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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | April 15, 2022

What you need to know for Saturday's NCAA gymnastics championship, including key routines and predictions

Florida's Trinity Thomas and Auburn's Suni Lee headline 2022 NCAA gymnastics team finals

No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Florida, No. 4 Utah and No. 6 Auburn will compete for a national championship in the NCAA gymnastics team final on Saturday, April 16. The competition will start at 1 p.m. ET on ABC and stream here. We're also following the championship live here on NCAA.com and you can get live scores for the meet here.

College Gym News' Elizabeth Grimsley sat down with NCAA.com to break down what we need to know ahead of the team finals. First, here is what each team will need to execute in the finals and key routines to watch.

Utah 

What they need to execute: According to Grimsley, Utah had a bit of a lackluster rotation on bars in the semifinals. They didn't score higher than a 9.9, and had a few 9.8s and 9.7s. If they can perform to their full potential on that event, they should be able to score a lot higher than they finished in the semifinals. 

Key routines to watch out for:  Watch out for any of the bar routines that didn't perform in the semifinal. Grimsley said that Cristal Isa struggled a bit on bars so her routine will be important  to watch. If she can perform to her best, it could make a big difference for Utah. Plus, it will be a big boost if Jaedyn Rucker can stick her vault again and repeat that performance.

Florida

What they need to execute: The Gators' vault and bars rotation weren't as good as usual in the semifinals. Those were the first two rotations of the meet and where they were placed fourth and third heading into the third rotation on beams. 

Key routines to watch out for: Any and all Trinity Thomas routines. If she can repeat even a little bit of her semifinal performances where she won the all-around title, Grimsley said, that will be key for the Gators. 

Trinity Thomas nails Perfect 10 on floor to win all-around 2022 NCAA gymnastics title

 

Auburn

What they need to execute: "I know it's silly to say because it finished so close to Florida in the semifinal, but I think it had the meet of its life and it's going to need to repeat that if it has any chance of the title," Grimsley said. Auburn will need to show out again on all rotations in the championship. 

Key routines to watch out for: The supporting players' routines will be incredibly important. Suni Lee has been a consistent leader and boost for the Tigers all season on all four events, but she is just one gymnast. "If everyone is firing on all cylinders, it can be up there with the other teams," Grimsley said. 

Oklahoma

What they need to execute: Grimsley's immediate reaction to this question was "I can't really imagine Oklahoma getting better." They will just need to do their thing, and the other teams will need to match them. 

Key routines to watch out for: Bell Johnson's lead-off performance on floor. Johnson hit a 9.9 in the leadoff position in the semifinals to set Oklahoma up for success, so her routine will play an important role considering Oklahoma will start on floors Saturday. "I think hitting 9.9 in the leadoff is pretty impressive because you sort of want to build the scores and if you're already building from a 9.9, that's pretty great," Grimsley said. 

Predictions for the championship

"Well, I can never count out Oklahoma and KJ Kinder," Grimsley said. "I've learned over the years that even if you don't think that Oklahoma has a team that can win the title... It's gonna have a team that can win the title. But I've said Florida all year long. I predicted Florida before the season started so I'm gonna have to go with the Gators to win the title on Saturday."

A quick recap of Thursday's semifinals

In the first semifinal, it was thought that Utah and Alabama would be neck and neck for the second qualifying spot heading into Thursday. 

"Alabama had a little bit of a mis-step on vault. It didn't score as high as it normally does so Utah took advantage of that and had a lights-out beam rotation," Grimsley said. 

The Utes ended up scoring a 197.7125, which placed behind Oklahoma who put up its fourth consecutive 198-plus score and has been doing well all year long. The Sooners are back in the team final after coming in second behind Michigan in 2021. The Wolverines competed in semifinal II, and were eliminated from the tournament, placing fourth. Instead, No. 6 Auburn pulled the upset and qualified for the championship, led by Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee. 

Suni Lee's beam routine at 2022 NCAA women's gymnastics semifinals

"Michigan is certainly a surprise and I'd like to say that it was a huge surprise, but it's had little tiny moments throughout the season where it might have been off here there," Grimsley said. "But I mean when the reigning champs don't make the final it's always going to be an upset. "Auburn is definitely the biggest surprise, Suni is really leading that team. I don't think anyone expected Auburn to be this good this fast with her and making the final is pretty extraordinary for that team." 

As for Florida, the Gators were actually in fourth place after the first rotation. The uneven bars had a cable malfunction in the third rotation, Thomas had a lights-out performance after that to spark her team and they were able to take the lead and finish the semifinal with the No. 1 qualifying spot for the championship. The Gators scored a 197.975, and the Tigers 197.8375. 

Here is the semifinal score breakdown, in order of highest to lowest, of the four championship teams:

Oklahoma — 198.1125
Florida — 197.9750
Auburn — 197.8375
Utah — 197.7125

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