The MAC is a great conference particularly because of the parity among the programs. Some of the teams in the bottom half of the conference had a rough 2021, mainly because of issues with depth and consistency. However, many of the schools have large classes of talented freshmen who have the capacity to make 2022 even more exciting.
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. 37 Ball State
The past two season were both great for the Cardinals. They have been on an upward trajectory the past few years, breaking records right out of the gate. Unfortunately, the team has been known to fizzle a bit near the end of the season.
|Losses:||Claudia Goyco, Arden Hudson, Bri Slonim|
|Gains:||Cailene Afalla, Erica Cooper, Ariana Gilley, Grace Sumner|
Potential Contributors: Victoria Henry (9.850 NQS), Marissa Nychyk (9.819), Stefanie Schwikert (9.800), Suki Pfister (9.650), Sandra Elsadek, Alivia Ostendorf, Hannah Ruthberg, Ariana Gilley, Cailene Afalla
How It Looked Before: Vault was a strong event for the Cardinals. Multiple athletes had NQSs over 9.800, led by Victoria Henry and Marissa Nychyk, as well as seniors Arden Hudson and Bri Slonim. Beyond the core group of vaulters, several other athletes got to throw their hat into the ring as well, gaining valuable experience.
How It Looks Now: Losing Hudson and Slonim will hurt, but this is where Ball State’s use of different lineups last season will come in handy. Now, athletes like Elsadek and Ostendorf have some experience under their belt rather than being thrown into the lineup without warning. On top of that, incoming freshman Ariana Gilley is expected to make an impact on vault, and classmate Cailene Afalla could very well do the same.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? 2022 has the potential to be a great vault year for Ball State. One of the problems the team ran into last season was a lack of depth in the second half of the season, but with a few new faces and the valuable experience gained in 2021, vault should be a solid event for the Cardinals.
Potential Contributors: Grace Evans (9.863 NQS), Megan Teter (9.863), Victoria Henry (9.825), Hannah Ruthberg (9.800), Marissa Nychyk (9.781), Kelly Sulek, Grace Sumner
How It Looked Before: Bars was Ball State’s best event in 2021 and ironically the one in which it had the least depth. Ball State kept to the same lineup most weeks—but with good reason. The lineup consistently brought in solid scores and had the smallest downswing as the season wore on.
How It Looks Now: The Cardinals are only losing one key routine from that stellar lineup and will be adding freshman Grace Sumner, a great bars swinger.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Bars should continue to be a standout event for the Cardinals. They found a formula that works, and hopefully Sumner or Kelly Sulek can slide right into the spot vacated by Hudson. Of course, having such an unchanging bar lineup can become an issue as the season goes on and injury and exhaustion take hold. Ball State should be confident in the bars squad it has, but it would not hurt to give a few other athletes some more experience.
Potential Contributors: Taylor Waldo (9.844 NQS), Marissa Nychyk (9.831), Hannah Ruthberg (9.788), Alivia Ostendorf (9.763), Suki Pfister, Lauren Volpe, Sandra Elsadek, Grace Sumner
How It Looked Before: The Cardinals struggled on beam in 2021. It was by far their lowest-ranked event with an NQS of 48.775. Hudson led the team on the event while there were several other staples, such as Marissa Nychyk and Alivia Ostendorf. Ball State tried to make use of its depth but could not figure out how to consistently stay on the beam.
How It Looks Now: This year, the Cardinals will be missing both Hudson and Slonim, but most of the other key players remain. Ball State will also add Grace Sumner, who should make an impact early on. Still, it’s difficult to predict whether the team will continue to struggle with consistency.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Ball State had a hard time on beam last year, but the team did the right thing to try and fix it. The Cardinals tried different lineups to see how different athletes handled the pressure, and even if it didn’t pay off in the moment, each athlete who went up gained more experience that could help them in 2022. Beam is a big question mark for Ball State this year—it has the potential to either go up or down.
