Even with Utah’s second-runner-up finish at nationals last season, the top of the Pac-12 was a bit down in 2022, with the Utes being the conference’s lone top 10 finisher. That feat is unlikely to be repeated this coming season, with game-changing recruits set to make their NCAA debuts that are capable of taking the conference back to its glory days of sending multiple programs to nationals. With California, Stanford and UCLA all featuring top six recruiting classes, the battle for conference supremacy figures to be a showdown—even after a season where the regular season title was shared between four teams.
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. 3 Utah
Following back-to-back third-place finishes at the national championships—and being less than half a point back from winning both times—the Utes are set to be in the hunt yet again. They could finally match Georgia’s NCAA-leading 10 championships should everything go right this year. The defending regular season and conference championship meet champions are returning their most valuable contributors, losing just three routines from their final lineup and have a talented group of newcomers that make them an easy early favorite to lead the Pac-12.
|Losses:||Alexia Burch, Cammy Hall, Adrienne Randall, Sydney Soloski|
|Gains:||Abby Brenner (transfer from Michigan), Sarah Krump, Makenna Smith|
|Returning From Injury:||Jillian Hoffman|
Potential Contributors: Lucy Stanhope (9.910 NQS), Grace McCallum (9.905), Jaedyn Rucker (9.895), Jillian Hoffman (9.820), Abby Brenner, Kara Eaker, Cristal Isa, Sarah Krump, Maile O’Keefe, Alani Sabado, Makenna Smith, Sage Thompson
How It Looked Before: Utah’s lowest-scoring event last season was vault, but all season long it put forth a competitive lineup with enough difficulty to finish ranked fifth in NQS and keep the Utes in contention every weekend.
How It Looks Now: The Utes now have a statement vault after Rucker won the NCAA title last season, and picking up Brenner’s seasoned stick via the transfer portal means they bring in as many 10.0 start values as they lose. One of the freshmen, Smith, wields an Omelianchik that should slot into the lineup immediately. But, despite a plethora of great Yurchenko fulls, there are still no obvious answers for who a sixth 10.0 would come from to complete the lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The past two NCAA team champions hit six 10.0 start value vaults in the team final, and difficulty is an area where the Utes have fallen slightly behind in the national picture. Even if it’s just by half a tenth, when NCAA titles are the goal, everything bit matters.
Potential Contributors: Grace McCallum (9.955 NQS), Sage Thompson (9.915), Cristal Isa (9.910), Abby Brenner (9.905), Amelie Morgan (9.895), Maile O’Keefe (9.895), Abby Paulson (9.840), Kara Eaker, Alani Sabado, Makenna Smith
How It Looked Before: The lineup scored consistently throughout the season and exploded for a massive 49.800 in early March that marked the highest event total of the year. Despite finishing sixth in NQS, its lowest of any event, Utah had a trio of gymnasts reach perfection as McCallum, O’Keefe and Thompson all notched perfect 10s.
How It Looks Now: The impactful scoring potential remains as the Utes retain their entire postseason lineup and get an extra boost with Brenner’s 9.9-plus NQS. If Eaker can add bars back into her repertoire, Utah could have a dangerous amount of depth to work with.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Up. With the lineup back and seemingly more options to choose from, expectations are higher this season for Utah on bars.
Potential Contributors: Maile O’Keefe (9.970 NQS), Cristal Isa (9.965), Abby Paulson (9.935), Grace McCallum (9.925), Amelie Morgan (9.910), Kara Eaker, Sarah Krump, Makenna Smith
How It Looked Before: Inconsistency plagued the lineup for the first half of the season, but those issues were negated by season’s end as the Utes led the NCAA in NQS and bested the 49.500 mark an impressive nine times. Isa earned her first perfect 10 on the event while O’Keefe added three more to her total.
How It Looks Now: This is really the only event where losses hurt Utah, as departed routines from Burch and Randall provided this lineup with incredible stability and depth while none of the newbies are particularly strong beamers. However, if the six returners from last season lead the nation on beam again, nobody will be surprised. They’re that good.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. It’s difficult to trend up after finishing on top, and if the freshmen aren’t ready to go, depth could be an issue.
Potential Contributors: Grace McCallum (9.945 NQS), Maile O’Keefe (9.925), Jaedyn Rucker (9.905), Abby Brenner (9.895), Abby Paulson (9.890), Jaylene Gilstrap (9.850), Lucy Stanhope (9.740), Kara Eaker, Jillian Hoffman, Cristal Isa, Sarah Krump, Makenna Smith
How It Looked Before: While beam was Utah’s highest scoring event last year, floor was its most consistent. The Utes showcased their depth, using 11 different gymnasts in tallying their highest average score in 2022.
