The MRGC upped its game in the shortened 2020 season. Had the season not been canceled to the pandemic, the conference championship would have been anyone’s game, as each team broke 196 at least once during the season. 2021 should be no different if it happens. With a unique set of teams and capabilities, the conference will be an exciting one to watch this season.
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. 16 BYU
BYU had a strong 2020 campaign, even with star senior Shannon Evans limited for most of the season. The Cougars showed strong depth last season, most of which is returning in 2021.
|Losses:||Shannon Evans (AA), Briana Pearson (BB, FX), Gabrielle Hubbard (UB)|
|Gains:||Anna Bramblett, Lauren Ono, Sophia McClelland, Sydney Benson|
|Returning From Injury:||Allix Mason (unknown), Maya Page (unknown), Angel Zhong (torn Achilles)|
Potential Contributors: Sadie Miner (9.850 NQS), Abbey Miner Alder (9.840), Avery Bennett (9.830), Jordan Matthews (9.825), Haley Pitou (9.785), Adeline Rieder, Abby Stainton, Sydney Benson, Anna Bramblett, Sophia McClelland
How It Looked Before: Vault was one of BYU’s strongest events in 2020, led by the Miner sisters and Avery Bennett.
How It Looks Now: Freshmen Anna Bramblett, Sophia McClelland and Sydney Benson all competed good Yurchenko fulls that scored well in J.O. Classmate Lauren Ono also scored well in level 10, but video of her could not be found. Redshirt freshman Allix Mason competed a solid Yurchenko full prior to BYU while Angel Zhong competed vault prior to missing the entire 2020 season with a torn Achilles.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Returning most of its core vaulters and adding strong freshmen means the Cougars will be in good shape in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Haley Pitou (9.860 NQS), Helody Cyrenne (9.790), Abbey Miner Alder (9.700), Anyssa Alvarado (9.650), Allix Mason, Angel Zhong, Anna Bramblett
How It Looked Before: Bars was BYU’s weakest event last season, where inconsistency was the team’s demise.
How It Looks Now: Mason should give the lineup a boost with her clean set, and Zhong was a regular in the lineup pre-injury. The freshmen are an inconsistent bars class, but Bramblett is the most likely to contribute with a line that plays well to bars. McClelland and Benson also have fine sets but struggle with form and consistency at times. The returners will need to step it up. Mason will hopefully add a good routine to the existing lineup
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s not looking like a huge improvement, and performance will depend on who can step up to replace Evans, as well as consistency.
Potential Contributors: Abbey Miner Alder (9.835 NQS), Abby Stainton (9.830), Sadie Miner (9.830), Helody Cyrenne (9.795), Lexi Mather (9.770), Elease Rollins, Angel Zhong, Anna Bramblett, Sydney Benson, Sophia McClelland, Lauren Ono
How It Looked Before: Like bars, beam was an inconsistent event for BYU, but the lineup had great success when it hit. The Cougars weren’t short on depth and tried out numerous lineups to find the perfect fit.
How It Looks Now: Both redshirt freshmen Maya Page and Mason should contend for lineup spots. Zhong has competed beam at times in the past as well, and expect Elease Rollins to see more time in the lineup also. All four freshmen have the potential to be great, but it’s a matter of who can be consistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should at least be steady with last season’s results. A lot hinges on consistency, but most of the core lineup remains, and the injury returners and freshmen should supplement the lineup.
Potential Contributors: Abbey Miner Alder (9.885), Sadie Miner (9.870), Brittney Vitkauskas (9.870), Abby Stainton (9.840), Rachel Bain (9.785), Allix Mason, Maya Page, Sophia McClelland, Lauren Ono, Sydney Benson
How It Looked Before: Like it normally is, floor was one of BYU’s best events in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Five of the six consistent contributors return for the Cougars. Freshman Sophia McClelland should be in the mix with her tucked full-in while her classmates Lauren Ono, Sydney Benson and Anna Bramblett could factor in as well. The redshirt freshmen Page and Mason should be in the mix, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Cougars won’t be short of floor options. Expect it to trend up in 2020.
