Potential Lineups: MAC Part I

The MAC is a conference more gymnastics fans should be paying attention to because it is one of the most competitive in the NCAA. These teams are consistently ranked within mere tenths of each other, with any of the top teams—or really any of the seven—coming out on top on any given day. The 2020 season was solid, with Central Michigan coming in first as expected, but the remaining teams were not far behind: Western Michigan was named the regular season champion for only the second time in its school history. Northern Illinois was itching to defend its MAC conference title from 2019 and notched the highest team score in the conference during the season. It will be exciting to see what happens in 2021, as all the teams are looking to build on the solid foundations before the season was cut short so abruptly last year. 

While there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, it’s business as usual until we hear otherwise. That means it’s time for our annual potential lineups analysis! With preseason training in full swing for most teams, we’re breaking it all down and taking a look at every squad’s prospects for 2021—from who’s expected to contribute, holes that need to be filled and exciting upgrades fans should look out for.

No. 38 Central Michigan

Central Michigan finished 2020 ranked first in the MAC, exactly where it was expected to finish. The Chippewas had a very solid season, albeit neverquite living up to their full potential. Losing the 2020 MAC gymnast of the year, Denelle Pedrick, will certainly be a blow, but there are a lot of strong routines returning along with some very talented freshmen, so expect good things from Central Michigan in 2021. 

Losses: Mackenzie Parker (BB, FX), Denelle Pedrick (AA), Hayley Porter (UB,BB), Charlie Wright
Gains: Adriana Bustelo, Elizabeth Buttle, Elizabeth Cesarone, Hallie Hornbacher, Katie Kowalski, Amber Mueller

Vault

Potential Contributors: Hannah Demers (9.850 NQS), Sierra Demarinis (9.800), Kennedy Rae Johnson (9.795), Sydney Williams (9.755), Morgan Tong (9.745), Taylor Pitchell (9.550 AVG), Nora Fettinger (9.487 AVG), Elizabeth Cesarone, Katie Kowalski, Adriana Bustelo

How It Looked Before: Vault was the Chippewas best event by far last season, finishing first in the MAC and 24th overall. Losing Pedrick’s 10.0 start value will be a difficult gap to fill, but fortunately the rest of the returning lineup is solid. 

How It Looks Now: Sophomore Hannah Demers shines on this event with her beautiful Yurchenko full, and getting redshirt senior Sydney Williams back for another year is also a big plus. Freshman Elizabeth Cesarone has a pretty Yurchenko 1.5 that will be a welcome replacement to Pedrick’s departing double as soon as she is able to get into the lineup. Both Katie Kowalski and Adriana Bustelo have strong Yurchenko fulls as well, and we anticipate we might see some lineup maneuvering early in the season to find the strongest options. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell but likely trending up.

Bars

Potential Contributors: Hannah Demers (9.855 NQS), Kennedy Rae Johnson (9.790), Savana Kotas (9.785), Sydney Williams (9.625), Audriana Hammond (9.530), Brenna Hauser (9.475), Sierra Demarinis (9.207 AVG), Adriana Bustelo, Katie Kowalski, Amber Mueller

How It Looked Before: Bars was a pretty strong and consistent event for Central Michigan, with strongest-of-the-pack Demers returning this season. Both Demers and Williams have sky-high Tkachev releases that are worth watching. 

How It Looks Now: The Chippewas are returning all but one of their top scorers on this event, so things should at the very least look pretty similar to last year. Bustelo has a clean routine that should fit into the lineup pretty easily, and we expect to see Kowalski competing for some lineup time as well. Freshman Amber Mueller has huge Tkachev that will be a welcome addition if she can clean up the rest of her routine. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Holding steady. 

Beam

Potential Contributors: Morgan Tong (9.875 NQS), Mayleigh Vanderbeek (9.765), Sierra Demarinis (9.740), Savana Kotas (9.675), Hannah Demers (9.550), Mackenzie Parker (9.410), Savannah Kotas (9.657 AVG), Christie Tini (9.655 AVG), Audriana Bustelo, Katie Kowlaski, Hallie Hornbacher, Amber Mueller

How It Looked Before: This should be a strong event for the Chippewas, but consistency proved to be a big struggle in 2020. There seemed to be at least one mistake on this event at almost every meet, but the potential for big scores was definitely there. 

How It Looks Now: As is the case on all events, the Chippewas are losing one strong routine from Pedrick but retaining the rest of their lineup, so there aren’t a lot of gaps to fill. Junior Morgan Tong is exceptionally beautiful to watch here, as is Demers.

