2018 Freshmen – Cal

With so many routines departing after last season—13 of the 24 routines from regionals—Cal will need to expect quite a lot from its five freshmen this year (and Cassidy Keelen in her return from injury), meaning multiple competition-ready routines on each event.

CAL 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Robinson – 9.860
Williams – 9.842
Sy Seilnacht – 9.820
Keelen – 9.817
Gallarzo – 9.770
Mastrangelo – 9.750
BARS
Shu – 9.840
Sternberg – 9.833
Williams – 9.831
So Seilnacht – 9.785
Gallarzo – 9.130
BEAM
So Seilnacht – 9.860
Sy Seilnacht – 9.825
Gallarzo – 9.810
Shu – 9.790
Keelen – 9.650
FLOOR
Williams – 9.894
Robinson – 9.855
Sternberg – 9.825
Sy Seilnacht – 9.600
So Seilnacht – 9.558
Keelen – 9.542

The good news is that Cal has the prettiest freshman class in all of NCAA gymnastics this year. There’s a reason Cal has become a favorite team of the Round-Lake-obsessed. In contrast to many of the other teams previewed, this is not a class where I’m going to be saying, “I’m worried about the leaps” a lot.

Kyana George

The best all-around gymnast of the bunch is George from Metroplex. She finished 3rd at JO Nationals this year (after finishing 2nd in 2016) and took the floor title with a 9.825. Expect to see her on every event.

Floor has consistently been the standout event for George, half because of the scores and half because she can actually dance. It’s worth nothing that these scores have not come because of E-level difficulty. She opens with a front tuck through to double tuck, but it’s so high and easy for her that you can’t really deduct too much.

Because of her amplitude—particularly on the dance elements—and the ease with which she completes the simpler passes, that could be a worthwhile strategy if continued into NCAA (I could see Williams up 5th and George up 6th to dance a cherry on top of the rotation). [Maybe it’s a testament to her amplitude that I basically didn’t even realize she’s doing a front 2/1 as her second pass, which is an E.]

On vault, George brings a big ol’ full. It would be nice if it were a 10.0 start (Cal will still have a few this season as long as Toni-Ann’s landing on the 1.5 is good enough to make it worth doing), but it should be a definite for the lineup regardless.

What’s nice about George is that she’s not simply a vault and floor gymnast, though those tend to be her better scores. That great dance-element amplitude on floor doesn’t disappear when moving to beam, where the highlight of the routine below is that beat jump + split jump combination.

Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Cal

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2018 Freshmen – Boise State

Boise State lost three major contributors after last season in Mejia, Bennion, and Urquhart, accounting for about 7 best-lineup routines. There is still adequate depth remaining on the returning roster, but the Broncos will nonetheless be looking for at least those 7 routines from the freshman class of five to ensure that they can reach that top-team standard of putting up a 9.800 in every lineup spot.

BOISE STATE 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Bir – 9.855
Means – 9.850
Stockwell – 9.845
McGregor – 9.835
Remme – 9.815
Collantes – 9.740
BARS
McGregor – 9.900
Remme – 9.880
Collantes – 9.855
Stockwell – 9.845
Nilson – 9.767
Means – 9.725
BEAM
Remme – 9.910
Means – 9.895
McGregor – 9.805
Amado – 9.767
Collantes – 9.760
Esmerian – 9.675
Stockwell – 9.150
FLOOR
Collantes – 9.870
Stockwell – 9.858
Remme – 9.845
Means – 9.835
McGregor – 9.740
Webb – 9.567
Morrell – 9.125
Tatum Bruden

Bruden is probably the most all-aroundy of the BSU freshmen—having finished 13th AA in her group at JO nationals this year—but this looks to be more a class of two-event contributors who can occasionally add backup sets on the other pieces.

Acrobatic solidity is Bruden’s standout quality, evident in her Yurchenko 1/1 on vault and comfort with slamming down those double salto passes on floor.

We’ll see how the split positions come along on floor and beam. A tendency toward going for rather difficult dance elements makes that area of her gymnastics look deduction-heavy, which could just be a function of those harder skills or may be the case regardless of difficulty (so why not go for it?). That’s the main concern in an otherwise acrobatically confident beam set.

On bars, Bruden has the necessary composition with a Jaeger, bail, and double lay-ish dismount but likely would be looking at a few too many mushy knee and form position deductions (like the dismount) right now to be a ready-to-use routine. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Boise State

2018 Freshmen – Alabama

Alabama lost a significant proportion of its routines after last season, and while the team’s previously established depth insulates a little against those losses, there’s still work to do. The Tide will be looking for 2-3 new (good) options on each event, many of which will need to come from the freshman class of four.

ALABAMA 2018 – Returning routines
VAULT
Guerrero – 9.880
Armbrecht – 9.855
Winston – 9.850
Desch – 9.845
Childers – 9.840
BARS
Winston – 9.910
Mahoney – 9.860
Brannan – 9.825
Guerra – 9.800
Childers – 9.771
Armbrecht – 9.725
BEAM
Guerrero – 9.945
Winston – 9.935
Childers – 9.865
Desch – 9.850
Armbrecht – 9.583
FLOOR
Winston – 9.945
Desch – 9.905
Guerra – 9.870
Guerrero – 9.865
Childers – 9.855
Armbrecht – 9.500

On the bright side, this class contains a major star and a wealth of potentially realistic routines. On the less bright side, we saw very few submissions from this group at the Halloween intrasquad (no vaults or floor routines from any of them). That’s a possible leg-health warning sign, but it’s still early.

Bailie Key

It’s obviously not about talent for Key, a gymnast whose skill level and execution have set her up to be a 9.9+ NCAA gymnast since she was about 11. Key’s gymnastics should translate to NCAA quite nicely, meaning the only real obstacle between her and NCAA stardom will be health. We’ve seen Key complete a season just once in the last four years, so the hope is that NCAA can be a new lease on health for a partially broken elite (see: Bridget Sloan).

Key’s most famous and best event, especially in her junior days, was beam, and that’s where she’s most comfortably poised to shine for Alabama. It also happened to be the only apparatus on which she showed a complete routine at Ghosts and Goblins.

As an elite, Key’s beam routine deteriorated as she became not four years old anymore—and as TD insisted on keeping that whip-back-pike of a layout that would never get credit on this planet (not over it). Fortunately, NCAA composition allows for only Key’s best skills, like the superior switch 1/2, to be retained. This will be an anchor-level routine (though it would also be a good nominee for strategic mid-lineup placement).

On bars, Key has quite a large number of well-executed D elements to choose from, so it’s perhaps a bit of a letdown that Alabama is going the Shap-bail, no same-bar release route with her. In elite, the Jaeger and Pak were both among the best out there.

Still, with enough numbers, that routine will be easy for her to execute pristinely, depending on what the dismount ends up being. At G&G, Key warmed up a DLO 1/1 that didn’t look like the best option, so we’ll see what she shows up with in January. Continue reading 2018 Freshmen – Alabama

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama