The quad meet between hosts Alabama, Michigan, Denver, and Bowling Green was expected to be exciting, but the reality even far surpassed the hype. The meet was back and forth between the top three teams the entire competition, and like all great ones, was not decided until the completion of the final routine and all three top teams finished within three tenths.
The Denver Pioneers came into this quad meet as definite underdogs against traditional powerhouses Alabama and Michigan, but pulled off a stunning upset after four great, consistent rotations. The win was a total team effort, and the competition started out strong with a 49.0 on balance beam, a score that came from a panel of judges that were scoring very tightly the entire competition. Lynnzee Brown’s powerful floor scored a 9.875 to lead their second rotation, where the Pioneers totaled a 48.975. Brown again led the way on vault, scoring a huge 9.925 to lead the 49.025 rotation and keep the meet close heading to bars. In the final rotation, Denver pulled out its best rotation of the night, scoring a 49.25 with all six scores 9.825 or better to just edge out the win with a final score of 196.275.
Right behind Denver with a 196.175 was the Alabama Crimson Tide. The home team started out strong on vault, with a fabulous stuck Yurchenko double full from freshman Shallon Olsen leading the 49.175 start. Alabama stayed consistent on the uneven bars, hitting all six routines and totaling a 49.05. Beam is where they started to lose ground to Denver, having to count four scores under 9.800 after a fall and a few uncharacteristic mistakes, and Alabama only totaled a 48.675 to be trailing heading into the final rotation. Ending on floor, Alabama put on a great show for their fans and ended with their best rotation of the night, with a pair of 9.900s from Olsen and Lexi Graber leading a 49.275 rotation that came up just short and helped the Tide finish second.
The sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines finished just behind Alabama with a 196.025. A lack of big scores on the uneven bars started Michigan out with a 48.975, which they followed up with 49.025 on beam, led by freshman star Natalie Wojcik who scored a 9.875. Michigan lost ground to Alabama and Denver in rotation three, totaling just a 48.675 after a string of landing errors on floor. Ending on vault, Wojcik stuck her gorgeous Yurchenko one-and-a-half for the second week in a row, scoring a 9.950, while Abby Brenner scored a 9.900 for her superb vault as well. The final rotation 49.35 was not quite enough to surpass Alabama or Denver, but there is clearly a lot of promise on this Michigan team. Also of note, Olivia Karas, a star for the Wolverines, made her highly anticipated return to the floor lineup and Michigan also officially has hired a new assistant coach in Rhonda Faehn, former Florida head coach and also former USA Gymnastics Vice President.
Bowling Green closed out the pack with a 189.675, with a few uneven bars struggles causing them to just miss the 190 mark. This team is up and coming and also should be very exciting to watch over the next few years.Tags: Abby Brenner, Alabama, Alabama Crimson Tide, Bowling Green, Bowling Green Falcons, Denver, Denver Pioneers, Lexi Graber, Lynzee Brown, Michigan, Michigan Wolverines, Natalie Wojcik, NCAA Gymnastics, Olivia Karas, Shallon Olsen