10 Under-the-Radar International Freshmen

Frequently the international additions to NCAA gymnastics rosters get lost in the shuffle as they either never competed elite, or when competing elite, the additional difficulty required of them was too much for them to demonstrate the cleanest of form. It’s finally their time for the spotlight, as we take a look at a few of the incoming internationals and the impact they could have on their team’s lineups.

Madeline McLellan (Washington)

McLellan’s dance skills on beam and floor—including a Memmel turn on the latter—are highlights of her gymnastics. She vaults a very solid full (and has trained a 1.5 in the past), which will likely be a welcome addition to Washington’s lineup. She may not appear in top six for a couple weeks, depending on the status of her comeback from an ACL tear this spring.

Meaghan Ruttan (Washington)

While recent video of Ruttan is lacking, what video there is shows a strong bars set that, when reconstructed into an NCAA bars routine, should make a solid addition to the lineup. She will also add depth to the Huskies’ beam and floor rotations.

Lindsay Chia (Yale)

Chia’s gymnastics is precise, controlled and aesthetically pleasing across all four events, and she has a good chance at an all around spot in New Haven. Beam and floor are the Canadian’s star events, with difficulty in both acrobatic and dance skills and a strong performance ability.

Seina Cho (Yale)

We haven’t been able to find videos more recent than 2016 for Cho, but based on Canadian domestic meets from that period, she’ll be a star on beam: She competes a tic-toc to two layouts, a dream series for many NCAA fans. She also has a front handspring tuck half on vault, beautiful stalder work on bars and incredibly quick twisting on floor.

Phoebe Turner (Iowa State)

Turner is renowned for her twisting in British gymnastics circles; on floor, she competes a front double twist and a back triple twist, both of which are E passes in college. On vault, her intermittent Yurchenko double could be a real asset for the Cyclones. She also has the bars quality you would expect from a teammate of Ruby Harrold but might have to fight harder for that spot against the rest of the Cyclones’ stacked freshman class.

Ana Palacios (Iowa State)

Palacios, another Spaniard, seems born for NCAA bars. She has an easy swing, beautiful technique and two same-bar releases (though we hope she keeps her stunning Gienger). She also competes a full-in on floor and a beautiful Yurchenko full on vault.

Meixi Semple (Iowa State)

Semple, the third international in Iowa State’s freshman class, is gorgeous on bars and beam and should be an immediate factor on both. Her vault is a standard, comfortably landed Yurchenko full, but she is part of an influx of depth on that piece that will help increase Iowa State’s scoring potential.

Sofia Iribarren (Illinois State)

Iribarren, a Madrid native, comes to Normal with immediate all around potential. Her star event is floor, where she tumbles a beautiful full-in, but her crisp handstands and airy piked Jaeger on bars will make her a standout there, too.

Lilja Olafsdottir (Seattle Pacific)

Olafsdottir easily wins this year’s Coolest Country in NCAA Gymnastics standings, joining Seattle Pacific after a decorated career as an Icelandic elite. She has lineup potential on all four pieces, but she’ll provide the biggest boost on bars, where her difficulty and handstand ability puts her at the very top of the Falcons’ roster.

Madeline Straker (Utah State)

Straker’s club, Manjak’s, is one of Canada’s biggest exporters of NCAA gymnasts: Other alumni include Jessica Savona, Sabrina Gill, Alana Fischer and Jordyn Pedersen. Straker continues the tradition at Utah State with a repertoire that includes a solid Yurchenko full, a beautiful double layout on floor and impressive extension across the board.

Article by Rebecca Scally and Emily Howell-Forbes


    1. We didn’t include her in this article since she made one of our Most Anticipated lists for elite freshmen, but she’s definitely very exciting!

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