ST. LOUIS — It’s no surprise Oklahoma gymnastics was the first team to qualify for the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships’ Super Six. The Sooners have been the No. 1 team all season long. Their 197.725 during Friday’s afternoon session of the semifinals just cemented its path to the final stage, even with some hiccups from their top gymnasts.
The other two teams to advance were a set of question marks until UCLA ended up in second with a 197.5 and Utah rounded out the top three with a 197.05.
Next, to determine the other half of the final teams, the evening session will begin at 7 p.m. in Chaifetz Arena. Alabama starts on the floor exercise before heading to vault then a bye. It picks back up on the uneven bars then balance beam to ultimately end on another bye.
The last time the Crimson Tide did not advance to the Super Six was in 2007. Before that, it was 1997. Both years it finished ninth.
During the second rotation of the afternoon session, Oklahoma’s Chayse Capps stepped out of bounds during her floor routine and ended up with a 9.7125 after a 0.1 deduction. Capps was nationally ranked as the No. 3 all-around competitor, averaging a 39.525.
The gymnast following Capps in the rankings is UA junior Kiana Winston, who averages a 39.506 at No. 4. Winston and Capps share the same season-high 39.7, though.
There are still two solid gymnasts ahead of both Winston and Capp. OU’s Maggie Nichols has been highly regarded all season. She’s ranked No. 1, averaging a 39.789, but didn’t do so hot during semifinals, finishing with a 39.125. Then there’s Utah’s MyKayla Skinner, who has a 39.611 average at No. 2 and scored a 39.6125 during the afternoon session.
Keep an eye on Winston during the evening competition.
Madison Kocian competed for Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics this past summer. Once school started, she traded in her Team USA leotard for a UCLA leo. She is a freshman for the Bruins and went all-around in the semifinals, earning a 39.55.
While Kocian was a part of the Final Five, there was also a member of the Fierce Five from the 2012 London Olympics in attendance – Kyla Ross, also a UCLA freshman. Ross scored a 39.575 all-around score, the second-highest mark of the afternoon session.
While watching the afternoon session, it was clear the floor exercise was giving some gymnasts trouble with staying in bounds. Because it is a podium meet, the equipment is considered to be nicer, but apparatuses such as the floor also tend to provide an extra bounce. Five gymnasts had a flag waved during their routine to receive a 0.1 deduction.
Alabama has competed on podium two times this season – at the Elevate the Stage meet (Legacy Arena) in Birmingham and at the SEC Championships (Veterans Memorial Arena) in Jacksonville, Florida.
Returning UA champion
Katie Bailey returns as Alabama’s only national champion. The senior won the individual vault title last year with a career-high 9.95. Her season-high right now is a 9.925.
Bringing the fans
The Utah gymnastics team brought about 250 fans with it to St. Louis. During the regular season, the Utes recorded an NCAA-best 15,224 average attendance in the Jon M. Huntsman Center this season. They’re the only team to surpass Alabama’s average of 12,152 people in Coleman Coliseum, which leads the SEC.
Check out all the final scores here.