Saturday, 14 October 2017 16:38

2018 Capsule Previews: Teams #13 to #25

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Here's the Top 13 to 25, based on the 2018 Preseason Coaches' Poll. 


 13.  Boise State Broncos

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Neil Resnick and Tina Bird
Assistants: Patty Resnick
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT. 2 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (9):  Mary Frances Bir (Sr), Sandra Collantes (Sr), Alex Esmerian (Sr), Courtney McGregor (So), Sarah Means (Jr), McKenna Morell (So), Shani Remme (Jr), Ann Stockwell (Sr), Abby Webb (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Isabella Amado (So/I), Madison Nilson (So)
Graduated (3):  Mackenzie Bennion, Diana Mejia, Paige Urquhart
Other Losses (1):  McKinley Pavicic (So/TR/USU)
Newcomers (5):  Gabriela Bouza (Fr), Tatum Bruden (Fr), Emily Muhlenhaupt (Fr), Rachel Obmann (Fr), Tessa Otuafi (Fr)

Quick Assessment:
  Boise State has been rising in National prominence for a number of years, but has yet to break through to the National meet.  They return 19 of 24 routines this season, with three active competitors gone from that squad.  However, Boise State returns most of their key gymnasts, including AAer Shani Remme, sophomore Courtney McGregor, junior Sarah Means and seniors Ann Stockwell and Sandra Collantes.  The 2017 MRGC Gymnast of the Year, Remme will continue to be a strong AAer for the Broncos while the squad will look to increased contributions from NZ elite McGregor.  Collantes is also capable of going AA, but her best events are UB and FX (full-in).  Means was the MRGC VT and BB co-champ last season, while the fast improving Stockwell competed AA at Regionals last year.  Boise State will also get a key 10.0 SV vault from Mary Frances Bir (pike front half).  The Broncos will also look forward to the return of Isabella Amado, who was injured last season.  The elite for Panama is especially strong on BB.

The Broncos gain five frosh, who will provide key depth and routines for a squad that had encountered depth issues at the end of last season.  The five include Gabriela Bouza-Lazo, Tatum Bruden, Emily Muhlenhaupt, Rachel Obmann and Tessa Otuafi.  Bruden is a L10 from the Arizona Sunrays.  She tied for 9th on UB and placed 13th AA at the 2017 L10 JO Nationals.  She also tied for 12th in 2016.  Another gymnast from Arizona, Bouza placed 26th AA at the L10 JO Nationals.  Her best events are VT and BB.  A former Utah commit, Muhlenhaupt is now listed as an UB and BB specialist.  A former jr. international elite and L10 drop-down from Colorado Aerials, she's been coming back from injury.  Obmann is a L10 from Byers who won the 2016 NorCal AA title.  She has some big skills, like a full-in on FX and is a powerful vaulter.

Boise State returns a strong and experienced core, with the potential for a number of 10.0 Start Values on VT and big tumbling on FX.  The keys for the Broncos in taking the next step is to build consistency and develop their depth, and work the fine details that separate the teams in the post-season.  With better luck with injuries, they should be set up to challenge again this season.   


 14.  Auburn Tigers

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Jeff Graba
Assistants: Kurt Hettinger, Mary McDaniel
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Katie Becker (So), Samantha Cerio (Jr), Gracie Day (So), Emma Engler (Jr), Taylor Krippner (Jr), A'Miracal Phillips (Jr), Emma Slappey (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Telah Black (Jr), Kennedy Finnister (Sr), Abby Milliet (Sr/I), Kendal Moss (So), Cara Stricklin (Sr) 
Graduated (4):   Kullen Hlawek, Kelsey Kopec, MJ Rott, Lucia Scaglione
Other Losses (1):  Sarah Garcia (Sr/I/R)
Newcomers (6):  Sydney Bassett (Fr), Jada Glenn (Fr), Allie Riddle (Fr), Ashley Smith (Fr), Meredith Sylvia (Fr), Drew Watson (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Auburn returns 18 of 24 routines from last season, with a total of five gymnasts missing.  Key among those routines are those from MJ Rott, who was a top performer on VT and FX.  The 2018 Tigers will be led by sophomores Katie Becker and Gracie Day, plus juniors Emma Engler and Taylor Krippner.  Becker qualified to the NCAA Nationals as an individual last season, after a career high at Regionals.  Dynamic classmate Grace Day also has AA potential, and hopes to overcome the injury issues that slowed her last season.  The quartet of juniors, including Samantha Cerio, Emma Slappey, Engler and Krippner, gives Coach Graba plenty of options to fill out the events.  The Tigers also hope to have senior Abby Milliet back to form.  She's quite capable of putting together some big scores, especially on BB 

