Why Your Team Sucks

An ode to Deadspin and Drew Magary.

Drew Magary over at Deadspin really got it right. Your teams suck! I was reading his annual NFL series (RIP) and started thinking: Gymnastics teams suck, too! Don’t get me wrong: I love the sport. I even love these teams. But sometimes, it’s all just too much. What on Earth is the point of a stick crown, and why is there so much glitter everywhere?

So here it is folks, why your 2020 teams suck, a la Magary.

Disclaimer: College Gym News does not, in fact, think these teams suck.

SEC

Alabama

Your 2019 finish: 12th. Good thing it wasn’t one place lower, or Alabama’s fate would seem even more prophetic.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: By all accounts, the Crimson Tide is a likable team. That makes it especially tough to acknowledge that recent squads just haven’t been cutting the mustard in terms of expectations based on previous years. It says something that missing out on nationals (for the first time since…the literal beginning of NCAA gymnastics) wasn’t a particularly surprising outcome last season. Also, “persistedness.”

What’s new that sucks? I usually have my phone on the highest volume, so I’m treated to a mini heart attack every time I watch a training clip on the @bamagymnastics Insta story. Does every single video need an inspirational song blasting along with it, or is the music there to distract you from the fact that you’re watching a…very average double pike? Plus, aren’t you going to run out of notable songs by November?

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Two words: Makarri. Doggette. After a level 10 career that lasted approximately 80 years, this standout should bring some much needed “oomph” to Bama’s lineups. Look out for her similarly talented yet lesser known classmate Mati Waligora, too. 

Arkansas 

Your 2019 finish: 18th, after hovering in the low 20s for most of the season. It must be noted that climbing into the top 20 after a truly tough regional placement was no small feat.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: April 26th, 2019. A day that will live in Gym-famy. In my conspiracy-loving opinion, revealing Jordyn Wieber as your new head coach was pretty low on the agenda here. My theory: Arkansas athletics was in cahoots with the CIA and needed to enlist new agents. What better a recruiting pool than gym fans with nothing better to do with their lives? It’s like tracking down that plane and its takeoff time was the first test.

What’s new that sucks? Apparently the “big reveal” used all the juice in the tank for the communications team, because since then, Arkansas social media has been drier than Mark Cook’s quotes. Of all the incoming freshman classes in the SEC, this one feels the most unknown. We’d appreciate a little more insight, other than the kind in Jordyn’s TED talk.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Not sure…see above for why. But have we mentioned Jordyn Wieber? Plus, this year’s two seniors (Garner and Yamzon) and one kinda-senior (Shaffer) aren’t talked about enough for their consistency, scoring potential and overall badassery.

Auburn

Your 2019 finish: 16th. Just doesn’t seem right when you remember the Tigers beat LSU, Kentucky and Georgia last season.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: The stick stick is pretty hard to beat in terms of a stick object. It almost makes up for that ambiguous “War Eagle” thing. Also, Jeff Graba’s entire existence is one big “huh?” But a likeable one at that. Every team has its own personality, and Auburn’s is fun, stylish, unreliable and ultimately disappointing in big moments. This team recruits with the very best and is great at converting JO stats into top freshman routines, but when freshmen turn into upperclassmen they seem to forget how to hit.

What’s new that sucks? An unfortunate injury at regionals derailed pretty much any other coverage of Auburn in 2019, so yeah, that sucks. Not exactly new, but you can bet that will be (needlessly) mentioned in every broadcast this year.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Auburn hasn’t ranked outside the top 20 since 2007. It’s always there on the periphery of teams you shouldn’t forget about, but other than some stray flashes of greatness, that’s about all it is. That being said, any success becomes more notable from that perspective.

Florida

Your 2019 finish: 10th. As in, not top eight.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Let’s talk about that beam rotation at regionals last year. Florida not qualifying to nationals was a huge shock, but it also felt like the culmination of a semi-decline that’s been in effect since the departure of Rhonda Faehn in 2015. In the first year without a Rhonda-era, national title-winning class, it’s almost like the suspicious lack of 10s during the regular season was foreshadowing. 

