Who Is She?
Michigan introduces another concentrated class of four JO athletes this year, led by one of the top L10 recruits in the country, Carly Bauman. Bauman was a Chow’s gymnast who has been blinking brightly on the radar for several years, ever since she won her junior division at JO Nationals in 2016 and followed that up with the junior title at the Nastia Cup in 2017. Bauman went on to win JO Nationals again in 2018 and placed 2nd on beam and 4th on bars in 2019.
In 2019, only a floor fall kept her from placing among the very top AAer in her age division, a group led by Kiya Johnson that also included Bauman’s new teammate Naomi Morrison, who took 5th overall. Morrison, originally an Oregon State verbal who switched to Michigan last year, posted her best-ever result at that 2019 competition, which featured top-8 showings on vault, bars, and floor.
Bauman and Morrison will be joined in Michigan’s class by Reyna Guggino, previously an Eastern Michigan verbal who switched to Michigan shortly before signing day last year. Guggino has shown competitive results on vault and floor at state competitions over the years, especially lately, but is among those athletes who were never able to qualify to nationals because qualification is based only on AA score.
Rounding out the class is Jenna Mulligan, whose career highlight was a remarkably strong performance at 2018 JO Nationals, her only time qualifying to that meet, where she finished 5th on floor and 8th on beam, and made you say, “Oh hey that…”
What’s She Going to Do?
The current outlook is pretty rosy for Michigan since all but a handful of the team’s best routines last season were performed by freshmen and sophomores, all of whom return. The roster shed only three routines from last year’s final-meet lineup, beam and floor from Lexi Funk and beam from Maggie O’Hara. (Maddy Osman was injured by that point but also brought options on three events during her career.) With this year’s freshmen, Michigan will expect to get stronger on the majority of apparatuses.
Carly Bauman’s best events are bars and beam, where I’d expect her to carve out a late-lineup spot for herself pretty quickly. My notes on her beam routine were just the word fab, but with four b’s. It’s a thing. Her pristine Shap to bail combination should also give her an inside track to higher scores on bars. Michigan will want to get Bauman into the floor lineup as well, where beautiful twisting ability (and non-ugly-switch-half ability) should be enough to earn her a position, even if it hasn’t always been her most consistent event. As for vault, Bauman brings a viable Yfull, which Michigan may or may not end up needing because of the Y1.5 brigade, but it exists.
Definitely joining that Y1.5 brigade, however, will be Naomi Morrison, who has used that vault to rack up big scores and win the event at 8 of 10 competitions over the last two years. Vault is her strongest event and the one where she’s most likely to influence the team, but not the only place we should expect to see her. Of note, Morrison’s L10 scores have been just as strong on bars as they have been on both floor and vault, so while she may get the “prototypical power gymnast” edit, her Gienger and FTDT on bars will make a compelling option for that lineup—even if it’s a difficult group to break into. Overall, watching Morrison’s JO routines delivers very Abby Brenner vibes in that I could see her making a mark on VT, UB, and FX…and BB is probably not going to happen.
As for the other two, I’m not penciling Jenna Mulligan or Reyna Guggino into lineups with the confidence of Bauman and Morrison because there just aren’t that many openings in these lineups where you need someone new, but Mulligan in particular is a real wildcard to watch. She’s an acro trickster, with a full-in on floor, a Y1.5 (tucked….?) on vault, and some solid elements on beam. From what I’ve seen, it’s too formy to get into these lineups as is, despite the difficulty, but in terms of a raw-power-potential project, there’s something there. I’d say Guggino profiles as a reasonable depth option as needed on vault and floor, with a solid double pike, a fine Yfull, etc. She could slot in well in replicating the Maddy Osman role on the team.
Shut Up and Show Me It