The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2023 Oklahoma Sooners

Previewing the 2023 Oklahoma gymnastics team

OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Super Seniors

Allie Stern

VT

  • #3 returning score on VT (9.890)

Olivia Trautman

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #4 returning score on BB (9.890)

  • Avg 9.927 on VT, 9.894 UB

  • Competed 4 FXs in 2021 (avg 9.934)

Seniors

Jenna Dunn


BB

  • #5 returning score on BB (9.885)

Ragan Smith

UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on BB (9.980), FX (9.945)

  • #3 returning score on UB (9.915)

  • Competed 1 VT in 2021 for 9.725

Juniors

Audrey Davis

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on UB (9.960)

  • #3 returning score on BB (9.910)

  • #5 returning score on FX (9.875)

  • #6 returning score on VT (9.815)

Bell Johnson

FX

  • #4 returning score on FX (9.900)

Katherine Levasseur

VT
UB
BB

  • #2 returning score on VT (9.935), BB (9.925)

  • #4 returning score on UB (9.900)

Audrey Lynn

VT

  • Did not compete for score in 2022

  • Competed 1 VT in 2021 for 9.875

Sheridan Ramsey

VT

  • #6 returning score on VT (9.815)

Meilin Sullivan

VT
BB

  • Competed 2 VTs (9.750 avg), 1 BB (9.325) in 2022

Sophomores

Jordan Bowers

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • #1 returning score on VT (9.970)

  • #2 returning score on UB (9.945), FX (9.940)

  • Competed 6 BBs in 2022, avg 9.650

Danae Fletcher

(redshirt)

VT
UB
FX

  • #3 returning score on FX (9.905)

  • #4 returning score on VT (9.880)

  • Competed 3 UBs in 2022, avg 9.883

Caitin Kirkpatrick

BB

  • Did not compete in first season

Danielle Sievers

VT
UB
FX

  • #4 returning score on UB (9.900), VT (9.880)

  • #5 returning score on FX (9.895)

Madison Snook

  • Did not compete in first season

Amy Wier

BB

  • Did not compete in first season

First Years

Ava Siegfeldt

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • World Class

  • 14th AA, 2021 Olympic Trials

Caitlin Smith

UB
BB
FX

  • WCC

  • Joining team in January

  • 6th AA, 2021 L10 Nationals

Faith Torrez

VT
UB
BB
FX

  • Legacy Elite

  • AA Champion, 2022 L10 Nationals

Ranking History
2022 – 1st
2021 – 2nd
2020 – 1st
2019 – 1st
2018 – 2nd
2017 – 1st
2016 – 1st
2015 – 3rd
2014 – 1st
2013 – 2nd
2012 – 7th

Where 2022 Finished…

The 2022 season brought Oklahoma its fifth national title in the last eight seasons (excluding 2020), and while it’s challenging to set records for all-time finishes when compared to the Utah teams of the 80s through mid-90s and the Georgia teams of the mid 90s through 2009—where five titles in a decade was like “must try harder”—Oklahoma is as close as the modern college gymnastics landscape will come to having the dominant dynasty. If no one else in the final has the meet of their lives, Oklahoma wins.

And—on paper at least—the team is getting deeper in its collection of possible 9.9s in 2023. It should be harder to beat Oklahoma this year than it was last year.

Gains and Losses

LOSTGAINED
Carly Woodard – BB, FXFaith Torrez
Karrie Thomas – UB (BB)Ava Siegfeldt
Vanessa Deniz – (UB, BB, FX)Caitlin Smith (JAN)
Emma LaPinta – (FX)
Moorea Linker – (VT, UB, FX)

The New Ones

Adhering to the general national theme, Oklahoma has a pretty small class of new athletes. Still, in former elites Faith Torrez and Ava Siegfeldt, OU should have two major contributors on its hands who provide far more than the three lineup routines that were lost after 2022. 

Torrez is believable for lineups on at least three events herself, though her most significant apparatuses should be beam and floor. On beam, we have seen her continuing to train her signature back tuck full, and on floor, Torrez retained her DLO when she dropped back from elite to L10 and looks to provide some necessary back-of-the-lineup big. Vault is the one that could be a maybe since Torrez went with the Yfull in L10 and Oklahoma is a 10.0s-or-nothing team, but she did have a solid DTY in elite.

Siegfeldt also wouldn’t surprise if she made the lineup on any apparatus (though she did not compete the AA at Oklahoma’s last public intrasquad). On vault and floor in elite, Siegfeldt had a viably college Y1.5 that could add to the mix, and her DLO is an appealing prospect to inject some more difficulty into that lineup. Whether there are actually any lineup openings could determine whether we see Siegfeldt on bars and beam, but she has plenty of college potential there as well. 

Joining the team in January will be Caitlin Smith, not to be confused with the entirely separate Caitlin Smith who was on LSU’s roster for 30 seconds a couple years ago. Smith has some strong Devo results to her name, including an AA victory at nationals as a junior in 2019, and with good leg position on a loso series on beam and a Shap 1/2 on bars, she seems ready.

Event by Event

VAULT

2022 Event Ranking: 4

Lineup locks: Jordan Bowers, Katherine Levasseur, Olivia Trautman, Allie Stern, Danielle Sievers
Lineup options: Danae Fletcher, Audrey Davis, Ava Siegfeldt, Audrey Lynn, Faith Torrez, Sheridan Ramsey, Meilin Sullivan

The 10.0-start life should be alive and well for Oklahoma in 2023, and with the entirety of the lineup that went 49.6625 in last year’s national championship returning, there wouldn’t seem to be much urgency to switch things up. The Bowers, Levasseur, Trautman, Stern, Sievers, Fletcher lineup that competed that day sounds like a solid plan to me. End of preview.