We expect to see Bustelo and Kowalski being the top freshman contenders to see lineup time, but Mueller and Hallie Hornbacher have the potential to be in the mix as well. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. 

Floor

Potential Contributors: Hannah Demers (9.805 NQS), Sydney Williams (9.795), Sierra Demarinis (9.750), Morgan Tong (9.750), Taylor Pitchell (9.750), Ashley Veglucci (9.750 AVG), Nora Fettinger (9.745 AVG), Kennedy Rae Johnson (9.685 AVG),  Morgan Tong (9.657 AVG), Audriana Bustelo, Hallie Hornbacher, Elizabeth Cesarone, Elizabeth Buttle

How It Looked Before: Floor was the Chippewas’ weakest event in 2020 but still a relatively consistent one. 

How It Looks Now: Pedrick and her triple twist will be missed, but the returning routines are strong. Expect to see some lineup shuffling as the Chipewas work out what routines work best, as there are a lot of options here. Bustelo is the frontrunner of the freshmen most likely to have an immediate impact, but it’s too early to tell what that final lineup will look like.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but likely holding steady.

Overall Outlook

Like last year, Central Michigan has all the pieces to put together a good season and qualify to regionals. The biggest question mark is how successfully the Chippewas will be able to replace Pedrick’s 9.85-plus routines; but with the talent on their roster, they should be able to do this with little to no issue. 

No. 39 Northern Illinois

The Huskies had a successful 2020, finishing second in the MAC despite battling injuries throughout the year. They were in a prime position to fight for a regionals spot when the season was abruptly canceled, and will certainly be putting that motivation to good use going into 2021. They lost some key players and have some work to do to fill those gaps, but fortunately there is a talented crop of freshmen itching to get into those lineups. 

Losses: Amanda Bartemio (VT, UB, FX), Cinny Lamberti (VT, BB), Nina Martucci (VT, UB), Allison Richardson (UB, BB, FX)
Gains: Alyssa Al-Ashari,  Kendall George, Olivia Lynde, Grace Humphries, Isabelle West
Returning From Injury: Brookelyn Sears (torn ACL), Kelsey Martz (thumb injury)

Vault

Potential Contributors: Gabby Welch (9.815 NQS), Tara Kofmehl (9.805), Zoie Schroeder (9.745), Mia Lord (9.615), Morgan Hooper (9.646 AVG), Brookelyn Sears (9.575 AVG), Liana Roman (9.525 AVG), Isabelle West, Alyssa Al-Ashari, Kendall George, Olivia Lynd

How It Looked Before: Vault was the Huskies’ strongest event in 2020, and it was also one that they tended to be pretty consistent on. 

How It Looks Now: Despite losing routines from Amanda Baremio and Cinny Lamberti, the Huskies have a lot of options here between the incoming freshmen and the returning gymnasts who didn’t see as much lineup time last season. Olivia Lynd has a pretty Yurchenko half while Isabelle West and Kendall George have strong Yurchenko fulls. Perhaps most intriguing is Alyssa Al-Ashari, a former elite who hasn’t competed vault since 2018, but who had a beautiful Yurchenko full as well. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but expect it to hold steady at the very least. 

Bars

Potential Contributors: Morgan Hooper (9.810 NQS), Natalie Hamp (9.810), Brookelyn Sears (9.765), Lauren Gomes (9.680), Natalie Hamp (9.572 AVG), Alyssa Al-Ashari, Olivia Lynd, Kendall George

How It Looked Before: Bars was the Huskies’ weakest event, although that was partly due to being hindered by injuries all season. This was reflected in their scores being a bit all over the place. 

How It Looks Now: Losing Bartemio and Nina Martucci will be noticeable, but getting Brookelyn Sears back after a season-ending injury on bars last season will be critical. This is an event where the freshmen can have an immediate impact, with Lynd and George being the likely frontrunners. As is the case on vault, Al-Ashari is also a definite option: She has a clean routine that is prime for NCAA, but she hasn’t competed since 2018. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. 

Beam

Potential Contributors: Mia Lord (9.870 NQS), Morgan Hooper (9.805), Zoie Schroeder (9.770), Catherine Biddle (9.695), Alyssa Al-Ashari (pretty y turn), Isabelle West (sky high double back dismount), Kendall George, Olivia Lynd

How It Looked Before: Beam was a great event for Northern Illinois. The Huskies earned a new school record on this event with a 49.325 against Central Michigan.

How It Looks Now: Al-Ashari joins the Huskies as potentially one of the top beamers in the MAC; expect to see her (and her pretty Y turn) in the lineup immediately. West is also someone to watch for here: She practically touches the ceiling with her double back dismount. Overall, this event is shaping up to be a strong one for the Huskies.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. 

