It says a lot about the SEC that its four “lower-ranked teams” still finished in the top 20 in 2019. All of these teams showed flashes of brilliance last season, but at least three had higher expectations and will look to bounce back in 2020.
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. 12 Alabama
Still reeling from missing nationals in 2019, this season is critical to restore expectations for an Alabama program that’s looking for its identity in a changing gymnastics landscape. To aid in this quest, Alabama is bringing in two 2021 recruits early.
|Losses:||Abby Armbrecht, Asia DeWalt (left team), Bailie Key (medical retirement), Angelina Giancroce, Ari Guerra|
|Gains:||Luisa Blanco (joining in January), Ella Burgess (joining in January), Emma Grace DeSantis, Makarri Doggette, Macy Orosco, Mati Waligora|
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (9.895 NQS), Shallon Olsen (9.880 NQS), Emily Gaskins (9.835 NQS), Shea Mahoney (9.830 NQS), Maddie Desch (9.744), Luisa Blanco, Ella Burgess, Makarri Doggette, Griffin James
How It Looked Before: Alabama didn’t post the biggest vaults in 2019, but a group of 10.0 starts made up a solid core that scored reliably.
How It Looks Now: Though not the deepest lineup, almost all of last year’s core vaults have returned. The addition of Doggette’s Yurchenko one and a half will be critical, and Blanco’s full from elite could be upgraded sooner than later. Ella Burgess, Blanco’s fellow January joinee, also scored well on the event in J.O.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Problems of depth aside, Alabama’s vault lineup should be trending up in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Emily Gaskins (9.870 NQS), Shea Mahoney (9.860 NQS), Kylie Dickson (9.850 NQS), Wynter Childers (9.840 NQS), Lexi Graber (9.810 NQS), Jensie Givens (9.780 NQS), Luisa Blanco, Makarri Doggette, Alonza Klopfer, Macy Orosco
How It Looked Before: Though the lineup never scored below 49.000 in 2019, it ranked the lowest of Alabama’s four events.
How It Looks Now: In contrast to vault, Alabama has a wealth of bars options to choose from this season. Klopfer was seen training the event for the first time this summer. Of the newcomers, Doggette will quickly make an impact, and Blanco’s beautiful elite set could transition well into college given time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should score better in 2020 thanks to more routines to work with.
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (9.900 NQS), Shallon Olsen (9.860 NQS), Alonza Klopfer (9.850 NQS), Wynter Childers (9.845 NQS), Emily Gaskins (9.820 NQS), Maddie Desch (9.805 NQS), Luisa Blanco, Makarri Doggette, Mati Waligora
How It Looked Before: Once it got over an early-season slump, Alabama’s beam lineup improved to a respectable 11th in the nation. However, problems on this event were what sealed the deal for Alabama to miss nationals at the Ann Arbor regional.
How It Looks Now: This is another lineup with various possible combinations. Blanco and Doggette should contribute key routines. We haven’t seen much from Waligora, since she’s been injured, but this could be her most likely contribution if she remains limited.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should trend upward in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Lexi Graber (9.890 NQS), Shallon Olsen (9.875 NQS), Maddie Desch (9.865 NQS), Shea Mahoney (9.865 NQS), Luisa Blanco, Ella Burgess, Makarri Doggette, Tia Kiaku, Sania Mitchell
How It Looked Before: Floor was Alabama’s best event in 2019, due in large part to key routines from seniors. The lineup had some of the best artistry in the NCAA.
How It Looks Now: This lineup will mostly feel the loss of last year’s seniors, but Doggette’s big double layout should do nicely to restore some of the “oomph.” Blanco and Burgess also scored well on the event before college. As for the returners, Desch has been working a double Arabian to boost her routine, and we’ve seen Sania Mitchell training the event after no action last season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? According to preseason work, Alabama seems to have replaced the power it lost on floor; it should be trending up this season.
Alabama has the routines to put up competitive lineups, but its situation is precarious. Though the ultimate goal for the season will be to make nationals after the program’s first miss, it will be most important to build depth and maximize its recently expanded freshman class to get there.
