Pre-Classic: A Land of Ignorance

Pre-Classic is my favorite part of the elite season because it’s the silliest. We’re all so damn confident about how things are going to go this season despite having seen precisely zero gymnastics from the major and most of the minor contenders. Remember your feelings about Ashton Locklear precisely 365 days ago? Because they were a tumbleweed made of cricket sound effects.

That’s what makes Classic exciting. At this moment, we know nothing, but by the end of podium training, we’ll basically be set and have a good idea of what we’ll see this year. To help fill in the possible picture of who might go to Glasgow to be the trusted attendants in Queen Simone’s Royal Court, here are a few ramblings about what I’ll be watching out for at Classic because I realize I haven’t posted anything that isn’t about Al Trautwig in a long time.  

Amanar Watch 2015: Beyond Biles, Fact or Fiction

Eeeeeeeverybody thinks she has an Amanar this year. We’ll see. We’ve been down this road before. People often like to show up to Classic going, “Sup bitches, I gots me an Amanar,” and then it isn’t so much with the great. See Gowey 2014, Raisman 2010. Still, enough people have past Amanars, current Amanars, possible Amanars, Un-anars, or fantasies about having Amanars that the US should be expecting to cobble together at least three 6.3+ vaults for Worlds. There’s obviously Biles, Dowell has had a 2.5 for years now and needs it, we have Skinner with her social experiment, we know about Raisman and Douglas’s past vaults, Nichols had a Campanar that time, Key has been training one since she was a fetus (You guys! She’s training a Wombanar in there! My aunt’s cousin saw it!), Gowey had that one for a hot second last year but didn’t vault at Pan Ams because of yet another in her Pride Parade of injuries. Right now, there are a lot of possibilities, but we need some facts.

Of this group, a hit 2.5 will probably be the most important for Maggie Nichols. She has elevated herself out of you’re-here-too, Paul Ruggeri, alternating-my-ass-off territory almost solely on the basis of having a Campanar, but if she could legitimately score as a top-three vaulter this summer in competition, that would be a huge boost for her team hopes. She needs to prove that she’s not only a strong AAer, but convincingly top 3 at least somewhere and probably two-wheres. It’s a big competition for Nichols. Conversely, Skinner will be rooting for as few Amanars as possible. The more people with competitive vaults, the less necessary her vault becomes, and she doesn’t have as many competitive events to work with in the first place.

Bring Out Your Bars Specialists 

Last year, Locklear and Kocian made the team to ensure that the US was a little less horrifying on bars, and once again on a team of six, the opportunity can present itself for bars specialist to work her way onto the team and save the day. Though the standard is tougher this year. With Ross continuing to be Ross and Biles, Key, Nichols, and a whole host of other people showing bars D-scores in the low 6s with high-14 totals (6.1 is the new 5.8), anyone hoping to make the team specifically because of bars will need to show significantly higher scoring potential than that. Possible bars specialists need to be scoring clearly into the 15s, otherwise there will be people already on the team for other events who can do the job just as well. So I’m keeping an eye on those scores. That’s why it will be tough for someone like Gowey. She mashed together an upgraded routine for this year (with more upgrade potential still) but maxed out at the 14.7s at Pan Ams. Biles can get that. Desch is in a similar boat. She upgraded like crazy this year to put together some really solid routines, but she’s not in top-three contention on these events.

Douglas will be interesting to watch with regard to the quest for bars 15s. Because she’s Gabby Douglas, she automatically seems like the default bars worker based on her past accomplishments. But, her Jesolo bars routine was very work-in progress. She’ll need to show some development since then to solidify any kind of status on this event. Comparing her score to the incumbent bars workers, the injury-returning Locklear and Kocian, will be telling, though certainly Douglas’s abilities on other events can help her cause.

The crop is deeper this year than it was last year, so there probably isn’t going to be room for a whole gang of bars specialists again. We’re going to see the likes of Locklear, Kocian, and Dowell all trying to out-bars each other for what might not even be one spot. (Biles, Ross, Raisman, Key, Douglas, Nichols, Skinner is a fairly realistic, serious-scoring group of seven to choose from, and it includes none of them. Although, that team may be slightly questionable on bars and could use a boost if someone earns it.) We know Dowell’s top routine has the difficulty edge over everyone, but she’ll have to bring that routine, along with a whole bushel of consistency and a clear scoring edge over the recent world team members in order to overcome the general Martha-thumbs-down feeling that has pervaded her elite career.

Who Is Good At Floor?

