2015 Preseason Coaches Poll and Commentary

Once again, the NCAA coaches have made their selections in the year’s preseason poll because “But mom, all the other sports get to do it!” That also means it’s my turn to take the poll way more seriously than is intended or healthy.

-The coaches aren’t really going through and dissecting all the other teams and what routines they’ll be putting up this year, so selections are usually based on last year’s results, reputation, friendship, and how much gin is within reaching distance. (Unfortunately, the coaches weren’t that drunk this year. It sort of makes sense. Sort of.)

-I’m with them on the top 3, as I think pretty much everyone would be. I too would place Florida just ahead of Oklahoma because, even though Florida has lost a few more significant scores than Oklahoma, they’re also bringing in a stronger freshman class. Still, there’s very, very little between the teams as it stands now—it’s basically a dead heat until we see competition routines—so it’s interesting that more than twice as many coaches gave Florida a first-place vote than Oklahoma. Oklahoma gets less exposure than Florida and isn’t in a gymnastics power conference, and in spite of winning the co-title last season, is still fighting that reputation battle to some extent.

 -Who voted for UCLA and Utah in first place? Actually, I don’t need that question answered. It’s close, but I would put Utah ahead of UCLA. Utah has a bit more lineup depth right now and fewer perpetual injury question marks. UCLA has tremendous potential in a number of returning gymnasts who have not shown their full quality yet (Mossett, Pinches, Gerber, I’m talking to you), but potential isn’t scores.

-Alabama is still up in 4th, and I think that’s where I would have them as well. They’ve lost a bunch of routines and a head coach, but there’s still a ton of talent there that can certainly become a #4 team. I suppose we give them the benefit of the doubt until we see routines, much like how after Suzanne left, Georgia still got the #1 preseason ranking for the next year. 

-Michigan was ahead of Nebraska in the Big Ten coaches poll as well, but I don’t see it. Michigan has lost too many routines, and while Nebraska did lose Emily Wong, the Huskers have Grace Williams and Kamerin Moore to fill in those gaps. 9th may be a realistic finish in spite of making Super Six last year, but Nebraska would be my Big Ten pick right now.

-Stanford is also far too low for its talent level, but I get it. Stanford has had amazing rosters before and failed to deliver, so why should we expect this year to be any different? But still, Elizabeth Price, Ivana Hong, Kristina Vaculik, Sami Shapiro, Nicolette McNair, etc. That’s not a #10 roster. That’s a Super Six roster. They just have to prove it. For now, I’m letting myself believe that they will.

-It’s nice to see Cal in 14th (up from 22nd in the coaches poll last year). The coaches are taking notice of the amazing turnaround in that program. I think 14th is a very realistic finish for them this year.

-Arkansas was ranked 17th at the end of last season, so it’s going to be very tough for them to get up to 13th without Katherine Grable.

-The rest of the poll pretty much follows the usual order, with a few teams switching places here and there. The coaches have taken notice of Central Michigan’s strong last couple seasons and have graciously allowed them into the club.

-Well, if I’m going to tear through the coaches poll like this, I should probably present my own insane nonsense selections so that you all can destroy them and make everything even.

2015 Balance Beam Situation Ranking

1. Florida

2. Oklahoma

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Utah
-When Utah falls three times on beam in semifinals, you can feel free to say I told you so, but I think this is the year beam gets better.  

6. Stanford
-Yes, I did it.


8. Georgia

9. Nebraska
-I’m not sure what to do with 7-9 here. Nebraska seems way under-ranked at 9, but UCLA and Georgia would feel similarly under-ranked in that spot. Stanford would be the safe choice, but why be safe with something this meaningless?

10. Auburn 
-With Caitlin Atkinson, Bri Guy coming back from injury, and the excellent Abigail Milliet joining the team, I’m in on Auburn for 2015. Like Stanford, if not now, then when?

11. Michigan
-This just feels wrong, but . . . do we see any higher than 10th happening this year? Markey, convince me that I’m wrong. 

12. Oregon State

13. Cal

14. Illinois

15. Boise State

16. Penn State

17. Arkansas

18. Minnesota

19. Arizona

20. Central Michigan

Because why not?

Now you. What are your picks?

8 thoughts on “2015 Preseason Coaches Poll and Commentary”

  1. being back to back national champs could have something to do with florida being ahead of ou. besides being a gator fan that would be the reason i would put florida ahead of ou. I can't wait to see the gator-ou matchup and i am very happy that the meet is later in the season so that our freshman will have gotten more experience under their belt.


  2. Totally in on Auburn for 2015. In addition to getting Bri Guy back and adding Abby Milliet, they're returning all 24 routines from Regionals last year. I know they had a colossal bars meltdown at Regionals, but in general I think returning more than 20 routines plays a huge role in a team getting to the next level- which would be making Nationals for Auburn.

