Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gymnastics Weekend Update.....

First of all, I am officially too old to stay out until 1:30 AM. That's what time Katydid and I got back from Auburn after watching the Gym Dogs KICK SOME BUTT at the Regional Championships (more on that in a moment). And my dog can't tell time, so he got in my face at his usual 6:30 AM, apparently unconcerned that five hours is not nearly enough sleep for a 51-YEAR-OLD!!

Second of all, a big shout out to one of my favorite Dawgs, Bubba Watson, for winning the Masters. I'm so glad I picked you on my Masters sheet. If I hadn't picked some other really sucky people, I might have won some money. As it is, however, Hubby picked you too, and it appears at this point that he is tied for first place. There were over 1000 people in the pool, and they (we) each put in $20. Now we just have to wait and see how many people he tied WITH.

Third of all, another big shout out to the folks at Auburn Arena for putting on a fantastic gymnastics competition. I was a little wary of the whole "general admission" seating idea, but when I realized it meant we were free to move around the arena to see the event our gymnasts were on, I fell in love with it. (I think someone should invent a rotating arena just for gymnastics, so you can stay in your seat but the arena will move you to whatever event your team is competing on.) I understand from reading the message board that the live (and free) video streaming was among the best in the country. It can't be easy to cover six teams on four different events, everything going on at one time. It's impossible to make everyone happy, but I have heard only positive comments about Auburn's coverage. Way to go!

The Gym Dogs did a marvelous job at regionals and are headed back to the national championships, to be held in two weeks here in Georgia. The newspaper said this morning that they had won their first post-season meet since 2009, and I thought, "That's a little harsh. And wrong." But then I realized technically it was right. In 2010, our coach's first year as head coach, we VERY unexpectedly got knocked out of national championship contention at the regionals. It was the first time since Moses was a little boy that we didn't advance to nationals, and it was very hard to take. Last year we hosted our regionals, and while we did manage to advance to nationals (the top two teams in each regional advance), we came in second, so technically we didn't "win" that post-season contest.

Bars - Gym Dogs started on the uneven bars, and Katydid and I were sitting so close we could lean over and talk to them. They were relaxed and loose and having fun, and while we didn't get the 10 on bars we felt we were entitled to this season, we did a good job at regionals. Our lowest score was a 9.775, which we were able to drop, and we had a pair of 9.9's, a pair of 9.85's, and a 9.8 from a phenomenal freshman who competed only her second bars routine of the year. In the post-season, no less!

This is how close we were to the uneven bars. In the words of Katydid, "We might be able to see a little TOO much."

Sarah getting reading for bars. This is how close Katydid and I were. See that number on her leg? Officials went with leg tattoos this year instead of the paper numbers pinned to their backs. I'm not sure how I feel about them. But at least the tattoos don't cover up the oh-so-cuteness of the backs of those leotards!

I'd love to tell you I shot this picture and the one below specifically to show you the back of the leotard. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must admit that I have entire folders of digital photos of gymnasts' butts. It's just the way it is.

Beam - The balance beam was situated all the way across the arena from where we were sitting, and Katydid and I debated about whether to move closer. It's nerve-wracking to watch the balance beam, but ultimately we moved because the host team, Auburn, was on the bars, which were between us and the beam. Plus we were surrounded by a lot of Auburn fans, so we knew it would be hard to see and hear what was going on. Things were a little shakier on beam, as they typically are, but we still did okay. Our high score was a 9.85 from a senior who has trouble with the required full turn on the beam. She can flip and twist and leap, but that full turn gets her every time. We had a trio of 9.825's and a 9.775 from a gymnast who is a tiny sophomore but has been a ROCK the second half of the season. We had to count that one because our resident ... head case ... did a flawless routine and went to her knees on a dismount that I could do. Okay, that's stretching things, but it's a simple dismount and she is a world-class gymnast and she shouldn't be losing five tenths of a point on that dismount. Rant over.

Noel on beam. I loved, loved, loved those leotards with the script "G" on the front. The back is just as cute. 

Kat calms herself before her beam routine. I know what she's saying: "Please, please, please let me get the full turn right this time."

Floor - This is most gymnasts' (and most fans') favorite event, because the nature of the event allows the gymnasts to perform, to show their personalities, to showcase some unique skills. (It's Hubby's LEAST favorite of the events, because in his words, "they're just wallowing around.") I love floor for the most part, but some of our routines this year have been ... uninspiring. Part of that is because our coach's philosophy is that if a girl is struggling with a skill, he takes it out of the routine. If I were the coach, I'd be on her like stink on poop, saying, "Get in that gym and don't come out until you can get it right." But I'm clearly NOT the coach, and it's his program to do what he wants. And how much do I really know anyway? Because our floor scores were three 9.85's (one of which was dropped), a 9.875, a 9.9 (career high from a freshman who has only done floor a few times this season), and a 9.925 from our rock-solid junior who has a captivating shark-themed routine. (The 9.925 may have been generous given the low position of her chest on at least two landings, but I figure that balances out with the 10 we have earned on bars all season but haven't been awarded.)

Vault - Again, our vault scores were not over-the-moon wonderful, but anytime you can drop a 9.825 as the lowest score, you're doing something right. We had another couple 9.825's (one from a sophomore who was a phenom her freshman year but has struggled with back issues this year and competed last night for the very first time this season), a 9.85 from someone the team refers to as "Catapult" and who usually sticks, and a pair of 9.9's.

Our team finished in the fifth rotation and had to sit out on a bye while the competition wrapped up, but it was pretty much a given that we would win. The team that ultimately finished in 2nd place, Oregon State, could have tied us with a 49.6 on the balance beam, but judging by how tight scores had been all night, we knew that was unlikely. One team could have tied us if they had scored five perfect 10's, but the others would have needed some 11's and 12's. Our total score for the night was 197.1, which is pretty good for post-season.

So now we go on to nationals. There will be two sessions of 6 teams, with the top three from each session advancing to the Super Six, where the national champions will be crowned. We know which teams we will have to face - Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Oregon State, and Ohio State - but won't know until tomorrow which session we will be assigned to or which event we will start competition on. Katydid and I are hoping we draw the evening session, because Katydid has to work and I want to do a bike ride that morning. I would go to both sessions, but by the time you go to two sessions on Friday, the team finals on Saturday, and individual event finals on Sunday (they also crown an individual winner on each apparatus), it's sort of a gymnastics overdose. Even for someone as obsessed devoted as I. If we are assigned to the earlier session I will probably attend both, because I'll either know we are in the Super Six and I want to find out which teams we will face, or I'll know we are NOT in the Super Six and I want to see if I can cast a hex on all the other teams. My loyalty runs deep.

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