A small and often overlooked conference, MRGC gymnastics doesn’t disappoint. All four have potential to be contenders for the conference title, even if they don’t always show it. They bring exciting and unique skills to the mix with some of the sport’s most unforgettable floor routines (thanks, BYU).
The 2020 season will be here before we know it! And with preseason training in full swing, it’s time to start looking at the teams and how they might fare when the action kicks off in January—from who’s expected to compete, holes coaches need to fill, exciting upgrades you might see and more.
No. 15 Boise State
Boise State maintained its conference championship streak in 2019. It surpassed expectations and was able to overcome the loss of senior standout Shani Remme to injury late in the season.
|Losses:||Alex Esmerian (BB, FX), Sarah Means (AA), Shani Remme (AA)|
|Gains:||Erin Elkabchi, Erin Morden, Adriana Popp|
|Returning From Injury:||Dani Shafer (unknown), Rachel Obmann (unknown), Tessa Otuafi (unknown leg injury)|
Potential Contributors: Courtney McGregor (9.820 NQS), Tatum Bruden (9.790 NQS), Samantha Smith (9.725), Maddi Nilson (9.710), Dani Shafer, Rachel Obmann, Adriana Popp
How It Looked Before: Vault wasn’t Boise State’s strong suit in 2019. It wasn’t its worst event, but it wasn’t its best either.
How It Looks Now: Means and Remme were both consistent high scorers for the Broncos. Replacing those scores will be tough, especially with a freshman class that’s not vault-heavy. Courtney McGregor returns with her Yurchenko one and a half and should lead the way. The most likely freshman to contribute is Adriana Popp who boasts a usable Yurchenko full. Dani Shafer had a 10.0 start value in J.O. but missed last season due to injury, and Rachel Obmann has past vault experience; expect them to be in the mix, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s likely trending down, but don’t expect too big of a drop.
Potential Contributors: Emily Muhlenhaupt (9.905 NQS), Alexis Stokes (9.905), Courtney McGregor (9.890), Gabriela Bouza (9.805), Maddi Nilson (9.665), Tatum Bruden, Hope Masiado, Adriana Popp
How It Looked Before: Bars was a strong event for Boise State in 2019; it was tied with beam for the team’s top ranked event and ranked in the top 10 nationally.
How It Looks Now: Most of the Broncos’ bar lineup remains intact. Popp is again the most likely newcomer to contribute with a set featuring a lovely Pak salto. It’s not a bars-heavy class, but it doesn’t need to be as Remme’s routine is the only one that really needs replacing, and there are a number of worthy options.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars is looking about the same as it did in 2019.
Potential Contributors: Isabella Amado (9.865 NQS), Courtney McGregor (9.850), Gabriela Bouza (9.825), Hope Masiado, Alexis Stokes, Erin Elkabchi, Adriana Popp, Erin Morden
How It Looked Before: Beam was another strength for Boise State in 2019, tied with bars for its highest ranking.
How It Looks Now: It’s graduating three of its highest scoring beamers, which will certainly be tough shoes to fill. Remme’s injury gave Hope Masiado a chance to gain experience, and she performed fairly well in limited chances. All three freshmen have potential to contribute with the most likely being Erin Elkabchi and Popp. Both scored well in J.O., and Popp performs a difficult back handspring step-out + back handspring two-feet + layout two-feet.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. There’s a lot riding on how the freshmen adapt to college.
Potential Contributors: Courtney McGregor (9.845 NQS), Tatum Bruden (9.825), Isaballa Amado (9.800), Maddi Nilson (9.760), Hope Masiado, Rachel Obmann, Adriana Popp, Erin Elkabchi
How It Looked Before: Floor was statistically Boise State’s worst event in 2019. Its lineup was largely carried by Remme and Esmerian, giving it two big holes to fill.
How It Looks Now: Elkabchi and Popp are again likely to contribute. Popp boasts a double layout to give the Broncos an E pass. Expect McGregor to lead the way and Masiado to have a more cemented lineup spot since this isn’t the deepest floor team.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? As of now, it’s trending down. Then again, Boise State proved last season that it can find floor routines in unexpected places.