No. 16 Auburn
After several marquee wins over SEC foes early in 2019, Auburn wasn’t quite able to keep up the momentum into the postseason. It will need to make up several key lost routines if it can have any hope of doing so in 2020.
|Losses:||Samantha Cerio, Taylor Krippner, Abby Milliet, A’Miracal Phillips, Reid Schaefer (left team), Mia Schlarbaum (left team)|
|Gains:||Aria Brusch, Morgan Leigh Oldham, Elise Panzner, Adeline Sabados, Piper Smith, Cassie Stevens, Anna Sumner|
Potential Contributors: Drew Watson (9.900 NQS), Derrian Gobourne (9.890 NQS), Gracie Day (9.845 NQS), Jada Glenn (9.785 NQS), Aria Brusch, Elise Panzner, Cassie Stevens
How It Looked Before: Auburn’s vault lineup saw little shakeup through the season; only seven gymnasts competed on the event all year. Four of those were 10.0 start values, including Derrian Gobourne’s national title-winning Yurchenko one and a half.
How It Looks Now: Auburn may have graduated an important class, but it retains every 10.0 start value from last season and now gains two more from Panzner and Stevens. They will both expect to join the lineup. Brusch also has a nice Yurchenko full that could be a depth option.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With some additional difficulty coming in, Auburn should be trending upward on vault.
Potential Contributors: Derrian Gobourne (9.875 NQS), Gracie Day (9.885 NQS), Drew Watson (9.855 NQS), Katie Becker (9.792), Aria Brusch, Adeline Sabados, Piper Smith, Cassie Stevens
How It Looked Before: Auburn smashed its program record on bars in 2019, putting up a 49.000-plus lineup every week until a mishap in the regional final. Up to that point, it was easily the team’s best event.
How It Looks Now: This lineup will feel the loss of last year’s seniors, but the freshman class brings in a crop of viable options. Brusch won J.O. nationals on the event last year, so her set will be especially welcome. Sabados and Smith also scored well on the event in J.O. (Sabados in particular, with a nice Jaeger).
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It will be difficult for Auburn to rise to last year’s incredible bars success without the 2019 seniors, so the lineup will likely trend downward.
Potential Contributors: Meredith Sylvia (9.880 NQS), Drew Watson (9.820 NQS), Allie Riddle (9.810 NQS), Skyler Sheppard (9.810 NQS), Derrian Gobourne (9.780 NQS), Molly Frack, Morgan Leigh Oldham, Cassie Stevens
How It Looked Before: Beam was a pretty event for Auburn in 2019, but it struggled with consistency; it was Auburn’s lowest-scoring event.
How It Looks Now: Like bars, beam loses two routines from seniors, but their absence will be felt more here. Beam isn’t the strongest event for the recruiting class, but Stevens has a nice routine that could be more than a depth option. In addition, redshirt freshman Molly Frack has been training the event after not competing last year.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Auburn could have depth issues on beam in 2020, which could lead it to trend downward.
Potential Contributors: Derrian Gobourne (9.905 NQS), Drew Watson (9.840 NQS), Emma Slappey (9.814), Skyler Sheppard (9.820 NQS), Ashley Smith (9.780), Aria Brusch, Sabrina Cheney, Gracie Day, Piper Smith, Cassie Stevens
How It Looked Before: The floor lineup overcame inconsistency in the first half of the season to become a standout event later on.
How It Looks Now: Floor is shaping up to be Auburn’s deepest event in 2020. In addition to the strong routines it retains, Brusch and Stevens bring full-ins that should score well in college. Piper Smith’s double pike routine is also strong and consistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Auburn should trend upward on floor in 2020.
Auburn must figure out how its lineups will figure without last year’s seniors; it’s a bigger task for this team than most. The Tigers are capable of overcoming that deficit with time, but expect them to see a dip in at least bars and beam scores until that happens.
