Sunday, 02 December 2018 19:57

2019 Capsule Previews: Teams #13 to #25

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Here's the Top 13 to 25, based on the 2019 Preseason Coaches' Poll. 

 

 13.  Denver Pioneers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart
Assistants: Linas Gaveika, Jay Hogue
Starting Routines Returning: 21/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 0 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Lynnzee Brown (So), Diana Chesnok (Sr), Emily Glynn (So), Maddie Karr (Jr), Claire Kern (Sr), Courtney Loper (Jr), Kaitlyn Schou (Sr), Mia Sundstrom (So)
Other/Injured Returners (1):  Grace Broadhurst (Jr)
Graduated (3):  Nikole Addison, Claire Hammen, Leah Lomonte
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (4):  Natalie Morton (Fr), Maddie Quarles (Fr), Alexandra Ruiz (Fr), Alexis Vasquez (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Denver loses just three routines from a squad that finished third at the Normal Regional.  However, they do lose some key sets from Nikole Addison, who was a fixture in the back half of the Pioneer lineups.

Leading the way for the Pioneers in 2019 will be All-American Maddie Karr and Lynzee Brown.  These two form a one-two punch in the AA, with some big vaults (Yurchenko 1 1/2), clean execution on UB and BB, and big tumbling from Brown (double layout).  Emily Glynn, Kaitlyn Schou and AAer Mia Sundstrom will also be key members of the lineup.

To that strong core Denver adds the #10 Recruiting Class in the country, including former junior elite Alexandria Ruiz, L10 standout Maddie Quarles, and former jr. international elite star Alexis Vasquez.  Ruiz excels on FX and BB, while Vasquez is a former jr. national champion on BB (front aerial to bhs layout).  Quarles is coming back from injury, but throws a Yurchenko 1 1/2 vault and full-in on FX.  She's placed in the Top 6 at the Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals (JO Nationals) three times.     

Depth has been sometimes been an issue, particularly on the leg events, making even minor injuries an issue on the squad.   The four frosh could make an impact here, especially with high quality routines from Vasquez and Ruiz.  Quarles could be a difference maker on the power events as she returns to form. 

 

 14.  Auburn Tigers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Jeff Graba
Assistants: Kurt Hettinger, Ashley Johnston
Starting Routines Returning: 24/24
Routines Gone:  0 VT, 0 UB, 0 BB, 0 FX
Returning Starters (13):  Katie Becker (Jr), Samantha Cerio (Sr), Gracie Day (Jr), Jada Glenn (So), Taylor Krippner (Sr), Abby Milliet (RS Sr), Kendal Moss (Jr), A'Miracal Phillips (Sr), Allie Riddle (So), Emma Slappey (Jr), Ashley Smith (So), Meredith Sylvia (So), Drew Watson (So)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Emma Engler (Sr), Skyler Sheppard (Jr/I)
Graduated (2):   Kennedy Finnister, Cara Stricklin
Other Losses (2):  Sydney Bassett (So/?), Telah Black (Sr/?)
Newcomers (6):  Sabrina Cheney (Fr), Molly Frack (Fr), Derrian Gobourne (Fr), Reid Schaefer (Fr), Mia Schlarbaum (Fr), Sydney Wrighte (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Auburn returns every routine from 2018, although they lost four athletes.  The Tigers finished third at Regionals last season, just 0.2 points behind California.  

The Tigers will be led in 2018 by junior Gracie Day, sophomore Drew Watson and seniors Samantha Cerio, Taylor Krippner and Abby Milliet.  AAers Day and Watson vault big Yurchenko 1 1/2 and are strong across all four events.  Day is an exceptional UB worker and has some big tumbling on FX.  Milliet, a fifth year senior, brings in a big boost to the lower half of the BB and UB (Ray, Pak) lineups.  NCAA individual qualifier (UB) Cerio has also competed up to three events.  Also returning in 2019 will be Skyler Sheppard, who looks strong coming back from her season-ending injury in 2018.     

The Tigers will only get stronger with the addition of the frosh, led by future standout Derrian Gobourne.  She's already making a impact with some big gymnastics and a big personality.  She's a 2018 JO National Team member and the Sr. F champion on the UB (Tkachev to Pak).  She also vaults a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and tumbles a full-in. 

