Bubble Watch: Which Teams Will Secure Final Regional Places?

Bubble Watch: Which Teams Will Secure Final Regional Places?
The conference championships provide a final opportunity for squads to clinch a spot at regionals. With teams across all 10 conference in action on Saturday, there will be some score-watching for seven teams remaining in contention: Penn State, BYU, North Carolina, Maryland, Central Michigan, Minnesota, and Western Michigan. There are just five slots remaining among the top 36 schools in the country that will go to regionals.

Penn State (Big Ten)
RQS: 195.460

Penn State needs at least a 194.900 to clinch its spot at regionals. Right now, the lowest score that the Nittany Lions are counting in their regional qualifying score is a 194.550. Penn State has scored a 195 or better in its last three meets. The Nittany Lions have been led by Nicole Medvitz on uneven bars and balance beam and Briannah Tsang in the all-around.

Medvitz has been key for Penn State on balance beam, where she has scored a 9.850 or better eight time this season. She has added a 9.725 or higher on uneven bars eight times. Tsang has hit the 9.800 mark eight times on floor exercise and seven times on balance beam. The Nittany Lions will need strong performances from both to secure their place in the rest of the postseason.

BYU (Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference)
RQS: 195.460

The Cougars need a 195.200 to clinch their place at the regionals. That score is well within their grasp; they've hit it in three of their last four meets. The lowest score that BYU is currently counting in its RQS is a 194.850. The Cougars have been led by freshman Shannon Hortman and junior Mackenzie Douglas.

Hortman has competed in the all-around in 10 out of 11 meets. She has scored at least a 9.700 nine times each on floor exercise and vault. Douglas is a three-event gymnast competing on vault, bars, and floor. She has contributed scores of at least 9.700 on 32 of 33 routines this year. 

North Carolina (EAGL)
RQS: 195.430

The Tar Heels will clinch their place at regionals with a score of 195.425, which is definitely within their range. The lowest score that North Carolina counts in its regional qualifying score is currently a 194.925. The Tar Heels have relied heavily on junior Morgan Lane in the all-around, freshman Khazia Hislop on balance beam and floor exercise, and junior Madison Nettles on vault and uneven bars.

Lane has had an impressive junior season, picking up EAGL first-team honors in the all-around, on balance beam, and floor exercise and second-team honors on uneven bars. She has scored at least a 9.825 or better in all nine beam routines this season. She hit a season-high 9.950 in a tri-meet on Feb. 10. Hislop has earned at least a 9.775 seven times on beam and eight times on floor.

​(Video courtesy of Tar Heel Gymnastics)

Maryland (Big Ten)
RQS: 195.410

Maryland is one of two teams that doesn't control its own destiny. The Terps had a rough day at the Big Five meet last weekend, which put a dent in their postseason hopes. Maryland will need a big meet in the early session of the Big Ten Championships against Minnesota, Rutgers, and Michigan State on Saturday. The Terps will also need help from BYU, Minnesota, and Central Michigan in order to qualify. If all three of those teams put up top scores this weekend, it will not matter how high Maryland manages to score.

Central Michigan (MAC)
RQS: 195.370

Central Michigan needs a minimum of a 194.925 to secure its spot at regionals. While the Chippewas sit right on the edge of qualifying for regionals, they are still counting a relatively low 194.125 in their RQS. That score came early in the season, and Central Michigan has since scored better than a 194.925 in five of its final six meets. If the Chippewas can continue the momentum that they've brought into the MAC Championships, they should be able to qualify for regionals without a question.

Central Michigan has relied on juniors Katy Clements, Macey Hilliker, and Bryttany Kaplan to bring in some big scores this season. Clements has competed in all 10 meets on vault, balance beam, and floor exercise. She has been particularly impressive on balance beam, where she has nine scores of 9.800 or better. Kaplan has been stellar on uneven bars, scoring at least a 9.800 eight times. Hilliker has hit the 9.850 mark or better seven times on floor exercise, including a huge 9.950 on March 5 against Rutgers.

Minnesota (Big Ten)
RQS: 195.350

Minnesota is just one year removed from being a team that cruised into regionals and fought its way to nationals. Right now, the Gophers are on the outside looking in, but they still hold onto their own destiny. They will need a 195.725 to advance to regionals without any help from other teams. It's a doable score--Minnesota has eclipsed that mark three times, including two weeks ago against BYU. The Gophers have struggled with consistency, though, and have either been in the 194 range or in the 196 range with no scores in the 195 range at all.

They will look to seniors Bailie Holst and Bailey Abernathy, and junior Ciara Gardner to help propel them into the remainder of the postseason. Holst has performed in the all-around in all 10 meets this season. Her best all-around total came last week with a 39.425 at the Big Five meet. She has earned at least a 9.750 in all 10 meets on the uneven bars this season.

Gardner has tallied a 9.800 or better in nine meets on balance beam. Her top all-around mark came two weeks ago against BYU, when she scored a 39.400. Abernathy has scored a 9.800 or better in all 10 meets on floor exercise

Western Michigan (MAC)
RQS: 195.270

While mathematically still eligible, Western Michigan would require a season high by more than half a point plus help from Minnesota and Central Michigan in order to qualify for regionals.

31 NCAA Teams Locked Into Regionals Heading Into Conference Championships
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