No. 17 Missouri
Missouri brings in a huge freshman class, plus a key transfer in UIC’s Alisa Sheremeta. Almost every member of this class will stand to make an immediate impact that could outweigh the relatively small loss of 2019 routines.
|Losses:||Frances Bidwill (left team), Allison Bower, Mya Cotner (left team), Madeleine Huber, Brooke Kelly, Paige Kovnesky (left team), Xarria Lewis (transfer to Eastern Michigan), Becca Schugel, Michaelee Turner, Britney Ward|
|Gains:||Kambrie Brandt (joining in January), Helen Hu, Adalayna Hufendiek, Grace Kaiding, Anna McGee, Hollyn Patrick, Sienna Schreiber, Alisa Sheremeta (transfer from UIC)|
Potential Contributors: Aspen Tucker (9.840 NQS), Morgan Porter (9.810 NQS), Gabrielle Gottula (9.785 NQS), Hannah McCrary (9.740), Chelsey Christensen (9.725 NQS), Kambrie Brandt, Helen Hu, Grace Kaiding, Hollyn Patrick
How It Looked Before: Inconsistency plagued Missouri’s vaults through most of 2019. The issues subsided toward the end of the season, but the event rarely scored above 49.000.
How It Looks Now: This lineup retains the most important routines for Missouri. Vault isn’t the freshman class’s standout event in terms of difficulty, but there’s enough solid Yurchenko fulls in there to pad the lineup and score within the 9.8-plus range from week to week. Hu’s and Patrick’s look the most likely to do so, but Brandt’s will be important once she arrives in January.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Missouri’s vault lineup won’t have the difficulty of other top teams, but it has enough solid routines to score better than years past.
Potential Contributors: Morgan Porter (9.860 NQS), Chelsey Christensen (9.780 NQS), Aspen Tucker (9.770 NQS), Kambrie Brandt, Helen Hu, Anna McGee, Hollyn Patrick, Sienna Schreiber, Alisa Sheremeta
How It Looked Before: Missouri was relatively consistent on bars in 2019, but it didn’t have the standout routines to keep scores on par with other teams on its level. A few too many scores in the 9.700 range made bars Missouri’s weakest event.
How It Looks Now: Despite losing three postseason routines, the Tigers seem to be loaded on bars for 2020. Preseason footage has shown some big release combinations and stuck landings, especially from newcomers Hu and Schreiber. Freshmen could easily comprise half of the lineup, and Sheremeta’s set will likely vye with Porter for the anchor spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should be a standout event for Missouri this season.
Potential Contributors: Gabrielle Gottula (9.855 NQS), Mary Nicholson (9.850 NQS), Aspen Tucker (9.685 NQS), Helen Hu, Adalayna Hufendiek, Grace Kaiding, Hollyn Patrick, Sienna Schreiber, Alisa Sheremeta
How It Looked Before: Beam was a nice event for the Tigers in 2019; in her first year as a major contributor, Gabrielle Gottula looked the best. The lineup even resulted in a national qualifier with Brooke Kelly’s routine.
How It Looks Now: The freshman class should bring a bounty of options here and could make up most of the lineup. Of note, Hu won the event at J.O. nationals three years in a row—expect her to anchor immediately. Kaiding and Patrick also have a dynamic presence in their routines, and Hufendiek looks most likely to contribute here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Missouri could have one of the prettiest beam lineups in the NCAA in 2020.
Potential Contributors: Aspen Tucker (9.890 NQS), Mary Nicholson (9.855 NQS), Morgan Porter (9.855 NQS), Gabrielle Gottula (9.845 NQS), Hannah McCrary (9.800), Helen Hu, Grace Kaiding, Sienna Schreiber, Alisa Sheremeta
How It Looked Before: Last season, Missouri earned its highest national ranking on floor since 2012. It was the team’s best scoring event.
How It Looks Now: The Tigers will be missing a few postseason routines, and it’s not the strongest event of the freshman class. Nonetheless, those that remain should be strong and consistent, and several newcomers (particularly Schreiber and Sheremeta) have been seen training viable passes.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell how Missouri’s floor will look in 2020, but based on preseason footage, it could remain on par with last year’s scores.
Missouri should see some upward mobility thanks to a talented and underrated freshman class. It remains a big task for the Tigers to climb from the lower ranks of the SEC, but this group can start right away on the path to take them there.
