Potential Lineups: MAC Part II

If ever there were a case to keep your eye on the entire conference, the MAC is it with the (infamous) hallmark single-session championship. 2019 champion Eastern Michigan and 2022 runner up Northern Illinois both ended up in the bottom half of the MAC by NQS but have proven routinely that championships are won on the day. 

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. 44 Northern Illinois

If you’re a fan of the sport because you follow the team’s long term growth, this is your year to start watching Northern Illinois. Their top five team scores *and* all four event program records have come in the last five years, and they were only 0.150 away from nabbing the MAC championship in 2022. 

Losses: Morgan Hooper, Kelsey Martz, Liana Roman, Gabby Welch, Tara Kofmehl
Gains: Sami DiFabrizio, Hannah Drielick, Maddy Kees, Samantha Nickle, Kiera O’Shea, Talia Kraus (transfer from Southern Connecticut)


Potential Contributors: Brookelyn Sears (9.780 NQS), Isabella Sissi (9.755), Isabelle West (9.710), Ciara Ryan (9.700), Emmalise Nock (9.675), Olivia Lynd (9.550 AVG), Sami DiFabrizio, Hannah Drielick, Maddy Kees, Samantha Nickle, Kiera O’Shea, Talia Kraus

How It Looked Before: By the end of last season, Northern Illinois had a full lineup of Yurchenko fulls and were experimenting with Ryan’s Yurchenko full-on as a 10.0 start—unfortunately it’s been devalued back to 9.950 over the summer.

How It Looks Now: Of the six newcomers, watch for Nickle’s form on this event. Her Yurchenko full gets plenty of distance and should see lineup time for the Huskies early in the season, along with last year’s returning vault core. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Landings pending, vault should either remain the same or trend up. With six of last year’s vaulters returning and up to another six joining, at the very least the team will have a depth cushion on the event. 


Potential Contributors: Natalie Hamp (9.890 NQS), Brookelyn Sears (9.855), Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.790), Emmalise Nock (9.575 AVG), Isabella Sissi (9.487), Alana Anderson (9.400), Sami DiFabrizio, Hannah Drielick, Maddy Kees, Samantha Nickle, Kiera O’Shea, Talia Kraus

How It Looked Before: Consistency may not have been the name of the game, but individual performances each week on bars turned heads with single-bar releases. Hamp typically anchored with her Jaeger and blind full to double layout en route to an individual berth to Regionals. For fans of unique bar compositions, Anderson put on a masterclass of giant-free bars, instead opting for toe handstands as a route. 

How It Looks Now: The core of the bars squad should stay the same as last season and look to bring in steady 9.850-plus scores from Hamp at the back of the lineup. O’Shea and Drielick should slot into the conversation as well, bringing a unique free hip to tuck full in combination and a textbook-executed Ray, respectively. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The pieces were in place last year for a conference-leading bars lineup (and to the team’s credit, they do boast the highest bars total in the conference), but often didn’t count enough 9.800+ routines to be in national conversations. Finding reliable depth early in the season will be paramount to coach Sam Morreale’s bars squad. 


Potential Contributors: Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.845 NQS), Ellery Werner (9.835), Brookelyn Sears (9.810), Kendall George (9.745), Emma Brkljacic (9.312 AVG), Isabella Sissi (9.162), Sami DiFabrizio, Hannah Drielick, Maddy Kees, Samantha Nickle, Kiera O’Shea, Talia Kraus

How It Looked Before: Al-Ashari shone on beam for Northern Illinois, bringing back her layout step-out mount from elite. Scores as a team traveled as high as 49.125 but were unable to stay above the 49.000 barrier for more than two meets in a row. 

How It Looks Now: Drielick should fit right into this lineup, going as high as 9.850 in level 10 with her hesitation-free beam presence and elite-sized bag of skills to pick from. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Any semblance of consistency will help the team trend up, but since that’s not historically been a strong point for Northern Illinois on beam, we’ll have to wait for the season to see.


