By now you’ve probably seen our preseason poll where over 10 editors produced what they believe to be the top 36 teams for the 2022 season. Then we did some basic math and came out with our overall ranking. In this week’s roundtable, we’re talking about our decisions—why we put some teams where we did, didn’t include others and any differences we think we may see from what we ranked in the real thing on Road to Nationals. Interested in seeing each individual editor’s top 36? Check out their social media!
Did you use any sort of methodology when ranking your top 36?
Elizabeth: Nothing specific. I mainly looked at last year’s ranking, our 2022 Outlook article to note newcomers and holes, and our injury updates page. Then I went through 2020 as well to make sure I didn’t miss any teams like Stanford or Michigan State that didn’t compete much or had a down year but that I may have wanted to include.
Emily M: Um, not really I suppose. I looked back over the final rankings from last year and relied heavily on our Potential Lineups series and injury lists just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting about any major injuries or exciting newcomers. Otherwise, I was thinking about what I’ve seen from teams so far on social media.
Carolyn: Unlike some other editors at CGN, I am not great with numbers, so I did not even make a spreadsheet at all. I just looked at last year’s final standings, our most anticipated freshmen series, the freshmen signing class rankings and our rosters and commits spreadsheet to organize my list.
Claire: I made a spreadsheet with each team’s 2021 event and overall rankings and then considered the projected impact of incoming/outgoing gymnasts, staffing changes and recent injuries.
Tara: I had a spreadsheet that contained the rankings and final statistics for each team. Then I took that a step further and calculated each team’s theoretical ranking based on the team’s high score, average score, final regular season NQS and regionals score. I added in the team’s final ranking to create an “average ranking” based on all of those different rankings. From there I relied on what I’ve seen from teams and our potential lineups series to move teams around accordingly.
Ryan: I didn’t formally crunch any numbers, but I determined my top 36 based on last season’s final rankings and our 2022 freshman class rankings. Several teams with a key 4- or 5-star recruit coming in ended up rising in my poll.
Allison: I went HARD on the spreadsheets with averages. I started with six seasons of data, using the pre-season coaches poll and their final ranking at the end of each season so I could determine their poll average and finish average, then took the average of expectations versus reality—no one was given a zero if they didn’t compete so as not to skew anything too weird. However, with so many teams not competing last year, I wanted to include more traditional seasons in the averages, as well as wanted to look at how teams competed with the members currently on the team, so I did averages of the 2018 through the 2020 season. To figure out how things would look this upcoming season with newcomers, I factored in how the incoming class of 2021 ranked. Then I averaged all the averages and I had my list. And yes, “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” but history does also tend to repeat itself…
Rebecca: I thought about gains and losses primarily. Because of the COVID year process, few teams lost a large number of critical routines, but teams that did (looking at you, Illinois) dropped. I also spent some time looking at last year’s regular season rankings, which I think are a better representation of how good a team really is than the final rankings which can be a little flukey. Ohio State, for example, has a great freshman class and should improve on its No. 27 regular season ranking, but to make the last day of regionals and rank top 16 took a little luck in 2021 and still will in 2022.
Katie W: During the 2020 NCAA and level 10 season, I made an intent to take notes on how I thought teams may fare without seniors or with added freshmen. I utilized this document frequently while also taking a look at the regular season rankings and postseason results while keeping injuries, mishaps and potential opportunities with improvements for each team in mind.
Katherine: Another non-data/numbers person here. I went with my heart on most of this, but our potential lineups and training updates also came in clutch.
Jenna: I have some metrics that I’ve calculated for each returning gymnast that I’ll use for my fantasy draft, based on both scoring potential and consistency from the last two seasons. For my top 36, I created a spreadsheet with the names of every gymnast on every team and plugged in those metrics. For freshmen, I watched lots of videos to estimate where they would fit in the lineup—are they instantly an anchor threat, will they fit in somewhere in the middle or will they struggle to make the lineup at all? Based on that, I plugged in NQS data from the team in 2021 (or 2020 if they didn’t compete last season) based on the estimated position in that lineup. Finally, I added up the top six scores on each event to come up with the final total, since depth is important and you need more than five on each event to have a successful season.
