Tag Archives: Brenna Dowell

Best Routine of Week 1 Poll

Poll time!

Each week, I’ll put up the top routines of the previous weekend and let you guys vote on which routine wins the award for best of the week. Deciding the nominees is up to me (mwahahahaha) and is based on 3) score, 2) overall quality, and 1) which ones are easily available online—aka, which ones have been uploaded by our dear NastiaFan101. Because, you know, we need to be able to see them in order to vote for them. So if you want to vote for Elizabeth Price…get those meets to start taking place in the present day. With color televisions. And the iron horse.

Feel free to use the comments for reasoning and/or write-in votes.


1. Kennedi Edney, LSU – Vault


2. Maggie Nichols, Oklahoma – Bars

Continue reading Best Routine of Week 1 Poll

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Oklahoma 2017

OKLAHOMA ROSTER 2017
Seniors
Chayse Capps
  • BB star, staple of VT, FX in first three seasons
  • Added UB in 2016 and was casually amazing
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.955, UB – 9.920, FX – 9.915, VT – 9.875
Reagan Hemry
  • Has not performed competition routine in first three seasons
Charity Jones
  • Finally healthy enough to contribute weekly VT, BB, FX in 2016
  • Also contributed late-season UB in 2014
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.910, VT – 9.880, BB – 9.860
Kara Lovan
  • A staple of VT, BB, FX in first two years, did not make final lineups in 2016
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.665, FX – 9.413
Nicole Turner
  • Transfer from Oregon State for 2016 season
  • Has not competed for Oklahoma
McKenzie
Wofford
  • Top UB routine in 2016
  • Occasional tantalizing BB w/ falls earlier in career
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.950
Juniors
Natalie Brown
  • Weekly member of BB, FX lineups in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.910, FX – 9.890
Stefani Catour
  • Made final BB lineup in 2016
  • Competed UB once for 9.925
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.850
Samantha Craus
  • Has not performed competition routine in first two seasons
Ali Jackson
  • Top routine on VT, FX in first two years
  • Added weekly UB and backup BB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.940, FX – 9.920, UB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: BB – 9.800
Sophomores
Brenna Dowell
  • Deferred 2016 to compete at Olympic Trials
  • Leading score on VT, UB, FX in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: FX – 9.945, UB – 9.910, VT – 9.890
Nicole Lehrmann
  • Staple of UB, BB lineups in 2016
  • Also provides backup VT
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.915, BB – 9.875
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.813
Alex Marks
  • Frequent VT in 2016
  • Competed FX once for 9.700
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.835
Megan
Thompson
  • Did not compete in freshman season
Freshmen
Jade
DeGouveia
  • American Twisters
  • 2015 JO Nationals 3rd AA
Maggie Nichols
  • Twin City
  • 2016 Olympic Trials 6th AA
  • 2015 World Championship team, 2015 Nationals 2nd AA
  • The effing Maggie Nichols
Brehanna Showers
  • R Athletics MI
  • 2014 Region 5 champion, 2013 JO Nationals 2nd AA
  • Name is complete sentence, and good hygiene.

Recent History
2016 – 1st
2015 – 3rd
2014 – 1st
2013 – 2nd
2012 – 7th
2011 – 3rd
2010 – 2nd

As a team, Oklahoma has achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve in college gymnastics—including now winning a national championship outright—but one thing Oklahoma hasn’t done before is enter a season as the clear favorite and presumed winner of the title, a team that can only meet expectations not exceed them, a team with nothing to gain and everything to lose. So have fun with that. Don’t worry about it, just anything short of absolute perfection and constant victory culminating in a championship will be a tragic disappointment to everyone. It’s fine.

The coaches, me, and the readers of this site (you know, the big three) all agree that Oklahoma is the most talented team and should win a third title. So let’s get into why. Continue reading Oklahoma 2017

Before They Were NCAA – The 2012 Elites

Now comes the point in the year when we must attempt to wrench ourselves out of an NCAA mindset and pay attention to the elite world again. We’re little more than a month away from Classic now, so the Mad Max remake that masquerades as the US Olympic selection process is soon to reach its familiarly feverish levels. “Do we actually need a bars specialist?” he asks, sharpening an abandoned femur into a spear.

