Team USA: More Questions Than Answers



I will be attending my first World Championships in Montreal and I am beyond excited. This is the first worlds in a long time where most of the medals are up for grabs and quite a few top level teams have a few question marks in their lineups. One of those teams is the US, the defending world and Olympic champions. US Nationals created more question than answers. Ten women were invited to the worlds selection camp that will take place September 18-22: Jade Carey, Jordan Chiles, Margzetta Frazier, Emily Gaskins, Morgan Hurd, Ashton Locklear, Riley McCusker, Alyona Shchennikova, Ragan Smith, and Trinity Thomas.

The only obvious part to this story is that Ragan Smith is going and that she will compete in the all around. After winning the American Cup earlier this year and as a 2016 Olympic alternate, all eyes have been on Smith for big things this quadrennium. Though she didn't perform all around at US Classics, she competed well on uneven bars and balance beam. At the 2017 US Gymnastics Championships, Ragan easily won the all around by over 3 points and finished top 3 on every event. Barring injury, Smith is an all around lock for the team.

The second all around spot is a bit trickier. The spot most likely will go to one of Riley McCusker or Jordan Chiles (should they choose to do two all around gymnasts). McCusker was anointed as the new "chosen one" - excellent uneven bar work, performance capacity on floor much like her former teammate Laurie Hernandez. Like Smith, McCusker competed at the American Cup but that performance left quite a bit to be desired. She has since competed at Classics and Championships though clearly not at 100% as she has been coming back from injuries. Her performance at Championships was much improved and reminded us why she has the potential to be the new it girl. She finished third at Championships and the meet could have been closer if she was able to vault her double twisting Yurchenko. She finished first on bars, ahead of specialist and Olympic alternate Ashton Locklear, second on beam and fourth on floor.




Jordan Chiles career reminds be a bit of her (semi) namesake, Jordyn Wieber. We have known about Chiles for quite some time with her incredible Amanar vault as a junior. She's had quite a few international competitions under her belt. She had an injury and some coaching changes that kept her more in the background over the past few months. To be quite honest, I was about to erase her from my list of gymnasts to watch but then she had a good enough performance over 2 days to end up second in the all around. She, unfortunately, fell on her Amanar but is reportedly training a Lopez. The second vault makes her a medal asset which is going to be important to consider when figuring out the final team.

The next obvious choice is Jade Carey. She vaulted onto the scene out of nowhere (cliche, I know). She vaulted a tucked Tsuk double twist during the JO season and was tapped by National Team staff. Carey was then invited to camp and has progressed from there. She now vaults a laidout Tsuk 2/1 (technically a Kasamatsu 1/1 but WAG Code of Points doesn't differentiate) and an Amanar. The Amanar gave her quite a bit of trouble during Nationals. Her vaults are valued at a 5.6 and 5.8 respectively. Chiles' theoretical vaults are valued at a 5.8 and 5.2. On D score alone, Carey has the edge, however, the questionable landing on the Amanar leaves a few questions. Carey also has the fact that she is an excellent floor worker going for her. She finished 2nd behind Ragan Smith and boasts explosive but clean tumbling passes.



Could that be a team of 4? It gets a bit odd having 2 VT/FX girls as it would force McCusker out of the AA (only 3 can compete on one event). Smith would do AA. McCusker UB/BB. Carey and Chiles VT/FX with one of them able to do BB. Carey has the potential to be Kayla Williams, stellar vaulter that medals at a World Championships but then goes on to do great things in NCAA. I'm not sure what Carey's long term plans are if she doesn't make the worlds team (she is committed to Oregon State for 2018) but would it be more worthwhile to invest in Chiles? Though very few athletes are the same as they transition from the junior to senior ranks, Chiles is one that we've been waiting on for quite some time to wow us. Is now that time?