With the entire lineup returning and future superstar Derrian Gobourne, the Tigers are well set to challenge for a spot deep in the new post-season format.  With their new found depth, the Tigers will look to improve consistency and bolster scores lower in their BB/UB lineup.  They have a big upside on VT, but will need to secure the landings on their four+ 10.0 Start Value vaults. 

 

 15.  Washington Huskies

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Elise Ray-Statz
Assistants:  Ralph Rosso, Chad Wiest
Starting Routines Returning: 15/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Madison Copiak (Jr), Kristyn Hoffa (Sr), Michaela Nelson (Jr), Monica Riley (Sr), Evanni Roberson (Jr), Malory Rose (Sr), Maya Washington (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (1):   Geneva Thompson (So/I)
Graduated (3):  Hailey Burleson, Joslyn Goings, Zoey Schaefer
Other Losses (2):  Haley Roy (Jr/?), Hannah Willmarth (So/TR/Minnesota)
Newcomers (2):  Brenna Brooks (Fr), Talia Brovedani (Fr/I), Amara Cunningham (Fr), Madeline McLellan (Fr), Meaghan Ruttan (Fr), Hannah Vandenkolk

Quick Assessment:  Washington suffered some heavy losses in the post-season, losing 2nd team All-Americans Hailey Burleson (AA) and Joslyn Goings (BB) plus Regional floor co-champ Zoey Schaefer.  In total, the Huskies lost 9 scores from their final NCAA lineup.  They also lost 10.0 SV vaulter Haley Roy, who did not compete in the post-season.  It's a big impact on depth and experience, plus a lot of missing scoring power deep in the lineups.

The Huskies will be led in 2019 by junior Evanni Roberson, who emerged last year to become a top AAer after struggling her first season with an injury.  She's sporting multiple upgrades and is also team co-captain.  The rest of the junior and senior classes all contribute one to three events, including Regional floor co-champions and co-captains Kristyn Hoffa and Maya Washington, former UB 2nd team All-American Madison Copiak, and 2nd Team All-Pac 12 UB team member Monica Riley.  Washington will also regain the services of sophomore Geneva Thompson, who missed last season due to an Achilles' tear.  She's best on the power events, VT and FX, with a full-in on the latter.  

Washington has a large frosh class that will contribute in one to three events each, although two went AA in their preview meet.  Brooks and Cunningham both have key potential 10.0 SV vaults (Pike Omelianchik, Yurchenko 1 1/2), a key focus area for the team.  Former Canadian National Team member Ruttan has elite skills across the events.  Brovedani unfortunately tore her ACL in preseason and Canadian elite Mclellan is still coming back from her spring ACL surgery.  Both show beautiful toepoint and flexibility, as does BB ace Vandenkolk.    

Washington has made the last two National meets via their consistency and attention to fine details.  To make another semifinal under the tough new format, they will need to address a scoring gap to the other contenders on VT and UB.  They gave up 0.5 in team score on the former, and closing the gap has been a clear focus of recruiting and training. 

 

 16.  Boise State Broncos

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Neil Resnick and Tina Bird
Assistants: Patty Resnick
Starting Routines Returning: 14/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 4 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Isabella Amado (Jr), Alex Esmerian (RS Sr), Courtney McGregor (Jr), Sarah Means (Sr), Emily Muhlenhaupt (So), Shani Remme (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Gabriela Bouza (So), Tatum Bruden (So), Madison Nilson (Jr), Rachel Obmann (So), Tessa Otuafi (So)
Graduated (4):  Mary Frances Bir, Sandra Collantes, Ann Stockwell, Abby Webb
Other Losses (0):  NA
Newcomers (5):  Tessa Depasquale (Fr), Hope Masiado (Fr), Dani Shafer (Fr), Samantha Smith (Fr), Alexis Stokes (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Boise State loses no less than 10 routines from four key seniors.  Sandra Collantes and Ann Stockwell provided some big scores deep in the Bronco lineup.  Collantes was an AAer who was also a 2nd team All-American on FX (full-in).  Stockwell was the MRGC conference VT champion (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and a key contributor on UB and FX.  Bir was the 2017 MRGC VT Specialist of the Year, with her beautiful pike front 1/2. 