What’s new that sucks? The deferrals of Riley McCusker and Morgan Hurd were basically out of Florida’s control. That said, it’s been a given that would happen for about a year now. Why didn’t the recruiting team up its Jay Clark game and poach another freshman or two? This year’s one-woman class feels unexpected for a top program. Clark undoubtedly out-Clarked UF in nabbing Shchennikova from Michigan. You know the elite-happy Gators were trying.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: This roster is more than talented enough to absorb the loss of Alicia Boren. Though we have a year until the boatloads of elite recruits start to arrive, a Final Four (bite me, Four on the Floor) appearance wouldn’t be out of the question in 2020; imagine the statement that would make.

Georgia

Your 2019 finish: Eighth. I’d just like to point out that in CKC’s first two years as head coach, she’s finished around the same spot—or worse—than Danna Durante’s average ranking.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Can I just say “Suzanne Yoculan” and let that be an all-encompassing thing and leave it at that? No? Let me make you a list: wooden pillow beams, team house, moonwalks, Speed Racer, Star Wars—I promise I’m still talking about gymnastics and not just listing pop culture things. There was also that weird Charlie Tamayo thing that I still don’t fully understand. Oh, and you can’t forget about the whole Georgie Elite feud.

What’s new that sucks? The social media was so horrendous last year I literally unfollowed the team because I couldn’t stand the spelling errors and avoidable mistakes any longer. Also Suzanne Yoculan’s no longer the volunteer assistant. What are we going to do without 6-inch silver sparkly stilettos each weekend? But don’t worry gym fans, CGN has some exciting news on the SY front that you aren’t going to want to miss. Stay tuned.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Literally Sabrina Vega. As long as you have her on the team, you can’t suck that much, right?

Kentucky

Your 2019 finish: Ninth, a.k.a the highest-ranked team not to make nationals. 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: The recruiting team impressively sniped former elite Kaitlin DeGuzman for 2020. But unless you saw CGN’s trusty updates, you probably wouldn’t have known—Kentucky never put out a release to acknowledge the commitment. Football programs generate crazy videos and dramatic graphics for big recruits, so this felt like a missed opportunity. Not everyone can have Olympian coaches, so run with what you’ve got. 

What’s new that sucks? Few things suck more than an NCAA gymnastics season without Alex Hyland’s floor routine. That’s that on that.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Kentucky went 197-plus at last year’s regional final. It wasn’t enough to make nationals (which warrants an entirely separate post), but it should be encouraging for a squad that adds some of the top freshmen in the country.

LSU 

Your 2019 finish: Second. You might’ve seen the billboard.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Major props for the whole “stick object” thing. Really, it’s by far the best part of LSU gymnastics. Actually, D-D’s outfits are the best part. I bet you thought we were going straight for the spray tans… Orange you glad we didn’t?

What’s new that sucks? LSU gymnasts are on a really poor streak of social media behavior. From raising money for a scam organization and lying about it when questioned, to making national news for a racist costume, the optics aren’t the best. We also need to talk about the big spot in the new trophy case for the natty trophy you don’t have. Bold move.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: LSU’s fans, while often way over the line on social media, treat gymnastics like fans treat other big name sports, which is really quite cool. Plus, having Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers and Alyona Shchennikova in the same recruiting class is just mean. Maybe that trophy case will actually fill up sometime in the next four years. Question is: Will D-D retire happily with a title to her name before, you know, we have to bury her? She’s the only one left of that old school class (think the Patterson/Kondos-Field/Marsden/Yoculan/Kendig crew). I guess Bev Plocki is still out there, too. Who will win one first? 

Missouri 

Your 2019 finish: 17th. Probably pretty accurate if we’re being honest.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: That time one gymnast stole another gymnast’s credit card to pay her rent and faced basically no consequences while the victim got kicked off the team. THAT was exciting, especially when it became a Halloween costume. Speaking of basically no consequences, remember those abuse allegations toward Shannon Welker? Apparently the Missouri AD doesn’t. 

