WAG Podium Training Live Blog

Hey all! In order to prepare for NCAA gymnastics season (only 73 more days!), I’m going to (attempt to) live blog the USA women’s podium training. I’ve never live blogged before, so please bear with me!

Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated. Just so you know, I’m not a super fast typer, so my play by play probably won’t be as detailed as what you would get from, say Balance Beam Situation or TheGymternet.

Introductions happening now.

Warmups underway. USA is starting on bars.

Hurd – Very solid! I saw a short handstand, but she stuck her full in dismount

McCallum – Some leg separation on transitions, but caps it off with a stuck dismount!

Showing some beam and floor now, but I have no clue who they are. I guess the US are the only ones that matter

McCusker – Solid! I saw one short handstand, but another stuck dismount!

Biles – No problems at all! And a stuck Fabrichnova!!

Smith – Fall on full pirouette. Caught all her releases that has been giving her trouble. Medium hop on dismount.

Eaker – Close on pak then fights on cast. Fall on shap 1/2. Fall on piked jaeger. Well, they probably wouldn’t use her for bars anyway… Finished with nearly stuck DLO.

Moving on to beam now.

I wouldn’t read too much into Kara’s struggles on bars because they probably wouldn’t use her there anyway. Beam is where she really matters, so hoping she hits here!

Hurd – Very slid for far! A few pauses between skills which will be small deductions. Wobble on full turn. Wobble on split leap. Large step on double pike dismount.

McCusker – Wolf turn combo solid. Solid on skills so far. Slight wobble on triple series. Big wobble on side areal. Slightly short on double back, but overall a good routine.

Eaker – Missed some combos there at the top. Wobble on y turn. Solid front aerial. Wobble on side aerial lay lay. Nice side somi. Great leap series! Hop on 2 1/2 dismount. Not her best, but still pretty as usual.

Biles – Solid wolf turn. Wobble on Barani. Solid triple series. Slight wobble and missed connection on mixed series. Wobble on punch front. Wobble on front areal. Big step on full in dismount.

Smith – Nice double wolf. Slight wobbles on series and back with a full.  Solid mixed series. Big wobble on leap series and missed connection. Nearly stuck double pike.

McCallum – Solid wold turns. Nice split half. Slight wobble on side areal lay. Slight wobble on punch front. Nice front areal. Stuck double back.

Overall, I can see some nerves creeping in, but no falls! Good to get the wobbles out now and not when competition starts.

On to floor

Hurd – Stuck double double! Slight hop on DLO. Nice front lay out to front layout full. Lovely dance as usual. Nearly stuck double pike. Very nice routine!! There’s the Morgi Boo we all know and love!

McCallum – Short on double double. Nice front lay front lay full. Nice triple twist. Nearly stuck double back. Good routine!

McCusker – Slightly short on piked full in. Nice combo pass! Solid double pike. Great double back. Nice routine!

Biles – Slight bounce on Moors but controls it. Great Biles to stag jump! Bounces OOB with both feet on full in. Near fall out of wolf turn. Nice double double! A few mistakes, but she’d still win by a billion points with that.

Smith – Good DLO. Less scary than at nationals. Slightly short on triple full. Good double arabian. Good double pike with a slight bounce back. Good.

Eaker – Nice 2 1/2 to front full! Solid combo second pass. Lovely dance as usual. Good triple full. Little short on double pike. Solid routine! Of course it’s not as difficult as some but still lovely to watch.

Now on to vault.

Oh wait, never mind. This is where the bye happens. I’ll post anything interesting that I see from the other countries.

Someone from New Zealand with some lovely beam work. Please do NCAA.

Ok, now the US is on vault.

McCallum – Little short on DTY, but nearly sticks it. 2nd vault is a Y 1/2 on tuck 1/2. Stuck it! Upgrade for next season?

McCusker – Fall on DTY.

Hurd – Good DTY. Hop on landing.

Biles – Good Cheng. Like it’s easy for her. I assume she’s saving the double for qualifications. 2nd vault HUGE Amanar. Nearly stuck. Casual.

Casual hardest vault combo in the world, but it’s still a downgrade for her LOL.

Smith – DTY way off to the side, but controlled landing.

Eaker – Has to tuck Y 1.5 at the end but sticks it.

Ok, Simone with a casual nearly perfect Biles (is it bad luck to start calling it that already?).

Riley redeems herself with a much better DTY.

The intended lineups seem to be:

Vault: McCallum, McCusker, Hurd, Biles
Bars: Hurd, McCallum, McCusker, Biles
Beam: Hurd, McCusker, Eaker, Biles
Floor: Hurd, McCallum, McCusker, Biles

I think I would probably put Morgan on floor and bars in team finals over Grace, and Grace on vault in team finals over Riley but this seems to be a logical lineup for qualifications. I guess we’ll have to see how everyone scores on Saturday.

 

 

Advertisements

New NCAA Postseason Format Explained: Teams and Individuals

The 2019 NCAA gymnastics season is less than 4 months away, and with it comes a new format for the postseason. Super Six is now a thing of the past, replaced with a 4 team format that eliminates byes.

How does the new format apply to teams?

The way teams qualify has stayed relatively the same, with the top 36 teams by Regional Qualifying score (RQS), qualifying to regionals. The only difference is that, since the number of regionals sites has dropped from 6 to 4, nine teams will be at each regional site. To avoid having to split the teams into a group of 4 and a group of 5, the first day of regionals will be a “play in.” The teams ranked from 29-36 will battle each other in 4 dual meets (one at each regional site) for a chance to advance to the next round with the remaining 7 teams. If we take the top 36 teams from the 2018 season and fit them into the new format, it would look something like this:

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.02.29 PM

Since I don’t know at this point how many teams will be “seeded” (like the top 18 were last year) and how many teams will just be placed geographically, I just went ahead and arranged everyone by seed in a snake format to make things simpler.

If we take the scores that each of the play in teams got at regionals in 2018 and pretend those were the scores from the dual meets, Central Michigan, Iowa, Maryland and Pitt would advance to the next round.

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.10.01 PM

On the next day of regionals, the remaining 8 teams from each site will be split into two quad meets, and the top 2 from each of those meets will advance to the next round. Again, applying the score that each team got at regionals in 2018, Oklahoma, Auburn, Cal, Ohio State, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Illinois, UCLA, Maryland, Alabama, Nebraska, Utah, Denver, Florida, and Kentucky would advance to the next round.

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.14.06 PM

On the final day of regionals, there will be another quad meet at each site, where the top 2 teams from each meet will advance to nationals for a total of 8 teams (down from 12 in previous years). Again, applying the scores from 2018 regionals, this is what it might look like. The teams that would qualify to nationals are Oklahoma, Cal, LSU, Arkansas, UCLA, Nebraska, Utah, and Florida.

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.17.15 PM

Of course, the teams will not get the same score both days, so this example isn’t perfect, but it gives you a good idea of what it might be like.

Nationals follows the same format as the last two days of regionals with two semifinals, with the top 2 teams from each semi final advancing to finals. I broke the semifinals down by pairing regional 1 with regional 4 and regional 2 with regional 3. Applying the scores from 2018 nationals, Oklahoma, LSU, Florida, and UCLA would advance to the finals.

Screen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.24.16 PMScreen Shot 2018-09-08 at 4.26.30 PM

I think this is the best argument for the new format because the top 4 teams from super 6, who were neck and neck until the end, would get to battle it out with no byes.

How does the new format apply to individuals?

I’ve taken my information from the annual report, which can be confusing to read, so here’s my attempt to break it all down. Please let me know if you see any errors.

The top 12 all arounders and the top 16 on each event in the nation not on a qualifying team will advance to regionals. This is a change from the past where it used to be determined by region. Also, the individuals on the play in teams will be included in these rankings. This is to allow those individuals whose team does not advance from the play in to still be able to advance individually.

