Commitment season has begun! Elite competition is over, the NCAA season is on the horizon, and we are all eagerly watching to see where the class of 2025 signs. To keep things interesting, the team here at CGN took a different approach in order to satisfy our curiosity about all things recruitment. We looked at data over the years to see which pre-college commitment switches made the biggest impact for their teams and, conversely, what teams lost out on a promising signee.
To do this, we focused on quantifiable measurements of how each gymnast contributed to the scoring picture for their team. We looked at each meet, ranked the gymnast’s score within their new team, and then looked at how much higher their score was than the sixth-ranked score in the lineup of their original commitment. We then averaged these metrics for gymnasts who competed in at least five meets for their new team on any given event. Using this information, we were able to select 10 gymnasts who were incredibly impactful for their new teams. On average, the gymnasts featured were each ranked in the top half of their new team’s lineup, and scored at least 0.2 higher than the sixth-ranked score on at least two events.
Original Commitment: Georgia
College Team: LSU
Though she’s always been considered a clutch athlete for the Tigers, Johnson’s importance to the culture and success of LSU was widely discussed after she tore her Achilles during a meet early in the 2023 season. Losing her in the lineups was a blow to LSU’s depth, and even though the team managed to have a successful 2023, Jay Clark will certainly anticipate her return to the leg events. Johnson has averaged the top score on floor for LSU in her four seasons, boosting the lineup by an average of sixth tenths. Given Georgia’s perennial struggles with consistency, Johnson’s commitment switch was highly impactful both as a loss for Georgia, and an immense boost for LSU.
Original Commitment: Temple
College Team: Rutgers
Hannah Joyner’s consistency and leadership have been crucial for Umme Salim-Beasley and the Scarlet Knights. But it’s her strong all-around performances that really make her stand out. In addition to her accomplishments in the all around, she averaged the first or second best score on beam for Rutgers over her five seasons, and had an average impact on the event of a massive five tenths. Temple struggled on beam in 2023, only hitting the 49+ mark twice, and would have benefitted from Joyner’s ability to put up big scores in clutch situations.
Original Commitment: Utah State
College Team: Illinois
Townes has been a staple on vault, beam, and floor the last few seasons for the Illini. She has typically scored within the top three, and impacted each lineup upwards of 0.2 tenths. Initially, this commitment switch may have been perceived as a lateral move, since Utah State and Illinois finished with comparable national qualifying scores during her first three seasons. However, with many of Utah State’s highest scorers departing for Clemson prior to the 2023 season, having Townes on the roster would have been far more impactful than anything she could have done for Illinois. Her vault and floor in particular would have been game changing for the Aggies last season.
Original Commitment: Auburn
College Team: Bridgeport
If you’re a newer gym fan, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard this name before. Tsikhanovich’s first season competing for Bridgeport was over 10 years ago, in 2012. Over her 4 seasons with the Purple Knights, she averaged a top-three finish on every event and had an impact ranging from a low of 0.46 on floor to a high of 0.79 on bars. She also regularly earned regional qualifying scores of 9.8+ that certainly could have found their way into Auburn’s lineups. Bridgeport would have been a very different team without her contributions, and though I’m sure Auburn would have been glad to have her, it’s unlikely that she would have had the same level of impact.
Original Commitment: William & Mary
College Team: Brown
Morant is another commitment switch from the archives. She began her career at Brown back in 2014 where she competed in the all around in over 40 meets. On average, she was in the top three on every event, and added roughly half a point to every lineup. William & Mary and Brown finished within five places of each other every year that Morant was on the roster, so her impact at William & Mary would likely have been pretty similar had she stuck with her original commitment. For Brown, she was a really good get and helped keep the team competitive with similarly positioned schools.
Original Commitment: Temple
College Team: Washington
Cunningham has been a star for Washington on vault and floor over the last five seasons. She competed 60 times as a Husky with an average impact of over one point on each of her two events and consistently ranked in the top half of both lineups. Cunningham’s consistent contributions were especially impactful during times when the team was unable to field a full lineup of six routines on vault and floor, or when the team was undergoing major coaching changes. No matter the challenge, Cunningham always delivered and only got better over time. Although she would have been immensely impactful at Temple, the lack of vault and floor depth Washington saw during Cunningham’s time on the team would have left the Huskies in an absolutely dire situation if she hadn’t switched her commitment.