Simone is. Aly Raisman is. Aly has spent the last 5 years making teams because of beam and floor, so to solidify her spot on the prospective team, she’s going to need to reinforce her position on floor and emerge as the clear #2 behind Biles and her 19.500. She has the difficulty to do it already back in her routine and looked on track at Jesolo. She’s kind of the Olympic champion, you know. The US has a formidable 1-2 punch with Biles and Raisman on floor, but the third floor worker will be an interesting topic. Key’s scores render her a very strong possiblity, and of course there’s Skinner as well. As on vault, Skinner will need to use Classic to prove that she’s still top three, with Raisman coming in this year to challenge her status a little bit more. Skinner vs. Key on floor should be a fun one. Skinner needs to win that to make her argument. Does someone else pop into possible 15 territory?

These are the questions I want answered. Amanars? How relevant and necessary are the bars specialists? Gabby’s still Gabby, right? And who’s third on floor? I expect all the competitors to do their best to answer them in a timely and clear fashion. As for beam, my impression right now is that it won’t be decisive in team selection. With Biles, Ross, Raisman, Douglas, and Key all seeming like realistic beam options (to varying degrees) who can make the team for other events as well, selection may come down to choosing the team for the other three events and then just using the best beamers from that group, who will probably be the best beamers in the country anyway. It makes it very tough for Baumann, though, since beam is kind of her thing, but she doesn’t have the other asset events. 

Also, Sabrina Vega is a person again. So that will be interesting.

2000 Olympic Trials Part 2: She’s Still Not OK

Anything worth doing is worth doing twice. Especially if it’s horrible. On to day 2 of Little Bela Shop of Horrors. (Don’t you think Bela would actually make a really good Audrey II? Any time he speaks, I already hear “Feed me, Seymour!”) Let’s see who shatters into dust today. Spoiler alert: It’s Shannon. And everybody.

Chapter 1, Minute 0: Paging Dr. Bela
-Remember the first day of competition and how it was a traumatic disaster where everybody had a nervous breakdown into a chalk bucket and then Beckerman just stopped in the middle of her bars routine out of emotional catastrophe? (HOW MANY TIMES ALYSSA?) Child’s play. Brace yourself.

-We haven’t even started yet, and Shannon is already in several pieces on the floor. At least she could have had the common decency to wait until after the intro fluff. Al didn’t even have a chance to butcher any American history this time! (“As Abigail Adams once said, ‘Give me liberty, or give me Bela.'”)

-Oh yes, the WAG blue plate special, an extended closeup of a woman in tears while her coach goes, “You alright?”
-Let me think. Oh right, no. I’m not. That’s why I’m on the ground, weeping.

-Bela’s helping.

-Let’s pretend these closeups of her ex-husband never happened. Move it, creepy.

-“Hey, Shannon, either you can do a vault right now on your glass knee, or you can look after your body and shatter all of your dreams and mine in front of everyone. Your choice. No pressure. Do whatever feels right.”

-Shannon’s knee, you need to cool it. We have an important fluff piece to get to! You’ve seriously cut into our lights-turning-on-in-a-quiet-gym and softly-lit-allusions-to-past-fuck-ups time. You know, gymnastics.
-The title of this piece is Gonna Dress You Up In Beige Drapes (You’re a Disappointment). Note that neither Ray nor Maloney is even mentioned. Their lack of potential drama and disappointment is too disrespectful to the cause. Yet, there was time for a thousand shots of lurking Bela. THE STAR.

-The mascot of 2000 Trials:

Continue reading 2000 Olympic Trials Part 2: She’s Still Not OK

2000 Olympic Trials: Special Victims Unit

I decided to rewatch the 2000 Olympic Trials. I guess because I just haven’t been feeling jaded and flabbergasted enough lately and really needed to work harder to grab that golden ring. It’s a process. You’ve got to get your nose to the grindstone if you want to see results. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Trautwig.

This meet is insane, and this broadcast is traumatic. I have some horrible thoughts. Come. Join me. Let’s see who can last the longest before jumping straight into a volcano.

Chapter 1: Everything Is Completely Healthy Here

-Look how everyone is smiling in this opening montage! We’re all happy! Great time! Fun! I don’t need any therapy!

-Parkettes hair. Never forget what happened here. Kristen Maloney, look at yourself. Think about your actions.

-“We don’t need Paul Revere to climb to the Old North Church and yell out, ‘The Olympics are coming.'” Stop. Everything about that sentence is historically inaccurate. Please return to the third grade.

