Tag Archives: Grace Williams

Nebraska 2017

Jennie Laeng
  • Injured on UB at nationals in 2016
  • Competes most weeks on each event
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.865, VT – 9.855, FX – 9.815, BB – 9.565
Ashley Lambert
  • Perpetually injured
  • Theoretically contributes each event when healthy
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.838, UB – 9.825, BB – 9.742, VT – 9.712
Danielle Breen
  • Added the AA in 2016, all four postseason lineups
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.875, FX – 9.855, UB – 9.835
  • 2016 average: VT – 9.836
Abbie Epperson
  • Transfer from Maryland
  • Competed regularly on UB, BB, FX in 2016
  • Performed weekly VT in 2015
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.840, FX – 9.795, BB – 9.785
Grace Williams
  • Competed near-weekly AA in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.895, UB – 9.875, FX – 9.830, VT – 9.760
Sienna Crouse
  • Frequent VT, FX and end-of-season UB in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.840, VT – 9.760
  • 2016 average: UB – 9.788
Catelyn Orel
  • Will miss 2017 season with injury
  • Occasional routines on all four in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: UB – 9.790, FX – 9.725
Megan Schweihofer
  • Weekly VT, BB in 2016
  • Backup FX
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.840, VT – 9.805
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.790
Kelli Chung
  • Gym-Max
  • Did not compete in first season
Alexa Clark
  • CGI
  • 2016 Colorado state AA champion
Sierra Hassel
  • Triad IA
  • 2016 Iowa state AA 2nd
Taylor Houchin
  • Gold Medal MO
  • 2016 JO National AA champion
Megan Kuo
  • Gym-Max
  • Did not compete in first season
Laura Oh
  • Midwest
  • 2015 Region 4 AA 12th
Kami Shows
  • Did not compete in first season

Recent History
2016 – 8th
2015 – 8th
2014 – 6th
2013 – 14th
2012 – 8th
2011 – 4th
2010 – 7th

Nebraska typically outperforms its preseason ranking. Just something to keep in mind. The Huskers prowl around the lower half of the nationals contenders but only miss nationals in years when they have an extra, extra-talented roster or are hosting the competition. Otherwise, it has been a pretty safe bet, and 8th place is becoming a bit of a trend.

This year should be more of the same in terms of expectations, though there are some potential stumbling blocks to mimicking last year’s result. The Huskers have already suffered a couple injuries that will make filling out lineups more challenging, and they’ll have to find a way to replace four critical, lineup-best routines from Hollie Blanske (putting pressure on freshman Taylor Houchin to be the new star). Because Nebraska is Nebraska and because a few AA stars are capable of carrying this team, I’d still take the Huskers to make nationals, though they will look a likely nominee for the challenging pack to pick off. Continue reading Nebraska 2017

Week 4 Rankings + Notes

That Florida gymnastics isn’t marketing a shirt that says, “On Fridays, we get 10s” is ludicrous. Verging on lyyyyyudicrous. Florida’s meet was the closest to a postseason-level performance we’ve seen so far this year (closest, but not there by any means), and now the Gators lead the rankings by a big, heaping margin this week with that 687.900 (because of Florida at home), highlighted by a “yeah, I’m down with that” 10.000 for Bridget Sloan on beam, a “squint…but also that Dos Santos” 10.000 for Kennedy Baker on floor, and a “Bahahahaha” 10.000 for Alex McMurtry on bars. At least she has a same-bar release this year.

Kathy is not OK with these piked giants. The judges are. The interesting thing is that McMurtry gets a heaping load of side-eye for this bars routine every time because she gets such high scores, but if she were going, say, 2nd or 3rd in the lineup and getting a 9.850 for this routine, we would be standing up and applauding for how much she has improved on bars from her Level 10 career, when she was getting 8s for hit routines. Compare her 10.000 to this routine from the Nastia in 2013, which scored 8.925, uninspiring even by JO scoring standards. Improvements, clearly.

But let’s be honest, the biggest difference between 2013 and 2016 is going 6th in a Florida lineup. Many of the factors that got her an 8.925 remain, hence the saltiness about this 10.

And now Baker and Sloan.

Kennedy Baker is like, “This is the seventh-best floor routine I’ve done at Florida, and this is the 10?”

To the rankings!

