Arizona 2017

Selynna Felix-Terrazas
  • Consistently among the team’s better UB scores
  • Also provides FX and a backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.825, FX – 9.815, VT – 9.725
Krysten Howard
  • Staple of UB lineup throughout career
  • Contributed top-3 FX score and weekly BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.820, UB – 9.810, FX – 9.790
Gabby Laub
  • Team’s top UB score in 2016
  • Can also provide early lineup/backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.840, VT – 9.760
Maddy Cindric
  • Top returning BB routine
  • Contributes weekly VT and FX, scored 9.775 on UB at regionals
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.855, VT – 9.805, FX – 9.770
Victoria Ortiz
  • Weekly UB in 2015, occasional UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.750
Kennady Schneider
  • Top-3 FX routine in 2016
  • Can be used on UB
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.860, UB – 9.780
Haylie Hendrickson
  • Did not compete freshman year
Lauryn Mattson
  • Contributed weekly VT, and FX as needed
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.810, FX – 9.750
Skyler Sheppard
  • Frequent BB contributor in 2016
  • Provides backup VT and FX
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.800
Danielle Spencer
  •  Competed UB in every meet in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.805
Christina Berg
  • Legacy Elite
  • 2016 JO Nationals 4th AA, 5th UB
Courtney Cowles
  • Brandy Johnson’s
  • 2015 Florida BB and FX champion
Shannon Farrell
  • Rebound NJ
  • Walk-on
Jenny Leung
  • Stars Houston
  • 2016 Region 3 VT 2nd; 2015 JO Nationals VT 4th
Maddi Leydin
  • Australia
  • 2013 AUS champion, 2015 worlds team
Heather Swanson
  • American Twisters
  • 2016 JO Nationals 5th VT, 7th AA; 2016 Florida state champion

Recent History
2016 – 21st
2015 – 17th
2014 – 24th
2013 – 17th
2012 – 22nd
2011 – 21st
2010 – 20th

The identity of the Arizona program is one of solid team gymnastics but an overall stagnation in results, as illustrated by the bunched-up slate of recent finishes, always fine never great. Going into just her second year, Tabitha Yim will be given time to emerge from the land of regionals also-ran, and while her first year didn’t feature any brand new, suddenly sun-drenched pastures of massive scores, she did oversee a large jump in attendance to an average of 2619 (high of 3707), up from 1554 the previous year.

Based on the roster, I don’t expect too massive a change in Arizona’s lot this season (somewhere in that same old 17-22 range again is the safest bet), but I’ll be keeping an eye on this large-ish freshman class. If they’re able to come through with multiple competitive vault and floor routines, it could turn Arizona into a more legitimate upset threat.

Returning options – Mattson (9.810), Cindric (9.805), Laub (9.760), Felix-Terrazas (9.725), Sheppard (9.663)

Well, ma’am, there’s your problem right there. Arizona ranked 29th on vault last season with an RQS under 49, which basically eliminates a team from realistic nationals contention. No one in last year’s lineup should have an assured spot because everyone was way too 9.7, so there will be an opportunity for many (if not most) of the freshmen to change the team’s trajectory on vault.

Which they can. Swanson and Leydin may provide 10.0 starts (or at least comfortable fulls), and Leung, Berg, and Cowles all have realistic vaults that I can see faring better than a number of the returning 9.725ish options. Throw in some of the more feasible 9.8s from Cindric and Mattson, and you have a squad of routines certainly capable of more 49s than last season. The sign of Arizona’s viability on vault in 2017 will be how many freshmen make the lineup. The more the better.

Top returners
– Laub (9.840), Felix-Terrazas (9.825)
Returning options – Howard (9.810), Spencer (9.805), Schneider (9.805), Cindric (9.775), Ortiz (9.750)

Arizona returns a much more comfortable array of routines on bars than on vault. Gabby Laub of the DLO 1/1 is the strongest and most reliable returning score, and that senior trio of Laub, Felix-Terrazas, and Howard have kept this lineup going with weekly 9.8s for their entire careers. They’ll maintain that for a curtain call in 2017, and while the lineup has its pick of returning 9.775-9.800s to fill out the six and be fine (probably 49.1-style fine), I do expect a few of the freshmen to make their way in. Though bars was OK for Arizona last year, it still ranked 22nd, which isn’t enough for a true contender.

Of the freshmen, Berg is quite powerful on bars and Leydin has the tools to become a tremendous NCAA score, but I’m also interested in what’s happening with returners Cindric and Ortiz, who have the lowest of the 2016 scores but quite high career bests. Cindric only ever competes bars at the very end of the season but has scored a 9.9 before…in her four total routines in two years. When Ortiz arrived, she was supposed to be that big new bars score because of HUGE TKATCHEV. Aside from a couple good routines in February of her freshman year, however, that has not materialized.

Top returners – Cindric (9.855), Howard (9.820)
Returning options – Sheppard (9.800)

Beam was Arizona’s best event last season (by only a hundred million miles) because we would expect nothing else from a Tabitha Yim team, but it’s also taking the biggest hit this year with the departure of the glory of Mills, Edwards, and Sisler. All three were stylish joys. While there’s reason to expect the power events to improve in 2017, beam must remain a legitimate 49.2-49.3 option this season for Arizona to get the scores it needs.

Cindric, Howard, and Sheppard all recorded useful scores the majority of the time last season, but not the entire time. Because the lineup will rely on them more this season, they’ll need to work to minimize those random 9.625s to keep up last year’s pace. If they do, Arizona will have a solid base since all three are capable of fairly non-fictional 9.850s. The freshmen should fill out the lineup, ideally with Leydin and Cowles because I enjoy their style, but useful AAers Berg and Swanson may be in the mix.

Top returners – Schneider (9.860), Howard (9.790)
Returning options – Felix-Terrazas (9.815), Cindric (9.770), Mattson (9.750), Sheppard (9.588)

Arizona’s floor rotation also ranked quite poorly last season, though it showed more potential than vault did. Floor was occasionally a 49.3 event, just not nearly consistently enough. In spite of Howard’s 9.790 RQS, she and Schneider share the best scoring potential of the returning gymnasts. Schneider is often good for 9.875-9.900, even if the only thing we think about is that meet where she got an overtime penalty. Their routines ensure that the floor lineup is not a tear-down, just a remodel.

Though similarly to vault, it will be down to three or four of the freshmen to get into this lineup with competitive-enough scores to make sure those sub-49 days don’t happen anymore. Three or four postseason routines is a lot to expect but is a necessity if Arizona is to break past 17th.

Arizona has the routines to get by. I look at these lineups and I see enough 9.750s for totals like 195.700-195.800 to be fairly comfortable, which will at least keep the team exactly where it has been. Certainly, Arizona could use some new star-power routines (three scores over 9.850 at regionals last year, all of which have graduated), but more important—and realistic—for Arizona this season is making that leap to more consistent 196s not by adding sudden 9.9s in anchor positions but by getting rid of those 9.700 and 9.725 scores to open lineups.

That’s actually doable, hence my focus on the AAers in this freshman class. If the new gymnasts can provide three 9.800-9.825s on events, that may not make the radar and isn’t going to threaten the top teams, but it would go a huge way to creating a sturdier scoring floor and developing Arizona as a stealthy upset team.