Now let’s move on to the national champion. Overall, Florida and Michigan received six first-place votes and Utah and Oklahoma each received two. Which team did you pick to win it all and why?
Elizabeth: There are so many teams that could win the national championship this year, and that’s what makes 2022 so exciting! However, I went with Florida because of the sheer amount of talent on that roster. TBD whether the Gators’ postseason woes continue, but I chose not to take that into account when making my poll. I went purely on potential here.
Emily M: Look, this was impossible. There are, in my opinion, six teams with a solid shot at the big prize this year. Obviously not all of them can even make the final. Yikes! I went with Utah. It has been a long, long time brewing, and the Utes were able to peak well last year. It seems like it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
Carolyn: I just feel like with Utah’s super seniors, its returners and its star freshman class that it doesn’t have a weakness. Tom Farden is doing a phenomenal job as head coach and his recruiting skills are insane, so combine that with the high-caliber gymnasts on the team already and it already has what it takes to win the title and keep it going for years to come.
Claire: I agree that there’s not a lot of separation among the top five or so teams; realistically, any of them could take the title on the day. At this point, though, I’ve got to go with Michigan. It’s returning the bulk of its championship team and bringing in a strong freshman class, but the strength and ridiculous depth of its vaulting squad gives it an edge.
Tara: This was HARD. There’s so many teams I can see winning it all this year. I definitely went back and forth between them. I ultimately went with Michigan since it retains most of its major routines from last season while bringing in strong freshmen. I really think it will come down to which team can peak at the right time—it’ll certainly be exciting!
Ryan: I agree that predicting this year’s champion is almost impossible. The tiniest setback could derail a team’s chances of even making the final, and it’s absolutely going to come down to who competes best on the day. I chose Florida because I think the Gators are tired of being labeled as postseason flops. They have some fiery competitors returning and potentially one of the best freshman classes in NCAA history coming in. To me, it feels like a 2013 situation, where talent, tenacity, experience and depth finally align to take Florida all the way.
Allison: I went with Florida after I put everything through the Average Machine of Averages. However, Oklahoma had hovered at the top until you looked at the most recent traditional seasons, as well as the projected incoming class. It was tough to stick with Florida since it’s gone into so many seasons looking strong but hasn’t delivered in the postseason. But who knows. I agree with Ryan, though. I think Florida is chomping at the bit to prove itself in the postseason.
Rebecca: I understand the argument for Michigan very well, and I was tempted to take Michigan too. But ultimately, if Michigan’s 2021 championship taught us anything, it should be that a team with a lot of recent postseason pain can turn it around anytime. If Michigan can get a fresh start, so can Florida. And Florida is obviously the best team in every dimension but mentality.
Katie W: Even though it’s only my second season with CGN, I always have had a nationals prediction before the NCAA season started. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I debated No.1 for so long. Michigan is returning 23 routines from its championship season last year and Utah has a strong freshman class to add onto its strong returning group with Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Sydney Soloski etc. However, Florida ultimately took the top spot with Alyssa Baumann and Megan Skaggs taking a fifth year along with gaining the No. 1 freshman class in the country. On paper there is no doubt that Florida has the difficulty, depth and execution to lead the way.
Katherine: I was one of Oklahoma’s two votes. I just think the Sooners are inevitable. Sure, they’ve had midseason slumps, like in 2021. But we haven’t seen multiple postseason meltdowns from them like we have from some of the other top contenders. Their most recent championship came a year after they lost by a razor thin margin. That sounds like what happened in 2021, and I bet KJ isn’t letting her team forget it.
Jenna: I really don’t view a preseason poll as predicting who’s going to win the title, as that’s impossible to predict at this point. I have Florida No. 1 because it’s the best team on paper, and it frankly wasn’t close in my calculations. I view my poll more as a prediction of where the standings will be at the end of the regular season.
Looking at the top four, which will be the teams in the national final, why did you go with the teams you did and why did you leave out [insert team you left out]?
