The 2013 NCAA women’s gymnastics season has come down to this—the national champion will be crowned by day’s end. Only the Super Six remain, and it just so happens to be the Top Six of the GymInfo national rankings, so Saturday’s title meet should be astoundingly close.
When the meet gets tight in gymnastics, the intensity picks up. Every routine on every rotation could make or break a team’s shot at the championship. A slight balance check could be as devastating as a fall when its down to the wire, and whoever can handle the pressure will walk away with the belt.
Four teams from the highly competitive SEC will compete tonight, headlined by No. 1 Florida, who scored the highest in either semifinal with a staggering 197.775. The Gators have been on top for most of the season, so they seem to be in a nice position to claim the school’s first gymnastics title ever.
Alabama and LSU claimed the next two highest semifinal scores, finishing with marks of 197.350 and 197.325, respectively. The Crimson Tide won Semifinal 2, finishing .15 ahead of UCLA and Oklahoma (tied with 197.200). Georgia grabbed the final spot on Saturday with a 197.150 in the afternoon session, rounding out the 2013 field.
Unless there’s a major falloff between the performances from yesterday and today, the SEC will likely claim its third consecutive national title. Alabama won it all back-to-back the last two seasons, and could be in line for a three-peat if the Gators miss a beat.
But if there is a team to steal the show, it’s the Bruins. UCLA is the last non-SEC team to take the cake, and has the added advantage of competing on its home floor at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will need an amazing all-around performance, and can’t afford to get off to a slow start.
In Friday’s semifinal, UCLA had its first rotation on beam (an admittedly unforgiving apparatus) and didn’t perform the best. The Bruins got an amazing 9.90 score from freshman Danusia Francis, but couldn’t keep it up throughout the set. As a result, UCLA was battling from behind for the rest of the meet.
To the relief of the slanted crowed, the Bruins showed great resilience. A solid performance on floor and an inspired showing on vault lifted the Bruins into serious contention for a top-three finish. After a bye in the fifth rotation, UCLA made its way to the bars for the final round of routines. Needless to say, the Bruins found a way to get it done yesterday, but that won’t cut it as the finish line comes into sight.
UCLA needs to have the killer instinct from the get-go today. The Bruins will start off on bars, followed by beam and a bye. Then after floor, UCLA will finish on its best event—vault. Unfortunately, that means the Bruins will be sitting by helplessly in the final rotation, but they can only hope they’ll be on top by then.
Let’s go Bruins! Stomp the SEC and bring home No. 109!