Pac-12 Chalk Chatter: Previews, recaps and current rankings

As the new rankings were released this week on the Road to Nationals, there are now four Pac-12 teams ranked among the top ten. As everyone makes the final push towards the end of the regular season, things have been heating up on the competition floor as the girls start to zone in on the little things like execution of their routines. With the Pac-12 Championships less than three weeks away, here are the current standings:

  1. Florida – 197.944
  2. Oklahoma – 197.738
  3. LSU – 197.550
  4. Utah – 197.300
  5. Minnesota – 197.250
  6. Alabama – 197.244
  7. Arizona State – 197.075
  8. Arkansas – 197.038
  9. Cal – 196.931
  10. UCLA – 196.869

Oregon State is the next Pac-12 team on the list, coming in at no. 23 with an NQS (National Qualifying Score) of 195.950, followed by Arizona at no. 37 with a NQS of 195.088. Washington rounds out the final of the Pac-12 schools with an NQS of 193.813, putting them at no. 46. Stanford is not eligible at this point in the season, only completing one meet so far with partial lineups on bars, beam and floor after restrictions in the area kept Stanford from competing. 

The action continues this weekend as each program works towards reaching their own specific goals for the remainder of the season. Here’s what’s on the slate:

Friday

Utah at Oregon State – 6pm MST (available on the Pac-12 Live Stream)

Saturday

UCLA at Cal – 3pm MST

Arizona at Arizona State – 4pm MST (available on the Pac-12 Live Stream)

Sunday

Washington hosts Stanford and Boise State – 3pm MST (available on the Pac-12 Live Stream)

But before these get underway, let’s review all the action from last week, as it was an exciting one. From more record-setting scores to historic meets dedicated to social justice movements, here’s a breakdown of what went down across the Pac-12. 

Arizona State sets season-high 197.450 against Arizona

The Gym Devils made it five straight wins against the Wildcats last Wednesday when they posted a 197.450, good for the ninth-best score in program history and the highest total since 2003. Arizona State got things started on Vault, with some changes to the lineup this week as sophomore Jordyn Jaslow made her collegiate debut. Sophomore Hannah Scharf and Senior Cairo Leonard-Baker posted 9.875s towards the end of the lineup before Anaya Smith nailed her Yurchenko full-and-a-half for a 9.900. 

Meanwhile for the Wildcats, it was a solid start on the first event as the team went six for six on bars. Sophomore Malia Hargrove led the team with a 9.825, while freshmen Bailey McCabe and Elena Deets rounded out the rotation with a pair of 9.775s. Arizona finished up the first event trailing Arizona State 49.325-48.750. 

As the Sun Devils moved on to bars, their strongest event, they had their strongest showing of the year so far to post a season-high 49.400. Freshman Emily White posted a career-high 9.925 for the Devils, while freshman Sarah Clark and Leonard-Baker both posted 9.900s of their own to close out the event. The GymCats brought it on vault, too, putting up their second-highest event total of the year, led by freshman Jessica Castles with a career-best 9.850. Sophomore Libby Orman, in only her second-ever collegiate vault appearance, put up a 9.75 to round out the rotation and help the Cats notch a 48.850. 

Despite two strong rotations from the Wildcats, they were trailing the Devils 98.725-97.600 halfway through. 

Junior Megan Thompson got the third event started for the Devils with a beautiful beam routine for a career-high 9.875. Junior Jasmine Gutierrez followed making her season-debut in the line-up, posting a 9.85. Sophomore Gracie Reeves matched Gutierrez’s 9.85, good for her season-high on the event, before White posted her career-high 9.900 on beam. Overall, the Sun Devils finished the rotation with a 49.350, the highest total on beam since 2003. 

Arizona stumbled a bit on floor, which is normally their strongest rotation, starting off with senior Laura Leigh Horton. After an issue on a tumbling pass, Horton attempted to continue her routine, but when she couldn’t complete her leap pass, the coaches made the decision to stop her routine and ensure her safety. Unfortunately, Orman fell and went out of bounds, causing UofA to have to count a fall. Deets led the rotation for the Wildcats, posting a 9.850, while the Cats finished with an event total of a 48.300. 

While the Cats suffered a fall in the lead-off spot on beam, they still were able to rally and post a 48.800 on the event. Freshman Caroline Herry tied her career-high 9.8, while Castles led the team in scoring with a 9.850. The Devils, moving on to floor, were able to feed off the energy from earlier in the meet to seal the victory. Sophomore Hannah Scharf posted a career-high 9.950 on floor, followed with a 9.900 by Leonard-Baker to close out the meet. 

