NCAA shenanigans — Doha comes to a close — Ella Kate Parker talks post-comp

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Jessica Taylor Price, March 12, 2022

The talk of the town this week is how incredibly out of control NCAA scoring inflation is right now. According to Spencer at The Balance Beam Situation, as of March 8th, 226 routines had been given a 10 by at least one judge this season. He also pointed out that five out of the top 11 team scores in NCAA history happened this year, with a whopping four of those all happening on March 5th, 2022, a date that will live in infamy.

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To echo the rumblings (OK, the shouts) all across the gymternet, this is out of control. The sport can’t be taken seriously if my great-aunt Sylvia showing up and sticking a landing warrants a 10. Score inflation is natural and happens in elite as well, but when you have a cap, there is no incentive to improve and athletes aren’t being compared fairly. It’s time to throw the judges in the dumpster and start over with something better, like my great-aunt’s water aerobics team.

To level with you, I’ve never been a huge NCAA fan because of the relatively low difficulty and the excessive celebration. The first-ever NCAA routine I saw — a vault from Gator Bridget Sloan — was a FTY that she stuck. The celebration that followed prompted me to wonder if she had just clinched a national championship, or if she had just recovered from surgery. And I never thought the padded scoring would affect that feeling, but this year, it really has. If every vault is not only worth jumping up and down about, but is also “perfect,” then none of them are.

No. Moving on to meet news, on Sunday, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Arkansas met at Elevate the Stage Huntsville, where Alabama led with a 198 flat. The Bruins broke 198 for the first time this season with a 198.050 win over Cal, and Jordan Chiles scored a 10 on floor:

Oklahoma bested Air Force and SEMO at Texas Women’s with a 198.0750. Rounding out week nine, Mara Zoë Titarsolej got the first 10 in LIU’s program history:

Next, week 10. We did it, you guys. We reached the final week of the regular NCAA season. From here on out, we just have conference champs and then postseason. Brackets are always fun, as is the controversy over who gets screwed over in the seeding process, so I’ll have more on that next week. 

For now, Friday. Since NCAA apparently hates me and wants me up til past midnight every Friday, this weekend is once again front loaded with three of the four top teams competing. Florida beat Penn and Rutgers at NC State with a 197.975, LSU upset Utah at home with a 198.125 to Utah’s 197.875, and Haleigh Bryant stuck a beautiful vault for a 10 there:

Oklahoma beat Boise State and Arizona State with a 197.625.

On Saturday, Auburn and West Virginia head to Michigan, UC Davis meets UCLA, and LIU, Temple, and Utah State head to Minnesota. Sunday, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oregon State meet at Denver, and Iowa heads to Cal for the final meet of the regular season. 

Check out the full schedule at College Gym News, and standings at Road to Nationals.

Before you go:

  • Olivia Trautman is coming back for one more season.
  • Emily Glynn is out for the season with an Achilles injury.
  • Fisk University has named its first-ever women’s gymnastics head coach, Corrine Tarver Wright!

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Elite news

  • The Doha World Cup concluded with Vladislava Urazova taking the beam title. Compatriot Mariia Minaeva won on floor ahead of Ukraine’s Daniela Batrona, who once again amazed here for a silver:

Lauren at The Gymternet is keeping track of the apparatus world cup rankings here.

  • According to Gymcastic, Valeri Liukin is no longer being considered for the national team coordinator position.
  • It seems based on some social media activity that some of our faves don’t have great views politically. Oksana Chusovitina liked a pro-Russia post on Instagram, as did Angelina Melnikova and Tatyana Nabieva (Luba at Gymnovosti is keeping track and doing a great job of translating everything, so be sure to follow her). Luba also reports that Svetlana Khorkina, who is adamantly pro-Putin and was originally supposed to be the ambassador for the Cairo World Cup, is no longer slated to attend, and Valentina Rodionenko is in support of Ivan Kuliak, the MAG athlete who wore a Z (a symbol of the invasion) on his uniform during the Doha World Cup.
  • Aleah Finnegan teased the possibility of competing for the Philippines (Inside Gymnastics).

Tweet of the week

Five at The IX: Ella Kate Parker

Junior Winter Cup all-around champ Ella Kate Parker spoke to the media after her win. Parker is a wee baby (she’s 14) so her responses were short and sweet. Edited for clarity and length.

Do you think it’s going to help with your confidence moving forward knowing that you can still win with a fall?
I do. I think that knowing that I can do what I did and show what I can do, is amazing, I feel really happy with myself. But I’m going to go back to the gym and work really hard on my mistakes and then come out and not make that mistake again.

How does it feel to win your second title in a row? And why do you put your leo in your mouth during your run on vault?
Honestly, it feels so surreal to win again. It’s such a confidence booster, and I’m just so thankful to be here and do what I did today. 

The leo, it helps me with my confidence and it keeps my head in, mainly. It’s kind of funny to watch.

You had an Olympic silver medalist (MyKayla Skinner) putting your gold around your neck. What did that feel like?
Oh my gosh, it was so amazing. She was so sweet and I just loved being able to have her even next to me, she’s so amazing.

Who are some of your role models in sport. Who’s inspired you in your career so far?
Simone. She’s just so amazing and I can see how hard she works in the gym, and it’s really inspiring to watch, and she’s really sweet to all of us.

You seem to go through your beam like it’s effortless. Do you work as much on presentation as you do on skills?
Yes, I work very hard in the gym on dance sets and really working on my presentation.

Obviously, bars didn’t go the way I’m sure you wanted to today. What happened and why did you hop off?
I held back a little bit on my weiler and I was thinking to myself, OK, regroup and just finish strong.

You said you were inspired by Simone, and I saw that your leotard today was actually designed for you by Simone. How exciting was that for you?
Oh my gosh, I just couldn’t believe that she’d do that for me. We saw her at championships last year and she said she wanted to do that for us, and my coach knows her. She said she would do it and it was just so exciting, and I’m in love with my leo. And I felt amazing in it.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parkerThe IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Anne Tokarski, @annetokarski, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer