Tuesday, 05 January 2021 16:19

CollegeGymFans.com Top Recruiting Classes of 2020-2021

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Our Annual Ranking of Recruiting Classes Our Annual Ranking of Recruiting Classes (c) 2021 CollegeGymFans.com

The COVID-19 pandemic not only cut last season short, it has impacted our annual ranking of Top 10 Recruiting classes.  Find out more, in our look at the Top 10 Recruiting Classes of 2020-2021.  

Normally, this would have been the year where many elites would have entered into the NCAA, due to deferrals in place that enabled them to train for the Olympics.  With the Olympics pushed out to 2021, many athletes elected to defer their entry until the 2020-2021 season.  However, a couple of gymnasts have decided to enroll in classes and join the rosters, but sit out competing in 2021.  Remote learning and a "free" redshirt year (all athletes will retain a year of eligibility) has made this option feasible.  Because they are listed on their team's rosters, these athletes have factored into the rankings.  Gymnasts who are not on official rosters are not included this year.  This is consistent with our past treatment of athletes that are injured and will be sitting out the year.  A redshirt athlete is still counted as part of the class, as their impact will be measured over the course of their entire careers, not just one season.   

If you are interested in how we've developed our rankings, it is explained in detail in the section following the rankings.  It has been updated to explain the overall criteria versus other alternatives we've considered. 

This Year's Rankings

So, how did the teams stack up?  Here's the CollegeGymFans.com Top Recruiting Classes for 2020-2021 (click on the links to see video clips, where available):


1.  LSU

Elena Arenas
Sierra Ballard
Chase Brock
Hailey Bryant
Olivia Dunne

LSU edges into our top spot, just ahead of a trio of close contenders. LSU features a strong incoming class of five, led by former junior international elite Arenas, Level 10 standout Bryant, and senior international elite Dunne.  Bryant (Everest) is a two-time Nastia Liukin Cup champion and three time Level 10 National Team member.  She's won L10 National titles in the AA (2018), VT (3x), FX (2x) and UB.  She also competes big skills like a superb pike front half on VT (almost in a layout position) and a clean and high double front on FX. Dunne (ENA Paramus) is a former junior National Team member and 4x US Championships qualifier who was 18th AA in the Senior division in 2018.  This past season, she was 11th at the Nastia Liukin Cup.  Arenas trained at Georgia Elite and competed at the 2017 P&G Championships.  In 2019, she placed 8th AA at the Level 10 Nationals.  Prior to that, she tied for 12th AA in 2018.  Level 10s Ballard and Brock complete the class.  Ballard is the niece of LSU Head Coach Clark and trained in-state at North Shore.  She's a two-time L10 National qualifier and boasts a double layout or double Arabian on FX and a potential Yurchenko 1 1/2 on VT.  She also has progressed well on BB during the preseason.  Brock, a L10 from Gymnastix, is a 3 time L10 National qualifier who placed 6th on UB and 8th on VT in 2018.  She has competed a Yurchenko 1 1/2 and a rare full-out on FX, although that was earlier in her career.   

Bryant has been a standout L10 for several seasons and has the skills and execution to make an impact similar to LSU's super sophomore Kiya Johnson.  Dunne shows beautiful form and execution and successfully dropped down to compete L10 this past season, and demonstrates good readiness for NCAA competition.  Arenas has also been very successful at L10, and like the other two. had a strong club season in 2020.  Ballard and Brock bring some potential big skills as specialists to complete the class.

