The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Retirements, Transfers, and Commitments

Despite there being soooo much nothing going on, the gymnastics news hasn’t fully stopped, and a number of gymnasts have let us in on their career decisions made during the apocalypse. A rundown:

New Zealand and Boise State gymnast and overall gem Courtney McGregor announced her retirement this week. As you’ll recall, Courtney set the tone for 2020 when her Achilles exploded in the very first meet of the season, and then the entire world went, “So…same I guess” and we’re all currently working under the theory that she is an oracle.

She did have the option to return for a fifth NCAA season in 2021, but as she explains in her post, given the uncertainty surrounding the season and the fact that she has already completed her academics, returning to BSU for a maybe-season was not the right call for her.

Right now, I’m thinking about that time at worlds last year when I went into the training hall and her coach immediately yelled, “ONLY NICE COMMENTS” at me. As if there would be any other. Happy retirement, Courtney.

In the last week or so, Senna Deriks of Belgium also announced her retirement.

A 2016 Olympian, Deriks was the baby of that team and decided to stick around for the current quad, forming part of that core five (along with Derwael, Hermans, Brassart and Klinckaert when she was healthy) that maintained Belgium’s position among the top dozen nations in the world. Deriks last competed at worlds in 2019 where she showed VT/UB/BB and got Belgium’s best non-Nina score on bars.

It seems that timing won’t really be on the side of most of the Belgian Core Five for a 2021 Olympics, so expect to see some of those newer ones like Margaux Daveloose and Jade Vansteenkiste pick up positions on the eventual Olympic team.

As I mentioned last time around, Denisa Golgota has retired as a way of spiting the sport of gymnastics for being so cruel to her and not rewarding her 3 years spent carrying the Romanian team with an Olympic spot. Now, it seems Carmen Ghiciuc has joined her in retirement. Ghiciuc featured with Golgota (and Olivia Cimpian and Ioana Crisan) on that 2016 junior Euros team that got everyone so excited for the future—and for Ghiciuc’s beam potential in particular—but as is a familiar story in Romania, it never quite worked out for her as a senior.

Speaking of Olivia Cimpian, however, her name was initially included in the rush of Romanian retirements with Golgota and Ghiciuc, but it appears that was only a false alarm and she intends to keep on trucking. Her strong DTY was a significant asset to that 2016 junior team, but after the drama of her potential (and ultimately aborted) nationality switch to Hungary, we haven’t seen her in so very long.

On the US front, elites who might have been in doubt are gradually confirming that they do intend to continue pushing for Tokyo rather than start NCAA for the 2021 season. Jordan Chiles has made the decision to push back attending UCLA (which will open up a critical position on that roster), and Riley McCusker also confirmed she will continue training elite rather than head to Florida this fall. McCusker had been somewhat in doubt, at least for me, because of the whole deal with The Haney, but perhaps she’s found some new life.

Florida has to do some fancy figuring to try to put together a team for 2021 if there’s a season (and if there’s a season anywhere, it will be the SEC) since Hurd already deferred until the 2022 season, now McCusker is intending to do the same, and original verbal Shilese Jones didn’t sign when the other 2021 athletes did. Instead, the Gators have commissioned former junior elites Ellie Lazzari and Gabby Gallentine(‘s Day) to both join early to take over those spots, and this week Florida announced Alex Magee as a walk-on who could round out the possibilities on bars and be a beam project.

Depending on how a few more decisions go, UCLA may find itself in some…fascinating straits in terms of a roster for next season. Chiles is deferring, so then what of Moors, Padurariu, Esparza, and Malabuyo? Those gymnasts were going to need to do a lot next year.

So…uh…who wants to go to UCLA next season?

Answer: Adnerys De Jesus, who after being removed from the Nebraska team for a violation of team rules, has confirmed she landed at UCLA. Not bad for a spring’s work. De Jesus competed the all-around for Nebraska, and would be a necessity for the vault lineup with her 1.5, a compelling option on bars and floor, and a possibility on beam as well depending on how the team’s need develops since they’re returning negative 13 routines.

In other NCAA developments, Bailey Ferrer announced her transfer from LSU to Auburn for the upcoming year.

Ferrer joined the LSU team right before the 2019 season with the general sense that she would contribute most on floor and vault (with that Omelianchik), but those events didn’t really come along during the season and the team ended up needing her most on bars, where she contributed a regular 9.825y-type routine. Prior to 2020, she posted that she would be missing the season for personal reasons.

Today, Cal announced three gymnasts that will join next season’s original class of Gabby Perea and Andrea Li, the bigger name of the group being Kennedy Quay, who was 5th AA at JO Nationals in 2017 and 6th AA in 2018 and has basically been injured ever since. She hasn’t competed floor since 2018, but she did return to get some big bars scores in the early 2020 meets.

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