Decade Retrospective: Top Gymnasts That Broke the Mold

Gymnastics has changed a lot since 2010, thanks in part to these 10 gymnasts. From doing something to make the NCAA create a brand new rule to upping the standard of difficulty to a whole new level, these gymnasts changed the sport forever.

Don’t agree with our rankings? Think we left some pivotal gymnasts off our list? Let us know the gymnasts you think broke the mold this decade in the comments or on social media!

10. AJ Jackson (Oklahoma): We decided to start this countdown with something decidedly not gymnastics skill related. But if you manage to make the NCAA change or create rules because of something you did, you’re breaking molds in our book. Jackson first performed her chalk-blowing routine in 2016 and in 2017 it was “banned,” causing the entire Oklahoma fanbase in the stands to blow chalk instead.

9. Sadiqua Bynum (UCLA): We have four words for you: double tuck side pass. Yes, that’s right. A hack often used to squeeze in an extra tumbling pass to an elite men’s floor routine, Bynum brought the concept to women’s collegiate gymnastics. There’s a reason you don’t see it often, and that’s because it’s pretty darn difficult. No wonder Bynum went on to work as a stunt double.

8. Maya Reimers (Bridgeport): Not only was Reimers the first to perform a double layout at Bridgeport, she was also the first to perform a routine with two E passes in DII, doing the dlo and her usual tucked full-in a couple times in 2019 with plans to compete it regularly in 2020.

7. Kennedy Baker (Florida): Will we ever see another Dos Santos in NCAA gym performed as well as Baker’s? She surely has a hard one to beat. Pair that with her fan-favorite floor routines, and we would be fools to leaver her off this list.

6. Samantha Peszek (UCLA): While we don’t know if she was the first to actually perform a beam routine with no hands, she did get the most attention about it, having the phenomenon dubbed the “bluetooth” routine. But she didn’t just break the mold by being innovative while hurt. Peszek was daring and exciting to watch, breaking out a standing full on beam at NCAA event finals to claim the beam title.

5. Danusia Francis (UCLA): The beam dismount she’s famous for originated at UCLA, despite the Brit first competing her transverse side aerial before arriving to Westwood. The iconic skill is so difficult and rare that no one will likely compete it again. Plus, Francis has continued to upgrade it, training a one and a half out of the aerial at one point. 

4. Shadae Boone (UW-Stout): We would be remiss if we didn’t include Boone on this list for her feat of performing the first successful Yurchenko one and a half in division III. If only she were appropriately rewarded for it…

3. Georgia Dabritz (Utah): You’ve finally forgotten about it, so we’re bringing it up again. No Grips Dabritz (is it just us or are you also feeling kind of nostalgic about the nickname now?) was one of a kind, not only in her back of hand guards on bars but in her gymnastics as well. She managed to complete a two E-pass routine on floor under the radar and nail her routines week in and week out to be one of the best gymnasts to ever pass through Salt Lake City.

2. Casey Jo Magee and Kat Grable (Arkansas): While Magee (now MacPherson) only competed in the first year of the decade, both she and Grable brought unique and unusual skills to their routines across the events. From Grable’s Yurchenko half-on pike half and double Arabian half out to Magee’s front handspring to kneeling and back spin on beam, these Razorbacks broke the mold.

1. MyKayla Skinner (Utah): NCAA gymnastics is largely known for being the clean and easy younger sister to elite. And while many gymnasts have done difficult skills and routines in the past, no other pushed the boundaries quite as much as Skinner, who seemed to care less about sticking to the boring and ordinary to ensure 10s and more about giving the Huntsman faithful a show on every event, every time out.

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Emily Minehart and Rebecca Scally

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!


  1. I think Katelyn Ohashi should be on this list for her ALWAYS entertaining floor routines.
    I’m in absolute agreement of your #1 pick, Mykayla Skinner……who did it her way.

  2. Ruby Harrold of LSU should be on this list doebher creative and unique bar routine which mimics the older style of routines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.