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Potential Lineups: ACC

The ACC is here! With all of the conference drama this offseason, the conference change that impacts the 2024 gymnastics season the most is the start of the ACC sponsoring women’s gymnastics now that Clemson has added a program. All of these teams are going into this inaugural season with realistic goals of both a conference title and 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. 30 N.C. State

N.C. State continued its streak of coming into conference championships as the top seed and failing to take home the championship. Coming off a season where the Wolfpack eclipsed 197 for the first time since 2004, N.C. State will be looking to claim a conference title at the inaugural ACC championship.

Losses: Shruthi Anand (transfer to Pittsburgh), Gabrielle Diaz, Grace Hunter, Hailey Merchant (transfer to Maryland), Meredith Robinson, Lauren Rutherford (transfer to Clemson)
Gains: Wells Fischer, Elle Hadrick, Maddie Hall, Katie Harper, Ashley Knight, Lauren Wright
Returning From Injury: Madison Benson


Potential Contributors: Emily Shepard (9.880), Chloe Negrete (9.875), Alexis Ortega (9.790), Krista Zultevicz (9.765), Meg Adler, Wells Fischer, Elle Hadrick, Maddie Hall, Katie Harper, Ashley Knight, Lauren Wright

How It Looked Before: The Wolfpack had a consistent vault lineup of Yurchenko fulls in 2023 highlighted by the back three of Lauren Rutherford, Emily Shepard, and Chloe Negrete. 

How It Looks Now: With Rutherford and Gabrielle Diaz leaving, the Wolfpack have two spots to fill in the lineup. Ashley Knight is the freshman most likely to make the lineup as she has previously competed a front pike half. The other lineup spot will likely go to one of Katie Harper or Lauren Wright who have both previously trained a Yurchenko one and a half but will likely compete a full in college.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? The addition of Knight’s vault should mitigate the loss of Rutherford’s clean full to keep this lineup about the same as last year.


Potential Contributors: Emily Shepard (9.895), Alexis Ortega (9.875), Kailee Adomaites (9.800), Peyton Childs (9.785), Sofia Obregon, Elle Hadrick, Maddie Hall, Katie Harper, Ashley Knight

How It Looked Before: Bars was a typically consistent event for the Wolfpack who constructed their routines with big single bar releases including Rutherford’s Ray, and Alexis Ortega’s Hindorf. Unfortunately, that consistency did not carry into regionals.

How It Looks Now: Rutherford will be missed at the end of the lineup, but Katie Harper is likely to take that late lineup spot with her giant full to double layout dismount. Maddie Hall and Elle Hadrick will also be in the mix with Sofia Obregon for a spot in the top six, but their routines are not absent of built-in deductions.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Even if Harper can replace Rutherford’s score right away, the event is likely to trend down slightly.


Potential Contributors: Chloe Negrete (9.895), Emily Shepard (9.840), Krista Zultevicz (9.830), Alexis Ortega (9.820), Macy Jennings (9.790), Meg Adler, Wells Fischer, Elle Hadrick, Maddie Hall, Ashley Knight

How It Looked Before: The Wolfpack beam scores hovered around the 49 mark all season. Ortega was always a highlight with her back handspring Onodi series and Negrete was a solid anchor all season.

How It Looks Now: There is only one opening for the Wolfpack, so it is likely that only one freshman enters the top six. Hadrick has the confident landings that would translate to college well, but not necessarily the form. Hall with her triple series or Knight with her side aerial side aerial series will likely be front runners for the spot.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? With only Diaz’s score needing to be replaced and multiple freshmen who could take that spot, the Wolfpack are trending up.


Potential Contributors: Chloe Negrete (9.925), Emily Shepard (9.910), Krista Zultevicz (9.850), Alexis Ortega (9.800), Madison Benson, Wells Fischer, Elle Hadrick, Maddie Hall, Katie Harper, Ashley Knight

How It Looked Before: Floor was a high point for the Wolfpack in 2023 consistently scoring over 49 with a high of 49.625 and a ranking of 24th nationally. 

