With Utah’s third place finish at the NCAA championships last season, 2021 was quite normal for the Pac-12 Conference in terms of national relevance. However, the top half of the conference standings got a bit of a shakeup compared to most years, with Arizona State and California emerging as title contenders and perennial power UCLA taking a step back and dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since 2015. Now, with much of the conference returning their 2021 lineups and bringing in star-studded recruiting classes, the Pac-12 will once again be must-see TV, with four teams with a realistic shot of making the NCAA championship final this season.
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. 3 Utah
After spending a majority of the season in the top five but seemingly just a step behind the top few contenders, Utah put forth its best gymnastics of the season at the right time to claim the Pac-12 championship title before carrying that momentum to finish third at the NCAA championships. This year, prospects are high yet again for the Utes as they return all but one gymnast and bring in a freshman class featuring two Olympic medalists, an Olympic alternate and a level 10 national champion.
|Gains:||Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan, Sage Thompson|
|Returning From Injury:||Jillian Hoffman|
Potential Contributors: Alexia Burch (9.931 NQS), Cammy Hall (9.881), Jaedyn Rucker (9.881), Maile O’Keefe (9.875), Lucy Stanhope (9.869), Cristal Isa (9.838), Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan, Alani Sabado, Sage Thompson
How It Looked Before: With the exception of the Pac-12 championship meet, Utah stuck to the same lineup of six throughout the entire season on vault. The Utes finished seventh in NQS with a lineup consisting of two Yurchenko fulls and four one and a halves.
How It Looks Now: Every vaulter from last season returns, and all four freshmen should have at least a lineup-worthy Yurchenko full that will give Utah some much needed depth.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With six seasoned vaults coming back and likely another 10.0 start value from freshman Grace McCallum, the Utes should be able to compete with any team on the event with both difficulty and depth.
Potential Contributors: Maile O’Keefe (9.925 NQS), Cristal Isa (9.919), Alexia Burch (9.838), Abby Paulson (9.831), Alani Sabado (9.819), Kara Eaker, Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan, Jaedyn Rucker, Lucy Stanhope, Sage Thompson
How It Looked Before: The weakest event for the Utes in 2021, Utah rarely had misses on bars but too often found itself getting stuck in the 9.800s. The Utes ended ranked 15th in NQS, the only event where they finished outside the top 10.
How It Looks Now: Bars is the only event where Utah is losing a lineup regular, but yet again, each of the freshmen are bringing in a set that could easily be of benefit to this lineup. Adding a bronze medalist on bars from the 2021 European Championships in Amelie Morgan should be a huge bonus as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Utah should have plenty of depth on bars to be able to find options to bring in multiple 9.9-plus scores by the time the postseason rolls around.
Potential Contributors: Maile O’Keefe (9.975 NQS), Abby Paulson (9.950), Cristal Isa (9.938), Alexia Burch (9.888), Adrienne Randall (9.888), Lucy Stanhope (9.838), Kara Eaker, Jaylene Gilstrap, Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan, Sage Thompson
How It Looked Before: Notching the third highest NQS in the NCAA, beam was the premiere event for the Utes last season. Maile O’Keefe nearly put up a perfect 10 in the anchor spot every week.
How It Looks Now: The Utes aren’t losing any lineup regulars and are going to get a huge boost from freshman and world beam finalist Kara Eaker, who could give O’Keefe a run for her money.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up/even. It’s hard to imagine arguably the best beam lineup in the country getting better, but that might just be the reality for Utah this season.
Potential Contributors: Sydney Soloski (9.950 NQS), Jaedyn Rucker (9.925), Maile O’Keefe (9.919), Abby Paulson (9.900), Lucy Stanhope (9.888), Cristal Isa (9.844), Jaylene Gilstrap (9.806), Kara Eaker, Jillian Hoffman, Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan, Adrienne Randall, Sage Thompson
How It Looked Before: Finishing fourth in NQS, floor came on strong for Utah at the end of the season and played a big part in its rise to third in the country.
How It Looks Now: Once again, the Utes are returning the entirety of their 2021 lineup and are adding four freshmen who can immediately factor into the top six. They’re also bringing back a solid set from injury returnee Jillian Hoffman.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Utah should have so much depth on floor that it will be hard for the coaching staff to pick the most ideal lineup every week.
With this roster, the Utes should be right in the thick of the championship conversation all season long. After putting out roughly the same lineup each week last season, expect the opposite from Utah this year with the insane depth it should have across the board. All eyes will be on this stellar freshman class to see how well it adjusts to NCAA gymnastics. If it does, is this finally the roster to return Utah to championship glory?
