Denver 2017

Rachel Fielitz
  • Injured after first meet in 2016
  • Top VT, weekly BB, FX in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: VT 9.905, FX – 9.840, BB – 9.790
Leah Lomonte
  • Did not compete in 2016 because of injury
  • Weekly BB, backup UB in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: BB – 9.820
  • 2015 average: UB – 9.663
Julia Ross
  • Top UB, weekly VT, BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.880, BB – 9.860, VT – 9.820
Nikole Addison
  • #2 team FX routine in 2016
  • Weekly UB and occasional VT
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.870, UB – 9.800, VT – 9.785
Claire Hammen
  • Staple of BB and FX lineups in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.855, BB – 9.835
Grace Broadhurst
  • Did not compete in freshman year
Diana Chesnok
  • Weekly VT, UB, backup BB in 2016
  • Preseason ankle injury
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.860, VT – 9.830
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.556
Claire Kern
  • Competed leadoff UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.830
Kaitlyn Schou
  • Regular early-lineup on VT, BB, FX in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.840, BB – 9.815, VT – 9.755
Maddie Karr
  • Twin City
  • 2016 JO National AA, VT, UB, BB champion
Courtney Loper
  • Chow’s
  • 2015 JO Nationals AA 14th, FX 8th
Sam Ogden
  • WOGA
  • 2014 Classic, 9th AA

Recent History
2016 – 15th
2015 – 15th
2014 – 18th
2013 – 20th
2012 – 23rd
2011 – 17th
2010 – 15th

It’s difficult to escape the feeling that 2016 was the year for Denver: entering regionals ranked an unexpected 11th, facing a kind draw, and ultimately needing just a 49.0 on beam to get to nationals. Those opportunities don’t come around constantly, and it’s a shame that Denver’s final 15th place finish is just sort of normal for them and doesn’t reflect the accomplishments of the season.

Denver lost 11 routines from last year’s regionals slate, including best-on-each-piece sets from Nina McGee, which is tragic. Although, there’s still reason to be optimistic that Denver can replace the majority of these routines and return to a similar level, floating in and out of the better half of the teens. Top JO recruit Maddie Karr, former elite Sam Ogden, and the return of some previously injured seniors should combine to provide enough routines to fill the gaps on the majority of events.

Top returners – Fielitz (9.850), Chesnok (9.830), Ross (9.820)
Returning options – Addison (9.785), Schou (9.755)

Getting Rachel Fielitz and her 2015 team-best full back into the lineup this year would be a boon to Denver, though the worry will still be that the team is all a little Yurchenko full and all a little 9.8, keeping the vault scores down in the 49.1s. The antidote to this will be Maddie Karr, whose Y1.5 is huge, extended, and well-drilled. (This isn’t some “maybe she could do a 1.5?” upgrade; this is her vault.) It’s just one routine, but it’s a critical piece if Denver is going to be more than a 49.1 on vault.

A number of other options exist to fill out the lineup with fulls. In addition to those returning vaults from Ross, Chesnok, and Addison, Denver is trying to get a couple more gymnasts to add vault this season like the Claires, Hammen and Kern, with Hammen’s vault looking pretty lineup so far. The goal will be a 9.9 from Karr and then enough 9.825-9.850 fulls from the rest of the gang to go regularly into a more competitive 49.2 zone.

Top returners – Ross (9.880), Chesnok (9.860), Kern (9.830)
Returning options – Addison (9.800)

Bars is typically a strong event for this Denver roster (regionals notwithstanding), though they did compete just six bars workers all last season which doesn’t exactly provide a great sense of how the depth looks in case something should happen. Who else can even…go?

The good news is that both Karr and Ogden look like significant contributors. I’m expecting Karr in particular (because every event) to join Ross at the back of that lineup with the most likely 9.850+ scores. If all of the returners and Karr and Ogden are able to go, that should make for a competitive six with an opportunity to keep pace with or improve a bit on last year’s totals. A returned Lomonte would also provide a little more security in terms of having enough routines.

Top returners – Ross (9.860), Hammen (9.835)
Returning options – Schou (9.815). Fielitz (9.725), Chesnok (9.556)

Beam was clearly the weak event for Denver last year, with even the top-scoring gymnasts looking pretty terrifying and the rotation score too often hanging around 48.9 even for a hit lineup. The 48.525 at regionals (achieved without an actual fall) is what knocked Denver out of nationals contention. If Denver is to actually make nationals this time around, the beam lineup will need a bit of a redo.

The opportunity for a redo is there. In addition to Karr and Ogden, who seem likely to contribute, Loper has tremendous potential on beam, and I’ve love to see her. Fielitz also contributed beam before her injury, and if most of that group of four can snuggle in with the cream of the returning routines like Ross and Hammen, we could see a beam lineup that’s the necessary level of reinvigorated and less “who’s going to get…not a 9.7?” (Note: Leah Lomonte was a staple of the beam lineup pre-injury and had the team’s best RQS in 2015, but she’s listed as only a UB specialist on the roster now.)

Top returners – Addison (9.870), Hammen (9.855), Schou (9.840)

It’s not going to be the same. Nina McGee turned what was a good floor lineup into a nationally competitive lineup that outscored Florida by nearly two tenths at regionals last year, and hers is not a routine that’s easily replaced even by very good floor workers. The fact that Denver returns only three gymnasts who competed floor all last year also means that it’s reasonable to expect some return to earth.

Maddie Karr will do her best to avoid that and bring the power back. I expect her to score quite well and be a constant toward the end of the lineup. They’ll also hope to get Fielitz back, add Loper who does have a front double full, and then maybe conjure up some gymnasts who haven’t done a ton of floor in the past. (Ross used to compete floor and has exhibitioned somewhat recently.) We’re still more likely to see 9.8s on floor than some of the other events because it’s floor, but it may be tougher to find a full slate of best-case-scenario options here.

So, yeah, the theme is Maddie Karr. She is perhaps the most JO-accomplished freshman in the country this year, and Denver’s success will foremost depend upon her ability to be the new Nina McGee and slide into those positions on every event and mimic the same scores. So no pressure. That’s super easy.

If it happens, Denver can maintain last year’s results on the majority of events (with the likelihood of losing a little on floor but gaining a little on beam to balance it out) and remain at least in the conversation for a spot at nationals, but if it doesn’t happen, this season looks more like a traditional Denver 15th-16th, than a brand-new Denver 11th.