While the top half of the Pac-12 Conference was contending for titles in 2021, many of the teams in the bottom half were, unfortunately, having worse-than-normal seasons. Injuries, COVID opt-outs and restrictions plagued many of these teams, but with a plethora of 2021’s seniors using their extra year of eligibility and some of the Pac-12’s traditionally strong recruiting classes coming into play, many of these squads are primed for some big and exciting turnarounds over the next few months.
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. 22 Oregon State
After a sixth place finish in 2019, Oregon State has been, unfortunately, sliding down the rankings ever since, ending the 2021 season ranked 22nd in the country. There was promise with last season’s roster, but some untimely injuries led to a bars lineup unable to compete with most teams in the NCAA, ultimately leading to the Beavers falling out of the top half of the conference as well. However, with Olympic champion Jade Carey finally joining the team for the 2022 season, there is reason for optimism once again in Corvallis.
|Losses:||Lacy Dagen, Savannah Force, Lexie Gonzales, Lena Greene, Niya Mack, Jane Poniewaz (retired)|
|Gains:||Carley Beeman, Natalie Briones, Jade Carey, Karlie Chavez, Kaitlin Garcia, Phoebe Jakubczyk, Lauren Letzsch, Trinity Pyle, Brianna Yamamoto|
|Returning From Injury:||Anna Yeates, Grace Johnson|
Potential Contributors: Madi Dagen (9.925 NQS), Kaitlyn Yanish (9.869), Sydney Gonzales (9.863), Kristina Peterson (9.831), Kayla Bird (9.800), Natalie Briones, Jade Carey, Karlie Chavez, Kaitlin Garcia, Phoebe Jakubczyk, Lauren Letzsch, Ariana Young
How It Looked Before: Madi Dagen anchored the lineup with an often-stuck Yurchenko one and a half to lead a consistent vault rotation that finished 10th in NQS. Dagen was one of three 10.0 start values for the Beavers.
How It Looks Now: Oregon State returns a big portion of its lineup and is adding another 10.0 start value from Olympic vault finalist Carey into the mix. Several of the other freshmen are also bringing in lineup-worthy Yurchenko fulls.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. No doubt Carey will feature prominently in this lineup and likely give the Beavers a bump in score compared to last season while the freshman class will provide them with some always-welcome depth. The only question is, what will Carey vault?
Potential Contributors: Kayla Bird (9.806 NQS), Madi Dagen (9.750), Kaitlyn Hoiland (9.744), Ariana Young (9.694), Carley Beeman, Natalie Briones, Jade Carey, Jenna Domingo, Phoebe Jakubczyk, Lauren Letzsch, Kristina Peterson, Kaitlyn Yanish
How It Looked Before: Bars was a huge struggle for Oregon State in 2021, ending the season ranked 48th on and failing to break 49 even once.
How It Looks Now: Carey and British elite Phoebe Jakubczyk both have big skills and the ability to bring in big scores right away. But with only Kayla Bird returning with an NQS above 9.800, the Beavers have a lot of work to do on bars.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The aforementioned trio should bring some stability to the latter end of the Beavers’ lineup, but there are too many questions as to who can step into the lineup’s first three slots.
Potential Contributors: Madi Dagen (9.913 NQS), Jenna Domingo (9.875), Kristina Peterson (9.869), Sydney Gonzales (9.838), Ariana Young (9.838), Kayla Bird (9.713), Natalie Briones, Jade Carey, Phoebe Jakubczyk, Lauren Letzsch
How It Looked Before: Oregon State lacked a true standout routine on beam, but put out consistent sets on a weekly basis to end the season inside the top 20 in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Much of last season’s consistent lineup returns while elites Carey and Jakubczyk should yet again be immediate factors on this event for the Beavers.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Beam is a relatively weak spot for this freshman class outside of Carey and Jakubczyk, but the returning experience should bode well for Oregon State.
Potential Contributors: Kaitlyn Yanish (9.925 NQS), Kayla Bird (9.900), Madi Dagen (9.894), Kristina Peterson (9.875), Natalie Briones, Jade Carey, Karlie Chavez, Sydney Gonzales, Phoebe Jakubczyk, Lauren Letzsch, Trinity Pyle
How It Looked Before: Kaitlyn Yanish highlighted a floor rotation that was Oregon State’s best and most consistent event. The Beavers tied for 14th in the final NQS standings.
How It Looks Now: Depth may be an issue here, as only four lineup regulars from last season return. However, the combination of Yanish and Olympic floor champion Carey has the potential to be the best one-two punch in the country this season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. As long as injuries don’t make depth an issue, the Beavers have the pieces to build upon last season’s successes on floor.
