Saturday, 21 December 2019 15:12

2020 Capsule Previews: Teams #1 to #12

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Here are the first 12 teams in our Capsule Previews of our Top 25, based on the 2020 Preseason Coaches' Poll. 


 1.  Oklahoma Sooners

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 16/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 3 UB, 2 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: KJ Kindler
Assistants: Lou Ball, Tom Haley
Returning Starters (7):  Jade Degouveia (Sr), Maggie Nichols (Sr), Evy Schoepfer (Jr), Karrie Thomas (Jr), Olivia Trautman (So), Anastasia Webb (Jr), Carly Woodard (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Jordan Draper (Jr), Emily LaPinta (So), Brehanna Showers (Sr/I), Allie Stern (So)
Graduated (4):  Brenna Dowell, Ashley Hiller, Nicole Lehrmann, Alex Marks
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (5):  Vanessa Deniz (Fr), Jenna Dunn (Fr), Erin Hutchingson (Fr), Ragan Smith (Fr), Brooke Weins (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  The OU Sooners are seeking to defend their National Title and have been instilled by the coaches as the Preseason #1.  Heading into 2020, they've lost 8 routines from that Championship run, including key end of the lineup sets from Brenna Dowell and Nicole Lehrmann.  Replacing 9.95+ sets is never easy, and the task is especially tough on UB with 3 total routines lost.   

However, they have plenty of firepower, least of which is senior Maggie Nichols, the two-time defending NCAA AA champion.  She'll be capably supported by junior Anastasia Webb and sophomore Olivia Trautman.  Classmate Jade Degouveia has been training bars in the off-season and also looks to join the core as a potential AAer.  The other four returners, especially Brehanna Showers, also have lineup experience.   

The Sooners also landed what is quite possibly the top recruit in the country in Ragan Smith.  The 2017 US National AA champ and World Championships Gold Medalist (team) stepped down from elite competition to join OU for this season.  Although she has battled injuries in the past, the lower difficulty requirements of the NCAA should enable her to have a hugely successful career.  Also figuring into the Sooner mix this season is Vanessa Deniz, who placed 4th on FX, VT(t) and UB(t) and tied for 9th on AA at the 2018 Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals.   

The defending Champions had some work to do this Fall, with some huge holes in the lineup left by the departure of Dowell and Lehrmann.  Smith looks like she's slotting in nicely for Dowell, but the rest of the squad will need to step up to fill Lehrmann's 9.9+ scores on VT, UB and BB.  OU will also be counting on Smith staying healthy and doing what she's clearly capable of doing, while others will need to step up to fill in the gaps.  Meanwhile, Nichols will lead a squad that has perfected the art of combining high execution and unshakeable consistency.  Look for them to challenge for another title in April.  


 2.  LSU

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 14/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 3 UB, 1 BB, 3 FX
Head Coach: D-D Breaux
Associate Head Coach:  Jay Clark
Assistant: Bob Moore
Returning Starters (7):  Reagan Campbell (Jr), Bridget Dean (Jr), Christina Desiderio (Jr), Sami Durante (Jr), Kennedi Edney (Sr), Sarah Edwards (Jr), Ruby Harrold (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):   Rebecca D'Antonio (So), Olivia Gunter (Jr/I)
Graduated (4):   Julianna Cannemela, Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelley, Lexie Priessman  
Other Losses (2):  Bailey Ferrer (So/Sitting out 2020), Ashlyn Kirby (R)
Newcomers (7):  Courtney Goodrich (Fr), Kiya Johnson (Fr), Lexie Nibbs (Fr), Kai Rivers (Fr), Kamryn Ryan (Fr), Alyona Shchennikova (Fr/I), Caitlin Smith (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   LSU finished the season 2nd last year, and once again find themselves projected to finish in the same spot by the Coaches' Poll.  However, Coach D-D Breaux will need to find no less than 10 new routines to replace some top scoring sets from the departed Tigers.  In particular Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelley and Lexie Priessman demonstrated the ability to anchor lineups and pull down the 9.95+ scores that are so essential for a National title contender.