What’s new that sucks? You can’t call the sudden disappearance of at least five serviceable gymnasts “new” because it’s a yearly phenomena by now. But it still sucks. 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Missouri has been recruiting beyond belief for the last few years. If you think Helen Hu is a great catch for the Tigers, wait until you see Amari Celestine. 

Pac-12

Arizona

Your 2019 finish: 35th.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: When John Court suspended, like, half the team for a meet, putting up a team score of 145.3750, which included only two people on vault and three on floor—two of which were falls. There was also that leo that was entirely black except for an enormous 1-foot by 1-foot shiny block A on the back. I don’t know either.

What’s new that sucks? That awful leotard with a huge vase shape in nude mesh on the front. After wearing it once they sent it back to the manufacturer because they didn’t like the fabric, and we all said, wow thank goodness, that sure was bad. Then the manufacturer sent it back with a marginally different but equally weird color of nude mesh, and Arizona thought that fixed everything wrong about the leotard somehow. Can I suggest just no nude-colored vase shapes going forward?

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Two words, and they are “Christina Berg.” OK, two more: “Taylor Spears.” Berg is hands down one of the best two-eventers in the NCAA, but she gets glossed over a lot because she’s not at one of the shiny schools. Her senior season should be a thing of beauty. 

Arizona State

Your 2019 finish: 25th. Less than half of your ranking in 2016, so kudos on that.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: There was that whole Rene Lyst running the team into the ground thing. So that was fun. Also, can we talk about the leo that was literally one-sleeved and the other that had actual holes all over the arms? Then there’s the fact that Arizona State used to be really good, which is a definite huh moment if you’ve only recently joined the party.

What’s new that sucks? Dear Arizona State, I’m really sorry but your Rulfovas are bad. Also, your social media team doesn’t even know how to spell Rulfova. Also, half of your team graduated last year. One of the funny side effects of having a coach run an entire team into the ground is that you end up with one HUGE class and three small ones on your roster, and that means every four years you have a terrifying season wherein you have to put three freshmen in every lineup in January and just hope it works out okay. That’s coming up in 2020, so no unbuckling until the seatbelt light turns off, friends. Of course, the effect would be reduced if ASU didn’t have exactly one useful gymnast between its sophomore and junior classes, but it’s too late to fix that.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: The Santoses really do seem to know what they’re doing, and things have improved quickly. Plus, they’ve got two more years of Leonard-Baker magic to go.

California

Your 2019 finish: 11th. Cal got swept up in the absolute circus at the Athens regional final last year, and while it couldn’t out-Georgia Georgia at Georgia, it finished the season with a program record.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Cal has gotten very good very fast, and for the most part it feels like a sustainable rise, with plenty of good recruits coming in to carry the momentum on. But there have been sticky patches, such as the time the Bears missed five bar rotations in a row in 2018 and the coaches almost lost it. To be fair, I almost lost it too.

What’s new that sucks? The Bears spent a lot of 2019 playing a complicated will-she-won’t-she game with the underclassmen, changing their lineups at the last second seemingly more often than not. Maya Bordas got the worst of it, and we have to imagine that it would have been easier for her to be consistent if she knew what she would be competing more than 10 minutes before a meet. A veteran could handle that, but for a newcomer it’s difficult.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: There’s a lot to love at Cal right now. The leotards are great, the recruiting is otherworldly good and who doesn’t love Justin and Liz’s unfairly adorable relationship? 

Oregon State

Your 2019 finish: Sixth. I’m going to assume nobody needs a reminder on how that happened.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Oregon State is the most overscored team among teams whose fans don’t think they’re overscored at all. Remember that time that it got a 49.600 on floor last year for a rotation that was completely average? It’s much easier to swallow those scores coming from Florida whose fans who are at least a little realistic about it. 

What’s new that sucks? You made nationals last year on an absolute gift from Florida and frankly, even more aggressive home-scoring than usual. Now your gymnasts are getting on social media and saying that everyone who doesn’t think you’re going to make nationals every year is a stupid hater who just doesn’t believe in them. It was a FLUKE, guys. Take your gift and be happy with it. If you want to tell yourself that making nationals was a matter of pure hard work and grit to hype yourself up at practice, that’s great, but don’t get too silly about it.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: If Jade Carey ever actually makes it to Corvallis, it will be a huge story. She has 10 potential on all four events—yes, really. 

