2018 NCAA Elevate The Stage Toledo Promises Close Competition

Michigan Gymnastics Paige Zaziski

This Friday, February 23, FloGymnastics will be on-site and live-streaming the 2018 Elevate the Stage NCAA competition in Toledo, Ohio. The quad meet will play host to several close battles between No. 6 Michigan, No. 12 Denver, No. 37 Utah State and No. 38 Bowling Green. The meet serves as a great opportunity for the gymnasts to practice competing on podium before postseason. 

Michigan has had a bit of an up-and-down season, with scores as low as 194.975 back in January to their high of 197.55, achieved in the second meet of the year. The team will be looking to add another 197-plus at this away meet, and will need to do so without one of their best competitors, Olivia Karas, who is out with an Achilles injury. 

Denver has had a consistent season so far, posting in the 195-196 region each week and competing as one of the best teams on vault in the country. Meanwhile, Utah State and Bowling Green will be in a close battle to see who beats the other at this competition — the teams are close in the rankings, and both will be looking to add strong away scores to boost their position.

Check out our summary below on what to look forward to at this exciting competition. 

All-Around Title Up For Grabs

Michigan, Denver, and BGSU all have strong all-around competitors who contribute heavily to the team totals. The all-around title from Elevate the Stage will likely be a close competition between Denver’s Maddie Karr and Lynnzee Brown, BGSU’s Jovannah East, and Michigan’s Brianna Brown

Denver sophomore Karr is currently ranked No. 9 in the country in the all-around and is one of the team’s best on beam, where she is ranked No. 6. Karr’s routine is unique and includes an aerial cartwheel to back handspring for her series, as well as a beat jump to split jump full. 

Check out her routine below from the 2018 Denver Winterfest Classic.

Karr’s teammate, Brown, is the team’s star freshman and is currently ranked No. 13 in the all-around. She is the team’s best vaulter at the moment, competing a powerful Yurchenko 1 1/2. 

Another underclassman likely competing for that all-around title is East, a sophomore at BGSU. East has only contributed on beam and floor for most of the season, but she competed on all four during the team’s last competition at New Hampshire and totaled an impressive 39.4.

A second Brown to watch out for in the all-around is Michigan’s Brianna Brown. She competed intermittently last season — mostly only on bars — but she has competed all four events for the past four meets this season and done a fantastic job for the team. She has certainly perfected her work on bars and is arguably the teams best performer on this event. 

Close Competition Between Utah State & BGSU

Although this is a quad meet, one of the closest battles will be between No. 37 Utah State and No. 38 BGSU. The two teams have already faced off this season in the first week of the year, with BGSU edging out Utah State comfortably, totaling a 194.825 against Utah State’s 192.975. Utah State only went up from there, however, and they scored their highest of the season the very next week with a 195.45. BGSU is capable of scoring slightly higher than that, and they did so last month with a 195.5. 

The two teams are very similar when it comes to vault, but there are distinct differences in advantage when it comes to the remaining three events. BGSU is much better on bars, whereas Utah State has performed better on beam and floor. 

In addition to BGSU’s star all-around performer, East, sophomore Lexi Augustine can be great on bars and floor, and senior Laura Mitchell can be solid on beam. Utah State will be counting on Autumn DeHarde, a key competitor for them on beam and floor, and Emily Briones, who is capable of scoring into 9.9 territory. 

Check out DeHarde's beautiful beam routine from the team's competition against BGSU earlier this season.

Video via Utah State Gymnastics

Will We See A 10.0?

None of the teams competing have had any gymnasts score a 10.0 yet this season, but several have come very close. The closest have been Denver’s Karr, who scored a 9.975 on vault earlier this season, and Michigan’s Emma McLean, who scored the same on floor. 

McLean has been one of the highest scorers for Michigan on the power events. In addition to her 9.975, she has scored a 9.95 on floor twice, as well as a 9.95 on vault once. Her teammate, Brown, has scored similarly high on uneven bars. Two others who could put up big numbers are Lynnzee Brown from Denver, who has put up a 9.95 on floor this season, and Kaitlyn Schou, also from Denver, who has put up the same number on beam.

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