Cal falls to Utah in a close one

The Golden Bears left it all on the floor on Friday in a close, 197.375-197.125 loss to the powerhouse Utes on the road. Utah started the meet off on vault, led by junior Cammy Hall and freshman Lucy Stanhope’s pair of 9.875s. While Cal got things started on bars, a fall from senior Kyana George forced the Bears to count the other five scores, which luckily were all a 9.8 or better. At the end of the first rotation, Cal was holding a slight 49.200-49.175 lead over Utah. 

Utah moved on to bars, while Cal moved on to vault where a solid rotation helped keep fans on the edge of their seats. 

Cal posted a 49.275, led by junior Milan Clausi, who posted a season-high 9.900. George and Sophomore Nevaeh De Souza followed Clausi in the line-up posting consecutive 9.875s for the Golden Bears. Meanwhile, Utah started off with a pair of 9.800s from sophomore Abby Paulson and freshman Alani Sabado. Seniors Alexia Burch and Emilie LeBlanc followed up with a pair of 9.850s, before sophomore Maile O’Keefe and junior Crystal Isa rounded out the rotation with a set of 9.875s. With Utah putting up a 49.250 on bars, they were trailing Cal at the midway point 98.475-98.425. 

Utah moved on to beam, where Isa’s nearly flawless routine for a career-high 9.950 helped change the momentum of the meet. Paulson followed up with a 9.950 of her own, before O’Keefe closed the rotation out with a 9.975. Cal was hard at work on floor to try to hold on to the lead, steadily building from the start. With a 9.8 to start the rotation off, Cal then posted three 9.825s, a 9.850 from Clausi before George rounded things out with a 9.875. The Utes were able to outscore the Bears 49.500-49.200 and take an overall 147.925-147.625 lead after three. 

Closing the meet out on beam, the Bears attacked the event aggressively. Their overall performance on the event was good enough to post the second-highest event total in school history with a 49.450. Cal posted four scores of 9.875, along with a 9.90 from junior Maya Bordas and a 9.925 from George. Meanwhile for the Utes, they started off the floor routine with three consecutive 9.850s as they attempted to hold on to their lead. Sophomore Jaedyn Rucker brought a huge boost to the rotation with her career-high 9.950, before O’Keefe posted a 9.875 and senior Sydney Soloski closed things out with a 9.925 helping Utah secure the victory. 

Despite season-best, Oregon State falls to UCLA

In Saturday’s Black Excellence meet, the Bruins were able to nab a 197.025-196.500 victory over the Beavers despite a season-best performance by Oregon State. The Bruins kicked things off by posting a season-high 49.225 on vault, led by senior Nia Dennis with a 9.925. Oregon State got swinging on bars first, where they put up their season-best on the event with a 48.825. Junior Madi Dagen led the team on the event, putting up a career-high of her own with a 9.825. 

Going into the second event, Oregon State had to fight from behind, but they didn’t seem to mind as they posted another season-high on vault. Sophomore Kayla Bird got things started on the event for them with a 9.825, followed up with a pair of 9.85s from junior Kristina Peterson and senior Kaitlyn Yanish. Madi and her sister Lacy Dagen both posted 9.900s to close out the rotation for the Beavers. Meanwhile on bars for the Bruins, they were able to post an outstanding 49.550, with five of the six girls securing their own season-bests. Freshman Sara Ulias notched her own career-high of a 9.925, before Dennis and junior Margzetta Frazier closed out the line-up with career-highs of their own, with matching 9.95s. At the end of two rotations, UCLA was leading Oregon State 98.775-98.150

Oregon State then went to floor, where they were able to count all 9.8s or above once again. Madi Dagan led the event for the Beavers, posting a 9.875 and helping the team hit an event total of 49.200. UCLA, who was on beam, got off to a strong start by senior Kendal Poston for a 9.825. Junior Samantha Satki and Frazier both posted 9.900s of their own before UCLA hit some bumps in the road. The Bruins were able to finish out the rotation with a total of a 48.925, and still holding on to a 147.700-147.350 lead. 

The Bruins would finish the night up on floor, where they’re known for their lights-out performances that captivate audiences. In a nod to their fight for social justice, the Bruins closed out their Black Excellence meet with show-stopping routines from all four of their black athletes. Junior Sekai Wright, along with Dennis and Frazier, all put up 9.850s, while freshman Chae Campbell posted a 9.925 to help the Bruins finish up the final rotation. Oregon State would be tasked with finishing the night on beam, where the handled the pressure with grace. Freshman Ariana Young posted a personal-best 9.875, while Madi Dagan closed out the event with a 9.925. The Beavers left it all on the floor, but the Bruins were able to pull off the victory at home.

