Posts Tagged ‘Melanie Sinclair’

Should Jordyn Wieber compete at the American Cup?

January 14, 2009

Jordyn Wieber

Jordyn Wieber

News that the 13-year-old Junior U.S. champion will be making her (two years premature) senior debut at the American Cup next month in Chicago is turning some heads on two popular blogs.

2008 Olympian Bridget Sloan has also been confirmed as a competitor. The other two U.S. positions for the women’s competition have yet to be filled, although according to this article from the Los Angeles Times, the other women’s competitors will be Rebecca Downie (Great Britain), Koko Tsurumi (Japan), Ksenia Afanasyeva (Russia) and Jessica Lopez (Venezula and the University of Denver). That leaves two more (ostensibly U.S.) spots to be named.

Back to Wieber. The debate from commenters at Gymnastics Coaching and Triple Full includes these sentiments:

“I think [Wieber’s coach John Geddert’s] nuts… If she’s not going to be a senior for 2 two more years and he’s pushing her into a senior level comp this early? Nuts.”

“From what I have heard, the National Team Staff select the gymnasts to represent USA at certain meets. They can say no, but if they did they would be at the bottom of the list for a long time. That’s said to be why Melaine Sinclair and Kassi Price never made the teams that mattered.”

“I mean come on.. she can’t even compete as a senior! It’s just ridiculous…”

“Jordyn is one of the best in the US right now. Why shouldn’t she get the opportunity to compete. It’s not like the rules for junior meets are any different than senior meets.”

“USAG need a headliner for this meet. Bridget Sloan doesn’t fill the bill imo. They need to break the “next big thing” to get some attention.”

I’m not liking this. Seems to me that juniors should wait to compete at the AmCup until they get til senior status. I’d like to see Sloan, Lorthrop, Shaprio and Larson at the Cup.

Hmmm. If memory serves, the last super-young gymnast to compete at the American Cup was Kristal Uzelac of Parkette’s in 2001 (she would have been 14 at the time). Bianca Flohr of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy competed in the preliminary round of the 2006 American Cup at 15. Uzelac had certainly proved that she deserved to be there — she was the two-time U.S. junior champion and being talked up as the next big thing.

It wasn’t her greatest competition. Uzelac was good on vault and floor but fell on beam on a Rulfova. Was she pushed into the senior ranks too soon? Maybe. In the long run her career fizzled because of injuries and burnout. Could those have been prevented by not training super difficult things at age 12? Maybe.

Then again, Nadia was at the inaugural American Cup (1976) at 14. And scored a 10 on floor.

Is this a good idea for Wieber? What do you think?

NCAA report

January 10, 2009

A few highlights:

Surprise, surprise, Georgia held off West Virginia, 195.425-194.075. Courtney Kupets was back to her old tricks, winning the all-around with a 39.45.

Alabama barely held off the surging Auburn Tigers, 195.675-195.650. (Auburn’s A.J. Mills won the all-around.)

Florida defeated Oklahoma 196.500-195.075 (UF’s Melanie Sinclair took the all-around title.)

LSU overcame a couple “slow” rotations to beat Iowa and Southeast Missouri State, 194.175-191.675-191.375. (LSU’s Susan Jackson won the all-around and had a 9.95 on vault.)

Utah barely held off UCLA, 196.175-196.075 after Ute seniors Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim fell on floor exercise. Junior Beth Rizzo also badly sprained an ankle on the event. Rizzo, who put in a solid two years for the Utes as a walk-on (she was denied a scholarship last year so Canadian Gael Mackie could join the team last year) has finally attained a scholarship.

UCLA was carried by its freshman; the Deseret News reports that 16 of its 24 routines were performed by frosh gymnasts, and only two were performed by upperclassmen.

The Bruins have also permanently lost senior Kristina Comforte, who retired after suffering a torn labrum in her shoulder. Also, Utah’s Stephanie Neff, a senior, has given up gymnastics due to back problems.

Utah’s Jamie Deetscreek, in her first meet as an all-arounder, won with a 39.1 to Baskett’s 39.05.

Should the NCAA adopt the new code of points?

April 28, 2008

Utah's Kristina BaskettA little less than four years ago, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) eliminated 10 as the ideal score.

In its place, they  instituted a system where gymnasts received points partially for the difficulty of their skills and partially for the way routines were executed.

