LIVE BLOG: Clemson Gymnastics 101

Hello from Littlejohn Coliseum in lovely Clemson, South Carolina!

I’ve live-blogged dozens of meets all over the country, but this one feels a little different: I’m a native of the Upstate and a lifelong Clemson fan, so this is a strange confluence of parts of my life that have rarely intersected up to this point. It’s certainly the first time I’ve covered a meet with an entourage of non-gym nerd friends and family in attendance (and a whole lot more reading along at home). No pressure…

More importantly, this is the long-awaited debut of Clemson gymnastics’ team one, an event nearly three years in the making. It’s the fans’ introduction to the team, but for a lot of the folks here, it’s also likely their first NCAA gym meet, if not their introduction to the sport itself, and the Upstate community is getting hyped

By the way, if you’re one of those newer fans, hello and welcome! We have a trio of features written specifically to help you understand what the heck is going on:

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room: There’s been a fair share of controversy surrounding head coach Amy Smith, and there are concerns that should (and hopefully will) be addressed in the upcoming season. However, tonight the focus is on the gymnasts and the sheer significance of what they’re doing here.

OK, folks. Grab your two dollar bills, throw on your orangest attire, and LET’S GO!

There’s already a solid crowd in the seats, and my sources tell me the parking lot is filling up :eyes:

Love this breakdown:

 Obviously, they’re still warming up, but the team is looking really sharp so far: clean lines and strong technique overall. 

Mascot Cubby (the non-scary one) just got a big cheer for his forward roll and choreo on FX, so I’m expecting an equal or greater crowd reaction for the actual gymnasts! 

The one and only DJ Sha is here and lead the crowd in the spirit call. Since I’m on media row, I didn’t participate (but I was definitely cheering along on the inside).

Just got the following text from my friend who’s a former level 10 and whose sister was a collegiate gymnast: 

I mean, yeah… This has been pretty spectacular so far, and we haven’t even gotten to the gymnastics.

All right, team intros are starting. Here we goooo!

Coach Amy is starting it off by teaching the crowd to flash 10s after a stick and teaching the team’s chant. Giving a brief rundown of what judges are looking for on each event.  

Cool, they’re doing an actual meet-style timed warm-up. Aw, the crowd is cheering for the timers. I swear that’s not meant sarcastically, I love how pumped they are! 

Trinity Brown just dabbed out of her Yfull rebound. Obviously won’t work in competition, but I dig her style. 


Bryant (?): Excellent Y full. Slight, slight pike-down and a definitive stick.

Brown: Really nice Y full. A touch high on the table, but good height and clean in the air. She did the big rebound and dab instead of going for a stick. 

Jackson: Fantastic Y full. Stick straight throughout the flight and an up and down hop on the landing. 

Rutherford: Another clean Y full with a small hop. Not quite as dynamic as Brown’s or Jackson’s, but still strong. 

Arnold: Gorgeous Y half! Big air, nice position, and a small hop forward. 

Minner: Oooh! A BIG tucked Y full from the hometown R-So. I’m assuming she’s working on an upgrade, because Erik Lewis was waiting to catch her when she bounced out of that thing. 

Berry: Very solid Y full to close out the rotation. Some piking throughout, but good air and a controlled landing.  


Getting the bars rundown, including confirmation that the college stick is a thing of the past. 

Brown: Low bar kch, comes off on her Shaposh (and it’s an actual Shaposh, not a Maloney. Praise be to he!). Squat-on to a really lovely, deliberate handstand. Drills the DLO. 

Berry: Low bar kch, a hair shy. Maloney to Pak, good. Crisp half pirouette done at vertical. DLO with a little knees and a small hop forward. Very well done. 

Jackson: Squat-on. Fabulous straddled Jaeger, awesome height, distance, and turn-over. Overcooked her last handstand but reined it back in, and a stuck FTDT. Student section is yelling for a 10, so they’ve already figured out their role in this sport. 

DeGuzman: Slightly shy on her first handstand, but another phenomenal straddled Jaeger. Clean bail. Textbook DLO landed deep, but another stick. The team is screaming (as they should be). 

Lippeatt: She’s starting on a block. Very nice Ray. Close on the Pak and has to adjust on her half pirouette, but covers really well. Pretty FTDT, chest down just a bit but minimal foot movement.

Rutherford: Kch stepout to Ray. Slightly crooked on her bail to handstand so comes in close on her hecht shoot, but–again–covers it nicely and doesn’t break her rhythm. Gorgeous DLO, stuck.