Elizabeth: Another tough decision. I thought Florida, Utah and Michigan were pretty much givens, at least for my top four. I rounded it out with Oklahoma because I’ve learned by this point not to count any Sooner team out ever. KJ always seems to coach her team into contention no matter the circumstances. UCLA was my first team out, which seems absolutely absurd given the newcomers. But there was always going to be at least one good team left out, and I decided it would be the Bruins for me.
Emily M: Phew this was also hard! Rounding it out with Utah I have Florida, LSU and Oklahoma. I know it’s brutal to leave Michigan out, but the competition will be so stiff this year—really any of those five plus Alabama have a solid shot on a good day. It’ll come down to seeding and hitting when it counts.
Carolyn: My top four were Utah, Florida, UCLA and Oklahoma. I will be honest in my decision: The elite backgrounds of the gymnasts on these teams will make the difference come championship time, and that is what lead me to my top four.
Claire: I think we’re going to see a rematch of last season’s final with LSU just missing the cut.
Tara: I went with Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida. Like I said before, I can see any of them taking the title on any given day. That left UCLA, Alabama and LSU out, among others—all talented teams that could sneak in. It’s brutal, but not everyone can make the top four. It will come down to hitting when it counts, and those teams will have to prove that to me.
Ryan: Despite all the movement I expect in the rankings this season, I still have the national final being a rematch between last year’s top four. Florida and Utah are too good to pass up, and Oklahoma’s social media posts have shown me it will be able to replace any losses with Jordan Bowers and the rest of its somewhat underrated freshman class. That leaves Michigan as the shaky option for me, given some of the close semifinals that have eliminated it in the past, but I picked Cal as my first team out. The loss of Kyana George is a big one, and I think it could be enough to keep this rising program out of the final for another season.
Allison: No matter what, Utah stayed in fifth throughout my spread, which baffled me, honestly. I went with the four that continued to rotate in the top spots, Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma and LSU, even though a few hadn’t had as strong of showings lately. I wanted to start shuffling a few of these top teams around based on what my heart was telling me, but I wanted to play by the numbers to compare how teams finished and maybe see if any other teams started to outshine the usual players. I’m a sucker for an underdog.
Rebecca: I think Alabama is due for a breakout this year. With Anastasia Webb’s graduation, Luisa Blanco is the clear second-best all around gymnast in the country, and if Makarri Doggette’s long-awaited return to the all around is halfway as dominant as her level 10 career, everyone else should be a little nervous. To take Alabama into the finals, I ended up dropping Oklahoma to fifth, but I don’t feel good about it. The Sooners look fantastic in training (as always), and semifinals day will be brutal this year.
Katie W: I was pretty torn between choosing Oklahoma or LSU for the final spot in the top four. Ultimately, I went with the team that always seems to get it done during championship season. Oklahoma just happens to know when it’s the right time to peak, and the Sooners have looked fantastic in preseason training videos.
Katherine: Yes, Michigan, the reigning national champion, is my first team out. It will be close. If anything, I expect the Wolverines to surpass Florida, who I have in my fourth spot. I believe in its freshman class (how could you not?), but I just don’t believe this season will be any different in terms of its usual postseason woes.
Jenna: My top four ended up being the same four teams that made the national final last year, with LSU being the first team out. I honestly think the Tigers are going to be very, very good, especially with all the returning senior leadership thanks to the COVID year policy. Alabama also just missed the cut, but I think it is another year or two away from making the final after its stellar class of 2022 recruits arrive.
Let’s expand it one more time and look at the top eight. Which teams made yours and why, which didn’t you include that you could easily see making it and which might be a surprise?
Elizabeth: UCLA could easily be swapped in for any of my top four teams, and the same goes for LSU really. I don’t think the Tigers are at quite the level of the very top teams, but they still have the talent to contend. I rounded out my top eight with California and Alabama because I see them building on the success they had in 2021 to excel once again this season.
Emily M: My other four nationals teams are Michigan, UCLA, Alabama and Minnesota. Minnesota is probably a pace behind these other seven, but we can’t count out that Ramler/Loper star power.
