2022 was a record breaking year across the GEC, with several teams eclipsing program highs. The first conference championship was also one of the most competitive championships of the postseason. This year will prove to be more of the same, with Penn continuing to up its recruiting game in hopes of pushing toward a regionals berth.
The preseason is starting and 2023 will be here before we know it. That means it’s time for our annual potential lineups analysis! As gymnasts get back into the gym with new goals for the new season, we’re breaking their prospects down and taking a look at what each team’s lineups may look like come January—from who’s expected to contribute, holes that need to be filled and exciting upgrades fans should look out for.
No. 50 Pennsylvania
Penn was on fire all year, posting program records on all four events and for overall team total. This led to winning the inaugural GEC championship and earning the highest NCAA ranking in program history.
|Losses:||Edie Noor Graber, Lauren Joost, Sydney Kraez (UB, BB), Sophia Restaino (UB), Natalie Yang (BB)|
|Gains:||Skyelar Kerico, Marissa Lassiter, Carly Oniki, Alyssa Rosen, Alisha Werlen, Samantha Wu|
|Returning From Injury:||Carly Kulevich|
Potential Contributors: Kierston Belkoff (9.815 NQS), Rose Debarberie (9.795), Isabel Song (9.765), Ariyana Agarwala (9.765), Connie Hsu (9.735), Olivia VanHorn (9.715), Sara Kenefick (avg 9.738), Emma Davies (9.670), Marissa Lassiter, Skyelar Kerico, Alyssa Rosen, Samantha Wu
How It Looked Before: The vault lineup posted the top five highest team scores all time, as well as tied or set several new individual vault records.
How It Looks Now: The lineup will only get better with the addition of higher start values from Rose Debarberie and Marissa Lassiter.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Is it crazy to think that vault might get even better? The Quakers graduated one vault and have multiple upgrades this year. The program record should be shaking in its boots. They set the new individual record as well with a 9.835 average, and with how things are looking, they could certainly top that.
Potential Contributors: McCaleigh Marr (9.840), Kristen Kuhn (9.800), Isabel Song (9.775), Sara Kenefick (9.730), Connie Hsu (9.400), Ana Kenefick (avg 9.575), Sarah Penuela-Wermers (9.500), Skyelar Kerico, Marissa Lassiter, Alisha Werlen
How It Looked Before: The Quakers swung their way to a sweet highnote on bars, closing out the season with a record high at GECs, which was no surprise as they spent all season building their score steadily.
How It Looks Now: With both Marrs, Penn can find itself testing the limits on bars, but don’t overlook Kuhn either, who also set program records last year on the event. With those two returning, Penn just needs to find three more to round out the lineup to keep things polished with good landings. Both Song and Sara Kenefick make good arguments to crack the top six, as well as incoming freshman Kerico.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Grab your favorite gym snack and a hydrating beverage to see how close Penn can come to its next new bar record. It’s going to be another strong year on the event for the Quakers.
Potential Contributors: McCaileigh Marr (9.885), Rose Debarberie (9.775), Kierston Belkoff (9.770), Sara Kenefick (9.760), Campbell Marr (9.570), Kristen Kuhn (avg 9.642), Rebekah Lashley (9.400), Marissa Lassiter, Alisha Werlen
How It Looked Before: Beam was the team’s least consistent event, but it was lead with consistently strong performances from McCaileigh Marr, who qualified to regionals as an individual. Outside of her contributions, results were all over the place; during any given week you could find Penn scoring anywhere from 47.350 to 49.250.
How It Looks Now: First, the Quakers need to find consistency, consistency and more consistency to lock down a steady team score for the season, which could happen with a bit of shuffling and finding the right puzzle pieces. McCaileigh Marr is the strongest returning member but that’s simply one of six. Debarberie, Belkoff, and Sara Kenefick can definitely provide some experience as Penn experiments with the order.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but if the Quakers can spark magic with beam the way they did vault and bars in 2022, there’s a good chance for improvement.
Potential Contributors: Sara Kenefick (9.845), Emma Davies (9.795), Olivia VanHorn (9.755), Isabel Song (9.735), Rebekah Lashley (9.575), Connie Hsu (avg 9.850), Ariyana Argwala (9.700), Marigold Garrett (9.694), Isabella Garrett (9.242), Marissa Lassiter, Carly Oniki, Alyssa Rosen, Samantha Wu
How It Looked Before: Floor peaked just in time for the postseason, with a team high 49.475 and a program high 9.975 from Sara Kenefick at the conference championship.