Should NCAA women’s gymnastics do the same thing?

Some like the new system, which is changing in 2009 to make things easier for the athletes for the first time in several quadrenniums. Others hate it. Even so, the FIG has made it clear that we aren’t going back to the ideal 10 anytime soon.

The NCAA has been the last holdout of the old system, the place where elites go to get an education and, if they’re good enough, the perfect score that’s eluded them their entire elite careers.

The thing that struck me about this year’s NCAA Championships, won this weekend by the Georgia Gym Dogs for the fourth year in a row, was how darn close all the scores were. How many 9.875s were recorded? How many 9.9s? How many gymnasts can you pack the third place rung on the victory podium with? (Answer: Four. Tiffany Tolnay (UGA), Katie Heenan (UGA), Kristina Baskett (Utah) and Melanie Sinclair (Florida) tied for third in the all-around.)

At the Pac-10 Championships March 29, no fewer than nine people tied for third on vault. Five recorded a third-place score of 9.9 on uneven bars.

Some call for more difficulty in the NCAA, especially on vault, where it seems that almost every gymnast is throwing a Yurchenko full. Happily, on balance beam and floor exercise there’s a lot more variety — not to mention personality — than there is in the elite ranks. I’d fear that bumping up the difficulty needed to get great scores could result in more injuries, costing universities more money and making administrators think about cutting gymnastics programs.

At the same time, it can look a bit ridiculous when everybody gets a 9.875. After the NCAA all-around competition, reader TCO buzzed in with a comment:

The scores are crazy close. We need a different system. I don’t mind if we keep the 10 or get rid of it. But if we keep it, we ought to significantly increase the difficulty requirment. The problem is that people look at a ten like “par” on the golf course. We need to compensate the gymnasts that throw harder tricks. This will also spread the scores.

Men’s collegiate gymnastics follows the same structure as the new code of points. But for many, men’s collegiate gymnastics is an elite training ground, not a place to graze in retirement from heavy competition.

What do you think?

The oh-so-close NCAA all-around

April 25, 2008

Tasha Schwikert1. Tasha Schwikert 39.600

2. Ashley Postell 39.550

3. Katie Heenan 39.525

3. Tiffany Tolnay 39.525

3. Kristina Baskett 39.525

3. Melanie Sinclair 39.525

Congratulations to Schwikert, who earns her second NCAA all-around title (she was the 2005 champion as well.) For Postell, this has to be a disappointment. In four years at Utah, she’s been third, second, second and second again.

In the team competition, the Utes will likely record the same history.

Georgia had a 197.625 in the evening session. This title is theirs to lose. Unofficially, Utah and Stanford also advance to tomorrow’s Super Six.

NCAA Championships: Florida, Alabama, LSU advance

April 24, 2008

The Super Three from round one of two during the first day of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Athens, Ga. were Florida, Alabama and Louisiana State. They advance to tomorrow night’s Super Six.

Oklahoma, Oregon State and Arkansas didn’t make the cut, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Still to compete: Favorite Georgia, Denver, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Michigan.

Lya Wodraska from the Tribune reported that only three falls occurred out of 144 performances. Unfortunately for her, one of those falls was from all-around darkhorse favorite Ashleigh Clare-Kearney of LSU. She fell off balance beam.

Top all-arounder from the first session is Florida’s Melanie Sinclair, who got a 39.525, highlighted by a 9.95 on uneven bars.

NCAA Gymnastics Championships: Game on

April 24, 2008

Ashley PostellOne of the biggest questions about the 2008 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, which begins today in Athens, Ga., is whether Ashley Postell will finally get the NCAA all-around crown many think she richly deserves.

Postell has been Utah’s beacon — and one of the big names in collegiate gymnastics — for the past four years. But she’s always been eclipsed (twice by friend and former teammate Courtney Kupets) for the NCAA all-around title.

(more…)

Florida, UCLA to NCAAs

April 13, 2008

Melanie SinclairThe Florida Gators established that they could challenge no. 1 Georgia for an NCAA team title Saturday, scoring a 197.525 to take the Southeast Regional Championships. UCLA was second by nine-tenths of a point, scoring a 196.625.

