Auburn 2017

Kullen Hlawek
  • Weekly BB, FX in 2016
  • Competed UB earlier in career
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.875, BB – 9.820
Kelsey Kopec
  • Competes weekly UB, occasional VT when able
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.830
  • 2016 average VT – 9.794
MJ Rott
  • Essential VT, FX routines all three years
  • Contributed backup UB, BB earlier in career
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.895, VT – 9.870
Lucia Scaglione
  • Made first career lineup in 2016, competing FX in January
  • 2016 average FX: 9.756
Kennedy Finister
  •  Has not competed in first two seasons
Sarah Garcia
  • Backup VT in 2016, joined lineup after Jan 29 injuries
  • 2016 average VT: 9.746
Abby Milliet
  • Top-2 team UB, BB score, added lead-off FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.880, BB – 9.870, FX – 9.840
Cara Stricklin
  •  Has not competed in first two seasons
Telah Black
  •  Did not compete freshman year
Samantha Cerio
  • Weekly UB, BB beginning in February
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.825, BB – 9.795
Emma Engler
  • VT, UB, BB each meet until January 29, knee ligament
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.819, VT – 9.770, BB – 9.510
Taylor Krippner
  • Competed VT, UB, BB every week in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.840, VT – 9.810, BB – 9.750
A’Miracal Phillips
  • VTed until January 29, dislocated foot
  • 2016 avg VT: 9.685, average hit VT: 9.788
Emma Slappey
  •  Missed freshman year with injury
Katie Becker
  • Everest
  • 2016 JO Nationals AA 6th, NC State champion
Gracie Day
  • Aerial
  • 2015 JO Nationals AA 4th, FX champion
  • 2016 Texas & Region 3 UB champion
Kendal Moss
  • Everest
  • 2016 Region 8 4th UB, 5th BB

Recent History
2016 – 11th
2015 – 6th
2014 – 20th
2013 – 13th
2012 – 15th
2011 – 19th
2010 – 19th

Was the phenomenon commonly known as Good Auburn simply a condition of a really impressive batch of gymnasts, or is it going to be an always thing? We don’t know the answer to that yet, but finding a way to return to nationals even after the departure of AA talisman Caitlin Atkinson would be a pretty good argument that it’s an always thing.

Auburn has dropped nine routines from last year’s nationals lineup, though that’s only part of the story because those routines were categorically the team’s best on each event. Because of that, it’s reasonable and sane to expect a drop in Auburn’s results this year from the top-6 team we met much of the last two seasons. It won’t be the same. Yet while reaching nationals in 2017 is not the safe and sure bet it seemed heading into 2016, it’s still a distinct possibility.

Top returners – Rott (9.870)
Returning options – Krippner (9.810), Kopec (9.800), Engler (9.770), Garcia (9.756), Phillips (9.685)

A challenge for Auburn this season will be finding the 9.9s (or at least the 9.875s) on vault to stay competitive in the SEC. This lineup has relied on Atkinson’s 1.5 for a while, and now the void is aggressively apparent.

Rott’s score will be more critical than ever. She could potentially perform a 1.5, but it would be one of those “errr, is this actually worth it?” vaults since her full tends to be clean, long, and stickable for a possible 9.900. Auburn is also planning to add Milliet in the AA this year with a 10.0-start Omelianchik that looks increasingly viable. Gracie Day’s full is typical excellent, and her training this season has featured a based-on-a-true-story 1.5. I imagine those three are the hope for top vaults this season.

Also keep an eye on Emma Slappey, whom we didn’t see last year but who had an occasional 1.5 and good power on a full back in JO days. Kelsey Kopec is solid on vault but competes only sparingly. She’s always used just a couple times toward the end of the season, so it’s not a vault to be relied on to fill out the lineup every week. For that, I expect to see the Becker, Krippner, and Engler squad get in there, along with a couple other 9.7y backups hanging around to provide wiggle room in case people don’t come back from their injuries in a timely fashion.

Auburn recorded some strong scores on vault last season when the stick parade was in town, but too often (especially after the January 29 massacre), early-lineup 9.700-9.725s broke down the team’s scoring potential. If they can elevate the basement toward 9.8, it may help offset the loss of Atkinson. Actually, it won’t. That’s just a score they’ll miss.

Top returners – Milliet (9.880), Kripper (9.840), Kopec (9.830)
Returning options – Cerio (9.825), Engler (9.819)

Auburn is solidly poised with returning routines on bars. Milliet’s set is exceptionally clean and (even though she doesn’t show a big dismount) should continue lead the way with high 9.8s. Kopec has been a constant in that lineup, and Cerio and Engler both have enough quality in the handstand department for us to expect continued improvement in their scores. (Both of those avg/RQSs understate their ability.) Auburn would likely do just fine bringing back all five returning routines.

Although, I’d include Day and Moss as likely new members of the lineup. Day has scored consistently well on bars throughout JO (finishing her JO career on a five-meet UB winning streak), and Moss has a giant Gienger and DLO that will be total judge-nip. That’s a talented-enough seven that it makes me like Auburn’s chances to keep pace with last year’s quality on bars.

Top returners – Milliet (9.870)
Returning options – Hlawek (9.820), Cerio (9.795), Krippner (9.750), Engler (9.510)

Less so on beam. I mean really, how is a team supposed to go on after dropping Megan Walker and Lexus Demers in consecutive seasons? As on bars, Milliet is the class of the roster on beam. Beam was the event that made everyone pay attention to Milliet as an elite, and while she’s had to tone down some of the skills in college and doesn’t show quite the same extension, it’s still a star’s beam routine.

Beyond Milliet, the game is going to be who can hit a routine, and then who can hit it for more than a 9.750. Beam was a mess last postseason—when the scores didn’t start with 8s, they started with 9.7s, which is essentially just as disastrous in a nationals context—so while all of those returning options from 2016 will remain options in 2017, no spot other than Milliet’s is safe. I like Cerio’s potential, and I’d expect all three freshmen to see time in an effort to find a couple more strong routines. Last year, in the good beam meets, the scores went Eh, Eh, Eh, Great, Great, Great. Two of those three greats are gone now, so work has to be done for this lineup not to be revealed as a 9.775 fest.

Top returners – Rott (9.895), Hlawek (9.875), Milliet (9.845)
Returning options – Scaglione (9.756)

Floor would seem the most urgent of Auburn’s projects this season with all three of last year’s best routines (Atkinson, Demers, Kluz) gone now. A real chunk has been taken out of this event. Still, strong scores remain. That’s how excellent Auburn was on floor last season. This season won’t be as excellent, but it can still be solid enough to be competitive and remain at least a top-10 floor rotation. Rott, Hlawek, and Milliet should return to the lineup, and other options do present themselves.

Auburn is known as a team that goes for the E passes, and I see that continuing this season with Rott’s DLO and Hlawek’s double Arabian joined by full-ins from Slappey and Day. Both should display similar scoring potential to the returning gymnasts, giving Auburn a solid core of 9.850+ sets. They’ll need to find another routine (as well as consistency on those big-pass landings, which is something Rott has struggled with), but the foundation for a 49.3 exists.

If Auburn can actually get enough of these middle-classmen healthy and competing, this team remains a solid threat for high 196s and SEC upsets. (Does it count as an upset anymore? If Auburn beats Georgia, what do we consider that now? I’M SO CONFUSED.) We’ll need to see what the state of the beam lineup and the 10.0 vaults are to have any more expectations than that or feel any kind of certain about Auburn retaining a top-4 SEC spot over Georgia, but at this point continuing to make nationals seems a realistic aim.