The Broncos return a strong core of six, led by AAers Courtney McGregor and Shani Remme.  Senior Remme is the two-time MRGC Gymnast of the Year and a three-time NCAA individual qualifier.  She'll provide both leadership and 9.9+ scoring potential across all four events.  Junior McGregor is an Olympian from New Zealand who is AAer with elite level skills across all four events.  They form a powerful one-two punch.  They'll be complemented by junior Sarah Means, the former MRGC BB ('18, '17) and VT ('17)  champ who is also capable of an AA role.  Emily Muhlenhaupt was a key UB lineup member as a frosh, but look for expanded roles this season from classmates Bouza, Bruden, Obmann and Otuafi.

The Broncos add five newcomers in their attempt to address the large graduation losses.  Look for a big vault (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and solid FX from Samantha Smith, who has placed in the top 7 on VT at the last three JO Nationals.  WOGA-trained Alexis Stokes brings great execution and clean gymnastics, especially on VT, BB and UB (Maloney to overshoot).  Masiado is a former jr elite and L10 with solid skills across all four events.

Boise State has some challenges ahead as they work with the underclassmen to take over the roles of the now departed seniors.  Look for the Broncos to get stronger as the season progresses, carried along by their three stars. 

 

 17.  Oregon State Beavers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 20/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 0 FX
Head Coach: Tanya Chaplin
Associate Head Coach:  Mike Chaplin
Assistant:  Brian Amato
Returning Starters (11):  Halli Briscoe (Jr), Marianna Colussi-Pelaez (Sr), Destinee Davis (Jr), Sabrina Gill (Jr), Lena Greene (Jr/I), Mary Jacobsen (Sr), Maela Lazaro (Jr), Isis Lowery (Jr), Alyssa Minyard (Jr/I), McKenna Singley (Sr), Kaitlyn Yanish (So)  
Other/Injured Returners (6):  Lacy Dagen (Sr), Savanna Force (So), Lexie Gonzales (So), Jaime Law (Jr), Niya Mack (So), Colette Yamaoka (So), 
Graduated (2):   Dani Dessaints, Shireen Khamedoost
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (4):  Leah Bivrell (Fr), Madi Dagen (Fr), Alex McClung (Fr), Kristina Peterson (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   The Beavers enter 2019 with 20 of 24 routines returning from last year's squad.  Their season ended with an unceremonious 6th place finish at Regionals, due to an implosion on BB.  They lose two gymnasts from that squad, including three-event star Dani Dessaints, and two additional starters who are out with season-ending injuries. 

Despite an eventful preseason, Oregon State does return a large set of experienced gymnasts, led by seniors Mary Jacobsen and McKenna Singley, juniors Isis Lowery and Sabrina Gill, and sophomore standout Kaitlyn Yanish.  Yanish in particular looks ready to assume an AA role this season, with a new UB routine in progress and her terrific double layout on FX.  Jacobsen has been a steady and consistent force for the Beavers, and is another potential AAer.  Singley has struggled at times with injury, but can compete on all four events, as can Canadian Gill.  FX standout Lowery has been training all four events, and could also see an expanded role this season.  The Beavers are also anxiously awaiting the debut of senior Lacy Dagen, who has been looking strong this fall in her comeback from injury.  She's even been shown training a double layout on FX.

The frosh are led by Madi Dagen, the sister of Lacy.  The L10 from San Mateo tied for 2nd on BB, 8th on UB and placed 6th AA at the 2018 JO Nationals.  She'll impact the Beaver lineups on at least three events but shines brightest on BB.  The Beavers also will look to contributions from Kristina Peterson, the 2018 Region 2 AA champ from Metropolitan who has a triple flight series on BB and front to double tuck on FX.

Oregon State will look to build on the 2018 season by developing consistency, in particular on BB.  There is a strong core of gymnasts returning, and some talented newcomers.  The progression of the Dagen sisters could be a key to the Beaver's post-season prospects. 