The only question marks for that lineup would be health management for Trautman (she has sat out January/February on vault the last two seasons before coming back in March), potentially the consistency for Fletcher even though she did well when she was in the lineup in March and April, and Allie Stern not vaulting at the intrasquad, none of which seems like too much cause for alarm but does mean there should be room for others get some chances in 2023. Audrey Davis has shown an occasional Y1.5 (which is also occasionally a full) and featured in many meets last season, Ava Siegfeldt has her Y1.5 from elite, Faith Torrez is there, and Audrey Lynn lurks with the possibility of that handspring pike 1/2.

Early last season we saw Oklahoma put up several Yfulls as placeholders before everyone’s Y1.5 were available, and while there should be sufficient options to do that again this year if needed, it doesn’t currently seem like that will be needed.

BARS

2022 Event Ranking: 1

Lineup locks: Jordan Bowers, Audrey Davis, Danielle Sievers, Katherine Levasseur, Ragan Smith
Lineup options: Faith Torrez, Olivia Trautman, Danae Fletcher, Ava Siegfeldt, Caitlin Smith

Oklahoma’s bars lineup does lose a critical score from last season in Karrie Thomas, who was third-best on the team, but seeing as she wasn’t in the lineup at nationals, Oklahoma would once again have zero problem returning the exact same lineup from last year’s championship, where it scored a little 49.725.

Davis and Bowers will continue to lead the lineup and consider anything under 9.950 an off day, and Danielle Sievers seems to have secured herself lock status in this group if her championship-season performance last year is anything to go by, scoring nothing less than a 9.900. At this point, put her in the same Weekly Necessity category as Smith and Levasseur.

Trautman came into the lineup for Thomas on bars at nationals last year, and while her bars scores haven’t typically been as necessary as her scores on the other events in her career, you’d have no problem with Trautman going on bars any time she is available. Buttttt, there will be others knocking on the door. Faith Torrez should make a good push for this lineup, and Danae Fletcher went as high as 9.925 in her three looks last season, so the returners from last season’s final lineup won’t be able to let up. And by let up, I mean get a score with a 9.8 in it. Yuck. 

BEAM

2022 Event Ranking: 3

Lineup locks: Ragan Smith, Katherine Levasseur, Audrey Davis, Olivia Trautman, Faith Torrez
Lineup options: Jordan Bowers, Jenna Dunn, Ava Siegfeldt, Caitlin Smith, Meilin Sullivan

The single most important score that Oklahoma loses from last season on any event is Carly Woodard’s beam, and on the flip side of that, the single most important campaign to undertake this season is Operation Get Jordan Bowers In This Lineup. Bowers has the gymnastic ability to get 10s on this event but lost her spot in the beam lineup halfway through last season after a spate of misses and 9.7s. Oklahoma’s highest potential beam lineup—the one that can jump up from 3rd in the beam rankings—would have Bowers in it, and probably also Faith Torrez, who has the difficulty as well as the extension to match the Oklahoma legacy on this event.

If both of them do come into the 2023 beam lineup, they could join the top four returning scores from Smith, Levasseur, Davis, and Trautman for a very convincing beam six. That would leave Jenna Dunn out in the cold, who has been a reliable fixture in this lineup for two whole seasons and should be considered an equivalent option to most of the other returners, but we’re trying to cram seven people into six spots here. Dunn went lower than 9.850 only once last season and hit every routine, so the consistency argument could play for her again, as it did in 2022.

Beyond that, most of this roster has beam. I’d want to see what Ava Siegfeldt brings, Meilin Sullivan went once last season, and there are a couple beam specialists in that sophomore class who haven’t seen competition yet, but the question is whether there will be any room for them to bust in.

FLOOR

2022 Event Ranking: 5

Lineup locks: Ragan Smith, Jordan Bowers, Faith Torrez, Ava Siegfeldt, Danielle Sievers
Lineup options: Olivia Trautman, Danae Fletcher, Bell Johnson, Audrey Davis, Caitlin Smith

For a second straight year, floor proved Oklahoma’s lowest-ranked event in 2022. So while 5th isn’t bad and the team did find its competitive 49.6 floor scores in the second half of the season, OU will also remember that 49.1875 from the national championship that made things…interesting…and will search for ways to rectify that in 2023. Both Faith Torrez and Ava Siegfeldt should provide worthwhile options in that regard given their tumbling history, and floor’s status as Oklahoma’s most improvable event in 2023 hinges on getting both of them into the lineup. Torrez didn’t go under 9.700 on floor in the entire 2022 L10 season, which is basically the equivalent of not going under 9.9 in NCAA.  

Expect Jordan Bowers and Ragan Smith to return to the end of the floor lineup for big scores, and of course Olivia Trautman would be a lock for this lineup if available because it may actually be her best event, but her floor has been drastically limited through injury and she did not compete floor at all in 2022. So at this point, she’s part of the ideal lineup, but you can’t really count on it. Danielle Sievers, meanwhile, joined the floor lineup midway through the 2022 season and immediately secured her spot, while Danae Fletcher showed great glimpses going as high as 9.975 and Bell Johnson was the unsung hero of the lineup for frequent 9.900s, especially in early meets when not all the best options were available. You wouldn’t be surprised by any of them, but it probably won’t be all of them. 

 

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