Alabama theoretically should have no problem bouncing back to the same success it enjoyed in 2016. It only lost two seniors, but both were key members of the team — all-arounder Lauren Beers and floor powerhouse Carley Sims. Luckily, the Tide have a lot of powerful upperclassmen who can step into the gaps, as well as some fantastic freshmen coming in to help out.
On vault, the Tide loses Beers’ Yurchenko 1.5, but that’s it. They still have Katie Bailey, Mackenzie Brannan, Jenna Bressette and Nickie Guerrero capable of 10.0 start value vaults, and they’re gaining Madison Desch, who could potentially do a Yurchenko double full — though don’t expect it right out of the gate. It’s likely she’ll start out with just a full but may work her way up to a 1.5 or double by the end of the season. Alabama also has two nice Yurchenko fulls in Kiana Winston and Keely McNeer, as well as Shea Mahoney and Wynter Childers coming in as freshmen, so it’s not likely vault will be an issue.
Bars is similar – not much lost, a lot to gain. Beers wasn’t a major player on bars her senior year, so the key players in the bar lineup are still around — Bailey, Brannan, Jetter, McNeer and Winston. We all know how Dana likes to play with depth, though, so don’t be surprised to see sophomore Ariana Guerra in a lineup now and again, or freshman Desch for that matter. Her elite bar
Beam is where it starts to get tricky. Alabama had lots of exploration of depth on beam last year, even pulling out Mary Lillian Sanders, who rarely competed before 2016, toward the end of the season. This year, the Tide may not be so blessed. Most of their lineup is still intact, but beam is not the specialty of any of their incoming freshmen, nor is it an apparatus where an upperclassman who hasn’t done beam in the past is likely to step up. At this point, to replace Beers, again the best bet is Desch who has a myriad of skills she could put together for an NCAA beam routine. The big change she’ll have to make is focusing on what skills she’s cleanest on, rather than what boosts her difficulty. This will become a theme as we continue to discuss all the elites joining the NCAA. Watch out for key upperclassmen on beam, though, such as Aja Sims, Nickie Guerrero and Keely McNeer. They’ll decide whether Alabama can continue to be a beam team to watch.
Floor may also become a problem child. Carley Sims and Lauren Beers both brought in big numbers on floor in seasons past, so it’ll be up to some greener girls to step in and fill those gaps. The freshman to watch for on floor will certainly be Wynter Childers whose floor is full of pizzazz and huge tumbling. Her dance is an awesome mix of hip-hop, a little bit of Latin flavor and a
* As of August 20, sophomore Avery Rickett no longer appears on the Alabama roster.