olsen has found her college groove, showing off her Yurchenko double full on vault and difficult tumbling on floor. Whatever the team outcome today, those three are going to be key to watch, not just for event titles, but as markers for how the team is faring as a whole. Without those key scores, Alabama may not have enough depth to contend with anyone in the night session.

Auburn is seeded second here after an incredible bounce-back season. The orange and blue Tigers boast three Y1.5s and more E passes than they’ve had in years, and they’re ranked No. 7 in the nation on bars. Watch out for Derrian Gobourne, who’s held the title of Freshman of the Week a number of times this year and can thrill on all four events with her dynamic extension and flexibility in addition to her high difficulty level. Abby Milliet also returns for her redshirt season this year, leading the team on bars, beam and floor. And sophomore Drew Watson is back after qualifying to nationals as an individual last year, ready for another spectacular postseason run. Expect these three to lead scoring for the Tigers, and don’t forget about Gracie Day, whose floor routine is absolutely electric.

Missouri is seeded third, having had a rollercoaster year of its own, especially after injuries have limited several gymnasts, including senior vault and beam anchor Britney Ward. Still, Aspen Tucker and Morgan Porter have been crucial to the scoring for the black and gold Tigers, anchoring floor as a powerful duo of difficulty and trading off in all-around duties. Also keep an eye on Frances Bidwill, a recent addition to lineups who burst onto the scene with 9.825s or higher the last three weeks on vault.

Arkansas hasn’t had the season it might have hoped for, but the Razorbacks still have bright spots that refuse to be diminished. Jessica Yamzon is the solid rock of the squad, leading off every single event and setting the tone for each rotation. Kennedy Hambrick, Katarina Derrick and Amanda Elswick all struggled with injury in the early part of the season, but each has come back in a major way to help their team. And don’t forget about Sophia Carter, whose ability to draw in a crowd and elegant lines have led her to rank in the Top 10 on floor in the country.

3:06pm CT: Becker went on UB before the announcer said that judges could take control of their events? But she hit, that’s about all I got for you.

Yamzon, FX: Passes have been hits so far, front lay front full to close. A solid start.

I literally can’t see beam, guys. I’m sorry I won’t have much of that in here for you, I’ll do my best.

Desch, VT: FTY, pretty standard. We’ll see how this sets the tone for fulls as a whole.

3:07pm: Armbrecht, VT: FTY stuck cold! Damn.

Watson, UB: Release, good. Bail is fine. Final handstand short. Full in super floaty, college salutes herself into a step afterward.

Nicholson, BB: Beat to split half, nice. Cartwheel, gainer full stick! A hit.

3:09pm: Mahoney, VT: FTY, a little short, went too hard for the stick and bounced forward a little.

Krippner, UB: Maloney to bail is fine, little leg seps in there. Tries for the stick but can’t really mask it.

Gaskins, VT: FTY, sticks it! Alabama is on tonight.

Hambrick, FX: Double tuck to open, solid. Missed pass 2 I think. She’s having a little trouble letting loose in her dance. Double pike to close, another solid one for Arkansas.

3:11pm: Olsen, VT: DTY, replay shows sliiiiight adjustment but looked stuck in real time.

Gobourne, UB: Tkachev great, transition fine… missed the dismount because of Olsen. Sorry y’all, four on the floor is a lot, haven’t done this in a while.

Gottula just tuck her gainer full on beam.

3:13pm: Graber, VT: Y1.5, little hop forward.

Elswick, FX: Double arabian to open! A little bouncy on the landing but nice otherwise. Her dance is really fun, I think the team is starting to loosen her up. 1.5 to front lay to front pike (I think) to close, nice! Glad to see her up and competing again.

Cerio, UB: piked Jaeger is a beauty, transitions fine. Double back hop forward on the landing.

3:15pm: Day, UB: Handstands lovely so far, Jaeger to overshoot is soooo energetic it’s almost to handstand. Double arabian dismount and she just has tooooo much power, she has to roll out of it on the floor.

Porter just had a hop out of her 1.5 beam dismount.

3:17pm: McGlone, FX: DLO to open, yes! So great to see her so strong again. Double tuck, big bounce back… couldn’t tell if she went OOB or not, she came really close. FRont full to front lay to close. So much fire in that routine, I loved it!

Kelly, BB: I didn’t even notice she started, that’s how far from beam I am. Front aerial to one-arm bhs, good. Straddle to sheep is good. Punch front full to finish, think she stuck it!

