NCAA Training Is Happening – December 9, 2016

A. Training

We’re firmly ensconced in the “getting ready for NCAA season while nothing is actually happening” portion of the year, so that’s pretty much all there is. Other than Dipa Karmakar probably not competing the Prod anymore because of the devalue. So…the WTC finally did something right? When’s the parade?

Anyway, Kyla Ross’s Omelianchik is starting to look pretty competitiony. We’ll see how Hano’s landing on the 1.5 comes along. UCLA needs both vaults with the strength of a nova.

Flipping out that season is in exactly one month! @uclagymnastics

A video posted by Kyla Ross (@kyla_ross96) on

flipping through finals like🙃

A video posted by fishhh💋 (@felicia_hano) on


This is the Sabrina Schwab bars video that I was making fun for its soundtrack on this week’s GymCastic. But also excellent execution.

Check out this BEAUTIFUL bar routine from sophomore Sabrina Schwab!!! #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

A video posted by Utah Gymnastics (@utahgymnastics) on


That thing where your tape makes it look like you just suffered a really tragic tattoo decision. Continue reading NCAA Training Is Happening – December 9, 2016

Arizona 2017

Selynna Felix-Terrazas
  • Consistently among the team’s better UB scores
  • Also provides FX and a backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.825, FX – 9.815, VT – 9.725
Krysten Howard
  • Staple of UB lineup throughout career
  • Contributed top-3 FX score and weekly BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.820, UB – 9.810, FX – 9.790
Gabby Laub
  • Team’s top UB score in 2016
  • Can also provide early lineup/backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.840, VT – 9.760
Maddy Cindric
  • Top returning BB routine
  • Contributes weekly VT and FX, scored 9.775 on UB at regionals
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.855, VT – 9.805, FX – 9.770
Victoria Ortiz
  • Weekly UB in 2015, occasional UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.750
Kennady Schneider
  • Top-3 FX routine in 2016
  • Can be used on UB
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.860, UB – 9.780
Haylie Hendrickson
  • Did not compete freshman year
Lauryn Mattson
  • Contributed weekly VT, and FX as needed
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.810, FX – 9.750
Skyler Sheppard
  • Frequent BB contributor in 2016
  • Provides backup VT and FX
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.800
Danielle Spencer
  •  Competed UB in every meet in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.805
Christina Berg
  • Legacy Elite
  • 2016 JO Nationals 4th AA, 5th UB
Courtney Cowles
  • Brandy Johnson’s
  • 2015 Florida BB and FX champion
Shannon Farrell
  • Rebound NJ
  • Walk-on
Jenny Leung
  • Stars Houston
  • 2016 Region 3 VT 2nd; 2015 JO Nationals VT 4th
Maddi Leydin
  • Australia
  • 2013 AUS champion, 2015 worlds team
Heather Swanson
  • American Twisters
  • 2016 JO Nationals 5th VT, 7th AA; 2016 Florida state champion

Recent History
2016 – 21st
2015 – 17th
2014 – 24th
2013 – 17th
2012 – 22nd
2011 – 21st
2010 – 20th

The identity of the Arizona program is one of solid team gymnastics but an overall stagnation in results, as illustrated by the bunched-up slate of recent finishes, always fine never great. Going into just her second year, Tabitha Yim will be given time to emerge from the land of regionals also-ran, and while her first year didn’t feature any brand new, suddenly sun-drenched pastures of massive scores, she did oversee a large jump in attendance to an average of 2619 (high of 3707), up from 1554 the previous year.

Based on the roster, I don’t expect too massive a change in Arizona’s lot this season (somewhere in that same old 17-22 range again is the safest bet), but I’ll be keeping an eye on this large-ish freshman class. If they’re able to come through with multiple competitive vault and floor routines, it could turn Arizona into a more legitimate upset threat. Continue reading Arizona 2017

