The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2023 Cal Bears

Previewing the 2023 Cal gymnastics team

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

Seniors

Nevaeh DeSouza

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on VT (9.885)

  • #2 returning score on FX (9.865)

  • #3 returning score on BB (9.870), UB (9.865)

Maya Green

UB
FX

  • Competed 2 UBs (avg 9.813), 1 FX (9.850) in 2022

Natalie Sadighi

VT

  • Competed 2 VTs in 2022, avg 9.775

Juniors

Elise Byun


  • Did not compete in first 2 seasons

Blake Gozashti


  • Did not compete in first 2 seasons

Andi Li

VT
UB
BB

FX

  • #1 returning score on UB (9.935), FX (9.915), BB (9.890)

  • #2 returning score on VT (9.830)

Gabby Perea

UB
BB
FX

  • #3 returning score on UB (9.865)

  • Competed 4 FXs in 2022, avg 9.813

Sophomores

Ella Cesario

UB
FX

  • Did not compete in first season

Jordan Kane

BB

  • Competed 1 BB in 2022 for 9.000

Mya Lauzon

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on BB (9.890)

  • Competed 6 FXs (avg 9.863), 6 VTs (9.700), 3 UBs (avg 9.833) in 2022

Abbey Scanlon

BB
FX

  • Did not compete in first season

Maddie Williams

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #2 returning score on UB (9.905)

  • #3 returning score on VT (9.810)

  • #4 returning score on BB (9.855)

First Years

Miki Aderinto

VT
UB
BB

FX

  • Desert Devils

  • 1st UB, 3rd AA, 2022 L10 Nationals

Casey Brown

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • East Bay

  • 5th AA, 2022 L10 Nationals

eMjae Frazier

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • Parkettes

  • 2nd AA, 2021 US World Trials

Jayden Silvers

BB
FX

  • Joining team in January

  • The Klub

  • 1st FX, 2022 L10 Specialist Nationals

RANKING HISTORY
2022 – 11th
2021 – 7th
2020 – 9th
2019 – 11th
2018 – 9th
2017 – 16th
2016 – 7th
2015 – 18th
2014 – 16th
2013 – 28th
2012 – 49th

Where 2022 Finished…

The goal for Cal at this point in its evolution will always be to make nationals, so while last season’s 11th-place result is within the normal range of Cal’s recent finishes (and featured highs like beating Utah in their dual meet and beating UCLA at Pac-12s and in the final standings), not making nationals will have been an unsatisfying finish. That’s especially true for a senior class that had reached that peak the year before.

Now, Cal must grapple with the loss of a number of critical gymnasts while also trying to improve on last season’s final mark.

Gains and Losses

LOSTGAINED
Maya Bordas – VT, UB, BB, FXeMjae Frazier
Milan Clausi – VT, BB, FXMiki Aderinto
Nina Schank – VT, UB, FXCasey Brown
Emi Watterson – UB, BBJayden Silvers (JAN)
Grace Quinn – FX
Kyana George – (VT, UB, BB, FX)
Talitha Jones – (BB)
Abi Solari – (VT)

The New Ones

Joining the team this year is one of the biggest names—and biggest potential scorers—that Cal has ever recruited, 2021 world championship team member eMjae Frazier. Frazier should be a star for this team, most likely in the all-around, and will bring program-first, anchor-position difficulty on vault and floor that should raise the national profile of those lineups, which were Cal’s lowest-ranked last season. The path toward making up for all those lost routines from last season runs through Frazier bringing higher scores than anything that was lost.

Cal also brings in two of the top AA finishers from L10 Nationals last season in Miki Aderinto and Casey Brown. Aderinto finished first on bars and second on beam in the senior F division, showing legs-together form on bars and nice extension on her back handspring and layout stepout work on beam that can be curated to score very well in college. Casey Brown’s height makes you automatically think bars, which should be a good event for her with her lovely Van Leeuwen as long as she has a workable dismount, but her most significant contribution should be her Y1.5 on vault.

Cal will also have Jayden Silvers joining in January, who qualified for the specialist session of L10 Nationals this year on two events and won both beam and floor.

Event by Event

VAULT

2022 Event Ranking: 12

Lineup locks: eMjae Frazier, Nevaeh DeSouza, Mya Lauzon, Casey Brown, Andi Li
Lineup options: Maddie Williams, Miki Aderinto, Natalie Sadighi, Ella Cesario, Elise Byun

Vault presents the single best opportunity for Cal to upgrade its scores in 2023. Because of the relative lack of 10.0 starts in 2022, vault was typically the straggling score, right through to the regional final where Cal lost to Minnesota by a total of .425, and the deficit on vault alone was…also .425. This year, Cal should have much more to rely on than just Nevaeh DeSouza’s Y1.5 and hope.

eMjae Frazier has been working a DTY regularly in training videos, which should be the team’s best vault, and Cal will aim to have Mya Lauzon’s Y1.5 in there consistently this year after she missed the middle of last season and had to downgrade to the full to get a sure landing. With those two vaults joining DeSouza, Cal will have a heartier core of 10.0 starts, and then if the Casey Brown Y1.5 also materializes for competition landings, the lineup should be nationally competitive with most teams, all but the very top vaulting teams. That would then allow the clean Yfull from Andi Li (which is the team’s #2 returning vault score at 9.830, but you don’t want a 9.830 as your second-best vault) to be more of an early-lineup table-setter, joined by perhaps the full from Maddie Williams that scored about the same last year, or the Y1/2 from Miki Aderinto, or several other options that can score 9.8s.