Potential Contributors: Alana Anderson (9.870 NQS), Emmalise Nock (9.840), Brookelyn Sears (9.830), Isabella Sissi (9.805), Olivia Lynd (9.737 AVG), Sami DiFabrizio, Hannah Drielick, Maddy Kees, Samantha Nickle, Kiera O’Shea, Talia Kraus

How It Looked Before: Fans who may not have been able to watch Northern Illinois compete still knew to watch out from seeing scores alone, between the lineup’s depth and (now graduated) regional floor qualifier Kofmehl. As a team, it finished 28th nationally last season and scored above 49.000 more times than not—capping at 49.350. 

How It Looks Now: Major shuffling will have to happen, after graduating three regular floor contributors in Kofmehl, Welch and Hooper. Sophomore transfer Kraus can make an immediate impact here as well, with superb twisting form and level 10 scores from her senior year of high school all between 9.550 and 9.750. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. While Northern Illinois brought in five freshmen to fill three lineup spots on floor, they’re big shoes to fill. 

Three Big Questions

Can Northern Illinois start 2023 where it left off in 2022?

If freshmen can slot into Kofmehl’s and Hooper’s spots at the back end of their respective lineups, signs point to yes. The only questions are if the Huskies’ four-strong coaching staff will replace the duo with two more, or split up responsibilities with a specialist-heavy approach. 

When will Talia Kraus make her collegiate debut?

Sophomore transfer Kraus was a floor force to be reckoned with in level 10 but unfortunately saw no competitive opportunities amidst Southern Connecticut’s large freshman class last season. A healthy preseason should spell lineup time for her graceful floor style. 

What will Sears’ senior campaign look like?

Not only will the senior want to build off of last season’s 39.375 high, she’ll do so as the only returning all-arounder with an NQS for the Huskies. 2023 may see her in a heavier all-around role after intermittently competing only bars and beam last year.


No. 52 Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan will look to show off consistency as soon as possible in order to reclaim a spot in the top half of the MAC.

Losses: Caitlin Satler, Shannon Gregory, Carly Kosanovich, Charlotte Reynolds, Kara Roberts, Cali Harden, Jade Blankenship, Corey Melcher
Gains: Trinity Macy (transfer from Pittsburgh), Priya Karle, Iyana King, Kyrie Lowe
Returning From Injury: Mickayla Stuckey


Potential Contributors: Molly Parris (9.740), Anna Grace McCullough (9.720), Ella Chemotti (9.715), Alana Fisher, Emma Lewis, Raisa Boris, Priya Karle, Iyana King, Kyrie Lowe

How It Looked Before: Yurchenko fulls were almost compulsory in 2022. The back end of the season saw a lot of controlled landings, but a lack of 10.0 start values prevented the team from scoring above 49 all season except for one mid-season outing. 

How It Looks Now: Lowe brings a Yurchenko half and a Yurchenko full-on pike—with both now valued at 9.95, we’ll have to wait and see which is used in competition. Karle should see immediate lineup time with her Yurchenko full that hangs in the air and earned her a pre-pandemic regional title in level 10. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but the pieces are there for it to trend up. 


Potential Contributors: Raisa Boris (9.840 NQS), Ella Chemotti (9.790), Anna Grace McCullough (9.775), Molly Parris (9.770), Hadyn Crossen (9.750), Jordan Jankowski (9.730), Mickayla Stuckey, Trinity Macy, Iyana King, Kyrie Lowe

How It Looked Before: Eastern Michigan’s bars squad was chock full of hecht mounts and will retain three from last year’s lineup in Boris, Jankowski and McCullough. Led by freshman Chemotti, the Eagles finished just shy of 49 by NQS and average. 

How It Looks Now: This year’s bars core looks similar to last year’s, with the additions of Lowe and Macy in likely contention for the sixth spot. And for what it’s worth, Lowe brings the hecht mount total in Eastern Michigan’s bars squad to four. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up, with at least eight athletes having either competition experience or being shown in preseason intrasquads. 


