2018 Outlook – California Golden Bears


Alicia Gallarzo
  • Regular on VT, UB, BB in 2017
  • Will contribute at least backup options on all four pieces
  • BB RQS of 9.810 in 2017
  • Essential member of 2nd half of VT, FX lineups in 2017
  • RQS of 9.860 VT, 9.855 FX in 2017
  • 10.0 start (FHS, HS front pike) on VT
  • UB specialist for 9.833 avg in 2017
  • Can provide backup FX as needed
Toni-Ann Williams
  • Missed most of 2017 with torn Achilles
  • Lock for VT (Y1.5), UB, and FX (2016 RQS of 9.935) lineups
  • Can do BB if the consistency is there
  • The UB/BB Seilnacht
  • Led off both UB, BB lineups in 2017 for 9.785, 9.860 respectively
  • Can perform FX if needed
  • Regular in 2017 VT lineup for 9.820
  • Typically will cameo on BB, FX a few times during the season
Chelsea Shu
  • Weekly UB for 9.840 in 2017
  • Likely BB, competed 2nd up for most of 2017
Cassidy Keelen
  • Missed most of 2017 with injury
  • 2016 JO Nationals AA 2nd
  • Strength is BB, should provide three events when healthy
  • Competed VT twice in 2017 for 9.750 average
Kyana George
  • 2017 JO Nationals 3rd AA, 1st FX
  • Expected to contribute AA from the start
Alma Kuc
  • UB star when competing for Poland
  • Expected for UB and BB (if consistent)
  • TCT
  • 13th UB, 2016 JO Nationals
Victoria Salem
  • Will miss 2018 season with knee injury
  • Potential UB, BB star
Nina Schank
  • 2017 JO National UB champ, Senior F
  • Expected to contribute at least UB in 2018

Recent History
2017 – 16th
2016 – 7th
2015 – 18th
2014 – 16th
2013 – 28th
2012 – 49th
2011 – 50th
2010 – 55th

We expected big things from Cal in 2017 coming off the excellent finish in 2016, but the early-season injuries to Williams and Keelen set the tone for a year that never looked quite right. More challenges await in 2018 with a roster that has lost more than half its postseason routines from 2017, but a talented freshman class provides cause for sustained and realistic hope of making it back to nationals.

Be sure to check out Casey’s twitter, the only news source I trust in these trying times, for reports on Cal’s recent intrasquad.

Lineup locks
Williams (9.865 in 2016), Robinson (9.860), George (FR)
Lineup options
Sy Seilnacht (9.820), Keelen, (9.817), Gallarzo (9.770), Mastrangelo (9.750)

Cal has one absolutely guaranteed 10.0-start vault in Robinson, who should be reliable for 9.850s again in 2017, but that’s not where the 10.0 train will end for Cal. Williams always intends to vault a 1.5, the only question being whether she has the control on the landing to make the 10.0-start worth it. She’ll definitely try for it, and Cal needs her to get 9.9s this year. Also expect to see much of the freshman George, who performs a high Yurchenko full that will score competitively with many 10.0 starts out there.

Beyond that, Cal has enough nominees to make a comfortable six by playing a rousing game of “Who can kind of stick a full and not get a dumpy little 9.725?” Keelen did train a 1.5 in the preseason last year (so maybe at some point?), but even without it, her full should be making the lineup, with possible assistance from Sylvie Seilnacht and Mastrangelo with fulls and Gallarzo with a vestigial Yurchenko 1/2 from back when that was valuable.

Vault should be better this year than it was in 2017 (49.145 RQS) because Williams is back and because George’s full can be stronger than the fulls used last season. Whether 49.200-49.250 ends up being the peak possible score, however, will depend on where those remaining early-half vaults fall on the 9.750-9.825 spectrum.

