In the first year of the new postseason format, the SEC saw just two teams qualify to nationals and only one make it to the final four. This newly competitive format, along with the changing power dynamics of the conference, should make the race within the SEC even more exciting in 2020. These first four teams may be on top for now, but that status is far from guaranteed going forward.
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. 2 LSU
LSU will be competing this year minus its 2019 class, which had arguably some of the biggest star power in NCAA history. However, it’s gaining a group with some top J.O. performers and a former elite. They’ll need to step up in a big way to guarantee another spot in the finals.
|Losses:||Julianna Cannamela, Sarah Finnegan, McKenna Kelley, Ashlyn Kirby (left team), Lexie Priessman|
|Gains:||Courtney Goodrich, Kiya Johnson, Lexie Nibbs, Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan, Alyona Shchennikova, Caitlin Smith|
Potential Contributors: Kennedi Edney (9.910 NQS), Ruby Harrold (9.870 NQS), Sarah Edwards (9.767), Bailey Ferrer (9.463), Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Kamryn Ryan
How It Looked Before: LSU came close to posting six 10.0 starts, but certain ones lacked consistency. They nonetheless scored decently well, particularly Edney’s effortless Yurchenko one and a half.
How It Looks Now: We should see more from January 2019 addition Bailey Ferrer in general this year, but particularly on vault with her Omelianchik. Johnson and Rivers have both showed double-twisting Yurchenkos, but it’s unclear whether they will stay with those or downgrade; they should be in the lineup either way. Ryan’s is also a good depth addition.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Whether or not Johnson and Rivers show the DTYs they’re capable of, the Tigers’ lineup should be one of the best in the nation yet again.
Potential Contributors: Kennedi Edney (9.905 NQS), Ruby Harrold (9.880 NQS), Sami Durante (9.865 NQS), Bailey Ferrer (9.845 NQS), Bridget Dean (9.775 NQS), Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Alyona Shchennikova
How It Looked Before: Known for the leg events in years past, LSU arguably looked strongest on bars last season. Just one meet saw a bars total below 49.000.
How It Looks Now: Bars should be once again be loaded for the Tigers, with Rivers bringing a junior national title-winning set. The big question mark is Shchennikova, who’s coming off an Achilles tear. If at full strength, she will compete for a lineup spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With a wealth of lineup options old and new, bars will definitely trend upward for the Tigers.
Potential Contributors: Reagan Campbell (9.905 NQS), Kennedi Edney (9.900 NQS), Christina Desiderio (9.875 NQS), Sami Durante (9.865 NQS), Bridget Dean (9.865 NQS), Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers, Alyona Shchennikova
How It Looked Before: Beam wasn’t the flashiest event for the Tigers in 2019, but routines still got the job done and ranked in the top five nationally by season’s end.
How It Looks Now: Going by postseason lineups, beam will just be missing Finnegan’s score in 2020. Look for the lineup to remain mostly the same with the exceptions of Johnson and/or Shchennikova if she’s healthy. Rivers could also contribute.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Expect similar beam totals for LSU as in 2019, if not slightly lower since Finnegan’s scores were usually the highest-scoring.
Potential Contributors: Kennedi Edney (9.925 NQS), Ruby Harrold (9.865 NQS), Reagan Campbell (9.855 NQS), Christina Desiderio (9.845 NQS), Sarah Edwards (9.808), Bailey Ferrer (9.550), Courtney Goodrich, Kiya Johnson, Kai Rivers
How It Looked Before: Earlier lineup routines could be a little problematic in terms of consistency, and the faces in that half of the lineup rotated a bit through the season. However, big scores towards the end of the lineup kept the totals on this event high.
How It Looks Now: Johnson and Rivers should handily replace the scores from Finnegan and Kelley, particularly Johnson if she keeps her two E passes. We might even see them positioned at the end of the lineup. Goodrich also has a big double Arabian that could see lineup time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor should once again be a huge event for the Tigers, especially if consistency issues are solved early on.
Placing second in the nation on the back of a program-defining class’s last hurrah is a tough act to follow. Thus, one might want to let LSU off the hook a little this year, especially considering the impressive class it has coming in 2021. But with immediate impact from Johnson and Rivers in the all around, along with strong senior year performances from Edney and Harrold, LSU could do much better than that.
No. 8 Georgia
Georgia continued to defy the odds in 2019, qualifying for nationals in Courtney Kupets-Carter’s second year as head coach. After a lackluster performance at that meet, the GymDogs will look to rebound on their reascension to the top.
|Losses:||Alexa Al-Hameed (left team), Sami Davis (medical retirement), Sydney Snead|
|Gains:||Amanda Cashman, Haley de Jong, Loulie Hattaway, Soraya Hawthorne|
|Returning From Injury:||Sterlyn Austin (shin fracture), Emily Schild (knee)|
Potential Contributors: Rachael Lukacs (9.905 NQS), Rachel Dickson (9.885 NQS), Sabrina Vega (9.855 NQS), Abbey Ward (9.815 NQS), Mikayla Magee (9.805 NQS), Amanda Cashman, Haley de Jong, Soraya Hawthorne
How It Looked Before: Georgia had one of the most unique vault lineups in the NCAA in 2019, posting a variety of different 10.0 start values. It’s no wonder vault was its highest scoring event by season’s end.