3:18pm: Ward, BB: Yes, I’m so glad she’s competing this week! Bhs loso and breaks at the hips, no! But she stays on. Hitchkick side aerial, good. Gainer pike off the end to close, stick! A shame about the series though.

Shaffer, FX: I love the drama she brings to the floor. Double arabian, super open, lands a little bit too forward but keeps the landing under control. Double back second pass. Front full front lay to close, brings it all the way to the line but stayed in I think.

3:22pm: Carter, FX: Double tuck, a little short, went too hard for the stick I think. 1.5 to front full, good control out of the front landing. She is sooo elegant, her balletic carriage throughout her dance is a thing of beauty. Double pike to finish, looked like a two foot stick from here! Replay shows it was her post-pass salute that shifted her back slightly.

Wow, okay. I will get better as we go, I promise.

AFTER ONE: Arkansas 49.275, Alabama 49.225, Missouri 49.125, Auburn 49.050. 

Arkansas just barely leads Bama, and the fall from Day takes Auburn out of contention quite a bit. Still, anything can happen, there’s still three more rotations to go.

Graber leads vault at 9.9, Gobourne bars at 9.85, Gottula beam at 9.875, and McGlone floor at 9.875.

3:32pm: Bower, FX: Double back to close, a good lead off overall, though I missed the first two passes.

Yamzon, VT: FTY, step back.

Dickson, UB: Missed the first skills. Tkachev is lovely and floaty. DLO, nice!

Watson, BB: Missed the routine, but she sticks her 1.5 and it’s clearly a hit by the team’s celebration!

3:34pm: Pennese, VT: FTY, hop back.

Graber, UB: Lovely first handstand, pirouette right on top of the bar, beautiful! Missed her release somehow? Bail is dead on. Sticks her full in! Wow.

Gobourne, BB: Fumbles on her switch to split, may lose the connection there? Side aerial to back full. Missed the series.

Nicholson, FX: 1.5 to front lay, good control out of it. Rudi to finish, another hit! She’s a fun one.

3:35pm: Shaffer, VT: Yhalf, big hop forward.

Childers, UB: Maloney to bail, a little leg sep but pretty good. Half in double back, legs staggered but sticks!

Hambrick, VT: Completely missed this, sorry. A hit, from the cheers.

3:38pm: McGLone, VT: FTY, slide back.

Guerra, UB: Super aggressive on first handstand, goes too big on her Jaeger and eats mat, yikes. Transition is fine. DLO stuck! Shame, that would’ve been good otherwise

Turner, FX: Double pike to open, awesome control. Good to see her back in this lineup. Combo pass is good, missed the exact twists.

Riddle, BB: fumbles on her series landing but covers with dance, in time with the arena music. Ha! Leaps are good. Cat leap side aerial back full, good!

Elswick, VT: Y1.5, little step. Good for her!

3:41pm: Gottula, FX: double pike to open, nice. Missed her second pass figuring out what’s going with Bama. I feel like not a lot happens in this choreo? It feels like she’s moving from pose to pose. Double tuck to close, solid.

Mahoney, UB: Bail, straight on. Tkachev, good height but doesn’t travel as far away from the bar as I’d like. Full in is stuck!

Sheppard, BB: Side aerial, so solid. Cat leap to switch side, nice. Full turn, such finesse there. Really showing the personality in her choreography. 1.5 dismount stuck! Another hit for Auburn!

3:43pm: Tucker, FX: Love this girl. Full in, so much power she has to lean back. Doesn’t quite keep the front foot on the floor though, whoops. Combo pass was fine. Random front tuck to satisfy front tumbling. Double pike to close, solid.

Gaskins, UB: Maloney to pak, little leg sep. DLO, big knee bend and has to hop forward.

3:35pm: Milliet, BB: Punch front mount, yes! Dead on. Bhs loso, steady. She’s such a showwoman on this apparatus. Ooh, I jinxed her, little bobble on her jump series. Cat leap to gainer full, stuck! Good for her.

Porter, FX: Double pike with a two-foot stick! That’s how you open a routine. I feel like her walks have so little energy though, the routine has to have energy in the dance too, not just tumbling. Combo pass is fine, 1.5 to front pike I think. Ahh, here’s the energy in choreography. The drama amps here with the percussion. Double tuck, a little short and chest low, has to step forward.

3:39pm: Sylvia, BB: Front aerial to rulfova, doesn’t really make it all the way around but makes it work somehow. Stag to switch half. Cartwheel to gainer full, swims for the stick and holds it.

