Things Are Happening – November 17, 2017

A. NCAA training

Utah heard our concerns and made sure to affirm that there actually are more than four people on the team this year. At least five or six. Good to know. Of particular importance in these videos is the 1.5 from Kim Tessen.

Only 55 days until our first meet. Make. Every. Day. Count. #WIL #GoUtes

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Beam series Sunday! #WIL #GoUtes 🙌🏻

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Middle Pass Monday! #WIL #GoUtes

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Alabama montage. If Nickie Guerrero is full-time incorporating that one-leg flourish out of her final layout stepout, I’m on board.

Denver is dismounting bars. And providing today’s NCAA code lesson. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 17, 2017

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2018 Freshmen – Boise State

Boise State lost three major contributors after last season in Mejia, Bennion, and Urquhart, accounting for about 7 best-lineup routines. There is still adequate depth remaining on the returning roster, but the Broncos will nonetheless be looking for at least those 7 routines from the freshman class of five to ensure that they can reach that top-team standard of putting up a 9.800 in every lineup spot.

BOISE STATE 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Bir – 9.855
Means – 9.850
Stockwell – 9.845
McGregor – 9.835
Remme – 9.815
Collantes – 9.740
BARS
McGregor – 9.900
Remme – 9.880
Collantes – 9.855
Stockwell – 9.845
Nilson – 9.767
Means – 9.725
BEAM
Remme – 9.910
Means – 9.895
McGregor – 9.805
Amado – 9.767
Collantes – 9.760
Esmerian – 9.675
Stockwell – 9.150
FLOOR
Collantes – 9.870
Stockwell – 9.858
Remme – 9.845
Means – 9.835
McGregor – 9.740
Webb – 9.567
Morrell – 9.125
Tatum Bruden

Bruden is probably the most all-aroundy of the BSU freshmen—having finished 13th AA in her group at JO nationals this year—but this looks to be more a class of two-event contributors who can occasionally add backup sets on the other pieces.

Acrobatic solidity is Bruden’s standout quality, evident in her Yurchenko 1/1 on vault and comfort with slamming down those double salto passes on floor.

We’ll see how the split positions come along on floor and beam. A tendency toward going for rather difficult dance elements makes that area of her gymnastics look deduction-heavy, which could just be a function of those harder skills or may be the case regardless of difficulty (so why not go for it?). That’s the main concern in an otherwise acrobatically confident beam set.

On bars, Bruden has the necessary composition with a Jaeger, bail, and double lay-ish dismount but likely would be looking at a few too many mushy knee and form position deductions (like the dismount) right now to be a ready-to-use routine. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Boise State

2018 Freshmen – Alabama

Alabama lost a significant proportion of its routines after last season, and while the team’s previously established depth insulates a little against those losses, there’s still work to do. The Tide will be looking for 2-3 new (good) options on each event, many of which will need to come from the freshman class of four.

ALABAMA 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Guerrero – 9.880
Armbrecht – 9.855
Winston – 9.850
Desch – 9.845
Childers – 9.840
BARS
Winston – 9.910
Mahoney – 9.860
Brannan – 9.825
Guerra – 9.800
Childers – 9.771
Armbrecht – 9.725
BEAM
Guerrero – 9.945
Winston – 9.935
Childers – 9.865
Desch – 9.850
Armbrecht – 9.583
FLOOR
Winston – 9.945
Desch – 9.905
Guerra – 9.870
Guerrero – 9.865
Childers – 9.855
Armbrecht – 9.500

On the bright side, this class contains a major star and a wealth of potentially realistic routines. On the less bright side, we saw very few submissions from this group at the Halloween intrasquad (no vaults or floor routines from any of them). That’s a possible leg-health warning sign, but it’s still early.

Bailie Key

It’s obviously not about talent for Key, a gymnast whose skill level and execution have set her up to be a 9.9+ NCAA gymnast since she was about 11. Key’s gymnastics should translate to NCAA quite nicely, meaning the only real obstacle between her and NCAA stardom will be health. We’ve seen Key complete a season just once in the last four years, so the hope is that NCAA can be a new lease on health for a partially broken elite (see: Bridget Sloan).

