“But when are you going to do William & Mary?!?!?!” asked no one.
Still, freshmen exist at other schools, and they may or may not be worth taking a look at—based on their gymnastics or the fact that I actually recognize their names (!)—as we head into the season. I’ll wrap up the freshman rundowns with this so that we can move on to full team expectations, preseason rankings, and lineup/scoring previews post-Thanksgiving. It’s getting real now.
Southern Utah – Autumn Jorgensen and Madison McBride
SUU’s freshman class is a national record 868 people big, and the team you always forget is good has added a sack of new routines that should continue the process of breaking down that top-20 barricade. Also, they’re pretty much all from the same gym. Does Southern Utah’s recruiting process just consist of heading to All-American with a net? Got em! Done!
I believe Jorgensen was supposed to be a 2018er, but she popped up early and just happens to be a JO champion on beam.
Madison McBride, meanwhile, is a JO champion on bars.
McBride (and her sister Megan) will also bring usable vaults, with Madison having trained the 1.5. This is a real class of ninja Level 10s.
Maryland – Kirsten Peterman
Peterman stands as one of the top Canadian elites (she finished 7th AA at Olympic Trials behind just Copiak and the Olympic team) and is a solid get for a Maryland team that recently saw every single person transfer and returns just a handful of crumbs on vault and floor. With that elite skill set, expect Peterman to be called upon to do a million all-arounds.
Maryland will also have Alecia Farina. This is how you Yurchenko full.
Ohio State – Olivia Aepli
Things have grown so dire for OSU that they’re getting old graduates to come back and compete again…oh, this is her sister. Back when Ohio State did well, Victoria Aepli competed bars and occasionally beam and floor as needed. Sister Olivia finished 7th AA at JO Nationals this year and seems of a similar mold. There are pieces to work with. Here’s her 6th-place bars routine.
Michigan State – Gabriella Douglas
“Did you mean Gabrielle Douglas?” No. The Canadian whose name ended up being very ill-timed goes by Ella, which is a solid call. Aside from being the one who isn’t actually Gabby Douglas, Ella Douglas did gain gymternet attention for a while several years back for being a spinderella daredevil on beam before it was cool.
NC State – Alexis Beucler
The Cincinnati refugee with the unfortunate nickname isn’t the same gymnast who competed junior elite with Priessman and Hundley these days, but she retains enough high-level beam and floor to make herself a standout, featuring that same piked full-in opening floor pass.
William & Mary – Evan Pakshong
None of us spend enough time remembering that William & Mary is a team, but Evan Pakshong has the skills to be a beam star and post nationally competitive scores.
Bowling Green – Jovannah East
This 1.5. The end.
Bowling Green will also have Randi Morris this year, a Texas Dreamer who should give them multiple events and has ridic distance on her own Yurchenko full. BGSU’s trip to regionals last year shouldn’t be treated as a one-off thing.
For New Hampshire, Riley Freehling finished 10th AA at JO Nationals and most notably looks like she’ll continue the New Hampshire beam parade. Now if only UNH had the other events down……
Rutgers is bringing in some attention-grabbing skills this year, with Chloe DeVries boasting a DLO on floor and Polina Poliakova, a British-Russian with a round-off layout stepout beam mount (calm down).
Utah State’s Elle Golison has a DLO that’s for real.
Like…where did you come from? She also has a very useful 10.0 start Kasamatsu.
Kent State’s Jade Brown is a JO floor champion.
Just edging out Illinois State’s Gabrielle Cooke.
We won’t see a lot of these gymnasts because they don’t compete in high-profile meets, but I’ll be watching to see how they fare since the potential for serious scores absolutely exists. And if you’re looking for some fantasy gym diamonds in the rough…