-Tim Daggett is a DUCKLING here. Apparently, sitting next to Al for 20 years is the equivalent of being president. WATCH OUT NASTIA. SAVE YOURSELF.

-Bela and Martha hanging over a super cool laptop.

-100% they’re reading Dawson’s Creek fanfic. There’s literally nothing else I can imagine them needing that computer for.

-Tim says the word “mutiny” with such ravenousness. He was totally rooting for pitchforks. So was I.

-“Elfi, a year ago, Jamie Dantzscher was a withered piece of useless garbage. How did she stop being garbage?”
-“Well Al, Bela Karolyi talked to her for 30 seconds, and then she was fixed.” YAY GYMNASTICS NARRATIVE.

-Jamie Dantzscher on bars. “Plays gymnastics on this event.” What does that mean? That’s not a sentiment.
-I would describe the Dantzscher family’s level of fervor for that routine as vaguely Spanish Inquisitiony.

-Next up is Shang Chunsong. I mean Morgan White.
-But first, let’s enjoy a video retrospective of her having a Level 50 nervous breakdown. YAY. It’s like in romantic comedies when they have a musical montage of an unbearable trash couple trying on oversize sunglasses by a pier, except instead of that, it’s a lifetime of emotional trauma. I know we all watch that replay and think, “This is normal. She’s doing fine. I don’t have any questions.”
-And then after Morgan White vaults, and you’re also going, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…”
Continue reading 2000 Olympic Trials: Special Victims Unit

Brenna, Brenna, Brenna

In this week’s edition of Things I Don’t Really Understand, Brenna Dowell has elected to defer the 2015-2016 season at Oklahoma to train elite again in the run-up to Rio. Because she hasn’t endured enough national team trauma already in her career and needed to give Martha yet another chance to name her to a team and then decide she shouldn’t compete? No Brenna, this year we’re going to put McKayla Maroney’s Youtube channel up on bars in prelims instead of you. Enjoy the training gym.

Sigh. The unending power of that Olympic dream. “Unfinished business.” This happens from time to time. Her Holiness (and by Her Holiness, I mean Kristina Vaculik, but you should know that by now), took a year off from Stanford to make Canada’s 2012 team, though that was a more likely prospect than this is. But, you know, go for it? Or whatever? Dreams? Reach for the stars? The more the merrier. I wish she didn’t have to take a year off from NCAA to do it, but it’s extremely difficult to do both at the same time. We saw Zam try to go straight through NCAA season-elite season-NCAA season, and it ended with an Achilles tear. And she was more in the “I want to have the elite experience and see how it goes, whatever I’m Zam, let’s smile and dance” camp. Brenna has had the elite experience. She’s not going back just to have the experience. She wants THE PRECIOUS. 

In the short term, this does kind of suck for Oklahoma. Oh, you were relying on Brenna’s scores on at least three events? Sorry bye now. It does give us something else to talk about this elite season, though. Team selection just got that little bit more interesting. 

Brenna is always going to be at least in the mix for a World Championship team given her Amanar and high D score on bars.

Those are valuable tools, but if that wasn’t enough to make the team last year (though she was returning from injury in the first half of the summer), it’s hard to see how that will be enough to make the team this year, with the addition of Douglas (most significantly because Douglas can fill a big spot on bars) along with Raisman, Key, and Dennis making selection even more challenging this time around. The possible opening for Brenna comes from the injury to Ashton Locklear and the “when exactly are you not injured?” career history of Madison Kocian, two bars specialists and some of her most direct competition. Presumably Dowell will try to D score everyone else into submission again this time, but boy, she cannot afford a single fall. She can’t give anyone a chance to doubt her consistency.

As for Oklahoma, this one will sting a little bit, even though it doesn’t stop the Sooners from being a title contender in 2016. They still have solid depth, but that’s going to be tested now. Finally getting a healthy season from Charity Jones becomes that much more important because she can be that strong score on vault and floor that they would have expected to get from Brenna. Bars also just got a little bit interesting for the Sooners. Now just three members of last year’s final lineup are returning: Wofford, Scaman, and Kmieciak. They’ll have Nicole Lehrmann coming in, and several other possible 9.850s who have been hanging around the backup ranks, but they’ll have to reinvent that lineup a bit and find some new big scores. They’ve done it before.

Elsewhere, in Opposite Of Brenna news, Lexie Priessman instannounced that she is, in fact, going to LSU in the fall. I didn’t know there was still a question about that, so…good?

