Who Is She?
Whew boy. Deep breaths. Oklahoma has opted to deal with the departure of Maggie Nichols by recruiting every person KJ has ever met as part of a freshman class of nine (it actually was 10, but Cassidy Knight no longer appears). So let’s get into it.
The name-brand in the group is former WOGA elite Audrey Davis, who placed 6th all-around at junior nationals in 2017, four tenths behind Leanne Wong, then 14th all-around at senior nationals in 2018. Davis returned to JO for a moment in 2020 to compete bars and beam, winning beam at every meet she entered.
After Davis, we get to the cavalcade of ninja L10s. Two weeks ago, Oklahoma announced that Danae Fletcher, an MG Elite refugee, would be granted asylum to join the team a year early. Because there just weren’t enough people in this class already. Most recently, Fletcher placed 4th AA in her junior division at JO Nationals in 2019, winning the floor title. Speaking of floor, Katherine LeVasseur enjoyed her best result at March’s Nastia Cup on that event, placing third, but typically her strongest scores come on vault, where she scored a 10.000 at 2019 Region 3s.
Winning vault is a bit of a theme in this year’s class. Julianne Fehring won the event in her division at 2019 JO Nationals with a Yurchenko 1.5, following in the footsteps of Quinn Smith, who did the exact same at 2018 JO Nationals with her own Yurchenko 1.5.
Lest it seem to be all vault, I’d rate bars as Bell Johnson‘s best event, having earned her highest placement there at each of the last three JO Nationals.
Augmenting the class further are two walk-ons who were not part of the signing class—Sheridan Ramsey and Audrey Lynn. Ramsey scored a 9.750 on vault at 2019 Region 3s for her best score ever, while Lynn is a newer L10, just starting that level in the 2019 season, who recorded her top career score of 9.650 on vault in 2020 just before the shutdown.
Oklahoma’s freshman class also includes Meilin Sullivan—who placed 5th on bars at 2019 JO Nationals and profiles as a very believable bars, beam, and floor contender—but per her mom on the socials, she’ll be out for the season with COVID-induced myocarditis/pericarditis.
Still, um, it’s a lot of people with a lot of gymnastics.
What’s She Going to Do?
Oklahoma will be without the Maggie Nichols and Jade Degouveia routines in 2021, and replacing that contribution shouldn’t be treated as a flip task…since auto-10s don’t just magically appear. Nonetheless, the sheer multitude of routines in this incoming class means that Oklahoma won’t expect a dip in 2021.
I’d consider Audrey Davis a lock for beam and bars. Her beam work is smooth and confident—and very OU even before getting there—with the requisite WOGA-Onodi that actually works for her. On bars, Davis has plenty of difficulty including a piked Jaeger from L-grip that has featured in training videos and renders this routine the most believable new option for Oklahoma on bars.
Davis was quite strong on vault and floor as an elite as well, with a DTY in 2018 that wouldn’t translate to college but demonstrates her power, as well as a comfortable piked full-in on floor. But, since she hasn’t competed those events since 2018, there’s a bit of a question mark.
Katherine LeVasseur, on the other hand, has been all about the vault and floor scores over the past couple seasons. Her Yurchenko 1.5 went 9.900 at last year’s JO Nationals and will be among the most viable replacement options for OU’s 10.0-start brigade on vault. LeVasseur also brings a full-in on floor, though in watching her routines I was surprised to see that it was not vault or floor—but beam—that proved the most impressive to me. Her scores haven’t typically been that strong on beam, but the gymnastics certainly is. Add to that a smooth and simple bars routine, and she should become a potential four-eventer depending on the needs of the lineup. She’ll at least be in the mix on all four.
Oklahoma shouldn’t have to abandon its “oops, all 10.0 starts” approach to vault in 2021 since in addition to LeVasseur’s 1.5, both Julianne Fehring and Quinn Smith vaulted Y1.5s in JO for successful scores and will at least be contenders for that lineup. I’d say vault is the most likely event for both, but not the exclusive event. Smith is able to leap, which should help on beam and floor, and she has a precise line on bars and floaty DLO dismount. I could also see a potential bars routine coming through from Fehring. The same is true on bars for Bell Johnson, who has a pretty piked Jaeger and a complete set of skills that can be built around. She’s basically 10-degrees-straighter-hip-angle-in-casts from having a sublime NCAA routine that I would put in a lineup.
Though if we’re picking two bars routines to step into the vacated Nichols and Degouveia positions, I’d go with Davis and Danae Fletcher. Fletcher has the combination of amplitude and legs-together form to make a very compelling case for herself. She has also excelled recently in both the vault and floor scores, but I haven’t seen routines from her there since 2016 with…very different composition…so time will tell.
Sheridan Ramsey and Audrey Lynn may end of being victims of the depth on this team. Ramsey has a lovely Y1/2 on vault, but do we see Oklahoma putting up a Y1/2 on vault? Lynn, similarly, vaults an excellent handspring front pike that has scored well in JO despite its lower SV, but unless she can add a half twist for competition, Oklahoma’s not going to use it. Both also have solid double pikes on floor to add to the several scrolls-worth of athletes fighting their way into this Oklahoma floor lineup.
Shut Up and Show Me It