To this solid core, Auburn add six frosh newcomers.  Several bring the potential for big 10.0 Start Value vaults and E tumbling skills, which will help boost Auburn back to their past standard of high difficulty on those events.  Leading the way are Drew Watson, Meredith Sylvia, Ashley Smith and Jada Glenn.  Watson and Glenn both have powerful Yurchenko 1 1/2s, while the former is also excels on UB and FX.  Sylvia is a former jr. international elite with some big skills on BB (front aerial to Rulfova) and FX (triple twist).  She's had some injury issues in the past, so her health could be a wild card for Auburn.

Auburn looks to add some big power on VT and FX to complement a very experienced core.  Auburn had a down year while they dealt with some injuries and a general lack of experience.  With key underclassman leading the way and some talented frosh, we should see Auburn rise to the rank of National spot contenders once again. 


 15.  Washington Huskies

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Elise Ray
Assistants:  Ralph Rosso, Chad Wiest
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (8):  Hailey Burleson (Sr), Madison Copiak (So), Joslyn Goings (Sr), Michaela Nelson (So), Monica Riley (So/I), Haley Roy (So), Zoey Schaefer (Sr), Maya Washington (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):   Kristyn Hoffa (Jr/I), Evanni Roberson (So), Malory Rose (Jr/I)
Graduated (3):  Kaitlyn Duranczyk, Alexandra Yacalis, Janae Janik
Other Losses (2):  Emily Liddle (Sr/I/Team Manager), Jennifer Oh (Fr/I/R/Team Manager)
Newcomers (2): Geneva Thompson (Fr), Hannah Willmarth (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Washington returns 18 starting routines from their best squad in nearly 20 years, one that finished 0.5 points from the Super Six and with an 8th place rank.  While the loss of specialists Kaitlyn Duranzcyk, Janae Janik and Alex Yacalis will hurt, the Huskies return the core of a now experienced squad.  With the Super Six a publicly stated goal, there are some challenges.  Hailey Burleson, a 2nd team All-American in the AA had surgery this past fall for a potentially career-ending blood clot and is working her way back.  In addition, All-Pac 12 First Team BB/AAer Joslyn Goings had her foot in a boot at the Purple & Gold meet in early December.  Fortunately for the Huskies, the talented sophomore class returns a year stronger and more experienced.  Sophomore 2nd Team UB All-American Madison Copiak leads the way, with marked improvement, and with first year standout Maya Washington now training four events.  However, it's sophomore Evanni Roberson, who was limited by injury last season, and junior Monica Riley, who appear to have made the most progress since last season.  Both were the only gymnasts to compete AA at the Purple & Gold exhibition.   In addition, senior Zoey Schaefer looks to have a break-out year, and is training AA once again. 

The returnees will lead the way as the Huskies frosh class has been heavily impacted by injury.  Top frosh Jennifer Oh, a 2016 JO National Team member from WOGA, had shoulder surgery in the spring and has since retired.  L10 Geneva Thompson was a top vault and FX (full-in) candidate but appears to ahve suffered a major injury in the late preseason.  The third frosh, Hannah Willmarth, will add depth on UB and FX.

The GymDawgs will likely build strength as the season progresses, and key gymnasts return to the lineup.  For the Huskies, depth on VT is a key watchword.  They lack the number of 10.0 Start Value vaults and E skills on FX of the other Super Six and Top 10 aspirants, and so they'll need to successfully upgrade those events in order to move up further than their finish last season.    


