A pink and white graphic with Potential Lineups: MAC Part II

Potential Lineups: MAC Part II

By the numbers, last year’s fifth through seventh MAC teams are in closer competition with each other than their regional-bubble Midwest counterparts. They’ll also average more routine turnover, giving new and returning MAC fans a chance to see different faces in the lineup.

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. 48 Northern Illinois

The Huskies started 2023 strong and were in the conversation early for another MAC championship run. A pesky ceiling of 195.950 prevented the team from breaking out of the middle of the conference, serving as fuel for this year’s roster. 

Losses: Emma Brkljacic (transfer to TWU), Gillian Dolitsky, Jacklyn Dolitsky, Natalie Hamp, Ciara Ryan, Brookelyn Sears
Gains: Mikayla Brown, Jade Golembiewski, Isabella Ross, Savannah West, Haley Zampella, Natalie Ziebell


Potential Contributors: Isabella Sissi (9.805 NQS), Emmalise Nock (9.785), Kiera O’Shea (9.870), Isabelle West (9.740), Jenna Blair (9.592 AVG), Mikayla Brown, Isabella Ross, Savannah West

How It Looked Before: Vault was an obstacle for the Huskies in 2023. The team had only one 10.0 start value vault, and the lineup only broke the 49.000 barrier once. Fans often saw vaults that were dynamic or stickable, but rarely both together.

How It Looks Now: Mikayla Brown is bringing a consistent Yurchenko full to add to the mix, and Isabella Ross has been training a Yurchenko one and a half – both great assets to a team that’s recruited heavily on beam and floor in recent years.

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


Potential Contributors: Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.880 NQS), Isabella Sissi (9.820), Samantha Nickle (9.720), Hannah Drielick (9.392 AVG), Alana Anderson, Mikayla Brown, Jade Golembiewski

How It Looked Before: The one-two punch of Alyssa Al-Ashari and nowgraduated Natalie Hamp was one of the strongest in the conference, picking up numerous specialist of the week honors. 

How It Looks Now: The Huskies will need new bar routines quickly, with only four routines returning from last season. As lineup hopefuls, Brown competes a dynamic Ray, and Jade Golembiewski brings floaty transitions to the table. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The team needs to fill a Hampsized hole, and we’ll have to wait to see if it’ll come from one routine or by adding tenths across five sets. 


Potential Contributors: Alyssa Al-Ashari (9.890 NQS), Isabella Sissi (9.825), Olivia Lynd (9.780), Ellery Werner (9.770), Kendall George (9.750), Samantha Nickle (9.338 AVG), Mikayla Brown, Jade Golembiewski

How It Looked Before: Beam was Northern Illinois’ strongest event last season by ranking, highlighted by Al-Ashari and her risky layout stepout mount. This roster had one of the deepest beam teams in the conference, with six for six gymnasts garnering NQS scores over 9.750. 

How It Looks Now: Five out of the above-mentioned six beamers have returned, boding well for 2024. They’ll likely be joined by Brown, who trains a layout stepout layout stepout series. Golembiewski has very few builtin deductions, and will also contend for a lineup spot with an efficient college routine. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Should be trending up, but with beam we’ll have to wait until season to have a clearer picture. 


Potential Contributors: Emmalise Nock (9.900 NQS), Isabella Sissi (9.860), Alana Anderson (9.790), Olivia Lynd (9.770), Kendall George (9.656 AVG), Jenna Blair (9.075), Mikayla Brown, Isabella Ross, Savannah West, Haley Zampella, Natalie Ziebell

How It Looked Before: Floor was the least of the Huskies’ concerns, led by Emmalise Nock and her careerbest 9.950. The team relied heavily on two pass routines, which hampered them in the initial weeks of 2023, before growing into it for the later twothirds of the season. 

How It Looks Now: We’ll have to wait patiently for intrasquad videos to see if the team trends toward two or threepass routines for 2024. Of the six freshmen, Ross comes into DeKalb with the most polished-for-college set. She has trained double layouts and fullins prior to college, making her a prime candidate for the floor lineup. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but looking hopeful. 

Three Big Questions

Is this a specialist season, or an allarounder season?

Head coach Sam Morreale often pushes for a specialistheavy team with the goal of developing the program’s overall strength, with no guarantees on allaround spots week to week. However – seven routines need replacing at minimum, and they’re spread between all four events. We’ll likely see this be split between three to five athletes, but there’s now “room” for an allaround name to emerge while satisfying the specialistdense strategy.

Where will this year’s bars depth come from?

Wherever the answer lies, it’ll need to make itself known quickly. Only three athletes currently on the roster saw regular time on bars in 2023. This year’s freshmen are strong on vault and floor, leaving the possibility of bar routines from 2022 to reemerge from names like Alana Anderson

Which is the fastest route to 196 range scoring?

There are so many possible routes to nab what was just out of reach last season. The January chase for stuck landings produced its fair share of short landings, which may be made up for this season by opting to overrotate and go for the controlled lunge in the early weeks. 