Floor

Potential Contributors: Tara Kofmehl (9.860 NQS), Morgan Hooper (9.795), Brookelyn Sears (9.740), Gabby Welch (9.715), Lauren Gomes (9.650 AVG), Alyssa Al-Ashari, Kendall George, Grace Humphrys, Olivia Lynd 

How It Looked Before: Floor was a pretty solid and consistent event for the Huskies, but it is one that they are capable of scoring higher on. Typically this is their best event—in 2019 they finished first in the MAC, as opposed to sixth in 2020—so there is some room to improve.

How It Looks Now: The Huskies are retaining most of their routines, although the absence of Bartemio and Richardson here will certainly be noticeable. The freshmen will be expected to contribute on floor immediately, with Al-Ashari (if healthy) and George being the likely frontrunners for a lineup spot. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but cautiously optimistic.

Overall Outlook

Northern Illinois will be hungry to prove itself in 2021, and should be more than capable of building on the momentum it established last year. As long as the Huskies stay motivated and the freshmen live up to their potential, expect to see them well positioned to challenge for the MAC title. 

No. 40 Kent State

Kent State had a relatively solid 2020 season, finishing third in the MAC and 40th overall. Rachel DeCavitch had an exceptionally standout freshman campaign, winning the MAC Freshman of the Year award. The Golden Flashes were really beginning to find their groove when the season was cut short, and will no doubt be coming into 2021 extremely motivated to continue that upward trend. 

Losses: Emily Kelly, Sarah McCarty (VT, FX), Sammi Nero (UB), Gabby Williams (UB, FX)
Gains: Izzy Geig, Kyndall Gilbert, Sarah Haxton, Olivia Rapp, Kennedy Weinpert, Keely Young
Returning From Injury: Sydney Chapman (ankle injury)

Vault

Potential Contributors: Karlie Franz (9.790 NQS), Olivia Amodei (9.785), Rachel Decavitch (9.785), Abby Fletcher (9.755), Nasha Mantikul-Davis (9.690), Cami Klein (9.725 AVG), Jade Brown (9.495 AVG), Kendra Lindway (9.725 AVG), Kyndall Gilbert, Izzy Geig, Olivia Rapp

How It Looked Before: Vault was a good event for Kent State. While it wasn’t necessarily flashy (see what I did there), it was  its most consistent. 

How It Looks Now: The Golden Flashes are retaining their entire lineup for 2021, and it will be curious to see which new faces—if any—make it into the top six. Freshman Kyndall Gilbert has a strong Yurchenko full that could certainly be utilized.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. 

Bars

Potential Contributors: Rachel Decavitch (9.845 NQS), Jade Brown (9.785), Olivia Amodei (9.715), Madison Trott (9.720), Karlie Franz (9.705), Madison Ianuzzo (9.590), Sarah Haxton, Kyndall Gilbert, Olivia Rapp

How It Looked Before: The 2020 bars lineup was capable of scoring really well, but was a bit all over the place in terms of consistency. 

How It Looks Now: Like vault, the Golden Flashes are returning with their entire lineup intact for 2021. The biggest goal will be to improve on their consistency, but they’ll also need to see which of the freshmen could fit into the puzzle: Freshman Sarah Haxton has a very clean NCAA-ready routine, and Gilbert has pretty impressive routine construction worth keeping an eye on, including a big Tkatchev release immediately following a half pirouette.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell.

Beam

Potential Contributors: Rachel Decavitch (9.760 NQS), Abby Fletcher (9.755), Riley Danielson (9.750), Olivia Amodei (9.715), Cami Klein (9.700), Samantha Henry (9.580), Sarah Haxton, Kennedy Weinpurt, Olivia Rapp

How It Looked Before: Beam was the Golden Flashes lowest ranking event and the one most in need of improvement. 

How It Looks Now: Of all the events, this is the one that the freshmen will have the most immediate impact on: Haxton is particularly great here, and Rapp and freshman Kennedy Weinpurt seem to be good options as well. Expect to see some lineup shuffling early in the season to see which routines fit best.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. 

Floor

Potential Contributors: Jade Brown (9.850 NQS), Abby Fletcher (9.840 NQS), Karlie Franz (9.820), Rachel Decavitch (9.805), Sarah McCarty (9.770), Nasha Mantikul-Davis (9.515), Olivia Amodei (9.813 AVG), Kyndall Gilbert, Kennedy Weinpurt

How It Looked Before: This was by far Kent State’s best event. The routines were packed with difficulty (DeCavitch and sophomore Karlie Franz both have double Arabians, an uncommon occurrence in NCAA gymnastics) and they were consistently great. 

