FORT WORTH, Texas -- Come for the four U.S. Olympians you'll remember from Tokyo, stay for Trinity Thomas. On Thursday, Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum competed for individual and team glory as the NCAA gymnastics championships got underway in Fort Worth, Texas. Eight ultra-talented squads (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah) vied for the four spots in Saturday's team finals.
After a ridiculously tight battle, the finals are set. The defending champion Wolverines were sent home and a new individual all-around champion was crowned: Florida's Thomas.
Want the lowdown on everything you might have missed? We have you covered with recaps of all the action from both semifinal sessions:
Florida and Auburn advance
In the biggest upset of the semifinals, No. 6 Auburn took the second spot of the session, earning a berth into Saturday's team finals. Michigan, ranked No. 3 in the country after the regular season, finished fourth in the semifinal after multiple falls on bars and beam, and will not have a chance to defend its national title from last year.
Florida finished in the top spot overall, jumping ahead of Auburn in the last rotation after a gigantic 49.7500 floor total -- the highest event total of either semifinal. Trinity Thomas capped off the meet with the only perfect 10.000, winning the bars, floor and all-around titles in the process. Suni Lee won the beam title, and Utah's Jaedyn Rucker won vault. -- Amy Van Deusen
Final team scores of semifinal two:
Jordan Chiles appreciation post
Chiles might not have had her best outing on Thursday, but we would be remiss if we didn't call out her casual full twisting double layout on floor.
What, like it's hard? (Spoiler: It is). The UCLA star earned a 9.925 for seventh place in the event.
Auburn continues to surprise the field; Michigan falls to fourth
Auburn had a rock solid vault rotation, scoring a 49.350, capped off by Drew Watson's 9.925 and Sara Hubbard's 9.900. The Tigers are still leading in first place, heading into bars.
Florida had a huge 49.5125 on beam, led by Trinity Thomas' 9.9375 and six gorgeous routines.
But perhaps the biggest, and saddest, story of rotation three was Michigan, with two falls on bars and a 48.675 -- a score that likely ends all hope of the team advancing to the finals. -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after Rotation 3:
Auburn takes the lead -- will it hold?
Auburn had another stellar rotation on floor, with Derrian Gobourne's 9.9625 (tied for top score of the day), Suni Lee's 9.950 and 9.900s from Cassie Stevens and Sophia Groth. The Tigers move into the top spot, just ahead of Michigan.
Michigan had a little trouble sticking its Yurchenko one and a half vaults but still scored a very respectable 49.425, led by Sierra Brooks' 9.900.
Florida had to endure an unexpected, long delay on bars before Trinity Thomas, but she and Leanne Wong proved unflappable, scoring 9.9750 and 9.9125. Thomas' bar score is now the highest of the day. With Megan Skaggs' 9.9125 earlier in the lineup, Florida tallied a 49.4750 but is in third place to Michigan by two tenths of a point at the halfway mark.
Missouri had a fantastic rotation on beam, with Sienna Schreiber notching a 9.950 and Helen Hu a 9.9375. Norah Flatley (UCLA) stuck her Yurchenko full cold for a 9.8875. The third rotation could be wild: Auburn will now move to the (usually) lower-scoring vault can it keep up the momentum and upset Michigan or Florida? -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after Rotation 2:
Suni Lee looked poised -- and darn near perfect -- on beam, earning a 9.9625. The score puts her in the top spot of the day on beam.
Lee did it again on floor, with an effortless double layout and choreography that captivated everyone in the arena. She earned a 9.950 for her routine, cementing herself as a front-runner for the all-around title.
Then it was on to the beam. Lee performed one of the most difficult vaults in the competition, earning a 9.850.
In her final apparatus, Lee earned a 9.9125 on bars for her release-move-packed routine, with a dismount she was oh so close to sticking cold.
Michigan leads, but Auburn is just a hair behind
Michigan started Semifinal 2 in a big way, with a 49.4875 and four scores above 9.9, from Natalie Wojcik, Gabby Wilson, Sierra Brooks and Abby Heiskell.
Auburn, led by Suni Lee's 9.9625, is making the case for a berth into Saturday's team finals with an incredible beam rotation. The squad trails Michigan by just a little over a tenth of a point heading into the second rotation.
Florida started out strong, if not superb, in the first rotation, with a 49.2375. Megan Skaggs rocketed her Yurchenko full for a leadoff score of 9.900, a mark that was later matched by Trinity Thomas and Leanne Wong. But Florida's best events are yet to come.
