The NCAA announced the official pairings for the regional meets this afternoon, and they went straight down the line of expected matchups, which is slightly surprising. In years past, the NCAA has tried to avoid making SEC teams the two top seeds in a regional, but that didn't happen this year, with hilarious results for the SEC champions (as you'll see in a moment). Instead, they matched off the teams ranked numbers 1/12/13, 2/11/14, 3/10/15, etc. Also, as expected, all 8 SEC gymnastics programs were included, with 5 checking into seeded (top 3 in the region) spots. How's that for conference power?
As such, the Georgia Gym Dogs, as the 10th-ranked team, were matched against the #3 Utah Red Rocks and the #15 Boise State Broncos in the Berkeley regional (which is the pre-selected regional location closest to Utah). The other teams in the Berkeley regional will be the host California, Utah State, and BYU (all unranked). And you know, while they're there, if Greg McGarity wants to interview a certain women's basketball coach that might happen to be in the area... well, so much the better.
This will be a rematch for the Gym Dogs and the Red Rocks, with Danna's Dawgs pulling off their biggest win of the year in the last regular season meet for both teams 2 weeks ago. Ultimately, though, we don't have to defeat Utah to go to the NCAA national meet. We just have to finish in the top 2. And as long as we get 4 solid rotations with no falls under our belts, that should be very doable.
Of course, that's a big "if," since we've only managed to have no counted falls in 5 of our 12 meets this year. (We've had beam falls count in 6 meets, and floor falls count in 1 additional meet.) This is when the lights are going to be shining the brightest, though, and Danna Durante has had her ladies ready in the past for these moments. We just have to hope their postseason jitters got left on the mat at the SEC Championship meet, because if we have another calamity like that, our season will just be over.
We'll know pretty quickly how things are looking, too, because this is our rotation schedule, as released by the UGA athletic department:
Rotation 1: Bye
Rotation 2: Uneven Bars
Rotation 3: Beam
Rotation 4: Bye
Rotation 5: Floor Exercise
Rotation 6: Vault
(There are 6 rotations to accommodate not only the 6 teams that are competing, but also to provide for the set of individual competitors whose teams didn't qualify, but who had individual RQS scores good enough to qualify for the regionals.)
The other regional matchups are as follows (please note how Alabama got screwed, because that's just freakin' hilarious).
|Norman, OK Regional|
|Oklahoma (1) (host)|
|Oregon State (12)|
|Penn State (13)|
|Morgantown, WV Regional|
|West Virginia (host)|
|Ames, IA Regional|
|Iowa State (host)|
|Auburn, AL Regional|
|Auburn (8) (host) (LOL)|
|Columbus, OH Regional|
|Ohio State (host)|
So, uh, yeah... #LOLBAMA. To congratulate you for winning the SEC Championship, we're going to send to you to Auburn to compete in regionals. Against Auburn. Who is only slightly below you in the national rankings. I couldn't have drawn this up better myself.
The Gym Dogs' regional meet will be kicking off at 9:00 PM Eastern on April 4. I haven't been able to find streaming information yet, but I assume the regional meets will either be available at NCAA.com or on the WatchESPN app, depending on whether ESPN has the broadcast permissions or not. I'll be back to give a recap of the NCAA Regional meet, but until then...