The back half of the Big Ten was frustrating in 2019. All five teams proved in at least one meet that they had the pieces to put together a big hit, but none of the five could do it consistently. The key across the board for this group is the ability to hit week in and week out that we expect from teams looking to break into the top 25, something every team on this list has the talent to push toward.
The 2020 season will be here before we know it! And with preseason training in full swing, it’s time to start looking at the teams and how they might fare when the action kicks off in January—from who’s expected to compete, holes coaches need to fill, exciting upgrades you might see and more.
No. 29 Ohio State
Ohio State should have been a top 25 team in 2019. Inconsistency from veterans and a litany of injuries in the second half of the season held the Buckeyes back. The upcoming season is about redemption, and pressure will be on the upperclassmen to set the tone for the large incoming class.
|Losses:||Amanda Huang, Janelle McClelland, Jamie Stone, Leonie Gast|
|Gains:||Elexis Edwards, Alexis Hankins, Ella Hodges, Raina Malas, Sarah Rowland, Zoe Schweitzer|
Potential Contributors: Olivia Aepli (9.835 NQS), Sydney Jennings (9.790), Morgan Lowe (9.785), Danica Abanto (9.755), Jenna Swartzentruber, Sarah Rowland, Elexis Edwards
How It Looked Before: The Buckeyes were decent and consistent vaulters in 2019, led by Aepli and Stone.
How It Looks Now: The incoming class is not particularly strong on vault. Rowland’s Yurchenko full could break the lineup, but the Buckeyes will also need to look for returners to add the event. Edwards is a bit of a wildcard; with no videos more recent than 2016, it’s hard to say where she is at. Her J.O. vault scores suggest she should be a contributor; she is coming back from a devastating knee injury, though, and hasn’t competed since March 2018.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too soon to say whether vault will remain a consistent piece for Ohio State; replacing Stone here is a difficult task, and there’s no true standout option.
Potential Contributors: Jenna Swartzentruber (9.875 NQS), Olivia Aepli (9.835), Claire Gagliardi (9.825), Peyton Hinterberger (9.820), Danica Abanto (9.790), Colby Miller (9.690), Alexis Hankins, Zoe Schweitzer
How It Looked Before: Bars was the standout event for Ohio State in 2019, led by big work from underclassmen. Swartzentruber led the charge with gorgeous lines and great consistency.
How It Looks Now: Hankins brings big skills and a natural swing, but she has been inconsistent in J.O. Schweitzer is the best swinger of the bunch, with clean lines and a quick tempo that will do well in NCAA. She seems to have had a lower limb injury for the early part of 2019 (with vault and floor scratches and videos with just a layout bars dismount), but assuming she’s healthy to start 2020, she should be in this lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Look for bars to hold steady or improve a bit for this squad.
Potential Contributors: Morgan Lowe (9.830 NQS), Jenna Swartzentruber (9.815), Olivia Aepli (9.795), Kaitlyn Gilson (9.730), Danica Abanto (9.580), Miriam Perez, Colby Miller, Alexis Hankins, Ella Hodges, Raina Malas, Zoe Schweitzer
How It Looked Before: Beam is the event where injuries and inconsistencies plagued the Buckeyes the most, with team scores ranging from a stellar 49.350 to a scary 47.650.
How It Looks Now: Hankins needs some polish, but she does bring a triple series and strong switch leap + switch leap that should challenge for a lineup spot. Hodges is in a similar position, with a lovely, open front toss and the carriage you expect from NCAA beamers; she tied for the Senior E beam title at this year’s J.O. nationals. Malas is inconsistent but has a good tempo and is also an option if she can find a routine construction that plays to her strengths. Schweitzer has no recent beam videos, but in 2017 she was solid but lacking in leap positions. Her 2019 J.O. scores suggest that she is also an option. Both Perez and Miller were in and out of the 2019 lineup with short-term injuries; both should be in the 2020 lineup conversation.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Look for beam to get even better in 2019. With a number of incoming options, head coach Meredith Paulicivic will be able to play with this lineup. Having Perez and Miller back will also help.