The other big chatter going around the gymternet has been about some pretty dramatic changes to NCAA for next season, including but not limited to devaluing the Yfull to 9.950, stepping up bars release requirements, and getting rid of event finals. I’ve decided to wait until we hear official things and details before thinking about this and formulating extended and dramatic opinions (we have plenty of time still), but you can read about it here. These are all areas that have been crying out for fixing. 

Also, Elise Ray is now Associate Head Coach at Washington as David McCreary is leaving to go Yim it up in Arizona. Elise will make a top program very happy one day.

2010 US Nationals, NCAA Style

We sort of know what’s going to happen to former elites when they enter the NCAA ranks. Sort of. If you’re crazy good, you probably shouldn’t stop being crazy good all of a sudden. But there are all kinds of subcategories below crazy good that most people occupy, and when the NCAA CoP comes into play and limits what can be gained simply from mashing in the difficulty or absorbing errors, it can disrupt the previous balance of power.

The example I always use, because it’s still recent (except I just realized it kind of isn’t anymore) and pretty stark, is one Shayla Worley on bars. As an elite, Shayla was all about them bars. She was Duchess Tkatchev of Orlando. She made the 2007 team specifically to do bars in the team final (and floor, but mostly bars), and when we all agreed to pretend like the 2008 team selection came down to finding a bars worker to be the 6th member of the team, she seemed right in the hunt. 

In spite of her pedigree and accomplishments, however, Shayla’s bars never became a major NCAA routine, mostly because of the dismount. That double front was never going to cut it in NCAA, both in the scoring department and the staying-alive department, so instead, she had to learn a DLO that never really became comfortable for her. (Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs had to do the same thing at around the same time, and also developed a mostly troubling DLO that was the primary culprit keeping her from weekly 9.9s). Because of that, and in spite of her clear talent on bars, Shayla was usually stuck at 9.850 instead of becoming the big fat star her elite success seemed to foretell. 

On the other side of the argument, we now have Alex McMurtry. (Not an elite, but) she was known for having a bars routine that fell clearly below the level of her other events and her top JO contemporaries. I believe in my preview of the 2015 season, I may have invoked the word “Brestyan’s” when describing her bars work, which was probably overstating it a bit, but she was not expected to make an impact on bars for Florida.


(This commentary is a complete LOL now, by the way. No, she would never water down. How dare you suggest such a thing. Also note how Tim compared her gienger to Nastia’s. Nastia laughed way too hard. Then immediately ran to a closet and snapped 50 pencils.)

But in the 2015 NCAA season, McMurtry managed to pull off the very rare Reverse Shayla, turning her routine from a nope into something that won Super Six. (And bested Shayla Worley’s career high on bars in the process. Welcome to 2015 Super Six scoring, as we’ve over-discussed already.)

Florida definitely refined this routine quite a bit, but that’s easier to do when you take out the hard parts. It’s all about having a dismount. That’s the difference between McMurtry and Shayla. Getting back that exceptional tuck full makes the whole routine. In spite of having no previous reputation for success on bars, this routine becomes a winner because of one vital, excellent skill. (And exposes some of the holes in the CoP, but holes exist to be exploited.) Get to NCAA, and the balance of power changes. An 8.9 in JO ends up with a better career high than a Worlds TF competitor.

Which is to say, we don’t always know what will happen. Part of the joy of watching gymnasts move from elite/L10 into NCAA is in seeing how expectations shift, quality and stature evolve, and previous hierarchies are abolished. It happens all the time, and it can be fun to go back and compare how things stacked up in elite gymnastics compared to how they eventually played out in NCAA. (I should note at this time that I don’t know what fun is.) This is the kind of rambling that the post-NCAA, pre-major-elite-events season is for.

I was just checking the standings from 2010 US Nationals, GREAT WEEKEND PLANS, and it’s amusing to look back on those results knowing what we know now. Since I’ve already been talking about bars, I’ll keep things there. These are the final rankings on bars from 2010 US Nationals, with the gymnasts who competed NCAA (excluding Whitcomb and Lee, who didn’t really have NCAA careers) noted in bold.

1. Rebecca Bross
2. Cassie Whitcomb
3. Mattie Larson
4. Mackenzie Caquatto
5. Chelsea Davis
6. Morgan Smith
7. Vanessa Zamarripa
8. Sophia Lee
9. Samantha Shapiro
9. Bridgey Caquatto
11. Aly Raisman
12. Jaclyn McCartin
13. Kaitlyn Clark
14. Kytra Hunter
15. Georgia Dabritz
16. Rheagan Courville
17. Annette Miele
18. Lauren Beers
19. Brandie Jay
19. Briley Casanova

Not exactly how things stayed. Even in E score, we see Kaitlyn Clark and Rheagan Courville losing to Aly Raisman. Let’s break down a few of the most interesting points in these standings.