How It Looks Now: The absence of Rutherford and Diaz creates an opportunity for Madison Benson to come back into the lineup once she is healthy. Benson will face challengers from the likes of Hall and Harper who are likely to contribute. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. With the strength of the back half of this lineup it will be difficult for the freshmen to score high enough to be an improvement on Diaz and Rutherford.

Three Big Questions

Can the underclassmen step up?

More than half of the routines are expected to come from the senior class. With seven routines lost, the Wolfpack will be looking toward the freshmen to contribute.

Will the fifth years be able to maintain their high routine volume?

There have been fifth years at various programs who were not able to stay healthy and maintain the routine production from earlier in their careers. With a likely 11 routines coming from fifth years Shepard, Ortega, and Negrete, the Wolfpack will be hoping that the routine volume can be maintained.

Can N.C. State win a conference title?

The Wolfpack has not won a conference title since 2018 despite coming into the EAGL championship as the favorite every season since. Now that N.C. State will be competing for an inaugural ACC title, will they be able to take it home?

No. 35 North Carolina

After a slow start to last season in Las Vegas, North Carolina quickly found its rhythm. However, that consistency almost hurt the Tar Heels late in the season as the team barely squeaked into regionals.

Losses: Jenna Cashman, Elizabeth Culton, Bri Greenlow, Hannah Nam, Sophie Silverstein, Jay Weil
Gains: Elly King, Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, Molly Neinstein, Camryn Rueda
Returning From Injury: Jamie Shearer, Cory Shinohara


Potential Contributors: Lali Dekanoidze (9.890), Kaya Forbes (9.840), Julia Knower (9.825), Paige Prejean (9.815), Gwen Fink (9.785), Kate Greene (9.730), Cory Shinohara, Isabelle Schaefer, Elly King, Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, Camryn Rueda

How It Looked Before: This was an event that was poised to be strong going into 2023, but some vault downgrades lowered the scoring potential of the lineup. Kaya Forbes and Lali Dekanoidze were the highlights of the lineup with the sky-high Yurchenko one and a half from Forbes and the huge Yurchenko full from Dekanoidze.

How It Looks Now: The back half of the lineup likely stays the same, but both Elly and Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, and Camryn Rudea all have previously trained Yurchenko one and a halfs and have strong Yurchenko fulls that can push for a lineup spot. Paige Prejean, Dekanoidze, and Gwen Fink have all previously competed 10.0-start-value vaults that could reappear.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up, there is an influx of quality vault depth that will elevate the baseline.


Potential Contributors: Lali Dekanoidze (9.960), Isabelle Schaefer (9.875), Gwen Fink (9.845), Julia Knower (9.825), Jamie Shearer (9.765), Taylor Schulze, Kaya Forbes, Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, Camryn Rueda

How It Looked Before: Bars was the highlight event for the Tar Heels in 2023 finishing the season ranked in the top 25 nationally. The big routine in the rotation came from Dekanoidze who scored 9.975 on multiple occasions and barely missed out on a nationals berth.

How It Looks Now: The main loss for North Carolina will come from the loss of Elizabeth Culton on her three events. The likely successor for that late lineup spot is Neve King with her tidy work, but Naranjo and Rueda are likely to put up a challenge.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down. While Neve King will be able to contribute to the lineup, replacing Culton’s score is a tall order. 


Potential Contributors: Julia Knower (9.835), Taylor Schulze (9.805), Hallie Thompson (9.795), Gwen Fink (9.795), Jamie Shearer, Kaya Forbes, Isabelle Schaefer, Lali Dekanoidze, Elly King, Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, Camryn Rueda

How It Looked Before: Beam was shaky for the Tar Heels in 2023. The lineups were shifted throughout the season and were led by key senior contributors including Culton.

How It Looks Now: With Culton and Hannah Nam opting not to take fifth years, there is notable turnover. While those key routines might be filled with returners like Forbes and Dekanoidze, this is also a great opportunity for some new faces with Naranjo likely to take a back-half spot right away with her high-difficulty set. Neve King and Rueda are also potential contributors.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down, replacing the scoring potential and leadership from Nam and Culton is not an easy task, and I do not expect the freshmen to replace those scores, at least not right away.


