The lineup for the NCAA Athens Regional was announced today, and it looks like the Gym Dogs will have a fight on their hands to advance to nationals. The teams competing in the Athens regional, along with their national rankings, are as follows:
- LSU (#3)
- Georgia (#9)
- Oregon State (#13)
- Arizona (#22)
- George Washington (#27)
- Michigan State (#36)
The top two teams from this meet will advance to nationals. As you'll probably remember, LSU has already competed once in Stegeman Coliseum this year, in a meet where Georgia put up their highest score of the season, defeating the Gymyou Bengals 197.525-196.800. And in most regionals, the two best teams frequently stand out from the rest of the competition, making advancement a case of "just don't screw up too badly and you're in."
In this year's regional, though, Oregon State isn't just some lowly third regional seed. The Beavers aren't a traditional gymnastics power in the Pac 12 (those are Utah, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal), and they started slowly, but they've come on strongly at the end of the year. In 3 out of their last 5 meets, they've accumulated a score of 196.800 or above, and they scored their season-high of 196.925 just 2 days ago at the Pac 12 Championship meet. (That would have beaten the 196.850 we carded at the SEC Championship meet. So, yeah.) Also, Oregon State is tied at #13 in the rankings with Arkansas, and
the Razorbacks beat the Gym Dogs in the regular season (though we got them back in the SEC Championship meet) we only defeated Arkansas by 0.075 (that's 75 thousandths of a point) during the regular season.
In short, the Beavers are a team that is peaking at exactly the right time, and drawing them in our regional removes any margin for error that might otherwise have existed for us. If we can't put together a solid performance that takes us well into the 197 range, we might not even advance out of regionals. And for that matter, that's the case for LSU, too, who have been peaking at the end of the season, but also have the potential to bobble their way to a mid-196's score. So, essentially, we have 3 teams competing for 2 slots in the national meet. If we live up to our potential, it won't be a problem. If we stink up the place, though, we won't even get to compete in Fort Worth.
Join your fellow Gym Dog fans at Stegeman Coliseum on April 2 at 4:00 PM to help get your Dawgs over the hump and on to Texas!
This is what the season comes down to, and on which it all hinges. It's time for the NCAA's, baby.