Key’s most famous and best event, especially in her junior days, was beam, and that’s where she’s most comfortably poised to shine for Alabama. It also happened to be the only apparatus on which she showed a complete routine at Ghosts and Goblins.

As an elite, Key’s beam routine deteriorated as she became not four years old anymore—and as TD insisted on keeping that whip-back-pike of a layout that would never get credit on this planet (not over it). Fortunately, NCAA composition allows for only Key’s best skills, like the superior switch 1/2, to be retained. This will be an anchor-level routine (though it would also be a good nominee for strategic mid-lineup placement).

On bars, Key has quite a large number of well-executed D elements to choose from, so it’s perhaps a bit of a letdown that Alabama is going the Shap-bail, no same-bar release route with her. In elite, the Jaeger and Pak were both among the best out there.

Still, with enough numbers, that routine will be easy for her to execute pristinely, depending on what the dismount ends up being. At G&G, Key warmed up a DLO 1/1 that didn’t look like the best option, so we’ll see what she shows up with in January. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Alabama

2018 Freshmen – Auburn

It was an off year for Auburn in 2017, at least based on the standard of the previous few, with a 15th-place finish ultimately gilding a season that was spent predominately ranked in the 20s. Injury comebacks and increased contribution from upperclassmen will be as important as the freshmen in improving on that result in 2018, but multiple competition routines on each event will nonetheless be expected from this freshman class of six.

Auburn 2018 – Returning Routines
VAULT
Day – 9.840
Krippner – 9.810
Becker – 9.790
Phillips – 9.780
Engler – 9.770
Black – 9.717
Milliet – 9.600
BARS
Engler – 9.875
Cerio – 9.865
Day – 9.860
Krippner – 9.825
Milliet – 9.808
Becker – 9.655
Moss – 9.625
BEAM
Krippner – 9.885
Slappey – 9.830
Cerio – 9.810
Milliet – 9.808
Engler – 9.780
Becker – 9.775
FLOOR
Slappey – 9.840
Becker – 9.810
Cerio – 9.805
Day – 9.795
Milliet – 9.550
Meredith Sylvia

Sylvia’s is the most recognizable name in Auburn’s freshman class, a Parkette and toddler junior elite during the 2012 quad who went back to L10 full time beginning in 2014. She competed regularly in JO in 2014 and 2015 but has missed much of the last two seasons with injury.

Healthy, Sylvia should be a significant contributor on at least two events, ideally more. Let’s begin with beam because front aerial to Rulfova! I’ll take that.

That elite standard is evident in many of the skills on beam (I do worry about the jumps), as well as floor, where Sylvia competed a 3/1 and 2.5 + front tuck this past JO season. This year’s NCAA freshmen bring only the smallest handful of 3/1s, making Sylvia’s a memorable piece. Without a ton of standout content returning to Auburn’s floor lineup, this would be a welcome set.

Bars must become a competition-ready event for Sylvia in time because she is too competent at handstands for this routine to sit on the sidelines. Auburn will, however, have to resolve the dismount, a toe-on front tuck (C) in 2017, either by connecting into it with a turning skill or upgrading. Sylvia did previously perform a DLO, but it’s been a few years now.

I have the fewest expectations for vault because it has been since 2014 that Sylvia competed vault with any kind of frequency or success. We just don’t know what’s still there. She had a powerful if formy full in 2014, but if she can consistently provide the other three events, that would be a huge win.

Drew Watson

A L10 coming from Texas East, Watson is the current Texas state all-around champion in her age group and has placed in the top 10 at JO nationals each of the last two years. She’ll be a necessity on two or three events and will provide usable options in the all-around.

Watson’s most important piece is vault, where she brings a Y1.5. A major piece in the quest to become more competitive in the SEC again is having even the possibility of scoring with the other teams on vault. So…10.0 starts. Like this one.

A double Arabian on floor, along with a comfortable, traditional NCAA switch side + popa combination, should make Watson a solid nominee for the floor lineup in addition to vault. There’s some form, some cowboying, but not enough to jeopardize the routine.

