Friday, April 1, 2011

Two Evenly-Matched Teams Go For Nationals Tomorrow

The long-stated goal of the Boise State gymnastics program is to get to the NCAA National Gymnastics Championships, territory that only a precious few (12 teams) get to tread.  To accomplish that dream, a team must finish in the top two in one of the six Regionals.

If you look at the six Regionals that are spread across the country, you couldn’t ask for a better scenario if you are Boise State.  Not only do you have a Regional in Denver with #12 Arkansas and #13 Boise State (the closest two teams can be heading in), but those two teams fought back and forth for position in the rankings all season long.  It is appropriate that they both compete at the same location for the right to advance.

Arkansas, like Boise State, has been consistent all season long.  They opened with a loss to Denver (who is also at the Regionals), when the Razorback women scored 195.6.  They returned to Fayetteville the following weekend and significantly improved their score to 196.525 in a win over West VirginiaArkansas stayed roughly at that level the next two weeks, scoring 196.50 in a win over Illinois and then posting the upset of the season in knocking off Southeastern Conference mate and #1-ranked Florida at home with a score of 196.70.

After that emotional win, there was a letdown in a loss to #25 BYU (who will also be in Denver), when Arkansas scored just 195.025.  From there, Arkansas scored 195.325 in a won at LSU, an impressive 195.775 in a win over Georgia, 195.325 in a win over Auburn, 194.975 in a win at Kentucky, a disappointing 194.750 in a loss at home to eventual SEC champion Alabama and 195.075 in a loss at Oklahoma.

Arkansas, therefore, is probably most familiar with the Denver field as they have faced three of them (Denver, Florida and BYU) this season. 

Boise State and Arkansas could not be closer in the national rankings.  The Razorbacks have the edge in season average by a razor-thin margin (195.623 to 195.600) and earned their #12 national ranking by the slimmest of margins (196.060 to 195.995).  Boise State, however, has the higher score this season (197.050 to 196.700).

The Razorbacks recorded their best finish ever at the SEC Championship a few weeks back, placing fourth with a score of 195.800.  Florida had to settle for second with a score of 196.975 as #2 Alabama sizzled on that night with a 197.225. 

"This is the best finish we've ever had at the SEC meet," co-head coach Mark Cook said. "Our best finish before was fifth. We thought we were a little ahead of Georgia after three events, but we couldn't hold them off. This is the hardest meet of the year."

Jaime Pisani tied for second on vault at the SEC Championship, Mariah Howdeshell tied for seventh on bars, Katherine Grable tied for seventh on beam and Pisani tied for third on floor. In the all-around, Grable was fifth, Jordan Salsberg 13th and Grable 14th.

Arkansas set a school record in the vault at the SEC meet (49.325) and Pisani tied school marks of 9.90 on both floor and vault.

Boise State, meanwhile, claimed the Western Athletic Conference title with a 195.700 in San Jose, California.  Amy Glass, Hannah Redmon and Hailey Gaspar finished 1-2-3 in the vault with scores of 9.900, 9.875 and 9.85, respectively.  Redmon won the WAC title on the uneven bars with a 9.850.  Boise State’s Achilles heel is the balance beam, where their best performer could only manage fourth, while Kelsey Lang was second on the floor (9.825).

Arkansas received the best score of the two post-season performances, 195.800 to 195.700, albeit on floors hundreds of miles apart.  It should also be noted that the Razorbacks were pushed harder in their championship than Boise State was.  A tighter WAC race might have forced the Broncos to push themselves harder.

Championships are not decided on statistics but on actual performance.  I mentioned yesterday that Boise State has to go into the Regional with their eyes on winning the meet, not trying trying to get one of the top two scores.  That's a mental attitude, and I believe it to be essential to Boise State's chances tomorrow afternoon.  Nerves will play a huge part in a sport in which tenths of points decide the final team standings.  

Boise State was selected to start the six-rotation meet on the bye before floor, meaning they will have a bye in the first rotation and actually begin their competition in rotation two on floor. They will then continue on to vault, then a bye, then bars and end the meet on beam.

The Denver Regional gets underway at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) night Mountain Time.

Boise State:

WAC Championship
San Jose, California
Saturday, March 19

Boise State’s Individual Results:
Floor: 48.950
Hailey Gaspar 9.825, Hannah Redmon 9.825, Sarah Smith 9.800, Kelsey Lang 9.750, Amy Glass 9.750, Kelsey Black 9.575

Vault:  49.175
Amy Glass 9.900, Hannah Redmon 9.875, Hailey Gaspar 9.850, Brittany Potvin-Green 9.800, Amanda Otuafi 9.750, Sarah Smith 9.750

Bars:  48.825
Hannah Redmon 9.850, Katie Tuller 9.750, Lindsay Kazandjian 9.750, Brittany Potvin-Green 9.750, Kelsey Black 9.725, Amy Glass 9.120

Beam:  48.750
Kelsey Lang 9.875, Lindsay Kazandjian 9.825, Amy Glass 9.825, Bekah Gher 9.675, Lacee Lang 9.550, Hannah Redmon 9.170


SEC Championship
Birmingham, Alabama
Saturday, March 19

Arkansas' Individual Results
Floor: 48.975
Amanda Siebert 9.625, Jordan Salsberg 9.65, Amy Borsellino 9.775, Kelci Lewis 9.80, Katherine Grable 9.85, Jaime Pisani 9.90

Vault: 49.325
Amanda Siebert 9.725, Jordan Salsberg 9.875, Amy Borsellino 9.825, Katherine Grable 9.875, Jaime Pisani 9.90, Michelle Stout 9.85

Bars: 48.675
Jordan Salsberg 9.55, Katherine Grable 9.75, Genny Salvatore 9.70, Jaime Pisani 9.175, Michelle Stout 9.825, Mariah Howdeshell 9.85

Beam:  48.825
Scarlett Williams 9.725, Jaime Pisani 9.80, Jordan Salsberg 9.725, Shelby Salmon 9.65,Katherine Grable 9.85, Stacy Bartlett 9.725