The Beavers are overall trending in the right direction. After a rocky season for the program, a big and talented freshman class should help Oregon State challenge for a return to the top half of the conference. With a lot of the burden and attention this season likely to fall onto Carey’s shoulders, is the NCAA newcomer up to the task?
No. 27 Arizona
The 2021 season saw Arizona replicate its 27th place ranking from the 2020 season. The Wildcats struggled to pick up steam on vault and beam, with consistency issues plaguing team totals throughout the season. However, with a freshman class full of promising freshmen, Arizona may be able to fix some of its consistency issues in 2022.
|Losses:||Payton Bellows, Laura Leigh Horton, Courtney Tsunoda (medical retirement)|
|Gains:||Alysen Fears, Elizabeth Larusso, Emily Mueller|
Potential Contributors: Malia Hargrove (9.850 NQS), Jessica Castles (9.844), Danielle Nosek (9.763), Caroline Herry (9.725), Elizabeth Larusso, Emily Mueller
How It Looked Before: Arizona finished 41st in NQS on vault in 2021, a significant difference from its 23rd place finish in 2020. It lost major vaulters like Jenny Leung, Maddie Leydin and Heather Swason and struggled to fill that hole.
How It Looks Now: Bellows and Horton were both relatively consistent vaulters, though both Mueller and Larusso have solid Yurchenko fulls that the Wildcats could use to replace them. Arizona will probably lack in difficulty without any 10.0 start values for the second season in a row.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Mueller and Larusso are promising, but the Wildcats will need to work on their vault consistency and consider adding some difficulty to ensure improvement.
Potential Contributors: Elana Deets (9.856 NQS), Malie Hargrove (9.831), Bailey McCabe (9.819), Mackinzie Kane (9.800), Sirena Linton (9.769), Taylor Raskin (9.738), Alysen Fears, Elizabeth Larusso
How It Looked Before: Last season bars was the worst it had been for Arizona in quite some time. However, ranked 35th it wasn’t too different from its No. 31 finish in 2020. The Wildcats saw growth in their bars scores as the season progressed but took a downfall in the last four weeks of the season.
How It Looks Now: Freshman Alysen Fears took first at the 2021 level 10 national championships on bars and provides hope for the Wildcats. With her help, they may be able to make some strides on their weakest event.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. If Arizona is able to keep its scores consistent throughout the entire season and Fears performs to the best of her ability, it will have a chance of improving its scores.
Potential Contributors: Elena Deets (9.619 NQS), Jessica Castles (9.881), Sirena Linton (9.863), Caroline Herry (9.825), Mackenzie Barile (9.813), Avery Stauffacher (9.806), Alysen Fears
How It Looked Before: Last season the Wildcats struggled most with their consistency on beam. They finished the 2021 season ranked 32nd here, a stark contrast to their 23rd rank in 2020. When they hit, they could score well, but they struggled to stay on the beam and put up five clean sets on too many occasions.
How It Looks Now: Neither Bellows nor Horton did beam, so the Wildcats don’t have to worry about trying to fill a gap left by their departure. Like on bars, Fears is a promising beam worker for Arizona and has a history of being quite consistent.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Arizona needs to work out its consistency issues to improve its beam scores from 2021, but there is nothing stopping it from reaching its potential.
Potential Contributors: Malia Hargrove (9.875 NQS), Jessica Castles (9.863), Libby Orman (9.844), Elena Deets (9.831), Danielle Nosek (9.806), Alysen Fears, Elizabeth Larusso
How It Looked Before: The Wildcats saw improvement in their floor ranking from 2020, ranking 35th in 2020 and 32nd in 2021. With a few exceptions, their floor scores remained relatively consistent throughout the season. Malia Hargrove was a consistent, high-scoring standout staple in floor lineups.
How It Looks Now: Arizona is losing Horton, who was one of its most reliable floor workers throughout the 2021 season. However, both Fears and Larusso should be able to help fill that gap right away.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Losing a floor worker who the Wildcats could always count on is troublesome for a team that struggles with general consistency, but Arizona’s incoming freshmen could be the key to solving this problem.
Trending up, tentatively. Arizona’s incoming freshmen have the potential to lead the team to more consistent scores, but the team must focus on getting overall scores up as well. The question is, will the Wildcats be able to bring both of these pieces together?
