Facebook Twitter

Which NCAA gymnastics teams are national title contenders?

With the conclusion of conference championship weekend, the postseason has officially arrived. Which teams are legitimate threats to win the 2022 national title?

SHARE Which NCAA gymnastics teams are national title contenders?
Florida’s Megan Skaggs during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 in Columbia, Mo.

Florida’s Megan Skaggs during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 in Columbia, Mo.

Colin E. Braley, Associated Press

Since January, women’s gymnastics teams across the country — 62 at the Division I level — have worked for the opportunity to compete in the postseason and, beyond that, potentially win the 2022 national championship.

With the regular season over, 36 teams advanced to postseason competition, but it will be another month before a national champion is crowned.

Winning a national title has proven no easy feat. In the 40 years that women’s gymnastics has been a sanctioned NCAA sport, only seven programs have ever won it all — Utah, Georgia, UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and Michigan.

Six of those programs have won a title in the last 20 years, and 18 of those champions had something in common — they finished the regular season ranked in the top six nationally on every event (balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars and vault), per Road to Nationals.

The exceptions: Georgia in 2005 and Michigan in 2021.

The Bulldogs ranked No. 9 on balance beam at the close of the regular season, while the Wolverines were ranked No. 12 on floor exercise (last season was unlike any other, with canceled meets — Michigan had two canceled due to COVID-19 — a rejiggered formula to determine NQS and conference-only schedules).

An extraordinarily simple statistic that has proven the rule more often that not, would be national champions must be elite on every event, and have proven it over the course of a season, with few exceptions.

With that in mind, here are the 2022 national title contenders.


History says yes


Oklahoma Sooners

AP22016824089540.jpg

Oklahoma Sooner gymnast Jordan Bowers performs during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tyler Tate, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 1

  • Balance beam: No. 3
  • Floor exercise: No. 5
  • Uneven bars: No. 1
  • Vault: No. 4

National qualifying score: 198.140

  • Season high: 198.475
  • Season low: 196.650
  • Season average: 197.827

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 5

  • Jordan Bowers: First team (vault), second team (bars).
  • Audrey Davis: First team (bars), second team (all-around).
  • Ragan Smith: First team (beam), second team (floor).
  • Katherine LeVasseur: First team (vault).
  • Carly Woodard: First team (beam).

Title contender? 

Since 2013, without exception, Oklahoma has been a national title contender. During most of the last nine years in fact, the Sooners have been the championship favorite and won four national titles (the Sooners would have been the favorite to win the 2020 championship, too).

The top-ranked team in the country heading into the postseason, Oklahoma is probably co-favorites with Florida at this point, and per College Gym News’ postseason simulator, the Sooners have the second-best odds of bringing home the title.


Florida Gators

AP22008766574920.jpg

Florida’s Leanne Wong competes on the balance beam during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in Gainesville, Fla.

Gary McCullough, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 2

  • Balance beam: No. 2
  • Floor exercise: No. 3
  • Uneven bars: No. 2
  • Vault: No. 2

National qualifying score: 198.135

  • Season high: 198.575
  • Season low: 196.975
  • Season average: 197.841

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 4

  • Trinity Thomas: First team (bars, beam. floor, and vault).
  • Leanne Wong: First team (bars), second team (all-around, beam, floor).
  • Nya Reed: First team (floor), second team (vault).
  • Megan Skaggs: First team (all-around).

Title contender? 

Arguably no team in college gymnastics boasts more talent this season than Florida, which has helped make the Gators the most balanced team in the country. To that point, Florida is the only team ranked in the top four on every event.

The Gators started the year slow, but have since become the national title favorite, per College Gym News.

Of course, Florida was the prohibitive favorite to win the 2021 title but struggled mightily on beam during the postseason, particularly during the national championship final.

If Florida has put those postseason struggles behind it, though, few teams are capable of matching the Gators.


