#7 Georgia Preview

Recent History
Georgia’s recent history has been the tale of three eras. The Suzanne era concluded with that preposterous run of five consecutive championships, finishing in 2009 and giving Georgia a legacy of winning that will hang over the head of every coach to follow like an anvil waiting to drop. That anvil dropped on Jay Clark after three straight years of missing out on Super Six and under-performing the talent of his roster, and now Danna Durante enters her third season in charge having led the Gym Dogs back to Super Six in her first two seasons. Last year’s 5th-place finish was the strongest for the team since the last title in 2009.

2015 Outlook

Georgia has been on an upward trajectory ever since the doom in 2010 when they missed nationals, but now the question is whether that trajectory can continue and how high they can go. For 2015, it will be challenging to improve on last year’s finish in a meaningful way given the quality of teams at the very top and the natural ebb and flow of routines (including the serious and profound lack of Lindsey Cheek this season), but maintaining the results from the last few seasons seems doable. Georgia finished 6th in 2013 and 5th and 2014, and fighting it out with the Pac-12 teams for those Super Six spots in 2015 as well is a realistic outlook.

Once again this year, Georgia will not be dependent on one or two big AAers who dominate rotations with 9.9s at the end of every lineup. A few people can and will do the all-around—in particular it would be nice to see Brittany Rogers get back there, but Georgia’s success will rely much more on gymnasts who can be the big star on two events. To put it in the most irritatingly cliched way positive, it will be a real team effort this season. The positive is that they’re probably less susceptible to being totally devastated by a key injury, but it also means that a number of gymnasts have to be in form at the same time for them to be as successful as they need to be. There’s no one big lineup savior.

Vault

Returning lineup — Brandie Jay (9.910 RQS), Brittany Rogers (9.885), Chelsea Davis (9.880), Ashlyn Broussard (9.795), Morgan Reynolds (no RQS) 

Georgia’s vault should be in acceptable shape this season because of the exceptional quality at the back of the lineup. Brittany Rogers still needs to come back, but once she does, she and Brandie Jay both have 1.5s that regularly score 9.900, with 9.950 a fairly likely outcome depending on the landing/arena. Those two can keep pace with any team. In some of the preseason videos, Jay appeared to be training an Omelianchik all of a sudden. The 1.5 is the better option for her, so I’m glad they’ve been able to bring that vault back recently even after the trauma of the accidental DTY last year. I’m still not really sure what happened there. Nor is anyone. 

Because of Jay and Rogers, Georgia is 49.4-capable on vault, but that will depend on developing depth and finding the supporting scores so that those two don’t have to do all the work. To hang with the top teams, the Gym Dogs probably need to add one more 9.900 and then a couple more 9.850s in the early spots. In spite of Lauren Johnson being out, there should still be some options once various people return from their minor injuries and issues. Chelsea Davis has a very clean, secure vault and has excelled for Georgia early in the order for the last three years. It may be time for a promotion so that she’s less likely to get stuck with some dumb 9.825 (like for the above routine) that they can’t afford. The freshmen Gigi Marino and Natalie Vaculik will be possibilities, Ashlyn Broussard and Kiera Brown have been vaulting so far in preseason, and Morgan Reynolds also vaulted for 9.775s in the leadoff spot at the end of last year. The gymnasts exist, but they still need to prove they can get 9.850-9.875s and not just meh 9.800s. We’ll see. Most teams are trying to find 9.9s on events. Georgia has the 9.9s. It’s the rest of the routines that they need to take care of.

Bars

Returning lineup — Chelsea Davis (9.945), Brittany Rogers (9.920), Kiera Brown (9.905), Brandie Jay (9.895)

Georgia has bars under control. In spite of losing Cheek, who developed into a phenomenal bars worker by the end of her career, the Gym Dogs are in the fortunate position of returning a very strong contingent of bars workers in Davis, Rogers, Brown, and Jay, all of whom finished last season among the nation’s top 20. They are the 9.9 quadruplets, which means we can expect the 49.4s to fly all over the place and 49.5+ to be a thing (they went as high as 49.7 last year, so sure). Another year of Georgia being ranked #1 on bars is very believable. Really, the major question about this group is whether Chelsea Davis will finally get her 10 this year.

In spite of not performing her VACULIK GIENGER (TM), Natalie Vaculik should still be an important and lovely addition to the team, who can perhaps make VACULIK JAEGER a similar phenomenon, though we already have a lot of great jaegers in NCAA. Also, don’t forget about Rachel Schick, who has been performing bars so far this preseason. She has struggled with injuries for three years now and missed her freshman season completely, but through all her leg injuries, she has turned bars into a strength and looks to be yet another contender for strong scores. This is a very talented lineup with what I consider the best release skills in the nation top-to-bottom. Don’t worry about bars.

Beam

Returning lineup — Brittany Rogers (9.865), Mary Beth Box (9.855), Morgan Reynolds (9.785), Ashlyn Broussard (9.660), Kiera Brown (no RQS).

We’ve heard the same story for too many seasons in a row with Georgia. They begin the meet with two amazing rotations and sit on 198 pace at the halfway point, only to have it all fall to pieces on the final two events. Suddenly the meet is a 196.500, and everyone is left wondering how that happened. It happened because of mistakes on beam and 9.7s on floor.

The mistakes had to be somewhat expected in 2014. It was a year of experimentation. With injuries and graduation to contend with, a number of new people needed to come into the lineup and show their wares (the postseason lineup featured four people who had never competed beam before last season), giving the rotation a completely new look. The 2015 season could end up being another year of new-look Georgia beam. The two scoring leaders from last season (Cheek and Earls) are gone, and many of the essential routines look to come from people who did not compete in that fairly inexperienced postseason lineup last year. Brittany Rogers was out injured, but her creative composition and world-class execution should be the star of this year’s rotation. Sarah Persinger also struggled to come back from injury last season but is beautiful, if terrifying, on beam. They need her back on this event. (Both years of Durante’s tenure so far have featured a senior who suddenly performed far above her previous capacity—Tanella in 2013, Cheek in 2014—and I would love it to be Persinger in 2015.)

