Freshman Notes: Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan

More! Things! Freshmen go win yes!

This Sooner freshman class has a little more work to do than originally anticipated after Brenna decided she was starting to contract some confidence, and the only cure was elite. Dr. Martha had the prescription, alright. Now, Oklahoma is down 3 routines from Brewer, 3 from Dowell, 2 from Clark, and 1 from Sorensen, which is more than this tiny freshman class will be able to muster, meaning the team will be leaning fairly heavily on the 90%-missing Charity Jones and the “how’s that knee, again?” Maile Kanewa to act as reinforcements at some point to keep the lineups well stocked.

Aside from Brenna’s contributions on vault and floor, however, Oklahoma has lost value mostly on bars and beam, and this new class should be able to help out with that. It’s a very “pretty” group, so expect humanity to continue the trend of random and inadvertent weird Kathy Johnson moans, because Oklahoma. You know who you are. Nicole Lehrmann is most likely to be a major contributor, a former junior elite whose JO gymnastics has been clean as a PBS show. The toe point is a major standout quality, particularly on bars (that buttah bail), and she has the leg from and dance elements to put together a deduction-minimal beam routine.

On vault, she has shown an extended, precise full and the occasional 1.5, which could be something to watch given the rise of the 1.5 this year (although on vault Oklahoma is already replete with returners, more so than on the other events). Lehrmann doesn’t necessarily have the big power on floor—though she has performed a full-in with mixed results—but she’s a straddle element queen with clean D tumbling that could be useful. Also, this choreographic style is already KJ heaven.

Alex Marks is joining Oklahoma at the start of the competition season. She was an elite until relatively recently when she disappeared with implied injury, which put her on the JO-to-NCAA track until roster openings put her on the NCAA-right-now-immediately track. I mostly remember her as that one I’d never heard of at Classic (there’s always one) who suddenly did a back full on beam. Beam is an interesting one for Marks because it has often been her weakest score, but I really like her on it.

Give the Oklahoma beam machine some time with that routine, and I’m there for it all day. Marks has some potential pop on vault (was training a DTY way, way back), though a few of the more recent showings have been hit-or-miss with height and landing position. Since returning to JO in 2015, she has performed a twisting-only floor routine, featuring a well-executed and usable front double full, but it will be worth keeping an eye on where the power quotient is now. Or will her NCAA career will be more of the “toe-pointing my ass off” bars and beam type?

The walkon joining the Sooners this year is Megan Thompson, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see much from her. She had some cleanish tumbling back in the day, but at this point she’s mostly a beamer. She does have a competitive skill repertoire there featuring a laudably non-terrible aerial to scale. They may hope to get her on the Sorensen track.

As usual, Alabama has several million freshmen in this year’s class somehow, many of whom should figure as spot contributors (1 and 2 events for the majority of them) and should give the Tide a net gain in depth despite the losses of Clark in the AA, Williams on 2 events, and Frost on floor.

The most prominent of the Alabama freshmen is Ariana Guerra, who was a Stars gymnast before becoming a Texas Dream, and who put together a pretty solid elite career with scores in the low 14s/56s before the injury tidal wave knocked her out for the next century. Guerra is mostly known as a power gymnast, though she did not perform vault at the Halloween intrasquad for presumably all-the-injuries reasons. Floor should be her most important contribution to the team, with a strong DLO, easy double pike, and dance elements that she can endure without much deduction. She’s such an Alabama floor worker.

Guerra should also be excellent at anger beam, which will be important in the absence of Kayla Williams. She’ll slam down that punch front and two-footed layout, though splits are a challenge for her and could limit her influence. They’ll have to be smart about that routine composition. Even though Guerra is not a natural bars type, she has really worked the toe point to make it a stronger event, along with a high Ray and secure DLO. The angles and leg separations can be an issue, but evolving into another Bama power-bars worker is probably her destiny.

It should be noted at this point that I’m getting ready to be into Abby Armbrecht’s beam routine. The potential is there. The train is in the station. The defining factor of the Duckworth era so far has been infusing more style into beam routines (big surprise), and this should be an excellent project.

She already has the splits, the leg form, and a sheep jump that isn’t very NCAA in that it’s an actual sheep jump and not this:

Nailed it. Armbrecht should also figure on other events, especially with the clean y1.5 she has shown in the past, her most important scoring asset throughout JO. On floor, her work is pretty but not that big, which is a hallmark of much of this freshman class. A number of them can do perfectly clean, nice, acceptable, yada yada yada floor routines, but they’re not big Bama routines and therefore may find it difficult to squeeze into the lineup when competing for spots with the returners. 

That’s true for Amanda Huang, who has some respectable twisting skills but wouldn’t necessarily be one of the six on floor when bigger options present themselves. Huang is going to be more the bars and beam type, with a comfortable piked jaeger and clean bail to build a routine around. Her bars routine still needs to be refined in the handstands and some details, but it’s a believable lineup option. The beam story is similar. She has the skill set and good enough leg form, but can be a bit close to the beam on a lot of elements with some stiffness to her performance, so there are areas to work through if she’s to get into lineups on a team this competitive.

Angelina Giancroce, of “wasn’t she supposed to go to Georgia?” fame, is another who earns her keep on form and style more than difficulty, with dance elements being her primary strength. She scored well on floor during her JO career with those fully-hit splits and clean twisting form, but like some of the others, she does not have difficulty to be a sure option. I’m more interested in beam because of her style, even though she can be quite tentative which could compromise her chances, and bars, even though bars was far from her best JO event. She got about a 1.100 every time but has toe point, respectable amplitude on her shoot to high bar, and an elegant DLO, so I’m putting a star and a question mark next to that routine (like you do) because there’s something there. 

Jenna Bresette is a former GAGE whom I have not seen anything from in a thousand years, but she’s another along with Guerra who could figure on floor. She had a high double arabian back in the day mixed with mostly solid leaps that should see her become an option. They’ll have to replace Clark and Frost in that floor lineup, and Guerra and Bresette will be in contention for those spots along with returners like Aja Sims. I haven’t seen Bresette vault in an entire lifetime (meaning five years which is too long ago to be relevant), but the coaches seem to be high on her yfull, so there’s that.

Who else are we missing? Just 1100 more people? There’s Avery Rickett, who’s also jumping in the clown car. She has a double pike and double tuck on floor and can give them a beam routine, but doesn’t have the amplitude and form to make lineups. 

Thankfully, Michigan has the common decency not to have a hundred kabillion freshmen this year, with just the two. That’s a polite, easy-to-keep-track-of amount of freshmen. But I do expect significant contribution from both of them, enough to make up for the 6 lost routines from Sugiyama and Parker without enduring much of a lull. This roster should be able to maintain the scoring pace from last season.

Olivia Karas was a star in JO, making a splash at both the Nastia Nastiaship Starring Nastia As Nastia and JO Nationals this year, and should continue the trend in college. She’s a good bet for three events, perhaps four. Definitely vault. Karas has a 1.5 that is monstrous in a good way, with a consistently strong landing. She’s a solid bet for late-lineup/anchor there.

We’ll also see her on floor, with that high double arabian (a little cowboy but not problematic—her double arabian is not a microaggression) and impressive amplitude in leaps that will help her be one of those gymnasts who doesn’t have to fake it. The acro on beam is secure, particularly the punch front, coupled with acceptably hit splits. She does dismount with only a gainer pike, but we’ll just have to get through that emotionally.

My one question with Karas is bars, which is clearly not her preferred event. It’s OK, with good form on a shap + pak combination, but the dismount might take her out of contention. In JO, it has been an unconnected underswing to front pike, which is such a Canadian-floor-specialist bars dismount that I can’t even deal with it, and valued at only a C. They’ll have to figure out something to do with that if she’s going to be a lineup gymnast. They’ve done it before.

Emma McLean really came on strong this year in the JO ranks, and has many similar strengths to Karas. The main difference between the two is McLean’s lower difficulty, but she has shown a very high full on vault that I have to imagine could become a 1.5. Even if not, it should be an option. And while her floor difficulty has maxed out at a double pike, it’s a big double pike, and her height and cleanliness has brought in consistently impressive scores in the JO ranks.

