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Brandis Heffner | College Gym News | April 13, 2023

The 2023 women's gymnastics championships, previewed, predicted and how to watch

Clinching beam routine for 2022 NCAA gymnastics champion Oklahoma

The season finale weekend of women’s collegiate gymnastics is finally here, as the 2023 NCAA national championships will soon get underway in Fort Worth, Texas. Eight teams—California, Denver, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Utah—are set to face off at Dickies Arena, where the Sooners hope to repeat as national champs and win their sixth title in the last decade.

Oklahoma’s dominance, LSU’s redemption tour, the rise of California and Denver, Trinity Thomas’ quest for the all-time 10s record—all the stories that headlined the regular season will reach a conclusion at nationals. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect throughout championship weekend.

EXPLAINED: How the NCAA college gymnastics championship works

Semifinal I

  • Teams: No. 2 Florida, No. 7 California, No. 6 LSU, and No. 14 Denver
  • Individuals: Courtney Blackson (Boise State), Elexis Edwards (Ohio State), Delanie Harkness (Michigan State), Payton Harris (Ohio State), Emily Lopez (Boise State), Ava Piedrahita (Penn State), Cassidy Rushlow (Penn State), Alisa Sheremeta (Missouri), Gabrielle Stephen (Michigan State), Chloe Widner (Stanford)
  • When: 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 13
  • Watch: ESPN2
  • Stream: Afternoon session on ESPN

All eyes will be on Florida’s lineups come Thursday afternoon after its star, Trinity Thomas, withdrew from regionals weekend mid-routine due to injury. Thomas has been one of the NCAA’s premier gymnasts the last five years and is closing in on the all-time perfect 10s record (one to tie, two to lead), and her absence leaves Florida far more vulnerable to a semifinal upset. However, Florida is still a favorite to advance to the final and a threat to win, as Leanne Wong could realistically win or podium on any event in addition to the all-around, just as Thomas will if she competes. Thomas’ status is currently listed as day-to-day.

LIVE UPDATES: 2023 NCAA women's gymnastics championship

The second qualifying spot from this semifinal is up for grabs, as California, LSU, and Denver have all shown the prowess at different points this season to be able to contend for the final. The Golden Bears enter with the most momentum after beating the Gators to win the Pittsburgh Regional and posting the highest score across the four regionals. But, the other two enter with confidence as well, as the Pioneers also took home their respective regional title, and the Tigers bounced back from an upset exit pre-nationals a season ago.

The only mid-major school to qualify any gymnasts to the NCAA championships this season has the potential to make some noise, as Courtney Blackson’s perfect 10 on vault at regionals proves she has the caliber to compete for a title. However, this session also features LSU’s Haleigh Bryant, whose handspring front pike is so flawless that she topped the vault power rankings most of the season. Lynnzee Brown, the 2019 floor champion for Denver, will be an event title threat alongside teammate Jessica Hutchinson, who notched 10s on both beam and floor in 2023. Headlined by Andi Li and Maddie Williams, nearly the entirety of California’s bars lineup can contend for that title.

Prediction to Advance: Florida, California

MORE: 5 quick reactions to the championship selections

Semifinal II

Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Utah, No. 4 UCLA, and No. 9 Kentucky
Individuals: Luisa Blanco (Alabama), Sierra Brooks (Michigan), Jade Carey (Oregon State), Norah Flatley (Arkansas), Derrian Gobourne (Auburn), Abby Heiskell (Michigan), Naomi Morrison (Michigan), Hannah Scharf (Arizona State), Lauren Williams (Arkansas), Natalie Wojcik (Michigan)
When: 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 13
Where: ESPN2
Stream: Evening session on ESPN

The defending NCAA champion Sooners are the favorite to repeat after sailing through their home regional despite counting an early beam fall in the final. Jordan Bowers has blossomed into one of the nation’s top all-arounders and leads a group of roleplayers like Ragan Smith, Faith Torrez, and Audrey Davis, who helped Oklahoma rank first in 2023 and will contend for a myriad of event titles. Kentucky qualified for nationals out of Norman alongside the Sooners, and although it is the underdog this session, Raena Worley, Isabella Magnelli, and Arianna Patterson wouldn’t be a surprise to see on a podium at the end of the day.

It will be a showdown between two Pac-12 rivals for the second advancing spot from this semifinal, as Utah and UCLA are both competing their best gymnastics of the season right now. The Bruins posted the top total of regionals weekend while the Utes were the only team to post a score of 198 or better twice during regionals. The pair will be ready to pounce on Oklahoma if it opens the door even a crack. Utah’s beam lineup is must-see TV in that every gymnast should contend for the event title, and Bruins Jordan Chiles and Selena Harris may pack the best one-two punch of any all-around duo at nationals.

The quartet of Michigan gymnasts, all 2021 NCAA champions with the Wolverines, will be threats for titles every time they salute. In particular, Sierra Brooks has been unstoppable on floor all season long and earned a perfect 10 at regionals to secure her berth while Abby Heiskell will be dangerous in the all-around with the benefit of competing at the end of the Sooners’ lineups. Jade Carey may have only qualified on beam, but focusing on just one event will ensure she’ll contend for the first-place trophy.

Prediction to Advance: Oklahoma, UCLA

💯: Jordan Chiles scores a Perfect 10 on floor at the regional final

Team Final

Teams: Top two finishers from each semifinal
When: 4 p.m. ET Saturday, April 15
Watch: ABC

Oklahoma’s depth is what gives it an edge, as it has the most options should it have some minor areas in need of improvement after its semifinal performance. However, UCLA has the star power, Florida has Thomas (and Wong and Kayla DiCello…), and Utah has the legacy, all of which can be difference-makers in taking the title.

More importantly, with women’s college sports viewership surging to start 2023, these championships have the potential to increase the number of eyeballs on gymnastics and grow the audience of the sport. With both semifinals airing on ESPN2 and the championship battle set for ABC—similar to the record-breaking women’s Final Four earlier this month—these NCAA championships could be impactful far beyond what takes place on the competition floor.


NCAA Champion: Oklahoma
All-Around NCAA Champion: Jordan Chiles, UCLA
Vault NCAA Champion: Haleigh Bryant, LSU
Bars NCAA Champion: Maddie Williams, California
Beam NCAA Champion: Maile O’Keefe, Utah
Floor NCAA Champion: Sierra Brooks, Michigan

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