Canadian freshmen should also figure in prominent places, with Natalie Vaculik and Vivi Babalis both currently making the preseason lineup. Babalis should be one of the pleasant, unheralded surprises on Georgia’s team this year, and Natalie Vaculik is a Vaculik. Case closed. All these new-look options aren’t to say that some of the returners won’t figure, because they will. Kiera Brown and Mary Beth Box in particular emerged as very strong competitors last season, and Broussard has yet-unrealized possibilities. There are some really exciting choices here that I hope pan out. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death by this rotation, because I absolutely am, but it could be quite an engaging group if we’re getting the likes of Rogers, Vaculik, Babalis, Brown, and Persinger all at the same time. If it’s a disaster, at least it will be a beautiful disaster.

Floor

Returning lineup — Brandie Jay (9.900), Brittany Rogers (9.860), Mary Beth Box (9.850), Morgan Reynolds (9.840), Ashlyn Broussard (no RQS)

Floor was a pseudo-struggle for Georgia for most of the season last year. I say a pseudo-struggle because it wasn’t like they were falling all over the place. They had a couple bad meets, but more often they were the victim of 9.850s and 49.2s, which is not bad enough to be bad but not good enough to be good. It was an unremarkable floor rotation, which is kind of the kiss of death. Brandie Jay can usually give the team a useful anchor score (though she does suffer from occasional weird landing syndrome), but everyone has a 9.9 at the end of the floor lineup. The best teams will have at least three of them, which is why floor remains a concern for Georgia. Aside from Jay, and Rogers if she gets back on floor, these have not been big routines or guaranteed 9.9s. When Florida, LSU, and Oklahoma have a whole rotation of 9.9s, that becomes the expectation for everyone else.

That’s why Ashlyn Broussard emerging as a significant contributor, not just a lineup member, is important. I still maintain she has a big routine in her with that DLO and needs to show it this year, and freshman GiGi Marino is the same way. She has the potential and power to be a little spark plug in this lineup. If these gymnasts are competing, and then receiving support from Mary Beth Box’s excellent double pike among others, the lineup could contend for big scores consistently. If it’s just a bunch of medium-amplitude, low-landed double backs and rudis until Brandie Jay, they’ll be in trouble.

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#8 Michigan Preview

Recent History
Last year, Michigan finished an OK, if somewhat disappointing, 9th. They qualified comfortably to championships but failed to put up a major challenge for a Super Six spot. While Michigan was not one of the seeded favorites to advance, they (like Stanford) will have kicked themselves for not taking advantage of the upset opportunity sitting in from of them. The Wolverines ended up needing just a 49.050 on beam to make Super Six, but that didn’t really happen.

Michigan has spent the last few seasons right in the mix around the 7-9 area in the rankings, which is just where the coaches have ranked them this year. Their best recent season came in 2011, Kylie Botterman’s senior year, when they qualified to Super Six for the first time since the Elise Ray years, but that excellent performance was followed by a low point the next year when a combination of graduations and injuries left them ranked in the 20s for most of the season and unable to challenge. 

2015 Outlook
Given the roster situation this year, with all those essential routines from last year lost and a few key players recovering from injury and yet currently ready to compete, you would be forgiven for having some 2012 flashbacks. The scenarios are somewhat similar, but even though it will be a tough season for Michigan, I’m not putting them down in the 20s. This team should be able to compete, and given what we’ve seen so far in the preseason and in past performances, I’d still pick them to make it to nationals without hesitation. Super Six will be a very tough ask, but that’s probably hypocritical of me to say since I was optimistic about Stanford even though they currently have -3 healthy gymnasts. Michigan has enough people to make lineups right now, and that’s a start. 

One concern for Michigan (and one major difference between Michigan and some of the other teams ranked similarly in the preseason poll) is the number of 9.9s in these lineups. Most of the 9.9s from last season aren’t here anymore, and the pressure will be on returning gymnasts to score 9.9s for routines that haven’t regularly received 9.9s before. In particular, it will be down to Sachi Sugiyama and Nicole Artz to transform from early-lineup supporting players into anchoring stars.

Vault

(Beautiful vault, but let’s talk about how one judge gave it a 10. False.)

Returning lineup — Austin Sheppard (9.945), Sachi Sugiyama, (9.870), Talia Chiarelli (9.815), Nicole Artz (no RQS)

Without question, Austin Sheppard is the star vaulter on this team. She was one of the strongest vaulters in the country last season and has done everything except get a 10 on this event. She’s the 9.975 queen—usually more deserved than in the video above. Getting Sheppard healthy and back into the vault lineup is essential. I don’t see the rest of the team getting much more than a 49.2 without her, which isn’t a bad score but is at least three tenths below what the best teams will be recording. If Sheppard’s usual vault comes back, Michigan will be much more competitive and much more capable of challenging for 49.3+ (or absorbing an early 9.7 if necessary).

Sugiyama and her 1.5 will be similarly critical. I really liked the idea of putting Sugiyama in the leadoff position last year (early-lineup difficulty is my favorite—it’s harder to underscore difficulty and it also has the potential to push up the scores of cleaner, easier routines to follow), but without Sampson and Beilstein this season, Sugiyama’s vault is so much more important than it was last year. Michigan in 2015 doesn’t have the luxury of putting her in the leadoff spot. She needs to be deep in the lineup getting 9.9s.

A couple more strong scores will need to join them, and Nicole Artz and Talia Chiarelli are the most likely candidates. Chiarelli was getting a lot of 9.800s and 9.850s last year, which is fine, but not the Brestyan’s vaulting she can produce. When you’re a Brestyan’s gymnast, your vault needs punch everyone else in the face every time. I need to be punched in the face this season. There are a few other 9.7ish options for the remaining spots in Brooke Parker and Briley Casanova, but a couple of the freshmen should see time here as well. Vault is not Brianna Brown’s best event, but she can work a full, and Ilana Gordon could be a factor as well. I do anticipate a couple early-lineup lower scores this year, so it will be down to the big anchor vaults to lift up the total.

