Kentucky 2017

Katie Carlisle
  • Competed UB three times in 2016 following preseason injury
  • Competed UB, BB, FX in freshman season
  • 2015 RQS: UB – 9.780, FX – 9.770, BB – 9.760
Cori Rechenmacher
  • Competed regular UB, BB in 2016 until March fall
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.835, UB – 9.790
Sydney Waltz
  • Returned from injury at end of 2016 season
  • AA in 2015 with team-best VT and FX
  • 2015 RQS: VT – 9.865, BB – 9.815, UB – 9.795, FX avg – 9.858
Katrina Coca
  • Weekly UB, occasional VT as needed in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.785, VT – 9.730
Danaea Davis
  • Competed VT six times in 2016 for 9.600 average
Sidney Dukes
  • Team-best AA performances in 2016, competed all four events weekly
  • Generally the star
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.880, FX – 9.850, VT – 9.840, UB – 9.825
Alex Hyland
  • Competed 3-4 events each week in 2016
  • Critical component of BB, FX, UB. VT as needed.
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.880, FX – 9.825, UB – 9.770, VT – 9.765
Aubree Rosa
  • Contributed weekly VT in 2016, backup on BB, FX
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.815
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.515, FX – 9.479
Katie Stuart
  • Regular AA performances in second half of 2016
  • Team-best VT
  • 2016 RQSL VT – 9.850, FX – 9.820, UB – 9.795, BB – 9.775
Erynne Allen
  • Paulding GA
  • 2015 Georgia state VT champion
Tatiana Bunch
  • Kids are Tops (……)
  • Started L10 in 2016 because of VT
Alaina Kwan
  • All-Olympia
  • 2015 World Championships for BLR
  • 2015 Classic, 9th AA
Hailey Poland
  • Treviño’s TX
  • 2016 JO Nationals BB 8th
Bailey Stehler
  • Rochester
  • No competitions since 2014
Marisa Varrone
  • Tataru’s TN
  • 2016 TN state AA 2nd

*This weird thing happened where there are no seniors on Kentucky’s roster this year. So yeah, “we have a young team this year” is right.

Recent History
2016 – 22nd
2015 – 24th
2014 – 21st
2013 – 21st
2012 – 25th
2011 – 25th
2010 – 21st

The emergence of last season’s A STAR IS BORN freshman class, along with the pain of coming one hit vault (vault) away from advancing to nationals has cultivated a sense of optimism for 2017 among Kentucky fans. And by Kentucky fans, I mean Ryan.

And why not? With the heavy majority of essential routines coming from underclassmen, the future looks bright, especially if that cool thing happens where they’re not all injured at the same time. We can dream? While this year’s team would still need 2016-style help at regionals to challenge for a spot at nationals, this group is also Kentucky’s best chance to break out of that old 21-25 range and start bridging the gap between itself and the good SEC sides by reeling in a school like Arkansas.

Top returners – Stuart (9.850), Dukes (9.840), Waltz (9.775)
Returning options – Rosa (9.815), Hyland (9.765), Coca (9.730), Davis (9.600)

Kentucky’s relative dearth of 10.0 starts last year was an anvil in terms of aiming for those 196s and truly challenging the top 15. So this season, it appears that the team’s top vaulters, Stuart and Waltz, are both aiming to perform the 1.5. We’ll see how that actually plays out during competition on real landing surfaces, but those upgrades could provide the kind of one-tenth boost per event that Kentucky needs in order to start challenging more consistently.

Beyond those two, Kentucky should have a solid-enough collection of 9.950-starts from which to choose to help avoid some of the “oops, we have to put up a 9.650” problems that cropped up too often last season. They’re still looking at a couple 9.7s, but with the Y1/2 from Dukes, fulls from Kwan and Rosa, and then a vault or two from the Hyland, Coca, Allen, Bunch crew, they can make a lineup of six without scraping the bottom of the barrel. Bunch is an interesting case: a Level 9 as recently as a year ago, she stepped up to L10 solely because she has a strong Yurchenko full, even though her routines on the other events are L9.

Also keep Danaea Davis in mind. She performed a fhs on, handspring front pike last year (10.0 start), though didn’t have the necessary consistency with it to stay in the lineup.

