The MRGC is a small yet exciting conference. Over the past few years, the gaps between the teams have gotten smaller and the conference has become more competitive. Just six spots separated its top-ranked 2021 team, BYU (No. 19), from the lowest-ranked, Utah State (No. 25). From BYU’s quirky floor routines to Boise State’s top-notch bars, there’s plenty of great gymnastics to go around. This season shouldn’t be any different and the level of gymnastics is set to get better as standout 2021 seniors like Emily Muhlenhaupt are utilizing their COVID year. Not sold yet? BYU recently announced plans to join the Big 12 for the 2024 gymnastics season, so there’s definitely big gymnastics going on here.
We’re getting back into the groove of things and returning to the status quo for the 2022 season (as much as we can at least!). 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 the upcoming season—from who’s expected to contribute, holes that need to be filled and exciting upgrades fans should look out for.
No. 19 BYU
Known for its large rosters and unique floor routines, BYU has established itself as a strong team and hasn’t missed regionals since 2009. This year is no different, as the team should be strong again thanks to another large freshman class. The Cougars lose a strong senior class, but Helody Cyrenne and Haley Pitou’s COVID years soften the blow ever so slightly.
|Losses:||Abbey Miner Alder, Avery Bennett, Jordan Matthews, Abby Stainton, Angel Zhong|
|Gains:||Kaitlyn Lam, Rebecca Leach, Mina Margraf, Olivia Matern, Eliza Millar, Heidi Schooley, Jazlyn Wood|
|Returning From Injury:||Sadie Miner-Van Tassell (unknown), Rebekah Bean Ripley (torn ACL)|
Potential Contributors: Allix Mason (9.831 NQS), Haley Pitou (9.813), Rachel Bain (9.781), Lexi Griffith (9.781), Sadie Miner-Van Tassell, Rebekah Bean Ripley, Anna Bramblett, Rebecca Leach, Mina Margraf, Olivia Matern, Katilyn Lam
How It Looked Before: Vault was BYU’s lowest-ranked event last season at No. 19. Overall, the Cougars improved as the season progressed despite Sadie Miner-Van Tassell being sidelined midseason.
How It Looks Now: The Cougars lose three major vaults out of 2021’s lineup. Sadie Miner-Van Tassell performs a great Yurchenko one and a half when healthy and will be a welcome readdition to the lineup. Freshmen Rebecca Leach, Mina Margraf, Olivia Matern and Kaitlyn Lam all perform clean Yurchenko fulls that should be in the mix for lineup spots, especially given the Cougars’ losses on vault.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. A lot rests on how well the injured gymnasts come back and how well the freshmen adapt to college.
Potential Contributors: Anyssa Alvarado (9.906 NQS), Abby Beeston (9.888), Haley Pitou (9.875), Helody Cyrenne (9.869), Lindsey Hunter (9.756), Anna Bramblett, Jazlyn Wood, Rebecca Leach, Eliza Millar
How It Looked Before: Bars was one of BYU’s better events last season, led by Anyssa Alvarado, Abby Stainton and Abby Beeston. Nearly everyone who competed stepped up to the challenge when called upon.
How It Looks Now: The Cougars return five consistent lineup competitors and four of their top five NQS scorers from 2021. Jazlyn Wood, Rebecca Leach and Eliza Millar stand out as potential freshmen contributors. We were unable to find any full routine video of Wood, but if her level 10 scores are any indication, she should be an immediate contender. Leach also has a solid set, and Millar boasts a clean Maloney and double layout dismount. Kaitlyn Lam and Olivia Matern also have potential but will need to clean up their routines before having a real shot to contend for a lineup spot.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should remain steady with 2021. There’s potential to improve, but it’ll depend on how the freshmen actually perform.
Potential Contributors: Elease Rollins (9.906 NQS), Sophia McClelland (9.881), Lexi Mather (9.850), Helody Cyrenne (9.825), Allix Mason (9.663), Sadie Miner-Van Tassell, Rebecca Leach, Mina Margraf, Eliza Millar, Kaitlyn Lam
How It Looked Before: Beam was another good event for BYU in 2021 led by Abby Stainton and Elease Rollins.