2.  UCLA

Chae Campbell
Frida Esparza
Brooklyn Moors
Sarah Ulias

The delay in the Tokyo Olympics has hit the Bruin incoming class hard.  A number of elite athletes set to start this season are now deferring entry (Jordan Chiles, Emma Malabuyo, Ana Pandarariu) and are not included here.  All is not lost as UCLA welcomes Mexican National team member Esparza, top L10 and former jr. international elite Campbell (Metroplex) and L10 Ulias (Paramount Elite).  In addition, Canadian elite star Moors has enrolled but will be sitting out the season to train for Tokyo.  Moors is a Canadian National Team member who is a three-time World Championship finalist on FX and the AA.  In 2019, she placed 14th AA and 7th on the FX.   In 2020, she placed 2nd AA at Elite Canada, won the FX and placed 2nd on UB and BB.   Esparza's best events are UB and BB, but she is also a potential AAer, having finished 32nd at the 2018 World's and having competed as a US sr. international elite for Head Over Heels.  Campbell is a two-time Level 10 National Team member who was 9th AA at the 2020 Nastia Liukin Cup.  In 2019, she was 2nd(t) on FX, 3rd(t) on BB and 3rd AA at the L10 Nationals.  Ulias is a L10 Regional qualifier whose best Regional finishes have come on UB.

UCLA slots into our 2nd spot here, just edging out Utah and Cal in our rankings.  Moors, a top elite known for her grace and expressive style, is the leader of the class with the potential to pull down big scores, once her sets get adapted to the NCAA.  However, Campbell and Esparza both have strong credentials as well.  Campbell has a been a fixture at the top of the L10 ranks and had an excellent 2020.  Esparza shows elite polish and skills on UB and BB, with the ability to go all-around. 

3.  Utah

Jaylene Gilstrap
Alani Sabado
Lucy Stanhope

The Utes welcome a strong class of three, including former international elite Jaylene Gilstrap (Metroplex), L10 standout Sabado (SCEGA), and former British National team member Stanhope.  Stanhope is a potential standout, showing early AA potential with a Yurchenko 1 1/2 VT, full-in on FX, Bharwaj on UB and full-twisting back handsprings on BB.  Gilstrap was a rising elite star and P&G Championship qualifier who suffered some injuries and dropped back to L10 last season.  She's known for her beautiful lines and execution and achieved a high level of success under the L10 code, which should translate well into the NCAA.  Sabado, who graduated early to join the Utes this season, was a L10 National Team member in 2019 and a 3-time JO National qualifier.  She finished 3rd AA, 3rd(t) on UB, 5th(t) on VT, 6th on BB and 8th(t) on FX (double Arabian) at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  The Utes unfortunately lost one of their standout recruits, former elite Deanne Soza, who retired early during the preseason.

The loss of Soza pushed Utah out of challenging LSU for the top spot.  They've still got a strong three-woman class, with Stanhope sporting top level difficulty and elite experience that is already being transformed for NCAA competition.  Gilstrap is known for her elite level polish and execution, but has had some issues with injuries.  Sabado had a very strong year in 2019 and continued that into 2020. 

4.  Cal

Elise Byun
Cosette Carranza
Blake Gozashti
Andrea Li
Gabby Perea
Kennedy Quay

The Bears welcome six frosh, led by two of the nation's top recruits in L10 Li and former senior international elite Perea, both from Legacy Elite.  Li, younger sister of UCLA and elite standout Anna, placed 3rd AA at the 2020 Nastia Liukin Cup.  She's a former Level 10 National AA champ (2018), a two time runnerup (2019, 2016) and former L10 UB and FX champ (2018).  She's amassed no less than 13 top 4 finishes at L10 Nationals over five years and three top 4 finishes at the Nastia Liukin Cup, including the 2016 title.  This track record of top finishes over so many seasons is a high indicator for future success in college.  Perea is a former National Team member and junior national UB champ (2016) who finished 15th AA as a senior at the 2019 US Championships.  In 2020, she dropped down to L10 and placed 6th AA at the Nastia Liukin Cup.  She's been looking strong in preseason training, and looks ready to compete a rare full twisting standing back tuck on BB.  She has beautiful lines and toepoint that play well on UB and BB, but also has a full-in and an expressive style on FX.  Also looking to make an impact are Carranza (Texas Dreams) and Quay (SCEGA).  Carranza was a L10 National Team member back in 2016 with a 2nd place finish at Nationals but competed on a limited basis until the 2019 season.  Quay placed 6th AA at the 2018 L10 Nationals (tied for 2nd on VT) and 5th AA (2nd on VT and FX) in 2017.  She returned to competition on three events in 2020, posting a 9.8 on the UB.  They'll be complemented by local L10s Byun (Airborne) and Gozashti (Gymnastics Zone).  Byun is a two-time L10 National qualifier who placed 1st on UB and 3rd AA at the 2019 Region I L10 Regionals.  Gozashti is a L10 Regional qualifier who put together a strong season in 2020, including two event wins on VT (Yurchenko Layout Full). 

