While the top half of the Pac-12 boasts multiple national title contenders, the bottom half has a little bit more to do to prove themselves. However, many of these lower ranked teams are bringing back a majority of their routines from last season, so if experience has any positive impact on a team (PSA: it usually does), then these next four teams could be ones to watch out for as the season progresses.
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. 19 Washington
After sliding down eight spots in the rankings from 2018 to 2019, Washington could and should start to ascend back up in 2020. The Huskies are returning all but five routines from a season ago and are also regaining Kristyn Hoffa, key vault and floor contributor, thanks to a redshirt senior year.
|Losses:||Monica Riley, Malory Rose|
|Gains:||Morgan Bowles, Allie Smith (transfer from Eastern Michigan), Isa Weiss|
Potential Contributors: Madison Copiak (9.840 NQS), Geneva Thompson (9.835), Allie Smith (9.830), Kristyn Hoffa (9.790), Evanni Roberson (9.790), Amara Cunningham (9.770), Brenna Brooks, Isa Weiss
How It Looked Before: The weakest event for Washington in 2019, finishing ranked 24th in NQS and having an average below the 49.000 mark.
How It Looks Now: Largely the same since only one vault from the Huskies’ postseason lineup is lost. Freshman Isa Weiss graduated high school a year early and is bringing a 10.0 start value Tsuk full that should immediately contend for the anchor vault.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. The addition of another 10.0 vault is huge for a lineup that previously struggled to bring in big scores on the event.
Potential Contributors: Madison Copiak (9.910 NQS), Geneva Thompson (9.835), Maya Washington (9.830), Michaela Nelson (9.815), Evanni Roberson (9.710), Brenna Brooks (9.625), Morgan Bowles
How It Looked Before: Finishing ranked 13th in NQS, bars was the strongest event for Washington last season.
How It Looks Now: Bars should continue to be a strength for the Huskies, again only losing one routine from last postseason. Sophomore Brenna Brooks didn’t make the lineup last postseason for Washington, but got some valuable experience competing on bars many times during the regular season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying neutral. While a majority of the lineup returns, finding a solid replacement routine for the one lost won’t be as easy here as on vault. Senior Madison Copiak’s returning consistent 9.900-plus routine will help alleviate some of that stress.
Potential Contributors: Evanni Roberson (9.870 NQS), Madison Copiak (9.860), Maya Washington (9.830), Brenna Brooks (9.805), Michaela Nelson (9.765), Morgan Bowles, Meaghan Ruttan
How It Looked Before: Beam was another strong event for Washington in 2019, ending ranked 18th in the nation in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Yet again Washington is returning five gymnasts who competed enough to notch an NQS on this event last season. That experience should bode well for the Huskies, who are also bringing back their top two scoring beam routines from 2019.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Assuming that experience translates to confidence, Washington is trending up on beam. The Huskies could put forth a lineup featuring all returners from last year and be fine, but freshman Morgan Bowles was a confident beamer as a Level 10 and could potentially bring in some big scores as well.
Potential Contributors: Kristyn Hoffa (9.890 NQS), Maya Washington (9.885), Evanni Roberson (9.855), Amara Cunningham (9.815), Geneva Thompson (9.810), Allie Smith (9.735), Brenna Brooks (9.730), Michaela Nelson, Isa Weiss
How It Looked Before: Washington had all the pieces to score really well on floor last season, but tended to rack up some small errors throughout the lineup that brought scores down. The Huskies finished 26th in NQS on floor.
How It Looks Now: With the Huskies’ six best floor routines returning, Washington has no excuse not to improve to be a stellar team on floor in 2020.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Washington has no routines to replace on this event for the upcoming season and boasts five returners with an NQS of a 9.800 or better. The Huskies have a recipe for success on floor this year.
It’s hard to imagine Washington not improving upon last year with just under 80% of routines returning from last season. The Huskies’ success this season will hinge on the ability of the upperclassmen to improve their routines from last season. If they can clean up their execution and materialize on some upgrades, then Washington could be positioned to make a run at finishing in the top half of the conference in 2020.