AFTER TWO: Alabama 98.425, Missouri 98.375, Arkansas 98.225, Auburn 98.000

Alabama retakes its rightful place, though only by half a tenth. Missouri overtakes Arkansas for second after a stellar floor rotation, and Arkansas had a middling round at vault after some landing difficulties. Auburn’s not having the meet they’d have hoped for, especially not Gobourne, but we still have half a meet left – crazier things have happened.

Graber’s lead on vault holds at 9.9, but Elswick ties her with a very similar Y1.5. Graber and Mahoney tie for the new lead on bars at 9.875. Gottula’s lead holds on beam at 9.875, and she and Tucker will tie McGlone for the lead on floor, also a 9.875.

In the third rotation, Alabama will head to beam, Auburn to floor, Missouri to vault, and Arkansas to bars.

3:58pm: Slappey, FX: Front lay to Rudi, nice! Good to see her back in action, she missed much of the first part of season. Waiting a long time in the corner before final pass, double tuck and it’s good.

Christensen, VT: FTY, slide back.

Yamzon, UB: Tkachev is solid. Bail straight on, good. Sounds like she stuck her dismount!

McCrary, VT: Heavily braced FTY, slide back. At least she’s still competing?

4:00pm: Klopfer, BB: Cat leap to side aerial to back full, clearly she hit but I missed almost all of it. Stuck dismount though!

Gottula, VT: FTY, swims for the stick and gets it. Little off to the side though.

Laird, UB: Tkachev and falls right away. Woof. Remounts, bail is fine. Short last handstand, DLO, small adjustment.

Sheppard, FX: Triple full, gorgeous! A little crossy in the legs though. Showing off her sass and flexibility here in the choreography. Missed the last pass but it was a hit.

Olsen, BB: Series lovely, super steady. She’s very deliberate through her choreography, taking her time. Front aerial strong. Bhs bhs double pike, stuck! That’s huge.

Tucker, VT: FTY good dynamics, don’t think it was stuck though.

4:03pm: Porter, VT: FTY, slide back.

Hambrick, UB: Jaeger to overshoot, nice! Lots of power there. Dismount looked like a small adjustment.

Watson, FX: Double arabian and she sits, rolls back out of it. She needs to find a way to get consistent on that, or they need to take it out. Double tuck is good, lots of dramatic choreo in here. Combo pass is fine.

Bidwill, VT: Y1.5 the materialized halfway through the season and nails it! Step forward.

Childers, BB: Series great! She’s feeding off the music from Watson’s routine. Roundoff 1.5, stutter step forward. Another hit.

4:06pm: Totally missed Garner on bars, but the crowd roared, so I’m assuming a hit.

Shaffer, UB: First handstand might’ve been a little short. Maloney to bail is great, legs glued together. Last handstand short. DLO stuck cold! Another good one for Arkansas.

Armbrecht, BB: Front aerial to beat, nice. Series super steady. Leap series, small bobble but covers well. Another one on her sheep. Double full dismount, bounce back.

Gobourne, FX: Dang watching her and Armbrecht at the same time is hard. Hits opening pass. Combo pas,s takes it straight to the line but stays in. Double pike to close, perfect control, pops into the lunge because she can. Such a great routine.

4:09pm: Burton, UB: Transition was fine, missed the release. DLO, step back on dismount.

Gaskins, BB: Candle mount, love it! For anyone who hasn’t seen it, she stands a springboard facing away from the beam and basically does a back layout into grabbing the beam. It’s kinda scary but really fun. Acro so far has been fine. Series super secure. Switch to split, gorgeous extension. Gainer full, hop forward.

Milliet, FX: Front lay to Rudi was great! Double pike a little skiddy in the landing but keeps it small. Her extension and choreo are so gorgeous, I just love watching her dance. Illusion turns were made for her. 1.5 to front lay, goes all the way to the line but doesn’t go out.

4:13pm: Graber, BB: Bhs 2ft layout, locks it down. Switch to straddle 3/4, solid. Front toss to scale, crowd goes crazy, and then sticks her dismount, even crazier!

Cerio, FX: Double pike to open, nice! 1.5 to front lay to wolf jump, ooooh that’s fun. Rudi to finish, this looks so much better than when they were at Florida. She’s been out of the lineup a few weeks, but I see why they put her back in!

AFTER THREE: Alabama 147.875, Arkansas 147.325, Auburn 147.250, Missouri 147.050. 

