The upper half of the SEC ran the gamut in 2020, with all four of these teams showing considerable promise as the season ground to a screeching halt. There will be many “what if” moments, but in a conference as competitive as the SEC, there’s no time to dwell on the past.
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. 2 Florida
Florida is perhaps the biggest “what if” of the unfinished 2020 season. The Gators started out with a bang and never faltered. But 2020 is over—and so the reign of a fan favorite senior class—now comes a class of underrated former elites to finish what they started.
|Losses:||Sierra Alexander (VT), Maegan Chant, Rachel Gowey (UB/BB/FX), Amelia Hundley (UB/BB/FX)|
|Gains:||Chloi Clark, Gabrielle Gallentine, Ellie Lazzari, Alex Magee|
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.900 NQS), Payton Richards (9.885 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.865 NQS), Megan Skaggs (9.850 NQS), Alyssa Baumann (9.675 NQS), Chloi Clark, Gabrielle Gallentine, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf
How It Looked Before: Though the Gators didn’t put up the same amount of 10.0 starts as its top-ranked peers, the lineup scored well weekly thanks to strong 9.95 start value vaults, particularly from senior Sierra Alexander.
How It Looks Now: This lineup is the least impacted by graduating seniors, with only one routine to replace. None of the freshmen are particularly known for vault, though Chloi Clark brings an underrated full. Junior Sydney Johnson-Scharpf has also been seen training the event.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Florida loses Alexander, whose vault scored well, but that makes it an easy lineup to rebuild. Vault should be similarly strong for the Gators in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.945 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.910 NQS), Megan Skaggs (9.870 NQS), Payton Richards (9.835), Alyssa Baumann, Leah Clapper, Gabrielle Gallentine, Alex Magee, Nya Reed
How It Looked Before: Florida’s bar lineup was excellent in 2020, never dipping below the 49.100 range.
How It Looks Now: There are plenty of replacement bar routines to be found on this team. It’s Gabrielle Gallentine’s signature event, so she will easily contend for a spot; Alex Magee also has excellent form and could add depth. Alyssa Baumann has also been seen training bars, making it likely she will add it to her repertoire for an all around program in 2021.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Florida will likely post another strong lineup that will trend upward in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.965 NQS), Alyssa Baumann (9.930 NQS), Payton Richards (9.895 NQS), Leah Clapper (9.810 NQS), Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (9.750), Gabrielle Gallentine, Ellie Lazzari, Alex Magee
How It Looked Before: Buoyed by excellent form on each event, the Gators posted the top beam lineup in the country in 2020. Symbolically, one of the final routines of Florida’s season was a 10.000 from senior Rachel Gowey.
How It Looks Now: Gowey’s routine will be hard to replace, but the talent is there. Former J.O. national champion Ellie Lazzari has a fantastic set, complete with a triple series and a double back dismount. Gallentine and Magee are also very strong here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Like bars, there are many options to replace the outgoing talent, so Florida’s lineup should trend up.
Potential Contributors: Trinity Thomas (9.965 NQS), Alyssa Baumann (9.935 NQS), Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (9.845 NQS), Savannah Schoenherr (9.925), Nya Reed (9.860), Payton Richards (9.830), Chloi Clark, Jazmyn Foberg, Gabrielle Gallentine, Ellie Lazzari
How It Looked Before: The Gators’ powerful floor lineup scored well in 2020, with Paytonnn Richards and Johnson-Scharpf making powerful contributions as newcomers to the event. Nya Reed’s inexplicable absence for part of the season only somewhat impacted the top six en route to its second place ranking in the country.
How It Looks Now: Florida is tasked with replacing not only the power of Gowey’s and Amelia Hundley’s routines, but the charisma and fan favorite aspects as well. Jazmyn Foberg could fulfill that role in her senior year, with the comeback storyline buoying her performance. As for the freshmen, Gallentine and Lazzari bring clean sets. Clark is also a powerful floor worker who could add important depth.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell where Florida’s floor lineup will go in 2020, though the talent is there for it to be just as strong.
Florida has never not trended upward since the departure of Rhonda Faehn, but it’s also perennially fallen short in the postseason. This team looks the strongest of any to contend for a national title.
