Seattle Pacific finished 65th in 2017, closing its season with a fifth place finish at USAG nationals. The Falcons lost nine postseason routines to graduation and several more to early retirement in Maryanna Peterson. Senior Ariana Harger’s status is unknown at this time, but it is possible that she, too, has retired early. If that’s the case, then only seven lineup gymnasts will return. But the team has gained an exceptional freshman class of six that will help fill the gaps. With only one senior, SPU will expect to spend this season rebuilding and exploring options to come out strong in the years to come.
Vault was the Falcons’ strongest event last year, finishing at No. 55. This year it might present a little more of a challenge, as the team returns only three regular contributors from last season. Darian Burns and Itzia San Roman competed weekly in 2017 for 9.7s and will be expected to take places near the end of the lineup. Lena Wirth competed six times and Zahra Lawal just once, but they will both likely see more time this year. Lone senior Brittany Atchison was injured last year but look hope to return to the lineup spot she occupied in 2016.
SPU will rely heavily on contributions from freshmen to fill out the vault lineup. McKenna Zimmermann and Shelbi Spivey bring Yurchenko halfs that scored as high as 9.6 in level 10; both of these vaults should make lineups at some point during the season. Kylie Reese brings a Yurchenko tuck full for another option. However, the star of the lineup could be Autumn Huskie, who has vaulted both a front handspring tuck half and a Tsukahara layout full for high scores of 9.8. A 10.0 start in the fifth or sixth spot would be a big deal for the DII Falcons.
None of SPU’s three returning bar contributors are incredible consistent, but all three regularly made lineups last year, which should provide stability for the lineup. Burns, Miyuki Matsune and specialist Sienna Brane should return to to their lineup spots for scores in the 9.7 to 9.8 range when they hit. Junior San Roman might have an outside shot at this lineup. Though she’s never competed bars in college, she had a respectable set of skills in J.O. that could be restructured into a workable college routine to round out her all around set.
Freshmen Spivey and Zimmermann were the most consistent at scoring over 9.0 in level 10. Haven Lanzador could provide a backup option. In general, though, bars will likely be SPU’s most challenging apparatus in 2018.
Matsune’s beam set will be the core of this lineup. She is the only returning gymnast to have competed close to weekly in 2017. San Roman joined the lineup midseason and performed fairly consistently while Burns will be expected to rejoin the top six and compete all around—something she only did five times in her freshman campaign. Carly Kano and Wirth have not yet competed beam in college but both were solid in J.O. and should be considered options as well.
Buckeye Gymnastics alumna and former HOPES elite Lanzador seems prepared to become the star of the beam lineup, with Level 10 scores as high as 9.625 and some very difficult skills that will make her stand out, including an Onodi and a sheep jump. Zimmermann could join Lanzador at the end of the lineup, as she hit 9.4+ in level 10, and Spivey’s high of 9.55 is an asset, too. This lineup could become one of SPU’s strongest in 2018.
Burns is almost guaranteed the anchor spot in the floor lineup; it’s unlikely that anyone else on the team can match the streak of five 9.8+ scores on which she ended last season, not to mention the 9.9 which earned her a share of the national floor title. San Roman also frequented this lineup for scores of up to 9.775 while Matsune and Kylee Gauna also joined at times and provide extra options. Atchison was also a staple when healthy and will likely resume her star status on the event if healthy.
All six freshmen have more than sufficient power and difficulty to be valuable NCAA floor contributors, so the lineup spots will be determined by who can best keep their landings under control. Jadacie Durst tumbles a whip half to Rudi, Lanzador has competed a Memmel turn and a two and a half twist, and Autumn Huskie has two front layout fulls directly connected. Zimmermann and Reese might be the most prepared to immediately step into the lineup, though, with high scores of 9.55 and 9.6, respectively. And Spivey’s fantastic lines and presence will be well received by the judges if she can keep her passes in bounds.
Seattle Pacific has some work to do to recover from the extensive losses from last season, but its freshman class is strong and versatile and should be able to handle the pressures of a lower-depth season. This young team might struggle with consistency, especially on bars where it has the least routine options but have some innovative and difficult work on beam and floor that should help it meet or exceed its typical scores on those events. With a slate of four home meets, the Falcons will hope to capitalize on their potential to remain competitive in the MPSF, as well as Division II.
Keep checking NCAA Gym News for previews of the remaining DII teams and coverage of both DII and DIII gymnastics throughout the season!
Note: For the purposes of lineup discussion, we’ve assumed that Ariana Harger will not be returning. If she does, expect her to compete in the all around.
Article by Rebecca Scally