Potential Contributors: Danica Abanto (9.860 NQS), Olivia Aepli (9.730), Miriam Perez (9.700), Peyton Hinterberger (9.480), Brooke Chesney (9.330), Claire Gagliardi, Elexis Edwards, Ella Hodges, Raina Malas, Sarah Rowland
How It Looked Before: The Buckeyes struggled on floor in 2019, and they shouldn’t have. With national-standout dance from Perez and Gagliardi, it seemed like it would be the Buckeyes’ centerpiece early in the year. As injuries swept in, inconsistency reigned, and floor became the team’s weakest piece.
How It Looks Now: In her 2016 Nastia Liukin Cup appearance, Edwards performed a powerful and clean set including a full-in. Assuming her health, she is an option here. Hodges has the leaps and posture of an NCAA floor star, and if Paulicivic can pull her out of her shell, she could shine. In the opposite case, Malas has strong presentation but seems to struggle with her difficult tumbling; bringing the difficulty down could serve her well in college. Rowland has all the pieces of a floor worker but lacks some precision. The attention to detail that comes with collegiate floor could help her. Based on videos from 2017 and a few 2019 scores, Schweitzer, who brings a front double full, will also challenge for a spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It is impossible to say what will come of floor for the Buckeyes in 2019. With the entire class of freshmen capable with caveats, it’s hard to say who will emerge and how strong the lineup will be. That said, when Ohio State is good on floor, it is stellar thanks to Paulicivic’s choreography. Cautious optimism is warranted.
Ohio State should have a solid 2020. It is losing some important routines, but the large incoming class brings a variety of strengths, and the Buckeyes will hope that its returners come back to campus healthier than they left it.
Injuries and depth remain the big questions for this team. The incoming class has fought through its share of recent injuries much like the 2019 roster, so health, and who steps in when there is a lack of it, will make or break the Buckeyes.
No. 30 Maryland
The Terps struggled through some highs and lows in 2019, ultimately finishing a pace behind where they were in 2018. With the top 25 in sight and a very different roster, they’ll be looking for a strong 2020.
|Losses:||Shynelle Agaran, Megan McClelland, Alex Robinson, Emilie LeBlanc (transfer to Utah)|
|Gains:||Leksana Andrews, Austynn Lacasse, Sophia LeBlanc, Reese McClure, Emma Silberman, Aleka Tsiknias, Julianna Weil, Randi Morris (transfer from Bowling Green)|
|Returning From Injury:||Randi Morris missed all of the 2019 season at Bowling Green; whether it was due to injury or related to the accusations of maltreatment there is not known, though Morris does have a large, somewhat fresh knee scar in recent photos|
Potential Contributors: Alecia Farina (9.830 NQS), Alexis Rubio (9.825), Audrey Barber (9.815), Collea Burgess (9.815), Emma Johnson (9.720), Deanna Magro (9.675), Sabriyya Rouse (9.555), Kirsten Peterman, Emma Silberman, Julianna Weil, Randi Morris
How It Looked Before: Vault was one of Maryland’s best events in 2019, and improved throughout the year the way every team hopes its scores do. Led by very powerful and clean fulls, this lineup was a standout.
How It Looks Now: Silberman is training a Yurchenko full-on tuck, a 10.0 start value that will be an option if she can get it competition ready. Weil also brings a 10.0 start in a front handspring pike half that scored well in J.O. Morris had a Yurchenko half that scored consistently around a 9.800 and should step into the lineup assuming she is healthy. Junior Sabriyya Rouse has also been training a Yurchenko double, putting it to her feet in recent weeks.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Vault should improve in 2020, with the entirety of the 2019 squad returning, three possible 10.0 options and Morris’ consistency.
Potential Contributors: Audrey Barber (9.860 NQS), Tiara Wright (9.825), Alecia Farina (9.815), Kirsten Peterman (9.795), Sanya Glauber (9.780), Aleka Tsiknias, Emma Silberman
How It Looked Before: The Terps’ best event was headlined by Barber and Emilie LeBlanc, who were solid and consistent throughout the year.