Li and Perea rank with the top recruits in the nation. lifting this class into the top four.  The Bears would have finished even higher if the competitive trend of Carranza and Quay had been not interrupted the last two to three seasons by injury.

5.  Oklahoma

Audrey Davis
Julianna Fehring
Danae Fletcher
Bell Johnson
Katherine LeVasseur
Audrey Lynn
Sheridan Ramsey
Quinn Smith
Mielin Sullivan

The Sooner class is headlined by former senior international elite Davis, who has been excelling during the preseason and in 2020 on UB and BB.  The WOGA athlete placed 14th AA at the 2018 US Championships.  They also add some talented L10s, including Fehring, Fletcher, Levasseur, Smith and Sullivan.  Two-time L10 National Team member Fehring (LaFleur's) won VT and placed 3rd AA, 6th(t) on BB and 7th on UB at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She also won FX (triple full) and was runnerup on VT and UB(t) in 2018, to go along with a 3rd place AA in 2017.  Levasseur (Mavericks) placed 16th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals and 3rd on VT ('20 Yurchenko 1 1/2).  She also tied for 7th AA at the 2018 NationalsFletcher, who trained as a L10 at MG Elite, is expected to graduate early and join OU in January (note:  As of the date of publication Fletcher is not listed on the roster on the team's website or roadtonatonals.com).  She was the 2019 L10 National co-champ on FX and a L10 National team member.  Former L10 AA (2017) champ Quinn Smith, from the Arizona Sunrays, won the VT title in 2018 with a Yurchenko 1 1/2, defending her title from 2017. She also was 2nd on FX and 9th AA in 2018.  She came back during the club season in 2020, hitting 38.6 in the AA.  Sullivan unfortunately will reportedly miss the season due to long-term complications resulting from a case of COVID-19.  The Fuzion-trained athlete was 5th on UB at the 2019 L10 Nationals, and tied for 5th on FX (triple full) and placed 8th AA in 2018.  The Sooners also add local product Johnson (Bart Conner), a three-time National qualifier who placed 15th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  Clubmate Lynn trains a pike front-half on VT and is looking excellent in hitting the upgrade in Fall training while Ramsey (Aim High), who trains a full-in on FX and also trains a Yurchenko 1 1/2, complete the class. 

Davis is a potential standout on UB and BB, and may eventually work her way back on the other apparatus.  Lavasseur and Fehring have had strong results in the L10 ranks.  Fletcher returned back to competition in 2019 and Smith, who missed the 2019 season, returned in 2020.  Concerns with injury impacts, execution and skill level across all the events pushed the class just behind the top four. 

6.  Denver

Rose Casali
Jessica Hutchison
Isabel Mabanta
Rylie Mundell
Abbie Thompson

Denver's frosh class represents not only an injection of talent but much needed depth across all four events.  DU has run a lean roster the last several seasons, often using only five athletes per event.  Five frosh, in addition to the 10 returners, give the Pioneers more depth than they've had in quite some time.  Casali, a L10 from Southeastern, placed 5th on UB and 6th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She was also 4th on VT and 30th(t) AA at the 2018 Nationals.  Hutchinson is the daughter of former Bulgarian great Silvia Mitova and competed for Hungary at the 2016 Europeans, the same year she won L10 National titles on VT and FX.  More recently, following some knee problems, she tied for 17th AA and 10th on FX at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She's coming off a strong 2020, with a 38.65 season high AA.  Mabanta is a former sr. elite from Denton.  In 2018, she won the BB title, placed 3rd(t) on VT and 18th AA at the L10 Nationals.  In 2020, she won her session at the Metroplex ChallengeMundell has been a top L10 from IGI for several seasons, qualifying to four Nastia Liukin Cups, including placing 7th AA in 2020.  She was a L10 National Team member in 2019, placing 4th AA and tying for 6th on VT and FX.  She was 2nd on BB at the 2018 L10 Nationals and tied for the UB title at L10 Nationals in 2017.  The fifth frosh is Thompson, a L10 National Team members (2018) from Orlando Metro.  She's coming off a strong 2020, winning AA titles at five invitationals and posting a 39.225, showing a triple twist dismount on FX and 2 1/2 off BB.  In 2019, she was 6th AA, 4th(t) on FX and 6th(t) on BB at the L10 Nationals.  In 2018, she won the National BB title (side aerial to back layout stepout) and placed 4th AA.   