No. 22 Stanford
After taking a drastic slide down the rankings in 2017, the 2019 season saw Stanford start to climb back up the rankings. The upcoming season could see Stanford ascend up the rankings yet again thanks to a strong recruiting class featuring J.O. all around champion Chloe Widner. Expect Widner to contend for a spot as an all arounder to elevate the Cardinal lineups and help Stanford challenge for a return to the top 20.
|Losses:||Taryn Fitzgerald, Nicole Hoffman, Hailee Hoffman, Catherine Rogers|
|Gains:||Jade Chrobok, Kelly Ramm, Adela Stonecipher, Chloe Widner|
Potential Contributors: Rachael Flam (9.855 NQS), Aleeza Yu (9.833), Kyla Bryant (9.815), Kaylee Cole (9.775), Madison Brunette (9.580), Jade Chrobok, Grace Garcia, Morgan Hoang, Adela Stonecipher, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: Stanford struggled to bring in big scores on vault last season, finishing 32nd in NQS.
How It Looks Now: The Cardinal are only losing one vault regular from last season, but are only returning one 10.0 start value vault as well in Rachael Flam’s Omelianchik. Freshman Jade Chrobok vaulted a Yurchenko one and a half as a Canadian elite and Widner is bringing in a clean Yurchenko full.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying even. Returning a bulk of the lineup should prevent Stanford from regressing on vault, but as of now it doesn’t look like the Cardinal have much potential for upgrades to build a lineup that scores 9.850-plus across the board.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Bryant (9.865 NQS), Aleeza Yu (9.830), Grace Waguespack (9.820), Taylor Lawson (9.780), Madison Brunette (9.760), Rachael Flam (9.660), Jade Chrobok, Grace Garcia, Kelly Ramm, Wesley Stephenson, Adela Stonecipher, Grace Waguespack, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: An event that got better for the Cardinal as the season progressed, finishing ranked 31st in NQS. One of two events where the Cardinal finished with an NQS above 49.000.
How It Looks Now: As we saw towards the end of the season, Stanford can score well on bars. Ideally you don’t want Flam in the bars lineup, but she still provides a useable option if none of the freshmen can break in. However, Widner should easily factor into the conversation to be Stanford’s best bars swinger.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Cleaning up execution on bars is much easier than upgrading vaults, meaning returning a full lineup bodes well for Stanford here.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Bryant (9.855 NQS), Wesley Stephenson (9.820), Taylor Lawson (9.795), Kaylee Cole (9.720), Jade Chrobok, Rachael Flam, Lauren Navarro, Kelly Ramm, Adela Stonecipher, Ashley Tai, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: Despite finishing 29th in NQS, Stanford was wildly inconsistent on beam in 2019.
How It Looks Now: The Cardinal is losing its second best routine on beam, but all four of the freshmen have useable beam routines that should be able to score well in the NCAA, as long as they have the consistency to stay on the beam.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. As long as Stanford used the offseason to fix inconsistency issues, the Cardinal has the routines to consistently score above the 49.000 mark this season.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Bryant (9.915 NQS), Morgan Hoang (9.870), Taylor Lawson (9.860), Rachael Flam (9.850), Kaylee Cole (9.820), Jade Chrobok, Kelly Ramm, Adela Stonecipher, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: Far and away the best event for Stanford in 2019. The Cardinal finished ranked 18th in the country in NQS on floor.
How It Looks Now: With the top four—and five of six overall—routines returning on an already strong event, Stanford should again be strong on floor in 2020. Widner has a nice double layout that should help her reach the back half of the Cardinal floor lineup and challenge for some 9.900-plus scores.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Floor should again be the best event for Stanford this upcoming season.
Stanford is poised to rise up the rankings again as it returns all but three routines from last season and brings in four strong freshmen. Three of the events are in good shape, but vault is a work in progress. Can the Cardinal figure out a way to clean up its Yurchenko fulls and add another 10.0 start value vault or two? If it can’t, vault will likely hold back a Stanford squad that should be challenging the top half of the Pac-12 on the other three events.