Missouri's top bar score came from Helen Hu, with a 9.8875. Olympian Jordan Chiles, competing as an individual for UCLA, fell on her first release move on bars, but regrouped to finish her routine strong for a 9.3375. Teammate Norah Flatley showed a gorgeous triple full on floor for a 9.8875. -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after Rotation 1:
Trinity Thomas used her team's first rotation, on vault, to remind anyone who needed reminding that she is an absolute force -- in every event.
The Florida star earned a score of 9.900.
Oklahoma and Utah advance to Saturday's team finals
Utah held any nerves at bay on the final event, posting the highest beam total of the day with a 49.600, to remain in the No. 2 spot ahead of Alabama.
Amelie Morgan started the team off with an impressive 9.900 leadoff score, and her teammates capitalized on that momentum, with Abby Paulson, Kara Eaker and Maile O'Keefe all scoring a 9.9375, the highest marks of the day on beam.
Oklahoma continued to roll through the competition, ending on floor with a 9.9625 from Jordan Bowers, the top score of the day on that event. The Sooners also put up 9.9375s from Danielle Sievers, Danae Fletcher and Ragan Smith.
Alabama's Luisa Blanco scored a heroic 9.9125 on vault despite an injured ankle that had left her competitive status questionable, but it wasn't enough for the team to make up the difference and jump ahead of Utah. Minnesota's Lexy Ramler tied for the top score of the session on bars with a 9.95, and Hannah Willmarth and Ona Loper both scored 9.900s to round out a solid competition for the Golden Gophers. -- Amy Van Deusen
Final team scores after Semifinal 1:
Oklahoma, 198.1125 (advances to finals)
Utah, 197.7125 (advances to finals)
Jade Carey watch
Carey is off to a strong start. The Oregon State star crushed her Yurchenko double full, taking only a small hop, in the first rotation. Her 9.8875 gives her the second-highest score on the event so far, behind only Oklahoma's Allie Stern (9.9375).
On bars, Carey scored a massive 9.950, which ties her with Oklahoma's Audrey Davis for first so far and puts her in contention for a share of the bars title.
Another rotation, another impressive routine from the Olympic gold medalist. Carey was rock solid on beam, earning a 9.900 and staying firmly in contention for the all-around title.
Carey took a small step on her incredibly difficult tucked double-double mount but was otherwise spot-on, scoring a 9.9125 and giving her the all-around lead after semifinal Session 1.
Who will win the individual event titles?
As expected, the fight for the event titles is intense. After Semifinal 1, here is who leads on each event:
Jaedyn Rucker, Utah, 9.9625
Audrey Davis, Oklahoma, 9.950
Jade Carey, Oregon State, 9.950
Lexy Ramler, Minnesota, 9.950
Lexy Ramler, Minnesota, 9.9375
Luisa Blanco, Alabama, 9.9375
Abby Paulson, Utah, 9.9375
Kara Eaker, Utah, 9.9375
Maile O'Keefe, Utah, 9.9375
Jordan Bowers, Oklahoma, 9.9625
Jade Carey, Oregon State, 39.6500
Each individual event title will be awarded to the highest score after both semifinals are complete. Ties are not broken, so yes, there could be a five-way tie for the beam title. More likely: Someone in Semifinal 2 will score higher than a 9.9375 and take the lead.
Oklahoma holds the lead over Utah and Alabama
Oklahoma's beam team put up another huge number, with a 49.5125 to increase the lead over Utah at the end of the third rotation. Ragan Smith led the way with a 9.9250, while Olivia Trautman and Carly Woodard each earned a 9.9125.
Utah was slightly off on bars -- with uncharacteristic small mistakes from Grace McCallum and Cristal Isa -- but will now head to beam, where the team is ranked first in the nation. The main goal: Stay ahead of Alabama to keep the second place ranking and advance to Saturday's finals.
Alabama, with a 9.925 from Lexi Graber and a 9.9125 from Lily Hudson on floor, sits less than .200 behind Utah. -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after rotation three:
The Utah-Oklahoma battle continues
Oklahoma showed why it's the No. 1 team in the country on bars, with an enormous 49.575 total on that event to edge ahead of Utah at the halfway point. Gymnast after gymnast hit every handstand, and the squad stuck nearly every dismount. Audrey Davis' 9.950 ties Jade Carey for the top score of the meet so far, and makes her a contender for the bar title. Kat Levasseur (9.9375), Danielle Sievers (9.900) and Jordan Bowers (9.900) all topped 9.9 as well.
