2017 Freshman Preview: Stanford

Raise your right leg if you’re not 100% committed to Stanford’s depth this year.

Returning Routines – Stanford
Price – 9.920
N McNair – 9.830
Daum – 9.788
D McNair – 9.780
Fitzgerald – 9.775
Price – 9.940
N McNair – 9.865
Maxwell – 9.795
D McNair – 9.775
Price – 9.850
N McNair – 9.840
Daum – 9.750
Fitzgerald – 9.613
D McNair – 9.400
Spector – 9.375
Price – 9.905
Spector – 9.845
Daum – 9.750
Fitzgerald – 9.690
N Hoffman – 9.425

Or any year. Normal. The Cardinal have lost 10 routines from last year’s postseason lineups, and while they’ll get some of those back from this year’s three freshmen, I don’t expect 10 routines from this group. That means some of the upperclassmen will have to add events for 2017.

But for now, let’s explore how many routines Stanford might actually get from this year’s freshmen.

Obviously, I must begin with Aleeza Yu because of her status as my latest Canasian obsession. Don’t worry about it. Yu boasts the traditional Stanford injury history of all of them. She tore her ACL at 2014 worlds, then returned to competition in early 2016 to directly connect her ACL tear to an exploded ankle. She is still wearing a boot in Stanford’s team pictures, so…temper expectations.

Bars and beam will be Yu’s primary contributions to the team, which is only reinforced by the current status of her right leg. Yu’s beam is a pristine meadow of leaps, and at least at some point (Stanford hopes sooner rather than later), she will be the one tasked with replacing Ivana Hong’s beam routine, as if a human person could.

Yu carries that style through to bars with her very appealing staldery/inbary potential that should become a major asset in a sparse lineup. The concern is, of course, the dismount. That will need an upgrade in order to turn this into an actual competitive routine, and an ankle injury does not help when you’re trying to upgrade a dismount.

Of the three freshmen, I expect we’ll see the most this year from Kaylee Cole, she of competing-internationally-for-Bolivia fame. (It’s not a BeloAmerican situation because even though the name Kaylee Cole is too white to function, she does have actual Bolivian heritage.) Cole hasn’t competed in over a year (Stanford) and was only able to do bars and a no-dismount beam routine in her last outing at Pan Ams 2015. She does, however, appear to be able to do routines now and, most critically, can help Stanford on the leg events.

At times in 2014, Cole competed a DTY, and while she more often performed the full, her ability to land a DTY tells us what we need to know about her amplitude and chance to give Stanford a competitive, lineup-worthy vault of some description.

Along with vault, Cole will be counted on for a floor routine. She may bring a double Arabian to the dance, and a double pike is not a lot to ask from her, which is rather rare on the Stanford roster right now.

Bars is not typically one of Cole’s better-scoring events because of a tendency toward extreme crazy-legs-McGee, though I expect she will be called upon to compete. You might experience some residual shades of Maroney with this one because of that gigantic Gienger and general “I feel like this should be better, why isn’t it better?” sensation.

What I’ve seen of Cole’s elite/JO beam work has been somewhat tentative (and it’s probably her least important routine for the team since there are some other beamers), but she will be there as an option.

The third freshman, Ashley Tai, is listed on Stanford’s roster as only a vault and beam gymnast. Those are definitely her better events, but it’s still a little odd to me considering that she does the AA (see: 2016 JO Nationals). Given Stanford’s depth problems on bars and floor, it seems like you’d want a routine from her if she’s at all physically capable—even if it’s not great—just to have something that can get a score. Do we have another injury problem to deal with?

But then again, Stanford does this sometimes. Melissa Chuang was listed as only vault and floor for a while. Cut to her scoring 9.950 on beam last year.

Regardless, Tai can give the team a usable full on vault, which I’m hoping will help fill out the lineup without forcing Stanford to resort to the old five-up, five-count strategy of previous seasons.