Six weeks down, six more to go in the NCAA Gymnastics regular season and the three-month long trek to the postseason is halfway over. With the majority of teams hitting their groove and the peak of the schedule coming up, the next few weeks will reveal a lot in the national championship race, especially as rankings turn to RQS soon. It’s a huge weekend of collegiate competition with top meets all over the weekend stretching from Friday all the way into a Monday night showdown.
Here are the three to see in week seven;
Marquee Meet of the Week: GymQuarters Invitational- (4) Utah, (5) LSU, (15) Missouri, (26) Stanford- Friday, February 15th: 7:30 PM ET- FloGymnastics
Quickly rising to one of the premier meets of the NCAA season the last three years, the GymQuarters Invitational in St. Louis has become a launching board for national championship contenders as they firmly begin their post-season preparations with a highly-competitive podium competition. Back this year and fighting to build some momentum this season is fifth-ranked LSU in an unfamiliar spot following some tough SEC losses so far this season. The favorite going into this competition will be number four Utah who has competed week in and week out with such consistency and precision to their gymnastics, allowing many 197s along the way.
The fight for third will be a fascinating one between the local Missouri Tigers and the Stanford Cardinal, two teams looking to improve their RQS standings with a big road score. Missouri has impressed in SEC competition so far this season, earning a strong number 15 ranking, while Stanford will be under pressure this meet to begin to improve their road totals and secure a pivotal big score for their RQS.
For Utah, the Red Rocks’ dominance in their undefeated run early this season has stemmed from their powerful vaulting, where they are ranked second, and also the floor exercise, where the Utes own a number four national ranking. The dynamic duo of MyKayla Skinner and Makenna Merrell-Giles has propelled Utah to a very strong season through six weeks and given their consistency to LSU’s very up-and-down season thus far, the Red Rocks should be favored to win at their GymQuarters Invitational debut.
Perfect 10 Challenge- (1) Oklahoma, (18) Washington, (19) Arizona State, George Washington- Friday, February 15th: 7:45 PM ET- Fox Sports
Returning to their virtual home-away-from-home just up the road in Oklahoma City, the number one-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will be the heavy favorites among a talented four teams making up this season’s Perfect 10 Challenge. Coming in off a gritty win over Big 12 rivals Denver on the road, the Sooners showcased their incredible depth from seniors to freshmen, relying on a plethora of athletes to make up for injuries to stars Maggie Nichols and Brenna Dowell to land another 197 score. Oklahoma’s rock this season has been freshman phenom Olivia Trautman going 9.975 on multiple occasions on floor and in front of a local crowd, this could be another golden chance for the freshman to earn a maiden career Perfect 10.0.
The battle for second place in OKC will be a fascinating duel between Pac 12 teams Washington and Arizona State, ranked 18th and 19th, respectively. Washington is riding a high after a bounce-back performance at home last week against UCLA while Arizona State has faced some ups and downs so far this season. The all-rounders for both teams could likely be the difference in deciding second place with Evanni Roberson of Washington and Cairo Leonard-Baker of the Sun Devils both routinely posting 9.900s for their squads. In a race this close between teams ranked nearly identical to one another, this could very well be the difference in deciding who finishes second to the Sooners.
(2) Florida vs. (9) Alabama- Friday, February 15th: 8:30 PM ET- SEC Network
One of the best rivals of the last decade in collegiate gymnastics, this SEC duel between perennial championship contenders Florida and Alabama offers an intriguing insight into the title battle fans could likely see next month at the SEC Championship. Ranked number two, Florida has had an impressive season so far, showcasing beautiful and perfectly-executed gymnastics week in and week out, with vault the only real weak spot for the Gators. Florida has leaned on freshman star Trinity Thomas for huge scores on all four apparatuses consistently this season, and the 17 year-old has delivered, earning the number one ranking on bars after six weeks.
The story has been slightly different for the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama, who have seen some up-and-down performances this season despite a talented freshman class, which offers great potential. Away from Tuscaloosa, the Tide have struggled getting those big scores of 9.900 and above, but with Shallon Olsen and Emily Gaskins leading the way as freshmen, Alabama has a great chance to post a season-high against a very strong Florida team, this time at home inside Coleman Coliseum.
Prediction: FloridaTags: 2019 GymQuarters Invitational, 2019 Perfect 10 Challenge, Alabama, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arizona State, Arizona State Sun Devils, Big 12, Brenna Dowell, Cairo Leonard-Baker, EAGL, Emily Gaskins, Evanni Roberson, Florida, Florida Gators, George Washington, George Washington Colonials, GymQuarters Invitational, LSU, LSU Tigers, Maggie Nichols, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Missouri, Missouri Tigers, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Gymnastics, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sooners, Olivia Trautman, Pac 12, Perfect 10 Challenge, SEC, Shallon Olsen, Stanford, Stanford Cardinal, Trinity Thomas, Utah, Utah Utes, Washington, Washington Huskies