Who Is She?
Florida’s incoming quartet for 2021 is, to some extent, a makeshift class. In a different bubble of the multiverse, we are arriving at the post-Olympic college season with a bevy of elites sashaying into college gym to get their 10s. Instead, we all got the dud timeline and Florida will have to wait for the 2022 season for that elite explosion.
Nonetheless, Florida has gone to work to swap the 2021 class with the 2022 class, getting a couple essential junior-elite-to-L10s to start a year early to protect against a down season in 2021. So while it may be a makeshift class, it’s Florida, and Florida can make a pretty good shift.
Headlining this year’s class is Ellie Lazzari, a former junior elite who probably could have made quite the impact as a senior elite had she gone that direction. Rather, she joined the many (many) college newcomers this year in saying “that’s enough for me and this” to elite after 2017, returning to L10 gymnastics in 2019 to clean up all the awards. Lazzari won the all-around title at 2019 JO Nationals while placing no worse than 4th on any event.
Partnering with Lazzari in Florida’s class exchange program is another former junior elite, Gabbie Gallentine‘s Day. Gallentine’s Day ventured into junior elite for a couple years in the early part of this quad, making her mark on the Everest special: bars, which pretty much always garnered her best placement. Gallentine returned to L10 in 2020 to make a few appearances in preparation for college.
Joining the class this year to add some routines will be L10s Chloi Clark and Alex Magee. Clark had her best result in 2019 when she advanced to JO Nationals and finished 4th on vault. In 2019, Magee finished 3rd at Florida states on bars, which is nearly always her strongest event.
What’s She Going to Do?
Florida has work to do in 2021 to remain at the same quality as the team that ended the fake-season in 2nd place. The departures of Amelia Hundley and Rachel Gowey and their significant UB/BB/FX contributions, as well as the vault from Sierra Alexander and the routines from Maegan Chant (though she was not competing by the end) leave openings in the roster that need to be filled. Most of that work can be done by the freshmen, though it’s a lot of ask of this class, so Florida will also need to rely on returners to do a little more, whether it’s Savannah Schoenherr finally competing floor regularly, or more contribution from Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, or the like.
In terms of the freshmen, Ellie Lazzari is a believable all-around star—even on a team as strong as Florida’s. The lovely toes and extension that give her a pristine loso + loso series on beam, as well as NCAA-ready foot positions on bars, are matched by the power to crank around a piked full-in on floor and a DTY (in the elite days) on vault. Lazzari has vaulted a Yfull most recently in L10, though retains the power to do more. I’d have her in the lineup regardless, either with a 10.0 start or as a mid-lineup Yfull that can still score well. She’s the strongest floor worker in this new class and is the most likely to get in there, and on beam, there’s a very heir-to-Rachel-Gowey about her work with lots of skill options to pick and choose what the 9.95iest composition might be.
The most significant routines Florida loses from 2020 are probably the bars routines from Gowey and Hundley, and Florida will be looking to Gallentine to replenish that lineup. Gallentine has plenty of difficulty from her elite routine in a powerful bars set that’s actually quite reminiscent of Hundley’s. Just go right into that spot. Bars is the most likely apparatus on which we’ll see Gallentine, but she has the skill set to contribute options on more events. Her leaps are solid on beam, which can often provide an upper hand, and while vault and floor may not be able to make a mark on a roster like this, they exist.
As for Chloi Clark and Alex Magee, they’ll sort of complement each other to provide one as-needed depth option on each event. Clark has always been most successful on vault and floor, with a Yfull that can be in the mix for that “so, who’s going up first this week” spot as well as a usable double pike/double tuck routine on floor. Magee stepped back from vault and floor in 2020 to compete only bars and beam, showing potential project routines on both apparatuses. Bars garners Magee’s best scores, though her beam mount is the standout piece of gymnastics in her repertoire.
Shut Up and Show Me It