LSU will be led by senior Kennedi Edney, a top AA (two-time All-American) who excels on VT, where she is a former National champion  (2017).  Also look for top marks to be brought in by senior Ruby Harrold and junior Christina Desiderio.  Junior Reagan Campbell has been looking strong in preseason, as has junior Sami Durante on UB and BB. 

LSU also welcomes seven newcomers, who comprise an exceptionally strong incoming class.  They are led by L10 standouts Kiya Johnson and Kai Rivers, and elite Alyona Shchennikova.  Johnson was the Level 10 JO National champ in the AA, BB and FX.  She also tied for the AA title and won FX in 2018.  Rivers won the UB and was the AA runnerup at the JO Nationals in 2019.  She was also 3rd AA in 2018 and won the AA, VT and UB in 2017.  Look for Johnson to make an immediate impact, potentially in the AA, while Rivers works her way into at the lineups.    Likewise Shchennikova is coming back from an Achilles' tear, and so she'll be likely coming back first on UB and BB.  She placed 9th AA at the 2018 US Gymnastics Championships, but her best events are the ones where she is coming back the first. 

LSU lost a huge amount of top-line scoring power in Finnegan, Kelley and Priessman, along with a good measure of depth.  Fortunately, the coaching staff has brought in a standout frosh class to a join a strong core, but it may take some time for their full impact to be felt.  Look early on for the veterans to lead the way, as the Tigers build to a strong post-season finish.     


 3.  Florida

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 20/24
Routines Gone: 1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Jenny Rowland
Assistants: Adrian Burde, Owen Field
Returning Starters (8):  Sierra Alexander (Sr), Alyssa Baumann (Jr), Rachel Gowey (Sr), Amelia Hundley (Sr), Nya Reed (So), Savannah Schoenherr (So), Megan Skaggs (Jr), Trinity Thomas (So)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Maegan Chant (Sr), Leah Clapper (So), Jazmyn Foberg (Jr/I), Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (So), Halley Taylor (So)
Graduated (2):  Alicia Boren, Amanda Cheney
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (1):  Payton Richards (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Florida finished an uncharacteristic 10th last season, after spending much of the season in the upper ranks.  A shaky Regionals BB performance left the talented squad at home in April.  Gone from that squad is superstar AAer Alicia Boren, the 2019 NCAA FX champion and an 8 time NCAA All American.  

The loaded Gators squad has been voted #3 on the basis of the huge talent left on the roster.   They'll be led in 2020 by super sophomore Trinity Thomas, the rare NCAA gymnast that has maintained US National Team status despite competing during the NCAA season.  She's simply one of the best gymnasts in the world.  However, UF has plenty of other stars, including seniors Rachel Gowey and Amelia Hundley.  Junior Alyssa Baumann has been looking strong in preseason training and could also emerge as an all-around force.  Sophomore Savannah Schoenherr had a strong debut campaign, and looks to excel again.    

UF has just one frosh, but she's a strong one.  Payton Richards is a three-time JO National team member from Aerials in Illinois.  She is already making an impression in the preseason with a potential Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT and double layout on FX.  The Gators could also get a boost from increased contributions from their other returners, notably Jazmyn Foberg, who had surgery last season.  Sophomores Sydney Johnson-Scharpf and Leah Clapper have had another year to get used to competing, and have the opportunity to step up. 

With such a deep array of top elite and L10 talent, the Gators are well positioned to chase for the National title, and their preseason rank reflects it.  They also demonstrated the importance of consistency in the new NCAA format, for any squad, no matter how talented, through their 2019 Regional stumbles.  Look for them to correct the mistakes of the past and challenge once again. 


