Jade Carey

Which NCAA Gymnasts Will Make the Cut for Team USA?

Note: This article was written prior to Skye Blakely’s injury, which has forced her to withdraw from the competition.

It’s Olympic Trials week! By Sunday night we will know the names of the five gymnasts who will represent Team USA at the Olympics this summer. Which of your favorite NCAA gymnasts will make it to Paris? Which future college gymnasts should you keep an eye on? What NCAA teams will feature at trials and which ones are most likely to welcome an Olympian? Find out the answers to all these questions and more below.

How can I watch the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials?

The Olympic Trials will take place June 27-30 in Minneapolis. The women will compete on Friday, June 28, starting at 8 p.m. ET and again on Sunday, June 30, starting at 9 p.m. ET. NBC and Peacock will broadcast the competitions, with the latter starting its broadcasts half an hour earlier than the former.

Which competitors have ties to NCAA gymnastics?

Nine of the 16 competitors have ties to college gymnastics, and five of the nine are former or current gymnasts. This is a striking departure from the 2021 Olympic Trials, when, except for MyKayla Skinner, all gymnasts with ties to the NCAA had yet to start their college careers. 

Florida’s Kayla DiCello and Leanne Wong, Oregon State’s Jade Carey, UCLA’s Jordan Chiles, and Auburn’s Sunisa Lee competed in college for at least one season, with Lee being the only one not expected to return to the NCAA. Interestingly, all five gymnasts were either members of or alternates to the Tokyo Olympic team; Lee brought home three medals, including gold in the all-around, Carey won gold on floor, and Chiles earned silver with the team. The only gymnast of the Tokyo quartet not trying for a second Olympic bid is Utah’s Grace McCallum. All five gymnasts stand a chance to make the Paris Olympic team. If Lee upgrades her bar set and Carey her floor routine, they may have a stronger case than the other three.

DiCello, Wong, and Chiles, on their part, don’t stand out on one single event but are strong all-arounders, who can contribute to the team on any event at any given moment. Given their level of difficulty and consistency, DiCello may have a slight edge over Chiles, who herself has an edge over Wong.

Among the younger competitors with ties to the NCAA, Skye Blakely (Florida), Kaliya Lincoln (LSU), and Joscelyn Roberson (Arkansas) are expected to join their respective teams this fall while Tiana Sumanasekera (UCLA) will arrive in Westwood for the 2026 season. Blakely is the one who stands the highest chance of making the team after going eight-for-eight at nationals, debuting her Cheng vault, and placing second in the all-around behind Simone Biles. 

Which NCAA teams have the best chance at soon being able to brag about having an Olympian from that school?

With three gymnasts in serious contention for an Olympic spot, this may be Florida’s year. Blakely seems to be peaking at the right time, so if she repeats her nationals performance at Trials, the Gators will soon be able to brag about having an Olympian arriving in Gainesville via Paris in the fall.

DiCello, who finished third in the all-around at nationals, could also be guaranteed an Olympic spot if she finishes in the top-three at Trials. It will be tough (Shilese Jones, Team USA’s second best all-arounder, didn’t compete at nationals because of injury) but not impossible. If this is the case, Florida could have two Olympians joining (or, in case of DiCello, rejoining) the team this year. The last time this happened, although in slightly different circumstances, came with Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian at UCLA in 2016.

Oregon State and UCLA could also claim Olympian-bragging rights for having a two-time Olympian on their team should Carey or Chiles, respectively, make it to Paris; and Auburn would certainly publicize the two years Lee spent on the Plains were she to be named.

Lee and Carey complement each other; Carey’s strongest events are vault and floor while Lee excels on bars and beam. They both have to show some upgrades on at least one event to be favorites for the team, though, but if they do, a team formed of Biles, Jones, Blakely, Lee and Carey could be a possibility. 

After the five team members are named, which gymnasts are most likely to slot in as alternates?

Any of the gymnasts mentioned above (Blakely, DiCello, Lee, Carey, and Chiles) who don’t ultimately make the team will almost certainly be named as alternates. Interestingly, at least one 2020 Olympic medalist is likely to be an alternate to the Paris squad.

Based on their performances at the national championships, some of the younger gymnasts could slot in as well. Hezly Rivera, a five-star recruit in the class of 2026, finished sixth at nationals and has a likely chance to become an alternate. She excels especially on bars and beam, so she would be a great replacement athlete if anything were to happen to the specialists on those two events. Sumanasekera, who finished ninth in the all-around at nationals, could also be in contention and could step in on vault, beam, or floor. 

Finally, Lincoln, who didn’t compete at nationals because of an ankle injury, could slot in as an alternate if she performs her usual routine on floor, her pet event. This Olympic team, whoever gets named to it, will be slightly weaker on floor than on the other events, so it would be wise to bring along an athlete who can score over 14 points there.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, is training elite while in college a successful strategy?