GEORGIA DABRITZ
Dabritz finished 15th out of 20. Now, that does include a fall on day one, but on day two with a hit routine, her execution score still came in clearly behind that of her future NCAA peers Chelsea Davis and Bridgey Caquatto. Bars may have been the strongest event for Dabritz as an elite, but she wasn’t necessarily seen as a Sami Shapiro “she’s going to destroy the world on bars once she gets to NCAA” type of elite gymnast.

2010 Nationals:

And yet, watching this routine back 5 years later, it’s not at all surprising that she eventually became Georgia Dabritz in NCAA. The college gold is there with those handstands and very usable D elements. Clean up that bail, rid yourself of that problematic stalder shoot, and this is what you get, a #1-ranked bars routine: 

2015 NCAA:

KYTRA HUNTER
Remember Kytra’s bars in 2010, when everyone was like, “OMG SHE HAS TO STOP COMPETING BARS IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE MY EYES!!!!!” What was the deal with that? I know she had that mess at 2010 Classic, but this is just a perfectly fine, not-really-a-bars-gymnast kind of elite routine.

2010 Nationals:

Thankfully, sane people prevailed. You don’t just throw away a Hill’s hindorff, even if the whole routine isn’t too elite competitive. Hindorff, bail, dismount. You’re NCAA good to go.

One of the keys to Kytra’s success as an AAer in NCAA gymnastics was the opportunity NCAA provided to let her pick and choose the types of elements she competed without forcing her to, you know, do a split the way she had to in elite. Beam was not really Hunter’s famous event either, at least not in the way vault and floor were, but once you get rid of any skill starting with “switch” in this routine, you’ve got yourself a thing. 

Kytra, like, invented including a switch 1/2 that you can’t do in your beam routine. She should sue for format rights or something. But let’s be honest, that switch 1/2 is basically a bag of diamonds compared to some of the ones we’re seeing this quad.

Kytra and Bridgey is an interesting comparison, because if you saw these two elite beam routines, which one would you guess would never see the light of day in NCAA?

Making a successful transition to top-level NCAA gymnastics isn’t necessary about having a great elite routine. But you need comfortable consistent mastery of about three medium-value, D-ish elements. That’s so much more valuable than being Princess Prettywobbles.

RHEAGAN COURVILLE
Another worthwhile comparison is that of Kytra versus Courville. Neither were bars queens as elites, hanging around the mid-low 13s, but in Kytra’s case, you see the tools. Those skills, as is, have the makings of the 9.850-9.900 NCAA routine. (In spite of apparently needing to drop the event immediately, burn her grips, and never touch a bar again.) With Courville, bars was a true struggle all the way through, with those handstands, leg separations, and close catches.

2010 Nationals:

You don’t watch this routine and assume the pieces for a 9.900 NCAA routine are there. Courville’s eventual bars success was not a matter of paring down the elite skills and finding a composition that shows off her best qualities. It was a function of serious skill improvement, not just tweaking, once she got to NCAA, which saw her eventually zoom up the rankings into being one of the nation’s very top scorers. 

Watch Courville’s routine, compared to Chelsea Davis’s at the same competition, and who do you think would end up being ranked better on bars in NCAA in 2015?

Not to say that Chelsea Davis wasn’t awesome on bars in NCAA as well, but just as a comparison of starting point and ending point. 

SAMANTHA SHAPIRO
As mentioned, Shapiro is a different case than these other gymnasts (all to varying degrees) because she was destined from the moment she turned a day old to make everyone weep with beauty on bars as an NCAA gymnast. From very early on, she had all the tools to be magical. But I’m highlighting her work in this competition because, um, what the hell happened to her handstands that year? 

Did she have an issue that my brain has thrown into the memory garbage? Like an auto-immune handstand disease or something?

Thankfully, we still got this.

2015 Level 10 Nationals Results

Over the weekend, a medium-sized army of Level 10s gathered together in the void between the dimensions to contest their national championship. This is our annual opportunity to start to learn the names of the people who will be scattering 9.825s all over NCAA gymnastics in a matter of months. As always, the competition is broken down into 8 age groups (Junior A-D, Senior A-D), and my attention is primarily on Senior D and Senior C, since those are the gymnasts who will be joining college gymnastics this fall. For the rest, there will still be plenty of time to try to care about them later.

