Oklahoma won the national title six whole days ago, which is like a thousand years ago. Sorry, Oklahoma. We’re moving on. What have you done for us lately? Basically nothing? That’s what I thought.
The 2017 season is just around the corner, as long as that corner is really, really far away. We don’t know anything real about 2017 yet, but we do know which valuable gems and enthusiastic leaders in the training gym we won’t see next year, along with which bright new lights full of possibilities and undiagnosed shin problems will be joining the teams in their place.
Detailed looks at each team and roster will come much later, when the season approaches and I actually vaguely know who these JO gymnasts are, but let’s call this a preliminary glance at who’s coming and who’s going on each team now that the 2016 season is closed and locked away forever and the traditional eight-month moratorium has been placed on the terms “parity,” “yurchenko arabian,” “confident leadoff,” and “life lessons.” I’ve placed the top teams into various categories based on the current outlook and added the RQSs for the routines they will lose after 2016.
This is, of course, assuming that people do what they’re supposed to and don’t suddenly turn pro or run off to join a traveling circus or whatever.
Out: Jessica Savona, Randii Wyrick, Michelle Gauthier
In: Ruby Harrold, Kennedi Edney, Ashlyn Kirby
Savona – VT – 9.820 avg; UB – 9.840; FX – 9.902 avg
Wyrick – UB – 9.810; FX – 9.905
The Tigers certainly lose a few critical routines, the most important being Savona’s floor, though they already gained some experience with life after Savona’s vault and floor when she was out early this season (and life after Wyrick’s bars when she didn’t compete in the postseason). They survived, for the most part. Several of these openings should be filled by people already on the roster, and while I don’t think we can have any expectations for Priessman at this point because any week she’s healthy enough to compete is just a bonus, Kelley should do more next year. Add to that this freshman class, and I think there’s every reason to expect LSU 2017 to be stronger than LSU 2016.
Out: Lauren Beers, Carley Sims
In: Maddie Desch, Wynter Childers, Shea Mahoney
Beers – VT – 9.905; UB – 9.690; FX – 9.915
Sims – FX – 9.868
Alabama is in a similar position to LSU in terms of not losing that many routines, though Alabama’s losses carry a bit more significance, especially on floor with the team’s two strongest floories departing. They’ll need some of the upperclassmen like Brannan to step up and be a little more Beersy on those events and a little less middle-of-the-lineupy, but with increased contribution from a potential star like Ari Guerra who didn’t figure at all by the end of the season and the introduction of Maddie Desch and Wynter Childers, Alabama’s first-ever recruit who’s also a citizen of District 1, I’m not too worried about the look of Alabama’s future roster.
Out: Serena Leong (?), Kristina Heymann
In: Cassidy Keelen, Rachael Mastrangelo
Cal can’t have much to complain about in terms of roster shake-ups since the only two seniors on the roster for 2016 were Heymann, who used to contribute a backup vault, and Leong, who has been injured forever and would be in line for a redshirt season. When healthy, Leong was half of the duo that ushered in Cal’s rebirth, along with Asturias. Regardless, Cal shouldn’t have to lose anything at all from this season’s 7th-place team, only gain for next year. The future is bright.
Dark, but hopeful
These schools will lose many more significant routines than the smooth-sailing schools, but their incoming classes are cause for optimism about maintaining or improving their current levels nonetheless.
Out: Haley Scaman, Keeley Kmieciak, Hunter Price, Nicole Turner
In: Maggie Nichols, Brenna Dowell, Brehanna Showers, Jade Degouveia
Scaman – VT – 9.890; UB – 9.880; FX – 9.945
Kmieciak – VT – 9.865; UB – 9.930; BB – 9.870; FX – 9.870
Price – VT – 9.871 avg
Oh hi, we just won a national championship, and we’re going to have Maggie Nichols and Brenna Dowell (back) next year. Oklahoma is losing eight routines from the championship lineups (which is a high but not necessarily devastating number), though nearly every one of those routines was a realistic and regular 9.900. But then, if Nichols and Dowell do show up and deliver next year, that’s pretty much your eight high-scoring replacement routines right there (Dowell didn’t compete beam in 2015 but I think we all expect that she will Brandie Jay on beam at some point in her OU career). That doesn’t even account for the other newcomers, the traditional Oklahoma magicking up of unexpected routines, and the extra redshirt season from long lost Maile Kanewa.
Out: Bridget Sloan, Bridgey Caquatto, Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto, Morgan Frazier
In: Amelia Hundley, Alyssa Baumann, Rachel Gowey, Maegan Chant
Sloan – VT – 9.900; UB – 9.945; BB – 9.910; FX – 9.950
Caquatto – VT – 9.810; UB – 9.915; FX – 9.900
BDG – UB – 9.865
You wouldn’t think the Gators would be in much trouble next year since they’re simply losing the services of that non-competing walk-on Bridget Sloan. (Who?) Still, somehow, Florida is bleeding the same number of essential routines as Oklahoma, with the added problem of losing the team’s big old star, 10.0-machine, and four-year identity of the program. It’s a worry. Fortunately, as Jean-Ralphio would say, this freshman class is off the cherrrrts.
