The Eight Nights of Hanukkah Preseason Awards

In honor of the eight nights of Hanukkah, we’ve got eight preseason awards for you. We took a look at our favorite things of fall 2015 as well as some things we’re looking forward to for the 2016 season. And we by no means think our opinions rule all, so hop into the comments or over to Twitter and tell us who you think the winner is in each of our categories!

Coolest New Skill Trained This Fall: Charlie Owens
We’re pretty much in love with Owens’ brand new release on uneven bars for 2016. Not only is it unique for the college level, but it’s rarely seen at any level of gymnastics as well.
Most Training Updates: Utah (32)
This one’s pretty straight forward. Who provided the gymternet with the most updates since roughly the beginning of September. Utah tallied the most (shocker!) with Cal coming in a close second. We’d love to see this trend continue with more and more teams giving fans a look into behind the scene training.
Matchup We’re Most Excited For: Oklahoma at LSU
There were many good competitions to choose from. Florida-UCLA? Utah-Michigan? Alabama-Auburn? While those were all good choices, we ultimately decided between the fight that’ll take place in Baton Rouge between the Sooners and the Tigers. LSU is great at home and will be looking for a bit of NCAA prelims beamplosion redemption while Oklahoma is coming off a perfect 2015 regular season.

Charlie’s new release is really shaping up!#strive #gobears□

A video posted by Cal Women’s Gymnastics (@calwgym) on

A photo posted by @arizona_gymnastics on

Best Intrasquad Theme: Bad to the Bone vs. Fruit Ninja
In a world of intrasquads featuring one color against another or two holiday items, we loved the creativity of Arizona’s fall in-house competition, putting the Bad to the Bone team up against the Fruit Ninjas. And the costumes that came out of it weren’t too shabby either!But we do have to give a shout out to a couple other teams as well. At Oregon State’s Orange & Black intrasquad, the team selected guest “celebrity” judges from the university and town to help evaluate the competition. We also loved the Illini’s exhibition. Not only did they use the fan-friendly format men’s head coach Justin Spring introduced to competition a couple years ago, but they showcased gymnastics from both the men and the women at the same event.

Freshman We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing Compete: Katelyn Ohashi
This was a tough choice for us. We considered the big names, such as Lexie Priessman and Sarah Finnegan and even J.O. standouts like Alicia Boren, but settled on Ohashi for a couple of reasons. The fact that she is a former elite star that was once thought to be a lock for the Olympics was probably enough to put her over the edge. But the fact that she’s been pretty much off the radar, sans a few level 10 meets here and there, makes her NCAA debut that much more anticipated. We’re interested to see how much of the old Ohashi we’ll get to witness at UCLA and whether she’ll be the second coming of Sam Peszek or more of a just-another-medical-retirement story.

Routine We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing: Chayse Capps
This is a pretty obvious choice. However, we’re not picking Chayse Capps for her beam (mostly because we’ve already seen it in training videos and drooled until our mouths were dry). Instead, we’re heavily anticipating what genius Capps and Oklahoma head coach KJ Kindler will whip up on floor. From the music, which has been kept under lock and key and guarded by security personnel 24/7, to the jaw-dropping choreography, we’re eager to see the 2016 masterpiece. The suspense is properly built — bring it on.
Best Photoshoot: Georgia
It’s rare nowadays to see a truly unique photoshoot concept for any team in any sport. In gymnastics, it’s either pose in front of a backdrop ormaybego as far as clapping chalk in front of a gymnast’s face while she tries not to look like she’s choking on the dust. However, this year, the Gym Dogs brought it to a whole new level. The team took on a bit of new scenery when it used the pool as its backdrop for this year’s promotional content, splashing buckets of water on the gymnasts as they performed jumps and choreography.
Who We Think Will Score The First 198 of the Season: Florida
This may seem obvious to some people, but with Utah’s history of just a tad bit of home scoring inflation, we had to think for a minute. But we finally decided on Florida. The Utes won’t have​
Georgia Dabritz or Tory Wilson to back up an average routine with a perfect 10 and will instead have to rely on freshmen who might take a bit more time to come into their own than a returner. As for Florida: Bridget Sloan. The 2008 Olympian paired with the Gators’ host of other talented gymnasts and its strong incoming freshman class should give fans a 198 pretty early on in the season.

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