Sunday, 11 December 2016 21:16

2017 Capsule Previews: Teams #13 to #25

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Here's the Top 13 to 25, based on the 2017 Preseason Coaches' Poll.  

 

 13.  Oregon State Beavers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 21/24
Routines Gone:  1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Tanya Chaplin
Associate Head Coach:  Mike Chaplin
Assistant:  Brian Amato
Returning Starters (9):  Marianna Colussi-Pelaez (So), Silvia Colussi-Pelaez (Sr), Maddie Gardiner (Sr), Mary Jacobsen (So), Megan Jimenez (Sr),  Shireen Khamedoost (Jr), Kaytianna McMillan (Sr), Taylor Ricci (Sr), McKenna Singley (So),
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Erika Aufiero (Sr/I), Dani Dessaints (Jr/I)
Graduated (2):  Risa Perez, Jamie Radermacher
Other Losses (2):  Brianna McCant (Fr/No Longer on Roster), Elizabeth Yu (So/?)
Newcomers (9):  Halli Briscoe (Fr), Kaitlin Campbell (Fr), Destinee Davis (Fr), Sabrina Gill (Fr), Lena Greene (Fr), Jaime Law (Fr), Maela Lazaro (Fr), Isis Lowery (Fr), Alyssa Minyard (Fr)


Quick Assessment:   Oregon State loses just three routines from last year's Regional lineup, as they graduated Risa Perez and Jamie Rademacher.  Perez, a former ASU transfer, had a stellar final season.  She tied for 1st on BB at the Regional Championships, earning a spot at Nationals.  She also tied for the BB title at the Pac-12 Championships.  Along with Radermacher, the pair were also key contributors to the Beaver floor lineup.  

The Beavers return no less than nine starters from last year's Regional squad, led by senior All-American Maddie Gardiner.  A three-time All-American, Gardiner is their top AAer with over nine career AA titles to her credit.  Another key senior, Kaytianna McMillan, has battled injuries and yet has managed to standout, making the All Pac-12 second team on the UB in 2016.  She's looking strong in preseason training, upgrading to a double layout on FX.  The seniors will be key for Oregon State's run for a spot at Nationals, with Silvia Colussi-Pelaez, Megan Jimenez, and Taylor Ricci filling key lineup slots as specialists.  The Beavers also welcome back fifth-year senior Erika Aufiero, a 2015 All-American on the UB.  She suffered a knee injury last season but that should not hold her back on her best event.  Oregon State also returns top sophomore Mary Jacobsen, who competed on up to three events last season and has a 10.0 start value vault (Tsukahara Layout Full).  Oregon State also returns junior Dani Dessaints, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last season.  She's a potential top contributor, especially on VT, where she competed a Yurchenko Layout 1 1/2 last season.  The 12 returnees have the potential to fill the lineups, without the benefit of their frosh class.

Oregon State welcomes no less than 9 frosh this season, led by Canadian National Team member Sabrina Gill.   Gill came back from injury last season to place 7th at the Canadian Championships.  She has beautiful lines and top skills on UB.  She is also capable of vaulting a Yurchenko Layout 1 1/2 and can excel on BB.  Another foreign athlete, Isis Lowery of Australian, is also another top vaulter.  She won the gold on VT and placed 4th AA at the 2014 Australian Championships.  She has had some issues with injuries as well, and did not compete at the recent Orange and Black exhibition.  One frosh that was showcased at the exhibition, however, was former jr. elite Destinee Davis.  Davis tied for 27th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals, after placing 38th in 2015.  The Beavers also welcome L10s Halli Briscoe, Kaitlin Campbell, Lena Green, Jaime Law, Maela Lazaro and Alyssa Minyard.  They'll be providing further depth options for Oregon State as they develop and adapt to college competition.  The Beavers have had success with large classes in the past, and they should be able to get key specialists from this group.  Unfortunately, the Beavers lost a top L10 signee Brianna McCant during the preseason.  Another athlete with a 10.0 SV Yurchenko 1 1/2, she is no longer on the roster.

Oregon State returns a dozen experienced gymnasts upon which to build a bid for Nationals.  The senior-heavy squad will be certainly focused on the goal, and they'll have plenty of newcomers to help battle for lineup slots and provide depth.  The Beavers should continue to excel on UB and BB, but depth on VT and tumbling on FX have been issues in the past, primarily due to injuries.  These leg events and how fast the newcomers adapt will be key determinants to how far Oregon State rises in 2017.  

 14.  Denver Pioneers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart
Assistants: Linas Gaveika, Robert Ladanyi
Starting Routines Returning: 13/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 2 UB, 3 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Nikole Addison (Jr), Diana Chesnok (So), Claire Hammen (Jr), Claire Kern (So), Julia Ross (Sr), Kaitlyn Schou (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Grace Broadhurst (So), Rachel Fielitz (Sr/I), Leah Lomonte (Sr/I)
Graduated (5):  Emily Barrett, Rachel Feeken, Maggie Laughlin, Nina McGee, Katie Menhinick
Other Losses (2):  Brittany Franklin (Jr/?), Morgan Tolman (Sr/?)
Newcomers (3):  Maddie Karr (Fr), Courtney Loper (Fr), Sam Ogden (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Denver's Nina McGee captured the 2016 NCAA FX title with a combination of personality, terrific dance and flawless tumbling.  A powerful All-Around force, she was the face of DU gymnastics for the last two seasons.  DU loses a total of 11 routines and seven gymnasts from 2016, huge losses by any measure.  Among these losses, DU has said goodbye to key starters Emily Barrett, Maggie Laughlin and Katie Menhinick.  This loss of experience and depth will be hard to overcome quickly.  The Pioneers will have to replace half their lineups on VT, BB and the FX.  

Leading the charge for the nine returnees is senior Julia Ross and juniors Nikole Addison and Claire Hammen.  Ross was a key gymnast on three events for the Pioneers, but especially on UB and BB where her lines and toe point stand out.  Addison is a power gymnast, with a double layout on FX and the potential to go AA.  Hammen was DU's Most Improved Gymnast in 2016, with some terrific twisting on FX and off BB (2 1/2 dismount).  Sophomores Diana Chesnok, Claire Kern and Kaitlyn Schou also made key contributions in 2016.  Chesnok is a strong vaulter and another potential AAer, but has been slowed in the offseason with an injury.  Kern competed UB in every meet last season while Schou was a stalwart on three events.  Denver also hopes to have Rachel Fielitz and Leah Lomonte back this season.  Fielitz was a key vaulter for DU in 2015, winning five event titles.  