I’m less sold on her beam (the legs are pretty floppy and the acro can be low) and bars, but the amplitude on bars was much better at JOs than at the Nastia, and her tkatchev already looks improved in preseason training videos. Because Michigan. They will still also have to come up with a dismount for her, though. But really, the team returns Brown, Sheppard, Artz, Williams, Casanova, and Christopherson from last season’s bars group, so that could also just be it. 

Freshman Notes: LSU, Georgia, Nebraska

On to the next set of hopeful young freshmen! We’ve got several volumes of Lexie Priessman injury history to get through, so let’s get going.


It won’t be an easy little stroll through the meadow for LSU this year. Every possible gymnast in the universe graduated after last season, so now it’s just Jay Clark and one grip sitting there writing poems about loneliness. The problem is actually not so much the number of lost routines (there’s still a solid core) as the value of those routines. Seven of the eight 5th-6th routines from last year are gone, which means a hefty little number of 9.9s will need to be sculpted from somewhere TBD that may or may not exist. The good news is that this year’s freshman class is wildly talented.

Let’s start by addressing Lexie Priessman. It’s hard to believe she’s just now starting college because even when she was a junior elite she already looked like she had just moved to New York to get a job in PR, while all the other girls were like, “I’m four.”

We all know what a healthy Lexie Priessman would be capable of, at least if we can remember back that far or if “healthy Lexie Priessman” is still a possible theoretical state of matter. She could be an absolute ridiculous star on vault and floor, and also everywhere because Lexie Priessman. I’m pretty interested to see what she ends up putting together on bars and beam (fingers crossed) because as an elite, her form could get pretty ragged on those events, becoming more pronounced as time went on. That seemed to be primarily a function of pushing the D-score via skills that weren’t actually great ideas for her, but we’ll have to see if an NCAA routine is indeed a much cleaner prospect. 

Of course, the only real question heading into Priessman’s NCAA career is what shape she’s in. And I don’t mean shape like fitness. I mean what actual geometric shape she is. Triangle? Rhombus? Pentagram? Having endured years of the emotional and physical turmoil of OCD Sunday School, we can never really be sure. The mystery deepens. Priessman has been in various states of extreme leg-disappearedness for the last, oh, 600 months, ever since MLT put that hex on her where every time she does a skill, her body breaks into a thousand pieces. Her level of MLT-breaks will be the deciding factor as to where she ends up on the huge-star/injury-retirement scale. Can she get back to full strength? At some point?

Keeping on the topic of relatively unknown quantities post-2012, remember how obsessed you were with Sarah Finnegan for 11 minutes? Well, she’s back. It’s really exciting. We hope. The trouble is that we haven’t seen any real gymnastics from her since the late 1950s. Is she healthy? Is she doing all the events? Is she a tatted-up truck driver now? We have no way of knowing. Finnegan was excellent all-around during her shooting-star elite career, though I have to think bars and beam will be her key events (especially post-Courville and Jordan, and post-that thing where she competed gymnastics). Both those lineups need 500ccs of undiluted Finnegan, stat. (That’s her doing a lovely DLO off bars in the training video above, right? I have a lot of ID problems…) In case you also need a refresher about Finnegan’s heavenly beam routine, this is important viewing, mostly because there’s some priceless Elfi and Tim at the beginning about her really unique wolf turn. It’s an excellent lesson in what it sounds like when Tim is 100% done with your life.

Finnegan and Priessman are intended as the replacement stars for our dearly departed favorites, but because of their injuries/lack of competition in the past eon, LSU will have to lean pretty heavily on the rest of this class to be sturdy workhorses and fill in many of these lineup gaps.

The very best thing about McKenna Lou Kelley entering NCAA is that we finally get to stop going, “Wait, are you even an elite? Then why are you at Marthaville every day?” Humanity must collectively and immediately stop trying to make MARY LOU’S DAUGHTER AHHHH happen, so it’s already better. 

McKenna Lou is a powermansion on floor. She has a totally casual DLO and will need to become a major force in replacing those lost late-lineup floor scores. Now we just need to teach her a seat drop. It’ll go fine. Also, sometimes Mary Lou has 18 pulmonary spasms of motherhood during her routine.

Kelley vaults a full, but it’s a pretty big full that should be something usable for the team in spite of the scoring downgrade. It can complement the returning 10.0 SV vaults from Gnat, Savona, and Ewing. Bars and beam are more of a question. She brings that same power to her acro skills on beam, but the dance elements can be a little underbaked, and on bars the current state of her leg form and handstands may hold her back in spite of her skill set.

The sleeper in this class is going to be Julianna Cannamela. She really stands out in the above training video (she’s the redhead), and not just because it’s easy to identify which one she is. But mostly. The individual skills she shows in that video look stronger than they did in the JO routines I’ve seen (especially that pretty good floor DLO and usable full on vault), and that’s always a good sign. Cannamela was consistently acceptable across four events as a JO gymnast, which is somewhat rare. She seems like the type who could give you a 9.850 on any event when called upon, which given the injury histories here, will be essential. 

There isn’t much extra baggage in this freshman class. It’s big, but all five gymnasts should be contributors. Kaitlyn Szafranski was among that gaggle of Parkettes who tried junior elite a million years ago, and the LSU coaches seem to be high on her bars potential. That’s understandable since she does have a serious Ray going on, but the routine isn’t all the way there. Her JO work exposes some form issues, especially with leg breaks and piking in the DLO, but I expect it to be one of those Jay Clark projects. It will especially necessary because LSU looks relatively devoid of true bars women this season, again having to rely on a few people who can do the event but don’t love it (the Gnats, the Savonas, etc…)


Thank you for the IDs, Emily!

Georgia is in quite a different position from LSU, retaining the large majority of important routines from last season (so, Jay and Rogers). It’s mostly bars where the Gymdogs will need to restock, with Chelsea Davis gone and Kiera Brown having been…quietly removed. Beam could also use some new big scores after last year’s 9.825-a-thon (which is slightly worrying because this freshman class doesn’t particularly love life, and by life I mean dance elements, on beam.)

Expect Gracie Cherrey to be a significant part of the bars project with her big Ray and useful bail. She’ll need to turn those pieces into a realistic mid-late-lineup option to support what will obviously be constant and automatic 10.000s for Her Ladyship. The main concern I have right now for Cherrey’s bars routine is the crazy legs on the DLO. They’re a little EHH and could compromise her score depending on whether the judges choose to notice that or just give her the full Alaina Johnson treatment. What’s a leg separation? Cherrey is also working a full-in on floor, and has received solid scores for her double-back routines in JO. It will be interesting to watch that progress since Georgia had a somewhat icy relationship with E passes last season, pushing to get them into the routines around mid-season but not performing them cleanly enough to be worth it. Will they make a point of forcing those passes into routines earlier this season? Or just go for clean D elements?

One person who will be expected to bring the power and difficulty is Sydney Snead, the first Dr. Seuss character to join a D1 NCAA gymnastics program. She has a stellar 1.5 on vault, and if you put her along with the three returning 1.5s, Georgia is among the programs best positioned to take advantage of the new vault values. Snead also shows a piked full-in on floor that she has been performing regularly as a JO gymnast, which should be useful in stepping up the difficulty. While she’s primarily known as a vault and floor gymnast, her bars are actually pretty good. She has some toe point going on, at least, so I’m sold, even if there are breaks here and there. Originally, I had her in my head as a two-eventer, but I could envision more for her at some point.

Caroline Bradford is the late addition to round out the roster and the least likely of the three to make a splash, but as seen in the training video, she’s got some line on bars and that front on beam looks good. She was a solid finisher in JO back in the junior days, but then disappeared for a thousand centuries (presumably injuries) until this season, so we’ll have to see what she has been able to regain.

A cursory look at the Nebraska roster for this year reveals that it’s…um…tiny. That’s nothing new. This is Nebraska. But now that Kamerin Moore and Ariel Martin have disappeared into the sands of time with Implied Injury Retirement Syndrome, the Huskers return just five regularly competing gymnasts (and just three floor workers from last year), meaning that by mathematical necessity, this year’s six freshmen have some work to do. Even though I would normally characterize this year’s new class as supporting players/spot contributors with an emphasis on bars, they’ll have to do more than that and compete on some events we wouldn’t normally expect them to do. Also don’t be surprised if this becomes another one of those 6 competitor, everyone does the all-around, seasons.