How It Looks Now: Four of BYU’s top six 2021 scorers return for 2022. Sadie Miner-Van Tassell has competed beam in the past, and the freshmen are a capable beam class overall. Mina Margraf stands out as a clean and consistent beam worker. Classmate Rebecca Leach also has a strong set featuring a back handspring layout, though the layout can turn into more of a pike at times. Fellow freshman Eliza Millar also boasts a secure set that could see lineup time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Beam should remain steady if not trend slightly up. While Abby Stainton is a big loss, most of the lineup remains intact and there are additional options. It’ll depend on how well the freshmen can adapt to college competition.
Potential Contributors: Brittney Vitkauskas (9.931 NQS), Rachel Bain (9.844), Adeline Rieder, Sadie Miner-Van Tassell, Sophia McClelland, Olivia Matern, Rebecca Leach, Heidi Schooley, Mina Margraf, Kaitlyn Lam
How It Looked Before: As in past seasons, floor was BYU’s strongest event in 2021 highlighted by Abbey Miner Alder and Brittney Vitkauskas.
How It Looks Now: The graduating class leaves arguably the biggest holes to be filled on floor. Vitkauskas should lead the way again. A healthy Sadie Miner-Van Tassell should also be highly beneficial, even more so considering the lineup’s losses. Freshman Olivia Matern should fit in nicely, as she has a solid front double full and her level 10 choreography gives off BYU vibes. Classmate Rebecca Leach also has a strong set overall with strong tumbling and good extension on her leaps. Fellow freshmen Heidi Schooley, Mina Margraf and Kaitlyn Lam also have clean routines that could be factors.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. There’s too many moving parts with the amount of losses to the lineup. It will depend on who fills the lineup, as well as how well the freshmen acclimate.
While the Cougars lose many key competitors, they bring in a large class of capable gymnasts. It won’t be easy to fill their shoes. There’s certainly potential to improve, but the question is if the freshmen and bubble gymnasts from the 2021 team can step up and provide similar-quality routines. The Cougars should, at the very least, be able to provide a similar performance, but there’s a lot of unknowns at the moment.
No. 23 Southern Utah
Southern Utah has established itself as a top 25 team with a big upside, and 2021 was no different as it finished at No. 23 overall and set a new team record 197.275 in the process. Its 2022 seniors are one of the better classes in college gymnastics and nearly all of its 2021 seniors are returning for their COVID year.
|Losses:||Mikaela DeFilippo, Molly Jozwiakowski, Alyssa LaDieu|
|Gains:||Madeline Amundson, Ellie Cacciola, Taylor Gull, Summer Horsley, Isabella Neff, Katie Ours, Madeline Tyau, Jocelyn Wittwer|
|Returning From Injury:||Kaylee Kho (unknown)|
Potential Contributors: Morgan Alfaro (9.881 NQS), Rachel Smith (9.850), Karley McClain (9.825), Caitlin Kho (9.819), Stephanie Tervort (9.806), Celine Barney, Brianna Alcantar, Hailey Vultaggio, Kaylee Kho, Aubri Schwartze, Ellie Cacciola, Katie Ours
How It Looked Before: Though it was statistically Southern Utah’s worst event, the Thunderbirds’ lineup featured many unique vaults and was one of the top 25 vault teams in the country.
How It Looks Now: Five of six consistent competitors return, including senior vault specialist Morgan Alfaro. Freshmen Ellie Cacciola and Katie Ours perform good Yurchenko fulls. Cacciola notably scored a 9.900 with hers at her state meet this year. Classmate Isabella Neff competed a solid tucked Yurchenko full in level 10; if she can upgrade to a layout full or tucked one and a half, she could be an option, too. A healthy Kaylee Kho could also be a factor.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With only one vault lost and options to choose from, the Thunderbirds should be able to improve on last season’s performance.
Potential Contributors: Shylen Murakami (9.894 NQS), Mayson Bentley (9.881), Nikki Thomas (9.850), Hannah Nipp (9.844), Aubri Schwartze (9.831), Karley McClain (9.813), Caitlin Kho (9.581), Stephanie Tervort, Katie Ours, Madeline Tyau, Isabella Neff, Madeline Amundson, Summer Horsley
How It Looked Before: Southern Utah had a good bar lineup overall. It wasn’t without its struggles and shuffles, as it seemed that something kept someone out of the lineup every week.
How It Looks Now: The Thunderbirds return a full lineup of gymnasts. Freshman Madeline Tyau could factor in and challenge for a lineup spot if she’s healthy again. Classmate Katie Ours also has a solid set that could be called upon. Fellow freshman Isabella Neff has the makings of a good bar worker with a pretty Maloney, a double layout dismount and good form throughout. Stephanie Tervort has also competed bars in the past and could be an option if needed.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Southern Utah already had a good bar lineup, and with the addition of the freshmen, it shouldn’t be hard to improve.
Potential Contributors: Karley McClain (9.881 NQS), Aubri Schwartze (9.881), Shylen Murakami (9.875), Hannah Nipp (9.856), Emma Wissman (9.838), Rachel Smith (9.813), Ruby Hernandez (9.581), Hailey Vultaggio, Nikki Thomas, Madeline Tyau, Ellie Cacciola, Katie Ours
How It Looked Before: The Thunderbird beam lineup was inconsistent at times but also showed high potential on numerous occasions. Beam ended up being Southern Utah’s best-ranked event last season.
How It Looks Now: Southern Utah again returns a full lineup of gymnasts. Madeline Tyau is the most likely of her classmates to crack this lineup. Her set features a back handspring + one-arm back handspring + layout step-out acro series. Classmates Katie Ours and Ellie Cacciola also have the makings of solid beam workers that could be called upon. At the end of the day, it’ll come down to consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? If they can continue to improve consistency, beam should at least stay the same if not get better, given the fact the Thunderbirds’ full 2021 beam lineup returns and there are plenty of good options from the newcomers. But because we’re talking about Southern Utah and beam, who knows what will actually happen.
Potential Contributors: Karley McClain (9.913 NQS), Aubri Schwartze (9.881), Hannah Nipp (9.875), Rachel Smith (9.863), Kayla Horton (9.850), Hailey Vultaggio (9.819), Stephanie Tervort, Emma Wissman, Emma Ingrassia, Caitlin Kho, Brianna Alcantar, Isabella Neff, Katie Ours, Summer Horsley, Ellie Cacciola
How It Looked Before: Floor was an overall good event for Southern Utah last season. The Thunderbirds played around with lineups a lot but ended up hitting 49-plus in all but two meets.
How It Looks Now: All but one of the Thunderbirds’ most frequent competitors are returning in 2022. Many of the freshmen could compete for lineup spots as well. Isabella Neff sports a very clean routine and Katie Ours, Summer Horsley and Ellie Cacciola all have solid routines that could play a role.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up, worst case remaining steady. The Thunderbirds return a solid foundation of lineup-quality routines and add capable freshmen into the mix.
Southern Utah is on track to replicate last year’s performance if not improve on it. With most of its 2021 lineups remaining intact thanks to seniors utilizing their COVID years, there is already a strong foundation to build upon. Add the freshmen in the mix and Southern Utah should find itself in a good place to improve next season. Which of them will crack the lineups and who may be on the bubble remains to be seen. And since we’re talking about Southern Utah, we know consistency will be a big factor in how the Thunderbirds’ season ultimately plays out.
No. 24 Boise State
After a rough 2020, Boise State bounced back into the top 25 last season. There’s still work to be done to get back to its pre-2020 results, but this team should be up to the task. Enough of the team’s 2021 star seniors are taking COVID years, and the Broncos are once again bringing in a strong freshman class.
|Losses:||Tatum Bruden, Gabriela Cavinta|
|Gains:||Emma Loyim, Elaina McGovern, Blake Pascal, Alyssa Vulaj|
|Returning From Injury:||Alexis Stokes (unknown)|
Potential Contributors: Courtney Blackson (9.881 NQS), Maddi Nilson (9.838), Emily Lopez (9.838), Samantha Smith (9.831), Hope Masiado (9.800), Tessa Otuafi, Alyssa Vulaj, Elaina McGovern
How It Looked Before: Boise State showed great potential on vault but got stuck in the 48.9s at times. When everyone was on and nailing landings, it was a good event for the Broncos.
How It Looks Now: All but one regular lineup contributor returns this season. Freshman Alyssa Vulaj boasts a nice Yurchenko full-on tuck and her classmate, Elaina McGovern, performs a solid full. The other two freshmen compete a Yurchenko half but could play a factor if those are cleaner than some of the 10.0 start values.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. Theoretically this lineup should at least perform on par with 2021 but could improve if the freshmen acclimate well.