Note: The annual report says NQS (national qualifying score) instead of RQS (regional qualifying score). I’m assuming that’s because the individuals are qualifying based on national rankings instead of regional rankings and that it’s still calculated the same. I will update this post if I learn differently.

I went through the 2018 individual rankings and listed the individuals who would have qualified to regionals with this new format. The individuals on a play in team (teams ranked 29-36) are listed in red. I also included those who had season ending injuries because in my perfect world (which is where this scenario takes place), no one gets injured.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 5.23.52 PM.png

As you may notice, most of the same people who qualified individually by region also qualified with this format, but there are some differences. No division 3 individuals are on this list, but some individuals who did not qualify in 2018 would qualify with this format (ie Kennady Schneider of Arizona).

For the regional distributions, I just placed the individuals randomly into regions (but kept teams together), but in the actual tournament, they will be distributed geographically.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 5.38.40 PM

Once the play in occurs (round 1), we will know which individuals on the losing team will advance to the next round. Using my hypothetical team scenario above, here’s how it would play out:

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 5.44.17 PM

The individuals will compete in the second round, and the scores from that round will determine who advances to nationals. I made a list of the top finishers at the hypothetical regions by using their regional scores from 2018, and that list can be found here. For those who did not compete at regionals, I used their most recent score.

Once we know the teams that will advance to nationals, the top finisher on each event and in the all around (not on a qualifying team) will also advance to nationals. Here’s who would advance to nationals in our hypothetical scenario:

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 6.20.54 PM.png

Note: Here are the actual ways ties will be broken for event specialists:

Ties for advancing event specialists will be broken by counting all four scores on the event. If not broken, the head judge score will be the tiebreaker. If a tie still exists, the advancing individual will be the one with the higher NQS.

Since I don’t have access to the individual judges scores from regionals, I just went right to NQS (RQS) for the tiebreaker, so the actual advancing individuals may be slightly different. This gives you an idea, though, of what nationals might look like.

I hope this helped explain the new postseason format with nice, clear examples. If you have any questions, please comment down below!

GK US Classic highlights

Well, after a whirlwind weekend in Columbus for the GK US Classic, I’ve finally had some time to process everything in order to write this post. Here are some of my highlights.

Junior Session

I will admit that I don’t have nearly as many highlights from the junior session as I do from the senior session, but here are a few gymnasts that stood out to me.

Leanne Wong

Leanne was the eventual winner of the session, so it’s no surprise that she’s on this list. For me, her perfectly stuck DTY was the highlight. She also had lovely work on the other events, and could very well be a big star for the US in the future.

Aleah Finnegan

Many people were anticipating Aleah at Classics, since her gymnastics is reminiscent of her older sister Sarah. While Aleah does not have the greatest difficulty, she makes up for it with her gorgeous execution, especially on beam and floor.

Sophia Butler

I will admit that I am going to be a little bit biased here. Since Sophia is verbally committed to Florida, I kept my eye on her throughout the meet to see if she would get her qualifying score to nationals (which she did) as well as to see what skills she currently competes. She was solid on all four events, and she already has a lot of difficulty, especially on beam and floor. Sophia is definitely someone to watch in the future.

Brenna Neault

I have to say, I had never heard of Brenna before the meet, but she caught my eye with her beautiful lines on beam and floor. The seat I was sitting in was super far away from the beam, so the fact that I first noticed her on that particular event is saying something. On a funny note, I love that she acts like she’s about to do a wolf turn on beam but then stand up like, just kidding! Plus, her epic Bare Necessities music on floor is awesome! (and I don’t really care if you disagree)

Senior Session:

Of course seniors was mostly the Simone Biles show, but there were a lot of other highlights from the session. But first, let’s get the obvious out of the way…

Simone Biles

SIMONE IS BACK!! The biggest news of the evening of course was Simone’s comeback, and she definitely met the expectations that I had for her coming into this meet. Her performance definitely wasn’t perfect as she bounced out of bounds on her Moors on floor and fell on a toe full on bars, but she’s where she needs to be at this point in the season.