Potential Contributors: Alivia Ostendorf (9.856 NQS), Megan Teter (9.856), Hannah Ruthberg (9.838), Marissa Nychyk (9.806), Taylor Waldo (9.788), Victoria Henry (9.744), Sandra Elsadek (9.588), Ariana Gilley
How It Looked Before: Floor was a solid event for Ball State. Led by senior Claudia Goyco, the floor lineup was bursting with athletes capable of strong scores, such as Alivia Ostendorf and Megan Teter. Floor was also one of Ball State’s most consistent events, up until the end of the season when things began to dip.
How It Looks Now: The competition to get into Ball State’s floor lineup will be fierce. At least eight athletes are capable of putting up 9.8-plus. Of course, this is a great chance for Ball State to utilize some depth that will hopefully avoid the drop off it saw at the end of last season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Cardinals have the potential for a great season on floor. Most of the lineup is returning, and each of the athletes knows what they need to do to put up a big score. The only thing that remains to be seen is if Ball State can properly manage its depth and pace to peak at the right time.
Ball State had a record-breaking season last year—but most of those records were broken at the start of the season. It’s great to come out hot, but it would be even better to see the Cardinals sustain that heat and potentially challenge for a conference championship or regionals berth. Several athletes put in the groundwork last season, stepping in when they were needed on events even if they didn’t become consistent contributors. With the graduation of some heavy hitters, it’s time for those athletes to show what they’ve got. If Ball State can properly utilize its depth throughout the entire season, this could be another great year for the Cardinals.
No. 45 Northern Illinois
NIU had a decent campaign in 2021. While the Huskies struggled a bit at the start of the season, they reached their peak near the end of February and carried that momentum to a great performance at the MAC championship. The question for this season is whether NIU can avoid that dip down before it goes up.
|Losses:||Catherine Biddle, Nicolette DiPrisco (medical retirement), Lauren Gomes, Mia Lord, Zoie Schroeder|
|Gains:||Alana Anderson, Jenna Blair, Emma Brkljacic, Emmalise Nock, Isabella Sissi, Ellery Werner|
Potential Contributors: Tara Kofmehl (9.831 NQS), Gabby Welch (9.806), Morgan Hooper (9.738), Olivia Lynd (9.600), Kendall George (9.081), Isabella Sissi, Emmalise Nock, Jenna Blair
How It Looked Before: Vault wasn’t the Huskies’ strongest event last season. They had a hard time figuring out consistency and struggled for the first few meets. Near the end of the season, though, NIU found its way and had its highest score of the season at the MAC championship.
How It Looks Now: This year’s lineup will likely look very different than last year’s. Mainstays Zoie Schroeder and Mia Lord graduated, leaving just five athletes who competed last season, some of whom consistently struggled. This means that some of the six freshmen may get a chance to contribute early on. There especially appears to be an opening for Isabella Sissi, a great all arounder from Twin City Twisters.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? NIU may have struggled on vault last season, but it peaked when it counted. If the team can strategically use a combination of experienced athletes and freshmen, vault could be a much better event in 2022.
Potential Contributors: Natalie Hamp (9.894 NQS), Brookelyn Sears (9.844), Morgan Hooper (9.831), Tara Kofmehl (9.831), Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.775), Gabby Welch (9.525), Ellery Werner
How It Looked Before: Bars was by far the Huskies’ best event in 2021. Natalie Hamp and Brookelyn Sears handily led NIU on this event. Unfortunately, the team started to run into some issues with consistency near the end of the season, dipping down at the start of March.
How It Looks Now: Despite the dip at the end of the season, bars was still a great event for the Huskies, and most of the consistent pieces of the lineup are returning this year. Natalie Hamp should continue to be a standout on the event, and hopefully some new faces will add some depth.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Huskies are a great bars team, and there is no reason for that to change in 2022. The athletes in the lineup know what they need to do to deliver big scores. Of course, NIU does need to work on making its prowess last a little longer into the season, meaning it will need some more depth, but unfortunately that seems a bit lacking at the moment.