I’d also like to see Watson get some real competition time on beam, where the acrobatic amplitude and relative comfort on leap elements mean that she should be among the best six choices Auburn has. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Auburn

2018 Freshmen – Missouri

Missouri is another school not particularly desperate for new routines in the 2018 season. The thought process may be that as long as Morgan Porter is back, and with every competition set from last postseason returning, additions to the lineups are a bonus rather than a necessity.

MISSOURI 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Ward – 9.915
Tucker – 9.865
Porter – 9.850
Harris – 9.850
Huber – 9.810
Miller – 9.770
Lewis – 9.700
BARS
Huber – 9.860
Porter – 9.850
Schugel – 9.845
Miller – 9.840
Tucker – 9.810
Kelly – 9.790
Ward – 9.770
Bower – 9.683
Albritten – 9.625
BEAM
Ward – 9.925
Kelly – 9.850
Schugel – 9.830
Albritten – 9.820
Bower – 9.805
Tucker – 9.800
Porter – 9.642
FLOOR
Harris – 9.910
Schugel – 9.876
Porter – 9.863
Tucker – 9.820
Huber – 9.805
Bower – 9.800
Kelly – 9.608
Turner – 9.550
Lewis – 9.000

Among the freshman class of four, I see only one or two “MUST GO IN THE LINEUP RIGHT NOW” routines, but there are nonetheless plenty of others that should contend for spots or provide realistic depth.

Belle Gottula

Gottula is the standout in this freshman class, and the most intriguing new routine to watch in the entire group will be her vault because she occasionally performs a 1.5. It’s not the most comfortable 1.5 in the world (2016 attempt below), but the possibility exists to give the team a powerful vault. In fact, Gottula struggled on some of her 2017 attempts at the full only because she completed the vault too early. Missouri can work with this.

On floor, expect to see Gottula make her way into the lineup with a fairly amplitudinous (definitely a word) full-in that she added to her routine in 2017 and that can push her ahead of the many of the D-pass options on the depth chart.

Bars and beam are tougher prospects, though still realistic. I enjoy Gottula’s loso series on beam quite a bit, but I worry about the leaps. That’s true for many in this class. It’s not a leaps class. They would rather eat a blanket of nails. On bars, everything might be a touch too deduction-heavy right now, but with a Gienger and a full-in dismount, it’s a worthwhile project to try to get this routine to lineup readiness. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Missouri

2018 Freshmen – Florida

It’s an embarrassment of riches this season for Florida, a team that returns all of its final competition routines from the 2017 season and now adds four former elites in its freshman class of six. 

FLORIDA 2018 – Returning Routines
VAULT
McMurtry – 9.950
Slocum – 9.945
Boren – 9.925
Baker – 9.898
Hundley – 9.850
Chant – 9.831
Alexander – 9.804
Gowey – 9.800
Cheney – 9.750
BARS
McMurtry – 9.930
Hundley – 9.925
Baker – 9.880
Boren – 9.860
Gowey – 9.850
Chant – 9.820
McLaughlin – 9.800
BEAM
McMurtry – 9.925
Boren – 9.900
Gowey – 9.895
Hundley – 9.880
Baker – 9.855
McLaughlin – 9.845
Cheney – 9.735
FLOOR
Baker – 9.945
Boren – 9.945
Hundley – 9.885
Slocum – 9.870
McMurtry – 9.846
McLaughlin – 9.805
Gowey – 9.700
Chant – 9.338

The Gators should not lack choices, so evaluation of the 14ish potential routines this freshman class brings is less about whether they’re good—they are—and more about whether they’re actually going to make it into an already-established Florida lineup this season (or are worth pushing to make that lineup).

Alyssa Baumann

The most famous member of the new class is beam-queen Alyssa Baumann, who made the 2014 world championship team based on her beam prowess, then finished 7th all-around at 2015 and 2016 nationals before having to pull out of the Olympic Trials with an elbow injury. That same injury kept her out of her would-be freshman year at Florida in 2017, with Baumann electing to stay in Texas to rehab her injury before joining Florida this season.

Discussions of Baumann’s contributions must begin with beam, where her grace and flexibility make that event an obvious yes. If anyone should be an NCAA 9.9+ on beam, it’s Baumann. The only real question will be the composition of her routine because she has so many elite-level skills to choose from, but only the most precise of the bunch should be included in NCAA since she needs to be getting 10s.

