2018 Outlook – Florida Gators

FLORIDA ROSTER 2018
Seniors
Kennedy Baker
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA 7 times in 2017
  • #1 returning score on FX (9.945)
  • 10.0-start Y1.5 on VT
  • 2017 peaks of 10.000 (FX), 9.925 (VT, BB), 9.900 (UB)
Grace McLaughlin
UB
BB
FX
  • Performed weekly BB, FX in 2017
  • 13 for 13 on BB
  • Competed 4 UBs for 9.800 avg
Alex McMurtry
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • #1 returning score on VT (9.950), UB (9.930), BB (9.925)
  • Competes FX at ends of seasons
  • 10.0-start DTY on VT
  • 2017 peak of 10.000 (VT, UB, FX), 9.950 (BB)
Rachel Slocum
VT
FX
  • VT/FX specialist
  • #2 returning score on VT (9.945)
  • 10.0-start handspring pike 1/2 on VT
Juniors
Alicia Boren
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA every week in 2017
  • #1 returning score on FX (9.945)
  • Top-4 team score on each event in 2017
  • 10.0-start Y1.5 on VT
Amanda Cheney
VT
BB
  • Competed 5 BBs, 1 VT in 2017
  • Provides backup option on both events
Sophomores
Sierra Alexander
VT
FX
  • Competed 7 VTs in 2017 for 9.800 avg
  • Can provide backup FX
Maegan Chant
VT
UB
FX
  • Made final 2017 UB lineup for 9.820
  • Competed 4 VTs (9.831 avg), 2 FXs (1 hit)
  • Can provide 10.0-start Tsuk 1/1 on VT
Rachel Gowey
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Made final 2017 lineups on UB, BB
  • Competed AA in 6 meets
  • #3 returning score on BB (9.895)
Amelia Hundley
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Competed AA in all but one meet in 2017
  • #2 returning score on UB (9.925)
  • Top-4 team score on each event in 2017
Freshmen
Alyssa Baumann
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • WOGA
  • 2014 World Championship team
  • 7th AA, 2016 US Nationals
Vanasia Bradley
  • Splitz
  • Junior elite, 2013
  • 6th VT, 2013 Junior Classic
Jazzy Foberg
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • MG Elite
  • 2014 US Junior National Champion
Megan Skaggs
VT
UB
BB
FX
  • Gym Academy Atlanta
  • Elite, 2012-2015
  • 10.0-start Y1.5 on VT
Nicole Webb
BB
  • Sonshine
  • 3rd BB, 2017 Region 8s, Senior C

Recent History
2017 – 3rd
2016 – 4th
2015 – 1st
2014 – 1st
2013 – 1st
2012 – 2nd
2011 – 7th
2010 – 5th

Florida has now gone two whole seasons without a title, which is like eight seasons, which is like a thousand seasons. The 2016-2017 journey was one of relative upheaval, with a new coaching staff and the departure of program-defining stars, excusing such lowly finishes as 3rd and 4th. (Scandal! Outrage!) But to most observers, if there’s going to be a Florida year again in the near future, 2018 is that year.

With all 24 postseason routines from 2017 retained, and two high-profile elite stars joining the program, Florida 2018 has no excuse not to outshine last year’s 3rd-place team was. It’s a title-or-bust season for the Gators.


Vault
Lineup locks
McMurtry (9.950), Slocum (9.945), Boren (9.925), Baker (9.900)
Lineup options
Skaggs (FR), Baumann (FR), Foberg (FR), Hundley (9.850), Chant (9.831), Gowey (9.800), Alexander (9.800), Cheney (9.750)

Among teams contending for the national championship, the goal on vault is a little different. It’s not simply about pulling together some 10.0 starts; it’s about having a whole lineup of 10.0s. That’s the Golden Fleece of current college gymnastics. No team has achieved a final lineup of six 10.0 starts so far in the new start-value era, but a few teams have a shot this year, of which Florida is one.