No. 6 LSU
Though its postseason ranking was promising, LSU never quite found its footing in its first post-Finnegan/Kelley/Priessman year. This year, it’s losing two more of the best in college gymnastics in Kennedi Edney and Ruby Harrold, so the Tigers have a lot of work to do.
|Losses:||Kennedi Edney (AA), Ruby Harrold (VT/UB/FX)|
|Gains:||Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Chase Brock, Haleigh Bryant, Olivia Dunne|
|Returning From Injury:||Sarah Edwards, Caitlin Smith|
Potential Contributors: Kiya Johnson (9.925 NQS), Kai Rivers (9.850 NQS), Maddie Rau (9.785 NQS), Sami Durante (9.755 NQS), Sarah Edwards (9.888), Lexie Nibbs (9.744), Rebecca D’Antonio (9.712), Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Chase Brock, Haleigh Bryant
How It Looked Before: Sarah Edwards’s injury couldn’t put a damper on an otherwise solid, if not the deepest, lineup. In a familiar turn of events, vault was the Tigers’ best event in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Edney’s and Harrold’s absence will be felt, but there are some good options coming in. Haleigh Bryant’s famous front pike half has a good chance to anchor the lineup right off the bat. Elena Arenas was also a strong vaulter in elite, and Brock has competed a Yurchenko one and a half.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? LSU has plenty of depth on vault, but how it will be used in 2021 is unclear; for that, it’s hard to say how the event will fare for the Tigers, though they typically excel.
Potential Contributors: Sami Durante (9.890 NQS), Kiya Johnson (9.875 NQS), Bridget Dean (9.840 NQS), Kai Rivers (9.840 NQS), Alyona Shchennikova (9.835 NQS), Elena Arenas, Chase Brock, Haleigh Bryant, Olivia Dunne
How It Looked Before: Bars was a strong event for LSU in 2020. After two sub-48 weeks to start the season, the Tigers didn’t score below 49.000.
How It Looks Now: Another lineup heavily impacted by graduations, bars will take some work to recover. Alyonna Shchennikova took some time to get her stride, but she will likely be a bigger part of the top six in 2021. Almost all of the freshmen look poised to fill in as well; Bryant especially will be relied on.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? LSU’s bar lineup will likely trend down given the major losses it sustained.
Potential Contributors: Reagan Campbell (9.930 NQS), Kiya Johnson (9.895 NQS), Sami Durante (9.860 NQS), Bridget Dean (9.840 NQS), Christina Desiderio (9.830 NQS), Elena Arenas, Haleigh Bryant, Olivia Dunne, Alyona Shchennikova
How It Looked Before: Beam was a fairly consistent event for the Tigers in 2020. Reagan Campbell settled into her role as the event anchor and was one of the top 10 beam workers in the country.
How It Looks Now: With only Edney’s routine to be replaced, this lineup will remain mostly intact. Bryant and Olivia Dunne are beautiful beam workers who could both do the job to replace her. You’d think LSU would want more contributions from Shchennikova this year, as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Given the relative stability of the lineup and the strong freshman options, beam should trend up for the Tigers in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Kiya Johnson (9.960 NQS), Reagan Campbell (9.875 NQS), Bridget Dean (9.815 NQS), Olivia Gunter (9.705 NQS), Christina Desiderio (9.785), Sarah Edwards (7.837), Courtney Goodrich (9.737), Kai Rivers, Elena Arenas, Sierra Ballard, Chase Brock, Haleigh Bryant, Olivia Dunne
How It Looked Before: Consistency was an issue for LSU’s floor lineup in 2020, due in large part to injury and inexperience. Kiya Johnson was the only freshman to make a major contribution to the lineup.
How It Looks Now: LSU will especially welcome Edwards back here, and Kai Rivers could be a bigger factor as well. The freshmen also bring strong routines, with Arenas, Bryant and Dunne all capable of E passes.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell where the freshmen and new contributors will factor into the lineup, though if they do so as they did in their J.O. and elite careers, floor should be a strong event.
With Bryant looking poised to succeed Johnson as the team’s next big all around star, and a strong freshman cohort surrounding her, LSU is bringing in some high level talent. Replacing last year’s senior class isn’t as big of a task as it was last year, but the team has a ways to go to settle back into top shape.