Sienna Crouse seems the most likely to contribute significantly. On bars she has a big, giant, humongous gienger and laudable amplitude in all her release elements, even if there’s some form to be worked out. I’m looking forward to that routine. She also has a front double full on floor with generally clean twisting overall, making her the only Nebraska freshman (as far as I know) coming in with an E pass. Given the need for floor workers to fill out that lineup and help Lambert and Blanske, that’s a thing. Her full on vault is a little touch-and-go. Sometimes it can be pretty low, but this is also Nebraska and they make a lot vaults. 

The big vault in this class, however, comes from Megan Schweihofer. Her yfull is a Nebraska yfull and the girl can land it. She should figure in that lineup and hopefully on beam as well. She’s got something there, even if there’s a hint of leggishness going on. That full turn. I’d like to see her in that lineup. In the great search for floor routines, she has your normal double pike and double tuck, so that’s there if necessary.

Kami Shows is a case worth watching because I think she would have been a bigger deal coming in had she not torn her Achilles in 2014. It’s unclear what gymnast we’ll see at this point because while she used to have some solid height in her floor tumbling back in the day, she hasn’t done floor since 2013. In her comeback meets in 2015, she did only bars and beam. On bars, she has a shap and a pretty high tkatchev, so that will be a routine to keep tabs on. Catelyn Orel comes from GAGE, and I’m not really sure what we’re going to see from her. She never had the big JO career and didn’t compete in the major meets to give us a good scoring/ranking comparison, but she has your overall NCAA skill set: a pretty clean yhalf on vault, gienger and tkatchev on bars, double pike on floor, and some moments of general GAGEity in all of that, along with some form concerns like split positions on beam.  

The rest of the class comes from Gym-Max, with Kelli Chung and Megan Kuo jumping in late to try to round out the roster. Chung has some good Gym-Max toes on bars and nice splits and leg form on beam, but they shouldn’t be significant contributors.

In other news, am I being dense, or do we not get embed code for gymnastike videos anymore now that they decided gymnastike was an OK name, but just didn’t remind people of periods quite enough? 

Freshman Notes: Florida, Utah, Stanford

We’ve got a whole slew of new, optimistic faces ready to start their NCAA careers in a month and a half (lots of classes with 5 and 6 freshmen this year), so before they do that, let’s get to know the new meat and break down what they’ll bring to their teams—besides “such great enthusiasm and a beautiful competitive spirit,” thank you for your no help, coaches—and where they might contribute this year.


The defending champs have certainly lost significant routines from Kytra Hunter and the Wang/Spicer 9.850 Preservation Committee after last season, but this is Florida and that happens every year. This new class is probably the second-strongest freshman group in the nation (because cut to LSU going, “wanna fight?”) and will be expected to maintain a similar team-scoring pace while missing very few beats, aside from the hole in the ceiling left by Kytra’s floor 10s.

It’s rare that one of the most anticipated freshmen in a season is a non-elite, but such was the level of Alicia Boren‘s annual dominance at JO nationals, winning her age group about a hundred years in a row. With most of the name-brand elites entering this season carrying Pulitzer-level injury histories, Boren looks to be among the more reliable bets for “impact freshman,” or whatever sportsball people say.

Vault and floor are a definite yes for Boren. She has a very comfortable 1.5 on vault, which is all the more valuable this season, and her floor tumbling is big, big, big. She anchored her JO floor routine with a full-in, which is a total “check me out, losers” move, and I love it. At this point, we should probably start a running tally of “SHE’S THE NEW KYTRA!!11” for the season, because it’s going to be all the time. We need a gymnastics-commentary swear jar for it. I hereby ban all further mentions.

Boren’s beam work will also have a definite place on the team, with her strong, secure acro elements and workable leaps. The main question mark as to her possible AA contribution will be bars since it’s the weaker event of her four. It’s not really a problem routine (she would compete bars for the majority of teams), but the releases are a little clunky and there’s some foot form. So, while she’s capable of putting up a usable bars routine, it will be more challenging to make the top 6 there. At the same time, her JO bars work is much stronger than McMurtry’s was, so there’s that. 9.950

Let’s move on to Peyton Ernst, the one you always think is a character from Make It Or Break It and then remember that she’s a real person. Ernst was an elite for a number of years, coming out of Texas (Bailie Key’s Broken) Dreams, and was legitimately in the conversation for an early-quad Worlds team before her case of Generalized Elite Injury Disorder set in. She has been a little witness protectiony ever since, so in some respects it will be a wait-and-see as to how much she’s able to recover those elite routines. But, with her previous elite skill set and well-rounded difficulty and quality across four events (DTY, shaposhi, DLO & double arabian on floor, strong dance elements), she would certainly contribute a big routine on any event in ideal health circumstances.

Ernst’s most important event will be beam (and that’s the one event we saw from her in the most recent training videos above). Remember when she showed up with that 6.3 elite beam routine and everyone went, “Is that a number?!?!?” We were so young then. Beam was the weakest event for the Gators last year (relative), and they haven’t really had that second sure beam 9.900 since Macko left (SHE’S THE NEW MACKO!!11…anyone? Anyone?). Ernst can be that with the right skill composition, of which she has many, many options.

Also of note, this isn’t much of a bars class (it’s the bad event for every newbie except Ernst), but the strong crop of returning bars routines means that won’t necessarily be a problem. Still, Ernst is the one who can make a real difference there.

Lacy Dagen looks to be another in that ever-growing line of strong Florida gymnasts who get  overshadowed by the bigger names but should still contend for a couple early lineup spots, depending on the general injury-scape for people like Ernst and the recovering Claire Boyce. There will be several open Wang/Spicer spots here and there, and everyone will basically have to arm-wrestle Ericha Fassbender to see who gets them. It could be a number of people. Dagen was a junior elite at the very end of the last quad and has a solid full on vault (along with about 10 other people on this roster) and showed a DLO on floor, and both of those will be assets for her.

Amanda Cheney and Ashley Hiller are the later additions to the team for this year, with Cheney excelling on beam (she also has a fine yfull and tumbling, but it’s mostly beam) with lovely line and presentation. As long as they get rid of her straddle 1/2 like yesterday, it could be a thing. Hiller was a vault standout as a JO gymnast, placing 2nd there in Senior D this year, as has some serious ups on her full.

The Utes have quite a job to do this year if they’re to come anywhere close to reenacting last year’s 2nd-place. 12 out of 24 routines will now need replacing after the departures of Dabritz, Lothrop, Wilson, and Tutka. It’s basically the whole floor lineup.

This new class does not have the same big gymnastics and accomplished resumes of that departing group and will not be expected to replicate the same quality. As much onus will be on the sophomores like Partyka and Stover to show more routines this year to make up the lost scores, but realistically the scoring potential will not be as high. In contrast to last year, when the team had enough routines and depth to bring the new ones along slowly, these freshmen will be thrown into the fire and relied upon to do more because of just how many lineup gaps there are now.

Makenna Merrell has risen the JO ranks in the last year or so, ultimately finishing 2nd in her age group at Nationals this year. She possesses that “are you a person or a line segment?” look that everybody seems to love, especially on beam where she has an almost Nastia-circa-2003 thing going on in her movement choices (if you squint…and get drunk?).

But Megan, we’re going to have a sit down with her about wrists, right? Good. But, Merrell is an interesting one because with that look, you’d expect her to be solely bars and beam queen. That is where I expect to see her biggest contribution—she should absolutely do beam because she has good extension through her loso series and the girl can hit a split—but she also has some unexpected difficulty on vault and floor, which have yielded the majority of her best scores in JO and account for her big recent AA results.