How It Looks Now: With 10 of last season’s contributors returning, Brenner’s reliable E pass and two freshmen who can tumble, Utah will be wealthy in terms of floor depth. Truly, there are 12 Utes who could make a lineup appearance on floor at some point this season. But, this lineup is lacking a weekly 10 threat in the post-Soloski era.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Head coach Tom Farden is going to have about a dozen routines to choose from, but finding six to consistently push for 9.95-plus could be a tricky puzzle.
Three Big Questions
Will Jillian Hoffman make floor lineups consistently?
Last season, Hoffman tore her Achilles for the second time. But recently, she was seen training a double layout into the pit. The Red Rocks will have to keep a close eye on her pacing and injury management, but fans should expect to see a helping of Hoffman on floor this year.
How will the Utes improve on their weakest event, vault?
Despite rounding out their lineup with five 10.0 start values, vault couldn’t compare to the rest of the Utes’ stellar events in 2022. With the addition of two 10.0s from Smith and Brenner, the Red Rocks could showcase an entire lineup of 10.0 start values. Coupled with consistent landings, the Utes could add valuable tenths to their team score.
Will we see Kara Eaker on more than just beam?
Due to an early injury, all but one of Eaker’s routines from her NCAA debut season came on beam. However, in recent videos, she has been seen training bars. That seems like the most likely place where Eaker could also contribute, but any other routines Utah can get out of the former world champion will be a major asset.
No. 11 California
As a member of the quartet that tied for first in the conference’s regular season standings, California won its first-ever Pac-12 title last season and at regionals finished less than half a point away from advancing to NCAAs. A few notable names graduated from that squad, meaning a trio of four-star recruits—including big-name elite eMjae Frazier—will need to make an immediate impact.
|Losses:||Maya Bordas, Milan Clausi, Grace Quinn, Nina Schank, Abi Solari, Emi Watterson|
|Gains:||Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier, Jayden Silvers|
|Returning From Injury:||Elise Byun|
Potential Contributors: Neveah DeSouza (9.885 NQS), Andi Li (9.830), Madelyn Williams (9.810), Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, Elise Byun, eMjae Frazier, Mya Lauzon, Natalie Sadighi, Jayden Silvers
How It Looked Before: With Nevaeh DeSouza the only 10.0 start value regularly in the lineup, most teams had a decent edge on the Golden Bears from the get-go due to their lack of difficulty. Vault was easily California’s weakest event of 2022.
How It Looks Now: Frazier’s strength is her power, and in preseason training videos she has been seen training the Yurchenko double from her elite career that this lineup desperately needs. Not only is that difficulty important, but it’s also a dynamic vault that can help save a lineup that has consistently fallen flat. But, outside of Frazier and DeSouza, no returner or freshman has regularly vaulted a 10.0 start value.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. There’s a lot of ground to make up on vault for the Golden Bears, and a lineup with four Yurchenko fulls will still leave them at a disadvantage to most of the conference. If Lauzon can consistently vault the Yurchenko one and a half she had in her junior career—she’s been training it this fall—then things will start to trend up for California on vault.
Potential Contributors: Andi Li (9.935 NQS), Madelyn Williams (9.905), Nevaeh DeSouza (9.865), Gabby Perea (9.865), Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier, Maya Green, Mya Lauzon
How It Looked Before: As it had been for many years, bars was California’s best even last season and was its highest event total more often than not. Finishing 10th in NQS, depth was a big asset with eight gymnasts getting at least a few routines under their belts.
How It Looks Now: Although longtime bars coach Janelle McDonald departed for the UCLA head coaching gig, the transition should go smoothly as the core of the lineup returns, and Li’s lines and toe point should have her challenging for perfection yet again. Plus, Frazier is an underrated bars worker with a deep arsenal of release moves and pirouettes to choose from, and Brown—who was coached by McDonald in her club career—has the potential to compose an impressively clean routine.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Once again, with their experience, depth and capable freshmen, California seems to have all the pieces to the puzzle for a productive season on bars.
Potential Contributors: Mya Lauzon (9.890 NQS), Andi Li (9.890), Neveah DeSouza (9.870), Madelyn Williams (9.855), Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier, Jordan Kane, Gabby Perea, Jayden Silvers
How It Looked Before: Beam wasn’t a showstopping event for California, but it was a consistent event, especially throughout the postseason. The Golden Bears didn’t drop below 49.350 once March hit and notched their season-high on the event in their season-ending regional final.
