This will be an unusually sparse installation of Potential Lineups because there’s a massive amount we don’t know about ECAC-II this season. Of the three teams in the conference, one (West Chester) has already announced that it will not compete in 2021. A second, Bridgeport, will certainly be cut after the 2021 season and with no coach yet announced for the year, there’s substantial doubt that the 2021 season will occur. For now, we’ll run you through those two teams’ greatest hits very briefly. If things change and we can confirm that either team will have a 2021 season, we’ll return and give you all the details at that point. Southern Connecticut, the one ECAC-II team for which things are currently normal, will get the normal preview treatment.
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. 52 Bridgeport
|Losses:||Taylor Jangda, Sarah Proulx (VT), Maya Reimers (VT, BB, FX)|
|Gains:||Audrey Arnold, Katie Bloomston, Emiley Kahl, Kamryn Leinheiser, Hope Moxam, Naimah Muhammad, Sydney Smith, Hanna Zebdi|
|Returning From Injury:||Crystal Gwinn (Achilles)|
Bridgeport lost a great senior class in 2020 led by floor legend Maya Reimers, whose career devastatingly ended just two days before she was scheduled to compete at UCLA and undoubtedly earn hundreds of stans. In the offseason, the Purple Knights lost five transfers as the team’s chances of surviving the pandemic dimmed. Katy Koopman, Amanda Loo and Nika Takagi will join Long Island University as sophomores, while Hannah Barry moves to Temple and Grace Hunter returns to her home state and joins her sister Olivia at N.C. State. Expected freshman Jayci Jordan also won’t be on the roster this year, moving a few miles up the Connecticut coast to SCSU.
If Bridgeport does get a season this year, a senior class of seven, including big hitters Kat Doran and Gabrielle Kistner, will get their swansong. Rising juniors Julianna Roland and Crystal Gwinn are big names and major transfer prospects whether or not they get to compete in 2021. Freshman Sydney Smith is projected to make the biggest splash based on her level 10 results, but Kamryn Leinheiser and Hanna Zebdi have some big scores too.
No. 61 West Chester
|Losses:||Sarah Boyd (BB, FX), Jordan Miranda (UB, BB, FX), Natalie Onderko (VT, UB), Paige Parsnik (VT), Sydne Powers (VT)|
|Gains:||Hyla Betts, Caroline Cascadden, Kiley Fred, Lily McFarland, Maggie Storz, Madison Whitaker, Hailey Welch, Lauren Wicker|
West Chester was the first team to announce that it would not compete in 2021, a heartbreaker for a senior class that has brought some of the Rams’ best results in history. (Yoli Nodarse holds the school record of 9.875 on beam and Jessica Meakim’s 9.925 on floor is in the history books on that event.) The Rams have been on such a sustainable upward trajectory in recent years, turning in one of its best scores in history in the first week of the 2020 season and finishing the season in USAG championship qualifying position for only the third time in school history. We can only hope that the seniors will choose to take their NCAA-guaranteed fifth year.
The Rams bring in a strong freshman class that notably stars—shockingly in the world of DII gymnastics— three gymnasts who have scored 9.700-plus on bars in level 10. Hyla Betts, Lily McFarland, Maggie Storz, Lauren Wicker and Caroline Cascadden all have standout events that could make them a huge deal when they’re finally able to compete.
No. 65 Southern Connecticut
Southern Connecticut had perhaps the most hectic season of any NCAA team in 2020, so the acquisition of longtime Bridgeport head coach Byron Knox should bring some much-needed stability to the Owls. A rockstar group of underclassmen has been racking up individual accomplishments over the past few years, and a depleted USAG nationals is an opportunity for the Owls to get some confidence back with a strong finish.
|Losses:||Isabella Antonangeli (VT, UB), Keylea Brothers (UB, FX), Jacqueline Kutcher (VT, UB, BB), Alexandra Lesperance (VT, UB, FX)|
|Gains:||Breyana Daniels, Shannon Farrell, Jayci Jordan (Freshman, late switch from Bridgeport), Kiara Richmon, Simone Dumas-Guzman (Sophomore transfer from Seattle Pacific), Delaney Fields (Junior transfer from Seattle Pacific)|
|Returning From Injury:||Emily Balasco (Achilles)|
Potential Contributors: Cassidy Girolamo (9.640 NQS), Hannah Stalbrodt (9.630), Jenna Zakala (9.295), Emily Balasco (9.483 AVG), Simone Dumas-Guzman (9.425 AVG at SPU), Delaney Fields (9.070 AVG at SPU), Jordan Peloquin (8.892 AVG), Breyana Daniels, Shannon Farrell, Jayci Jordan, Kiara Richmon
How It Looked Before: Vault was Southern Connecticut’s lowest ranked event last year. This team typically has only a few 9.900-plus SV vaults per year and averages just a little over the 47.000 mark across a season. Alexandra Lesperance’s tucked Yurchenko full will be missed on this event.
