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Tuesday, 15 December 2020 22:17

2021 Capsule Previews: Teams #13 to #25

Written by Staff

Here's the Top 13 to 25, based on the 2021 Preseason Coaches' Poll.


 13.  Oregon State Beavers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 13/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 5 UB, 3 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Tanya Chaplin
Associate Head Coach:  Mike Chaplin
Assistant:  Bryan Raschilla
Returning Starters (8):  Kayla Bird (So), Lacy Dagen (RS Sr), Madi Dagen (Jr), Jenna Domingo (So), Savanna Force (Sr), Kristina Peterson (Jr), Colette Yamaoka (Sr/I), Kaitlyn Yanish (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Lexie Gonzales (Sr), Lena Greene (RS Sr/I), Niya Mack (Sr), Alexa McClung (Jr), Jane Poniewaz (So/I)
Graduated (7):   Halli Briscoe, Destinee Davis, Sabrina Gill, Jaime Law, Maela Lazaro, Isis Lowery, Alyssa Minyard
Other Losses (0):  N/A 
Newcomers (7):  Jade Carey, Sydney Gonzales, Kaitlyn Hoiland, Grace Johnson, Julia Melchert, Anna Yeates (I), Ariana Young

Quick Assessment:   The Beavers face 2021 with the loss of ten routines from 7 graduated gymnasts, including stars Briscoe, Gill, Lazaro and Lawery.  Gill, a former Canadian National Team member was a 2019 NCAA Regional UB champion and occasional AA performer for the Beavers.  Lazaro was a 2019 2nd Team All-American on the BB while Briscoe won the same honors that year on UB.  Aussie Lowery also earned 2nd team All-American FX honors in 2019, where she remained a fan favorite during her career.  As a senior, she competed on up to three events.  Minyard was an UB specialist who came back from injury to compete as a senior, while Davis competed BB as a senior, after providing key depth on up to three events during her career.  All in all, Oregon State will be looking to replace quite a bit of depth and leadership, along with "end of the lineup" routines from the likes of Briscoe, Lazaro and Lowery.

The Beavers welcome back eight starters, led by seniors Lacy Dagen and Yanish and junior Madi Dagen.  Yanish is a two-time 2nd team All American on FX and anchors the event.  She also has been a key vaulter and has competed AA.  The elder Dagen was a key performer on VT and BB, but has had to overcome knee problems in the past.  Younger sister Madi has excelled on three events, especially BB and VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2) but could do AA if needed.  Senior Force shines on FX while classmate Yamaoka is primarily an UB specialist.  Junior Peterson had a break out season last year, excelling on VT (pike Luconi) and FX but is a potential AAer.  Sophomore Bird is another potential AAer, but competed primarily on VT and UB last year.  Classmate Domingo broke through the BB lineup but is another potential lineup choice on UB, where the Beavers have some returning gaps.  The other returning vets also look to break through, especially Greene and Poniewaz, who were both injured last season.  Green brings a pike front 1/2 vault while Poniewaz, when healthy, has some big skills like a full-in on FX.  Mack has also looked strong in preseason on VT and UB.  

Oregon State has a strong frosh class led by marquee elite recruit Carey and L10s Gonzales, Yeates and Young.  World Championship Medalist Carey, however, is attending classes remotely but is focusing on her training for Tokyo 2021.  She is on the roster but will sit out the season.  Gonzales (Wildfire) is a four time L10 National qualifier and a former L10 National Team member (2017).  In 2019, she tied for 9th AA and placed 3rd on VT (pike Khorkina) and tied for 5th on UB.  She also tied for 7th on VT and FX in 2018.  In 2020, she won AA titles at two invitationals.  Yeates, who trained at Byers, is a three-time L10 National qualifier whose best Nationals finish was 8th AA in 2018.  She placed 16th AA in 2019 and has some big skills in her arsenal, like a full-in on FX.  Young, from San Mateo Gymnastics, tied for 6th AA, 2nd on BB and placed 2nd on VT at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She also tied for 6th on BB and 16th AA in 2018.  Hoiland (Hart's) is also looking solid in preseason training.  She's a three-time L10 National qualifier who is a three-time Regional UB champion.  Johnson, from Emerald City, is a four time L10 National qualifier and two-time Regional AA champ.  She's been working her way back from an injury in 2019, but appears strongest on UB (Church) and BB (bhs to two layouts), where she was 5th at Nationals in 2018.  Melchert (Metropolitan) completes the class as a two-time L10 National qualifier and was a 2019 Region 2 FX and VT champ in 2019.  

Oregon State enters the 2021 campaign two spots higher than their 2020 finish.  With ten lineup spots to fill, the Beavers will be counting on leaders like Yanish and the Dagen sisters to help the squad along as they gain experience.  Four of the open spots are on UB, where the Beavers lacked some depth last season and finished just #27 in the country in the final NQS rankings.  They will also look to improve on VT (#27 last season), with a number of 10.0 start value vaults in training.  The Beavers have a large and talented incoming class, with the potential for an immediate impact, especially from Gonzales and Young, supplemented with the other returners and newcomers like Poniewaz, Hoiland and Johnson.   


 14.  Auburn Tigers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Jeff Graba
Assistants: Kurt Hettinger, Ashley Johnston
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Aria Brusch (So), Jada Glenn (Sr), Derrian Gobourne (Jr), Elise Panzner (So), Adeline Sabados (So), Cassie Stevens (So), Meredith Sylvia (Sr), Drew Watson (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Sabrina Cheney (Jr), Morgan Leigh Oldham (So), Allie Riddle (Sr/I), Piper Smith (So), Anna Sumner (So)
Graduated (5):   Katie Becker, Gracie Day, Skyler Sheppard, Emma Slappey, Kendal Moss
Other Losses (3):  Molly Frack (Jr/R), Ashley Smith (Sr/?), Sydney Wrighte (Jr)
Newcomers (5):  Brooke Butler, Olivia Hollingsworth, Gabby McLaughlin, Payton Smith, Tara Walsh

Quick Assessment:  Auburn ranks #14 in the Coaches' Preseason Poll, an improvement of three spots over their #17 finish last season.  They return eight starters from that squad but also lose eight gymnasts from last year's team.  However, because some of those gymnasts were injured, they really only seek to replace six routines from the lineup in the last meet of last year.  The Tigers will primarily miss the services of Day and Sheppard.  Day, a two-time All SEC selection, was a standout on VT, FX and especially UB.  Her leadership and scoring potential will be missed.  Sheppard was a solid contributor on up to three events, but mostly BB and FX, while Slappey was also a factor on the same events.  The Tigers also lose Becker, who qualified to the NCAA Nationals as a frosh, and who provided important depth but was out last season.  Smith was also a contributor during her first two seasons but is no longer on the roster.