 

 18.  Ohio State Buckeyes

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 16/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Meredith Paulicivic
Assistants: Randy Monahan, Lucas Wasson
Returning Starters (8):  Olivia Aepli (Jr), Brooke Chesney (So), Peyton Hinterberger (Jr), Amanda Huang (Jr), Morgan Lowe (So), Janelle McClelland (Sr), Jenna Swartzentruber (So), Jamie Stone (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Danica Abanto (So/I), Nevin Adamski (Jr), Kali Schierl (So)
Graduated (4):  Taylor Harrison, Kaitlyn Hofland, Alexis Mattern, Stefanie Merkle
Other Losses (1):  Leonie Gast (So/?)
Newcomers (5):  Claire Gagliardi (Fr), Kaitlyn Gilson (Fr), Sydney Jennings (Fr), Colby Miller (Fr), Miriam Perez (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  The Buckeyes said goodbye to four of their standouts from last year's team, one that finished just 0.225 behind qualifier Arkansas at Regionals.  Although these departed athletes accounted for only 10 routines, they represented a good portion of the bottom half of each lineup.  They'll especially miss two-time All-Big Ten performer Alexis Mattern, with her big vaulting (pike front 1/2) and tumbling (double layout). 

Senior Jamie Stone, junior Olivia Aepli and sophomore Jenna Swartzentruber will step forward to lead Ohio State this season.  Stone has competed three events in the past but has been preparing an UB set.  Swartzentruber is a standout on UB (Maloney to Pak, Van Leeuwen) but also competed AA as a frosh.  Aepli tied for the Big Ten UB title in 2018, and posted a career-high 39.175 in the AA last season.  They'll be complemented by junior Amanda Huang and sophomore Morgan Lowe.   They will also look forward to getting back Danica Abanto, who sat out 2018 with an injury. 

The Buckeyes welcome five frosh, who look to challenge the lineups in their best events.  Colby Miller won the 2017 JO National UB title but was limited in 2018 by injury.  Her UB set, with a Maloney to overshoot hs and straddled Jaeger, should slot-in nicely into the Buckeye lineups.  Claire Gagliardi is another UB standout, having placed 9th at the 2017 JO Nationals and 3rd(t) in 2016, although she'll need to adapt her set to the NCAA.  Kaitlin Gilson has a pair of Top 8 JO National BB finishes to her credit.  Miriam Perez and Sydney Jennings both excel on VT and FX.  

Ohio State will need to find some key lineup replacements in order challenge once again for a spot at Nationals.  The loss of some top level scores will require the returners to stepup, while the frosh will need to adapt quickly. 

 

 19.  Missouri Tigers

Official Web Site: Link       Schedule       Roster
Head Coach:  Shannon Welker
Assistants: John Carney, Casey Jo (Magee) MacPherson
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Allison Bower (Sr), Madeleine Huber (Sr), Brooke Kelly (Sr), Morgan Porter (Jr), Aspen Tucker (Jr), Michaelee Turner (Sr), Britney Ward (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (7):  Chelsey Christensen (So), Lauren Clevenger (So), Gabrielle Gottula (So), Paige Kovnesky (So), Xarria Lewis (Sr), Mary Nicholson (Jr), Becca Schugel (RS Sr/I)
Graduated (3):  Tia Allbritten, Kennedi Harris, Shauna Miller
Other Losses (1):  Alyssa Johnson (Jr/?)
Newcomers (3):   Frances Bidwill, Mya Cotner, Hannah McCrary

Quick Assessment:  Missouri said goodbye to three talented seniors from last year's squad.  They finished 5th at Regionals, but just 0.4 behind 2nd place UGA in the Tuscaloosa Regional, which was a pileup of teams battling for the final slot.  The talented trio accounted for six of the 24 routines, all of them "counting", including some key scores in the bottom half of the lineups.  Kennedi Harris was a key FX anchor while Shauna Miller was a key AAer earlier in her career.   

The 2019 Tigers are a veteran crew, led by senior Britney Ward and juniors Morgan Porter and Aspen Tucker.  Tucker looks set to have a breakout season, showing huge upgrades like a double twisting Yurchenko and full-in on FX.  She'll be joined in the AA by Porter, who excels on UB.  Ward is a known for her dynamic Pike Omelianchik VT and her triple series work on BB.  She's a 9.9+ threat on those events, in any meet.  Supporting that trio are a variety of specialists, led by Madeleine Huber.  Huber emerged as one of the top Tigers on UB, and has contributed on up three events.  

