It's regionals time, and we finally know which teams will be up for spots in each subdivision at the national championships. Things are a bit more clear now with regionals teams and seeding decided, but it's still a little too early to predict the Super Six teams. So, as always, we're doing it anyway.
Like before, we've brought in some of the gymternet's most well-known personalities to take a look at how fall training went for teams and judge which teams might be competing the final night of the season and which might be taking home the top prize. Now to reintroduce you to our pickers... Lauren from The Gymternet, Spencer from The Balance Beam Situation and Elizabeth from NCAA Gym News.
And finally, if you'd like to play along, enter our 2016 NCAA gymnastics bracket challenge. You have until Friday at 7 p.m. ET to submit your picks. So without further ado, here are our "A Little Too Early Super Six Predictions".
In our third regional analysis, we're taking a look at the teams heading to Minneapolis. Learn more about the matchups, who has the best chances of advancing and if your picks in the 2016 NCAA gymnastics bracket challenge were smart.
Similar to Oklahoma, Florida should sail through this regional. Even if Bridget Sloan continues to struggle and be so un-Bridget Sloan-like, the Gators will easily advance. However, Sloan does need to figure herself out. She can't be falling all over the place one week and then hit a 10 the next. Consistency is the watchword, Bridget. Especially when it comes to nationals and your team is counting on your for a big score to win a fourth title.
Anyway, on to the real excitement of the meet. Denver has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. And Minnesota has come on strong as of late. However, both of the Gophers' 197s have bee suspect (one at Air Force and the other at the Big Five meet). And with the next highest score being nearly seven tenths lower, you know something's probably up. There's also the fact that Minnesota will be competing at home but the Gophers best scores have come on the road.
Denver, on the other hand, has been a big more consistent. There is that one high score in the mid-197s but the others seemed to build as the season went on. Hitting a high 196 or low 197 like the Pioneers are capable of should be enough to win as long as the scores stay sane and not Big Five-y. We're counting on you, judges, to not give 10s for routines with wobbles.
Denver is strong on floor and has a slight edge on bars while Minnesota is a beam team. Both teams will have to hit their strengths and out out of their weaknesses without doing too much damage to win. Lindsay Mable can't have one of her, let me fall on one event and break everyone's hearts days if the Gophers want a chance. Nina McGee needs her backup singers to step into leading lady roles as well. Either way, it's shaping up to be an exciting competition. The teams are sort of rivals this season with Denver winning one by a lot and Minnesota winning one by a hair. This will break that irrelevant tie. Watch out for Missouri as well. If both Minnesota and Denver are having one of their just OK days and the Tigers one of their is it 2010 days, this could become a three-way race.
As for individuals, either Lindsay Mable or Nina McGee should (read: must) go to nationals depending on which team qualifies and which doesn't. Nordquist is a contender for a beam event specialist spot and Morgan Porter and/or Shauna Miller form Missouri are also all around contenders. Britney Ward is a possible event specialist on vault and beam if she hit of of her 9.925s on the events, but she still has to beat out or tie the Florida gymnasts to make the trip to Texas — a tall order. Let's just hope Mable doesn't have one of her fall days, Minnesota doesn't make it to nationals and Mable doesn't go as an individual either. That would be a sad day for everyone. If something happens and none of those individual make it in the all around, Iowa State's Haylee Young is another strong contender.
The second round of our NCAA regionals analyses brings you the Iowa City regional and its teams' chances of qualifying full squads and individuals to nationals. Learn more information about the matchups, who has the best chances of making the national championships and if your picks in the 2016 NCAA gymnastics bracket challenge were smart or not.
Oklahoma will qualify without any trouble. It would take a 500 pound gorilla taking up residence on the vault runway for the Sooners not to make it to Fort Worth but even then they would probably find a way to still win the meet by a point. The real competition will come down to which team out of Nebraska and Arkansas will advance.
It's really a toss up at this point. Nebraska has the higher scoring potential and has been coming on stronger these past few weeks. However, Arkansas has been the more consistent team. The Huskers are more prone to mistakes and how they do relies heavily on whether or not its big guns are healthy or even if its backups are healthy. Nebraska always seems to have small rosters and injuries — two things that don't exactly go swimmingly together. If both teams hit with all members healthy and actually competing, Nebraska will most likely advance, but if someone's out or there are smaller mishaps here and there, Arkansas can take the technical upset.