I was surprised that she brought so many upgrades to her first meet back, but they were definitely competition ready, so I guess, why not? The layout position on her Moors is perfection, and her Fabrichnova dismount on bars has so much height, it’s insane.

Jade Carey

Like Simone, Jade also upgraded to a Moors for her floor routine. While her form is not as perfect as Simone’s is, she had slightly better control in her landing than Simone but did step out of bound with one foot.

For me, the biggest surprise of the night was Jade’s second vault. Her first vault was a DTY, not her usual Amanar as she’s still working back from injury. This made me wonder what she was planning to do for a second vault because her other vault is typically a Tsuk double, which has the same flight phase as a DTY, so it wouldn’t make a valid combination for the vault competition*. However, as she was getting ready to do her second vault, I saw that she flashed the number for a Lopez (yurchenko 1/2 on layout 1/2 off), which was surprising to me because I had no clue she was training a THIRD option on vault. My guess is that she is planning to upgrade the Lopez (5.2 SV) to a Cheng (6.0 SV), otherwise her start value wouldn’t be as high as her previous Tsuk double (5.6 SV). An Amanar/Cheng would give her a 0.4 higher start value than what she previously had and brings up her difficulty to the same level as Simone’s.

* At the time, I didn’t realize that the senior vault standings were only going to be based on one vault, so it actually wouldn’t have mattered.

Morgan Hurd

Like Simone and Jade, Morgan also added a Moors to her floor routine and had the cleanest landing of the three. She also had an excellent routines on bars and beam (minus the unfortunate fall) and a solid DTY on vault. She is definitely making a strong case for a spot on the world team.

Sloane Blakely

Her beam is what really caught my eye, especially her unique front handspring to front tuck series. I just love a well done front series!

Riley McCusker

Her bars and beam is what stood out to me the most, but she also had a solid vault and floor and had what was probably her best meet ever as a senior gymnast. I was so excited when she hit her dismount after falling on it quite a few times at podium training. She even stuck it cold in warmups!

Alyona Shchennikova

Alyona also had a great meet with her only major mistake coming on a fall on a double front on floor. She had a great routine on her signature event, bars, which had the highest D score (for bars) of the whole meet. She also hit a lovely beam routine despite struggling on the event in the past. While it would still be a long shot for her to make the world team, she makes a great case for being selected to the Pan Am team.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated US Classic Routines

Ok, so it’s not Tuesday anymore, but the US Classic is just a few days away, so I decided to make a list of the routines I’m most looking forward to seeing. I will be attending the meet in person (my first elite meet ever!), so I’m anticipating these routines more than usual. Also, since we don’t know which events everyone is planning to compete at classics, some of these routines may have to wait until nationals in August.

Simone Biles on everything

Well, duh. We all know she’s going to be good, but I’m particularly interested in seeing just how good she is after her hiatus and also what upgrades she will bring. I’ve heard that the Fabrichnova on bars and the Moors on floor are her most likely upgrades this year, but will she bring them to Classics? Regardless if she does or not, her return to competition is by far the most anticipated part of Classics.

Jade Carey on Floor

Like Simone, Jade has been training a Moors on floor and will likely debut it this summer. Even if she doesn’t compete it at Classics, it will be interesting to see how much she has improved on floor with one year of elite under her belt.

Also of note, the start list has Simone and Jade back to back on floor as the first routines of the meet. If they both debut a Moors here, I might die of excitement.

Riley McCusker on Bars

Most of Riley’s case for making the world’s team hinges on her bars routine. In the past she has shown event finals level difficulty on that event, but she hasn’t competed much this year and struggled on the event at the American Classic. I’m interested to see what level of difficulty she can bring and if she can hit.

Kara Eaker on Beam

Because Kara Eaker on beam. Enough said. She is looking to be the beam queen of this quad.

Ragan Smith on Beam

Of course I’m most anticipating her signature event, but I’m also super interested to see if she’s back at the same level as she was last year at worlds on all of her events (but mostly beam).