How It Looks Now: Several freshmen could replace Snead’s high-scoring spot, with multiple 10.0 starts among the class. Cashman’s Yurchenko one and a half has gotten a lot of attention, but Hawthorne has a big double full, and de Jong brings several options from elite.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Georgia vault lineup should score similarly to last year, but it has the potential to be better.
Potential Contributors: Marissa Oakley (9.915 NQS), Rachel Dickson (9.875 NQS), Megan Roberts (9.850 NQS), Emily Schild (9.800 NQS), Amanda Cashman, Haley de Jong, Loulie Hattaway, Abbey Ward
How It Looked Before: Georgia lacked depth and consistency on bars in 2019. There were some eye-catching routines in its lineup, but it struggled with depth, particularly after Emily Schild’s season-ending injury.
How It Looks Now: With the loss of Alexa Al-Hameed’s key routine, Georgia seems to be seeking options across the roster. Returning GymDogs Sabrina Vega and Abbey Ward have posted training clips on the event throughout preseason. Cashman and de Jong will also look to crack the lineup, and Hattaway could provide a backup routine.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? If Georgia can translate its preseason bars projects into meaningful lineup spots, bars should trend upward in 2019.
Potential Contributors: Sabrina Vega (9.925 NQS), Rachel Baumann (9.870 NQS), Rachel Dickson (9.870 NQS), Marissa Oakley (9.855 NQS), Mikayla Magee (9.805 NQS), Emily Schild (9.575), Amanda Cashman, Soraya Hawthorne
How It Looked Before: Like on bars, Georgia had a few exciting core beam routines, but others looked mostly flat. The lineup scored mostly in the low-49 range.
How It Looks Now: Those core routines are all returning this season, but expect to see some shuffling around to fill the remaining spots. Magee could be a bigger factor after just a few routines last season. As for the freshmen, Cashman and Hawthorne had solid sets in J.O. and should contribute here too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s a little too early to tell, but Georgia has the talent to post higher scores on beam in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Sabrina Vega (9.930 NQS), Rachel Dickson (9.930 NQS), Rachel Baumann (9.850 NQS), Rachael Lukacs (9.850 NQS), Mikayla Magee (9.750 NQS), Amanda Cashman, Haley de Jong, Soraya Hawthorne
How It Looked Before: Floor scored well for the GymDogs in 2019, and it was among the team’s more consistent events.
How It Looks Now: There are plenty of returning options, but almost all the freshmen have been seen training big floor passes, including a double double from Hawthorne. This will be a competitive lineup to crack.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor should be the most exciting event for the GymDogs in 2020.
There remains a lot of question marks about Georgia’s capabilities, but the talent is there to keep it competitive. A night session spot at SECs (and beyond) hinges on how that talent is utilized, particularly among the freshmen.
No. 9 Kentucky
Kentucky proved once again to be more than a mid-tier staple in 2019; note that it’s in the SEC part one post this year! But 2020 marks a new era for the Wildcats, and getting back to that level will take some effort.
|Losses:||Katrina Coca (transfer to Pitt), Danaea Davis, Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland, Aubree Rosa, Katie Stuart|
|Gains:||Raina Albores, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Kassidy Howell, Ashlyn LaClair (joining in January), Shealyn Luskik, Elyssa Roberts, Raena Worley|
|Returning From Injury:||Arianna Patterson (Achilles)|
Potential Contributors: Mollie Korth (9.910 NQS), Alaina Kwan (9.800 NQS), Raina Albores, Ashlyn LaClair, Arianna Patterson, Raena Worley
How It Looked Before: The vault lineup didn’t have the difficulty of other top programs, but it was fairly clean and consistent.
How It Looks Now: Kentucky’s main goal is to replenish the lineup, but it helps that there are a few 10.0 starts coming in to do it. The formerly injured Arianna Patterson likely won’t immediately vault hers, but it will be welcome when it’s ready, as will the powerful one we expect from Worley. Albores and LaClair bring solid fulls.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell on all of Kentucky’s events since there are so many routines to replace. This is especially true with vault.
Potential Contributors: Mollie Korth (9.875 NQS), Cally Nixon (9.870 NQS), Alaina Kwan (9.845 NQS), Raina Albores, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Ashlyn LaClair, Shealyn Luskik, Raena Worley
How It Looked Before: Bars was a solid lineup for the Wildcats in 2019, with no flashy, standout routines but enough consistency to get similar scores week to week.