Bars

Returning lineup — Sachi Sugiyama (9.855), Nicole Artz (9.855), Lindsay Williams (no RQS)

Unfortunately for Michigan, losing all the top-scoring routines from last year is kind of a trend right now. The top three RQSs from 2014 (Sampson, Beilstein, and Gies) are all gone, but that’s not as worrying as it could be, or will be on some other events. Michigan has proven the ability to pour bad handstands and sloppy legs into a cauldron along with eye of newt and poisoned dragon’s liver and in a few minutes magic up a huge bars routine. Hello, Natalie Beilstein. Hello, Austin Sheppard. Since there are just four returning gymnasts—Sugiyama, Artz, Sheppard, Williams—who have performed a competition bars routine before (five if we include Annette Miele, but is she able to come back?) the bars witchcraft will need to be in full swing. Get it? Swing? Bars? I’m a delight.

A couple new stars will have to emerge, and Brianna Brown must be the leader of this epic quest for new 9.9s. She’s the Ponce de Leon of this expedition with her amplitude and skill set, and this will be her most important routine for the team. Also, a quick mention of Nichelle Christopherson. Coming off one of the more dramatic and mercurial verbal journeys (Is it UCLA? Is it Florida? No, it’s Michigan?) she has landed with the Wolverines and is joining the team this year. I don’t know what to expect from her across the board, but bars should be a thing. That shaposh and that ray. Those are skills.

Beam

Returning lineup — Nicole Artz (9.840), Talia Chiarelli (9.835), Briley Casanova (9.770), Lindsay Williams (no RQS)

I have said some harsh things about Michigan’s beam rotation over the last few years. Mostly because watching Michigan on beam has been so stressful. When Michigan competes beam, it’s a clinical-strength deodorant kind of day, is what I’m saying. The flip side of this problem is that even though losing Sampson, Gies, and Zakharia as beam options is a blow to the team—especially since Sampson was their best beamer—it’s not like they’re losing guaranteed 9.9s. Everyone in this lineup could be a little 9.600 on any given day, so beam is probably the most likely event to stay the same. 

Most of the returners should make it back into the lineup. Artz has the makings of a standout, Casanova is either a 9.900 or a 9.725 but the 9.9s can happen, and one of the pleasant surprises for Michigan last season was Talia Chiarelli. I had my doubts about her ability to hit beam given her elite track record, but she proved to be perhaps the most consistent member of the lineup. There were plenty of 9.7s in there, but a 9.7 isn’t a fall. She’ll need to bring that back.

Still, there should be an opportunity to inject some new life into beam. The preseason injury to Lauren Marinez is, in Bev Plocki’s words, “a bummer.” Yeah, it’s a total bummer. Marinez has the potential to be beautiful on beam, but Brown can still come into the lineup here, and I’d like to see India McPeak as well since she can be so exciting. I’m a little concerned that her most interesting elements aren’t making it into the routine, but we’ll see.

In all, is this another year of 49.050s? Probably.

Floor

Returning lineup — Nicole Artz (9.905), Sachi Sugiyama (9.845), Talia Chiarelli (9.785)

Joanna Sampson was a star on every event, but her floor routine was the biggest of the big deals. A 9.950 big deal. This floor rotation in 2015 is going to be mostly unrecognizable and slightly bizarre-feeling without Sampson, Beilstein, and Zakharia. They were Michigan’s floor lineup. This year, there won’t be the same E-passes-coming-out-of-every-orifice dynamic, but the returning trio is very capable. They will be relied upon not only to hit but to get the 9.9s we’ve come to expect from the back of Michigan’s floor lineup.

Artz is already there. She was nailing that piked full in all over the place for 9.9s last year (and does not land it staggered like a bunch of other people), and I expect that to continue. It’s going to a fight to find those reliable 9.9s in the 5th and 6th spots across the events this year, but Artz certainly provides one on floor. Sugiyama also has a strong routine that has sometimes been overlooked in that first position, but as she assumes a deeper role in the lineup, she can also get in on the 9.9 game. With Chiarelli and Parker joining the game, it seems 49.3s will be reasonable here, but they’ll still have to fill out the lineup somehow. Some of the freshmen might pop in, with Brianna Brown once again seeming the most likely, but the need for other options is why it was so important to see Briley Casanova compete for a 9.800 at the exhibition. She has been a bit player so far in her Michigan career, but the team will need options like a solid floor routine from her this season.

Fantasy Gymnastics Time

First things first, if you’re not already doing college fantasy gymnastics (and enjoy that kind of thing), you should do it. I played last year and did . . . fine. My major weaknesses were everything, particularly that my beam lineup consisted of two people who could be relied upon to hit well, a couple others who were really happy to get a 9.700, several tumbleweeds, and a box of garbage. It didn’t go beautifully.

This year I plan on making the exact same mistakes and having a grand old time doing it. Really, the best part of fantasy gymnastics is making fun of how terribly your team is doing. I’ve been working on drafting my team and ranking my possible selections today (I’m almost up to the full 150 gymnasts, but I better not get some of these people), and I thought I’d share my rankings and my overthinking process. If you’re playing, feel free to do the same. We can all make fun of each other together this year!