As a bridge between the two worlds, I periodically like to take the results of past US elite competitions and examine how the gymnasts ranked at that point compared to how they would eventually fare in NCAA a few years later. Who rises? Who falls? Who is like the mousy girl in the high school movie who takes off her glasses and suddenly turns beautiful in the NCAA code? Who was using elite difficulty to mask deficiencies that are exposed in college? As we know, success in elite and success in NCAA do not have a 1:1 relationship.

Today, I have taken the various AA and event results from the 2012 Visa Championships (Visa Championships…feels so long ago. Like the John Hancock US Championships, which were basically contemporaneous with John Hancock) and bolded the gymnasts who competed in NCAA at some point after this competition (so I didn’t include Anna Li since she’s a category all her own). A number of items jump out.

All-around
1. Wieber – 69.650/61.250
2. Douglas – 60.650/61.050
3. Raisman – 69.200/69.750
4. Ross – 59.750/60.200
5. Price – 59.600/58.500
6. Finnegan – 59.150/58.450
7. Vega – 56.500/57.950
8. Baker – 58.050/56.400
9. Dowell – 55.7800/56.900
10. Sloan – 56.250/56.150
11. Milliet – 55.250/55.150
12. Brown – 54.200/55.500
13. McLaughlin – 55.400/53.150
14. Jetter – 53.550/54.850
15. Skinner – 55.550/51.600
16. Jay – 52.550/53.150
17. Wofford – 51.900/53.350

Fewer than half of the future NCAA gymnasts who competed AA at the 2012 championships continued to do AA in college (and only two or three of the eleven have been full-time AAers for multiple seasons), which helps illustrate the danger of assuming NCAA dominance for all elites. Those who continue at the same strength as all-arounders, your Sloans and Prices and Bakers, are the exception more than the rule. Instead, we have the usual random smattering of competition and success levels, ranging from barely-one-event status to best-in-the-country status. But what’s of most interest here is the reason they’re not competing AA in college.

We tend to assume that the biggest obstacle for elites transitioning to NCAA is health, that they all would be top-ranked gems if their bodies weren’t halfway to the glue factory by now after so many trips to Martha’s Texas Adventure. While that’s true in several cases, many are relatively healthy but simply not making all the lineups. Even someone who counts in the all-around category like Brianna Brown probably wouldn’t have done AA this year if Casanova had been available, and Brandie Jay spent three years not even getting close to Georgia’s beam lineup, not because of health but because of “Aaahh, beam!” In her 2015 season at Oklahoma, Dowell was in a similar position to Jay. Sometimes, in spite of an elite pedigree and strong rankings through the age of 18, gymnasts are just not top six on their NCAA teams, even on events that were elite strengths.

In breaking down some of the specific rankings, I’m not taking Sloan into account much because she wasn’t up to her full level during 2012, so this isn’t really reflective of her standing in the elite world the way 2008 and 2009 were. It’s not like Sloan was some middle-of-the-pack elite who suddenly bloomed in college.

Brandie Jay is one who leapfrogged many of her higher-ranked elite peers to become a bigger and more influential contributor in NCAA than she was in elite, finishing largely on par with the likes of Kennedy Baker, who was a higher scorer and more compelling contender during the end of the last quad. Jay is probably the best example here of someone whose dominant years were still ahead of her in 2012.

Finnegan is also an interesting case because if we were to judge her freshman year by the second-behind-Price standard that 2012 gave us, the 2016 season would be considered somewhat average and not the dominance and team-leading influence normally expected of an Olympic alternate. Yet, having gone through years of “does she do gymnastics?” in between, her three events of 9.850-9.900 and ability to leg-event at all this season are a somewhat unexpected and welcome revelation. A lot happens between elite and NCAA, and we don’t often maintain expectations for NCAA based on elite results, especially for certain types of gymnasts. I don’t think many would say Abby Milliet’s NCAA career has been disappointing so far, but she’s certainly not top-6 AA level. Even before Grace McLaughlin started at Florida, she was at “maybe a beam routine?” status, not AA-queen status.

