Gymnastics

2018 Women’s NCAA Gym Preseason Thoughts

The 2018 season starts Friday! Thus, it’s time for some preseason musings. Doing this a little bit differently this year. I’m going to give a quick thought about each of the top 10 in the preseason coaches’ poll.

dqxazkfv4aa6huc1. Oklahoma
No surprise here. Like I said with Florida a few years ago, you’re the champ until someone dethrones you, especially after multiple consecutive titles.

2. Florida
Speaking of Florida, if there were a team to break the credo stated above it would be to put Florida #1 in this year’s preseason poll. While Oklahoma lost a few key routines from last season and reloaded nicely, Florida lost no competition routines from last season and brought in a powerhouse freshman class.

3. LSU
I really thought last year was one of the best shots they had to win the title. This year, the challenge is to replace the all but automatic high scores on 3 events from Ashleigh Gnat and the consistent contribution from McKenna Kelley, who went down with an Achilles tear in preseason training.

4. Alabama
Surprisingly enough, the poll is a little more bullish on Alabama than I am coming into this season. The team was an enigma last year, not its typical consistent self. If the injury issues are settled and they can find a couple more 10.0 start value vaults, Bama won’t have a problem challenging again.

5. Utah
Utah has a really nice group of gymnasts, but it’s not a big secret that the X-factor for them is Mykayla Skinner. I don’t believe it’s unfair to think that how she fares will dictate if their season is competitive at Nationals good or contending for the title good.

6. UCLA
With all the star power present, it could be surprising to see UCLA ranked this far down, but I see the reasoning. UCLA is kind of Alabama West (or, if you prefer, Alabama is kind of UCLA South). Both have some recurring issues with injuries and lack the number of 10.0 start value vaults they have when compared to other teams they are expected to compete with for the title.

7. Michigan
Heartbreaking is the only way to describe the last two seasons for Michigan. The biggest question here is: who’s going to step up and produce the consistently high scores they came to depend on Nicole Artz and Talia Chiarelli for?

8. Denver
The little team that could. Denver set a lot of individual meet records last year and set the school record for highest final ranking (9th). Now to see if last season was a flash-in-the-pan performance. Likely not, but the competition to get Nationals is going to be fiercer than ever this season.

9. Nebraska
Not really flashy, but seemingly always knocking on the door at the end of the season.

10. Kentucky
Much like Florida, Kentucky didn’t lose any of its competition routines from last season. This team is Nationals-worthy, but got caught up in a very competitive regional and narrowly missed out in 2017.

Notes on a couple others:
The most notable team missing from the top 10? Georgia (#16). A disaster of a Nationals last year was the latest development in a frustrating few seasons for Georgia  — a development that lead to a cleaning of the coaching house and the return of a couple of familiar faces. You can only hope the 12th place showing in 2017 was the storied program’s rock bottom moment, and they’ll be moving up from here. They will have to contend with the fact every single member of its 4-member freshman class is carrying a significant injury into the season. However, 3 of the 4 are expected to return at some point during the season.

Stanford (#18) should make a big jump up from last year. A class of 7 freshman — led by Kyla Bryant, Rachael Flam and Lauren Navarro — is expected to help immensely in keeping Stanford away from ranking in the mid-30s like it did for most of 2017. Stanford, like Georgia, is also in for a culture change from a familiar face to the program. Tabitha Yim, a former Stanford gymnast, took over as head coach late in the summer after a stint as head coach at Arizona.

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Gymnastics

Results for the Caribbean Gymnasts Who Competed at Montreal Worlds

Like at the Rio Olympics, Manrique Larduet (Cuba) achieved the best results of the Caribbean gymnasts at the Montreal Worlds. He led the men’s all-around after the qualification rounds, but ended up 5th in the final after too many bounces and steps on landings. He also fell just short of the podium in his individual event finals with results of 7th on floor and 4th on parallel bars.

Manrique’s teammate Randy Leru had medal potential in the high bar final, but unfortunately sat his dismount after an otherwise fantastic routine. He finished the final in 7th. But not getting a medal in Montreal didn’t seem to dampen either of their spirits any…

Audrys Nin Reyes of the Dominican Republic was also expected to contend for a final, specifically the vault final. However, he was a casualty of the injury-laden third subdivision and withdrew after missing his first vault. He opted against doing his second which was scheduled to be a new vault he submitted to the FIG to be named after him, if successfully completed.

Continue reading “Results for the Caribbean Gymnasts Who Competed at Montreal Worlds”

Gymnastics

2017 Montreal Worlds Qualification Notebook

Which gym deity, or deities, did we not provide proper offerings to before Worlds? I’m not sure of the last time I was so emotionally effected by the qualification rounds.

DAY 1

The first day will be remembered for an almost apocalyptic third subdivision that saw Japan’s Kohei Uchimura‘s all around win streak come to an end via injury (later found to be a partial tear of the anterior ligament in his ankle).

It was one of at least 7 significant injuries within that sub alone, including the scariest moment when Andrei Groza of Romania had to be stretchered off the podium after a high bar fall. Thankfully, it appeared to be a precautionary move as he was released from the hospital with no injuries after a night of observation. And you can see what happened to Ruben Lopez of Spain following his high bar mishap…

But good things happened too, like… Continue reading “2017 Montreal Worlds Qualification Notebook”

Gymnastics

16 Caribbean Gymnasts Scheduled to Compete at Montreal Worlds

Updated Below 

16 Caribbean gymnasts are expected to compete at the 2017 World Championships to be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada per the nominative registration list. (Note: nominative registrations can change.)

