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.
The regionals draw held much anticipation and intrigue and one of the standout sites for this season comes in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where third-ranked LSU hosts the Baton Rouge Regional with number six Utah, number 11 Minnesota, and number 14 Auburn seeded into the three-day competition at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Regional competition at Baton Rouge should be especially exciting given the highly-talented mix of teams assigned to compete at LSU, with anywhere from two to seven different teams realistically having a chance to beat one another and advance to nationals.
Baton Rouge Regional
George Washington vs. Lindenwood
(3) LSU (host)
Play-in meet winner
Alexandra Zois (George Washington)
Jovannah East (Bowling Green)
Lea Mitchell (Michigan State)
Julianna Roland (Bridgeport)
Stefanie Schweikert (Ball State)
Lauren DeMeno (Bowling Green)
Marissa Nychyk (Ball State)
Kat Doran (Bridgeport)
Jessica Ling (Michigan State)
Hannah Cohen (George Washington)
Courtney Mitchell (Lindenwood)
Erin Alderman (Texas Woman’s)
Gabriella Douglas (Michigan State)
Kaitlyn Menzione (Ball State)
Anna Kaziska (SEMO)
On the first day of competition on Thursday, the Baton Rouge regional will be kicked off with a very intriguing play-in meet matchup between the talented Colonials George Washington and the upstart Tigers of Lindenwood, a program making its first team appearance in the postseason in just its seventh season in existence.
The Colonials started slowly this season, struggling to find consistency, but a brilliant performance at the EAGL Championship last week secured a spot here for George Washington. Lindenwood has enjoyed strong all-around performances from several contributors, but the edge in this meet will likely come from the Colonials’ Zois, so expect the senior star to help George Washington narrowly defeat Lindenwood and advance to the Friday regional in session two.
Play-in meet winner: George Washington
The first of two regional quad-meets on Friday should be a thriller with nine-time national champions Utah expected to qualify easily into the super regional, but a fierce battle between three very capable teams in Minnesota, BYU, and Arkansas expected to play out with the second spot in Saturday’s super regional on the line. The Golden Gophers of Minnesota come in as the favorites for the second spot, but a disappointing Big Ten Championship performance last week leaves BYU and Arkansas with hopes of the upset. The Gophers are led by all-around star Lexy Ramler– who tied for the Big Ten all-around title last week- and bars and beam specialist Ivy Lu, however the rest of Minnesota’s lineups will have to step up to give the Gophers the best chance to making an upset bid to nationals.
BYU and Arkansas can’t be counted out either, as the Cougars have enjoyed a historic season- led by all-arounder Shannon Evans, while the Razorbacks shook off a slow start to their season with a very encouraging fifth-place finish at the SEC Championship last weekend in New Orleans.
Regional one qualifiers: Utah, Minnesota
Session two of regional action on Friday in Baton Rouge will feature the host Tigers of LSU back in the PMAC in front of their home fans with another nationals birth on the line for DD Breaux‘s squad. The Tigers- coming off a thrilling win last weekend at the SEC Championship- are one of the hottest teams in collegiate gymnastics currently and will be heavy favorites to easily advance to Saturday’s super regional.
The battle between 14th-ranked Auburn and Arizona State will be the most exciting part of this second regional session, with both Auburn and Arizona State two tremendously talented teams capable of big scores- as shown throughout their respective seasons. Auburn enjoyed a thrilling SEC rivalry win over fellow Tigers LSU early this season at home and have shown big scores throughout their lineup, particularly from all-arounders Drew Watson and Derrian Gobourne, making the Tigers a very real threat to potentially upset Utah or LSU and make another trip to nationals. Arizona State started slow this season, but the young Sun Devils team has relied on the brilliance of sophomore Cairo Leonard-Baker, leading them to a strong fifth-place showing at the Pac 12 Championship last week.
Regional two qualifiers: LSU, Auburn
Saturday’s exhilarating super regional action will see perennial NCAA Gym powerhouses LSU and Utah look to secure their spots at nationals while holding off rising programs like Minnesota, Auburn, and Arizona State. LSU has shown brilliant form in March, saving some of their best gymnastics for last and aiming to peak at the right time. They’re led by senior star duo of Sarah Finnegan and Lexie Priessman, who can be relied upon for huge scores at the back end of the Tigers’ lineups. Barring a disastrous performance in the super regional, LSU should be safely in the top two and advance comfortably to another national championships.
The second spot will be quite competitive however as number six Utah will look to replicate their huge home performances and their big score at the Pac 12 Championship last week and bring it to Baton Rouge, where the Utes will be tested. The Red Rocks are led by all-around stars MyKayla Skinner and Makenna Merrell-Giles, who will be crucial to Utah’s hopes of making another appearance at nationals. The Utes will be favored to finish behind LSU and earn the second spot out of the super regional into Fort Worth, and if Utah can keep up their incredible consistency displayed this season, they should hold off even a strong performance from Minnesota or Auburn.
Advancing to nationals: LSU, UtahTags: 2019 NCAA Regionals, Alexandra Zois, Anna Kaziska, Arizona State, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn, Auburn Tigers, Ball State, Big 10, Big Ten, Bowling Green, Bridgeport, BYU, BYU Cougars, Cairo Leonard-Baker, Courtney Mitchell, DD Breaux, Derrian Gobourne, Drew Watson, EAGL, Erin Alderman, Final Four Team Final, Gabriella Douglas, George Washington, George Washington Colonials, Hannah Cohen, Ivy Lu, Jessica Ling, Jovannah East, Julianna Roland, Kaitlyn Menzione, Kat Doran, Lauren DeMeno, Lea Mitchell, Lexie Priessman, Lexy Ramler, Lindenwood, Lindenwood Tigers, LSU, LSU Tigers, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Marissa Nychyk, Michigan State, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, MRGC, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, NCAA Gymnastics, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, Pac 12, Sarah Finnegan, SEC, SEMO, Shannon Evans, Stefanie Schweikert, Texas Woman's, Utah, Utah Utes