How It Looks Now: Videos are unclear on what vault Shannon Farrell has been competing lately, but she was an elite and a half-decent Yurchenko layout is sufficient to crack this lineup, so there’s hope for her. All three remaining freshmen plus Simonne Dumas-Guzman and Delaney Fields have confirmed, respectable Yurchenko layouts and will be competitive.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Probably about the same, unless one of the freshmen has a secret Yurchenko full.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Stahlbrodt (9.730 NQS), Cassidy Girolamo (9.405), Bianca Leon (9.350), Noely Macias (9.345), Natalie McCormack (9.075 AVG), Shannon Farrell, Jayci Jordan, Kiara Richmon, Delaney Fields
How It Looked Before: When the Owls had a bad day in 2020, bars was usually where things went downhill first. But there were plenty of high points, including Bianca Leon topping out at 9.900. (Leon started the season late as a January addition to the roster and only competed six meets, so her NQS on both bars and beam does not represent the quality of her gymnastics.)
How It Looks Now: Bars is Richmon’s most NCAA-ready event, with a snappy and reliable level 10 routine that’s up to the level for college. Jordan is also a serious prospect on this event with a super-fun Deltchev. Bars is one of Farrell’s most valuable events for NCAA with aggressive handstands and a double front dismount.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? There are three very serious NCAA bar routines in this freshman class, and Leon is still getting better, so the bars team can certainly improve.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Stahlbrodt (9.745 NQS), Jordan Peloquin (9.695), Morgan Gatewood (9.555), Bianca Leon (9.550), Keara Loughlin (9.520), Cassidy Girolamo (9.206 AVG), Emily Balasco (9.012), Simone Dumas-Guzman (8.775 AVG at SPU), Noely Macias (8.025), Breyana Daniels, Shannon Farrell
How It Looked Before: This beam team could be straight fire, with Leon, Hannah Stahlbrodt and Jordan Peloquin all able to produce some of the most beautiful routines in Division II.
How It Looks Now: Breyana Daniels joins the NCAA straight from level 9, and beam is most likely the reason she caught the eye of a DII coach. Farrell is not just a great beamer but a flashy one, so expect her to fit in late in the lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? This beam team can make marginal improvements in 2021. There’s a chance of a 49.000 here.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Stahlbrodt (9.730), Noely Macias (9.640), Cassidy Girolamo (9.380), Emily Balasco (9.675 AVG), Jordan Peloquin (9.530), Morgan Gatewood (8.644), Kiara Richmon, Jayci Jordan, Shannon Farrell, Delaney Fields
How It Looked Before: Floor was respectable in 2020, but two great routines graduated. Noely Macias is beyond stylish on floor, but we’re still waiting for her to get all her landings in front of happy judges and grow into the regular 9.800-plus gymnast she deserves to be.
How It Looks Now: Depth might be a little tight on floor this year, but most of the freshmen are comfortable on the event. Richmon looked in control competing floor at worlds for Jamaica, so NCAA shouldn’t be a stretch. Jordan is a little short on difficulty, but she has style to spare. There’s little full routine evidence of Farrell on this event, but she can do a double pike and some difficult turns, so the team can likely piece something together. Fields competed floor as an exhibition at Seattle Pacific and will likely be a backup here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor might be a little behind its 2020 scoring trajectory.
For SCSU, 2021 could be a great year, but we can’t expect too much when its surroundings are so bizarre. We could see the Owls receive a conference title by default! After a 2020 season when the Owls would be forgiven for barely knowing which way was up, we’re just hoping to see them click with their new coach and find some stability—plus some new program records from Leon and Stahlbrodt, duh.
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Article by Rebecca Scally
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