BARS

2022 Event Ranking: 10

Lineup locks: Andi Li, Maddie Williams, Nevaeh DeSouza, Gabby Perea
Lineup options: Miki Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier, Maya Green, Mya Lauzon, Ella Cesario

For a team that has lost a number of critical bars routines (as well as Janelle McDonald’s full-body fist pump telling you that was a hit cast handstand), Cal is still somewhat spoiled for choice on bars in 2023 with a good nine-ish people you’d be comfortable putting in a lineup to score 9.850+.

Andi Li went into the 9.9s eight times last season and Maddie Williams did so five times, and those two should be counted on again for the top two scores. DeSouza doesn’t get quite the same numbers from the leadoff position, but her routine is clean enough to be counted on for a weekly 9.850, while Gabby Perea really started to find her bars at the end of last season and went as high as 9.950. You’d be happy with all four of them coming back, but among returners Cal will also have Maya Green, who has typically been muscled out of the lineup by Cal’s bars depth but has 9.850s to give, as well as Mya Lauzon, who may count bars as her least necessary routine for the team but still went into the 9.8s on all three of her competition sets last season. They could all see time.

But…so could all three of the fall-joining first years. Bars was not the strong event for Frazier as an elite, but the cool thing about the college code is that you don’t have to do Nabieva + Pak, which would help with consistency and form, and Frazier has the skill set to find a balance between difficult and clean that scores well in college. Bars is also one of the strongest events for both Aderinto and Brown, who have the toe point and transition form around which to base a very good college routine. A 2023 Cal bars lineup with Frazier, Aderinto, and Brown all in it would not be surprising either, amounting to a team with enough options to really weed out the 9.825ier routines to create a lineup of 9.875+s and retain bars as an asset event.  

BEAM

2022 Event Ranking: 8

Lineup locks: Mya Lauzon, Andi Li, Nevaeh DeSouza, Maddie Williams, eMjae Frazier
Lineup options: Miki Aderinto, Casey Brown, Gabby Perea, Abbey Scanlon, Jordan Kane, Jayden Silvers

Beam ranked as Cal’s best event in 2022, and it should continue to be a very competitive lineup in 2023 even though the team will deeply miss Bordas’s #1 score, as well as the sure-thing from Clausi. The remaining four athletes from last season’s final six do all seem locked bets to return, led by Mya Lauzon, who went 9.9 or better in five of her final six beam routines in 2022 (the other was 9.875), ending with a 9.950. If she goes for a full season, that routine should become a thing, dueling with Andi Li to see who will be the headliner of the lineup. We can also expect Maddie Williams’ routine to come back, along with the necessity that is DeSouza, as you’d expect both to go 9.850+. 

Cal’s best potential replacements for Bordas and Clausi are going to be eMjae Frazier, who owns the combination of technically sound leap ability and acro skill to get top college beam scores, as well as probably Miki Aderinto, who has the foot form to do the same. But we could see several others. Casey Brown should have a beam option, Abbey Scanlon didn’t compete last year but seemed like a beam possibility heading in, and Jordan Kane did make the opening-meet beam lineup in 2022. Also: while Gabby Perea has never actually performed a counting beam routine for Cal in her two seasons, you can pry the hope that she will compete beam from my cold, dead hands.

FLOOR

2022 Event Ranking: 15

Lineup locks: eMjae Frazier, Andi Li, Nevaeh DeSouza, Mya Lauzon
Lineup options: Gabby Perea, Miki Aderinto, Casey Brown, Jayden Silvers, Maddie Williams, Maya Green, Abbey Scanlon, Ella Cesario

It’s a tough category, but the event that takes the biggest hit from last year’s senior departures is probably floor, with three members of 2022’s final lineup gone in Quinn, Clausi, and Bordas (as well as Schank, who was in the lineup most of the season). Most critical in replenishing the floor lineup and regaining the 49.5 level from the 2022 postseason will be getting Frazier in there for big numbers, potentially with the Silivas that she competed in elite and has been working with this preseason. She’ll be counted on to pair with Andi Li—who went 9.9+ in nine of eleven routines last year—for the meaty, meaty scores. Expect Mya Lauzon, who went 9.900 three times last season, to be relied on more on floor in 2022, and DeSouza can be a constant for counting scores.

Filling out the rest of the floor lineup features the most unknown factors and potential moving pieces of any event. You wouldn’t have had a Gabby Perea floor routine at the top of the most-likely list, but she jumped in for DeSouza at the last second in the 2022 regional final and got 9.900, which tells us that there’s something here. Based on their L10 routines, all three of Brown, Silvers, and Aderinto should be contenders on floor, and then we have the returners who haven’t figured yet like Williams, who did three events last year but not floor, Ella Cesario, who had a piked full-in in L10, and Abbey Scanlon, who had that DLO.

The supply of unproven but potential-filled options abound. The key will be not going back to that place where the first three routines all get stuck in the 9.7s at away meets because they had one funk-o landing, and then it’s up to Li and Frazier to save the score. But this year it would be Li and Frazier to save the score.

%d bloggers like this: