2021 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships preview: It’s anyone’s title to win

By Patricia Duffy | April 15, 2021
2021 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships preview: It's anyone's trophy to win
UCLA's Margzetta Frazier competes on bars at the 2021 Morgantown Regional. (© Lloyd Smith)

It might be hard to believe, but we made it! The finale of the 2021 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics season is upon us, and what a finale it is shaping up to be.

In this post, we’ll preview the women’s field and provide links to watch and live blogs. Gymnastics Now will be bringing you coverage of both the men’s and women’s championship events all weekend long, with the aforementioned live blogs, as well as recaps, photo galleries, and much more. If you don’t already, make sure to also follow us on social (links below) for the most comprehensive coverage.

Keep reading for all the details on the 2021 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships.

2021 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships

Where, when, and how to watch

The 2021 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships begin Friday, April 16, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The competition will feature two semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET and will conclude Saturday with finals at 3:30 p.m. ET.

The 2021 women’s all-around and individual event winners will be decided during the first day of competition. The top two teams from each semifinal will advance to the Four on the Floor finals on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, April 16 – Semifinals, All-Around and Individual Event FinalsScoresLive BlogStreams
1:00pm ET – California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, & individual qualifiers (Semifinal 1)LINKS1 Live BlogESPN2 (Main Broadcast), Vault, Bars, Beam, Floor, Quad Box
6:00pm ET – Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Utah, & individual qualifiers (Semifinal 2)LINKS2 Live BlogESPN2 (Main Broadcast), Vault, Bars, Beam, Floor, Quad Box
Saturday, April 17 – Team FinalsScoresLive BlogStream
3:30pm ET – Four on the FloorLINKFour on the Floor Live BlogABC (Main Broadcast), Vault, Bars, Beam, Floor, Quad Box, Trophy Presentation

The contenders

Team qualifiers (in order of Regional Final Score): Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, California, LSU, Florida, Alabama, and Minnesota. For individual qualifiers click here.

The preview

Florida has dominated the rankings this season, never relinquishing the No. 1 spot, even when Oklahoma tried to knock them off (ultimately settling for a tie), but while sitting atop the standings is positive for regionals placement, everyone starts with a clean slate on Friday. And this year, it’s truly anyone’s game.

If we’re going off regional finals scores alone, Oklahoma is the “favorite” after posting a 198.175 at the Tuscaloosa Regional. Over in Morgantown, Michigan wasn’t too far off that mark with a 198.100, and the Wolverines are considered by some to be the strongest team across all four apparatuses when they hit. Utah scored a 197.925 on its home turf in Salt Lake City, with California and LSU right behind the Utes with a pair of 197.750s. Florida actually had one of the “lowest” qualifying scores with a 197.700, following a disappointing third-place finish behind Alabama and LSU, respectively, at the SEC Championship. The Tide earned the second qualifying spot of the Tuscaloosa Regional behind the Sooners with a 197.575, and Minnesota rounds out the team competition with a 197.425 qualifying score.

All this to once again say: it is really, actually, honestly anyone’s title to take. All it takes is one of the top contenders counting a fall or someone being off their game tomorrow, and they’re out. It is all sudden death from here.

To make matters even more interesting, with only the top two teams from each semifinal – not the overall top four – earning a berth to finals, it’s important to keep in perspective that only two teams from Semifinal 1 (Minnesota, Florida, Michigan, and California) and Semifinal 2 (Alabama, Oklahoma, Utah, and LSU) will advance.

*Bolded teams indicate mathematically-favored qualifiers based off regular season results, assuming teams hit.

Individually, there are favorites, but with the perfect 10 scoring system, there’s always the potential for some surprise event winners and the inevitable tie (or four).

In the all-around, Trinity Thomas has dominated the standings all season, only letting up the past few weeks as she battled an ankle injury. Florida Head Coach Jenny Rowland said Wednesday that Thomas has since returned to training all four events, and her participation in the all-around will depend on how podium training and warmups go.

Other top contenders for the coveted individual all-around crown include Denver’s Lynnzee Brown, Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler, Alabama’s Luisa Blanco, Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb, Michigan’s Natalie Wojcik, Utah’s Maile O’Keefe, and Arkansas’ Kennedy Hambrick.

On vault, all but one of the athletes who earned a perfect 10 on the event this season will be in Texas, including Webb, Ona Loper (Minnesota), Ramler, Haleigh Bryant (LSU), Evy Schoepfer (Oklahoma), Wojcik, and Olivia Trautman (Oklahoma). (The one missing from the group is Iowa State’s Addy De Jesus, who narrowly missed out on qualifying as an individual via regionals.)

Notable vaults to watch include Bryant’s unique front handspring front pike half, and teammate Kiya Johnson’s double-twisting Yurchenko (if she doesn’t opt for the Yurchenko 1.5).

Thomas, Brown, and Ramler lead the pack on uneven bars, with both Thomas and Brown having a perfect 10 on the event this season. Boise State’s bars standout Emily Muhlenhaupt did not qualify to nationals, while Arizona State’s Cairo Leonard-Baker and UCLA’s Margzetta Frazier led the individual qualifiers on the event, both scoring a 9.950 on the event.

Thomas and Brown are certainly the favorites. Besides being the only two gymnasts with two perfect tens each on the event, they both float their sets, and are miles above the competition (literally) when they hit… which is almost always. Blanco’s sky-high double back off bars is a must-see, and keep your eye on Cal’s Emi Watterson and Andi Li. Honestly, if you’re going to watch one team for an entire rotation, Cal’s bars lineup should be it.

Balance beam will be, as it always is, a battle. Beyond the obvious top performers on the event this season (Ramler, O’Keefe, Wojcik) there’s newcomers like Florida freshman Ellie Lazzari and veterans like Minnesota’s Mary Korlin-Downs looking to make a statement. Then, of course, there’s fan-favorite Florida senior Alyssa Baumann, who is still on the hunt for her first (and what could be final) career perfect 10 on her standout event.

LSU’s Johnson is the one to beat on floor, and seeing as the Tigers will be competing in the evening session, she already has a leg up on the competition. The sophomore has three perfect 10s on the event this season and is averaging a 9.987 and a NQS of 9.988 (No. 1 in the nation). Florida’s Thomas is close behind, having earned two 10s this season and sitting in second for the year with a 9.929 average and 9.975 NQS. Denver’s Brown and Minnesota’s Mya Hooten round out the elite club of floor perfect 10s, as well as the regular season top 4.

(Auburn floor standout Derrian Gobourne did not get the opportunity to compete for a spot at nationals after the Tigers had to withdraw from regionals due to COVID-19.)

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