The 2021 Tigers will be led by seniors Watson and Sylvia, junior Gobourne and sophomores Brusch and Stevens.  Watson was a top AAer last season for AU and is the #3 returning vaulter in the country, with her Yurchenko 1 1/2.  Gobourne is another potential AAer, with exciting sets on UB (Tkachev to Pak) and FX.  She was the 2019 NCAA vault co-champion with her Yurchenko 1 1/2.  Stevens had a solid frosh campaign as third AAer in the mix, and yet another Tiger with a Yurchenko 1 1/2.  She'll only get better with another year of training and experience.  Sylvia was a top BB specialist for the Tigers, with a daring and unusual front aerial to full-twisting bhs swingdown (Rulfova) series.  Brusch had a solid frosh campaign on up to three events, but could go AA if needed.  Classmate Sabados competed primarily on UB last season.  We could also see senior Riddle return back to the BB lineup while Piper Smith looks like she is ready to challenge some lineups as well.  

Auburn welcomes five frosh, led by senior international elite Hollingsworth (World Champions Centre) and former jr. international Butler (American Twisters).  In 2019, Hollingsworth placed 4th AA, UB and FX (full-out) at the American Classic.  This past season, she was 1st AA with a 51.55 at the Biles Elite Qualifier and posted a 52.35 at the WOGA Classic.  Butler was the UB (Ray) co-champ at the 2019 L10 Nationals, where she also tied for 6th AA.  She was also a L10 National Team member in 2016.  They are complemented by McLaughlin, Payton Smith and Walsh.  McLaughlin is a L10 from Texas Dreams and a three-time L10 National qualifier.  Her best finish was in 2018, when she tied for 7th on FX and placed 13th AA.  Payton Smith is a L10 from Brandy Johnson's.  She's a three-time L10 National qualifier who tied for 4th on FX (full-in) in 2018.  The final newcomer, Walsh, is a two-time L10 National qualifier from Olympia.  In 2019, she tied for 5th on FX (front double full) at the L10 Nationals.  This past season she won BB, FX and the AA in her session of the Elevate the Stage meet.  

Auburn loses some leadership to graduation but welcomes back a strong core, led by a top trio of AAers in Gobourne, Stevens and Watson.  They'll continue to power the squad, especially on VT, the Tiger's best event last season.  The Tigers gave a lot of ground last season on FX, ranking just #39 in the final NQS rankings due to some consistency problems in the lineup.  This is where they'll need to improve, and the frosh could potentially help in that regard.                        


 15.  Arkansas Razorbacks

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 22/24
Routines Gone:  0 VT, 2 UB, 0 BB, 0 FX
Head Coach: Jordyn Wieber
Assistants: Chris Brooks, Catelyn Orel
Returning Starters (8):  Sophia Carter (Sr), Amanda Elswick (Jr), Kiara Gianfagna (So), Kennedy Hambrick (Jr), Madison Hickey (So), Bailey Lovett (So),  Claire Rogers (So), Sarah Shaffer (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2): Katarina Derrick (Jr), Savannah Pennese (Jr/I)
Graduated (2):  Hailey Garner, Jessica Yamzon
Other Losses (4):  Kailey Gillings (Sr/TR/Pitt), Makenna Clarke (So/TR/Kentucky), Sydney Laird (Sr/R/Student Assistant), Carissa Patton (So/?), 
Newcomers (6):  Abby Johnston (Jr/TR/NU), Emma Kelley, Maggie O'Hara (GR/TR/Michigan), Jordan Olszewski, Gillian Rutz, Jensen Scalzo

Quick Assessment:  Arkansas rises to #15 in the Coaches' Preseason Poll, after finishing 18th last season.  They return 22 of 24 routines from the final meet of 2020.  However, that number understates the impact of the six departed gymnasts.  First and foremost, Yamzon was a key AA fixture for the GymBacks in all of her four seasons, competing continuously through the sixth meet of last season.  She did not, however, compete at all the final meet.  She was also a NCAA individual AA qualifier as a frosh and a key leader, often going in the important first position.  Arkansas also loses Garner, who was a 2nd team All-American on BB in 2018 and sometime AAer who competed primarily on UB last season.  The GymBacks are also without the services of Laird, an UB/BB specialist who was known for her beautiful execution.           

Arkansas will be led in 2021 by seniors Carter and Shaffer, juniors Elswick and Hambrick, and sophomores Gianfagna and Lovett.  Carter was a standout on FX last season, earning Regular Season All-American honors.  She is also a standout on BB, with a 9.975 career best.  She has the potential to go AA, and has been training strongly this Fall.  Classmate Shaffer, a former SEC Frosh of the Year, is another potential AAer who shines on VT, UB and FX.  Junior Hambrick was a Regular Season All-American in the AA, posting a high of 39.6.  She's been a force in the AA for Arkansas the last two years, and has been training a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT.  Another key athlete on VT is junior Elswick.  She missed the first part of last season, but with improved health could impact on three events.  Lovett, a RS soph, rebounded from missing her first season to contributing in a big way on up to three events, but especially on FX with her double layout.  Getting her back on VT would help boost the GymBack's weak event, where they finished 34th in the final NQS rankings.  True sophomore Gianfagna was a solid AAer for Arkansas last season, providing depth and consistency on all four events.  Derrick is training well on UB and BB and could make an impact there. 

Arkansas welcomes four frosh and two transfers to start 2021.  The transfers look ready to step in right away.  O'Hara came back from earlier injuries to standout on UB and BB (side aerial-bhs series) for Michigan last season.  Johnston competed on up to three events at Nebraska and is a former L10 National Team member.  Both appear to be strong in early season training.  Kelley (Fun & Fitness) is the younger sister of LSU standout McKenna and daughter of Mary Lou Retton.  After some missed time due to injury, she returned back to L10 competition last season.  Her best event may be vault.  Olszewski is a L10 from Mountain Brook.  At the 2019 L10 Nationals, she tied for 4th on VT (layout Yurchenko full), 9th on UB and 21st AA.  Rutz (Perfection) was the UB co-champ at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She shows beautiful lines and will make an immediate impact there.  She's a four-time L10 National qualifier, a two time Region V AA champion with three top six finishes at L10 Nationals on the UB.  The final frosh, Scalzo, is a L10 Regional qualifier from American Twisters.  She was 2nd on UB at the Florida L10 State Meet. 

The GymBacks enter 2021 looking to improve upon last season's #18 ranking.  Their success in achieving that goal will depend on stars like Carter and Hambrick to lead the way, along with strong contributions from Shaffer and Lovett.  Arkansas will need to avoid injuries to their key AAers and work to improve their depth, especially on the VT.  While they are not getting an influx of 10.0 start value vaults, the newcomers Johnston, Olszweksi, Kelly and Rutz should help in that regard.  UB will be another area of concern, but Rutz and O'Hara should be able to step in immediately.  However, BB and FX should remain strengths for the GymBacks, as well as the experience of a relatively veteran roster.                


 16.  Missouri Tigers

Official Web Site: Link       Schedule       Roster
Head Coach:  Shannon Welker
Associate Head Coach:  Casey Jo (Magee) MacPherson
Assistants: John Carney
Starting Routines Returning: 15/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 3 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Kambrie Brandt (So), Gabrielle Gottula (Sr), Helen Hu (So/I), Hannah McCrary (Jr), Hollyn Patrick (So), Sienna Schreiber (So), Alisa Sheremeta (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Chelsey Christensen (Sr), Lauren Clevenger (Sr), Adalayna Hufendiek (So/I)
Graduated (3):  Mary Nicholson, Morgan Porter, Aspen Tucker
Other Losses (2):  Grace Kaiding (So/?), Anna McGee (So/R/Team Manager)
Newcomers (5):   Kyra Burns, Amaya Marshall, Macy Orosco (So/TR/Bama), Sydney Schaffer, Jena Swanson

Quick Assessment:  Missouri finished 14th in the final NQS standings in 2020, but slipped back to #16 in the Preseason Coaches' Poll.  Mizzou loses nine routines from 2020, including key sets from All-Arounders Porter and Tucker.  However, that total of nine also includes the four additional routines lost from super soph Hu, who tore her ACL and meniscus in December.  She was a Regular Season All-American on BB and 2nd Team on bars and was named SEC Event Specialist of the Year.   Porter was a former SEC Freshman of the Year that finished 2020 as the #18 ranked AAer.  Her scoring potential on all four events will be sorely missed.  Tucker represented only one UB routine in last year's final lineup, but when healthy she was an AAer (39.45 career best) with her biggest impacts coming on FX and VT.  That's 12 potential routines and a lot of end of the lineup scoring power gone from the 2021 Tigers.  

Mizzou will be paced in 2021 by senior Gottula, juniors McCrary and Sheremeta, and sophomores Brandt and Schreiber.  Schreiber competed AA eight times last season for a season high of 39.375, and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.  McCrary and Sheremeta each competed up to three events last season.  McCreary brings a Yurchenko 1 1/2 to the lineup and was a key member of the FX lineup.  Sheremeta has beautiful toe point and extension, and competed every meet on UB, BB and FX (front double full).  Likewise, Gottula competed on VT, BB and FX in every meet last season.  Her best event is BB, with a bhs, bhs to layout triple series.  Mizzou will also look to for expanded contributions from Brandt.  She offered a key pike front 1/2 on VT but has competed on up to three events.  Christensen is looking strong in preseason training and will be a key on UB along with Patrick.  Hufendiek is also training well this Fall, after working through an injury recovery her first season.  UB was the squad's weaker event last season, with a NQS final rank of #24 and three routines are gone from that lineup mean it will be a key event for the Tigers.

The Tigers welcome four frosh and transfer Orosco.  Orosco, per the original release, will have to sit out this season due to SEC transfer rules.  Burns, a L10 from Xtreme, was the L10 National UB and AA champ in 2018.  She also tied for 6th AA and placed 2nd on VT and 8th on UB at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She'll be an impact gymnast for Mizzou, and her health will be a key.  Marshall, from Southeastern, tied for 6th on UB and 12th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She's a three-time L10 National qualifier who demonstrates beautiful lines on her triple series on BB and great height on her JaegerSwanson is a L10 from Spearfish.  In 2018, she placed 7th AA and tied for 4th on FX and 6th on VT at the L10 Nationals.  She's been working back from an injury after winning her state meet in 2019 but has looked strong in Fall training, with a Yurchenko 1 1/2 upgrade in progress and strong work on UB.  Schaffer is a L10 Regional qualifier from JAG.  She was 4th on VT at the 2019 Region III Regionals and won four VT titles in 2020.                        

Missouri enters 2021 with some challenges, due to the graduation of their stars and some injury issues that have created some rather large holes in the lineup.  They'll depend not only on their returning leaders, but stepup performances from the rest of the veterans, especially on UB.  The frosh will also be looked upon to contribute immediately, with Marshall and Swanson leading the charge.  This may result in a slow start, especially as the newcomers gain more competitive experience.  


 17.  BYU Cougars

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 21/24
Routines Gone:  0 VT, 2 UB, 0 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Guard Young
Assistants: Natalie Broekman, Brogan Evanson
Returning Starters (13):  Abbey Miner Alder (Sr), Anyssa Alvarado (So), Rachel Bain (Jr), Avery Bennett (Sr), Helody Cyrene (RS Sr), Lexi Mather (So), Jordan Matthews (Sr), Sadie Miner (Jr), Haley Pitou (Sr), Adeline Rieder (Jr), Elease Rollins (So), Abby Stainton (Sr), Brittney Vitkauskas (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (9): Sarah Barron (So), Abby Beeston (Jr), Lexi Griffith (So), Lindsey Hunter (So), Ashley Kernan (So), Allix Mason (RS Fr), Maya Page (RS Fr), Rebekah Bean Ripley (So/I), Angel Zhong (RS Sr/I)
Graduated (2):  Shannon Evans, Briana Pearson
Other Losses (1):  Gabrielle Hubbard (Jr/?)
Newcomers (4):  Sydney Benson, Anna Bramblett, Sophia McClelland, Lauren Ono

Quick Assessment:  BYU finds themselves in the #17 position in the Coaches' Preseason poll, down one place from their NQS finish in 2020.  They welcome back all but three sets from that squad, from just three departed gymnasts.  That number understates the impact a bit, as the Cougars were without the full services of Evans in 2020, who was a major force in the AA.  The 2nd Team All-American on UB was the MRGC Gymnast of the Year in 2019.  Her expressive and creative floor sets brought "viral" acclaim.  Pearson was a steady contributor on BB and FX, and Hubbard was an UB specialist.  

The Cougars bring back no less than 22 returning gymnasts, including 13 starters from the last lineup in 2020.  Leading the way will be the Miner sisters, Abbey Miner-Alder the senior, and Sadie the junior, as well as senior Stainton.   Alder competed AA six times in 2020, hitting a career high of 39.375.  She excels on VT, BB and FX (double layout).  Miner had a breakout season in 2020, excelling on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2), BB and FX (double layout).  Stainton has competed AA at times but competed all ten meets in 2020 on UB, her best event, and BB.  The large roster has a number of others with extensive lineup experience on on or two events.  Specialist Cyrene, a former Canadian elite, also returns with her beautiful form on UB and BB.  Senior Pitou was a fixture in the UB last season but also contributed on VT.  A large array of specialists complete the lineups, including BB standout Rollins (front aerial to bhs to back layout) and FX specialist Vitkauskas (front double full).  Based on the recent intrasquad, RS frosh Mason also appears to be making a strong comeback, and will push for a spot in the lineups.  The BYU coaching staff has shown a strong ability to manage a large roster and make gradual improvements to form and execution during their athletes' time in Provo.   

The Cougars welcome four new gymnasts for 2021.  Benson is a local L10 from Olympus.  The three-time L10 Regional qualifier excels on VT, having won the event with her strong Yurchenko Layout Full at five invitationals in 2020.  She's coming off a strong club season, hitting new career highs in the AA.  Bramblett, a L10 from Arizona Dreams, qualified to L10 Nationals in 2019 after placing 3rd AA at Regionals with a career-high 38.2.  She also hit or matched career highs on all four events in 2020.  McClelland trained at Paramount Elite and is a two-time L10 National qualifier.   She placed 29th AA at the 2019 Nationals.  Her best marks have come on BB and FX (full-in).  The final frosh is another Californian, Ono.  A L10 at Precision, she tied for 26th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  Her best event may be VT, where she tied 12th at the 2019 Nationals.    