BYU is poised for another good year. Between the returners, newcomers and those returning from injury, the Cougars should be able to field strong lineups once again. If they can find their groove, the Cougars will certainly be in the mix for the conference title.
No. 22 Southern Utah
Southern Utah had a good year in 2020, but it wasn’t without some lows. The Thunderbirds set a record team high score but struggled with consistency at times.
|Losses:||Autumn Jorgensen (UB, BB, FX), Madison Loomis (FX), Madison McBride (VT, UB, FX), Megan McBride (FX), Becky Rosza-Thompson (UB)|
|Gains:||Aly Coutu, Aubri Schwartze, Brianna Alcantar, Emma Ingrassia, Hailey Vultaggio|
|Returning From Injury:||Alyssa LaDieu (hip), Kaylee Kho (unknown, crutches)|
Potential Contributors: Morgan Alfaro (9.840 NQS), Caitlin Kho (9.820), Rachel Smith (9.820), Stephanie Tervort (9.815), Karley McClain (9.805), Kaylee Kho, Molly Jozwiakowski, Hailey Vultaggio, Brianna Alcantar, Aubri Schwartze
How It Looked Before: Vault was a good event for Southern Utah in 2020, and there was a diversity of vaults, too.
How It Looks Now: The Thunderbirds are only losing one vaulter while gaining a few. Freshmen Hailey Vultaggio, Brianna Alcantar and Aubri Schwartze all vault solid Yurchenko fulls with similar potential. Kaylee Kho returns from injury and also vaulted a good full in J.O., so she should be an option as well. Karley McClain was a staple in the lineup last season and is working on upgrading her vault to a Yurchenko one and a half.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Southern Utah’s vault team should remain steady in 2020 if not see a tiny improvement, depending on how the freshmen adjust to college.
Potential Contributors: Shylen Murakami (9.880 NQS), Karley McClain (9.840), Hannah Nipp (9.820), Caitlin Kho (9.785), Stephanie Tervort (9.785), Aubri Schwartze, Aly Coutu
How It Looked Before: Bars was statistically Southern Utah’s best event in 2020, highlighted by Shylen Murakami.
How It Looks Now: Becky Rosza-Thompson was the only consistent lineup contributor the Thunderbirds are losing. Schwartze is the most likely freshman competitor, but Aly Coutu has a pretty set with potential. Emma Ingrassia and Vultaggio also have pretty sets, but both will have to prove their worthiness and consistency before seeing lineup time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars will likely stay steady in 2021 but could improve if the freshmen come through.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Nipp (9.875 NQS), Shylen Murakami (9.845), Karley McClain (9.820), Rachel Smith (9.800), Ruby Hernandez (9.415), Alyssa LaDieu, Kaylee Kho, Mikaela DeFilippo, Aubri Schwartze, Hailey Vultaggio, Aly Coutu
How It Looked Before: Beam was a rollercoaster in 2020 as the Thunderbirds struggled to find a regular sixth performer and overall consistency.
How It Looks Now: All but one of the lineup regulars return. This is good for Southern Utah, as the freshmen by and large aren’t the best beamers. Of the freshmen, Schwartze has the best chance at contributing. Vultaggio has a beautiful set and performs a triple series. She should be in the mix as long as she’s consistent. Coutu reached 9.700 in J.O. competition but struggled with consistency like many of her classmates. Alyssa LaDieu will be welcomed back to beam after missing 2020, and Kaylee Kho should factor in also.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The fate of the Thunderbirds’ beam lineup depends on how consistent it can be and who can step up to fill the hole.
Potential Contributors: Karley McClain (9.890 NQS), Hannah Nipp (9.875), Caitlin Kho (9.625), Molly Jozwiakowski, Mikaela DeFilippo, Stephanie Tervort, Aubri Schwartze, Emma Ingrassia, Brianna Alcantar
How It Looked Before: Floor was good for Southern Utah in 2020, but the Thunderbirds were inconsistent at times.
