Tag Archives: Kennedy Baker

Best Routine of Week 4 Poll

Congratulations to our week 3 champion, Nicole Artz’s first career 10.000 on floor, which eked out the victory over Wynter Childers’ beam in second and MyKayla Skinner’s vault in third.

Week 1 Skinner, FX Edney, VT Nichols, UB
Week 2 Ward, VT PP Lee, BB Hambrick, FX
Week 3 Artz, FX Childers, BB Skinner, VT
Week 4

Who will take the title for week 4? I’m limiting to 10 nominees this week to see if that’s slightly more manageable.

1. Elizabeth Price, Stanford – Bars (9.925)

2. Kennedy Baker, Florida – Floor (10.000)

3. Skyler Sheppard, Arizona – Beam (9.925)

4. Alex McMurtry, Florida – Vault (9.950)

5. Kyla Ross, UCLA – Bars (10.000)

6. Kennedi Edney, LSU – Floor (9.925)

7. Maggie Nichols, Oklahoma – Vault (9.950)

8. Olivia Karas, Michigan – Vault (9.975)

9. Peng Peng Lee, UCLA – Bars (9.950)

10. Zaakira Muhammad, West Virginia – Vault (9.900)

Time to vote!






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

Florida 2017

Claire Boyce
  • Missed 2016 season with injury
  • Weekly BB, FX, backup UB in 2015
  • 2015 RQS: BB – 9.905, FX – 9.860, UB – 9.825
Kennedy Baker
  • Constant in the AA in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.940, VT – 9.915, BB – 9.870, UB – 9.860
Grace McLaughlin
  • Leadoff FX in 2016
  • One routine each on UB (9.800) and BB (9.775)
  • 2016 RQS: FX – 9.825
Alex McMurtry
  • Leader of VT, UB, BB lineups in 2016
  • Competes FX when physically able
  • 2016 RQS: BB – 9.945, UB – 9.940, VT – 9.925
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.885
Rachel Slocum
  • Transfer from Eastern Michigan
  • Weekly VT, FX for EMU in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.875, FX – 9.855
Alicia Boren
  • Competed AA in all but one meet in 2016
  • 2016 RQS: VT – 9.910, FX – 9.905, BB – 9.890, UB – 9.860
Amanda Cheney
  • Competed VT twice in 2016 for 9.713 average
Lacy Dagen
  • Missed freshman year with injury
Ashley Hiller
  • Backup FX, VT in 2016
  • 2016 average: FX – 9.725, VT – 9.700
Sierra Alexander
  • West Broward FL
  • 2016 Region 8 VT 4th
Maegan Chant
  • World Class CAN
  • 2014 World Championship team
  • 2016 Canadian Nationals 8th AA
Rachel Gowey
  • Chow’s
  • 2014 Classic AA 4th
  • 2015 Pan Am UB champion
Amelia Hundley
  • Cincinnati
  • 2016 Olympic Trials 9th AA
  • 2015 Pan Ams 4th AA

*NOTE: Ericha Fassbender has been deemed ineligible for 2017 and removed from Florida’s team. For the gossip about why, please see the entire internet.

Recent History
2016 – 4th
2015 – 1st
2014 – 1st
2013 – 1st
2012 – 2nd
2011 – 7th
2010 – 5th

The last eight months have suddenly become an era of turnover and turmoil for Florida, with the graduation of a program-defining senior class, the transfer of Peyton Ernst, the injury to Alyssa Baumann, recruit departures from Bailie Key and Laurie Hernandez, and now the ineligibility of Ericha Fassbender. This team looks a lot different than it did last year, but also a lot different than we expected it to look this year. Much can change in the course of eight months.

This turmoil has stunted expectations for Florida in 2017, but looking past the ambiguous notion of public expectations, this remains a Super Six-quality roster that stands among the five most likely winners of the national title. A title is certainly not the presumptive result it has been in recent seasons, but it’s still squarely in the picture. Because of the dramatic turnover in the roster, however, much of that potential success will rest on how well the accomplished freshman class can hit the ground Sloaning and not only fill empty lineup spots but replace multiple missing 9.9s on multiple events. Continue reading Florida 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.

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

National Championship Preview Part 4: Do We Care About Individuals? (Not Really)

Individuals are the worst.

The quest for the individual AA title and event titles has never been anywhere in the vicinity of a primary focus during the NCAA gymnastics ALL ABOUT THE TEAM Championship, brought to you by THE CLOSEST GROUP OF SISTERS. Spoiler alert: It’s all about the team. All in. No regrets. Life lesson. Teamwork. Growth. Having each other’s backs.

Individual accolades are the ugly stepsister of college gymnastics, the one who is hidden in the attic and not allowed to come out when guests are around. (You have one of those too, right?) Publicly acknowledging a desire for individual recognition is strictly taboo. I’m just here to help the team succeed. No member of the team is more important than any other. Leader in the training gym.

To reinforce this culture, the coaches elected to do away with Sunday’s individual event finals entirely this season, ostensibly because of the new TV deal that will televise Friday and Saturday’s competitions live, even though…what does that have to do with Sunday? You could still have competition on Sunday, even if it’s not part of the TV broadcast. This has never been explained. Now, the individual event titles will be decided on Friday along with the all-around and the qualification to Super Six, making it, if possible, even more of a crapshoot afterthought parade of nothing than it was before. Remember how Lloimincia Hall never made a floor final in her whole career?

Individual Events

Let’s be honest, the winner of each event title will be whichever gymnast anchors the lineup of the last team competing on that event. You know it. On vault, that would be Gnat in the first session and Bresette in the second session, so we’ll go with Gnat. She would likely be the choice anyway. On bars, that’s Rogers in the first semi and Sternberg in the second, and I have no problem at all picking Rogers to win bars (even though it will probably be Wofford or one of the Floridas, both going in the 5th rotation of their semifinals). On beam, it’s Sloan in the first semi and Capps in the second semi. OOOF. Two very likely nominees to win. We’ll go with Capps. On floor, it’s Atkinson in the first and Hughes in the second. That’s tougher. They’ll both get good scores, but Gnat and McGee are probably the floor favorites.

Still, sticking to my principle that scores are too heavily based on lineup and rotation order and that the winner of each event will simply be the most recent competitor, my official picks are Gnat on vault, Rogers on bars, Capps on beam, and Atkinson on floor. Feel free to submit your own. We’ll all have a good shot of winning because I’m sure there will be a billion ties even with the increased number of judges.

Silver lining: we will no longer have to wait through an interminably long event final because thousands of qualifiers tied for fourth place in a semifinal. Those vault finals some years, when they did two vaults, and had 25 qualifiers…

Plus, what would have been the day of event finals is now the day of the WAG Test Event, so we can still use that to help pretend our lives are full. Romania, you guys. We broke it and it never got fixed.

The all-around title, also decided on Friday, is usually slightly less random, but only slightly. We all know who the top all-arounders are, and they’ll each be pecking around the top of the standings, but then also sometimes Kim Jacob wins. When the scores are this closely packed, weird things can happen very easily. To break the race down, I’ll run through the gymnasts I see as the most likely winners, so we know it will be none of them.
Continue reading National Championship Preview Part 4: Do We Care About Individuals? (Not Really)

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.

#2 Florida Preview

It’s almost here! False start weekend is nearly upon us, with Michigan, Arkansas, and Iowa off on a Cancun vacation with a gymnastics meet in it (1/2, 7:15 ET/4:15 PT) and Central Michigan getting started on Sunday (1/3, 1:00 ET/10:00 PT). For the rest, there’s still time, but if you haven’t yet picked your fantasy gym team, pull your life together because the deadline is Sunday. I really need to work on my draft order. It’s a shambles.

Baker, Kennedy – Sophomore – VT, UB, BB, FX
Boren, Alicia – Freshman
Boyce, Claire – Junior – UB, BB, FX
Caquatto, Bridgey – Senior – VT, UB, FX
Cheney, Amanda – Freshman
Dagen, Lacy – Freshman
Dancose-Giambattisto, Bianca – Senior – UB (possible BB)
Ernst, Peyton – Freshman
Fassbender, Ericha – Sophomore – VT, UB, BB, FX
Frazier, Morgan – Senior – N/A
Hiller, Ashley – Freshman
McLaughlin, Grace – Sophomore – BB (possible UB, FX)
McMurtry, Alex – Sophomore – VT, UB, BB (possible FX?)
Sloan, Bridget – Senior – VT, UB, BB, FX

Recent History
2015 – 1st
2014 – 1st
2013 – 1st
2012 – 2nd
2011 – 7th
2010 – 5th

2016 Outlook
Three consecutive championships and a predominately (though not entirely) intact roster pretty much tells the story for Florida, a team that should consider anything other than a fourth title an unacceptable result this season. The two serious questions about the Gators’ chances in 2016 concern their ability to replace Kytra Hunter’s scores and the new coaching staff/absence of Rhonda Power, but with a freshman class talented enough to bring its own respectable bag of 9.9s and what is basically an all-star team of the nation’s top assistant coaches now at the helm, neither of those would be particularly convincing excuses for not winning. That’s not to say Florida is guaranteed to continue on the same not-losing path, but at this point there’s no good reason to expect real regression.

Key Competitor
Alicia Boren. It is essential this season that Florida find a person (or combination of people) to replicate what Kytra brought on vault and at least come close to replicating what she brought on floor, along with shoring up an occasionally too 9.850-9.875 beam lineup. With Ernst in the process of putting herself back together post-elite, that responsibility will primarily fall to Boren. She’s quite capable of being that gymnast, and her abilities on the power events should place her toward the end of both lineups right away. She is among the critical freshmen in the nation this year because without her replacing those lost scores, the Gators won’t have the comfortable collection of surplus 9.9s that has led them to success—even on just OK days—these past four years and will feel the pressure from Oklahoma and Alabama.


Florida started slowly on vault last season, to some extent by design, but was ultimately able to deliver a 49.450-49.500 lineup replete with enough 9.9s to rank consistently among the top few vaulting teams. That should continue this year led by four vaulters who all look like reliable 9.9 options. Sloan, Boren, and Baker each have a 1.5 to keep the Gators at a competitive SV level, the most appealing aspect of these 1.5s being that they’re not “possible, maybe, she has in the past” vaults like many I’ve discussed in these previews. They have them, and they’re good. McMurtry appears to be staying with the full, even though she could do more, which is a sensible choice because her full is among the few that can still go 9.900-9.950 this season. Expect more stuck yfulls to score 9.950 this year because it’s not THE TEN. The judges won’t be as guarded about giving a yfull a perfect score because a perfect 9.950 doesn’t stand out nearly as much as a 10.

Those four are locks and should keep this lineup on pace at 49.4 in spite of the SV decreases and loss of Hunter. Perhaps a half tenth to a tenth lower than last season, but not much more than that. The question is the remaining two spots, which were a bit of an issue last year and look entirely up for grabs right now, especially if Ernst doesn’t come along right away. With this roster, they’ll be able to produce perfectly fine 9.8s for any remaining spots, but the scoring onus will remain on the big four. Fassbender was borderline-lineup all last season and seems a fair bet to have a bigger role this year. As for Bridgey, she’s pretty much always in this lineup but has become progressively more troubling on vault as the seasons go by, getting taken out of the lineup for a while last year and ultimately falling in Super Six. Bridgey’s important scores are bars and floor, so if other compelling vault options present themselves, it may make sense just to take her off the event to avoid any issues. If the chance does arise, look for possible lineup upset bids from Hiller and Cheney who both performed quite respectable fulls in JO. 


The bars lineup remains the most intact from last season, so we should have pretty much identical expectations to the scores Florida received in 2015. Bridget Sloan is the Bridget Sloan of this lineup, always getting at least 9.900, then in line for a 9.950-10.000 depending on whether she sticks and whether it’s one of her bail-legs days. Sloan is on a streak of 22 consecutive bars routines scoring at least 9.900 (and she was only as low as 9.900 four times in that span) and a streak of 37 consecutive bars routines scoring at least 9.875. She hasn’t scored lower than that since a fall on January 13th, 2013. So she’s OK at bars.

Sloan’s #2 is Bridgey, who isn’t quite as likely to score 9.9+ because she’s somewhat less consistent on the landing, but she still reaches 9.900 pretty regularly. With those two hitting, Florida’s bars shouldn’t be scoring under 49.400 and can believably go 49.5s. For my money, this is the best bars lineup in the country. (Really going out on a limb there.) The interesting one to watch will be McMurtry, who has commenced Operation Haters To The Left in response to that time she scored a surrealist fantasy of a 9.950 in Super Six and we all got lost in a sandstorm about it. She’s suddenly pulling out a high, well-executed Ray that exists now and could help complete her two-year transformation from “a little Brestyan’s-y” to bars star. With the Ray and her dismount, there’s no reason to think McMurtry won’t continue getting 9.9s this year, especially if Jenny maintains Rhonda’s lineup strategy, but we’ll get to that more on floor.

In the opening acts of the lineup, Jam Buddhist is also good for 9.900 occasionally and at least 9.850 pretty much every time. KBakes (stop trying to make KBakes happen) also emerged as a constant last year, though she has more potential on bars than the 9.800-9.850 scores she was getting. I’m hoping she can step up 2 the streets to the 9.9s this season. Ideally, Ernst will join them to be yet another 9.9 possibility since bars and beam should be her events, but if not, there are plenty of other 9.800+ choices. This is Boren’s weaker event, but she’s not bad at it; it would be nice to see Grace McLaughlin make a lineup at some point; and Fassbender and Boyce (barring injury) have been reliable backups on bars as late.  


Florida scored well on beam last year, because Florida scored well on everything last year, but it was the team’s least memorable event and most likely to suffer from a case of the blahs/phew-we-didn’t-count-a-falls. A lot of that came from not having Sloan for a chunk of the year. She was wildly vital to the lineup and will remain so this season. With few other auto-9.9s, because beam, it’s that much more important for Sloan to go, “side aerial, double full, I’m the winner!” and collect her 9.925. For this to become a standout event and score with the impressive lineups the other top teams will be trotting out, however, Florida needs another consistently huge score, so let’s turn our attention to Peyton Ernst. She’s a beamer, always has been, and this is her critical event. It’s also the only event we’ve seen her on in the training videos, so everything works out. If Sloan is going to have a partner in beam crime in 2016, it will be Ernst.

Ernst will be particularly important as Claire Boyce tries to return from a hip injury. Boyce has been a find on beam for Florida and has scored some critical 9.9s over the last couple years, so while she works to come back, others have to pick it up. Let’s hope Kennedy Baker gets it together because she should be one of the top members of this lineup. She’s Kennedy Baker. She lost her spot in the middle of last season after falling several kajillion times on her wolf turn. So…just take out the wolf turn and then everyone’s a winner, right? Right. Boren is a solid powerhouse on beam, and another who sees a double back dismount as a walk in the park, so pencil her in along with McMurtry. McMurtry occasionally had a case of the nervies on beam last season, but more often she was in the very usable 9.850-9.875 ballpark. Those six would be an impressive lineup, but there are also backups/occasional competitors/consistency stopgaps in the likes of Fassbender, McLaughlin, and ideally Cheney who is quite nice on beam and should put together a routine with few deductions. I’m also still holding out for a hero in BDG, but the wobblies and the fallsies always seem to keep her out of the lineup.

It’s a good beam team, with the potential to be a great beam team if health, consistency, and the Jenny Rowland beam magic all do their part, but this is one event where Florida doesn’t look to be in the top, you know, one in the country. Keep an eye on this early in the year because if Florida is nailing beam for 49.4s and 49.5s, it’s going to be a long season for everyone else.


While Kytra Hunter was an all-around champion, it’s not a debate as to which of her events will be the most missed. It’s floor. That DLO, forever in our hearts. Florida can expect a bit of a dip from the “oops, we got a 49.600” floor rotations of last season without Kytra’s ability to cough and get a 9.975, though the back of the floor lineup remains quite healthy. Kennedy Baker’s piked double arabian actually doubles as a flu vaccine, and then Bridget Sloan. You know. They’re both almost as likely to score 9.950 as Hunter and will push Florida’s floor right toward the top of the heap once again. Boren has an excellent full-in herself and will fit right into the Sloan/Baker club with her fair share of 9.9s. Those three can take on any other floor trio in the country, so there’s really no need to worry. I know you were extremely worried.

Now, let’s get to the Bridgey conundrum. The most interesting part of Florida’s first meet against TWU will be finding out whether the new staff will indeed continue Rhonda’s much-criticized and much-effective decision to put Bridgey in the anchor spot, getting her a money bin full of 9.950s in spite of being not as good at floor as certain other people. Yes, it ends the floor rotation on a bit of a low, but making Bridgey the floor anchor and making McMurtry the bars anchor won Florida three championships, so it seems like kind of a no-brainer. But you never know. Plenty of other coaches haven’t caught on to this strategy in spite of, um, hi. So it’s something to watch. Those Bridgey 9.950s certainly help the team total, and she certainly wouldn’t be getting so many of them in the third spot.

What do we do about the other two spots, though? I’m not really sure. As long as these other floor routines are 9.850, everything will be fine because of the scoring strength of the main four. Florida is not in need of another star, but with Claire Boyce’s injury status, there are some Wang/Spicer spots open to be won. Fassbender seems like a pick since she’s the new Wang/Spicer (always 5th-7th on the depth chart on any event, ready to fill in), but there may be an experimentation fight to fill the lineup out. This roster has enough solid double pike routines that it won’t be a problem, but those solid routines still need to be found and cultivated into 9.850s.