No. 42 Washington
After spending the previous five seasons inside the top 20 and contending for NCAA championship appearances, Washington took a bit of a dive in 2021 with a 42nd place final ranking after struggling with depth and consistency all season long. Now with a new coaching staff and a top 20 freshman class, the Huskies will be looking to make a dramatic turnaround to once again vie for a spot in the top half of the Pac-12.
|Losses:||Talia Brovedani, Katie McNamara (transfer to UCLA), Allie Smith|
|Gains:||Ashley Blum, Kennedi Davis (transfer from Arizona), Deiah-Marie Moody, Lana Navarro|
|Returning From Injury:||Brenna Brooks|
Potential Contributors: Geneva Thompson (9.875 NQS), Amara Cunningham (9.850), Skylar Killough-Wilhelm (9.806), Isa Weiss (9.650), Lauren Thomas (9.563), Ashley Blum, Brenna Brooks, Kennedi Davis, Deiah-Marie Moody, Lana Navarro
How It Looked Before: Vault certainly wasn’t Washington’s strength last season, but it was its most consistent event. The Huskies finished 28th in NQS with only two 10.0 start values in the lineup.
How It Looks Now: Amara Cunningham and Geneva Thompson have some of the best Yurchenko fulls in the NCAA, but the Huskies are losing both of its 10.0 start values from last season and will likely suffer in the difficulty department. Thompson has been showing an upgraded one and a half in preseason training, and Navarro competed a one and a half in level 10—both of which Washington is going to need to contend.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Unless some of the upgraded vaults the Huskies have shown off in preseason training videos actually materialize, difficulty looks like it may be the Achilles heel for this lineup in 2022.
Potential Contributors: Geneva Thompson (9.881 NQS), Skylar Killough-Wilhelm (9.856), Morgan Bowles (9.756), Gabi Wickman (9.725), Lauren Thomas (9.681), Ashley Blum, Brenna Brooks, Deiah-Marie Moody, Lana Navarro
How It Looked Before: Finishing 38th in NQS, bars inconsistency was consistently a challenge for Washington all last season.
How It Looks Now: Freshman Deiah-Marie Moody brings in a set that should feature prominently in a lineup that looks as if it will lack both depth and a true standout routine. However, Washington will be returning a bulk of its bar workers from 2021.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. With many of last season’s lineup regulars returning, one can hope that last season’s experience will translate into some form of improved consistency. If not, bars could yet again be a challenge for Washington.
Potential Contributors: Skylar Killough-Wilhelm (9.813 NQS), Lauren Thomas (9.806), Morgan Bowles (9.775), Cathay Eksteen (9.769), Geneva Thompson (9.563), Ashley Blum, Brenna Brooks, Kennedi Davis, Deiah-Marie Moody, Lana Navarro, Taylor Russon
How It Looked Before: At times, Washington showed it had the pieces to succeed on beam. However, inconsistency was an issue on this event as well, culminating in a No. 40 ranking in NQS.
How It Looks Now: The Huskies are returning a few of their major contributors on beam, but this is also where the class of newcomers looks to make its biggest impact. Kennedi Davis was a beam star at Arizona two seasons ago, and freshman Ashley Blum is a former J.O. national beam champion with plenty of difficult skills to show off.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Washington once again has the pieces in place to be competitive on beam. It’s all going to come down to how consistent the lineup can be.
Potential Contributors: Amara Cunningham (9.931 NQS), Geneva Thompson (9.869), Skylar Killough-Wilhelm (9.856), Gabi Wickman (9.625), Ashley Blum, Brenna Brooks, Kennedi Davis, Deiah-Marie Moody, Lana Navarro, Isa Weiss
How It Looked Before: Floor was, by far, Washington’s best and most consistent event in 2021. The Huskies’ scores trended up as the season progressed, finishing 26th in NQS.
How It Looks Now: With impressive sets from Cunningham and Thompson returning, floor once again looks promising for the Huskies. However, there’s questions surrounding the team’s floor depth with only four floor performers from 2021 coming back.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. While floor could easily be Washington’s best event yet again, any sort of injury could spell disaster with the depth issue looming.
Despite last season’s struggles and the flurry of transfers and opt-outs over the summer, Washington has the pieces to make significant strides this season. Skylar Killough-Wilhelm could have a breakout sophomore year after gaining tons of experience in 2021, and there should be plenty of complimentary routines around her as long as the Huskies can stay healthy. New coaches are always an interesting situation as well, and with Washington, how big will their impact be on a relatively experienced team?
