It has already been a wild day of competition across the nation, as four NCAA Regional meets convene to narrow the field from the top 36 teams in the country to the top eight.
Tonight, we’ll follow our Gators as they compete in the second session of Round Two in Auburn, where Kentucky and Auburn have already punched their tickets to the regional final.
Florida will face off against No. 15 Denver, No. 17 Ohio State, and No. 28 Iowa State, and must finish in the top two to advance to the regional final. The Gators will start on floor, one of their strongest events, so you’ll know they’re in good shape if they have a strong lead after rotation one.
While it should be pretty straightforward for Florida to qualify to the regional final, stranger things have happened today. LSU did not advance out of its round two competition, counting a fall on beam and allowing Iowa and Missouri to overtake it to qualify instead. The Tigers counted a fall on beam, with typically rock-steady Christina Desiderio falling in the lead-off position as they began the final rotation. LSU let the pressure get the best of them, and if they want to qualify, the Gators cannot let it happen to them.
The good news is that Florida has been there before. Many of these athletes – the seniors and 5th years – know what it feels like to not qualify to nationals as a team in this format, and that knowledge will motivate them to ensure it doesn’t happen again. This team shouldn’t have to do much, though; a normal performance will easily take this team to the regional final and hopefully beyond.
They’ll take that first step toward qualification tonight at 8pm, which will be broadcast on ESPN+, but if you don’t have access or can’t make it to a streaming device, we will have every moment here play by play.
7:37pm: It has been a surprising day of competition y’all!
Advancing to regional finals so far are the following teams:
LSU just missed out, as previously mentioned, and Kentucky leapfrogged Auburn to qualify in first despite being the second seed. Michigan State qualified over Washington, despite Washington having one of its best meets of the season with a 197.175, the highest score so far of any team that did not qualify.
The Raleigh regional is currently ongoing, with Michigan and UCLA the current top two. UCLA actually lead Michigan for the moment, but the Bruins are about to go to the ever-treacherous beam while Michigan heads to bars, where they’re ranked No. 4 in the nation.
8:00pm: We’re getting the intro now!
Ashley Miles Grieg commentating tonight, love to see that. And these new Florida leos! Very exciting.
Skaggs, FX: Rudi to stag jump, little wild in the air. Dance series looked solid. Combo pass, single step forward, close to the line but stays in. A solid start!
Iwai, Denver VT: Yfull, little bounce back.
8:05: Steinmeyer, ISU BB: Front toss to beat jump, nice. Series is clean. Switch to straddle 1/4, definitely short of 180. Roundoff 1.5, little adjustment.
Denver a little short on vault, not sure who it was.
Richards, FX: DLO, pops it out into a lunge, but Miles is right, a little forward on the landing. 1.5 to front tuck, that was supposed to be laid out… may get hit on start value there.
8:09pm: Hankins, OSU UB: Solid release skills. Short on last handstand. DLO stuck!
Baumann, FX: 1.5 to front full, well controlled, one of her better ones this season. Turn sequence is fine. Leap combo is lovely! Double pike to close, control is good, height is solid. That’s the way to reset!
Denver finishes with a 9.425 on vault, I didn’t quite see what happened. Think that was Moravansky who did a nice Yfull just now, almost a little flare on the landing.
Wong, FX: Triple full just flies, gorgeous. Leap series is lovely. Combo pass, still no stag, I think that’s a permanent change, and the right one. Finishes with a solid double pike!
Mara Titarsolej just hit a solid bars routine as an individual for LIU! Love to see her out here.
8:15pm: Thomas, FX: DLO is awesome as usual. Triple dance series, that’s where she’s getting the extra bonus to only do two passes I believe. Combo pass, great control, slow single step forward. She looks PUMPED!
Blakely, FX: Double arabian, keeps that landing under control. Double tuck, solid. Combo pass is clean to finish. The team is stoked – as they should be, as Blakely’s routine was excellent and Thomas got a perfect 10.0!!
DeMers, CMU indvidual BB: Ooh, fun straddle jump mount over the beam to front support. Series, little stutter but stays on. Switch to split, maybe a little shy of 180 there. A 9.85, good for her!
AFTER ONE: UF 49.7, OSU 49.4, ISU 49.15, DU 49.0
8:30pm: Edwards, VT: Reed is out this week – no word on why yet, but Edwards steps in. Yfull, underdoes it, tries too hard for the stick.
Hit beam for OSU.
