The national letter of intent early signing period came to a close Wednesday after over 200 gymnasts solidified their intentions to compete in college gymnastics for the 2019 season. While great gymnasts signed to many teams all over the country, we ranked the teams that pulled in the best haul of overall stellar athletes.
No. 1 Michigan
Abby Brenner, Abby Heiskell, Maddie Mariani, Natalie Wojcik
There’s very little debate that the Wolverines signed the best group of gymnasts during the period with its four individuals earning 11 J.O. nationals titles and making seven Nastia Liukin Cup appearances. Brenner won the J.O. national all around title in 2017, as well as bars and floor while Heiskell and Wojcik picked up gold on vault. But that’s not all.
Brenner also won floor in 2016 and 2014, bronze on floor in 2013 and second all around in 2015. Plus, she’s a two-time Nastia Cup qualifier, finishing sixth each time. Heiskell won the all around at J.O. nationals in 2016 and is a three-time Nastia competitor with her highest finish coming in 2017 where she finished fifth. Mariani is a three-time nationals qualifier, snagging four top-five finishes, including a silver on bars in 2016 and fourth all around in 2017. Wojcik has a collection of national titles, with one apiece on vault (2017), floor (2016) and beam (2014). She also finished second all around in 2016 and seventh three times in 2014, 2015 and 2017. She’s also a two-time Nastia Cup fourth-place finisher.
The top two all around scores in 2017 also come from future Wolverine’s in Wojcik and Brenner while Heiskell and Wojcik hold positions in the top five on vault, Heiskell is has the third-highest mark on bars, Wojcik holds top 2017 beam score and is in the top five on floor as well. And that’s even without any former elites.
No. 2 Georgia
Sami Davis, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee, Megan Roberts, Abbey Ward
If NCAA gymnastics has a recruit ranking system like football or basketball, there’s a good chance Lukacs would be considered the No. 1 incoming freshman in the country. There’s very little she hasn’t accomplished in J.O. competition. The New Jersey native is a four-time Nastia Cup competitor, including winning in 2016 and placing second in 2017. In addition she also placed third in 2014, her first year competing at Nastia Cup. She’s also a seven-time J.O. nationals qualifier and seven-time champion, including three all around and vault titles from 2014-2016. Honestly, Georgia could rank high with just Lukacs in the class, but sits at No. 2 because of its supporting players.
Roberts was an alternate on Canada’s Olympic team in 2016 and has been on the international stage since 2013. Magee, formerly committed to Utah, qualified to the Nastia Cup in 2017 and is also a three-time J.O. nationals qualifier, finishing as high as sixth in the all around and third on beam. Davis, from the same club as Lukacs, won the national floor title in 2017 and finished fourth all around while Abbey Ward, who is presumed to be walking on after being removed from the official release, is also a 2017 J.O. nationals qualifier.
No. 3 California
Maya Bordas, Milan Clausi, Talitha Jones, Abigail Solari
The Golden Bears bring in an incredibly talented class that includes two J.O. national all around champions another who finished in the top six and a fourth who is a British National Team member. Bordas, who collected the 2017 J.O. AA title, also picked up top-three finishes on bars and floor while Clausi, daughter of 1988 Olympian Missy Marlowe, also won the AA title at nationals this past season and finished in the top 10 on three individual events. Aside from finishing sixth in the AA at nationals, Jones also collected three other top 10 finishes while Solari, an elite for Team GB since 2012, won the silver in the all around at the 2014 Olympic Hopes Cup, as well as bronze at the 2016 English Championships.
No. 4 Florida
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Leah Clapper, Nya Reed, Savannah Schoenherr
Florida stuck with tradition this year, signing a handful of standout elites, as well as a couple of supporting level 10s. Johnson-Scharpf, daughter of Olympian Brandy Johnson, is a four-time P&G championships competitor, finishing as high as sixth in the all around in 2015. Clapper is also a P&G championships qualifier who entered the elite scene in 2016 after being relatively successful on the J.O. stage, finishing as high as seventh all around at 2016 nationals. Reed and Schoenherr round out the class with strong results in level 10, including five top 10 J.O. nationals finishes in 2017 between the duo.
No. 5 Alabama
Asia Dewalt, Emily Gaskins, Griffin James, Shallon Olsen
Alabama wins the prize for biggest surprise signee after inking 2016 Canadian Olympian and world championship finalist Olsen. According to head coach Dana Duckworth, Olsen will join the Crimson Tide for the 2019 season before deferring to pursue an opportunity to make Canada’s 2019 world championship and 2020 Olympic teams. Emily Gaskins is another strong get for the Tide, making her the third gymnast it’s pulled from Florida in recent years. Gaskins is a five-time P&G championship competitor and was most recently invited to the 2017 world championship selection camp. Asia Dewalt, a former junior elite, and Griffin James, a five-time J.O. nationals qualifier, are both strong level 10 standouts that join the class as well.