Lineup locks
Kuc (FR), Williams (9.855 in 2016), Sternberg (9.833)
Lineup options
Shu (9.840), Schank (FR), George (FR), So Seilnacht (9.785) Gallarzo (9.130)

Optimism also reigns on bars with a reinvented lineup in 2018 that should avoid some of the uncertainty of 2017. The likely holdovers from the 2017 lineup will be Sternberg—whose 9.900 was one of only two 9.9s for Cal at regionals last year—probably along with Shu‘s mid-lineup 9.850, but otherwise it’s a fresh slate.

Kuc is the star-to-be now, with the L-grip and the line and whatnot. She’ll be counted on to hang out toward the end of the lineup getting 9.9s. And while bars is never going to be Williams‘ strongest event, she’s very capable of muscling her way through for 9.850s and providing a very countable score, one that Cal missed last season. Bars is Schank‘s best event (JO champ and all), so if she’s going to have a major influence in her first season, it will be on here. By contrast, George is stronger on the other pieces than she is on bars, but she’s very capable of a countable routine nonetheless, bringing the total to four potentially 9.850(+) routines Cal didn’t have last year.

Then, of course, there’s last year’s anchor Gallarzo, but since Cal does have enough choice in 2018 to weed out inconsistency, she’s not a lock. That level of choice may also relegate Sofie Seilnacht to a backup position, but she’s still a very usable option too.

Lineup locks
So Seilnacht (9.860), George (FR)
Lineup options
Kuc (FR), Schank (FR), Sy Seilnacht (9.825), Gallarzo (9.810), Shu (9.790), Keelen (9.650), Williams (9.465)

Cal doesn’t have a lot of “lock” status in the beam lineup but will have more than enough acceptable choices. George should be a smooth and solid option with a double tuck dismount, and Sofie Seilnacht is quietly excellent, enough to get regular 9.850s in the leadoff spot in 2017.

True success of beam this year, however, will be based on whether some of these “maybe” options actually come through. I have my eye on four in particular: Keelen, Kuc, Schank, and Williams.

Keelen is your typical Texas Dreamer Beamer and needs to be a 9.9 leader for beam to be a big event for Cal. Kuc would be perfection itself on beam, if she can hit. That’s a giganti-mongous if, but I hope she gets a trial-by-fire lineup place early in the season to see if she can actually become an asset. Possible game-changer. Schank is another question-mark newbie who could be the whole precision package in her own right, and then there’s Williams. It’s no secret that beam is her national nightmare, and the split elements will always keep her from huge scores, but also…double front dismount please?

The number of those “maybe” options coming through will determine whether Cal is good or great on beam. There are others:  Gallarzo, Shu, and Sylvie Seilnacht can all hang around 9.800 and serve perfectly usable beam. In reality, I do expect to see at least Gallarzo, who scored some anchor 9.9s last year.

Lineup locks
Williams (9.935 in 2016), George (FR), Robinson (9.855)
Lineup options
Sternberg (9.825), Sy Seilnacht (9.600), Keelen (9.542), So Seilnacht (9.438)

It’s a tale of two halves of a lineup for Cal. The back half looks solid. Williams will bring back her weekly 9.9s to mitigate the lineup losses after 2017, George has power and performance and is in line to be Cal’s next floor star, and Robinson is that 9.825-9.875 force you can always rely on for a countable number. Good. Write it down in pen.

After that….? It’s a question. Cal can get 49.2s on floor, but is there a fully competitive six that can take the total higher than that, which it needs to be? Keelen is theoretically a lineup-ready option, but she struggled in her three appearances last season before injury. She’s the key. Cal needs a good fourth floor score from her. Beyond her, the Seilnachts will go on floor occasionally and can hang around 9.800, Sternberg has competed one floor routine for 9.825, and Gallarzo competed floor once her freshman year for 9.600.

This is where not having a Charlie Owens or Desiree Palomares will really hurt this year.

Many areas emerge in which Cal can improve in 2018 despite a massive loss of routine depth, largely but not entirely because of the return of Williams. She can bring vault to a better place, but the freshmen also have the opportunity to bolster and improve those bars and beam lineups.

The realistic goal for a successful 2018 season will be to make it back to nationals, and to do it, all of the healthy freshmen will have to become real contributors.


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