Yet again, the top half of the Pac-12 conference will be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season. UCLA will again be a national title factor as it returns all but three routines, Utah is bringing in a highly touted freshman class and Oregon State and California both have the pieces to be able to fight for their spot amongst the top 10 teams in the NCAA.
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. 3 UCLA
After winning the NCAA championship in 2018, UCLA slid down the rankings just a tad last season to finish third. This year, the Bruins are returning all but three routines from last year’s postseason lineup, and with a solid group of incoming freshmen and transfers, UCLA should once again be among the teams challenging for the top spot at NCAAs.
|Losses:||Brielle Nguyen (BB), Katelyn Ohashi (BB, FX), Stella Savvidou|
|Gains:||Emma Andres, Paige Hogan, Chloe Lashbrooke, Samantha Sakti (sophomore transfer from William & Mary), Kalyany Steele|
Potential Contributors: Kyla Ross (9.970 NQS), Felicia Hano (9.930), Nia Dennis (9.890), Sekai Wright (9.855), Pauline Tratz (9.850), Samantha Sakti (9.745), Norah Flatley, Margzetta Frazier, Anna Glenn, Grace Glenn, Paige Hogan, Gracie Kramer, Kendal Poston, Kalyany Steele
How It Looked Before: Vault had the lowest NQS of the four events for UCLA, but still ranked No. 3 in the country.
How It Looks Now: Vault is the first of two events where the Bruins are losing no routines from the 2019 postseason, so prospects are high. Margzetta Frazier and Nia Dennis have both been working Yurchenko doubles this offseason, so if those upgrades materialize by the time season rolls around—watch out.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Although it was UCLA’s “weakest” event last year, adding the freshmen and transfer Samantha Sakti as additional vaulters to the Bruins’ lineup means it can (well… should) only go up from last year, especially with the potential for upgrades.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Ross (9.995 NQS), Madison Kocian (9.945), Norah Flatley (9.920), Margzetta Frazier (9.915), Felicia Hano (9.840), Nia Dennis, Anna Glenn, Grace Glenn, Savannah Kooyman, Chloe Lashbrooke, Kalyany Steele, Macy Toronjo
How It Looked Before: Anchoring the lineup with two Olympic gold medalists helped the Bruins record the highest NQS on bars in the NCAA in 2019.
How It Looks Now: Bars should remain a strength for UCLA as it, again, loses no routines from last season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Bruins aren’t trending up or down on bars for the 2020 season, but only because they were stellar on the event in 2019 and it’s nearly impossible to do much better. Which is a good thing.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Ross (9.950 NQS), Grace Glenn (9.900), Norah Flatley (9.885), Madison Kocian (9.840), Samantha Sakti (9.800), Nia Dennis (9.670), Margzetta Frazier, Anna Glenn, Felicia Hano, Chloe Lashbrooke, Kendal Poston, Kalyany Steele
How It Looked Before: UCLA finished second in NQS on beam in 2019, just two thousandths back from taking the top spot.
How It Looks Now: This is the only event where the Bruins lose multiple routines, and replacing Katelyn Ohashi’s consistent 9.950-plus routine won’t be easy.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? If there is an event where UCLA could trend down on this coming season, it would be beam. Kyla Ross will undoubtedly be a solid anchor for this lineup in 2020, but finding another 10.0-worthy routine to elevate the beam scores may be a challenge. Look for the Bruins to rotate several gymnasts through those first few spots in the lineup early in the season.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Ross (9.960 NQS), Gracie Kramer (9.930), Felicia Hano (9.925), Margzetta Frazier (9.905), Pauline Tratz (9.900), Nia Dennis (9.870), Samantha Sakti (9.865), Norah Flatley, Chloe Lashbrooke, Kalyany Steele
How It Looked Before: UCLA was nearly untouchable on floor in 2019, finishing with the highest NQS on the event—nearly two tenths higher than second place Oklahoma.