Potential Contributors: Emily Muhlenhaupt (9.950 NQS), Emily Lopez (9.900), Maddi Nilson (9.863), Courtney Blackson (9.844), Talia Little (9.819), Hope Masiado, Alexis Stokes, Emma Loyim, Alyssa Vulaj, Elaina McGovern
How It Looked Before: Bars was Boise State’s best event, continuing its reputation as a stellar bars team. Emily Muhlenhaupt continued her exquisite work here while the rest of the squad also performed quite well.
How It Looks Now: With all of its stars returning, this lineup is in good shape. The lineup does lose one consistent competitor, though the main part of the lineup is intact. Add in a healthy Alexis Stokes and the freshmen, and this already-great lineup should get even better. Alyssa Vulaj stands out with pristine form on her routine that features a double layout and an actual legs-together Gienger. Emma Loyim has the makings of a future bars star as well, and Elaina McGovern’s routine has the potential to be a good college set with a bit of clean up.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Boise State never has a problem finding good bar workers, and this team is no different.
Potential Contributors: Adriana Popp (9.888 NQS), Emily Muhlenhaupt (9.863), Erin Elkabchi (9.838), Emily Lopez (9.838), Hope Masiado (9.788), Talia Little, Alexis Stokes, Alyssa Vulaj, Emma Loyim, Elaina McGovern
How It Looked Before: Boise State’s beam lineup showed potential but was very inconsistent. It was the Broncos’ worst-ranked event last season.
How It Looks Now: Most of 2021’s lineup returns, and three of the four freshmen have potential to contribute. Alyssa Vulaj stands out on beam; her set is clean, secure and features a standing layout step-out. Emma Loyim also has a clean set that is likely to be called upon. Classmate Elaina McGovern doesn’t have a flashy set, but it is a solid, clean one, which may be just what the team ends up needing to be consistent. Alexis Stokes has competed beam in the past as well, so don’t count her out either.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. It’s hard to see this lineup getting much worse, so it should at least stay steady with last season’s performance. If the freshmen acclimate well and the rest of the lineup’s increased experience leads to more confidence, improvement is a possibility.
Potential Contributors: Adriana Popp (9.906 NQS), Courtney Blackson (9.894 NQS), Maddi Nilson (9.888), Samantha Smith (9.869), Hope Masiado (9.831), Erin Elkabchi (9.806), Erin Morden, Tessa Otuafi, Alyssa Vulaj, Elaina McGovern, Blake Pascal, Emma Loyim
How It Looked Before: Floor was one of the Broncos’ better events and their second-best statistically speaking. It was also a pretty consistent event overall.
How It Looks Now: All six regular lineup contributors from 2021 return this season. Add in the freshmen and the Broncos’ floor lineup is in good shape. Elaina McGovern’s routine fits the profile of recent floor contributors and features a front double full. Classmate Alyssa Vulaj’s set checks all the boxes of a good floor routine. Blake Pascal’s best chance to contribute is on floor, and Emma Loyim has a clean routine as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. This lineup was already good and should just get better with the addition of the newcomers.
It’s too early to tell for sure how Boise State will fair in 2022, but things are looking good for this team to continue to rise. A 2020-esque collapse is especially unlikely; expect the team to at least hold steady with its 2021 performance. The question is how much the Broncos can improve and if they can become an overall more consistent vault and beam team.
No. 25 Utah State
Utah State has been on the rise for the past few seasons. Last season was no different, and the team reached its highest final placement since 1999. The Aggies lose a large and impactful senior class; however, Sofi Sullivan returns after her opting out of 2021, and the Aggies bring in a large freshmen class highlighted by 3-star recruit Brie Clark of Biles I fame.
|Losses:||Lara Burhans (transfer to Arizona), Autumn DeHarde, Taylor Dittmar, Hadley Hamar (removed from roster), Tori Loomis (transfer to Michigan State), Mikaela Meyer, Leighton Varnadore, Logan Varnadore|
|Gains:||Molly Arnold, Trinity Brown, Brie Clark, Amari Evans, Dani Kirstine, Kielyn McCright, Brooke Wilson|
|Returning From Injury:||Sofi Sullivan (COVID opt-out)|
Potential Contributors: Rebecca Wells (9.825 NQS), Grace Rojas (9.819), Brianna Brooks (9.763), Angel Stuart, Sofi Sullivan, Brie Clark, Trinity Brown, Molly Arnold, Brooke Wilson
How It Looked Before: Vault was the Aggies’ second-best event last season.
