NCAA women’s gymnastics Week 2 recap: Perfect 10s and podium meets

By Hannah Johnson | January 17, 2023
UCLA's Margzetta Frazier (left) and Jordan Chiles (right)
UCLA's Margzetta Frazier (left) and Jordan Chiles (right) talk during Session 4 of the 2023 Super 16 meet in Las Vegas. (© Amy Sanderson)

Perfect 10s, podium meets, and matchups that came down to the very last routine entertained NCAA women’s gymnastics fans during Week 2. With this excitement, however, there were also injuries to key competitors.

Read on for a recap of last week’s action, and how the results could implicate the rest of the season.

SEC Showdowns

#10 LSU vs. #12 Kentucky

This meet served as the home opener for Kentucky, and it was nothing short of entertaining. The Kentucky Wildcats emerged victorious with a team score of 197.125 while the LSU Tigers finished with a 196.575, just over half a point behind.

Wildcat senior Raena Worley led Kentucky, as she has done her entire career, with a 39.525 all-around score. She was the sole all-around competitor for Kentucky, but she was not alone in her success. Worley’s teammates Hailey Davis, Kaitlin Deguzman, Shealyn Luksik, Isabella Magnelli, and Arianna Patterson all reached the 9.9 mark on at least one apparatus. Kentucky junior Bailey Bunn added bars to her program this week as she continues to find her footing post-injury. Kentucky significantly improved on its Week 1 score, eclipsing the 197 mark and scoring well above 49 on each event. 

Elena Arenas (LSU) – BB vs. Kentucky

LSU triumphantly opened the meet on uneven bars where the team earned a 49.475, nearly half a point better than its bars score during Week 1. Two rotations later, Tiger senior and key all-arounder Kiya Johnson unfortunately went down with an Achilles injury during her floor routine and later was reported to be out for the season. Junior Haleigh Bryant was the standout for LSU with a 39.575 winning all-around score and will look to be the leader of the team moving forward. Bryant’s Classmate Elena Arenas stepped in for Johnson on beam and delivered during the high-pressure moment, receiving a career-high 9.925 on the event. Her impact on the team is sure to grow after Johnson’s injury. On beam, freshman Bryce Wilson missed her hands on her acrobatic series and ended up hitting her head on a mat. While initially reported to be okay, this is something the Tigers are going to want to monitor closely in the coming weeks. 

#5 Auburn vs. #2 Florida

This meet was everything college gym fans could ask for and more. The Florida Gators got the victory with a 197.825 team score on the back of a 49.625 floor exercise rotation. The Auburn Tigers also put together a solid meet, earning a 197.200.

Leanne Wong (Florida) – UB vs. Auburn

Former U.S. elite teammates Leanne Wong and Trinity Thomas were the standouts for the Gators. Wong, propelled by a 10 on both bars and beam, won the all-around competition with a 39.825. Thomas had a 10 of her own on floor exercise and finished with a 39.725 all-around score. Gymnastics fans rejoiced as they got to see 2017 world all-around champion Morgan Hurd’s first floor routine as a Gator. It was surely a special moment for Hurd in the anchor spot, and the set was filled with entertaining choreography. Florida fans should be aware of a potential injury to fifth-year transfer student Rachel Baumann, who did not compete after warming up vault and apparently tweaking something in her left arm. That being said, this is one of the deepest teams that Florida has had in a long time, and they should have no problem filling those lineup spots if Baumann will be out for a while.

Auburn was led by all-arounders Suni Lee and Cassie Stevens, both of whom received a 39.525 for their efforts. Tiger junior Olivia Hollingsworth joined them in the all-around and turned in a 39.2 performance of her own. Fifth-year Derrian Gobourne was excellent as always and effectively supplemented the all-around scores of Lee, Stevens, and Hollingsworth. Most importantly, Auburn was able to achieve 49+ scores on every apparatus, capped by a much steadier beam rotation than that of the previous week.

Best of Utah

#6 Utah, #22 Southern Utah, BYU, and Utah State

Utah was able to use a 49.675 beam rotation to run away with this one. The Utes won the meet with a 197.750, more than a point higher than the second place Thunderbirds.

Grace McCallum found redemption by hitting her vault this week and finishing with a 39.675 all-around score. Kara Eaker’s stunning form and artistry earned her a 10 on beam. Utah had an embarrassment of riches on beam, as usual, and all counting scores were 9.9 or greater.

Kara Eaker (Utah) – BB @ Best of Utah

Southern Utah received second place with a team score of 196.175. Fifth-year student Karley McClain, as she has done for the past few years, led the Thunderbirds with a 39.325 all-around score. As the season progresses, look for her to win some all-around titles. This was the third of three meets in one week for the Thunderbirds. Scott Bauman and his staff experimented with lineups once again. Next week, we might begin to see the Thunderbirds lineups we can be accustomed to for the rest of the season. 