How It Looks Now: This is another event where replacing Ohashi won’t be easy, but UCLA is known for its big tumbling and high energy floor routines. Many of the freshmen tumbled E passes as level 10’s, so UCLA will be just fine on floor this year, as always.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Another event where the Bruins will stay neutral in terms of trending, but when neutral means No. 1, they’re doing just fine.
With the talent the Bruins are retaining from last season, and the freshmen they’re bringing in, UCLA is definitely trending in the right direction. The Bruins will no doubt be a contender—if not the frontrunner—for a championship in 2020. The big question for UCLA will be who will take the spotlight that Ohashi vacated, but with a roster of Olympians, former elites, and superstar level 10’s, the Bruins shouldn’t have a problem finding her replacement.
No. 6 Oregon State
The Beavers pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the 2019 season by advancing out of their regional and qualifying to the NCAA championships over the heavily favored Florida Gators. To replicate last season’s success, Oregon State’s freshmen are going to need to step-up to help replace the routines lost from the graduated seniors who played a big role in that surprising postseason run.
|Losses:||Leah Bivrell, Mariana Colussi-Pelaez, Mary Jacobsen, McKenna Singley|
|Gains:||Kayla Bird, Jenna Domingo, Jane Poniewaz|
Potential Contributors: Kaitlyn Yanish (9.870 NQS), Madi Dagen (9.840), Lacy Dagen (9.765), Kayla Bird, Destinee Davis, Savanna Force, Lena Greene, Lexie Gonzales, Niya Mack, Jane Poniewaz
How It Looked Before: Vault was a good event for Oregon State last season where it ranked 15th in NQS, fourth among Pac-12 teams.
How It Looks Now: With only two returning vaults with NQS’ above 9.800, the Beavers have quite a few lineup spots to fill.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Jane Poniewaz is the only one of the three freshmen who has a useable Yurchenko full at this point, so a few of Oregon State’s returners will need to become consistent vaulters to maintain a competitive lineup.
Potential Contributors: Isis Lowery (9.845 NQS), Sabrina Gill (9.840), Halli Briscoe (9.840), Colette Yamaoka (9.740), Kayla Bird, Jenna Domingo, Lena Greene, Jane Poniewaz, Kaitlyn Yanish
How It Looked Before: Arguably the Beavers’ weakest event, yet finished ranked 20th in the country.
How It Looks Now: Oregon State retains a bulk of its postseason lineup on the event, including three NQS’ above 9.800. Freshman Jenna Domingo competed a jam-packed with difficulty routine last year as a level 10, which should challenge for a spot in this lineup as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With four returning postseason routines, the Beavers should stay at least even on this event in 2020, despite losing their top two bars workers.
Potential Contributors: Madi Dagen (9.890 NQS), Maela Lazaro (9.880), Sabrina Gill (9.825), Lacy Dagen (9.810), Kayla Bird, Destinee Davis, Jenna Domingo, Isis Lowery, Kristina Peterson, Kaitlyn Yanish
How It Looked Before: Bouts of inconsistency plagued a lineup that had the potential to score better than the 16th place NQS suggests.
How It Looks Now: The top two beam workers return, as well as Isis Lowery, who scored as high as a 9.900 on this event last season and scored below 9.800 only once.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Assuming the consistency improves with age, Oregon State has all the pieces to be able to make this a strong event in 2020. Freshman Kayla Bird could also be someone who helps elevate this event for the Beavers.
Potential Contributors: Kaitlyn Yanish (9.935 NQS), Isis Lowery (9.920), Savannah Force (9.875), Madi Dagen (9.830), Kayla Bird, Destinee Davis, Jenna Domingo, Niya Mack, Jane Poniewaz
How It Looked Before: Ranked 10th in the country, easily Oregon State’s best event in 2019.
How It Looks Now: Floor should again be the Beavers’ best event this season. Lowery and Kaitlyn Yanish both bring back their routines that consistently knock on the 9.950-plus door, and each of the freshmen could be a factor in the early part of the lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. This floor lineup should yet again be able to give nearly any other team’s a run for its money.
Can Oregon State find a way to boost its first two lineups? Floor and beam are good to go for the Beavers, but they need to find a way to improve on vault and bars, which were already their weaker events in 2019. If they can, we can expect the Beavers to yet again take on the role of Pac-12 spoiler.
No. 7 Utah
As expected, Utah spent most of the 2019 season amongst the top six teams and was a threat to make the team final at NCAA’s. Unfortunately, the Utes are losing 14 routines from last year’s postseason, but thankfully, are also bringing in one of the best (if not the best) freshman classes in the country this season.
|Losses:||Kari Lee, Shannon McNatt, MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Macey Roberts, MyKayla Skinner (deferring to try for the 2020 Olympics), Lauren Wong|
|Gains:||Jillian Hoffman, Emilie LeBlanc (junior transfer from Maryland), Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Jaedyn Rucker|
|Returning From Injury:||Cammy Hall, Cristal Isa|
Potential Contributors: Alexia Burch (9.855 NQS), Kim Tessen (9.845), Cammy Hall, Jillian Hoffman, Cristal Isa, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Missy Reinstadtler, Jaedyn Rucker, Sydney Soloski
How It Looked Before: With MyKayla Skinner’s Yurchenko double as the anchor, vault was Utah’s best event in 2019. The Utes had the second highest NQS in the nation.
How It Looks Now: Utah lost its top four vaults from last year, and with only two postseason vaults returning, we should expect to see lots of new faces in the vault lineup in 2020. The freshmen should be factors here as Jillian Hoffman, Maile O’Keefe and Jaedyn Rucker have all trained or competed a Yurchenko one and a half or double prior to starting their NCAA careers.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down, partially because the Utes were so strong on vault last year, and that’s hard to replicate when you lose the best four. The freshmen should really make an impact here to save this event from being a huge weakness.
Potential Contributors: Missy Reinstadtler (9.895 NQS), Kim Tessen (9.860), Emilie LeBlanc (9.840), Hunter Dula (9.835), Jillian Hoffman, Cristal Isa, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Jaedyn Rucker
How It Looked Before: A consistent event for Utah that ended with it fifth overall in the NQS standings.
How It Looks Now: The addition of Emilie LeBlanc and return from injury of Cristal Isa will be greatly noticed here. They will help soften the blow as the Utes lost their top two bar routines from 2019.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending a bit down, but with the best opportunity to improve. All of the freshmen, again, can provide a good score and senior Missy Reinstadtler should emerge as a consistent 9.950-plus threat.
Potential Contributors: Adrienne Randall (9.865 NQS), Emilie LeBlanc (9.835), Sydney Soloski (9.785), Alexia Burch (9.705), Jillian Hoffman, Cristal Isa, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Missy Reinstadtler, Jaedyn Rucker
How It Looked Before: The Utes’ only event where they ranked outside of the top five in NQS last season, landing in ninth.
How It Looks Now: Beam is the only event where a majority of Utah’s postseason routines return. This is where LeBlanc’s impact will be the greatest as she comes in with the second highest NQS of anyone on beam for the Utes.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The finesse of the freshmen class on this event in particular has beam trending up for Utah. It’s the event where the Utes needed to improve upon most from last year, and the new quartet of Hoffman, O’Keefe, LeBlanc and Abby Paulson will be the solution.
Potential Contributors: Sydney Soloski (9.905 NQS), Adrienne Randall (9.865), Alexia Burch, Cammy Hall, Jillian Hoffman, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Kim Tessen, Jaedyn Rucker
How It Looked Before: Skinner’s stellar anchor routine helped Utah’s second-best event finish the year ranked fifth in the nation by NQS.
How It Looks Now: With four routines gone, including the top two, Utah has a lot to replace. Yet again, all of the freshmen could make this lineup, especially Rucker who is a powerful tumbler.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. The Utes are losing too much on this event for the untested pedigree of the freshmen to make up immediately. This is an event I expect to get significantly better as the season progresses, however.
The success of Utah this season will rely heavily on the ability of the freshmen to deliver. Each of them could realistically make any lineup, and will each need to make several just to fill lineups. If the freshmen come in hitting left and right then all will be well, but if not, it could be a (red) rocky season for the Utes.
No. 11 California
Coming off of an NCAA’s appearance in 2017, last season saw the Golden Bears miss the NCAA Championships after also losing superstar senior Toni-Ann Williams to injury midway through the season. This season, California is returning at least four of its postseason routines on each event but will need the freshmen to contribute significantly in order to fill those last two spots in each lineup.
|Losses:||Sofie Seilnacht, Sylvie Seilnacht, Chelsea Shu, Toni-Ann Williams|
|Gains:||Nevaeh DeSouza, Maya Green, Natalie Sadighi, Ashton Woodbury|
Potential Contributors: Milan Clausi (9.890 NQS), Kyana George (9.865), Rachael Mastrangelo (9.820), Talitha Jones (9.800), Maya Bordas, Nevaeh DeSouza, Natalie Sadighi, Abi Solari, Emi Watterson, Ashton Woodbury
How It Looked Before: A consistent event where the Golden Bears notched the 12th highest NQS in the country.
How It Looks Now: In addition to returning the top two vaults from last season, freshman Nevaeh DeSouza is bringing in a Yurchenko one and a half that scored a 10.0 last year as a level 10, and freshman Ashton Woodbury has a lineup-ready Tsuk full.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Not the strongest event for California last season, but with the bulk of the lineup returning and DeSouza and Woodbury’s 10.0 start value vaults coming in, the Golden Bears should start to expect some bigger vault scores in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Emi Watterson (9.915 NQS), Nina Schank (9.870), Maya Bordas (9.840), Kyana George (9.835), Talitha Jones (9.835), Milan Clausi, Nevaeh DeSouza, Alma Kuc, Natalie Sadighi, Ashton Woodbury
How It Looked Before: Despite two meets where disaster struck, this was California’s best event last season and it finished ranked 12th in NQS.
How It Looks Now: The Golden Bears are not only bringing back five of their six postseason routines on bars, but their five strongest routines as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. As long as California has fixed some of the inconsistency issues during the offseason, it has a strong lineup returning and a handful of gymnasts who are capable of filling that one empty hole in the rotation.
Potential Contributors: Cassidy Keelen (9.865 NQS), Milan Clausi (9.855), Kyana George (9.745), Maya Bordas (9.550), Nevaeh DeSouza, Talitha Jones, Natalie Sadighi, Emi Watterson, Ashton Woodbury
How It Looked Before: Finishing 13th in NQS, California was capable of being a strong beam team but unfortunately underperformed several times throughout last season.
How It Looks Now: Beam should again be a high scoring event for the Golden Bears who are returning three of their top four routines from last season. Maya Bordas is also capable of 9.900-plus scores, but brought her NQS down last season with several falls.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Just like bars, if California used the offseason to fix the inconsistency issues, then beam should be trending up for this season. Just like every other event, returning the top two performers makes life a little easier.
Potential Contributors: Milan Clausi (9.885 NQS), Kyana George (9.885), Maya Bordas (9.815), Rachael Mastrangelo (9.795), Nevaeh DeSouza, Nina Schank, Natalie Sadighi, Abi Solari, Ashton Woodbury
How It Looked Before: The loss of Williams mid-season hurt the most on floor. Without a huge, crowd-energizing anchor routine, the Golden Bears suffered some lower scores and only finished 21st in NQS on the event.
How It Looks Now: Woodbury is bringing in a big full-in that should help her break into the lineup early in the season and hopefully provide some spark to a floor lineup that returns four from last postseason.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying neutral. The potential to trend up is there, but California will need to materialize some additional E-passes for its routines to help boost scores towards 9.950 at the end of the lineup.
Although losing Williams hurts, California did get to experience competing without her all of the postseason last year. That should help with the transition into this season, where over half of each lineup is coming back as well as the top two routines on each event. If the Golden Bears can fix the inconsistency issues on bars and beam, California should be in good shape to challenge Oregon State for that third spot in the Pac-12 and be a threat to upset a top team if everyone is hitting.
Article by Brandis Heffner
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