So let's go back to only taking one VT/FX girl. McCusker will do AA and that leaves an UB/BB spot available. Morgan Hurd has previously been hand picked by Valeri Liukin as an athlete to watch. Hurd has also been one that we've watched thrive in front of our eyes from the Nastia Liukin Cup now to US Nationals as a senior. She had a recent injury that prevented her from being her very best at Championships. She finished 6th in the all around not showing full difficulty and with a few errors. If she's back at 100%, she is absolutely someone that could fill that UB/BB role but the question is will she be back in time.

Trinity Thomas finished third on BB and can also fill the BB role. She's incredibly steady there and also has a solid uneven bar.

Alyona Shchennikova is an interesting one. She's been making a name for herself over the past few years. She won the US Classic but went from being a talked about girl to being forgotten in the shuffle. I have a hard time calling her a true bar worker because of her flexed feet and dangerous dismount but she does have excellent swing. Will the fact that she's a stronger reincarnation of Nastia Liukin change anything? Her floor is literally Nastia 2.0.

Ashton Locklear seemed to be an easy and obvious choice except for the fact that she is not, at the moment, the number one uneven bar worker in the US. Locklear took some time off after Rio and has been working hard getting back in shape. She's yet another gymnast not quite at 100%. Locklear has room to improve her UB D by adding back her in bar skills. She is still training balance beam though I don't think that changes much, especially since this isn't a team worlds. I can't tell if she's injured or has a lot of pressure on her shoulders as the new grandma of the team but she seems a little worn down. She's still my favorite American bar worker but she's not quite giving that exclamation mark that she used to give.

The last 2 are Emily Gaskins and Margzetta Frazier. I don't think Gaskins has much of a shot of making the team barring injury from others. She finished 4th on floor exercise. Frazier, on the other hand, finished just outside of the medals at Championships. She is another one that boasts an Amanar vault but didn't compete it due to a recent injury. Should she rise up in the AA competitions at camps, there's a chance that she could be the second all arounder with McCusker UB/BB and Chiles OR Carey as VT/FX. If she's not on the team, she'd make an excellent alternate.

My final pick for the team... I can't quite make. I think Ragan Smith and Riley McCusker are locks. I think in the end, McCusker will do all around leaving specialist spots open. What are your thoughts?




Partial Roster 2017-2018


A running list of rosters. Next year it will contain all 4 years! This is for the Top 20-ish schools and I plan to grow the list with time. Class year determines when the athletes matriculated for their first term as a freshman unless otherwise noted. For example, class of 2016 means the athletes started college in 2016 and first competed January 2017.


Alabama
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Kylie Dickson
Lexi Graber
Bailie Key
Alonza Klopfer
Wynter Childers
Madison Desch
Shea Mahoney
Abby Armbrecht
Jenna Bresette
Amanda Huang
Avery Rickett
Caitlin ColeAngelina Giancroce
Ariana Guerra
Notes: Amanda Huang transferred to Ohio State for her sophomore year
Avery Rickett ? medical retirement
Bailie Key changed commitment from Florida to Alabama
Bressette, Cole unknown
Arizona
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Payton Bellows
Sydney Freidin
Laura Horton
Adra Parks
Christina Berg
Courtney Cowles
Heather Swanson
Charlie Dembo
Haylie Hendrickson
Brittany Robertson
Skyler Sheppard
Danielle Spencer