 16.  UGA Gym Dogs

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 14/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 2 UB, 3 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Courtney Kupets Carter
Assistants: Josh Overton, Charlie Tamayo
Returning Starters (9):  Viviana Babalis (Sr), Gracie Cherrey (Jr/I), Rachel Dickson (So), Lauren Johnson (RS Sr), GiGi Marino (Sr), Hayley Sanders (Sr), Sydney Snead (Jr), Natalie Vaculik (Sr), Sabrina Vega (So)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Jasmine Arnold (Sr), Jordyn Pedersen (So)
Graduated (4):  Ashlyn Broussard, Morgan Reynolds, Beth Roberts, Rachel Schick
Other Losses (1):  Caroline Bradford (Jr/R/Manager)
Newcomers (4):  Ashley Foss (Fr), Madison McPherson (Fr/I), Marissa Oakley (Fr), Emily Schild (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Georgia is another squad undergoing a transformation, with the addition of new Head Coach Courtney Kupets Carter and volunteer assistant Suzanne Yoculan, and two new assistants, Josh Overton and Charlie Tamayo.  They'll also be missing 10 routines from last year's NCAA Semi-Final finish, including AAer Morgan Reynolds and key specialists Ashlyn Broussard and Rachel Schick.  They welcome back nine starters, including star AAer Sydney Snead, sophomores Rachel Dickson, a 2017 2nd Team All-American, and Sabrina Vega, and senior VT/BB specialist GiGi Marino.  Snead has been limited by back troubles but has the potential for high scores and top skills on all four events.  But her training and competition time will need to be paced.  Dickson and Vega had strong debut seasons, and this season they could take on expanded roles.  Dickson looks to hjave added back some of the top difficulty skills she had during her club career while Vega has been been a top performer on BB and FX (full-in). 

UGA has a frosh class with tremendous potential and promise, but have been plagued with injury.  Senior international elites Marissa Oakley and Emily Schild lead the way.  Oakley had a strong season, overcoming injury to compete two events at the P&G Championships this past summer.  However, her training this fall has been limited.  Schild was an Olympic Trials qualifier but has battled injury since then, the most recent being a fracture in the growth plate under her knee.  Ashley Foss is a former jr. international elite and L10 drop down who tore her Achilles early in 2017.    

Health is the watchword for the GymDogs in 2018, who look to a strong finish after their key newcomers (and returnees) have time to heal.  Early in the season, they'll be asking for the returnees to step-up in new events, competing for the first time.  Much of the roster is not able, or has not been able, to train all four events.  There are definitely the pieces to put together a Super Six competitive squad, however, lingering injury issues may make that challenging. 


 17.  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:  0 VT, 0 UB, 0 BB, 0 FX
Returning Starters (10):  Tia Allbritten (Sr), Allison Bower (Jr), Kennedi Harris (Sr), Madeleine Huber (Jr), Brooke Kelly (Jr), Xarria Lewis (Jr), Shauna Miller (Sr), Becca Schugel (Sr), Aspen Tucker (So), Britney Ward (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Alyssa Johnson (So), Mary Nicholson (So), Morgan Porter (RS So/I), Michaelee Turner (Jr),
Graduated (2):  Alyson Heimsath, Angie Kern
Other Losses (1):  Rachel Ley (So/TR/Rutgers)
Newcomers (4):   Chelsey Christensen (Fr), Lauren Clevenger (Fr), Gabrielle Gottula (Fr), Paige Kovnesky (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Missouri returns all 24 starting routines from last year's final Regional lineup, with just three athletes lost from last season.  They'll be led in 2018 by sophomore AAers Aspen Tucker and junior three-event specialist Britney Ward.  Tucker has worked hard in the off-season, showing off a new E pass on FX and a Yurchenko 1 1/2 in training.  Ward has an excellent Omelianchik VT and is a former All-American on BB.  They'll be joined by a huge complement of experienced veterans, including junior Allison Bower, Kennadi Harris, junior Madeline Huber, junior Brooke Kelly, senior Shauna Miller and senior Becca Shugel.  Bower looks much improved in Fall training, with a new pike front 1/2 vault while Shugel has been an AAer in the past and has a clean triple twist on FX.  Miller was a standout as a frosh but has struggled a bit the last two seasons.  Harris remains a fan favorite on FX, with solid tumbling and expressive dance. 

Missouri also gains the return of AAer Morgan Porter, who was injured early in the season.  She was a standout AAer during her frosh season.  The Tigers also welcome four frosh, including Chelsey Christensen, Lauren Clevenger, Gabrielle Gottula and Paige Kovnesky.  However, with such a strong returning core, they will be challenged to beat the veterans for spots in the lineup. Look for Clevenger, who was 2nd on BB at JO Nationals in 2016 to challenge for a spot, and perhaps Gotulla, who has competed a Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT. 

Missouri has a strong veteran squad that has continued to work hard and improve each season.  They've come up short at Regionals and will be looking to break through and qualify to the National meet once again.  No longer the youth-dominated squad of the past few seasons, they'll have their best shot this year.  Working the details and staying consistent on UB and BB will be the keys.     


18.  Stanford Cardinal

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 13/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 4 UB, 3 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Tabitha Yim
Associate Head Coach:  Chris Swircek
Assistant: Neal Gallant
Returning Starters (6):  Kaylee Cole (So), Taryn Fitzgerald (Jr), Hailee Hoffman (Jr), Elizabeth Price (Sr), Ashley Tai (So), Aleeza Yu (So)
Other/Injured Returners (1):  Nicole Hoffman (Jr)
Graduated (4):  Rachel Daum, Danielle McNair, Nicolette McNair, Haley Spector
Other Losses (1):  Dare Maxwell (Jr/R)
Newcomers (6):  Kyla Bryant (Fr), Rachael Flam (Fr), Grace Garcia (Fr), Taylor Lawson (Fr), Lauren Navarro (Fr), Catherine Rogers (Fr/I)

Quick Assessment:   Stanford had a rough season last year, with injuries and a lack of depth contributing to a sub-par finish.  In the process, they lost five key gymnasts and 11 starting routines, along with former Head Coach Kristen Smyth.   New Head Coach Tabitha Yim starts 2018 with the return of superstar and all-everything AAer Elizabeth Price.  Price was hampered by injury last season and we're hoping she's able to overcome her knee issues this season.  She's also supported by top sophomore returnees Kaylee Cole, Ashley Tai and Aleeza Yu.  There have been some injury challenges that linger for this group, and some increased depth will relieve the pressure to rush back into competition.  Stanford had to push just to make Regionals last year. 

Yim has been given a tremendous gift, with a superb frosh class for her rebuilding effort.  This is a class upon which future Super Six title contenders can be built.  The core includes L10 standout Kyla Bryant, former jr. international elites Rachel Flam and Taylor Lawson, and former senior internatinol elite Lauren Navarro.  Unfortunately, L10 standout Catherine Rogers will reportedly miss the season.  This class has a bucket load of top 3 finishes at JO Nationals to their credit, big skills and clean execution.  Bryant is a L10 from Georgia Elite and a L10 JO National AA champ in 2016.  Flam is another highly accomplished L10 drop-down, and a two-time JO National AA champ (2016, 2017) who excels on VT with a 10-worthy Pike Omelianchik.  Lawson had a strong year in 2017, placing 10th(t) AA and 2nd(t0 on FX (double Arabian) at JO Nationals.  She competes a standing Arabian on BB.  Navarro, who placed 16th AA at the 2016 P&G Championships, placed 2nd AA and won BB at the 2017 L10 JO Nationals. 

For Stanford, depth and health are the two watchwords.  The frosh will be key, and getting them to adapt to college competition will be critical.  However, they have plenty of experience at the club level and as long as they are healthy, they should be able to make the transition to college competition smoothly.   With the four core frosh and four core returnees, Yim and her staff have an excellent start on a path back to National prominence.


 19.  Arkansas Razorbacks

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 1 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Head Coach: Mark Cook
Assistants: Jaime (Pisani) Arnbrust, Garrett Griffeth
Returning Starters (7):  Makenzie Anderson (Jr), Michaela Burton (So), Hailey Garner (So), Sydney McGlone (Jr), Kirby Rathjen (So), Braie Speed (Sr), Jessica Yamzon (So)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Mia Bargiacchi (Sr), Sarah Shaffer (RS Fr/I), Amanda Wellick (RS Sr/I)
Graduated (2):  Samantha Nelson, Heather Elswick
Other Losses (1):  Leah MacMoyle (Sr/I/R)
Newcomers (5):  Sophia Carter (Fr), Kailey Gillings (Fr), Sydney Laird (Fr), Lakin Legereit (Fr), Ellie Wylie (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Arkansas had a rebuilding year in 2017, further complicated by the loss of star Amanda Wellick to injury.  Turn the page to 2018, and Wellick is back for a fifth year, providing leadership and an anchor to propel this squad back into Nationals spot contention.  She'll be complemented by senior Braie Speed, a standout on three events, powerhouse Sydney McGlone and sophomore AAer Jessica Yamzon.  The strong sophonore class returns with another year of experience and another year to adapt, and should form a strong remaining core, especially Michala Burton, Hailey Garner, Kirby Rathjen and redshirt frosh Sarah Shaffer.   They lose Samantha Nelson, Leah MacMoyle and Heather Elswick, and will feel the loss primarily on VT and FX. 

