The bottom half of the Big Ten is brimming with potential. Maryland and Rutgers in particular are bringing in large classes with diverse talents. Consistency is a problem across the board for every team on this list, especially on beam.
While there’s still so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, it’s business as usual until we hear otherwise. That means it’s time for our annual potential lineups analysis! With preseason training in full swing for most teams, we’re breaking it all down and taking a look at every squad’s prospects for 2021—from who’s expected to contribute, holes that need to be filled and exciting upgrades fans should look out for.
No. 28 Maryland
The Terps had a bit of a chaotic start to the season, but had settled into a rhythm by March on the heels of breakout performances from freshmen. Maryland is losing long standing all arounder Kirsten Peterman and three-eventer Alicia Farina. It could be a problem, or it could be an opportunity to overhaul lineups. The Terps also regain star all arounder Audrey Barber, who missed most of the season after an eligibility issue.
|Losses:||Alicia Farina (VT, UB, BB), Emma Johnson, Kirsten Peterman (UB, BB), Julianna Weil (transfer to North Carolina), Tiara Wright (UB, BB, FX)|
|Gains:||Elizabeth DeBarberie, Samantha Gilbert, Tayler Osterhout, Kristen Quick, Alexa Rothenbuescher, Annie Slatoff, Olivia Weir|
|Returning From Injury:||Audrey Barber (academic ineligibility)|
Potential Contributors: Alexsis Rubio (NQS 9.850), Emma Silberman (9.825), Reese McClure (9.795), Sanya Glauber (9.710), Audrey Barber, Collea Burgess, Randi Morris, Aleka Tsiknias, Tayler Osterhout, Alexa Rothenbuescher, Olivia Weir
How It Looked Before: It took a long time for coach Brett Nelligan to settle on a reliable six on vault, but it ended up being the Terps’ best event. Freshmen were critical here, and only underclassmen vaulted enough to have NQSs. Neither Peterman nor Farina vaulted in 2020.
How It Looks Now: Barber will absolutely be back in this lineup; she averaged a 9.833 early in the year. Osterhout and Rothenbuescher both scored extremely well in their 2020 level 10 seasons; we don’t have recent video, but both seem likely options. Weir has a clean Yurchenko half that is also viable.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Barber alone will bolster this group, and the added depth from a number of capable freshmen means Nelligan will have the space to find his highest-scoring six.
Potential Contributors: Tsiknias (9.850), Silberman (9.825), Glauber (9.720), Barber, Sophia Leblanc, Austynn Lacasse, Rubio, Debarberie, Rothenbuescher, Weir
How It Looked Before: Despite a stretch of meets with big misses on bars, it was a good event overall, and one where the Terps notched their highest single event total of the year: a 49.425. This is the event that relied most heavily on seniors, especially Tiara Wright.
How It Looks Now: Barber scored a 9.950, and averaged a 9.900, in her three 2020 meets. She’s the likely anchor. Debarberie has a full-twisting double layout in her back pocket and some stellar level 10 scores. Rothenbuescher has a clean swing and good rhythm that will translate well to college bars. Weir’s scores suggest she cleaned up her pirouette-heavy routine in 2020, so she could be an option as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. Barber should slot into Wright’s spot, but there will be a lot of pressure on at least two freshmen to consistently hit in this lineup.
Potential Contributors: McClure (9.815), Rouse (9.760), Silberman (9.740), Barber, Burgess, Andrews, Leblanc, Debarberie, Rothenbuescher
How It Looked Before: Just about this whole roster tried out beam, and about half of it was successful. This is another event that relied on Wright in the anchor, and was Maryland’s weakest.
How It Looks Now: Barber will be back here, too, but this is her least consistent event. Debarberie moves like a collegiate beamer and has improved her consistency over the past two years. Rothenbuescher hasn’t competed since 2018, but her scores are stellar.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Down. Beam will again be Maryland’s biggest struggle, and without senior anchor Wright to shore things up, it might sink. There will be a lot of pressure on freshmen here as well.
Potential Contributors: McClure (9.870), Rouse (9.865), Silberman (9.820), Tsiknias (9.800), Barber, Morris, Rubio, Debarberie, Osterhout, Rothenbuescher
How It Looked Before: McClure and Silberman were exciting surprises. Floor was largely a good event once the freshmen fully settled in. There were some consistency issues early in the season, but it was trending in the right direction.
How It Looks Now: This is Barber’s best event; she should again anchor. This class brings three big E passes: double Arabian (Rothenbuescher), full-in (Debarberie) and piked full-in (Osterhout). Rothenbuescher is the headline here: Her level 10 scores are stellar. Assuming she’s healthy, she will absolutely be in the lineup. Osterhout is also all but a lock. Floor is Debarberie’s least consistent piece, but with work on her splits and landings she’s a strong option.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Floor was steadily improving for the Terps at the end of 2020 as the freshmen settled in. Add back in Barber and the E pass crew of freshmen, and you have the makings of a great rotation.
The Terps are on the rise. Barber’s return and the addition of three strong freshmen in Debarberie, Osterhout and Rothenbuescher is a good sign. The question is, how high can this team go? It will come down to whether or not everyone can stay on the beam.
No. 30 Penn State
After a weak start to the year, the Nittany Lions settled into a comfortable, low-196 rhythm. Freshman Cassidy Rushlow broke out as a strong all arounder, but overall consistency held the team back. Former senior elite Maddie Johnston is the star of the freshman class.
|Losses:||Tess McCracken (UB, BB, FX), Kristen Politz (FX)|
|Gains:||Maggie Ayers, Natalie Cross, Maddie Johnston, Maggie Mace, Abi Walker|
Potential Contributors: Alissa Bonsall (9.820 NQS), Lauren Bridgens (9.820), Kourtney Chinnery (9.810), Cassidy Rushlow (9.805), Erynne Allen (9.745), Amy Bladon (9.690), Jessie Bastardi, Maddie Johnston, Natalie Cross, Maggie Ayers
How It Looked Before: This vault squad has a lot of nice Yurchenko fulls; it was held back by the lack of truly dynamic fulls and no 10.0 starts—Bridgens has a one and a half, but we didn’t see it in competition. A lack of 9.9-plus numbers depressed the team ranking.
How It Looks Now: Johnston competed a Yurchenko one and a half as an elite and scored well on a full at level 10. Cross has a tidy Yurchenko full that also scored well. There aren’t recent videos of Maggie Ayers, but her 2020 level 10 scores were strong.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell; it is always too early to tell with Penn State on vault. Stellar vaulters come in, lose their explosiveness almost immediately and can’t break out of the 9.8s. Maybe this year’s freshmen will break the curse, but it’s impossible to be too optimistic.
Potential Contributors: Bridgens (9.865), Bonsall (9.845), Rushlow (9.835), Ava Verdeflor (9.800), Chinnery (9.765), Cross, Johnston, Abi Walker
How It Looked Before: Penn State thrived on bars. This lineup remained constant all season and was the team’s most consistent event. Rushlow was especially impressive.
How It Looks Now: Johnston is the story here. Her level 10 set is college-ready. Cross is also a very likely option. Both scored in the 9.800s, an extremely rare feat in level 10. Assuming she’s healthy, we may also see Walker. She put together a clean set with a few seemingly endurance-related errors at the 2020 WOGA Classic.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. This squad is losing only one routine and replacing it with two to three options likely to score well. This lineup will be competitive.
Potential Contributors: Rushlow (9.855), Bridgens (9.810), Verdeflor (9.775), Bastardi (9.770), Bella Romagnano (9.750), Johnston, Walker, Cross
How It Looked Before: Beam was another strength with a high ceiling (49.325). Some inconsistency from everyone except Rushlow held it back; Penn State counted a fall more than once.
How It Looks Now: Johnston’s elite pedigree shows here in her presence and posture. Expect coach Sarah Shire Brown to take out her double tuck dismount to improve her consistency. Walker is most likely to appear on beam, and it’s where we’ve seen her in training updates. Cross has some consistency questions but has the pieces of a strong set.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Losing only one routine and adding three is a good sign. Consistency will remain the watch word for returners and newcomers alike.
Potential Contributors: Bridgens (9.880), Melissa Astarita (9.865), Bonsall (9.800), Rushlow (9.710), Allen, Cross, Johnston, Maggie Ayers
How It Looked Before: Floor was a struggle, and this time it had nothing to do with consistency. The top six remained largely the same and just couldn’t regularly put up a 49-plus total. Sloppiness in landings and dance execution across the board was an issue.
How It Looks Now: Johnston brings great landings from her elite days and a strong front double full. Cross and Ayers both need to perfect things like leaps and cleanliness but are options.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Down. Johnston will slot into one of the senior’s spots, but there’s no extremely clear answer to the second hole. Cross and Ayers have the same issues that held the team back in 2020, so it’s unlikely we’ll see improvement here.
It’s too soon to make any big predictions about this team. Bars should be a highlight again, but consistency on beam and dynamic vaults and floor sets are massive question marks. The potential for a rise in the rankings is there, but can this squad address all of those little problems that add up?
No. 32 Michigan State
Gabriella Douglas was a one-woman senior class, but the team will feel her loss in many ways beyond her three strong routines. There’s a leadership hole, and it will be interesting to see who rises to fill it. Gaining Linda Zivat back from a broken foot, as well as some exciting things from the freshmen, is a boon. There’s talent across the board, and different freshmen will shine on each event.
|Losses:||Gabriella Douglas (VT, BB, FX), Ryanna Head (retired, VT, BB)|
|Gains:||Izzy Barbacci, Baleigh Garcia, Naomi German, Delanie Harkness, Sydney Hayashi, Giana Kalefe|
|Returning From Injury:||Linda Zivat (broken foot), Sydney Ewing (unknown)|
Potential Contributors: Nyah Smith (9.830), Lea Mitchell (9.800), Ashley Hofelich (9.760), Chloe Bellmore (9.735), Alyssa Wiedeman (9.690), Baleigh Garcia, Izzy Barbacci, Naomi German, Delanie Harkness, Giana Kalefe
How It Looked Before: Vault was Michigan State’s weakness. The Yurchenko fulls and halves often didn’t reach the 9.8s, let alone the 9.9s, with the exception of Mitchell and Smith. There just wasn’t enough depth to bolster those late routines.
How It Looks Now: Zivat vaults a gorgeous Tsuk full that will immediately change the story for the Spartans. Garcia vaults a big Yurchenko full, and Harkness brings a Yurchenko half-on pike. Just about the entire rest of class could put up a reasonable mid-range vault.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. This class brings huge depth on vault, plus Harkness’ 10.0 start. With the return of Zivat and the big full from Garcia, there is a lot of potential over the mediocre 2020 numbers.
Potential Contributors: Jori Jackard (9.860), Mitchell (9.835), Tristan Brown (9.750), Madison McHale (9.750), Smith (9.750), Alaina Raybon (9.650), Sydney Ewing, Harkness, Garcia
How It Looked Before: Bars had a truly brutal start at a 45.500 but improved rapidly. The Spartans had some consistency problems and struggled to break 49.000. Consistency, even from the best routines, was a problem.
How It Looks Now: This is the only event where the Spartans are not losing a routine. We don’t know why Ewing didn’t compete after the third meet, but she could be useful here if she’s healthy. Bars is a great event for Harkness, who competes a solid Gienger. Garcia has consistency issues but is clean when she hits.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up by a hair on the heels of Harkness. She was consistent in level 10, and having a reliable, clean, late lineup set is just what the Spartans need.
Potential Contributors: Mitchell (9.835), Smith (9.765), Raybon (9.655), Bellmore (9.655), Wiedeman (9.645), McHale (9.620), Hofelich, Barbacci, Garcia, Kalefe
How It Looked Before: Beam was a fairly consistent event, hovering right around the 49.000 mark. Head Coach Mike Rowe had start value questions at multiple meets; it came down to not having an extra tenth of bonus built in, with 2020 being the first year that events started out of a 9.400, down from 9.500. What used to be “extra” bonus became integral, so if any connection was missed, there was no built-in backup. It caused a number of issues. That said, beam was overall a good and clean event for the Spartans.
How It Looks Now: Kalefe is the beamer of this class. Her triple series and leaps are lovely, and she was consistent throughout 2020. Barbacci and Garcia have strong potential but are wildly inconsistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. Kalefe should take the spot vacated by Douglas, but there still isn’t a ton of depth here.
Potential Contributors: Mitchell (9.885), Hofelich (9.865), Smith (9.815), Bellmore (9.795), Brown (9.790), Zivat, Ewing, Garcia, Barbacci, Harkness, Kalefe
How It Looked Before: Floor was a good event for the Spartans. It was extremely consistent, and had a high ceiling at 49.475. Rowe’s choreography and clean tumbling held this squad above 49.000 at all but the first meet of the season.
How It Looks Now: Zivat and Ewing are both big factors here. We have seen Zivat training her tidy double layout in the offseason. Barbacci didn’t compete leg events in 2020, but her 2019 set included a sky high double tuck and strong two and a half twist. Harkness and Kalefe have the best presentation and will most easily transition into collegiate floor work. Garcia scored consistently well, but she needs polish and presentation work before hitting a college lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. The Spartans are losing an amazing routine in Douglas, but with Zivat filling that hole and at least two freshmen whose 2020 level 10 sets could translate directly to college, this will be a competitive and exciting lineup.
Michigan State is climbing. Zivat’s return will make an immediate impact, and the freshmen all have different strengths that will be highlighted in different lineups. The big question mark is beam; will there be enough depth to find six great routines?
No. 34 Ohio State
Ohio State had very high highs and very low lows in 2020. Vault, bars and floor were strong and occasionally stellar while beam was sometimes downright scary. This is a team oozing potential and style that just hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together. The freshman class is talented, but there are some big holes to fill, especially on bars.
|Losses:||Nevin Adamski (UB, FX), Olivia Aepli (AA), Kaitlyn Gilson (retired), Peyton Hinterberger (UB)|
|Gains:||Savannah Gonzalez, Hannah Oliveros, Emma Pritchard, Nicole Riccardi, Joselyn Warga|
Potential Contributors: Sydney Jennings (9.850 NQS), Raina Malas (9.820), Morgan Lowe (9.750), Jenna Swartzentruber (9.715), Elexis Edwards, Claire Gagliardi, Sarah Rowland, Danica Abanto, Colby Miller, Hannah Oliveros, Emma Pritchard, Savannah Gonzalez
How It Looked Before: Head Coach Meredith Paulicivic tried out a lot of different lineup configurations in what was, overall, a solid event. Despite the many faces, the team total was largely consistent, hovering right around a 49.000. When Edwards broke into the lineup in March, she was an immediate difference maker.
How It Looks Now: Having Edwards vaulting from day one will be a boon. Pritchard has a big, dynamic Yurchenko full, and Gonzalez scored well in level 10, though we don’t have recent video. Oliveros’ tidy full is certainly in the mix.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. There is just so much depth here that it’s hard to guess who will get the day one lineup spots. That said, the two meets with Edwards were also the two highest vault totals, a good sign for 2021. Who will take Aepli’s spot remains to be seen.
Potential Contributors: Miller (9.865), Swartzentruber (9.855), Zoe Scheitzer (9.805), Elexis Edwards, Oliveros, Pritchard, Riccardi
How It Looked Before: Bars was a highlight for the Buckeyes. It was incredibly consistent, only below 49.000 in the first meet in January. The same six stayed in this lineup all year, and half of them broke the 9.900 mark. Aepli led the way.
How It Looks Now: Losing half of the top six hurts, but it’s not insurmountable. The three returning routines are strong, and we did see Edwards exhibition. Bars is not necessarily a strength overall for the freshmen, but we can expect to see Oliveros who is clean here. Prtichard and Riccardi both need some finessing, but they have the pieces of solid college sets.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Down. Losing half the lineup is tough no matter who is coming in. This shouldn’t be a big fall, but a slight adjustment downward seems likely, especially early in the season.
Potential Contributors: Hodges (9.835), Swartzentruber (9.755), Schweitzer (9.740), Alexis Hankins (9.735), Abanto (9.715), Lowe (9.670), Miriam Perez, Miller, Gonzalez, Oliveros, Riccardi
How It Looked Before: It’s hard to say what exactly happened here, but this team had no right to be ranked No. 56 on beam. There was a snowball effect with big mistakes that would stack up throughout the lineup week after week. The good news is that Hodges and Hankins could be excellent, and they’ll be back for more.
How It Looks Now: Aepli only competed beam once, so the Buckeyes essentially keep all of their options here. This is where Oliveros will shine; her work is lovely. Gonzalez has strong scores and was consistent—the magic word—in 2020.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. 2020 was rough, and while some of the problems carried over from 2019, it was an aberration. So many members of this lineup were freshmen, so it seems likely that had the season not been cut short, beam would have finished in a slightly better place. With more experience on the event and some new talent in the door, the Buckeyes should expect things to go better in 2021.
Potential Contributors: Gagliardi (9.895), Abanto (9.830), Hankins (9.820), Hodges (9.750), Rowland, Brooke Chesney, Oliveros, Pritchard, Riccard
How It Looked Before: Floor is where the Buckeyes excel. Paulicivic’s choreography is some of the best in the country, and her team performs up to it. Gagliardi is always a highlight.
How It Looks Now: Oliveros brings a full-in and clean landings on both acro and dance work, the golden ticket in college. Pritchard moves easily on floor and will take to Paulicivic’s choreography; she also boasts a tour jete full and two and a half twist. Riccardi has similarly strong presentation.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Floor will continue to be Ohio State’s signature event. Losing Aepli is a challenge, but Oliveros should fill that hole while the other freshmen will make this a very competitive lineup.
Up. Beam is what held the Buckeyes in the regionals danger zone in 2020, and while the problems there were rooted in some ongoing issues, the depth of the meltdown seemed to be a fluke. We can expect that to improve and for this team to land in a ranking-scape it’s more accustomed to. The question is, how much better can we expect that event to get in one year, led by underclassmen?
