Meet the Freshmen – Stanford & Oregon State

As the elite season winds down (and then winds back up again with Cottbus in two weeks, and then winds back down again) attention turns to NCAA. I’m beginning preview season with little capsules about the freshmen you’ll soon meet and how they might plump up their new teams—like a collagen treatment.

STANFORD

Be prepared: there is no Ebee ex machina in Stanford’s incoming class, and Stanford will take a “wait, where is my anchor 9.950?”-shaped hit in the scoring department in 2019.

Hope emerges in the form of increased depth, since this five-member freshman class will be tasked with replacing only one routine on each event. Stanford will be looking to gain back some of that lost Elizabeth Price scoring potential not from new 9.950s but by swapping out early-lineup 9.725s from last season with 9.800s this season.

Stanford Freshmen 2019
Grace Waguespack Vault Bars Beam Floor
The former junior elite from 2013 placed 12th AA at JO Nationals in 2017 and looks the most likely freshman to contribute multiple events—potentially seeing time on all four—for Stanford in 2019.

Because Stanford returns only one strong bars score from last season, nearly all of the freshmen must have competition-ready bars routines in order to reinvent the apparatus. With those handstands and the smooth Shaposh, you can see Waguespack in the lineup with a little cleaning. She also shows a lineup-ready Yurchenko full, comfortable twisting ability on floor (at least for a 2.5), and solid enough acro to render her an option on beam. Waguespack looks very much like the “early lineup on any event” type to bulk up the collection of options.

Wesley Stephenson Vault Bars Beam Floor
Coming out of Legacy Elite, Stephenson is looking to provide options on bars and beam and has the skills on both pieces to do so. I’d rank her as the most likely freshman to get into the beam lineup—with the acro security to provide a boost compared to some of the other, more nerve-wracking 9.750s—and on bars, the routine competition is there. All of the freshmen need refinement on bars, but in the desperate search for 9.8s, she’s more than in the mix.
Madison Brunette Vault Bars Beam Floor
Speaking of bars sets, Brunette will provide an important routine there—on her best event. With that Deltchev and that line, Stanford should be able to put something together worthy of mid-lineup.

If we do see Brunette on other pieces, it will be on vault (especially because she is not listed as training floor on the roster) with a perfectly believable, clean FTY that can challenge for the top 6.

Morgan Hoang Vault Bars Beam Floor
For Hoang, it’s about floor. Getting that exceptional DLO into the floor lineup is necessary in the race to lose as little ground as possible without Price’s routine. If she’s able to repeat that in NCAA, it will be a standout pass.

Hoang is unlikely to contribute bars, which is partially why the bars routines from the other four newbies are so critical, but like the others, she has a possible Yfull—with impressive distance that could get her into the lineup—and looks like a beam option despite not being listed as training beam on the roster. From what I’ve seen, that routine looks about on the level of the other 9.750-9.800 routines Stanford has hanging around.

Eve Micco Vault Bars Beam Floor
With her Jaeger and bail, Micco should be among the new members of the bars lineup, though resolving the cast handstand issue will be a continued topic of discussion for lineup contenders both old and new. Last season, that’s what took a few otherwise strong routines down into the 9.700 area, and that can’t happen again this year.

Bars looks like the main option for Micco, though we could see her on floor as well with a 2.5 twist as a possible early-lineup option. On vault, she has shown a round-off 1/1 on, back tuck that may seem appealing because of its 10.0 start but probably isn’t at the level to be worth it.

OREGON STATE

Oregon State’s freshman routine-replacement situation is thrown somewhat askew because this was supposed to be the Jade Carey class. With Carey’s deferral, that puts a little more onus on the rest of the group, the good news being that they won’t be tasked with replacing an inordinate number of lost scores from last season.

Oregon State Freshmen 2019
Madison Dagen Vault Bars Beam Floor
The younger sister of Lacy Dagen, Madison finished 6th AA at JO nationals this year and 3rd the year before, establishing herself among the most accomplished of the Level 10s in this year’s freshman gaggle. As such, we should expect to see her on all four pieces this year.

The theme of Dagen’s gymnastics is solid simplicity. There’s not a ton of difficulty there (though she can show a front 2/1 E pass on floor), but the twisting on floor and vault is clean and efficient enough to be deduction free, and her beam work is exceptionally solid. On bars, the routine looks great—it’s very technically precise—but she’ll have to add some difficulty from that 2017 set to be competitive in NCAA.

Kristina Peterson Vault Bars Beam Floor
A later signing, Peterson finished 16th AA at JOs nationals and I’d classify her as a possibility on any event but a guarantee on none—a useful contender for all lineups. I can certainly see that FTY breaking in, and there’s 9.8 ability in those beam and floor routines. The beam acro may not be extended enough for a huge score, but that three-series is encouraging. Like Dagen, she’d need to add skills on bars to be a contender there.
Leah Bivrell Vault Bars Beam Floor
Bivrell looks to be one OSU will try to develop into a bars option. The scores haven’t been there for her on any event in JO, but with the Shap and Tkatchev and nice Stalder shape, you can see the tools there.
Alex McClung Vault Bars Beam Floor
McClung started L10 in 2017, so she’s brand new, and while we’re not exceptionally likely to see her in lineups right away, she has received the scores on floor over the last year or so and has some chops on beam.
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