It’s a New Year! That means it’s for NCAA gymnastics. The season starts Friday, so it’s time for predictions. Last year I was logical in making my decision. This year, I’m going to put my gut feeling to the test.
My predicted Super Six for 2017 (in no particular order):
There’s too much talent on Oklahoma to believe they’re not the favorite after its first non-shared national title last season.
Following last season, Florida lost an all but automatic 39.5+ all-arounder with the graduation of Bridget Sloan. The team also endured some other surprising departures. The Gators reloaded, but it might take a little bit to fit the new pieces in place.
Alabama was in the mix late in the final last year, losing out due partly to a rotation order that wasn’t favorable as well as extra steps on landings. We’ll see if leaving in the harder-to-stick, hence riskier, dismounts (like the double fronts off bars and double backs off beam) will hurt again.
It’s DD Breaux’s 40th season with the Tigers and I hope they make it a good one for her. For LSU to improve on last year’s near national title winning performance, this year’s sophomore class needs to up the consistency level from its freshman effort.
Here’s where the gut feeling comes in. I’m betting on UCLA doing something it hasn’t in a while — stay healthy. If it can, the Bruins should be in the mix. Two Olympic gold medalist freshmen will do that for a team.
For the 6th team I’m going with Utah. It’s Utah. Even though they’ve had an off year or two (for them) in the last 5 or so years, you kind of have to think they’re making Super Six until they don’t.
Just off of Super Six Pace, But Making Nationals: Michigan, Georgia, last year’s surprise team Cal, Nebraska, Auburn, and either Oregon State or Stanford. I lean towards Oregon State.
My Pick for the Team That Could Surprise Some People: Kentucky. The team has been recruiting well, and its star from a couple years ago, Sydney Waltz, is coming back from injury (she competed a handful of times last season coming back from her knee injury). Plus, its freshman standouts from last year: Sidney Dukes, Alex Hyland and Katie Stuart, now have a year’s worth of experience. The Balance Beam Situation isn’t as bullish on them as I am, but I think they have an outside chance of a Nationals appearance.