gymengineer wrote:
We know that the Big 10 has under-performed as a conference overall recently, with only three appearances in the Super Six (Nebraska and Michigan in 2011 and Nebraska in 2014) in the past decade. I'm excited about the two picks so far-- Brown at Penn State and Paulicivic at Ohio State. 

Penn State has great gymnasts currently on the team; Garcia and Tseng should be scoring 9.9 more frequently, which would require more precision and a better set up early in the lineups. And Ohio State continues to get the type of recruit who could absolutely be NCAA stars. Their updated roster for next season only has 10 gymnasts, so they're lacking in any depth. It's probably too late, but I'm holding onto the possibility of an ASU-style last-minute-gymnast-bonanza for next season (I mean, seriously, getting a French national champion? How'd Santos pull *that* off??). If Penn State and Ohio State can get back to being Nationals contenders, and add in Illinois, I think that would only be good for the sport. 

I enjoy seeing different styles of programs break through into the finals-- and even win it all-- over the past decades. Like when Georgia and Alabama broke through Utah's dominance, those victories were refreshing. UCLA winning in '97 was such a departure style-wise (obviously) from every winning program before it. I mean, aside from the floor choreography and Stella Umeh's astounding beam difficulty, that bars rotation at the end was so elegant, precise, and gorgeous it set a new standard. 

Then, to have Florida rise up under Faehn to be a different look to an SEC powerhouse team (Hartung's "Blues for Kooks" for example) pushed the sport even further. It took awhile for them to finally win it, but even the years where they didn't, they made an impact. Of course, Oklahoma's rise into being a Super Six regular introduced yet another style of powerhouse with the emphasis on bars and beam-work. Once they added strong tumblers and vaulters, they became judges' favorites with their checking of all the boxes that NCAA judges value-- precise work, few obvious form deductions, captivating choreography, ability to hit cold. 

I'm rooting for California as the next program to make a big impact. (It's going to be so hard to break through to the finals if indeed NCAA goes four-on-the-floor.) Their 7th place in 2016 felt almost premature, but it's clear the program is punching to their potential under Justin and Liz. Gamer beam routines like Seilnacht and Shu were wonderful to see, and they got Mariah Peterson up to 9.8-standard through the season. They've lost a lot of routines, but a healthy Williams combined with entering freshman phenom Kyana George could be 9.9+ end of lineups needed for a strong next two seasons. 

Of course, what's happened at Washington and Kentucky are amazing stories too. Washington just needs some more floor and vault difficulty to punch consistently into 197's. Kentucky's core of Dukes/Hyland/Stuart/Korth all still having at least two seasons ahead, and with the addition of Jacobs, probably makes *them* the most likely new program to break into the finals of the NCAA Gymnastics Championships, whatever form it takes.

All that's to say, I'm glad the Big-10 is going through it's huge shakeup this season, as disruptive as this four-coach vacancy has been. With new perspectives in coaching, we have the possibility of adding new strong programs in the battle to get to Nationals. Iowa was so close this season. If Ohio State, Penn State, and Illinois can be in the mix every season as well,  it would make for even more exciting Regionals contests. And the sport has everything to gain with increased quality in gymnastics in more and more programs.  
Nicely written. I agree, it's fun to watch a new, young team rise to the top.