No. 50 Bowling Green

Bowling Green found its stride by March 2023, even bagging two scores over 196. This year, they’ll be eager to prove they can do it without leadership from Taylor Jensen and Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso.

Losses: Riece Crooks, Katelyn Goldstrom, Lily Harsch, Taylor Jensen, Dahlia Solorzano-Caruso
Gains: Love Akpan, Faye Dubin, Megan Dzialo, Teegan Milligan, Nadia Parente, Keira Thornton


Potential Contributors: Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.865 NQS), Kathryn Weilbacher (9.825), Madison Coburn (9.735), Megan Bingham (9.705 AVG), Charniya Brown (9.506), Lauren Bannister (9.475), Love Akpan, Teegan Milligan, Keira Thornton

How It Looked Before: Vault was one of Bowling Green’s best events last season, coming in at No. 46 overall. The Falcons hit 49 twice near the end of the season, topping out at 49.225. 

How It Looks Now: Keira Thornton’s Yurchenko 1.5 will complement Katrina Mendez Abolnik’s, and put pressure on the MAC as a team with two 10.0 start value vaults. Kathryn Weilbacher has also gone 9.900 for her Yurchenko full, proving the Falcons to be a strong vault team if sticking.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up, if for nothing more than added depth. Realistically, we’ll see more dynamic vaults, and a bigger push to stick them knowing how many clean Yurchenko fulls are ready to slot into depth spots.


Potential Contributors: Isabella Rivelli (9.860 NQS), Lexi Bornhorn (9.760), Megan Bingham (9.760), Kathryn Weilbacher (9.735), Charniya Brown (9.650 AVG), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.537), Love Akpan, Faye Dubin, Megan Dzialo, Teegan Milligan, Nadia Parente, Keira Thornton

How It Looked Before: There were glimpses of having a bars team, but inconsistency kept the team back from scoring up to their potential. While many hit at least 9.775, average scores got stuck in the 9.600 range for most of the bars core.

How It Looks Now: Watch for Teegan Milligan at the back end of the lineup, with crisp pirouetting skills and a double twisting flyaway. She’ll complement Isabella Rivelli, who broke out as a freshman to watch after being recruited late in 2022. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. There are no shortage of routines to use, the Falcons just need six on the same day. 


Potential Contributors: Kathryn Weilbacher (9.850 NQS), Megan Bingham (9.835), Emily Castiglia (9.765), Elise Brzoska (9.750), Sarina Ross (9.467 AVG), Love Akpan, Faye Dubin, Teegan Milligan, Keira Thornton

How It Looked Before: Beam was Bowling Green’s best event last season, ending the season ranked 42nd in the nation. The Falcons started out slow but ended the season consistently posting totals over 49. 

How It Looks Now: Thornton brings an efficient beam style with her to Ohio, making quick work of landings. Love Akpan makes light work of beam, highlighted by her aerial roundoff – if it sees lineup time it will be the only one in the MAC. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up, and looking to capitalize on last year’s trajectory in the second half of the season. 


Potential Contributors: Kathryn Weilbacher (9.845 NQS), Katrina Mendez Abolnik (9.800), Madison Coburn (9.725), Lauren Bannister (9.560), Elise Brzoska (9.162 AVG), Baylie Lawrence (9.158), Emily Castiglia (9.106), Love Akpan, Megan Dzialo, Teegan Milligan, Nadia Parente, Keira Thornton

How It Looked Before: While the Falcons showed promise, they were inconsistent. They found a stretch of 49s toward the end of the season but found themselves in the 48s and even 47 on one occasion. 

How It Looks Now: The Falcons have no shortage of options but will need to prove that their whole depth chart has the stamina to contribute. Look for Thornton to make a near-immediate impact: she has a her variety of tumbling she can pick from to build a college routine.

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. The last few seasons of Bowling Green’s floor have been a story of either greatness or undercooked final passes, and something will need to change if we’re going to see 49’s throughout the season.

Three Big Questions

Is it too soon to call 2024 the year of the British Invasion?

Not at all. Bowling Green snuck in two major English recruits, and both are poised to make big names for themselves if they can replicate their gymnastics in Ohio. 

How will the Falcons fare without Jensen?

At a minimum, they’ll have to find four routines week in and week out. Holistically, they’ll be looking to find new leaders amongst the team, as she graduated from Bowling Green with multiple academic and community leadership honors. 

Where will new hire Austyn Fobes impact the team?

With collegiate choreo already under her belt, Fobes has the potential to spruce up the Falcons’ performance quality on beam and floor. She’s also poised to make a big impact on bars, provided she can help this year’s roster find consistency to match Rivelli’s. 

No. 53 Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan will look to prove it can hold its own within the MAC this season after the first half of its 2023 season saw a peak in the low 194s.