No. 8 Alabama
After a disappointing loss in the Iron Bowl of gymnastics, Alabama bounced back and exceeded expectations in 2020. The Crimson Tide must make up for some important losses in 2021, but two former elites and a key transfer should help with that.
|Losses:||Wynter Childers (UB), Maddie Desch (VT/FX), Shea Mahoney (VT/UB/FX)|
|Gains:||Shania Adams, Sarah Duhe, Cam Machado, Isabella Martin (joining in January), Kaylee Quinn (transfer from Nebraska)|
|Returning From Injury:||Griffin James (Achilles), Mati Waligora|
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (9.880 NQS), Shallon Olsen (9.845 NQS), Luisa Blanco (9.835 NQS), Ella Burgess (9.825 NQS), Makarri Doggette, Shania Adams, Sarah Duhe, Kaylee Quinn
How It Looked Before: Alabama brought several strong 10.0 vaults, but was never able to get Makarri Doggette’s into the lineup. Nevertheless, it was a strong event for the Crimson Tide in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Though Alabama’s returning vaults are strong, it could definitely use some more. Shania Adams and Kaylee Quinn bring 10.0 start values that will pad the top six quite well. Sarah Duhe’s full could also be a depth option.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Having lost two strong vaults and with minimal clear depth left, it’s too early to tell how Alabama will fare on vault.
Potential Contributors: Makarri Doggette (9.905 NQS), Jensie Givens (9.855 NQS), Lexi Graber (9.845 NQS), Kylie Dickson (9.840 NQS), Emily Gaskins (9.762), Luisa Blanco (8.975), Shania Adams, Cam Machado, Mati Waligora
How It Looked Before: The Crimson Tide excelled on bars in 2020, and the lineup never fell below the 49 range. It was also the event where an injury-ridden Doggette looked the strongest, which helped a lot.
How It Looks Now: Though only a few NQS routines remain, Alabama has plenty of options. Luisa Blanco’s average isn’t quite telling, as she only competed the bare minimum number of routines and has the potential to be much better. Training clips of Mati Waligora, who didn’t compete her freshman year, look especially promising. As for the newcomers, Adams and Cam Machado have excellent routines.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Alabama will likely have another strong year on bars in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Luisa Blanco (9.900 NQS), Makarri Doggette (9.840 NQS), Alonza Klopfer (9.840 NQS), Emily Gaskins (9.765 NQS), Lexi Graber (9.765 NQS), Ella Burgess (9.540 NQS), Shallon Olsen (7.865 NQS), Shania Adams, Cam Machado, Isabella Martin, Mati Waligora
How It Looked Before: Beam was a little inconsistent for the Crimson Tide in 2020, and anchor Lexi Graber’s injury didn’t help matters. Blanco’s set was always a bright spot.
How It Looks Now: Alabama has plenty of beam routines to choose from in 2021. Graber’s return to healthy form will be very welcome, and it looks like Waligora could contribute here too. Adams and Machado were strong beam workers in their elite days, so they are also likely to contribute. January joinee Isabella Martin could also factor in.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should be a strong event for the Crimson Tide in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (9.910 NQS), Shallon Olsen (9.860 NQS), Makarri Doggette (9.830 NQS), Alonza Klopfer (9.844), Luisa Blanco (9.731), Griffin James, Shania Adams, Ella Burgess, Isabella Martin, Kaylee Quinn
How It Looked Before: Alabama wasn’t phased after losing lineup stalwart Griffin James to injury; floor ended up tying with bars as the Crimson Tide’s best event in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Like on vault, Maddie Desch’s and Shea Mahoney’s absences will be felt. But Adams will be most welcome here with her high-power floor routine, and Quinn looked better and better on the power events as her time at Nebraska went on before injury. As for the returners, Blanco and Ella Burgess will play bigger roles in 2021.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Alabama can easily find the replacement routines for Desch and Mahoney, so the floor lineup will likely trend up.
Alabama looks poised to bring back a plethora of routines from injury; that, plus a solid freshman class, should do wonders for its 2021 prospects. This team has great potential.