How It Looks Now: Former elite Kaitlin DeGuzman should solve the “flashy” problem with her standout set. There are multiple viable routines among her class (particularly from Luksik and Worley), so expect a fairly young bars lineup in 2020.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should be on a similar level as it was in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Mollie Korth (9.860 NQS), Josie Angeny (9.830 NQS), Ella Warren (9.808), Cally Nixon (9.725), Hailey Poland (9.660), Raina Albores, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Kassidy Howell, Raena Worley
How It Looked Before: Beam was something of a revolving door for Kentucky. Various gymnasts cycled through the lineup, with a core group of routines that remained the same.
How It Looks Now: While those core routines are gone, there are still plenty of options from returning gymnasts to play with. The lineup will likely change around until a winning combination is found. Expect DeGuzman and Worley to play key roles from the start.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam will be a work in progress for Kentucky in 2020, but it has the potential to score well.
Potential Contributors: Mollie Korth (9.905 NQS), Ella Warren (9.845 NQS), Hailey Poland (9.785 NQS), Megan Monfredi (9.667), Raina Albores, Kassidy Howell, Ashlyn LaClair, Raena Worley
How It Looked Before: Alex Hyland’s Fresh Prince routine brought national prominence to a floor lineup whose fun performances made up for inconsistency.
How It Looks Now: This will be a tough lineup to fill, with only a few options coming in from the incoming class. Albores and Howell bring workable routines, but it’s Worley who really shines on the event and should vie with Korth for the anchor spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor could trend downward in 2020 due to lack of depth.
Like LSU, Kentucky faces its first season without a program-defining class of 2019; each lineup is missing at least three routines. The freshmen are capable of filling at least some of the holes, but it’s likely that the Wildcats will be operating below previous seasons’ expectations until those holes are figured out.
No. 10 Florida
Florida is in a similar position as LSU was last season; it must replace the routines of a key all around contributor with a signing class of just one gymnast. That means the team will have to mine some routines from other team members.
|Losses:||Alicia Boren, Amanda Cheney|
|Returning From Injury:||Jazmyn Foberg (elbow)|
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.900 NQS), Nya Reed (9.860 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.840 NQS), Megan Skaggs (9.825 avg.), Sierra Alexander (9.808 avg.), Maegan Chant (9.806 avg.), Alyssa Baumann (9.783 avg.), Jazmyn Foberg
How It Looked Before: All but four Gators vaulted at least once in 2019. It was Florida’s lowest-scoring event, which doesn’t really reflect its overall decent scoring.
How It Looks Now: Clearly, Florida has plenty of vaults to choose from. Those with a 2019 NQS should be lineup locks. As for the rest, look to see whether cleaner fulls (such as Alexander’s and Foberg’s) are swapped for more inconsistent 10.0 starts.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Gators’ vault lineup should trend upward once it settles into a consistent group of six.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.950 NQS), Megan Skaggs (9.925 NQS), Amelia Hundley (9.910 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.900 NQS), Rachel Gowey (9.825 NQS), Jazmyn Foberg, Payton Richards
How It Looked Before: Bars was a great event for the Gators in 2019, and the lineup remained mostly the same throughout the season.
How It Looks Now: The entire lineup will be constructed in the manner most optimal to get Thomas a 10. While we’re sort of kidding, there shouldn’t be too many changes on bars from 2019. Foberg will likely return, and Richards has a clean set that could see lineup time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should once again be a standout event for Florida in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.910 NQS), Alyssa Baumann (9.905 NQS), Megan Skaggs (9.890 NQS), Rachel Gowey (9.885 NQS), Amelia Hundley (9.880 NQS), Leah Clapper (9.865), Payton Richards
How It Looked Before: Other than that disastrous rotation at regionals, beam was a consistently strong event for the Gators in 2019. Said rotation was the only instance where it scored below 49.000.
How It Looks Now: Like with bars, there shouldn’t be much of a shakeup in the beam lineup. Richards looks most likely to break in and contribute here, bringing a crisp triple series. Clapper could also be a bigger factor, since her handful of routines last season were very nice.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? For Florida, anything more than a season-ending beam rotation would be trending up. So it’s a little early to tell, but that *should* be the case.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.965 NQS), Alyssa Baumann (9.920 NQS), Nya Reed (9.920 NQS), Amelia Hundley (9.875 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.819), Jazmyn Foberg, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (9.675), Payton Richards
How It Looked Before: Florida had the third best floor lineup in the nation in 2019, never scoring below 49.400; that was likely helped by the performance quality of key routines from Boren and Thomas.
How It Looks Now: It’s like a broken record: There’s only one spot to fill in the lineup, so it shouldn’t look too different other than the order. Richards has a big double layout that could make the first half of the lineup; she should contend with Schoenherr and Johnson-Scharpf.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? 2020 should be another good year for the Gators’ floor lineup.
Jazmyn Foberg’s return from injury will be helpful for a Florida squad still reeling from a 2019 season that ended at regionals. Look for the Gators to fight even harder for a spot in the upper tier.
Article by Katherine Weaver
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