Potential Contributors: Julia Knower (9.925), Kaya Forbes (9.850), Kate Greene (9.750), Cory Shinohara, Gwen Fink, Amy Wozniak, Elly King, Neve King, Jessica Naranjo, Molly Neinstein, Camryn Rueda

How It Looked Before: The Tar Heels struggled with floor landings in 2023. The senior heavy floor lineup struggled to crack 49 and relied on consistently high scores from Knower. Floor ended up being the downfall once postseason came around.

How It Looks Now: The freshman class brings much-needed floor depth with multiple E-passes sprinkled amongst the group. Between full-ins from the Kings, a back triple full from Rueda and strong form from Naranjo, I would not be surprised to see half of the top six spots being occupied by first years. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. It would be difficult to have a worse season on floor, but with so much of the success of the lineup being dictated by freshmen, there are too many variables to say the event will trend up.

Three Big Questions

Will we see upgraded vaults?

In 2023, Dekanoidze returned from injury and competed a Yurchenko full to an eight-inch mat each week after competing a one and a half her freshman season. Both Prejean and Fink competed 10.0 vaults— a double full and a one and a half respectively— and both competed fulls as freshmen. Upgrading vaults would add a sizable boost to that lineup.

Will Lali Dekanoidze return to the all-around?

In her rookie campaign, Dekanoidze competed in the all-around every week until she injured her knee on a beam dismount that ended her season. This past year she was able to make it back to competing on vault and bars. With the loss of Culton, Nam, and Bri Greenlow, getting Dekanoidze back would be ideal, but it hinges on her health.

Can the Tar Heels fix floor?

When I say rough, I mean rough. North Carolina ended the season ranked 48th nationally after routinely counting out of bounds, uncontrolled landings and some falls. At regionals, the Tar Heels scored a 47.9. For the Tar Heels to escape the play-in round, having a consistent floor rotation will be key and the incoming class will be leaned upon.

No. 45 Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh started the season strong and then quickly fell off pace to qualify for its home regionals. After failing to qualify for the postseason for the fifth consecutive season, the coaching staff was revamped in hopes of becoming a challenger in the ACC.

Losses: Emily Liszewski, Natalia Pawlak (transfer to Alabama), Molly Rickey (transfer to UW-Stout), Sidney Washington (transfer to Ohio State), Christina Weiss, Nay’yarrah Winder
Gains: Jah’Liyah Bedminster (transfer from LIU), Annabella Carrascosa, Kaylee Larson, Julie Madsø, Arayah Simons (transfer from Illinois), Emily Todd


Potential Contributors: Kennedy Duke (9.850), Ciara Ward (9.815), Jah’Liyah Bedminster (9.805), Hallie Copperwheat (9.785), Jillian Zitcovich (9.700), Reyna Garvey (9.690), Arayah Simons, Julie Madsø, Emily Todd

How It Looked Before: Pittsburgh put out a lineup of consistent Yurchenko fulls last season highlighted by the height and potential sticks from Kennedy Duke and Sidney Washington. 

How It Looks Now: Arayah Simons had a 9.895 NQS in 2022, so Simons along with Bedminster will likely slot in right away with the absence of Washington. The freshmen bring in some fulls that will compete with Jillian Zitcovich and Reyna Garvey for top six spots.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The losses to this lineup will be felt, and with Simons coming off of an Achilles injury and lots of unknowns from the freshmen, filling in this lineup will be a challenge.


Potential Contributors: Hallie Copperwheat (9.880), Jordyn Ewing (9.800), Jah’Liyah Bedminster (9.770), Reyna Garvey (9.710), Lucia Jakab (9.635), Faith Lerro, Erin Hutchison, Arayah Simons, Annabella Carrascosa, Julie Madsø, Emily Todd

How It Looked Before: It was an up-and-down bars year for Pittsburgh with really high highs of a 49.4, and really low lows with a 47.875. The bright spot in the lineup was the last two spots with Hallie Copperwheat and Natalia Pawlak shining.

