The Weekend Ahead: Metroplex, Top 12

zhou

Alicia Zhou

After starting out with one elite meet last weekend, we’re upping the game this weekend with two meets, which I feel like is a lot for January, but I am super here for it.

In case you missed it, I’m not covering NCAA this year. I always start out the season super gung-ho, but then I travel a lot to do elite coverage and end up missing out on most meets beginning in late February, so I feel like I’m better off just retweeting the occasional update and then keeping my distance otherwise. But not covering it has made me super antsy this month, because obviously January is when the collegiate season kicks off, and instead of being happy about the break, instead I’m just like “okay, can elite start NOW because I’m freaking out and need to do some work.”

We’re not quite in super busy elite mode yet, but we’re easing our way in, and the meets this weekend will thankfully give me something to do. 🙂

METROPLEX NATIONAL QUALIFIER

This is the first of six qualifiers for elite hopefuls looking to get their optional scores. If they get their scores – 51.000 all-around, 39.000 three-event, or 26.500 two-event for seniors, 50.500 all-around for juniors – they’ll officially be able to call themselves “elites” and they’ll also qualify to both the American Classic and the U.S. Classic, which in turn are qualifiers for national championships.

Most of the gymnasts you see attempting to get their scores at these qualifiers will be brand-new to elite gymnastics, but you do also see several gymnasts returning from previous years who either missed out on qualifying last season, or who didn’t score well enough at nationals or national team training camps last year to automatically re-qualify to the elite level for 2020.

The national qualifiers are also for Hopes-level gymnasts, with girls in the 10-11 age group needing to score a 46.000 in the all-around, while girls in the 12-13 age group need to reach a 48.500 to qualify to the Hopes level as well as to the Hopes Classic, which is the qualifier for Hopes Championships.

Metroplex will have five optionals sessions this weekend that will include both Hopes and elites, with three held today and the other two taking place tomorrow. A total of 191 gymnasts have registered, which I feel like is a lot more than usual, though I think this is is partly because gymnasts who still need their compulsory scores registered for both the compulsory and optional sessions even though they might not end up being eligible to compete at optionals if they don’t get their compulsory scores.

Notable gyms on the list include Parkettes with six gymnasts registered, Airborne with seven, Buckeye with five, WOGA with six elites and seven Hopes, First State with eight, World Champions Centre wtih six, and the host gym Metroplex with six.

Unfortunately, while Flo is at Metroplex this weekend, they’re only streaming the level 10 and NCAA events, so we won’t have any video insight into the elite qualifier portion of the competition, though live results are going up at Meet Scores Online.

Compulsories have been underway since yesterday, and while I don’t really cover compulsories, I thought I’d mention that Kylie Coen of Empire, who I mentioned last week as debuting the first Nabieva to mixed grip on The Gymterpod, got a 37.850 all-around to currently lead the seniors! The top junior compulsory gymnast so far is Alicia Zhou of Love Gymnastics, the Hopes 10-11 national champion in 2018. She also has a 37.850 compulsory all-around score, including a 10 on bars and a 9.8 on beam, so like…keep an eye on her.

TOP 12

The Top 12 series in France is a league series, much like Serie A in Italy or Bundesliga in Germany. Clubs throughout France come together a few times each season to compete against each other to fight for the final Top 12 title, and it’s a really fun way to see elite gymnasts get an opportunity to compete for something beyond international medals and glory.

Some dudes bro-hugging at the last Top 12 meet of 2019

I especially love the French meets, because two gymnasts go head-to-head in their competitions, and the one who receives the higher FIG score is given three points for their team, while the one who loses that dual only gets one point. In the men’s competitions, they battle three events at a time, with four duals per event, for a total of 24 routines competed throughout the entire competition. At the end of the meet, the team with the highest overall points wins.

It’s a really excellent way to bring strategy into gymnastics, because if you see the other team putting up a guy on pommels who can get a 15.5 and your top pommels guy can barely break a 14, you might willingly choose to put your weakest pommels guy out there against the other team’s top guy, since you’re never going to win that dual anyway, and then you save your strongest guy for a dual he could actually win. I also love that FIG scores don’t determine the winner of a meet, and so you’re never going to have a really strong team get 360 total FIG points against a weaker team getting, like, 310 FIG points. Instead, you see the scores looking like 26-22, or 30-18, and teams that do have some weaker routines at least have a chance at getting upsets against teams with more elite-level difficulty.

The 2019-2020 series kicked off in October for the men, with the first four meets of the series held in 2019, so tomorrow’s competition will be the fifth out of six regular season matches (the women, who only compete three regular season matches, won’t be back until February 29).

The guys will contest vault, pommels, and high bar tomorrow, with Sotteville-les-Rouen up against Franconville, Bourges against Antibes, Montceau les Mines against Noisy-le-Grand, and Oyonnax against Monaco. It’s mostly French guys who compete, with both junior and senior elites in the mix, but there are also a few international guests in each match to help teams get an advantage with some higher-difficulty routines.

These meets generally don’t stream, and the French federation will often take its sweet time to upload results, but when results are posted, they’ll go up here, and if you’re super into it, you can also find out more about each of the teams, most of which have somewhat active social media presences and will generally post videos, photos, and stories on Instagram (though the team rosters on the Top 12 website are somewhat dated).

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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