Arkansas will also welcome a strong frosh class, headlined by GAGE's Sophia Carter and former National Team member Sydney Laird.  Carter has terrific lines and execution, surpassed only by Laird's beautiful toe point and extension.  Kailey Gillings has solid stalder work on UB, while Ellie Wylie adds power with a pike full-in on FX. 

Last season, due to various injuries, Arkansas saw themselves shorthanded or lacking in depth.  The addition of a strong frosh class and some healthy returnees should help address that limitation.  This squad has the potential to excel on UB and BB, and will look to get enough strong healthy gymnasts to remain competitive on FX and VT.  The latter two events will be key to how high the squad can rise.   


 20.  Iowa Hawkeyes

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Larissa Libby
Assistants:  Jennifer Green, Vince Smurro
Starting Routines Returning: 14/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 3 UB, 3 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (9):  Misty-Jade Carlson (So), Nicole Chow (Jr), Clair Kaji (So), Maria Ortiz (Jr), Rose Piorkowski (Jr), Lanie Snyder (Sr), Charlotte Sullivan (So), Nikki Youd (Sr), Melissa Zurawski (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (5):  Breanna Fitzke (So), Annie Kustoff (So), Gina Leal (So), Sydney Hogan (Jr), Jori Robertson (Sr)
Graduated (5):  Savannah Borman, Mollie Drenth, Ashleigh Edlin, Angel Metcalf, Lexi Mura
Other Losses (1): 
Tessa Walsh (Jr/?)
Newcomers (5):  Erin Castle (Fr), Emma Hartzler (Fr), Madison Kampschroeder (Fr), Annabelle Mosier (Fr), Ashley Smith (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Iowa had a banner year in 2017, finishing 18th in the final rankings, led by graduated seniors Mollie Drenth and Angel Metcalf.  In total, the GymHawks have lost 10 routines from their final lineups in 2017.  The five seniors provided both big scores and tremendous depth across the events, and their loss will be felt, in particular on UB and BB, where half the lineup needs to be replaced.  Leading the way for Iowa in 2018 will be senior specialists Lanie Synder and Nicki Youd.  Sophomores Clair Kaji and Charlotte Sullivan made a big impact in 2018, and these international stars have had another year to adapt to NCAA competition.  Sullivan was a solid AAer in 2017, and she'll have to step up into a starring role this season.  Kaji excels on FX with a full-in but could be seen on at least three events this season.

Iowa welcomes five frosh in 2018, including Erin Castle, Emma Hartzler, Madison Kampschroeder, Annabelle Mosier and Floridian Ashley Smith (one of two frosh with the same name in the NCAA this season).  Hartzer, an in-state standout, finished tied for 18th AA a the 2017 Level 10 JO Nationals.  She also tied for the National Title on the UB, and she'll be counted on to help fill one of the lineup holes, as well as on BB (she tied for 5th at Nationals last season). 

The loss of the talent and experience of the departed seniors will be a tough loss to absorb.  Iowa will need their 14 returning gymnasts to step-up and fill the lineup spots of the departed athletes, especially on UB and BB.  These two events will be the most critical, as the strength of the incoming athletes tends to towards the leg events.  We'll need to see some athletes rise up and take the place of the departed seniors, so that Iowa can resume it's upward trajectory.         


 21.  GWU Colonials

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Margie Foster-Cunningham
Assistants:  Stephanie Stoicovy-Worrell, Jason Vonk
Starting Routines Returning: 17/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 2 FX
Returning Starters (7):  Cami Drouin-Allaire (Sr), Julia McLaughlin (Jr), Sara Mermelstein (Sr), Liz Pfeiler (Sr), Madeline Seibold (Sr), Jillian Winstanley (Sr), Alex Zois (Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Brooke Bray (Sr), Cydney Crasa (So), Yurina Harada (Jr), Nicole Rogalski (So)
Graduated (4):   Kaitlin Cowles, Alex DeMoura, Chelsea Raineri, Kaila Solomon
Other Losses (2):  Ryan Finkelstein (So/?), Jenna Horner (So/?),
Newcomers (7):  Hannah Cohen (Fr), Gemma Guttenberg (Fr), Rachel Kaplan (Fr), Catherine Karpova (Fr), Oliva Norman (Fr), Chloe Vitoff (Fr), Anna Warhol (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   GWU has continued to rise up the National ranks these past several seasons, raising the level of their gymnastics and their scores to begin to contend nationally.  Their #21 Preseason rank is a hard-earned reward for this team.  In 2018, they'll be missing a couple of key performers that helped fuel that rise, AAer Alex DeMoura and three-event standout Chelsea Raineri.  Raieri's big Yurchenko layout 1 1/2 will be missed in the stellar GWU vault lineup, while DeMoura provided a third strong AA score for the Colonials.  The good news is that the Colonials return 17 routines, including AA standouts Cami Drouin-Allaire and Jillian Winstanley.  Now seniors, this pair, along with classmates Sara Mermelstein, Liz Pfeiler, Madeline Siebold and Alex Zois, have fueled the team's rise up the rankings.  Drouin-Allaire and Winstanley bring the potential for strong scores on each event, and have led the transformation of the quad since their frosh year.  The past success of the entire senior class really makes this a critical year for GWU's continued improvement up the ranks. 

To this veteran core, GWU welcomes seven frosh and the potential for levels of depth that GWU has not seen for quite some time.  They will also return key sophomore Cydney Crasa, who missed the latter half of the season with an injury.  Rather than a few standouts, the frosh are expected to impact across the board, breaking into the lineup as specialists and challenging the returning core for their spots.

GWU has continued to improve the last several seasons, but has been hampered in the past by a lack of depth, especially on the UB.  The frosh have the potential to address these weaknesses, but they will need to adapt quickly in order to keep GWU competitive and continue the program's rise.  While they may lack the big skills of a Rainieri or the clean consistency of DeMoura, their added depth should help bolster the team overall by helping in other areas, such as uneven bars.  


 22.  Ohio State

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 18/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Head Coach: Meredith Paulicivic
Assistants: Randy Monahan, Lucas Wasson
Returning Starters (7):  Olivia Aepli (So), Taylor Harrison (Sr), Kaitlyn Hofland (Jr), Amanda Huang (So), Alexis Mattern (Sr), Stefanie Merkle (Sr), Jamie Stone (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (3):  Nevin Adamski (So), Peyton Hinterberger (So), Janelle McClelland (Jr)
Graduated (4):  Michelle Burns, Tenille Funches, Erin Malone, Jaine VanPutten
Other Losses (0):  N/A
Newcomers (6):  Danica Abanto (Fr), Brooke Chesney (Fr), Leonie Gast (Fr), Morgan Lowe (Fr), Kali Schierl (Fr), Jenna Swartzentruber (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  Ohio State welcomes a new Head Coach, the former Utah star and Assistant Coach Meredith Paulicivic.  The Buckeyes return 18 of 24 routines from last season, but return many of their key performers, including a very talented core group of experienced gymnasts.  The senior class is headed by AA standout Alexis Mattern, and is complemented by potential AAers Taylor Harrison and Stefanie Merkle.  All three are capable of some big skills and the resulting big scores, especially Mattern on VT (pike front 1/2) and FX (double layout).  Junior Kaitlyn Hofland is the team's UB and BB ace, while sophomore Olivia Aepli had a dynamic debut as a frosh.  Junior Jamie Stone and sophomore Amanda Huang were also key parts of the Ohio State lineup, giving Coach Paulicivic many options in the core of her lineups.

To that core, the Buckeyes add six newcomers, including signees Danica Abanto, Leonie Gast, Morgan Lowe and Jenna Swartzentruber.  Swartzentruber leads the way, having placed 8th AA, 4th(t) on VT and 5th(t) on UB at the 2017 JO Level 10 Nationals.  She was also 1st on UB and 6th AA in 2016.  However, any of the six could make an immediate impact for the Buckeyes, helping push the Buckeyes back into National contention.  The Buckeyes also return three other veterans, including Nevin Adamski and Janelle McLelland, who has made the FX lineup in the past. 

With a talented and experienced core set of returnees coupled with some talented frosh, the new coaching staff has some great building blocks to begin to make an immediate impact.  Depending on how these pieces come together, we may quickly see Ohio State contend once again for a spot at Nationals.   


 23.  Illinois Illini

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach:  Nadalie Walsh
Assistants:  Chris Bogantes, Ashley Priess-Johnston
Starting Routines Returning: 15/24
Routines Gone:  2 VT, 2 UB, 2 BB, 3 FX
Returning Starters (7): Rae Balthazor (So), Jordyn Givens (Sr), Bridget Hodan (Sr), Mary Jane Horth (RS Sr/I), Karen Howell (So), Sarah Lyons (GR), Haylee Roe (Jr)
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Rachael Donovan (Jr), Lindsay Dwyer (So), Julia Hutcherson (Jr), Brittany Jones (So)
Graduated (1):  Erin Buchanan
Other Losses (3):  Becca Cuppy (Sr/?), Brielle Nguyen (Jr/?), Lizzy LeDuc (Jr/?)
Newcomers (5):  Nicole Biondi (Fr/I), Grace Gough (Fr), Kasey Meeks (Fr), Kylie Noonan (Fr), Tessa Phillips (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   The Illini welcome a new coaching staff, led by Head Coach Nadalie Walsh.  They'll have some immediate challenges, with 9 routines missing from last year's regional lineups.  Although they lost just one key gymnast to graduation, Erin Buchanan, they also no longer have the services of three others, including star All-Arounder Lizzy LeDuc.  On top of that, star Mary Jane Horth is currently in a boot.

They'll be led in 2018 by sophomores Rae Balthazor and Karen Howell, along with junior Haylee Roe.  The Illini also recently regained the services of graduate Sarah Lyons, but she may be a bit behind in training.  Seniors Jordyn Givens and Bridget Hodan are also back to lend key experience and depth to the lineups.  In the recent intrasquad, the Illini also saw bigger contributions from Rachael Donovan, LIndsay Dwyer and Brittany Jones.

Illinois welcomes five frosh, who all will be asked to take on big roles.  Kasey Meeks competed well throughout the fall, while Nicole Biondi continues to work her way back from injury and is showing good progress.  Biondi won the UB and tied for 5th AA at the 2016 JO Nationals and could be a major contributor for the Illini in the future.

Illinois will be using this season to build a strong foundation for the future, and their success this season will largely depend on getting some stepup performances from both their returners and newcomers, while the veteran core leads the way.  There are some open questions here, and we'll see how the narrative unfolds as the season progresses. 


 24.  Southern Utah

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Starting Routines Returning: 13/24
Routines Gone:  3 VT, 2 UB, 2 BB, 4 FX
Head Coach: Scott Baumann
Assistants: Jeff Richards, Jamie Wysong
Returning Starters (8):  Kamryn Bayer (Jr), Karen Gonzalez (Sr), Amber Heltemes (Sr), Autumn Jorgensen (So), Madison McBride (So), Megan McBride (So), Becky Rozsa (So), Kirsten Yee (RS Sr)
Other/Injured Returners (2):  Madison Howlett (So/I), Emily Wilson (So)
Graduated (7):  Madyson Blake-Howard, Tyly Bozzuto, Virginia Brownsell, Danielle Ramirez, Memory Shettles, Sydney Townsend, Stacie Webb
Other Losses (1):  Lillie Minor (So/?),
Newcomers (11):  Morgan Alfaro (Fr), Jiang Braley (Fr), McKenna Burnside (Fr), Julianna Dahlke (Fr), Mikaela DeFilippo (Fr), Molly Jozwiakowski (Fr), Allysa LaDieu (Fr), Madison Loomis (So/TR/SJSU), Hannah Nipp (Fr), Mary Packham (Fr), Amanda Wiltsie (Fr)

Quick Assessment:  SUU graduated seven seniors from last season, who contributed 11 routines from their Regional lineups.  The losses include Stacie Webb, who scored the first 10.0 in school history and several other gymnasts who contributed key routines deep in the Thunderbird lineups, including Madyson Blake-Howard, Tyly Bozzuto, Virginia Brownsell and Memory Shettles.  And the lost routines are not including top AAer Danielle Ramirez, who was injured earlier in the season.  That's a tremendous amount of depth and experience lost. 

SUU returns eight starters, including BB/UB standout Kirsten Yee and sophomores Autumn Jorgensen and twins Madison and Megan McBride.  The strong sophomore class will be expected to contribute even more in 2018, including UB standout Becky Rozsa and Madison Howlett.  The latter missed time due to injury, but appears back strong in preseason training.

To that core of talent, SUU adds no less than 10 frosh and one transfer, led by Morgan Alfaro, Mikaela DeFilippo, and Hannah Nipp.  Nipp leads the way, after placing 17th AA and 8th on UB at the 2017 Level 10 JO Nationals.  Madison Loomis, a transfer from San Jose State, could also make an impact right away.  

For SUU, they'll need to get some stepup performances from their sophomore class while the frosh gain experience and work their way into the lineups.  This could be a transition year for the Thunderbirds, depending on how the underclassmen develop.   


 25.  PSU Nittany Lions

Official Web Site:  Link      Schedule      Roster
Head Coach: Sarah Shire Brown
Assistants:  Rob Drass, Dallas Becerra
Starting Routines Returning: 19/24
Routines Gone:  1 VT, 2 UB, 1 BB, 1 FX
Returning Starters (6):  Sabrina Garcia (Jr), Mason Hosek (Jr), Gianna LaGuardia (Jr), Kristen Politz (So), Peyton Schuller (Jr), Briannah Tsang (Sr) 
Other/Injured Returners (4):  Amber Autry (Jr), Jessica Jones (Jr/I), Tess McCracken (So), Mikayla Waddell (So)
Graduated (4):  Kiera Brown, Nicole Medvitz, Tina Postiglione, Emma Sibson
Other Losses (3):  Madison Heckman (Jr/?), Chanen Raygoza (Sr/R/Manager), Oni Timothy (Sr/Manager)
Newcomers (4):  Alissa Bonsall (Fr), Lauren Bridgens (Fr), Kourtney Chinnery (Fr), Ava Verdeflor (Fr)

Quick Assessment:   Penn State features as new coaching staff this season, led by former EMU Head Coach Sarah Shire Brown.  She's joined by Rob Drass (ex Mizzou) and Dallas Becerra.  They will be led in 2018 by senior AA star Briannah Tsang and junior Sabrina Garcia.  They'll form the core of their Nittany Lion lineups, as the team and staff work to recover from the distractions of last season, graduation losses and a number of off-season retirements.  Mason Hosek, Gianna LaGuardia, Kristen Politz and Peyton Schuller also return, but depth is a concern on some events.  They return 19 of 24 routines, but a total of 7 gymnasts, including some top scorers in prior years.  

They'll look forward to the return of Jessica Jones from injury, and a quartet of talented frosh.  Lauren Bridgens leads the way, with a powerful vault and the ability to make an impact in the AA.  She'll be joined by Alisa Bonsall, another strong vaulter and tumbler (double layout) with a strong club history.  We've haven't seen a lot of competition results from Kourtney Chinnery and Ava Verdeflor during the last club season, but both seem to be training well this fall.  

For PSU, things are a bit tougher to predict.  There's a lot of talent on the roster but also a lot of question marks, especially about depth.  We'll see how the team and the new coaching staff combine to move past the distractions of the last two seasons.  Getting strong contributions from the two top frosh and from the other returnees will go a long way toward returning the Nittany Lions back into the National stage.       



Table: Teams #1 to #12


Key to the Tables:

Ranking: By 2018 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 2017 or preseason 2017-2018
R = retirement/not competing (for any other reason than transfer or injury)
TR = Transfer
RS = Redshirt (note:  not all eligible gymnasts will employ or are awarded a redshirt year)
?=unconfirmed/unknown information

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 January 2018 11:30
More in this category: « 2009 Capsule Previews #13 to #25