The core four from last season will return in McMurtry (DTY), Slocum (handspring pike 1/2), Boren (Y1.5), and Baker (Y1.5). For those four, it’s a disappointment when they score under 9.900, meaning that Florida will have realistic 49.5+ goals this year in most meets.

In terms of new routines, Florida is looking to get Skaggs and her very comfortable Y1.5 into the lineup as a fifth 10.0 start. That’s the vault project of greatest importance, and preseason showings from her have been very lineup-worthy.

We’re then left with a mad rush for the 6th spot. Of note, Hundley is attempting to add back the Y1.5 for 2017. It wasn’t competition-ready yet as of mid-December, but we’ll see if that project develops. We also know from their elite days that Foberg and Baumann are capable of 10.0 difficulty. So far, we haven’t seen that (Foberg showed an excellent full at the December intrasquad), but the possibility is there. Chant has a 10.0 start Tsuk 1/1, but she made the lineup with it only sporadically in 2017 for 9.8s, which won’t outscore the Yfull options.

If a full must be used as a sixth vault, Florida possesses many strong options—Foberg and Hundley look the most likely—which means that completely proficient vaulters like Gowey and Alexander are probably getting relegated to backup roles this season because of the sheer depth on the team. They can still go and get 9.8s when others are being rested, but they may not be needed.

Bars
Lineup locks
McMurtry (9.930), Hundley (9.925)
Lineup options
Baker (9.880), Boren (9.860), Gowey (9.850), Baumann (FR), Foberg (FR), Skaggs (FR), Chant (9.820), McLaughlin (9.800)

Florida will also enjoy some increased choice on bars in 2018, leading to fairly challenging decisions beyond the two lineup locks, McMurtry and Hundley, who were the 9.9iest on last year’s roster and should be so again this year.

The rest of last year’s lineup (Baker, Boren, Gowey, Chant) will be under threat from Baumann, who has lovely line on bars and absolutely needs to be in the six, and Foberg, who is extremely capable of a big bars score. Baker and Gowey do still need to be in the lineup themselves, Gowey having such crisp execution that can be very 9.900 and Baker being among the most talented on the team on the bars. (Let’s be real, the only differences between McMurtry’s 10.000s and Baker’s 9.875s are stick proficiency and lineup order). That’s already six and doesn’t include Boren, who has been a stalwart early lineup 9.850 for two seasons now and could just as easily make the lineup.

Any six of those seven should provide an upgrade over last season’s bars scores. It’s still a somewhat vulnerable lineup to the other top teams—vulnerable meaning it may get 49.400 instead of 49.550 when the Baker, Boren, Gowey, Foberg group is a little too 9.850, but it should do quite well.

Depth means Chant and McLaughlin may be looking at backup roles this season, though they should see time in competition along with Skaggs. I like Skaggs on bars, but she may not have the goods to break into the lineup just yet. Florida is teaching her a DLO instead of the double front she used to compete in elite/JO, but that kind of thing is a work in progress.

Beam
Lineup locks
Baumann (FR), McMurtry (9.925)
Lineup options
Boren (9.900), Gowey (9.895), Hundley (9.880), Baker (9.855), Foberg (FR), Skaggs (FR), McLaughlin (9.845), Webb (FR), Cheney (9.735)

Florida’s 2018 beam lineup looks like it’s going to be casually impossible to make, as most of the best beam lineups are. Baumann is of course perfect on beam and needs to be in the lineup, so a very likely six could simply see her replace McLaughlin, keeping the other five (McMurtry, Boren, Gowey, Hundley, Baker) intact. Those six gymnasts all have 9.9 ability on beam and can produce excellent team totals.

At the same time, Florida ranked just 5th on beam with last year’s lineup, and the 49.300 earned in Super Six was the sole reason Florida dropped to 3rd instead of finishing 2nd (the Gators were better than LSU on the other three pieces that day). For that reason, you can make the argument for shaking things up a little bit more and putting some pressure on those Baker, Hundley, Gowey, Boren routines to prove they deserve to keep their places (this lineup ain’t got time for 9.850s). That pressure can come from Foberg, who will be quite lineup-worthy on beam, as well as Skaggs, whom you should not forget about for this lineup because she is excellent on beam. It’s probably her best event.