Potential Contributors: Morgan Hooper (9.788 NQS), Tara Kofmehl (9.763), Olivia Lynd (9.756), Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.694), Kendall George (9.513), Ellery Werner, Isabella Sissi, Jenna Blair, Alana Anderson
How It Looked Before: Beam was a bit of a struggle for NIU last season. Still, seniors Schroeder, Lord and Catherine Biddle could be counted on to deliver solid scores. NIU did not struggle too much with consistency—it’s just that the team consistently had a few issues with its routines.
How It Looks Now: With its strong seniors now gone, NIU is sorely lacking both depth and experience on this event. However, the incoming freshmen may be just what the Huskies need. Ellery Werner comes in as a regional beam champion while Jenna Blair is a New York state gold medalist on the event. Sissi is a strong all around gymnast that can be counted on anywhere.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It’s a bit too early to tell what 2022 will hold for the Huskies. On one hand, losing so many contributors on an event the team already struggled on and relying heavily on freshmen could be a recipe for disaster. However, the combination of experience and new blood could be exactly the solution NIU is looking for.
Potential Contributors: Tara Kofmehl (9.900 NQS), Morgan Hooper (9.775), Gabby Welch (9.744), Kelsey Martz (9.719), Kendall George (9.688), Olivia Lynd, Liana Roman, Isabella Sissi, Ellery Werner, Emmalise Nock
How It Looked Before: In terms of rankings, floor was NIU’s worst event last season. However, there were a lot of strong individual performances that can’t be overlooked. Tara Kofmehl shone every time she competed, and Nicolette DiPrisco could be trusted to put up a big number. The Huskies had a few issues throughout the season but ultimately finished strong, putting up a 49.050 at the MAC championship.
How It Looks Now: Unfortunately, DiPrisco announced her medical retirement during the offseason, and Lord graduated, leaving a few holes in this lineup. That being said, plenty of athletes are ready to step into those gaps. Up-and-comers Kendall George and Olivia Lynd could step up, as well as several of the talented incoming freshmen.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Despite what the rankings may say, NIU had a good season on floor last year. Losing DiPrisco and Lord will not go unnoticed, but there are so many athletes that could make an immediate impact on this event. Floor is definitely trending up.
NIU is heading in the right direction as a whole. The team went through some ups and downs during 2021 but ultimately peaked at the right time, finishing second at MACs. With the talent of this stellar freshman class to accompany its remaining veterans, NIU should be able to avoid that midseason slump. To do so, though, the Huskies will need to spend time focusing on details in the gym, especially on beam. That’s where they’re losing so many of those crucial tenths that could make all the difference in 2022.
No. 50 Bowling Green
Bowling Green had lots of strong performances last year, but it also had a few weak ones. The Falcons really got burned by a lack of depth, but a large group of newcoemrs may be exactly what BGSU needs to start building up for the future.
|Losses:||Alexandra Fochler, Jasmine Jones, Elena Lawson, Samantha Marion|
|Gains:||Kaylie Bokey, Alexis Bornhorn, Emily Castiglia, Kennady Kreinbrink, Baylie Lawrence, Brooke McNamara, Katrina Mendez-Abolnik, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso (transfer from SEMO), Natalie Stauch, Kathryn Weilbacher|
Potential Contributors: Taylor Jensen (9.806 NQS), Katelyn Goldstrom (9.769), Olivia Williams (9.644), Paige Bachner (9.581), Kayla Chan, Sarina Ross, Kylie Yacamelli, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Natalie Stauch, Kathryn Weilbacher
How It Looked Before: Vault was a better event for Bowling Green last year, with the team finding its stride fairly early on. The Falcons had solid consistency while also allowing several athletes to compete. They were led by senior Elena Lawson and all arounder Taylor Jensen. While the consistency was great, the vaults never regularly scored high, which was an issue.
