What We’re Talking About
Haleigh Bryant is incredible. Just two weeks ago we wrote in this very column that she “…might be the best vaulter in the nation.” This past weekend she demonstrated why we were so confident in that assessment and then she went on to showcase her all-around aptitude by performing three perfect 10s in the same meet. This historic feat has only been accomplished by four other gymnasts in NCAA history—the most recent of which was Jamie Dantzscher, 21 years ago (on the same three events too: vault, uneven bars and floor). But here’s the thing… her vault should not have scored a 10. She has a clear slide/hop-back on her landing. The vault was incredible, but not perfect—clearly not perfect.
Over the course of the season we’ve been giving some judges a lot flack about impossible 10s, and rightfully so. However, the problem with the scoring is getting exacerbated by announcers gaslighting the fans. After the instant replay of Bryant’s vault, where you can see—in slow motion—the not-stuck landing, one of the announcers says, “That was a well-deserved 10.0. It’s just a beautiful vault there’s no arguing that.” Nope, it wasn’t a well-deserved 10, it was a beautiful vault, and yeah, we’re going to argue about it.
Announcers need to do better. This type of call doesn’t even take work, just honesty. This offhand compliment might seem harmless enough, but what it’s really doing is conditioning some fans to believe that there’s ample wiggle room to hop and slide for a 10. Moreover, it tells the astute fans to not believe their eyes. Worse, it might have them question the integrity of the process. (Did we just say that?) Ultimately, when you lose the meaning of scoring not just in practice, but also in concept, you’re no longer participating in a sport, but a spectacle.
Okay, is it time to talk about Cal now? We thought Michigan State was hot, but Cal is on fire. They started the weekend off by breaking their all-time school record with a 198.100, becoming the 11th team this season to crack 198. Then just two days later they did it again, scoring a 198.275! This masterful performance included the second highest beam score in NCAA history: a 48.825. When the weekend dust settled Cal had broken five school records and shared a quarter chunk of the regular season Pac-12 title.
- Half the Pac-12 won the regular season championship. Sure.
- Oklahoma let everyone know play time is over.
- Watch out for Kentucky. They’re ranked 8th in the nation and third in the SEC, ahead of Alabama and Auburn.
- Vanessa Ferrari announced her return, reminding everyone that gymnastics is for grown ass women.
- Last week: “Jordan Chiles might be the hottest gymnast in the country right now.”
- This week: Jordan Chiles posted the highest all-around score in the nation and the fifth highest all time.
- Soak it up because Chiles said she’s taking next year off to focus on Paris.
- We love the realness of the Arizona State social media team.
- The USOPC received a $10 million donation for mental health services—Simone still making an impact.
- What to watch: Five teams are fighting for the last three regional spots (BYU, Boise State, North Carolina, San Jose State, and U.C. Davis)
- Suni 🏼
- Only two teams have posted a score higher than Oklahoma this entire season… and Oklahoma is one of them.
- Haleigh Bryant scored three perfect 10s this weekend and it wasn’t the highest score of the year; it wasn’t even the highest score of the weekend.
- Mya Lauzon executed the first perfect 10 on beam in Cal history. Remember eMjae Fraizer getting the program’s first 10 on floor last week?
- No. 3 Haleigh Bryant jumped ahead of Trinity Thomas in the all-around rankings.
- Oklahoma only has one all-arounder ranked in the top 20 (Jordan Bowers). UCLA, LSU, Florida, Michigan, Auburn, and Cal all have two or more.
- BIPOC currently make up four of the top five all-around gymnasts in the country. Opportunity and representation matters.
- Jordan got a 10 on uneven bars.
- The top seven teams NQS teams are locked in the top seven.
- The exhibitions are done for the season.
- Postseason means each apparatus will have four judges during conference championships and regionals. That bumps up to six for nationals.
What’s On the Socials?
Jordan Chiles was given a 9.975 for this vault, but @Simone_Biles is giving it a perfect 🔟
— espnW (@espnW) March 12, 2023
The first 🔟 on beam in program history! 👏
A part of a 49.825 that ranks 2nd in NCAA history! 🤯
— Cal Women’s Gymnastics (@CalWGym) March 13, 2023
— Nile Wilson (@NileMW) March 12, 2023
Our new all-time 1️⃣0️⃣ leader, Haleigh Bryant.
— LSU Gymnastics (@LSUgym) March 11, 2023
“It breaks my heart to know that now some will no longer be able to make their own decision without the threat of being tracked, reported, arrested and charged with a felony for what, until recently, had been a right.” ~ Greg Marsden, Retired Legend
Marsden, who acknowledged he’s dealt with pregnant athletes while coaching, shared his thoughts on the new challenges coaches face as government restrictions make body autonomy more difficult for female athletes.
“See you guys at Regionals…as we win. Period.”
~ Jordan Chiles, Gymnast in the Zone
Jordan expressing her confidence in a press conference after posting the highest all-around score in the nation.
“Due to a non-gymnastics health issue, I’m saddened to share that I will not be competing in tomorrow’s meet.” ~ Sunisa Lee, Wounded Tiger
Suni has missed the last two meets of the season, including what would have been her last home meet at Auburn. She has since posted (and then taken down) a TikTok video of her in a hospital bed—she seemed to be in good spirits.
“I literally will do whatever they need me to do (if they get pregnant), even if I guess it puts me in trouble.” ~ Cecile Landi, Freedom Fighter
In the same article that quoted Marsden, Landi expressed her support for her athletes even if it means personal peril.
College & Cocktails
Listen to this week’s bonus episode: College & Cocktails with Vanessa Atler
Cocktail of the Week:
Week 10: Leotard Bonus
This one is bonkers pretty, so should be good for a few extra tenths.
1.5oz Peach Nectar
1oz Lemon Juice
.5oz Simple Syrup
3oz Chilled Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
3oz Peach Nectar
2oz Lemon Juice
1oz Simple Syrup
4oz Chilled Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
Meet Week Prep: Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
Steep 5-6 dried Butterfly Pea Flowers in 8oz hot water until it’s a beautiful deep blue color, about 5 minutes. Strain flowers out and store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight until ready to use.
Make Your Drink:
In an empty glass combine Peach Nectar, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, and Bourbon. Stir to combine and fill glass with ice. Holding a spoon upside down on top of the ice, gently pour the Butterfly Pea Flower Tea over the back of the spoon. Admire what would be a gorgeous leotard color combo then stir to combine to enjoy.
Stick the Landing:
Already stuck. This drink doesn’t need anything else!
What? You want even more? Join Club Gym Nerd and you get a bonus episode, College & Cocktails, every Friday after our meet of the week. Once the NCAA season is over you continue to get a weekly bonus episode every Friday afternoon. Plus you get access to all of our archives, exclusive content and more. Then we give the sober analysis on Monday (or Tuesday) after we’ve allowed the data to penetrate our feelings.
This column was composed and compiled by Steve Cooper, Editor, GymCastic; as performed by hosts Jessica O’Beirne and Spencer Barnes.
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