Carolyn: After my top four, it went LSU, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa partly because of feelings and partly because of these teams’ performances from last season. They all stepped up after the heart of COVID, and I can see them continuing that positive momentum into 2022.
Claire: I think we’re going to see Cal, Arkansas and UCLA join LSU in the semifinals, edging out Alabama.
Tara: The top seven were pretty easy for me, but it was hard picking the eighth team! I ended up going with Arkansas based on the routines it returns coupled with a slew of talented newcomers. That left Minnesota, Denver and California on the cusp. It was tricky. With Ramler and Loper returning for Minnesota, there’s definite potential for another big season—its freshmen just don’t have as much star power, though. It’s a similar story for Denver with returning all three 2021 seniors. I may have bumped California a little too low, but losing Kyana George to injury is a tough blow for the Golden Bears.
Ryan: Here’s where it gets really blurry for me. I have Cal, LSU, Minnesota and UCLA as the rest of my nationals qualifiers, but it really is so close! Alabama and Arkansas round out my top 10, but either one could easily jump in as well. I think the one-two punch of Kiya Johnson and Haleigh Bryant will be stronger than ever for LSU this season, and Minnesota could put up some big scores thanks to its returning seniors. UCLA missed some members of this incoming class last season, and now that they’ve arrived, it’s going to be hard to count out the Bruins in any meet.
Allison: This was TOUGH. Again, my heart was clashing with the numbers. Utah was in fifth, and Michigan, California and Denver rounded out my top eight. Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas and Auburn claimed their places in my top twelve. Honestly? I could see any of these teams in the finals at nationals, upsetting the players we’ve historically seen. If I went with heart and head, I would’ve had Arkansas, Michigan, Utah and Oklahoma in my top four, with Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU rounding out my top eight.
Rebecca: No surprises here. I took the same top eight as last year. The bubble teams from last year didn’t gain that many freshman routines. The likes of Minnesota and Denver should only have one or two 9.9s, and while they don’t lose anything, neither do most of the five to eight teams. I also don’t see the argument for UCLA rising: The issues last year were due to consistency (likely coaching-related) not depth, and none of the newcomers were exactly beam consistency juggernauts prior to college. There’s one good new 10.0 vault, but that’s not enough to reform a lineup either.
Katie W: Florida, Utah, Michigan, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Minnesota and Denver round out my top eight for the season. The top six were pretty much a given for me, but spots seven and eight were a bit more challenging. Minnesota’s chance of appearing at nationals again is largely due to the return of Ona Loper and Lexy Ramler for a fifth season. The Gophers also had to deal with a variety of injuries in 2021, which should encourage more difficulty on events like vault and floor. Denver is always an underdog team that should never be counted out. The Pioneers’ sophomore class is excellent, and with COVID quarantines hopefully behind them as well as a year of experience, I’m predicting even greater things to come for athletes like Rylie Mundell, Abbie Thompson and Rosie Casali. The Pioneers also have a star returner in Lynzee Brown.
Katherine: I didn’t put anyone really shocking in my top eight. It’s more the order that I grappled with. Kyana George’s injury will certainly hurt Cal, but I think the Golden Bears are talented enough to absorb the loss and squeak in there; I just don’t see much higher than eighth for them. I totally think Missouri, Minnesota and Denver could overtake them on the right day. No. 11 (Denver) is probably where the potential spoilers end, though.
Jenna: In addition to LSU and Alabama, whom I discussed in my answer to the previous question, Minnesota and UCLA rounded out the top eight. Minnesota has two of the top all arounders in the country in Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper, and several of the incoming freshmen are future stars—but will they be able to contribute high scores immediately or will there be an adjustment period? UCLA has an incredible freshman class, but they’re still freshmen, so it feels unfair to expect them to carry the team to a national final so early in their careers. As for spoilers, I would look to Cal and Arkansas, who both have a strong group of level 10 freshmen coming in.
Now we’re going all the way down to the regionals bubble teams where probably the most variety occurred across all our ballots. Why did you include the teams you did and not include the ones you didn’t?
