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Claire Billman and Brandis Heffner | College Gym News | January 10, 2023

Women's gymnastics power rankings: The top 6 teams and individuals

What to know for the start of the 2023 women's college gymnastics season

Week 1 lived up to expectations in all of the right — and wrong — ways: jaw-dropping gymnastics, history-making performances and an abundance of questionable scores both high and low. Ties were plentiful, and thus the first regular season power rankings are here to break down which teams and gymnasts truly got their seasons off to the best starts.

Hard data is scarce so early in the season (and scores rarely tell the whole story, anyway) so we’re taking other variables — like skill difficulty and competitive stakes — into consideration when honing our picks.

College women's gymnastics team rankings

1. Oklahoma

2. Florida

3. California

4. Michigan

5. Auburn

6. UCLA

Oklahoma came out swinging with a huge 197.925 — the second-best opening meet score in NCAA history, just a shade back from its 198.050 performance at Arkansas in 2019. Head coach KJ Kindler tested her team’s depth, and the gamble paid off: Its lowest counting score of the meet was 9.825, leaving no doubt that it’s the team to beat in 2023.

Meanwhile, Florida kicked off its season with a cool 197.750, the highest season-opening score in program history. Taking nothing away from the Gators’ genuinely impressive performance, this was a fairly low-stakes home meet against a trio of significantly lower-ranked opponents. If the Gators can replicate these sorts of results under less favorable conditions, they’ll be in contention for the top spot.

The Golden Bears also turned in a program-best debut performance, outscoring higher-ranked Sweet 16 competitors Michigan, Auburn and UCLA despite competing in an earlier session. Not only did California get a standout performance from freshman eMjae Frazier, but returners like Maddie Williams, Mya Lauzon and Gabby Perea also appear to have upped their game.

Hats off to Michigan for bouncing back from a sub-49 opening rotation on beam to edge out Auburn and UCLA at the marquee session of Super 16. The Wolverines turned in the highest-scoring floor rotation of the week, even without the usual 9.9-plus from anchor Gabby Wilson.

Auburn fought back from its own beam issues to smash its previous season debut record by nearly a point. The Tigers erased any lingering doubts that last season’s national championship run was a fluke, and Lee topping the all-around rankings is the perfect way to start her final NCAA season with the team.

UCLA tied Utah for the sixth-highest score of the week, but the Bruins get the nod for turning in their highest opening score in nearly two decades (at a neutral site against three of the top six teams in the country, no less). We expected the Bruins to improve on last season’s dismal 194.850 debut but didn’t foresee a two and a half point jump.

On the move: Historically, Michigan State and Ohio State have been overshadowed by higher-profile Big Ten teams like Minnesota and Iowa, but not this week. The Buckeyes topped a quad meet in front of a sold-out Covelli Center while Michigan State traveled to SEC country and recorded a program-high opening score against perennial power Alabama.

SUPER 16: Oklahoma edges Michigan, Auburn and UCLA to win Super 16 meet

Women's gymnastics vault rankings

1. Jordan Bowers, Oklahoma, 9.975

2. Sierra Brooks, Michigan, 9.950

3. Derrian Gobourne, Auburn, 9.950

4. Chae Campbell, UCLA, 9.925

5. Linda Zivat, Iowa, 9.925

6. Trinity Thomas, Florida, 9.925

Even with the Sooners’ difficulty advantage on vault, they hadn’t pulled in the 9.9-plus scores needed to separate themselves from the pack in the first rotation of the Super 16 meet in Las Vegas. That changed when Bowers stuck her massive Yurchenko one and a half, allowing Oklahoma to drop a 9.800 and move into an early lead.

Brooks bounced back from an uncharacteristic fall on beam in her first rotation with a definitively stuck Yurchenko one and a half, notching the second of three 9.950s she ultimately scored at the meet.

Fifth-year Gobourne understandably garners a lot of attention for her dynamic and entertaining floor routines, but she’s also the 2019 NCAA champion on vault. Her first Yurchenko one and a half of the season was a beauty and led Auburn to the highest vault total of the week.

Admittedly, Campbell had a slight readjustment on the landing of her Yurchenko full, but her execution as a whole was literally head and shoulders above the rest: She would’ve had no trouble clearing her 6’8” uncle Calais Campbell, defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens.

Iowa senior Zivat is one of the few DI gymnasts currently competing a Tsuk full, and her technique — both pre- and post-flight — is second to none. She tied her career-high and helped the Hawkeyes snag second in their stacked Super 16 session.