My draft:

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Bridget Sloan” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4094″>Bridget Sloan

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: LSU Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”182″ data-title=”Rheagan Courville” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3849″>Rheagan Courville

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Kytra Hunter” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3817″>Kytra Hunter

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: UCLA Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”208″ data-title=”Samantha Peszek” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3952″>Samantha Peszek

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Minnesota Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”186″ data-title=”Lindsay Mable” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4137″>Lindsay Mable

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Georgia Dabritz” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3953″>Georgia Dabritz

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Chayse Capps” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4472″>Chayse Capps

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Haley Scaman” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4164″>Haley Scaman

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: LSU Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”182″ data-title=”Jessie Jordan” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3851″>Jessie Jordan

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Nebraska Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”188″ data-title=”Jessie DeZiel” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3873″>Jessie DeZiel

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Brenna Dowell” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4807″>Brenna Dowell

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Kennedy Baker” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4703″>Kennedy Baker

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Bridgette Caquatto” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4091″>Bridgette Caquatto

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Alex McMurtry” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4706″>Alex McMurtry

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Kara Lovan” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4475″>Kara Lovan

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Stanford Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”205″ data-title=”Ivana Hong” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4212″>Ivana Hong

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: UCLA Grad Year: 2017 Events: []” data-original-title=”” data-school=”208″ data-title=”Christine Peng-Peng Lee” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4530″>Christine Peng-Peng Lee

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Stanford Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”205″ data-title=”Elizabeth Price” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4857″>Elizabeth Price

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Auburn Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”160″ data-title=”Caitlin Atkinson” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4033″>Caitlin Atkinson

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: UCLA Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”208″ data-title=”Danusia Francis” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4220″>Danusia Francis

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Stanford Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”205″ data-title=”Kristina Vaculik” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3942″>Kristina Vaculik

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Nebraska Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”188″ data-title=”Grace Williams” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4778″>Grace Williams

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Mackenzie Brannan” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4610″>Mackenzie Brannan

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Brittany Rodgers” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4100″>Brittany Rogers

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Tory Wilson” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3956″>Tory Wilson

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Brandie Jay” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4098″>Brandie Jay

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: LSU Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”182″ data-title=”Ashley Gnat” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4420″>Ashleigh Gnat

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Nebraska Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”188″ data-title=”Hollie Blanske” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4141″>Hollie Blanske

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Boise State Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”162″ data-title=”Ciera Perkins” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3775″>Ciera Perkins

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Katie Bailey” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4288″>Katie Bailey

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Michigan Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”184″ data-title=”Nicole Artz” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4428″>Nicole Artz

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Corrie Lothrop” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3954″>Corrie Lothrop

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oregon State Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”195″ data-title=”Madeline Gardiner” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4478″>Madeline Gardiner

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Kaitlyn Clark” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3750″>Kaitlyn Clark

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Kayla Williams” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3753″>Kayla Williams

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Maile’ana Kanewa” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4161″>Maile’ana Kanewa

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Lauren Beers” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4013″>Lauren Beers

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Michigan Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”184″ data-title=”Sachi Sugiyama” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3862″>Sachi Sugiyama

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: North Carolina State Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”191″ data-title=”Brittni Watkins” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4152″>Brittni Watkins

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Kari Lee” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4879″>Kari Lee

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Auburn Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”160″ data-title=”Abigail Milliet” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4630″>Abigail Milliet

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Chelsea Davis” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3825″>Chelsea Davis

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Arkansas Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”159″ data-title=”Amanda Wellick” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4310″>Amanda Wellick

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oregon State Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”195″ data-title=”Chelsea Tang” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3899″>Chelsea Tang

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Nebraska Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”188″ data-title=”Kamerin Moore” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4777″>Kamerin Moore

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Natalie Vaculik” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4719″>Natalie Vaculik

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oregon State Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”195″ data-title=”Kaytianna McMillan” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4480″>Kaytianna McMillan

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: UCLA Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”208″ data-title=”Jennifer Pinches” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4533″>Jennifer Pinches

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Arizona Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”157″ data-title=”Shelby Edwards” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4021″>Shelby Edwards

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Kiera Brown” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4388″>Kiera Brown

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Keeley Kmieciak” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4162″>Keeley Kmieciak

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: LSU Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”182″ data-title=”Erin Macadaeg” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4753″>Erin Macadaeg

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”Rebecca Clark” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3894″>Rebecca Clark

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Ohio State Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”193″ data-title=”Taylor Harrison” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4800″>Taylor Harrison

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Georgia Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”175″ data-title=”Vivi Babalis” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4716″>Vivi Babalis

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Cal Berkeley Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”167″ data-title=”Toni-Ann Williams” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4674″>Toni-Ann Williams

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Auburn Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”160″ data-title=”MJ Rott” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4314″>MJ Rott

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Michigan Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”184″ data-title=”Austin Sheppard” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4130″>Austin Sheppard

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Nebraska Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”188″ data-title=”Jennie Laeng” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4445″>Jennie Laeng

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Michigan Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”184″ data-title=”Brianna Brown” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4759″>Brianna Brown

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Michigan Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”184″ data-title=”Talia Chiarelli” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4429″>Talia Chiarelli

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: LSU Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”182″ data-title=”Lloimincia Hall” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3850″>Lloimincia Hall

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Arkansas Grad Year: 2018 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”159″ data-title=”Braie Speed” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4623″>Braie Speed

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Becky Tutka” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3955″>Becky Tutka

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Kailah Delaney” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4221″>Kailah Delaney

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Stanford Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”205″ data-title=”Taylor Rice” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4213″>Taylor Rice

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Utah Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”209″ data-title=”Baely Rowe” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4535″>Baely Rowe

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oklahoma Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”194″ data-title=”McKenzie Wofford” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4476″>McKenzie Wofford

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Claire Boyce” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4382″>Claire Boyce

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Alabama Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”155″ data-title=”Aja Sims” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4293″>Aja Sims

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Florida Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#, #, #]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”173″ data-title=”Rachel Spicer” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3819″>Rachel Spicer

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Illinois Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”176″ data-title=”Giana O’Connor” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4103″>Giana O’Connor

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Oregon State Grad Year: 2016 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”195″ data-title=”Risa Perez” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4166″>Risa Perez

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: Auburn Grad Year: 2015 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”160″ data-title=”Bri Guy” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”3764″>Bri Guy

    <li class="gymnastinfo" data-content=" School: UCLA Grad Year: 2017 Events: [#]” data-original-title=”” data-school=”208″ data-title=”Angi Cipra” href=”http://www.collegefantasygymnastics.com/draft#&#8221; id=”4528″>Angi Cipra

Am I pretending that all of this makes sense? No. But it’s what I have right now. This is the part that I’ve thought about. After #75, it’s just “I’ve heard of you/You got a 9.850 once that I remember.”