Team Jamaica makes up half of the gymnasts from the island nations (3 women and 5 men). One quarter of the gymnasts competed in last year’s Rio Olympics: Manrique Larduet, Randy Leru, Marcia Vidiaux, and Toni-Ann Williams.

One of the biggest storylines of Worlds will be to see how Manrique fares in his first major competition since Rio, where he was severely hampered by an ankle injury sustained shortly before the meet. Speaking of comebacks from injury, Worlds is also scheduled to be the first meet for Toni-Ann since she tore her Achilles during the NCAA season.

However, the biggest story of the group might be the return of Yesenia Ferrera.

Yesenia is back following a couple years filled with injury and a reported impasse with the Cuban gymnastics federation. The disagreement between the two parties left her exempt from competition even after healing from her knee injury. Prior to her apparent suspension from the team, Yesenia was the lead female gymnast for the squad.

The most notable absence is Yamilet Peña of the Dominican Republic, whose university studies reportedly conflict with the time period of Worlds.

The World Championships begin on October 2 and conclude on October 8.

FULL CARIBBEAN GYMNAST ROSTER

Cuba:
Yesenia Ferrera
Manrique Larduet
Randy Leru
Marcia Vidiaux

Dominican Republic:
Audrys Nin Reyes

Jamaica:
Reiss Beckford
Caleb Faulk
Stephen Lewis
Mackenzie Robinson
Nicholas Tai
Daniel Williams
Maya Williams
Toni-Ann Williams

Puerto Rico:
Bianca Leon
Paula Mejias

Trinidad and Tobago:
Joseph Fox

Gymnastics

Favorite 2017 U.S. Nationals Routines & Potential Worlds Team Thoughts

Another U.S. Nationals is in the books for gymnastics. The senior champs were Ragan Smith and Yul Moldauer. Maile O’Keefe won the women’s junior title, while Garrett Braunton (15-16 division) and Brody Malone (17-18 division) won the junior men’s crowns.

Below is a sampling of the routines I liked along with another look towards Worlds team selection for the senior women.

Some routines I enjoyed:

Yul Moldauer‘s is just so clean and precise. It’s so nice to watch.

It is absurd that Donnell Whittenburg can over-rotate a Ri Se Gwang vault.

Most improved routine from Classics to Nationals? Jordan Chiles‘ bars. Also, yay Jordan for finishing second overall!!!

Trinity Thomas had an awesome Nationals as well!

Continue reading “Favorite 2017 U.S. Nationals Routines & Potential Worlds Team Thoughts”

Gymnastics

Thoughts After 2017 U.S. Classics

Sunisabeam07classics
I love Sunisa Lee’s beam routine.
Well. Classics went like Classics do. The HOPES session gave us a look at the wee ones which may or may not go the elite track. The junior session had 8382934 competitors, and the senior session featured a lot of reintroduction to competition jitters for the gymnasts — and hopefully, the working out of them.

But before I get to the elites…one of the HOPES gymnasts caught my attention. Her name is Kaliya Lincoln.

It always amazes me when younger gymnasts have senior elite level poise on beam. This is great for 10-11 yrs old. Honestly, it’s good for a gymnast of any age.

As for the elites, the beginning of this quad (2017-2020) feels a bit like the 2009-2012 one for the U.S. team, where there were only a few returning gymnasts from the previous season and the gymnasts that would eventually contend the London Olympic team weren’t due to become seniors until the middle of the quad (or, in the case of Alicia Sacramone or Anna Li, not make a comeback to elite until the middle of the quad).

My point is kind of bolstered by a junior, Emma Malabuyo, outscoring the top senior all-arounder Alyona Shchennikova (56.750 to 54.950). Emma also posted the highest score of both elite sessions on floor. Granted Ragan Smith didn’t do all around at Classics, which is customary for the front-running seniors. It underlines the fact that the current women’s U.S. National Team is really young, and fans are going to have to be patient while this group gains the experience and depth the previous National Team had.

Speaking of Ragan, this competition was only confirmation for me that she’s ready to be the leader of the U.S. team. The two events she competed looked great — she even won bars! However, it was her beam that stole the show.

Continue reading “Thoughts After 2017 U.S. Classics”

Gymnastics

4 U.S. Gymnasts I’m Looking Forward to Seeing as Nationals Approach

With Classics happening this upcoming Saturday, the late spring/early summer hiatus is nearly done for U.S. gymnasts. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone compete, but these are the 4 senior elites I’m most curious about as competition picks back up.

Ragan Smith
Since all but a few of the gymnasts who went through the Olympic Trials process last year have moved onto NCAA or are taking a break, the primary spotlight has settled itself on Ragan. It’s always interesting to see how athletes do when the expectations increase. I don’t think it will be an issue for her at all.

Jade Carey
Kinda like what happened with Ashton Locklear a few years ago, Jade is someone who is always on the camp rosters and has a lot of buzz, yet is still a mystery because she hasn’t been in a big competition to-date. If the scores she’s getting at camp materialize at Classics and Nationals, she could pull a Kayla Williams and go from unknown to (possible) World Champ at a lightening-fast speed.

Jordan Chiles
Since Nationals last year, each time Jordan has tried to compete something has come up — be it injury or something else. I’m so hoping her (delayed) senior elite debut goes well. If she competes up to her potential, she’ll make World team selection real interesting.

Margzetta Frazier
I’m also really rooting for Marz. We’ve seen the social media clips of all the skills she’s been training, but it’s been nearly a year since she competed. Hopefully, she’s at full strength. If she hits the upgrades, she could make World team selection interesting too.