This meet was a study in ties. UF teammates Melanie Sinclair and Ashley Reed tied for first on vault. Sinclair shared the bars title with UCLA’s Anna Li, while Reed, North Carolina State’s Leigha Hancock, Nebraska’s Tricia Woo and UCLA’s Kristina Comforte all tied for first on beam. Floor had — get this — five champions: Woo, Sinclair, Florida’s Amanda Castillo and Nicola Willis, and Nebraska’s Emily Parsons.

UCLA had a burp on beam from Ariana Berlin and another on floor from Mizuki Sato and didn’t seem as able to build up big, big scores.

Nebraska, third with a 196.1, was eliminated from the NCAA team competition.

(via Gatorzone.com)

LSU, with a bullet

January 22, 2008

Georgia. Florida. Utah. Alabama. Stanford. UCLA.

Louisiana State?

LSU junior Ashleigh Clare-Kearney.The LSU Tigers have been making a strong statement so far this season that they belong in the Super Six. First it was at the highest opening meet score in school history, a 195.725 over Denver, Minnesota and Texas Woman’s at the Cancun Classic Jan. 4.

Then it swept Iowa at home and posted a 195.9 against Arkansas, moving in three weeks from being ranked no. 10 to no. 5.

Now, as it looks forward to Saturday’s meet at Georgia, LSU looks stronger than ever. Does that mean it actually has a chance at beating the SEC powerhouse Gym Dogs? Probably not. But with a good score, the surprise team of the season so far could surprise a bit more. 

The lynchpin of LSU’s pre-2007 success was LSU star April Burkholder, who delivered energetic performances and much of the team’s choreography. LSU has did not seem to have a performer who was been able to replace her last year, although Ashleigh Clare-Kearney nad Susan Jackson, a former training partner of Carly Patterson and Hollie Vise at WOGA, are both fairly strong.

As it happens, Clare-Kearney is this week’s SEC Gymnast of the Week.

Ashleigh Clare-Kearney, 2007 SEC Championships, Uneven Bars:

In addition, junior Clare-Kearney is currently ranked no. 1 in the nation in the all-around, tied with Florida’s Melanie Sinclair.

Can they keep it up? Could LSU, ranked 10th in preseason polls, break into the Super Six? Nothing is certain. Even Georgia has hardly exceeded expectations so far this season.

Also: New blog The Olympic Effect takes a closer look at Florida’s successes and shortcomings, suggesting the former is due to successful politicking by coach Rhonda Faehn. Faehn, of course, learned it during her elite days with Bela Karolyi, who is undoubtedly the greatest politicker in gymnastics history.

The Top 10:
1 Florida 196.975
2 Georgia 196.642
t3 Alabama 196.362
t3 Utah 196.362
5 LSU 195.725
6 Michigan 195.675
7 Oklahoma 195.583
8 UCLA 195.550
9 Stanford 195.375
10 Arkansas 195.275

Depth, Georgia and the Red Rocks

January 18, 2008

Let the NCAA mudslinging begin.

From the Daily Utah Chronicle:

Following the Utah gymnastics team’s narrow win over No. 1 Georgia last week, Gym Dog head coach Suzanne Yoculan questioned whether the Red Rocks have the depth to be one of the best teams in the nation.

“I thought that their depth was a little weaker than ours,” Yoculan said. “Obviously Ashley (Postell) and some of the strongest girls looked really strong. The thing is, there’s a lot of teams in the country that have a one-two punch. It’s going to come down to that fourth or fifth score at the end of the season.”

Utah junior Kristina Baskett is likely to sit out tonight's competition against NebraskaThat’s interesting coming from Yoculan, whose Gym Dogs currently aren’t at full strength either. And while the Utes take on rival Nebraska tonight without star Kristina Baskett, who has is suffering from displaced ribs, Georgia has traveled to Florida and will take on the newly No. 1-ranked Gators. Florida posted the highest score of the season so far with its 197.125 last week against Illinois-Chicago.

Yoculan has said she expects Grace Taylor, recovered from her sprained ankle, to be back in the lineup, but others are still injured. Georgia might have taken a little hit to its depth as well.

Florida sophomore Melanie SinclairAnd if Utah had no mercy at home, Florida likely won’t either. The Gators, despite being no. 1 right now, are the least appreciated gymnastics team in the nation. Their top three — sophomores Melanie Sinclair and Amanda Castillo (who was third in the all-around at the 2007 NCAA championships behind better-known names Courtney Kupets and Postell) and junior Corey Hartung are an unstoppable force when they hit.