The BYU squad looks to continue their climb up the rankings in 2021, with a large and experienced squad.  They'll be lead by a strong set of upperclassman that provide not only leadership, but a high level of skill and execution.  To build upon their success, the rest of the squad will need to close the gap to the leaders.  The team looks to maintain a strong tradition of solid vaulting and FX scores, but will need to raise their UB and BB team totals and improve consistency.  On UB, they finished #26 in the final NQS rankings last season, and lose the key top scoring routine from Evans.  However, teams with a lot of experience and depth will have an edge this season, and this advantage positions the Cougars for a strong move in 2021.            


 18.  Iowa State Cyclones

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Jay Ronayne
Assistants:  Nilson Medeiros, Haylee Young
Returning Starters (12):  Kelsey Boychuck (Jr), Maddie Diab (So), Natalie Horowitz (Jr), Madelyn Langkamp (Jr), Andrea Maldonado (Sr), Makayla Maxwell (So), Ana Palacios (Jr), Natalie Ros Vaquer (Sr), Meixi Semple (Jr), Sophia Steinmeyer (Sr), Phoebe Turner (Jr), Jade Vella-Wright (So)
Other/Injured Returners (6):  Loganne Basuel (So), Laura Cooke (So), Maya Ford (So), Alondra Maldonado (So), Ariana Orrego (Sr), Laurie Lou Vezina (So)
Graduated (4):  Laura Burns, Sydney Converse, Cassandra Diaz, Molly Russ (I)
Other Losses (1):   Samantha Strickler (So/I/R)
Newcomers (3):  Addy de Jesus (Jr/TR/Nebraska), Emilie Hong, Kaia Parker

Quick Assessment:  #18 Iowa State is up two spots from their 2020 NQS finish.  They return 17 of 24 routines from last year's squad, after saying goodbye to five departed gymnasts.  Three of the seven routines came from Converse, who was the BB anchor and lead off the VT.  She was also a key member of the FX lineup.  The Cyclones also graduated Burns, a regular UB specialist who also competed on BB and FX in her final season.  Diaz was a regular in the UB and FX lineups last season, but also competed BB in the past.  ISU also graduated Russ, who was injured last season but was a regular on BB and FX in prior seasons.  The Cyclones are known as the most international of the NCAA teams, with 11 of the 21 athletes hailing from outside of the US.   

Iowa State still welcomes back 12 gymnasts from the last lineup used in 2020, and 18 returning gymnasts in all.  Leading the way is Regular Season Floor All American Andrea Maldonado.  Known for her namesake skill on the FX (triple twisting front, although she does a randi in college), she posted 9.95 four times last season.  Palacios, a junior, competed AA at the start of last season and is a key piece of the 2021 lineups.  Semple, a sophomore, is the top returning beamer, while senior Ros Vaquer, was the top Cyclone on UB last season.  The top vaulter last season, Maxwell, has a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and could expand her contributions this season after coming back from an injury her first season.   Junior Boychuck brings another key Yurchenko 1 1/2 and looks strong in the preseason.  Senior Steinmeyer has been a key fixture on VT, BB and FX while Turner was a fixture on VT and BB.  Another Brit, Cooke, joined the Cyclones last January and competed on UB and FX.  Another late start came from Vella Wright, an Aussie who posted four scores over 9.9 on UB last season, with a routine that includes a Van Leeuwen.  The Cyclones also welcome back junior Langkamp, a key gymnast on UB and FX.  Another notable returner actually sat out 2020.  Orrego took a redshirt season last year in order to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.  The Peruvian Olympian is another potential AAer. 

The Cyclones add three newcomers, led by junior transfer de Jesus.  The former Nebraska standout competed AA last season and brings a big Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT, a Ray on UB, and a triple full on FX.  Frosh Hong (Langley) also brings another Yurchenko 1 1/2 to ISU, an event where she claimed the Canadian L10 VT title in 2019.  The other frosh, Parker, is a four-time L10 National qualifier who trained at Missouri Valley.  She placed 10th on VT and tied for 22nd AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.

Iowa State looks set to improve upon last season's finish with a strong core of returning athletes.  With a huge roster of 21, there is a lot of experience and talent to draw upon.  The addition of de Jesus will be an added bonus, instantly making up for four of the seven routines lost from 2020.  The Cyclones also look to be improved on VT, with at least four potential Yurchenko 1 1/2s in the lineup.  Another year of training and NCAA competition can only help this diverse team achieve their goals.      


 19.  Washington Huskies

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Ralph Rosso
Assistants:  Baely Rowe, Chad Wiest
Starting Routines Returning: 5/24
Routines Gone:  4 VT, 4 UB, 6 BB, 5 FX
Returning Starters (3):  Talia Brovedani (Jr), Amara Cunningham (Jr), Geneva Thompson (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):   Morgan Bowles (So), Brenna Brooks (Jr/I), Allie Smith (RS Sr/I), Isa Weiss (Fr)
Graduated (5):  Madison Copiak, Kristyn Hoffa, Michaela Nelson, Evanni Roberson, Maya Washington
Other Losses (2):  Meaghan Ruttan (Jr/?), Hannah Vandenkolk (Jr/I/R)
Newcomers (6):  Cathy Eksteen, Skylar Killough-Wilhelm, Katie McNamara, Taylor Russon, Lauren Thomas, Gabi Wickman

Quick Assessment:  Washington faces the largest losses of any team in the Top 36, with only five routines returning from the last meet of 2020.  They say goodbye to seven gymnasts, including five seniors that were stalwarts of the Husky lineups over two Nationals appearances and a rise up into the Top 12.  Then, in October, head coach Elise Ray Statz unexpectedly resigned, and has relocated with her family to be closer to family and her husband's new job.  Roberson was an 2nd team Regular Season All-American in the AA and the BB, hitting 10.0 twice last season on the latter event.  Copiak was a 2nd team NCAA All-American on UB as a frosh and again in the 2020 Regular Season.  She was also a regular on VT and BB.  Hoffa returned for a fifth season last year to earn Regular Season All-American honors on FX.  She also was a regular on VT.  Nelson was a regular on up to three events, despite some knee injury issues that sometimes limited her.  The final grad, Washington, was a 2020 2nd Team Regular Season All-American on FX and a former Regional champ on the event.  She added VT as a senior to compete AA for the first time, in her final meets.  The Huskies also lose BB specialist Vandenkolk, who had struggled with a back injury but managed to excel last season.  In January, Ruttan was removed from the roster after a breakout year in the BB and FX lineups.  Also gone for the season is Brooks, a potential AAer who is out with an injury.     

The Huskies return just three athletes from the lineup in their last meet of 2020.  They are led by senior Geneva Thompson, the anchor on VT and a First Team All-Pac 12 selection with a huge Yurchenko Full that earned a "perfect" 9.95 last season.  She was also a regular on UB and has competed FX in the past.  Junior Cunningham was a standout on FX and VT, and will be a key fixture of both lineups.  Classmate Brovedani returns on UB/BB with another year of injury recovery behind her.  Also returning is redshirt senior Smith, a VT specialist with a 10.0 Start Value tuck Yurchenko 1 1/2, who was injured in the first part of the season.  Another sophomore, Bowles, is looking strong in preseason training on UB (giant full to Deltchev) and BB.

