I have to be honest with y'all: I got no damn clue which meet the judges were watching tonight. I've been watching college gymnastics since I was in school 20 years ago, and I've never seen a team that looked like Auburn did tonight come up with a 197.750. Don't get me wrong... they were very good, and they probably beat us based on the floor rotation alone. On the other 3 rotations, however, there was simply not as much space between these two teams as the judges' scores indicated.
Over and over again, if you go back and review each Auburn routine side by side with a routine from a Georgia gymnast, you'll see both squads not sticking enough landings and making other small-ish errors here and there (with only 1 or 2 exceptions). The home team, however, consistently received scores that were at least half a tenth higher than their opponents... to a person. Over 5 routines that count towards the score, that's a two-and-a-half tenth advantage per rotation. And over 4 rotations, that adds up to a full point. And let's see... Auburn beat us by... mmhhmm.
I'm not even going to break down each rotation by routine. What I just wrote is pretty much the whole story. On vault, bars, and beam, we did essentially exactly the same thing Auburn did, but received lower marks for it. On floor, we once again didn't have more than 2 gymnasts do any "E" difficulty tumbling passes, and that cost us, but even the gymnasts that absolutely stuck their lower-difficulty passes didn't get credit from the judges. Specifically, I'm thinking about Gigi Marino and Morgan Reynolds, who each only received a 9.80, and Sarah Persinger, who shockingly (perhaps scandalously) only got a 9.775.
Here's how the rotation scores broke down:
Rotation 1 (bars): Team Score: 49.325 Jay, 9.825; Vaculik, 9.825; Persinger, 9.825; Brown 9.90; Davis, 9.875; Rogers, 9.90
Rotation 2 (vault): Team Score: 49.100 Vaculik, 9.825; Broussard, 9.85; Rogers, 9.75; Jay, 9.875; Roberts, 9.675; Davis, 9.8
Rotation 3 (floor): Team Score: 49.000 Persinger, 9.775; Reynolds, 9.80; Marino, 9.80; Babalis, 9.825; Box, 9.675, Jay, 9.80
Rotation 4 (beam): Team Score: 49.350 Vaculik, 9.875; Brown, 9.90; Babalis, 9.775; Rogers, 9.75; Broussard, 9.875; Box, 9.925 (in a routine that might have garnered a 10 from me).
At the end of the evening, if the judges hadn't been using "number of fans cheering for the routine" as a component in their scores, Danna's Dawgs probably would have once again been tantalizingly close to that 197 mark, if not barely eclipsing it.
Even with the home cooking going against us, though, this score will significantly help our RQS rankings for the postseason. The RQS is what the NCAA uses for seeding in the Regional tournaments, and it's comprised as follows:
- 3 best home scores
- 3 best away scores
- Drop the highest overall score
-Take the average of the remaining 5 scores
This meet will let us drop that 196.200 that we scored at UNC, putting our RQS, if I calculated it correctly, at 196.640. And that score includes a dismal 195.800 that we put up at home against Missouri. If we get up into the mid-to-upper 196's in even one of our final two home meets, our RQS will really improve. Of course, everyone else around us in the rankings is improving, too, so we need to get those scores and ensure that we don't get drawn into a "group of death" regional.
Fortunately, all of the Gym Dogs' remaining meets are at home this season. The next meet will be next Saturday, March 7, at 6:00 PM against the 17th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. The meet will be streamed live via the SEC Network+ at the usual WatchESPN website. (It will also be broadcast on tape delay on Monday night, March 9, at 9:00 PM on the "real" SEC Network.) This season still has some real potential left in it, so lets show up at the Steg next week and cheer on Danna's Dawgs!