Stanford

Your 2019 finish: Not great, folks! 22nd, but only by the grace of a good day at regionals.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: The Cardinal has a shocking number of former elites—not far off the UCLAs and Floridas of the world. It’s easy to forget that because those gymnasts tend to turn up to the Farm and do four years of pretty mediocre gymnastics. Remember, this is a team that used to contend for national championships, and it can still recruit like a superpower. It doesn’t even have an injury epidemic like some of its neighbors in the rankings. It’s just the doing-routines-in-a-competition part of the equation that’s going wrong. In the Elizabeth Price days, Stanford used to be unreliable during the regular season and then peak in postseason. Now it’s just the normal, boring kind of unreliable.

What’s new that sucks? Stanford has an unparalleled ability to degrade its gymnasts’ technique within a few months of arriving on campus. It’s shocking to see how quickly bent arms and soft knees set in in training clips. Bars is the worst—last year it didn’t crack 49 until the middle of February—but none of it’s great.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: If your plan to fix your team is just to throw elites at the problem instead of changing your coaching, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better elite to throw than Irina Alexeeva. And there is a new coach this year, so just maybe the technical issues will improve.

UCLA

Your 2019 finish: Doesn’t matter because we’re all happy and we love gymnastics and each other a lot! Right? (It was third; they finished third.)

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: I was chilled to my bones when I saw that Gracie Kramer’s favorite leotard was the absolute worst one that’s ever been created. Also, remember when the team started a GoFundMe for a training gym that would be on podium? Whatever happened to the money it didn’t raise for that? Also, is there a situation with a certain Chase executive? I don’t have any hard evidence here, but it feels like there might be. Also, Maria Caire.

What’s new that sucks? This isn’t exactly UCLA’s fault, but no other team shares the Bruins’ ability to inspire long, awful twitter threads about bras. For a sport community that’s had to reckon so much with how we handle athletes’ bodies and sexuality, we sure do seem to think it’s OK to speculate about the Bruins’ boobs on the regular. 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: It was hard to visualize a Kondos-Field-less future, but the new coaching staff honestly seems pretty rad. Plus, after a few years of reduced international presence in Westwood, it’ll be good to see two Canadians and a Mexican on the roster next year.

Utah 

Your 2019 finish: Seventh. Because when you haven’t won a national championship in nearly 25 years, you make zero changes and continue to pretend it’s not an issue.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Utah: Where it’s OK to marry your gymnast while she’s still competing and have no one saying anything weird about it ever.

What’s new that sucks? I’m going to admit right here, right now that BJ Das and Utah jelled about as well as Mentos and Diet Coke (but watching her work with UCLA this preseason convinced me it’s not her, it’s them). Then Courtney McCool had to come into SLC with her good choreo and her unique style and her well-practiced head nods and create captivating routines or whatever. How dare she.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: If you twist my arm I’ll tell you the Red Rocks are actually going to be, like, really pretty the next few years. Maile O’Keefe? Deanne Soza? Kara freaking Eaker? It’s so un-Utah-of-old it’s not even funny. But I’m also totally OK with it.

Washington

Your 2019 finish: 19th. A heck of a lot lower than it would have been if three of its six freshmen weren’t too injured to compete for the whole year and two more weren’t significantly restricted by injuries of their own.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Look, Washington, let’s talk. You’ve got so much going for you. Your school is in a real city, and it’s not even culturally terrifying to international recruits. You’ve got great school colors. Your coach is super famous. Your campus is beautiful and your school is, while no Stanford, nonetheless one of the best academically among gymnastics schools. Why can’t you recruit? It’s been going on for years. You scrape by with 14 gymnasts every season. Your “if you’re pretty on beam, have a scholarship and let’s pretend your J.O. scoring record didn’t happen” strategy is enough to keep you afloat—and you sure know how to develop every routine on your tiny roster—but it doesn’t look good when teams ranked 20 spots below you outclass you in recruiting year after year. Also, the vault situation. “Stick a Hail Mary in the six spot on vault and hope to scratch it” is a classic Washington move and really not something we should see from a top-20 team, much less one with five gymnasts who used to perform 10.0 vaults yet never competed them in college.*

