Denver will host the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Regional competition this week, March 30 through April 2.
There are four regional meets all this weekend, each with 9 teams competing. The top 16 teams, based on National Qualifying Score (NQS) are seeded into the regional meets, and the remaining teams are placed in the closest (or close-ish) location.
Two teams from each regional meet will advance to Nationals. In addition, one event specialist from each of the four events, and one All-Around competitor from this regional will advance to Nationals.
Seeded teams are typically separated into regional competition based on rankings with numbers 1/8/9/16 in one regional, 2/7/10/15 in a second, the third having numbers 3/6/11/14, and 4/5/12/13 in the fourth.
Why am I explaining this? Well, it’s because of the exception to this “typical” seeding that DU is impacted by this year. Host teams are #1 ranked Oklahoma, #4 UCLA, #13 Denver, and Pittsburgh (which didn’t qualify as a team). Denver being a host team, means they attend their local regional meet and don’t travel to #4 UCLA like the 13th seed should.
Instead, DU drops to the 14th seed and has to face #3 Michigan, #6 LSU, and #11 Oregon State. In addition to the seeded teams, DU will also host Georgia, Nebraska, Minnesota, Arizona, and North Carolina. Also competing as individuals will be qualifiers from George Washington, Iowa State, and Northern Illinois.
Round One of the Denver regional will start on Thursday, March 30 with a play-in competition between Arizona and North Carolina.
Round Two has two sessions. The first is LSU, Oregon State, Georgia, and Nebraska starting at 2 PM at Magness Arena on Friday, March 31. The second session will be in Denver, Michigan, Minnesota, plus the winner of Round One at 7PM. The top two teams of each Round Two session will advance to the Regional Finals on Sunday evening.
Round Two will also set individual scores for athletes who will qualify to Nationals as individuals. But we won’t know which individual competitors qualified for Nationals until after the Regional Final completes on Sunday.
These competitors will be determined by ranking Round Two individual scores from both sessions, and removing all gymnasts on teams that qualify from Sundays Finals. Then the top All Around scoring gymnast will be selected, and she is also removed from individual event qualifiers. Then the remaining top gymnast on each of the four events will qualify to Nationals as event specialists.
Who goes to Nationals?
From the Denver Regional competition, two teams will qualify for Nationals. In addition, one All Around competitor will be selected. And anywhere between 2 and 4 individual event qualifiers will be selected.
Ok, but what does this mean for DU’s chances?
Denver is the fourth seed at home, in the only regional meet that has all four seeded teams hitting at least 198 this season. But finishing in the top two is possible. Denver needs to hit 5 routines on every event, stick landings, and keep cool under pressure. And they need a little bit of home team advantage.
The last time we saw DU compete on their home floor they hit the NCAA highest event score of the year. So a repeat of that would be phenomenal. The downside is that DU will start on the floor. Judges often hold back on high scores early in a meet to leave room for perfection later in the meet. However, all of the judges know that both Lynnzee Brown and Jessica Hutchinson have scored perfect 10s on floor this season. But so have Oregon State’s Jade Carey, LSU’s Haleigh Bryant and Aleah Finnegan, and Minnesota’s Mya Hooten and Halle Reminger, So I think the only truly good prediction I can make for gymnastics fans is that this will be an amazing competition to watch!
I’m not going to try to predict what will happen on all four events, because I’ll inevitably get it all wrong. And I won’t bore our readers by listing everyone who will be competing who has gotten 10s on each event (hint: it’s a long list).
So on Friday in the second session of Round Two, DU needs to place at least second to stay in. This means most likely taking second to Michigan. This first step is very doable. But every gymnast needs to do her best to increase chances to qualify for Nationals as individuals even if the team does not make it. So, a lot is determined by performances on Friday.
Then, depending on how things go in Round 2, DU will likely need to beat at least two teams who have, on average, outscored them during the regular season.
Individual Qualifiers’ chances
Jade Carey has achieved a “Gym Slam” this year, scoring perfect 10s on all four events throughout the season. Haleigh Bryant has hit perfect 10s on vault, bars, and floor this season. She scored 10s on all three of those events on March 10; the only person to score three 10s in one meet this year. DU fans will know that Jessica Hutchinson has gotten 10s on floor and beam. Bottom line: it is going to take perfection for individual qualifiers to make it past this regional.
And depending on which two teams come out of Sunday in first and second places, the field changes for individual qualifiers.
NCAA.com, College Gym News sums it up pretty well:
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.
So, if you want to see some top-caliber gymnastics, be sure to attend the sessions this Friday and keep your neck on a pivot to see all the action. If you want to see drama and nail-biting National qualifying pressure, come to Magness on Sunday. If you do come, let’s get loud and give Denver gymnasts the home-team advantage they deserve! Let’s Go DU!