We won’t see the Arabian in NCAA because there’s literally no point to throwing that kind of risk, but the excellent Onodi has been retained, connecting right into a layout stepout series to show she’s not skimping on the acro series either.

As for the other pieces, Baumann never quite had the difficulty or health to make bars a strength in elite, but she definitely had the line and execution through her toe point and handstands, which should make bars an equal strength to beam for her now that we’re in the land of NCAA composition.

On floor, I’m impressed that Baumann is training a DLO since I had her down as a classic “I get to downgrade my tumbling in NCAA and no one’s going to care because look how pretty my leaps are” nominee. If she can stay healthy doing real tumbling, I’m all for it, though with the depth Florida has, floor and vault are less important events for Baumann. She can get 9.9s on floor, but it’s not as “we’re going to need you to anchor and be the best” as beam will be.

We haven’t seen vaults from Baumann so far in preseason training, and while she had a DTY in elite that was quite nice, she’s not necessarily one I’d pick to retain big vault difficulty in NCAA.

Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Florida

2018 Freshmen – Oregon State

Among the major teams, Oregon State was worst-hit by routine departures after the 2017 season, and it’s not even close. With lost sets from Gardiner, McMillan, Aufiero, Colussi-Pelaez, Jimenez, and Ricci, the Beavs return very few routines that even made cameo appearances last season, let alone the final postseason lineups.

OREGON STATE – 2018 Returning Routines
VAULT
Dessaints – 9.900
Jacobsen – 9.855
Gill – 9.785
Khamedoost – 9.775
BARS
Singley – 9.830
Jacobsen – 9.815
Khamedoost – 9.780
M Colussi-Pelaez – 9.460
Gill – 9.250
BEAM
Dessaints – 9.895
Gill – 9.795
Davis – 9.650
Lowery – 9.375
FLOOR
Lowery – 9.860
Jacobsen – 9.775
Gill – 9.763

OSU will have to find a bunch of new routines for 2018, a minimum of three on every event, just to have a respectable number of options that can fill out lineups and project against injury. Putting that entire burden on the new freshman class of five and transfer Dagen would be unfair and unrealistic. (We’re going to need to see much more from the sophomores than we did last year). Still, most of the freshmen should be able to provide a couple competition routines apiece as part of the project.

Kaitlyn Yanish

The star of the class and most likely freshman all-arounder (a.k.a., please get into the all-around immediately) is Kaitlyn Yanish, who finished second AA in her division at 2017 JO nationals. The highlight event for Yanish is floor, with a DLO that provides a necessary bump in both difficulty and execution among the current floor options. I expect her to anchor.

I’m sure Oregon State would have loved for Yanish to have more than a Yurchenko full on vault given her power (they do still have 10.0 starts from Dessaints and Jacobsen), but her full in JO was quick and high and ready to be used weekly.

Almost like you could add another 1/2 twist to…OK I’ll stop.

Expect Yanish to provide an important routine on beam as well.

She proves in this routine that she can layout stepout and make them pretty crisp. Leaps may be an issue (that switch side probably needs to go), but there is enough there to work with nonetheless.  Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Oregon State

Things Are Happening – November 10, 2017

A. …And Aly…

Aly Raisman Says She Was Sexually Abused By U.S. National Team Doctor

How many more? The answer is probably a lot. And Aly is not going to be quiet about it. She’s the hero gymnastics needs but doesn’t deserve.

Did you think that when we first saw Little Baby ASac competing as a junior elite that we would soon literally want her to be the president of the United States? Because I’m pretty sure I’m planning to write her name in for every single category in the next election.

Note to the new CEO: Get Aly on your side. Meet with her. Defer to her. Listen to her. Publicly acknowledge her concerns and develop an action plan with her. As the most prominent and publicly angry and outspoken victim/member of the good guys team, Aly is the leader. The longer USAG waits to fall into line with Aly and show that it is fully listening to/embracing what she’s saying and then trying to do something about it (not just “we sincerely blah blah blah” from afar), the longer USAG will be the bad guy.