Thoughts:

  • Everyone plus a thousand other people will be putting Bridget Sloan first, so it would be a smart strategy to select someone else as #1 because you would be more likely to get her. I have not done that.

  • It’s tough to put freshmen too high because we just don’t know what we’re going to get from them until we see it. I’ve taken the plunge with a few of them like Dowell/Baker/McMurtry because they need to be excellent and have no excuse not to be. I would have Price higher, but that injury worries me.

  • I tried to top-load with AAers and 3-eventers because I didn’t want to get stuck with a lot of people who are beautiful on one event, but I’m already concerned that I have some key non-beamers hanging around the top. Obviously, I will end up with all of them. Box of garbage 2.0.

  • Having AAers is essential, even if they’re not getting a lot of 9.9s. I had Melanie Shaffer from Ohio State on my team last year, and she may have been my MVP because she was competing every event every week for usable 9.850s so that I wasn’t counting some terrible fall or, even worse, short on gymnasts. The Melanie Shaffers of the world are important, so check out those AA rankings.  

  • I put many of the gymnasts who are great on just one event lower on my list, which is why Lloimincia Hall is so far down. She could potentially make three lineups, but floor is the only guarantee, so other less famous gymnasts might end up being more valuable for fantasy. I assume many others will have her high since she’s Lloimincia Hall, so because I probably won’t get her, I didn’t want to waste a top spot.

  • In some places, I’ve ranked less on strategy and more on which gymnasts I think it would be fun to maybe have, like Toni-Ann Williams from Cal. I don’t know what we’ll get from her, but I’m excited by the training footage. “Because I just like her” is a perfectly good reason to make a draft decision, and I’ve done that a ton. Don’t feel ashamed of that.

  • But I did also put a lot of consideration into picking people enough I’m sure will make lineups. For instance, I have not ranked Grace McLaughlin and Ericha Fassbender at Florida in the top 75 because, while they’re recognizable, excellent gymnasts, I’m not really sure how many lineups they’re going to make. Conversely, I put Boise State’s Ciera Perkins really high because she has been so much more essential to her team with those 9.9s on three events that they don’t have elsewhere. 

  • Speaking of Perkins, don’t forget about people from some of the less prominent teams who could be very valuable. Brittni Watkins ranked well in the AA for NC State last year and could be that reliable, any-event type. Shelby Edwards has been 9.9-worthy on both vault and beam for Arizona, and both routines are superb. Taylor Harrison won JOs last year and should be essential for Ohio State.

  • With one or two exceptions named Rheagan Courville, I tended to demote people I had on my team last year because it’s just more fun to mix things up. I don’t want the same people over and over again. 

  • Because of the calendar this year, most teams are not starting the first weekend. That means many teams don’t have any weekends off during the season, so bye weeks are a little less of a concern than some other years. I’m still slightly worried about overloading with gymnasts from the top teams, but they should be competing pretty much all the time.

#9 Nebraska Preview

Recent History
Nebraska scored the upset of the championship last season, using a 9.900-athon on beam to zoom past both UCLA and Utah and qualify to Super Six. Several counting errors in the final saw the Huskers fall well behind the top teams, but making it there was the victory. It was Nebraska’s first Super Six showing since 2011, when senior Erin Davis led them safely through the error-ridden catastrophe that was the second semifinal. Since a rough patch in the late 2000s, culminating in missing out on their home championships, Nebraska has qualified for championships four of the last five years, though the memory of that three-event regional meltdown in 2013 still lingers.

2015 Outlook
Nebraska came into championships as the #9 team last year, but in spite of making Super Six, they appear to have made no progress in the eyes of the coaches, remaining right at #9 in this year’s preseason poll. It makes sense. It’s hard to expect a Super Six surprise two years in a row when so many similar-quality teams are improving over last year. I also have Nebraska at #9, but I don’t feel good about it, especially because in spite of losing Emily Wong, there’s a very good chance that they too will be better in 2015 than in 2014.

Jessie DeZiel and Hollie Blanske look to be the AA backbone of the team among the returning competitors (if you’re looking for a good fantasy gym AA option that not everyone is picking, I’d recommend Blankse), and a good deal of last year’s solid supporting cast of 9.850s is either returning or coming back from injury as well. That will give Nebraska more depth than we usually expect and should end up providing a larger margin for new injuries than teams like Stanford, Michigan, and UCLA will have, which could be decisive. The Huskers are one of the more mysterious teams because they don’t get a lot of meet exposure and don’t produce a lot of preseason media (a big reason why it’s always kind of a surprise when they’re good), but they’re an easy bet to return to championships this year. And if freshmen Grace Williams and Kamerin Moore are able to use their combined powers to replace those Wong scores, Super Six is reasonable and would come as less of a surprise than last year.  

Vault

Returning lineup — Jessie DeZiel (9.935 RQS), Hollie Blanske (9.885), Ariel Martin (9.865), Desire’ Stephens (9.850), Jennie Laeng (no RQS)

Nebraska can vault. We know that. Their blocks are consistently among the best in the country, and we regularly see Nebraska gymnasts that seemingly have no business in a vault lineup ultimately developing into integral high-scoring vaulters. That’s why even though last postseason was a roaring success for Nebraska, those vault scores in the 49.2s were a letdown. I expected them to be a couple tenths better than that, especially coming off a 2013 season that ended in disappointment but also ended with some back-to-back-to-back insane 9.950 vaults, many from gymnasts who returned in 2014. 