Missouri welcomes three frosh this season.  Hannah McCrary has emerged as an early standout in training, with a strong Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT.  She also competes a front layout to front double full on FX.  Bidwill is another strong vaulter, winning the Region I Regionals with the same vault.  She also competes a half in-half out on FX.  Mya Cottner (previously known as Mulligan) is a two-time Regional champion and three-time JO National qualifier.  

Missouri sports a veteran squad that has been building consistency throughout the last several years.  With some solid additions and strong improvements from their returners, this could be the Tigers year.      

 

 20.  ASU Gym Devils

Official Web Site: Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Jay Santos
Associate Head Coach:  Jessica Santos
Assistant:  Stephen Buckner
Starting Routines Returning: 23/24
Routines Gone:  0 VT, 1 UB, 0 BB, 0 FX
Returning Starters (9):  Justine Callis (Sr), Jessica Ginn (Jr), Anne Kuhm (Sr), Cairo Leonard-Baker (So), Gracee Rushton (Jr), Ashley Szafranski (Jr), Kaitlyn Szafranski (Sr), Heather Udowitch (Sr), Morgan Wilson (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Corinne Belkoff (Sr), Morgan Hart (Jr), Mekayla Jones (Jr), Katelyn Lentz (Sr/I), Maya Williams (So)
Graduated (1):  Nichelle Christopherson
Other Losses (1):  Averie Brook (Jr/?)
Newcomers (3):   Jasmine Gutierrez (Fr), Kaitlin Harvey (Fr), Stephanie Tripodi (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   ASU has been making a strong turnaround under the leadership of Jay and Jessica Santos, culminating in last year's third place Regional finish.  They lose just one gymnast from that squad, Nichelle Christopherson, who came back from injury early last season to contribute on one event.

The Gym Devils will be led in 2019 by sophomore Cairo Leonard-Baker and senior Anne Kuhm.  Baker will look to build on her standout frosh season, where she qualified to the NCAAs as an individual AAer.  She's been looking strong in the preseason, working upgrades like a double layout on FX.  French standout Kuhm had a terrific debut season for ASU, using her elite polish to evolve into a second strong AAer.  They'll be complemented by an array of specialists, led by Justine Callis and Ashley Szanfranski.  Both gymnasts have excellent toe point and flexibility, with Callis excelling on BB and FX while Szafranski pulling down top scores on UB and BB, where her set includes a rare Kochetkova.  The Gym Devils also look forward to getting back the services of Katelyn Lentz, a former AAer who should bolster depth in any number of events.

ASU welcomes three frosh, as they look to bolster depth on key events.  Vault has been a problem and Stephanie Tripodi, a L10 from Northstars, excels on that event.  Jasmine Gutierrez offers another depth option on VT while Kaitlin Harvey excels on BB with excellent toe point and extension.    

ASU looks to continue their improvement trend and continue to move up the rankings.  With neglible losses to graduation, they'll look to improvements in depth from their returners and newcomers, in particular on VT, where they have had trouble fielding six competitive 9.95+ Start Value options. 

 

21.  Stanford Cardinal

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 20/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Tabitha Yim
Associate Head Coach:  Chris Swircek
Assistant: Neal Gallant
Returning Starters (7):  Kyla Bryant (So), Kaylee Cole (Jr), Taryn Fitzgerald (Sr), Rachael Flam (So), Taylor Lawson (So), Lauren Navarro (So), Catherine Rogers (So)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Grace Garcia (So/I), Hailee Hoffman (Sr), Nicole Hoffman (Jr), Ashley Tai (Jr), Aleeza Yu (Jr/I)
Graduated (1):  Elizabeth Price (Sr)
Other Losses (0):  NA
Newcomers (5):  Madison Brunette (Fr), Morgan Hoang (Fr), Eve Micco (Fr), Wesley Stephenson (Fr), Grace Waguespack (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Stanford began it's return to national prominence last season with a fifth place finish at the Salt Lake Regional.  Depth problems, particularly on UB, kept the Cardinal from being more competitive.  They lose just one gymnast from that squad.  Unfortunately, that one athlete was Elizabeth Price, a ten-time All American, two-time NCAA Champion and 2018 AAI Award Winner.  She was a 9.95+ threat on every event and posted scores that will be difficult to replace. 

Leading the way for Stanford in 2019 will be the super sophomore class, led by Kyla Bryant, Rachel Flam, Lauren Navarro and Taylor Lawson, plus key junior Kaylee Cole.  Bryant emerged as a super AAer last season, competing with difficulty (double layout on FX, two bhs to double back off BB) and amplitude across all four events.  Flam also did the AA but shone brightest on VT (Pike Omelianchik) and FX (double Arabian).  Navarro excelled on the BB and FX while Lawson shone on FX.  Cole also provided key routines on up to three events for the Cardinal.  Stanford will also look to get contributions this season from Grace Garcia, who missed last season with injury, but has a 10.0 Start Value VT.  . 

The strong frosh class of five will be counted upon immediately.  In particular, the Cardinal will need solid UB sets from Brunette, Micco, Stephenson and Waguespack.  Former elite qualifier and JO National Team member ('13) Waguespack is a potential AAer, as long as she can keep injuries in check.  Micco has elegant lines on FX and unique skills like her round-off, half-on, half-off back tuck on VT.  Hoang is looking sharp in preseason training on FX with a beautiful double layout and powerful Yurchenko Full vault. 

Stanford will look to offset the loss of big scores from Price with increased depth.  The frosh will be thrown in to the fire immediately, in particular on UB, where the Cardinal simply were not competitive with the top squads.  Injuries could play a factor, especially on VT where the depth is still lacking.      

 

 22.  Illinois Illini

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Nadalie Walsh
Assistants:  Chris Bogantes, Jessie DeZiel
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (7): Rae Balthazor (Jr), Nicole Biondi (So), Lindsay Dwyer (Jr), Karen Howell (Jr), Kasey Meeks (So), Kylie Noonan (So), Haylee Roe (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (6):  Rachael Donovan (Sr), Julia Hutcherson (Jr), Brittany Jones (Jr), Mary Jane (Horth) Otto (RS Sr), Tessa Phillips (So), Jaylen Spence (So)
Graduated (3):  Jordyn Givens, Bridget Hodan, Sarah Lyons
Other Losses (1):  Grace Gough (So/Student Coach), 
Newcomers (6):  Morgan Bixler (Jr/TR/Maryland), Grace Hester (Fr), Mallory Mizuki (Fr), Shaylah Scott (Fr), Torie Stotz (Fr), Erin Weisel (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   The Illini lose six routines from last year's third place Tuscaloosa Regional finish.  The Illini finished just 0.075 points behind UGA in a tightly packed field.  Bridget Hodan is the biggest loss from that squad, as she excelled on three events for Illinois.  She was the Big Ten BB champion in 2018 and the team's anchor.  She was also in the lower half of the lineup on VT and FX. 

The 2019 Illini will be led by juniors Rae Balthazor and Karen Howell, sophomore Nicole Biondi and senior Haylee Roe.  Balthazor emerged as a stellar AAer last season, earning second team All-American honors on the FX.  Her gymnastics is characterized by beautiful lines and tight form.  Biondi was a second AAer for the Illini, earning second team All-Big-Ten honors.  Howell excelled on three events, hitting 9.9+ on UB, BB and FX.  Roe was also a steady contributor on three events, but shone brightest on FX.   Illinois also looks forward to getting back the full services of Mary Jane (Horth) Otto, a rare sixth year senior.  The 2017 Big 10 UB champ, she looks to expand her contributions this year and in fact did both UB and BB at the recent Orange and Blue mixed exhibition.  

The Illini welcome six new gymnasts, lead by Mallory Mizuki and Shaylah Scott.  Mizuki is strong on VT (10.0 SV Tsukahara Layout Full), FX (front double full punch front) and BB.  However, after a strong start she appears to be out with some type of injury.  Scott is a former Nastia Liukin Cup qualifier and JO National AA co-champion ('16).  At 5'9", she's unusually tall for a gymnast.  Illinois also welcomes L10s Erin Weisel, Grace Hester and Torie Stotz, plus Maryland transfer Morgan Bixler, who was a VT specialist last season.

Illinois improved as the season went on last year, putting themselves in position to challenge for a spot a Nationals.  They could be in that position again, with some improved depth and the return of Otto, who could be a real difference maker. 

 

 23.  Minnesota Gophers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Jenny Hansen
Associate Head Coach:  Rich Stenger
Assistant:  Geralen Stack-Eaton
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Rachel Cutler (Sr), Mary Korlin-Down (Jr), Ivy Lu (Jr), Lexi Montgomery (So), Kristen Quaglia (Jr), Lexy Ramler (So), Selena Ung (Sr), Paige Williams (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Casey Betts (Jr/I), Ona Loper (So/I), Becca Taylor (Jr)
Graduated (4):  Abby Demuse, Ciara Gardner, Hannah Hitchcock, Rachel Rowland
Other Losses (1):  Julia Huebert (Jr/?)
Newcomers (7):  Carson Cronin (Fr), Kaitlyn Higgins (Fr), Abbie Nylin (Fr), Tiarre Sales (Fr), Ali Sonier (Fr), Andrea Stancik (Fr), Hannah Willmarth (So/TR/Washington)

Quick Assessment:   Minnesota returns 18 of 24 routines from last year's 4th place Regional squad.  They'll miss the services of four seniors, including former AAer and 2017 MVP Ciara Gardner.  They also miss solid contributions from Abby DeMuse and Hannah Hitchcock.  Hitchcock had a stellar senior season, being named second team All-Big-Ten and setting career highs on three events.

The Gophers will be lead in 2019 by sophomore superstar Lexy Ramler and junior Ivy Lu.  Former elite Ramler did not disappoint in 2018, earning second team All-American honors on BB and qualifying to the NCAAs in the AA.  She's looking strong in her preseason training, with potential upgrades in the works.  Lu is a standout on UB and BB, with clean execution and superb toe point.  The Canadian earned a 10 on BB and a 9.975 on UB last season.  Junior Paige Williams was also a standout, anchoring VT and FX (front double full).  Senior Selena Ung was also a key gymnast, competing three events.  Minnesota will also look forward to getting back the services of AAer Ona Loper.  Loper is looking strong in the preseason, vaulting a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT and should join Ramler as a 1-2 AA punch.   

Minnesota welcomes no less than seven newcomers, led by potential AAer Tiarre Sales.   The former JO National Team member ('16) has seen limited competition these past two years but looked strong during the preseason, throwing a Yurchenko 1 1/2 VT and unusual skills like a Markelov on UB.  She's complemented by a bevy of L10s, including Kaitlyn Higgins (2018 Region V AA champ), Abbie Nylin (2018 Region IV AA champ) and Ali Sonier (12th AA at the '17 JO Nationals), who has also performed the coveted Yurchenko 1 1/2.

Minnesota features some big stars in Ramler, Loper and Lu.  The challenge for the Gophers is to have the gymnasts in the first half of the lineup close the gap on the leaders, and for the entire lineup to perform consistently.  If they do that, look for the Gophers to surprise come postseason.    

 

 24.  BYU Cougars

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Guard Young
Assistants: Natalie Broekman, Brogan Evanson
Returning Starters (11):  Avery Bennett (So), Abby Boden (So), Jordan Danbury (So), Shannon Evans (Jr), Cheyenne Hill (Sr), Natasha Marsh (Sr), Hannah Miller (Jr), Abbey Miner (So), Briana Pearson (Jr), Haley Pitou (So), Angel Zhong (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Abby Beeston (So), Helody Cyrene (Jr), Melanie Lockhart (So)
Graduated (4):  Mackenzie Douglas, Kyleigh Greenlief, Brittni Hawes, Jill van Mierlo
Other Losses (6):  Allegra Clarkson (So/?), Erin McKayla Hilton (Jr/?), Lauren Love (Jr/?), Savanna Maradiaga (Sr/?), Aspen Welch (So/?), Jessie Westergard (Sr/?)
Newcomers (11):  Rachel Bain (Fr), Sarah Bannon (Fr), Rebekah Bean (Fr), Lexi Griffith (Fr), Kelly Higginson (Fr), Gabrielle Hubbard (Fr), Ashley Kernan (Fr), Lexi Mather (Fr), Sadie Miner (Fr), Adeline Rieder (Fr), Brittney Vitkauskas (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  BYU always has a large squad, and this past year they lost no less than 10 gymnasts, including four star seniors.  Jill Van Mierlo was a top AAer for BYU while Brittni Hawes was a top UB worker.  Mackenzie Douglas was injured early on, but provide big difficulty on VT and FX (full-in) in her prior years.  BYU loses quite a bit of experience and leadership, and will look to a large squad to mature quickly into their new roles.

Leading the way for the Cougars will be Shannon (Hortman) Evans, a second-team All-American on UB in 2018.  She's also known as a entertaining FX performer and will look to lead BYU in the AA this year.  She's supported by a variety of specialists, including senior Natasha (Trejo) Marsh and sophomores Abby Boden and Abbey Miner.  Marsh has great execution, toepoint and flexibility, which she uses to great effect on BB and FX.  Boder was a strong force on UB and BB, while Miner provided power on VT and FX (double layout).  

BYU welcomes no less than 11 newcomers, one of the largest classes in the NCAA.  They'll look to make their impact mostly as specialists.  The frosh are led by fall signees Rebekah Bean, Lexi Griffith and Sadie Miner.  Miner is powerful, much like her older sister Abbey, but could make the biggest impact of all the frosh as a potential AAer.  She vaults a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and tumbles a double layout but is also solid on BB.  Her UB, with a few modifications, could make her a compelling AA threat.  Of the rest, in-state L10 Lexi Mather tied for 6th on BB (bhs, bhs, layout series) at the 2018 JO Nationals, and is on a good trajectory after her first season as a L10. 

BYU has been making steady progress the last several years under Head Coach Guard Young.  To continue that progress, the Cougars will need to continue work the details and bring the quality of the depth to match the leaders. 

 

 25.  NC State Wolfpack

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Kim Landrus
Assistants:  Philip Ogletree, Bob Starkell
Starting Routines Returning: 16/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Alexis Beucler (Jr), Caitlyn Fillard (Sr), Drew Grantham (Jr), Lauren Kent (So), Kasey Nelson (So), Alexa Phillips (Sr), Paris Phillips (Sr), Maggie Tamburro (Sr),
Other/Injured Returners (6):  Melissa Brooker (Jr), Katie Cox (So), Olivia Hunter (So), Hailey Mesmer (Jr), Victoria Prati (So), Sara Watson (So)
Graduated (4):  Mackenzie Itcush, Chelsea Knight, Taylor Murphy, Nicole Wild
Other Losses (0):  NA
Newcomers (6):  Kailin Foland (Fr), Alliah Harrison (RS Fr/TR/WMU), Meredith Robinson (Fr), Alexis Sheppard (Fr), Nicole Webb (So/TR/Florida), Haley Zarett (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   NC State continued to build and improve last season, under the guidance of one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the NCAA.  They finished third at the Raleigh Regional, a solid achievement but still a good distance away from the qualifiers.  From that squad they lose eight routines, including key numbers from Chelsea Knight, Nicole Wild and Mackenzie Itcush.  Knight was the leader for the Wolf Pack last season, winning the EAGL AA title and earning All-EAGL first team honors on every event and the AA.

The 2019 NC State squad will count on juniors Drew Grantham and Alexis Beucler, plus seniors Caitlyn Fillard and Alexa and Paris Phillips.  Grantham will be key, returning as the top AAer with a top score of 39.275.  Fillard stepped up on three events last season, but is strongest on UB.  Paris Phillips could see a larger role in 2019, after missing much of 2018 with injuries.  She's a former AAer with a 39.15 career high.  Twin Alexa competed mostly on VT and FX, but has also gone AA.  Beucler is a former jr. elite who contributed on up to three events last year.       

NC State adds six newcomers to the squad, including fall signee Meredith Robinson, Alexis Sheppard, Haley Zarett and Florida transfer Nicole Webb.  Robinson is a L10 from Everest who placed 31st at the 2018 JO Nationals.  Webb saw limited BB action at elite-rich Florida, but could contribute on multiple events.  Sheppard won the 2018 Region III UB title while Zarett has a front double twist on FX.

NC State faces a challenge in replacing some strong leadership and 8 scores from 2018.  To meet this challenge, they'll need some stepup performances from their returners, including more contributions from their returning depth and the return of Paris Phillips to full competition. 

 

Table: Teams #1 to #12

Intro

Key to the Tables:

Ranking: By 2019 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 2018 or preseason 2018-2019
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 Wednesday, 09 January 2019 23:20
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