The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2022 Minnesota Gophers

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

Super Seniors

Ona Loper

VT
UB
BB

FX

  • #1 returning score on VT (9.956)

  • #2 returning score on FX (9.944), UB (9.919)

  • #3 returning score on BB (9.863)

Lexy Ramler

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on BB (9.975), UB (9.963)

  • #2 returning score on VT (9.950)

  • #3 returning score on FX (9.925)

Hannah Willmarth

UB

  • #4 returning score on UB (9.894)

  • Competed 1 FX in 2021 for 8.525

Seniors

Abbie Nylin

BB
FX

  • #4 returning score on BB (9.838)

  • Competed 4 FX in 2021, avg 9.800

Tiarre Sales

UB
BB
FX

  • #2 returning score on BB (9.913)

  • #3 returning score on UB (9.900)

  • Competed 3 FXs in 2021, avg 9.300

Ali Sonier

BB
FX

  • NQS of 9.656 on BB in 2021

  • Competed 2 FX for 9.800, 7.900

Juniors

Maya Albertin

VT

  • Competed 1 VT in 2021 for 9.700

Kate Grotenhuis

VT

  • NQS of 9.731 on VT in 2021

Mallory Leneave

FX

  • #4 returning score on FX (9.838)

Maddie Quarles

VT

  • #3 returning score on VT (9.925)

Halle Remlinger

VT
UB
FX

  • #5 returning score on VT (9.775)

  • Competed 5 UBs in 2021, avg 9.808

  • Competed 2 FXs for 9.900, 9.875

Sophomores

Erin Fortman

FX

  • Competed 2 FXs in 2021 for 9.850, 9.000

Gianna Gerdes

VT

  • #6 returning score on VT (9.769)

Mya Hooten

VT
UB
FX

  • #1 returning score on FX (9.956)

  • #4 returning score on VT (9.881)

  • #5 returning score on UB (9.850)

Katie Horak

  • Did not compete in first season

Emily Koch

VT
BB
FX

  • #5 returning score on FX (9.819)

  • Competed 5 BBs in 2021, avg 9.705

  • Competed 2 VTs for 9.625, 9.475

Ella Sirjord

  • Did not compete in first season

First Years

Alissa Fuelling


  • Just Jym

Marissa Jencks

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • Twin City Twisters

  • 15th AA, 2019 L10s

Lauren Pearl

VT
BB
FX

  • Brestyan's

  • US Elite 2018

Olivia Reed

UB
BB

  • Bull City

  • 9th AA, 2021 Regionals

Haley Tyson

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • Phenom

  • 6th BB, 2021 L10s

RANKING HISTORY
2021 – 8th
2020 – 10th
2019 – 13th
2018 – 22nd
2017 – 30th
2016 – 12th
2015 – 23rd
2014 – 14th
2013 – 8th
2012 – 24th

2021 IN REVIEW

The 2021 season tied for the best finish in Minnesota’s program history. So…that’s pretty good, right? It was a win? The 2021 squad recorded 3 of the team’s 5 best scores all-time—including a record 197.750 to win the Big Ten Championship—and found itself ranked as high as 4th for a split second. There’s basically no way to construct Minnesota’s 2021 as anything other than a triumph.

DEPARTED ROUTINES

Mary Korlin-Downs – BB
Lexi Montgomery – UB, BB

THE NEW ONES

Minnesota adds five gymnasts for this season, a couple of whom can make multiple lineups and increase the overall competition for spots compared to last season. Haley Tyson has the potential to be yet another under-the-radar Minnesota ninja L10 who brings a form-pleasing Yurchenko 1.5, a potentially gigantic bars routine, and at least a possibility—if not a lineup lock—on beam and floor. With a little bit of refining, the sky’s the Mable for her.

Marissa Jencks could find her way into the vault lineup as she, too, has been working a Y1.5. That’s why I’d classify vault as her most likely event, though she has the content to be sniffing around the borders of any lineup in that 1st-2nd up, 1st-2nd backup territory.

Brestyan’s gymnast Lauren Pearl, whom you may recall from an elite stint in 2018, presents an interesting case because theoretically she should provide the Brestyan’s usual: huge amplitude, big acrobatic difficulty, and a break-the-beam beam routine. But, she has barely competed since 2018. So the possibility for her is three-event lineup contribution, but the reality is…we’ll see.

On the opposite end of the apparatus spectrum, Olivia Reed is a bars/beam specialist with a particularly beautiful Jaeger that could make a very good case for the bars lineup.

2022 PROJECTION

Even.

Minnesota will remain easy to underestimate in 2022, but there’s no reason to think the team will lose any quality from last year’s top-10 squad. If Ramler and Loper weren’t returning for fifth years, then we would be having a very different conversation right now, but seeing as they are, these lineups are going to be very strong. Only a couple final-lineup beam routines are gone, which may provoke some questions on that event, but those questions should be more than made up for by the injection of new routines on several of the other apparatuses.

Making nationals again will be a challenging prospect given the quality of the teams jostling at the doorway in front of them, but Minnesota snatched that 8th and final spot last year and should be right in the mix to do the same this year.

BY EVENT

VAULT

2021 Event Ranking: 6

Lineup locks: Ona Loper, Lexy Ramler, Maddie Quarles, Mya Hooten, Haley Tyson
Lineup options: Marissa Jencks, Lauren Pearl, Gianna Gerdes, Halle Remlinger, Emily Koch, Kate Grotenhuis, Maya Albertin

There was a time when Minnesota tended to be underpowered on vault and struggled to keep up with the best teams. That’s all over now. Four very strong, 9.9+ Yurchenko 1.5s return from last year’s lineup with Loper, Ramler, Quarles, and Hooten. Last season, those four plus whatever local Yfulls happened to be at hand in the given week were enough to get Minnesota ranked 6th in the country on vault. This season, we can expect Haley Tyson’s 1.5 to join them, which will ideally score similarly to the returning Y1.5s and eliminate the need to count a 9.775-level full from either the 1 or 2 spot.

The Jencks 1.5 could give Minnesota a full lineup of 10.0 starts, but there’s also Pearl, who has vaulted a Yfull but with distance and amplitude that would probably rank it ahead of the 9.95 starts that went last season, all of which are still available. Gerdes typically provided the go-to full, with the possibility of a dash of Remlinger as well. In all, look for vault to be Minnesota’s best event in 2022 and most likely avenue for a scoring increase over last year.

BARS

2021 Event Ranking: 7

Lineup locks: Lexy Ramler, Ona Loper, Tiarre Sales, Hannah Willmarth
Lineup options: Haley Tyson, Mya Hooten, Olivia Reed, Halle Remlinger, Marissa Jencks

Item #1: Lexy Ramler has four career 9.975s on bars and no 10s. That’s all I’m going to say on the subject.

Similarly to vault, Minnesota’s bars lineup returns all of the postseason routines from last year and should be in excellent shape. Ramler, Sales, and Loper are the 9.9iest on the team, and there’s absolutely no reason to break up that 4-5-6 for this season. I’d also venture to say that the couple 9.9s and many mid-9.8s that Willmarth achieved last season should move her into lock status as well. Hooten is probably a pretty solid bet to return, but her bars is not the absolute sure-thing score that it is on vault and floor, so we’ll see how things play out with the new ones. 

Reed is an excellent contender here with a clean, efficient routine, while Tyson has a DLO 1/1 dismount that finishes so early it’s not even a bad idea. If this were elite, you’d all want her to upgrade to a Ray III. Sometimes the results haven’t come for Tyson in L10 because she’ll catch close on releases, but the toes, amplitude, and dismount are there, so the tools to make this a high-scoring routine are too irresistible. Both of those first years look like nice bets to fill out a lineup, as is Remlinger, who jumped in last season to get a couple 9.850s.

BEAM

2021 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Lexy Ramler, Tiarre Sales, Ona Loper
Lineup options: Haley Tyson, Emily Koch, Abbie Nylin, Ali Sonier, Lauren Pearl, Olivia Reed, Marissa Jencks

There’s a little more concern about Minnesota’s beam lineup this year because…what are we doing with our lives without Mary Korlin-Downs, but any lineup that has Lexy Ramler leading the way is starting from excellence. Ramler, Sales, and Loper will provide the core of high scores in 2022, but beyond that group there will be open spots ready to be won by whoever can prove the most competitive. Emily Koch seems to have an inside track. She made her way into the beam lineup at the end of her first season and could continue to grow into that position as time passes.

Still, Minnesota does need to find at least one new 9.9 to restock this lineup. It could be Tyson, who again has excellent ability on beam (beam is allegedly her weak event, but that’s more a consistency thing than a built-in execution thing), it could be Reed who has some compelling innate abilities there, and it could be Pearl, who has some of the best acro elements on the team as long as they find leaps that can work for her. 

Ability-wise, you’d also want senior Ali Sonier in here, though she exited the lineup midseason in 2021 after a 9.100. Keeping up with last year’s team totals on beam could be down to Sonier working her way back in for 2022. Abbie Nylin is another who didn’t make the final lineup in 2021 but should provide an option again.

FLOOR

2021 Event Ranking: 10

Lineup locks: Mya Hooten, Ona Loper, Lexy Ramler
Lineup options: Mallory Leneave, Haley Tyson, Halle Remlinger, Marissa Jencks, Lauren Pearl, Emily Koch, Abbie Nylin, Erin Fortman, Ali Sonier, Tiarre Sales

Floor proved the stumbling block (ish) for Minnesota last season—meaning that it sometimes, gasp, wasn’t 49.500—and it’s increasingly becoming the worst event to have as a stumbling block since the best teams are scoring just so high there and only look to get better in 2022. You can’t get away with 9.825s on floor anymore and expect to remain competitive. So, Minnesota will want to upgrade the early half of the lineup this year to complement the excellent returners at the end of the rotation.

In terms of those earlier spots, Leneave emerged as a necessary score once the elimination meets arrived last season and looks to continue on that path in 2022, and if you ever have Halle Remlinger healthy enough to do floor, hers is a routine you want in the lineup. Tyson has shown a DLO in L10, making her look like a solid contender, and Jencks and Pearl could see time as well in some of the question mark spots, as could Erin Fortman who was injured in the second meet last season. Finding three reliable 9.875+s from out of this mix is the key.  

As for the returners, Hooten is the star on floor now, earning a 10.000 last season, Loper gets huge numbers, and Ramler’s numbers are almost as huge. Ramler doesn’t tend to score quite as high on floor because everything is about tumbling control and there’s insufficient reward for those who perform leaps that aren’t drab. But, hers is still a big score and an obviously necessary routine. Those three should continue as lineup leaders.

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