No. 7 California
After tying the program record for best finish at the NCAA championships, the Golden Bears are returning all but one routine from the postseason lineup that finished less than a tenth back from advancing to the national final. With big names like Nina Schank and Emi Watterson all exercising their COVID years, California looks like it will once again have the depth and talent to make a real run at a top four finish. However, with stalwart Kyana George likely out for the season with injury, the Golden Bears are going to need a new star to emerge for a real shot at a title.
|Losses:||Alma Kuc, Victoria Salem|
|Gains:||Ella Cesario, Jordan Kane, Mya Lauzon, Abbey Scanlon, Madelyn Williams|
|Returning From Injury:||Elise Byun|
Potential Contributors: Nevaeh DeSouza (9.919 NQS), Andi Li (9.863), Nina Schank (9.856), Milan Clausi (9.838), Maya Bordas (9.819), Elise Byun, Ella Cesario, Talitha Jones, Jordan Kane, Mya Lauzon, Natalie Sadighi, Abbey Scanlon, Abi Solari, Madelyn Williams
How It Looked Before: Vault was far from a strength for the Golden Bears in 2021, struggling often with sticks and putting up 10.0 start values to finish just ninth in NQS.
How It Looks Now: California has the benefit of retaining a majority of its vault lineup while also adding a Yurchenko one and a half from freshman Mya Lauzon to give itself a much needed boost in difficulty.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. While vault likely still won’t be California’s best event, it should be able to build upon its lineup from last year with added depth and difficulty.
Potential Contributors: Nina Schank (9.931 NQS), Andi Li (9.925), Maya Bordas (9.906), Nevaeh DeSouza (9.906), Maya Green (9.800), Emi Watterson (9.738), Ella Cesario, Talitha Jones, Mya Lauzon, Gabby Perea, Madelyn Williams
How It Looked Before: The Golden Bears topped the country in NQS on this event despite standout bar worker Emi Watterson battling through a very inconsistent season.
How It Looks Now: California has one lineup regular to replace here and if Watterson can fix her consistency issues, it shouldn’t have a problem replicating last year’s success on bars. However, if they can’t, the Golden Bears could have trouble finding that extra routine from its freshman class.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending even. It’s impossible to surpass last season’s top ranking on bars, but California has the pieces to maintain that level of success.
Potential Contributors: Nevaeh DeSouza (9.894 NQS), Andi Li (9.888), Maya Bordas (9.881), Milan Clausi (9.863), Emi Waterson (9.863), Ella Cesario, Talitha Jones, Jordan Kane, Mya Lauzon, Gabby Perea, Abbey Scanlon, Nina Schank, Madelyn Williams
How It Looked Before: After a rough start to the season on beam, California built throughout the season to finish strong and end up inside the top 10 in NQS, ranking ninth.
How It Looks Now: George’s absence will be felt here as she notched the highest NQS of all returnees on beam, but, With five out of six members returning from a strong lineup, the Golden Bears have the pieces to be one of the most impressive beam lineups in the NCAA.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Like vault, as long as California builds upon what it established on beam in 2021 and can find a suitable replacement for George, it shouldn’t have much of a problem improving in 2022.
Potential Contributors: Grace Quinn (9.894 NQS), Milan Clausi (9.881), Maya Bordas (9.875), Nevaeh DeSouza (9.875), Nina Schank (9.744), Andi Li (9.613), Ella Cesario, Maya Green, Jordan Kane, Mya Lauzon, Abbey Scanlon, Abi Solari, Madelyn Williams
How It Looked Before: Even without a plethora of E level passes, California managed to finish in the top 10 in NQS on its second best event.
How It Looks Now: Floor is the event where each of the freshmen, particularly Ella Cesario, look like they could make an impact in the lineup, adding to the already strong five lineup members the Golden Bears are returning. George once again had the highest returning NQS on the event, but Cesario looks like she could be an immediate solution to this lineup hole.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With each of the freshmen likely contributing a lineup-ready routine, depth will be a huge asset for California on floor.
If all goes according to plan, the Golden Bears will yet again be making waves not only in the Pac-12, but nationally. However, with George’s injury, California has a huge hole to fill across three events to be able to maintain its current top 10 status. Will the Golden Bears be able to find a suitable replacement to step in for the big scores lost from George?
