teams qualifying to NCAA finals

After the first of 2 qualifying sessions three teams move on to finals:


Team ranking results.

A few wobbles and missed landings made the difference.

Florida was definitely my favourite team to watch: energetic, artistic, enthusiastic.

But Georgia was more polished, I thought, More exacting.

Congratulations Nebraska! They had dynamite tumbling and vault.

WOW. What a meet. I could not be more impressed with NCAA Championships and the young women who qualified to get here.

making sense of NCAA scores

I learned a long, long time ago how to keep track of the insanely high scores.

Simply drop the 9:

9.75 = 7.5
9.825 = 8.25
9.95 = 9.5

Easier to keep straight?

NCAA meets are more about the show than accurate ranking of the athletes. More a performance than a competition.

Thankfully the judges have given very few impossible 10s over the past 2 years.

NCAA veteran coaches challenged by protégés

For so many years, Utah’s Greg Marsden, Georgia’s Suzanne Yoculan, Alabama’s Sarah Patterson, UCLA’s Valorie Kondos-Field and a handful of other coaches have been the faces of success in collegiate gymnastics.

They are credited with building the sport into what it is today, a fan-friendly, increasingly popular sport that draws some of the world’s best athletes.

They’ve been around so long, some of the newer programs that have benefitted from their success are now in a position to beat them.

Florida coach Rhonda Faehn (UCLA), Denver’s Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart (Florida), Stanford’s Kristen Smyth (Cal) and Oklahoma’s K.J. Kindler (Iowa State) are all coaches who came from successful programs as athletes and have guided their teams to the 2007 NCAA Championships as coaches.

Faehn, in her fifth year, has the top-ranked Gators positioned to become the first team other than Utah, Alabama, UCLA and Georgia to win the national title since the event was sanctioned by the NCAA in 1982.

Salt Lake Tribune РNCAA GYMNASTICS: Veteran coaches now being challenged by prot̩g̩s

Rhonda Faehn – Gator Zone

LIVE from Salt Lake City

The Women’s NCAA Championships starts today. I’ll be posting live from the venue.

I arrived yesterday in time for the third of 3 training sessions. The gym was surprisingly quiet, I thought, and relaxed. Girls looked fit and ready to go. Very few did full routines.

Like the Men’s competition, this meet will be very tight:

Parity was the most commonly used word Wednesday afternoon during the gymnastics media session at the University of Utah.

Nearly all the coaches and many of the athletes used it to describe the 12 teams competing today through Saturday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. …

Nebraska coach Dan Kendig was easily the most diplomatic, saying, “Any athlete here is capable of sticking a 9.85 routine. That translates to a 197 score. Those (squads) who stick landings and put it together will advance.”

Jon Ringwood, Deseret Morning News

Jon M. Huntsman Center – home of the Utah Utes

Most impressive of the home winning streaks is the national record 170-meet streak that the gymnastics team compiled from 1979-2002. No other team in any NCAA sport had ever won that many consecutive regular season home competitions. The streak was snapped in the first meet of 2003 by eventual NCAA champion UCLA.

Utah’s diehard gymnastics fans have helped the Red Rocks attract the highest average attendance in the sport in 20 of the last 22 years. Since 1992, Utah’s attendance average at has never dipped below 9,500 and its 10-year attendance average is over 10,000 fans per home meet.

U of U

quadruple twist FX – Kent Caldwell

Kent Caldwell is a Floor and Vault specialist with University of Michigan in the NCAA.

In this routine he mounts with quad, dismounts with triple.

Click PLAY or watch the video on YouTube.

Compare Kent’s excellent performance with two attempts by Nastia Liukin. (She has done it better.)

nastia liukin quad twist – YouTube

Nastia Liukin 2005 US Classic FX – Quad twist ATTEMPT – YouTube

Iranian gymnasts invited to USA

Male gymnasts train in Iran and the nation even hosted a World Cup in 2006. (Sadly female spectators were disallowed.)

Now a welcome, though blatantly political, initiative:

America has made a dramatic attempt to repair its relations with the Middle East by inviting Iranian athletes to train in the United States.

The move was made with the blessing of the US State Department, said the US Olympic Committee’s chief of International Relations, Robert Fasulo.

The USOC hopes that repairing relations with Iran will help secure their goal of hosting the 2016 Games. …

The plan is for wrestlers to become the first Iranian athletes to travel to the US in August, with others – including water polo players, gymnasts and athletes – following. …

The American initiative has been welcomed in the Middle East, where the Americans are also reaching out with similar offers to Syria and Lebanon.

BBC SPORT Iranian athletes invited to USA

gym in Tehran – World is Round

best paid NCAA gymnastics coaches

photo – Sarah Patterson

Sarah.jpgOnly four teams have ever won the NCAA title in the 25 years of the Women’s Championships – Utah (9), Georgia (7), UCLA (5) and Alabama (4).

What do those successful programs pay their coaches?

Lya Wodraska writing in The Salt Lake Tribune just prior to NCAA Championships:

With 10 national titles, Marsden’s pay has risen from $1,500 to $154,000 a year.

As a graduate assistant in the P.E. department, Utah coach Greg Marsden was hired 31 years ago to coach the Utes’ gymnastics team for $1,500 a year, a meager salary that came with no benefits.

If his team wins the NCAA title this weekend, he’ll earn a little more than eight times that much in a bonus alone.

Marsden’s story of going from a paycheck well below the poverty level to one that is rather hefty isn’t unique, as college gymnastics is becoming more and more of a serious business for schools.

Marsden’s base salary is $154,350, making him the third-highest paid women’s college gymnastics coach in the country, behind Georgia’s Suzanne Yoculan ($189,000) and Alabama’s Sarah Patterson ($173,664).

The rise in salaries can be attributed in part to Title IX, the federal legislation that calls for equal opportunity for males and females in education programs and activities that receive financial assistance.

The legislation is why Utah started its gymnastics program in the first place, and was used by Yoculan in 1994 to successfully barter for a higher salary.

… Yoculan has won enough, seven national titles, that her base salary plus incentives gives her a package of more than $300,000.

Salt Lake Tribune – Gymnastics: Sport’s success means money for coaches

NCAA pushing salaries up should be good for the rest of us.

movie – “Lefty” starring Carol Johnston

Update 2010 – the movie is posted on YouTube.

johnston_book.jpgI trained and hung out with amazing Carol back in the day at Altadore Gymnastics Club in Calgary.

Old-timers will have seen the Disney film Lefty, a documentary of her rise to All-American NCAA champion while competing for Cal State Fullerton.


In her freshman season she became the conference beam champion.

In her sophomore year she won beam and placed third in floor exercise at her school's conference championships. She and her teammates traveled to Seattle, Washington for the NCAA Championships. Placing second on beam and floor, she earned All-American honours.

Carol's determination and accomplishments caught the eye of the Walt Disney company. You see, Carol had been born with only one arm. Borrowing a nickname friends had coined for Carol, the inspirational documentary "Lefty" was released.

The documentary details Carol's 1978-1979 NCAA Season. Determined to win gold at the 1979 NCAAs, Carol trained her hardest that season. Fate took a nasty turn however, and she tore her right ACL while warming up for a UCLA vs Cal State meet. The injury was devastating, but provided Carol with insight, "Now I really know what handicapped is." Whatever happened to Carol Johnston?

Movie – Lefty.