The NCAA gymnastics championships begin Thursday, with eight of the top teams in the country descending upon Texas to determine a champion.
Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at what you need to know and which storylines you should watch as the championships kick off.
The championships are being held at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
The semifinals are set for Thursday on ESPN2, with the first at 3 p.m. ET and the second at 9 p.m. ET. The top two teams from each semifinal will advance to the final at 4 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC.
Florida, Cal, LSU and Denver will face off in the first semifinal. Oklahoma, Utah, UCLA and Kentucky will compete in the second semifinal.
For the first time since 2019 and since Valorie Kondos Field retired from coaching, UCLA is back at the national championships. The Bruins finished third that year, and they could make another deep run this year. A team with a rich national championship history, it was only a matter of time before they returned to this level.
UCLA is led by Olympic medalist Jordan Chiles, who has been one of the best all-around gymnasts in the country this year and could very well take home the title. Of course, that also hinges on the health of Florida’s Trinity Thomas, who is the reigning all-around champion. Chiles’ performances this season include a perfect 10 on the floor at UCLA’s regional final, which helped place them amongst the top eight teams in the country.
But they’re in a semifinal with defending champions Oklahoma and No. 5 Utah, making it hard to predict which two teams to advance to Sunday’s final.
Passion. Heart. Determination. We showed all of that in the #ncaagym regional final to earn our spot at the national championships! #4Family | #GoBruins(🎥: Sophia Lahmidi) pic.twitter.com/a3GrlEgVuS— UCLA Gymnastics (@uclagymnastics) April 6, 2023
Passion. Heart. Determination. We showed all of that in the #ncaagym regional final to earn our spot at the national championships! #4Family | #GoBruins(🎥: Sophia Lahmidi) pic.twitter.com/a3GrlEgVuS
Reigning champion Oklahoma looked a bit vulnerable in their regional final, suffering two uncharacteristic falls on beam. But the Sooners were able to rebound and advance as one of the first teams to secure a place in the national championship.
The Sooners know what it takes to win – after all, they’ve won four of the last six national titles. But they could find themselves in a tight competition if Thomas is healthy as Florida features one of the best – and deepest – lineups in the country.
Utah could also factor into the conversation with Grace McCallum expected to return from injury. Led by Maile O’Keefe and Jaedyn Rucker, they were the only team to score a 198 or better twice during regionals.
TEXTBOOK YURCHENKO 1.5 💯Junior @KatLevasseur_ scored the first perfect 🔟 on vault at an NCAA Regional competition since super senior @OTrautman in 2021. #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/mL9KDbly0w— Oklahoma Women's Gym (@OU_WGymnastics) April 2, 2023
TEXTBOOK YURCHENKO 1.5 💯Junior @KatLevasseur_ scored the first perfect 🔟 on vault at an NCAA Regional competition since super senior @OTrautman in 2021. #BoomerSooner pic.twitter.com/mL9KDbly0w
A lot at this year’s national championships hinges on the health of reigning all-around champion Trinity Thomas. Thomas stopped midway through her floor routine at Florida’s regional competition and did not feature in the regional final.
Still, Florida advanced even without its star, who remains day-to-day with a right lower leg injury, thanks to astounding depth. Kayla DiCello has been a standout freshman for the Gators, and their lineup also features Sloane Blakely, Leanne Wong and Riley McCusker.
But the questions about the team title and the all-around title remain, and they all hinge on whether or not Thomas is available to compete.
Also notable: Suni Lee will not be competing after Auburn failed to advance to the national championships. She’s been absent since the end of the regular season, and the Olympian has revealed that she’s been battling kidney problems.