How It Looks Now: The Thunderbirds are losing three main contributors, so there are holes to fill in the lineup. In finding consistency, Southern Utah tested lots of different gymnasts, so there shouldn’t be a problem finding routines. Most notably among returners, Molly Jozwiakowski is training a viable Randi. Of the freshmen, Schwartze, Ingrassia and Alcantar have the most potential to contribute.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor should be steady in comparison to 2020. A lot hinges on who steps up into the three spots, which we’ll have to wait to find out.
The Thunderbirds should have a similar year in 2021 to what they did in 2020. The losses are significant but not insurmountable, while the main star performers remain. How high in the rankings Southern Utah gets will come down to consistency.
No. 29 Utah State
Utah State had its best season in recent years in 2020. The Aggies did so with a team of mostly underclassmen, so the future is bright.
|Losses:||Elle Golison (VT, FX), Brittany Jeppesen (UB), Annie Beck (UB, BB)|
|Gains:||Angel Stuart, Anique Grenier (junior transfer, was not on a team), Brianna Brooks, Eve Jackson, Lara Burhans, Mikelle Ballard, Olivia Blakely|
|Returning From Injury:||Logan Varnadore (unknown)|
Potential Contributors: Leighton Varnadore (9.830 NQS), Rebecca Wells (9.790), Mikaela Meyer (9.785), Sofi Sullivan (9.785), Autumn DeHarde (9.775), Grace Rojas (9.770), Logan Varnadore, Brianna Brooks, Angel Stuart
How It Looked Before: Vault was a solid and consistent event for Utah State.
How It Looks Now: All six consistent competitors return for Utah State in 2021. Of the freshmen we could find video of, Brianna Brooks and Angel Stuart both vault solid Yurchenko fulls. Logan Varnadore has competed a clean Yurchenko half in the past as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Complementing the six returners with Logan Varnadore and the freshmen, vault is in good shape and should see an improvement.
Potential Contributors: Grace Rojas (9.825 NQS), Sofi Sullivan (9.820), Maia Fishwick (9.755), Leighton Varnadore (9.730), Lexi Aragon, Jessica Gutierrez, Tori Loomis, Brianna Brooks
How It Looked Before: Bars was Utah State’s worst event in 2020. The Aggies struggled to find a solid lineup that consistently hit.
How It Looks Now: The best bet of a freshman contributor is Brooks, who boasts a beautiful, clean set. Many of the other freshmen’s J.O. routines were in rough shape or not up to the level for college, so most of the routines will have to come from within the 2020 team.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. There are a lot of unknowns with the freshmen, but hopefully bars at least stays steady with 2020.
Potential Contributors: Autumn DeHarde (9.895 NQS), Sofi Sullivan (9.895), Carley Bayles (9.780), Taylor Dittmar (9.755), Leighton Varnadore (9.750), Rebecca Wells, Tori Loomis, Maia Fishwick, Grace Rojas, Brianna Brooks, Lara Burhans
How It Looked Before: Beam was Utah State’s best event in 2020, led by Sofi Sullivan and her program record 9.975 on the event.
How It Looks Now: All the 2020 contributors return for the Aggies. Considering many of the freshmen don’t have the best track record on beam, that’s a good thing. Brooks has the best shot to contribute as a freshman with her clean routine. Classmate Lara Burhans struggled with consistency in level 10, but her set has potential if she finds consistency in college.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should stay consistent if not trend slightly up. Between the returners and Brooks’ strong set, Utah State is in good shape.
Potential Contributors: Autumn DeHarde (9.890 NQS), Leighton Varnadore (9.855), Ariel Toomey (9.805), Sofi Sullivan (9.770), Mikaela Meyer (9.550), Rebecca Wells, Brianna Brooks, Eve Jackson
How It Looked Before: Floor was one of Utah State’s weakest events in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Most of the lineup returns here. Brooks again has the best chance to compete among the freshmen. Eve Jackson could see time based on past scores, but we couldn’t find any videos of her competing level 10.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Likely, the lineup will remain steady with 2020, but a lot depends on consistency.
