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…

Really, in spite of the still-stacked roster that Florida trots out for 2017, Hundley should be doing the all-around. On bars, she has retained her Pak and Shap 1/2 for a routine that will be heavily relied upon to fill that Sloan/Caquatto/BDG chasm, and her DLO will fit in nicely in a floor lineup that can ramp up the power quotient in 2017. They may not score what Sloan was scoring (because Sloan), but this year’s lineup should feature more E-rated double saltos.

Hundley has never exactly been famous for her beam, but she also hasn’t fallen on a competition beam routine as a senior gymnast, which I just realized starting now. I wasn’t necessarily sold on Hundley making the beam lineup this season back when we thought Ernst and Baumann would be around, and even though Hundley is never going to be Alyssa Baumann on beam, her recent hit percentage is exactly the thing college lineups are made of.

And now, our dear Rachel Gowey. Gowey has been a favorite ever since Martha pronounced her name Rachel Gooey. Automatic hall of fame. In the absence of Baumann (can you tell I’m not over it?), Gowey will be asked to do most of the work filling the bucket of beam pretty. She is more than capable and has a solid shot at best-routine-on-the-team status.

Given the depletion of the bars lineup, Gowey’s routine will be equally critical there. Oh, Gowey’s bars. The routine that never was. At Classic in 2014, it wasn’t quite ready yet. She had all the skills and all the potential in the world but lacked the connections and finalized composition to get a competitive score. Then, she broke. By the time she came back with a full routine, she had been passed up by Locklear and Kocian and it was like, “6.3? Pssh. Get back in the trash with the others.”

Still, in spite of moments of feet (like that has ever mattered before), Gowey’s handstands and element repertoire should make for an excellent NCAA set.

Bars and beam are Gowey’s most important pieces, and I’m hesitant to have too many expectations about vault and floor simply because of her status as a little porcelain swan that might shatter at any moment. Gowey is a very talented vaulter (remember when she was doing that Amanar a lifetime ago?), but I’m not really expecting her to bust out huge vaults and tumbling passes all over the place in college. In training, she has been showing a full on vault and a quite precise front 2/1 on floor. Helpful options, could absolutely see time, but not OMG GET THAT IN THE LINEUP routines.

Though that front 2/1 does look good. Do we think Gowey may end up being the Chosen Heir Of Bridgey in the Florida floor lineup strategy? I could watch Gowey all day, so I wouldn’t mind.

Maegan Chant has been sort of overlooked as part of this Florida freshman class because she’s not a US elite and we just don’t see her that much, but our expectations for her contribution shouldn’t be all that different from those for Hundley and Gowey.

On vault, Chant has precious, precious non-Yurchenko entries, which will shoot her up the depth chart. Her options include a Tsuk 1/1 and a handspring pi-lay 1/2, and I wouldn’t say no to that Tsuk 1/1.

Vault may end up being a major event for Florida this year simply because of the number of potential 10.0 starts. McMurtry has been prepping her DTY this fall, plus there’s Baker and Boren with 1.5s, Hundley with the possibility of more than a full, Chant’s options, and Slocum’s handspring pike 1/2. It may not all materialize (because obviously), but that’s six 10.0s. Teams with just one or two 10.0 vaults are going to be eaten alive this year.

Like most of her countrywomen, Chant has refreshing acro extension on beam and solid work in the basic split elements on both beam and floor that will translate well. She’s continuing to train her DLO while also working a quite nice front tuck through to double tuck. It’s not a wow-difficulty pass, but it’s very precise and makes me feel safe. As for bars, it’s usually Chant’s roughest event because of the legs and the handstands, but she does have the skills.

Walk-on Sierra Alexander also joins the team this year, mostly to contribute backup routines on vault and floor. Alexander scored well in JO on vault for occasional 9.7s and has good pop in a double pike on floor. Based on the training video, though, it looks like her best asset is performance ability on floor, which is an unfortunate tease. I want to see that routine and know we never will.

3 thoughts on “2017 Freshman Preview: Florida”

  1. Maegan competed the tsuk full at the intersquad though I heard she might train the 1.5. Her dance is lovely as is her tumbling. I’m excited for her to shine in NCAA.

    Amelia is so rock solid. Watching practice a month ago, she probably could’ve gone out and hit 4-4 that day. Impressive.

    Rachel Gowey has a gorgeous floor routine with everything you’d want. Lovely dance, great tumbling. She did a FTY at the intrasquad, which might not even make the lineup given how deep the vault and floor lineups this year are! Her triple series on beam is just lovely. I haven’t seen much of her bars since she arrived but that has always been lovely.

    Sierra is a total performer on floor. I hope everyone gets to see her compete. Awesome. Great super high FTY on vault and punch front on beam too.

    The big surprise for me is Rachel Slocum. She is just so much fun and such a positive person. I loved talking with her. Gorgeous new DLO and her sky high pike front half. I’m super excited to have her as an addition.

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