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  • Writer's pictureRiley Grube

2024 NCAA Gymnastics Regionals Recap: Upsets, Drama, and Surprising Advances to Championships

The 2024 NCAA postseason tournament began with the regional championships, held on April 3-7. The 36 teams were divided into four regional sites, with teams ranked 29-36 competing in the first round “play-in” meet. From there, each regional had two regional semifinals, with the top two teams advancing to the regional final. Then, the top two teams in each regional final qualified for the 2024 NCAA Championships.

This year's regionals featured several shocking upsets, highlighting the increased parity in NCAA gymnastics. Each regional will be recapped below with a preview for the NCAA Championships at the end.

Ann Arbor Regional

The first major upset of the NCAA regionals was No. 9 Michigan not even advancing out of the semifinals in their home regional. Michigan had a solid performance until the final rotation where they counted a fall on the balance beam. Penn State was able to capitalize on this mistake and advance to the regional finals alongside Alabama. The second semifinal was much less chaotic, with Oklahoma cruising into the finals and Ohio State taking advantage of NC State’s minor mistakes. 

The regional final in Ann Arbor was ultimately not as competitive as anticipated because Michigan did not advance. Oklahoma once again crushed the competition and advanced to the NCAA Championships. Ohio State and Penn State were not able to upset Alabama for the second spot despite putting up some of their best performances of the season.

Fayetteville Regional

The Fayetteville regional began with drama in the play-in round when BYU and Boise State ended the meet tied. The tiebreaker in this situation was to add the lowest score of each rotation, which is normally dropped, to determine the winner. BYU dropped less mistakes than Boise State, so they advanced to the semifinals.

The favored teams advanced out of the semifinals into the finals. However, No. 10 Arkansas outscored No. 7 Kentucky in the semifinals, setting the stage for an intense battle for the second NCAA Championships spot. In the regional final, No. 2 LSU easily won the first spot to the NCAA Championships. Kentucky ultimately lost to Arkansas because of a weak beam rotation. This will be the first time Arkansas competes in the NCAA Championships since 2018.

Gainesville Regional

The Gainesville regional was ultimately the only regional without a major upset, but that does not mean the competition was not close. The first semifinal was relatively uneventful with No. 5 Utah and No. 12 Michigan State easily advancing. In the second semifinal, Georgia had their strongest performance of the season to nearly knock out No. 13 Missouri, but Missouri saved themselves with a clutch beam rotation.

The regional final seemed prime for an upset when Utah counted a major mistake on the uneven bars in the first rotation. However, Utah was able to bounce back, and Michigan State and Missouri were ultimately unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Utah advanced alongside No. 4 Florida, who put up a strong performance in their home regional.

Berkeley Regional

The Berkeley regional was perhaps the most unpredictable regional. In the first semifinal, No. 9 UCLA was upset by Arizona State by just one tenth of a point. Arizona State was also about one tenth of a point behind No. 6 Denver. Then in the second semifinal, No. 14 Auburn struggled on the vault and uneven bars and were easily beat by Stanford. Stanford was widely regarded as a talented team, but they were not able to put it all together until the postseason. Stanford also nearly beat the host team Cal, but both teams advanced to the regional finals.

In the finals, Stanford essentially replicated their strong performance from the semifinal and upset Denver to advance to the NCAA Championships. This is the first time Stanford has advanced to the NCAA Championships since 2016. Cal also advanced to the NCAA Championships with a strong performance in their home regional.

NCAA Championships

Both NCAA semifinals will be held on Thursday, April 18, and will be broadcast on ESPN2. In the team competition, Arkansas, California, LSU, and Stanford will compete in the first session at 4:30 p.m. EST. Then Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and Utah will compete at 9 p.m. EST.

The first semifinal appears more straightforward with Cal and LSU being ranked significantly higher than Arkansas and Stanford. However, as Arkansas and Stanford showed in the regionals, top-ranked teams still have to perform well to advance. These teams will be looking to capitalize on mistakes, so LSU and Cal will aim to be clean and consistent. 

The second semifinal is more competitive numbers-wise with No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Utah, and No. 8 Alabama. Oklahoma has been the clear top team the entire season, so it would certainly be an upset to see them go down in the semifinals. It is less clear who the second team advancing will be, so this competition will truly come down to who can deliver under pressure.

The results in the NCAA semifinals will determine this year’s individual NCAA champions, so there will also be gymnasts from schools who did not qualify as a team competing. Some athletes to watch include Olympic champion Jade Carey in the all-around and Raena Worley on floor, where she is ranked first in the NCAA.

The top two teams in each semifinal will advance to the NCAA Championships which will be held on Saturday, April 20, at 4 p.m. EST. This will be broadcast on ABC.


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