With the dissolution of the MRGC and the formation of the Mountain West, the MPSF looks a bit different this year with Southern Utah joining UC Davis, Sacramento State, and Alaska. While Southern Utah is a jump above the other teams in the rankings as a perennial regionals qualifier, this conference should still be competitive. The conference is packed with high-quality gymnastics and teams on the rise.
The preseason is starting and 2024 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. 22 Southern Utah
The most recent addition to the MPSF, the Thunderbirds finished at the top of the no-longer MRGC conference. Their graduating class brought leadership, stability, and high scores. However, their newcomers bring in new skills and lots of potential to keep the momentum of winning a conference championship.
|Losses:||Celine Barney, Mayson Bentley (UB), Ruby Hernandez, Caitlin Kho (VT, UB), Kaylee Kho (BB), Karley McClain (AA), Shylen Murakami (UB, BB), Rachel Smith (VT, BB, FX), Tiffani Stufflebeam (UB), Nikki Thomas (UB), Hailey Vultaggio (VT, BB, FX), Camry Miller, Olivia Orlando, Jocelyn Wittwer, Megan Locke, Emma Ingrassia (FX)|
|Gains:||Elliot Bringhurst, Brinlee Christensen, Marisa de Groot, Maria Ferguson, Alyssa Fernandez, Mackenzie Kelly, Brinley Kitchen, Carilia Martinez, Kendall McGuire, Rylee Miller, Niya Randolph, Alex Routsis|
Potential Contributors: Kayla Pardue (9.860 NQS), Ellie Cacciola (9.850), Kennedi McClain (9.725 AVG), Anna Hartley (9.675 AVG), Elliot Bringhurst, Brinlee Christensen, Mackenzie Kelly, Niya Randolph
How It Looked Before: Led by freshman Kayla Pardue’s dynamic Yurchenko one and a half and a collection of solid fulls, Southern Utah’s vault rotation scored into the low 49s most weeks.
How It Looks Now: Only two of Southern Utah’s vaulters return, Pardue and Ellie Cacciola. Brinlee Christensen has scored a 10.000 in level 10 with her Yurchenko one and a half so look for her to anchor. Mackenzie Kelly should see lineup time with her Yurchenko full-on pike off. Niya Randolph and Elliot Bringhurst bring dynamic fulls as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. Four freshmen have lineup-worthy vaults from their club days, but whether they’ll transition smoothly to college competition remains to be seen.
Potential Contributors: Isabella Neff (9.815 NQS), Aubri Schwartze (9.800), Trista Goodman (9.829 AVG), Aly Coutu (9.200 AVG), Brinlee Christensen, Maria Ferguson, Brinley Kitchen, Carilia Martinez, Kendall McGuire, Rylee Miller, Niya Randolph, Alex Routsis
How It Looked Before: Bars was the Thunderbirds’ weakest event last season as the team struggled to find a sixth routine and consistently break 49.000 late in the season. The lineup was led by seniors Shylen Murakami and Karley McClain.
How It Looks Now: Three lineup routines return, but Southern Utah will be looking for someone who can consistently score above 9.850. This is where Alex Routsis should slide in, who scored as high as 9.925 in club. Look again for Christensen and Randolph to contribute from day one, and for Rylee Miller and Maria Ferguson to be in the mix.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Having to replace your top three routines is never easy and there’s bound to be some struggles as the freshmen work into lineups.
Potential Contributors: Ellie Cacciola (9.895 NQS), Aubri Schwartze (9.860), Elliot Bringhurst, Brinlee Christensen, Marisa de Groot, Alyssa Fernandez, Carilia Martinez, Rylee Miller, Niya Randolph, Alex Routsis
How It Looked Before: Southern Utah’s beam was largely improved from 2022, in part due to the emergence of Cacciola who hit all but one routine in 2023. Despite a couple of late-season beam disasters, the team broke 49.225 in its last three meets.
How It Looks Now: Another lineup depleted by senior graduations, freshmen, and newcomers will be relied on. Beam is the weakest event for this freshman class, but look for Miller to be a factor here, as well as Christensen who was very consistent in club. Bringhurst should also factor into this lineup; she won a gold medal in the all-star session of DP nationals this past year.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. With four lineup staples to be replaced and lots of inexperienced athletes, beam might be a troublesome event for Southern Utah this year.