How It Looks Now: Tsiknias has a natural swing and amplitude that will play well in college. Silberman is an option, but her J.O. dismount was not up to the level.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Losing LeBlanc hurts, but Tsiknias should be able to slip into her spot. The newcomers are not at their best here but should be able to hold steady with so many strong returners.
Potential Contributors: Audrey Barber (9.835), Tiara Wright (9.790), Kirsten Peterman (9.765), Collea Burgess (9.710), Sabriyya Rouse (9.700), Reese McClure, Emma Silberman, Aleka Tsiknias, Julianna Weil
How It Looked Before: Beam was very inconsistent in 2019, and it became Maryland’s weakest event. Only seven competitors touched the apparatus in competition, calling the team’s depth here into question.
How It Looks Now: There are no recent videos of McClure on beam, but her 2019 J.O. scores suggest that she’s an option. Silberman, Tsiknias and Weil have the pieces to be strong beamers but have been inconsistent. Tsiknias in particular has good presence and amplitude.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too soon to tell whether the newcomers can help solidify beam, but their up-and-down J.O. scores suggest that this may continue to be a problem event for the Terps in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Audrey Barber (9.860), Collea Burgess (9.850), Sabriyya Rouse (9.835), Kirsten Peterman (9.790), Alecia Farina (9.765), Julianna Weil, Randi Morris
How It Looked Before: Similarly to beam, Maryland’s consistency struggled from time to time on floor, and it didn’t seem to have the depth to play with the lineup.
How It Looks Now: Weil has a routine that is ready for college, with strong double pike-anchored set and engaging presence. Morris also regularly competed floor at Bowling Green, with a high of 9.850 across her two seasons there.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Depth may continue to be a problem on floor, but it is too soon to tell whether the event will improve overall in 2020. Morris’ transfer is perhaps most important here.
Overall, Maryland will likely hold steady in 2020. The incoming class isn’t full of big stars, but each has unique strengths and Morris will make an immediate impact.
The incoming class will need to prove its consistency if the Terps are to climb the ranks. That applies to returners, as well, especially on beam and floor.
No. 31 Iowa
Iowa had bursts of greatness in 2019 but struggled to put a complete meet together for much of the season. The Hawkeyes regularly put up top-tier floor performances and a strong bars rotation but were held back by a struggling beam lineup, a problem they’ll be looking to rectify in 2020.
|Losses:||Misty-Jade Carlson, Nicole Chow, Sydney Hogan, Maria Ortiz, Rose Piorkowski, Gina Leal, Emma Hartzler|
|Gains:||Ari Agrapides, JerQuavia Henderson, Elinor Rogers, Madelyn Solomon, Allyson Steffensmeier|
Potential Contributors: Bridget Killian (9.810 NQS), Lauren Guerin (9.805), Charlotte Sullivan (9.755), Alexandra Greenwald (9.590), Carina Tolan, Erin Castle, Mackenzie Vance, Jax Kranitz, JerQuavia Henderson, Ari Agrapides, Allyson Steffensmeier
How It Looked Before: Iowa played with this lineup all season and was solid but never outstanding. The event improved steadily throughout the year, but declined in the postseason.
How It Looks Now: Henderson took second on vault in the Senior D division at this year’s J.O. nationals with a 9.925 for her truly massive Yurchenko full. She will make an immediate impact. Former junior elite Ari Agrapides also has a dynamic full that should be in the lineup. Steffensmeier has at least trained Yurchenko one and a halfs.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Agrapides and Henderson have arguably two of the best Yurchenko fulls of the incoming freshmen across collegiate gymnastics; Iowa’s lineup is on the rise.
Potential Contributors: Jax Kranitz (9.835), Charlotte Sullivan (9.820), Clari Kaji (9.805), Madison Kampschroeder (9.805), Mackenzie Vance, Elinor Rogers, JerQuavia Henderson
How It Looked Before: The core six were consistently good on bars in 2019, with just a few hiccups throughout the season.