Vault is one of the events where Nebraska should have a surplus of 9.825-9.850s this year, with likely early-mid lineup options from Martin, Laeng, Stephens, and possibly Ashley Lambert (who missed the end of last season but is, I believe, indestructible). The freshmen Williams and Moore both bring solid, respectable, regular yurchenko fulls that I expect to develop at Nebraska, Danielle Breen has a clean enough yhalf, and DeZiel and Blanske should return to the deeper lineup spots. DeZiel is the one vital competition who can definitely be relied upon for those essential 9.950s to keep pace with the big guns. Nine vaulters and a bunch of 9.850s may not sound like a big deal, but coming off multiple seasons where Nebraska has been able to put up only five vaulters in multiple meets, it is.

Bars

Returning lineup — Jessie DeZiel (9.885), Hollie Blanske (9.860), Desire’ Stephens (9.815), Jennie Laeng (9.640), Amanda Lauer (no RQS)

In recent years, bars has been a strength for Nebraska with the likes of Giblin, Evenstad, Wong, and Scaffidi providing reliable 9.900 options for several seasons in a row. With Wong finishing her run last year, that group is gone now, meaning Nebraska needs a bars reboot to stay competitive. Right now, they don’t have those guaranteed 9.900s. They have several options in the 9.775-9.825 range—Stephens, Laeng (who is much better than that 9.640 RQS suggests), both Lauers—but taking just the returning gymnasts into account, Nebraska is probably looking at some 49.1s on bars. DeZiel is strong here, as everywhere, and should get some 9.9s, but she can’t do it all by herself. She needs a big-scoring partner or three.

The good news is that both Williams and Moore are likely contributors and will help build up the base Nebraska has on bars into something more competitive. Both gymnasts placed very well on bars in JO competitions, and both come in with the amplitude and the competitive skill set to contribute right away. Williams also brings a deltchev that I really hope sticks around. These two freshmen should be able to start the bars reboot process.

Beam

Returning lineup — Jessie DeZiel (9.870), Hollie Blanske (9.800), Amanda Lauer (9.760), Jennie Laeng (no RQS)

In contrast to bars, beam has not been a strength for Nebraska lately. Falls and random 9.650s have been the trend for several seasons, but that didn’t really seem to matter once semifinals rolled around last April. The Huskers pulled out the top-scoring beam rotation of the day (by a full tenth over any other team), which I certainly didn’t see coming. We all knew Wong and DeZiel could beam like crazy, but it was the emergence of Blanske and Laeng as 9.900 possibilities during the postseason that brought Nebraska’s beam up to the highest level. I’m somewhat skeptical as to whether those scores are sustainable and realistic throughout the coming season, but without Emily Wong in that anchor position, they’ll need to be.

If they are, Nebraska has the makings of a solid beam lineup this season, boasting more potential than they usually have entering a season in spite of losing two significant routines from Wong and Schleppenbach. DeZiel should lead the way, but Grace Williams is also a definite option on beam who has a history of competitive consistency, and Jennifer Lauer can return to the lineup this season with the hope of bringing back the 9.875s she scored in 2013. That may help offset much of what has been lost and infuse the lineup with multiple competitive mid-lineup routines they were missing last year (during the regular season).

Floor

Returning lineup — Hollie Blanske (9.885), Jessie DeZiel (9.840), Desire’ Stephens (9.805), Ariel Martin (no RQS)

It’s hard to decide which apparatus will feel the lack of Emily Wong the most, and while beam may seem the most likely, I’m going with floor. That triple full. But also those scores. In 10 of 14 competitions last year, Wong was the team’s only 9.9+ score on floor, and in all 14, she was the team’s highest scorer. All 14. That’s a fairly remarkable record and one that will be tough for the Huskers to do without this season given the relative lack of 9.9s that the rest of the team was able to put up last year. Some teams at the top will be benching 9.875s, so Nebraska has work to do if they’re going to avoid losing too much ground on floor.  

The newbies should be able to contribute here as well if the past is any indication. They’re definitely capable of putting up a couple clean D-pass routines that can slot in comfortably, but I’m waiting to see what happens in the difficulty department with them. Although, Nebraska isn’t completely hurting for difficulty with DeZiel’s piked full in and Blanske’s tucked version, so a clean double pike of a routine may work out just fine, as long as it really is clean. Clean and simple could be enough to wrench the lineup out of 9.825 land, leg form land, and bouncy landing land where it spent a lot of last season. As on bars, the team has a solid supply of 9.8s to choose from, but I’m waiting to see where the necessary 9.9s are going to come from. 

#10 Stanford Preview

Recent History
Stanford’s recent results have been very much a mixed bag, the mixed-est of mixed bags. Since those very strong teams of 2007 and 2008 (the Tabitha Yim, Liz Tricase, Carly Janiga years), each year the Cardinal either finish a surprising and admirable 4th that few predicted (2010, 2012) or disappoint, missing Nationals entirely in 2011, suffering the Ivana Hong injury and limping to a semifinal 194 in 2013, or recording last year’s fine but tepid semifinal 196.600 (with 49.025s on vault and floor) that whiffed at a legitimate opportunity to take advantage of an off day from LSU.

2015 Outlook
At its healthy ideal, this year’s team appears closer to 4th place than a whiff and would seem under-ranked at #10. The roster should be emboldened by Ivana Hong’s return after a long injury layoff and the introduction of Elizabeth Price, who is still one of the top all-arounders in the world and is the most impressive freshman in this year’s national incoming class. They’re the boost this team needs, and with many of the routines from last season returning, the amount of Hong and Price contribution will largely dictate how much Stanford can improve on that 9th-place finish from last year.

As usual, don’t be surprised by some January and February 195s, especially as Price comes back from whatever foot-adjacent issue she has been dealing with, but in the end, Super Six is a realistic expectation for this roster. Anything less than that would be a disappointing finish. That’s especially true because several significant gymnasts, namely Kristina Vaculik, are in their final year of eligibility. It’s going to be harder in 2016 than it will be 2015. This is the year, at least until those other they’re-going-to-Stanford-but-no-one’s-saying-it elites arrive.