Stanford 2017

  • Returned from injury in 2016 to compete BB and FX
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.750, FX – 9.750
  • Vaulted once (at nationals because Stanford) for 9.788
  • Competes VT every week and competed UB every week of freshman and junior seasons
  • Can provide BB in a pinch
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.780, UB – 9.775
  • Had offseason/preseason leg surgery
  • Reliable weekly 9.8+ on VT, UB, BB throughout career
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.865, BB – 9.840, VT – 9.830
  • Consistent late-lineup contributor on FX
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.845
  • Can provide backup BB as needed
  • Obviously
  • April knee surgery, has returned to training
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.940, VT – 9.920, FX – 9.905, BB – 9.850, Life – 1000
Taryn  Fitzgerald
  • Torn Achilles in February
  • Prior to injury, competed VT each week and somewhat
    frequent BB and FX
  • 2016 AVG: VT – 9.750, FX – 9.690, BB – 9.613
  • Missed all of freshman year with injury
  • Competed FX once in 2016 for 9.425
  • Saved UB last year, competed at each meet
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.795
  • Texas Dreams
  • Bolivia
  • 2015 Texas L10 AA champion
Ashley Tai
  • Technique CA
  • 2016 Nor Cal VT champion, JO Nationals BB 12th
Aleeza Yu
  • Gemini CAN
  • Named to 2014 worlds team, 2016 Elite Canada BB 3rd

Recent History
2016 – 10th
2015 – 5th
2014 – 9th
2013 – 12th
2012 – 4th
2011 – 15th
2010 – 4th

It is the nature of the Stanford program to find a way to make nationals, somehow, always, in spite of having a third of a gymnast on the roster and looking terrible for the first couple months of the season. In fact, the last time Stanford entered regionals as a #1 seed was 2011, the last time they didn’t make nationals. It’s in Stanford’s DNA to be sort of 12th-ish most of the time.

This year will bring nothing new for the Cardinal in that I’m fairly concerned about how they’re going to fill out all four lineups, especially early. We know they’ll pull it together somehow by the end of the season, but the question this year is, when they finally do pull it together, what kind of scores are they pulling it together for? More specifically, without Hong and Rice, what’s the point of anything anymore? It can’t just be Price and a bunch of 9.750-9.800s. That’s not enough. In that respect, the emergence of Kaylee Cole as a second-in-command AAer to Price will be essential this season if Stanford is to maintain the streak of somehow making nationals when everyone expects an implosion.

Top returners – Price (9.920), N McNair (9.830)
Returning options – D McNair (9.780), Fitzgerald (9.775), Daum (9.788)

Price’s DTY kept this lineup afloat last year and was often the only thing standing between Stanford and a 48. She’ll have to do more of the same this year. Cole is a strong vaulter as well (and could have a 10.0 start in her pocket depending on how things go) and must also provide a consistent option over 9.8 because vault is among the events that will struggle to have a full complement of routines early on. Stanford is likely to have to count a 9.7 or two, even by the end.

Theoretically, I see seven options on vault (Price, Cole, N McNair, D McNair, Daum, Fitzgerald, and Tai) but with a few “are you injured?” situations going on, that may not end up being a full seven. Vault won’t be a huge-scoring event this year because those scores get pretty sparse pretty quickly, but if Stanford can cobble together a group that counts something like 9.775, 9.775, 9.825, 9.850, 9.950, that’s endurable for a lowish 49.

Top returners – Price (9.940), N McNair (9.865)
Returning options – Maxwell (9.795), D McNair (9.775)

Stanford had six and only six bars workers last season, all of whom had to compete every meet because there was literally nothing else to do. Having now lost two of those bars workers, the Cardinal must construct at least two new freshman routines to fill out a lineup. Good news, it might happen. Maybe. We hope. Aleeza Yu is injured constantly (2014 ACL tear, 2016 ankle injury and foot surgery) but has lovely potential on bars, and while Cole’s work can get a little messy, it’s a usable routine that they’ll take any day. The idea is probably for that six to be the lineup: N McNair, Cole, D McNair, Maxwell, Yu, Price. Ashley Tai is a possibility to be called in as a reinforcement even though she’s listed as only VT/BB on the roster.

Without Hong, this lineup probably isn’t going to be quite as strong as it was last year, but there are a couple more believable 9.875ish scores (like Maxwell and N McNair) than there are on vault, so it should retain its identity as one of Stanford’s higher-scoring events.