Shannon Farrell
Isabell Hutchins
Jenny Leung
Maddi Leydin
Lauryn Mattson
Notes: Christina Berg '16 was Auburn
Robertson is no longer at Arizona.
Farrell, Dembo, Hutchins unknown
Sheppard transferred to Auburn
Arkansas
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Sophia Carter
Kailey Gillings
Sydney Laird
Michaela Burton
Hailey Garner
Sarah Shaffer
Jessica Yamzon
Mackenzie Anderson
Sydney McGlone
Lakin Legereit
Ellie Wylie
Kirby Rathjen
Notes: Shaffer is a redshirt and will have an additional year
Auburn
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Sydney Bassett
Allie Riddle
Ashley Smith
Meredith Syliva
Drew Watson
Katie Becker
Gracie Day
Kendal Moss
Samantha Cerio
Emma Engler
Taylor Krippner
Emma Slappey*
Jada Glenn
Telah Black
A'Miracal Phillips
Skyler Sheppard
Notes: Christina Berg '16 switched to Arizona
Slappey is a redshirt and will have an additional year
Skyler Sheppard transferred from Arizona in her junior year.
Boise State
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Tatum Bruden
Emily Muhlenhaupt
Rachel Obmann
Tessa Otuafi
Isabelle Amado
Courtney McGregor
McKinley Pavicic
Sarah Means
Shani Remme
McKenna Morrell
Maddison Nilson
Notes: Emily Muhlenhaupt '17 was a Utah commit.
Cal
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Kyana George
Alma Kuc
Victoria Salem
Nina Schank
Cassidy Keelen
Rachael Mastrangelo
Emily Howe
Sofie Seilnacht
Sylvie Seilnacht
Chelsea Shu
Maleah Pearson
Mariah Peterson
Lauren Ramirez
Alex Dudschus
Mariah Peterson
Notes: 
Denver
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Lynnzee Brown
Emily Glynn
Mia Sundstrom
Maddie Karr
Courtney Loper
Samantha Ogden
Claire Kern
Kaitlyn Schou
Grace Broadhurst
Diana Chesnok
Notes: Mia Sundstrom early?
Eastern Michigan
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Megan Benzie
Cali Harden
Brianna Price
Notes:
Florida
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Vanasia Bradley
Jazmyn Foberg
Megan Skaggs
Maegan Chant
Rachel Gowey
Amelia Hundley
Alicia Boren
Amanda Cheney
Lacy Dagen
Peyton Ernst
Ashley Hiller
Alyssa BaumannSierra Alexander
Nicole Webb
Notes: Chant graduated in 2015, signed NLI in 2016.
Peyton Ernst was medically released
Baumann was c/o 2016 but is deferring a year for medical reasons.
Foberg was c/o 2018 but graduated early
Georgia
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Ashley Foss
Emily Schild
Marissa Oakley
Rachel Dickson
Sabrina Vega
Caroline Bradford
Gracie Cherrey
Sydney Snead
Madison McPhersonJordyn Pedersen
Notes: Pedersen deferred to 2016
Alexis Beucler (2016) changed commitment to NC State.
Samantha Durante was c/o 2017***
Illinois
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Nicole Biondi
Grace Gough
Kylie Noonan
Rae Balthazor
Lindsay Dwyer
Karen Howell
Brittany Jones
Julia Hutcherson
Lizzy LeDuc
Brielle Nguyen
Haylee Roe
Kasey Meeks
Tessa Phillips
Rachael Donovan
Notes:
LSU
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Reagan Campbell
Christina Desiderio
Gracen Standley
Kennedi Edney
Ruby Harrold
Ashlyn Kirby
Julianna Cannamela
Sarah Finnegan
Mckenna Kelley
Lexie Priessman
Kaitlyn Szafranski
Bridget Dean
Notes: Harrold deferred to 2016. Desiderio was c/o 2018, matriculated early