Boychuk, ISU FX: Hit first two passes. Double tuck to close is solid!
Skaggs, VT: Yfull, nice in the air, bounce back. Better, but not lights out. That’s okay, they need more gas in the tank for Saturday.
Schoenherr, VT: Y1.5, sits it! Oh yikes. Worried about that foot like last year.
Cooke, FX: Front double full, somehow muscles a stag jump out of that but very awkward. Performing the heck out of this choreo, love to see that. Hit last pass.
Wong, VT: Podkopayeva – Yhalf on, pike half off – not as big as she’s done, bounce back. No landings really yet.
8:33pm: Casali hit bars for Denver, and so did Ruiz before her.
Thomas, VT: Y1.5, small hop forward. Great amplitude as usual.
Orrego, FX: Double tuck to open, solid start. 1.5 to front lay, great control out of that. Really working this floor choreo section. Double pike to finish, nice! A great routine for her.
Chloi Clark in for Blakely on VT: Yfull, bounce back. Looked pretty good in the air.
8:36pm: Mundell, UB: Gorgeous Tkachev! Bail is right on. DLO is a little piked in the hips but stuck!
Parker, FX: Double pike to open, solid. Short on one of her leaps but lovely presentation. Front tuck through to double tuck, good control there.
Thompson, UB: Good first handstand. Piked jaeger lacked a little amplitude, a little floppy on the bail. DLO, step forward.
8:40pm: Loyim, FX: Dance series looks good. Double tuck, crashes that to her hands as well.
Warga anchors OSU on BB with a hit!
Diab, FX: Front double full to front layout! Wow, that’s so hard to do in combination, sooooo high. Front full front lay to stag jump, super clean form through there and she really floats through the second element. Rudi to loso to finish, and it’s a BEAUTY. What a champ! Man, I would love to have seen that routine more often this season, Big 12 is just so hard to watch because of broadcast access.
8:45pm: DeMers, CMU indiv FX: front double full to open, which is just gorgeous, very well controlled. Double pike gets a ton of air but a little wild, front foot slides back a ways. Leap series is snappy and aggressive. Front lay to Rudi to finish and she’s LEAPING into the air for joy, she’s so pumped for herself. Good for her, that’ll be huge.
AFTER TWO: UF 98.8, OSU 98.5, ISU 98.35, DU 98.325
Some updates for you before we start the third rotation in Auburn – Reed’s rest tonight is purely precautionary, and UCLA does indeed qualify ahead of Michigan, the reigning national champions! No small feat.
8:55pm: Rotation 3!
Blakely, UB: Hit releases but double front dismount takes several steps forward? That’s unusual for her.
Ruiz hits beam to open for Denver, culminating in a stuck gainer pike.
McCusker, UB: Great handstand to open. Maloney to pak is gorgeous. Solid handstand there, van Leeuwen looked good. Stalder to double tuck dismount, just a step back. Very nice!
Boychuk, VT: Stuck her Yfull! Very nice. Commentator is confused, thinks she’s Loyim.
Bobble from Mabanta on beam, but stays on.
Schoenherr, UB: Great opening handstand. Jaeger is gorgeous! Handstands after are good. Bail is dead on! Great final handstand. Double front half out, just a little adjustment, but what a comeback for her!
8:59pm: Gagliardi, OSU FX: Obsessed with this routine, I saw it at Big 10s and couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it yet. It’s a dance through the movies, and she’s nailed every pass so far. Final pass is a double pike, STUCK! What a routine!
Skaggs, UB: Lovely opening handstand. Tkachev to pak is great! Great last handstands. DLO, legs do come apart but sticks the landing! Love to see it.
Steinmeyer of ISU came up short, sat her vault. Maxwell hit though, so they should be able to drop that fall.
Thomas, UB: Low bar handstand is solid. Maloney to pak, came a little close but saved it without a single thought. van Leeuwen is good. STUCK her DLO, wow!
9:03pm: Wong, UB: Maloney to pak, little leg sep. van Leeuwen looks good. DLO is stuck as well! Thomas apparently got a 10 despite her adjustment on her pak, we’ll see what they do for Wong??
Edwards, FX: Huge double pike to open, very nice. Combo pass, bounds forward but stays in bounds somehow. Leaps are gorgeous, nice oversplits. Double tuck tof inish, nails it.
Hutchinson, BB: Switch to split, hard to see angles from here but maybe a little shy of 180? Front toss is very nice. Stuck dismount! Denver is not giving up without a fight!