Top returners – Price (9.850), N McNair (9.840)
Returning options – Daum (9.750), Fitzgerald (9.612), D McNair (9.400), Spector (9.375)

Beam is the least stressful of the four events (for the first time ever), at least when it comes to Stanford having enough routines to fill out a lineup. Most of the team can provide a set. Plus, Stanford does have a reputation of making lemonade out of star jumps on beam and creating 9.925s where routines barely even existed before. Who had Chuang and Daum anchoring the lineup last year? That’s right, nobody. Barely even Kristen.

Because Price and N McNair tend to be more 9.850y than 9.9y here, Stanford will need to find a new 9.9 or two to make this a top-scoring piece again (which it will need to be to keep 197 in the realm of possibility). As on bars, I’m hoping Aleeza Yu can fit that bill because of perfection, but I’d also expect to see Daum return and Cole come in, along with maybe Tai or Maxwell so that those who have competed beam 9.6ishly in the past aren’t forced to do it again this year. But they could go should injuries require such a step.

Top returners – Price (9.905), Spector (9.845)
Returning options – Daum (9.750), Fitzgerlad (9.690), N Hoffman (9.425)

Coming up with a floor lineup that wasn’t just 9.7 after 9.7 while waiting for Price to save everything was a challenge last season that left Stanford almost completely out in the cold regardless of the scores on the other pieces (because floor is such a high-scoring event for most teams, Stanford was consistently dropping 0.500 solely because of floor).

This year, I have similar concerns, though Kaylee Cole and her double Arabian should take some of the pressure off Price and Spector to get high scores. If all three are consistently going over 9.8 (which they should), then the floor scores may not be too upsetting, but the team will need three more routines. I’m done waiting for the McNairs here, but Stanford will have Daum as a fourth and then will have to pull in a couple sophomores. Hailee Hoffman was supposed to contribute on floor but was injured last season, so keep her in mind as a lineup option this time around.

Because it’s Stanford and the roster is consistently shattered, my focus has been on simply coming up with six people to compete each event rather than on who the best six are to maximize scoring potential. If enough people end up being healthy, Stanford has the scores (i.e., Stanford has the Elizabeth Price) to be competitive for a spot at nationals, but it’s tough to be more threatening than that when counting 9.7s on vault and floor, and I fear we may be in for another season of that.

Things Are Happening – December 2, 2016

A. The Decis-Ernst

This week, Peyton Ernst was finally allowed to shake off the gag order and reveal that this January she’ll be heading to Gustavus Adolphus.

No. She’s going to Alabama. Obviously. We’ve known this for a while based on her literally everything about her and that time Bailie Key committed, but now it’s “official.” And by official, I mean there was a picture on Twitter. Which is what official means now.

Based on this tweet, we can assume Ernst ultimately selected Alabama because of the coaches, the teammates, the butts, and the white baseball caps.

We’ll have to talk beam lineup once we get to the Alabama preview portion of the month.

B. Training!

As always, Utah is going for the December championship of training videos. Kim Tessen’s 1.5 looks on track.

Highlights of local freshman Kim Tessen (AKA Kim Possible) from the intrasquad last weekend. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

A video posted by Utah Gymnastics (@utahgymnastics) on


Skimmy Gibbler (I don’t know either…) is retaining the DTY and the tucked double double just like I told her to.

Highlights of freshman MyKayla Skinner from the Thanksgiving Intrasquad. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

A video posted by Utah Gymnastics (@utahgymnastics) on

Highlights of super-soph Makenna Merrell from our Thanksgiving Intrasquad. #GoUtes #RedRocksPreviewDec9

A video posted by Utah Gymnastics (@utahgymnastics) on

Merrell also appears to be trying to bring back her 1.5 from JO days. Many teams are showing a distinctly different strategy from last year’s “we’ll wait and see if it’s worth it to try the 1.5,” having learned that it almost always is.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – December 2, 2016

Arkansas 2017

Let the preseason dossiers begin! Here, I’ll be providing a rundown of the major teams and their 2017 rosters, key gymnasts, event-by-event scoring prospects, lineup conundrums, and overall season outlook. It’ll be fun. If that’s the kind of thing you find fun. It probably shouldn’t be.

