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  Home:  Features:  Incoming Classes Top 10 Women's Recruiting Classes for 2006-2007

As we head into the new season, we're taking our third annual look at the incoming classes for each school.  This season, we're once again attempting this feat, but are renaming the ranking "Recruiting Classes".  This change simply makes the title of the ranking more reflective of the actual criteria used in the selections.  In this analysis, we have made a conscious decision to exclude transfers, redshirts, and changes in status during the Fall training period.  This fall, we've seen a number of season-ending events for some of the incoming frosh.  To keep the ranking pure and consistent with past seasons, we're not factoring these unanticipated losses into the rankings of "Recruiting Classes".  As with the past two rankings, we re-evaluated the methods used to develop the rankings.  

Once again, we evaluated some sort of qualitative criteria, such as placements in major meets or scores, that could remove subjectivity from the analysis.  For example, we attempted to tally points for finishes in major meets and/or weight this score with some kind of scoring average comparison.  This method proved to be biased towards large recruiting classes, is unworkable with elite/Canadian scoring versus USAG L10, and does not comprehend data like injuries and injury histories.  The last criteria is becoming increasingly important, as highly accomplished gymnasts with chronic injury problems or a major recovery in progress are sometimes passed over in favor of other healthy top candidates during the competitive recruiting process.  It's especially difficult to compare the impact of a top elite versus a top L10, especially when both will be competing under the same modified code.  History has shown time and again than a top L10 or "elite drop-down" can have as much impact as an elite National Team member.

In other collegiate sports comparisons, notably in the case of so-called "revenue team sports", the subjective Recruiting Class rankings are done by a poll or evaluation of a jury based on the available data.  Therefore, after compiling a set of qualitative data,  the final ranking was determined by debate through subjective evaluations of skill set, execution quality, and results in major competitions.  The impact of major injuries and competition results prior to the start of classes were given extra weight.  Redshirt freshmen and transfers from other college teams are not factored into our rankings.  Therefore, without any further excuse-making, here is our 2007 assessment of Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Recruiting Classes.    

1.  Utah: The 2007 Recruiting class overall was an exceptional one, with a number of top athletes and strong recruiting classes.  Utah's class, one of the best overall classes in the program's storied history, emerges to the top of the list in this ranking.  Utah's class includes two US Senior National Team members, Annie DiLuzio and Sarah Shire, plus German National Team member Daria Bijak.  Former two-time L10 National AA Champ Jamie Deetscreek and former senior international elite Stephanie Neff complete the freshman lineup.  L10 Chelsea Coleman, a former junior national elite, was the sixth signee but is no longer on the roster after a promising fall training session.

DiLuzio placed 7th AA at the 2005 VISA (US) Championships, capping a huge leap up the national elite rankings.  She cemented her position as one of the top vaulters in the world (2/1 twisting Yurchenko & Tsukahara) with a 2nd place finish at the 2005 World Cup in Belgium.

Shire, a National Team member since 2002, placed 9th AA at the 2005 VISA (US) Championships, and has medalled at a variety of top international invitationals, including the Chunichi Cup.  Like DiLuzio, this GAGE-trained athlete is a strong vaulter.  However, both athletes, once healthy, could challenge in the AA.












North Carolina




Penn State


Louisiana State





One of top gymnasts in the world, Bijak placed 8th at the 2005 World Championships.  The two-time German national AA champ is known for her superb front tumbling (double front-punch front), but shows international flair on all four events.  After a heavy competitive season, a healthy and rested Bijak will be a major force in the Ute lineups.  

Deetscreek is a top L10 known for her high skill level and consistency.  A former junior international elite and two-time L10 National AA champ, Deetscreek was a consistent fixture near the top of the L10 standings.  Neff is a former international elite and junior National Team member from Arizona.  Returning to the L10 ranks last season, she placed 2nd AA and 1st on UB at the L10 Nationals, confirming her status as a top recruit.   

2.  Georgia:  Once again 2nd in our rankings,UGA has yet another impressive class to add to last year's high impact group.  They are once again in hot pursuit of the National Title, their third in a row.  A trio of elite signees head the group:  Olympian Courtney McCool, Olympic Trials participant Marcia Newby, and the eponymous Grace Taylor.  Joining these three are a trio of L10 walkons:  Christianna Fortunato, Lauren Johnson, and Lauren Sessler.

Courtney McCool has spent the years since the 2004 Olympics recovering from injury and subsequent surgery.  The injury may in fact limit her to certain events, although her return this fall has been stronger than expected.  Another GAGE-trained gymnast, she shows the lines and precision characteristic of that program.  Newby is a top former National Team member with extensive (and successful) international experience who participated in the 2004 Olympic Training Camp.  Now a rather "tall" 5'-7", her recent competitive history has been somewhat limited by a series of untimely, but relatively minor injuries (e.g., broken hand).  Although both competitors can be top AAers, their relative health and recent competitive status has been factored into these rankings.

Taylor is a former international elite known for her unusual and difficult skills (e.g. Comaneci salto on UB - straddled front flip) and stylish presentation.  Although vault is her weak event, her form and presentation on the other three events will make her a potential impact performer at the NCAA level.  She was 6th AA, 1st on BB, and 5th (t) on UB at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. D.  

Fortunato is a two-time L10 National qualifier and 2006 Georgia state champion.  She placed 10th on FX at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  Johnson is a former junior national elite and two-time Regional vault champion.  She was 39th at the 2006 L10 Nationals.  The third walkon, Lauren Sessler, is a five-time L10 National Qualifer with two top 8 finishes in the AA in 2001 and 2002.  She placed 33rd AA and 7th (t) on UB at the 2005 L10 Nationals.       

3.  Alabama:  Bama has yet another large class to complement their #1 rated recruiting class from last season.  This produces a young and talented team with tremendous potential.  Their signees include Morgan Dennis, Ricki Lebegern, Casey Overton and Kassi Price.  Walkon Jacqueline Shealy completes the quintet.  Another signee, elite Kayle Hoffman, is deferring enrollment and is not counted in these rankings.  Even without Hoffman, the sheer size and depth of this class puts them in a closely bunched group of four teams at the top of these rankings.

Senior international elite National Team member Kassi Price headlines the talented Bama class.  She placed 7th AA, 3rd on UB and 3rd on BB at the 2006 VISA (US) Championships.  She also was 5th AA in 2005.  A rising international competitor, she earned two medals at the 2006 World Cup meet in Lyon, France.  With a huge selection of skills on every event, she'll be a major force in the NCAA.  

Dennis is a former senior international elite gymnast known for her powerful tumbling and vaulting (double twisting Yurchenko).  In 2004, she placed 27th AA at the VISA (US) Championships.  She also finished 17th AA at the 2005 US Classic and was 10th AA at the 2006 Region VII L10 Regionals.  She was also a record-setting sprinter on the track this past spring.  

Lebegern is a top L10 competitor who placed 2nd AA (t), 2nd (t) BB, 3rd on FX and 5th (t) VT  at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. D.  She also made the L10 National team in 2005, placed 4th AA.  A consistent fixture at the top of the L10 standings, she has elite-level skills on all four events.  

Overton is a former international elite who did not compete in most of 2005 and 2006 due to a shoulder injury and surgery.  She placed 18th AA at the 2004 VISA (US) Championships.  She was also 8th AA at the 2003 US Nationals.  Shealy hails from WOGA, where she trained elite and worked through a variety of injuries.  She placed 26th AA at the 2004 L10 Nationals.      

4.  Stanford:  Stanford's recruiting class is highlighted by three stellar signees from the elite ranks:  Allyse Ishino, Carly Janiga, and Blair Ryland.  The Cardinal also feature two L10 walkons, Stephanie Carter and Tenaya West.

Ishino is a former senior international elite and National Team member who placed 5th AA at the 2004 Olympic Trials.  With long lines and solid skills on all four events, when healthy she is a top international level competitor.  Most recently, she showed her competitive readiness by capturing the 2006 L10 National AA title in the Senior D division.  

Janiga is another senior international elite and National Team member who competed at the Olympic Training camp.  Known for her outstanding vaulting and tumbling, she returned to competition this spring and captured the L10 National AA title in the Senior B division.  She should make a strong impact this season for the Cardinal.  Ryland is an international elite who most recently placed 14th AA at the 2006 US Classic.  With solid skills on all four events, Ryland has been working to break through at the National level these past several years.                

West is a L10 walkon and 2006 NorCal state champion with some big elite-level skills.  She placed 16th (t) AA and 9th on FX at the 2006 L10 nationals.  She also placed 18th AA at the 2004 L10 Nationals.  Carter is a L10 from Byers who placed 36th AA, 5th UB, and 8th (t) on VT at the 2005 L10 Nationals.      

5.  North Carolina:  North Carolina shoots to the upper reaches of our rankings this year with a stellar class that should help stem the loss of some high impact athletes.  This class includes Theresa (Cole-)Diamond, Kristina Jacob, Christine Nguyen, and Kara Wright.

Nguyen is a current senior international elite National Team member after her 9th place finish at the 2006 VISA (US) Championships.  This WOGA-trained athlete is known for her great lines and precise execution rather than trick-packed routines-- traits that should cause her to excel at a high level in the NCAA ranks.  

Wright had another outstanding season, placing 1st AA, 1st FX, 4th UB and 4th on VT at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. C.  She won the Virginia HS state AA title four times in a row, and was the unofficial High School National Champion in 2006.  She has also qualified as an elite and is a two-time L10 National team member.

Diamond is a L10 from Hill's who was 16th AA and 5th on VT at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. C.  She tied for 11th AA and 2nd on UB at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  The fourth member of the class, Tina Jacob, is a L10 in-state product.  She captured the Region VIII L10 BB title in 2005 and qualified to the L10 Nationals.  She also placed 3rd on BB at Regionals in 2006.

6.  UCLA:  UCLA is rate sixth in this year's ranking, with Ashley Jenkins, Anna Li, and Brittani McCullough comprising this year's class.  The potential quality of this three-member class of elite signees ranks them just ahead of some larger classes.  

McCullough is a senior international elite and former top L10 who was recovering from a knee injury this past year.  Late in the fall, she suffered an injury in a car accident that will keep her out of competition this season.  This does not factor into our rankings of recruiting classes, but the original injury suffered prior to signing does  Prior to her injury, McCullough placed 11th AA at the 2005 VISA (US) Championships.  She also excelled at the JO level, placing 1st on VT, UB and FX at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  She also finished 1st on UB and 10th AA in 2003.  

Li is also a senior international elite.  She placed 16th AA at the 2005 VISA (US) Championships and was 23rd AA in 2004.  At the 2004 L10 Nationals, she was 2nd AA, 2nd UB and 1st on BB.  She also won the L10 BB title in 2003.  Her parents are both Olympic and World medalists for China (Li Yuejiu and Wu Jiani).     

Jenkins is a local elite product from the SCATS.  She's a former member of the junior National Team who also qualified to the VISA (US) Championships as a senior international in 2005.  She's battled through a number of injuries the past several years that have limited her appearances at major meets.     

7.  Penn State:  PSU welcomes six talented frosh to their roster this fall, including signees Alexandra Brockway, Lindsey Montross, Brandi Personett, Casey Rohrbaugh, and Allie Southard.  In-state walkon Rosie Smith completes the solid class.

Texan Brandi Personett headlines the class.  The former senior international elite has competed some big skills, including a double layout on FX and double twisting Yurchenko on VT.  She qualified to the 2004 VISA (US) Championships, but more recently competed as a L10, tying for 4th AA, 3rd VT, 3rd UB and 7th on FX at the 2006 L10 Nationals.

Brockway is another former senior international elite and former JO National team member.  She qualified to the VISA (US( Championships in 2003 and 2004, and is expected to contribute her clean lines on all four events.  Like Brockway, Rohrbaugh is another in-state product and a three-time L10 National qualifier.  She finished 25th AA at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  At the 2004 L10 Nationals, she tied for 5th AA, 4th on BB and 5th on FX.  

Montross is a L10 who comes all the way from California.  She tied for 15th AA at the 2006 L10 Nationals and for 7th on VT at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  She also tied for 18th AA, 2nd on FX and 5th on UB at the 2004 L10 Nationals.  Hailing from NJ, Southard is another L10 standout who placed 23rd(t) AA, 4th(t) FX and 6th(t) BB at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. D..  She placed 20th AA and tied for 1st on FX at the 2003 L10 Nationals.  Rounding out the class is walkon Rosie Smith, another in-state product.  She placed 30th AA and 10th(t) on VT at the 2005 L10 Nationals.           

8.  LSU:  LSU's five member recruiting class includes some athletes that will look to fill line-up slots immediately.  Susan Jackson, Sabrina Franceschelli, Summer Hubbard, and Kayla Rogers are the four signees, and Yvette Triay is an in-state walkon.  

Jackson is a former international elite star known for powerful vaulting and tumbling.  A four time member of the National Team, Jackson competed L10 last season.  She placed 7th AA, 1st on FX, 2nd on VT, and 4th (t) on BB at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Senior D.  In 2005, as a senior international, she placed 15th AA at the VISA (US) Championships.  She's expected to have an impact on three events as she develops a new vault.  

Franceschelli competed L10 the past two seasons after several years as an international elite.  In 2005, she placed 21st AA and 6th on UB at the L10 Nationals.  She's expected to contend for the lineups in all four events.  Summer Hubbard was a spring signee who had an outstanding senior season.  She placed 6th AA, 2nd(t) UB, 3rd BB, and 7th(t) FX at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. C.  She also was the Regional AA champ her senior season.        

Rogers is a L10 from GAGE in Missouri.  In 2006, she placed 26th AA and 10th on VT at the L10 Nationals.  She was also 10th AA and 10th(t) on FX at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  A five-time National qualifier, she was 15th AA and 2nd(t) on VT in 2004 and will be looked upon to contribute big on that event.  In-state walkon Triay placed 18th(t) AA and 10th(t) on FX at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  She also finished 27th AA in 2006.

9.  Florida:  Florida signed just two gymnasts for 2007, but they are stellar:  Amanda Castillo and Rebekah Zaiser.  Also joining the squad are walkons Ashley Kerr and Courtney Gladys.

Castillo is a L10 from the in-state Orlando Metro club.  She was 4th(t) AA, 2nd FX, 3rd(t) UB and 9th on VT at the 2006 L10 Nationals, in the highly competitive Senior D group.  She's armed with high level elite skills, like a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT and Pike Full-In on FX.  In 2005, she was 4th AA, 1st(t) FX, 2nd(t) VT, and 3rd on BB at the L10 Nationals.  She also won the FX title in 2004.

Zaiser is a former junior international elite who has been competing L10 the last few seasons.  In 2005, she placed 10th AA and 1st on UB at the L10 Nationals, in the Senior B group.  She was injured and unable to compete at L10 Nationals last season.  Her best event is the FX, where she throws a triple full and Arabian double front.  This fall, she has also shown the rare Layout Barani vault in training.

Kerr is a L10 from Orlando Metro who was a Regional JO National alternate in 2005.  She placed 12th AA at the Region VIII L10 Regionals.  Gladys is a former junior international elite from Orlando Metro who is returning to the sport after a three year absence.   

10.  Arkansas:  The last spot in this set of rankings was a difficult decision, with many potential teams worthy of consideration.  However, a strong 2006 season for Arkansas' large recruiting class bodes well for the 2007 season.  The relative health and improving performances of this class gave them the edge.  This class includes signees Allison Daniels, Amy DeFilippo, Casey Jo Magee, Sarah Nagashima and Michelle Stout.  

Amara (Amy) DeFilippo is a L10 from SCEGA in California.  She placed 17th(t) AA and 9th(t) on UB at the 2006 L10 Nationals.  In 2005, she was 13th(t) AA and 4th on BB at the L10 Nationals.  She also tied for the FX title at the 2002 National meet, before competing as a junior national elite.  

Magee, an Oregonian, captured a L10 National title as well, placing 1st on BB and 5th AA at the 2006 L10 Nationals. She was also 15th AA and 1st(t) on BB in 2005.  Also hailing from the Pacific Northwest is Sarah Nagashima, a L10 from Gymnastics East.  She tied for 16th AA at the 2006 L10 Nationals.  She also finished 32nd AA in 2005 and 17th AA in 2004 (tied for 4th on BB).  

New Yorker Michelle Stout had an excellent senior season, placing 8th(t) AA, 3rd on VT, 4th(t) on FX, and 8th on UB at the 2006 L10 Nationals, Sr. C.  The former National Elite has big skills on VT and FX, where she excels.  She tied for 2nd on VT and 3rd on FX at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  She captured the L10 National title (tied) on VT in 2004.  Texan Allison Daniels is a L10 who placed 26th AA at the 2005 L10 Nationals.  She was also a Regional alternate to L10 Nationals in 2004 and 2006.  

Bubbling Under...                 

As was mentioned before, several other teams have recruiting classes worthy of mention and consideration in this list.  Michigan's class is headlined by former junior elite and L10 standout Sarah Curtis, plus L10s signees Kelsey Knutson, Maureen Moody, and Jordan Sexton.  Oklahoma features former World Champion Holly Vise and L10s Jackie Flanery, Mary Mantle, and Kristin Smith.  Oregon State has another solid class featuring Canadian elite Laura Ann Chong and L10s Mandi Rodriguez and Whitney Watson.  Arizona has put together a trio of standout L10s, including Jamie Custer, Brittney Morgan, and Randi Jo Russell.  Iowa State looks to replace a productive and record-setting class with a series of top Canadian elites (Melanie Tham, Jody McKellar) and US L10s (Megan Barnes, Nikki Dilbert, Katie Sweetin).  And Cal picked up a stellar in-state pair in Nicole Day and Sophia Hocini.  Finally, two rising programs have put together their best classes in years:  Maryland (Michelle Brenner, Alli Dama, Brandi George, Candice King, Maugaux Meeks, Talia Tossone) and Michigan State (Megan Berglund, Nicole Curler, Emily Lopatofsky, Kelly Moffitt, Rochelle Robinson, Julie Sauchuk).

2007 comprises a deep and talented pool of athletes that are likely to make a big impact on future NCAA seasons.  Look for these names and others in the class to finish among the leaders over the next four seasons.  




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