Haleigh Bryant LSU

2024 College Gym News Awards Announced

College Gym News is proud to announce its fourth annual end-of-season award recipients. Members of the CGN staff nominated individuals in seven categories based on specified criteria. Then, the field was narrowed down and editors voted based on regular season and regionals performance only. Individuals cannot win more than one award.

Gymnast of the Year

Winner: Haleigh Bryant (LSU)

Nominees: eMjae Frazier (California), Jordan Bowers (Oklahoma), Raena Worley (Kentucky), Selena Harris (UCLA)

Criteria: Nominees didn’t just top the standings but were significant contributors throughout the season for their team. Nominees rarely had missteps and consistently produced top scores that made an impact. They stand out from their peers.

Bryant has always been a great gymnast, but she really came into her own this season, notching the highest total in the country with a 39.925—the fourth highest in NCAA history—tallying six perfect 10s, including two meets with two, completing the Gym Slam, and never scoring below 39.525 when competing all four. To top it off, she won the NCAA all-around title, the AAI Award, is a finalist fo the Honda Award, and led her team to the national championship.

Freshman of the Year

Winner: Lily Smith (Georgia)

Nominees: Anya Pilgrim (Florida), Katelyn Rosen (UCLA), Konnor McClain (LSU), Madison Ulrich (Denver), Maggie Slife (Air Force)

Criteria: Nominees must be a true freshman during the 2024 season. They are gymnasts who not only consistently produced top scores but made an impact on their own team and stand out from their peers.

This was a disappointingly uneven season for such an immensely talented Georgia squad, but an undeniable bright spot was Lily Smith establishing herself as one of the best gymnasts in the nation, culminating in her star-making turn at the NCAA championships where she finished in a tie for sixth on bars with a 9.925. She also had a perfect 10 on her pet event, a high of 9.950 on beam and floor, and won SEC Freshman of the Year.

Coaching Staff of the Year

Winner: California

Nominees: Kentucky, Iowa State, Lindenwood, Michigan State, N.C. State, Oklahoma

Criteria: Nominees first and foremost coached their team to athletic success, whether that means a large improvement over past seasons or record breaking performances.

While there were a lot of standout teams this season, led to greatness by their coaching staffs, the undeniable “best” in the category goes to California’s group of Justin Howell, Liz Crandall-Howell, John Carney, and Nevaeh DeSouza. The quad coached the Golden Bears to a Pac-12 regular season title, program record 198.550 (and the three highest team totals in school history), and a nationals runner-up finish. This is only the beginning for Cal.

Breakout Performer of the Year

Winner: Mya Lauzon (California)

Nominees: Karina Muñoz (Iowa), Katherine Levasseur (Oklahoma), Sage Kellerman (Michigan State), Sage Thompson (Oregon State)

Criteria: Nominees are sophomores, juniors, or seniors who were particularly successful in 2024 after not having competed, having only competed one or two events or having only received mediocre scores to start their careers. Nominees “came out of nowhere” on events they weren’t expected to contribute, started getting scores much higher than previous averages or finally added events you didn’t know they were even training.

Junior Lauzon has always been good, but she leveled up to great in 2024. She consistently posted scores of 39.6-plus throughout both the regular and postseason and scored perfect 10s on both vault and beam. It’s no coincidence that Cal’s best season in program history coincides with Lauzon’s breakout year. She finished fourth in the all-around and third on beam at nationals before leading the Golden Bears to their first podium finish. 

Comeback Gymnast of the Year

Winner: Kiya Johnson (LSU)

Nominees: Nya Reed (UCLA), Savannah Schoenherr (LSU)

Criteria: Nominees missed at least the majority of the 2023 season and didn’t just start competing again in 2024, but did so well, producing effective scores for their teams.

When Kiya Johnson went down on floor during her routine at Kentucky in January 2023, the entire gymnastics community was devastated. However, she worked hard to get back on the competition floor in under a year. But she didn’t just return to competing, she did so in even better shape than before. The fifth-year performed in the all-around 11 times, scoring 39.500-plus in all but one outing. She also added another perfect 10 on floor to her storied career and, of course, topped the season off with a national title with her team. If that’s not the picture of a perfect comeback season, we don’t know what is.

Most Valuable Gymnast

Winner: Selena Harris (UCLA)

Nominees: Jessica Hutchinson (Denver), Katelyn Rosen (UCLA), Luisa Blanco (Alabama), Maggie Slife (Air Force), Raena Worley (Kentucky), Skye Kerico (Penn), Skylar Killough-Willhelm (Washington), Tory Vetter (Ohio State)

Criteria: Nominees’ teams wouldn’t have had the success they did this season without them. They were lifted up by not only their scores but their leadership and attitude. Think of gymnasts on teams with lots of injuries, gymnasts who always seemed to hit after falls, or gymnasts not on teams with lots of other star power.

