The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2023 Auburn Tigers

Previewing the 2023 Auburn gymnastics team

AUBURN TIGERS

Super Senior

Derrian Gobourne

VT
UB
FX

  • #1 returning score on FX (9.960), VT (9.890)

  • #2 returning score on UB (9.920)

  • Competed 5 BBs in 2021

Seniors

Aria Brusch


UB
BB
FX

  • #3 returning score on UB (9.905)

  • #5 returning score on BB (9.865), FX (9.815)

Morgan Leigh Oldham

FX

  • Competed 2 FXs (avg 9.638), 1 BB (9.175) in 2022

Adeline Sabados

VT
UB
FX

  • #5 returning score on UB (9.835)

  • Competed 1 FX in 2022 for 9.825

  • NQS of 9.819 on VT in 2021

Piper Smith

UB
BB

  • Competed 5 UBs (avg 9.330), 3 BBs (avg 9.650) in 2022

  • Competed VT, FX in 2021

Cassie Stevens

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #3 returning score on VT (9.885)

  • #4 returning score on FX (9.880), BB (9.875), UB (9.870)

Anna Sumner

UB

  • Did not compete in 2022

  • NQS of 9.813 on UB in 2021

Juniors

Olivia Hollingsworth

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #6 returning score on BB (9.835)

  • Competed VT, UB, FX in 2021

Gabby McLaughlin

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #3 returning score on BB (9.915)

  • Competed 3 VTs in 2022, avg 9.758

  • Competed 3 FXs, 1 UB in 2021

Sophomores

Ananda Brown

FX

  • Competed 1 FX in 2022 for 9.000

Sophia Groth

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #2 returning score on BB (9.950)

  • #3 returning score on FX (9.900)

  • #5 returning score on VT (9.855), UB (9.835)

Sara Hubbard

VT
FX

  • #4 returning score on VT (9.865)

  • NQS of 9.720 on FX

Suni Lee

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on BB (9.980), UB (9.970), VT (9.890)

  • #2 returning score on FX (9.950)

Caroline Leonard

  • Did not compete in first season

First Years

Olivia Greaves


  • Will miss 2023 season with ACL complications

  • WCC

  • 2019 Junior US All-Around bronze

Hannah Hagle

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • Texas East

  • 7th AA, 2021 L10 Nationals

Hailey John

BB

  • Orlando Metro

  • 38th AA, 2019 L10 Nationals

Ranking History
2022 – 4th
2021 – 35th
2020 – 17th
2019 – 16th
2018 – 14th
2017 – 15th
2016 – 11th
2015 – 6th
2014 – 20th
2013 – 13th
2012 – 15th

Where 2022 Finished…

The 2022 season ranks as Auburn’s best finish of all time, outpacing the 5th-place result from back in 1993, so that’s…you know…good. I suppose it went pretty well. This was just the fourth time in history that Auburn finished a season ranked in the top 10, joining 1991, 1993, and 2015. The lion’s share of the credit for that result will go a little someone named Suni Lee, who spurred an exponential increase in notoriety, routine difficulty, and routine quality for Auburn. Certainly, the 4th-place finish would never have happened without her, but it’s also worth noting the degree of team effort present in Auburn’s historic season. Removing Lee’s NQSs, Auburn would still have ranked in the top 10 in 2022, which also would have been one of the best seasons in team history.

Gains and Losses

LOSTGAINED
Drew Watson – VT, FX, (UB)Olivia Greaves
Tara Walsh – (VT)Hannah Hagle
Jada Glenn – (VT)Hailey John
Payton Smith

The New Ones

Auburn will expect fairly minimal changes to the lineups in 2023 with a small first-year class that got even smaller when Olivia Greaves was ruled out for the season with an ACL setback. Greaves would otherwise have been expected to factor significantly in the bars and beam lineups this year (and of course would have the gymnastics to be an all-arounder, but we’ll see how things go with vault and floor after all this ACLing).

Hannah Hagle has been a strong AA finisher at States and Regionals in L10 since she dropped back from elite and should be the type who provides an option on any event depending on the needs of the team and how many lineup spots actually open up, especially considering all the locks returning from last season. Hagle was an early-lineup performer on all four at Auburn’s preview meet.

Auburn will also have Hailey John this season, one who has been out with injury for a good long time (her last L10 championship season was pre-pandemic) but had some real beam chops, as well as some inbar work, as a little.

Event by Event

VAULT

2022 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Derrian Gobourne, Suni Lee, Sara Hubbard, Cassie Stevens
Lineup options: Olivia Hollingsworth, Sophia Groth, Hannah Hagle, Gabby McLaughlin, Adeline Sabados

In the position of honor in the vault lineup, Auburn will return Derrian Gobourne’s Y1.5 and Suni Lee’s WhateverSheWants, which should be the top vault scores on the team again this season. The single best thing Lee can do to keep up with Rebeca Andrade is to develop a competition-level Cheng for the summer/fall 2023 collection, so I would imagine the Lopez (plus…) would continue being the intended direction for her college vaulting. The Y1.5s from Sara Hubbard and Cassie Stevens should once again make up the middle meat of the lineup sandwich.

