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Understanding College Gymnastics Wins/Losses, Ranking System

Jan 27, 2023, 11:38 AM | Updated: 11:43 am

SALT LAKE CITY – College gymnastics season is in full swing and if you’re new to the sport, it’s a little different than most to follow when it comes to “wins” and “losses”.

Naturally, you always want your team to come out on top with the highest score, but unlike most sports that doesn’t necessarily matter as much when it comes to jockeying for space in the Nationals race.

Here we will explain NQS (National Qualifying Score) versus traditional wins and losses and when each of those matter in regard to ranking your favorite college gymnastics team.

What Is NQS And Why Does It Matter?

National Qualifying Scores or NQS is how college gymnastics determines their hierarchy as the season winds down and preparation toward crowning a National Champion takes place. NQS is less about traditional wins and losses and more about how high your team scores throughout the season.

What makes college gymnastics different than just about any other sport out there is that there truly is such thing as a “good loss” meaning your team got a high score that will positively help their NQS for postseason, but maybe didn’t defeat their opponent in the process.

What Counts As A Good Score?

This is a little subjective depending on where exactly your team falls in the current hierarchy, but the Top 25 in college gymnastics these days is usually hitting between 197 and 198 consistently. (For point of reference the highest a team could possibly ever score is 200 meaning every routine was a perfect 10.)

The elite teams in college gymnastics regularly score in the high 197s to low 198s with some variance here and there for a bad meet. Your good to great college gymnastics teams will regularly score in the low to mid 197s with outliers for exceptional performances as well as bad ones.

Calculating NQS

NQS is calculated using a team’s top six scores from their 10-13 meet season (Conference Championships count in this number). Three of those six scores need to be road or neutral-site scores in an effort to eliminate home bias for a team. Next, the highest score of the six is removed and the remaining five scores are then averaged to form a team’s NQS.

This is why in many cases it is far more important for a team to just go out and score as high as possible regardless of whether it ends up being a win or loss for them.

So Why Are Wins And Losses Still Tracked?

Traditional wins and losses matter in college gymnastics when it comes to ranking your team within its conference and during Regionals/Nationals when a champion is being determined.

Wins and losses really only become important when it comes to postseason as the field gets whittled down in an effort to crown a Conference Champion, Regional Champion, or National Champion.

Wrapping Up NQS Rankings, Wins/Losses

In short, both NQS and wins/losses matter in their own respects for college gymnastics, but NQS does offer a little more wiggle room for losses compared to other sports we typically watch as long as your team brings in a good score. 

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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Understanding College Gymnastics Wins/Losses, Ranking System