How It Looks Now: The Golden Flashes lose one routine here, but with the depth they already have and the potential contributions from the freshmen, they shouldn’t be struggling to fill it. Gilbert has a high-energy routine with big tumbling, and could definitely see lineup time almost immediately. Weinpurt and Rapp are options as well.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up.

Overall Outlook

All Kent State has to do is continue to build on what it did last year and it should see similar, if not better, results. The Golden Flashes will be returning with almost all of their top scorers and have a talented group of freshmen, so there is virtually no excuse not to have a great 2021 season. The big question will be whether or not they can improve on their consistency, because the talent and potential for big scores is definitely there.

No. 42 Western Michigan

Western Michigan came out of nowhere in 2020, blazing its way into being a strong contender for a regionals bid and potential MAC championship title had the season not been cut short. The Broncos were dealt a blow early on when Payton Murphy suffered a season-ending neck injury, but still rallied to claim the regular season MAC title, tying the program’s second-best overall score and break its program record on floor before the season ended.

Losses: Taylor Buis (VT, UB, BB), Amelia Mohler (UB, BB)
Gains: Sarah Moravansky, Dani Petrousek, Breckin Quoss
Returning From Injury: Payton Murphy (fractured neck)

Vault

Potential Contributors: Josephine Thomas (9.800 NQS), Stacie Harrison (9.760), Charlotte Tishkoff (9.740), Morgan Spence (9.720), Amanda Gruber (9.710), Carissa Ludwig (9.660), Ronni Binstock (9.658 AVG), Payton Murphy, Dani Petrousek, Sarah Moravansky 

How It Looked Before: Vault was a decent event for the Broncos, although it was their lowest ranking one. Form and amplitude caused the scores to stay in the 9.7 range.

How It Looks Now: This is an event where the freshmen can have an immediate impact, and also one where the Broncos will hope to see Murphy return. They haven’t shown much by way of training videos, however, so it’s too early to tell if we can expect to see her in this (or any) lineup.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Holding steady. 

Bars

Potential Contributors: Alexis Olivier (9.810 NQS), Stacie Harrison (9.775), Charlotte Tishkoff (9.725), Morgan Spence (9.290 NQS), Ronnie Binstock (9.356 AVG), Payton Murphy, Sarah Moravansky, Dani Petrousek

How It Looked Before: Bars was a solid event for Western Michigan and one of its most consistent. The Broncos kept gradually improving all year, achieving its season-high score in its final meet of the season.

How It Looks Now: Unfortunately, the Broncos will be losing two of their strongest routines from Amelia Mohler and Taylor Buis. Murphy is an easy lineup choice if healthy, and freshman Sarah Morvanasky also provides a good option here. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell.

Beam

Potential Contributors: Amanda Gruber (9.795 NQS), Josephine Thomas (9.755), Emily Carless (9.735), Morgan Spence (9.720), Charlotte Tishkoff (9.720), Ronnie Binstock (9.637 AVG), Payton Murphy, Dani Petrousek, Sarah Moravansky

How It Looked Before: Beam was a good event for the Broncos, albeit their least consistent one. Of all of the events, Murphy’s injury likely had the most impact here. 

How It Looks Now: Losing Mohler’s routine will sting, but the Broncos have some depth to play with here. In addition to Murphy, expect freshman Dani Petrousek to be a solid candidate for a lineup spot. Expect to see quite a bit of lineup shuffling on this event in particular. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Holding steady, but certainly possible to be trending up.

Floor

Potential Contributors: Stacie Harrison (9.855 NQS), Ronnie Binstock (9.845), Carissa Ludwig (9.825), Charlotte Tishkoff (9.815), Morgan Spence (9.790), Josephine Thomas (9.770), Payton Murphy, Emily Carless, Dani Petrousek, Sarah Moravansky

How It Looked Before: Floor is where the Broncos excelled the most, finishing second overall in the MAC and breaking a program record. 

How It Looks Now: There is a lot of depth on floor, with all the top scorers returning and extremely capable routines waiting in the wings. Both Petrousek and Morvansky provide decent options here as well. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up.

Overall Outlook

Western Michigan is one of the teams fans should be most excited to watch this season. The Broncos have a lot of potential and depth to work with, so as long as they work on cleaning up skills and finding consistency, expect them to have a great 2021 season.

READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MIC


Article by Kalley Leer 

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