Elizabeth: I think I had the most changes from the end-of-season 2021 rankings at the bottom of my top 36 than anywhere else. I have Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rutgers, Stanford and Washington as making regionals in 2022 despite missing out last season. Michigan State has 5-star recruit Skyla Schulte on the roster, North Carolina brought in both head coach Danna Durante and Lali Dekanoidze, and Stanford will finally be able to show off its dynamic freshmen and sophomores.
Emily M: I have Nebraska squeaking in. I think it’ll be another tough year considering depth, but the likelihood that the Huskers miss regionals twice in a row seems impossible. My real wildcard is Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have improved steadily under Umme Salim-Beasley, and they’re hungry after Hannah Joyner’s nationals berth last year. They also regain a lot from injury and have some intriguing freshmen. I have Washington in there, too. Jen Llewellyn doesn’t have a deep roster to work with for year one, but there’s potential there.
Carolyn: My bubble team was Towson because it has its top-scoring returners Emerson Hurst, Camille Vitoff and Lauren Bolen all coming back. And with the leadership of this trio, they have the ability to crack the last spot in the 36.
Claire: Stanford was my bubble team. I have no doubt they’ll make a huge rankings jump, I’m just not sure they can make a regionals push with functionally two classes of newcomers given how they’ve struggled to crack the top 25 for the last several years.
Tara: Look, this was tough. I had three teams that didn’t make regionals last year in my top 36: North Carolina, Michigan State and Washington. I went with North Carolina because of Lali Dekanoidze combined with adding Danna Durante as head coach. Michigan State didn’t get much visibility last season, but it has the potential to make waves, especially with Lea Mitchell returning for a fifth year and adding 5-star recruit Skyla Schulte. Washington might not have the depth, but between its freshmen and transfer Kennedi Davis there’s potential for a rebound.
Ryan: The bubble teams are where I relied most heavily on the freshman class rankings. Just like the nationals qualifiers, it could really be anyone, but I chose Arizona, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State and Rutgers as my last four. The last two especially have some exciting recruits coming in over the next few seasons, so I expect they’ll rise up soon if not in 2022.
Allison: I really struggled with the regional bubble. So many teams have the potential and history of making it that far into the season, and as a kid who never wanted a stuffed animal to feel left out, I wanted to put 36T for the remainder of the teams. I have New Hampshire right on the cusp. It was a back and forth with Michigan State. The Spartans continued to finish around 36th between the 2017 and 2021 season, and New Hampshire around 37th. But when you looked at the most recent teams, and those with current members, New Hampshire jumped to 35th and Michigan State dropped to 41st. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Although I’m always happy to see a team that doesn’t usually go so far have a chance to appear, even if it’s my own weird formulas.
Rebecca: I’d like to take this chance to say that I disagree in the strongest terms with anyone with serious doubts about Stanford, Michigan State or Washington making regionals. All of those teams had some of the country’s most challenging COVID restrictions, and Washington had serious coaching upheaval that’s now resolved. With a lot of power five teams on the rise, I had a few less EAGL and MAC teams, but I couldn’t skip fast-rising Towson.
Katie W: Bubble teams are always so challenging, but I ultimately had North Carolina rounding out the regionals qualifiers. I think Danna Durante is a great choice for head coach, and athletes like Hallie Thompson can provide success to the program. Michigan State barely competed in 2021, but the team is on an upward rise and continues to recruit 4- and 5-star gymnasts. Stanford, Washington and Nebraska are the big names I left out of my top 36. Washington and Nebraska have not shown anything to convince me that their season will be widely different in 2022.
Katherine: I’ll focus more on the teams that I left out. To address the elephant (Cardinal? Husky?) in the room, Stanford and Washington will probably make it in the end. But right now I’m too used to Stanford’s weird errors for me to predict any particular success, so I erred on the side of caution. I did the same for Washington, who has a new (good, but new) coaching staff to which much of the team will have to adjust. Towson, Rutgers and Temple are all favorites of mine who are undeniably on the bubble, too; however, it will take more luck and flash-in-the-pan success to put them over the edge.
