The Mid-American Conference is a large and competitive group of teams that often flies under the radar for casual gym fans. The seven teams that comprise the conference all finished 2019 ranked between No. 33 and 52. Central Michigan has been the leader of the conference for the past few years, but was upset by the Northern Illinois Huskies who won their first MAC championship last year. It will be an exciting season as these teams battle to see who will come out on top.
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. 33 Central Michigan
Central Michigan lost some key performers in 2019, but is still returning to competition with a strong group of gymnasts; most notably, stand-out senior Denelle Pedrick and sophomore Morgan Tong are back. These two—in addition to a big crop of freshmen including 2019 J.O. national qualifier Hannah DeMers—should set the Chippewas up for a successful 2020 season.
|Losses:||Macey Hilliker, Alaina Kosto (medical retirement), Skyler Memmel, Kailey Miller, Gianna Plaksa, Abbie Rose Zoeller|
|Gains:||Hannah DeMers, Annie Hammond, Brenna Hauser, Savana Kotas, Taylor Pitchell, Christie Tini, Ashley Veglucci, Mayleigh Vanderbeek|
Potential Contributors: Denelle Pedrick (9.850 NQS), Kennedy Rae Johnson (9.780), Sydney Williams (9.780), Sierra Demarinis (9.775), Morgan Tong (9.765), Nora Fettinger (9.715), Hannah DeMers, Taylor Pitchell
How It Looked Before: Vault was a consistent event for the Chippewas, but there is some room for improvement.
How It Looks Now: The Chippewas aren’t losing any contributors here, so they only stand to gain some ground with the incoming freshmen. The majority of the team competes Yurchenko fulls, but the addition of eight freshmen will allow Central Michigan to really focus on utilizing its strongest options.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Look for vault to trend up.
Potential Contributors: Denelle Pedrick (9.810 NQS), Hayley Porter (9.765), Kennedy Rae Johnson (9.730), Brenna Hauser, Hannah DeMers, Christie Tini, Ashley Veglucci
How It Looked Before: Bars was the Chippewas’ weakest event, and one they will be looking to improve upon in 2020.
How It Looks Now: The Chippewas are losing three routines here, most notably from Giana Plaksa. They will be looking to the incoming freshmen to step up and be in this lineup. Freshman Hannah DeMers brings a particularly strong bars routine that is lineup worthy, along with freshman Ashley Veglucci.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell.
Potential Contributors: Denelle Pedrick (9.850 NQS), Morgan Tong (9.815), Hayley Porter (9.695), Sierra Demarinis (9.630), Mayleigh Vanderbeek, Taylor Pitchell, Hannah DeMers
How It Looked Before: Beam was the Chippewas best event in 2019, with strong routines from Pedrick, Tong and Skyler Memmel each week.
How It Looks Now: Losing Memmel will hurt, but the Chippewas are maintaining strong routines from Pedrick and Tong, and should hope to add some routines from the incoming freshmen as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Look for beam to mostly hold steady.
Potential Contributors: Denelle Pedrick (9.88 NQS), Nora Fettinger (9.835), Sierra Demarinis (9.77), Morgan Tong (9.77), Sydney Williams (9.735), Ashley Veglucci, Taylor Pitchell
How It Looked Before: Floor is a strong event for Central Michigan, with especially strong routines each week from Pedrick and Nora Fettinger.
How It Looks Now: The Chippewas will lose a solid routine from Abbie Rose Zoeller, but they have strong freshmen coming in that can make an impression on that lineup. Watch for Ashley Veglucci and Taylor Pitchell to be big contenders for a lineup spot here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but leaning toward trending up.
Central Michigan had a very solid season in 2019, finishing first in the MAC during the regular season and as the highest ranked team overall. Losing the MAC championship will no doubt light a fire for the Chippewas going into the 2020 season. Overall they are gaining more routines than they are losing, but that will depend on whether or not the incoming freshmen are able to become strong lineup options.
The question for the Chippewas is whether they can build on their already strong routines to improve this season, or if the change in coaching staff will signal a rebuilding year. If they are able to count on routines from their strong freshman class, they will undoubtedly find themselves at the top of the MAC rankings again in 2020.
No. 38 Kent State
The Golden Flashes narrowly missed qualifying to NCAA Regionals in 2019, finishing just two spots shy of the top 36. They finished second overall in the MAC and will be eager to build on that ranking in 2020. While they are losing some big performers, they have standout Nasha Manitkul-Davis returning from injury and a freshman class that is full of lineup potential.
|Losses:||Sarah Lippowitsch, Nuriya Mack, Sammi Nero, Kennedy Plue, Dara Williams|
|Gains:||Olivia Amodei, Rachel DeCavitch, Karlie Franz, Jackie Harker, Taylor Wentland|
|Returning From Injury:||Nasha Manitkul-Davis|
Potential Contributors: Abigail Fletcher (9.765 NQS), Sarah McCarty (9.735), Riley Danielson (9.690), Cami Klein (9.590), Nasha Manitkul-Davis, Olivia Amodei, Karlie Franz,
How It Looked Before: Vault is Kent’s weakest event, and one it will want to improve upon in 2020. The Flashes are losing a strong weekly score from Dara Williams, which they will need to replace.