Losses: Hadyn Crossen, Arileyah Harris, Hannah Hartung, Mickayla Stuckey
Gains: Abby Brushwood, Gwendelyn Cantu, Katin Childress, Genae Daniel, Brooke Maycroft, Jacquelyn Patterson, Taylor Wetherbee


Potential Contributors: Molly Parris (9.760 NQS), Alana Fisher (9.755), Raisa Boris (9.705), Ella Chemotti (9.705), Emma Lewis (9.665), Sophia Rios (9.615), Anna Grace McCullough (9.383 AVG), Abby Brushwood, Gwendelyn Cantu, Genae Daniel, Katin Childress

How It Looked Before: Vault was Eastern Michigan’s worst event last season. The Eagles consistently scored in the 48s and never touched 49. 

How It Looks Now: The Eagles are returning a full vault lineup and a number of the freshmen could provide solid vaults. Abby Brushwood vaulted a front handspring tuck half throughout her level 10 career; while it doesn’t start from a 10 in college, there is potential for her to pike it to get the coveted 10.0 start value. Genae Daniel also has the potential to be a star on vault, however, she ruptured her Achilles in February and it’s unclear what her status will be come season. Both Gwendelyn Cantu and Katin Childress vault solid Yurchenko fulls, with Cantu’s being the better of the two. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Returning a full lineup of vaults and adding a number of viable options should make this lineup stronger. 


Potential Contributors: Raisa Boris (9.865 NQS), Trinity Macy (9.750), Molly Parris (9.730), Anna Grace McCullough (9.730), Kyrie Lowe (9.660), Jordan Jankowski (9.800 AVG), Ella Chemotti (9.631), Gwendelyn Cantu, Genae Daniel

How It Looked Before: Though the Eagles battled inconsistency on bars, it ended up being their best event. Eastern Michigan ended the season ranked No. 42 in the country on bars and had multiple 49s to show for it. 

How It Looks Now: Two routines need replacing, and if you’ve watched this team before it means two new Hecht mounts need to be learned. Cantu stands out on bars for the freshmen and should immediately slot into the lineup with her clean set featuring a double layout dismount. A healthy Daniel could provide another option, though it’s not her strongest event. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell. We’ll need to see how the team does at the Michigan pre-season exhibition, and watch for how many athletes warm up full sets before making comments on their bars trajectory.


Potential Contributors: Ella Chemotti (9.905 NQS), Raisa Boris (9.810), Cassie Bergin (9.720), Trinity Macy (9.545), Molly Parris (9.395), Kyrie Lowe (9.650 AVG), Gwendelyn Cantu, Brooke Maycroft

How It Looked Before: Eastern Michigan had a rocky start on beam before settling into consistency. Of its final five beam rotations, four of them hit at least 48.900 and topped out at 49.100. Ella Chemotti’s routine was a clear highlight; she finished the season with an NQS over 9.900. 

How It Looks Now: Beam is in a good position to start off 2024, with six returning routines to alleviate any turnover questions. For the freshmen, it means they’ll be training on borrowed time to settle into the top of the depth chart. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Trending up. Beam stars out of Eastern Michigan tend to get more consistent as they gain years of beam lineup time, so their upperclassmen are expected to build momentum for any new additions.


Potential Contributors: Raisa Boris (9.855 NQS), Anna Grace McCullough (9.810), Ella Chemotti (9.750), Trinity Macy (9.685), Molly Parris (9.650 AVG), Priya Karle (9.650), Kyrie Lowe (9.569), Abby Brushwood, Gwendelyn Cantu, Genae Daniel, Katin Childress

How It Looked Before: Like beam, the Eastern Michigan floor squad gained traction as the season went on and topped out at 49.250 by the end of the season. 

How It Looks Now: With only four consistent contributors returning, it’s up to the other returners and freshmen to step up and fill the gap. Many of the freshmen have the pieces to contribute solid sets, but consistency will be the name of the game. Whoever proves to be most consistent will likely secure their spot in this lineup. Daniel again has the potential to be a star on floor depending on health; coming off an Achilles tear means even if she is healthy they may opt to ease her into floor in particular. 

Trending up, down or too early to tell? Too early to tell, but with this combination of returners and newcomers, the pieces are there for big floor routines. As is with Northern Illinois, the only question mark that remains on floor is if we’ll be seeing two or three pass routines.

Three Big Questions

Will we see any 10.0 start value vaults from the Eagles?

Never say never, but if we look back at last year’s depth most of the Eagles’ vaulters compete on beam and floor. Upgrades won’t go in unless the extra impact proves a non-issue with increased hard landings elsewhere.

What contributions will we see from the freshmen and who will step into Crossen’s lineup spots?

Cantu is positioned to slot right into Crossen’s bars spot and is more than capable of holding her own on beam and floor. A healthy Daniel will also be an allaround force, with the two of them giving upperclassmen a good run for their lineup spots. 

Can the Eagles find consistency?

With new routines coming in and sophomores now having a year of college behind them, we can expect to see depth shuffled around. Once the shuffling sticks, consistency is the expectation. 

READ THIS NEXT: Potential Lineups: MAC Part I

Article by Peri Goodman and Tara Graeve

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