No. 12 Georgia
Plagued by injuries from the start of 2020 on, the Gymdogs made the best of a tough situation and broke into the mid-197s several times. However, they were often hard-pressed for usable routines and will want to solve those depth issues in 2021.
|Losses:||Rachel Dickson (AA; injured), Sabrina Vega (AA)|
|Gains:||Nhyla Bryant, Katie Finnegan, Victoria Nguyen|
|Returning From Injury:||Amanda Cashman (Achilles), Emily Schild|
Potential Contributors: Rachael Lukacs (9.890 NQS), Soraya Hawthorne (9.845 NQS), Abbey Ward (9.830 NQS), Mikayla Magee (9.820 NQS), Rachel Baumann (9.760), Amanda Cashman (9.730), Megan Roberts (9.575), Nhyla Bryant, Katie Finnegan, Victoria Nguyen
How It Looked Before: Georgia recovered from the loss of Rachel Dickson’s 10.0-start value vault to injury by adding several new ones, including a nice Yurchenko one and a half from Mikayla Magee.
How It Looks Now: Georgia retains a strong core of vaulters and will hope to see more regular contributions from junior Megan Roberts. Sophomore Amanda Cashman will also be welcomed back after an Achilles injury derailed her promising start on the event. As for the freshmen, Victoria Nguyen had a double twisting Yurchenko in her elite days, and Bryant and Finnegan are strong vaulters as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Georgia’s should retain a competitive vault lineup in 2021 and could do so even without any new contributors.
Potential Contributors: Megan Roberts (9.865 NQS), Marissa Oakley (9.860 NQS), Haley de Jong (9.815 NQS), Loulie Hattaway (9.800 NQS), Rachael Lukacs (9.760 NQS), Amanda Cashman (9.755 NQS), Emily Schild (9.675), Nhyla Bryant, Katie Finnegan, Victoria Nguyen
How It Looked Before: Georgia’s bars struggles in 2020 were due more to injuries than talent, but regardless, the lineup was rarely up to par.
How It Looks Now: All three freshmen bring quality bar routines to bolster the lineup. Injury returns will also be critical in restoring this lineup; Marissa Oakley was somewhat hampered in 2020, so her senior season could mark a big comeback, as could that of classmate Emily Schild.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Georgia has a much higher ceiling on bars in 2021; the lineup is certainly trending up.
Potential Contributors: Rachel Baumann (9.895 NQS), Mikayla Magee (9.865 NQS), Haley de Jong (9.855 NQS), Marissa Oakley (9.840 NQS), Rachael Lukacs (9.745 NQS), Soraya Hawthorne (9.781), Emily Schild, Victoria Nguyen
How It Looked Before: The Gymdogs excelled on beam in 2020 thanks to a core of beautiful routines. In her breakout year, Magee was just as impactful here.
How It Looks Now: Nguyen is the standout freshman on this event; she was known for beam in elite, and it will be very welcome to the Gymdogs. As for the returners, Georgia will want to get some new lineup standbys. The team will look to Soraya Hawthorne in particular, who has been training some exciting skills. Schild could also come back, as she has competed it in the past.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Building on the success it established in 2020, beam is definitely trending up for Georgia in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Rachael Lukacs (9.990 NQS), Soraya Hawthorne (9.880 NQS), Rachel Baumann (9.840 NQS), Alyssa Perez-Lugones (9.840 NQS), Amanda Cashman (9.863), Megan Roberts (9.781), Sterlyn Austin (9.588), Nhyla Bryant, Haley de Jong, Katie Finnegan
How It Looked Before: Floor was a standout event for the Gymdogs in 2020, with Vega earning conference Specialist of the Year honors after scoring below 9.900 just once.
How It Looks Now: Vega’s loss will be felt the most here, but there are some intriguing routines waiting to take her place. Floor is Georgia’s deepest lineup, with new contributors (Haley de Jong has been seen training it) set to make an impact. Cashman also showed shades of brilliance on the event before she was injured, so her return will be welcome.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? There are some lingering depth issues, but floor is set to be on par with beam as a top event for Georgia in 2021.
Georgia has few places to go but up in 2021, with several key injury returners and some promising signs from previous contributors. Vega will be a hard star to replace, but the routines are there.
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Article by Katherine Weaver
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