A lot of this does come down to injury history/gymnastics style. We tend to maintain elite expectations for gymnasts with Raisman legs who look like they can hold up to four more years of gymnastics, but with the fragile-looking spinny twisties, we’re just happy to see a routine at some point, even if it’s an exhibition bars. We’re like, “Good for her! I can see knees! She still has them!”

It’s worth noting that there are no “whoops, I broke and then disappeared into witness protection without another word” gymnasts in this AA collection, which is encouraging. Everyone either made the Olympics and turned pro, did NCAA, or will do NCAA. The only one in the whole 2012 competition who doesn’t fit into those categories is Bross. There are usually more.

Vault (one vault, two days)
1. Wieber 15.650/15.900
2. Price 15.800/15.600 
3. Douglas 15.350/15.800
4. Sacramone 15.450/15.500
5. Raisman 15.450/15.300
6. Ross 15.100/15.250
7. Finnegan 15.000/14.900
8. Baker 14.650/14.800
9. Skinner 14.550/14.600
10. Jay 14.600/14.500
11. Dowell 14.250/14.700
12. Vega 14.100/14.500
13. Jetter 14.100/14.150
14. Milliet 14.050/14.150
15. Brown 13.950/14.100
16. McLaughlin 13.800/14.200
17. Sloan 13.850/14.150
18. Brannan 13.800/14.150
19. Wofford 12.000/12.200

Continue reading Before They Were NCAA – The 2012 Elites

Pacific Rim Live Blog

Because why not?

In a weekend without NCAA gymnastics, we must find some way to occupy our time, so USAG has charitably provided the Pacific Rim Championship, the Pacific Northwest’s most important geographically arbitrary biennial international gymnastics competition. It’s kind of a big deal, you guys.

It’s the precursor to next week’s Countries That Share a Border With Another Country That Has a Name Ending in Y Championship. Prestigious. Sorry, Brazil, I can’t invite you because…I think you might border the Atlantic.

It’s also the chance for Simone Biles to square off against Canada, Australia, and a bunch of gymnasts who are dismounting bars with a Nastia flyaway and then go, “Oh, did I win?” Yes, Simone. You won.

I love that Russia and China don’t even bother sending women’s teams anymore. For a while they would fake it by sending some C Teamers and Maria Kharenkova, but now they can’t even bring themselves to throw a random junior at us. The Russians are far too busy fulfilling drug tests with a piece of notebook paper that says “NO MELDONIUM HERE.” Done and done.

Also, in case you thought the rules of this competition dictated that teams had to send three seniors and three juniors…nope. Not anymore. Because it was really important that the US send an impossibly strong team of seniors to make sure to win this competition by 78 points. Winning by 5 points would have been so embarrassing. What is the expression, taking a gun to a knife fight? The team the US has sent to this competition is like taking a gun to a sewing circle. Put away that gun, Louisa.

To the gymnastics? Shall we?

They’ve “journeyed to Everett, Washington.” Like they took the Oregon Trail.

This national anthem is a little elementary school dodgeball tournament, isn’t it? Oh, Sue.

Macready’s dream in life is to be the 24th member of Jay-Z’s entourage.

Our PA guy’s pronunciation of Allana Slater like her name is Spanish is my new favorite thing. 

Tim has already given Simone five Olympic medals.
I’m watching both the NBC nu-trio and Evan and Sam. But I’m probably going to listen to NBC only because it’s way more fun to make fun of. Evan and Sam are…just enjoyable.

“HIS LIGHT DIDN’T COME ON.”

We’re already going Brenna time on floor. Almost goes OOB on her double front – nailed front double pike – “you’re looking at a real veteran, Brenna Dowell.” “You’re looking at an old hag, Brenna Dowell.”

A couple slightly short landings and the big lunge out of the opening pass for Brenna. Otherwise solid enough. Oklahoma hasn’t really missed a beat without her, but it’s exciting to think about Dowell and Nichols adding themselves to the mix next year.