Utah Utes

merlin_2913024.jpg

Utah’s Abby Paulson competes on the beam as the Utah Red Rocks compete against Minnesota in a gymnastics meet at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

National ranking: No. 4

  • Balance beam: No. 1
  • Floor exercise: No. 4
  • Uneven bars: No. 6
  • Vault: No. 5

National qualifying score: 197.920

  • Season high: 198.575
  • Season low: 196.775
  • Season average: 197.679

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 5

  • Grace McCallum: First team (all-around and bars), second team (floor).
  • Cristal Isa: First team (beam).
  • Maile O’Keefe: First team (beam).
  • Sydney Soloski: First team (floor).
  • Abby Paulson: Second team (beam).


Title contender? 

Coming off a third-place finish in 2021, while also bringing in a trio of freshman Olympians (McCallum, Kara Eaker and Amelie Morgan), Utah was a trendy national title pick in the preseason.

While the Utes haven’t been quite as elite as those prognostications suggested, they are the Utah team best suited to win a national title in over a decade.

The 2022 Red Rocks are the first Utah team since 2008 to rank in the top six on every event, and for the first time since 2015, Utah has no glaring weakness.

The Red Rocks haven’t hit the 198 benchmark as frequently as some of the competition, but with a regular season win over Oklahoma plus a nation-best single meet score of 198.575 (tied with Florida and Auburn), Utah has proven it can beat anyone and has the fourth-best odds to do so, per College Gym News.


Auburn Tigers

AP22037637997250.jpg

Auburn gymnast Sunisa Lee, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics all-around champion, performs on the balance beam during an NCAA gymnastics meet against LSU on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La.

Matthew Hinton, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 7

  • Balance beam: No. 4
  • Floor exercise: No. 6
  • Uneven bars: No. 5
  • Vault: No. 5

National qualifying score: 197.650

  • Season high: 198.575
  • Season low: 196.050
  • Season average: 197.444

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 3

  • Sunisa Lee: First team (all-around, bars and beam), second team (floor).
  • Derrian Gobourne: First team (floor).
  • Sophia Groth: First team (beam).

Title contender? 

This is where things start to get interesting. Similar to Florida, Auburn started the season slowly before catching on late, becoming not only one of the best teams in the SEC but also in the country.

The Tigers are one of only four schools, along with Oklahoma, Florida and Utah, to rank in the top six on every single event, meaning they have no glaring weaknesses that could undo them.

With Lee at the forefront, Auburn has proven it can compete with the best after beating Alabama and tying Florida during the regular season and then finishing third at the SEC championships.

Still, Auburn isn’t close to a favorite to win the title, with even lower odds than LSU, per College Gym News.


History says no, but ...


Michigan Wolverines

AP22011706241132.jpg

Michigan’s Natalie Wojcik performs on the beam during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Al Goldis, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 3

  • Balance beam: No. 11
  • Floor exercise: No. 1
  • Uneven bars: No. 4
  • Vault: No. 1

National qualifying score: 198.015

  • Season high: 198.525
  • Season low: 196.475
  • Season average: 197.841

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 5

  • Sierra Brooks: First team (all-around, floor and vault).
  • Natalie Wojcik: First team (bars and beam), second team (all-around and vault).
  • Abby Heiskell: Second team (all-around and vault).
  • Gabby Wilson: First team (floor), second team (vault).
  • Naomi Morrison: First team (vault).

Title contender? 

Michigan’s placement in this tier seems crazy at first glance. The Wolverines are the defending NCAA champions, brought everyone back from last year’s title team and were the top-ranked team in the country the majority of the season.

Moreover, Michigan has the third-best title odds, per College Gym News.

And yet, of the top-ranked teams in the county, Michigan has the lowest floor, as evidenced by its season-low score recorded in a win over Nebraska.

Then there is the fact the Wolverines have a weak event — beam — and the same cannot be said for Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Auburn.

Michigan is, of course, one of the two teams in the last 20 years that has disregarded historical precedent and gone on to win a national title.

The Wolverines are also the top-ranked team in the country on multiple events. If things go right, Michigan can beat any team, but the Wolverines also might be the title contender most susceptible to things going wrong.