No. 25 Arizona State
Finishing 23rd and 25th over the past two seasons can be considered a win for the Sun Devils, who were ranked as low as 51st in the past five years. Unfortunately, it will be a challenge for Arizona State to not start to slide again as it loses eight gymnasts from last season’s squad, and are at most returning only three routines on each event. Contributions from the seven member freshmen class will be necessary in order to keep the Sun Devils afloat in 2020.
|Losses:||Corinne Belkoff, Justine Callis, Mekayla Jones, Anne Kuhm, Kaitlin Lentz, Kaitlyn Szafranski, Stephanie Tripodi, Heather Udowitch|
|Gains:||Juliette Boyer, Jordyn Jaslow, Alina Miller, Isabel Redmond, Gracie Reeves, Hannah Scharf, Elinor Sheridan|
Potential Contributors: Morgan Wilson (9.845 NQS), Cairo Leonard-Baker (9.835), Jessica Ginn (9.815), Juliette Boyer, Jasmine Gutierrez, Jordyn Jaslow, Alina Miller, Isabel Redmond, Gracie Reeves, Graycee (Rushton) Zaugg, Hannah Scharf
How It Looked Before: A solid event for Arizona State last season, finishing 19th in NQS despite a lack of 10.0 start value vaults.
How It Looks Now: The Sun Devils are thankfully returning their top three vaults from a season ago, but largely the story will be much of the same for Arizona State. The freshmen are bringing useable Yurchenko fulls, but yet again it looks as if Arizona State will struggle to put up many, if any, vaults starting from a 10.0.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying neutral, but close to trending down. While a lineup of Yurchenko fulls will still bring in decent scores, Arizona State is going to need to find some upgrades in the near future to stay even with the rest of the NCAA, who are constantly adding more vault difficulty.
Potential Contributors: Cairo Leonard-Baker (9.930 NQS), Morgan Hart (9.825), Morgan Wilson (9.790), Juliette Boyer, Jessica Ginn, Jordyn Jaslow, Alina Miller, Isabel Redmond, Gracie Reeves, Hannah Scharf, Ashley Szafranski
How It Looked Before: Arizona State was consistent on bars throughout last season, ranking 20th in the country in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Junior Cairo Leonard-Baker returns as the Sun Devils’ leading bars scorer, but beyond that things start to get a bit dicey. Freshman Hannah Scharf is a former Canadian elite with a skillset that should allow her to contribute a solid routine for Arizona State, and Morgan Hart and Morgan Wilson were both bars mainstays last season and should remain in this year’s lineup as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Beyond the aforementioned gymnasts, there are really no freshmen or returners who are particularly good bars swingers. That’ll make it tough to fill those last two open spots in the lineup.
Potential Contributors: Cairo Leonard-Baker (9.815 NQS), Ashley Szafranski (9.810), Morgan Wilson (9.805), Juliette Boyer, Jasmine Gutierrez, Jordyn Jaslow, Isabel Redmond, Gracie Reeves, Hannah Scharf
How It Looked Before: Lots of ups and downs on beam for Arizona State led it to a 22nd place finish in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Although the Sun Devils are losing their top beam routine from last season, bringing back three routines with NQS’ above 9.800 is very helpful. Sophomore Jasmine Gutierrez hit a beam set that scored a 9.850 early last season and all of the freshmen have the skills to put up a decent, early lineup beam routine.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying neutral. Although Arizona State shouldn’t have trouble filling a lineup on beam, relying heavily on freshmen on the most nerve-wracking event can make for a lot of hold-your-breath moments throughout the lineup.
Potential Contributors: Cairo Leonard-Baker (9.895 NQS), Jessica Ginn (9.810), Juliette Boyer, Jordyn Jaslow, Alina Miller, Isabel Redmond, Gracie Reeves, Hannah Scharf
How It Looked Before: Inconsistency plagued a lineup that had the potential to score well and ended up finishing 23rd in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Leonard-Baker and senior Jessica Ginn are the only two returning Sun Devils who competed on floor at all in 2019. Arizona State has a lot of holes to fill, but thankfully, it also has a big freshman class it can theoretically get routines from.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. While Leonard-Baker will be magnificent on floor in 2020, likely having four routines from freshmen in the lineup makes things sketchy since you never know how newbies will perform under the pressure of NCAA competition.
How good the freshmen can be will dictate how well Arizona State does in 2020. With no more than three returning routines on each event, the freshmen will be relied on early and often. Leonard-Baker will be a superstar junior for the Sun Devils, but Leonard-Baker alone won’t be enough to lead the team to a Pac-12 conference evening session or a top 20 finish.
