2018 Outlook – Michigan Wolverines

 

MICHIGAN ROSTER 2018
Seniors
Brianna Brown
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Returned from injury at the end of the 2017 season to compete 4 times on UB for 9.875 average.
  • Healthy, will also be expected to contribute BB, likely FX, and a backup VT.
Lauren Marinez
UB
BB
FX
  • Lock for BB lineup, 2017 RQS of 9.875
  • Competed regularly on UB in 2017 for 9.770 RQS
  • Will provide FX as needed for 9.8s.
Paige Zaziski
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Expected three-eventer/AAer in 2018
  • Anchored UB for 9.915 RQS in 2017
  • Removed from FX lineup in 2017 after errors, but returned to anchor in postseason
Juniors
Olivia Karas
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Has competed VT (Y1.5), BB, FX in every meet of NCAA career.
  • Expected AAer in 2018
  • All four 2017 RQSs were 9.845 or higher
Emma McLean
VT
UB
FX
  • Anchored VT with Y1.5 in 2017
  • RQSs of 9.9+ on VT and FX
  • Contributed early-season UB routine in 2017
Sophomores
Lexi Funk
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Provides early-lineup options on all 4 events, competed AA in 2nd half of 2017 season.
  • RQSs of 9.835 on BB, FX
Maggie O’Hara
UB
  • Did not compete in freshman season
Maddy Osman
VT
UB
FX
  • Missed 2nd half of 2017 with injury
  • Will provide options on VT, FX
Sam Roy
  • Did not compete in freshman season
Polina Shchennikova
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Regular in UB lineup for 9.850 RQS in 2017
  • Competed occasionally on VT
  • Yet to compete BB for Michigan despite being Polina Shchennikova
Freshmen
Lauren Farley
VT
UB
BB
  • Likely BB contributor in first season
  • 2nd BB at 2017 JO Nationals
  • Vaults possible 10.0 (Omelianchik)
Sam Javanbakht
  • Capital Gymnastics, VA
  • 45th AA, 2017 JO Nationals Senior F
Syd Townsend
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Canadian elite
  • Strongest event is VT, with Y1.5
  • Also competed UB in preseason exhibition for 9.800

Recent History
2017 – 10th
2016 – 13th
2015 – 7th
2014 – 10th
2013 – 7th
2012 – 13th
2011 – 6th
2010 – 10th

Michigan has underperformed its quality in the postseason for two consecutive years now, missing nationals in 2016 after a beam implosion at home, then dropping to 10th in 2017 after a beam implosion in the semifinals. (Super Six would have been a step too far last season, but Michigan should have finished 7th or 8th.)

The question in 2018: without Artz and Chiarelli, has Michigan lost more routines than it gained?

Vault
Lineup locks
McLean (9.915), Karas (9.895), Townsend (FR), Zaziski (9.845)
Lineup options
Shchennikova (9.758), Osman (9.745), Funk (9.744), Farley (FR), Brown (9.775 in 2016)

Michigan will hope to enjoy at least three vaults with 10.0 start values this season in the form of Y1.5s from McLean, Karas, and Townsend. Those three will lead the scoring and should ensure that Michigan stays on a similar path to last season, which ended with a 49.290 team RQS on vault, just with Townsend in place of Chiarelli.

Zaziski vaulted the best Yurchenko full among the supporting cast last season and should return to the lineup to do that again. For the remaining two spots, the Wolverines will have their pick of fulls from among five realistic options. I was partial to Osman‘s vault in JO, though it was Shchennikova and Funk who just got the nod in the preseason exhibition for those two spots. Shchennikova‘s amplitude looked improved over last season. Still, there’s some fairly interchangeable scoring potential among this group, the worry being that everything can all get a little too 9.750. Michigan needs to get 9.800s out of those first two spots to stay on track for that 49.300.

The wildcard is Farley, who vaulted an Omelianchik in JO but did not perform vault in the exhibition. If her landing is good enough to score higher than 9.750, it would give Michigan a usable 4th 10.0 start.

Bars
Lineup locks
Zaziski (9.915), Brown (9.875), Shchennikova (9.850), Karas (9.845)
Lineup options
Townsend (FR), Funk (9.815), Marinez (9.770), Osman (9.725), McLean (9.275), Farley (FR)

Having Brown back to full strength for a whole season and back to her typical level on bars is critical for 2018 as she and Zaziski will be the two expected to deliver weekly 9.9s in the final lineup spots.

Shchennikova had 3 falls in 13 routines last year—not great but not enough to put her spot in too much jeopardy—so she and Karas should once again provide the gooey 9.850 center of the lineup. That group of four seems fairly set in stone, and they’ll be expected to go 9.850, 9.850, 9.900, 9.900 to deliver the necessary 49.300. Very doable for them.