What’s new that sucks?: You know what’s a great idea? Identifying the one thing about your team that’s really working, and CHANGING IT. Elise Ray-Statz’ beam squad was imperious for years, and when she delegated beam to another coach last year, it fell back to Earth hard. Will she take the reins back in 2020? Eh, probably not.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: With four gymnasts in the last three years who medically retired or just quit the team during freshman year, we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but… the 2020 signing class is admittedly really, really good. Skylar Killough-Wilhelm is powerfully reminiscent of Hailey Burleson, and that’s something Washington desperately needs.

*It’s possible that one of these was competed once but wasn’t shown on the stream in favor of men’s wrestling, which really says everything.

Big 12

Denver

Your 2019 finish: Fourth. Like that’s good or something.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Small rosters at Denver is not a new concept, but it wasn’t too long ago that the Pioneers were barely managing to put up five, let alone six, gymnasts on most events. And this year, the Pioneers needed to take two recruits from other teams and add two 2020 commits a year early to field a roster of more than 12 gymnasts. It would help if they didn’t keep losing valuable underclassmen in dramatic, mysterious fashion…

What’s new that sucks? I literally don’t have any bad thing to say about Denver. It’s the popular football jock that is somehow still friends with the geeks. But I do want to take a moment to put out a call to action for all Denver residents to pull a Storm Area 51 and destroy all mentions of Toyota in the Denver arena(s). Also, why do you have literal cars on the competition floor when you compete in the hockey arena? Stop that.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: You can’t convince me I’m wrong about the Toyota signage. I refuse to listen. But when it comes to the actual gymnastics, everything from the leos to Maddie Karr’s summer hop full training videos to Linas Gaveika’s bar dismount celebrations are pretty good. Also, Nina McGee. I realize she’s not there anymore, but that national floor title happened and I’m still not over it.

Iowa State

Your 2019 finish: 20th! 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Iowa State is reliably one of the most international teams in the NCAA. It’s super cool! Are the Cyclones recruiting from far afield because everyone within a few states knows how much their head coach sucks? Maybe! Neat!

What’s new that sucks? I mean really what happened with this freshman class last year? You nabbed Phoebe Turner and then she did like one good vault all season in a sea of 9.6s, not to mention the journey that was watching Grace Woolfolk on beam. The class was actually NINE humans strong, and we saw, what, 11 routines max from them? Woof.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Maybe the midwest keeping the Cyclones at arms’ length is a blessing in disguise, because we do get to see a lot of fun internationals at Iowa State. This year we get the Maldonado sisters from Puerto Rico, one of whom has been training some really bananas skills. Can you say Randi? 

Oklahoma 

Your 2019 finish: First. I’m just as shocked as you are.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: People like to say you do a great job recruiting from level 10, but really your recruiting base is former elites who were so boring that we forget they were ever elites. Props to the glow up though.

What’s new that sucks? Oklahoma has always been a unique team, but the last few years, it feels like it’s starting to become a parody of itself. The leotards used to be sparkly, yes, but sleek and stylish as well. Now they look like they were designed after a night taking shrooms. The floor choreography has always been contemporary and quirky, but it’s sliding more and more into twitchy territory. Seriously, why does every routine have a twitching segment? And honestly, UCLA gets a lot of heat for strange routine themes—and they ARE strange—but we shouldn’t let the literal Syrian-refugee-themed floor routine be forgotten, because that was very bizarre and probably not 100 percent OK. Also, the eyeshadow. The eyeshadow definitely sucks. Someone buy these girls a nice blending brush.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: As long as Maggie Nichols is on the roster, we’re probably wrong about Oklahoma sucking. We’re naturally counting down the days until 2021. In reality, the best thing about OU is KJ Kindler’s unabashed desire to win. She’s not telling her gymnasts to go out there and hit four for four and have a good time; it’s win or I’m going to give you some serious chin raises and stern eyes, the same look I’m giving that damn eyeshadow I’ll never let it go..