No. 35 Arizona
After sliding down the rankings for the past few seasons, Arizona took a step forward last year and improved upon its 2018 ranking by three spots. With five reliable routines back on each event and a large, seven member freshman class coming in, the Wildcats are in place to build upon last year’s turnaround.
|Losses:||Alivia Kendrick, Adra Parks, Danielle Spencer|
|Gains:||Mackenzie Barile, Zaza Brovedani, Malia Hargrove, Sirena Linton, Danielle Nosek, Libby Orman, Avery Stauffacher|
Potential Contributors: Maddi Leydin (9.840 NQS), Heather Swanson (9.815), Jenny Leung (9.755), Courtney Cowles (9.750), Mackinzie Kane (9.645), Mackenzie Barile, Zaza Brovedani, Kennedi Davis, Asia Rose Duvernay, Malia Hargrove, Sirena Linton, Danielle Nosek, Avery Stauffacher
How It Looked Before: Vault was a consistent but low scoring event for Arizona last season, finishing ranked 41st in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Not only is Arizona bringing back two vault NQS’ above 9.800, freshmen Malia Hargrove and Danielle Nosek are adding two Yurchenko one and a halfs to a team that fielded a lineup of fulls last year.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. In addition to seven returning gymnasts who vaulted last year, the two incoming 10.0 start values should help boost Arizona’s vault scores in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Christina Berg (9.925 NQS), Maddi Leydin (9.825), Haylie Hendrickson (9.795), Heather Swanson (9.775), Mackinzie Kane (9.710), Zaza Brovedani, Malia Hargrove, Sirena Linton, Avery Stauffacher
How It Looked Before: Finishing ranked 30th in the nation, bars was Arizona’s second-best event in 2019.
How It Looks Now: Senior Christina Berg will again be a reliable anchor on bars for Arizona, bringing back the only routine on any event for the Wildcats with an NQS of 9.900 or higher. Hargrove should also be a strong contender to make this lineup, as should Zaza Brovedani with her full twisting double layout dismount.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. What was a strong event for the Wildcats last season should get better as it returns a veteran lineup and has several potential freshmen routines to add as well.
Potential Contributors: Haylie Hendrickson (9.845 NQS), Sydney Freidin (9.810), Courtney Cowles (9.805), Kennedi Davis (9.770), Maddi Leydin (9.750), Jenny Leung (9.745), Mackenzie Barile, Zaza Brovedani, Malia Hargrove, Sirena Linton, Danielle Nosek, Libby Orman, Avery Stauffacher
How It Looked Before: Like many others, the Wildcats suffered from inconsistency on beam in 2019, ending the season ranked 34th in NQS.
How It Looks Now: With the entire postseason lineup coming back, Arizona won’t even have to use any of the freshmen on beam if it doesn’t want to. However, all of the freshmen have routines that could be used if need be, meaning the Wildcats have a plethora of options on beam this upcoming season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Staying neutral, but with the opportunity to trend up. The lineup was fall-heavy enough late last season to cause worry. But, if Arizona fixed the major inconsistency issues during the offseason, this lineup has the potential to score very well for the Wildcats.
Potential Contributors: Christina Berg (9.890 NQS), Maddi Leydin (9.875), Courtney Cowles (9.835), Heather Swanson (9.820), Sydney Freidin (9.785), Haylie Hendrickson (9.720), Zaza Brovedani, Malia Hargrove, Sirena Linton, Danielle Nosek, Libby Orman, Avery Stauffacher
How It Looked Before: Ranked 24th in NQS, floor was Arizona’s best event last season, and the only event where the Wildcats could consistently score above 49.000.
How It Looks Now: Floor is likely to be Arizona’s best event yet again, especially with every postseason routine returning. Hargrove is also adding a floor routine featuring an opening pass full-in that will fit right in toward the end of the Wildcats floor lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Yet again the Wildcats don’t need to use any new routines unless they want to. Personally, I would add Hargove into the mix as her routine is already primed to pull in some bigger scores.
With a majority of the postseason routines returning, Arizona is in a good spot heading into the 2020 season. A strong freshman class featuring vaults that can help boost the Wildcats’ weakest event from last season is also extremely helpful. But, like Washington, the success of Arizona will hinge on the upperclassmen’s ability to upgrade and improve upon last season. If they stay the same, expect the same results for Arizona that we saw last season. If they can improve to match the level of some of the incoming freshmen, expect the Wildcats to continue to climb up the rankings.
Article by Brandis Heffner
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What about Allie Smith at Washington?
Not sure how I forgot about such an impactful transfer! Thanks for the heads up!!