Speaking of being the new CEO of USA Gymnastics…

B. Kerry Perry’s name rhymes

And we’re not going to be able to get past that. Just ever. It’s basically all I can say.

In case you haven’t heard: to attempt to deal with its prolonged and callous disregard for the safety of all athletes under its care, USA Gymnastics has finally appointed a new CEO, a rejected children’s poem named Kerry Perry. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 10, 2017

2018 Freshmen – Utah

Utah was planning to bring in a comparatively small class of two this year—along with Central Michigan, the only teams in the top 30 with freshman classes of two or fewer gymnasts—though the late addition of Lauren Wong, who starts in January, brings the Utes up to three.

The newbies will be expected to fill the void left by Rowe and Schwab on a team that theoretically hasn’t lost enough from last season to be in desperate need of routines but could use bolstering on several events, especially with a couple gymnasts still in “return from injury” mode.

UTAH 2018 – Returning Routines
VAULT
Skinner – 9.925
Merrell-Giles – 9.855
Lewis – 9.850
Lee – 9.840
Roberts – 9.785
Tessen – 9.783
Muhaw – 9.705
McNatt – 9.688
Reinstadtler – 9.500
BARS
Skinner – 9.905
Lewis – 9.880
Lee – 9.845
Reinstadtler – 9.840
Merrell-Giles – 9.835
Tessen – 9.808
BEAM
Skinner – 9.900
Lee – 9.890
Reinstadtler – 9.850
Merrell-Giles – 9.840
McNatt – 9.838
Stover – 9.830
FLOOR
Skinner – 9.965
Lewis – 9.890
Reinstadtler – 9.875
Roberts – 9.845
Merrell-Giles – 9.840
Tessen – 9.825
Lee – 9.775
Sydney Soloski

A Canadian elite, Soloski finished 4th at Elite Canada and 3rd at Gymnix in 2015, then received the Ljubljana World Cup assignment in 2016, where she took silver on floor and bronze on beam.

Beam and floor have typically been Soloski’s most competitive events, so we’ll start there.

That DLO should come in handy. It’s rather arched but also quite high in that Fragapane-spark-plug style that her floor work evokes. This complement of tumbling passes would make Soloski a compelling nominee for a place of honor in the lineup near Skinner.

As for the other pieces, Utah has a bit more need for numbers on bars and beam this season than on vault and floor, and I can certainly see Soloski coming into that beam lineup. She looks crisp and extended on acrobatic elements like the front aerial and the layout stepout series. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Utah

2018 Freshmen – Denver

In Denver’s quest to maintain the nationals-qualifying level from 2017, three freshmen will be tasked with replacing the five lineup routines lost from last season’s roster.

It’s a scenario that bodes well mathematically for Denver since all three freshmen are potential all-arounders. We won’t actually see 12 total routines from them as a class, but we could.

DENVER 2018 – Returning Routines
VAULT
Karr – 9.930
Addison – 9.830
Schou – 9.830
Chesnok – 9.650
BARS
Ogden – 9.895
Chesnok – 9.880
Karr – 9.860
Lomonte – 9.850
Kern – 9.840
Addison – 9.660
BEAM
Karr – 9.890
Schou – 9.880
Addison – 9.820
Ogden – 9.815
Loper – 9.800
FLOOR
Addison – 9.915
Karr – 9.900
Schou – 9.855
Loper – 9.825
Hammen – 9.796
Kern – 8.988
Lynnzee Brown

Brown arrives at Denver from GAGE as the most JO-accomplished of the three freshmen, finishing second AA at this year’s JO nationals. In many regards, Brown is your classic power gymnast and should find an immediate home at the end of Denver’s vault and floor lineups.

That Yurchenko 1.5 is a big old yes. It’s likely the most important of Brown’s routines because it should provide a second serious score in a vault lineup that too often last season felt like it was just Karr.

Similarly, the DLO makes Brown’s floor an obvious choice for Denver’s floor lineup and should become a top score—if not the top score. Just as important for NCAA composition purposes is that open shape on the double pike, the sign of a confident double pike, not a squeezed-around double pike. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Denver

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