Can you be better in 2019 than they were in 2018? That’s the question facing the top programs as the number of teams competing on the final day drops from six to four this year. Being among the best six teams doesn’t mean anything anymore.
With this year’s standout freshman class of four ninja L10s, Utah has every reason to expect that it can improve over 2018 on each event. The Utes lose four routines from 2018’s final lineups, but this freshman class can very realistically add 10-11 new ones, meaning 2019 should bring Utah a net gain in both depth and scoring potential.
|Utah Freshmen 2019
|Major all-around accomplishments are a theme of this freshman class (three of the four finished in the top 10 at JO Nationals this year), but if there’s one I’d pick as most likely to see time on all four events this season, it’s Isa. You watch these routines and see efficient, NCAA-ready gymnastics that needs only minor skill-selection adjustments—the type of routine you’d be happy to put in the middle of the lineup on any event.
In training videos so far this preseason, we’ve seen the addition of a full-in on floor and a gainer 1.5 dismount on beam, which could provide that little extra standout quality and difficulty to get her out of “good for 9.850” territory. Her vault is a very clean, usable full, and on bars, if you can do a Ray, a bail with legs together, and a clean DLO, you’re in business. Definite options here.
|Utah will be excited about Dula on bars. Those precise handstands can be used to create a set free from the kind of built-in deductions that take routines down to 9.850 once April rolls around. A full-in and clean twisting on floor should make Dula a definite contender there as well.
Vault, however, may be the most interesting event for Dula because she boasts a little-seen round-off 1/1 on, back pike—a 10.0 start. It’s actually quite well done and gets better height than most 1/1 on vaults, but it’s so hard to score well for that because these vaults tend to get held to Yurchenko standards of height, distance, and landing position and deducted for all three. Can’t wait to see how it plays out, though.
|Beam is the event on which Randall is most likely to star—the legs are extended, the leaps are usable, and that real Rulfova can be a signature piece—but her 4th-place AA finish at JOs this year should tell us that Randall is a lineup contender on most events. Bars is similarly important. With those crisp toes and very capable DLO, she has a chance to elevate that lineup, and I would keep Randall in the mix on floor as yet another viable member of Team Full-In from this class.|
|Hall was the late signing for Utah, a VT/FX specialist who can deliver a big Yurchenko 1.5 to pump up the team’s supply of 10.0 starts. Of the freshmen, Hall looks the most likely to make her way into the vault lineup and should figure for critical scores as long as the landing control is there. We may also see Hall on floor, where a pretty solid double Arabian should put her among the options.|
Nebraska does have a bit of a task in front of it in 2019 to replicate the success of 2018, faced with a new-head-coach season in which a platter of important postseason routines from Williams, Breen, and Epperson must also be seamlessly replaced. The good news is that between injury comebacks and a hearty group of new accomplished L10s, this year’s roster looks fully replenished.
|Nebraska Freshmen 2019
|Johnston finished 2nd AA in her division at JO nationals this year and will be counted on to bring that level of success to Nebraska’s lineups in 2019 on at least 2-3 events. Floor and vault appear the most likely to me, but Johnston also casually won beam at nationals this year, so just that.
On floor, the tumbling difficulty and leap amplitude make this look like a definite lineup routine, and on vault that Yurchenko full is comfortably completed enough to be very usable. Bars looks the least likely—despite typically high scores—because of those vertical positions, but the content is there.
|Continuing the mission to bulk up that floor slate, Quinn finished 2nd on FX at JO nationals this year and should also figure significantly in that lineup, presenting the option to either go with big difficulty or go super clean with a double pike.
The height on that Yfull makes vault a very realistic option., and while the scores haven’t always been there on beam, I like the potential I see in that routine. Quinn and Johnston have similar strengths and should provide pretty similar coverage of events overall.
|Hargrove looks to be more of the beam type, with deliberate and extended work that has seen beam consistently score as her best event in JO. Nebraska will very much want that routine to come to fruition.
On bars, the content isn’t all the way there, but I look at those Stalder positions and that Pak and see the makings of what could be a fantastic routine. So don’t forget about that one. On floor, Hargrove probably isn’t going to bring the difficulty of the first two, but she has a clean repertoire of double salto and twisting passes that has typically scored quite well for her.
|Adnerys De Jesus||VT||UB||BB||FX|
|De Jesus’s best event and primary locus of contribution will be vault, where she performed a powerful Yfull in JO and has a possible 1.5 to elevate that lineup’s difficulty. On beam and floor, the acro options are pretty much there, so it will come down to the leaps as to whether those routines are lineup possibilities. I’m tempted to dismiss bars since this JO routine doesn’t have enough content to be an option, but I’m not ignoring it entirely because she is currently working upgrades.|
|I expect that Thompson will look to provide an option on floor, her best event in JO, where she should have the D pass repertoire to be in the hunt, as well as being in the depth mix on beam.|
Denver once again brings a small roster to the table (just the 12 athletes and no more), but with only the three lost routines from Nikole Addison needing replacement, this freshman class of three will be expected to fill the gaps and increase the lineup options, particularly on the leg events where Addison was so influential.
|Denver Freshmen 2019
|Vasquez has the recognizable name in Denver’s freshman class—the former elite from Chow’s who won beam at 2014 junior nationals. She’s going to be brilliant on beam for Denver, but we should see her on many if not all of the other events as well.
In her JO routines, Vasquez’s full on vault has been quite a clean option, and that irresistible Shap + Pak should make bars a winner for her as long as there is a workable dismount to go with it. Denver doesn’t have a lot of bars depth or the luxury of options again this year, so they’ll absolutely need a routine from Vasquez. The tumbling hasn’t really been there for Vasquez the last couple years in her limited L10 appearances on floor, but the twisting ability and the spins are evergreen.
|Another Maddie from Twin City with a Yurchenko 1.5? Too complicated. Quarles will be a big option for Denver on the power pieces with that 10.0 start on vault and that massive, comfortable full-in to open the floor routine. Expect her to figure largely in both lineups, with a potential bonus routine on beam. That back tuck stepout to knee is a cool signature.|
|The lion’s share of Ruiz’s contribution should also come on vault and floor, showing pretty solid power on a Yurchenko full and boasting a DLO to open her floor set. Denver has had a tendency to get a little “we’re only putting up 5” on the power events in recent seasons, so having multiple freshmen with likely routines on those events is a very big deal. The beam work can get a little close, but I really like that double tuck dismount, so keep that one in mind as well.|
|Morton is a last-minute 4th addition to the 2019 freshman class out of Texas Dreams, just signing in the November period. That crisp shape with legs together on bars (and noteworthy difficulty in the form of a piked Jaeger) should make that routine a vital option, but her beam work is also quick and clean and that floor routine looks realistic for a medium-difficulty no-fuss option in an early-mid lineup scenario. Morton’s signing should provide a multi-routine boost to a small roster.|