The Southeastern Conference is home to eight of the top teams in women’s gymnastics, including three national championship schools. Each of the eight SEC teams were ranked in the top 20 for the 2018 season, while six of the eight made it to nationals. Internally, the top team has jumped around the past few years, leaving the conference championship an exciting nail-biter to see who comes out on top. But what do these teams have in store for 2019?
The potential lineups series is back to discuss teams’ prospects for the 2019 season. However, it has a bit of a new look: less body, more straight-forward analysis yet all the same great information you’ve come to know and love.
No. 3 Florida Gators
What the Gators lost in 2018, it makes up for in spades with this current crop of freshmen, highlighted by international elites and nationally renowned level 10s.
|Losses:||Kennedy Baker, Grace McLaughlin, Alex McMurtry, Rachel Slocum|
|Gains:||Leah Clapper, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Nya Reed, Savannah Schoenherr, Halley Taylor, Trinity Thomas|
|Returning From Injury:||Sierra Alexander (Achilles), Amanda Cheney|
Florida graduated two of its best vaulters in Alex McMurtry and Rachel Slocum, and to fill their shoes will be a great challenge. Luckily, the Gators have Trinity Thomas, who’s been training (and nailing) a Yurchenko 1.5 this fall. Thomas is a massive catch for Florida and a worthy contender to fill the void left by McMurtry. Also in the mix is Nya Reed. Reed has an explosive Yurchenko full and has been training an equally dynamic 1.5. While Reed and Thomas are the newcomers most likely to see action, upperclassmen such as Maegan Chant (who is training a front handspring pike half), Amelia Hundley and Rachel Gowey may also see time in the top six.
Potential Contributors: Alicia Boren (2018 RQS 9.870), Sierra Alexander, Maegan Chant, Rachel Gowey, Amelia Hundley, Megan Skaggs, Nya Reed, Trinity Thomas
The Gators have a solid foundation of veterans that will make up the bulk of this lineup, but Thomas again shines; she’ll likely be a staple throughout the season. She has long lines, flies high and likely can take out any troublesome elite skills to fit her college routine. While Thomas is a highlight, it’s Savannah Schoenherr that’s going to surprise people. Schoenherr’s bars are consistent, technically precise and has handstands that are what dreams are made of. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Schoenherr’s routine towards the end of the already impressive lineup.
Potential Contributors: Amelia Hundley (2018 RQS 9.905), Rachel Gowey (9.885), Alicia Boren (9.880), Megan Skaggs (9.840), Savannah Schoenherr, Trinity Thomas
Similar to bars, the Gators have the bulk of this event headlined by veterans, three of which scored over a 9.900 in RQS last year. Expect Thomas to join that trifecta. She’s a stunning beam worker whose lines and technique are dreamy and will be an increasingly beneficial member when the pressure hits. Florida may also play around with this lineup in the case of Sydney Johnson-Scharpf who also has a decent beam set that can play to a college crowd.
Potential Contributors: Alicia Boren (2018 RQS 9.920), Alyssa Baumann (9.920), Rachel Gowey (9.915), Amelia Hundley (9.865), Megan Skaggs (9.860), Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Trinity Thomas
If there was an event Florida was thin on–and that term is used lightly–it may be floor. The Gators have only three returning routines and one potential lineup member. If this were any other school, this would be cause for worry, but the Gators have three powerhouse freshmen in Thomas, Reed and Johnson-Scharpf. Thomas is powerful gymnast, and her floor routines show it off. Along with senior Alicia Boren, she’ll be one of the must-see floor routines for fans. Johnson-Scharpf’s strength is in her floor performance, and it’s where she’ll be the most needed for the Gators. Reed, like with her vaulting, is an explosive tumbler who has trained a strong double layout.
Potential Contributors: Alicia Boren (2018 RQS 9.930), Alyssa Baumann (9.900), Amelia Hundley (9.825), Megan Skaggs, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Nya Reed, Trinity Thomas
Florida is one of the great teams in NCAA gymnastics and recently has been chasing the tail of fellow SEC rival LSU for the top spot in the conference. The Gators also have a strong freshman class, and it’s looking to top the SEC division once again. Senior Boren and freshman Thomas are likely candidates for consistent all arounders while junior Amelia Hundley could be the third member of that lineup depending on her vault consistency.