Utah State was able to garner a 195.800 team score and earn third place in its opening meet. With no all-around gymnasts, Aggies Brianna Brooks, Grace Rojas, and transfer Alivia Ostendorf paced the team by competing three events each. Teammate Sofi Sullivan was back to her excellence on beam with a 9.9. This was a great showing for Utah State considering the amount of roster turnover they had as former head coach Amy Smith and many key contributors left to start a gymnastics program at Clemson. Aggie freshmen seeing lineup time were Avery Bibbey (bars) and Marley Peterson (vault and floor). 

BYU finished in fourth place with a team score of 195.175. Importantly, the Cougars improved on their opening meet score by over a point. This is a score the Cougars are more used to seeing, and the good news is that there is still room to grow on vault and beam. The team has yet to hit 49 on either event this season. Like Utah State, BYU got the bulk of its scores from three-event competitors. These included Cougars Elease Rollins, Allix Mason, Sophie Dudley, and Sydney Benson. Gymnastics fans got to see the highly-awaited debut of freshman Madison Raesly-Patton as she competed on beam for a 9.75.

Wasatch Classic 

#3 California, #6 UCLA, #16 Iowa, #19 Minnesota, #20 Pittsburgh, #25 Washington, #26 Oregon State, and Boise State

UCLA took this two-session meet with a commanding 197.850 team score. The Bruins seem to have found their stride under first-year head coach Janelle McDonald. UCLA had three outstanding 49.5+ rotations and could certainly improve on their 49.25 vault rotation if they minimize landing deductions. Going forward, this team has the potential to score a 198 any given week. Jordan Chiles and Selena Harris, two gymnasts who went through the elite ranks, led the way for the Bruins and tied for second with 39.725 all-around scores.

Jordan Chiles (UCLA) – FX @ Wasatch Classic

California was not far behind, earning second place with a 197.525. Golden Bears Andi Li and Nevaeh DeSouza stood out with their 39.675 and 39.375 all-around scores, respectively. Teammates Mya Lauzon and Gabby Perea were also significant contributors, competing on three events each. California’s bars team – of which the status was questioned after former bars’ coach McDonald’s offseason departure to UCLA – scored an excellent 49.45. 

Olympic gold medalist Carey propelled the Oregon State Beavers to a 196.850, good for third place. As the Beavers’ only all-arounder, Carey turned in a massive 39.775, capped by a 10 on both vault and floor exercise. The Beavers’ best showing was on floor with a 49.5 team score. Bars remained a bit troublesome for the squad, as this was the second-straight week with a sub 49 score. However, significant progress was made as they increased their score by roughly half a point over that of the week prior. It seems as though the routines are there, and it’s just a matter of selecting the lineup with the highest potential for hitting routines. Other impactful gymnasts for the Beavers were three-event contributors Madi Dagen, Sydney Gonzales, and Lauren Letzsch

The Iowa Hawkeyes finished in fourth place with a 196.575. The team had meaningful performances from three-event gymnasts Allison Zuhlke, Karina Muñoz, and JerQuavia Henderson. Importantly, Muñoz made her bars and floor debut after only competing on vault for the Hawkeyes in their previous meet. Floor continues to be the best event for the Hawkeyes, with a team total of 49.45 on the apparatus.

Finishing in fifth place with a 196.550 were the Washington Huskies. This team score was over a point higher than that of their last outing. It was business as usual for Husky junior Skylar Killough-Wilhelm, who earned a 39.3 as the solo all-arounder for the team. Highly anticipated Husky freshman Thu Nguyen made her debut on floor exercise (9.500). Washington was able to hit 49+ on all events except beam.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers earned sixth place with a 196.325. The Gophers surpassed the 49 mark on all events except beam, where they continue to struggle to find their footing after Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper exhausted their eligibility. Gopher freshman Seria Johnson and junior Gianna Gerdes were the team leaders, each scoring a 39.350 in the all-around.

Boise State struggled to find a rhythm in its first meet of the 2023 season. Their 195.050 team score resulted in a seventh place finish. Bronco juniors Courtney Blackson and Emily Lopez were the headliners. Four of the team’s seven freshmen made their college debuts: Kylee Hamby, Sydney Kho, Sydney Leitch, and Brantley Lucas. The Broncos will want to build on this performance moving forward.

Finally, Pittsburgh placed eighth with a 193.650. After a near 196 in their opening meet, the Panthers were unable to break 49 on any apparatus at the Wasatch Classic. In Particular, beam proved troublesome, with the team only scoring a 47.525. All-arounder Hallie Copperwheat put together a solid performance for the Panthers with a 39.150.