So who will be the next Nina McGee?  Well McGee is a unique athlete, but several gymnast have the ability to step up and help replace her scores.  The obvious leading candidate is Maddie Karr, the top L10 recruit in the country.  Karr won the Senior F L10 JO National title in the AA with a huge score of 39.025.  She also won VT and tied for first on UB and BB, and also tied for 2nd on FX.  She also placed 3rd AA in 2015, 2nd AA in 2014 and tied for 4th AA in 2013.  Such consistent high placement at JO Nationals is an excellent predictor, barring injury, of future NCAA stardom.  This is an athlete the DU coaching staff will hope to build a program around.  Denver also welcomes Courtney Loper and Sam Ogden.  Ogden is a former junior internatioal elite who placed 9th AA at the 2014 US Secret Classic.  The WOGA-trained athlete competed UB and BB last season as a L10.  She was also 21st AA at the 2015 Region 3 L10 Regionals.  The third frosh Loper trained at Chow's in Iowa.  She tied for 31st AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals, after placing 14th AA and 8th(t) on FX in 2015.  

Denver has some challenges heading into 2017, as they look to replace 11 scores from 2016, including 9.9+ scores from superstar Nina McGee.  Heralded frosh Maddie Karr looks set to step up into a starring role, with a Yurchenko Layout 1 1/2 on VT and pike full-in on FX.  But where will the other 7 scores come from?  The Pioneers will need some increased output from their returnees and other newcomers, including the injured seniors and the sophomore class.  Depth could be an issue this season, depending on how the recovery from various injuries progresses.

 15.  Boise State Broncos

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Neil Resnick and Tina Bird
Assistants: Patty Resnick
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT. 1 UB, 2 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Mackenzie Bennion (Sr), Mary Frances Bir (Jr), Sandra Collantes (Jr), Sarah Means (So), Diana Mejia (Sr), Shani Remme (So), Ann Stockwell (Jr), Paige Urquhart (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):   Alex Esmerian (Jr), Abby Webb (Jr)
Graduated (4):  Krystine Jacobsen, Maddie Krentz, Molly McFarland, Marissa Wossner
Other Losses (1):  Liane Josbacher (Jr)
Newcomers (5):  Isabella Amado (Fr), Courtney McGregor (Fr), McKenna Morrell (Fr), Maddison Nilson (Fr), McKinley Pavicic (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Boise State looks to challenge for a spot at National again, after finishing a close third at the Tuscaloosa Regional.  They finished just 0.175 points behind eventual #7 Cal.  They will miss six routines from five departed athletes.  Krystine Jacobsen was the anchor on UB for the Broncos, and posted the country's #1 RQS on UB at the end of the regular season.  She was also a key contributor on BB and FX.  Maddie Krentz was a staple of the Bronco VT and FX lineups, and was the 2016 MRGC co-champ on FX.  Also missing from the BB lineup will be Molly McFarland, a stable specialist.  The Broncos also will be missing Liane Josbacher, who missed last season with an injury but who was a standout as a frosh. 

The 2017 Broncos will be led by junior Sandra Collantes and sophomore Shani Remme, two capable AAers.  Collantes for a first team All-MRGC choice in the AA and on FX.   Remme qualified to the NCAA Finals after winning the BB title at Regionals.  Both are capable AAers and will be expected to lead Boise State in 2017.  Boise State also returns seniors Mackenzie Bennion, Diana Mejia and Paige Urquhart.  Bennion was the co-champ on VT at the 2016 MRGC Championships, earning first team honors on the event.  Mejia, an UB/BB specialist, was a first team All-MRGC selection on UB.  Urquhart contributes on up to three events, but was a key scorer on the BB.  Junior Mary Frances Bir contributes a pike front half on vault, where she was a 2016 MRGC second team honoree.  Classmate Ann Stockwell was the MRGC co-champ on VT, but also was a key member of the UB lineup.  The Broncos will also look forward to more contributions from sophomore Sarah Means, who was limited by a foot injury in 2016.  She has a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and could make a bigger impact this season.

What is the only NCAA squad to boast two 2016 Rio Olympians?  That's right, the Broncos welcome New Zealand's Courtney McGregor and Panama's Isabella Amado.  McGregor has some high level skills, like a double twisting Yurchenko and pike full-in on FX.  She placed 41st AA with a 53.165 and 13th on VT at the Olympic Games.  She also was 71st AA at the 2015 World Championships and 7th AA and 3rd on VT at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships.  Form and consistency on these tougher skills is sometimes a challenge for McGregor, and so the staff will have some work to adapt her sets to the peculiarities of NCAA judging.  Amado competes for Panama and trained as a L10 in the US.  She placed 44th in the AA at the 2016 Olympics, scoring a 52.832.  As a L10 in the US, she tied for 7th AA, 6th on VT, 7th on UB and 7th on FX at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She's a clean gymnast with strength across all four apparatus, but without some of the elite-level difficulty.  This pair is complemented by Mckinley Pavicic, a top L10 from Nevada.  Pavicic made the JO National team in 2015, placing 4th AA, 6th(t) UB and 8th(t) on FX.  In 2016, she won the Nevada state L10 AA, VT and UB titles.  Also hailing from Nevada is Maddison Nilson, who finished 24th(t) AA at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals.  She also finished 9th AA at the 2016 Region I L10 Regionals.  The fifth frosh, McKenna Morrell, is a L10 Regional qualifier from Waller's GymJam.

Boise State has missed Nationals several times now by the narrowest of margins.  They'll be seeking those final few tenths to push them on their way into a berth at Nationals.  The key for the Broncos is how quickly and how well their frosh, especially the Olympians, adjust to the demands of the NCAA.  If they do, the Broncos will be in the mix once again.  BB will be a key event, as always, as the Broncos only finished tied for 23rd in the Regular Season rankings on the event. 

 16.  Minnesota

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Jenny (Alf) Hansen
Assistants:  Geralen Stack-Eaton, Rich Stenger
Starting Routines Returning: 15/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 4 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Bailey Abernathy (Sr), Rachel Culter (So), Abby DeMuse (Jr), Ciara Gardner (Jr), Bailie Holst (Sr), Kaitlin Rahon (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Hannah Hitchcock (Jr),  Rachel Rowland (Jr), Selena Ung (So)
Graduated (4):  Rachel Haines, Madie Hanley, Lindsay Mable, Hannah Nordquist
Other Losses (0):  NA
Newcomers (8):  Casey Betts (Fr), Julia Huebert (Fr), Ivy Lu (Fr), Kristen Quaglia (Fr), Steph Shields (Jr/TR/UW Stout), Ryan Stach (Fr), Becca Taylor (Fr), Paige Williams (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   The Minnesota Gophers say goodbye to superstar Lindsay Mable, an athlete that helped catapult the Gophers back into National prominance.  The AAI Award winner and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year offered both high scores and invaluable leadership.  Unfortunately, her four scores are not the only Gopher losses.  They lose All-American and BB school record holder Hanna Nordquist, a key fixture of the BB lineup.  Also gone are Madie Hanley and Rachel Haines.  Hanley was a key member of the UB and BB lineup, while Haines competed primarily on VT and BB.  The Gophers lose four key routines from their BB lineup, an event that always proves to be key in the postseason.

The 2017 Gophers will be lead by Seniors Bailey Abernathy and Bailie Holst and Juniors Abby DeMuse and Ciara Gardner.  Gardner will be a key AAer for Minnesota in 2017, as they look to replace the end of the lineup scores in each event.  DeMuse stepped up on all four events in 2016 (3 at Nationals), hitting 39.25 in the AA and hitting career highs in every event.  Holst competed three events in 2016 and is another potential AAer, once she brings BB to the level of her other three events.  Bailey Abernathy stepped up big time in 2016 and her pike front 1/2 vault will be key for the squad.  Also providing depth will be Rachel Cutler and Kaitlin Rahon.

Minnesota welcomes no less than eight newcomers, and all will be looking to make an impact.  Leading the way is late addition Paige Williams, a 2016 JO National Team member.  With clean form and execution, this Texan could invoke memories of Mable as the next potential star.  Canadian Ivy Lu is a 2015 National Open (Level 10) champion in the AA and BB, and has stellar toe point and execution on UB and BB.  She'll figure prominently on both events.  L10 Casey Betts hails from Arizona and is a three-time JO National qualifier.  She finished 19th AA at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals but was injured for most of 2016.  New York native Ryan Stach placed 37th AA at the 2016 JO Nationals, and was 7th(t) on VT and 36th(t) AA in 2015.  Also joining the Gophers are Julia Huebert, Kristen Quaglia, Becca Taylor and UW Stout transfer Steph Shields.  Local L10 Quaglia finished 32nd AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals while Missouri native Huebert placed 9th AA at the 2016 Region IV L10 Regionals.

The Gophers have made their mark based on clean execution, creative choreography and consistency.  With the departure of superstars Mable and Nordquist, the Gophers will look to a large set of returners and newcomers to fill the void.  The large incoming class provides some needed depth, and newcomers like Williams and Lu look to make an impact immediately.  It's a crowded field trying to make Nationals, and the Gophers will need some step-up performances to ensure their return ticket.                         

 17.  Arkansas Razorbacks

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 14/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 4 UB, 3 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Mark Cook
Assistants: Samantha (Cortez) Snider, Jaime (Pisani) Arnbrust
Returning Starters (5):  Makenzie Anderson (So), Sydney McGlone (So), Samantha Nelson (Sr), Braie Speed (Jr), Amanda Wellick (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Mia Bargiacchi (Jr), Heather Elswick (Sr/I), Leah MacMoyle (Jr/I)
Graduated (4):  Stephanie Canizaro, Sydnie Dillard, Erin Freier, Keara Glover
Other Losses (1):  Paige Zaziski (Jr/TR/Michigan)
Newcomers (5):  Michaela Burton (Fr), Hailey Garner (Fr), Kirby Rathjen (Fr), Sarah Shaffer (Fr), Jessica Yamzon (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Arkansas ended last season with a third place finish at the Iowa City regional, over a point back from the 2nd place finisher, NU.  Problems on VT dug the Gymbacks into a deep hole early in the meet, and they managed to hold off host Iowa for third.  The GymBacks lose 10 routines from that squad, including four seniors and transfer Paige Zaziski.  Zaziski's unexpected loss especially hurts, as she was a two-time All-SEC honoree that provided top scores on every event, but especially on UB.  Arkansas loses four members of their UB lineup, along with three members of their BB lineup.  Stephanie Canizaro was a 2012 second Team All-American on the FX, and was standout on UB with her beautiful lines.  Sydnie Dillard was the Most Consistent Performer for three years in a row, and was the key leadoff on BB.  Erin Freier was an UB/BB specialist, and won Most Improved in 2016 while Keara Glover battled through health issues to be the leadoff on UB.  Finding 20 routines on UB and BB will not be an easy task, and it will require the entire 2017 squad to bridge the gap. 

The 2017 Arkansas squad will rally around superstar Amanda Wellick.  The All-Arounder qualified to the NCAAs as an individual in 2014 and 2016, and was a 2nd team All-American in the AA in 2016.  With a career high of 39.6, she's going to be a pivotal star in every lineup, with her long lines and high difficulty standing out from the rest.    She'll be supported by classmate Samantha Nelson and junior Braie Speed, along with sophomores Makenzie Anderson and Sydney McGlone.  Arkansas returns just five starters in 2017, highligting the depth issues they faced last season.  Speed returned strongly last season, after suffering a knee injury the prior season.  A standout on UB, she also vaulted quite strongly.  With another year of training and recovery, we could see her potentially in an AA role.  McGlone and Nelson each competed three events last season.  McGlone won the Team's Most Outstanding Newcomer in her rookie campaign.  She's a powerful athlete with plenty of amplitude in her tumbling (double layout) and VT.  Nelson was an All-SEC team selection in 2014 and 2016, excelling on BB and FX.  Sophomore Anderson saw action on three events last season, and could breakthrough on more this season.  THe GymBacks also look forward to getting back the services of Heather Elswick and Leah MacMoyle, especially on the VT.  Back for a fifth year, Elswick was an All-SEC team member as a junior while McMoyle figures strongly in the VT and FX lineups.  

Arkanas looks to return to National prominence with a large and talented class, including Michaela Burton, Hailey Garner, Kirby Rathjen, Sarah Shaffer and Jessica Yamzon.  Each has a strong history of success at the Level 10 Junior Olympic ranks.   Burton placed 11th AA and 4th(t) on BB at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She placed 8th at Regionals in 2015.  Her best year was in 2014, when she made the JO National Team with a 4th place AA finish.  Garner won the VT title and placed 12th AA at the 2016 Region VIII L10 Regionals.  She won UB and BB in her division of the 2015 JO NIT.  Texan Rathjen placed 12th AA and 8th(t) on BB at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals.  She was 13th in 2014 but did not compete in 2016.  Another Texan, Shaffer, qualified to the 2016 L10 JO Nationals by winning the Region III Regionals but did not complete the meet.  The fifth member of the class, Las Vegas Gymcat Yamzon tied for 7th AA, 7th UB and placed 9th on FX at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She was also 2nd on UB, 6th(t) on BB and 12th(t) AA at the 2015 Nationals.  This frosh class shows solid L10 skills with good execution and amplitude.            

