Arkansas 2017

Let the preseason dossiers begin! Here, I’ll be providing a rundown of the major teams and their 2017 rosters, key gymnasts, event-by-event scoring prospects, lineup conundrums, and overall season outlook. It’ll be fun. If that’s the kind of thing you find fun. It probably shouldn’t be.

  • Missed 2016 with injury; summer wrist surgery.
  • Staple of VT and FX lineups through her first three years.
  • Can fill in on UB when necessary. (It may be necessary.)
  • 2015 RQS – FX: 9.885, VT: 9.875, UB: 9.685.
  • Provides critical late-lineup routines on BB and FX.
  • Frequently called upon to VT for a 9.7.
  • 2016 RQS – FX: 9.890, BB: 9.855, VT: 9.775.
Amanda Wellick
  • Literally everything.
  • Essential, team-best routines on all four pieces.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.900, FX: 9.880, BB: 9.875, UB: 9.840.
  • Competed BB once in 2016 for 9.800.
  • Weekly VT and frequent FX contributor in 2016 until mid-season injury.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.785.
  • 2016 AVG hit – FX: 9.781.
Braie Speed
  • Top returning UB routine and weekly VTer in 2016.
  • Missed 2015 with torn ACL.
  • 2016 RQS – UB: 9.845, VT: 9.805.
  • Originally VT and FX backup in 2016, replaced MacMoyle in lineups post-injury.
  • 2016 RQS – FX: 9.770
  • Weekly top-3 team score on VT and FX as freshman in 2016.
  • Often survived BB.
  • 2016 RQS – VT: 9.850, FX: 9.830, BB: 9.775
  • Legacy Elite
  • 4th place on BB at 2016 JO Nationals
  • Gymstars TN
  • 2015 JO National Champion on UB and BB
  • Stars Houston
  • 8th place on BB, 12th AA at 2015 JO Nationals
Sarah Shaffer
  • Texas East
  • 2016 Region 3 AA, FX champion.
  • Gymcats
  • 7th AA, UB at 2016 JO Nationals, 2nd UB in 2015.

Recent History
2016 – 20th
2015 – 14th
2014 – 15th
2013 – 10th
2012 – 6th
2011 – 10th
2010 – 11th

The last few years have not been kind to Arkansas, as major stars have up and graduated without being replaced by equivalent stars. Last year’s disappointing 20th-place—the Razorbacks’ worst finish since 2005, their third season in existence—undersells the quality of a team that entered regionals a more respectable 13th but suffered the Epic Vault Catastrophe of ’16 and came nowhere close to advancing.

The goal for 2017 will be to return to nationals for the first time since 2013 (how has it been four years?) though the depletion of the roster and the onus placed on the freshmen to contribute significant 9.875s on several events will make Arkansas an underdog to do so. Still, it’s not out of the question.

Top returners
Wellick (9.900), Elswick (9.875), McGlone (9.850), Speed (9.805)
Returning options
MacMoyle (9.785), Nelson (9.775), Anderson (9.617)

With no vaults more difficult than a Yurchenko full, Arkansas was among the victims of the vault downgrade in 2016, the team keeping itself warm only in the knowledge that Wellick’s exceptional stickitude renders her full more valuable than most 1.5s out there. The parade of 9.950 SVs will continue in 2017.

Still, of the four events, vault is the best-stocked with returning options, and Arkansas could put together a viable lineup using solely returning Yurchenko fulls. Nelson, MacMoyle, Speed, McGlone, Elswick, Wellick would be able to break 49 weekly as long as Elswick and MacMoyle are able to get back to full strength during the season. Pre-injury, Elswick was Wellick’s second-in-command at Sticking A Full Incorporated.

The freshman class will provide several believable early-lineup options—Shaffer in particular has scored well for her Y1/2—that will take some of the pressure off Elswick and MacMoyle, or off Nelson to compete her not-as-much event.

The catastrophe at regionals notwithstanding, vault was pretty much a 49.1 festival for Arkansas in 2016, and I would expect more of the same this year.

Top returners
Speed (9.845), Wellick (9.840)
Returning options
Elswick (9.685)

So you see the problem. Bars is a depleted wasteland, and an event that was usually good for six 9.8+ scores in 2016 will need some serious revitalizing to hope to get back to that level in 2017.

Speed and Wellick will be back with critical scores even though it’s Wellick’s weaker event, but that still leaves four empty spots to be filled by the five freshmen, and/or Elswick, and/or a dormant upperclassman miracle. Those spots can be filled; the worry is that they’ll be filled by 9.7s, which would put a major dent in Arkansas’s competitiveness.

I’m looking to Hailey Garner to become a bars star. There are no 9.9s in this lineup right now (Speed and Wellick got one each last season, both at the same cray-cray home meet), but Garner shows the most anchor-star potential on the whole roster. Yamzon’s DLO 1/1 has also been a feature of preseason training videos, so count on seeing that routine. Note that I haven’t yet named six people. This is the issue. Preseason videos have featured one or two Unidentified Blonde Jaegers, so UBJ to the rescue?

Top returners
Wellick (9.875), Nelson (9.855)
Returning options
McGlone (9.775), Bargiacchi (9.800), Anderson (9.200)

As on bars, graduations have rendered the beam lineup a semi-wasteland, but I’m not sounding the depth-siren here quite yet. Wellick and Nelson are constant 9.8s who will (metaphorically at least) anchor the team with reliable weekly hits, and even though McGlone looked 75% pee-pants most of the time last year, she still got 9.7s and will likely return. So we’re halfway there!

I’m going to need Garner and Burton to make this lineup. Both scored very well on beam in JO and appear best poised to keep this event in the competitive zone, though a number of the freshman have shown “we can work with this”-level routines in the past as well. I can come up with more names on beam than on bars. It will probably be terrifying, but it was terrifying last year, and every year before that, so whatever.

Top returners
Nelson (9.890), Wellick (9.880), McGlone (9.830)
Returning options
MacMoyle (9.781), Anderson (9.770)

As on vault, the returning options on floor are a little heartier and closer to the 9.9 range than on bars and beam. Floor has been Arkansas’s highest-scoring event for a while now, and I don’t expect that to change. Also not changing will be the D passes. The Razorbacks are not a team of big tumbling, usually causing a right twitter-sternation parade when they get 49.450 for a lineup of double pikes, and 2017 will be more of the same. (Sydney McGlone does have a DLO in her back pocket, but…?)

Wellick, Nelson, and McGlone should be able to keep the lineup above 49 by scoring consistently in the 9.850+ range, and the other returning options in MacMoyle and Anderson are realistic choices, not last resorts. Among the freshmen, I like the amplitude I’ve seen from Burton and Shaffer and would pick them to fill out the lineup, meaning they’ll both immediately fall into a black hole and be missing for all eternity.

The issue I see when putting together lineups for Arkansas, typical of a team that has lost 10 of 24 postseason routines from last year, is that I’m trying to find ways to keep pace with last year’s level, not improve upon it. Theoretically, the freshmen will provide better depth on vault and floor so that if an injury does occur, no one has to force Makenzie Anderson to vault at regionals again. The team should have enough 9.8s on both pieces to avoid counting any 9.7s, which will allow them to continue throwing in the odd 196.7 and fulfilling the prophesied annual in-conference upset.

Much more than “providing depth,” however, will be expected of the freshmen in those depleted bars and beam lineups. Their ability to contribute new 9.8+ scores will be the test of whether Arkansas is more like 13th or more like 20th this year.


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