 4.  UCLA Bruins

Official Web SiteLink      Schedule     Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 21/24
Routines Gone:  0 VT, 0 UB, 2 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Chris Waller
Associate Head Coach:  Kristina Comfore
Assistant:  Dom Palange
Returning Starters (10):  Nia Dennis (Jr), Norah Flatley (So), Margzetta Frazier (So), Grace Glenn (Sr), Felicia Hano (Sr), Madison Kocian (Sr), Gracie Kramer (Sr), Kyla Ross (Sr), Pauline Tratz (Jr), Sekai Wright (So)
Other/Injured Returners (7):  Anna Glenn (Sr), Savannah Kooyman (Jr), Kendal Poston (Jr), Mercedes Sanchez (Sr), Nicki Shapiro (RS Rr), Sara Taubman (So/I), Macy Toronjo (RS Sr)
Graduated (3):  Brielle Nguyen, Katelyn Ohashi, Stella Savvidou
Other Losses (0):  N/A 
Newcomers (5):  Emma Andres (Fr), Paige Hogan (Fr), Chloe Lashbrooke (Fr), Samantha Sakti (So/TR/W&M), Kalyany Steele (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  The Bruins, despite a #3 National finish last year, find themselves knocked a peg in the Preseason Coaches' Poll.  That is much a reflection of their star athlete, Katelyn Ohashi, but also the loss of their legendary coach, Valorie Kondos-Fields.   Chris Waller takes over the reigns this season, as the new staff looks to carry on the traditions set in place by Kondos-Fields. 

Despite the coaching shift, the Bruins remain ridiculously loaded, with a roster that is more than capable of regaining the title they gave up in 2019. Seniors Kyla Ross, Felicia Hano and Madison Kocian were all a key part of the 2018 Championship squad, along with juniors Nia Dennis and Pauline Tratz. The Bruins also welcome back key routines from sophomores Norah Flatley and Margzetta Frazier.  The elite credentials of those seven stand without a need for further elaboration.  Ross competed in 2019 with new upgrades and at a higher level overall.  She's looking strong in the preseason, and seems capable of challenging again for a National AA title.  Kocian, who has battled through a number of injuries, also looked strong in the recent Meet the Bruins preview meet. 

UCLA also welcomes four frosh and a transfer from W&M, Samantha Sakti.  The frosh are led by former elite Kalyany Steele, who looks like she'll be contributing first on the UB.  Sakti posted some big scores on BB and FX for W&M, with a full-in on the latter event and a triple series (bhs to two layouts) on BB.  

With the loss of their legendary coach and two key BB routines, the Bruins will have the most work to do on BB.  But with such a talented squad, finding a strong working lineup should be a manageable task.  Look for the Bruins once again to challenge for the title, led by their super senior class. 


 5.  Utah Utes

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule     Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 10/24
Routines Gone:  4 VT, 3 UB, 3 BB, 4 FX
Head Coach: Tom Farden
Assistant:  Carly Dockendorf, Garrett Griffeth
Returning Starters (6):  Alexia Burch (Jr), Hunter Dula (So), Adrienne Randall (So), Missy Reinstadler (Sr), Sydney Soloski (Jr), Kim Tessen (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Cristal Isa (So/I), Cammy Hall (So/I)
Graduated (4):  Kari Lee, Shannon McNatt, Makenna Merrell-Giles, Macey Roberts
Other Losses (2):   MyKayla Skinner Harmer (Sr/training for Olympics), Lauren Wong (Jr/R)
Newcomers (5):  Jillian Hoffmann (Fr), Emilie LeBlanc (Jr/TR/Maryland), Maile O'Keefe (Fr), Abby Paulson (Fr), Jaedyn Rucker (Fr/I)

Quick Assessment:  Utah returns just 10 routines from last year's disappointing 7th place national finish.  What's worse, they Utes have lost almost all of their "back of the lineup" routines.  First and foremost among the losses is the decision of Mykayla Skinner Harmer to sit out this season in order to train for the Olympics.  The former 2x NCAA AA runnerup and former FX and VT champion was a critical piece of the equation for the Utes.  What's more, the Utes lost four more to graduation, including AA stars Makenna Merrell-Giles and Kari Lee.  The loss of such experience and 9.9+ scoring power will be felt in the lineups.      