Kaitlyn Szafranski went to Arizona State
Michigan
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Lauren Farley
Sydney Townsend
Lexi Funk
Maggie O'Hara
Madison Osman
Polina Shchennikova
Olivia Karas
Emma McLean
Carly GordonSam Roy
Notes:
Minnesota
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Ona Loper
Lexi Montgomery
Lexy Ramler
Casey Betts
Ivy Lu
Kristen Quaglia
Ryan Stach
Rebecca Taylor
Rachel Cutler
Selena Ung
Julia Huebert
Nicole Rogalski
Notes:
Nebraska
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Anika Dujakovich
Torri Hutchinson
Kynsee Roby
Alexa Clark
Sierra Hassel
Taylor Houchin
Kami Amemiya-Shows*
Sienna Crouse
Catelyn Orel
Megan Schweihofer
Kelsye Kurtiak
Rachel Thompson
Brooke Wrage
Kelli Chung*
Megan Kuo*
Notes: Shows, Chung and Kuo are red shirt freshman
Oklahoma
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Abigail Matthews
Evy Schoepfer
Ellie Wylie
Jade Degouveia
Maggie Nichols
Brehanna Showers
Alex Marks
Nicole Lehrmann
Megan Thompson
Notes:
Oregon State
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Savannah Force
Alexis Gonzalez
Kaitlin Yanish
Isis Lowery
Brianna McCant
Mariana Colussi-Pelaez
McKenna Singley
Sabrina Gill
Halli Briscoe
Kaitlin Campbell
Destinee Davis
Lena Greene
Jaime Law
Maela Lazaro
Alyssa Minyard
Mary Jacobsen
Elizabeth Yu
Notes: Gill deferred to 2016
Brianna McCant passed away summer 2017
Penn State
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Alissa Bonsall
Lauren Bridgens
Kourtney Chinnery
Ava Verdeflor
Tess McCracken
Kristen Politz
Mikayla Waddell
Sabrina Garcia
Mason Hosek
Jessica Jones
Amber Autry
Madi Heckman
Gianna LaGuardia
Peyton Schuller
Notes:
Stanford
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Kyla Bryant
Rachael Flam
Taylor Lawson
Lauren Navarro
Catherine Rogers
Kaylee Cole
Aleeza Yu
Taryn Fitzgerald
Hailee Hoffman
Dare Maxwell
Ashley TaiNicole Hoffman
Notes:
UCLA
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Nia Dennis
Pauline Tratz
Anna Glenn
Grace Glenn
Felicia Hano
Katelyn Ohashi
Madison Preston
Macy Toronjo*
Madison Kocian
Kyla Ross
Savannah Kooyman
Francesca Lawal
Lilia Waller
Maria Caire
Gracie Kramer
Giulianna Pino
Mercedez Sanchez
Matteah Brow
Stella Savvidou (Jan)
Nicki Shapiro
Notes: Kocian and Ross signed with the class of 2015 but deferring to 2016
Biles '15 is a professional athlete
Nica Hults verbally committed but unfortunately has not matriculated
Toronjo is a red shirt freshman
Shapiro and Brow are not on the 2016-2017 roster
Utah
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Alexia Burch
Sydney Soloski
Melissa Reinstadtler
Kim Tessen
Shannon McNatt
MaKenna Merrell
Erika Muhaw
Sabrina Schwab
Mykayla Skinner
Sarah SmithMacey Roberts
Notes: Skinner is deferring to 2016
Hannah Miller '16 was initially verbally committed to Utah but signed NLI for BYU
Roberts is a transfer from Maryland for the 2017 season
Washington
Class of 2017Class of 2016Class of 2015
Jennifer Oh
Geneva Thompson
Rachel Kaplan
Hannah Willmarth
Notes: Skinner is deferring to 2016
Hannah Miller '16 was initially verbally committed to Utah but signed NLI for BYU
Roberts is a transfer from Maryland for the 2017 season