Arkansas' final rank belies their strong season last year, where they finished 13th in the RQS standings.  But 10 key routines are gone from that squad, and Arkansas welcomes a large class of five solid frosh.  With Amanda Wellick and Braie Speed leading the way, the frosh will need to contribute immediately and held address the gaps in the lineups.  UB in particular will be a key event, with four routines gone from last season.  Unfortunately, it is also a shared weak event among several of the remaining gymnasts.  But, by the end the season we'll likely see Arkansas in the mix for a Nationals berth once again.      

        

 18.  Arizona Wildcats

Official Web Site:  Link       Schedule       Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 16/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 1 UB, 4 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Tabitha Yim
Assistants:  John Court, David McCreary
Returning Starters (8):  Madison Cindric (Jr), Selynna Felix-Terrazas (Sr), Krysten Howard (Sr), Gabby Laub (Sr), Lauryn Mattson (So), Kennady Schneider (Jr), Skyler Sheppard (So), Danielle Spencer (So)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Haylie Hendrickson (So), Victoria Ortiz (Jr/I)
Graduated (4):  Danielle Buchanan, Shelby Edwards, Lexi Mills, Jessie Sisler
Other Losses (1):  Brittany Robertson (So/?)
Newcomers (6):  Christina Berg (Fr), Courtney Cowles (Fr), Shannon Farrell (Fr), Jenny Leung (Fr), Maddi Leydin (Fr), Heather Swanson (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Arizona returns 16 of 24 routines from last season's fourth place Regional finish.  They graduated four from that squad, including standouts Shelby Edwards, Lexi Mills and Jessie Sisler.  Mills had a stellar senior season, qualifying to the NCAA meet as an individual by winning the Regional title on the BB.  Edwards was a standout on VT and BB, and was a former Pac-12 Vault co-champion.  Sisler was a standout on three events, and posted big scores near the end of the Wildcat lineup on each event.  The departed athletes will be missed not only for their experience and leadership, but for their potential for big scores, especially on BB. 

The 2017 Wildcats will be lead by seniors Selynna Felix-Terrazas, Krysten Howard and Gabby Laub, as well as juniors Madison Cindric and Kennady Schneider.  Felix-Terrazas is a major force for Arizona on the UB and throws a full-in on FX.  Howard is another three event gymnasts who uses her long lines and great toe point to excel on UB, BB and FX.  Laub was a regular on the VT and UB, where she dismounts with a full twisting double layout.  Junior Madison Cindric has been a top AAer for the Wildcats, and excels on BB and UB.  Schneider is known for her expressive dance on FX, and is a key contributor on UB.  Sophomore Lauryn Mattson contributed a key VT (Hristakaeva) and FX sets last season, while classmate Skyler Sheppard excelled on BB, with a high level of difficulty and long lines.  Fellow sophomore Danielle Spencer competed primarily on UB, while Victoria Ortiz is a true UB specialist. 

Arizona adds six talented newcomers to a strong stable of 10 experienced returnees.   They'll provide a combination of talent and depth to a squad that is seeking to replace eight routines from five gymnasts.  The frosh include Christina Berg, Courtney Cowles, Shannon Farrell, Jenny Leung, Maddi Leydin and Heather Swanson.  Berg was a 2016 JO National Team member who finished 5th on UB, 6th on FX and 4th AA at the 2016 L10 Junior Olympic Nationals.  She also finished 3rd on UB and 15th AA in 2015.  A gymnast with clean execution, she especially shines on the UB but could be an AAer.  The 2013 Australian National Champion at just the age of 15, Leydin was a member of Australia's 2015 World Championship Team, competing strongly for the Aussies in an AA role.  She has some big skills (Yurchenko 1 1/2, double pike off beam) and the potential to post some big scores on UB and BB.  She's been looking strong in fall training, after some struggles in Elite competition earlier in the year.  Swanson and Leung both have the potential to compete big vaults.  Swanson tied for 7th AA and placed 5th on VT and 9th on FX at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  Leung graduateed early, after finishing 2nd on VT and 8th AA at the 2016 Region III L10 Regionals.  She placed 18th AA and 4th on VT at the 2015 JO Nationals.   Cowles missed the 2016 season but is coming off a 15th place AA finish at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals.  With beautiful lines and great toe point, she excels on BB.  The 6th member of the class, Farrell, is a L10 Regional qualifier from Rebound (NJ).  Head Coach Tabitha Yim's first full class is a promising start to building her program.  It will be interesting to see how far they come in their first season.

With some key gymnasts lost to graduation, Arizona will be looking to their returnees to step up while the frosh adapt to college competition.  With such a large class, the odds are that at least a few will rise to be standouts and contribute immediately, in particular on VT, where Arizona lagged behind the other contenders last season.  We've seen impact frosh classes lift a team into Nationals in the past, so it's definitely a possibility this season.  The Coaches' Preseason Poll seems to acknowledge this fact, bunching the Wildcats in the tight pack of teams ranked 14th to 18th.            

 19.  Missouri Tigers

Official Web Site: Link  Schedule  Roster
Head Coach:  Shannon Welker
Assistants: John Carney, Casey Jo (Magee) MacPherson
Starting Routines Returning: 24/24
Routines Gone:  N/A
Returning Starters (12):  Tia Allbritten (Jr), Allison Bower (So), Kennedi Harris (Jr), Madeleine Huber (So), Brooke Kelly (So), Angie Kern (Sr), Xarria Lewis (So), Shauna Miller (Jr), Morgan Porter (So), Becca Schugel (Jr), Michaelee Turner (So), Britney Ward (So)
Other/Injured Returners (1):  Alyson Heimsath (Sr)
Graduated (0):  N/A
Other Losses (2):  Blair Elmore (Jr/?), Storee Yzaguirre (So)
Newcomers (4):  Alyssa Johnson (Fr), Rachel Ley (Fr), Mary Nicholson (Fr), Aspen Tucker (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Missouri returns all 24 scores from last year's young squad, which posted strong scores throughout the season and making a strong impression overall.  No less than 12 starters are returning, led by sophomores Morgan Porter and Britney Ward.  Ward quickly distinguished herself with her pike Omelianchik vault (a 10.0 SV) and her excellent BB work.  A member of the All-SEC team, she earned Regular Season All-American honors (2nd team) on the BB.  All-Arounder Porter used solid, clean gymnastics to post season-highs of 9.9 or higher on every event, including a 39.675 in the AA.  She earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors, the first Mizzou gymnast to claim these honors.  However, Porter was arrested in late summer over allegations of fraudulent use of a credit device.  She was suspended at the time, with the suspension being lifted on November 15th.  The charges are now a Class A misdemeanor, according to reporting by the Columbia Daily Tribune and do not require a mandatory suspension.  An NCAA individual AA qualifier as a frosh, Porter will be a key part of the Mizzou effort in 2017.   She continued training without the team during the Fall, and appeared to be in top form at the recent team exhibition. 