Vault

Returning lineup — Nicolette McNair (9.910 RQS), Rachel Daum (9.870), Kristina Vaculik (9.870), Taylor Rice (9.835), Danielle McNair (9.830), Melissa Chuang (9.825)

Stanford managed to put together a fairly competitive vault lineup last season, finishing 9th in the nation with an RQS of 49.325. They did, however, falter in the postseason with way too many 9.800s and 9.825s. One or two of those scores is OK this year, but it can’t be the entire lineup if they expect to make those Super Six dreams come true. The good news is that all six postseason vaults from last year are returning, so there’s no reason to expect regression and every reason to expect improvement. No, that’s not the good news. The actual good news is Elizabeth Price. Because obviously.

Last year, Stanford’s biggest problem on vault was the lack that one stellar routine, the 9.950 that can erase some wonky landings early in the lineup. They recorded zero 9.950s on vault all year, so there was rarely a margin for any bouncy landings. Price can be that stellar vaulter when healthy, and she and Nicolette McNair should be a competitive top duo for 9.9s. If the rest of the team can cobble together at least three more consistently 9.850 vaults, they should have a solid baseline from which to work toward 49.350s. That will keep them competitive enough so that they can shine on bars and beam. It’s not going to be the biggest, baddest vault lineup from top to bottom, but it doesn’t need to be a weakness this year. The rest of the returning vaulters should fight it out for the remaining spots, with Daum and Vaculik seeming the most likely given their performances last year, and Danielle McNair bringing the difficulty with her y1.5 for 9.825.

We all know Ivana Hong has an excellent yfull that can score a 9.900 as well, but in a career with two ACL tears suffered on vault, I wouldn’t count on anything . . . Just give us a lovely bars and beam, and we have no right to ask for anything more.

Bars

Returning lineup — Kristina Vaculik (9.910), Samantha Shapiro (9.890), Nicolette McNair (9.875), Danielle McNair (9.820), Taylor Rice (9.820)

I know we get tired of DLO dismounts in NCAA because everyone and her sister does one, but Stanford is allowed as many as they want. The Cardinal were quite lovely on bars last year, much better than their #9 ranking would suggest. As is often the case with this team, some weak early-season performances and random moments of frustrating inconsistency belied their true quality. To my eye (and therefore to all sane people’s eyes), they were the top bars team in the Pac-12 by the end of the 2014 season. They should be better this year.

Unsung hero Shona Morgan is gone, but Stanford returns Vaculik’s magical gienger and Shapiro’s magical toe point, both of which are 9.900-likely routines, and can add Price’s magical difficulty and Hong’s magical new Ray. That’s four top-class bars routines to end the lineup, and Nicolette McNair isn’t all that far behind. Round out the group with Taylor Rice (if the consistency is there), or Becky Wing or Danielle McNair, and Stanford should be competitive with the best teams in the country on bars. Those vital 49.400s will be doable, and even bigger scores can be expected. Just get those dismounts ready and actually landed. None of these perfect routines getting smacked for 9.7s after clumsy landings this year, OK?

Beam

Returning lineup — Nicolette McNair (9.865), Kristina Vaculik (9.865), Rebecca Wing (9.805), Rachel Daum (no RQS)

On beam, Stanford has lost two major players, and keeping up the same quality from the start of the season will be a challenge without those high-class routines from Shona Morgan and Amanda Spinner. Morgan and Spinner were often the most likely gymnasts to hit their routines as well as being the 9.9s saviors in that lineup. (I’m using this one final opportunity to mention how criminally underscored Shona Morgan was in that leadoff position, and now I promise I’ll never talk about it again.) The returning group of beamers is elegant but also somewhat terrifying. It is Stanford after all.

Still, 49.400 is a more valuable commodity on beam than on any other event because it’s the rarest, and Stanford should be one of the handful of teams capable of reaching that level. It won’t be an every-week thing, but it should happen. Ivana Hong’s gorgeousness will radiate into the other competitors in a sort of religious experience, but she won’t have to send out greatness vapors all by herself. She’ll have help from Price, the newly-consistent Rulfova queen Vaculik, and Nicolette McNair’s weekly 9.850. I’d also love to see Becky Wing and her Badass Bangs of Beam Dominance return to the lineup after coming on strong at the end of last season. It’s not necessarily the safest or most secure lineup, and we may see some serious beamtastrophes, but this group can score well when it’s all working (probably joined by whoever wins the consistency battle between Rice, Daum, and Hanset).

Floor

Returning lineup — Kristina Vaculik (9.895), Pauline Hanset (9.860), Rachel Daum (9.855), Taylor Rice (9.855), Jenna Frowein (9.775)

Sigh. I’m worried about floor. It was Stanford’s struggle event last year. They finished the regular season ranked #23 and managed to break the 49.3 barrier just three times during the year. So many double pikes and so much OOB. Some of those double pikes are excellent and can garner solid scores when packaged in a crisp routine, but they’re still double pikes. And as made clear by those RQSs, it was largely a rotation of 9.850s, which was not helped by the mid-season injury to Hanset just as she was starting to get those bigger scores. The best teams have weekly 9.950s at the back of the lineup, and Stanford didn’t have anything like that last year. Translation: the moment Elizabeth Price can contribute on floor, she needs to be in at least three of those lineup spots, maybe all six. She can change the tide.

It’s a tough scenario because Hong and Shapiro should be there, and coupled with Price, Vaculik, Hanset, and Rice (to throw out four) they would make up a pretty strong lineup and a big upgrade over last season, but their fragility makes it impossible to expect anything on floor. I’m worried they’d just collapse like Pinocchio. That’s why getting Nicolette McNair into the lineup this year becomes very important because she does bring the difficulty and the (as yet unrealized) 9.9 potential. Stanford couldn’t get her into the lineup and hitting in time last year, but her routine will be vital in the new season as a scoring boost over last year to increase the likelihood of those 49.3s. 