Full results for all the sessions can be found at USAG, and all the various commitments can be found at collegegymfans and here, but here’s a basic breakdown of the key competitors in the senior ranks. 

SENIOR D

Top 10 AA
1. Alicia Boren – Florida 2015-2016
38.800 (VT – 1st; UB – 2nd; BB – 2nd; FX – 3rd)
Alicia Boren wins JO Nationals every year. And when I say that, I’m not exaggerating like I usually am. She actually wins her age group every single year. It’s a guarantee that she will be given the “new Kytra” moniker within a millisecond of arriving at Florida. She’s not Kytra, but she did manage to get third on floor even with an OOB and will be expected to contribute on at least three events, joining Peyton Ernst to try to replace those Kytra routines and add a few others to the pile.

2. Kirah Koshinski – West Virginia 2015-2016
38.475 (VT – 2nd; UB – 13th; BB – 15th; FX – 1st)
I love to see gymnasts going to not-top schools place well in JO. It doesn’t always translate to sudden stardom or a boost for those programs, but these vault and floor routines are the real deal. 

3. Emma McLean – Michigan 2015-2016
38.350 (VT – 4th; UB – 11th; BB – 12th; FX – 2nd)
Michigan had a very strong JO Nationals overall with a number of top finishes, and seeing McLean in third in particular is very encouraging. Karas has been the more heralded of the two newbies for next season, but Michigan is not an extremely deep team and will remain so next season, so McLean showing the ability to be solid across the board is important because they may need to rely on that. And that vault should be a thing.

4. Sarah Means – Boise State 2015-2016
38.175 (VT – 4th; UB – 19th; BB – 4th; FX – 8th)
Beam. After that beam showing at regionals, this 4th place is a chorus of angels.  

5. Sabrina Garcia – Penn State 2015-2016
38.050 (VT – 27th; UB – 3rd; BB – 4th; FX – 5th)

6. Jaclyn Sampson – Sacramento State 2015-2016
37.900 (VT – 25th; UB – 8th; BB – 3rd; FX – 21st)

7. Jenna Bresette – Alabama 2015-2016
37.875 (VT – 11th; UB – 3rd; BB – 36th; FX – 5th)
8. Amanda Huang – Alabama 2015-2016
37.625 (VT – 32nd; UB – 3rd; BB – 12th; FX – 33rd)
Even though Alabama is losing another crop of essential routines (4 from Clark, 2 from Williams, 1 from Frost), there is reason for optimism in the fairly large, yet relatively unheralded, class they are bringing in. These L10s boast some usable routines that can pad those lineups, at least in the spots that a please-be-healthy-now Kiana Winston doesn’t swoop in to take up. And by “pad those lineups,” I don’t mean it in a coach-like “she’ll be great depth for our team…and will never see the light of day” kind of way. They’ll actually pad the lineups and contribute.  

Bresette, a chief member of the “former GAGE gymnast” club, was felled by the dreaded beam here, otherwise she would have comfortably been top 5. Huang excels on bars, a lineup that was a little too 9.850 for Alabama at times this year.

8. Haylee Roe – Illinois 2015-2016
37.625 (VT – 15th; UB – 36th; BB – 9th; FX – 21st)

10. Ciara Gresham – ?
37.600 (VT – 10th; UB – 33rd; BB – 25th; FX – 8th)

Notables
Samantha Cerio – Auburn 2015-2016
UB – 1st; FX – 5th
Cerio is another who could have been top 5 in the AA with a hit beam routine. Auburn is losing some serious scores after last season, with Megan Walker’s bars routine pretty high on that list. Someone is going to have to pick that up if they want to double down on magical seasons.  

Angelina Giancroce – Alabama, now, apparently 2015-2016
BB – 4th; FX – 4th
Weren’t you going to Georgia? Another addition to the Alabama depth parade. How does Alabama always manage to have 16 new contributing freshmen every season? We always make fun of “we have a really young team this year…” but Alabama truly always does.

Shannon McNatt – Utah 2015-2016
VT – 4th; UB – 9th

Stephanie Brock – ?
VT – 7th; BB – 9th

Sarah Lippowitsch – Kent State 2015-2016
BB – 1st

Ashley Hiller – Florida 2015-2016
VT – 2nd
Amanda Cheney – Florida 2015-2016
BB – 4th
A few casual bonus JO standouts for a team that doesn’t need them. 2nd on vault in Senior D would be something to boast about…if you weren’t competing with Sloan, McMurtry, Baker, and Boren for vault spots.