Jenna: North Carolina was my last team in, barely scraping ahead of Western Michigan and Temple. Lali Dekanoidze isn’t the only Tar Heel freshman you should be paying attention to; I’d also keep an eye on Isabelle Schaefer, who has huge potential on bars. Will this finally be the year UNC makes regionals again?
Are there any other surprises—whether it’s a big drop or big leap—featured elsewhere in your top 36?
Elizabeth: I already discussed this a little, but I think my biggest surprise will be having Rutgers making regionals despite finishing No. 40 in 2021. I just think Umme Salim-Beasley will finally have the Scarlet Knights in a position to succeed in 2022. I have North Carolina making a similar jump, but I think that one is even more realistic with both Durante and Dekanoidze now in Chapel Hill.
Emily M: Well we can’t forget about Michigan State and Stanford, which didn’t see enough—or any—action last year to qualify. The Spartans have really exciting underclassmen, and Stanford has the pieces of a top-15 squad; I have the Cardinal at No. 12. I also put BYU on a bit of a skid; it feels like a rebuilding year for the Cougars after losing a lot of important sets. I think some folks will be surprised we didn’t end up with Auburn and Oregon State higher. Suni Lee and Jade Carey will be huge improving factors, but they’re each only one person. Both squads will need some time to build around them.
Carolyn: Some might be puzzled as to why I placed Stanford so high up on my list (15) after its finish from last year (52), but I think its low finish will positively change this year’s result because of a couple things: a more normal year, Vince Smurro as the new assistant coach and the experience and talent of the redshirt gymnasts and incoming freshmen.
Claire: I definitely agree with the Tar Heels making a splash! I also think we’re going to see a small but significant rankings jump from Missouri (maybe even an appearance in the evening session at SECs). The Tigers had a great 2021 season even without standout Helen Hu and a depleted vault lineup. With Hu, Jena Swanson and Kyra Burns back in action plus an outstanding freshman class, they’re poised to pull off more than a few upsets.
Tara: North Carolina was my big one! I alluded to this before, but there’s a lot to be excited for in Chapel Hill with Dekanoidze and Durante. There’s serious potential for Michigan State as well. I also ended up with Oregon State and Auburn higher. Oregon State looked good in the clips we saw from its recent intrasquad, and you can’t discount the value of Olympic gold medalists—even if they’re just one person.
Ryan: I have a couple big leaps on my poll, but I think the most notable one is Iowa State at No. 14. The Cyclones could have been ranked higher than No. 21 last season if not for their regionals draw, and in 2022 they lose zero routines with eight freshmen coming in. That’s really exciting. I also have North Carolina rising several spots to No. 28, based on the experience Durante has as a coach and the immediate impact Dekanoidze could make. I suppose Nebraska rising seven spots to No. 30 could be included as well, but this is a young team that could make huge improvements from last year if it’s able to compete consistently.
Allison: I don’t think I have any team in too strange of a position, although Stanford could be my unexpected player as it didn’t make the top 36 on every editor’s poll. Had I gone on how teams looked, I think I would’ve thrown in LIU, Maryland, Michigan State and Pittsburgh, although I can’t even begin to think of the teams I would’ve dropped, so that’s my tie for 36.
Rebecca: I skipped Nebraska this year. The roster hasn’t improved, and the preseason video I’ve seen didn’t impress me. I also skipped New Hampshire, which has some concerning absences in training and hasn’t been showing enough 9.95-plus SV vaults to fill a lineup. I put Mizzou higher than others (No. 10, No. 4 in the SEC), but keep in mind the Tigers were No. 14 last year without their best gymnast and also have a massive freshman class.
Katie W: I knew right away my decision to put Georgia at No. 11 would be a wildcard pick. I do think the potential for the Gymdogs is sky high with a full season of contributions from a healthy Victoria Ngyuen, Soraya Hawthorne, Rachael Lukacs, Nhyla Bryant and Mikayla Magee. None of these individuals went injury-free over the course of 2021. Megan Roberts and Haley de Jong had breakout years combined with an all around debut from Rachel Baumann. If all the pieces come together, Georgia is one to watch.
