2017 Freshman Preview: Florida

How does one live without a Sloan of one’s own?

Returning Routines – Florida
McMurtry – 9.925
Baker – 9.915
Boren – 9.910
Fassbender – 9.830
Cheney – 9.713
Hiller – 9.700
McMurtry – 9.940
Boren – 9.860
Baker – 9.860
McLaughlin – 9.800
McMurtry – 9.945
Boren – 9.890
Fassbender – 9.880
Baker – 9.870
McLaughlin – 9.775
Baker – 9.940
Boren – 9.905
McMurtry – 9.885
Fassbender – 9.835
McLaughlin – 9.825
Hiller – 9.725

I suppose we’re about to find out. Florida’s slate of returning routines gets pretty unlovely once you go past the third (or so) person on each event, but the Gators will be relying on a batch of injury comebacks (Boyce and Dagen) and transfers (Slocum) along with this season’s four freshmen to not only match but potentially increase the team’s depth over last season on each event. Except bars. Less bars.

The most important lineup augmentation for Florida this year will come courtesy of the little engine that could, Amelia Lee Hundley. A gymnast whose first sojourn to the ranch was met by Martha going, “What is this? Why do I have to look at it?” has gradually climbed the ranks during her 786-year elite career to become the star of Florida’s freshman class.

Encouragingly, 2016 turned out to be Hundley’s best year yet, so she seems to be on the rise heading into NCAA, the stage of gymnastics to which she always appeared best suited. Olympic Trials certainly brought out Hundley’s best-ever DTY, a vault she has occasionally had to downgrade away from while dealing with various MLTs. Sorry, I meant injuries.

Those years of not being able to do the DTY may actually come in handy in college as she has plenty of experience landing the 1.5. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see that from her. Now, about getting rid of this “Meals” nickname… Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Florida

Unfortunately, Things Are Happening – October 28, 2016

A. Everything’s fine. This is all fine. 

Jane Doe #2, in addition to confirming her own experience of all those fun Larry Nassar details that we heard about from Jane Doe #1, is also naming the Karolyis.

The lawsuit further accuses Bela and Marta Karolyi of:

  • Striking the gymnasts, scratching them until they bled and encouraging parents to hit their children.
  • Depriving gymnasts of food and water and searching the gymnasts’ rooms to find and confiscate hidden food.
  • Screaming obscenities at the gymnasts; telling them that they were fat; and requiring them to strip to their underwear so that their physical appearance could be judged in front of their peers.

What was that, NBC?



It’s looking more and more like the organization won’t just be able to pull the USA Gymnastics Special and cover the volcano in wallpaper again about this one. Continue reading Unfortunately, Things Are Happening – October 28, 2016

2017 Freshman Preview: Utah

You didn’t expect me to resist the opportunity to use “stab a boob, take a selfie” one more time did you?

Returning Routines – Utah
Lewis – 9.845
Rowe – 9.835
Muhaw – 9.800
Lee – 9.750
Merrell – 9.750
Rowe – 9.905
Schwab – 9.875
Lewis – 9.845
Lee – 9.792
Stover – 9.900
Rowe – 9.880
Lee – 9.825
Merrell – 9.592
Schwab – 9.910
Lewis – 9.900
Merrell – 9.850
Rowe – 9.848
Stover – 9.575
Lee – 9.392

Utah’s granary of routines has been mightily depleted after last season’s graduations and the retirement of Samantha Partyka, but there’s also good news for the Utes: all three of this year’s freshmen are legitimate all-arounders from whom we should expect a significant and plentiful harvest. I don’t have trouble coming up with 6+ viable routines on each event.

The most prominent member of Utah’s accomplished freshman trio is, of course, Photoshop Olympian, Twitter cautionary tale, and interpretive vault pioneer, MyKayla Skinner.

Much has been made of the idea that Skinner won’t be as successful in NCAA because of the built-in form deductions in her gymnastics, but I’m not so sure about that. We’ve seen plenty of people thrive in NCAA with less-than-Pavlovian splits, and frankly her form isn’t all that different from many of the JO gymnasts I’ve been watching these last few weeks. Plus, “tweets dumb things” isn’t a deduction in the code of points, so that doesn’t really have anything to do with what scores she should get.

The composition in NCAA will allow Skinner to get rid of her worst skills, with the added bonus of being able to rely on the old “blind them with difficulty” strategy. Of course, all routines starting from 10.0 are supposed to be evaluated equally…and once you stop laughing we can continue with the rest of the preview.

Blinded By Difficulty absolutely needs to be the approach for Skinner. Her success has always been based on her ability to chuck extremely difficult skills, and downgrading significantly—the way many elites do in NCAA—would only expose problems rather than get her higher scores. As we learned from that “Bali, Mali, Chile, Malawi…it’s a simple do the dance (?)” commercial, Skinner’s DTY is cleaner than her Yurchenko timer. That’s insane, but it’s also true. She needs to retain the big skills, and if she does, I see no reason why she won’t get some of the highest scores in the country, particularly on vault and floor.

So I say vault that DTY.

I’d opt for the DTY over the Yurchenko 1/2-on vaults, purely so that we avoid any and all “DID SHE USE BOTH HANDS?” issues and never have to talk about Skinner being the first gymnast to do an Ono on the vaulting table ever again. It would just be a public service. But we’ll see. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Utah

2017 Freshman Preview: Minnesota & Arkansas

Returning Routines – Minnesota
Abernathy – 9.840
DeMuse – 9.815
Holst – 9.770
Gardner – 9.770
Hitchcock – 9.500
Holst – 9.885
DeMuse – 9.840
Gardner – 9.805
Hitchcock – 9.690
Cutler – 9.646
Gardner – 9.820
Rahon – 9.730
Ung – 9.658
Holst – 9.525
DeMuse – 9.370
Gardner – 9.875
DeMuse – 9.850
Abernathy – 9.835
Rahon – 9.810
Holst – 9.765
Cutler – 9.650

Obviously, the worst part for Minnesota is the no-Mable part. But losing Nordquist, Haines, and Hanley doesn’t help the situation much either. Just…be generally concerned about everything you see there.

But for now, let’s focus on Paige Williams. Jenny Hansen casually added Williams to the class just this April in a very “Oh, didn’t I mention…?” kind of way.  Williams is the strongest gymnast in Minnesota’s hefty incoming septet and will need to compete the all-around. Also maybe more than that, if possible.

Here’s her double front on floor and even more impressive 90-foot straddle jump amplitude. I’m excited for Minnesota to have a big floor routine this year.

The ease of completion on that Yfull will also be a mighty fine addition. Just, you know, cross fewer state lines on landing. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Minnesota & Arkansas