  • Missed 2016 with injury; summer wrist surgery.
  • Staple of VT and FX lineups through her first three years.
  • Can fill in on UB when necessary. (It may be necessary.)
  • 2015 RQS – FX: 9.885, VT: 9.875, UB: 9.685.
  • Provides critical late-lineup routines on BB and FX.
  • Frequently called upon to VT for a 9.7.
  • 2016 RQS – FX: 9.890, BB: 9.855, VT: 9.775.
Amanda Wellick
  • Literally everything.
  • Essential, team-best routines on all four pieces.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.900, FX: 9.880, BB: 9.875, UB: 9.840.
  • Competed BB once in 2016 for 9.800.
  • Weekly VT and frequent FX contributor in 2016 until mid-season injury.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.785.
  • 2016 AVG hit – FX: 9.781.
Braie Speed
  • Top returning UB routine and weekly VTer in 2016.
  • Missed 2015 with torn ACL.
  • 2016 RQS – UB: 9.845, VT: 9.805.
  • Originally VT and FX backup in 2016, replaced MacMoyle in lineups post-injury.
  • 2016 RQS – FX: 9.770
  • Weekly top-3 team score on VT and FX as freshman in 2016.
  • Often survived BB.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.850, FX: 9.830, BB: 9.775
  • Legacy Elite
  • 4th place on BB at 2016 JO Nationals
  • Gymstars TN
  • 2015 JO National Champion on UB and BB
  • Stars Houston
  • 8th place on BB, 12th AA at 2015 JO Nationals
Sarah Shaffer
  • Texas East
  • 2016 Region 3 AA, FX champion.
  • Gymcats
  • 7th AA, UB at 2016 JO Nationals, 2nd UB in 2015.

Recent History
2016 – 20th
2015 – 14th
2014 – 15th
2013 – 10th
2012 – 6th
2011 – 10th
2010 – 11th

The last few years have not been kind to Arkansas, as major stars have up and graduated without being replaced by equivalent stars. Last year’s disappointing 20th-place—the Razorbacks’ worst finish since 2005, their third season in existence—undersells the quality of a team that entered regionals a more respectable 13th but suffered the Epic Vault Catastrophe of ’16 and came nowhere close to advancing. Continue reading Arkansas 2017

Under the Lights: Suzanne Yoculan and Guests

Back in 2007, our beloved Suzanne Yoculan—or Suzie Yocks, as no one calls her but me—woke up one morning and said, “I can’t believe you think I like attention!” and invited cameras into the gym to profile her team’s preparation for the 2008 season in AFI’s #1 all-time best film ever, Under the Lights: Georgia Gymnastics. Directed by Suzanne’s hair, produced by Suzanne’s heels, it costars Suzanne Yoculan and Suzanne Yoculan.

Let’s begin.

The team opens proceedings by gathering around a giant G so that Katie Heenan can ominously threaten us that we’re about to go Under. The. Lights.

Is this like a waterboarding?

“Hey Katie, could you do another take, but this time make it 64% less Guantanamoy?”

Next, we meet Suzanne and some other nameless rabble who are here to tell us how awesome they are. They’re pretty awesome.

Suzanne’s like, “Pretty awesome???”

She gives us her best recruiting spiel about Georgia’s pedigree of champion awesomeness while surrounded by all her most comforting and supportive trophies, including what appears to be a glass foot because of the reasons.


For…Best Performance by Heels on a Competition Floor?

Meanwhile, Jay Clark goes, “We’re the best team, we’re always going to win the national championship, and I can’t imagine anything possibly changing that ever.” Me neither. Continue reading Under the Lights: Suzanne Yoculan and Guests

Things Are Happening – November 18, 2016

A. NCAA Training

FLOG has continued its whistle-stop tour of the American South with visits to Alabama and Georgia.

Sabrina Vega not only exists but now also has a floor routine. The choreography looks a little “we’re worried about your stamina” because it’s entirely on the floor, but she’s getting through it. She has real skills back.