Original Commitment: Georgia
College Team: Oklahoma
Davis has been a staple in the bars and beam lineups for the Sooners since she came on the scene in 2021. She is known for her immaculate technique and unique skills that manage to stand out on a team as stacked as Oklahoma. By the numbers, her greatest contribution has been on bars, where she has consistently ranked in the top two on the event and has had an average impact of over 0.2. Though she ranks third or fourth on beam for the Sooners, she has consistently contributed similarly valuable scores on the event. Vault and floor are her less impactful events for Oklahoma, but she still sees considerable time in those lineups. Considering the past few seasons Georgia has had, they would have benefited from having Davis on their roster. Someone who can make a splash on the roster of the top team in the country would have been an absolute game-changer for Georgia.
Original Commitment: Arizona
College Team: Stanford
Let’s be real: Stanford had a rough 2021 season, reeling from COVID training restrictions and a modified schedule. However, they bounced back to a 14th place finish in 2022, carried by Widner’s ability to put up a strong all-around performance when Stanford needed it. Over her four seasons with Stanford, Widner has added an average of one point to Stanford’s beam totals, and averaged a second place score on every event but floor. Widner seems to shine in the postseason, putting up a massive 39.55 at the 2023 Los Angeles regional and qualifying herself to nationals. Arizona has struggled with making it past the play-in rounds, and would have benefitted from Widner’s ability to hit for her team when they need it most.
Original Commitment: Arkansas
College Team: Fisk
While Price is fairly new to NCAA, her bombshell commitment switch from Arkansas to Fisk was expected to majorly impact both teams and the scores from her freshman season prove it. On average, Price contributed the first or second highest score in each lineup for the Fisk Bulldogs, adding multiple points on each event to help the first HBCU gymnastics team set the tone for their future. Arkansas had a respectable 2023 season, but surely would have benefitted from the five-star recruit’s added consistency and depth on every lineup.
Original Commitment: Florida
College Team: Denver
While Florida may have the depth to make up for a commitment change like Hutchinson’s, Denver has excelled having her in their lineups. While she has dealt with on-and-off injuries during her time at Denver (which hey, would it be any different at Florida?), she has absolutely shined during her time with the Pioneers. Denver is known for their small roster and utilization of all arounders rather than specialists, and Hutchinson fits in perfectly to their lineup strategy. Her beam added an average of five tenths to Denver’s beam scores over the past three seasons, and she averages out to the top score in Denver’s floor lineup over only 33 meets competed. While Florida may not be sorely missing those scores, Denver is surely grateful to be able to slot such a consistently-high scorer into their lineups.
Original Commitment: Minnesota
College Team: California
Beam for the Golden Gophers has been a sore spot to say the least. This stings even more when we consider Lauzon’s immense success at California. Lauzon is, on average, the second place score on beam for the Golden Bears, which is even more impressive given the quality of the lineup. Looking at the numbers,she added an average of two tenths to their floor and beam lineups over the past two seasons. While these numbers may be lower than some of her counterparts on this list, California gets caught in many close meets where Lauzon’s consistency is irreplaceable. She finished the 2023 season with a massive 9.921 average on floor as well as and a 9.95 NQS on beam, both of which would have benefitted a Minnesota team that failed to make the evening session of Big Tens or the 2023 super-regional. A consistent 9.9+ on beam would have been clutch for the Gophers, and has proven irreplaceable for California as they enjoy continued postseason success.
Though we focused on the numbers, many athletes – including some on this list – have an impact that goes farther than the score they can contribute to a lineup. Both Kiya Johnson and Chloe Widner have brought about immense change on their teams through their grit and leadership. Alternatively, for some teams having a strong scorer makes a world of difference in overall attitude and mindset. Morgan Price’s switch to Fisk may not have obliterated Arkansas’ potential, but it had a huge and lasting impact on the first HBCU gymnastics team. Much to the dismay of us data nerds, the numbers only tell part of the story. Even still, data allows us to measure an athlete’s impact, and to see what teams have benefitted — or missed out — due to commitment changes. We’re left wondering what could have been if these athletes hadn’t switched teams, and what commitment changes we will see in the time after members of the class of 2025 sign their National Letters of Intent this fall.
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Article by Emma Hammerstrom, Mariah Dawson, Dara Tan, and Jenna King