It’s an embarrassment of riches this season for Florida, a team that returns all of its final competition routines from the 2017 season and now adds four former elites in its freshman class of six.
|FLORIDA 2018 – Returning Routines|
McMurtry – 9.950
Slocum – 9.945
Boren – 9.925
Baker – 9.898
Hundley – 9.850
Chant – 9.831
Alexander – 9.804
Gowey – 9.800
Cheney – 9.750
McMurtry – 9.930
Hundley – 9.925
Baker – 9.880
Boren – 9.860
Gowey – 9.850
Chant – 9.820
McLaughlin – 9.800
McMurtry – 9.925
Boren – 9.900
Gowey – 9.895
Hundley – 9.880
Baker – 9.855
McLaughlin – 9.845
Cheney – 9.735
Baker – 9.945
Boren – 9.945
Hundley – 9.885
Slocum – 9.870
McMurtry – 9.846
McLaughlin – 9.805
Gowey – 9.700
Chant – 9.338
The Gators should not lack choices, so evaluation of the 14ish potential routines this freshman class brings is less about whether they’re good—they are—and more about whether they’re actually going to make it into an already-established Florida lineup this season (or are worth pushing to make that lineup).
The most famous member of the new class is beam-queen Alyssa Baumann, who made the 2014 world championship team based on her beam prowess, then finished 7th all-around at 2015 and 2016 nationals before having to pull out of the Olympic Trials with an elbow injury. That same injury kept her out of her would-be freshman year at Florida in 2017, with Baumann electing to stay in Texas to rehab her injury before joining Florida this season.
Discussions of Baumann’s contributions must begin with beam, where her grace and flexibility make that event an obvious yes. If anyone should be an NCAA 9.9+ on beam, it’s Baumann. The only real question will be the composition of her routine because she has so many elite-level skills to choose from, but only the most precise of the bunch should be included in NCAA since she needs to be getting 10s.
We won’t see the Arabian in NCAA because there’s literally no point to throwing that kind of risk, but the excellent Onodi has been retained, connecting right into a layout stepout series to show she’s not skimping on the acro series either.
As for the other pieces, Baumann never quite had the difficulty or health to make bars a strength in elite, but she definitely had the line and execution through her toe point and handstands, which should make bars an equal strength to beam for her now that we’re in the land of NCAA composition.
On floor, I’m impressed that Baumann is training a DLO since I had her down as a classic “I get to downgrade my tumbling in NCAA and no one’s going to care because look how pretty my leaps are” nominee. If she can stay healthy doing real tumbling, I’m all for it, though with the depth Florida has, floor and vault are less important events for Baumann. She can get 9.9s on floor, but it’s not as “we’re going to need you to anchor and be the best” as beam will be.
We haven’t seen vaults from Baumann so far in preseason training, and while she had a DTY in elite that was quite nice, she’s not necessarily one I’d pick to retain big vault difficulty in NCAA.
It’s possible that we’ll see a 1.5, in which case she would be a great option for the lineup, but it’s not as necessary to push this event if the 1.5 isn’t coming. Florida has a lot of 10.0 starts and a lot of other fulls. Baumann doesn’t need to be one of those fulls.
Amidst the name-recognition alarms coming from Baumann and Foberg, don’t forget about Skaggs, a four-year elite from 2012 to 2015 who is exactly the type to suddenly be on level footing with her more accomplished peers after dropping down to NCAA difficulty. That’s why I’m talking about her second, so that we don’t forget. NCAA is where Skaggs should shine, even on a deep team like Florida.
My favorite event for Skaggs is beam. There’s kind of a lot of beam in Florida this year, but Skaggs is good enough to break in nonetheless. Note this training video, showing that she has the pretty leaps and crisp legs to be a member of that lineup.
Skaggs is also training a Yurchenko 1.5, which means she’ll get her chances on vault. If the 1.5 is controlled well enough, Skaggs would give Florida a fifth 10.0 start in the vault lineup (sixth if you count Chant). Even if the 1.5 doesn’t happen, Skaggs would be a heavy contender for the 1-2 lineup spots available for Yurchenko 1/1s since the full was typically easy for her.
Florida should have about 8-9 real contenders on bars, and Skaggs is among them. I enjoy the counter-rotation she shows on her Tkatchev to help her connect directly into a Pak, though it’s not the smoothest option Florida has. We’ll also need to see how the dismount looks, which previously has been the NCAA-dreaded double front in elite/L10.