Brooke Kelly – Missouri 2015-2016
BB – 4th

Sienna Crouse – Nebraska 2015-2016
UB – 6th

Mary Jacobsen – Oregon State 2015-2016
UB – 6th

Lauren Schmeiss – Sacramento State 2015-2016
VT – 7th

Madeleine Huber – Missouri 2015-2016
UB – 9th

Nicole O’Leary – New Hampshire 2015-2016
VT – 9th

MaryElle Arduino – Towson 2015-2016
BB – 9th

Sidney Dukes – Kentucky 2015-2016
FX – 10th

Gracie Cherrey – Georgia 2015-2016
Notable as a Georgia recruit who will be relied upon for real contribution next season, but a bars disaster took her out of the top 10 AA spots.

SENIOR C

Top 10 AA
1. Macy Toronjo – UCLA 2015-2016
38.650 (VT – 4th; UB – 5th; BB – 3rd; FX – 1st)
It’s reasonable to assume that UCLA will take a hit next year without Sam Peszek. Ohashi is amazing, but she’s not the same type of gymnast. She doesn’t have that “there is literally a 0% chance you will miss this routine” Peszekness, and I worry about her fragility. That’s why Toronjo is going to be so important. She’s no Peszek, but she is your prototypical second-tier elite, with all the skills and 9.850+ potential, who can jump in and buoy those lineups, ensuring that they aren’t full of…ahem…ratty old 9.750s at nationals. Also, a DLO and a full in at JO Nationals? Yes you did.

2. Makenna Merrell – Utah 2015-2016
38.625 (VT – 2nd; UB – 4th; BB – 4th; FX – 2nd)
Even though Skinner has decided to pass on this year to see if she can do a vault with zero hands make the Olympics, Utah still has another bang-up class of L10s coming in who all placed well this weekend. It’s unrealistic to expect them to live up to the quality of the routines lost, but they will be able to combine with this past year’s freshmen (who should contribute more) to try at least to minimize the damage and ensure that team depth remains a thing. Note the cleaner line and toes that Merrell has on bars, at least from this angle. That’s my big pet peeve about Utah’s bars, so get this girl in the lineup.

3. Maddie Karr – Denver 2016-2017
38.400 (VT – 4th; UB – 10th; BB – 2nd; FX – 8th)

4. Olivia Karas – Michigan 2015-2016
38.275 (VT – 1st; UB – 16th; BB – 14th; FX – 11th)
Vaulllllltttttts. Michigan was hit by the bouncy vault monster for 49.1s too often last season, especially at the end. These freshmen can vault and need to do it all the time and a lot and everywhere. Karas has been one of the top JO gymnasts of the last year or so and won her age group last season at JOs. She will be expected to bestow some significant scores upon the team.

5. Jamie Stone – Ohio State 2015-2016
38.075 (VT – 10th; UB – 10th; BB – 14th; FX – 5th)

6. Madison Osman – Michigan 2016-2017
37.975 (VT – 6th; UB – 26th; BB – 17th; FX – 5th)

6. Shani Remme – Boise State 2015-2016
37.975 (VT – 14th; UB – 20th; BB – 13th; FX – 5th)

8. Sylvie Seilnacht – Cal 2015-2016
37.925 (VT – 18th; UB – 25th; BB – 12th; FX – 4th)

9. Erika Muhaw – Utah 2015-2016
37.875 (VT – 3rd; UB – 38th; BB – 20th; FX – 3rd)

10. Alexandra Hyland – Kentucky 2015-2016
37.825 (VT – 40th; UB – 5th; BB – 7th; FX – 11th)

Notables
Kaitlyn Szafranski – LSU 2015-2016
VT – 9th; UB – 1st
Szafranski had a disaster on both beam and floor but is one of the better gymnasts in this session and could have been among the top finishers with a hit meet. No one is talking very much about her because she’s in the same class as Priessman, Finnegan, and Kelley, but she could be important in helping make up for that parade of lost scores LSU has, especially considering Priessman’s injury history and the fact that Finnegan hasn’t competed since the early 60s. Don’t overlook this one. They’ll need this whole class, not just the names.  

Meredith LaRoche – Illinois State 2015-2016
VT – 10th; FX – 8th

Taylor Krippner – Auburn 2015-2016
BB – 1st

Morgan Porter – Missouri 2015-2016
UB – 2nd

Monica Riley – Washington 2015-2016
UB – 2nd

Olivia Aepli – Ohio State 2016-2017
UB – 5th
Ohio State had to go without an Aepli on bars this past season, and it was horrible. They desperately need Aepli Part 2 as soon as possible. 