No. 18 Arkansas
One of the 2020 season’s key storylines will be how Jordyn Wieber handles her first year at the helm of a major program. She has a lot to work with in Fayetteville, with just one spot in each lineup to replace from 2019.
|Losses:||Michaela Burton (transfer to Pitt), Sydney McGlone|
|Gains:||Makenna Clarke, Kiara Gianfagna, Madison Hickey, Carissa Patton|
|Returning From Injury:||Katarina Derrick (ACL)|
Potential Contributors: Amanda Elswick (9.865 NQS), Kennedy Hambrick (9.860 NQS), Sarah Shaffer (9.835 NQS), Jessica Yamzon (9.770 NQS), Savannah Pennese (9.740 NQS), Sophia Carter, Kiara Gianfagna
How It Looked Before: Arkansas vaults were in the spotlight last season when a campaign began to raise the score on Sarah Shaffer’s usually excellent Yurchenko half. Hers was part of a solid vault lineup, which Elswick anchored with the Razorbacks’ first ever Yurchenko one and a half.
How It Looks Now: This lineup doesn’t need much altering from 2019, but it might get a surprise jolt from Carter, who’s been seen training an Omelianchik after competing vault just a few times in 2018. Gianfagna is also training a Yurchenko one and a half that should pair nicely with Elswick’s for a late lineup one-two punch.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Arkansas should trend upward on vault in 2020, especially if that pro-Shaffer Twitter rage takes off and sticks.
Potential Contributors: Kennedy Hambrick (9.855 NQS), Sarah Shaffer (9.855 NQS), Hailey Garner (9.825 NQS), Jessica Yamzon (9.785 NQS), Sydney Laird (9.725 NQS), Sophia Carter (9.679), Makenna Clarke, Kiara Gianfagna, Carissa Patton
How It Looked Before: Bars was a struggle for the Razorbacks all season. The depth was there, but the event was wildly inconsistent. It scored above 49.000 just four times.
How It Looks Now: Clarke and Gianfagna each have big Tkatchevs that could fit into the lineup if needed. Carissa Patton has the routine to be expected from a WOGA product, but she’s only been seen in one competition since 2017.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell whether the Razorbacks will improve on bars in 2020, but it’s almost a given if they can just hit their routines.
Potential Contributors: Sophia Carter (9.875 NQS), Kennedy Hambrick (9.860 NQS), Jessica Yamzon (9.855 NQS), Katatrina Derrick (9.805 NQS), Amanda Elswick (9.755 NQS), Sarah Shaffer (9.517), Makenna Clarke, Hailey Garner, Kiara Gianfagna, Kailey Gillings
How It Looked Before: Beam also caused consistency issues, albeit less than bars. Garner entered the lineup later in the season, but ended up qualifying to nationals with her nice routine.
How It Looks Now: Burton’s routine will be missed the most, but it’s replaceable. Gianfagna has shown some nice work in preseason, and Clarke has nice flexibility and leap positions that shouldn’t be ignored. Otherwise, the lineup should remain mostly the same.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Arkansas has plenty of beam routines to choose from, so the lineup should be able to find a winning combination and trend up.
Potential Contributors: Sophia Carter (9.935 NQS), Sarah Shaffer (9.875 NQS), Kennedy Hambrick (9.820 NQS), Jessica Yamzon (9.815 NQS), Savannah Pennese (9.750), Amanda Elswick (9.660 NQS), Kiara Gianfagna
How It Looked Before: The Razorbacks performed consistently well on floor in 2019; there were few persistent issues. Carter stole the show each week with a routine that went below 9.850 just once.
How It Looks Now: Floor is the event we’ve seen the least from the freshmen in preseason, but Gianfagna’s double pike routine looks the most likely to see lineup time. Regardless, Jordyn Wieber’s trademark endurance training plus the return of several important floor routines should be a winning combination.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor was the best event for the Razorbacks last season, and it should remain so in 2020.
Given the minimal loss of routines in the aggregate, Arkansas should at least be on track for a season similar to last year’s. But the Razorbacks are capable of so much more, and they have the talent to build on the Jordyn Wieber hype train for a big 2020.
Article by Katherine Weaver
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