Hlavach, FX: Toxic for her music, obsessed. Piked full in to start! Wow! Combo pass, well controlled out of that. Dance passage is solid, some flexed feet toward the end. Double tuck to close, great amplitude.
Mundell, BB: Series, little arm swings but she stays on. Switch, has to break in her dance series but adds a beat jump after to keep her compositional requirement, smart girl. Roundoff 1.5 dismount, step forward.
9:10pm: Grimes, FX: Hit opening passes. Dance series looked clean, hit 180 positions just fine. Double tuck to close, a little short, had to step forward instead of back.
AFTER THREE: UF 148.45, DU 147.625, OSU 147.625, ISU 147.45
Denver and Ohio State tied going into the final rotation! This is really coming down to the wire, y’all!
9:20pm: Rotation 4! Here we go!
Ohio State had Ricciardi lead off with a strong Yfull.
Skaggs, BB: Switch to split, looks a little tight, but might just be the camera angle. Bhs loso, little lean to the side but snaps her arms down and does not wobble. Front aerial, perfection. Side aerial back full is stuck!! What a start for this beam team!
Iwai, Denver, FX: Really selling this routine! Hit all passes so far. Double tuck to close, well done! A good start for the Pios.
Edwards, VT: Yfull, great amplitude, looked stuck to me! She’s from my hometown too.
9:23pm: Ruiz, FX: Front tuck through to double tuck, strong start. Dance series looks clean. Double pike to finish, big lunge back but I think her front foot stayed planted.
Blakley, BB: Front aerial to bhs is solid. Switch to switch half, some flex in that back foot. Side aerial back full is stuck!
Hlavach, VT: Yfull on, layout half off I think? That’s a unique vault, like to see it. Bouncy on the landing though.
Mabanta, FX: 1.5 to front lay, solid out of that. Front lay to Rudi, solid finish. Another one in the bag for Denver, we’ll see how things progress now that Ohio State is in the clubhouse on vault.
Baumann, BB: Bhs loso, dead on! Switch to split, nicely done. Front aerial to beat, glorious. She’s really attacking this. Side aerial, great. Roundoff 1.5, leans to keep it stuck! What a star.
A 196.925 is what Denver needs to beat in order to advance past Ohio State.
Big stuck dismount for Iowa State! That was Basuel.
Wong, BB: Bhs loso, lovely. Switch ring, impossible to tell angle from here. Front aerial looked great. Double full dismount, fights to stay put and I think she gets it?
Mundell, FX: Great double pike to open, leap series looks good. Front lay front full, nice and clean. Rudi to finish, really selling the ending choreo.
Orrego steps forward on her bars dismount – won’t be enough for Iowa State, but they really put up a fight tonight, wow.
9:30pm: Thomas, BB: Mount sequence is great. Bhs loso, dead on. Front aerial to beat to korbut is great. Stuck dismount!
Thompson, FX: Classic rock routine in here, this is fun. Hit first two passes. Rudi to close is a little wild, bounces around on the landing.
9:33pm: Hutchinson, FX: Front double full to open, that’s gorgeous, super clean and controlled. Lovely combination pass, her twisting is really clean, love to see that. Dance series looks good. Final pass was a hit, but it’s already done – Denver will qualify to the regional final!
Clapper, BB: Bhs loso loso, locks it down! Switch to split, good positions on that. Sticks her dismount!
Final routine in the building belongs to Central Michigan’s Sierra Demarinis. Combo pass is gorgeous, nice and floaty into the second element. Double pike to finish, almost gets the two foot stick but just lays it back into the lunge. Great to see her killing it out there.
FINAL: UF 198.125, DU 197.025, OSU 196.925, ISU 196.725
Tomorrow, the Gators and Pios will face Kentucky and Auburn. It’s nothing the Gators haven’t seen before though – they’ve now beaten all of these teams at least once this season, so all they have to do is be normal again and they should make it through.
Individual qualifiers to nationals will all depend on which two teams qualify on Saturday night, but Elexis Edwards puts herself in an excellent position to do so by winning the vault title today, tying with Kentucky’s Raena Worley. Thomas, of course, wins bars and floor, and shares the beam title with Auburn’s Sunisa Lee. She also wins the all-around with a MASSIVE 39.875, breaking the season AA record (that also belonged to her).
We’ll see you back here for the Regional Finals on Saturday night at 6pm ET! Don’t be late!