With a new postseason format set for 2019, this year’s NCAA gymnastics championship season is bound to deliver a thrilling April of amazing action from the first round of play-in meets to the all new Final Four Team Final at the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Forth Worth, Texas on Saturday, April 20th.
The new postseason format features four regional sites hosting competition from Thursday, April 4th through Saturday, April 6th, with the two lowest-ranked teams at each regional site facing off in play-in meets on Thursday, two regionals on Friday with the top two in each advancing to Saturday’s super regional, where the top two teams will punch their tickets to the national championships two weeks from then in Fort Worth.
After the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Regionals Selection Show, all eyes immediately turned to the blockbuster Ann Arbor Regional, where the host Michigan Wolverines will face tough competition to advance to the NCAA Championships. With four teams ranked inside the top 15 competing, the super regional should be an exciting meet to watch. The UCLA Bruins are the favorites to advance to the championships, and the Wolverines, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will be fighting for the second spot.
Ann Arbor Regional
Illinois vs. Central Michigan
(7) Michigan (host)
Play-in meet winner
Mary Jane Otto (Illinois)
Denelle Pedrick (Central Michigan)
Karen Howell (Illinois)
Emili Dobronics (Eastern Michigan)
Kasey Meeks (Illinois)
Kayla Baddeley (UIC)
Allie Smith (Eastern Michigan)
Riley Mahoney (UIC)
Serena Baker (UIC)
Cortney Bezold (Eastern Michigan)
Gianna Plaksa (Central Michigan)
Dara Williams (Kent State)
Mia Lord (Northern Illinois)
Shayla Scott (Illinois)
Emerson Hurst (Towson)
Mary Elle Arduino (Towson)
Anna Martucci (Northern Illinois)
Abby Fletcher (Kent State)
Kylie Noonan (Illinois)
Alisa Sheremeta (UIC)
This regional competition will also have one of the more interesting play-in meets, with the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Central Michigan Chippewas competing for a spot in Friday’s second regional. Illinois performed spectacularly at the Big Ten Championship last week, posting a 196.650, a score that could put them in the running to make the super regional, though they will need seeded teams like the Crimson Tide and Cornhuskers to make mistakes. It would be a huge victory for the Chippewas to advance to a regional semifinal, and with a strong performance, they could take advantage of other teams’ mistakes to get to the regional finals.
Play-in meet winner: Illinois
The first regional semifinal will feature Michigan, Alabama, the Penn State Nittany Lions, and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Barring disasters from Michigan and Alabama, these two teams should qualify through to the regional final. With top all-arounders like Natalie Wojcik and Olivia Karas, Michigan is in a good position to win this first semifinal and advance through to the national championships. Penn State has the potential to upset one of these teams with their stacked bars lineup, but will need either Michigan or Alabama to make mistakes.
Regional one qualifiers: Michigan, Alabama
The second semifinal should see UCLA and Nebraska advance fairly easily, as their overall season performances have looked stronger than the other two teams in this semifinal, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the winner of Thursday’s play-in meet. UCLA has come into this year with a lot of depth on every event and should be able to place in the top two even with a fall in the regional. With a hit meet, Nebraska should be able to hold off the Mountaineers, though a repeat performance from Big Ten Championship would threaten their chances of advancing to the regional finals. The Fighting Illini did beat the Cornhuskers last week at conference championships, showing that they have the potential to score much higher than their average this year.
Regional two qualifiers: UCLA, Nebraska
Assuming all the top teams perform at their full potential, we should see UCLA, Michigan, Nebraska, and Alabama in the super regional. Based on how UCLA has looked this year, the Bruins should advance to the NCAA Championships fairly easily and will hope to defend their title. Among the other three teams, Michigan is the favorite to advance, though both Alabama and Nebraska could have a particularly good day to take advantage of a weaker performance from Michigan. With just seven ranking spots separating the three teams, any of the three will need to have great days to stay ahead of the other two.
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