Merrell has a 1.5 on vault and a piked full-in on floor, which is higher difficulty than anyone else in this class, though I’m not quite sold yet. The 1.5 can sometimes be a little short and fragile and is the kind of vault that probably would have been downgraded to a full in previous seasons, but this year it will be viewed as an asset and they may work harder to make it a thing. Watch that space. She’s the definite possibility as an AAer in this class.

But most importantly, Merrell is from All-American gymnastics, and the biggest thing I learned is that her gym has a meet called “All American Hot & Ready,” which is absolutely unacceptable. Also, please do not google “all american hot and ready.”

Following much “which school are you going to?” and a prolonged multi-year case of the brokens, the Wogette Sabrina Schwab ended up at Utah once UCLA was like, “I don’t know her…” If she emerges as a big contributor, expect a lot of “we didn’t give up on her like certain other schools…” Or at least I hope so. Post-TV-meet shade is one of my favorite types of shade. I’m giving Megan a lot of assignments so far.

Schwab is expected to be primarily bars and beam and contribute significantly there. It makes sense because she has definite WOGA bars, complete with lovely toe point and handstands and some slight WOGAtkatchev-itis to balance it out. Back in the day when she was doing junior elite, she also showed an enjoyable floor routine featuring a legit 3/1, so I’ll be hoping to see her on more than just bars and beam at some point over the years if she’s able to get back, but her bars is by far the most important routines this year as they try to restock that lineup post-Dabritz auto-10. They’ll need something serious from her.

Like many of her incoming peers, Shannon McNatt was a junior elite for a second in 2012. Of particular note is her Omelianchik on vault, which is the routine we’re most likely to see.

It’s a strong vault, she has been doing it for a while, and it’s still valued out of a 10, which shoots her up the vault list quite a few places. Having an Omelianchik is a much bigger asset now when the majority of gymnasts are coming in doing perfectly OK fulls that start from 9.950. I’m not sold on the other events yet, but she has the passes on floor.  

With the floor lineup so depleted, Utah will be looking for people to emerge with usable work there, even if they’re not the “ALL THE E PASSES” routines of a couple years ago. Erika Muhaw is one of those options. She’s another of the clean-high-double-pike brigade, but she also shows solid dance elements with her straddle work and could put together a routine that’s relatively free from deductions. It’s a similar story on beam. She’s a total Christine Still “efficient little gymNAST.”  

Stanford’s freshman class this year is sort of [scene missing], which is fitting because that whole program is like, “Shhhh, gymnastics is a secret.” Stanford gymnastics is like one of those pop-up restaurants that’s only open one Thursday every year and no one knows when it’s going to be or who’s doing it, and the only dish is a wicker chest of octopus foam. Who’s healthy enough to compete this year? We’ll find out in January! Let’s hope it’s more than 4 people this time.

Stanford’s great postseason last year was built on gorgeous bars and beam routines, so the loss of Shapiro and Vaculik is slightly troubling, mostly emotionally because how are we going to survive now? Just by watching Vaculik Gienger on youtube and then crying ourselves to sleep, like usual?  It’s not wholly troubling because the Ebee/Ivie dynamic duo should still be getting 9.9s, but it will be tough to keep the same pace since this new group doesn’t really excel on bars. That’s why Dare Maxwell will be important. She’s the one who could. In breaking news, she still does gymnastics and has great toe point along with a Ray, which should be able to be molded into something excellent by the Stanford bars machine if she stays healthy.

But as we know, this team is always in need of vault and floor routines so that they actually have 6 of them, which is where Taryn Fitzgerald comes in. She has a pretty solid full on vault (also has done a 1.5, but I’m thinking it should be a full) and a double arabian on floor at times, so that’s basically a golden ticket. Get in those lineups.

The biggest thing to know about Hailee Hoffman and Nicole Hoffman is that they’re not related, which is blowing my mind. I already have enough trouble with the McNairs, and at least they have the common decency to be twins. Nicole has solid, contained form in a relatively low-difficulty repertoire across most of the events. She could do a clean floor for them. As for Hailee, she has posted her best scores on vault and floor in JO, though I’ve seen very little from her.

