Most Anticipated J.O. Freshmen on Floor

The most anticipated series is back! We looked at the data for each incoming J.O. freshman on each event to see which gymnasts are at the top of their class across the apparatuses and in the all around. This week we’re looking at the top 10 floor routines for 2021. 

We’ve ranked every single gymnast from the Class of 2020 who competed level 10 within the last two years by a modified average score. We took scores from the last two J.O. seasons (beginning in November 2018), dropped the single highest score and any scores that are extremely low (like ones that you’d expect from injuries mid-routine, not falls) and averaged the rest. We didn’t include athletes with three or less scores on a certain event over the past two years.

The top 10 you’ll see in these lists are the top 10 in the country by modified average, no exceptions. The honorary mentions are a little more subjective: They’re usually athletes who ranked quite high, but they also have something a little special that makes them stand out.

If you’re wondering where Brooklyn Moors and Irina Alexeeva are, don’t worry! We’ll be reprising our Most Anticipated Elite Freshmen series later in the summer.

10. Andrea Li, California (9.6200 modified average score, 9.850 highest score)

Li is an exciting floor worker. Her routine includes difficult tumbling passes, expressive dance moves and a gorgeous en pointe pose. Among her most difficult elements are a piked full-in, a 2.5 twist and a Memmel turn. She has some minor form issues on her opening tumbling pass and on her twisting elements, but her overall routine is strong. California struggled at times on floor last season and will be happy to count on a new strong routine in 2021.

9. Nhyla Bryant, Georgia (9.6219 mod, 9.700 high)

Although Bryant doesn’t compete the most difficult routine (double pike, 1.5 twist to front layout, double tuck), her form is exquisite. Her tumbling passes are sky-high and in control, and she brings a very elegant look to the event. Georgia has graduated Sabrina Vega, one of its best floor workers, and Bryant will do a good job replacing her.

8. Sherry Wang, Yale (9.6250 mod, 9.800 high)

Wang will be a sensation for Yale on this apparatus. Her routine opens with a full-twisting double back and dismounts with a double tuck. Her routine has the potential to score over 9.9. Yale doesn’t make the news much, but it already has a talented floor roster—Jade Buford scored as high as 9.925 in 2020. Given that she graduated, however, Wang will fill her shoes nicely.

(Tie) 6. Jaylene Gilstrap, Utah (9.6312 mod, 9.850 high)

Gilstrap has exquisite lines and a great toe point on floor, as well as superb dancing skills. We hope Courtney McCool Griffeth will be able to emphasize these qualities in her choreography next year. Gilstrap’s routine is not the most difficult (double pike, front double twist, front full to front layout), but it is precise. She will want to lose the elite habit of hopping instead of lunging, though. Utah had some trouble on floor last season and has graduated Kim Tessen and Missy Reinstadtler. Gilstrap will be a nice addition to the lineup.

(Tie) 6. Gabby Perea, California (9.6312 mod, 9.850 high) 

Perea’s tumbling passes are not the hardest. She performs a double tuck, a front through to double twist and a double pike. She can perform them well, though, and she can dance well too. With Rachael Mastrangelo graduating and some gymnasts in and out of the lineup, co-head coaches Justin Howell and Elisabeth Crandall-Howell will be happy to have a larger pool of talented floor workers to choose from.

5. Naomi Morrison, Michigan (9.6444 mod, 9.900 high)

There are not many recent videos of Morrison’s floor work. In the most recent one from 2018, she competed a double pike, a front layout to Rudi and a double tuck. Her form was good, but she had some foot issues and trouble with her middle pass. More recently, however, Morrison must have improved dramatically. Last year, she tied for second place on floor at J.O. nationals (Senior C) and in her last 2020 competition she scored a 9.900. She will be an exceptional replacement for Lexi Funk at Michigan, and with her addition the Wolverines’ floor lineup will look very strong.

 4. Chae Campbell, UCLA (9.6781 mod, 9.850 high)

Campbell is an elegant dancer and a good tumbler. She tied with Morrison for second place on floor at J.O. nationals last year. Although her passes are not the hardest—she competes a double tuck, a front double twist and a front full to front layout—she performs them with confidence and poise. Campbell will be stepping into exceptionally big shoes at UCLA, as she will be asked to replace Kyla Ross, Felicia Hano and Gracie Kramer, who all scored perfect 10.0s in their careers as Bruins. But no worries—she will be up to the task.

(Tie) 2. Abbie Thompson, Denver (9.6846 mod, 9.850 high)

Thompson saves the best for last. She opens her routine with a double pike, goes on to perform a front layout to Rudi and dismounts with a huge triple twist. She does have the smallest knee and foot issues on her tumbling passes, but they are negligible. She will replace Maddie Karr at Denver easily. 

(Tie) 2. Mya Hooten, Minnesota (9.6846 mod, 9.875 high)

The 2019 J.O. national champion (Senior B) achieves stunning elevation off the floor and is a very expressive dancer. She performs a sky-high full-in, a front double twist to front tuck and a double tuck. Minnesota had a fantastic season in 2020 but could not quite figure out floor. Hooten could be the game changer here. Expect her to anchor the floor lineup already as a freshman.

1. Haleigh Bryant, LSU (9.7063 mod, 9.900 high)

The 2017 J.O. national champion (Junior D) is a powerful floor worker. She opens with her trademark skill, a huge double front, performs a front layout to Rudi as a middle pass (though at the 2020 Nastia Liukin Cup she downgraded it to a front layout to front layout) and dismounts with a front double twist. She crosses her feet ever so slightly on her twisting elements, but it may not get deducted. She and Kiya Johnson will be expected to go fifth and sixth in the lineup at LSU next year.

Honorable Mentions

Abby Mueller, Illinois (9.6192 mod, 9.825 high)

Quinn Smith, Oklahoma (9.5750 mod, 9.825 high)

Kendall Whitman, George Washington (9.5679 mod, 9.875 high)

Carina Jordan, N.C. State (9.5361 mod, 9.875 high)

Sara Kenefick, Penn (9.4607 mod, 9.875 high)

Alexa Rothenbuescher, Maryland (9.900 high)

Article by Jenna King, Rebecca Scally and Talitha Ilacqua

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