Potential Contributors: Ella Chemotti (9.885 NQS), Raisa Boris (9.835), Hadyn Crossen (9.790), Mickayla Stuckey (9.690), Mayleigh Vanderbeek, Anna Grace McCullough, Mickayla Stuckey, Trinity Macy, Priya Karle, Kyrie Lowe, Arileyah Harris

How It Looked Before: Relaxed beam routines boded well for Eastern Michigan last season, but the team had to shuffle between nine athletes to find six consecutive hits. Chemotti finished the regular season ranked first in the MAC on beam, often going over 9.900 and finishing tied for third at the Norman Regional. 

How It Looks Now: Stuckey returning from injury is a huge asset, bringing her fluid series work and a sense of calm to the beam squad again. Freshman Lowe is expected to make an immediate impact with her fan-favorite roundoff layout step-out mount. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Looking up, between gaining freshman, transfer, and healed depth. 


Potential Contributors: Molly Parris (9.800 NQS), Anna Grace McCullough (9.785), Raisa Boris (9.775), Gianna Antonio, Hadyn Crossen, Mickayla Stuckey, Trinity Macy, Priya Karle, Iyana King, Kyrie Lowe, Ella Chemotti

How It Looked Before: If the team is allowed to have a signature bars skill in its hecht mounts, then it’s also allowed to claim the two-pass floor routine—similarly returning multiple from last season. Last year’s rotation of 10 athletes often scored in the upper 48 range. 

How It Looks Now: The floor lineup is losing three from its conference championship lineup but should have plenty of routines available to fill those spaces. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Floor is the event that head coach Katie Minasola will need to replace the most routines on—and having historically cycled between multiple depth routines, we may not know the full floor picture until a few weeks into the season. 

Three Big Questions

Will Trinity Macy return to three events?

Before trading in her Panthers leos for Eagles, Macy was a regular 9.800-range contributor on bars, beam and floor but did not compete during the 2022 season. While her scores from 2021 fit in well with Eastern Michigan, last year’s roster picture wasn’t one of lineup flexibility. We’ll have to wait for preseason exhibitions to see how the switch from the EAGL to the MAC affects Macy’s lineup time. 

What will it take for Eastern Michigan to return to the top half of the MAC?

The answer for the entire conference rings most true perhaps for the Eagles—race to determine the ideal top six per event and stay on bars and beam. The team’s longest streak over the 195 mark in 2022 was two meets, which didn’t bode well for in-conference standings. However, if that benchmark were the average (and it looks attainable this season), it will be back in the mix. 

What benefits will a heavy non-conference schedule have on the Eagles?

Last year, some of Eastern Michigan’s best team scores came while facing non-conference opponents, and this year’s schedule provides multiple opportunities to bring in Power Five competition as well. In the upcoming season, Eagles will take on opponents from the EAGL, Big 12 and SEC, which should yield valuable non-MAC matchups for the team to test how it may fare in the regional conversation.

No. 56 Bowling Green

Bowling Green’s hand was forced into lineup puzzles later in the season more than most teams, resulting in going over 195 in only one of 12 meets. This year’s freshman class brings in a surplus of routines to help ease last year’s consistency strain.

Losses: Paige Bachner, Kayla Chan, Tess Muir, Natalie Stauch (left team)
Gains: Megan Bingham, Charniya Brown, Elise Brzoska, Madison Coburn, Riece Crooks, Isabella Rivelli, Starr Ogilvie
Returning From Injury: Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso


Potential Contributors: Taylor Jensen (9.840 NQS), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.800), Kathryn Weilbacher (9.760), Lily Harsch (9.725), Lauren Bannister (9.645), Sydney Bennett, Brooke McNamara, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Katelyn Goldstrom, Lexi Bornhorn, Megan Bingham, Charniya Brown, Madison Coburn

How It Looked Before: Vault was Bowling Green’s most consistent event last season, but crunched landings and zero 10.0 start values barred its lineup from going above 49. Eleven athletes were used at least once, making vault a hard lineup to stay in. 

How It Looks Now: Freshmen have opportunities to make big impacts on vault, given the fluidity of last year’s top six. Brown should have the clearest pathway to this lineup, bringing with her a high-blocking Yurchenko full and the Region 8 event title from 2022. Mendez-Abolnik was shown doing a Yurchenko one and a half in a fall intrasquad, which is the team’s only 10.0 start on the event so far. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. All five NQS vault scores from last season return, and the team may start being able to rely on a larger core of strong vaulters. 