No. 44 Rutgers
Rutgers improved its overall ranking for the second straight year under Head Coach Umme Salim-Beasley. This is a squad striving to return to regional contention, a goal that will carry into 2021. The seniors are big losses, but the rising sophomores and newcomers are both massive classes with big talent as well.
|Losses:||Shannon Farrell (VT, UB, FX), Kaitlyn Hall (VT, UB), Erin McLachlan (BB, FX)|
|Gains:||Avery Balser, Myra Daniels, Kylie Haffner, Rees Hagler, Jordan Halcom, Emily Leese, Calah Newman, Jaidyn Raby, Kieran Ross, Christiana Thompson, Emily Wood, Stepanie Zannella|
|Returning From Injury:||Mia Betancourt (Achilles)|
Potential Contributors: Hannah Joyner (9.805 NQS), Belle Huang (9.790), Toni Williams (9.770), Jenna Ferguson (9.705), Jordyn Duffield (9.525), Mia Betancourt, Rees Hagler, Emily Leese, Avery Balser
How It Looked Before: Freshman Joyner was an instant boost to this lineup. It was a decent event for the Scarlet Knights with some excellent 49-plus stretches, but inconsistency plagued the them.
How It Looks Now: Leese is the top vaulter in this crew; her Yurchenko one and a half is stickable. Hagler vaults a clean front handspring pike; if she can add a half, it would be another viable 10.0 start. Balser’s full is a little messy, but with some cleaning up she’s also an option.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Leese will inject instant star power into this lineup and shore up the anchor spot.
Potential Contributors: Joyner (9.795), Abigail Karolewski (9.785), Emily Drauss (9.745), Huang (9.735), Balser, Kylie Haffner, Jordan Halcom
How It Looked Before: Bars had big potential, but a lack of consistency again held this event back; the Scarlet Knights only had one meet, the last of the season, when the whole lineup had big hits. That rotation went 49.150. Had the season continued, it’s likely this event would have continued to improve.
How It Looks Now: Balser has great form and extension, plus a big Jaeger and double layout; her consistency in level 10 makes her a lock for this lineup. Haffner is a step less consistent but will also likely appear here with a single bar release (piked Jaeger) and E dismount (full-in) of her own. Halcom only spent one (shortened) season at level 10; some of her big skills were works in progress, but she has the extension and swing of a strong bar worker. Perhaps some continued improvement and careful construction will land her in the lineup as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell; the potential to improve is there with the solid sets from Balser and Haffner, but the returners need to become more consistent before progress can be made.
Potential Contributors: Joyner (9.910), Huang (9.800), Jenna Ferguson (9.765), Kiera Doherty-Herwitz (9.750), Sage Littlejohn, Drauss, Betancourt, Duffield, Balser, Haffner, Calah Newman, Stephanie Zannella
How It Looked Before: The Scarlet Knights were excellent on beam, led by Joyner. There were some counted falls, but the team put up more near-or-above 49.000 totals than not and landed at No. 21 nationally.
How It Looks Now: Losing McLachlan’s regular 9.800-plus set here hurts, and consistency has been an issue for every member of the incoming class. Balser and Haffner have strong potential, and Newman can be stellar when she hits, with excellent splits and a unique two-foot back handspring to layout step-out series. Zannella also has a solid set that could become a nice college routine.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Down. The freshmen have a lot of potential, but there’s no option to automatically slot into McLachlan’s role. It seems likely that it will take some time for this lineup to settle in.
Potential Contributors: Huang (9.855), Joyner (9.830), Duffield (9.740), Williams (9.705), Sophia Atienza (9.390), Ferguson, Betancourt, Karolewski, Balser, Leese
How It Looked Before: Floor was Rutgers’ weakest event, due in large part to big misses from just about everyone in the lineup at one point or another, Huang and Joyner being the exceptions.
How It Looks Now: Leese has a strong but slightly messy full-in; her other tumbling and dance elements are solid, making her a good fit for the lineup. Balser’s 2020 set had great performance quality and solid tumbling; she’s likely to see time in the top six but has had some consistency problems.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. Leese will move into Farrell’s vacated spot and should be an instant score boost. With added depth and Betancourt’s return, perhaps some of the consistency issues will be alleviated.
Rutgers is trending up. The massive incoming class has a lot of diverse individual strengths, which will benefit the Scarlet Knights on every event. The big question is consistency: Everyone top to bottom needs to stay on their feet.
Article by Emily Minehart
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