Washington welcome six frosh, who will be counted on to fill out the depleted lineups and to fill the big shoes left by the departed vets.  Leading the way is Killough-Wilhelm (Triad), one of the top L10 recruits in the country.  Fifth AA at the 2020 Nastia Cup, she's a two-time L10 National team member who has placed in the top five on every event at the L10 Nationals.  With beautiful lines and super clean execution, she'll have a major AA impact.  Her classmates share many of the same traits, with strong fundamentals that the Huskies will hope to develop into consistent high scores.  Russon (San Mateo) is a former L10 National BB champ ('16) and UB runnerup ('17) who finished 12th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She's been looking strong in preseason training, despite competing on just one event in 2020.  Eksteen (Metroplex) competed at the 2017 World Championships as part of the South African team.  As a L10, she was 5th(t) on UB and 21st(t) AA at the 2017 L10 Nationals, but missed much of 2018 and 2019, before successfully returning to competition in 2020.  McNamara, a L10 from Walller's GymJam, is a two-time L10 Nationals qualifier and 2019 SoCal L10 AA champ.  She's coming off a strong club season, hitting 38.425 AA in 2020 and brings a much needed 10.0 Start Value vault (pike Khorkina).  Local product Wickman is a L10 from Cascade Elite.  A two-time L10 National qualifier, she's placed in the top 9 at Nationals twice on UB and once on FX.  The sixth frosh, Thomas (Premier - CO) was 8th AA at the 2019 Region 3 L10 Regionals.  She won two invitationals in 2020 and hit a career high 37.8 in the AA.  

Washington has some big challenges ahead with 19 departed routines and nine athletes with only a single event of collegiate experience in total between them all.  The coaching staff, despite the loss of Ray-Statz, however, is not new.  They acted in the same positions during most of last season, during Ray-Statz' maternity leave.  Nevertheless, they have a challenge of getting a large set of newcomers to step in while maximizing the output of the veterans.  Once again, depth on VT and FX remain a concern, and it will take time to get the newcomers adapted to NCAA competition.  While they've done a good job in developing talent in the past, with the limited preseason they could have a slow start. 


 20.  Nebraska

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning:  13/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 3 BB, 4 FX 
Head Coach:  Heather Brink
Assistant:  Brian Amato, Robert Ladanyi
Returning Starters (7):  Clara Colombo (So), Makayla Curtis (Sr), Anika Dujakovich (Sr), Kylie Piringer (So), Kynsee Roby (Jr), Kathryn Thaler (So), Megan Verceles Carr (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (1):  Sarah Hargrove (So/I)
Graduated (2):  Sierra Hassel, Taylor Houchin
Other Losses (3):  Adnerys de Jesus (Jr/TR/Iowa State), Abby Johnston (Jr/TR/Arkansas), Kaylee Quinn (Jr/TR/Alabama)
Newcomers (7):  Martina Comin, Kinsey Davis, Joanne de Jesus-Cortes, Kaitlyn Higgins (Jr/TR/Minnesota), Chloe Lorange, Danielle Press, Caroline Williams    

Quick Assessment:  Nebraska slips to #20 in the Coaches' Preseason Poll, down slightly from their 2020 final NQS finish.  They return 13 of 24 routines from the last meet of 2020, a total impacted not just by graduation but through three transfers in the off-season.  Chief among the grad losses was Houchin, the 2020 WCGA Region 4 Gymnast of the year and a three-time All-American.  Although a standout on VT (double twisting Yurchenko), she was also a force in the All-Around.  NU also says goodbye to Hassel, a First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2020 and a top performer on BB and FX.  The Huskers were also hit with the unexpected transfer of all-arounder deJesus.  She hit career highs in 2020 on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2), BB, FX and the AA (39.45).  NU also lose the services of Johnston, a former L10 National Team member who competed on FX last season and Quinn, who competed AA before suffering an injury last season.  That's a significant number of potential routines, including many in the back half of the lineups.

Leading the way for Nebraska in 2020 will be junior Roby and sophomore Piringer.  Roby has struggled with injuries during her college career but when healthy, can be a big difference maker in the AA.  Piringer was a standout as a frosh in three events, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors, and has looked strong in preseason training.  Seniors Curtis and Verceles-Carr stepped up big on three events last season for the squad.  Curtis set career-highs on three events while Verceles-Carr high new highs on VT and BB.  Classmate Dujakovich brings a big Yurchenko 1 1/2 and a strong FX routine as well.  Sophomore Thaler made a strong impression with her beautiful lines and toe point on UB and BB, as did her classmate Colombo on UB.  Junior Hargrove missed last season with an injury and remains a big variable for 2021, as she was a strong contributor on UB, BB and FX as a frosh.

Nebraska welcomes six frosh and a transfer for 2021, as they seek to replace some big scores while boosting depth across the lineups.  Leading the way is Davis, a L10 and former junior international elite from Southeastern.  At the 2019 L10 Nationals, she was 2nd(t) on UB, 4th on BB, 7th(t) on VT and 7th AA.  She was also 7th AA at the 2018 L10 Nationals.  While a solid AA gymnast, she especially shines on UB.  Canadian Lorange (Gymnix) was 3rd AA, 2nd on UB and FX, and 3rd on VT in the L10 division at the 2019 Canadian Championships.  NU also welcomes their 2nd Italian elite, Comin.  She's been competing the last two seasons as a Serie A1 athlete, Italy's highest level in team competition.  She's strongest on VT and FX (full-in).  Williams, a L10 at Roswell, tied for 2nd on FX and 35th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She is known for her clean lines and beautiful style on BB and FXdeJesus-Cortes is a three time L10 Regional qualifier from Capital (TX).  On BB, she throws an unusual front toss to back tuck series.  Press (World Champions Centre) is a L10 who excels on VT and FX (double layout).  She placed 4th at the 2019 State L10 meet and posted a 9.875 on VT in 2020.  Higgins, a transfer from Minnesota, competed primarily on FX and BB for the Gophers, and looks to contribute immediately. 

Nebraska has some challenges with the loss of 11 routines and five gymnasts from last season.  They do have a strong returning core, and a large incoming class that could help fill the gaps left by departed stars like de Jesus, Hassel and Houchin.  UB was the squad's weakest event last season, with a final NQS rank of #30.  Depth on that event is an open question heading into 2021, while VT will continue to be a strength.  They have a great track record of developing athletes into top performers, and could very well do the same here with their seven newcomers.    