Week 4 rankings

1. Florida – 197.438
Week 4: 198.175
Week 4 leaders: AA – Sloan 39.775; VT – Boren, Baker 9.950; UB – McMurtry 10.000; BB – Sloan 10.000; FX – Baker 10.000

2. Oklahoma – 197.185
Week 4: 197.550
Week 4 leaders: AA – Capps 39.575; VT – Jones 9.900; UB – Wofford 9.950; BB – Capps 9.900; FX – Jones 9.950

3. Michigan – 196.860
Week 4: 196.550
Week 4 leaders: AA – Karas 39.525; VT – Karas, Chriarelli, Sheppard 9.850; UB – Brown 9.875; BB – Brown, Karas 9.875; FX – Artz 9.975

4. Alabama – 196.855
Week 4: 197.525
Week 4 leaders: AA – Beers 39.650; VT – Beers 9.900; UB – Beers 9.925; BB – Sims 9.975; FX – Winston 9.925

5. UCLA – 196.758
Week 4: Monday meet

6. LSU – 196.525
Week 4: 196.750
Week 4 leaders: AA – Gnat 39.500; VT – Gnat 10.000; UB – Finnegan, Zamardi 9.900; BB – Gnat 9.925; FX – Gnat, Finnegan 9.900

7. Utah – 196.342 
Week 4: Monday meet

8. Arkansas – 196.210
Week 4: 196.600
Week 4 leaders: AA – Wellick 39.500; VT – Wellick 9.900; UB – Wellick, Speed 9.850; BB – Wellick, Nelson 9.850; FX – Nelson 9.925

9. Boise State – 196.175
Week 4: 196.400
Week 4 leaders: AA – Collantes 39.475; VT – Stockwell 9.850; UB – Jacobsen 9.950; BB – Everyone 9.825; FX – Collantes, Krentz 9.950

10. Auburn – 196.080
Week 4: 195.975
Week 4 leaders: AA – Atkinson 39.400; VT – Rott 9.900; UB – Milliet, Engler 9.875; BB – Demers 9.850; FX – Atkinson 9.900

11. Georgia – 195.870
Week 4: 196.275
Week 4 leaders: AA – Jay 39.350; VT – Jay 9.900; UB – Rogers 9.925; BB – Rogers 9.875; FX – Box 9.900

12. Stanford – 195.856
Week 4: 196.075
Week 4 leaders: AA – Price 39.600; VT – Price 9.875; UB – Price 9.950; BB – Hong 9.925; FX – Price 9.875

13. Denver – 195.763
Week 4: 196.125
Week 4 leaders: AA – McGee 39.525; VT – McGee 9.850; UB – McGee 9.900; BB – McGee 9.850; FX – McGee 9.925; LIFE – McGee 60.000

14. Nebraska – 195.700
Week 4: 196.775
Week 4 leaders: AA – Williams 39.500; VT – Laeng 9.850; UB – Laeng 9.925; BB – Williams 9.950; FX – Schweihofer, Williams, Orel 9.875

15. Oregon State – 195.694
Week 4: 195.875
Week 4 leaders: AA – Gardiner 39.300; VT – Gardiner, Jimenez 9.825; UB – M Colussi-Pelaez 9.850; BB – Gardiner 9.925; FX – Perez 9.900

16. Missouri – 195.645
Week 4: 195.825
Week 4 leaders: AA – Porter 38.750; VT – Harris 9.875; UB – Porter 9.900; BB – Kelly 9.875; FX – Harris 9.850

17. George Washington – 195.517
Week 4: 194.950
Week 4 leaders: AA – Drouin-Allaire 39.250; VT – Drouin-Allaire 9.875; UB – Raineri 9.825; BB – Pfeiler, Zois 9.850; FX – Drouin-Allaire, Raineri 9.800

18. Minnesota – 195.469
Week 4: 196.075
Week 4 leaders: AA – Mable 39.150; VT – DeMuse 9.850; UB – Holst 9.975; BB – Mable 9.900; FX – DeMuse 9.875

19. Illinois – 195.363
Week 4: 195.725
Week 4 leaders: AA – Horth 39.400; VT – O’Connor 9.825; UB – Horth 9.900; BB – Kato, Leduc 9.900; FX – Leduc, Buchanan 9.875

20. Arizona – 195.217
Week 4: Monday meet

21. Cal – 195.150
Week 4: Monday meet

22. New Hampshire – 195.095
Week 4: 195.800
Week 4 leaders: AA – Lauter, Pflieger 39.150; VT – Pflieger 9.750; UB – Mulligan 9.900; BB – Lauter 9.925; FX – Pflieger 9.900

23. West Virginia – 195.083
Week 4: No meet

24. Southern Utah – 195.056
Week 4: 195.250
Week 4 leaders: AA – None; VT – Ramirez 9.875; UB – Yee 9.875; BB – Webb 9.900; FX – Brownsell 9.850

25. Kentucky – 195.031
Week 4: 195.025
Week 4 leaders: AA – Dukes 39.300; VT – Stuart 9.825; UB – Dukes 9.825; BB – Dukes, Hyland, Whittle 9.800; FX – Dukes 9.875

-The top 10 is still sort of a work in progress at this point because UCLA and Utah are yet to compete tonight, which will change the dynamic. How Utah adapts to life without Kari Lee will be the most interesting part of tonight’s meets, but Valorie is teasing a Peng vault as well. It begins…?

-In addition to the four 10s recorded this week, Nicole Artz went 9.975 on floor, Aja Sims went 9.975 on beam for sticking her double tuck and showing everyone what dance elements are, and Bailie Holst went 9.975 on bars for a routine I haven’t seen yet. But Minnesota is the best about uploading all the routines to youtube, so I’m sure we’ll see it in due time.

-New Hampshire is in a fight with George Washington to see who can be the new, cool team this year, and UNH is gaining every week as Casey Lauter continues to be the gymnast you wish you had on your fantasy gym team. We need to make sure she makes it to nationals. Here’s her 9.925 on beam (along with all the other northeast-based routines your heart could desire from David Pendrys).

-Lizzy Leduc had a rough start to her NCAA career in those first couple meets, but a 9.900 on beam and a 9.875 on floor over the weekend are very good signs that my anticipated O’Connor-Horth-Kato-Leduc quadrangle of triumph may come to fruition after all.

-Grace Williams hit a 39.500 in the AA, the best mark of her career by over a tenth. With Ashley Lambert MIA again, that increases the pressure on Williams and Blanske to be all the types of fantastic, and this is much more the kind of number we expected for Williams based on her exceptional JO career.

-Fun game: Denver scored 196.125 on Saturday. Without Nina McGee, the score would have been 195.475. That’s an MVP. McGee better not get overlooked when it comes to naming the AAI six this year, even though Bridget Sloan has already won it. This is also a fun game to play with Ebee and Stanford, since Stanford would be ranked 600th without her.

-Georgia hit beam this week sort of! We’ll take a sort of. It was a beam rotation that the Gymdogs endured rather than thrived in, but that’s the first step. Vaculik came into the lineup, and weirdly, this is the most confident I’ve ever seen her look on beam. She’s a beautiful beam worker (it should be her best event) when she’s not terrified. We need this from her because two of Georgia’s other lovely beam options, Schick and Cherrey, may have to be jettisoned by the business-end of the season for consistency. Even if Georgia does work out beam, it may not be the strength it could have been if that means sacrificing style and execution to get six hit routines.

-Also, Brittany Rogers is a lunatic woman and attempting to compete Georgia/Florida and Elite Canada this week. How is that…I don’t even…? In other news, someone get her legs a therapy dog. 

-The coach who picked Boise State #1 in preseason is looking at us all right now and going, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmhmmmmmmm.” Except not really because…#1?

-Arkansas defeated Auburn in the Battle for Underdog SEC Darling of the Year, cementing the position as an outsider pick for a real postseason run in a meet that was marred by the physical destruction of every possible Auburn gymnast. With Phillips and Engler going down, the vault lineup in particular will need some serious help, putting more pressure on Atkinson, Rott, and Demers to bring the big numbers to overcome the inevitable low replacement scores.

-Sadly, a streak ended over the weekend when Michigan went sub-49 on beam for the first time since March 15, 2014. The fall from Artz was particularly unexpected, and while Michigan did record a perfectly fine 196.550 in the loss to Nebraska, the precarious depth situation did rear its head with the lack of Casanova clearly felt by all, particularly people watching that vault rotation. Michigan has no intention of counting Brown’s vault score, which means the other five must not only hit but perform ideal vaults to keep the total competitive.

-LSU continues to break hearts on beam, recording a 48.600 and dropping to a wholly unbefitting beam ranking of 18. This week, the Tigers had only two truly acceptable hits, from Hambrick and Gnat, which isn’t good enough even for this point in the season. Both of the falls came from gymnasts missing skills they never miss, Ewing on her layout and Finnegan on her triple wolf, but this can’t be dismissed as an anomaly because falls and weird 9.700s have been the name of the game in pretty much every meet this season. LSU, you’re on beam watch. Not everything can be Ashleigh Gnat’s job.

-There’s less to say about Alabama and Oklahoma other than that they looked goooood over the weekend. Alabama showed LSU what a beam recovery is and gleefully took advantage of a juicy Florida road score, even while continuing to exploring depth and shunning a top-strength lineup/missing Jetter. So many floor options. There are still questions about how competitive bars will be against the best teams, as well as who the six vaulters are (I’m not convinced by Bailey or Bresette yet, but Beers, Brannan, Guerrero, Winston, McNeer, TBD is enough to be getting on with), but the meet against Florida was a very good sign in spite of the loss.

-The last two weeks, we’re starting to see the performances we expected from Oklahoma from the very first week of the season: not pristine post-season level, but impressive, consistent, and clearly 197. Yes, it was Metroplex and there were some Metroplexy scores in getting to that 197.550, a number that flatters a meh-landed vault lineup and too many wobbles on beam, but for the end of January, this is how a title-contending team should look. Also, Chayse Capps’ best event is bars now. Apparently. I don’t know either. I think there’s still room to play around with those bars and beam lineups to bring out the best options. Are Jackson and Capps final lineup on bars (though if Capps keeps scoring like this…I guess so)? Is Jones final-six on beam? We’ll see how this progresses.

#11 Nebraska Preview

Blanske, Hollie – Senior – VT, UB, BB, FX
Breen, Danielle – Sophomore – UB, BB
Chung, Kelli – Freshman
Crouse, Sienna – Freshman
Kuo, Megan – Freshman
Laeng, Jennie – Junior – VT, UB, BB, occasional FX
Lambert, Ashley – Junior – VT, FX, but can also do UB, BB
McConkey, Madison – Senior – in-a-pinch backup on UB
Orel, Catelyn – Freshman
Schweihofer, Megan – Freshman
Shows, Kami – Freshman
Williams, Grace – Sophomore – VT, UB, BB, FX

Recent History
2015 – 8th
2014 – 6th
2013 – 14th
2012 – 8th
2011 – 4th
2010 – 7th

2016 Outlook
It’s difficult to have fluffy, leprechaun-filled Super Six dreams for Nebraska this year after even a cursory glance at the roster. For a team that has lost its star in Jessie Deziel and returns such a sparse supply of realistic routine options, a great deal of pressure will be heaped on an unproven freshman class to contribute not just depth but multiple counting routines on every event, every week. Otherwise, I fear this could turn into a “just the five vaulters again” kind of season. This freshman class does have potential, and with the scoring strength of some of those vital returning gymnasts, remaining a solidly mid-high 196 team and adopting a fairly secure position in the fight to return to nationals seems realistic, as long as actually everyone stays healthy. Competing with the greater star power and depth of the teams ranked in the preseason top 10, however, seems a much greater challenge that would require the emergence of some diamonds in the rough.

Key Competitor
Grace Williams. For someone who was one of the great standout JO gymnasts in her age group after a brief stint with junior elite, Williams’ performances were a little too 9.825 last year. I had higher expectations of her becoming the replacement DeZiel on this team, not languishing as a supporting player. She has the talent to be the best-scoring gymnast on this team, and now that DeZiel is gone and those critical 9.9s have been lost, the pressure is on her to become a couple times more brilliant. Those 9.9s have to come from somewhere if Nebraska is to have any chance of unsticking itself from 8th-12th ranking purgatory.


Vault is Nebraska’s event, traditionally the team’s highest score by a pretty healthy margin. The beginning of last season was no exception when the Huskers started with those back-to-back 49.750, 49.600 scores led by the Lambert 10s. While those scores did not hold for the whole year and drooped down toward the 9.850s as we went along (an issue to keep an eye on) the possibilities remain solid. Much like a more powerful version of Oregon State, however, the Huskers have lately been a team of fulls. If they aren’t able to forage for as many 10.0 starts as other teams, will they begin to lose some margin on an event that is more important for them than it is for others?

Lambert will lead the way with the biggest and most stickable full on the roster. She certainly has the power to up the difficulty (and did perform more complex yurchenkos back in the day), though that was a lifetime of health traumas ago. Similarly, Blanske had a 1.5 as a JO gymnast, as did Williams for a hot second when she tried elite, but we’re talking 2010-2011 here. So who knows? Part of the fun of vault at the beginning of this season will be watching for who suddenly has a secret 1.5 we weren’t expecting. Nebraska can certainly teach a vault. We know that.  