This class includes five gymnasts who have had a high level of success in the L10 ranks.  They've demonstrated some high levels of individual achievement, with National Titles and L10 National Team status, and strong skills.  They are also all coming off of solid season in 2020, indicating a good state of readiness heading into college.

7.  Oregon State

Jade Carey
Sydney Gonazales
Kailand Hoiland
Grace Johnson
Julia Melchert
Anna Yeates
Ariana Young

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

Although Carey is known in elite as a VT and FX specialist, she is quite a capable AAer and could easily become a dominant force in the NCAA.  Gonzales makes a strong complement to further strengthen the class.  Yeates and Young also are strong L10s while Johnson continues to work back from her knee injury.  

8.  Michigan

Carly Bauman
Reyna Guggino
Naomi Morrison
Jenna Mulligan

Michigan adds another top class, led by L10 standouts Bauman and Morrison (Arizona Dynamics).  Morrison, originally an Oregon State commit, placed 5th AA, 2nd on FX and 4th(t) on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2) at the 2019 JO Nationals.  She had an exceptional 2020 club season, winning all four meets, including a 39.05 in the AA.  In the recent intrasquad, she competed on all four events.  Bauman was the L10 National AA co-champ in 2018, where she also won the BB and tied for 1st on UB.  She finished 12th in 2019, with a 2nd on BB and 4th on UB.  Although her best events are BB and UB, she also vaults a pike Omelianchik (10.0 Start Value).  The Michigan newcomers are rounded by L10s Guggino (Tampa Bay) and Mulligan (Gymnastics Unlimited).  Guggino showed promise at the recent intrasquad on BB and FX, and has shown a strong improvement trend in club.   Mulligan tied for 5th on FX and 8th on BB and the 2018 L10 Nationals, and competed both at the recent intrasquad.  

Bauman has had a strong history of success at the L10 ranks and shows very good form and execution.  Morrison has shown a strong progression across the events, in particular on VT, and has good dynamics.  

9.   Stanford

Irina Alexeeva
Sandra Jessen
Isabela Onyshko
Tan Sze En
Amanda Zeng

Stanford has amassed one of its strongest classes in quite some time, led by Canadian Olympia Onyshko and former Russian National Team member Alexeeva.  Onyshko is a 2016 Olympian for Canada and a three-time World Championship competitor.  She made the BB finals at the 2016 Olympics and placed 18th AA.  Most recently, she placed 3rd AA at the 2020 Elite Canada meet, after coming back from injury.  Her strongest events are UB and BB, but has also won three medals on FX in World Cup competition.  Alexeeva competed at the 2018 World Championship, earning a silver in the team competition and placing 13th in the AA.  However, she stepped back to return to the US and focus on college in 2019.  She did return to competition in the L10 division on UB and BB at the WOGA Classic in 2020.   Jessen, daughter of the Czech great Hana Ricna, competed for the Czech Republic at the 2019 World Championships.  As a L10 at the Parkettes, she was a two-time L10 National qualifier, tying for 18th AA in 2019 and placing 6th on BB and 26th(t) AA in 2018.  Tan is a 2021 Tokyo Olympic qualifier and two-time National Champion from Singapore.  She trained in the US at Legacy Elite and shows beautiful toe point and flexibility on UB and BB.  The final Cardinal is Zeng, a L10 from Metropolitan.  A three-time L10 National qualifier, she tied for 9th on UB and placed 15th AA in 2019.  She also tied for 5th on UB and 13th AA in 2018.  

