Potential Lineups: Southern Utah

By Caroline Medley


For our next bonus lineup team, we’ll tackle the Southern Utah Thunderbirds! Finishing the regular 2016 season at No. 23, they’ll hope to take their upward momentum even further in 2017. Losing seniors Arlyn Amor and Natalie Trejo shouldn’t hurt them too much, as Amor was injured last season and Trejo mostly contributed to beam and floor, where the team will have plenty of options in the coming year. Would-be sophomore Caitlyn Kessel will also not be returning this season, so routines will be lost on vault and bars as well. However, SUU will have a large class of freshmen, at a whopping eight gymnasts, so replenishing routines shouldn’t be a problem.

Vault will only see the loss of Kessel, but most of the Thunderbirds will return to the lineup. Mady Blake, Tyly Bozzuto, Danielle Ramirez and Stacie Webb should all bring back their Yurchenko fulls, while Virginia Brownsell and Karen Gonzalez will return some different vaults. Brownsell returns her 10.0 SV handspring pike half, while Gonzalez should return a Tsuk entry as well. Freshman Maddy McBride should have another 10.0 vault to add to the mix, a Yurchenko 1.5, though she may start out with just a full to focus in on her landing. Autumn Jorgensen, Megan McBride and Gabby Spencer should also be in contention for lineup spots with their own fulls.

On bars, SUU will again only lose Kessel, seeing the returns of regular contributors Bozzuto, Ramirez,
Memory Shettles, Sydney Townsend and Kirstie Yee. The Thunderbirds will be looking for at least one more consistent bar routine, and a number of freshmen will be in contention for that position. Madison Howlett, Maddy McBride, Lillie Minor and Becky Rozsa all have routines that could potentially contribute. Minor has probably the cleanest leg form overall, but McBride has some very solid handstands and Howlett has huge

amplitude on her Tkachev. As long as they’re consistent, any of them could grab that last lineup spot.

Beam will see the loss of Trejo, so again the T-Birds will look for at least one more consistent contributor. Bozzuto, Ramirez, Webb, Yee and Kamryn Bayer should all expect to return, as they all

scored 9.8 or higher during the season last year. Gonzalez and Townsend also contributed a time or two, but both fell in their only beam appearances, so they may be less likely to join the lineup in the coming season. Freshmen Howlett and Jorgensen both have great beam sets from their J.O. careers as well. Howlett’s routine is full of strong connections, when she’s able to hit them, and she performs a unique back

handspring to back tuck series. Jorgensen actually tied for the beam title in her division at nationals in 2016 with her quick switch leap-split jump-back tuck connection series and difficult roundoff to double tuck dismount. With these additions and some strong veteran routines, beam could definitely be a strength for the Thunderbirds this year.

Floor will again see the loss of Trejo, which also means the Thunderbirds lose their only E pass on the team, her front double twist. Returning veterans Blake, Bozzuto, Brownsell, Gonzalez, Ramirez and Webb all scored decently last season, with 9.85s or higher at some point. One or more of them may be able to upgrade to get some higher difficulty in the mix, but the incoming freshmen also may be able to help. Spencer is the only of the freshmen who currently competes an E pass, a front double twist, but Jorgensen was training a double arabian last year as well. In addition, Howlett, Minor, Rozsa and Emily Wilson all have strong, consistent routines that may be lineup contenders. The Thunderbirds will certainly be deep on floor this year.

In the all around, expect to see Ramirez as a strong contender again this season. Qualifying to nationals last year will only serve as fuel to the fire now that she’s a senior, so watch for her power and leadership on every event. Bozzuto also was given the opportunity to compete all four last year, and as a senior, it’s likely she’ll be offered it again. Watch for freshmen Jorgensen and Maddy McBride as well. As strong all arounders in their J.O. days, they’ll likely serve as the next generation of all around competitors for SUU. Finally, there’s Shettles, who tore her ACL two years ago and missed her sophomore season. She also has the potential to rejoin the all around ranks she dominated in her freshman year, but her knee will be the main determining factor in that decision as she was only able to compete bars in 2016.

For more on potential lineups, check out our page here, or our previous conference-based series here. If there’s a team you’d like to see us cover, leave us a comment or drop us a line on Twitter — we love to hear from you! We’re already planning on analyzing Eastern Michigan, N.C. State, North Carolina and more, so stay tuned!

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