How It Looks Now: Sara Kenefick is an easy lock along with Hsu and Davies, who both throw up 9.9s or better. Don’t be fooled by Lashley’s low NQS—she usually goes 9.725 or better. The Quakers are going into this season looking good before even taking into account new faces.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With returning superstars on floor, the only thing stopping Penn is execution.
Three Big Questions
What does Penn need to do to qualify for regionals?
Penn wrapped up its 2022 season in 50th, just outside that lucrative regionals bubble—and by just shy of a point. And that’s where beam struggles came back to haunt the Quakers. If they can increase their average on that one event, they have a chance of at least being in the NCAA postseason conversation.
What will be the event to watch this season?
Continue to keep an eye on the meteoric rise on bars. With the event total growing hand over fist each meet, it’ll be an event you’ll want to cut to each meet to watch the team continue to amaze and dazzle.
Will Penn claim back-to-back GEC titles?
Just like Penn missed regionals by shy of a point, it took the GEC title by a similar margin. The Penn program is making a bigger name for itself with each passing season. A strong Yale squad or even Brown and a poor showing for the Quakers on beam can make all the difference on the podium. Remember the talk about consistency? It’s important, friends.
No. 57 Yale
Yale brought flashes of brilliance, eclipsing the 195 mark mid-year, doing so by leaning heavily on Lindsay Chia, Kendal Toy and Raegan Walker for consistent performances.
|Losses:||Lindsay Chia (VT, UB, BB, FX), Seina Cho (BB, FX), Isabelle Lee, Kendal Toy (UB, BB, FX), Emma David (Transfer)|
|Gains:||Megan Brueck, Meredith Donovan, Lauren Holt, Gigi Sabatini, Hana Strause|
|Returning From Injury:||Caitlin Henry, Claire Qu|
Potential Contributors: Raegan Walker (9.770 NQS), Sherry Wang (9.700), Aimee Titche (9.650), Oren Aviad (9.640), Sarah Wilson (9.620), Riley Meeks (avg 9.488), Megan Brueck, Meredith Donovan, Lauren Holt, Gigi Sabatini
How It Looked Before: Yale grew steadily over the season while finding a rhythm, going from a 48.425 to a 48.100 then up to a 48.500. But with each bounce Yale came back better and stronger.
How It Looks Now: Yale only loses Chia from its vault lineup this season, so head coach Andy Leis shouldn’t struggle to fill the lineup. Wilson may not have posted the highest vault scores last season, but with a little bit of finesse, there should be no issue, especially if Brueck brings her front handspring front pike.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Yale’s vaulting should only trend up with the minimal losses and substantial gains in both new faces and experience from the returning members.
Potential Contributors: Raegan Walker (9.855), Sherry Wang (9.805), Sarah Wilson (9.795), Oren Aviad (9.710), Megan Brueck, Meredith Donovan
How It Looked Before: Yale set a new bar record in 2022, which was no surprise after a fairly consistent season of mostly 48s and a pair of 49s to prove the team’s skills are no fluke.
How It Looks Now: No Toy and no Chia on bars should have the Bulldogs feeling quite a bit of pressure in this lineup. When Walker hits, she’s sure to bring big scores, and Aviad should definitely see some time this year as a rising sophomore. It may not be the first meet or two that Yale figures out what works, including where incoming freshman Donovan fits, but it’ll get there.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? This upcoming team lands on the lower side of too early to tell. Yale has had some serious bars struggles, but two-thirds of the top six carries on to fight.
Potential Contributors: Raegan Walker (9.860), Riley Meeks (9.730), Emma Magiacapre (9.565), Sarah Wilson (9.505), Gigi Sabatini, Hana Strause, Meredith Donovan
How It Looked Before: Yale’s beam definitely looked more consistency than most last year, never dipping below a 47.500 after the first meet of the season and instead putting on a class on consistency.
