Breaking Down the 2019 Nastia Liukin Cup Field

The Nastia Liukin Cup takes place tonight in Greensboro, North Carolina, and we’re here to break down the field. After a whirlwind qualification process that only wrapped up this Wednesday night, the full field of 36 gymnasts is finally set. Check out the highlights, or scroll to the bottom for the full list of qualifiers and their stats!

The 2019 Graduates

Seven of the athletes in the senior field are high school seniors, and all of them have signed NLIs to compete in NCAA next year for seven different universities.

  • Makarri Doggette: Alabama
  • Cassie Stevens: Auburn
  • Raena Worley: Kentucky
  • Kiya Johnson: LSU
  • Gabryel Wilson: Michigan
  • Hallie Thompson: North Carolina
  • Jillian Hoffman: Utah

The Top Qualifiers

Three of the senior qualifiers have broken 39 this season: Wilson, Faith Torrez and Sierra Brooks. It’s possible that the title will come down to these three, but don’t lose sight of Stevens, Johnson and Doggette either.

There will be plenty of can’t-miss routines in the senior group, but Brooks’ beam has scored a 10.0 already this season and Thompson, Johnson and Worley have all cracked the 9.900 mark on floor.

The junior field is typically a fascinating mix of high school freshmen, some of whom are already committed to college and most of whom are targeting it intensely, as well as youngsters who have elite potential and might be concurrently competing in qualifiers or HOPES. The top group this year consists of Gabby Gladieux—one of only two juniors who have qualified before—as well as Madison Ulrich and two World Champions Centre athletes, Zoe Miller and Lily Bruce. Recent college commits Ava Piedrahita (Penn State) and Makenna Smith (Ohio State) are right behind them.

Ulrich, Miller and Gladieux have amazingly all scored 9.800 or above on bars this year. We’ll also be keeping an eye out for First State’s Zoe Middleton, who has the look of a future college beam anchor, and Smith on floor.

By Age

Senior Doggette is the oldest athlete to qualify this year, having turned eighteen in September, and Thompson is only a week younger. Mackenzie Estep of Auburn Gymnastics, who is 12 years and four months old, is the youngest.

By College Team

Of the 36 qualifying athletes, 20 have already committed to a college team and represent a total of 16 different programs. Auburn, California, Michigan and Penn State all have two athletes qualified. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia have one apiece.

By Club

Eight clubs are represented by multiple athletes at the Cup this year. All American, Buckeye, Hill’s, Legacy Elite, Orlando Metro, Southeastern and Texas Dreams each qualified a pair of athletes. World Champions Centre is sending an astounding four.

By Previous NLC Attendance

Doggette, a living J.O. legend, leads the field in this by qualifying to her sixth and final Cup. Andrea Li, Kiya Johnson, Gabryel Wilson and Cassie Stevens are in their fourth. Abbie Thompson is competing for the third time, and Faith Torrez, Ava Piedrahita and Gabby Gladieux return for their second. Johnson and Li are both former champions, picking up the junior titles in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Article by Rebecca Scally and Emily Howell-Forbes

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