How are you not winning the national championship every year, Florida? Last year’s freshman class brought that championship ability, but it didn’t quite happen. This year’s class brings the same quality, the major difference being that the 2019 class also has a ton of replacement work to do in making up for the absences of McMurtry, Baker, and Slocum. That must be accomplished before they can even entertain the prospect of improving on last season’s performance.
The good news for Florida—the talent is there. This class should bring enough routines to increase the squad depth even over 2018’s roster.
|Florida Freshmen 2019
|I mean, come on. If Trinity Thomas isn’t a star in college gymnastics, there’s something wrong with college gymnastics. The combination of exceptional extension and crazy-easy power makes her potentially the most compelling 10 prospect among all freshmen this year. Expect Thomas to figure critically on every event.
Beam has always been Thomas’s most impressive piece because of the way she separates herself from the rabble through her leaps, but she has equally vital power on floor—not to mention about a million viable tumbling-pass options. Beyond that, Thomas’s ability to maintain leg position on skills like Shaps on bars tells me that coming up with a deduction-free NCAA bars routine shouldn’t be much trouble. On vault, she has settled into the Y1.5 these last couple years, which tended to undermine her AA score in elite because of elite, but it should be a clean option in NCAA, almost entirely free of sloppy-knee-town.
|Let us not forget SJS, the type of elite who always seemed like, “OK, Have fun with this for a while, but NCAA will be your real thing.” Floor has always been her event, not just because she has an inherent comfort in performing. The tumbling is there too. I’d also expect to see SJS on beam, where she shows the acro extension and viable NCAA leaps to snatch a strong score.
On bars, SJS shows efficient and solid D elements that can make for a lineup-ready option. On vault, we haven’t seen the DTY in several years, but the full she showed most recently in elite would make an acceptably clean option if Florida is looking for more fulls, which it may not be.
|The name you don’t know in Florida’s class but should learn now is Schoenherr’s. She finished 2nd AA at JO nationals this year and should make her way into a least a couple lineups for Florida with the potential to do all four.
Most importantly, Schoenherr vaults a realistic Y1.5 that Florida will need to make up for the three critical lost vaults from last season. She’s a key piece there. On beam, those leaps and smooth acro skills make her routine an appealing prospect, and with the height she gets on the Jaeger, bars should be able to score quite well too. (Is the dismount difficulty enough to get into the lineup?) On floor, Schoenherr is working a maybe-3/1 and can twist and leap, so it’s feasible but still probably her least likely piece. We’ll see if the ultimate difficulty is there to break into the six.
|You know Clapper from her sojourn in elite, and she’ll be a fascinating one to watch because she’s an accomplished athlete in both elite and JO (finished 9th AA at JO nationals this year in the same division as Schoenherr) who has the skill set to provide a routine on any event for 9.800. For most teams, Clapper would be a “get in the all-around right now” prospect. But on this team, it’s unclear yet which lineup positions will even be open by the time you get to Clapper.
I see floor as a possibility. The D passes she used in L10 this year are very comfortable for her. She’s also been showing a solid two-loso series on beam in training videos, has a workable full on vault should Florida need it, and has cleaned up bars since going back to JO/NCAA composition.
|Reed’s most likely contribution to Florida will be on floor, where she has been training a massive DLO (and also has a worthwhile double Arabian from JO days). Her twisting form is strong as well, so Florida will look to get that routine into the lineup for a big score. Reed also gets some real distance on a Yfull, presenting that as yet another vault option. We’re much less likely to see bars and beam, but she can be in the depth pool on beam.|
|Taylor was sort of supposed to be “the other one” in this class, but her surprise 8th-place AA finish at JO nationals this year really complicated things. That’s not a random-walk-on kind of result. Taylor is working a DLO to present herself as a viable floor option on this team and could be in the depth pool on bars and beam as well, where might challenge with a little cleaning.|
Kentucky’s golden generation is nearing graduation. It hasn’t happened yet, and as such there won’t be too much pressure on this freshman class to provide a bunch of competition routines. As long as they can provide a little handful, Kentucky should be able to keep pace with last year’s performances.
But in the interest of “what happens next year?” Kentucky will be hoping for more than just a little handful from this class, otherwise the team will be left with some serious holes come 2020.
|Kentucky Freshmen 2019
|The standout element in this class comes from Patterson’s floor, a routine I expect to get right in the lineup what with that open full-in ability and all. That’s a potential asset routine, as is the Tsuk 1/1 on vault that could give the team a much-needed 10.0 start on vault to complement Korth, as long as the landing control is there.
Those are the most likely two pieces. Patterson can also bring a beam option (though it will be tougher to get into that lineup this year), and she has power-bars potential if more content can be added.
|Angeny is already dismounting beam with the Kentucky trademark side aerial+tuck full even in JO, so she’ll fit right in. Beam typically garnered Angeny’s best scores as a L10, so I’d rank that as her most likely event. Kentucky will be looking for someone to slot into Rechenmacher’s lineup spot this year, and it could be her. Angeny also looks like she has the skill set on bars to provide a routine, especially because this isn’t much of a bars class. If they need a new routine there, it’s probably hers.|
|In Nixon, Kentucky should have some further routine options, the most lineup-likely being vault, where her Yfull is powerful enough to make the six. I haven’t seen any video of Nixon’s routines in a couple years, so she’s still mostly made of question marks, but I do like those acro skills on beam. The beam scores have never really come for her, but there’s something there.|
|Though Haigis wasn’t in the fall signing class for Kentucky, she has the ability to contribute an option on beam (at the very least) at a similar level to her classmates. The loso series and aerial definitely have potential.|