Alabama Crimson Tide

AP22023177537232.jpg

Alabama gymnast Lexi Graber competes on the beam during an NCAA gymnastics meet against Kentucky on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Vasha Hunt, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 5

  • Balance beam: No. 5
  • Floor exercise: No. 7
  • Uneven bars: No. 3
  • Vault: No. 5

National qualifying score: 197.790

  • Season high: 198.075
  • Season low: 195.875
  • Season average: 197.448

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 3

  • Luisa Blanco: First team (bars), second team (beam)
  • Lexi Graber: Second team (floor).
  • Makarri Doggette: Second team (bars).

Title contender? 

Like Michigan, Alabama’s placement feels odd in this tier. Ranked No. 5 in the country, the Crimson Tide have no glaring weaknesses, rank in the top seven on every event and are among the deepest teams you’ll find.

Not only that, but Alabama has beaten Auburn, finished second behind Florida at the SEC Championships and as long as Blanco is healthy, boasts one of the top gymnasts in the country.

Unfortunately for Alabama, it hasn’t proven consistently capable of competing at the same level as the nation’s best teams, as evidenced by losses to Oklahoma, Florida and LSU.

Alabama likely won’t beat itself in postseason competition, but will need other title contenders to make mistakes, which is why the Crimson Tide have lower title odds than even Auburn and LSU.


Who cares about history?


LSU Tigers

AP22037638156168.jpg

LSU gymnast Haleigh Bryant runs for the vault during an NCAA gymnastics meet against Auburn on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La.

Matthew Hinton, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 6

  • Balance beam: No. 5
  • Floor exercise: No. 8
  • Uneven bars: No. 10
  • Vault: No. 3

Season average score: 197.735

  • Season high: 198.125
  • Season low: 196.725
  • Season average: 197.478

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 2

  • Haleigh Bryant: First team (vault), second team (bars).
  • Sami Durante: Second team (bars).

Title contender? 

When on, LSU has proven more than capable this season. The Tigers have beaten Utah, Alabama and Auburn head-to-head.

When off, though, LSU has proven quite vulnerable, as illustrated in regular season losses to Missouri and Kentucky, as well as a fifth place finish at the SEC championships.

LSU has the best title odds of any team not named Oklahoma, Florida, Michigan or Utah, per College Gym News, but the Tigers haven’t proven themselves consistently capable of competing at that level.

LSU could peak at the right time in the postseason and record and upset or two, but it is just as likely that the Tigers’ weaknesses on bars and floor prove their undoing and knock them out in the regional round or in the national semifinals.


Minnesota Golden Gophers

AP22019075958504.jpg

Minnesota’s Ona Loper competes in floor exercise during an NCAA gymnastics meet on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 in Minneapolis.

Andy Clayton-King, Associated Press

National ranking: No. 8

  • Balance beam: No. 22
  • Floor exercise: No. 2
  • Uneven bars: No. 7
  • Vault: No. 8

National qualifying score: 197.440

  • Season high: 198.025
  • Season low: 196.225
  • Season average: 197.243

2022 WCGA All-American gymnasts: 3

  • Lexy Ramler: First team (all-around and beam), second team (bars).
  • Ona Loper: First team (all-around and vault).
  • Mya Hooten: First team (floor), second team (vault).

Title contender? 

Minnesota is the only remaining team to have a top-6 unit on an event. The Golden Gophers are one of the nation’s best on floor, and rank in the top 10 on both bars and vault.

Like the teams before it, Minnesota has broken 198 barrier — a prerequisite for any national title contender — and has a trio of gymnasts who can compete with the best in the country in Ramler, Loper and Hooten.

Minnesota’s weakness, and the reason it likely won’t make it to the national final, let alone win the title, is beam.

The Golden Gophers simply haven’t proven elite on the event, and history has shown time and again that national champions are elite on all four events.

If Minnesota hits its season-high on beam (49.475) during the postseason, it can contend with any team.

That is a big ask, though.