How It Looks Now: California won’t have trouble filling a lineup with a solid group of beamers, but there are still questions as to where the massive numbers will come from with nobody notching even a 9.9 in NQS last season. Lauzon and Li both have that potential and finally notched 9.95s in their final routines of last year, and will need to carry that momentum into 2023. As a potential all arounder and strong beam worker, expect Frazier to see some time in this lineup as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The Golden Bears have a good foundation to work with, but it’s still uncertain whether they’ll be able to build upon last season’s totals.
Potential Contributors: Andi Li (9.915 NQS), Neveah DeSouza (9.865), Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier, Maya Green, Mya Lauzon, Gabby Perea, Jayden Silvers
How It Looked Before: Although it was California’s lowest-ranked event last season, finishing 15th in NQS, it wasn’t a problem. The lineup did lack some flash and difficulty, but it was typically steady and reliable.
How It Looks Now: The Golden Bears will be gaining a potential X-factor routine from Frazier and the numerous powerful E-tumbling passes she has to choose from, but they’re also only returning two gymnasts that recorded an NQS. Lauzon and Perea both hit 9.900 last season, but the freshmen will be heavily relied upon to fill out the lineup. Silvers, an October commit who will be graduating high school early to join California this season, is another freshman who could contribute immediately.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Having to depend on freshmen to complete a lineup isn’t usually the ideal situation, but at worst California should be able to stay competitive with enough 9.8s. Rookies hitting 9.9s is what will elevate this event.
Three Big Questions
Will the Golden Bears be able to maintain their bars prowess without McDonald?
They shouldn’t have much of an issue doing so. McDonald will still have her mark on the lineup with a handful of returnees from her era, and incomer Brown was coached by McDonald in her club career. Plus, former Missouri assistant, John Carney, enters the program after helping improve the Tigers’ bars lineup significantly over the past few years and has the chops to continue to make this a standout event.
How many 10.0 start value vaults will California compete?
Most likely, three. DeSouza is a guarantee while Frazier is likely to compete one as well. With Lauzon and Li, who’s been training a Yurchenko full-on tucked full this preseason, both maybes, only expect one of those to make its way into the lineup consistently.
Does California have what it takes to make it to nationals?
It certainly should be on the bubble all season long, but there are a few too many questions about vault and floor difficulty right now to start making an itinerary for Fort Worth. With so many key routines needing to be filled by freshmen, the Golden Bears are in a precarious position, but if all goes well, they should reap the rewards for that risk.
No. 12 UCLA
Plagued by injury, inconsistency and management issues, UCLA had a disappointing season with a 12th-place finish and suffering an upset from Missouri at regionals. Now, the Bruins have revamped their entire program, with a new staff, strong freshmen and stellar returners. UCLA made all the right choices on paper this offseason, so there’s a lot of reason for optimism heading into 2023.
|Losses:||Norah Flatley, Kendal Poston, Samantha Sakti, Sara Taubman, Pauline Tratz, Sekai Wright|
|Gains:||Ciena Alipio, Madisyn Anyimi, Selena Harris, Clara Wren|
|Returning From Injury:||Margzetta Frazier, Paige Hogan, Chloe Lashbrooke, Emily Lee, Sara Ulias|
Potential Contributors: Chae Campbell (9.920 NQS), Jordan Chiles (9.895), Emma Malabuyo (9.825), Brooklyn Moors (9.785), Ciena Alipio, Madisyn Anyimi, Margzetta Frazier, Selena Harris, Emily Lee
How It Looked Before: UCLA held a steady increase in its vault total throughout the season to end up 12th in NQS. However, only two 10.0 start values, coupled with hops on landings, cost the Bruins valuable tenths.
How It Looks Now: Despite the loss of three reliable vaults, the Bruins could still showcase a full lineup of 10.0 start values. Campbell has been a consistently high vaulter in both score and amplitude, and newcomer Harris is already a vault superstar, scoring 9.9-plus in five of her level 10 meets in 2022. The rest of the freshman class has the potential to compete 10.0 start values as well, and returners add another layer of depth to the team.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. The Bruins have a stacked vault lineup with immense depth where potential 10.0 start values exceed the lineup limit. At this point, we could see a different lineup every week.
Potential Contributors: Jordan Chiles (9.945 NQS), Chae Campbell (9.840), Emma Malabuyo (9.820), Ana Padurariu (9.770), Ciena Alipio, Frida Esparza, Margzetta Frazier, Selena Harris, Emily Lee, Brooklyn Moors, Kalyany Steele, Sara Ulias
How It Looked Before: Ending up 19th in the nation, bars was a sore subject for the Bruins. Their depth was continually tested with injuries to Frazier, Ulias and Esparza, and they constantly they fell short. UCLA dug its hole on bars and never managed to climb out.