Stanford struggles to put together full lineups against San Jose State

After both programs have been struggling to move past the COVID protocols in the area and reach the competition season, each of them finally got a chance to put their competition leotards on once again for the first time in almost an entire year. While Stanford was able to put forth a full six-woman lineup on vault, it was the only event they were able to do so. 

On bars, seniors Grace Garcia and Kyla Bryant both hit solid routines for a 9.825 and 9.85 respectively to start the meet off before the team moved on to vault. Sophomore Chloe Widner posted a 9.75, before Bryant closed out the rotation with a 9.8 to give them an event total of 48.325.

On floor, freshman Amanda Zeng made her collegiate debut, posting a 9.625, while sophomore Chloe Widner led the rotation Finally, Junior Morgan Hoang was able to lead off the final rotation of the night with a 9.825. Widener followed with a 9.75 as the Cardinal closed out the beam lineup and capped off their first time seeing any real action since the pandemic began. 

Arizona comes out victorious in tri-meet against Air Force, Texas Woman’s University

The GymCats got Sunday afternoon started off on beam, where their troubles from past weeks continued right out of the gate, immediately putting pressure on the remaining five gymnasts to go. Sophomore Zaza Brovedani followed up with a solid 9.825, but unfortunately, another mishap on the following routine increased the intensity for the remaining three in the lineup. Sophomore Mackenzie Barile posted a 9.750, while Sophomore Avery Stauffacher and freshman Jessica Castles posted a pair of 9.8s to close out the first rotation with a score of 48.325

On to floor, the Wildcats only had five girls in the lineup as senior Laura Leigh Horton was sidelined following an injury during her routine on the event on Wednesday against Arizona State. Forced to count all five scores, the Wildcats posted a 48.600 on the event, led by sophomore Malia Hargrove with a 9.800 and freshmen Elena Deets with a 9.825. 

Horton’s absence continued to be felt as they had to replace her in the Vault lineup. Also missing in both the vault and floor lineups from Wednesday to Sunday was sophomore Libby Orman. Freshman Halli Mayberry made her event debut on Sunday instead, while Brovedani improved from her last showing. Hargrove led the way on the event with a 9.8, helping Arizona post a 48.375 on vault. 

Finally, Arizona closed things out on bars where they had their strongest rotation of the day. Freshman Bailey McCabe’s 9.85 and Deets’ 9.875, good for their own career-highs, helped the Wildcats post a 49.150 on the final event and close out the meet in first place with a final score of 194.350. 

Arizona State stays hot against Washington

The GymDevils closed out a hot week in high fashion on Sunday against Washington to wrap up the weekly slate of Pac-12 competition, defeating the Huskies 197.050-193.575. Washington, a relatively young team in a bit of a rebuilding process, got things started on vault. Redshirt Senior Allie Smith and junior Amara Cunningham led the opening rotation for the Huskies with scores of 9.775 to help post a team total on the first event of 48.725. Arizona State got to work on its strongest event, bars, where they exploded to post a 49.325. Freshman Sarah Clark led the way with a career-high 9.925, with senior Cairo Leonard-Baker anchoring the rotation to put up a 9.900.

Going to Vault, Arizona State continued to feed off the momentum they’d already sustained that afternoon on bars. Freshman Jada Mangahas and Leonard-Baker posted a pair of 9.825s, while sophomore Hannah Scharf had a 9.85 and freshman Anaya Smith a 9.900. Issues for Washington started to really hit on bars, when they suffered three falls in the middle to end of their lineup. Senior Geneva Thompson was able to finish out the rotation in the anchor spot with the highest score for the Huskies on the event with a 9.875. After two, Arizona State was leading Washington 98.525-95.850.

Washington transitioned to beam, where they hoped to slow things down a bit and regroup for the second part of the meet. With a fall by Thompson in the anchor spot on beam, the Huskies were still able to post a total of 48.750. Freshmen Cathy Eksteen, Katie McNamara and Lauren Thomas all posted a 9.825, marking a career-best for each of them. While the Huskies were hard at work on beam, the Devils were dancing away on floor. Sophomore Juliette Boyer posted a career-high 9.900, followed with a career-best 9.875 for Mangahas. Leonard-Baker brought the heat as she closed out the event with a 9.925, good for her own season-high and helping Arizona State post a 49.375. 

While the Devils essentially had the victory in the bag, there was still no time to take their foot off the gas as every tenth matters when calculating an RQS. Despite an uncharacteristic fall from sophomore Gracie Reeves on her triple series in the middle of the lineup, the Devils still had five scores of 9.8 or above to post a 49.150 and close out the meet. Washington put only five girls up on floor, increasing the intensity to hit. The Huskies answered the call, though, with Smith posting her own career-high of a 9.825. Washington finished the final rotation with a score of 48.975, their best event of the evening. 

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