With only two weekends of action remaining in the NCAA Gymnastics regular season, teams are beginning to wind down and focus on fine-tuning and getting healthy for the post season competition. Conference championships are only two weeks away but there’s still some conference action for some teams, while many squads are testing themselves on the road across the country with exciting non-conference duels.
Here’s the three to see in week 10 of NCAA Gym:
Marquee Meet of the Week: (1) Oklahoma vs. (7) Michigan- Saturday, March 9th: 12 PM ET- Big Ten Network
Two of the hottest teams in the sport the last three weeks will go head to head in a blockbuster duel in Ann Arbor Saturday, with number one Oklahoma facing the seventh-ranked Wolverines of Michigan. These two perennial powerhouses have met the last two years in an exciting non-conference series, and so far their meets have not disappointed. Michigan has put up some of their best gymnastics against the Sooners and later in the season, making this an exciting meet to test the Wolverines’ potential for a Final Four run this year.
Michigan is led by two fabulous all-arounders, a freshman phenom Natalie Wojcik and a senior standout Olivia Karas, both giving the Wolverines big scores across all four events. Wojcik has earned one Perfect 10.0 so far this year a few weeks ago on her impeccable vault, a Yurchenko one-and-a-half, and with a big crowd expected at the Crisler Center Saturday, another 10 could be in the works for Wojcik or Karas.
For Oklahoma, the Sooners have had a challenging but impressive run of meets the last month, being forced to fight through injuries and nagging physical problems to some of their top stars, forcing them to dig deep in their lineups. In the last month, the Sooners have edged two then number two-ranked teams, Florida and UCLA, and have enjoyed some standout performances such as Olivia Trautman‘s Perfect 10.0 on floor and some excellent work from leaders Brenna Dowell and Maggie Nichols. Michigan had proven they can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Oklahoma, but even with the Sooners forced to use their depth, Oklahoma’s top routines from the likes of Nichols should put them over the edge.
Elevate the Stage Birmingham: (8) Georgia, (10) Minnesota, (20) Arkansas, Michigan State- Friday, March 8th: 8 PM ET- FloGymnastics
The second and final Elevate the Stage meet of 2019 will take place in Birmingham, Alabama, with Friday’s highly-anticipated NCAA session set to be a thrilling ride. The SEC powerhouses Georgia will be favorites to take the title only a few hundred miles from their Athens campus, but the fast-rising Minnesota Golden Gophers will give the Gymdogs a run for their money.
Georgia has enjoyed major highs and lows this season and this has been seen just in the last two outings for the Bulldogs. Two weeks prior, Georgia put up a season-best performance to knock off the third-ranked Florida Gators while a week later a slow start on the bars- their biggest challenge- cost them against LSU on the road.
Minnesota is led by all-around star Lexy Ramler who has contended for multiple Perfect 10.0’s on both bars and beam so far this season, and Ivy Lu has also contributed big scores to the Gophers. For Minnesota to win the title here, they will need to break into the 9.8-range on their early-lineup routines and match Georgia there, where the Gymdogs have top names such as Sabrina Vega, Sydney Snead, and Rachel Dickson.
Number 20 Arkansas will also look to spoil the party for the Bulldogs and Gophers, while a talented, young Michigan State team will hope to secure a big road score to add to their NQS in hopes of making it back to the NCAA Regionals this season.
(15) Oregon State vs. (4) LSU- Friday, March 8th: 8 PM ET- SEC Network+
The number four LSU Tigers will celebrate an incredible senior class led by stars Sarah Finnegan and Lexie Priessman on Friday, hoping for another packed crowd inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as they take on the 15th-ranked Beavers of Oregon State. LSU has really begun to rise in the last three weeks, posting their best performances of the season, including two Perfect 10.0’s from Priessman and Finnegan in their defeat of the Georgia Bulldogs in Baton Rouge. The Tigers will look to continue to improve their consistency and strength across all four events, especially vault and beam, where their depth has been challenged.
For Oregon State, the Beavers have had an up-and-down season but have shown some real talent and potential, led by sophomore Kaitlyn Yanish. The Beavers have shined on floor and will look to add another big road score as they aim to reach the top 12 before the NCAA Regional assignments are made and post-season begins.
Prediction: LSUTags: 2019 Elevate the Stage, 2019 Elevate the Stage Birmingham, Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Big 10, Big 12, Big Ten, Brenna Dowell, Elevate the Stage, Elevate the Stage Birmingham, Georgia, Georgia Bulldogs, Ivy Lu, Kaitlyn Yanish, Lexie Priessman, Lexy Ramler, Maggie Nichols, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Natalie Wojcik, NCAA Gymnastics, Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sooners, Olivia Karas, Olivia Trautman, Oregon State, Oregon State Beavers, Pac 12, Rachel Dickson, Sabrina Vega, Sarah Finnegan, SEC, Sydney Snead