Over Alabama way, Maddie Desch is showing routines. She’s now dismounting bars with a double front instead of that increasingly chucked tucked full she used in elite. I’m usually not in favor (though Alabama loves its double fronts), but in this case it’s probably the better choice given the road her previous dismount was going down. A road called Hitting The Bar And Landing On Your Face Avenue.

Shea Mahoney was in a boot earlier this fall, but she’s getting back to bars now.

“Sassy” for Aja Sims. “Spicy” for Nickie Guerrero. OK, FLOG. Also, Aja Sims’ floor music is sirens. Discuss. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 18, 2016

And the Rest: 2017 Freshmen

“But when are you going to do William & Mary?!?!?!” asked no one.

Still, freshmen exist at other schools, and they may or may not be worth taking a look at—based on their gymnastics or the fact that I actually recognize their names (!)—as we head into the season. I’ll wrap up the freshman rundowns with this so that we can move on to full team expectations, preseason rankings, and lineup/scoring previews post-Thanksgiving. It’s getting real now.

Southern UtahAutumn Jorgensen and Madison McBride
SUU’s freshman class is a national record 868 people big, and the team you always forget is good has added a sack of new routines that should continue the process of breaking down that top-20 barricade. Also, they’re pretty much all from the same gym. Does Southern Utah’s recruiting process just consist of heading to All-American with a net? Got em! Done!

I believe Jorgensen was supposed to be a 2018er, but she popped up early and just happens to be a JO champion on beam.

Madison McBride, meanwhile, is a JO champion on bars.

McBride (and her sister Megan) will also bring usable vaults, with Madison having trained the 1.5. This is a real class of ninja Level 10s. Continue reading And the Rest: 2017 Freshmen

Does It Pay to 1.5?

The start value of the Yurchenko full may have been changed to promote more variety on vault, but the most delicious byproduct of the move has been the creation of a big, fat dilemma. The new strategic twist for coaches to grapple with: does an extra .05 actually make the Yurchenko 1.5 worth it, or is it smarter to stay with the trusty full?

Preseason training videos reveal that this dilemma is even more widespread this year than last year, and over the next month or so, coaches will have to make major decisions about whether their gymnasts should actually compete that wonky 1.5 they’ve been training.

So……should they?

Thankfully, we now have a whole season of evidence to use in making that decision for them, so let’s take a look at whether competing the Yurchenko 1.5 actually ended up being worth it in 2016.

Item 1: The average vault scores from the national championship (semifinals and Super Six), separated by type of vault. The first table includes all vaults, while the second table removes the falls.

2016 Nationals – Average Scores (with falls)
Yurchenko 1.5 9.829
Other vaults 9.821
Yurchenko full 9.803
2016 Nationals – Average Scores (no falls)
Yurchenko 1.5 9.867
Other vaults 9.863
Yurchenko full 9.803

The story these tables tell is a relatively optimistic one for Team 1.5. Even with a few falls at nationals, the 1.5 still ended up being more valuable than the full on average, a good argument for its being worth the risk. When falls are not included, the margin between the vaults balloons to 0.064, greater than the 0.050 difference in start value. Continue reading Does It Pay to 1.5?

SEC and Pac-12 Freshman Round-Up

For most of the schools in the Pac-12 and SEC, I already have specific posts full of overly charitable impressions of how this season’s freshmen might end up contributing to their teams, but in the event of dramatic laziness, they’re right here:

Oregon State

BUT WAIT! These conferences also contain other schools (sometimes…), so here’s a brief (ha!) overview of the key freshmen joining those remaining SEC and Pac-12 programs, the ones you may want to know about for various fandom/fantasy gym needs.

Madison Copiak, Michaela Nelson, Evanni Roberson, Haley Roy, Maya Washington

Elise Ray should basically be bouncing off the walls that this is the first freshman class she gets to work with as head coach. It’s a thing. Madison Copiak was just a hair away from being on Canada’s 2015 worlds team and brings elite-level difficulty across four events, including a 1.5 on vault and a bars routine that nearly got her on a few teams here and there. It will just take some refining to turn her routines into useful NCAA scores.

Continue reading SEC and Pac-12 Freshman Round-Up

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama