NCAA gymnastics 2023: Who has surprised this season? Who will win nationals?
It’s been a wild NCAA gymnastics season so far. Oklahoma and Florida immediately set the tone with two of the highest totals ever (197.925 and 197.75 respectively), and the gymnastics level and scores only got higher.
Entering the second half of the season, we asked our experts: who was the most impressive? Who do they pick to win it all at the NCAA championships? And with Trinity Thomas chasing 10 records – and nearly 50 perfects this season – what do they think of the judging? That’s what they had to say.
Perfect 10s: Were there too many, too few, or just the right amount this year?
Kennedy Baker: I am team 10. Look at the material: we have so many Olympians and world champions competing and the quality of the gymnastics is high. However, I think that we could have stricter marks, especially for exercises 9.9 and 9.95.
Kathy Johnson Clark: The question of excessive 10s or not is less relevant to me than 9.9+ points for exercises with noticeable flaws or errors. As happy as I am for the gymnasts at the moment, it minimizes the “feature” of perfect and near-perfect performances and results.
Ashley Miles Greig: I have to be honest with this question and say that definitely too many 10s were given. Most of the time the judges get it right, but when they get it wrong it reduces the excitement.
🔹 @Gym_Trin6th 10.00 on the balance beam!
🔹 25th 10.00 total!
📺 https://t.co/UYlgubVNi2 #GoGators | #WeChomp pic.twitter.com/aTnkvhocR2
— Gators Gym (@GatorsGym) February 18, 2023
Peshek himself: I think that was the correct number of 10s, but some 10s were given and not earned, and other exercises should have received 10s but didn’t. I think it will naturally be more than 10, because the gymnastics level has improved a lot without such a big code change. The main problem is the accuracy of 10, which seems to be a common disappointment for us as broadcasters, coaches and athletes.
John Roethlisberger: Probably too much. But aren’t they funny? I do think the judges should be a little more critical, especially when it comes to the 0.05 deduction. You can’t be afraid to take them. If it exists, then it exists. In their defense, these gymnasts are really good. To a large extent, they have outgrown the points code. We seem to have more elite level gymnasts (as well as Olympians and World Team members) who are still competing in their prime. We have gymnasts getting an extra year of ‘COVID’, which means more good routines stay on longer.
US women’s gymnastics is the best in the world, and this is increasingly evident at the student level. There is a delicate balance in collegiate rules to push athletes without sacrificing the quality (and safety) of the gymnastics being performed. It’s not always easy, and I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.
Bridget Sloan: I think there have been some gifts thrown in, but most of the 10 I’ve seen seem worthy.
If you had to choose the best program of the season, what would it be?
Johnson Clark: At least because I have choose, it will be Suni Li on the uneven bars.
Roethlisberger: Lee’s daily routine at the bar. It can be argued that this is the best uneven bars exercise ever performed in student gymnastics (except my sister, Certainly). It has everything. Great releases, great swing, great dismount.
Another day, another PERFECT 10 for Suni Lee 😤 #tatav @AuburnGym I @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/D1xWzK102m
— Sportzshala (@espn) February 11, 2023
Others: Hailey Bryant’s vault, like Lee’s crossbar, is one of the best vaults ever done in collegiate gymnastics (I know I’ve said this twice already). If it sticks, it’s a 10.
Derrian Goburn is very cheerful on the floor. Trinity Thomas on the floor is also as good as can be. Soraya Hawthorne’s floor exercises are some of the most fun, and, in my opinion, they are not given due attention. Mail O’Keeffe on balance beam is hard to miss on this list. There are many things that are hard to cross off this list.
Miles Greig: Jocelyn Moore finally got a perfect ten on the vault!
Baker: The first 10 not only for Moore, but also for the Missouri program are quite significant. She has my voice.
Welcome to the Perfect Club 🔟 Jocelyn Moore‼️#tatav I @MizzouGym pic.twitter.com/I75sKs0N2C
— Sports Center (@SportsCenter) February 19, 2023
Pawns: Thomas on everything, Goburn on floor, Audrey Davis on uneven bars and Sophia Groth on balance beam. This is a tricky question – in fact I have so many of them!
Alea Finnegan with ANOTHER Perfect 10 on the floor 🤩@LSUgym I @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/psuNMp6JNI
— Sportzshala (@espn) February 25, 2023
Sloane: Helen Hu on uneven bars and balance beam, Alea Finnegan on everything and Lee on uneven bars.
