UCLA Gymnastics - NCAA Championships Preview

The UCLA Gymnastics team at the Pac-12 Championships. From UCLA Gymnastics Twitter.

The second ranked UCLA Gymnastics team is traveling to Duluth, GA to compete in at the NCAA Championships. The Championships run over three days, with Friday, April 20th as the team semi-finals, Saturday April 21st as the Super Six Team finals, and Sunday April 22nd as the individual event finals.

UCLA will be competing in the morning session on Friday at 9am UCLA time as the top seed in their semi-final, along with #3 Oklahoma, #6 Nebraska, #7 Utah, #10 Stanford and #11 LSU. The afternoon session has the remaining six teams, including #1 Florida and fellow Pac-12 school #9 Oregon State. The top three teams from each semi-final will advance to the Super Six team final on Saturday. If the Super Six follow the rankings, the six schools would be Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and Nebraska. But anything can happen - a team could totally collapse on one element, and another team can jump into the Super Six. The semi finals will not be televised, but you can follow along on ncaa.org. The Super Six Team Finals and Individual Event Finals will be televised on ESPN3. We will have open threads up for the competition as long as UCLA is involved and if any Bruins move on to the event finals.

Let's review the teams grouped with UCLA in the morning session after the jump.

With the top three from each semi-final moving onto the Super Six, UCLA does have some wiggle room in regards to scoring, but the top four teams in the session are spectacular, and everyone will be pushing each other to go six for six on their routines. The rotation order in the Super Six depends on how UCLA scores, so the highest score possible without over exerting themselves is the goal.

UCLA's rotation begins on the vault, UCLA's strongest event. then a bye, uneven bars, balance beam, the second bye, and ending the session on the floor.

In a quick look against the other 12 teams in the meet, UCLA is 7-1-1 against the competition, with the only loss coming against #5 Georgia (in Georgia) and a tie against Oregon State.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma is currently the third ranked team in the nation. The Lady Sooners won their regional with a score of 197.025, defeating Stanford by over a point. The scored over 49 points in each element, and are a consistent, solid all around team. Oklahoma has never won a NCAA title, but is advancing to their ninth straight NCAA Championships. Senior Megan Ferguson is the gymnast to watch from the Sooners, as she won the floor at Regionals with a 9.925 and shared the beam title with a 9.9.

Nebraska: Nebraska came in second in the Salt Lake City regional, coming in behind host Utah, with a score of 196.825. The Lady Huskers are advancing to their 12th Championship in the past 14 seasons and they are also looking for their first NCAA title. Nebraska's gymnast to watch is true freshman Jessie DeZiel who won the all-around with a score of 39.40 and winning the vault with a fantastic score of 9.95 and the floor with a score of 9.90.

Utah: Utah is looking to win their first national title since 1995, and actually has more gymnastics national titles than UCLA, with nine titles. Utah has qualified for their 37th consecutive championship (31st NCAA Championship), and is looking to make their 18th Super Six appearance. UCLA has beaten Utah twice this year, but Utah should be able to contend for one of the three spots from morning session. Gymnastics is popular at Utah, and is the second most watched women's team in the country, coming in just behind Tennessee Women's Basketball in attendance. The Ute to watch is Pac-12 All Around champion Corrie Lothrop.

Stanford: Stanford is competing in their 12th NCAA championship after finishing second in their regional with a score of 196.675. Stanford had a few falls at regionals, but were able to overcome them and defeat host Illinois. While I don't expect Stanford to make the Super Six, and UCLA beat them by 0.8 earlier this season, Stanford may have a few event qualifiers with senior Nicole Pechanec on bars (9.925 at Regionals) and senior Alyssa Brown (9.90 at regionals) on vault.

LSU: LSU is competing at their 23rd NCAA Championship after coming in second at their regional to Alabama and barely edging out Washington. Their overall team score was 196.075, and really responded after a leadoff fall on the beam, hitting the remaining five routines. LSU's top gymnast is Lloimincia Hall who came in 4th in the all around at regionals.

The hunt for 109 continues. Go Bruins.

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