 21.  ASU Gym Devils

Official Web Site: Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Jay Santos
Associate Head Coach:  Jessica Santos
Assistant:  Kristin White
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Juliette Boyer (So), Cairo Leonard-Baker (Sr), Alina Miller (So), Isabel Redmond (So), Gracie Reeves (So), Hannah Scharf (So), Megan Thompson (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Jasmine Gutierrez (Jr), Kaitlin Harvey (Jr), Jordyn Jaslow (So/I), Maya Williams (Sr)
Graduated (5):  Jessica Ginn, Morgan Hart, Ashley Szafranski, Morgan Wilson, Graycee (Rushton) Zaugg
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (7):   Cassi Barbanente, Sarah Clark, Skye Harper, Jada Mangahas, Cienna Samiley, Anaya Smith, Emily White

Quick Assessment:   ASU graduated five gymnasts from last year's #21 squad, the same rank they find themselves at the start of the 2021 campaign.  They lose seven routines and quite a bit of additional depth and leadership.  Heading up the losses was Wilson, an AAer who posted a career best 39.35 as a fifth year senior.  Ginn was a ASU's top ranking FX worker (by NQS) last season and regular on VT as well.  Hart was a regular on the UB last sesason while Szafranski was a regular on UB and BB.  Zaugg provided depth on VT earlier in her career.  That's quite a bit of potential depth and scoring power from five departed seniors. 

The Gym Devils welcome back seven returning scorers, led by senior Leonard-Baker and sophomores Boyer, Reeves and Scharf.  Leonard-Baker, a Second Team All-American on UB, was slowed a bit by a minor injury in 2020 but still managed to win seven event titles.  Boyer earned All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors in the AA, competing AA seven times, with a high of 39.35.  She could be even better in 2021, with an upgraded Yurchenko 1 1/2 in preseason training.  Reeves also earned All Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors in the AA, competing AA seven times, with a high of 39.35, just like her classmate.  She also brings a 10.0 Start Value vault to the lineup (Yurchenko tuck 1 1/2 twists).  Scharf competed AA six times, with a high of 39.4 and won three VT titles as a frosh.  The Canadian elite has additional upside to bring as well and looked strong in the recent intrasquad.  Another sophomore, Redmond, competed on up to three events as a frosh, hitting 9.825 or higher on VT, UB and BB.  Junior Thompson transferred from NU and was a regular on BB and FX, with one of the higest team NQS averages on BB.  

The even brighter news for ASU is the addition of seven newcomers, with talent to easily make up for the routines lost to graduation.  Barbanente (Palmer's) is a L10 National Team member (2018) who tied for 4th on VT, 7th on FX, placed 5th on UB and tied for 10th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She was also 2nd(t) on UB and 4th(t) AA at the 2018 Nationals.  Clark (Azarian) is another former L10 National Team member (2018).  She placed 2nd AA, 2nd(t) on BB (bhs to two layouts) and 6th(t) on VT and UB at the 2018 Nationals.  A three-time National qualifier, she has looked clean and precise at the recent intrasquad and is slated for up to three events.  Mangahas is a L10 from the Parkettes with some big skills FX (full-in) and VT (potential Yurchenko 1 1/2).  At the 2019 L10 Nationals, she tied for 6th on BB and 9th on UB, while placing 9th AA.  In 2020, she won her session of the Parkettes Invitational with a career-high 38.55.  Bringing power to VT (potential Yurchenko 1 1/2) and FX (double layout), Smith is a L10 from Docksiders.  She was 3rd(t) on VT at the 2018 L10 Nationals and 4th(t) in 2017.  White is a two-time L10 Regional qualifier from SCATS.  A fast improving gymnast with good lines and form, she swept the titles at the 2020 San Francisco Classic with a career best 37.95 AA and competed AA at the recent intrasquad.  Samiley is an in-state L10 from Gold Medal.  A two-time L10 National qualifier, she placed 14th AA in 2019.  Her best events are UB and BB.  The final frosh, Harper, is a two-time L10 National qualifier from New Image.                  

ASU welcomes back a solid core of returning gymnasts, led by star senior Leonard-Baker and a trio of super sophs that should only improve this season.  To that experienced core, they add a large class of talented frosh featuring some big skills and good execution.  Clark, Mangahas, Barbanente and Smith look ready to join Leonard-Baker, Boyer, Reeves and Sharp as the core of the 2021 ASU squad.  With a little experience and some collegiate polish, the young Gym Devils squad could be well set to exceed expectations this year and next.  BB and FX were the weakest ASU events last season (by NQS average), and we could see some big improvements on both events this season.    


 22.  Illinois Fighting Illini

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Nadalie Walsh
Assistants: Kaitlyn Betts, Stephen Buckner
Returning Starters (11):  Nicole Biondi (Sr), Rachel Borden (Sr), Kasey Meeks (Sr/I), Kylie Noonan (Sr), Olivia O'Donnell (So), Lexi Powe (So), Shaylah Scott (Jr), Arayah Simons (So), Mia Takekawa (So), Mia Townes (So), Julia Waight (So)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  McKenzie Eddy (So), Mallory Mizuki (Jr), Tessa Phillips (Sr), Jaylen Spence (Sr)
Graduated (4):  Rae Balthazor (I), Morgan Bixler (I), Karen Howell, Brittany Jones (I) 
Other Losses (1):  Maggie Lampsa (So/?)
Newcomers (5):  Kaitlyn Ewald, Amelia Knight, Allie Morgan, Abby Mueller, Ashley Resch

Quick Assessment:  Illinois looks to 2021 with 19 of 24 starting routines returning from the lineups used in the last meet of 2020.  They finished #24 in the NQS rankings last season and move up two spots in the Preseason poll.  The Illini said goodbye to five athletes, including (sometime) AAers Howell.  Howell had a solid season last year, earning All-Big Ten Second Team honors and competing in the AA every meet.  They also lost Balthazor, who missed last season with an injury.  She was a Second Team All-American on FX in 2018 and posted a career high in the AA of 39.525.  Bixler competed for the Illini at times on UB and VT, and was in the lineup on UB for the first part of the season.  Illinois also lost the service of vaulter Meeks due to a preseason injury.

Illinois will be led in 2021 by senior Biondi, junior Scott and sophomores Simons and Takekawa.  Takekawa earned First Team All-Big Ten honors as frosh and set the school record with a 10 on BB.   She also twice posted a 39.35 in the AA.  Classmate Simons won Second Team All-Big Ten honors while competing on three events.  She also won three event titles on her best event, FX.  Scott excelled on three events, also winning Second Team All-Big Ten honors.  She set career highs on VT, BB and FX and won 7 event titles.  Senior Biondi has been limited at times by injury but can be a key AAer for the Illini, competing six times last year and having a career high of 39.425.  Senior Noonan was a key member of the BB and FX lineups last season, while classmate Borden competed on UB and BB.  Townes was a key athlete on VT and FX, and will look to step up this season after a strong off-season.  The Illini also welcome back Mizuki, who has struggled through multiple injuries but is back training.  

Illinois welcomes five exciting newcomers who could impact the lineups immediately.  Injuries have been an issue with past Illini squads, and the added depth will help.  Leading the way is British elite Knight and L10 standout Mueller.  In 2019, Knight was 9th AA at the Engish Championships and was 8th AA at the 2018 British Championships.  She brings some eye catching skill choices, like an Ezhova and Van Leeuwen on UB.  A four-time L10 National qualifier from Classic Gymnastics, Mueller was 7th AA, 5th(t) on BB and 7th on FX at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She marked top 14 finishes in both 2017 and 2018, and posted a career-high 38.775 in the AA in 2020.  Resch is a two-time L10 National qualifier from Gymnasti.  In 2019, she placed 17th AAMorgan is a four time L10 Regionals qualifier from Universal and was a L10 Nationals alternate in 2019, after placing 8th AA and 2nd on VT at Regionals.  She brings good flexibility but also has good potential on FX and VTEwald (Revolution) is a three-time L10 Regional qualifier with beautiful toe point.  In 2020, she won FX and AA in her session of the Circle of Stars and Ozone Invitational.  Knight, Mueller, Morgan and Resch all bring some solid Yurchenko Layout Full vaults to the Illini lineup.  That is an event where Illinois lags and will seek to improve in 2021, having finished just 41st in the 2020 NQS standings.

Illinois head into 2020 with a strong core set of returners.  Injuries have been a bit of a probelm for Illinois, and a healthier 2021 should bring improvements.  With a large set of returning athletes, they could easily bridge the lineup gaps with just increased output from the returning squad.  However, the frosh offer the potential to boost the lineups, with Mueller and Knight leading the way.  The biggest improvements could come on VT, where the Illini ranked last in the Big Ten last season. 


 23.  Southern Utah

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Scotty Bauman
Assistants: Jeff Richards, Jamie Wysong
Returning Starters (9):  Morgan Alfaro (Sr), Mikaela DeFilippo (Sr), Molly Jazwiakowski (Sr), Caitlin Kho (Jr), Karley McClain (Jr), Shylen Murakami (Jr), Hannah Nipp (Sr), Rachel Smith (Jr), Stephanie Tervort (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (9):  Celine Barney (So), Mayson Bentley (Jr), Ruby Hernandez (So), Kayla Horton (So), Kaylee Kho (So/I), Alyssa Ladieu (Sr/I), Tiffani Stufflebeam (So), Nikki Thomas (So), Emma Wissman (Jr)
Graduated (5):  Autumn Jorgensen, Madison Loomis, Madison McBride, Megan McBride, Becky Rozsa-Thompson
Other Losses (0):  NA
Newcomers (6):  Brianna Alacantar, Aly Coutu, Anna Hartley, Emma Ingrassia, Aubri Schwartze, Hailey Vultaggio

Quick Assessment:  SUU lost five grads from a team that finished 22nd in the final NQS rankings.  They find themselves down one slot, to #23.  They return 19 of 24 routines, having lost sets from Jorgensen, Loomis, Madison McBride and Rozsa-Thompson.  While known for her excellent BB work, Jorgensen competed on up to three events last season, and as an AAer earlier in her career.  Loomis primarily competed on FX, but also contributed on UB in prior season.  McBride was SUU's top vaulter last season, and the 2nd best on FX (by NQS rank).  Earlier in her career, she also competed AA.  Her twin sister, Megan, was limited by injuries her last two seasons.  The final grad, Rozsa-Thompson, was an UB specialist and one of the top Thunderbirds on the event.              

SUU welcomes back the core of their lineups, led by senior Nipp, junior AAer McClain and junior Murakami.  McClain was an MRGC First Team selection in the AA and won nine event titles last season.  She especially shines on FX, where she hit a 9.95 last season.  Nipp was a key contributor on three events for the Thunderbirds, UB, BB and FX.  She was a MRGC First Team selection on BB and 2nd Team on FX.  Murakami was the squad's top UB worker, where she was a First Team MRGC selection and a key member of the BB lineup, where she was a Second Team selection.  Junior Caitlin Kho stepped up on three events last season, while classmate Smith was a key member of the VT and BB lineups.  Another junior, Tervort, was also a key vaulter and also competed on UB.  The Thunderbirds also welcome back Alfaro and Jozwiakowski, both seniors.  Alfaro was a MRGC Second Team selection on VT while Jozwiakowski was a regular on FX who also provides depth on VT.   SUU could also easily fill the gaps due to graduation with the remaining roster of returning athletes.  In particular, Ladieu was a regular on BB in past seasons while sophomores Stufflebeam and Kaylee Kho were L10 National qualifiers during their club careers but were all impacted by injuries last season. 

The Thunderbirds welcome six frosh.  Alcantar is a L10 Regional qualifier from Charter Oak.  In 2020, in just her 2nd year as a L10, she finished the season with a win in her session of the Carol Galleta meet, with a career high 37.825 AA.  Coutu is a L10 National qualifier from Metroplex.  The 2018 Region 3 UB champ, she won UB titles in 2020 at the Alamo Classic and the Metroplex Challenge.  Joing SUU from Premier Gymnastics, Hartley won the Nebraska L10 titles on VT, FX and the AA in 2019.  She's a two time L10 Regional qualifier.  Coming from the East coast, Ingrassia is a 2019 L10 National qualifier from First State.  Schwartze, from Triad, is a two time L10 National qualifier.  She had a strong season in 2020, breaking 38 in the AA twice and setting a new career high on UB (9.775).  The final frosh, Vultaggio, is a L10 National qualifier who train at All Stars.  She placed 3rd on VT, BB, FX(t) and AA at the 2019 Region 6 L10 Regionals.    

SUU returns a strong set of core returnees, led by dynamic routines from Nipp, McClain and Murakami.  They are capably supported by a large (24) roster of athletes, including six frosh plus several key returners that did not compete in 2020.  To move up the rankings, SUU will need to improve consistency and execution on BB, where they ranked just #31 in the NQS standings.  If they can do that, they can continue their upward progression.                   


 24.  Arizona

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: John Courth
Assistant:  Taylor Spears
Starting Routines Returning: 11/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 4 UB, 3 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (9):  Paylton Bellows (Sr), Zaza Brovedani (So), Kennedi Davis (Jr), Malia Hargrove (So), Laura Leigh Horton (Sr), Mackinzie Kane (Jr), Sirena Linton (So), Danielle Nosek (So), Libby Orman (So)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Mackenzie Barile (So), Avery Stauffacher (So)
Graduated (6):  Christina Berg, Courtney Cowles, Haylie Hendrickson, Jenny Leung, Maddi Leydin, Heather Swanson
Other Losses (2):  Asia Rose Duverney (So/?), Sydney Freidin (Jr/?)
Newcomers (8):  Jessica Castles, Madison Courney, Elena Deets, Caroline Herry, Halli Mayberry, Bailey McCabe, Taylor Raskin, Courtney Tsunoda

Quick Assessment:   Arizona placed 27th in the final 2020 NQS rankings and yet finds themselves rising to the Preseason #24 slot, likely based on the strength of their incoming class.  They however lose 13 routines and 8 athletes from the 2020 squad, including some key stars like Berg and Leydin.  Berg was a Second Team All American in 2019 on the UB and was also a key contributor on FX.  Aussie Leydin was an AAer for the Gymcats but excelled in her senior year on VT, with a Yurchenko 1 1/2 that earned a 9.975.  She was an All-Pac 12 First Team selection on VT.  Cowles competed on up to three events for UA but stood out especially on BB.  Hendriickson successfully used her fifth year in 2020 to excel on UB and BB.  Stepping up as a senior, Leung had her best season as a Gymcat, setting career highs on VT and BB.  Swanson provided depth on up to three events, VT, UB and FX.  All in all, the six departed Arizona athletes represent a good chunk of the squad's scoring power and experience.  

The 2021 Arizona squad will rely heavily on their large sophomore class, headed by Hargrove and Linton.  Hargove competed on up to three events as a frosh, but shone brightest on VT and FX.  She's looking strong in preseason training, with upgrades in progress.  Linton competed on UB and BB last season, using her beautiful lines to great effect.  Senior Bellows returns, and brings an important potential Yurchenko 1 1/2.  She's missed some time due to injuries in the past, however.  Junior Davis is another key veteran, competing on up to three events (VT/BB/FX), with her best efforts coming on the beam.  The Gymcats could also see some more contributions from their sophomore class, including Brovedani, who competed primarily on UB and BB but has AA potential.  

Arizona's rise to the Preseason #24 ranking could be due to the potential of their talented frosh class, one of their strongest in years.  They welcome eight athletes in all.  Castles is an elite for Sweden and 2018 National Champ who won gold on FX at the 2019 Europeans.  She also placed 1st AA at the British Championships in 2019, as a guest athlete (she is British/Swedish). With grace and impressive flexibility, once she's able to adapt her routines to the differences in the NCAA, she could post some very high scores.  The Gymcats also welcome Deets, a four-time L10 National qualifier and 2020 Nastia Liukin Cup participant from Twin City Twisters.  She placed 6th(t) on FX and 7th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She was also 6th AA in 2018 and 7th in 2016.  She demonstrates clean and precise execution.  Herry is another four-time L10 National qualifier from Texas Dreams.  She was 3rd(t) on FX and 24th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She also placed 6th AA in 2018. 

Heading south from Washington is McCabe, a L10 from the Auburn Gymnastics Center.  A three time L10 National qualifier, she tied for 3rd on UB in 2018 and 7th in 2017.  Coming from California, Tsunoda is a L10 National qualifier from Azarian.  After competing only on UB in 2019, she came back to hit a 38.0 AA at her final meet of 2020.  From Arizona, Courney is a four time L10 Regional qualifier who trained at Arizona Dynamics.  She was 4th on UB and AA at the 2019 Arizona L10 state meet.  Another in-state product, Mayberry, trained at Arizona Dynamics and was 4th AA and 3rd on BB at the L10 Arizona State meet in 2018Raskin is a L10 from North Shore, who competed primarily on UB last season.               

Arizona enters 2021 with a young squad with just 15 of 19 gymnasts as frosh or sophomores.  With just 11 of 24 routines returning, they look to co continued progress from their talented sophomore class, as they attempt to move up the rankings.  They have a huge but talented incoming class, and athletes like Castles and Deets should be able to step into major roles immediately.  Look for the GymCats to get stronger and stronger as the season progresses.           


 25.  Iowa

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Larissa Libby
Assistants:  Vince Smurro, Jessa Hansen Parker
Starting Routines Returning: 21/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 0 UB, 0 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (11):  Dani Castillo (So), Erin Castle (Sr), Allie Gilchrist (Jr), Alex Greenwald (Jr), Lauren Guerin (Jr), Clair Kaji (RS Sr), Bridget Killian (Jr), Ellie Rogers (So), Allyson Steffensmeier (So), Carina Tolan (Jr), Mackenzie Vance (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Emma Hartzler (Sr), JerQuavia Henderson (So/I)
Graduated (1):  Gina Leal
Other Losses (5):  Ariana Agrapides (So/?), Maddie Kampschroeder (Jr/?), Ashley Smith (Sr/?), Madelyn Solomon (So/?), Charlotte Sullivan (Sr/I/R)
Newcomers (7):  Giovanna Deo, Sophia Hunzelman, Adeline Kenlin, Caelen Lansing, Kendall LaPlante, Kareena Mcsweeny (I), Aubrey Nick

Quick Assessment:   Iowa enter 2021 in the same rank where they finished 2020, in the #25 slot.  They lose just one grad from that squad but five other gymnasts.  However, all in all, the GymHawks lose just 3 sets from 2020.  Former junior international elite Agrapides was the biggest loss.  She was a regular on VT and FX but had the potential to do more.  They also lose Sullivan, a New Zealand elite who was injured last season but was an AA force in her first two years.  Also gone is Soloman, who broke through the VT lineup for a 9.875 last season.    

Fortunately for Iowa, the core of their 2020 team returns, including standouts Guerin, Kaji and Killian.  Guerin, a junior, return in 2021 as Iowa's top gymnast on VT and FX (full-in).  She was a Second Team Regular Season All-American on FX and an All-Big Ten selection.  Another junior, Killian, is a potential AAer who competed mostly on VT, BB and FX last season.  Kaji returns for her fifth year with GymHawks.  A standout with personal bests over 9.9 on UB, BB (triple series) and FX (1 1/2 twist stepout to double tuck), she was an All-Big Ten selection in 2019.  Iowa also has another potential AAer in senior Castle.  She primarily competed on UB, BB and FX but debuted in the AA in 2020.  Junior Greenwald was a key performer on VT, UB and FX for Iowa last season.  Iowa also welcomes back junior Gilchrist and sophomore Steffensmeier.  Gilchrist competed on BB and FX in every meet, while Steffensmeier competed mainly on UB, but also added VT.  Iowa also looks forward to the return of Henderson, who was out with an injury last season.  She could provide a major boost on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and FX (full-in).

Iowa welcomes seven frosh for 2021, headlined by former senior international elite Kenlin and top L10 LaPlante.  Kenlin was a former Junior National Team member, placing 4th AA at the US Championships in 2017.  She dropped down to L10 in 2019, winning four invitationalsLaPlante, a L10 National Team member from the Tampa Bay Turners, will be graduating early to join the GymHawks this season.  In 2019, she tied for 3rd AA, 9th on VT and placed 5th on BB and 10th on FX at the L10 Nationals.  In 2020, she swept the Delta Classic and posted a new AA high of 38.625.  

Iowa also adds McSweeny, a three time L10 National qualifier from Triad.  She also won the state L10 AA title in 2019.  Nick is a two-time L10 National qualifier who trained at Libertyville.  In 2019, she tied for 32nd AA at the L10 Nationals.   Coming from California, Deo trained as a L10 at Waller's GymJam.  Hunzelman, from Indiana, trained at GTC and also starred in high school.  She qualified to the L9 Eastern Nationals in 2018.  Lansing is another athlete with extensive high school experience, and was a high school All-American and Wisconsin Gymnast of the Year as a senior.    

Iowa returns a strong core of athletes from 2020, led by stars like Guerin, Kaji and Killian.  With Kenlin and LaPlante joining, the GymHawks will have a formidable core of athletes, supplemented by a large roster of experienced athletes.  Henderson could also make a difference, and if things come together the GymHawks have the potential to continue their climb in 2021.  With the unusual preseason, teams with a lot of experience have an edge on the field, and we could see Iowa make a move up the rankings.  


Teams #1 to #12



Key to the Tables:

Ranking: By 2021 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 2020 or preseason 2020-2021
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 Saturday, 23 January 2021 21:32