No. 4 LSU Tigers
Last season was a history-making year for LSU. The Tigers won their third SEC title and second in a row while some surprise freshmen made massive impacts on the team, leading the Tigers to become the best bars team in the country. It lost an integral class with Myia Hambrick and Erin Macadaeg, yet LSU is still on a mission for the national title.
|Losses:||Myia Hambrick, Lauren Li, Erin Macadaeg, Gracen Standley|
|Gains:||Rebecca D’Antonio, Bailey Ferrer|
|Returning From Injury:||Olivia Gunter, McKenna Kelley (Achilles)|
While junior Kennedi Edney is keeping the vault dreams alive for the Tigers, the lineup hasn’t been the same since Ashleigh Gnat graduated, but the 2019 season may see some new (and familiar) faces. Before dealing with a season-ending Achilles injury last year, McKenna Kelley was working on a spot in the lineup and seems to have the same focus this year. With Hambrick leaving a void in this event—and a 10.0 start value one at that—Kelley’s power will be much appreciated. Bailey Ferrer will be a January arrival for the Tigers and was an accomplished vaulter during her J.O. days. She could contribute immediately upon arrival in Baton Rouge.
Potential Contributors: Kennedi Edney (2018 RQS 9.900), Sarah Finnegan (9.885), Sarah Edwards (9.880), Lexie Priessman (9.870), Julianna Cannamela (9.870), Ruby Harrold (9.690), Bailey Ferrer, McKenna Kelley
One of the biggest surprises from LSU last season was its sudden dominance on bars. The Tigers ended the 2018 season ranked first on the event and set numerous program records. Bridget Dean didn’t see action during the 2018 season, but she has been training bars and is a solid option with beautiful handstands and clean lines. Ferrer is going to see the most action on the leg events but has the potential to see bars action here with her improved form. Junior Ashlyn Kirby is another option on bars but an elbow injury may hinder that.
Potential Contributors: Sarah Finnegan (2018 RQS 9.960), Lexie Priessman (9.960), Kennedi Edney (9.915), Sami Durante (9.880), Ruby Harrold (9.845), Bridget Dean, Bailey Ferrer, Ashlyn Kirby
Beam is the event the Tigers took the hit on the most with Hambrick and Macadaeg’s graduations, and it’s an event that may take time to build up again. Luckily, some familiar faces will be new additions here. Sami Durante, the now-sophomore who made waves on bars in her first season, has been part of the beam lineups during intrasquads, along with Dean. Ruby Harrold has slowly been adding all around to her repertoire and is beginning to add beam back in. Whether she’s part of a consistent lineup or a featured exhibition is to be seen, but along with the addition of Ferrer, the Tigers are lucky to have an increasing amount of depth here.
Potential Contributors: Sarah Finnegan (2018 RQS 9.940), Christina Desiderio (9.900), Kennedi Edney (9.870), Reagan Campbell (9.840), Bridget Dean, Sami Durante, Bailey Ferrer, Ruby Harrold
Though not a newcomer, the biggest story for LSU’s floor is the return of Kelley in the lineup. She’s recently trained a double layout, and with her already powerful tumbling, the Tigers will be happy to have her back. She’ll likely be an end-of-lineup addition, along with Sarah Finnegan and Edney. Head coach D-D Breaux mentioned Ferrer likely making her college debut on floor while Harrold, who has competed floor intermittently, may become a bigger asset on the event this season.
Potential Contributors: Sarah Finnegan (2018 RQS 9.935), Kennedi Edney (9.930), Ashlyn Kirby (9.870), Sarah Edwards (9.865), Christina Desiderio (9.820), Bailey Ferrer, Ruby Harrold, McKenna Kelley
There’s no denying LSU lost a major class, and there are some depth issues the Tigers need to work with, but it finally seems that some of last year’s mystery freshmen may be playing a bigger role in their sophomore years. Expect this to be a big year for the senior class as well, particularly for Sarah Finnegan, who is looking for another stellar all around year along with junior Edney. Though Ferrer is just beginning, she’s a solid all arounder in her own right, and eventually may make her way to all four events.