Not to be outdone, Utah scored a 49.425 on vault, led by Jaedyn Rucker's 9.9625 for a stuck Yurchenko one and a half -- and the highest individual score of the day so far.
Alabama's Luisa Blanco came through big for her team again, with a 9.9375 that ties her with Ramler for the top beam score so far. On floor, Mya Hooten topped the field with a 9.950 and made a case for an event title there. (More on Hooten's routine below!) -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after rotation two:
Oh my, Mya Hooten
Too soon to say floor routine of the meet? That won't stop us from submitting it for consideration. Mya Hooten brought the house down (per usual) with her flawless performance and powerful choreography -- inspired by racial justice -- that has garnered buzz throughout the season. Hooten earned a score of 9.950 and holds first place in the event through two rotations.
The team battle: Rotation 1
The first event of the fast and furious first semifinal saw Utah take an early lead with an impressive 49.475 on floor. Olympian Grace McCallum nailed her full-in mount for a 9.9375, while Sydney Soloski earned a 9.9125 with her lofty double layout.
Oklahoma had a strong 49.350 vault score, led by Allie Stern's leadoff vault, a nearly stuck Yurchenko one and a half for 9.9375. Jordan Bowers and Olivia Trautman were just behind with matching 9.8750s.
On bars, Alabama's Luisa Blanco showed why she is superb in that event, scoring a 9.8750, while on beam, Minnesota star Lexy Ramler scored a 9.9375 for her immaculate routine. -- Amy Van Deusen
Team scores after Rotation 1:
From Tokyo to Fort Worth
It's a Team USA reunion. Familiar faces Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCallum have gone from friends to foes. ... OK, that's a bit dramatic, but they are competing against one another as their respective college squads go head to head today.
They'll always have Tokyo.
It's go time
At the risk of stating the obvious: It all comes down to this. The teams are officially in the building, warmed up and ready to compete for the NCAA gymnastics crown.
Locked in and ready to go. pic.twitter.com/T9flcA93ah— Oklahoma Women's Gym (@OU_WGymnastics) April 14, 2022
Y'all ready for this? 🤠 pic.twitter.com/Pxk3wsaBLZ— Utah Gymnastics (@UtahGymnastics) April 14, 2022
Here we go: Who to watch in Semifinal 1
No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, No. 4 Utah, No. 5 Alabama and No. 7 Minnesota will each compete in Semifinal 1 with the same goal: to place first or second and advance to Saturday's final (1 p.m. ET, ABC).
Also on the start list? Individual qualifiers, including a blockbuster one. Olympic gold medalist Jade Carey, who finished the regular season ranked first in the all-around, second on bars and third on floor, has been nothing short of spectacular competing for Oregon State. This sums up why we should all be in on the Carey hype:
She'll have a chance to win the all-around and an individual event title Thursday -- but it won't be easy. There are perhaps a dozen other gymnasts who could also win the all-around, awarded to the highest finisher on all four events after both semifinals are complete. More on the all-around battle here.
High on that list would be Carey's Olympic teammate (and good friend), Grace McCallum, who's ranked sixth in the all-around and second on bars. McCallum is competing with the storied Utah team, and has had herself some kind of season as well, including two perfect 10.0s on bars.
🚨 IT'S A PERFECT 10!! 🚨 Grace McCallum scores the first 10.0 of her career on bars!! pic.twitter.com/PoUikK9qZ2— Utah Gymnastics (@UtahGymnastics) February 5, 2022
On the team front, Oklahoma and Utah are the favorites to advance, just as their rankings indicate. Utah's roster also includes Olympic alternate Kara Eaker and two-time NCAA event champ Maile O'Keefe. The pair clinched the team's nationals bid in the most dramatic way two gymnasts can, by scoring consecutive 10.0s on beam at regionals. Because of course you'll want to see that, here it is.
Oklahoma has its own stars in 2016 Olympic alternate Ragan Smith, as well as freshman Jordan Bowers and sophomore Audrey Davis. Each of these gymnasts could win an individual event title. Don't miss Oklahoma on bars, especially -- the team is ranked No. 1 on that event.
But, really, nothing is guaranteed Thursday. Alabama's regional finals score was 198.175, to Utah's 198.200 and Oklahoma's 198.250. Those margins are as minuscule as they seem. And Minnesota is not be counted out. The squad has also hit the 198 mark this season and could upset any of the other teams. This is going to be an epic battle, and anything could happen. -- Amy Van Deusen