No. 9 Arizona State
The Sun Devils were one of the most improved teams in 2021, making an astounding leap into the top 10 after spending over a decade ranked outside the top 20. Arizona State will certainly miss Cairo Leonard-Baker and the three giant scores she brought in weekly, but with two freshmen capable of contributing routines from the start, Arizona State may be contending for a permanent place in the top 10 this season.
|Losses:||Cairo Leonard-Baker, Maya Williams|
|Gains:||Mallory Marcheli, Alex Theodorou|
Potential Contributors: Anaya Smith (9.913 NQS), Hannah Scharf (9.881), Jada Mangahas (9.831), Emily White (9.819), Cassi Barbanente (9.788), Juliette Boyer, Jordyn Jaslow, Mallory Marcheli, Gracie Reeves, Alex Theodorou
How It Looked Before: The Sun Devils put out one of the most frequently stuck vault lineups in recent memory, but they lacked in the difficulty department with only one 10.0 start. They finished the season ranked 13th in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Arizona State is finally adding some difficulty in freshman Alex Theodorou’s Yurchenko half-on front tuck half, but with only two 10.0 start values, it will still lack in difficulty compared to other top 10 teams. Sticks will remain important.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Theodorou’s vault will be a big help, but adding Gracie Reeve’s tucked Yurchenko one and a half that was absent last season back to the lineup is necessary for the Sun Devils to compete with the championship contending teams.
Potential Contributors: Sarah Clark (9.894 NQS), Juliette Boyer (9.881), Hannah Scharf (9.881), Emily White (9.869), Gracie Reeves (9.788), Cassi Barbanente, Mallory Marcheli, Alex Theodorou
How It Looked Before: This was the most consistent event for Arizona State all season long, finishing ranked just outside the top 10 and setting a season high at the right time in the postseason.
How It Looks Now: The Sun Devils are losing their best routine and don’t return any NQS in the 9.900s, but they are returning five consistent bar workers and adding Theodorou, who could also contribute here immediately.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Bars certainly will not be a weakness of Arizona State’s in 2022, but without a standout routine to showcase and anchor the rotation, it could be susceptible to being outscored on bars by a team with a little more starpower.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Scharf (9.888 NQS), Sarah Clark (9.881), Emily White (9.875), Megan Thompson (9.856), Jasmine Gutierrez (9.813), Gracie Reeves (9.813), Jada Mangahas (9.731), Juliette Boyer, Mallory Marcheli, Alex Theodorou
How It Looked Before: Beam was the one event where Arizona State fell victim to inconsistency last season, finishing ranked 20th in NQS.
How It Looks Now: With every beam worker from last season returning, the Sun Devils should be able to vastly improve upon last season’s results if the consistency issues are negated.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Assuming consistency improves with experience, Arizona State should have the depth to bring in competitive scores on beam with freshman Mallory Marcheli bringing in a lineup-contending set.
Potential Contributors: Hannah Scharf (9.925 NQS), Jada Mangahas (9.881), Juliette Boyer (9.869), Sarah Clark (9.850), Gracie Reeves (9.800), Jasmine Gutierrez, Mallory Marcheli, Alex Theodorou, Megan Thompson, Emily White
How It Looked Before: After some early season woes, the Sun Devils produced consistent performances throughout the season to notch their highest NQS of the season.
How It Looks Now: Arizona State is returning five of its lineup regulars, with Theodorou likely to factor into the back half of the lineup from the get go as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Although Arizona State is bringing back a bulk of its lineup, like bars, it needs to find a standout routine or two to rely on for scores above 9.900.
The big question for Arizona State this season is where will its big, 9.9-plus scores come from? Junior all arounder Hannah Scharf will surely bring in plenty, but somebody else is going to need to step into the spot vacated by Leonard-Baker if the Sun Devils want to make a true push at qualifying for the NCAA championships as a team.
No. 12 UCLA
Compared to most seasons, UCLA struggled in 2021. Between the loss of major assets, like Kyla Ross and Gracie Kramer, and the deferment of several gymnasts to train for the postponed 2020 Olympics, its scores and consistency were seriously impacted. However, the incoming freshman class holds incredible potential, with two Olympians in Jordan Chiles and Brooklyn Moors, an Olympic alternate in Emma Malabuyo, and several other high caliber gymnasts, the Bruins probably have the most potential of any team this year.
|Losses:||Nia Dennis, Savannah Kooyman, Nicole Shapiro, Lilia Waller|
|Gains:||Jordan Chiles, Mia Erdoes, Alexis Jeffrey, Emily Lee, Emma Malabuyo, Katie McNamara (transfer from Washington), Brooklyn Moors, Ana Padurariu|
|Returning From Injury:||Norah Flatley, Chloe Lashbrooke, Kalyany Steele|
Potential Contributors: Chae Campbell (9.900 NQS), Pauline Tratz (9.863), Kendal Poston (9.863), Margzetta Frazier (9.844), Sekai Wright (9.781), Emma Andres, Jordan Chiles, Emily Lee, Brooklyn Moors
How It Looked Before: UCLA lacked vaults with a 10.0 start value last season, with only Kendal Poston and Sekai Wright starting above 9.950. It was relatively consistent but faced landing issues often. The Bruins finished eighth in NQS on vault at the end of last season, lower than in years past.