How It Looks Now: Bars is not a strength for the newcomers. Rogers has a smooth, clean swing; if she can find college routine construction that plays to her strengths, she could be an option. Henderson struggled in J.O., but her handstand positions and execution are solid.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should hold steady for the Hawkeyes in 2020, with some very strong sets returning. At least two new faces will need to appear in the lineup, though, whether they be freshmen or veterans.
Potential Contributors: Clair Kaji (9.865 NQS), Bridget Killian (9.795), Mackenzie Vance (9.740), Allie Gilchrist (9.735), Charlotte Sullivan, Madison Kampschroeder, JerQuavia Henderson, Ari Agrapides
How It Looked Before: The Hawkeyes never really found their stride on beam, with even their most reliable veterans faltering at least once. Larissa Libby tried out about half her roster on the event over the course of the season.
How It Looks Now: Henderson could be excellent here; her work needs some polish, and her composition could use some updates to play to her strengths—amplitude and straddle positions—but she is certainly an option. Agrapides’ elite pedigree shows in her precision and tempo, but she has struggled with consistency. Still, she has the pieces necessary to put together a quality collegiate set.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s hard to say whether the Hawkeyes can improve on beam in 2020; it will come down to individual consistency and routine construction.
Potential Contributors: Lauren Guerin (9.900 NQS), Clair Kaji (9.885), Bridget Killian (9.845), Erin Castle (9.830), Charlotte Sullivan (9.795), Allie Gilchrist (9.780), Alexandra Greenwald, Mackenzie Vance, Ari Agrapides, JerQuavia Henderson
How It Looked Before: Iowa shines on floor; the 2019 squad was full of stellar performers and radiated fun. The Hawkeyes finished the year ranked at No. 21 here, which was not a fluke.
How It Looks Now: Agrapides spent her elite days at MG Elite, and it shows in her performance. Her presentation is backed with solid tumbling and leaps; she will excel with Iowa’s choreography. Henderson needs some work when it comes to performance quality, but her massive full-in and exquisite split positions will shine on the collegiate stage. She closed her J.O. set with a double back with more amplitude than most opening college passes, and snagged second in the Senior D division at J.O. nationals.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Iowa is about to get even better on floor. Expect Agrapides and Henderson to make an immediate impact.
Do not underestimate the Hawkeyes in 2020, especially on floor where this roster could hold up against some of the best in the country. Henderson is a powerful gymnast, and she will immediately invigorate the lineups she’s in. Agrapides adds big-stage experience and the poise and precision that come with it.
Beam remains the question for Iowa in 2020. Can it put up six hits every week? If the answer to that question is yes, expect it to rocket up the rankings; the top 20 is not out of the question.
No. 41 Michigan State
The Spartans bounced back a step from what was a challenging 2018 season. Beam kept the team from pushing toward the regionals cutoff mark, but the other three pieces were always good and sometimes great. The upcoming season will be about continuing to build and climb with an exciting class of newcomers.
|Losses:||Drew Hendershot, Molly Hoerner-O’Malley, Jessica Ling, Roya Shirley, Ally Hoyer (medical retirement), Shannon St. Jean|
|Gains:||Chloe Bellmore, Ryanna Head, Jori Jackard, Nyah Smith, Linda Zivat|
Potential Contributors: Ashley Hofelich (9.810 NQS), Gabriella Douglas (9.805), Lea Mitchell (9.800), Ashley Beatty (9.765), Sydney Ewing (9.750), Jenna Wicker, Alaina Raybon, Linda Zivat, Ryanna Head, Nyah Smith
How It Looked Before: Vault hovered very consistently around the 49-mark for the Spartans, who never had a disastrous rotation here but also didn’t show great improvement throughout the season.
How It Looks Now: Zivat tied for the Senior E J.O. national title on vault with her clean Tsuk full. She will immediately elevate this lineup. Head took the Senior F title with her big Yurchenko full, and she showed a training video featuring a one and a half to competition surface; she should see the lineup as well. Smith brings a dynamic full that will add depth.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Spartans’ 2020 vault lineup is looking secure; expect the freshmen to improve on the work the 2019 squad put in.