Stanford landed two marquee elites in Aleexeva and Onyshko, with the type of skills and execution to be very successful in the NCAA.  Past injuries, in particular with Onyshko, are the only concern that prevented this class from ranking higher.  

10.  Florida

Chloi Clark
Gabby Gallentine
Ellie Lazzari
Alex Magee

Florida welcomes a quartet of frosh, led by Ellie Lazzari and Gabrielle Gallentine, both former junior international elite gymnasts.  Of the two, Lazzari (Legacy Elite) looks set to make an immediate impact, based on preseason training.  In 2019, she won the AA, BB and FX at the Level 10 Nationals.  Gallentine is a former 2017 Level 10 National Team member who, like other Everest-trained athletes, excels on UB.  In 2020, competing as a L10, she broke 38.0 in the AA twice, and posted a 9.9 on UB.  She is also capable of a triple full and double Arabian on FX.  Clark is L10 from Gymtegrity who excels on the leg events.  She tied for 4th on VT and placed 26th AA at the 2019 Level 10 Nationals.  The fourth frosh, Magee, is a local L10 from Orlando Metro who excels on UB.

Florida's Lazzari has continued to show strong capabilities and a high skill level in 2019 and 2020 after dropping down to L10.  Gallantine also came back as a L10 in 2020 to successfully compete at several invitationals.  This positive momentum gives the Gators an edge into the Top 10.  


Just Outside the Top 10 

Just outside the Top 10 are a number of teams and outstanding individuals.  It was an extremely close to finalize our Top 10, with our final selections ultimately based on the quantity and quality of 9.85s+ potential scores the class could deliver.  In no particular order, look for: 


Nhyla Bryant
Katie Finnegan
Victoria Nguyen

The Gym Dogs welcome three frosh for 2020-2021.  Leading the way is former senior international elite Nguyen.  She was both a junior and senior National Team member who placed 6th on VT and UB at the 2019 American Classic.  She's known for her beautiful flexibility and presentation, especially on BB, where she has the potential to fully replace Vega's scoring potential.  Georgia will also depend on immediate contributions from Finnegan (Apex), who has graduated early to join this class.  In 2019, she placed 6th AA and 3rd on UB (stalder to Pak, Van Leeuwen, full-in dismount) at the L10 Nationals.  She was also 7th AA and 3rd(t) on FX in 2018.  The third frosh is Bryant, from the Raleigh School of Gymnastics.  She placed 9th(t) on FX and 37th(t) AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  Her best events are VT and FX, with plenty of amplitude and power that provide margin to upgrade in the future.

Nguyen has the potential to be a standout for UGA, and be a major force in the NCAA.  She's had some issues with injuries in the past, despite some great results.  That consideration kept UGA out of the Top 10. 

Boise State

Courtney Blackson
Talia Little
Emily Lopez
Danielle Nakayama

Boise State welcomes four L10 standouts, including two L10 National Team members.  Little, from Rochester Gymnastics Academy was the 2019 L10 National champ on the BB, UB(t) and AA.  She was also 2nd on BB in 2018.  She excels on UB and BB and shows good lines and extensionBlackson trained at Byers and was a L10 National Team member in 2018.  In 2019, she tied for 9th on UB and placed 14th AA.  In 2018, she tied for 2nd on UB, 4th on FX and placed 3rd in the AA.  This past season she hit 38.975 in the AA and 9.825 on the UB.  Lopez is a L10 from Wildfire.  In 2019, she placed 6th AA at the L10 Nationals, and tied for 8th on VT and 10th on UB.  A two-time L10 National qualifier, she had a strong L10 season in 2020.  Boise State also add Nakayama, a L10 from Wildfire.     

The Broncos welcome three strong L10 standouts, with solid L10 skill sets.  They all shine on UB but perhaps lack some of the high level elite skills on VT and FX of some of the other classes in our top 10, with only one 10.0 SV vault.   