Because Florida is losing such important gymnasts, however, these newbies can’t come in and be I’m-not-helping elites who are perpetually injured. They have to be multi-event 9.9s, which will make it interesting to watch how they progress during this summer’s Trials season. None are in the serious hunt for the US Olympic team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be ground into a fine powder trying. Baumann and Gowey are beautiful rays of starlight, but they also have that fragile “I can only do bars and beam in college because my bones are now made of tears and hope” look to them, and Amelia Hundley is from CGA, so enough said. Florida will need to get a couple big leg-event routines out of this group.
Out: Danusia Francis, Sophina DeJesus, Sadiqua Bynum
In: Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, Felicia Hano, Anna Glenn, Grace Glenn
Francis – UB – 9.835; BB – 9.945; FX – 9.860
DeJesus – UB – 9.885; BB – 9.855; FX – 9.883
Bynum – VT – 9.860; FX – 9.935
Here’s yet another school losing eight critical and high-scoring routines, with the guaranteed 9.950 beam routine from Francis being the most devastating loss. At the same time, UCLA’s 2017 freshman class has been the stuff of legend for a while now. The same caveats about broken elites more than apply in UCLA’s case, which is why the coaching staff will be playing an orchestra of celebration trumpets about Ross’s decision to forego the Olympic-year gauntlet and preserve/heal herself for a college team that needs her to go Full Kyla all over next season.
If everything (or even most things) come to fruition with these freshmen, Macy Toronjo’s return from injury, and squeezing one more year of Peng out of what remains of her limbs, UCLA’s competition team will be completely unrecognizable next year. I expect to see fewer than half of the current lineup routines competing by the postseason in 2017, and health is really the only thing standing between UCLA and greatly improving on this 2016 team.
Out: Breanna Hughes, Kassandra Lopez, Kailah Delaney
In: MyKayla Skinner, Missy Reinstadler, Kim Tessen
Hughes – VT – 9.900; UB – 9.910; BB – 9.850; FX – 9.925
Lopez – VT – 9.780; UB – 9.905; BB – 9.850
Delaney – VT – 9.860; BB – 9.825
How is Utah losing another super-critical class? Didn’t that just happen last year? 2016 was supposed to be the rebuilding year, not 2017, but after this season Utah is losing three regular-lineup beam routines and the team’s strongest scores on both vault and bars. The reasons for hope are the potentially significant contributions from a two-elite freshman class and the return of Kari Lee’s four routines, which will make the routine-replacement task much less onerous for the freshmen. We’ll have a lot to talk about regarding Skinner’s potential in NCAA once that moment rolls around as there’s some doubt about how she’ll fare in NCAA because of her form struggles on simpler elements, though that hasn’t stopped others. The NCAA code would allow picking and choosing the right elements for her, and maintaining some amount of her current elite difficulty would help mask any problems.
Out: Nina McGee, Katie Menhinick, Emily Barrett, Maggie Laughlin, Morgan Tolman
In: Maddie Karr, Samantha Ogden, Courtney Loper
McGee – VT – 9.895; UB – 9.910; BB – 9.865; FX – 9.970
Barrett – VT – 9.790; BB – 9.815; FX – 9.810
Menhinick – UB – 9.805; BB – 9.775
Laughlin – VT – 9.690; FX – 9.860
Denver is basically losing the entire team after this season, including the gymnast who almost single-handedly drove them into the top ten. Yet for some strange reason, I’m resisting placing them down in the next category even though that seems the most realistic outlook for 2017 given these losses. I have a lot of hope for this freshman class including Karr, one of the top JO gymnasts in this recruiting year, and Ogden, a former WOGA elite who was given the WOGA cookie-cutter routines even though they don’t really fit her gymnastics style. I could see her thriving with different routine composition in NCAA.
Sound the alarm. Prepare the shelter.
Out: Brandie Jay, Brittany Rogers, Mary Beth Box
In: Sabrina Vega, Jordyn Pederson, Rachel Dickson
Jay – VT – 9.935; UB – 9.900; BB – 9.850; FX – 9.895
Rogers – VT – 9.925; UB – 9.920; BB – 9.875; FX – 9.795
Box – BB – 9.905; FX – 9.925
Yikes. It’s a good thing Georgia made Super Six this year, a final accomplishment to hang on this critical class because it gets a little scary now. The Gymdogs will lose their most important routines on each and every event, including their two best vaults, their two best bars routines, their best beam routine (and two other realistic hits in a terrifying lineup), and their two best floor routines. Georgia will certainly be able to fill out these lineups next year, as we can expect increased contributions from the likes of Cherrey, Snead, Schick, and Reynolds, but that’s 100% necessary because the incoming freshman class will not match the scoring ability and lineup presence of the outgoing senior class. That’s an awful lot of eggs to put in Sabrina Vega’s basket, someone who is basically just walking around in a question mark costume at this point.