The true mark of an MVP is looking at how the team would fair without them. Selena Harris was the backbone of UCLA this season. She competed all-around in every single meet, not just doing so without a fall but never failing to score below 39.325. The sophomore wasn’t just consistent, though. She scored four perfect 10s across two events, including two in one meet against Clemson in the final home meet of the year. That same meet she racked up a massive all-around total of 39.900, the highest by a UCLA gymnast since Mohini Bhardwaj in 2001 and second highest of all time.

Sports Information Director of the Year

Winner: Lindsey Magness (Oklahoma)

Nominees: Allyson Warren (Kentucky), Alyssa Leal (LSU), Brittany Evans (Denver), Emily Polglaze (Arkansas), Haley Hampton (Maryland), Jacob Hord (Lindenwood), Julliet Hill (UC Davis), Liza David (UCLA), Mary Howard (Florida), Mason Arneson (Missouri), Morgan Lair (Texas Woman’s), Will Matuszak (Yale), Maddie Gotreaux (Stanford), Mason Arneson (Missouri)

Criteria: Nominees are individuals who can be described as responsive, attentive to the media’s needs, maintains the team website (is always timely when adding coverage links) and even goes above and beyond their job description when setting up interviews or providing necessary information, for example.

Magness has always been one of the best sports information directors in the game, so it was a loss when she stepped away during the 2023 season. However, that made her return this year even better. She’s professional, organized, prompt in her responses, and always accommodating.

“I absolutely LOVED getting to work with Lindsey this year! She was very helpful in regards to getting access to Oklahoma and worked her hardest with all of our crazy schedules. She is one of the top SIDs in the sport, and we are so glad to have her back!”

“Shoutout to Lindsey for being accommodating, prompt, and willing to help us out whenever she could. Her work was deeply missed during the time she left the team, and it was wonderful to have her knowledge and expertise back with the Sooners.”

“Lindsey is exactly who you’d expect to represent the Sooners. Her passion for Oklahoma gymnastics and bond with the people behind it are what brought her back to the role, and the program is better for it! 

Hear from our editors about some of the other stellar SIDs nominated this year:

“It would be easy to assume that an SID at a smaller school like Texas Woman’s wouldn’t be great, but Morgan Lair is the complete opposite. She’s organized, incredibly accommodating to the media’s needs, and always friendly and professional. She treats TWU like a top team, and it helps elevate the Pioneers’ status because of it.”

“The Fayetteville regional was one of the best in-person coverage experiences I’ve ever had. The media accommodations were organized, the information clear, and the access unparalleled. Emily Polglaze truly wants the best for Arkansas and the team, and it shows in her efforts as SID to provide the best coverage possible, whether it’s through social media or media access.”

Brittany Evans has been great to work with this year, as CGN has had the pleasure of covering many Denver meets in person. She was also clutch in helping coordinate regionals interviews despite travel difficulties, going above and beyond in her role.”

Will Matuszak is a competent and responsive SID, generous with his time, and with the resources he puts at our disposal. A pleasure to work with!”

“Whenever I wanted to feature LSU, Alyssa Leal went above and beyond to make it happen. From sending voice memos of quotes to photo credits, she was my go-to person for LSU coverage. She also works hard on the social media content, making LSU among the best in that area of engagement.”

Mary Howard was the first SID I ever worked with in the first couple of articles I was writing for CGN, and she was so helpful with whatever I needed! I was nervous about doing interviews and making sure everything was correct, and she was extremely kind throughout the entire process.”

“For my very first time covering gymnastics as media, Haley Hampton was amazing to work with. She is always quick to respond to my emails, proactive about getting what I need, and is always willing to help, even if things aren’t necessarily convenient for her.”

Allyson Warren was friendly and prompt at replying and was always able to get me what I needed.”

Julliet Hill was very helpful with organizing an interview with athletes and coaching staff on a relatively quick timeline!”

“When I say Stanford’s Maddie Gotreaux goes above and beyond, I mean that literally—more than once, she’s contacted and coordinated interviews for me mid-flight!”

“You’d never know Mason Arneson was a first-year SID. He’s provided top-notch coverage and communication all year long.”

READ THIS NEXT: Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, Ryan Roberts Tapped to Lead Georgia

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley and Claire Billman

One comment

  1. I am surprised that Florida’s coaching staff was not nominated for “Coaching Staff of the Year” award. Considering the loss of talent from the previous season, including one of the greatest college gymnasts ever Trinity Thomas, and last year’s “Freshman of the Year” Kayla DiCello, who sat out this season to train for the Olympics, the Gators weren’t expected to win the SEC (they won the regular season title), and certainly not contend for the NCAA title. Gator Nation believes 2024 has been Jenny Rowland and staff’s best coaching job since becoming Florida’s HC.

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