Vaults aren’t typically described as “elegant,” but there’s really no better word for Thomas’s debut Yurchenko one and a half. A small forward hop on the landing was the only real-time deduction.

Honorable mention: Haleigh Bryant had a sizable hop back on her front handspring pike half against Utah, but it was absolutely spectacular in the air.

Freshman to watch: Former five-star recruit Morgan Price punctuated Fisk’s historic program debut with a gorgeous Yurchenko full that earned a well-deserved 9.900.

PREVIEW: The ultimate 2023 women’s college gymnastics season preview

Women's gymnastics bar rankings

1. Audrey Davis, Oklahoma, 9.950

2. Andi Li, California, 9.975

3. Jordan Chiles, UCLA, 9.975

4. Natalie Wojcik, Michigan, 9.975

5. Sierra Brooks, Michigan, 9.950

6. Sunisa Lee, Auburn, 9.950

That’s no typo, Oklahoma junior Davis tops our Week 1 list despite “only” getting a 9.950. She put on an absolute clinic in how to make high-difficulty skills look effortless. Could her dismount have been less cowboyed? Sure, but the bars judges from her session took less for far more noticeable errors throughout the meet. If any bar routine from this weekend deserved a 10, it was this one.

Li doesn’t have the flashiest routine in the game, but her technique is as good as it gets. She was the only gymnast from the afternoon session of the Super 16 to score above 9.900 on bars and the only gymnast in our top six who didn’t compete in the ultra-competitive Saturday evening session of that meet.

Powerhouse Chiles doesn’t always get the credit she deserves for her intricate bar work, so she’s a welcome addition to this week’s list. She’s one of the few collegiate gymnasts competing two same bar releases, so we can overlook the small hop on her dismount.

From Wojcik’s sky-high Deltchev to her impeccable double layout dismount, the super senior did the most to build on the momentum from teammate Brooks’ textbook full-twisting double layout. Their scores cemented the Wolverines' impressive comeback to finish second after landing in fourth place in each of the first three rotations.

Lee is one of the best bar workers in the world, and, like Chiles, has brought much of her elite difficulty to her college routine. She lacked a bit of control on her full pirouette to double tuck dismount but still deservedly snagged one of the week’s top scores.

Honorable mention: UCLA’s Margzetta Frazier made the most of her competitive return to bars since breaking her foot on the apparatus at the Bruins’ first meet of 2022.

Freshman to watch: Florida is the top-ranked bars team after Week 1 thanks in no small part to Kayla DiCello’s 9.925 setting up Thomas and Leanne Wong for a pair of 9.950s.

PREDICTION: Who will be the 2023 all-around champion?

Women's gymnastics beam rankings

1. Sunisa Lee, Auburn, 10.000

2. Trinity Thomas, Florida, 10.000

3. Maile O’Keefe, Utah, 9.950

4. eMjae Frazier, California, 9.950

5. Reyna Garvey, Pittsburgh, 9.950

6. Helen Hu, Missouri, 9.950

It’s debatable whether Lee’s and Thomas’ routines were actually flawless, but they were certainly top of the class. Both gymnasts executed difficult skills with poise and precision, but the tie goes to Lee for hitting when her team needed it most.

O’Keefe is the consummate beamer, delivering grace under pressure yet again (it doesn’t get much more pressure-laden than tumbling on a 10 cm beam in front of an arena full of unruly Livvy Dunne fanboys). A well-finessed hip check on her back layout kept her from challenging for a perfect score, but no doubt O’Keefe will add another 10 to her résumé in the coming weeks.

Freshman Frazier, younger sister of UCLA’s Margzetta, followed up a fall on bars with an impressive pair of 9.950s on beam and floor. Frazier looked like a veteran from start to finish, but her perfectly connected front aerial to back layout stepout was a highlight.

Pitt freshman Reyna Garvey is a surprise addition to this week’s ranking, but she certainly earned her spot. Following back-to-back shaky routines, Garvey delivered a spectacularly clutch performance that allowed the unranked Panthers to beat their in-state rival, No. 35 Penn State, for just the third time in program history.

Hu is a fan favorite thanks to her trademark blend of unique skills and pristine execution, and she was at her absolute best in Week 1. Her front aerial to scale was immaculate.

Honorable mention: Hu’s teammate Sienna Schreiber anchored a stellar rotation that saw the Tigers overcome a seven-tenth deficit to edge out host Illinois for the win and tie Oklahoma and Denver for the week’s best beam score.