Surprise surprise, floor is another solid-enough event for Skaggs. She hasn’t shown the big E-pass difficulty lately, opening with a 1.5 through to double tuck in L10, but she’s working on adding a front 2/1 right now to fit in. It’s a nice routine but not the biggest of Florida’s options, meaning it could get lost on this team.
Oh, just a junior national champion that I’m talking about third. It has been a while since we’ve seen a full-strength Foberg (the Foberg we saw at the beginning of the 2016 Trials process was definitely not at full strength), but at her normal level, Foberg is an NCAA all-arounder and potential NCAA star.
Most of all, Foberg needs to be a leader on floor. She is a gigantic tumbler and always has been, working at various times a DLO 1/1 and a double double tucked, even as a junior elite.
Planning to start with a DLO in college looks like a smart option as it’s a controllable pass that’s not overburdening difficulty (for her) and doesn’t suffer from the splay-shins that her full-in did in elite. Of the freshmen, Foberg is the one they’ll really count on for a big, late lineup floor routine this season, especially before McMurtry starts going in March/April.
On the other events, the gymnastics is absolutely there. She’ll just have to prove she can beat out some other very accomplished teammates for lineup spots. Beam is a good example of that. You could come up with a Baker, Hundley, Gowey, Boren, McMurtry, Baumann lineup quite easily. Everyone else will have to outshine one of them to get a spot.
I do hope to see Foberg on beam if for no other reason than she will show the others in NCAA what a sheep jump is actually supposed to look like. That switch + sheep jump combination is the highlight of her beam set, which does lose a couple cool points for its fake acro series from someone who is more than capable of doing a real acro series.
(Tangent: There has been some confusion about the “downgrading” of the front aerial + bhs series this season. I’ll get into it in more detail before the season, but basically front aerial + bhs still counts as an acro series this year, you just no longer get 0.1 skill bonus for the front aerial if it’s done in bhs combination. It’s one of those weird compromises that ensures everyone is confused and no one is happy.)
Bars has been a solid event for Foberg (because they were all always solid events for her–that was sort of her deal), and it should be in the running as well. While the Gators have plenty of possible bars routines, they return only a couple “YES ABSOLUTELY THIS 9.9 EVERY WEEK” sets, so Foberg should be contending with the Boren crew for the remaining spots.
Retaining the between-bars Gienger gives her routine a special standout element that not everyone is doing. We’ll see if the handstands get there in the next couple months to make sure this is a 9.850+ set. That’s the one thing that could see her squeezed out of the lineup.
On vault, Foberg had a solid DTY as an elite. So far this preseason, we’re seen only the full, though it’s unclear whether she’s working back up to doing a 1.5 or if this is a Hundley-2017 situation where we keep thinking we’re going to see more difficulty and then we don’t. It’s a solid full, looking very usable, but the lineup isn’t going to be a guarantee for anyone who doesn’t have a 10.0 start.
Bradley was a super-exciting junior elite in 2013, with a big DTY and the world at her doorstep and whatnot. Since then, it has been a litany of knee surgeries, having now torn both her ACLs (latest ACL repair surgery was January 2017) and having competed very, very little in the last four years.
So, we’ll see what we see. With an ACL in gymnastics, typically a loose estimate is being out for a year. We’re coming up on a year now, but we have yet to see Bradley in any of the training footage from Florida. Plus, with such a rich injury history, you wonder how much gymnastics she has left in her. Florida does have the luxury of depth, so getting competition gymnastics out of Bradley in 2018 may just be a bonus. They have the lineups without her.
The power events were typically Bradley’s better scores, showing a super-easy DTY in her elite days.
During a momentary between-ACL return in 2016, Bradley showed a full that was high and comfortable for her to complete because she has more power than that vault requires, just not the knees for more difficulty.
Floor is the other routine we’ve seen relatively recently, in which she showed a double pike (that was her opening pass as a junior elite as well) and quite strong twisting form.
On beam and bars, it has been since 2013 since I’ve seen a routine, so there’s really nothing to go on. But here they are. You can see the makings of a full-package gymnast on beam back in those days, with execution potential in both the acro and dance.
I don’t want to overlook the walk-on Nicole Webb because I really like her beam routine. She has perfectly enjoyable line and would give Florida a real option there if she didn’t have to compete with Rachel Gowey and Kennedy Baker for lineup spots.
Floor is the other event where she’ll be somewhere in the mix, with a not-bad-at-all double pike and very clean rudi that can make a useful backup set.
OK, well first of all, your name is Abigail Hair, so let’s just sit with that for a second.
Hair will work VT, BB, FX but is not expected to challenge for a lineup. She has a full on vault, a layout stepout series and side aerial on beam, and a double pike on floor, so she can provide backup routines there.