How It Looks Now: The Bruins will be losing their MVP on bars, Norah Flatley, but that doesn’t mean their lineup is doomed. Returning veteran Frazier has never fallen on the event and has put up clutch scores in times of weakness. Recent training videos of Harris showcase a college-ready bar routine ending with a full pirouette to double layout. Ulias and Lee could also be steady regulars while returning upperclassmen will look to fill out the rest of the lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. UCLA has lots of opportunities on bars. While its depth doesn’t match vault, a consistently clean lineup looks within reach for the Bruins.
Potential Contributors: Emma Malabuyo (9.910 NQS), Ana Padurariu (9.890), Chae Campbell (9.865), Jordan Chiles (9.790), Ciena Alipio, Margzetta Frazier, Selena Harris, Emily Lee, Brooklyn Moors
How It Looked Before: Beam was increasing at a steady pace last season, but the Bruins seemed to crack under the pressure when big scores were needed the most. Ultimately, UCLA finished 12th in the NCAA on the event.
How It Looks Now: The Bruins lose a reliable competitor in Flatley, and it seems that newcomers could be a big part of the lineup this year. Lee could finally make her mark this season, and beam could be the place to start. Harris and Alipio will be a big asset to the lineup. And like bars, returners will complete the rest of the top six.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Despite big additions to the team, inconsistency can spread like a cold when a team isn’t managed correctly. We’ll be looking at what new head coach McDonald and the rest of the staff do to make a change in the beam rotation, but for now it’s too early to tell.
Potential Contributors: Jordan Chiles (9.950 NQS), Chae Campbell (9.930), Brooklyn Moors (9.895), Emma Malabuyo (9.875), Ciena Alipio, Madisyn Anyimi, Frida Esparza, Margzetta Frazier, Selena Harris, Chloe Lashbrooke, Emily Lee, Katie McNamara, Sara Ulias
How It Looked Before: Floor has always been an entertaining and strong event for the Bruins, and last year was no different, ranking 12th nationally. Big performances from Chiles, Campbell, Moors and Flately kept the Bruins afloat despite occasional mistakes.
How It Looks Now: Once again, the Bruins will see the consequence of losing Flatley. But, Frazier and Harris look to be high-scoring regulars and will give the already hyped lineup an extra spark. Campbell, Chiles, Moors, Malabuyo, Frazier and Harris could stack up the scores for UCLA. And, through good management, the Bruins could bask in depth—something they lacked in the previous season.
Trending up, down or too early to tell?: Trending up. Returners and new additions could bring high scores to the lineup this year. Paired with good pacing and management, UCLA could sub in another gymnast at any time with no problem. One can predict, it’s going to be a Bruin party out on the floor.
Three Big Questions
Which of the injury returners will make the biggest impact this season?
Frazier will undoubtedly be a significant addition to the team. She could make an appearance in the all-around multiple times, and with her consistency, scores are expected to be high.
Will Harris compete in the all-around?
Training videos have already shown Harris on vault, bars and beam, but it’s expected that Harris will make an appearance in the all-around at some point this season as well. As the top recruit in the nation and national all-around champion, Harris will be a force to be reckoned with.
How will a new staff change the trajectory of the program?
A big problem last year was management within the team. UCLA had all this talent and nothing to show for it, so management will make a major impact heading into the season. McDonald has hired two former club coaches that bring a new style to the renowned team. The staff looks like it’s got everything that UCLA needs—now it’s time to see how it looks in competition.
No. 14 Stanford
After finishing the regular season ranked 29th, Stanford made an impressive postseason run to the regional final after starting in the first round dual meets—the only team last season to do so. While its final ranking doesn’t quite reflect what Stanford’s 2022 season looked like, it could be foreshadowing of what’s to come with a class of top-ranked freshmen now on The Farm.
|Losses:||Kyla Bryant, Morgan Hoang, Taylor Lawson, Lauren Navarro, Wesley Stephenson, Sze En Tan (retirement), Grace Waguespack|
|Gains:||Ashley Carter, Claire Dean, Taralyn Nguyen, Anna Roberts, Ava Sorrento, Porsche Trinidad|
Potential Contributors: Anapaula Gutierrez (9.870 NQS), Madison Brunette (9.825), Brenna Neault (9.795), Jade Chrobok (9.770), Amanda Zeng (9.745), Taralyn Nguyen, Anna Roberts, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: This was the Cardinal’s worst event in NQS and ranking last season, despite being rather consistent. Even with a pair of 10.0 start values, this lineup often fell flat and would be outscored by six decent Yurchenko fulls.