Gymnastics Injuries 2017


I'm back! I don't particularly like this list because I do indeed have a heart. I also like having a reference though for injuries and such. So... here we are! I've included the 2016 list below just so we know who's still out in this new quad.

2017

Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Becky Downie GBRElbow tear (Apr)
Sofia Busato ITAACL tear (Apr)
Georgia-Mae Fenton GBRHamstring injury (Apr)
Ellie Downie GBRAnkle injury (Mar)
Ankle surgery (Aug)
Kelly Simm GBRFoot surgery ()
Gabby Jupp GBRFoot surgery (Mar)
Abi Solari GBRFoot surgery

2016

Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Tyesha Mattis GBR??? (Mar)
Carlotta Ferlito ITA??? (Mar)Jul 2014
Ekaterina Sokova RUS??? (Mar)? retirement
Fan Yilin CHNShoulder pain (Mar)Apr 2016
Pauline Schaefer GERShoulder pain (Mar)Apr 2016
Alyssa Baumann USAElbow surgery (Jun)retirement
Larisa Iordache ROUFinger fracture and surgery (Mar)Jul 2016
Nina Derwael BELHand injury (Mar)Aug 2016
Viktoria Komova RUSBack injury (Mar)
Kim Janas GERACL tear (May '15)
Elbow dislocation (Feb)
Nov 2016
retirement
Mary-Anne Monckton AUSACL tear (Mar)
Lisa Top NEDPCL and meniscus tear (May)retirement
Aleeza Yu CANKnee injury (Oct '14)
Ankle injury (Feb)
Feb 2016
retirement
Tabea Alt GERKnee injury (Mar)Apr 2016
Jonna Adlerteg SWEMeniscus surgery (Mar)
Maggie Nichols USAMeniscus surgery (Apr)Jun 2016
Roxana Popa ESPMeniscus surgery (Mar)
Nia Dennis USAAchilles surgery (Feb)Jun 2016
Wyomi Masela NEDAchilles surgery (Feb)
Maartje Ruikes NEDAchilles injury (Feb)retirement
Norah Flatley USAAnkle injury (Feb)May 2016 (c)
Ksenia Afanasyeva RUSAnkle injury (Jul)
Maria Kharenkova RUSAnkle injury (Jul)
Laura Jurca ROUAnkle fracture (Mar)Nov 2016

Larisa Iordache Set to Return



Larisa Iordache is set to make her return to major competition at the Stuttgart World Cup. This will take place in Germany on March 18-19. It's been nearly a year since we last saw Iordache in competition. In that time, Romania failed to qualify a team to the Olympics. Catalina Ponor was chosen as the Romanian delegate since they only had an individual spot. This competition will mean a lot to Iordache and also the Romanian federation. This will be a chance for all to see where she is in her training and give us an idea if Romania is set for better things this quadrennium.

There are new qualification rules to the 2020 Olympics to try and encourage higher level participation at the World Cups. USA did send athletes last year and seems like the trend will continue this year. New senior Jordan Chiles has been selected to compete. She was injured at the 2016 US Championships. She was one of the juniors the boasted incredibly high difficulty, including an Amanar vault. She has the potential to be in the running for the US Worlds team and this will likely be a step towards that selection.

Member of the Dutch Olympic team and all around finalist Eythora Thorsdottir will also be in the competition and looking for a medal. She recently competed at a meet in Iceland where she scored a 56.350. This was one of our first chances to see the new code in action. One of the things to note is that the scores are considerably lower with lower vault D scores, fewer composition requirements, and changes to some dismount rules. So this score would be the equivalent of about a 58. Thorsdottir is here and on a mission.

Canada's Isabela Onyshko is set to compete. She recently missed Elite Canada due to injury so we'll see if she's healed enough for the upcoming meet. Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain will set to compete in her first competition since the Olympics. She was recently on Strictly Come Dancing so there's much excitement to see what may have changed in her form and dance. Two of Germany's Olympians, Tabea Alt and Pauline Schaefer, will be in attendance in front of a home crowd. Rounding out the competition is China's Zhang Jin, who was sent to the 2016 Test Event.


2017 Stuttgart World Cup competitors - Women
Canada: Isabela Onyshko
China: Zhang Jin
Great Britain: Claudia Fragapane
Germany: Tabea Alt
Germany: Pauline Schaefer
Netherlands: Eythora Thorsdottir
Romania: Larisa Iordache
USA: Jordan Chiles

2017 Stuttgart World Cup competitors - Men
Brazil: Francesco Barreto
China: Sun Wei
Great Britain: James Hall
Germany: Lukas Dauser
Germany: Philipp Herder
Japan: Kazuma Kaya
Russia: Nikita Ignatyev
Ukraine: Oleg Vernaiev
USA: Sam Mikulak

The Stuttgart Team Challenge will take place alongside this competition March 17-19.