They’ll both get opportunities and could snatch spots as well, providing a depth scenario that allows Florida to pick the six most reliably high scores from a solid ten 9.8+ options. In that group I’m including McLaughlin and Webb. Webb’s best chance to make a lineup is on beam, but she’s most likely a victim of being teammates with too many other beamers.

Floor
Lineup locks
Baker (9.945), Boren (9.945), McMurtry (9.775)
Lineup options
Foberg (FR), Baumann (FR), Hundley (9.885), Slocum (9.870), McLaughlin (9.805), Gowey (9.700), Skaggs (FR), Alexander (-), Chant (9.338)

As on beam, Florida ranked 5th on floor last year, though the overall season ranking is typically somewhat misleading for Florida’s FX because it can’t take into account McMurtry‘s annual season-end deus ex machina prance into the lineup. When McMurtry, Baker, and Boren are going, Florida has three quite believable 9.950s ending the lineup that can contend with the end of any other floor lineup in the country.

The task for Florida in 2018, in order to become a title-winning team, is improving the scores in those first three positions. This is where Foberg and her gigantic tumbling from junior elite days is most important. This is her event, and she should become a major floor force in NCAA, as can Baumann, who has retained her DLO and will show the rest of the country what rising into the second element of a combination middle pass is supposed to look like. In addition to the introduction of those two, Florida is also looking to upgrade the sets from Slocum (adding DLO) and Hundley to ensure they don’t get lost in the double pike shuffle.

That makes for seven strong options, upgraded over last season’s choices, allowing the lineup to stay competitive when McMurtry isn’t there and provide rest to those semi-broken elites as needed. As the season goes, the rest of the group (McLaughlin, Gowey, Skaggs, Alexander) may see time, but they will not be depended upon to deliver huge scores.


This is an objectively excellent Florida roster that has the talent and the opportunity to eliminate those small early-lineup weaknesses from 2017, weaknesses that made the 3rd-place difference and rendered Florida weaker than Oklahoma and LSU throughout the year.

Much will depend upon Baumann and Foberg in that regard. If they can deliver weekly 9.900s that replace some of those 9.800s from McLaughlin, Chant, and Alexander, the Gators will improve on 2017 to the necessary degree. That’s a feat they’ll be expected to accomplish, all things being healthy. Of all the teams in NCAA (with perhaps the exception of UCLA), Florida is the most elite-dependent, which is always nerve-wracking. Can they all stand up physically to a whole season at the same time? That gets tricky and is the main worry for Florida this year, but if they can, this is a championship team.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “2018 Outlook – Florida Gators”

  1. The depth on this team is insane. They don’t just have strong options, they can put up lineups of 9.85+ on every event using just about any of their athletes. I think they really figured out what lineups worked best over the last season and now they have even more options to ensure their highest scorers won’t be burnt out by the postseason. I really hope this is their year to be the national champion!

    Like

    1. It feels like a 2012 year where the National Championship is the Gators to take but along comes Alabama who put together the perfect meet at the right time to steal it away (UCLA can be in their as well but a couple miscues by key gymnasts will be their downfall).

      Like

      1. I mean anything is possible, but I would imagine Oklahoma, UCLA, and even LSU would be more likely spoilers than Alabama. As stacked as Florida is, Oklahoma is going to be a hard out.

        Like

  2. Vanassa Bradley is now listed as a ‘student coach’ at UF and if you click on her name on the roster page it says she’s retired after years of multiple injuries.

    Like

  3. Yeah I just checked and saw Bradley as a student coach. That didn’t take long at all. She was going to be a mystery either way due to injuries. Just didn’t see her retiring before the start of the year.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s