The 2019 NCAA Gymnastics regular season is quickly reaching the tail’s-end and the competition between teams and meet matchups are heating up. With RQS very quickly shaking up the rankings in just a week, every team will be vying for one final big score to tack onto their RQS, especially those with crucial away meets. Week eight seems some famed rivalries in the sport of gymnastics and some that span an entire state, while the big stage continues to highlight some of the nation’s best teams.
Here are the three to see in week eight of NCAA Gym:
Marquee Meet of the Week: (2) UCLA vs. (4) Utah- Saturday, February 23rd: 3:30 PM ET- Pac 12 Network
Without question the meet of the week goes to one of the most heated and intensely-fought rivalries in collegiate gymnastics of the last five years, the battle for Pac 12 supremacy between powerhouses UCLA and Utah. Having split the last five Pac 12 championship titles, the Bruins and the Red Rocks are the undoubted top two of their conference and their last two dual-meet showdowns bear this out.
The Utes own a two-meet win streak over the Bruins in their annual dual-meet competition, with their highly-anticipated meeting last season in Pauley Pavilion decided by less than two tenths for Utah. Coming in undefeated this season however, UCLA will be seeking revenge after a collapse on floor on the final event last season cost the Bruins the meet against Utah.
UCLA’s two stars Kyla Ross and Katelyn Ohashi will be expected to have big meets for the Bruins if they hope to win, however the key for UCLA may come early in the vault lineup, with inconsistency from their first four performers plaguing the Bruins at times this season. Utah has been remarkably consistent this season, not once going below 197, and only losing once to LSU in a second-place showing at the GymQuarters Invitational last weekend, and getting star MyKayla Skinner back in the all-around would certainly help Utah’s chances. This meet will be close and come down to the final rotation as it always does, but despite the massive sold-out crowd expected for Utah on Saturday in the Huntsman Center, UCLA has shown a higher ceiling and a higher propensity to get there, something that will give the Bruins confidence as they head into a hostile environment in Salt Lake City.
(7) Georgia vs. (3) Florida- Friday, February 22nd: 6:45 PM ET- SEC Network
One of the biggest rivalries in the SEC, the annual battle between foes Florida and Georgia gets a new wrinkle this season with the sister duel between Gator sophomore Alyssa Baumann and Bulldog freshman Rachel Baumann. Florida has established itself as one of the top teams in all of collegiate gymnastics the last five years, while the Gymdogs have seen their fair share of ups and downs as a program.
Now that a stellar freshmen class and second-year head coach in Courtney Kupets Carter are in place, the Gymdogs seem primed for a possible Final Four run at the end of the season and that stretch really heats up now with the rivalry duel against Florida. The Gators and Bulldogs are closer than they have been in several years and both teams have seen standout performances from athletes like Trinity Thomas and Alicia Boren for Florida and Sydney Snead and Sabrina Vega for Georgia. Georgia has struggled at times on bars and starting there inside a loud O’Dome arena in Gainesville could very likely be the difference in this close rivalry meet.
Elevate the Stage Toledo- Friday Session (7 PM ET): (15) Nebraska, (24) Penn State, Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State- Saturday Session (6 PM ET): (8) Michigan, (14) Minnesota, (22) Ohio State, Illinois, Rutgers- FloGymnastics
The annual Big Five meets in the Big 10 come early this season with the Elevate the Stage meet in Toledo hosting two sessions, one on Friday night and the other on Saturday night, to determine the seedings for this year’s Big 10 Championships. In the Friday session in Toledo, Nebraska will come in as fairly clear-cut favorites as the highest-ranked team and one of the best in the nation, but Penn State could certainly knock off the Cornhuskers with a strong performance and an off-night from Nebraska.
The Saturday session will likely be the more exciting battle, with three very talented and highly-ranked teams in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State all facing off. The Wolverines and the Golden Gophers have been the top of the Big 10 so far this season and the two teams will have a golden chance to go head-to-head on a podium stage, giving fans a good preview as to what to expect at next month’s Big 10 Championships between likely the two favorite teams. Michigan has been consistently improving this season and seems to have found their best form at a good time, so the Wolverines will likely just edge Minnesota to join Nebraska as Elevate the Stage Toledo champions.
Friday prediction: Nebraska
Saturday prediction: MichiganTags: 2019 Big Five, 2019 Elevate the Stage, 2019 Elevate the Stage Toledo, Alicia Boren, Alyssa Baumann, Big 10, Big Five, Elevate the Stage, Elevate the Stage Toledo, Florida, Florida Gators, Georgia, Georgia Bulldogs, Illinois, Illinois Fighting Illini, Iowa, Iowa Hawkeyes, Katelyn Ohashi, Kyla Ross, Maryland, Maryland Terrapins, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, MyKayla Skinner, NCAA Gymnastics, Nebraska, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Ohio State, Ohio State Buckeyes, Pac 12, Penn State, Penn State Nittany Lions, Rachel Baumann, Rutgers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Sabrina Vega, SEC, Sydney Snead, Trinity Thomas, UCLA, UCLA Bruins, Utah, Utah Utes