Alabama setting themselves apart from this group with that beam rotation, wow. Olsen and Graber were spectacular, I really don’t mind those scores. Missouri had a roughhh vault rotation, having to count four scores below 9.8, causing them to fall into last.

Graber and Elswick will keep the lead on vault, Shaffer takes the lead on bars at 9.9,  Graber sets a high bar at 9.95 on beam, and Gobourne sets the new mark on floor at 9.9.

4:23pm CT: Becker, VT: FTY, boucne back.

Tucker, UB: Jaeger, very nice. Bail, she just collapses, but stays on the bar somehow?? Girl. Double back, stuck.

Desch, FX: Double pike to open, one of her better ones. Marathon combo pass, cute, keeps control the whole way through. The music is really low compared to previous rotations? Weird. Double tuck to close, popped her chest up on the landing.

Yamzon hit to open beam for Arkansas.

4:25pm: Krippner, VT: FTY, slide to the side, she was a little short.

Kelly, UB: Jaeger was huge, DLO dismount good. Missed the transition.

Hambrick, BB: Another hit, missed most of it but I did see a bobble on a dance element

4:26pm: Day, VT: Y1.5, she hits! Slide back as she came in a little short though.

Olsen, FX: Double double, came super close but kept it in. Front tuck through to double back, a little short but covers. Double pike to close, a little low chest, but overall a solid one.

Christensen, UB: Bail floppy, not quite locked into a handstand. Team cheers like she stuck it.

Gobourne, VT: Y1.5, swims for the stick and gets it! Wow!

4:29pm: Elswick, BB: Roundoff double full, stuck! Another big hit for Arkansas.

Schugel, UB: Piked Jaeger to overshoot, so dynamic. Double back stuck! Great to see her fighting for her last season.

Watson, VT: Y1.5, little slide back.

4:30pm: Mahoney, FX: Last minute lineup change, thanks Dana… Double back to open, solid. Front full to front lay, jumps out of it, but somehow makes it choreography? Double pike to finish, nice.

Carter, BB: Off on series, dang. Her beam is normally so solid. Front aerial is fine. Slide back on dismount.

Porter, UB: Jaeger is nice, bail straight on. Missed the dismount but she hit.

EDIT: This was Glenn, VT: FTY, so big, slides back. Score build may work in her favor, but we’ll see if the judges here are falling for that.

4:33pm: Armbrecht, FX: Double pike to open, no E pass tonight.

Derrick, BB: Front toss, little bobble but keeps it small. Leap series is good, nice extension. Random cat leap thrown in? Gainer full dismount. Gets a hug and looks unhappy, maybe I missed something on her series. Yeah, 9.65, missed something somewhere.

Bidwill, UB: Missed most of this but sticks her DLO dismount! Definitely a hit. Combo pass straight to choreography, lovely. Rudi to double stag, big air. Another hit for Bama. They pulled Gaskins apparently? Wonder what’s up, maybe still sick.

4:36pm: Graber, FX: Full in to open, great control. She’s lighting this place up, everyone is bopping around with her. Combo pass, dances straight out of it, nice. Double pike to close, just lays it back into the lunge nice and sloooow. That’ll be another great one for her, what a night she’s had!

Burton, BB: Front aerial, good. Bhs loso, super steady! Taking it super slow. Leap series, little bouncey but covers it. Gainer full dismount, can’t see the landing from here.

4:39pm: Guerra, FX: Last one of the session, performing by herself. Yes. Bringing the drama already. Double layout, gorgeous. 1.5 to front lay, one step out and brings her foot right to passe. Her face is so expressive through this whole section, what great performance quality. Double pike to close and she just lays it back. Alabama really pulled it out here in the last two events.

FINAL SCORES, SESSION ONE: Alabama 197.350, Arkansas 196.475, Auburn 196.375, Missouri 195.900

Going into session two, Alabama has set a decent bar to clear, but all four teams should expect to at least break 197, so it’s doubtful it will be too hard to surpass. The harder hurdles to clear for gymnasts in session two will be the individual title marks – 9.9 for Graber, Elswick and Gobourne; 9.9 for Shaffer on bars, Graber 9.95 on beam, and Graber and Guerra at 9.925 for floor. Graber will come in for the AA title at 39.65, which will be a difficult mark to pass, even for AA stalwarts like Finnegan and Boren.

Former Alabama head coach Sarah Patterson caught on camera with former rival head coach and current Georgia VAC Suzanne Yoculan – wonder how she feels about Alabama’s performance tonight!

Okay, time for warmups for session two. I’m gonna take a break and then I’ll be back on a separate post for you guys!

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