Utah State’s 2020 team was a young one. Now that many of them have collegiate experience, the team should just get better, though it again depends on consistency. The freshmen are fine but not overwhelming, however they will fill the few holes that the Aggies’ lineups have.
No. 33 Boise State
Boise State’s 2020 was rough to say the least. Between putting up five on bars until Alexis Stokes returned, to floor struggles, the Broncos left 2020 with a lot to be desired.
|Losses:||Isabella Amado (VT, BB, FX), Courtney McGregor, Rachel Obmann|
|Gains:||Courtney Blackson, Danielle Nakayama, Emily Lopez, Talia Little, Kayli Tran (transfer from SPU)|
|Returning From Injury:||Erin Morden (was in a boot)|
Potential Contributors: Gabriela Cavinta (9.850 NQS), Tatum Bruden (9.790), Hope Masiado (9.785), Samantha Smith (9.780), Maddi Nilson (9.750), Tessa Otuafi, Maddi Nilson, Courtney Blackson, Emily Lopez, Talia Little
How It Looked Before: Vault was fine but not spectacular in 2020. The Broncos were consistent but had no standout vaults, especially after Courtney McGregor went down with a torn Achilles.
How It Looks Now: Luckily for Boise State, the freshmen are a good vault class. Courtney Blackson reached 9.975 with her Yurchenko one and a half in level 10 while Emily Lopez has the type of Yurchenko full that will do well in college. Talia Little has a clean full as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With the addition of the freshmen, vault should be trending up in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Emily Muhlenhaupt (9.945 NQS), Maddi Nilson (9.845), Tatum Bruden (9.840), Gabriela Cavinta (9.835), Hope Masiado (9.785), Alexis Stokes, Courtney Blackson, Talia Little, Emily Lopez
How It Looked Before: Despite going most of the season putting just five gymnasts up, Boise State remained strong on bars in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Boise State isn’t losing any lineup contributors, and the freshmen are strong as well: Little has a clean, lineup-ready routine, Blackson does a Markelov and Lopez has a beautiful, clean set.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With Alexis Stokes back to full strength, the main lineup intact and strong freshmen, bars can only get better for Boise State next season.
Potential Contributors: Hope Masiado (9.830 NQS), Gabriela Cavinta (9.820), Erin Elkabchi (9.805), Adriana Popp (9.755), Emily Muhlenhaupt (9.440), Alexis Stokes, Emily Lopez, Talia Little, Courtney Blackson
How It Looked Before: Beam was a struggle for Boise State in 2020. The Broncos struggled to find consistency, making beam one of Boise State’s worst events.
How It Looks Now: Boise State is losing its top contributor, but the rest of the consistent contributors remain. The freshmen should provide a boost to the beam team, especially Little and Lopez. Little has a good beam presence and performs a switch leap to back tuck, and Lopez is especially clean.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should improve in 2021 with the help of the newcomers.
Potential Contributors: Tatum Bruden (9.835 NQS), Maddi Nilson (9.780), Adriana Popp (9.755), Samantha Smith (9.735), Hope Masiado, Erin Elkabchi, Talia Little, Emily Lopez, Courtney Blackson
How It Looked Before: Floor was rough for Boise State last season, especially in the beginning of the season.
How It Looks Now: The Broncos are losing their top 2020 competitor, but the rest of the lineup remains intact. Add the freshmen to the mix and the lineup should be better this season. Little shows great flexibility and clean tumbling on floor, and Lopez has a solid set as well. Blackson also has a good routine featuring a Y turn.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Between the improvements made and the freshmen, the floor lineup should be in a better place.
After a subpar 2020, Boise State is poised for a rebound year in 2021. With a strong freshman class and a healthier, better prepared team, the Broncos should see greater success this season.
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Article by Tara Graeve
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