Expect Lambert and Blanske to be the top vault scorers regardless, with Laeng and Williams also returning for scores at least somewhere into the 9.8s. Among the freshmen, I like Schweihofer to get into the lineup since she has the biggest full of the group. Beyond her, Crouse also has an OK full, Shows had a full for a minute way back pre-Achilles tear, and then Orel and the sophomore Breen had 1/2s in JO, so people do exist. It’s just a matter of how existy they are. Because of the top-scoring vaulters, I still like this lineup for somewhere around a 49.300 average, but they’ll have to Nebraska a couple vaults from the newbies to remain at the level we expect.

Last season, bars was just OK, if a little too unremarkable. In too many meets, everyone got stuck in the 9.8s with no huge scores to shoot them up toward the 49.3s and 49.4s where the big teams live. In other words, needs more Emily Wong. Also a good title for the history of the world. The four likely returners to the lineup—Blanske, Williams, Laeng, and Breen—were all consistently 9.800-9.850 last season, sometimes 9.875 at home. It’s fine, but it’s not Super Six. They often relied too much on DeZiel to get that 9.9+ and save the score, and that’s not an option anymore. Jennie Laeng will be particularly important. She boasts a ton of pretty potential on bars with great toes and a winning gienger (and has actually exceeded expectations by being an AA contributor—I saw her more as a bars specialist coming in). Laeng scored as high as 9.950 last season, and in the search for a bars star, she’s the best nominee.

I also expect Sienna Crouse to come into the lineup. Talk about people with a bigly big gienger. She could also be the spark on this event. Other options will include Lambert, who can give the team a routine as necessary, but it’s probably going to be 9.750. Kami Shows has a solid tkatchev…Catelyn Orel has gienger/tkatchev composition…but I have some questions about how to fill out that lineup with six good bars workers. Weak early scores could render it a little 49.1, so Laeng and Crouse will be critical. (And hopefully Grace Williams can slam out a few stuck landings too. She is a JO bars champion after all.)


Beam, often the biggest struggle bus for Nebraska. It’s easy to forget (translation: I forgot) that Nebraska came just four tenths shy of catching Auburn for the last spot in Super Six last year, a deficit largely the result of a 48.875 on beam. With a 2014-nationals level beam score, the Huskers would have been in as the upset queens yet again. As on bars, they’ll be returning four slightly nerve-wracking but necessary 9.850s from Blanske, Williams, Laeng, and Breen, but on this event in particular, Grace Williams will need to emerge from the perfectly OK 9.840 RQS of last season and become the leader. Williams was a fantastically confident beamer in JO, dominant on her acro skills, and is fully capable of 9.9s. For the team overall, if beam is going to be stronger than last year it will be a matter not only of finding the consistency to keep them out of the 9.7s this time, but also minimizing dance and minor form deductions, to which they are susceptible. In the video above, Williams shows leg and foot form issues that can bring the score down. There can be a pretty wide variation in the scores for hit routines depending on how much form grumpies the judges have.

Among the freshmen, I like perhaps Schweihofer and Crouse here to join the lineup (if Lambert doesn’t), but once again, the main fight will be to find that big anchor score or two so that the team doesn’t stick on 9.850s.


Floor should be slightly worrying for the Huskers because they return just three routines from last season’s lineup, which is basically zero routines, but this year I’m more confident about floor than the other events because they do return more believable and reliable 9.9s here than anywhere else. Blanske and Lambert both have pretty big routines that should consistently bring in top scores, the type that can save a rotation even if the team is, say, struggling to fill out the lineup with a couple freshmen who wouldn’t normally be called upon to do floor. Just for instance. Floor was also Williams’ highest-scoring event last season, so that’s a pretty compelling trio that should do well.

The rest of the lineup won’t have to be great to keep the team on track, just clean and acceptable. We may see Laeng slot in. She doesn’t often compete floor but did twice last season and got 9.825s both times. They’ll take that as an early score. Of the freshmen, Crouse has a front double full in her repertoire, while the rest of the pack of likely competitors boasts your basic double pike/double tuck routines that could work if not necessarily stand out. 

As the season begins, count how many freshmen are actually contributing routines or exhibitions and, even more importantly, how many of those routines are 9.800+. That will be very telling. It needs to be eight 9.800+ routines at the very least for Nebraska to be successful. Since this isn’t a big team, the looming depth monster is always going to be the biggest nemesis, and the freshmen will have to be the shield. The more the newbies manage to get into the lineup, the less blood-pressure medication you’ll need.