How It Looks Now: The return of Manitkul-Davis will help the Golden Flashes here, in addition to the strong vaulting potential from freshmen Olivia Amodei and Karlie Franz, who both vault Yurchenko fulls.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Losing Williams will sting, but the return of Manitkul-Davis and the potential from the freshmen should keep even at minimum. Look for vault to hold steady or possibly trend up.
Potential Contributors: Jade Brown (9.785 NQS), Madison Trott (9.765), Madison Iannuzzo (9.735), Gabby Williams (9.710), Rachel DeCavitch, Olivia Amodei, Karlie Franz
How It Looked Before: Bars isn’t the Golden Flashes best event, but they were pretty consistent in 2019.
How It Looks Now: Kent will be losing two solid routines from Williams and Sarah Lippowitsch and will need both the returning gymnasts and the freshmen to step up if they want to improve on this event in 2020.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but it’s difficult when success hinges on freshmen.
Potential Contributors: Cami Klein (9.800 NQS), Abigail Fletcher (9.790), Riley Danielson (9.750), Samantha Henry (9.715) Madison Iannuzzo (9.650), Olivia Amodei, Rachel DeCavitch
How It Looked Before: Beam is a good event for Kent, and despite losing some big routines, this is an event where the Golden Flashes should still be able to put up solid numbers each week.
How It Looks Now: Like uneven bars, the Flashes will be losing solid routines from Williams and Lippowitsch. However, they are more than capable of staying consistent with their returning gymnasts. Look for Amodei and possibly Rachel DeCavitch to also make an impact in the lineup here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? I’d expect beam to remain steady in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Abigail Fletcher (9.885 NQS), Sarah McCarty (9.830), Toshi Richard (9.810), Jade Brown (9.810), Nasha Manitkul-Davis, Karlie Franz, Rachel DeCavitch
How It Looked Before: Floor is Kent’s best event, one where it is consistently solid.
How It Looks Now: The Golden Flashes will not be losing a single routine on floor, and junior Abby Fletcher was a regional qualifier on this event. They only stand to gain some ground if the freshmen can compete for the lineup. Both Franz and DeCavitch have the potential to bring some exciting tumbling to the table with double Arabians in their current routines.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up.
Kent State as a whole has the potential to improve this year. It doesn’t have any one standout event but is consistent across the board, with strong routines to offer on each apparatus. Some of its success will be dependent on how quickly and easily the freshmen adapt to competing on the NCAA stage, which can make it difficult to predict.
The question for Kent is whether or not this incoming class will be able to rise to the expectation to make an immediate impact on the lineups.
No. 40 Northern Illinois
The Huskies were the Cinderella story of the MAC in 2019, surprising everyone by claiming the MAC championship title for the first time in program history. They will be looking to build on that momentum going into the 2020 season.
|Losses:||Emily Basara, Ally Ferber, Anna Martucci, Paige Nicholas|
|Gains:||Gillian Dolitsky, Jacklyn Dolitsky, Natalie Hamp, Ciara Ryan, Brookelyn Sears|
Potential Contributors: Cinny Lamberti (9.805), Amanda Bartemio (9.765), Gabby Welch (9.765), Tara Kofmeil (9.750), Morgan Hooper (9.695), Nina Martucci (9.575), Brookelyn Sears, Jacklyn Dolitsky
How It Looked Before: Vault is the Huskies’ weakest event, but they managed to get through the season without any major issues.
How It Looks Now: The good news is they aren’t losing any routines from last season, so they only have room to improve if the freshmen prove capable of a lineup spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Expect vault to remain consistent or trend up slightly if the freshmen can add some solid vaults to the lineup.
Potential Contributors: Morgan Hooper (9.830 NQS), Amanda Bartemio (9.770), Nina Martucci (9.740), Allison Richardson (9.740), Natalie Hamp, Brookelyn Sears
How It Looked Before: Bars wasn’t the strongest event for Northern Illinois, and to add salt to the wound it is losing two routines from graduated seniors Emily Basara and Ally Ferber.
How It Looks Now: This is the area where the Huskies will most need to count on the incoming freshmen to make an immediate impact on the lineup. Look for Brookelyn Sears, who brings a very strong bar set with her from J.O., to be able to step into the lineup easily.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down slightly, but might be too soon to tell.
Potential Contributors: Mia Lord (9.830 NQS), Catherine Biddle (9.790), Allison Richardson (9.785), Morgan Hooper (9.390), Zoie Schroeder, Brookelyn Sears, Jacklyn Dolitsky
How It Looked Before: Beam was a consistent event for the Huskies, and got progressively better throughout the season, truly saving their best for last: it was on this event that the Huskies clinched the MAC title in 2019.