Potential Contributors: Lea Mitchell (9.805 NQS), Sydney Ewing (9.785), Tristan Brown (9.735), Alaina Raybon, Ryanna Head, Jori Jackard, Nyah Smith, Linda Zivat
How It Looked Before: Led by individual regional qualifier and senior Jessica Ling, the bars squad had a bit of a rocky start to 2019 but leveled out and became one of the team’s best events.
How It Looks Now: Head has handstands made for college gymnastics, though her 2018 J.O. dismount was not up to the level (there are no more recent videos); if she can upgrade, she seems like a likely contributor. Jackard brings exquisite form to the event. She has been inconsistent, but her toe point and Tkatchev will be an asset. Smith’s form is a bit wild, but her Tkatchev is in the rafters, and a cleaned-up set could see her in the lineup as well. Zivat doesn’t have the most natural swing, but she is an option as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s difficult to say what this lineup will look like come January; the freshmen come with caveats and questions only preseason training can answer. The Spartans will need at least a few of them to be successful collegiate bar workers.
Potential Contributors: Gabriella Douglas (9.830 NQS), Lea Mitchell (9.770), Madison McHale (9.665), Alaina Raybon (9.575), Alyssa Wiedeman (9.500), Ashley Hoeflich, Ryanna Head, Nyah Smith
How It Looked Before: More than half of the Spartan roster appeared in this lineup in 2019, but it was inconsistency that plagued a team, with no average on the event above a 9.700. Michigan State never broke 49 on the event and was most often in the 47s—not a place most Big Four conference teams are used to sitting.
How It Looks Now: Head has the carriage and finish of a collegiate beamer but lacks confidence in her acrobatic elements; if a preseason spent in Lansing can gain her some confidence, she could become a very good addition to this lineup. Smith brings huge amplitude to the event—including a double back dismount—and is quite clean; working on small presentation details, and improving her consistency could turn her into a very strong performer here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam remains a question mark and should be a point of focus for the Spartans leading up to 2020. Time will tell whether they find the consistency they need here to move toward the regional-qualifying cutoff.
Potential Contributors: Gabriella Douglas (9.895 NQS), Lea Mitchell (9.880), Ashley Hofelich (9.825), Sydney Ewing (9.805), Alaina Raybon (9.645), Tristan Brown (9.585), Chloe Bellmore, Jori Jackard, Ryanna Head, Nyah Smith, Linda Zivat
How It Looked Before: In stark contrast to beam, the Spartans were stellar on floor, led by the elegant and powerful duo of Douglas and Mitchell. Topping out at a 49.300 and ending the season at No. 25 here, Michigan State reminded us not to count it out on the event week in and week out.
How It Looks Now: Zivat was made for college floor. She is a spectacular performer and will thrive with Michigan State’s choreography—think Douglas and Mitchell. She brings a double layout to boot. Likewise, Bellmore has an E pass of her own, a full-in, and adds nice oversplits in her dance elements. Head brings collegiate performance quality to her routine, and will also be an option while Jackard and Smith offer sky-high tumbling and strong split positions.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Zivat is a lock for this lineup, and any of the other freshmen are capable of stepping in; Michigan State is going to have a variety of options on the event. Look for it to get even better here in 2020.
The Spartans are prepared to shine on the leg events; vault and floor should be standouts in 2020. The freshman class is full of talent: Several newcomers have the polished look of veterans while the others offer the amplitude and spark of diamonds in the rough.
The big questions arise on bars and beam. Can the team find a consistent six on each piece? If the answer is yes, the Spartans should be looking at a regionals berth.