Leading the way for the Utes in 2020 are seniors Missy Reinstadtler and Kim Tessen.  Both have struggled with injury in the past, but when healthy are capable of strong scores.  The Utes are also seeing some gymnasts take a step up in training, notably juniors Alexia Burch and Sydney Soloski.  The Utes will also look to get back sophomores Cristal Isa and Cammy Hall, whose seasons were cut short by injury.  It's a smaller squad overall, and health and rehab from injury could play a factor.   

Utah will need to get some big contributions from their newcomers, and they look capable of contributing immediately.  Leading the way is former junior elite champion (2017) Maile O'Keefe.  Although injuries led to her elite retirement, she dropped down to L10 this past season and joined the Utes over the summer.  She's looking strong already in training.  The Utes also welcomer former elite Senior National team member Abby Paulson and L10 standouts Jillian Hoffman and Jordyn Rucker.  Hoffman is a much needed powerhouse on VT and FX (double layout) while Paulson also has high potential on those events, as well as BBRucker is coming back from knee surgery last season and is listed as indefinite.  She's especially strong on FX and VT.   The Utes also added another Maryland transfer, Emillie LeBlanc, who looks to be battling for lineup spots on BB and possibly UB.

The Utes will need to get their frosh quickly adjusted to the rigors of NCAA competition.  It's not always an easy task, but Utah has had a good history of helping that transition.  Increased contributions from the likes of Isa, Burch and Soloski will also be needed.  From what they've shown thus far, it looks like FX is the Utes' current weakest event, and so they'll need some of the power athletes to come back strong through the course of the season.   


 6.  Michigan

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 20/24
Routines Gone: 1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Bev Plocki
Assistant: Scott Sherman
Returning Starters (8):  Abby Brenner (So), Lauren Farley (Jr), Lexi Funk (Sr), Abby Heiskell (So), Maddie Mariani (So), Anne Maxim (Jr), Maddie Osman (Jr), Natalie Wojcik (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Anna Dayton (Jr), Sam Javanbakht (So), Maggie O'Hara (Sr/I)
Graduated (2):  Olivia Karas, Emma McLean
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (4):  Sierra Brooks (Fr), Abigail Gaies (Fr), Nicoletta Koulos (Fr), Gabryel Wilson (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Michigan welcomes back 20 of 24 routines from last season's fifth place finish, an excellent position for any squad.  However, the Wolverines will miss two stars from that squad, AAer Olivia Karas and VT/FX standout Emma McLean (who did not compete at the Semi-Finals).  Both stars produced high scores and were fixtures at the end of their respective lineups.

The 2020 Wolverines are led by sophomore Natalie Wojcik, the 2019 BB champion and a top AAer.  She'll be capably supported by senior Lexi Funk, who was a regular AAer in the past, and junior Lauren Farley.  Michigan will also look to get more contributions from the rest of the talented sophomore class, including Abby Brenner, Abby Heiskell and Maddie Mariani.  

To this experienced core, Michigan has added an exciting frosh class led by future superstars Sierra Brooks and Gabryel Wilson.  Brooks graduated high school early to join the Wolverines in time for the Fall training. In 2019, she won the VT, BB, FX and AA at the Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals.  She also tied for 2nd on UB.  She also made the JO National team in 2016, 2018 and 2018.  She competes with a high level of difficulty on all four events, and looks set for an immediate AA role.  Complementing her is powerhouse Gabryel Wilson.  At the 2019 JO Nationals, she won the AA and tied for first on FX.  She also won the FX and AA titles in 2018 and 2016 (adding titles on VT and BB(t)).  She's another potential AA star, although she did not make the BB lineup for the exhibition quad meet. 

With three star underclassmen, the Wolverines are set to become a big force in the future.  While they have some key losses to make up, they have a deep and talented roster.  If all the pieces fall into place, they too could challenge for a spot in the final.