Lippeat: WP glitched, so I’m playing catch-up. Beautiful front aerial to Korbut. Perfect switch leap to split leap, gorgeous extension. Side aerial to split jump, again excellent. Split 3/4, back leg shy but steady landing. Front gainer full off the end of the beam with a little step forward. What a unique routine! 

Clark: Standing front tuck to straddle, excellent. Aggressive bhs loso, very nice form but comes off. Straddle to straddle 1/4, strong position on both. Punch front full, perfectly straight and stuck. 

Holman: Bhs loso with slightly soft knees, but rock solid. Switch leap to back tuck, slight hesitation in the connection but very secure on the landing. Negligible adjustment on the side aerial, covered very well. RO back 1.5 with a bounce forward. 

Kuhl: Bhs bhs loso done about as well as could be. Switch leap to beat jump, just gorgeous. full turn kicked out, just a slight adjustment. Front toss to beat with another little adjustment. RO layout dismount. Wow. That was so lovely to watch. 

Wells: I love an aggressive beamer. Switch leap to switch 3/4, nicely done. Bhs loso, so secure! RO back double full, super high and clean in the air, tiny hop back. 

McCright: Full turn, very nice. Bhs loso with a tiny toe up, excellent. Tuck jump 1/1 to beat, awesome. Side aerial to split jump, perfect extension on both. Side gainer full, stuck. Sassy isn’t a word I usually associate with beam, but that was a sassy beam routine!

Jackson: Kicked out full turn, good. Bhs loso loso with a hip check, very nice extension in the series though  Switch leap to cat leap 1/2, very cool. Clean RO back 1.5, maybe stuck? Team’s blocking my view. 

Church: I forget what the skill is called in ballet where you brush your knee with your foot, but glad to see it on beam. Bhs loso with a check, but very pretty in the air. Switch leap to split 3/4, I think? Side aerial to wolf jump with a little adjustment. Body roll to full turn. RO back 1.5 with a little hop forward. 

Objectively, that was a lights out beam lineup. Not only were these some of the most creative routine constructions we’ve seen in quite a while, but everything was executed beautifully and confidently. Whatever errors were brushed off and didn’t affect the overall performance. Brava, ladies. 


Oh hell yes, there’s a “GO TIGERS GO” in every FX! AHC Erik will be spotting since they’re still training upgrades. 

Holman: Fhs front double full, nice rise. Switch side to Popa, just shy of 180. Crowd’s clapping along, good. Fhs Rudi to loso, gorgeous!

Brown: Walking out in the most dramatic possible way (and I mean that as the highest compliment). Open front tuck through to a tidy double tuck, very floaty pass. Switch side to straddle half, awesome height and positions. She’s stepping, I loooove it (and so does the crowd)! RO bhs layout placeholder for the final pass. That’s gonna be a showstopper, folks. 

Arnold: HUGE double tuck to open, Lewis had to reach to spot her. Switch half to wolf full, good height. Switch leap, well done. Super high, tight back 2.5 to font tuck, takes it right to the edge of the mat.

Rutherford: She’s got the crowd on her feet before the music’s even started. WOO, big back 2.5 to front tuck, at the edge but stuck cold. Switch half to wolf half, good. Love a shoulder shimmy. Clawing at the crowd. Overcooks a huge double tuck and sits it down, but pops back up into a straddle jump. 

Clark: YES, we’ve got a throwback routine! This Motown Philly intro makes so happy. Oh, Bonkers high DLO. Shushunova, I think? Can’t see that corner. Switch full to straddle half, so dynamic. Huge back 2.5 to front tuck, awesome. And everyone’s calling for 10s (as they should). 

Jackson: Giant double tuck, very nice. Switch half to wolf half, a touchy shy. Front tuck through to double tuck, absolutely perfect. Crushing the choreo. Awesome. 

Minner: Fhs to front double full, fantastic! Switch half to something I couldn’t see. Piked half Shushunova and some kind of back spin. Really fun choreo here. Fhs to Rudi and what I’m assuming is supposed to be a loso but was more of a shoulder bhs. No worries!

Lippeatt: Starting with a chin check, great. Pink Panther music, but make it EDM. Big double tuck, very nice. She’s rocking this. Switch side to Shushunova has the student section on its feet. Back 1.5 to front full, gorgeous. She’s amped after that. 

Closing the night out with the team leading everyone in C-L-E-M-S-O-N and the alma mater. Fitting end to what was a spectacular debut. This is a team to watch in 2024. 

READ THIS NEXT: At Clemson, 4-Star Kelise Woolford Hopes to Achieve Greatness

Live blog by Claire Billman 



  1. Thank you for the awesome live blog! Could feel the atmosphere through you! So excited for this program at such a special place!

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