How It Looks Now: Losing two of the top three bars workers is going to hurt. Jah’Liyah Bedminister will help ease the blow some, and if Simons is back to her 2022 form on the event that will help as well. For the freshmen, Madsø and Todd are likely to step right in, potentially in the back half of the lineup with their large skill variety from elite paired with clean form and great toe point. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending down, at least to start. If Madsø, Todd, and Simons are able to jump right into the lineup, then the ideal top six can potentially trend up.


Potential Contributors: Reyna Garvey (9.900), Hallie Copperwheat (9.860), Jordyn Ewing (9.810), Kennedy Duke (9.715), Kendall Foy (9.590), Ciara Ward, Lucia Jakab, Kaleigh Cleveland, Arayah Simons, Carla Ferzoco, Annabella Carrascosa, Kaylee Larson, Julie Madsø, Emily Todd

How It Looked Before: While bars were up and down, beam was a rollercoaster (peep the Road to Nationals map). Also like bars, there were a couple of bright spots including Garvey becoming a standout and Copperwheat regularly competing her double turn.

How It Looks Now: Simons has not competed on beam in a couple of seasons, but she has a career-high of 9.850 from 2020 that could contend for a lineup spot. This is another spot where the clean form from Madsø and Todd will give the team a leg up on contributing. Madsø competed a front tuck mount in elite and has also made multiple event finals at world challenge cups for Norway which provides great experience.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. The Panthers can’t do much worse than last season and with the influx of newcomers, a new beam coach, and only one lost routine, things are looking up. 


Potential Contributors: Hallie Copperwheat (9.870), Jordyn Ewing (9.855), Reyna Garvey (9.775), Erin Hutchison (9.765), Jah’Liyah Bedminster (9.680), Ciara Ward (9.620), Arayah Simons, Kaylee Larson, Julie Madsø, Emily Todd

How It Looked Before: While being more consistent than other events, floor was not absent of dips for the Panthers in 2023. Landings were not always the most consistent, but Washington shined consistently and set a career-high of 9.95.

How It Looks Now: The loss of Washington is a big one, but it can be mitigated if Simons, who has her own career high of 9.95, is back to form. Madsø has E-pass potential and Todd has great form on her double pike, so both will likely contribute.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. If Simons is back to tumbling, then this group will have the depth to improve upon last season, but that will be difficult without her.

Three Big Questions

Will the new coaching staff help improve consistency?

After a disappointing end to the 2023 season and the start of the ACC sponsoring women’s gymnastics, Pittsburgh dismissed Samantha Snider after her sixth season as head coach and brought in Casey Jo MacPherson. MacPherson coached for Missouri during its Cinderella season that revolved around consistency so can she bring that consistency magic to Pittsburgh? 

What Arayah Simons is Pittsburgh getting?

It is hard to predict how one will come back from an injury as major as an Achilles rupture. Getting a healthy Simons that could compete in the all-around could be difference-making for the Panthers. 

Can the Panthers contend for an ACC title?

Pittsburgh has placed last at conference championships each of the last two seasons largely due to having to count falls. With a conference so tight, if the Panthers can hit, there will be a chance.


We have a new Power Five(Four) Team! After years of waiting for Clemson gymnastics to start competing, the time has finally come to see where the Tigers will fit in the conference and national picture. 