 7.  Denver Pioneers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart
Assistants: Linas Gaveika, Jimmy Pratt
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Lynnzee Brown (Jr), Emily Glynn (Jr), Maddie Karr (Sr), Alexandra Ruiz (So), Mia Sundstrom (Jr), Alexis Vasquez (So)
Other/Injured Returners (1):  Natalie Morton (So)
Graduated (4):  Grace Broadhurst, Diana Chesnok, Claire Kern, Kaitlyn Schou
Other Losses (2):  Courtney Loper (R/Sr/student coach), Maddie Quarles (TR/So/Minnesota)
Newcomers (5):  Emma Brown (Fr), Victoria Fitts (Fr), Amoree Lockhart (Fr), Callie Schlottmann (Fr), Akoray "AK" Subject (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Denver surprised the field and outperformed the skeptics to gain a spot in the National final last season.  This season, they enter 2020 missing five routines from six gymnasts.  While that is only five routines, the departed gymnast, notably Diana Chesnok, Claire Kern, Kaitlyn Schou and Courtney Loper, collectively represented a good chunk of the depth chart as well.  Schou also presented some key top scores, in particular on BB.

The Pioneers in 2020 will be led by senior AAer Maddie Karr and junior AAer Lynnzee Brown.  Both AA stars are capable of 39.6+ AA tallies, while Brown was also the 2019 NCAA co-champ on FX.  Over the past several season, Karr has been a key fixure of the lineups, while the squad's overall depth has been an issue.  Karr recently had a minor knee procedure, so a slightly slower start may be expected.  This may require a few early lineups to be adjusted (or not, as she has resumed training).  The Pioneers also saw big improvements last season from Emily Glynn and especially Mia Sundstrom, while sophomores Alexandra Ruiz and Alexis Vasquez became key contributors almost immediately. 

The DU coaching staff has boosted their incoming class with two early graduates, bolstering the squad's depth.  They are led by AK Subject and early grad Amoree Lockart, along with former junior elite Emma Brown.  Subject made the JO National team in 2019, while Lockhart rebounded from an injury to place 9th AA at the 2019 JO Nationals.  She was a two-time JO National team member, winning the title in 2016.  Brown tied for 6th AA at the 2018 JO Nationals and shows great form, especially in her dance elements.  

Denver has a few early season challenges and a relatively large frosh class, including two gymnasts joining the team in December.  This may produce a somewhat unpredictable early result, but DU has a great history of maximizing the potential of the roster.  


 8.  UGA Gym Dogs

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Courtney Kupets Carter
Assistants: Josh Overton, Jason Vonk
Returning Starters (8):  Rachel Baumann (So), Rachel Dickson (Sr), Rachael Lukacs (So), Mikayla Magee (So), Marissa Oakley (Jr), Megan Roberts (So), Sabrina Vega (Sr), Abbey Ward (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Sterlyn Austin (So), Alyssa Perez-Lugones (So), Emily Schild (Jr/I)
Graduated (1):  Sydney Sneed
Other Losses (2):  Alexa Al-Hameed (So/?), Sami Davis (So/?)
Newcomers (4):  Amanda Cashman (Fr), Haley De Jong (Fr), Loulie Hattaway (Fr), Soraya Hawthorne (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Georgia returns all but six routines from last year's NCAA Semi Final appearance, where they finished 8th.  No less than four of those routines were from AA star Syndey Snead.  Snead's leadership and 9.9+ scoring potential will be sorely missed in each lineup.  Two of last year's competing frosh did not return this season, Alexa Al-Hameed and Sami Davis. 

Leading the way for Gym Dogs will be senior AAers Rachel Dickson and Sabrina Vega.  Dickson was part of a one-two AA punch with Snead last season and will be a key leader this season as well.  Vega was primarily a key "end of the lineup" performer on BB and FX, but has added UB to the mix for this season.  Often sophomores come back even stronger than their frosh campaigns, and Rachel Bauman, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee and Megan Roberts look to reinforce that trend after strong fall training sessions.  UGA could also see a boost from the return of Emily Schild.  She's battled injuries in the past but could really provide a boost, especially on UB, where depth is perhaps a potential issue.     