Out: Caitlin Atkinson, Lexus Demers, Kait Kluz
In: Gracie Day, Kendall Moss, Katie Becker
Atkinson – VT – 9.895; UB – 9.880; BB – 9.910; FX – 9.925
Demers – VT – 9.865; BB – 9.850; FX – 9.890
Kluz – VT – 9.810; UB – 9.850; FX – 9.860
Caitlin Atkinson has been the constant throughout the rise of Auburn. The year before Atkinson arrived, Auburn finished 18th. This year, Auburn was disappointed not to make it back to Super Six. It’s a big change, and the critical routines from this class have been a wildly significant part of that change. The incoming class is not a group of recognizable names, and though it is a group of accomplished L10s who should contribute quite a bit, the question of what Auburn is without Atkinson anchoring every lineup will linger until next January. A large number of underclassmen populate this roster, but are they able to match the level of the routines that are leaving, particularly in vault and floor lineups that will need to be almost entirely reinvented in order to challenge next season?
Out: Ivana Hong, Taylor Rice, Jenna Frowein, Melissa Chuang (?)
In: Aleeza Yu, Kaylee Cole, Ashley Tai
Hong – VT – 9.797 avg; UB – 9.870; BB – 9.875; FX – 9.788 avg
Rice – VT – 9.785; UB – 9.830; BB – 9.795; FX – 9.785
Chuang – VT – 9.700; BB – 9.895; FX – 9.790
Frowein – FX – 9.720
I have a question mark next to Chuang because she has missed enough time in past years to be a possible redshirt, though she was listed on the roster this year as a senior, not a redshirt junior. Stanford needs all the routines it can get to avoid putting every ounce of scoring obligation on Price. Losing Ivana Hong is not something you recover from, and even though Rice did not have an all-time-awesome-fun-time of a 2016 season, she has been an AA stalwart for a team that has desperately needed it. Without Taylor Rice, how many five-person bars lineups and yurchenko layouts would Stanford have been forced to compete the last couple years? This is way too many routines to lose without knowing exactly where the replacements are coming from.
Out: Hollie Blanske, Madison McConkey
In: Taylor Houchin, Sierra Hassel, Alexa Clark
Blanske – VT – 9.880; UB – 9.840; BB – 9.835; FX – 9.920
McConkey – BB – 9.650
Unlike for the other teams in the red-alert category, this isn’t a large number of lost routines. Nebraska should be able to cobble together people to fill out the lineups (though without much margin for error because this is still Nebraska), but it’s yet another year of the Huskers losing their AA star without an apparent heir waiting to fill that role, someone who can legitimately get 9.9s across the board, particularly on vault and floor. Return to us Ashley Lambert. Also, I’m pretty sure one of those new freshmen plays Derek on Teen Wolf, which seems like it’s going to be a busy schedule.
Out: Lindsay Mable, Hanna Nordquist, Maddie Hanley
In: Ivy Lu, Casey Betts, Ryan Stach, Rebecca Taylor, Kristen Quaglia
Mable – VT – 9.885, UB – 9.895; BB – 9.910; FX – 9.935
Nordquist – BB – 9.905
Hanley – UB – 9.850; BB – 9.835
I don’t want to talk about it. Shut up.
How’s this going to go…?
A couple schools defy these simple categories, so I’m throwing them here.
Out: Briley Casanova (?), Austin Sheppard, Lindsay Williams, India McPeak
In: Polina Shchennikova, Lexi Funk, Maggie O’Hara, Madison Osman
Sheppard – VT – 9.865; UB – 9.855
Williams – UB – 9.880; BB – 9.800; FX – 9.845
Casanova competed in only the first three meets in 2016, so she’d be eligible to take a redshirt season, which would be a huge help to Michigan in mitigating the losses after 2016 and perhaps expecting a gain for the 2017 season. It’s not going to be exactly smooth sailing without some of these stalwart routines and without the high-scoring depth of a team like Alabama, but nothing about the current outlook is too, too dire. The majority of big AA and three-event stars will be returning next season. I’m also fascinated to see what Shchennikova will be able to do with NCAA composition on bars.
Out: Risa Perez, Jamie Radermacher, Erika Aufiero (?)
In: Sabrina Gill, Isis Lowery, Brianna McCant
Perez – BB – 9.865; FX – 9.845
Radermacher – FX – 9.860
The Beavs will lose just a smattering of critical routines, though not having Risa Perez is a blow to all of us emotionally, much greater than those 9.8 RQSs suggest. Oregon State’s roster is fully set up to withstand these few lost routines and stay on pretty much the same track, but unlike Cal, Oregon State would not be content with simply withstanding routine losses and staying even next season. They’ll expect to improve, so the reinvigoration of the Canadian and Australian pipelines that we see in this freshman class will be essential, as it has been so many times in OSU’s past.