No. 7 Georgia Gymdogs
Georgia struggled with injuries and lack of depth last season but still came out as the No. 3 team in the SEC after nationals. This year, the Gymdogs have a massive freshman class that will help the team with depth, difficulty and consistency.
|Losses:||Jasmine Arnold, Vivi Babalis, Gracie Cherrey, Lauren Johnson, Gigi Marino, Madison McPherson, Jordyn Pedersen, Hayley Sanders, Natalie Vaculik|
|Gains:||Alexa Al-Hameed, Sterlyn Austin, Rachel Baumann, Sami Davis, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee, Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Megan Roberts, Abbey Ward|
Vault was an iffy event for the Gymdogs last year, and it ended the season being its weakest event. Expect to see the usual veterans in this lineup in Snead and DIckson, but keep an eye out for freshmen Rachael Lukacs and Megan Roberts to make a big impact. Lukacs trains a double-twisting Yurchenko while Roberts performs a Yurchenko 1.5, and both should powerful enough to be seen toward the end of the lineup. Other notable freshmen to watch out for include Mikayla Magee (Y1.5) and Abbey Ward (Tsuk full), who will provide much needed depth on a concerning event. Also note that Rachel Dickson, a junior who has competed a full-twisting Yurchenko in the past, has been training an Omelianchik all fall and is expected to performer that 10.0 vault in 2019.
Potential Contributors: Sydney Snead (2018 RQS 9.880), Rachel Dickson (9.840), Marissa Oakley (9.790), Sabrina Vega (9.775), Rachael Lukacs,Mikayla Magee, Megan Roberts, Abbey Ward
Freshmen come to save the day again on bars, where injuries and graduations hindered the Gymdogs last year. Alexa Al-Hameed is the favorite to appear on this event. Her lines are absolutely stunning, and her Tkatchev soars higher than just about anyone. She could be a fantastic late lineup addition for Georgia. Though this isn’t her strongest event, expect Lukacs to make appearances in the top six intermittently as well. Sophomore Emily Schild was plagued with injury and inconsistency during her college debut season, but a healthy Schild will likely round out this event. Roberts has also been featured in the top six for the Gymdogs this fall, performing a Shaposh + bail routine.
Potential Contributors: Rachel Dickson (2018 RQS 9.885), Marissa Oakley (9.875), Sydney Snead (9.870), Alexa Al-Hameed, Rachael Lukacs, Emily Schild, Megan Roberts
Beam is going to be a must-see event for Georgia fans this year. Technically Georgia only needs two new routines to fill the void left by last year’s seniors, and Rachel Baumann was primed and ready to be Georgia’s next beam star. However, an ankle injury suffered at the pre-Thanksgiving intrasquad halted Baumann for the time being. Once she’s healthy enough, expect to see her debut on this event. Al-Hameed serves as an alternate during Georgia’s intrasquad but is a solid beam worker in her own right and could fill in the place that may be left if Baumann is out of commission. Another face to look out for is Schild, who could play a larger part in the beam lineup this season. Lukacs and Magee have also been training beam this fall.
Potential Contributors: Sydney Snead (2018 RQS 9.875), Sabrina Vega (9.875), Rachel Dickson (9.860), Marissa Oakley (9.845), Alexa Al-Hameed, Rachel Baumann, Emily Schild, Rachael Lukacs,Mikayla Magee
Georgia floor is consistently a treat for fans, and this season shouldn’t be any different. Floor is a speciality of Lukacs, and she’s a dynamic performer with a stellar double layout. Roberts has shown a beautifully performed piked-full in during intrasquads and is historically is a solid floor performer while Schild could also begin making appearances after staying out of the lineup last season due to a preseason knee injury. Magee is another that’s been featured in the top six this fall, showing another gorgeous piked pull-in that helps her pair power with beautiful artistry. Freshman Alyssa Perez-Lugones is yet another newcomer that is expected to see time on floor, being slated as the lead-off in Georgia’s intrasquads throughout the fall. Freshmen Sami Davis and Al-Hameed are other choices that could easily slide in and out of the Gymdogs top six throughout 2019, giving the team upwards of 10 options on the event it struggled to field five routines for last season. Note that Snead may not see as much lineup time as she typically does on floor due to an ongoing back injury she has been nursing since arriving at Georgia as a freshman four years ago.