UGA will also welcome four new frosh, including signees Amanda Cashman, Haley De Jong and Soraya Hawthorne.  All three competed at the recent Preview meet.  Both De Jong and Hawthorne are capable of some high level FX and VT skills, but will need to work their way back into that higher level difficulty. 

UGA has all the ingredients to continue their rise:  strong senior leaderships, excuting newcomers and an improving roster.  If they can avoid injuries and get their underclassman contributing to their potential, they will be set for a return trip to Nationals. 


 9.  Cal Bears

Official Web Site:   Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coaches:  Justin Howell and Elizabeth Crandall-Howell
Assistant Coach:  Janelle McDonald
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 2 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Maya Bordas (So), Milan Clausi (So), Kyana George (Jr), Talitha Jones (So), Cassidy Keelen (Sr), Alma Kuc (Sr), Rachael Mastrangelo (Sr), Emi Watterson (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Maleah Pearson (Jr), Grace Quinn (So), Victoria Salem (Jr/I), Nina Schank (Sr), Abi Solari (So)
Graduated (4):  Sofie Seilnacht, Sylvie Seilnacht, Chelsea Shu, Toni Ann Williams
Other Losses (0):  N/A 
Newcomers (4):  Neveah DeSouza (Fr), Maya Green (Fr), Natalie Sadighi (Fr), Ashton Woodbury (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Cal suffered some key losses from last year's squad, including some of their most consistent and steady gymnasts.  Star AAer Toni Ann Williams, however, was injured during the season and was not part of that Regional squad.  They managed to finish third in their Regional, missing out by 0.375 on a spot at Nationals.  Besides Williams, the 2020 Bears are without Sofie Seilnacht, Sylvie Seilnacht and Chelsea Chu, who were key consistent and durable performers for the Bears.

Cal will be led this season by junior Kyana George and sophomore Milan Clausi.  George is a top AAer while Clausi excels on VT (1 1/2 Yurchenko), BB and FX (full-in).  Sophomore Maya Bordas also has been looking strong in training, with a new full-in and has demonstrated AA potential.  Classmate Talitha Jones was also a key contributor on three events last season.  The Bears will also look to get senior Nina Schank back into the lineups while classmate Rachael Mastrangelo has been looking strong in the preseason, with upgrades on VT and FX.  Sophomore Grace Quinn has been looking stronger in training, and could break through this season as well, along with classmate Abi Solari.  

Cal welcomes four newcomers, led by Neveah DeSouza.  DeSouza is a two-time JO National Team member who has an excellent vault (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and strong work on UB and BB.  Maya Green excels on the UB with beautiful lines while Natalie Sadighi's best event is VT.  Woodbury has competed a 10.0 SV vault and full-in on FX in the past, and could, in time, add power on those events.

Cal has a large roster with a potential to put forth strong and competitive lineups in each and every event.  However, with the departed athletes, the returners will need to stepup and/or the frosh will need to contribute immediately to help close the gap, particularly on the FX where the Bears have three routines to replace.     


 10.  Alabama Crimson Tide

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach:  Dana Duckworth
Assistants:  Bill Lorenz, Ryan Roberts
Returning Starters (8):
  Wynter Childers (Sr), Madison Desch (Sr), Kylie Dickson (Jr), Emily Gaskins (So), Lexi Graber (Jr), Alonza Klopfer (Sr), Shea Mahoney (Sr), Shallon Olsen (So)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Jensie Givens (So), Griffin James (So), Tira Kiaku (Jr/I), Sania Mitchell (So)
Graduated (3):   Abby Armbrecht, Angelina Giancroce, Ariana Guerra
Other Losses (2):  Asia DeWalt (So/?), Bailey Key (Jr/R)
Newcomers (6):  Luisa Blanco (Fr), Ella Burgess (Fr), Emma DeSantis (Fr), Makarri Doggette (Fr), Macy Orosco (Fr), Mati Waligora (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Alabama finished a disappointing 12th last season, after a third place finish at the Regional finale.  They finished just 0.05 points behind host Michigan, and had to sit home last April.  They lost a total of six routines from that squad, including top routines from the graduated Abby Armbrecht and Ariana Guerra.  They will feel these losses perhaps the most on VT and FX.