2015 Preseason Coaches Poll and Commentary

Once again, the NCAA coaches have made their selections in the year’s preseason poll because “But mom, all the other sports get to do it!” That also means it’s my turn to take the poll way more seriously than is intended or healthy.

-The coaches aren’t really going through and dissecting all the other teams and what routines they’ll be putting up this year, so selections are usually based on last year’s results, reputation, friendship, and how much gin is within reaching distance. (Unfortunately, the coaches weren’t that drunk this year. It sort of makes sense. Sort of.)

-I’m with them on the top 3, as I think pretty much everyone would be. I too would place Florida just ahead of Oklahoma because, even though Florida has lost a few more significant scores than Oklahoma, they’re also bringing in a stronger freshman class. Still, there’s very, very little between the teams as it stands now—it’s basically a dead heat until we see competition routines—so it’s interesting that more than twice as many coaches gave Florida a first-place vote than Oklahoma. Oklahoma gets less exposure than Florida and isn’t in a gymnastics power conference, and in spite of winning the co-title last season, is still fighting that reputation battle to some extent.

 -Who voted for UCLA and Utah in first place? Actually, I don’t need that question answered. It’s close, but I would put Utah ahead of UCLA. Utah has a bit more lineup depth right now and fewer perpetual injury question marks. UCLA has tremendous potential in a number of returning gymnasts who have not shown their full quality yet (Mossett, Pinches, Gerber, I’m talking to you), but potential isn’t scores.

-Alabama is still up in 4th, and I think that’s where I would have them as well. They’ve lost a bunch of routines and a head coach, but there’s still a ton of talent there that can certainly become a #4 team. I suppose we give them the benefit of the doubt until we see routines, much like how after Suzanne left, Georgia still got the #1 preseason ranking for the next year. 

-Michigan was ahead of Nebraska in the Big Ten coaches poll as well, but I don’t see it. Michigan has lost too many routines, and while Nebraska did lose Emily Wong, the Huskers have Grace Williams and Kamerin Moore to fill in those gaps. 9th may be a realistic finish in spite of making Super Six last year, but Nebraska would be my Big Ten pick right now.

-Stanford is also far too low for its talent level, but I get it. Stanford has had amazing rosters before and failed to deliver, so why should we expect this year to be any different? But still, Elizabeth Price, Ivana Hong, Kristina Vaculik, Sami Shapiro, Nicolette McNair, etc. That’s not a #10 roster. That’s a Super Six roster. They just have to prove it. For now, I’m letting myself believe that they will.

-It’s nice to see Cal in 14th (up from 22nd in the coaches poll last year). The coaches are taking notice of the amazing turnaround in that program. I think 14th is a very realistic finish for them this year.

-Arkansas was ranked 17th at the end of last season, so it’s going to be very tough for them to get up to 13th without Katherine Grable.

-The rest of the poll pretty much follows the usual order, with a few teams switching places here and there. The coaches have taken notice of Central Michigan’s strong last couple seasons and have graciously allowed them into the club.

-Well, if I’m going to tear through the coaches poll like this, I should probably present my own insane nonsense selections so that you all can destroy them and make everything even.

2015 Balance Beam Situation Ranking

1. Florida

2. Oklahoma

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Utah
-When Utah falls three times on beam in semifinals, you can feel free to say I told you so, but I think this is the year beam gets better.  

6. Stanford
-Yes, I did it.

7. UCLA

8. Georgia

9. Nebraska
-I’m not sure what to do with 7-9 here. Nebraska seems way under-ranked at 9, but UCLA and Georgia would feel similarly under-ranked in that spot. Stanford would be the safe choice, but why be safe with something this meaningless?

10. Auburn 
-With Caitlin Atkinson, Bri Guy coming back from injury, and the excellent Abigail Milliet joining the team, I’m in on Auburn for 2015. Like Stanford, if not now, then when?

11. Michigan
-This just feels wrong, but . . . do we see any higher than 10th happening this year? Markey, convince me that I’m wrong. 

12. Oregon State

13. Cal

14. Illinois

15. Boise State

16. Penn State

17. Arkansas

18. Minnesota

19. Arizona

20. Central Michigan

Because why not?

Now you. What are your picks?

The Latest from Training (and Talking)

In verbal news, earlier this week Jazmyn Foberg and Laurie Hernandez of MG Elite both verbaled to Florida, because so is everyone. They’re not set to start competing for Florida until 2019 (which is like 2230 as far as I’m concerned), and so much can happen between now and then, but it’s worth noting that the Florida elite pipeline is just getting stronger.

Oklahoma
http://www.soonersports.com/mediaPortal/embed.swf       

Michigan held a scored exhibition last weekend. Gymnastike has a whole mess of videos if you’re into that kind of thing. 

There’s no need to pay attention to the actual scores because it’s the beginning of December, but having just 7 people making the top 6 right now reinforces the importance of those few top-level AAers like Sugiyama and Artz and how much the team will be relying on Brianna Brown right away. Her bars routine still needs some cleaning up but stands out as one with major scoring potential because of her release amplitude. Also note that they were missing Lauren Marinez with injury and Austin Sheppard with continued recovery (?).        

Illinois
 

Cal – Is this the year Cal makes the top 15? If only because they have to train vault on the 15th floor.

Peng tells us about doing three events for UCLA (we’ll assume floor is out?). With Peng, Francis, and Peszek at the back of that beam lineup, UCLA is not allowed to be outside the top 2 or 3 teams on beam this year. Not allowed.http://player.ooyala.com/player.js?embedCode=N0aXY2cjpU_T7yoP2J3ib2PPwKC0qo_S&playerBrandingId=31ae5dc1510842789fbbb8c0a9ff1535&width=668&deepLinkEmbedCode=N0aXY2cjpU_T7yoP2J3ib2PPwKC0qo_S&height=376  

LSU is working bars dismounts, beam series, and beam dismounts.

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama