Toughest Lineups for Freshmen to Crack

Between historically strong lineups and retaining last season’s class of seniors, some lineups will definitely be harder to break into than others. While we won’t know for sure until Week 1 of competition, some team’s returners have laid down the gauntlet for freshmen and coaches alike. Below are some top picks for the hardest lineups to break into in 2023. 

Vault: Michigan

Of the 10 Wolverines that competed in 2022, eight competed vault and six hit either a 9.975 or 10.000. Their famous vault rotation at Rutgers last February saw a monstrous 49.875, with three perfect 10s—good for an NCAA record and finishing the season as the top collegiate vault team. The cherry on top is that Michigan’s entire vault core from 2022 is retained for the upcoming season, so it has the best shot in the country at starting where it left off on this event. 

Not known in past years for using underclassmen as often, Michigan will need to normalize them to competition time in order to avoid a significant rankings drop in the 2024 season. It begs the question: How long is too long to wait before starting this process?

Vault Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma, Missouri, LSU

Bars: California

California’s 10th-ranked bars squad had an embarrassment of riches last year, between 2021 national champion Maya Bordas, a former elite in Gabby Perea and retaining most of its NCAA record 49.825 bars lineup from 2021. While it did graduate Bordas and Nina Schank, it had incredible depth options from Mya Lauzon and Maya Green, who will be hard not to immediately slot into the two available lineup spots. Add in this year’s freshmen Mikaile Aderinto, Casey Brown, eMjae Frazier and Jayden Silvers, and now there are four extra pieces to California’s bars puzzle. 

Bars Honorable Mentions: Kentucky, San Jose State, Southern Utah

Beam: Florida

If Cal’s previously mentioned bars lineup has an embarrassment of riches, we don’t have any words left for Florida’s beam depth. Last season head coach Jenny Rowland rotated nine athletes in and out of six spots, with the six who were in long enough to have NQS scores all registering 9.900-plus. A healthy Ellie Lazzari (and her NQS of 9.956 from 2021) will challenge for the top six. Then there’s the question of how four former elites fit in: Rachel Baumann, Kayla DiCello, Morgan Hurd and Victoria Nguyen. How will Rowland slot five gymnasts into two spots opened from Megan Skaggs and Alyssa Baumann, and how many second chances are there room for come competition? 

Beam Honorable Mentions: Oregon State, Washington, Denver

Floor: Kent State

Kent State set the MAC floor pace last January, with freshman Alyssa Guns’ 9.975 in her collegiate debut. While traditionally a strong floor team, the Golden Flashes secured themselves as top of the MAC by NQS, high and average—and retained their entire top six from 2022 going into 2023. Their freshman situation doesn’t make the lineup puzzle easy, with six coming in that are capable of making the collegiate floor lineup. Kennedy Bowen and Zoe Rankin have both gone over 9.700 in level 10, but all six freshmen will be eager to say they’ve been a part of a MAC powerhouse rotation. Floor coach Craig Ballard will no doubt be playing the floor lineup game well into this week, with the team’s official intrasquad on December 9. 

Floor Honorable Mentions: Utah, Auburn, UCLA

READ THIS NEXT: Fisk Prepares for Inaugural Season With Goal of “Competing With the Big Dogs”

Article by Peri Goodman

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.