Sam is not happy with Kuwajima’s handstand speed.

Ragan Smith on floor now -with her “Hi, I’m 11” Addam’s family routine – just to let us know that she’s a pixie. Short on DLO – large stumble, triple full is better. A little short on double arabian – secure landing on double pike, chest down. How very NCAA of her.

Sam and Evan could not be less enthusiastic about having to pretend to know about trampoline. But they are totally making fun of the NBC trio, and I couldn’t be happier. You go, guys.

McGregor of NZL is heading to Boise State soon. We won’t see her vault because Laurie Hernandez is up on floor. OK DLO, it’s a little low and worrying, but she got it this time. Her second pass is a double arabian, near stuck, very strong – instead of a third pass, Miss Val actually just drops into the arena on a hot air balloon and steals her and takes her to UCLA, which is a shame because it means she won’t be able to finish the competition.

In the race to see which new senior is going to steal Maggie Nichols’ rightful place, it’s Hernandez 1, Smith 0.
 McGregor did a DTY. Low, but that’s going to be a useful full or 1.5 for BSU next year.
Second vault is a 1/2 on pike 1/2, quite messy to I’d guess keeping her with the yurchenko entry for NCAA next year.

Peterman has fallen on beam. Off the Olympic team!

Raisman time – 1.5 to double arabian to layout, and stays comfortable in bounds this time. Double L is short and falls out of it, strong Dos Santos to stag, the best pass in her routine usually. High and comfortable DLO as well – we’re pretending these leaps don’t exist because it’s just better for everyone, we won’t pretend like they’re close to 180 – hit routine, what she needed to do to make sure she stays ahead of the other floor options. She’s still a more important floor score, which can get her on the team.

Roberts for Canada had a bit of a wobble burger on beam.

Biles time now – fab DLO 1/1, of course, bounces back, but excellent height and form obviously – do I even need to quick hit it? It’s good. I’m disturbed by these little unfortunate squeak screams in the music here. It feels…inappropriate? Like…is that woman OK? Casual sticks on the double double and the full in. You know. Whatever.

You get the feeling that this music was chosen for her by a focus group. What will be the most marketable and Rio-themed music for Simone to be used during highlight reels during the Olympics to make her the star we need her to be?

Bali, Mali, Chile, Malawi. It’s back. It will never leave us. We will never survive.

Don’t worry, the US is ahead by 765 points after one rotation.

Extended team ass closeup as they walk to the next event? Necessary?

Simone breaks 16 on floor. Obviously.

NBC showing highlights of the men’s competition. It includes two routines. That pretty much sums it up.

We’re already to vault!
Smith does a DTY – crazy legs on her block and chest down, but secure landing.

Sullivan of NZ with a tkatchev/bail type bars routine – short on the bail, dismounts double pike with bounce forward.

Hernandez – VT – DTY – better chest position than Smith but a large bounce back – exactly one centimeter of distance from the table.

Rousseau hands down on a double pike on floor. What is the Brittany Rogers situation?

Dowell – VT – DTY – good block and height, same bounce back as Hernandez.

McGregor – was working well through the shap – very close on her shoot back to high and struggles after that – has the compulsory Boise State gienger but the leg form will need to be revised. 

Raisman – VT – bounces A THOUSAND miles out of her 2.5. She’ll obviously be pissed because they were much better in training. That does not help her case because that will score below a strong DTY. The team needs her 2.5 because of questions around people like Nichols. This isn’t the 2.5 the team needs.

Copiak is going to be a big deal for Washington next year to replace Northey’s scores.

Simone also flies forward out of her 2.5. What is happening? Large lunge.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHENG? CHENG CHENG CHENG.

Cheng is much better than her Amanar suddenly today. Small hop, gets it around pretty well, low chest, hop back. It’ll be fine for the Olympics. NBC is already licking its USA VS. NORTH KOREA narrative chops for the vault final at the Olympics. Can you imagine? I can imagine.

Shallon Olsen has a double double. That will help, also a really tight tuck position on her double back, like an actual circle.

