Welcome to the first week of the 2018 NCAA season! This week starts off a little slow, with only about half of the programs competing and most of your favorites not yet in conference match-ups, but there are still a few key meets between preseason poll top ten teams to pay attention to beginning tonight.
We get off to a great start with No. 7 Michigan hosting No. 4 Alabama. I’m most excited to see what Bama freshman Kylie Dickson will bring to the table in her collegiate debut, but both squads have top-notch first-year classes that add great depth, while the senior classes — including Brianna Brown, Lauren Marinez, and Paige Zaziski for the Wolverines and Mack Brannan, Nickie Guerrero, and Kiana Winston for the Tide — are some of the best in the league.
In tonight’s one conference meeting, No. 3 LSU hosts No. 19 Arkansas, which should be a blow-out for the Tigers, even with a number of lineup changes this year with three of last year’s mainstays now retired while McKenna Kelley sits out the season with an Achilles injury. Their depth will keep them afloat, however, and the addition of freshmen like Christina Desiderio and Reagan Campbell will make up for some of those losses.
No. 5 Utah, featuring last year’s star freshman and NCAA national all-around runner-up MyKayla Skinner, will have an easy time hosting BYU, No. 10 Kentucky is back with an axe to grind after narrowly missing out on nationals last season as its stellar junior class now has the experience and drive to make this season the team’s best ever, and No. 2 Florida will travel to West Virginia to ease their way in before a tough schedule ahead of them in 2018.
The team everyone’s excited to see is No. 6 UCLA on Saturday night. The Bruins host No. 22 Ohio State with a massive 24-person roster that includes fan favorites Katelyn Ohashi, Kyla Ross, and Peng Peng Lee alongside a killer freshman class featuring the likely Pac 12 Freshman of the Year Nia Dennis and German Olympic alternate Pauline Tratz, who is hoping to be a standout competitor on vault and floor. 2016 Olympic bars medalist Madison Kocian had shoulder surgery after last season and will miss the majority, if not all, of 2018, but overall UCLA is looking shockingly healthy and ready to finally get back on track with a winning postseason team.
Also on Saturday is No. 8 Denver at Arizona, No. 25 Penn State hosting Eastern Michigan, and No. 14 Auburn competing at the Arizona State quad with No. 20 Iowa and Iowa State. Of these, I’m most excited for the return of 2012 Olympian and 2016 Olympic alternate Anne Kuhm of France, who joins ASU’s program as a junior with routines on bars, beam, and floor that will make her an instant celeb in Tempe.
There’s also a polite smattering of meets spread over Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, with the most anticipated being No. 18 Stanford’s NorCal Classic, also featuring No. 11 Cal, Sacramento State, San Jose State, and UC Davis. With Tabitha Yim taking over for the Cardinal, which has Elizabeth Price back for her senior season leading a stacked freshman class that includes Kyla Bryant, Lauren Navarro, Rachael Flam, and Taylor Lawson, I’m *fingers crossed* that this will be Stanford’s year to reclaim a top 12 spot in the rankings.
The full schedule is below. All times listed are ET, the first team listed is the host team, and we’ll update any links as they are updated on each program’s schedule. Once the meet is finished, we’ll add results. Enjoy!
|FRIDAY JANUARY 5|
|5:30 pm||Michigan 196.200, Alabama 195.675||Results|
|6:00 pm||Bowling Green 194.000, Michigan State 193.350||Results|
|7:00 pm||Kentucky 196.075, Ball State 194.475, George Washington 193.775, S.E. Missouri 189.675||Results|
|Florida 195.900, West Virginia 194.425||Results|
|8:00 pm||LSU 197.150, Arkansas 195.350||Results|
|9:00 pm||Utah 197.000, BYU 194.275||Results|
|SATURDAY JANUARY 6|
|2:00 pm||Central Michigan 196.375, Illinois State 191.600||Results|
|4:00 pm||Eau Claire 181.275, Gustavus 175.800||Results|
|Penn State 194.275, Eastern Michigan 192.900||Results|
|6:00 pm||Denver 195.775, Arizona 195.425||Results|
|Iowa State 195.125, Arizona State 194.675, Auburn 193.950, Iowa 193.000||Results|
|7:00 pm||Oshkosh 183.525, Hamline 183.475||Results|
|7:30 pm||Bridgeport 192.650, Southern Conn. 186.150||Results|
|Little Boston Invitational (Temple 194.850, New Hampshire 194.175, Maryland 194.100, Towson 193.800)||Results|
|8:00 pm||Air Force 193.425, La Crosse 191.350||Results|
|9:00 pm||UCLA 196.250, Ohio State 193.200||Results|
|SUNDAY JANUARY 7|
|2:00 pm||NC State 194.025, Illinois-Chicago 193.525, Northern Illinois 192.600||Results|
|MONDAY JANUARY 8|
|9:00 pm||California 195.475, Stanford 194.925, San Jose State 194.475, UC Davis 194.400, Sacramento State 192.875||Results|
|TUESDAY JANUARY 9|
|4:00 pm||Brockport 184.450, Cortland 183.800||Results|
|7:30 pm||Winona State 182.350, Stout 180.725||Results|
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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