How It Looks Now: They’re losing one strong routine, but have options for replacing it from returning gymnasts and incoming freshmen. It will be interesting to see which gymnasts emerge as standouts for lineup spots as the season gets closer.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Look for beam to hold steady in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Allison Richardson (9.845 NQS), Tara Kofmehl (9.840), Amanda Bartemio (9.840), Brookelyn Sears, Jacklyn Dolitsky, Gillian Dolitsky,
How It Looked Before: Floor was an outstanding event for the Huskies in 2019, where they finished first in the MAC and at No. 19 overall in the NCAA.
How It Looks Now: Northern Illinois will have three routines carry over from last season, but the gaps left by the graduating seniors, especially that of Anna Martucci, will be hard to fill.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor is a strength for the Huskies, and while they may need to experiment with their lineup early in the season I’d expect this to mostly hold steady in 2020.
Can Northern Illinois find a way to maintain the momentum from last season and channel it into a successful 2020 campaign? Floor should be good to go for the Huskies, but they need to find a way to improve on vault and bars, which were already weaker events in 2019. The success of the Huskies this season will rely heavily on the ability of the freshmen to deliver: if they come in strong and making lineups all should be well, but if not, it could signal a rebuilding year.
No. 45 Ball State
Ball State ended the 2019 season a few spots lower than 2018, but don’t let that ranking drop fool you. The addition of a solid freshman class, including two elites, will help the Cardinals in their efforts to climb the rankings this year.
|Losses:||Sydney Finke, Kaitlyn Menzione, Jordyn Penny|
|Gains:||Grace Evans, Marimar Perez-Banus, Megan Phillips, Alicia Ostendorf, Megan Teter, Taylor Waldo|
|Returning From Injury:||Bri Slonim|
Potential Contributors: Stefanie Schweikert (9.840 NQS), Bri Slonim (9.815 in 2018), Marissa Nychyk (9.815), Maddie MacDonald (9.780), Arden Hudson (9.750), Megan Phillips
How It Looked Before: Vault is the Cardinals’ best event, where they were ranked first in the MAC and No. 28 overall in the NCAA in 2019.
How It Looks Now: They are losing two consistent scores due to the departures of Sydney Finke and Jordyn Penny, so the freshmen can expect to be counted on immediately. Megan Phillips in particular brings a 10.0 vault (a Yurchenko one and a half) that the Cardinals will want to use. We should also see the return of Bri Slonim, a regular contributor who missed out on the 2019 season due to injury.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Vault should hold steady in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Marissa Nychyk (9.805 NQS), Arden Hudson (9.740), Maddie MacDonald (9.735), Sandra Elsadek (9.710), Stefanie Schweikert (9.665), Megan Phillips, Marimar Perez-Banus, Grace Evans, Megan Teter
How It Looked Before: Bars wasn’t the Cardinals’ strongest event in 2019, and they will be losing a strong routine from graduated senior Penny. Marissa Nychyk proved to be the star of the bars lineup in 2019, and will most definitely continue to be a big contributor for the 2020 season.
How It Looks Now: The bad news is Penny’s consistent 9.800-level score every week isn’t going to be easily replaceable, but the good news is there are a lot of incoming freshmen with bar routines fully capable of making an immediate impact on the lineup. Look for Marimar Perez-Banus, Megan Phillips, and Grace Evans to be potential options here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? I’d look for bars to trend up.
Potential Contributors: Lauren Volpe (9.775 NQS), Rachel Benoit (9.750), Arden Hudson (9.730), Sandra Elsadek (9.720), Bri Slonim, Alivia Ostendorf, Taylor Waldo, Megan Phillips
How It Looked Before: This was the least consistent event for Ball State in 2019, and it finished ranked No. 7 in the MAC with an NQS of 48.595.
How It Looks Now: The Cardinals are losing two strong routines from Penny and Kaitlyn Menzione, but the return of Slonim will be huge for this lineup. There are also a few freshmen to keep your eye on for lineup spots as well: Alivia Ostendorf, Evans and Taylor Waldo.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should hold steady in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Sandra Elsadek (9.815 NQS), Maddie MacDonald (9.765), Claudia Goyco (9.765), Marissa Nychyk (9.750), Alivia Ostendorf, Grace Evans, Marimar Perez-Banus
How It Looked Before: Floor was a pretty solid event for the Cardinals, but they are losing two strong routines from Menzione and Finke.
How It Looks Now: Ball State will carry over four solid routines into 2020, and have some interesting lineup options from the incoming freshmen.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Holding steady. While a majority of the lineup returns, finding solid 9.800 score replacements for Menzione and Finke won’t be easy.
How well Ball State does in 2020 may end up being dictated by how easily the freshmen can fit into lineups. With big scores being lost on each event, they will need to be able to make an impact on line ups almost immediately. If the Cardinals are able to capitalize on the opportunity, they should expect to have another successful season.
Article by Kalley Leer
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