Freshmen to watch: Faith Torrez competed one of the most difficult routines of the weekend and earned a well-deserved 9.900 for her efforts. Penn State’s Amani Herring nailed both of her routines from this weekend for an impressive 9.900 average.

Women's gymnastics floor rankings

1. Chae Campbell, UCLA, 9.950

2. Sierra Brooks, Michigan, 9.950

3. Aleah Finnegan, LSU, 9.950

4. Chloe Widner, Stanford, 9.950

5. Halle Remlinger, Minnesota, 9.950

6. Claire Gagliardi, Ohio State, 9.950

In typical UCLA floor fashion, Campbell’s massive tucked full-in and exceptional performance quality pulled in one of the highest scores of the weekend. Appropriately, her routine is set to music by none other than the queen herself, Beyoncé.

Following her fall on beam, Brooks held nothing back on floor and was rewarded with a share of the session’s event title along with Campbell and Torrez. The Wolverines clawed their way back from a lackluster beam rotation to post the fourth-best team score of the week, and Brooks was a major reason why.

LSU showcased an entire lineup’s worth of impressive tumbling over the weekend, but none better than Finnegan’s double Arabian to stag jump and back two and a half to front tuck — two of the toughest combination passes competed all weekend.

After watching Widner’s floaty double layout, it’s easy to see why the Pac-12 named her to its 2023 watchlist. The senior led a reinvigorated Stanford team to an upset win in its session of Super 16, proving its 2022 postseason success wasn’t simply luck.

With all eyes on Mya Hooten, Remlinger stole the show at Minnesota’s opener with what is sure to be a key routine in the Gophers’s bid to stay nationally relevant post-Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper. Fellow Big Ten gymnast Gagliardi also sneaks onto the list after securing the Buckeyes’ opening meet upset over visiting Kentucky.

Honorable mention: It’s hard to challenge UCLA when it comes to “Choreography Most Likely to Go Viral,” but BYU’s Rebecca Ripley’s Barbie-themed routine just might do it. Ripley’s quirky, bouncy dance moves and strong tumbling are perfectly complemented by ’90s one-hit-wonder Aqua’s aggressively catchy smash hit Barbie Girl.

Freshman to watch: Nikki Smith, a former five-star recruit, lived up to the hype in her debut for Michigan State — particularly on floor. The Spartan newcomer performed with the maturity of a seasoned veteran and undoubtedly has some even bigger scores in her future.

Women's gymnastics all-around rankings

1. Sunisa Lee, Auburn, 39.750

2. Jordan Chiles, UCLA, 39.650

3. Jordan Bowers, Oklahoma, 39.650

4. Luisa Blanco, Alabama, 39.575

5. Chloe Widner, Stanford, 39.525

6. Abby Heiskell, Michigan, 39.525

Lee was a bit of a question mark heading into Week 1, but she surprised fans in the best possible way with revamped bars and beam routines and a brand new Yurchenko half-on tuck half vault. The changes paid dividends, with Lee scoring 9.9-plus on all four events and the top all around score of the week.

Fellow elite Chiles matched Lee’s difficulty and execution, save for a bouncy landing on her opening double layout on floor. The 2022 world champion is a big reason why UCLA has already jumped from a top 10 team to the top six.

Bowers didn’t regularly compete in the all-around in her freshman year due to inconsistency on beam, but if her confident, career-high showing at Super 16 is any indication, fans should get used to seeing her on all four events.

After only competing sparsely last postseason, it was a pleasure to see Blanco back in the all-around for the Crimson Tide. Her top five all-around total helped Alabama standout gymnast Ashley Johnston exceed expectations in her head coaching debut.

Having been bogged down by injury in past, Widner was finally in top form to open her senior year. Many of Stanford’s raised expectations in 2023 stem from its top-ranked freshman class, but a healthy Widner makes the Cardinal even more formidable.

Fifth-year Heiskell is the quintessential utility player and has been an all-around staple for the Wolverines the last two seasons as a result. She put that experience to good use in Vegas, providing a much-needed hit on beam that saved Michigan from what was threatening to be a disastrous rotation.

Honorable mention: Thomas did not compete floor this week (which is unsurprising for this early in the season), but was on pace for a 39.800. Auburn is heading to Gainesville in Week 2, and we’d love nothing more than to see a Thomas/Lee showdown for all-around supremacy.

Freshman to watch: UCLA’s Selena Harris was the top recruit in her class for a reason, folks. The rookie shined in her NCAA debut as she collected a trio of 9.900s and a 9.800 to claim the highest freshman all-around total of the weekend and tie Oklahoma’s Davis for eighth overall.

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