No. 6 Utah
Hunter Dula, Cristal Isa, Adrienne Randall, Lauren Wong
While no immediately recognizable level 10s or standout former elites, Utah pulls in a solid class that includes two J.O. national champions in Isa (bars) and Randall (beam). Isa, formerly committed to Arizona, holds the fifth-best all around score of 2017 of the level 10s who signed and also sits in the top five on bars. Randall obviously excels on beam, holding the fourth-highest score on the event of the signees while Dula is a Nastia Cup and J.O. nationals qualifier and also has a top five score on bars. Salt Lake City native Wong rounds out the class and will join the Utes in January for the 2018 season.
No. 7 Denver
Alexia Vasquez, Maddie Quarles, Alexandria Ruiz
Denver brings a strong class to the roster in 2019. Vasquez, a former elite, was a member of the junior national team and is a two-time P&G championships competitor. Ruiz, from the same gym as LSU phenom Ashleigh Gnat, is also a former junior elite, having competed at the Nastia Cup twice and J.O. nationals four times, winning beam in 2015. Quarles rounds out the group of signees, hailing from Twin City Twisters. She is a two-time J.O. nationals qualifier and had the highest score in the country on floor in 2016 with a 9.9.
No. 8 Oregon State
Leah Bivrell, Madi Dagen, Jade Carey
The most notable gymnast in this class is obviously Carey, who is fresh off two silver medals at the 2017 world championships in Montreal, Canada. Carey, a standout on vault and floor, also shows strong routines on beam and even bars, making her a threat when she eventually enters college. While she’s noted her intentions of continuing training for Tokyo, it’s unknown whether she plans to defer or arrive in Corvallis in the fall of 2018. While Carey stands out as the leader of this signing class, the remaining two shouldn’t be written off. Dagen, sister of Florida transfer Lacy, is a three-time J.O. nationals qualifier, most recently earning the all around bronze in 2017, as well as second on beam in 2016. Bivrell rounds out the group, having two top five finishes at nationals in 2016 on vault and bars and a ninth-place result in the all around.
No. 9 Nebraska
Sarah Hargrove, Abigail Johnston, Kaylee Quinn, Megan Thompson
Nebraska ranks high on the list, above the likes of UCLA thanks to the success of its signees on the J.O. nationals stage. Three of the four gymnasts competed at nationals with Quinn winning the floor title, Hargrove picking up the bronze in the all around and Johnston notching a fifth-place finish on beam.
No. 10 UCLA
Margzetta Frazier, Sekai Wright
In true UCLA fashion, UCLA signed two gymnasts this fall, but not the two most people were expecting. Wright, the first signee for the Bruins, is a two-time national vault champion, winning her titles in 2015 and 2016. She holds a huge career high of 9.975 for the event, giving the team a solid lift for the coming years. Frazier, an American senior elite, finished fifth at the 2017 P&G Championships, made the National Team and was invited to the world championship selection camp. Norah Flatley was also slated to sign but was not included in the official release, leaving gym fans to wait until at least the spring to see where the former fan favorite elite lands.
Other Notable Classes
While it was tough narrowing down the many amazing classes down to the top 10, we couldn’t not talk about the likes of Southern Utah, Washington, Stanford and Oklahoma.
The Thunderbirds bring in a surprisingly strong class. Karley McClain won the J.O. national floor title in 2017 and picked up second place in 2016. She has also competed at the Nastia Cup in the past. Rachel Smith has qualified to nationals twice and is one of the best vaulters in the country. Caitlin Kho and Shylen Murakami round out the class that will arrive in Cedar City in time for the 2019 season.
Talia Brovedani, Madeline McLellan and Meaghan Ruttan signed with Washington, continuing the Canadian tradition in Seattle. Ruttan is the standout of the group as a current Canadian national team member and bronze medalist on beam at the 2016 Pan American Championships.
A class of five is what makes this Stanford class worth talking about. Replacing Elizabeth Price will be difficult even if the Cardinal brought in 20 gymnasts, but five should soften the blow a bit. Grace Waguekpack, Madison Brunette, Morgan Hoang, Wesley Stephenson and Evelyn Micco have 17 J.O. nationals appearances between the five of them.
While only inking a class of two, it’s a strong one nonetheless. Olivia Trautman is a former elite from Twin City Twisters. Meanwhile, Allie Stern is a first-year level 10, but we all know what happens when KJ Kindler gets her hands on a level 10 with untapped potential.
Article by Elizabeth Grimsley