No. 52 Stanford
With the heavy COVID restrictions in place for Stanford last season, limiting it to competing only five times, it’s nearly impossible to judge the Cardinal on its performances. Thankfully, with a majority of the team returning after opting out due to COVID, as well as a strong freshman class, the Cardinal has the potential to make a big statement and erase the memory of last season.
|Losses:||Rachael Flam, Grace Garcia|
|Gains:||Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Brenna Neault, Katya Sander|
|Returning From Injury:||Lauren Navarro (COVID opt-out), Taylor Lawson (COVID opt-out), Wesley Stephenson (COVID opt-out), Grace Waguespack (COVID opt-out)|
Potential Contributors: Kyla Bryant (9.831 NQS), Chloe Widner (9.813), Sandra Jessen (9.631), Amanda Zeng (9.431), Ira Alexeeva, Madison Brunette, Jade Chrobok, Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Morgan Hoang, Lauren Navarro, Brenna Neault, Isabela Onyshko, Katya Sander
How It Looked Before: Only two gymnasts, Kyla Bryant and Chloe Widner, were able to break the 9.800 barrier on vault for Stanford last season. It was a consistent event for the Cardinal, but it only finished 51st in NQS.
How It Looks Now: Freshman Anapaula Gutierrez is bringing in a much needed Yurchenko one and a half that will give Stanford a bit of difficulty and be a nice compliment to the big fulls from Bryant and Widner. The Cardinal should have much more depth on vault with the freshman class and COVID opt-outs able to fill out a decent lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. The new 10.0 start values should make an immediate impact on Stanford’s vault scores, but overall the Cardinal are seeming to lack difficulty compared to its other Pac-12 competitors.
Potential Contributors: Kyla Bryant (9.850 NQS), Madison Brunette (9.763), Chloe Widner (9.694), Amanda Zeng (9.338), Ira Alexeeva, Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Taylor Lawson, Evelyn Micco, Brenna Neault, Isabela Onyshko, Katya Sander, Adela Stonecipher, Grace Waguespack
How It Looked Before: Depth and hitting were major issues for Stanford on bars last season. The Cardinal was only able to field six routines on bars twice last season and counted a fall on three occasions.
How It Looks Now: Despite last season’s struggles, Stanford is poised for a huge rebound on bars. WOGA-trained Russian elite Ira Alexeeva could immediately anchor this lineup with her worlds experience, alongside Canadian Olympian Isabela Onyshko who should factor into the lineup as well after redshirting last season. Freshmen Brenna Neault and Katya Sander both bring in lineup-worthy sets, and Taylor Lawson should return as a lineup regular to give the Cardinal plenty of depth.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Usually a complete lineup overhaul isn’t a great sign for a team, but after Stanford’s challenges on bars and the promise of the newcomers, it has a reason to believe bars can only get better.
Potential Contributors: Chloe Widner (9.850 NQS), Morgan Hoang (9.756), Kyla Bryant (9.688), Sandra Jessen (9.231), Ira Alexeeva, Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Taylor Lawson, Lauren Navarro, Brenna Neault, Isabela Onyshko, Katya Sander, Wesley Stephenson, Sze En Tan
How It Looked Before: Beam was the biggest difficulty for Stanford in 2021. The Cardinal was only able to field a full lineup of six twice, and it counted nine sub-9.5 scores in its five meets.
How It Looks Now: Similar to bars, Stanford looks like it should have plenty of depth on beam with all of the freshmen and many of the returnees bringing usable routines to the table. As long as it can improve on its consistency, Stanford should expect a much more competitive lineup this season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With the depth the Cardinal is expected to have on beam, it shouldn’t have a problem outperforming its 2021 results.
Potential Contributors: Chloe Widner (9.831 NQS), Morgan Hoang (9.825), Amanda Zeng (9.800), Kyla Bryant (9.669), Sandra Jessen (9.656), Ira Alexeeva, Madison Brunette, Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Taylor Lawson, Lauren Navarro, Brenna Neault, Isabela Onyshko, Katya Sander
How It Looked Before: Floor was the strength of the 2021 squad and the only event where it broke 49.000. It finished the season ranked 44th in NQS, the best of any event.
How It Looks Now: The Cardinal is returning three NQSs above 9.800, and one would assume Kyla Bryant will be out for floor revenge after a few stumbles during the regular season tanked her number. Again, depth will be a strength for Stanford as Lawson, Neault and both the Gutierrezes could all factor into the lineup as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Floor has been the strength of this Cardinal squad the previous few seasons, and with Bryant likely to anchor the lineup yet again, things are primed to continue improving.
With the talent and depth Stanford has on its roster, it’s going to be nearly impossible for the Cardinal to finish the 2022 season ranked in the 50s. Bryant will be looking to make the most of her bonus year and could be the leader Stanford needs to right the ship and become competitive with the top half of the conference once again. However, a lot of the pressure will be on the freshmen and those who sat out last year to give the Cardinal the depth needed to challenge for wins. Will the freshmen be able to live up to that pressure, and are the returnees going to look the same as they did in 2020? Time will tell.
Article by Brandis Heffner and Katie Simons
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