West Virginia

Your 2019 finish: No. 27, after a very meh showing at the Ann Arbor regional.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: What, precisely, is a Mountaineer? I’m no geography expert, but I don’t really associate big time mountaineering and Appalachia. One thing I remember about that regional is Rachel Hornung’s injury. That sucked for sure. West Virginia just hasn’t made a name for itself. You don’t have to be a title-contender to do it, just look at the Iowas and New Hampshires of the world. You need an identity! One that’s not a guy in a coonskin hat with a shotgun, which sounds like a rural version of Clue.

What’s new that sucks? Kirah Koshinski graduated. So did Jaquie Tun. It happened. Pray for floor is all I’m saying.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: 27th is really not a horrendous finish for a team that was at 36 the year before. Jason Butts is doing something strong over there, it just hasn’t fully clicked yet. Maybe this is the year the Mountaineers finish in the top 30 two years running for the first time since 2013.

Big Ten

Something has to be said about this conference on the whole. What is going on with the scandals, y’all. The Thompsons, the Stephensons, Kathie Klages, Dan Kendig, Scott Vetere, Carey Fagen, whispers about Kim Landrus. If you’re keeping count, that’s Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan State, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Illinois. Seven out of 10 in the conference. Can you say yikes? Congrats to Iowa, Maryland and Rutgers only. Although there’s the Maryland mass-exodus so maybe only congrats Iowa and Rutgers. Endless screaming.

Illinois

Your 2019 finish: A shocking No. 23, after looking more like a mid-30s team for much of the season. Talk about peaking!

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: We have got to talk about leotards. Thank goodness Nadalie Walsh has made changes on this front because oh boy the steady stream of blue with orange swirlies from 2007 to 2017 got old fast. Let’s also talk about vault. For a team that wants to be a late-postseason mainstay, you have got to put up at least one 10.0 at some point. Just one. A single solitary one. Please.

What’s new that sucks? Why is the roster suddenly 700 gymnasts long? Who can keep track?! Also, why are we bringing gymnasts to college a year early just to have them nearly immediately injured for a season or medically retire? We also need to talk about bleeding ACs, because that has become an every-offseason problem. What gives? Champaign is not the most appealing place, but it’s not that much worse than other college towns. RIP Kam’s, though. If you know you know.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Well fine, Shaylah Scott is a goddess and Mallory Mizuki finally seems healthy, not to mention that the million-strong freshman class is full of secret ninjas. 

Iowa

Your 2019 finish: No. 31—complete with a loss to Iowa State during the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series because that’s a thing that exists. At least Iowa won the overall series, right?

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: IOWA CORN CY-HAWK. I guess when you’re in the middle of corn country you better embrace it. What else is in the state? Anything?

What’s new that sucks? We’re so in the dark with this freshman class. JerQuavia Henderson was a J.O. star, but will she do anything but vault in college? No clues yet! And what is the status of often-injured Ariana Agrapides? She could be stellar, but she could be on constant IR. IO-WA more like IO-Whaaaa?

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: We all saw Lauren Guerin do that full-twisting double layout into the pit. If it’s not on the big girl floor for at least one meet, we riot. We also hereby demand that Henderson become the next big star because she has earned it. We did see that one clip of her new floor choreography. More, please.

Maryland

Your 2019 finish: 30th. Which is all right but not as good as it would have been if it wasn’t constantly bleeding gymnasts. To be specific, it could have added just about A POINT AND A HALF to its regionals score if it could substitute in scores from its three former gymnasts who currently compete for different teams.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Something must be deeply wrong with this program for so many gymnasts to leave, but we can’t figure out what. Honestly, we’ve tried so hard. If you have the UMD tea, please slide into our DMs. It’s unclear whether the issue is with the gymnastics program or with the athletics department; remember when that football player died? That was bad.

