Much of the focus for Michigan in 2018 will be on how the team manages to replace the seven critical routines lost from Artz and Chiarelli in order to maintain the same level from last season, at the least.
That will be as much a task for the returning gymnasts—some of whom were injured in 2017 or not competing as many events as they may in future—as it will be for the freshmen. Don’t expect all seven new lineup routines to come from freshmen, but Michigan does bring in a class of three newbies: Syd Townsend, Lauren Farley, and Sam Javanbakht.
McLean – 9.915
Karas – 9.895
Zaziski – 9.845
Shchennikova – 9.758
Osman – 9.745
Funk – 9.744
Zaziski – 9.915
Brown – 9.870
Shchennikova – 9.850
Karas – 9.845
Funk – 9.815
Marinez – 9.770
Osman – 9.725
McLean – 9.275
Marinez – 9.875
Karas – 9.865
Zaziski – 9.860
Funk – 9.835
Brown – 9.825
McLean – 9.910
Karas – 9.890
Funk – 9.835
Marinez – 9.835
Osman – 9.695
Zaziski – 9.282
Most importantly, the Sydney Townsend from Southern Utah graduated after last season, so we don’t have to deal with multiple Sydney Townsends in the same season. Phew. It wasn’t going to go well. (There will be an Ashley Smith situation this season, but cross that bridge when it comes.)
Townsend is a fairly mysterious character because she hasn’t been spotted in the wild since Gymnix 2016, but you may recall her from Canada’s 2015 worlds team. She made that team primarily to be a third vaulter in the team final after Black and Rogers, and we can look to vault as her most significant contribution on her new squad as well.
That Y1.5 is quite straight throughout the flight phase and well executed overall, so if she has been able to retain that vault in the two intervening years, it will have a key place in Michigan’s lineup.
We could also see some action from Townsend on beam and floor. She threw in a floor routine in qualification at those same worlds, showing a double Arabian but struggling with her landings, and goes after the acro on beam with a two-foot layout in her elite set. I can definitely see beam for her, but it may be an area of less need for Michigan this season (it’s easy to make a perfectly good lineup of six just from the returners if you add in Shchennikova). In the search for two new big floor routines, Townsend having a double Arabian is a potential check in her column. At least worth keeping an eye on.
We have barely seen anything from Townsend on bars as a senior elite, so that may not be as much an area of focus, but here‘s a PT routine from 2016 to check out. It starts out nicely enough. You can see the pieces if someone wants to put them together. As a junior elite, she had a full in dismount, but that was years ago.
WOGA’s Lauren Farley finished an impressive 2nd on beam at JO Nationals this year, but like Townsend, her potential for a 10.0 start on vault makes that a significant event to watch.
Farley has competed an Omelianchik for the last two years in JO. It’s not the biggest Omelianchik you’ll see, with some feet and some looseness in the knees at the end, but she has also shown quite a proficiency with sticking in the instances I’ve seen. That, coupled with the higher start value, should move her ahead of the collection of 9.7ish fulls that will be contending to get into Michigan’s lineup. With only three definite returning lineup routines, Michigan has a need on vault, and the freshmen can step into those positions.
We should also see some work from Farley on bars and beam. Michigan has been showing off her two layout stepout series on beam, and that level of strength and security in a series can make a person a lineup contender. For both Farley and Townsend, however, I will want to see where we are with the leaps once we get a glimpse at full routines.
On bars, Farley shows an efficient little routine. I appreciate that solidly straight shape on the bail as I watch more and more freshman routines with leg breaks on bails that apparently aren’t even a deduction anymore based on some of these scores (nope, save it for the season…). The double front dismount may be a little iffy, but she definitely has a case to make for a spot on bars.
Javanbakht rounds out the class, a L10 at Capital since 2015. I don’t expect to see lineup routines from Javanbakht at least initially, but we’ll hear about how she’s helping the team’s depth on beam and floor, where she can provide backup options.
She got a career-high beam score at 2016 JO nationals for this set because of those acro landings
and can provide a double pike routine on floor.