The single most significant loss for Auburn on any event is no longer having Drew Watson’s Y1.5 in this vault lineup since there’s not exactly an obvious replacement for her. The best-case plan would probably be to have the Olivia Hollingsworth Y1.5 materialize, though Auburn may end up throwing a couple Yfulls into the lineup this year. That’s not going to keep pace with the best teams and their full lineups of 10.0 starts, but it’s not dire. Groth scored pretty well, especially early in the season, for her full in 2022, and Hannah Hagle brings solid amplitude and comfort level on a full as well, both of which should at least see some time, if not all the time. 

BARS

2022 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Suni Lee, Derrian Gobourne, Aria Brusch, Cassie Stevens
Lineup options: Adeline Sabados, Sophia Groth, Piper Smith, Anna Sumner, Olivia Hollingsworth, Piper Smith, Hannah Hagle, Gabby McLaughlin

Auburn returns everybody from the 2022 lineup, and with no new gymnasts aggressively pushing their way into the bars six, staying exactly the same here seems like a pretty solid plan to me. Certainly, Lee and Gobourne will lead the charge, with the main question for Lee being what routine composition will get her the most 10s. Aria Brusch had an exceptionally strong season on bars as well in 2022, and Cassie Stevens likely secured her 2023 place by hitting every week last season.

Adeline Sabados has been a fixture of this lineup for pretty much her whole career, and Sophia Groth broke into the lineup toward the middle of the 2022 season and typically notched some big numbers, while also being a little more prone to 9.7s. Those six would represent a complete return of the 2022 lineup and, gasp, about the same scoring expectations. In terms of potential disruptions to that group, Anna Sumner missed last season but did get some 9.8s in 2021, and Piper Smith had a couple falls in her five routines last year but also has been to the 9.9s twice in her career.

BEAM

2022 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Suni Lee, Sophia Groth, Gabby McLaughlin, Cassie Stevens, Aria Brusch
Lineup options: Olivia Hollingsworth, Hannah Hagle, Piper Smith, Hailey John, Morgan Leigh Oldham

Beam ranked as Auburn’s best event last season and loses exactly zero routines, so like bars, there’s probably not an extreme amount of urgency to change things in 2023. While Suni Lee absolutely shockingly led the team on beam in 2022—the only surprise may have been that her beam NQS ended up higher than her bars NQS—the big win was getting nearly equivalent scores from Sophia Groth, someone who had pretty low beam scores at the end of her L10 career because of consistency struggles but who hit 15-for-15 in the 2022 season with nothing lower than 9.800. Meanwhile, Gabby McLaughlin went 9.9+ on beam nine different times in 2022 and comes in as the #3 returning beamer. So that looks pretty good. 

As on bars, Cassie Stevens and Aria Brusch competed the entirety of last season for solid scores, and no one really seems to be knocking them out of those positions that they have secured for themselves. Hollingsworth provided the sixth lineup routine in 2022, and Auburn will expect to have Hagle as a possibility as well as Piper Smith, who did go 9.900 one time in each of the last two seasons.

FLOOR

2022 Event Ranking: 6

Lineup locks: Derrian Gobourne, Suni Lee, Sophia Groth, Cassie Stevens
Lineup options: Aria Brusch, Olivia Hollingsworth, Sara Hubbard, Hannah Hagle, Gabby McLaughlin, Adeline Sabados, Morgan Leigh Oldham, Ananda Brown

Technically, floor was Auburn’s lowest-ranked event in 2022, but since it ranked 6th, that’s not such a big concern. The concern may be how to make up for the lost routine from Drew Watson, though on floor there are several more gymnasts than on vault who have not yet reached their full potential but really should make a lineup based on their ability. In theory, floor should be Hollingsworth’s best event, and while we haven’t seen that much floor from her in college lately, her open 1/2-in-1/2-out looked strong in Auburn’s preview meet. Similarly, Sara Hubbard’s full-in should have a place in a floor lineup as long as Auburn finds a leap combination that can work without getting her stuck sub-9.8, and we’re still waiting on the potential of Ananda Brown’s L10 floor routine to be fulfilled.

You could see any one of them breaking into a lineup where the locked-in back half is going to be high quality with Gobourne, Lee, and Groth getting the biggest scores and Stevens not far behind. Brusch was out of the lineup for a bit of the middle of 2022 after not showing a lot of floor in 2021, but she returned for the championship meets for 9.8s in 4 of 5 routines and seems like the odds-on option again, though one that could be knocked out of the six depending on how many of those potential-heavy routines come through this year. Despite losing Watson, Auburn won’t anticipate dropping tenths on floor in 2023.

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