How It Looks Now: Not only are freshmen Nguyen and Roberts lineup locks, they should both be in contention for the anchor spot with Nguyen wielding a legit Yurchenko double and Roberts a dynamic one and a half. Gutierrez and Neault are set to be stalwarts, too, both starting from a 10.0, and Stanford shouldn’t have any problems filling out the rest of its lineup with fulls.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Expect a significant improvement in vault totals for Stanford with four 10.0 start values, reliable returners and the rookie duo capable of reaching 9.95-plus.
Potential Contributors: Brenna Neault (9.855 NQS), Madison Brunette (9.845), Anapaula Gutierrez (9.775), Ira Alexeeva, Ashley Carter, Claire Dean, Anna Roberts, Ava Sorrento, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: Similar to vault, bars scored consistently from meet to meet but was usually only capable of finishing in the low 49s. Stanford didn’t yield many natural bars swingers but hit some clutch performances during its postseason run.
How It Looks Now: Bars looks like it may be the Cardinal’s weakest event yet again, returning only a trio of gymnasts with an NQS and needing to fill the other half of the lineup with freshmen and sporadic contributors. Of the newbies, Sorrento should find herself in the lineup with a piked Jaeger, Ricna and Van Leeuwen to play with from her elite routine, and Dean is another frontrunner to fit into the top six. Widner could be a regular after her inclusion in postseason lineups last year, and the gymternet would rejoice should Alexeeva start hitting her signature event once again.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. There’s potential for this lineup to post scores higher than last season’s totals, but there are too many questions as of now to be confident about that.
Potential Contributors: Brenna Neault (9.880 NQS), Isabela Onyshko (9.695), Ashley Carter, Claire Dean, Anapaula Gutierrez, Taralyn Nguyen, Anna Roberts, Ava Sorrento, Porsche Trinidad, Chloe Widner
How It Looked Before: Even with a lineup with plenty of upperclassmen, beam was hit or miss for the Cardinal. The lineup fell shy of 49 on five occasions but was usually the second-best event when things went according to plan.
How It Looks Now: A lot of contributors from last year left, but the rookies happen to be particularly strong on beam. Carter, Dean, Nguyen and Sorrento are all capable of seeing lineup time, and senior Widner ended last season with four straight 9.9s or better. However, last season’s woes can’t be forgotten so soon.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. There’s risk involved with a freshmen-laden lineup, but there could be a reward, too.
Potential Contributors: Madison Brunette (9.860 NQS), Anapaula Gutierrez (9.860), Brenna Neault (9.805), Ira Alexeeva, Ashley Carter, Claire Dean, Taralyn Nguyen, Anna Roberts, Ava Sorrento, Adela Stonecipher, Chloe Widner, Amanda Zeng
How It Looked Before: Floor was Stanford’s money event all season long. It was its highest event total all but a few times and was its only event ranked inside the top 30 at 17th. Floor even hit 49.600 early in the season.
How It Looks Now: As the best event for the returnees and freshman class, this should easily be Stanford’s top event once again. Like they’re set to do on vault, Nguyen and Roberts should star on floor as well while Dean and Sorrento are capable of being regulars. The Cardinal will have both scoring potential and depth to work with.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. This is where the Cardinal made its mark in 2022, and it’s replenished to repeat in 2023.
Three Big Questions
Of all the impressive freshmen, who will make the biggest impact?
Not only does Nguyen make an immediate positive impact in the difficulty department, but her thrilling vault and tumbling also provide the Cardinal with that wow factor it has often lacked recently—outside of Bryant, that is.
Which returnee is set to step into the spotlight vacated by Bryant?
She doesn’t have quite the same flash, but Neault has the potential for a breakout sophomore season. With a year competing in the all-around now under her belt, she should be able to build on what was an underrated debut campaign. Neault has a 10.0 start value vault and is the top returner on two events, making her the frontrunner for this role whether she’s ready or not.
Where can we expect Stanford to rank this season?
With such a drastic difference between its final regular season standing and its finish, in addition to quite a bit of roster turnover, it’s a little tricky to forecast Stanford. But, with how promising the freshman class is, it’s looking more likely that the Cardinal will end up somewhere closer to 14th than 29th.
READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MIC
Article by Brandis Heffner and Sydney Seabrooks
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