Potential Contributors: Sabrina Vega (2018 RQS 9.910), Sydney Snead (9.900), Rachel Dickson (9.895), Sami Davis, Rachael Lukacs, Mikayla Magee, Megan Roberts, Emily Schild, Alyssa Perez-Lugones, Alexa Al-Hameed
Georgia went through a big transitional stage last year but ended the season on a high note. The Gymdogs lost routines that were big scorers but have equally recruited some of the top gymnasts in the country. Watch out for Lukacs to be a massive contributor, even if she isn’t added to the all around field quite yet. As for the veterans, Sydney Snead and Rachel Dickson will continue to hold the all around positions for Georgia, while Sabrina Vega is staying firmly as a three-event powerhouse known to clinch a meet on floor.
No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide
Similar to Florida, Alabama is losing gymnasts whose routines were near-guaranteed high scores, and replacing them is no small feat. Luckily, the Crimson Tide has recruited two of most anticipated college-bound elites, and both will make immediate impacts.
|Losses:||Mackenzie Brannan, Peyton Ernst, Nickie Guerrero, Jennie Loeb, Kiana Winston|
|Gains:||Asia Dewalt, Emily Gaskins, Jensie Givens, Griffin James, Shallon Olsen|
It should come to no one’s surprise that Shallon Olsen is the freshman most likely to appear in this lineup, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see her anchoring the event. Olsen is the current world silver medalist on vault, and her expertise, power and skill level is going to be a dream come true for Alabama. As for other options, Emily Gaskins, a former US elite, performs a DTY and will be a consistent and reliable member of the top six in 2019.
Potential Contributors: Ariana Guerra (2018 RQS 9.860), Lexi Graber (9.855), Abby Armbrecht (9.835), Shea Mahoney (9.835), Maddie Desch (9.805), Emily Gaskins, Shallon Olsen
Losing Kiana Winston on this event hurts, but Gaskins and Griffin James are in line to fill in her shoes. While Gaskins’ bars may not be as noteworthy as her floor or vault, she’s clean on this event, and with a few elements reconstructed, she’ll be a viable addition. James is a consistent bars worker with good lines and a nice Tkatchev that will fit in the NCAA world.
Potential Contributors: Shea Mahoney (2018 RQS 9.885), Lexi Graber (9.870), Ariana Guerra (9.850), Kylie Dickson (9.840), Wynter Childers (9.820), Emily Gaskins, Griffin James
Gaskins and Olsen are here again to replace the lineup-shaped holes of Nickie Guerrero and Winston. Gaskins is confident on this event and has a fantastic layout step-out series; her power and consistency will be much needed. Olsen is a good beam worker in her own right, performing for Canada in team finals at this year’s worlds, and it’s likely we’ll see her on the event. Whether she’s a regular depends on sophomore Bailie Key. Early on, Key was an anticipated freshman but only performed on beam once for a score in the 8s. However, she is a fantastic beam worker and has the ability to shine on this event. But whether her skills materialize is to be seen.
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (2018 RQS 9.895), Abby Armbrecht (9.830), Maddie Desch (9.765), Wynter Childers (9.660), Emily Gaskins, Bailie Key, Shallon Olsen
Another void left by Guerrero and Winston; another event Gaskins and Olsen are all the more eager to jump into. Olsen may be most renowned for her spectacular vaulting, but she’s also the type of skilled and dynamic floor worker Alabama loves. While there are some form issues, it’s nothing that isn’t fixable, and with the execution-focused code of NCAA, Olsen could gain some ground on her elite aspirations as well with powerful and clean tumbling. Gaskins is known for her floor performance, and her artistry combined with power is going to keep Alabama fans enamored.
Potential Contributors: Abby Armbrecht (2018 RQS 9.895), Ariana Guerra (9.860), Maddie Desch (9.805), Lexi Graber, Emily Gaskins, Shallon Olsen
Gaskins is primed to become the next all around star for the Crimson Tide, and with good reason. She doesn’t have a bad event and is a reliable contributor that Alabama will cherish when the pressure is on. So look for her to remain a frequent all around option. Olsen will look to recreate Guerrero’s three-event dynamic and is a solid option to replace those lost routines. As for veterans, Lexi Graber made her case as a solid all arounder and reliable pinch hitter last season, so look for her to continue to be a frequent face in lineups in 2019.
READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: Pac-12
Article by Alicia Bettano
Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!