How It Looks Now: Scary. Yale lost three of its top five beam scorers from last year, putting pressure on Walker and Meeks to keep the lineup rolling. Magiacapre closed the season with a pair of 9.8s, leaving Yale to fill out another two spots, but a healthy Qu will boost things. Wilson is an easy solution, especially as an all-arounder, but Andy Leis will have his job cut out for him. Donovan’s aerial to scale would look particularly nice here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Somehow beam is more precarious than bars, almost pushing it into trending down territory. There’s a lot of work to do if it wants to fight through the season and notch a few wins or even a conference title.
Potential Contributors: Sherry Wang (9.800), Sarah Wilson (9.750), Riley Meeks (9.635), Aimee Titche (9.545), Emma Magiacapre (avg 9.492), Megan Brueck, Lauren Holt, Gigi Sabatini, Hana Strause
How It Looked Before: After the first two meets of 2022, Yale coasted through the season on floor, mostly bringing home mid-48s and again putting on a clinic about the importance of not only consistency but of depth too.
How It Looks Now: The Bulldogs lose just two of their lineup from last season, but Wang, Wilson and Titche should easily step in to continue to contribute and to do so with strong scores. Meeks and Magiacarpe don’t have quite the same consistency. Holt packs some strong twisting skills on floor that could be quite valuable to the team score in addition to Strause’s possible full-in.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Yale is poised to trend up this year, with solid depth mixed with experience. It’ll be a great way to get things started on the right foot.
Three Big Questions
Without Lindsay Chia and Kendal Toy, who will step up to fill in the gaps?
Sarah Wilson competed in the all-around last season, scoring as high as 38.875. However, this year will need to bring more consistency on all four events to increase the team’s chances of success. Riley Meeks and Raegan Walker are both strong three event athletes, but Yale will ideally want at least one or two more gymnasts to compete in the all-around. Andy Leis, in his official first year as head coach, will have some pieces to develop.
What does Yale need to do to contend for a conference title?
Yale needs a little bit of luck and to hit when the time is right. Yale’s 2022 season high still would’ve only been good enough for fourth place at GECs, exactly where it finished. Both Brown and West Chester had an outstanding night at the meet, but had the Bulldogs posted their best bars total, they would’ve jumped to second, just eight tenths behind winner Penn. A little luck and a hitting when it counts and the Bulldogs will be in contention for the title.
A healthy, confident Walker is poised to sail her way through and dominate this season not only as an individual but as a key leader on the team. Her poise on beam and exquisite bars will soothe anyone’s day. Not only excelling in vibes, Walker brings the best returning NQS this season on each of her events. Get excited about Walker. No further questions, thank you.
No. 59 Brown
Brown unknowingly closed out the inaugural Sara Carver-Milne era with a program record at GECs, beating the previous mark by nearly a full point before falling just shy of expectations at USAG nationals yet still posting the third best score in program history. Now Brown will welcome new head coach Brittany Harris to take the reigns.
|Losses:||Mei Li Costa (VT, UB, BB), Alyssa Gardner (VT, UB, FX), Safiya Miller, Sophia Petrillo, Abby Walsh (FX), Taylor Schulze (Transfer)|
|Gains:||Sophia Dewar, Umi El Mammann, Jessica Lin, Liza Marcus|
Potential Contributors: Julia Bedell (9.790 NQS), Angela Xing (9.760), Ella Poley (9.685), Lauren Kramer (9.605), Lara Swords (avg 9.425), Addie Liebhardt (9.400), Ali Lowe (9.400), Sophia Dewar, Umi El Mammann, Jessica Lin, Liza Marcus
How It Looked Before: Brown really only grew week after week and didn’t have too many hiccups in 2022, always coming through and handling any pressure thrown its way.
How It Looks Now: The Bears keep their top two vaulters, as well as Poley, going into 2023, with a top score just half a tenth shy of Costa’s top 2022 score, Brown should have fun filling out the rest of the lineup. Kramer is definitely an option while it figures out who else to slide into the rotation. Dewar brings a Yurchenko full that should see some time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up but staying on the same path. Brown won’t be hurting, but it’ll need some improvement on landings and dynamics to fully surpass last season.
Potential Contributors: Ella Poley (9.760), Abby Contello (9.750), Paige Richter (9.690), Lauren Mckeown (avg 9.550), McKenna Weiner (9.538), Umi El Mammann,Jessica Lin, Liza Marcus
How It Looked Before: Mei Li Costa. But Brown, while finding its stride, had a season that resembled an EKG, with highs following lows following highs, on repeat. It always stayed in the 48 range for the most part, but it would jump half a point from meet to meet.