Potential Contributors: Lily Harsch (9.760 NQS), Taylor Jensen (9.740), Lexi Bornhorn (9.710), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.695), Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso (9.650), Kathryn Weilbacher, Lauren Bannister, Katelyn Goldstrom, Megan Bingham, Charniya Brown, Madison Coburn

How It Looked Before: Bowling Green’s bars scores from January held it back from the rest of the conference, weighing in heavily toward a below-48.000 average.  

How It Looks Now: Freshmen could give this lineup the facelift it needed last season. Brown brings with her a sky-high Tkatchev and tucked full-in routine that should see immediate time at the back of the lineup. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? The potential addition of three freshmen into the top six may help the Falcons trend up, but in order to do so they will have to replace veterans first. Come season we’ll see if last year’s lineup will stay intact or if new faces will make an appearance. 


Potential Contributors: Kathryn Weilbacher (9.790 NQS), Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso (9.780), Emily Castiglia (9.780), Taylor Jensen (9.765), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.740), Sarina Ross (9.705), Lily Harsch (9.370), Megan Bingham, Charniya Brown, Elise Brzoska, Madison Coburn

How It Looked Before: Beam was highlighted by Solorzano-Caruso and Weilbacher, with their high scores and consistency, respectively. The team peaked at 49.000 after rotating 10 athletes in and out of the lineup. 

How It Looks Now: Watch for Brzoska (and her handspring to two layout step-outs) to make an early lineup impact, going as high as 9.850 in her club career. She’ll look to fill the only postseason routine hole from last season’s conference championship. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Based on numbers alone, trending up. All six 9.7-plus NQS scores from last season are returning, and the team should only improve from there thanks to six freshmen. 


Potential Contributors: Taylor Jensen (9.840 NQS), Brooke McNamara (9.805), Kathryn Weilbacher (9.805), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.760), Lauren Bannister (9.720), Megan Decious, Lily Harsch, Emily Castiglia, Bayile Lawrence, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso, Megan Bingham, Charniya Brown, Elise Brzoska, Madison Coburn

How It Looked Before: Floor was Bowling Green’s best event last season, going 49-plus twice and fielding five athletes who’ve scored over 9.800. Jensen’s floor boasted the team’s highest score and NQS from 2022 on any event at a 9.840, and she will be looking to improve even more in her senior campaign.

How It Looks Now: All the pieces are there. Jensen, McNamara and Weilbacher return NQS scores over 9.800, Solorzano-Caruso may look to return to the leg events (she had a career high 9.900 before transferring to Bowling Green from SEMO), and the freshman floor trio of Bingham, Brown and Brzoska will no doubt look to chip into the Falcon’s floor lineup.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Floor is definitely looking up. Between retaining 10 prior floor competitors and bringing in a floor-heavy freshmen class, the Falcons will have much needed depthon this event and are in a position to rest their 9.8-plus scores should they need to. 

Three Big Questions

Should the Falcons field a third all-arounder, who will it be?

Jensen and Mendez-Abolnik will look to return to the all-around after breaking the 39-plus benchmark in 2022. Falcon fans will be eager to see if a third (or even fourth) will see competition time on all four events. Keep your eye on Solorzano-Caruso returning from injury that limited her to bars and beam last year and Brown joining the team with level 10 highs above 9.600 on every event. 

What will a return to the top 50 look like?

The last time the Falcons finished in the top 50 nationally (excluding 2021’s weirdness) was in 2018, with a complete roster changeover having happened since then. To re-establish itself in the top 50 will take a combination of two things: hitting in early season away meets to alleviate NQS pressure and boosting bars and beam scores to match the returning 9.8-range scores on vault and floor. 

Could this year see a rise in specialists?

The only postseason routine space that needs immediate replacement is Muir’s beam, and six freshmen and a healthy Solorzano-Caruso eager to contribute. Expect to see Bowling Green shift away from all-arounders and toward specialists in order to boost the team NQS over individual event numbers. 

READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MAC Part I

Article by Peri Goodman

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