Gains: Molly Arnold (transfer from Utah State), Takoda Berry, Trinity Brown (transfer from Utah State), Kate Bryant, Sierra Church, Brie Clark (transfer from Utah State), Kaitlin DeGuzman (transfer from Kentucky), Delaney Fisher, Maggie Holman, Eve Jackson (transfer from Utah State), Quinn Kuhl, Lily Kurrack, Grace Lacrosse, Lilly Lippeatt, Kielyn McCright (transfer from Utah State), Lauren Rutherford (transfer from N.C. State), Rebecca Wells (transfer from Utah State)


Potential Contributors: Lauren Rutherford (9.810), Rebecca Wells, Trinity Brown, Molly Arnold, Brie Clark, Eve Jackson, Takoda Berry, Kate Bryant, Quinn Kuhl, Lilly Lippeatt

How It Looks: Almost the entire Utah State vault lineup from 2022 that ranked 37th nationally is now at Clemson. Rebecca Wells, Trinity Brown, and Molly Arnold all had a 2022 NQS over 9.8 so the three of them will all see time in the top six with Lauren Rutherford. Quinn Kuhl and Kate Bryant have trained Yurchenko one and a halfs and are the most likely next two to step in.

Overall Event Outlook: Even without the upgraded vaults, Clemson will have a lineup with six strong fulls that can all score over 9.8. 


Potential Contributors: Kaitlin DeGuzman (9.900), Lauren Rutherford (9.850), Rebecca Wells, Eve Jackson, Takoda Berry, Kate Bryant, Delaney Fisher, Maggie Holman, Quinn Kuhl, Lilly Lippeatt

How It Looks: Kaitlin DeGuzman and Rutherford are expected to step right into leadership roles in this lineup. Wells had an NQS of 9.830 in 2022 so she will be a strong option as well. Lilly Lippeatt has already been looking college-ready with her Ray to Pak salto combination, Kuhl has great turnover on her Ray and clean lines, and bars was Delaney Fisher’s best event in level 10, so all three are likely to contribute.  

Overall Event Outlook: Bars has the potential to be strong for Clemson right off the bat with the experience from the transfers and the high-scoring potential of the freshmen.


Potential Contributors: Rebecca Wells, Brie Clark, Kielyn McCright, Kate Bryant, Sierra Church, Delaney Fisher, Maggie Holman, Quinn Kuhl, Lily Kurrack, Lilly Lippeatt

How It Looks: Half of the 14th ranked beam lineup from 2022 is now at Clemson. Wells, Brie Clark, and Kielyn McCright all had an NQS over 9.85 on the event and will feature here. Kuhl is also likely to step in with her strong triple series and college-ready presentation. To fill out the rest of the top six it is going to come down to consistency in practice. Some top contenders would be Sierra Church, Lily Kurrack, and Lippeatt.

Overall Event Outlook: Clemson has a strong core to work with, and the potential is there, so it will all come down to consistency. 


Potential Contributors: Lauren Rutherford (9.880), Brie Clark, Trinity Brown, Eve Jackson, Molly Arnold, Rebecca Wells, Takoda Berry, Kate Bryant, Delaney Fisher, Maggie Holman, Quinn Kuhl, Lilly Lippeatt

How It Looks: This will be the deepest event for the Tigers. You could create a formidable lineup with gymnasts who have previously competed the event in college with Utah State’s top five contributors from 2022 now at Clemson along with Rutherford. Clark is expected to own the anchor spot, with Rutherford and Brown being top contributors as well, but the competition in the rest of the lineup will be fierce. Maggie Holman has a front double full and Kuhl has worked one as well. Lippeatt also has a variety of passes from elite to choose from if healthy.

Overall Event Outlook: This will likely be the feature event for Clemson starting out with the depth on the roster from transfers to freshmen. 

Three Big Questions

How strong can Clemson start?

New programs often have a bumpy start where it can take years to climb up the rankings. With the strong recruiting and transfers, Clemson should be able to start at a higher floor than previous new programs. 

Where will the contributions come from?

Amy Smith brought six transfers with her from Utah State to build the first roster, and those six were major contributors for the Aggies. She also recruited well, bringing in multiple rated recruits and transfers from other universities this offseason. There will likely be a blend of competitors, but don’t be surprised if the lineups lean towards experience to start.

Can Clemson contend for the inaugural ACC title?

The EAGL title was one that was always about who hits on the day and it could very likely be the same in the ACC. The potential is there for Clemson to be in the regionals and ACC title conversations, but it will come down to consistency.

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Article by: Alyssa Van Auker

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