The beginning of the bars lineup is among the more worrisome areas for Michigan in 2018, as it was early in 2017. Both Funk and Marinez saw time in the lineup last year, and while I’m sold on neither since there are form issues that can drop both into the 9.7s, it looks like at least one of them will need to go this year. We’ve seen very little of Townsend on bars in recent elite years—I was concerned she wouldn’t have a complete routine—but it appears Michigan has come up with an (albeit bare-bones) NCAA set for her, potentially setting her up as a leadoff ex machina who can hit a vertical handstand.

Beam
Lineup locks
Marinez (9.875), Karas (9.865), Zaziski (9.860), Brown (9.845 in 2016)
Lineup options
Funk (9.835), Farley (FR), Townsend (FR), Shchennikova

Once again this season, beam looks like a strong event for Michigan, but it was supposed to be a strong event the last two years as well when it proved the team’s undoing in the postseason.

I do expect all of the returning competitors from 2017 to remain in the lineup (Marinez, Karas, Zaziski, Funk) since they all more or less did everything expected of them. Funk was the only consistency question of the four, but she has the talent to remain useful. In 2018, the reintroduction of the extended back leg from Brown will be a welcome development, really only leaving one spot left. I’m still holding out hope for Shchennikova, but Farley is first and foremost a beamer who appears to have won that spot for the moment as long as the back leg doesn’t get punished too severely.

I see a lot of possible 9.850s here and a lineup that could very believably go 49.250. But, will Michigan miss those 9.9s from Artz and Chiarelli? Someone needs to step up and be more consistently 9.9 in 2018. Is it time to graduate Karas from the leadoff position to get her more of those 9.9s? She has managed plenty of 9.850s from the first spot. What could she get from the 5th?

Floor
Lineup locks
McLean (9.910), Karas (9.890)
Lineup options
Funk (9.835), Marinez (9.835), Brown (9.768 in 2016), Osman (9.695), Zaziski (8.700), Townsend (FR), Shchennikova

Floor is the lineup that looks most tenuous this season after being Michigan’s best event for a few years now thanks to Artz and Chiarelli. Right now, there are really only two locks for the six and only two guaranteed high scores.

Karas has been third-in-command on floor in her first two seasons, but she must be the leader now, along with McLean, who can also get 9.9s. McLean goes the D-pass route, meaning Karas’s is the routine that will have to do some heavy lifting (but Karas 5th, McLean 6th would be an effective strategy). We should expect 9.9s from both, but you really can’t get by on floor these days without 49.4+, so Michigan will need a couple other gymnasts who can score higher than 9.850. Those routines could come from any corner.

Ideally, Zaziski will compete if she’s there physically and consistently, but floor has been touch-and-go for her at two separate schools now, so we’ll see. Michigan could also use a dose of Osman. The scores didn’t really come for her last season before injury (too many 9.7s), but she’s an E-pass capable gymnast whose best event is floor.

Most realistically, Funk will return, having been good for 9.750-9.850 in the leadoff spot in 2017, and Brown typically scored in that same territory through her first and second years. Anticipate seeing both them, but Michigan has several other gymnasts on the roster with similar scoring profiles. Specifically, Townsend is a possibility, and Marinez got a few 9.8s for herself last season.

But are any of them likely to go over 9.850? Because that’s what Michigan needs.


Expectations point toward a very Michigan season. A couple 197s, mostly mid-high 196s, spending the year ranked in the lower half of the top 10, making nationals. The difference between normal and great in 2018 will be whether anyone new can emerge to replace those 9.9s from Artz and Chiarelli, particularly on floor.

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4 thoughts on “2018 Outlook – Michigan Wolverines”

  1. I was distraught last year after they fell apart on beam AGAIN. I really thought adding Zaziski to the core of Artz, Chiarelli and Karas could put them over the top and get them into Super Six. Seems like the team shouldn’t be as strong this year, but sometimes the best performances come after the stars graduate. I’m thinking of Georgia winning in 2005 after the “Super Six” seniors graduated (Fritzinger, Rowe, Byrd, Stephens, etc.), and they had a less talented team on paper. Michigan has the talent to do well.

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    1. Yeah. As a massive UM fan, I was gutted when they fell apart on beam (to make it even worse – I’m British so for me they fell apart at 3am!) but I think they can do well this year, but next year is the year I am pretty pumped about. That freshman class + Karas/McLean power can definitely challenge for the national title next year.

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      1. I’ve always been looking at this season as a rebuilding year, and more looking towards the 2019 season when the Heiskell/Brenner/Wojcik/Mariani class arrives, but after watching the preseason exhibition routines, I’m actually feeling really good about this season too. Both Farley and Townsend look good already, and the return of Osman and Brown should help a ton. Now fingers crossed that Zaziski can figure out floor. She’s amazing on floor when she hits!

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  2. I. Need. Paige. To. Hit.

    Sydney seems like a really strong freshman future AA star, I’m hoping Lauren Farley can get polished up as well mostly because I love a good Omelianchik vault!

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