Evan tells us we won’t be seeing Brittany Rogers until vault. BUT I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG.

This meet is going at SEC pace, and I like it. The US is going to be done in like an hour.

NZL had a disaster bail. Roberts from Canada shows a Dos Santos – and the Charleston -there is some solid floor difficulty in the next group of the Canadian national team, so they don’t just have to rely on Ellie forever.

Those US vaults were better than any other country’s but not so awesome with the landings this time. Martha is going to have to put quite a few people at the punishment table tonight. No watermelon slices for you.

The trendy hot take after Jesolo was that Aly’s stock is PLUMMETING. It isn’t. That 2.5 is still…no me gusta, but I think it will get close enough, and her floor routine continues getting her on the team.

Some really unfortunate thing happened where a little girl had a cry for help and then Macready just made her hug a sad hershey’s kiss. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Raisman to bars. Aly’s same bars routine as always. There was a really popular claim that Aly had IMPROVED HER BARS FORM since London. Uh……a little….?

Hernandez is next. she has a leg crazy on her stradle full every time, but she has some tremendous toe point and form usually, not so much this time with a ragged pak, hop on tuck full. Some iffier moments than she usually shows in training, on an event that should be quite strong for her, which is becoming a bit of a trend. Her bars training routines are better than her competition routines this year.

I lied about following the NBC commentators. The NBC stream is behind, and I’m a slave to live. Also, Sam and Evan are delightful to listen to.

Nice DTY from Olsen. High, small hop back. Very usable in an Olympic/Worlds context.

Biles on bars – her new name is Simone AHHHHH according to the crowd – Good hit, excellent form throughout. It always looks like she wants to connect the pak out of her tkatchev but has to wait until the piked tkatchev. Sticks tuck full dismount like nothing. Very controlled and composed form throughout.

Olsen’s second vault is a Khorkina with signature Khorkina legs.

Brittany Rogers – VT -Excellent DTY, lunge back – but clear that she should be doing the 1.5 for UGA, not the DTY like I wanted. second vault is half on layout 1/2.

OK. Dowell bars. Here we go. Martha has prepared the pitchfork just in case.

Dowell – UB – toe full to shapto tkatchev, high for a tkatchev out of a shap – hit jaeger – Church to pak – shap 1/2 – presice final hs – hop forward on DLO 1/1. SHE HIT A ROUTINE. Much more boring and smart composition, and a competitive D score.

Did Sam accidentally just tell us that Brenna is coming out? No?

Important hit for Brenna. She might get a crust of bread for that.

Locklear – UB – same composition that we’ve seen from her – nice line and handstands throughout – very high tkatchev, the problem for her is that her spot has been taken by Kocian, and she doesn’t have anything upgraded that is going to knock out Kocian if Kocian comes back health……AH HAHAHAHAHA. 

“Spot the tramp.” I play that game too.

Ragan Smith is charitably getting to go on bars even though she was not selected as one of the five.
Simith – jumping to the high bar is the hardest skill for her in this routine – it’s not a natural event for her or a big routine, but she has the composition, clean line, small hop on tuck full.

Sullivan has some wobbles on beam, but this is a higher-level NZL showing than we have seen a bigger international meets.

USAG stream goes to commercial over Macready. Bregman gets us.

Final rotation beam times now. Ooohh, Locklear got a real beam spot over Dowell? Damn.
Evan and Sam pointing out those seriously wonky knees on her loso series. Nice punch front – pretty comfortable and controlled position on L turn as well – switch and switch 1/2 are solid 180, loses her tow point on her switch 1/2 – double tuck with step back. This routine has become more consistent, which is a big deal for her, but it’s not a TF routine.

Smith coming up on beam. My preferred event for her.
Smith – BB – wolfathon early – solid on layout 2ft series, secure on tuck full as well – this is the one event where she could potentially be a TFer, but others are ahead of her. Chest pretty well up on the double pike, small hop back.

Roberts just did a pak into her appendix. And another fall. Oh, Canada. Our home and native land.