How It Looks Now: The Falcons will be missing Lawson and Samantha Marion, but that shouldn’t hurt them too much. Several athletes, such as Olivia Williams and Kayla Chan, got to compete a few times, providing them with some experience that could add depth to the lineup this year. Additionally, freshman Kathryn Weilbacher and transfer Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso could help out here as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Falcons look poised to have a solid season on vault. They know how to go out there and consistently hit, and the new faces on the team will only help on this event. To really ensure the event trends up, though, BGSU will need to work on amplitude and landings to save crucial tenths.
Potential Contributors: Paige Bachner (9.738 NQS), Katelyn Goldstrom (9.669), Taylor Jensen (9.663), Lily Harsch (9.588), Tess Muir (9.375), Emily Castiglia, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Kathryn Weilbacher
How It Looked Before: Bars was a better event for BGSU. While the team never had a huge score on the event, it also avoided the large drops seen on some of the other apparatuses. Alexandra Fochler was a standout here, with Paige Bachner not far behind. Still, only seven athletes competed in all of 2021, hinting at the fact that depth may have been an issue.
How It Looks Now: Only Fochler will be missing from the bar lineup this season, and there are several new faces who could fill that hole. Hopefully, the Falcons will be able to use this depth to their advantage and take some time to work on details during the season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Evidence would seem to say that Bowling Green should have a good season on bars, if not a great one. Some added depth may take the pressure off of the key contributors in this lineup, perhaps giving them some time to rest and work on cleaning up their routines so they can really shine.
Potential Contributors: Taylor Jensen (9.794 NQS), Paige Bachner (9.781), Olivia Williams (9.719), Megan Decious (8.956), Sarina Ross, Emily Castiglia, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Kathryn Weilbacher, Natalie Stauch
How It Looked Before: The Falcons had a steady season on beam in 2021. Much like bars, they were never outstanding, but they did not totally fall apart either. Jasmine Jones led the Falcons on this event, with fellow seniors Fochler and Lawson making consistent contributions as well.
How It Looks Now: Losing Jones, Fochler and Lawson is a blow to the Falcons, but they still have Jensen and Bachner, as well as newcomers Emily Castiglia and Natalie Stauch, who both have a great track record from level 10.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? It may be more of a rebuilding year for beam. With so many standouts leaving, 2022 will be a good opportunity to get some new faces on the event, give them some experience and figure out exactly what it takes to put up a great score.
Potential Contributors: Taylor Jensen (9.850 NQS), Kayla Chan (9.725), Megan Decious (9.669), Katelyn Goldstrom (9.656), Olivia Williams (9.619), Baylie Lawrence, Emily Castiglia, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Kathryn Weilbacher
How It Looked Before: Floor is the event BGSU struggled the most on, at one point only being able to put up four athletes. Jensen could always be counted on to deliver for her team, and Lawson was usually good for a strong score as well. Still, the lack of depth really hurt.
How It Looks Now: Lawson and Fochler will leave gaps in this lineup, but several incoming freshmen could help to fill them. All arounder Weilbacher is a great help on any event, and Solorzano-Caruso could lend a hand here as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Once again, 2022 might be a great opportunity for BGSU to really focus on preparing the team for the future, playing the long game by letting different athletes gain experience on the event, resting athletes when they need it and working on good, clean tumbling.
Bowling Green has a lot of potential on all four events, but it was just never able to put it together in one meet last season. The Falcons really need to make use of every member of the team, letting multiple athletes gain experience so they can step in at a moment’s notice. Additionally, BGSU needs to slow down and work on the details, as that’s where gymnasts are most likely to gain a few extra tenths. If more athletes compete, everyone may have time to stop and make sure all of their skills are deduction free.
READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MAC Part I
Article by Kathleen McPartland
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