Iowa is also dangerous, especially since it's in Iowa City. Despite the fact that Iowa's been stronger on the road, Iowa has impressed this year. The Hawkeyes are able to put up mid-196 scores and can challenge both Nebraska and Arkansas on a good day. While the duo will probably need to at least have some smaller mistakes across the board that add up for Iowa to advance, it can happen. Meanwhile, Kent State and Central Michigan will mainly be focusing on not finishing last and finishing their 2016 season on a high note.
As for the individual qualifiers, it'll really come down to which team doesn't qualify. Nebraska has a ton of all arounders, so if Arkasnas moves on, it'll surely be two of the Huskers' four that make the trip. Arkansas only really has Amanda Wellick, which makes way for Iowa's Mollie Drenth, Allie Glover or Angel Metcalf to move on as well. However, Those Hawkeyes can also challenge the Husker four-eventers if it comes to that.
Starting with Athens, we'll be previewing and analyzing all six regionals leading up to Super Saturday on April 2. Learn more information about the matchups, who has the best chances of advancing and if your picks in the 2016 NCAA gymnastics bracket challenge were smart.
This regional will be all about beam. The top two seeds have had struggles on the event in 2016 while those fighting for the upset have been pretty consistent. LSU has had less trouble than the others. It was really only during the beginning of the season but the Tigers have hit above 49 the past seven meets in a row. The real question mark is Georgia on the event. The Gymdogs have stayed on for at least five routines the past four meets, but are still a team you want to shut your eyes during the beam rotation for and pray for it to end quick and easy.
The outcome of the meet will have two outcomes. If Georgia hits beam, it and LSU will advance to nationals. If Georgia has trouble on beam, things will get really interesting, really fast. Oregon State is a beam team. Both Maddie Gardiner and Risa Perez earned 9.95s on the event lat weekend at the Pac-12 Championships and Kaytianna McMillan is capable of big numbers as well. The Beavers need to capitalize on this event if they want any chance at upsetting Georgia or LSU and qualifying to nationals again. Arizona and George Washington are also not half-bad beam teams or upset contenders either. However, it will take more than a mistake here or there to make the trip to Fort Worth.
And while it doesn't matter who finishes first or second, don't forget Georgia already beat LSU at home once this season. it was early on, and both teams are much better than they were then, but it's still something to keep in mind. Georgia's also at home. And a Gymdog squad competing in front of its home crowd in Athens is deadly.
Starting on beam, we'll get a good idea where Georgia will stand going through the remaining five rotations. If Georgia hits, it's almost smooth sailing from then. But if it falters, fans will have to pay more attention to that race for the second qualifying spot. Not to mention it'll make the meet that much more exciting to watch.
But it's not just teams that qualify to nationals out of this competition. Two individual all around spots to gymnasts not on a qualifying team advance as well as any individuals not on a qualifying team that finish first on an event. If Oregon State is the odd-team out, Maddie Gardiner will almost certainly qualify in the all around. Arizona doesn't have any consistent four-event gymnasts, so other contenders include EAGL all-around champion and Gymnast of the Year Jillian Winstanley and 2015 nationals qualifier Cami Drouin-Allaire from George Washington and Lisa Burt from Michigan State. All four gymnasts have a great chance of making it to Fort Worth.
If Gardiner doesn't qualify as an all arounder, she could make it as an event specialist on beam. McMillan is also great at bars and beam and Winstanley and Drouin-Allaire as well as Chelsea Raineri are rocks on vault. But typically, for event specialists, it comes down on who is on that day and most of the time no individuals on a non-qualifying team make it to nationals as those that send teams have individuals winning the various events. There's also Morgan Lane who's gorgeous on beam and even scored a 9.95 on the event at Florida earlier this season. If she hits her usual, she could make the trip to Fort Worth.
Many teams debuted beautiful new leotards for the first postseason meet of the year. With so many lovely options to judge, who knows which one we loved the most! This week, we’re joined by Gabrielle, who will be filling in for Casey while he’s in China! As always, you might not agree with our opinions, so let us know what you thought about this weekend’s leotards in the comments or on Twitter. And did we miss one you loved? Let us know!
Days until the 2017 National Championships