Boise State should hover around the same place it did in 2019. It could see a slight drop in rankings, but a lot depends on how its freshmen and underclassmen develop into lineup-ready routines. Once again, it should be carried by beam and bars.
No. 21 BYU
BYU had an up-and-down season with high highs and low lows. It was never able to find its groove but has a good foundation to build upon in 2020.
|Losses:||Cheyenne Hill (VT, BB), Natasha Marsh (UB, BB, FX), Kelly Higginson, Melanie Lockhart, Hannah Miller (BB),|
|Gains:||Anyssa Alvarado, Lindsey Hunter, Allix Mason, Maya Page, Elease Rollins|
|Returning From Injury:||Rebekah Bean (torn ACL)|
Potential Contributors: Shannon Evans (9.870 NQS), Abbey Miner (9.855), Angel Zhong (9.800), Avery Bennett (9.795), Haley Pitou (9.790), Rebekah Bean (9.700), Adeline Rieder, Sadie Miner, Anyssa Alvarado, Allix Mason
How It Looked Before: Vault was a solid event for BYU in 2019. Statistically it was its weakest event, but it still ranked within the top 20 nationally and just two spots below the next highest event.
How It Looks Now: The Cougars aren’t losing much that can’t be replaced on vault. Considering three of the five freshmen either don’t vault or do Yurchenko layouts, that’s a good thing. The two other freshmen, Anyssa Alvarado and Allix Mason, both have clean Yurchenko fulls that should supplement the existing lineup nicely.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With the current state of the returners plus newcomers, vault is trending up in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Shannon Evans (9.900 NQS), Helody Cyrenne (9.875), Abby Boden (9.840), Angel Zhong (9.765), Haley Pitou (9.765), Abby Beeston, Abbey Miner, Anyssa Alvarado, Allix Mason, Lindsey Hunter
How It Looked Before: Bars was a good event for BYU in 2019 and another event where the lineup doesn’t see many losses.
How It Looks Now: This is a pretty strong bars class which will make it a deep event coupled with the returning options in 2020. Allix Mason and Anyssa Alvarado are the strongest, but Lindsey Hunter is a good option, as well and Maya Page’s set despite some leg separation on her Pak salto.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should be trending up for BYU in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Helody Cyrenne (9.880 NQS), Abby Boden (9.855), Abbey Miner (9.855), Shannon Evans (9.840), Angel Zhong, Allix Mason, Elease Rollins, Anyssa Alvarado, Maya Page
How It Looked Before: Beam was statistically BYU’s strongest event in 2019. However, there were times when connections were shaky.
How It Looks Now: Cheyenne Hill and Natasha Marsh both put up good numbers for the Cougars, but those are the only true losses. Mason and Elease Rollins should contend for lineup spots and Alvarado has potential, too. With a little more consistency, Page could be in the mix as well. There’s options—it’s just a matter of who is consistently good.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It should be a similar level to 2019 if not slightly better.
Potential Contributors: Shannon Evans (9.920 NQS), Abbey Miner (9.885), Briana Pearson (9.845), Abby Boden (9.815), Sadie Miner (9.800), Brittney Vitkauskas (9.795), Rebekah Bean, Lexi Griffith, Anyssa Alvarado, Maya Page, Allix Mason
How It Looked Before: BYU floor is always exciting to watch, and 2019 was no different. The Cougars put up good scores to back up their fun choreography, too.
How It Looks Now: The Cougars’ entire 2019 lineup remains intact. It was already a pretty good lineup, and it should just get better in 2020. Expect Shannon Evans to lead the way, but don’t be surprised to see other high scorers. Alvarado and Page could both factor into the mix, and Mason’s an option, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? All factors considered, floor should be trending up for the Cougars in 2020.
With relatively few losses, BYU is poised to build off its 2019 campaign. It’ll just be a matter of how it uses its depth and if it can gain consistency.