Top returners – Dukes (9.825)
Returning options – Stuart (9.795), Rechenmacher (9.790), Coca (9.785), Hyland (9.770), Carlisle (9.708), Waltz (9.685)

Bars has been a stumbling block for Kentucky of late (ranked 28th in 2016) with the routines displaying the necessary difficulty—or even more than the necessary difficulty like Stuart’s DLO 1/1—but lacking the accuracy of cast handstands and the release amplitude to get competitive scores. In that regard, Alaina Kwan will be a critical addition, showing the characteristic AOGC toe point and rhythm, exacted on her over years of training. Rechenmacher at full strength would also be a toe-pointed-Jaeger asset that Kentucky did not have access to during the 48.7-48.9 affairs at the end of last season.

The freshman class (other than Kwan) is not much of a bars group, so we’re probably looking at Waltz, Dukes, Stuart, Hyland to round out the lineup once again (plus Coca/Carlisle), all of whom are capable of 9.800 when sticking but may drift into the 9.7s a little too often.

Top returners – Dukes (9.880), Hyland (9.880), Waltz (9.813)
Returning options – Rechenmacher (9.835), Stuart (9.775), Rosa (9.515)

Beam is Kentucky’s secret weapon. This team can be seriously good at beam and, if you recall, won beam at regionals last year over Alabama. This is Kentucky’s most likely event to record 9.9s—with Hyland, Dukes, and Waltz all in the running for it—because on beam, they don’t have to give away the bits and pieces that they tend to on bars. Dukes in particular can hit a split element without hoping the judges decide to go momentarily blind right then. She’s totally fine with it if we all see her dance elements, which is a big deal.

I’d probably take Stuart, Rechenmacher, and Kwan as the other three, but also keep Hailey Poland in mind, one who scored very well on beam in JO. Of course, it’s beam, and it will still be beam, but this year’s squad appears to have the chops to keep built-in deductions to a minimum and score quite competitively on a wobble-free day.

Top returners – Dukes (9.850), Hyland (9.825), Stuart (9.820)
Returning options – Rosa (9.425)

On floor, Kentucky is the least set with returning options from last season, having spent much of the year relying on routines they no longer have from Puryear and Phipps at the back of the lineup. So let’s talk about Waltz because pre-injury, she had the team’s top floor. Floor is the one event she did not return on in 2016, but they’re probably going to need to get her routine back this year to have any hope of keeping pace in the SEC. The SEC is the conference of 49.4s on floor, and you’re never going to bridge a quality gap with 49.0s.

The sophomore trio of Dukes, Hyland, and Stuart were all useful for 9.800-9.850 last year and will return. Also keep an eye on Erynne Allen, who opened her floor routine with a real-life, chest-up DLO in JO. Kwan’s most important contribution to the team won’t be power, but she elected to go to a school that will want to use her in the AA, so she should see time, as may Rosa and Poland. I like Kentucky’s chances to put out a full floor lineup of 9.8s. The question is whether they have any end-of-lineup 9.900s banging around to take the next leap.

Kentucky is a good team that’s getting better. Better to the point that we can have an expectation or two now. Finishing last in the SEC this year would not be an acceptable result given the ability on the roster and the fledgling roots of success planted last season. The next step for Kentucky will be developing the 9.9s it takes to truly scare top-10 teams, but for this year, Kentucky should have enough 9.850s for a realistic goal to be ending as a #3 seed at a regional that’s poised to take advantage of a meltdown meet from a big name.

2 thoughts on “Kentucky 2017”

  1. Attended Kentucky’s preview meet on Saturday. Stuart did her 1.5 and it looked great. Dukes sticking with the Y 1/2. Everyone else did Y fulls (including Waltz and Davis). Excited to see what they can do when the season starts and they have another month of training under their belts.

    Looks like the floor returners are all using their 2016 music though. Would have been nice to see some new routines there.

    Thanks for the shout out Spencer! I really am optimistic about 2017 for the Cats!

  2. I little insight on the “Kids are Tops” gym name – when I went there as a kid, it was just called Tops, supposedly after the owner. Around 2005, they built a brand new gym. As an attempt to keep the two separate but still related to each other, they changed it to “kids are the tops”. And then the “the” mysteriously vanished. It’s still colloquially know as Tops, because everyone recognizes that the new name is silly.

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