Shania Adams
Sarah Duhe
Cameron Machado
Isabella Martin

Bama's incoming class is headlined by Senior National Team member Adams (Buckeye).  A five-time US Championships qualifier, she was 3rd AA and 1st on UB at the 2019 American Classic.  She'll have an immediate impact on the Tide on all four events, although she is strongest on UB and BB.  Bama also welcomes former jr. international elite Machado (First State) and L10 Isabella Martin (The Klub/Paramount Elite).  Machado qualified to the 2016 P&G Championships and returned to tie for 10th on UB and place 17th AA at the 2019 L10 Nationals.  She also tied for 13th AA and 7th on BB in 2018.  Martin is graduating early to join the Tide in January.  She placed 8th AA and tied for 4th on BB at the 2018 L10 Nationals.  The Tide also add Duhe (Elwood), a L10 Regional qualifier who shines on VT (Yurchenko 1 1/2).

Adams is a superb gymnast who could have lifted Bama into the Top Ten.  Her strengths are on UB and BB.  However, Machado and Martin both have missed a lot of competition in recent seasons.   

Arizona State

Cassi Barbanente
Sarah Clark
Skye Harper
Jada Mangahas
Cienna Samiley
Anaya Smith
Emily White

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

ASU has a large class filled with some very good L10 gymnasts, including two former L10 National team members in Baranente and Clark.  They have some very strong skills across the class and show a lot of potential, with some continued improvement in execution.  However, they fall short of our competitive Top 10 here.     


Future Individual Standouts

Other gymnasts have the potential to make waves; some will become instant stars on their squad:

Skylar Killough-Wilhelm, Washington
Killough-Wilhelm (Triad) is one of the top L10 recruits in the country.  Fifth AA at the 2020 Nastia Cup, she's a two-time L10 National team member who has placed in the top five on every event at the L10 Nationals.  With beautiful lines and super clean execution, she'll have a major AA impact. 
Madeline Johnston, PSU
Johnston is a former senior international elite and L10 from Hill's.  In 2018, she placed 15th AA at the US Championships.  Competing L10 in 2019, she placed 2nd AA, 2nd(t) on BB and 4th on UB at the L10 Nationals. She continued her success in 2020, winning AA titles at two invitationals.  She'll have a major AA impact for the Nittany Lions, in future seasons.     
Jessica Castles, Arizona
Castles is an elite for Sweden and 2018 National Champ who won gold on FX at the 2019 Europeans.  She also placed 1st AA at the British Championships in 2019, as a guest athlete (she is British/Swedish). With grace and impressive flexibility, once she's able to adapt to the differences in the NCAA, she could post some very high scores. 

Kinsey Davis, NU
Davis, is a L10 and former junior international elite from Southeastern.  At the 2019 L10 Nationals, she was 2nd(t) on UB, 4th on BB, 7th(t) on VT and 7th AA.  She was also 7th AA at the 2018 L10 Nationals.  While a solid AA gymnast, she especially shines on UB

Adeline Kenlin, Iowa
Kenlin was a former Junior National Team member, placing 4th AA at the US Championships in 2017.  She dropped down to L10 in 2019, winning four invitationals. At one point, she was a rising star on the elite scene but she still shows beautiful form and a high skill level. 

Olivia Hollingsworth, AU
Hollingsworth is a senior international elite from World Champions Centre.  In 2019, Hollingsworth placed 4th AA, UB and FX (full-out) at the American Classic.  This past season, she posted a 52.35 in the elite division at the WOGA Classic.  She should have a major impact at Auburn, once she adapts to the differences in the NCAA.  


Background and a Word about our Methodology:

Assessing the strength of an incoming class is a challenging task.  In the past, we have considered a more quantitative approach that assessed meet placement and scoring.  Relying too heavily on scores is problematic for several reasons:  1.  Scoring variation exists in the club ranks, just as it exists in the NCAA.  2.  Individual meets, especially those with event finals, may employ special rules or be in widely varying formats (home gyms versus podium stadium meets).  3.  The rules in Level 10 and NCAA now differ significantly enough that bonus rules and compositional requirements can distort pure mathematical assessments.  These factors must be balanced by performance in head to head competition, in high stress post-season meets with full,experienced judging panels, plus an evaluation of actual skill level and execution.         

