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Gym Dogs: National Semi-Final Preview

The season ain’t over yet, boys and girls. The University of Georgia Women’s Gymnastics team is still alive, and competing Friday evening in the semi-finals with a national championship berth on the line. And while Fort Worth, Texas might not be your destination of choice, it’s the site of the championships, and our Gym Dogs have had their eye on DFW all season long.

This is the first year for the new format determining the national champions, and is more aligned with bracket formats that most of the other sports use. First there were regionals, then a super-regional, now semi-finals, and obviously finals. All of them used a four-team rotation - top two of those four in each round advanced. UGA has done that up to this point, and they will need to be in the top two of the semis to make the eventual final four teams that compete for the trophy.

While Georgia is technically in semi-final #2, let’s take a quick look at semi-final #1: UCLA, LSU, Utah, and Michigan. By the numbers, this is the more competitive and closely-matched. UCLA has been #2 all season, is a traditional powerhouse, and they rack up 198’s and 10’s pretty much every week. LSU is no slouch, having won the SEC this season, beating UGA in the regular season, and has been a solid #3 nationally. Utah - well, if you follow this sport you should know Utah. They have not been as spectacular as in year’s past, but they are incredibly consistent. Michigan is outclassed on paper here, but they could advance with a better-than average performance and just a couple of slips by the others. UCLA and LSU are the favorites to move on.

Semi-final #2 (UGA, OU, Denver, Oregon St.) In the evening session. Georgia faces the top-ranked Sooners of SaggyBottoms, Oklahoma. The thinking is that OU can move on even with a sub-par performance, they are just that good. Oregon State is probably just happy to be here. They have essentially matched the best performance in their school’s history, and are out-classed by the other teams. So it could easily come down to Georgia having to watch Denver for the other spot. The Pioneers have a good gymnastics program, but it doesn’t carry the same cachet as our beloved Gym Dogs.

Denver is getting to nationals for the 5th time (UGA=35). They have finished as high as 9th (UGA=10 national championships). Denver did have an individual national champion, then again, Georgia has had 42. You catch my drift. But they don’t compete in the historical annals, they do it on the mats. And Denver has been posting higher scores than the Gym Dogs all season. Yet Georgia has been better in the post season to date.

There is no doubt UGA has the talent and the routines to advance. It simply comes down to execution. The Gym Dogs are riding high, coming off a season high 198.050 at regionals, and a perfect 10 by Marissa Oakley on bars. Momentum is on their side, and 2nd year Coach Courtney Kupets Carter appears to have her ladies peaking at the right time. This could be a good one y’all.

Semi-final#1 1:00 pm ET Friday, April 19th, 2019
UCLA, LSU, Utah, Michigan
Televised on ESPN2. And I’ve been told that ESPN3 has quad-screen coverage so you’re able to stream all four rotations simultaneously.

Semi-final#2 7:00 pm ET Friday, April 19th, 2019
Georgia, Oklahoma, Denver, Oregon State
Televised on ESPNU (possibly switching to ESPN2 during the coverage).

Finals 7:00 pm ET Saturday, April 20th, 2019
Top two team from each semi-finals
Televised on ESPNU

So that should get you up to speed on who to watch and how to watch them. Feel free to use this as an open thread for all of the competition. And as always...