Meet the Freshmen – Oklahoma & Arkansas

OKLAHOMA

It’s a small freshman class for Oklahoma this year, one that will not be called upon for an overwhelming number of routines but will have to provide several critical spot sets as part of the project to make up for not having Jackson, Brown, and Catour in lineups anymore.

Those dear departed 2018 seniors delivered important scores, but not an excessive number of competition routines—a number that this freshman class should be able to manage itself, especially on the leg events where this group excels.

Oklahoma Freshmen 2019
Olivia Trautman VT UB BB FX
Trautman’s is the most recognizable name in the class, and she should prove to be the most lineup-influential of Oklahoma’s three freshmen. Her foremost contributions will be on floor and vault. On floor, Trautman’s massive amplitude allows her to complete a DLO more comfortably than most as well as producing standout leaps, getting much higher than the competition. Similarly huge is the Y1.5 on vault that Trautman has competed since dropping back down to L10. Expect both routines to secure prime lineup places from the start of the season.

While floor and vault are the essential routines, don’t be surprised if we see all four from Trautman. Bars isn’t as much of a natural event for her, but she has good rhythm, a useful DLO dismount, and could get there. As for beam, it’s Oklahoma. You can throw a dart at the roster and hit four 9.9s, but Trautman has proven a very solid beamer who should be in the mix.

Allie Stern VT UB BB FX
To me, Stern is a bit of a wildcard in terms of how much we’ll see her contribute, but she’ll angle for positions in the vault and floor lineups. Most importantly, she has a 1.5 on vault, reigniting Oklahoma’s quest to show up at nationals with six 10.0 starts. Her JO performances make that vault look like a very realistic NCAA option.

Stern also had a full-in on floor in JO (which she has continued to work in training videos) and comfortable twisting ability, so she could help shore up some of those question mark positions in the early half of the floor lineup from last season. Stern does have a beam routine as well, but on this team that will be a tough lineup.

Emma LaPinta VT UB BB FX
LaPinta is walking on for Oklahoma this year and will be looking to provide a depth option on floor. She had a double Arabian in JO and has continued working a 3/1 in preseason, so the tumbling skills are definitely there for her to put together an Oklahoma-worthy floor set.

ARKANSAS

You’re allowed to be a little concerned about how Arkansas will fare in 2019 without Wellick and Speed, but between injury comebacks and a freshman class with multiple realistic lineup contributors, Arkansas will expect to be a little less “do we have five people for the vault lineup?” this year than it was last season with a net gain in lineup depth.

Arkansas Freshmen 2019
Amanda Elswick VT UB BB FX
Elswick the Younger comes in as a prospective three-event star for Arkansas. Most essentially, she brings a huge, clean, comfortable Y1.5 that should become an immediate anchor-position vault. Go right to the end of the lineup, do not pass go, do not collect $200. That vault looks creepily easy for her.

On floor, Elswick showed a double Arabian in JO and has both the twisting and the leaps to put together a crucial score, and her beam looks a realistic set as well, with quite a crisp loso series. As for bars, don’t worry about it. It’s a testament to the quality of the other three events that Elswick was continually able to qualify to JO nationals even with an 8 on bars.

Kennedy Hambrick VT UB BB FX
Who knew Hambrick was such a common name? These are fairly old videos, so I’m not reading a ton into them, but do expect to see several lineup routines from Hambrick this season. Of particular interest to me is floor. She has a full-in as a possibility, a front 2/1 as a possibility, and nice pop on a 2.5. The options are myriad, so I’d like to see that routine.

We’ve also seen training videos of Hambrick on beam for what looks like it will be a solid set. To my eye, beam was Arkansas’s best event in 2018, and it can get better in 2019. Hambrick also brings a full on vault, which Arkansas will need, and even though bars was not typically the strong score for her in JO, she did place 4th there at JO nationals this year. So deal with that.

Bailey Lovett VT UB BB FX
Lovett has appeared a year early to help bolster this Arkansas roster, though the extent of contribution may be a bit of a question mark since she also was not able to compete fully in the 2018 JO season on the leg events. Prior to that, Lovett placed 6th AA at JO nationals in both 2016 and 2017, so she’s not exactly some random coming in at the last minute.

Ideally, Arkansas will get three routines from Lovett based on the DLO and leaps she showed on floor and the sheer potential she has on bars and beam. That line on bars. That routine could become a thing, and training videos have shown her working a double front dismount to ensure it.

Katarina Derrick VT UB BB FX
Derrick was a later signing for this class and will look to become that “anywhere you need me” option, with a nice double pike on floor, the requisite acro on beam, and a double Arabian dismount on bars. Arkansas has been missing that kind of contributor in recent years when trying to pull together full lineups in reaction to various injuries. Important will be the possible full that Derrick vaults since Arkansas may be returning only three vaults that the team really wants to use this year. It’s still a “calling all vaults” situation.
Savannah Pennese VT UB BB FX
Arkansas will have Pennese as a depth option on vault and floor, delivering another full on vault should the team need it and showing the floor composition to put herself in the depth pool.
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