How It Looks Now: Contello is sure to shine with Poley and Richter this season, all of whom posted 9.850s or better last season. Incoming freshmen Lin, El Mammann and Marcus are sure to be contenders for Brown, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Brown will be fine! Losing Costa will definitely sting a bit at first, but Brown has built a strong bars program that’ll hang in there.
Potential Contributors: Lauren Lazaro (9.650), Abby Contello (9.635), McKenna Weiner (9.625), Angela Xing (9.525), Julia Bedell (avg 9.450), Lauren Mckeown (9.375), Maya Davis (8.981), Sophia Sololowsky, Jessica Lin, Liza Marcus, Umi El Mammann
How It Looked Before: The Bears couldn’t quite find their balance on beam last season, with the highs out-pacing the lows by nearly two points at times. It didn’t hinder the team too much, though, as it went from 64th to 59th in 2022.
How It Looks Now: Several of Brown’s top scorers ranged from a 9.900 to 9.750, so it will want to seek compatible scorers for the lineup in 2023, especially with Costa’s best of 9.825 no longer in play. Xing is a fair lock for the rotation. El Mammann has previously worked a front toss to back handspring to back pike series that would look great for Brown, too.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? A little too early to tell how the Bears will look after emerging from hibernation just yet.
Potential Contributors: Julia Bedell (9.835), Lauren Lazaro (9.700), Carolanne Van Zandt (9.530), McKenna Weiner (9.455), Maya Davis (avg 9.500), Lara Swords (9.463), Lauren Kramer (9.395), Addie Liebhardt (9.300), Ella Poley (9.100), Sophia Dewar, Jessica Lin
How It Looked Before: A common theme… When the Bears are good, they’re good. But when they miss, they really take a hit. The team was as likely to wind up with a 49-plus as it was to end up in the low 47s.
How It Looks Now: Brown didn’t lose any big scores, so it’s in a great position with a reliable lineup in addition to having depth to cycle routines out to allow for much needed rest as the season goes on. Now that’s a dream.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? The Bears have a great depth and plenty of returning names to fill out any lineup, as well as to rest key players throughout the season. They can only go up in 2023.
Three Big Questions
How will Brown replace Mei Li Costa’s scores?
Losing Costa is going to be tough; there’s no way around it, both from a leadership perspective, a hit-when-it-counts perspective and when it comes to having someone to rely on throughout the season with an unquestionable depth of experience. However, when you break it down by NQS, Costa leads by one one-hundredth on vault and a bit over a full tenth on bars. Tenths matter in the GEC, so it’ll be important to find every landing and handstand to limit the deductions, but the Bears will roar on soon enough.
What can we expect from the Brittany Harris era?
You can expect Harris to step into strengths Brown already has, including leading a strong bars team. Harris brings a new face to the program that should help to push it over the edge from good to great as the season unfolds, including a chance to give Penn a run at the GEC championship title or even take home a USAG title in the next few years.
Hasn’t Brown been plagued with equipment struggles?
Brown gymnasts have been vocal about the struggle with lack of mats and good equipment, as well as scheduling off campus practices at hours most of us don’t even want to think of touching our toes let alone launching ourselves high into the air. It’s something to keep in mind as the Brown program continues to evolve, and it’s definitely a situation to consider when you take a closer look at hit or missed routines.
No. 61 West Chester
West Chester pushed its way into the top half of the conference standings with consistency throughout the season, peaking just in time for the conference championship with a program best 195.250.
|Losses:||Annie Bailey (VT, FX), Sara Bell, Rose Fanara (BB, FX), Brashlyn Johnson (FX), Jessica Meakim (VT, UB, BB, FX)|
|Gains:||Cameron Joyce, Macarthy Keane, Anna Lacey, Melina Ringas|
Potential Contributors: Kiah Johnson (9.745 NQS), Kiley Fred (9.700), McKenna Kissinger (9.650), Caitlyn Allen (9.640), Lily McFarland (9.480), Kristina Rodriguez (avg 9.567), Bridget Sullivan (9.463), Cameron Joyce
How It Looked Before: The Golden Rams flirted with a new program record, with the Queen of Twisting Kissinger’s notable front handspring double twist keeping things fresh and interesting, and Kiah Johnson’s Yurchenko full an excellent staple.
