Potential Lineups: Eastern Michigan

By Caroline Medley
We’re back with another bonus lineup analysis, this time featuring the Eastern Michigan Eagles! After losing key senior Kimberly Ebeyer and nationals qualifier Rachel Slocum to a transfer, new head coach Sarah Shire Brown will have some work to do if EMU hopes to improve on its stellar 17th place finish at the end of postseason. With the addition of four freshmen, each of whom seems capable of making at least one lineup, can the Eagles start off the Brown era with a bang?
Ebeyer contributed a solid Yurchenko arabian to the vault lineup last season, but the loss won’t matter terribly as the vault has been devalued. Slocum, on the other hand, competed a handspring front pike half, which will mean the loss of EMU’s only 10.0 vault. Barring any upgrades, the Eagles should have a
lineup of consistent Yurchenko fulls, featuring veterans Catie Conrad, Ciara Gresham, Sydney McEachern, Julia Schwartz and Kendall Valentin. Conrad and Valentin were typically the highest-scoring of these, though Conrad had some consistency issues earlier in the season. Kelsie Brooks also showed a nice full in exhibition a few times last season, scoring comparably to McEachern and Schwartz. She could also be a
good option for the coming season. A key focus for this vault team should be landings — not piking down too early but still working for that stick. As far as the freshman are concerned, both Emili Dobronics and Allison Smith have solid fulls that score well in J.O. competition, with Dobronics being the stronger of the two. However, Smith has also trained the Yurchenko 1.5, though she hasn’t competed it yet. But if she can put that together for college competition, she could easily be a vault regular.

On bars, the Eagles lose no one, as neither Ebeyer nor Slocum was ever part of the lineup. Conrad, McEachern, Valentin, Kirsten Gendron, Natalie Gervais and Lacey Rubin were all regular contributors on the event, with Valentin and Rubin the strongest of the veterans. Both regularly scored 9.85 or

higher, and Valentin topped out at 9.925 last season. There is definitely room for improvement across the board, though. The difficulty level of the lineup as a whole is somewhat low, particularly in the dismount category. Four of the six returning Eagles’ routines end with a giant full to double tuck, which does satisfy the up to the level requirement for a bar dismount, but only through connection. In addition, leg separation can be a bit of an issue for some of these veterans, both in handstands and transitions between bars. However, in recent training videos, it looks like the Eagles are hard at work correcting both of these issues. Freshman Hollie Minichiello should also make a great addition to the lineup, with a very clean Shaposhnikova and double layout dismount.

trueEmu dismounts! #doublelay #bars #unevenbars #fullout #dismounts #eagles #EMUgym #bars

A video posted by Eastern Michigan Gymnastics (@emugym) on

Overall, it looks like Eastern Michigan will be looking to make bars their most improved event in the coming season.

Beam will again see the loss of Ebeyer, though that gap should be fairly easy to fill. Veterans Conrad, Gervais, Rubin, Valentin and Megan Hultgren should expect to return to the lineup, with Rubin and Conrad leading the way, with season highs of 9.9 and 9.875, respectively. Now-sophomore Katie Ford

also had some excellent exhibitions last season, so with some more training and experience under her belt, she may be able to crack the lineup. To up their scores, veterans will want to zero in on their landings. There were a number of missed opportunities last season for stuck landings, so if they can drill those coming into the 2017 season, the Eagles should be ready to go. Freshman Amanda Arnold is perhaps the
best beam option of her class with strong connections, solid form in her dance elements, and great rhythm in her routine. She also has loads of sass, which should put her right at home in college competition.

Slocum will be the biggest loss to the floor lineup as a nationals qualifier and regional champion on the event. Ebeyer also competed floor, typically scoring in the 9.8 range, though she and Slocum both had season highs of 9.9. Ebeyer also had the only E pass on the team, a front double twist. Returners

Conrad, Gendron, Gervais, Greshman, McEachern, Valentin and Megan Marino all contributed to the floor lineup at some point last season, with McEachern as the highest scorer of the bunch. Most of these gymnasts had some consistency problems on floor in the first half of the season, so there should be a strong push to be fully ready and consistently landing everything at the start. One or two of these girls
may be able to upgrade to an E pass, whether that means stretching out a double pike into a double layout or adding an extra half twist to a Rudi to make it a front double. However, freshman Allison Smith has been training a full in for at least a year, but she hasn’t competed it. If she can land it consistently on a competition floor, she may be the most likely candidate for an E pass in this lineup.

As far as the all around goes, Conrad and Valentin both competed all four regularly last season and should expect to again in the coming year. Both are capable of scores as high as 39.2, averaging a 9.8 on every event. With Slocum and Ebeyer gone, the only consistent three-event gymnast is McEachern, and to compete AA in her senior year, she would need a strong beam routine. This might be too tall an order, as she hasn’t competed beam at all in college, but never say never.

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 George Washington, N.C. State, North Carolina and more, so stay tuned!

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