How It Looks Now: The Bruins have some promising vaults. Chae Campbell has been training a Yurchenko one and a half, and freshman Jordan Chiles, Brooklyn Moors and Emily Lee (if healthy) should all have 10.0 start values. Given the only major vaulter they lost was Nia Dennis, the incoming class should be able to easily fill her shoes.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. There is no doubt that the Bruin’s vault lineup has the potential to be better than last year. The Bruins are set to bring up their vault scores from last year, and these lineups are very promising.
Potential Contributors: Margzetta Frazier (9.944 NQS), Frida Esparza (9.900), Chae Campbell (9.844), Sara Ulias (9.881), Jordan Chiles, Norah Flatley, Alexis Jeffery, Emma Malabuyo, Brooklyn Moors, Ana Padurariu, Kalyany Steele, Sara Taubman
How It Looked Before: Missing key bar workers Norah Flatley and Kalyany Steele, the UCLA bar lineup last season struggled to adjust to the new lineups. While its three freshmen, Frida Esparza, Sara Ulias and Campbell had some standout routines, the team struggled with consistency and depth.
How It Looks Now: Between the incoming freshman class, and Flatley returning from injury (Steele’s upper body injury is healed but she’s been spotted in a boot this fall), the UCLA bar lineup is looking quite strong. It had really struggled because of the slim number of healthy options last year, but the newcomers look to change that.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. This lineup has incredible potential. It is stacked with great bar workers, and as long as they’re consistent, the Bruins should be able to reestablish themselves as one of the top teams on this event.
Potential Contributors: Samantha Sakti (9.919 NQS), Chae Campbell (9.894), Margzetta Frazier (9.869), Frida Esparza (9.869), Kendal Poston (9.850), Jordan Chiles, Norah Flatley, Emily Lee, Emma Malabuyo, Brooklyn Moors, Katie McNamara, Ana Padurariu
How It Looked Before: The Bruins struggled most on beam last year, finishing 19th in NQS. That’s a stark comparison to their fifth place standing in 2020. They lacked consistency and overall seemed to have an off year, with scores much lower than normal. Even some of their best beam workers, like Samantha Sakti, had some unpredictable scores throughout the 2021 campaign.
How It Looks Now: As long as it can nail down its consistency, UCLA’s lineup is stacked. Moors, Padurariu, Chiles and Malabuyo all have the skills and the experience to make themselves staples in the beam lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With Flatley back and the talent of the incoming class, the Bruins’ scores are promising to be much higher than 2021.
Potential Contributors: Chae Campbell (9.938 NQS), Margzetta Frazier (9.931), Pauline Tratz (9.931), Sekai Wright (9.869), Emma Andres (9.819), Norah Flatley, Jordan Chiles, Emily Lee (if healthy), Emma Malabuyo, Brooklyn Moors, Ana Padurariu
How It Looked Before: Despite the issues of last year’s season, UCLA was able to remain relatively strong on floor, ranking sixth by the end. Again, the team struggled with consistency, but Campbell, Frazier and Dennis were often able to hit their routines. The Bruins also had their most depth on floor, which proved impactful.
How It Looks Now: While they’ve lost Dennis, a crowd favorite, the Bruins should have some newcomers who will be able to make up for the loss, both in scores and performance quality. When Chiles hits her floor routine, they should have great scoring potential, and several other freshmen are capable of becoming members of the top six, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. While Dennis’ viral routines may be missed, there are plenty of freshmen who should be able to step up to the plate. If UCLA can nail down a consistent lineup, it should be able to return to their top five floor ranking.
After an uncharacteristic 2021 season, this year promises to be much more typical for UCLA. With eight new members who should all be able to contribute, there should be a large improvement from last year. However, even with such a stacked class, if the Bruins want to return to a top five ranking, they must work on their consistency and must have their freshmen prepared to compete by January. This raises the question: Do the Bruins have what it takes to reach their former glory?
READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MIC
Article by Brandis Heffner and Katie Simons
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NO mention of Maya Bordas of CAL on bars??
She is a national champion on that event!
To quote Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”
According to training videos on Twitter, it looks like Hannah Scharf of ASU upgraded her vault to a Y1.5.