SENIOR B

Top 10 AA
1. Wynter Childers – Alabama 2016-2017
38.550 (VT – 1st; UB – 9th; BB – 1st; FX – 2nd)

2. Cassidy Keelen – Cal 2016-2017
38.375 (VT – 2nd; UB – 9th; BB – 4th; FX – 3rd)

3. Jade DeGouveia – Pitt 2016-2017
38.225 (VT – 8th; UB – 6th; BB – 9th; FX – 6th)

4. Stephanie Day – Auburn 2016-2017
38.175 (VT – 2nd; UB – 4th; BB – 30th; FX – 1st)

5. Karen Howell – Illinois 2016-2017
38.025 (VT – 21st; UB – 1st; BB – 3rd; FX – 18th)

6. Anna Glenn  – UCLA 2016-2017
38.000 (VT – 2nd; UB – 13th; BB – 24th; FX – 13th)

7. Shea Mahoney – Alabama 2016-2017
37.950 (VT – 2nd; UB – 26th; BB – 30th; FX – 3rd)

8. Katie Becker – Auburn 2016-2017
37.875 (VT – 10th; UB – 16th; BB – 9th; FX – 18th)

9. Lexi Funk – Michigan 2016-2017
37.800 (VT – 18th; UB – 5th; BB – 5th; FX – 28th)

10. Alexa Phillips – NC State 2016-2017
37.775 (VT – 2nd; UB – 32nd; BB – 34th; FX – 7th)

10. Ashlyn Kirby – LSU 2016-2017
37.775 (VT – 14th; UB – 17th; BB – 13th; FX – 16th)

We’re moving on to the 2016-2017 people now, so there’s still time before we have to know who they are and what they’re good at, but note that Alabama and Auburn cleaned up Senior B this year. Bringing in multiple top-finishing L10s in multiple upcoming seasons is a good sign that Auburn can continue to make life miserable for the traditional powers.

Notables
Rachel Dickson – Georgia 2016-2017
VT – 2nd; FX – 3rd

Jessica Yamzon – Arkansas 2016-2017
UB – 2nd; BB – 6th

Christina Berg – Auburn 2016-2017
UB – 3rd; FX – 10th

Also Maya Washington finished 6th on beam in this session, and she’s going to Washington. Which is the kind of thing I enjoy.

SENIOR A

Top 10 AA
1. Kennedi Edney – LSU 2016-2017
38.600 (VT – 1st; UB – 1st; BB – 27th; FX – 1st)

2. Kynsee Roby – Nebraska
38.475 (VT – 11th; UB – 3rd; BB – 1st; FX – 3rd)

3. Kyla Bryant – ?
38.400 (VT – 4th; UB – 4th; BB – 3rd; FX – 4th)

4. Lynnzee Brown – Denver 2017-2018
38.125 (VT – 4th; UB – 4th; BB – 23rd; FX – 7th)

5. Mariah Peterson – Cal 2017-2018
38.050 (VT – 11th; UB – 10th; BB – 3rd; FX – 9th)

6. Reagan Campbell – LSU 2017-2018
38.000 (VT – 22nd; UB – 8th; BB – 2nd; FX – 17th)

7. Maggie O’Hara – Michigan 2017-2018
37.900 (VT – 26th; UB – 2nd; BB – 12th; FX – 17th)

8. Bridget Dean – LSU 2017-2018
37.650 (VT – 34th; UB – 19th; BB – 7th; FX – 9th)

9. Kimberly Tessen – ?
37.600 (VT – 7th; UB – 41st; BB – 6th; FX – 6th)

9. Melissa Reinstadtler – Utah 2016-2017
37.600 (VT – 9th; UB – 19th; BB – 18th; FX – 27th)

Good session for LSU here. Kennedi Edney is an interesting one, since her dad was such a high-profile UCLA athlete, but she committed to LSU very early even though she seemed bred to be a Bruin. The evolution of LSU in these next two post-Courville, Jordan, Hall years will be fascinating to watch because the talent is there without question. But will they be able to conjure the same results?

Notables
Autumn DeHarde – ?
BB – 3rd; UB – 2nd

Mollie Korth – ?
VT – 2nd; FX – 4th

Annie Johnson – ?
BB – 9th; FX – 9th

Lauren Bridgens – Penn State 2017-2018
VT – 3rd

Sophia Steinmeyer – Iowa State 2017-2018
VT – 4th