How It Looks Now: The graduating seniors leave big holes to be filled on nearly every event, and vault is no exception. The Aggies are losing their top vault NQS from 2021 in Mikaela Meyer, among others. Luckily, Utah State’s large freshman class brings in a fresh crop of talent, and Sofi Sullivan returns as well. Freshman Brie Clark stands out on vault with a clean and dynamic Yurchenko full that hit 9.875 in level 10. Her classmate Trinity Brown also boasts a very clean full herself. Fellow freshmen Molly Arnold and Brooke Wilson have also competed solid Yurchenko fulls in level 10, and Arnold has even trained a Yurchenko one and a half in the past.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s too early to tell. The losses are big, and it will depend on how the freshmen adapt. There’s potential, but there’s a lot resting on newcomers.
Potential Contributors: Maia Fishwick (9.875 NQS), Grace Rojas (9.844), Brianna Brooks (9.844), Eve Jackson (9.825), Jessica Gutierrez (9.781), Lexi Aragon (1/11), Rebecca Wells (1/11), Sofi Sullivan, Dani Kirstine, Brooke Wilson, Brie Clark, Kielyn McCright, Amari Evans, Molly Arnold
How It Looked Before: Bars started out inconsistent for the Aggies in 2021, but they found their footing later on and ended up peaking in the low-49s.
How It Looks Now: The bar lineup is the least-impacted by the departing seniors. Sofi Sullivan should be back in the mix, and the freshmen have potential to bolster the lineup. This is freshman Dani Kirstine’s best event; she’s performed a routine featuring a Bhardwaj in the past, though she has also performed it with a Pak salto in its place. Classmate Brooke Wilson also has a great routine capped by a double layout dismount. Bars is probably Brie Clark’s worst event, but even her set has the potential to become a good college routine; she dismounts with a unique front pike half. Kielyn McCright also has potential to contribute, as do Amari Evans and Molly Arnold if they clean up some form.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? With relatively few losses and options to choose from, bars should be trending up if not at least keep pace with last season.
Potential Contributors: Rebecca Wells (9.875 NQS), Brianna Brooks (9.856), Carley Bayles (9.844), Lexi Aragon, Mikelle Ballard, Eve Jackson, Sofi Sullivan, Grace Rojas, Brie Clark, Kielyn McCright, Brooke Wilson, Amari Evans
How It Looked Before: Beam was Utah State’s best event last season, highlighted by perennial standout Autumn DeHarde, who held the team’s highest NQS.
How It Looks Now: Replacing the holes left by the graduated seniors won’t be easy. Sofi Sullivan made a name for herself on beam as a freshman after setting the school record of 9.975; she will certainly be a welcome readdition to the lineup. Brie Clark and Kielyn McCright stand out among the freshmen and should compete for lineup spots. Classmate Brooke Wilson performs a back handspring + layout acro series and a standing layout in her routine and could be in the mix as well. Amari Evans is also an option, but she’ll need to prove her consistency before making the top six.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. While there’s potential, there’s too many unknowns right now to truly predict how the beam squad will fare.
Potential Contributors: Rebecca Wells (9.856 NQS), Eve Jackson (9.838), Ariel Toomey (9.825), Jessica Gutierrez (9.788), Maia Fishwick, Sofi Sullivan, Brie Clark, Molly Arnold, Kielyn McCright, Trinity Brown, Amari Evans
How It Looked Before: Floor started out rough for Utah State, but it improved its score nearly every week.
How It Looks Now: The floor lineup is also hit hard by the graduated seniors, as two of the top three NQS scorers are now gone. Fortunately, the freshmen should be able to alleviate those losses, and Sofi Sullivan has competed floor in the past as well. Brie Clark is practically a lock to contribute. She’ll likely be the face of the lineup for the next four years with a clean, powerful and dynamic routine featuring none other than a Biles I (yes, a Biles I) opening pass. Here’s to hoping she keeps it in her college routine. Classmate Molly Arnold performs an E pass of her own with a tucked full-in and should have a shot at making the lineup as well. Kielyn McCright, Trinity Brown and Amari Evans could contribute if needed also.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Steady with the potential to trend up. It’ll be a hard task to replace the lost routines, but this team could do just that.
It’s hard to say for sure, but this Aggie team should be able to keep pace with last year’s performance and even has the potential to move up in the rankings. It’ll depend on how the large freshman class ultimately adapts and performs. Is this team up to the task, and can it sustain its continued improvement?
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Article by Tara Graeve
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