NLI Week 2016-2017

Before we get ourselves fully entrenched in bracing for the inevitable disappointments that the 2016 NCAA season will bring, it’s time to take a moment to gaze with dewy-eyed optimism and childlike wonder at the possibilities resting on the post-Olympic horizon. Beginning today (Wednesday) and for the next week-ish, schools will reveal which gymnasts will join their teams for the 2017 season by confirming the completely informed and totally sensible verbal commitments those gymnasts made right before preschool graduation. You know, when you’re thinking about college. 

I’ll be updating this list with the various schools’ press releases as they announce their incoming gymnasts’ NLI signings. Now to review, NLI stands for Nine Long-term Injuries and is the document gymnasts sign to acknowledge that they are under no circumstances going to be healthy enough to compete four whole years of college gymnastics. But in real life, it stands for National Letter of Intent, and it signals an end to the recruiting process by confirming a gymnast’s commitment to attend the school in question. Once a gymnast signs an NLI, the choice of school is official, unlike the previously announced verbal commitments that can and do change.

The verbal commitment is kind of like when you run into a tiring acquaintance a party and they say, “We should do something sometime,” and you’re like, “Yeah, that would be great, we should” but barely mean it and can always back out when you think of a good excuse. But signing the NLI is like when that tiring acquaintance texts you to say, “You’re coming to dinner on Friday, right?” and you actually have to do it now because specific plans have been made. Just as a random example. 

So, let’s find out who has to go to dinner on Friday.

Maggie Nichols, Jade Degouveia, Brehanna Showers

Alex Marks also signs to come aboard immediately to round out “Operation No Brenna.”

“This signing class is literally giving me goosebumps.” We’re gonna need a bigger swag-o-meter.

MyKayla Skinner (previously signed), Missy Reinstadtler, Kim Tessen

Madison Copiak, Michaela Nelson, Maya Washington

Alyssa Baumann, Amelia Hundley, Rachel Gowey, Maegan Chant

This is the “your job is to replace Bridget Sloan, so no pressure” group, and it will be the strongest of the 2017 classes, along with UCLA’s. Just get the duct tape and staple gun ready.

Tess McCracken, Kristen Politz, Mikayla Waddell

Kirsten Peterman, Alecia Farina

Maddie Desch, Wynter Childers, Shea Mahoney

Karen Howell, Lindsay Dwyer, Rae Balthazor

Lucy Jones, Megan Tripp

Courtney McGregor, Isabella Amado, McKinley Pavicic

Hannah Swoish, Hunter Vincent

Polina Shchennikova, Lexi Funk, Maddy Osman, Maggie O’Hara

Cassidy Keelen, Rachael Mastrangelo

Heather Swanson, Courtney Cowles, Christina Berg

Kaylee Cole

Alexis Beucler, Melissa Brooker (for 2016-2017)
Paris Phillips, Alexa Phillips (for 2015-2016)

Ally Hoyer

Grace Glenn, Anna Glenn

Hmmm, that sure is two people instead of the class of 1700 million we were promised, but there are some previously signed gymnasts along with some spring signings that will round things out. Allegedly.

Sabrina Vega, Jordyn Pederson, Rachel Dickson

The big question was when the ghost of Sabrina Vega would officially be able to begin, and now it looks like she’ll finally start in the 2017 season. I’m just glad she got on the NCAA wagon at last.

I thought Jordyn Pederson signed last year and just deferred, but whatever. She’s coming. 

Samantha Ogden, Maddie Karr, Courtney Loper

Kassidy Cumber, Julia Merwin (walkon)

Alyssa Johnson, Rachel Ley, Aspen Tucker 

SOUTHERN UTAHRelease 1, Release 2, Release 3
Madison McBride, Megan McBride, Autumn Jorgensen, Becky Rozsa

Laura Burns, Emily White, Riley Walsh, Molly Russ

Rebecca Taylor, Kristen Quaglia (scholarship)
Ivy Lu, Casey Betts, Ryan Stach (walkon)

Amanda Arnold, Hollie Minichiello, Emili Dobronics

Megan Dennis, Courteney Taylor

Isis Lowery, Brianna McCant

Ruby Harrold, Kennedi Edney, Ashlyn Kirby

Alaina Kwan, Erynne Allen, Katrina Coca