Which team has impressed you the most this season?
Johnson Clark: It’s impossible not to be impressed by Oklahoma’s strong start and consistent prowess in the competition.
Miles Greig: Oklahoma. The consistency week after week is almost too good. It will be interesting to see if he can stay the course, continue to dominate and pick up another title. Both Alabama and LSU have also proven that they can never be discounted. LSU has been impressive despite injury issues and Alabama is showing signs of peaking at just the right time.
Pawns: Florida. You can tell that he competes calmly and confidently even when there are mistakes. He had different squads, different athletes, and he continued to have a high level of skill. I’m also proud of LSU as it seems like he’s had the most injuries this season and he still seems to be putting in good lineups!
Oklahoma is clearly dominating right now. He appears robotic, focused, and nearly invincible. Part of me thinks it was almost “too perfect” and if there was a mistake, I wonder if she could handle it. This year there were not so many such situations, which, in my opinion, is both good and bad.
.@OU_WGGymnastics was PERFECT on these programs 😍 pic.twitter.com/ebApc32pYL
— espnW (@espnW) February 25, 2023
Roethlisberger: Oklahoma. This is the best college gymnastics team. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win NCAA championships, but from the first meeting until now, he’s been dominant.
Baker: Missouri. After a record fifth in the rankings last year, he has used that positive momentum to his advantage this year. I think it’s really exciting to watch and it’s great to see him continue to push the boundaries and break new records.
Sloane: Florida was outstanding. It has so many talents, from freshmen to fifth year seniors and everyone in between. He competes just like he trains and looks so easy. Also, Kentucky has always been a team that comes close to breaking the barrier between good and great. Tim Garrison and his staff are doing a great job with the program and have had a fantastic season so far.
Which team surprised you the most?
Roethlisberger: I watched California the first week of the season and immediately thought it was an NCAA-qualified team. It was close, so it’s not exactly breaking news, but it has a good mix of young talent and veterans. It has more all-rounders than the average team, which has its pros and cons. There are great coaches here who know how to get the most out of their athletes and get them to peak at the right time. This could be a team that will even surprise some people and make it to the NCAA Finals.
I think LSU is a surprise, but not in the way some might think. After a heartbreaking finish last season, he lost Kia Johnson earlier this season, arguably his best all-rounder and one of the best in the country. When it looked like the Tiger Nation was about to say, “There you go again,” the rest of the team seemed to look at each other and say, “Not so fast.” They seem to have an ace on their shoulder and a bit of tenacity that they didn’t have last year for all their talent. I’m not ready to say that they will win everything, but I guarantee that this year they will not go smoothly.
Baker: Kentucky. He has star athletes and they are very competitive this year. Steadily moving up and building up my points, I think this could be someone to watch in post-season wrestling.
Miles Greig: Kentucky is a sneaky good team. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on the roster and gets the opportunity to make history in the postseason.
WE WORK @RaenaWorley 🕺
✨9.950✨ on 𝗙𝗟𝗢𝗢𝗥
📺 https://t.co/uBnoCb1WZ4#WeUK | #Team49 pic.twitter.com/9KTEkNJgbm
— Kentucky Gymnastics (@UKGymnastics) February 25, 2023
Pawns: Missouri. It is psychologically very difficult to repeat the success achieved last season, despite the fact that it has all the repetitions. So I’m surprised that even though the start of the season was tough and people didn’t consider Missouri, it seems like he’s turned the corner and is about to hit the ground running. It’s hard to have so many meetings, not go your own way, but still stay on your own path and believe in the potential of your team, and it seems that it did a great job. I think he will continue to surprise people in the second half of the season.
Sloane: Missouri. That record breaking season was in 2022 and surpassed it in 2023. I think last year they surprised themselves, but this year they surprised themselves with their confidence. The team is more dynamic than last year and is not finished yet.
As March approaches, who will you pick for the Final Four of the NCAA Championship? Who will win the team title?
Baker: Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Michigan. And I think it will be a battle between Oklahoma and Florida. I’m going with Florida.
Johnson Clark: Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and hell, it’s really accessible to any team that gets hot and stays hot.
Pawns: Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan and UCLA. I think Florida will win the tag team title.
Lynn Wong’s floor exercises were great 🎯@SECNetwork I @GatorsGym