2017 Freshman Preview: Cal

Returning Routines – California
Williams – 9.865
Robinson – 9.845
Gallarzo – 9.840
Richardson – 9.825
Sy Seilnacht – 9.825
Palomares – 9.795
Takara – 9.788
Owens – 9.763
Williams – 9.855
Howe – 9.850
Takara – 9.840
Sternberg – 9.820
Richardson – 9.800
So Seilnacht – 9.700
Gallarzo – 9.648
Owens – 9.042
Palomares – 9.855
Howe – 9.850
Draghi – 9.845
So Seilnacht – 9.825
Richardson – 9.820
Owens – 9.790
Sy Seilnacht – 9.738
Williams – 9.542
Williams – 9.935
Draghi – 9.895
Howe – 9.855
Robinson – 9.855
Owens – 9.810
Palomares – 9.745
Sy Seilnacht – 9.483

Cal doesn’t lose any competition routines from last season, so any and all lineup value provided by this year’s freshmen will be a bonus over last year’s setup. There should be quite a bit of bonus.

It’s a testament to how far Cal has come in the last few seasons that even 3-4 years ago, we would be looking at any of these freshmen and saying, “Oh, Cal actually has a good one this year,” and now there are four of them at a time.

The most accomplished of the bunch is Texas Dreamer Cassidy Keelen, who has finished second at JO Nationals each of the last two years and looks the most likely to get a spot in the all-around. As is only fitting for a committed Zmeskallion, my favorite event of Keelen’s is beam.

Very strong splits. Solid and confident acro here. Gold star. Cal’s beam rotation in 2016 usually sat somewhere between fine and errrrr. It could use a little greatness. Keelen also brings E-pass power on floor with a full-in and the overall amplitude and skill repertoire to make this routine seem another easy lineup choice.

It gets a little more interesting when we turn to vault and bars. On bars, Keelen shows solid rhythm and amplitude, but she does have those leg breaks on every little pirouette. They’ll have to work that out because those deductions can add up very quickly and send what should be a 9.9 down to 9.800 or lower in a snap.

On vault, Keelen has always scored very well for her Yurchenko full, a vault that is all kinds of floaty. In the era of 10.0 Yfulls, it would be a no-brainer. I still think it’s a no-brainer even if she ends up retaining the full, but she’s also training to upgrade and get herself a 10.0 start. Even better. Theoretically. We’ll see if it ends up being worth the 0.05 bump. Ah, the eternal question. And by eternal, I mean since last year.

Vault starts to look even more competitive this season when considering the other members of this freshman class, all of whom work their own 10.0 starts. Cal is another team that has at least the potential for a lineup of six 10.0s. Mariah Peterson and Rachael Mastrangelo have both dealt with recent injuries (Mastrangelo actually hasn’t competed in 2016), but both also boast that critical Yurchenko 1.5. I’d tag these two as more likely to make a dent on the power events than on the apparatuses where split and foot form become slightly more pressing issues.

But we could see something from Mastrangelo on floor as she does perform a 3/1. As for Peterson, I haven’t seen much of anything of hers since 2014, but pre-ACL tear, her game was amplitude. She showed solid pop on a Yfull and on her double pike/double tuck floor tumbling—and was no slouch in the amplitude department on a Tkatchev either.

Here is Peterson vaulting the 1.5 in training.

Let’s also keep a keen eye on Alex Dudschus. She’s another who only began competing Level 10 in 2015 but was automatically excellent somehow. (I love seeing the different career trajectories that coalesce in NCAA. When Kyla Ross was winning the junior national championship, Dudschus was trying to step up from Level 5 to Level 6. Now, they’re both simply freshmen in the Pac-12, on equal footing.)

On vault, Dudschus should fit in quite nicely on Cal’s Island of Misfit Vaults with her round-off 1/2 on, front tuck 1/2. She also has a non-horrifyingly-cowboyed double Arabian on floor and a big ol’ Gienger on bars, both of which I would like to see in the lineup at some point. In Dudschus’s case, none of her events really lag behind any of the others; she just has quite pleasant gymnastics across all four.

We’ll get into this more during the team previews, but my overall impression of Cal this year is…don’t even bother having expectations about who will make these lineups because it could be 78 different people. They’ll have the depth. Will they have the stars?

One thought on “2017 Freshman Preview: Cal”

  1. So, based on that Cal ‘gram, I think I’ve found the team to irrationally root for next season: those kids appear to be practicing in a regular ol’ gym, as opposed to the typical corporate executive retreat.

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