No. 26 Southern Utah
Southern Utah is coming off a solid 2019 season. It improved its national ranking 11 spots and should be poised to keep up the trend in 2020.
|Losses:||Kamryn Bayer (BB), Karen Gonzalez (UB, BB, FX), Jiang Braley (removed from roster), Mary Packham (removed from roster)|
|Gains:||Celine Barney, Ruby Hernandez, Kayla Horton, Kaylee Kho, Tiffani Stufflebeam, Nikki Thomas|
Potential Contributors: Morgan Alfaro (9.850 NQS), Karley McClain (9.810), Stephanie Tervort (9.810), Rachel Smith (9.790), Caitlin Kho (9.765), Molly Jozwiakowski (9.755), Madison McBride, Kaylee Kho, Kayla Horton, Ruby Hernandez
How It Looked Before: Vault was Southern Utah’s strongest event in 2019. Additionally, all six regular competitors return in 2020.
How It Looks Now: With all six lineup members returning, vault should be a good event for the Thunderbirds. Of the newcomers, Kaylee Kho and Kayla Horton both boast good fulls that could challenge for the top six, and Ruby Hernandez’s Yurchenko full could be used if needed, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Vault should be trending up in 2020 with the return of the entire 2019 lineup plus newcomer contributions.
Potential Contributors: Shylen Murakami (9.855 NQS), Becky Rosza-Thompson (9.835), Stephanie Tervort (9.825), Autumn Jorgensen (9.795), Hannah Nipp (9.775), Karley McClain (9.775), Caitlin Kho (9.755), Ruby Hernandez, Kayla Horton, Kaylee Kho, Nikki Thomas
How It Looked Before: Bars was a steady and solid event for the Thunderbirds in 2019.
How It Looks Now: The main 2019 lineup remains intact. That’s good for SUU, as the freshmen by and large aren’t strong on bars. Hernandez does have nice, pretty set. Horton has some form, but could be used if need be, and Kaylee Kho’s set has potential. Nikki Thomas is gorgeous on bars, but she’ll need to show consistency before she makes the top six.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should at least be consistent with 2019 if not better.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Nipp (9.880 NQS), Shylen Murakami (9.860), Karley McClain (9.845), Alyssa Ladieu (9.790), Autumn Jorgensen (9.750), Emma Wissman, Kayla Horton, Kaylee Kho, Ruby Hernandez, Tiffani Stufflebeam
How It Looked Before: Beam was ultimately a good event for Southern Utah in 2019, but it wasn’t without a few inconsistencies.
How It Looks Now: Most of the 2019 competitors return; the Thunderbirds will just have to replace Karen Gonzalez’s routine, which had the lowest NQS of the bunch anyway. Horton’s beam is the standout routine of the bunch with an artistic routine, including an L turn and a double stag jump. Kaylee Kho’s set is also nice; she performs her own unique element in a back handspring + layout two-feet acro series. Hernandez should contend for a lineup spot while Tiffani Stufflebeam has a pretty set but needs to work on consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Southern Utah’s beam lineup should be trending up in 2019 with the new additions and the loss of just one routine.
Potential Contributors: Karley McClain (9.870 NQS), Molly Jozwiakowski (9.835), Hannah Nipp (9.810), Madison McBride (9.775), Caitlin Kho (9.765), Shylen Murakami, Madison Loomis, Tiffani Stufflebeam, Ruby Hernandez, Kayla Horton, Kaylee Kho
How It Looked Before: Floor was a rollercoaster for Southern Utah. It showed potential, but was also super inconsistent.
How It Looks Now: It’ll need to replace Gonzalez’s routine, but that’s all that it’s losing. Stufflebeam, Hernandez and Horton are all good floor options while Kaylee Kho could provide a solid routine if needed. The Thunderbirds will still need to find consistency, but the building blocks are there.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Realistically, floor should be on the same level as 2019 if not better. Consistency and how the freshmen perform will be the determining factors.
Southern Utah is in a good place heading into 2020. With few losses, most of the foundation is still there. The sophomore superclass has more experience, and the freshmen should contribute to a better 2020.