    Ooh, just looked up that Auburn is hosting a regional- hope they make it count!


  3. Dear balance beam,

    I have no idea where Michigan will end up this year. The Michigan team looks so different this year that I don't know what to expect. I've been following Michigan since 2001.
    In 2003, they went to the super six with 8 competing gymnasts. EIGHT. One was a walk on who competed beam only, and one was injured and competed bars only.
    Everyone else competed everything regardless of whether they were strong omn that event or not. The 2003 Michigan team had heart. HUGE amounts of mental toughness, or work ethic, or whatever gets you to a performance like that.

    This year, Michigan has a lot of routines to replace, and I think there are a lot of question marks.

    Vault was a weak event for Michigan last year. Even before Sheppard's injury, they had two weak routines in the beginning of the line up due to losing Colbert to injury before the season started.

    This year they lost two and a half strong vaults (Beilstein, Sampson, and Zacharia), and only brought in one and a half (Gordon and Brown).

    This assumes that Sheppard and Gordon both return to the vault line up. They should, but for now, both are sidelined with injuuries.

    On bars, there was no sign of Cailee Hills in the exhibition meet. Lauren Marinez is also out due to injury. And Miele was not competing, suggesting that the back issues which sidelined her last season may do so again this year. That leaves newcomers Ilana Gordon and Briana Brown and someone to replace the three strong bars routines lost in Sampson, Gies, and Beilstein. Again, this assumes Sheppard's return to bars. It's just hard to worry about Michigan bars when you look at the magic Scott Sherman has worked in the past.

    On beam, weirdly, I am least worried. Michigan has had a rough few years, but this year, they seem to have recruited only beam, and everything else as gravy. They have two routines (Gies and Sampson) and an alternate (Zakharia) to replace. Despite Marinez being injuured, they still have Brown and McPeak. On top of that, Michigan has been training everything with two legs on beam, meaning that Sugiyama (whose routine looked calm and confident and not at all terrifying) and Sheppard (maybe) and Parker are all possibilities. Hills is also a possibility on beam, assuming she is not secretly injured and out for the season. The loss of Miele is also felt here. I like Michigan beam this year. Hopefully they won't make me look like an idiot for saying that.

    It feels weird to worry about Michigan on floor, and they have plenty of 9.8ish range routines to choose from. But they lose three 9.9+ routines (Beilstein, Zacharia, and Sampson) and gain only two new routines (Gordon and Brown) which are both question marks (Gordon due to injury, Brown due to a slow start in the exhibition).

    With so many newcomers, there is plenty of uncertainty. About who will have an unexpected, meteoric rise (there is always one) and who will be consistent. Injury seems to have struck early and decisively, and the freshmen coming back from injury are even more of a question mark. Finally, Nichelle Christopherson… Does anyone know what to expect from her?

    Overall, I think this Michigan team could be great. But to do so, they will have to find routines where there are none, rather than just performing to the level of expectation.

    Whether or not they can find those routines and be amazing depends on the character of a team largely populated by newcomers, and the usual luck with respect to injuries, skill, etc.

    Are you convinced?


  4. 2015 Rankings: (just for fun):
    1. Florida (no brainer)
    2. Oklahoma
    3. LSU
    4. UTAH (yep, I'm a risk taker)
    5. Alabama
    6. Stanford
    7. UCLA
    8. (tie) Nebraska/Georgia
    10. Auburn

    I'd probably rank Michigan 11 or 12.


  5. Here are mine. Looks like there's a clear consensus on the top 12 BTW.
    1. Florida
    2. Oklahoma
    3. LSU
    4. Utah
    5. UCLA (on potential I suppose)
    6. Nebraska (I think they can make Super Six again if the freshman class meets the expectations)
    7. Alabama (based on their roster this year, not prior year finish)
    8. Georgia
    9. Stanford
    10. Auburn
    11. Oregon State
    12. Michigan
    13. Illinois (consistently underrated. They've made nationals 4 times since 2009 and we're always surprised about it)
    14. California
    15. Arkansas
    16. Penn State
    17. Arizona
    18. Boise State
    19. Ohio State
    20. Minnesota


  6. Anyone have any videos of the UF intrasquad? So far I've only seen a three minute video of interviews with a few pieces of routines on the UF website. Due to the lack of video and coverage, I'm wondering if the intrasquad didn't go too well? In past years, they uploaded all routines and this year there is virtually nothing. At least UGA provided a recap of each routine (including falls) and scores.

    Come on Florida, show us you deserve to be #1!!!🙂


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