What’s new that sucks? Well your best bar/beam gymnast is Utah’s shiny new thing, which ain’t great. We also keep seeing fancy upgrades, but I’m not holding my breath. I know how it works. You tease us all preseason and then we don’t ever actually see the upgrades in competition. Boo.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Have you seen the Intrasquad training clips? We’re talking a handful of 10.0 vaults, some big bar dismounts and strong beam and floor acro work. Of course, Maryland tends to not entirely live up to its preseason showings, but hey there’s hope.

Michigan 

Your 2019 finish: Fifth. FIFTH. One spot out of finals, by about three tenths. We had to watch Olivia Karas and Emma McLean’s careers end during national semifinals. 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: How on earth has Bev Plocki never lead this team to a national title? Being a Wolverine fan must be a lot like poking your eyes with an ice pick every year during the postseason, because capable team after capable team keeps just missing. We also submit “It’s great. To be. A Miiiiiichigan Wolverine” for your consideration, which will be stuck in your head from now until forever. Um, also? That Scott Vetere thing was weird and bad. 

What’s new that sucks? There were so many exciting coaching changes this season. We were waiting with bated breath to see who the Wolverines would bring in to push this team into the upper echelons of gymnastics royalty (remember when they hired and then fired Rhonda Faehn?). And then it happened: Michigan calmly promoted its volunteer assistant to full assistant coach. Certainly former Oklahoma great Malieana Hermelyn is fantastic, but it wasn’t exactly the fireworks we were waiting for. Ditto for Scott Sherman’s promotion to associate head coach.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Michigan annoyingly brought in two of the strongest freshmen in the country in Gabryel Wilson and Sierra Brooks, which wasn’t very considerate to the rest of the conference, none of whom have won the Big Ten title in the past five years because the Wolverines keep hogging it. Also, the Wojcik Deltchev. It’s basically in outer space. Some Big Ten competition gyms might not have high enough ceilings for her to compete it.

Michigan State

Your 2019 finish: 41st. No regionals here. Hey, at least ya finished ahead of two of the directional Michigans!

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: I mean, there was the Kathie Klages having the team make cards for Larry Nassar thing…not to mention the Twistars recruiting pipeline and super villain Geddert. Just cut those ties already.

What’s new that sucks? Big name freshman injures. It happened with Maddie McHale. It happened with Ally Hoyer. And now we’ve seen a lot of Linda Zivat in a boot. What’s going on?! Please wrap your team in bubble wrap STAT. Something about having a team doctor who wasn’t actually treating injuries goes here, and we’re still furious at him about it. 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Mike Rowe seems like an obnoxiously good human, just the kind of person you want around in the wake of the Ursula that was Klages. Nicole Curler has also cornered the market on best leos, sorry literally everyone else (except we’re not because green leos are the BOMB DOT COM).  

Minnesota

Your 2019 finish: 13th. In the end the result was correct, but for a few rotations there in the regional final it looked like Minnesota would be underscored out of a spot at nationals, which would have been the most Minnesota thing ever. Instead, it put together a phenomenal meet but lost out based on its poor vault landings, which is also the most Minnesota thing ever.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Have you seen the gold lamé warmups? You have. Word on the street is that former head coach Jeff Stephenson designed those. Mhm. While we’re on the Stephensons, there was that whole sexual harassment accusation that pushed them out. At least we got the nicest coach in college gym out of it in Jenny Hansen. I’d also like to talk about the neighborhood name “Dinkytown.” You okay, MPLS?

What’s new that sucks? We’ve got to talk about Lexy Ramler’s godforsaken van Leeuwen. Her bar set is utter perfection until a gigantic foot cross as she completes the half turn on that skill, right in plain view of the judges. Because everything else is so divine, it sticks out like a Gopher in the city of Minneapolis.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: You’ve seen Ramler’s toe point. With Ivy Lu and Ona Loper behind her, this team should (should!) be a nationals contender. I’m worried they all might just be too nice to show the grit and fight it takes to claw their way there, but I’m willing to be proven wrong.

Nebraska

Your 2019 finish: No. 14, the lowest since 2013, after being eliminated during the Ann Arbor super regional.

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Nebraska is like Michigan. The Huskers just can’t win despite countless nationals appearances. We also need to talk about the corn. Huskers. There’s the Midwest and then there’s the MIDWEST, and this is the latter. We’ve seen the corn-slippers-turned-hats. Goooooooo Biiiiiiiiiiiig Reeeeeeeeeeed. Amiright? Also, remember that time Dan Kendig was trying to pay his volunteer choreographer that MONSTER.

What’s new that sucks? Well it’s a bummer that Catelyn Orel ditched her red shirt year to go coach under Jordyn Wieber at Arkansas; who would do such a thing? Not to mention former Husker coach Chris Brooks, who left last year to coach at his alma mater Oklahoma, and instead of returning to Nebraska jaunted off to join his girlfriend Wieber in Fayetteville as well, which will undoubtedly be adorable. Rude. Why is there no Nebraska/Arkansas dual on the schedule? 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: The Huskers made two big gets this offseason, bringing on Robert Ladanyi to sort out the Floor Things and maybe teach the vault lineup how to land on its feet the next time it puts up six 10.0 starts. Italian elite Clara Colombo joined the 2020 recruiting class as well, and she’s going to be the angel the team needs to avoid another near-loss to Rutgers (!) after a superscary bars rotation, because that happened!

Ohio State

Your 2019 finish: I just…what happened!? No. 29!? After a start that suggested you’d be top 15 material? 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Remember that time that head coach Carey Fagan was accused of mistreatment and instead of firing her, the school promoted her to assistant AD? Funny that they did similarly with Urban Meyer, who also gets to talk about football on BTN now. Good things happening in Columbus. We’re also going to be laughing for a long time about trying to trademark “The.” Submitted for your consideration, the Library of Congress official record for Ohio State, no “the” in sight.

What’s new that sucks? Who will the injury parade come for this year? It took out everyone, literally everyone, at some point last year, so (extremely Jed Bartlet voice) what’s next? 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: OK, fine, the Covelli Center looks amazing, and we’d love to attend meets there; it’s about time the Big Ten got another good meet venue because have you seen where some of these teams compete? Hosting Big Tens in your fancy pants new arena is an admirable power move, it cannot be denied. Plus, Meredith Paulicivic’s choreography is coming. For. You.

Penn State

Your 2019 finish: No. 24. Wait. Really? Cool. 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Well Jeff and Rachelle Thompson were the epitome of the things wrong with our sport! Then it was great that Samantha Brown got blackballed in the whole situation. Good job gym world! Not to mention that this whole brouhaha came shortly after the school tried to stand behind Joe Pa after he didn’t turn in an actual pedophile. Good normal place, the athletic department over there. We Are indeed.

What’s new that sucks? Alright what the hell is going on? Lauren Bridgens and Alissa Bonsall should be g**d*** superstars. And where have all the Yurchenko one and a halfs gone? State College has a weird way of eating everyone’s vault potential. 

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: Last year’s star recruit, Dymiana Cox, is back from an ACL injury. Maybe sitting out her freshman season means she missed the First Year of Doom that comes for Penn Staters, to kill any confidence and consistency they brought from J.O. Hey, it worked for sophomore joiner Jessie Bastardi last year!

Rutgers

Your 2019 finish: 47th. Better, but not great. 

Classic ‘huh?’ moments: Gymnastics isn’t the only sport in which it feels like Rutgers is only play-acting at being a Big Ten team, but it certainly applies. The only Big Ten team that SOMETIMES sucks more than Rutgers is Michigan State, and Michigan State has been, uh, dealing with some stuff.

What’s new that sucks? Um, where did half of your team go? The roster got slashed with medical retirements and people leaving. It’s normal for a newer coach to clean house, but uh we have some questions. Props on the glow up to Shannon Farrell, though. From transfer to scholarship and captain in no time.

Why we think we’re maybe wrong: That Jersey Pride leotard is sleeeeeek, and Umme Salim-Beasley is a literal queen. Add in former elite Hannah Joyner, and the Scarlet Knights might actually find themselves in regionals contention this season. You heard it here first.


Article by Sour Sally Sanders

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2 comments

    1. It was Emma Kelley, who’s an Arkansas gymnast now. So not even really an LSU dig, esp since they apparently pulled her scholarship?

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