Every year the bracket seems like it’ll be straight-forward, and every year there are surprises that throw gymnastics fans for a loop. With the NCAA gymnastics championships field now set for teams and individuals, we’re giving our initial reactions to the lineup.
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Denver could be a sleeper at home
Denver is a four-seed at the regional it hosts, behind No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 LSU, and No. 11 Oregon State. The Pioneers have higher season highs than LSU and Oregon State and have home floor advantage. There’s a reasonable chance we’ll see Denver advance to nationals.
The Pac-12 rematch
The Los Angeles regional will be a Pac-12 rematch, as Utah and UCLA go head to head again, this time on the Bruins’ turf. Utah topped UCLA at home in a dual and bested it again at the conference championship down the road at the Maverik Center. This time, UCLA is the higher seed and gets to compete on its home floor.
A cutthroat battle for individual all-around qualification
Only one all-arounder not on a qualifying team advances to nationals out of regionals. With so many good individuals this year that aren’t necessarily on nationals-qualifying teams, things are going to get fierce very quickly.
One regional in particular is looking like it will be the most dramatic — and heartbreaking — of the season. Merely among the seeded teams at the Denver regional, Lynnzee Brown and Jessica Hutchinson from Denver, Jade Carey from Oregon State, Haleigh Bryant and Aleah Finnegan from LSU, and Abby Heiskell, Natalie Wojcik, Sierra Brooks, and Gabby Wilson from Michigan are all strong all-arounders that deserve to be at nationals. However, if the top two teams qualify in Michigan and LSU, only one of Carey, Brown, or Hutchinson can move on too.
Lali Dekanoidze’s nationals hopes
North Carolina’s Dekanoidze is the highest-ranked gymnast — and the only top 10 gymnast — on any event to be announced as an individual competitor for regionals competition, should the Tar Heels not advance out of round one. The No. 8 gymnast on bars may miss nationals, since she’ll be up against the likes of individuals from LSU, Michigan, Oregon State, Denver, Minnesota, Georgia, and Nebraska who will be competing with their teams. However, her career high is 9.975, so don’t count her out just yet.
The Crimson Tide vs. Wildcats
The No. 8-No. 9 matchup is always brutal, and this year is no exception. Alabama and Kentucky will face off in Norman, in a session with Illinois and Iowa. The SEC foes are incredibly evenly matched: They’re separated by one tenth in NQS and just 0.062 by average. The Crimson Tide has the edge after a stellar conference championship performance to finish second in the SEC, but the Wildcats absolutely cannot be counted out.