LSU Dominates at Season Opener



The NCAA season is officially upon us. #2 LSU beat #9 Georgia in their season opener with a 197.825, the highest score in LSU opening season history.

The LSU Tigers started off warm on vault but then the fire was unleashed when freshman Kennedi Edney stuck her one and a half twisting Yurchenko and scored a 9.950. The rotation continued with Myia Hambrick sticking her Yurchenko full for a 9.925. Ashleigh Gnat was the anchor with a superb double twisting Yurchenko with excellent height and improved form. She had a hop back for a 9.925.

Bars has a new lead off routine in Canadian senior Shae Zamardi. Due to an injury, the decision was made to take out her unique Markhelov release. Because of this and her difficult to stick double arabian, Zamardi was moved to the start of the lineup. The nice thing is that LSU now has a solid easily 9.8+ gymnast leading their lineup with the hope that scores will only build. Zamardi hit her routine for a 9.850. Hambrick had a great routine for a 9.875. Gnat was next in the lineup and got stuck on her full pirouette and lost her form in a few places to score a 9.775. Edney continued to deliver in her college debut with a beautiful Hindorff and a 9.875. Finnegan showed off her beautiful lines throughout her routine for a 9.9. Lexie Priessman has the anchor spot on bars and earned a 9.875.

Erin Macadaeg is back from a foot fracture to lead the Tigers off on beam. Macadaeg was training the all around but had to pull back for the first meet while recovering from her injury. She had an excellent routine without a single wobble for a 9.9. Lauren Li, transfer from Penn State, made her debut as a Tiger with a wonderful beam routine and a 9.850. Ewing, Finnegan, Gnat closed out the lineup with 9.9, 9.95, 9.875, respectively. Finnegan showed her triple wolf turn.

The Tigers then went to floor, the event for which they are well known for difficult tumbling and unique choreography. Sydney Ewing started things off with a 9.85. Senior Zamardi was 2nd up and mounted with a beautiful double arabian but had to take a large step forward. She earned a 9.850. Priessman had the 3rd slot. Unfortunately, she fell on her double pike dismount and scored a 9.200.  Hambrick was up next with a cute but sassy routine. Her opening double layout was a little short but the remainder of her routine was solid for a 9.9. McKenna Kelley had a phenomenal routine with a double layout mount. Her second pass was a very open and high full in. She dismounted with a double pike and scored a 9.925. Gnat closed out the meet with a lovely double arabian at the start of her routine and scored a 9.950.

Notably missing from the floor was Ruby Harrold. An Olympic alternate in 2012 and an Olympian in 2016 for Great Britain, Harrold is best known for her unique releases on uneven bars. She competed at Gymnastics 101 where they mentioned that she had been ill recently and was working to get her strength back. She is a gymnast that has a Yurchenko 1.5, worth a 10 so I imagine they would want her in that lineup as well.

Myia Hambrick won the all around with a 39.575. Close behind was Ashleigh Gnat with a 39.525. Georgia's Sydney Snead finished 3rd with a 39.225.

Georgia had a rough meet finishing with a 193.600, their lowest opening score since 1999. Beam continued to be rough for Georgia having to count four scores ranging from 9.150-9.625. Highlights of the meet were all arounder Sydney Snead who had a hiccup on floor but finished well everywhere else, including Georgia's team high on beam of 9.800. Sabrina Vega made her return to competition for the first time in almost 4 years. She had some wobbles on balance beam to earn a 9.625. Her floor exercise was lovely, mounted with a full in, and earning a 9.775. Morgan Reynolds returned on 3 events (all but beam) after missing the majority of last year's season due to severe infection with E. coli.

Notably missing for Georgia was Natalie Vaculik who would be a helpful score on beam but especially on bars.


The Tigers will compete again next week against #3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alabama just suffered a loss against #1 defending National Champions Oklahoma, 196.700-197.750. They will be eager for a win at home.

Results
Photo by Chris Parent