How It Looks Now: West Chester loses Meakim’s strong vault scores but retains the other top four scores from the season. Incoming freshman Joyce brings a Yurchenko full to the team that can step in to fill the hole.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but mostly likely the Golden Rams will stay the course with some important upgrades to add much needed tenths.
Potential Contributors: Jordan Coleman (9.760), Hyla Betts (9.685), Samantha Kelly (9.660), Kristina Rodriguez (9.640), Lauren Wicker (9.410), Caitlyn Allen (avg 9.305), McKenna Kissinger (9.000), Macarthy Keane, Melina Ringas
How It Looked Before: Led by a bar lineup that notched high scores of 9.775 or better during the season, when the Golden Rams hit, they went big and nearly reached 49. However, they couldn’t find a steady swing to keep scores high all season.
How It Looks Now: With just Meakim gone for the upcoming season, West Chester won’t have any trouble filling out the lineup. Not only can Allen and Kissinger step in with prior experience—the latter can put up a 9.500—but incoming freshman Keane brings a solid bar set, as does Ringas with a set that’ll score well over time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? You should expect West Chester to continue trending up this coming season. The depth and talent is there, all that’s left is putting it together.
Potential Contributors: Lily McFarland (9.805), Natalie Marshall (9.770), Caroline Cascadden (9.690), Hyla Betts (9.675), Kiah Johnson (avg 9.563), Kristina Rodriguez (9.400), Kiley Fred, Cameron Joyce, Macarthy Keane, Anna Lacey,
How It Looked Before: 2022 beam may not have had the steady scoring West Chester would have liked, plagued by landings and minor beam errors that would sometimes snowball, but it continued to climb with each meet.
How It Looks Now: Every single one of West Chester’s top five beam scorers is returning this season, so West Chester definitely shouldn’t worry too much about this event in 2023. With some exhibition routines from freshmen and rising sophomores to gain valuable experience and settle any nerves, the Golden Rams just need to harness what they already have before letting the talent speak for itself.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up! No GEC team is better positioned with experience on beam the way the Golden Rams are.
Potential Contributors: McKenna Kissinger (9.845), Caroline Cascadden (9.775), Kiley Fred (9.595), Lily McFarland (9.525), Kiah Johnson (avg 9.500), Kristina Rodriquez (9.375), Anna Lacey, Melina Ringas
How It Looked Before: Floor was the Golden Rams’ strongest event, without a doubt. It was a record-setting season with routines that grabbed your attention the whole way through.
How It Looks Now: With so many lineup staples graduating, there’s both opportunity and worry on the horizon for West Chester. Any of the freshmen could find themselves in the lineup but would need some polishing for the team score to continue to grow the way it has in past seasons. Don’t over look Kiah Johnson’s or Cascadden’s tumbling to help ease the transition.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor will take a hit until routines are polished and a solid lineup takes shape.
Three Big Questions
How can West Chester qualify for the team final at USAG nationals?
West Chester was just shy of finding itself in the USAG team final by a little under four tenths in 2022. Although that was its fourth highest score of the season, only its 195.250 from GECs would’ve done the trick. A tricky bars rotation unfortunately sealed the Golden Rams’ fate, but with so many gymnasts coming back for 2023, experience will be a key factor in the team’s prospects.
What makes West Chester routines so captivating?
You’re not going to find the same routine after routine from the Golden Rams. With a dynamic vault lineup, unique skills on both beam and floor and engaging choreography, West Chester keeps you on your toes. Kissinger, who’s known for all things twisting on vault and floor, will make you positively dizzy with delight. Coming into her fifth year, there’s sure to be an upgrade or two to dazzle both old and new fans alike.
Will West Chester find another Jessica Meakim?
Meakim will leave a pretty big hole in not just the Golden Rams’ lineup but as a presence, too. An infectious performer that handles pressure effortlessly, West Chester loses a major cheerleader and contributor. Kissinger, taking her COVID year in 2023, can step into the role, but don’t overlook Kiah Johnson or any other members of the senior class either.
READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: Big Ten Part II
Article by Allison Freeman and Tavia Smith
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