Raisman – BB – check on front pike – she has been more nervous on beam this quad than last, not quite the same level of sturdy German-neess – “layout” to two feet – very secure – switch star jump 1/2 to back pike is very secure – I kid – I kid because her form is poor. It’s a credit to her that I still really like her in spite of all these things. It’s not necessarily explicable. I just do. Strong upright Patterson, but a step to the side this time, which she wasn’t doing in training.

Hernandez – BB – fantastic walkover to split and sissone – lovely – extended legs on her three series as well – slightly obsessed, don’t worry about it – not a wobble on any of this acro – one check on switch half. Excellent switch ring, how it’s supposed to look – double pike, chest down with a step. Will be a high score. This is the trouble for Smith in trying to squeeze her way onto the team. She’s being out-touched by Hernandez.

Rogers on bars. We know this game. And she fell on a jaeger. We also know this game. Oh, Brittany. But…from a stalder full to reverse? You go. Ricna to pak is close, which she has done a few times at Georgia. Nice shap 1/2, DLO with a hop. She made the mistake now, and won’t next weekend…is what I’m going to tell myself. 

Aly Raisman finished a tenth ahead of Laurie Hernandez, as was agreed.

We go to Simone on beam to finish things off – hits her wolf 2.5 in a not terrible way – that barani, it’s just a little not-perfect for Simone, isn’t it? It’s fine, but chest down, and everything else is ideal. Losos are strong, as is punch front, a check or two here but this is not the tentative non-important early-season beam routine we sometimes see from Simone. Just sticks her tuck full.

I feel like maybe Simone won.

Brenna – BB – front tuck mount, yes you do – solid – walkover – bhs full, small check on loso series – short on a switch split – this is the routine she wasn’t doing for Oklahoma, but she has been OK so far, the form isn’t quite Oklahomay, but I can see her getting a spot next season. Step back on double pike.

62.450 for Biles. And that’s our quick little meet done and dusted. Event finals tomorrow!

Brenna is 4th AA for a 58.850. It helps. Not Olympic Team helps, but it keeps her in the Trials mix. It’s going to be damn hard to make Trials this year, and there are people in the Hundley category who will get Memmeled after nationals.

Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Tear Ducts of Ellie Downie

I must begin this time with some pretty big news. You might want to sit down for this. I don’t really know how to say it but…the US women won the team gold medal. I know. Totally blindsided. That’s life, isn’t it? You never see it coming. The beautiful thing about sports is that on any given day, anything can happen.

Man, Japan and China’s race for the men’s team gold medal tomorrow has some big shoes to fill. How can it possibly be as exciting as USA vs. [scene missing]?

-But really, the US margin of victory over China was only 5.174 this year. Pitiful. Have some self-respect, ladies. Imagine if Simone had fallen five times on floor. You would have…still won.

-OK, here’s how it played out. The US team entered the arena, unzipped their warmup jackets, and were immediately awarded the gold medal. WE DID IT! And then Gabby did such an excellent job putting on her grips that she got another gold medal, then the organizers were so impressed by the “ode to a weeping willow’s vagina” leotard (thanks to Spanny, that’s all I can see now) that they created a special Georgia O’Keefe tribute gold medal expressly for the United States, and then Simone smiled and six more gold medals popped out.

-We get spoiled by the US team. They’re just doing the backstroke in their money bin, lighting cigarettes with those podium bouquets, while the other countries are going, “Might we have a brass farthing to buy a sack of crumbs, please?” And they’re like, “NO! Stop getting poor all over the rug. AH HA HA MY WINNINGS.”

-But when a victory is this inevitable, it is hard to appreciate the performance as much as it probably deserves. The Americans can only meet expectations. They can never exceed them, regardless of how well they perform, because the expectations are hitting every routine and winning everything. And it happened again. The US went 12-for-12 for the 4th consecutive team final, and we just go “Yawn, toss another bag of diamonds in the diamond room.” Yeah, you nailed every routine when the pressure was on yet again with only a couple minor wobbles across four events. So what? I almost did laundry tonight. Who’s the real hero?
Continue reading Worlds 2015 – You Guys, I Think We Broke the Tear Ducts of Ellie Downie

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.