Predicting future success is also a challenging task.  There are many intangibles, such as how an incoming freshman adjusts to college, gels with the team or responds to new coaching styles.   Each new incoming class changes the dynamics within the team as a whole and there is no way for us to guess in advance how the dynamics will play out or contribute to overall team success.  The best we can do is look at the incoming class as a discrete unit.   We ask of ourselves; What does each athlete’s competition history, skills, execution and even injury history (if we know it) tell us about what she brings to the mix that makes up her incoming class? 

Our methodology is based on a snapshot of each incoming class as they enter college for the first time.  In other words, we consider what we know about incoming freshmen as they enter school in the fall.  For those joining their teams mid-year, we consider what we know of them as of the time of their entrance in January.  Gymnasts that appear on the roster but are sitting out the year for any reason are counted.  However, gymnasts that are removed from rosters or retire before the start of the season are excluded.  Transfers are also excluded. 

What we consider:

Competition History -  An athlete's competition results reveal how an athlete stands up to competition and how consistently she performs from one event to another, and meet to meet.   It is especially interesting to see how an athlete measures up against the competition in elite or rigorous Level 10 meets like the Nastia Liukin Cup and the Level 10 Nationals.  These meets typically involve more experienced judges, more consistent evaluation and more pressure.  Decades of recruiting classes show that a strong history of top finishes in these major meets is a strong predictor of future NCAA success. 

Competition Trend -- The timing and trend of their success important.  Gymnasts that continue to rise in placement through their career more often than not hold that level or improve in college.  Continued success or even improvement over time also speaks to motivation, hard work and consistency.      

Skill and Routine Evaluation - Many athletes or other sources post training and meet videos.   Some college teams also give us peeks at preseason training videos.  We use these to get a look at the athletes’ skills and execution, and how their competition routines compare to NCAA requirements.  With significant differences between the NCAA code and the Junior Olympic (not to mention the Elite) code, gymnasts with stellar execution and no "built-in" deductions will have an easier time in the NCAA.  Gymnasts with FIG E skills, 10.0 Start Value (SV) vaults or exceptional levels of grace, expression or execution quality will also have an easier time posting scores of 9.9+.  On the other hand, under the L10 code, it is now possible to construct a routine that will get a strong L10 score (9.5+) and yet still be missing difficulty that will inhibit an athlete from getting the 9.85+ scores.  A high difficulty routine in the club level can merit a high score, but include minor but obvious execution errors that will hold back the score at the NCAA level.  In contrast, sometimes elite of L10 gymnasts include skills that are in excess of the difficulty they need in the NCAA and yet garner deductions.  These are typically removed during college to maximize scoring potential.   

Injury Status and History - Injury history is an unfortunate factor in recruiting.  Past major injuries like ACL tears, spinal issues and Achilles' tears can impact a gymnast's ability.  Sometimes specific major injury information is available.  Other times, a major injury or other break in training may be indicated by holes in a competition history.  To the extent that we can determine whether an injury history will potentially limit an athlete’s contribution over the course of her NCAA career, we factor that information into our ranking considerations.  We tend to view absences from competition in the season before entering college negatively, unless otherwise explained.  Only injuries that occur before the start of NCAA training are included, but also including those after the date of signing.  

Potential Contribution - Ultimately, we place high value on recruits who have the potential to make some starting lineups and to consistently score 9.85 or better on their events. 

Balancing Class Size – We attempt to consider large incoming classes versus small classes.  A large incoming class, even if it is loaded with walkons and specialists, provides important depth and coverage on all events.   That depth can be especially important if a team suffers some key injuries.  A large class is also sometimes filled with exceptionally gifted specialists.  In contrast, a small class of, say, one or two exceptional all arounders can have just as much impact on their teams.  Over the course of time, a marquee athlete has the promises to bring in big scores that can make the crucial difference to a team's overall ranking and success.  So, size of recruiting class is factored along with our best estimate as to how the individual recruits will figure in lineups.




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