Katherine: Missouri is in my top 10. I thought it would be up there last year, but Helen Hu’s and Kyra Burns’ injuries had other ideas. Like Rebecca said, though, the Tigers were good enough to be 14th even without these star gymnasts, and I don’t think people grasp how much of a game changer Amari Celestine and her classmates are going to be. I also might be a little high on Michigan State with the Spartans making my top 25, but I think they are poised for a big step forward after their ill-fated 2021 “season” of just two meets.
Jenna: I was a little surprised with how low N.C. State ended up in my calculations, at 35th. Since consistency and depth were factored heavily into my formulas, perhaps that’s an indication that the Wolfpack overachieved a little during last year’s postseason run. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that happen again this year!
Finally, we know things change quickly in the gym world. How would you change your ranking now based on any updates you’ve seen from teams since you submitted your poll a week or two ago?
Elizabeth: Since I finalized my poll, I probably would have (unfortunately) dropped Nebraska for Penn State. The Huskers didn’t look fantastic and Penn State has a good freshman class coming in with Bridgens coming back from injury as well. I honestly should have included the Nittany Lions to begin with instead of Rutgers but I’m stubborn. I also probably would have moved Missouri just a touch higher and switched in Minnesota over California for nationals, although those teams are so close and it may come down to who goes to what regional in the end rather than talent. (There’s still plenty of time before season to change my mind back or again, though!)
Emily M: Michigan looked great in its intrasquad. Bars and floor look just about season-ready, so I might bump the Wolverines up a spot. I still think other teams gained more and defending the title will be an uphill battle, so I still wouldn’t list Michigan No. 1 despite the Twitter craze after the CGN poll dropped. I’d also drop Nebraska from my top 36 after the Huskers’ intrasquad. The team just doesn’t look ready, so I’d sub in North Carolina.
Carolyn: After watching the Michigan exhibition and seeing some really strong routines, I would change my rankings by redoing my top eight. I would keep Utah, Florida and Iowa at their same spots but switch around the rest so my top eight would look like this: Utah, Florida, Michigan, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, Minnesota and lastly, Iowa.
Claire: After some recent intrasquad and injury updates, I’d flip-flop Utah and LSU and move Denver back a few spots.
Tara: I don’t think I’d change a whole lot! Though that might change based on LSU’s intrasquad on Friday, which hasn’t happened at the time of publishing. I might swap Stanford for Towson also, but that’s more of a new gut hunch than anything.
Ryan: Some of the recent intrasquad meets have actually made me feel more confident in my top-ranked teams. Florida and Michigan both look incredible, and Oklahoma appears to have lots of options on multiple events. Some of UCLA’s recent posts have made me think I may have wanted to bump it up a few spots, and I regret leaving Auburn outside the top 20. As far as the bubble teams go, I would probably include Maryland and West Virginia, although I’m not sure who they should replace!
Allison: I think I would’ve spent less time waffling about New Hampshire, but I’d leave everything else as is.
Rebecca: I did mine fairly late, so I don’t have any major changes at this point. I’m always tempted to rate Georgia high because it looks great in training, but that hasn’t helped the last few years.
Katie W: I was worried I would come off SEC biased in my rankings, but after seeing intrasquad footage from Missouri and Auburn, I would certainly move them up. The only other change I would make would be to drop BYU a few spots because replacing the all around performances of graduating seniors will be tough.
Katherine: I wouldn’t change anything.
Jenna: I would probably move Denver down a couple slots due to the retirement of AK Subject and the roster removal of Amoree Lockhart. Neither were major contributors last year, but since they had competed in 2020, they did factor into my calculations. With Denver being a small team already, it hurts to lose any additional depth.
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Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Emily Minehart, Carolyn Lien, Claire Billman, Tara Graeve, Ryan Wichtendahl, Allison Freeman, Rebecca Scally, Katie Walsh, Katherine Weaver, Jenna King
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