Carey and Wong are the two gymnasts who took this approach. It’s hard to tell whether or not it was a successful strategy because they took two very different paths in doing so. Wong treated the 2024 NCAA season as any other, competing at full strength in the all-around most weeks. Carey, instead, prioritized her elite training; she competed on only one or two events most of the regular season and came back to the all-around only in March, just in time for the postseason. Plus, while Wong is relying on her Florida coaches for her elite training, Carey brought on board her father and elite coach Brian Carey, who is now an assistant at Oregon State.

It’s also difficult to compare the two because they are very different gymnasts. Carey excels on vault and floor while Wong is an even all-arounder, who scores well on all events but has no apparatus that gives her an edge. As a result, on a good day, Wong would outscore Carey on bars and beam, but Carey’s margin of improvement is higher on vault and floor and would likely edge Wong in the all-around.

Overall, Carey’s decision to rest her body during much of the NCAA season has so far worked well for her. She’s yet to unveil her full difficulty on vault and floor, but she seems in better shape than last year when she attempted an elite comeback after competing every week in the all-around in college. Wong has shown some upgrades, too, but her current elite repertoire looks quite similar to last year’s. It’s hard to tell whether this has to do with her college training or if she’s hit her ceiling.

What about taking time off from college?

DiCello and Chiles decided not to return to Florida and UCLA, respectively, at the end of the 2023 season, and instead took a gap year to focus fully on the Olympics. The gamble has so far seemed to pay off. They both look much more in control of their upgrades than they did last year when they came back to elite after a full NCAA season.

DiCello debuted in 2024 at the Winter Cup and looked in fantastic shape, winning the all-around and becoming an instant frontrunner for the Paris team. Since then, though, she’s had an up-and-down year. She struggled with nerves at the U.S. Classic in May, came back strong on day one at nationals (where she matched her 56.850 from the Winter Cup), only to succumb to nerves again on day two. The outcome of her Olympic bid will depend on a hit two days at Trials.

Chiles’ elite season was delayed by an injury, only debuting at the U.S. Classic. She’s since looked good, but question marks about her consistency remain, especially after falling on floor on day one of nationals and on beam day two.

Overall, taking a gap year from college seems to have paid off. Their elite routines are as good as they can get, but the margin between making and not making the Olympic team remains extremely narrow.

Which NCAA team will “win” Trials?

Florida! Not only could the Gators end up with two gymnasts (Blakely and DiCello) on the Olympic team, but all three of their gymnasts (Blakely, DiCello, and Wong) could be named to the team or as alternates. Given that DiCello and Wong were already alternates to the Tokyo team, it’s likely that Florida will have three Olympians on its roster next season, regardless of this weekend’s results.

For the gymnasts who may not be frontrunners for Paris or who haven’t yet reached their peak, what are their chances for 2028?

Trials will feature five gymnasts in the class of 2026 who could stick around until LA 2028: Dulcy Caylor, Evey Lowe, Zoey Molomo, Rivera, and Simone Rose. They all have the potential to carry on Team USA’s success next quad, with Rivera standing out in the all-around. Four years is a long time, but it’s not too early for some of them to make plans already. Caylor has already stated that she hopes to find a college that will allow her to continue training elite with her eyes set on 2028.

Looking ahead, which of the Trials competitors who haven’t already competed in college will be the most successful there?

Blakely, Lincoln, and Roberson will join Florida, LSU, and Arkansas, respectively, this fall, and they are all expected to make an immediate impact on their teams. Blakely’s bars and beam routines will be the easier of her four sets to translate to college, but if she adjusts to the NCAA quickly, she could be a frontrunner for SEC Freshman of the Year. Florida’s not losing many of this season’s routines for 2025, but Blakely will add pressure on everyone else to retain their spots.

Lincoln is a powerhouse, who should contribute from day one to the Tigers’ vault and floor lineups. LSU is losing Kiya Johnson and Savannah Schoenherr to graduation on vault, and Johnson and Konnor McClain to injury on floor, so Lincoln’s routines will be especially valuable.

Roberson, on her part, will bring big difficulty on vault and floor to Fayetteville, as well as solid beam skills. Her elite execution can suffer from an excess of difficulty, but a few downgrades will help her a lot on all events. She’s expected to contribute to at least three lineups next year.

The lone recruit in the class of 2025, Sumanasekera, will also be a big addition to the UCLA lineups in 2026. She’s an exceptional beam worker who’s recently found her stride on vault and floor, too.

READ THIS NEXT: After a Two-Year Break From Gymnastics, Brianna Lucas Earns Scholarship to Eastern Michigan

Article by Talitha Ilacqua and Elizabeth Grimsley

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