All posts by balancebeamsituation

Freshman Feature: UCLA & Georgia


What Is This Class?

Gymnasts deferring until after the Olympics have left UCLA with an unbalanced duo of classes entering for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. A gargantuan phalanx of stars will march in for 2021 (as we wait for the official announcement on that), leaving a somewhat sparse and less heralded group entering to compete in 2020.

That’s not to say they won’t be significant. The high-profile athlete in the bunch is former elite Kalyany Steele, who finished 13th AA at nationals in 2017 with pretty competitive difficulty across the four pieces that would serve her very well in coming up with NCAA routines. She hasn’t competed since that nationals in the summer of 2017, however, so she carries a bit of “where is she now?” along with her.

The remaining freshmen fall into the category of walk-on projects. They’re not big names or obvious lineup prospects, but there’s reason to think we’ll see at least routine options from each one. Emma Andres notched the best JO finish of her whole career in 2019 by reaching nationals and placing 25th AA. Plus, she has the leaps.

Continue reading Freshman Feature: UCLA & Georgia

National Signing Day 2020-2021

It’s NLI day!

To review:
NLI = National Letter of Intent

The National Letter of Intent is a document signed by future college athletes confirming their intent to attend and compete for a particular school. Signing the NLI signals the end of the recruiting process—i.e., all other schools must immediately cease recruiting that gymnast. The NLI is accompanied by the athletic aid (scholarship) agreement. Gymnasts can’t sign NLIs if they are not receiving athletic aid.

Wednesday marks the beginning of this year’s signing period, during which schools will finally reveal to us which gymnasts have signed on to join their programs for the 2021 competitive season. The large majority will be unsurprising since most of these gymnasts have been verbally committed to these schools since the womb, but there are always a few little pieces of interest (usually regarding who doesn’t sign rather than who does).

So, let’s see what we see. Continue reading National Signing Day 2020-2021

Freshman Feature: LSU & Oregon State


What Is This Class?

There was a time when LSU’s new 2020 class looked like it would be a problem. The team was losing Finnegan and Priessman and Kelley and just flat-out didn’t have the routines coming in to replace that quality. And then they went to work.

I’m old enough to remember when Kiya Johnson was a Georgia verbal for the 2021 class. Yada, yada, yada, now she’s at LSU for this season and enters as easily one of the top five JO gymnasts in the national class. Johnson has won two consecutive JO national AA titles and projects as a weekly all-around contributor for LSU.

Also new to the class is Alyona Shchennikova, who switched over from Michigan to LSU this year and brings with her…you know, being Alyona Shchennikova. Her Achilles tear this summer is a big asterisk, though LSU is promising that we’re going to see Shchennikova on a couple events this season.

Continue reading Freshman Feature: LSU & Oregon State

Freshman Feature: Oklahoma & Denver


What Is This Class?

The headliner of Oklahoma’s incoming class is of course Ragan Smith, and I’m not going to spend a ton of time here breaking down “oh, well, she has this skill on this event” because it’s Ragan Smith. We know what she could do. Her contribution to Oklahoma and overall success in NCAA will be based entirely on how many pieces her back and legs are in on a daily basis (ideal: 1). If she’s at full health, she can give you four big events—and if she’s at medium health, she’s probably still giving you two excellent events—but it all depends on avoiding the broken-elite path.

Because let’s be honest, if everyone were confident in Smith’s health state, she’d probably be trying for 2020 right now. Heading to Oklahoma this year (a move I wholeheartedly endorse) reads as, “Yeah, I’m physically dust, and I can’t do more elite.” The hope is that starting at Oklahoma now, instead of after another year of hard grind in an Olympic attempt, will preserve her for a successful NCAA career.

Continue reading Freshman Feature: Oklahoma & Denver

Things Are Happening – November 8, 2019

A. The Internet Is for Skills

First of ly, Simone coughed and the whole world stopped, as is only fitting.

In a festive celebration of Gymnastics Should Be Fun Season, she took to Twitter to say, “This is a double layout off beam, Armine**”

Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 8, 2019