The 2020 Crimson Tide will be led by junior Lexi Graber and sophomore Shallon Olsen.  Graber was a key AA force for Bama last season, while Olsen capped her season with a performance at the World Championships.  Both are looking strong in the fall training, which is especially remarkable for Olsen considering the extended elite training she undertook.  They'll also be joined by a trio of seniors, Wynter Childers, Madison Desch and Shea Mahoney.  Although injuries have slowed them from time to time, their experience and scoring potential will be key for Bama.

The Tide also welcome six newcomers, including L10 stars Makarri Doggette and Mati Waligora, and former elite Luisa Blanco.  Doggette, a two-time JO National AA champ, is poised to be a superstar, with a high level of difficulty and clean execution on all her events.  Waligora is coming back from injury but is a three-time JO National Team member and former L10 AA national champion.  Both Luisa Blanco and Ella Burgess are joining Bama in January, so their competitive status (especially for Blanco) will be a wildcard factor for the Tide this season. 

Bama's returning a strong core of athletes that will produce a competitive squad for SEC and National honors.  However, the development of their frosh class may be the key ingredient that pushes the Tide to the next level. 


 11.  Oregon State Beavers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Tanya Chaplin
Associate Head Coach:  Mike Chaplin
Assistant:  Brian Amato
Returning Starters (11):  Halli Briscoe (Sr), Lacy Dagen (RS Sr), Madi Dagen (So), Savanna Force (Jr), Sabrina Gill (Sr), Lena Greene (Sr), Maela Lazaro (Sr), Isis Lowery (Sr), Niya Mack (Jr), Kaitlyn Yanish (Jr), Colette Yamaoka (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (6):  Destinee Davis (Sr), Lexie Gonzales (Jr), Jaime Law (Sr), Alex McClung (So), Alyssa Minyard (Sr/I), Kristina Peterson (So)
Graduated (3):   Mariana Colussi-Pelaez, Mary Jacobsen, McKenna Singley
Other Losses (1):  Leah Bivrell (So/?)
Newcomers (3):  Kayla Bird (Fr), Jenna Domingo (Fr), Jane Poniewaz (Fr/I)

Quick Assessment:   The Beavers enter 2020 with even higher expectations after a strong sixth place National finish.  Oregon State defeated Florida last season at the Corvallis Regional to earn their spot in the Semi Final, and then just missed out on the Final by .1375 (to Denver).  They lose 7 routines from that squad, including key multi-event scores from Mary Jacobsen and McKenna Singley.

The Beavers return no less than 11 competitors from that Semi Final squad, led by senior Isis Lowery and junior Kaitlin Yanish.  Lowery successfully added UB last season and potentially this season will add VT to become an AAer.  Yanish is another potential AAer, but is best known for her super double layout on FX.   Sisters Lacy Dagen and Madi Dagen also look strong in preseason training and look ready for expanded roles.  Oregon State also welcomes back senior Sabrina Gill (capable of all four events) and BB ace Maela Lazaro.  Sophomore Kristina Peterson also looks ready to expand her contributions this season, and has added a new 10.0 SV vault.  Seniors Destinee Davis and Alyssa Minyard also have lineup experience, and if healthy, can contribute at a high level.       

The Beavers also welcome three newcomers, led by Kayla Bird.  Bird has a Yurchenko 1 1/2 in her arsenal and is also solid on BB and FX.  Unfortunately, Jane Poniewaz will sit out the season after a pre-season injury.  

