NCAA Most Successful Freshman: Follower Edition
Earlier in the week, I posted who I thought was Most Successful Freshman for the 2014 season and a few Honorable Mentions. You can read that post here. Here are a few freshman that you all suggested.
Fan favorite would have to go to Oklahoma's Chayse Capps. Three different people recommended her routines, especially floor and with good reason. Capps was a staple in the Oklahoma lineup on vault, beam, and floor averaging above 9.8. She was the only freshman to finish the regular season in the Top 10 and ranked 8th in the balance beam event finals at NCAA Championships.
Nicolette McNair of Stanford is another stable and steady young competitor. Like Hallie Mossett, when teammates were making errors, freshman McNair could be relied upon to hit. She was also a 3-eventer competing vault, bars, and beam. She tried floor exercise a few times but didn't have successful performances. I'm sure this is something she will be working on this year and also breaking into better lineup positions.
The two that I feel like an idiot for forgetting are Ashleigh Gnat of LSU and Katie Bailey of Alabama. Affectionately called "Bugs," Gnat was a solid competitor for LSU. She is one of a handful of gymnasts to compete a 1.5 twisting Yurchenko. Because of the blind landing, this vault is hard to stick. She fought for the stick for a good portion of the season and eventually switched to a full twisting Yurchenko a few times. It will be interesting to see what she vaults this year. LSU posted an update video and Gnat is looking very strong.
The three athletes that have been mentioned so far are all 3-eventers. Alabama's Katie Bailey was one of the few freshman who managed to compete all around for the majority of the season, including NCAA Semifinals and Finals. She's a strong all around gymnast and I had a hard time picking one event to highlight. Kerstin reminds me of Bailey's floor exercise - it's a jazz routine full of sass. Bailey is an excellent performer and just draws you in whether it's beam or floor. This will continue to grow throughout her college career.
Ashlyn Broussard had some trouble finding a commanding place in the Georgia lineup. At the beginning of the season, she competed on vault and balance beam. Georgia had some trouble finding a balance beam lineup order that worked and Broussard was taken out of the lineup for one meet after scoring an 8.4. Around this time, there was an injury, and Broussard came back as a much needed 6th person on floor exercise. She competed again on floor exercise and balance beam in both NCAA semifinals and finals. Twitter user LoveGymnastics04 reminds us that Broussard was able to hit her Nationals beam routine after 2 other teammates fell. She was a vital contributor to the team in the championship season.
Nicole Artz, Michigan, was another freshman that had a few opportunities to compete in the all around. She was a constant on uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise, and added vault a few times during the season. Most notably, she competed all around at NCAA Championships earning a 39.375 for 13th place. At the Athens Regional, she won the all around with a 39.325 and tied for first on balance beam with a 9.850.
Amanda Wellick joined Arkansas teammate Katherine Grable as the only 2 Razorback gymnasts to qualify to Nationals. Throughout the regular season, Wellick competed all around 10 times. She earned her spot to NCAA Championships after scoring a 39 even in the all around at the Fayetteville Regional. Unfortunately, errors on uneven bars kept her from getting a higher ranking in the all around final. Now that Grable has graduated, Wellick rely on her her experience to help guide the team.
Thank you for your input Abbey, Cordelia, Daniel, Kerstin, April, Gina, and LoveGymnastics04!
Any others? Who are you most excited to watch as sophomores?