Potential Contributors: Aubri Schwartze (9.880 NQS), Ellie Cacciola (9.855), Taylor Gull (9.835), Elliot Bringhurst, Brinlee Christensen, Alyssa Fernandez, Mackenzie Kelly, Carilia Martinez, Rylee Miller, Niya Randolph
How It Looked Before: Floor was a high-scoring event for Southern Utah last year, scoring as high as 49.500 thanks to strong work from Karley McClain and Hailey Vultaggio.
How It Looks Now: Two solid routines return from Schwartze and Cacciola, while Randolph has a gorgeous double layout – with the potential to perform a split-leg double layout – that should be near the end of the lineup. Bringhurst could also contend with a nice full-in, and both Christensen and Martinez have clean twisting form that should see lineup time.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. The freshmen have some really nice floor work, but we’ll have to wait and see how they perform on the college scene.
Three Big Questions
Will the freshmen be competition-ready by January?
This freshman class is massive, in both size and talent, which is good because Southern Utah has a lot of routines to replace. How the freshmen adjust to NCAA competition will determine if the team can repeat as conference championships.
Who will replace Karley McClain?
The fifth-year was a leader for the program and an absolute star in the all-around her senior year. Replacing her will be challenging, but former four-star recruit Christensen has the potential to be that same type of leader for the Thunderbirds.
Who will emerge as leaders on beam?
Inconsistency on beam has plagued Southern Utah in seasons past, but thanks to its fifth-year gymnasts, it found a lot of stability. It’s not immediately clear who will step into the lineup now, making it a possibility that beam could be an issue this season.
No. 39 UC Davis
Last year, UC Davis won the MPSF championship for the first time since 2015 and set individual and team records on floor and vault. The Aggies were in the regionals hunt until the last weekend of the season, but they ultimately fell short of clinching a spot in the play-in round.
|Losses:||Logan Clagg (UB), Petra Engstrom, Kaya Madden, Thea Michovsky (UB), Rachel Schuelke (BB), Emily Pires (transfer to Washington), Sydney Buerk, Bella King|
|Gains:||Ayumi Oshiro, Alana Kim, Jadyn Wakita|
Potential Contributors: Keanna Abraham (9.875 NQS), Megan Ray (9.855), Emma Otsu (9.840), Amelia Moneymaker (9.750), Isabella Fitz-Gerald (9.735), Bella Trejo (9.675 AVG), Alana Kim, Ayumi Oshiro
How It Looked Before: UC Davis had one of the most unique vault lineups in the country last year, led by Megan Ray and Keanna Abraham’s massive vaults. However, others in the lineup struggled with landing consistency week to week and the rotation often hovered right around 49.000.
How It Looks Now: The Aggies lose one vault, but they potentially gain two. Ayumi Oshiro scored solidly in club and Alana Kim had a solid Yurchenko full in 2022 but competed very little in 2023.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. UC Davis will have a very similar vault rotation to last year; whether or not it can improve depends on who they find as a sixth vaulter.
Potential Contributors: Isabella Fitz-Gerald (9.815 NQS), Emma Otsu (9.805), Ava Scafani (9.760), Amelia Moneymaker (9.760), Marisa Laird (9.640), Kaitlyn Lyle (9.750 AVG), Nandhini Senthil (9.658 AVG), Jadyn Wakita
How It Looked Before: After a rocky start, the lineup stabilized and the Aggies scored in the 48.900 range for most of the season.
How It Looks Now: When Thea Michovsky graduated, the Aggies lost their highest-scoring routine. However, all three freshmen are strong on bars and should contend for this lineup. Jadyn Wakita has a stunning Pak that should be a highlight in this lineup.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. These freshmen have the routines to strengthen this lineup but lack of training videos and some inconsistencies make it hard to guarantee that the lineup will consistently score above 49.000 this year.
Potential Contributors: Ava Scafani (9.855 NQS), Kaitlyn Lyle (9.830), Megan Ray (9.760), Keanna Abraham (9.740), Anna Holtan (9.505), Kaitlyn Lyle (9.815 AVG), Isabella Fitz-Gerald (9.050 AVG), Ayumi Oshiro, Alana Kim
How It Looked Before: Ava Scafani and Kaitlyn Lyle’s stunning form led this lineup, and when the whole lineup hit, this was a great rotation. However inconsistency plagued the team, and more often than not, the team ended up counting a fall.
How It Looks Now: UC Davis loses only one routine on beam and two freshmen should be lineup contenders. Oshiro placed third on the event at nationals this year, and Kim has excellent form on both her leaps and acro series.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. The final six will consist of returners who were somewhat inconsistent, but beam has the potential to be a highlight event with the freshmen additions.
Potential Contributors: Megan Ray (9.900 NQS), Keanna Abraham (9.890), Bella Trejo (9.860), Amelia Moneymaker (9.860), Anna Holtan (9.800), Nandhini Senthil (9.600 AVG), Emma Otsu (9.525 AVG), Alana Kim
How It Looked Before: Floor was a highlight event for the Aggies, with Ray and Abraham leading the pack to scores as high as 49.525.
How It Looks Now: Floor is the weakest event for these freshmen, but with the Aggies only losing one routine, they will not be counted on to do much heavy lifting. Look for the departure of Emily Pires to be replaced by Nandhini Senthil who saw some lineup time, or if healthy, Kim scored solidly in club.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down, but only slightly. Expect floor to take a slight dip from the record-setting levels of last year as the Aggies work to find a sixth routine.
Three Big Questions
Will the freshmen impact lineups immediately?
UC Davis’s freshman class is small but mighty, with the potential to really elevate the team on bars and beam. Their smooth transition to NCAA competition will be key for the Aggies to build on last season’s success.
What will Tanya Ho’s first official year as head coach bring?
The Aggies managed to win a conference championship under an interim head coach for the first time since 2015. Now that two of their previous conference foes have moved to the Mountain West and Ho is officially in charge, she could potentially take the Aggies back to the regional round of the postseason.
How high can Keanna Abraham and Megan Ray take this team?
The reigning MPSF champions will face stiff competition from Southern Utah if they want to repeat last year’s success. However, with Abraham and Ray leading the team on leg events, and the potential the freshman class brings, the Aggies may have their sights set higher than just winning back-to-back championships.
No. 57 Sacramento State
Sacramento State improved one spot in the rankings from 2022 and managed to score above 195 three times last season. The Hornets lose some important team members, including longtime head coach Randy Solorio to retirement, but they bring in their first pair of ranked recruits in Mallory Barron and Chloe Cohen.
|Losses:||Peyton Gillen (BB), Karissa Hoffman, Amber Koeth (UB, BB, FX), Anna LeRoy (FX), Kelly MacLeod, Elizabeth Crawford|
|Gains:||Mallory Barron, Chloe Cohen, Summer Hausner, Athena Jones, Jillianne Lastra, Hannah Sitzman, Rose Wilson|
|Returning from Injury:||Olivia Schmitt (Achilles)|
Potential Contributors: Emma Morgenthaler (9.795 NQS), Sarah Fitzgerald (9.740), Sarah Lutrel (9.740), Rylin Zimmerman (9.740), Bella Lahmidi (9.690), Torri Tavenner (9.670), Grace Gilman (9.520), Olivia Schmitt (9.425 AVG), Mallory Barron, Hannah Sitzman, Rose Wilson
How It Looked Before: At the start of the season, Sacramento State struggled on vault but improved to mostly score in the 48.600 range as the season progressed.
How It Looks Now: All of the Hornets vaulters return, including Emma Morgenthaler’s strong Yurchenko one and a half. Barron should contribute with her strong full and Cohen will push to see lineup time as well. Rose Wilson also has a chance in this lineup with her Yurchenko half.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With all six vaulters returning and more depth from the freshmen, Sacramento State should increase its vault totals this season.
Potential Contributors: Bella Lahmidi (9.750 NQS), Kara Houghton (9.750), Sarah Lutrel (9.740), Torri Tavenner (9.730), Emma Morgenthaler (9.725), Sarah Fitzgerald (9.638 AVG), Mallory Barron, Chloe Cohen, Jillianne Lastra, Hannah Sitzman, Rose Wilson
How It Looked Before: Bars was a stronger event for the Hornets last season with the team going as high as 49.150 thanks to strong work from senior Amber Koeth as well as a strong freshman season for Sarah Lutrel.
How It Looks Now: The Hornets lose their anchor, but bring in a strong freshman class. Hannah Sitzman should slide nicely into the lineup with her gorgeous handstands, toe point, and dynamic Jaeger. Barron and Cohen will also see lineup time with their solid routines, with the latter scoring as high as 9.825 in level 10.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. The trio of Sitzman, Barron, and Cohen should make the Hornets’ strongest event even better this year.
Potential Contributors: Grace Gilman (9.825 NQS), Emma Morgenthaler (9.785), Sarah Lutrel (9.780), Rylin Zimerman (9.370), Kara Houghton (9.570 AVG), Sarah Fitzgerald (9.488 AVG), Mallory Barron, Chloe Cohen, Summer Hausner, Athena Jones
How It Looked Before: Beam was Sacramento State’s best event last year, finishing the season No. 47. It was led by the senior duo of Peyton Gillen and school record holder Koeth and topped out at 49.225.
How It Looks Now: With the loss of Gillen and Koeth, the Hornets will need two new routines, and again Barron and Cohen are prime contenders. Cohen has an impressive balance beam mount that should thrill gymnastics fans. Athena Jones also has potential in this lineup as she has the highest score out of her classmates on beam.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Koeth and Gillen provided a lot of stability to this lineup that will be hard to immediately replace.
Potential Contributors: Emma Morgenthaler (9.830 NQS), Kara Houghton (9.750), Grace Gilman (9.740), Sarah Lutrel (9.710), Simone Dumas-Guzman (9.590), Bella Lahmidi (9.625 AVG), Torri Tavenner (9.556 AVG), Olivia Schmitt (8.150 AVG), Mallory Barron, Chloe Cohen, Athena Jones
How It Looked Before: As the season progressed, floor was a consistent event for the Hornets. Unfortunately, they often got stuck in the 48.800 range.
How It Looks Now: Like on beam, Sacramento State loses its NQS leader in Koeth but Cohen should immediately see lineup time thanks to her tumbling. Expect Barron and Jones to push for this lineup as well. Barron brings a beautiful two-and-a-half twist, and Jones has clean skills that make her ideal for the Hornets.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too soon to tell. The Hornets should have more depth this year, but it’s unclear if someone can replace Koeth’s consistent 9.800+ score.
Three Big Questions
Who will replace Amber Koeth?
Koeth was a leader for the program, and though she remains with the team as an assistant coach, the Hornets will need to replace her big scores on bars, beam, and floor.
Can Sacramento State consistently break 49 on bars?
With a quartet of solid returners and three freshmen who are strong on bars, the Hornets should be contending to break 49.000 most weeks on bars, which would be a significant step for this program.
Can Melissa Genovese keep Solorio’s legacy alive?
It’s always tough to see a coach retire, but even more so when Solorio had been with the program in one capacity or another for over 40 years. Genovese is determined to continue what he started and by bringing in three alumnae as assistant coaches, it’s clear that she is ready for this challenge.
No. 69 Alaska
In the team’s first season after being officially reinstated, the Seawolves experienced a season with extreme highs and lows, scoring as high as 193.700 and as low as 185.700 the next week. Looking forward into 2024, the Seawolves are going to want to try and consistently score in the 191.000+ range.
|Losses:||Rachel Decious (UB, BB, FX), Mackenzie Robinson (BB, FX), Allie McClure (VT, UB, FX), Avalon Angell, Sydney Thomas-Lutchmedial|
|Gains:||Talia Folino (transfer from LIU), Audrey Guess, Maria Jose Prieto, Claudia Lessig, Maddy Murphy, Avery Tillmanns|
|Returning From Injury:||Brooklyn Kopsack, Jada Niles (beam injury)|
Potential Contributors: Montana Fairbairn (9.645 NQS), Madelyn Gomez (9.535), Silje Hildebrand (9.525), Alyssa Manley (9.490), Ariana DeSouza (9.490), Talia Folino (9.625 AVG), Jessica Johnson (9.487 AVG), Paola Ruano Barahona (9.200 AVG), Claudia Lessig, Maddy Murphy, Avery Tillmanns,
How It Looked Before: Vault was a mostly consistent event for the Seawolves last year, averaging in the mid- 47s. They were often held back by a lack of difficulty in their lineup.
How It Looks Now: Most of its lineup returns and Alaska will appreciate Maddy Murphy’s solid front handspring tuck half (training pike) greatly. Silje Hildebrand has also been working on an upgraded front pike half in training. Lessig and Tillmann should provide depth as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. With its five highest-scoring vaulters returning, the addition of Murphy’s vault, and potential upgrades looming, this lineup should score higher than last year.
Potential Contributors: Alyssa Manley (9.700 NQS), Paola Ruano Barahona (9.555), Hayley Perkins (9.550), Emily Walker (9.485), Talia Folino (9.008 AVG), Jessica Johnson (8.838 AVG), Madelyn Gomez (8.825 AVG) Marcela Bonifasi (8.215 AVG), Claudia Lessig, Maria Jose Prieto, Avery Tillmanns, Audrey Guess
How It Looked Before: Bars was a struggle at times for Alaska last season, and often resulted in the team counting multiple falls. Alyssa Manley emerged as a leader scoring 9.700 plus on three occasions.
How It Looks Now: The Seawolves lose consistent contributor Rachel Decious but should benefit immensely from freshmen Claudia Lessig and Avery Tillmans. Lessig scored as high as 9.750 in club and Tillman brings a clean set with the potential to add a Jaeger. At LIU, Folino scored as high as 9.775 on the event and should see competition time here as well.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Lessig will be a standout on this event and should bump the scoring potential of this group significantly as should the addition of Folino.
Potential Contributors: Montana Fairbairn (9.705 NQS), Talia Folino (9.670), Shannon Farrell (9.655), Paola Ruano Barahona (9.610), Marcela Bonifasi (9.485), Jessica Johnson (9.775 AVG), Alyssa Manley (9.100 AVG), Brooklyn Kopsack (8.650 AVG), Breeann Spain (8.275 AVG), Silje Hildebrand (7.650 AVG), Maddy Murphy, Claudia Lessig
How It Looked Before: Beam was a mostly solid event for Alaska, and as the season progressed they broke 48.000 on most occasions.
How It Looks Now: The Seawolves lose Decious, who was their most consistent scorer. Beam is the weakest event for this freshman class, so it’s unclear who will step up into this slot. Lessig is the best bet to appear in this lineup as she has incredible confidence on this event. Look for transfer Talia Folino to also be an important contributor on this event.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. The Seawolves lose their strongest score, and it’s unclear if this score can be replaced right away.
Potential Contributors: Alyssa Manley (9.710 NQS), Ariana Desouza (9.630), Madelyn Gomez (9.530), Talia Folino (9.745 AVG), Montana Fairbairn (9.017 AVG), Silje Hildebrand (8.942 AVG), Breeann Spain (8.825 AVG), Maddy Murphy, Maria Jose Prieto
How It Looked Before: Floor was inconsistent for the Seawolves last year, scoring as high as 48.7750 one week and 47.1750 the next. The team also struggled with depth and finding routines that scored into the mid-9s.
How It Looks Now: Only three lineup routines return, but the freshmen and Folino should contribute here. Maria Jose Prieto has very clean twisting form, and Murphy worked a double front in her club days. Claudia Lessig also trained a double layout previously, so if she could bring that back, the scoring potential can increase here.
Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. Alaska struggled with depth last year and losing its two strongest routines will be challenging, at least at the start of the season.
Three Big Questions
How much difficulty can Alaska compete on vault?
The team has been pushing to increase its vault difficulty and with newcomers and upgrades, could this be the year the Seawolves complete six 9.95+ start value vaults?
Will Talia Folino emerge as an all-arounder?
One of many transfers from the LIU roster, Folino has always had the potential to be a star gymnast. Getting a fresh start in her senior season should allow her to be a leader and bring Alaska to new heights.
Will bars be Alaska’s best event this year?
Bars has been an event Alaska has struggled with the last few seasons. With the additions of Lessig, Tillmanns, and Folino, it has the potential to become a strength for the team if they can find consistency.
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Article by Rebecca Williams and Savanna Whitten