The Beavers will look to make another run at Nationals by tapping into the talents of their large roster.   In the Preview meet, the Beavers showed some potential depth issues on FX.  As the season develops, getting a strong lineup on FX under the new rules will likely be a key focus area.  With those issues addressed, the Beavers will push to improve upon last season's results. 


 12.  Kentucky Wildcats

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Tim Garrison
Associate Head Coach:  Rachel Garrison
Assistant: Chuck Dickerson
Starting Routines Returning: 11/24
Routines Gone:  4 VT, 3 UB, 3 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Josie Angeny (So), Mollie Korth (Sr), Alaina Kwan (Sr), Cally Nixon (So), Hailey Poland (Sr), Ella Warren (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (7):  Madison Averett (Jr), Anna Haigis (So), Mackenzie Harman (Jr), Katherine Marianos (Sr), Megan Monfredi (Jr), Arianna Patterson (So/I), Allison Snyder (Jr)
Graduated (5):   Danaea Davis, Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland, Aubree Rosa, Katie Stuart
Other Losses (1):  Katrina Coca (GR/TR/Pitt)
Newcomers (7):  Raina Albores (Fr), Kaitlin DeGuzman (Fr), Kassidy Howell (Fr), Ashlyn Laclair (Fr), Shealyn Luksik (Fr), Elyssa Roberts (Fr), Raena Worley (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Kentucky rose back to National prominence via a core of gymnasts that included Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland and Katie Stuart.  The 2020 Wildcats return just 11 routines from 2019.  Losing All-Americans and such strong "end of the lineup" scoring potential is a challenge for any squad.  Kentucky finished 9th last season, after placing 4th in their Regional Semi-Final.

Not all is lost at UK, however, as senior Mollie Korth returns to lead the Wildcats in 2020.  The AAer has superb difficulty across the events, but is best known for her ability to stick her Yurchenko 1 1/2 and for her big tumbling on FX.  Her leadership and scoring potential will be even more important for the Wildcats, given the loss of Dukes and Hyland.  Last season, senior Alaina Kwan became a stronger contributor on VT/UB last season while classmate Hailey Poland also returns as a key BB/FX performer.  Junior Ella Warren has been a key performer on FX and broke into the BB lineup late last season.  Kentucky will also look to get back Arianna Patterson, who sat out last season with an injury but will be a key to replenishing the depleted VT lineup.  Sophomore Cally Nixon also returns, after making NCAA as an individual on UB last season. 

UK has brought in no less than seven newcomers to help lessen the sting of the loss of the graduated stars.  They are led by Raena Worley and Kaitlin DeGuzman.  Worley is a two-time JO National Team member who excels in all four events.  On her best event, FX, she'll bring a key full-in while on VT she is capable of a Yurchenko 1 1/2.  DeGuzman is a former junior international elite who has competed internationally for the Philippines.  When she's healthy and in top form, she can be a strong contributor for UK.  Kentucky also welcomes a slew of other signees, including Shaelyn Luksik, a UB ace and former JO National champ on the event, and AAer Raina Albores.  

Kentucky has a solid core of talent but its the development of the frosh class that will be key, especially on events like VT where the depth chart took a real hit to graduation.  While the large frosh class work their way into the lineups, the upperclassmen will need to step up and address the key lineup gaps.  Look for UK to get stronger as the season progresses. 



Teams #13 to #25



Key to the Tables:


Ranking: By 2020 Preseason Coaches' Poll

Coaches: Only regular, paid coaches are listed.

Starting Routines: Defined by starting lineup in last meet of the post season.
Returning Starters:
Defined by starting lineup in last competition
Year in School:
(Is listed as reported on the school's roster)

Fr = Freshman
So = Sophomore
Jr = Junior
Sr = Senior

Status Codes for Returners:

I = major season ending injury in 2019 or preseason 2019-2020
R = retirement/not competing (for any other reason than transfer or injury)
TR = Transfer
RS = Redshirt (note:  not all eligible gymnasts will employ or are awarded a redshirt year)
?=unconfirmed/unknown information

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 December 2019 20:30