No. 47 Rutgers
It’s easy to see a Big Ten team sitting at No. 47 and assume its year was disastrous, but that’s not the case for the Scarlet Knights. First year head coach Umme Salim-Beasley used 2019 to start Rutgers’ comeback, improving on its No. 56 finish in 2018. A midseason 196.050 proved where this team is trying to go, and 2020 is the next step.
|Losses:||Riahanah Ali, Michelle Amoresano, Jenna Rizkalla, Eriel Santagado,|
|Gains:||Kaitlyn Bertola, Jordyn Duffield, Jenna Ferguson, Elizabeth Henshall, Hannah Joyner, Alexis Rogers, Julia Volpe, Jordyn Zieden-Weber, Carleigh Stillwagon (transfer from Western Michigan)|
Potential Contributors: Kaitlyn Hall (9.770 NQS), Belle Huang (9.750), Toni Williams (9.740), Mia Betancourt (9.700), Sophia Atienza, Jordyn Duffield, Hannah Joyner, Jenna Ferguson, Jordyn Zieden-Weber,
How It Looked Before: Vault was a steady event for Rutgers in 2019, led by seniors Jenna Rizkalla and Riahanah Ali. While the team never broke 49.000 here, it also never dipped below 48.400.
How It Looks Now: Duffield has a gorgeous straight-body Yurchenko full that will be an immediate asset. Joyner, Ferguson and Zieden-Weber also vault strong fulls, and Joyner competed a solid one and a half as a junior elite as late as 2016.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Rizkalla and Ali leave big shoes to fill here, but with five solid options, the newcomers seem up to the task. Vault should improve for the Scarlet Knights.
Potential Contributors: Shannon Farrell (9.835 NQS), Belle Huang (9.730), Kaitlyn Hall (9.720), Abigail Karolewski (9.675), Emily Drauss (9.575), Rachel Ley, Hannah Joyner, Jordyn Zieden-Weber
How It Looked Before: In the early weeks of the season it looked like bars was going to be Rutgers’ undoing thanks to a 45.850 start. Once the lineup settled in, though, it became a consistent and strong piece.
How It Looks Now: The most recent video of Joyner on bars is from 2017 where she shows excellent form and handstands but struggles through difficult elements. Her 2019 scores tell the story of a gymnast who suddenly clicked on the event; perhaps she landed on composition that suited her. Judging by those scores, she will be in this lineup. Based on recent training videos, Zieden-Weber is also an option, although her scores have been inconsistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should continue to be a strong event for Rutgers, with five solid returners and some new depth to play with.
Potential Contributors: Belle Huang (9.835 NQS), Kiera Doherty-Herwitz (9.760), Kaitlyn Hall (9.695), Mia Betancourt, Sage Littlejohn, Emily Drauss, Polina Poliakova, Jenna Ferguson, Hannah Joyner
How It Looked Before: Beam strikes again. It wasn’t so much inconsistency in the team score that hurt but an inability to push that score above a low-48 for much of the year that held the Scarlet Knights back, both on the event and in the overall standings.
How It Looks Now: Ferguson lacks polish but has an exciting triple series and unique mixed combinations; she will bring a big bag of skills to play with to find her ideal collegiate composition. Joyner will be a welcome addition to the lineup, with steady, calm work that shows off her amplitude and excellent splits.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The newcomers bring some fresh talent to beam, but new routines will need to appear from returners as well; beam remains a question mark.
Potential Contributors: Belle Huang (9.885 NQS), Toni Williams (9.750), Sophia Atienza (9.495), Mia Betancourt (7.650), Shannon Farrell, Abigail Karolewski, Jordyn Duffield, Hannah Joyner, Carleigh Stillwagon
How It Looked Before: The senior trio of Ali, Rizkalla and Michelle Amoresano, joined by Huang, led this squad to a No. 35 ranking on the event, including some stellar team performances.
How It Looks Now: Duffield is a strong floor worker, with an exciting whip to two and a half. Joyner is also strong here, with a double front and her signature split positions. Floor is the only event Stillwagon competed at Western Michigan; there is no recent video, but she is an option.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It is hard to say what will happen on floor; the trio Rutgers is losing here were standouts, but Duffield and Joyner bring great talent. It is the sixth lineup spot that remains uncertain.
Rutgers should continue to build in 2020. It is bringing in so much fresh talent, and Salim-Beasley will have had time to settle into her role. Questions remain about beam, but the Scarlet Knights should start the season stronger than they did in 2019.
Article by Emily Minehart
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