No. 42 Utah State
Utah State had a rocky 2019. It had its moments but largely underperformed for its talent level. It’s losing its star Madison Ward Sessions—can the Aggies improve on 2019 without her?
|Losses:||Emily Briones (BB, FX), Madison Ward Sessions (AA), Caitlin Gray (transfer to Bridgeport), Faith Leary (transfer to Temple), Madi Tueller (removed from roster), Maddie Straker (removed from roster), Maya Perez-Lugones (removed from roster), Makayla Bullitt (removed from roster)|
|Gains:||Alexis Aragon, Emma Cobabe, Morgan Gill, Hadley Hamar, Tori Loomis, Sofi Sullivan, Ariel Toomey, Rebecca Wells|
|Returning From Injury:||Brittany Jeppesen (unknown injury)|
Potential Contributors: Leighton Varnadore (9.810 NQS), Autumn DeHarde (9.740), Grace Rojas (9.740), Logan Varnadore (9.735), Elle Golison (9.665), Mikaela Meyer, Sofi Sullivan, Morgan Gill, Tori Loomis, Rebecca Wells
How It Looked Before: Vault wasn’t great for the Aggies. Ward Sessions led the way, and it will be hard to replace her score. They were often stuck in the 9.7s.
How It Looks Now: The freshman class has its share of vaulters, which should provide Utah State with a little boost in 2020. Sofi Sullivan does a nice Yurchenko half-on pike-half while Morgan Gill does a Yurchenko half-on tuck-half and trained a Yurchenko half-on pike-half in the past. Tori Loomis and Rebecca Wells both have good fulls that should be in the mix, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It should be consistent with 2019. There’s potential for the Aggies to improve as well.
Potential Contributors: Grace Rojas (9.770 NQS), Leighton Varnadore (9.750), Annie Beck (9.735), Brittany Jeppesen, Mikaela Meyer, Logan Varnadore, Hadley Hamar, Sofi Sullivan, Tori Loomis, Rebecca Wells
How It Looked Before: Bars was statistically Utah State’s best event in 2019, but three of its regular scores came from either a graduated senior or someone no longer on the roster.
How It Looks Now: Replacing those scores will be tough. Two of them held the only two NQSs over 9.800 for the Aggies on the event. Hadley Hamar’s bar set is clean with a nice, straight double layout dismount, but she never scored that well in J.O. Loomis’ bars are a good option as well. Sullivan’s scores point to a good bar worker, but we couldn’t find recent video. Wells’ routine is also usable if needed. Lastly, Emma Cobabe’s set has potential, but it will need a lot of work before it’s lineup ready.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. Replacing those scores will be tough, and it’s unclear how some of the freshmen’s sets will translate to college.
Potential Contributors: Autumn DeHarde (9.855 NQS), Leighton Varnadore (9.765), Taylor Dittmar (9.670), Annie Beck (9.400), Grace Rojas, Tori Loomis, Rebecca Wells, Ariel Toomey, Sofi Sullivan, Hadley Hamar
How It Looked Before: Beam wasn’t a great event for Utah State in 2019. It never reached 49 and went as low as 47.175.
How It Looks Now: Briones and Ward Sessions were both lineup staples, but neither were particularly consistent performers so it should be easier to replace those scores. Of the freshmen, Sullivan and Loomis’ sets are both pretty, and Wells’ set is a clean option as well. Ariel Toomey could be an option on beam, but we couldn’t find recent video of her routine. Hamar also has potential, but she’ll need to be more consistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should be about the same in 2020. If the freshmen do well, there’s a chance it will improve.
Potential Contributors: Autumn DeHarde (9.870 NQS), Leighton Varnadore (9.845), Elle Golison (9.715), Mikaela Meyer, Grace Rojas, Hadley Hamar, Sofi Sullivan, Tori Loomis, Morgan Gill, Ariel Toomey
How It Looked Before: Floor was one of Utah State’s better events in 2019, led by Ward Sessions’ stellar set.
How It Looks Now: The Aggies lose a number of routines between graduating seniors and those no longer on the roster. Ward Sessions is the biggest blow, but the Aggies will have to fill three regular lineup spots from 2019. Wells brings a full-in that could become the next big thing after Ward Sessions. Hamar has good tumbling and leaps, and Sullivan’s scores point to a good floor performer, too, though we couldn’t find recent video. Loomis could factor in as well with a clean set that just needs a bit more consistency. Gill’s floor is decent and could be needed with the current state of the floor lineup, and Toomey could be an option as well, though we couldn’t find recent video of her either.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? There’s so many holes to fill that it’s hard to see this floor team getting any better in 2020.
It’s not looking like a total transformative year for Utah State. At the very least, this team should keep pace with last year’s. There’s a lot of losses that could hurt it, but there is potential there, too.
Article by Tara Graeve
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