Missouri also welcomes back junior standouts Tia Albritten, Kennedi Harris, Shauna Miller and Becca Schugel.  All were key members of the Mizzou lineup as a frosh.  Miller had a few struggles in 2017. but as a frosh, was a standout vaulter and AA threat, with a 39.925 high.  Schugel had an excellent sophomore season, making the All-SEC Team (BB).  She's also a potential AAer, with a career high of 39.3.  Albritten was a regular in the BB lineup, while Harris starred on VT and FX, where she finished 2nd at the NCAA Regional.  Missouri also got plenty of contributions from the rest of their frosh class last season, including Allison Bower, Madeleine Huber, Brooke Kelly and Michaelee Turner.  Rare is it that such a large frosh class gets such strong contributions from every member.  Typically, there are unfortunate injuries or troubles in adjusting to competition from at least one gymnast.  The Mizzou class was just the opposite -- they excelled and thrived.  Kelly, however, was slowed by an injury in 2016.  She has the potential to be another standout all-arounder for the Tigers but injuries issues have limited her this Fall.  

Missouri welcomes four frosh:  Alyssa Johnson, Rachel Ley, Mary Nicolson and Aspen Tucker.  Tucker is a Floridian from Coast Elite who finished 4th(t) on VT, 6th(t) on BB and 7th(t) on FX en route to a 17th place AA finish at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She's competes solid sets with some big amplitude, and could give a boost on all four events for the Tigers.  Johnson is a two-time L10 National qualifier from the Twin City Twisters.  She placed 18th AA and tied for 10th on VT at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals, but did not compete the post-season in 2016.  Ley and Nicholson both hail from Texas, and are both former Region 3 L10 Regional qualifiers.            

Missouri returns their entire lineup and what is now a veteran, experienced squad.  They finished third at the 2016 Regional, just 0.325 points behind Minnesota and .15 points ahead of Denver.  Another solid and consistent effort could put them in the picture once again.  With another summer of training behind them and a quartet of frosh, we'll be excited to see how far the team can rise in 2017.           

 20.  Washington Huskies

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Elise Ray
Assistants:  Caleb Phillips, Chad Wiest
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT. 2 UB, 2 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Hailey Burleson (Jr), Kaitlyn Duranczyk (Sr), Joslyn Goings (Jr), Emily Liddle (Jr/I), Malory Rose (So), Zoey Schaefer (Jr), Alexandra Yacalis (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):   Kristyn Hoffa (So/I), Janae Janik (Sr), Monica Riley (So/I)
Graduated (2):  Faith Morrison, Allison Northey
Other Losses (2):  Jessica Nesis (Sr/R/Manager), Stephanie Stowe (Sr/R)
Newcomers (5):  Madison Copiak (Fr),  Michaela Nelson (Fr), Evanni Roberson (Fr), Haley Roy (Fr), Maya Washington (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Washington begins the season with a new coaching staff and 17 of 24 routines returning.  They said goodbye to former Head Coach Joanne Bowers (who stepped down to spend more time with family) and welcomed the promotion of Olympic medalist Elise Ray to the top spot.  They will also graduate two athletes while seeing the early retirements of two others.  Foremost among the losses is Allison Northey, a three-time All Pac-12 first team honoree in the AA and a 2016 NCAA AA individual qualifier.  Her leadership and consistency will be missed.  UB specialist Jessica Nesis is now a student coach while regular beamer Stephanie Stowe retired.

The Huskies will be led in 2017 by seniors Kaitlyn Duranczyk and Alexandra Yacalis and juniors Hailey Burleson and Joslyn Goings.  Duranczyk was the co-champ on the UB at the Pac-12s last season while Goings stepped up as a first team All-Pac-12 honoree in the AA.   Burleson was slowed by a preseason car accident last season but has AA potential, while Yacalis contributed key routines on VT and FX (full-in mount).  Junior Zoey Schaefer is another key competitor on FX and looks to rebound from post-season shoulder surgery.  Sophomore Mallory Rose was the leadoff on BB and will continue to contribute the Huskies' strongest event.  Unfortunately, jr. Emily Liddle injured her knee in the preseason.  However, the Huskies welcome back three athletes who missed the balance of 2017.  Janae Janik is a key contributor on UB and BB and looks strong in preseason training.  Sophomores Monica Riley (ACL) and Kristyn Hoffa (wrist) both suffered preseason injuries last year and missed the entire season.  In her club career, Hoffa easily competed big skills on the leg events (full-in on FX, Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT).  

The Huskies also add five true frosh, a strong class that could make an immediate impact.  Madison Copiak is a Canadian National Team member who was an alternate to the Canadian Olympic and World Championships team.  The top incoming Canadian recruit, she placed 5th AA and 4th on UB at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships.  The Huskies also have three L10s gymnasts who qualified to the Nastia Liukin Cup:  Michaela Nelson, Evanni Roberson and Maya Washington.  Roberson tied for the UB title and 7th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  Like Copiak, she's been a fast improving gymnast the last two years.  This powerhouse tumbles a full-in on FX and tumbles a back handspring-layout-layout on BB.  Nelson, who trained at Ray's old gym (Hill's), tied for 10th AA and 7th on FX at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  Washington missed most of 2016 but tied for 17th AA and 6th on UB at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals.  She's also placed in the top 6 on all four events at past JO Nationals.  Like most of her classmates, she's capable of a 10.0 SV vault and full-in on FX.  The fifth frosh, Haley Roy, is a four-time JO National qualifier and another power gymnast with 10.0 SV vault and an E opening pass on FX (double layout). 

The Huskies mounted an unexpected challenge in 2016 to a struggling UCLA and placed 3rd at the Regional meet in 2016.  Only a tightly scored UB round and a lack of depth overall kept the Huskies from a big upset.  With a strong set of newcomers, a deeper Husky squad could field a cleaner UB squad and a much higher level of difficulty on the power events.  How quickly the newcomers adapt to college and how many of the top level skills they retain in college competition could tell how high the Huskies will rise this season.  

 21.  Kentucky Wildcats

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Tim Garrison
Assistants: Chuck Dickerson, Rachel Garrison
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 UB, 2 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Katrina Coca (So), Sidney Dukes (So), Alex Hyland (So), Aubree Rosa (So), Katie Stuart (So), Sydney Waltz (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Katie Carlisle (Jr), Danaea Davis (So), Cori Rechenmacher (Jr)
Graduated (4):   Marissa Beucler, Tiara Phipps, Amy Roemmele, Montana Whittle
Other Losses (6):  Alyssa Bertoni (Sr/?), Kirsten Canini (Sr/?), Taylor Carlson (So/?), Brittany Furuyama (Jr/?), Molly Penner (So/?), Taylor Puryear (Sr/?)
Newcomers (7):  Erynne Allen (Fr), Tatiana Bunch (Fr), Mollie Korth (Fr), Alaina Kwan (Fr), Hailey Poland (Fr), Bailey Stehler (Fr), Marisa Varrone (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  The Kentucky Wildcats lose no less than 10 gymnasts from last season's roster, but only six starting routines from last season's final meet.  A strong performance from their last two recruiting classes has helped lift the Wildcats into Top 25 contention.  Gone from that squad are a quartet of seniors, including Marissa Beucler, Tiara Phipps, Amy Roemmele and Montana Whittle.  Beucler was a key member of the UB and VT lineups, while Roemmele was a regular on BB and FX.  Whittle was a key BB specialist, while Phipps provided depth on FX and VT.  Kentucky also loses the services of Taylor Puryear, a key FX competitor and a 2015 All-SEC Team member.

Last year, the frosh stepped up and delivered for the Wildcats, propelling the squad to a fourth place finish, just 0.2 points behind Cal and 0.025 points behind Boise State.  A trio of sophomore All-Arounders led UK:  Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland and Katie Stuart.  Dukes and Hyland both qualified to the NCAA as individual AAers.  Dukes is a clean and consistent AA gymnast, but really excelled on BB where she was unflappable in earning first team All-America honors.  Hyland, like Dukes, made the All-SEC Team.  She too excels on BB, but proved to be a capable AA force at the end of the season.  The third AAer, Katie Stuart, made a strong impression on all events, but especially on FX and VT.  She's been looking to upgrade her Yurchenko Arabian (Hristakaeva) vault to a Yurchenko Layout 1 1/2 in preseason training.  Junior Sydney Waltz had a standout season as a frosh, qualifying as an AAer, before getting injured.  She was not quite at her full potential last season, but looks to be in fine form in preseason training, with her Yurchenko 1 1/2 looking ready to return.  She too excels on BB, providing the Wildcats high scoring potential on the event (a problem with past teams).  Kentucky also returns several other athletes with extensive lineup experience, including Katrina Coca, the powerful Aubree Rosa, Katie Carlisle and Cori Rechenmacher.  

To a strong core of nine returners, Kentucky adds a huge class of seven.  It's highlighted by "Belarussian" elite Alaina Kwan and L10 standout Mollie Korth.  Kwan is an American gymnast who was training elite in the US who took advantage of the opportunity to compete for Belarus at the 2015 World Championships.  She finished 73rd in the preliminaries, with a score of 51.866.  In the US, she competed at the 2015 US Secret Classic, placing 9th with a 51.8.  With her long lines and good execution, she maximizes her scores with a little less difficulty in her sets.  On her best event, UB, she displays terrific stalder technique (stalder full) and a wide variety of releases.  Korth is a 2016 signee who is graduating school early and joining the team in January.  She's a potential superstar, with a solid Yurchenko 1 1/2 and a high pike full-in on FX.  She won the FX at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals and tied for 2nd AA.  She also placed 3rd on VT and tied for 5th on UB.  She finished 2nd on VT and tied for 4th on FX at the 2015 L10 Nationals.  Kentucky also adds Erynne Allen, Tatiana Bunch, Hailey Poland, Bailey Stehler and Marisa Varrone.  The thirdl frosh signee, Erynne Allen, placed 11th AA at the 2016 Region VIII L10 Regionals.  She's a powerful athlete with a double layout on FX and a solid Yurchenko Layout Full.  Poland, a L10 from Trevino's, was a L10 JO National qualifer in 2016, where she tied for 8th on BB.

While Kentucky suffered some big losses from last year's team, they lost only six scores from last year's Regional squad.  They very nearly made nationals on the strength of a squad led by their then-frosh AAers.  In 2017, UK should see a boost from a fully recovered Syndey Waltz and the addition of a some strong frosh who will add difficulty and the potential for big scores.  If UK continues to get big scores and immediate contributions from their frosh class once again, the SEC and the country will need to watch out for the Wildcats.       

 22.  Iowa Hawkeyes

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Larissa Libby
Assistants:  Jennifer Green, Vince Smurro
Starting Routines Returning: 20/24
Routines Gone:  1 UB, 2 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (11):  Savannah Borman (Sr), Misty-Jade Carlson (So), Mollie Drenth (Sr), Ashleigh Edlin (Sr), Angel Metcalf (Sr), Lexi Mura (Sr), Maria Ortiz (So), Rose Piorkowski (So), Lanie Snyder (Jr), Nikki Youd (Jr), Melissa Zurakawski (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Nicole Chow (So), Sydney Hogan (So), Jori Robertson (Jr), Tessa Walsh (So)
Graduated (3):   Opua Calucag, Alie Glover, Johanny Sotillo
Other Losses (2):  Carolyn McCardy (Sr/?), Lexy Wadsworth (So/?)
Newcomers (5):  Breanna Fitzke (Fr), Clair Kaji (Fr), Annie Kustoff (Fr), Gina Leal (Fr), Charlotte Sullivan (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Iowa heads into 2017 looking to replace four routines and five gymnasts from last year's squad that finished 4th at Regionals.  The Hawkeyes will miss most the contributions of graduates Alie Glover and Johanny Sotillo.  Glover was the BB and FX anchor while Sotillo was the UB anchor.  Replacing end of the lineup routines is always more challenging, and requires that the other returners to step-up or that a high-level frosh makes an immediate impact.

Iowa welcomes a huge class of talented returnees, led by super seniors Mollie Drenth and Angle Metcalf.  Drenth is a 2016 first team All-American on the BB and posted a big 39.475 season best in the AA.  She'll be a key fixture in every lineup, with difficulty, consistency and good execution.  Complementing Drenth is Metcalf, another AAer who has steadily improved over her career as a Hawkeye.  She has a career best of 39.4 in the AA.   This pair will be complemented by an array of specialists:  Seniors Ashleigh Edlin on VT and BB, Savannah Bohrman on BB and Lexi Mura on UB.  Junior Melissa Zurakawski was a key part of the UB and FX lineups, just like classmate Lanie Snyder.  Sophomores Maria Ortiz and Rose Piorkowski posted some big vault scores last season, while classmate Misty-Jade Carlson competed on VT and UB.  With 11 gymnasts with meet experience, the Hawkeyes have plenty of returning leadership, experience and depth.

On top of a rather complete roster, Iowa adds five frosh, including Canadian Clair Kaji and New Zealander Charlotte Sullivan.  Breanne Fitzke, Annie Kustoff and Gina Leal complete the class.  Sullivan has extensive international experience, winning a bronze on beam at a World Cup event in Anadia, Portugal.  In 2016, she placed fourth on BB and 10th AA (52.1) at the Pacific Rim Championships. A five-time Kiwi AA Champion, she excels on BB and has a triple twist on FX.  Kaji was an elite (sr. high performance) athlete in Canada who placed 14th AA at the 2016 Canadian Championships.  Another gymnast with solid execution rather than big E+ skills, her best events are BB and FX.   Texan Kusthoff was a Regional qualifier in 2015, as was Leal, while Fitzke qualified to the 2016 JO Nationals (but did not complete the meet).  Sullivan and Kaji appear to have the talent to fill the roster gaps, in particular on BB, where they both excel. 

Iowa enters the 2017 campaign looking to improve upon a strong progression these past few seasons.  With increased depth and tons of experience, Iowa looks to continue to improve. With Drenth and Metcalf leading the way, the Hawkeyes will look to stay consistent to maximize their scores.  They don't quite have the VT/FX difficulty of the top 12, and have fewer options for 10.0 SV vaults.  This scarcity of top level difficulty and top level scores (outside of Drenth) puts them at a disadvantage, one they'll work to overcome with depth and consistency..                        

 

 23.  PSU Nittany Lions

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Jeff Thompson
Assistants:  Kera (Bolen) Molinaro, Josh Nilson
Starting Routines Returning: 24/24
Routines Gone:  N/A
Returning Starters (9):  Sabrina Garcia (So), Mason Hosek (So), Jessica Jones (So), Gianna LaGuardia (So), Nicole Medvitz (Sr), Chanen Raygoza (Jr), Peyton Schuller (So), Oni Timothy (Jr), Briannah Tsang (Jr) 
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Amber Autry (So), Kiera Brown (Sr), Madison Heckman (So), Tina Postiglione (Sr), Emma Sibson (Sr)
Graduated (0):  None
Other Losses (0):  None
Newcomers (3):  Tess McCracken, Kristen Politz, Mikayla Waddell

Quick Assessment:   Penn State lost zero seniors from the 2016 squad and returns 24 of 24 routines.  However, the lack of seniors was partially related to the off-season turmoil the team endured.  Associate Head Coach Rachelle Thompson resigned among a series of allegations, some raised by the missing senior class and others raised by former assistant Samantha Brown.  The 2017 Nittany Lions look to move past the drama, with two new assistants and a full roster of athletes.

Leading the way for PSU in 2017 will be a trio of AAers, including star junior Briannah Tsang and sophomores Sabrina Garcia and Jessica Jones.  Tsang qualified to the NCAA as an individual on the FX in 2016 and was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2015.  She has an elite background and a wide variety of skills, including a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT and a double Arabian on FX (and a pike full-in in her repetoire as well).  Sophomore Garcia and Jones stepped into AA roles in their rookie campaigns, with Garcia notching a season high of 39.325 and Jones a season high of 39.175.  The trio will be supported by three-event specialists Mason Hosek, Chanen Raygoza and Oni Timothy, plus the ultra-flexible Nicole Medvitz.  Timothy stands out for her power on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and FX (full-in) while Medvitz is known for her extreme flexibilty and unique composition on BB, although shoulder injuries have hampered her on the UB.  The Nittany Lions also hope to have back the full services of seniors Kiera Brown and Emma Sibson.  Brown had a standout season as an AAer, posting a 39.475 during the regular season but missed the Regional meet.  Sibson is another AA threat, with a 39.4 career best.  However, she's known for her exceptional pike front-half vault, where she owns a career-high of 9.975.  Coach Thompson welcomes back at three 10.0 SV vaults, a key advantage in the teams chasing a spot at Nationals. 

PSU also welcomes three frosh:  Tess McCracken, Kristen Politz and Mikayla Waddell.  Politz is coming off a strong club campaign, having finished 3rd on FX and 13th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She also finished 6th on UB and 20th AA in 2015.  She's a strong tumbler, with a double layout to open on FX.  Waddell is another strong tumbler who has also competed a double layout.  She also has a strong Yurchenko Layout Full and toed fpr 10th on VT at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She also finished 7th(t) on VT, 4th on BB and 21st AA at the JO Nationals in 2014.  The third signee, McCracken, missed the 2016 campaign.  But in 2015, she tied for 20th AA at the 2015 L10 JO Nationals.  This WOGA-trained athlete shows long lines and exceptional toe point.  

PSU has been impacted the past few seasons by injuries, which may have impacted their ability to field their strongest squads in the post-season.  With increased depth and a new focus, they have the potential to put up strong lineups in all four events.  The return of Brown and Sibson to the trio of Stang, Garcia and Jones leaves the squad loaded with potential talent.  Unlike other squads that need to rely on their frosh immediately, the Nittany Lions could rely just on the returning talent.  The Coaches' Preseason Poll recognizes the inherent potential and put them in the Top 25.  They could rise even higher, if the team arrives in peak health and condition at the end of the season.  

 24.  Illinois Illini

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Kim Landrus
Assistants:  Jacob Lee, Kristina Comforte
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 2 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Erin Buchanan (Sr), Becca Cuppy (Jr), Jordyn Givens (Jr), Bridget Hodan (Jr), Julia Hutcherson (So), Lizzy LeDuc (So), Sarah Lyons (Sr), Brielle Nguyen (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Rachael Donovan (So), Mary Jane Horth (Sr/I), Haylee Roe (So/I)
Graduated (3):  Heather Foley, Sunny Kato, Giana O'Connor
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (4):  Rae Balthazor (Fr), Lindsay Dwyer (Fr), Karen Howell (Fr), Brittany Jones (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   The Illinois return 19 of 24 starting routines from last year's fourth place Regional finish.   The Illini lose a trio of gymnasts from that squad, including UB/BB specialist Sunny Kato and three-event starter Heather Foley.  Kato was a former Regional champ on UB and an individual National qualifier.  She also excelled on BB, and had careers highs of 9.95 and above on each event.  Foley was a regular on VT and a key depth performer on BB and FX.  The Illini were hampered at Regionals by the loss of their star AAer, Giana O'Connor.  O'Conner was a first team All-American in the AA and a two-time first team All-Big 10 member.  O'connor and Kato represented key "end of the lineup" scores for Illinois on every event they competed.

Leading the way for the Illini in 2017 is sophomore Lizzy LeDuc and senior Erin Buchanan.  LeDuc was an individual qualifier to the NCAAs last season after winning the Regional title on the FX.  She's also a capable AAer, with a 39.3 high in her frosh campaign.  Joining her is the experienced AAer Buchanan.  With a career high of 39.375, she especially excels on VT and FX.  The Illini will need both to step up big in 2017.  Junior Bridget Hodan excelled on three events in 2016 while sophomore Brielle Nguyen rose to the challenge on BB and FX, as the Illini suffered depth issues.  Senior Sarah Lyons also figures to be big contributor in 2017, specializing on VT and UB.  The Illini also expect to get a big boost from the return of Mary Jane Horth and Haylee Roe to competition.  Horth is a former NCAA qualifier in the AA who has a career high of 39.575 in the AA.  She excels on UB, where her long lines and Van Leeuwen release stand out.  Roe had a promising start to 2016 and looks ready to contribute in a bigger way in 2017.  A former two-time JO National Team member, she's been looking strong in fall training.  The return of one or both to multiple events would be a major difference maker for Illinois.  

Illinois also welcomes four frosh, including Rae Baltahazor, Lindsay Dwyer, Karen Howell and Brittany Jones.  Howell is a potential standout, but missed the latter part of the 2016 club season.  In 2015, she won the L10 National title on the UB and placed 5th AA.  She also placed 3rd on BB.  She was also 4th on UB and 21st AA in 2014.  Balthahazor hails from Airborne in Colorado and placed 28th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She also tied for 36th AA in 2015.  Dwyer is a New Yorker from Infiniti who placed 24th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She also was 37th AA in 2015.  The fourth frosh, Jones, was a spring signee from Arizona.  She qualified to the L10 JO Nationals in 2016 after winning UB and placing 4th AA at Regionals.  These frosh offer some much needed depth, in particular on VT where the Illini have had to resort to too many 9.8 SV vaults in the lineup.   

There are a few question marks surrounding the Illini this fall, with the competition readiness of Horth, Howell and Roe being key variables to the strength of the Illini lineups.  With 8 returning starters, led by Buchanan and LeDuc, there is a solid base to begin with.  Illini has made a habit of qualifying to Nationals with clean, consistent gymnastics.  With some increased depth, especially on VT, they could be in position to do so once again.                        

 25.  GWU Colonials

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Margie Foster-Cunningham
Assistants:  Stephanie Stoicovy-Worrell, Ralph Rosso
Starting Routines Returning: 24/24
Routines Gone:  None
Returning Starters (8):  Alex DeMoura (Sr), Cami Drouin-Allaire (Jr), Sara Mermelstein (Jr), Liz Pfeiler (Jr), Chelsea Raineri (Sr), Madeline Seibold (Jr), Jillian Winstanley (Jr), Alex Zois (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Kaitlin Cowles (Sr), Yurina Harada (So), Julia McLaughlin (So/I), Kaila Solomon (Sr)
Graduated (2):   Alexsis Petrikis, Taylor Redmond
Other Losses (1):  Jessica Mislove (Jr/Manager)
Newcomers (5):  Brooke Bray (So/TR/Auburn), Cydney Crasa (Fr), Ryan Finkelstein (Fr), Jenna Horner (Fr), Nicole Rogalski (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   GWU has emerge as a Top 25 team during the last two seasons, setting new records along the way.  GWU graduates just two gymnasts from 2016 but returns all 24 of 24 routines from their fifth place Regional finish.  Despite the fifth place finish at the Athens Regional, the Colonials managed to post their highest ever post-season team score, a 195.55.  Of the departed athletes, Taylor Redmond was a regular contributor on several events her first three seasons while Jessica Mishlove provided depth on UB.

The 2017 Colonials will again be led by seniors Alex DeMoura and Chelsea Raineri, and junior stars Cami Drouin-Allaire and Jillian Winstanley.  DeMoura, Allaire and Winstanley are all key AAers for GWU, while Raineri is a three event standout.  Drouin-Allaire  was named the 2016 EAGL Gymnast of the Year and was a first team All-EAGL selection on VT, UB, FX and the AA.  She has a career high of 39.475 in the AA.  Classmate Winstanley is an outstanding vaulter with a Yurchenko 1 1/2, and was the 2016 EAGL VT champion.  But she is also a major force in the AA, with a 39.55 career high.  DeMoura had perhaps her strongest season as a junior last year, making the All-EAGL First Team in the AA, BB and FX and the 2nd team on VT and UB.  The final member of the core quartet, Raineri, is a powerful vaulter (Yurchenko 1 1/2) and tumbler who was a first-team All-EAGL selection on both events.  With all four back to lead the squad again, the potential for continued success is in place.  But these four are not the only key returnees.  They are capably supported by junior specialists Sara Mermelstein, Liz Pfeiler, Madeline Seibold and Alex Zois.  Mermelsteins shines with beautiful lines on BB and was the 2015 EAGL FX co-champ.  Zois returned from injury as a frosh to capture a share of the 2016 EAGL UB Championship.  She also competed VT and BB.  Pfeiler was a BB ace, earing All-EAGL first team honors for the second season in a row, but has also competed UB and VT.  Seibold excelled on the FX, earning 2nd team All-EAGL honors.

While 8 gymnast formed the entire GWU lineup, there are potential issues with depth and injury with such a small core.  This season, the Colonials hope to address that with five newcomers.  They welcome transfer Brooke Bray from Auburn and four frosh:  Cyndey Crasa, Ryan Finkelstein, Jenna Horner and Nicole Rogalski.  Crasa was a 2016 L10 JO Nationals qualifier, after a fifth place finish at Regionals.  She tumbles a double layout on FX, and could really make an impact on that event, and on VT.  Rogalski, a L10 from the 10.0 Academy, tied for 24th AA at the 2016 L10 JO Nationals.  She was also 28th in 2014.  She's a clean gymnast on all four events, but especially on UB and BB.  Finkelstein was a first year L10 in 2016 while Horner is a L10 Regional qualifier from Minnesota. 

GWU returns it's entire starting lineup and looks to continue its progress of the last two season.  A strong core of eight gymnasts produces those routines, and an injury to one of they AAers or 3-event gymnasts could have a big impact.  Allaire-Drouin, DeMoura, Raineri and Winstanley will be key to the Colonials success, and their continued improvement will pace the team.  GWU does have five newcomers this season, and they'll lend valuable depth as they gain experience.  GWU will also look to Crasa and Rogalski to challenge the veterans for starting spots immediately, and help lift the team to new levels in 2017.

Table: Teams #1 to #12

Intro

Key to the Tables:

Ranking: By 2017 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 2016 or preseason 2016-2017
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 Sunday, 01 January 2017 17:26
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