Morgan Hurd on everything

I just really love Morgan Hurd. Enough said. Since I’ll be at the meet, she could literally do one kip on beam, and I would be satisfied just to see her gymnastics in person.

Emma Malabuyo on Floor

I’m excited for Emma’s senior debut in general, but I’m most excited to see her on floor (assuming she competes it). With Maile O’Keefe and Gabby Perea out of Classics, Emma seems to be the most likely junior-turned-senior to make the world’s team at this point.

Konnor McClain on Beam

Konnor definitely seems poised to be the next big thing in US Gymnastics, and her routines (especially beam) will be ones to watch in the junior session.

Jordan Chiles on Vault

The biggest question is whether or not she will compete her Amanar. The Amanar is her best case for making the world’s team, so hitting it well this summer is a must.

Sunisa Lee on Bars and Beam

Sunisa is gorgeous on bars and beam, and though she is only a junior, she already has event final level difficulty on those events. She’s had a bit of trouble hitting this year, but when she does, her routines are world class.

2019 NCAA transfers: The Master List

With all the happenings in the offseason, it’s often easy to lose track of who is transferring where and how they might contribute to their new teams. Here is a master list where I will keep track of who the transfers are as well as their stats from previous seasons. I will be updating this list throughout the rest of the year as I hear about new transfers.

Tiara Wright: West Virginia —> Maryland

  • Senior (with option for an additional redshirt year)
  • Missed 2018 season due to injury
  • Has contributed on bars, beam, and floor at WVU
  • 2016
    • UB RQS: 9.855
    • BB RQS: 9.660
    • FX RQS: 9.770
  • 2017
    • UB RQS: 9.840
    • BB RQS: 9.670
    • 2 FX routines for 8.500 average

Annie Maxim: Michigan State —> Michigan

  • Sophomore
  • 2018
    • Did AA in 1 meet for 37.100
    • 5 VTs for 9.670 average
    • UB RQS: 9.820
    • 1 BB routine and 1 FX routine for 9.025 and 9.075 respectively

Karrie Thomas: Maryland —> Oklahoma

  • Sophomore
  • 2018
    • Weekly bars, beam, floor
    • UB RQS: 9.820
    • BB RQS: 9.795
    • FX RQS: 9.850

Emily White: Iowa State —> North Carolina

  • Sophomore
  • Did not compete in 2018

Megan Ruzicka: Iowa —> North Carolina

  • 5th year grad student
  • Walk on at Iowa in 2015
  • Did not compete

Erynne Allen: Kentucky —> Penn State

  • Junior
  • Did not compete in first two seasons

Tia Kiaku: Ball State —> Alabama

  • Sophomore
  • 2018
    • Weekly floor, backup beam
    • 2 BB routines for 9.663 average
    • FX RQS: 9.875

Shannon St. Jean: Bowling Green —> Michigan State

  • Junior
  • Did not compete in first two seasons

Jazmyn Estrella: Utah State —> Temple

  • Junior
  • 2017
    • Weekly vault, bars, floor
    • VT RQS: 9.770
    • UB RQS: 9.785
    • FX RQS: 9.610
  • 2018
    • Weekly vault, bars
    • VT RQS: 9.740
    • UB RQS: 9.810

Jordan Peloquin: Bowling Green —> Southern Connecticut

  • Sophomore
  • Did not compete in 2018

Morgan Bixler: Maryland —> Illinois

  • Junior
  • 2017
    • Weekly vault
    • VT RQS: 9.795
  • 2018
    • Weekly vault
    • VT RQS: 9.795

Hannah Willmarth: Washington —> Minnesota

  • Sophomore
  • Did not compete in 2018

Alliah Harrison: Western Michigan —> NC State

  • Sophomore
  • Did not compete in 2018

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated NCAA Gymnasts – Part 2

This Tuesday, I’m bringing you part 2 of underrated gymnasts in the NCAA. These could either be gymnasts from top teams who are underrated because of being over shadowed by teammates, or gymnasts who are stars on smaller teams that aren’t in the national spotlight. This list consists of gymnasts who competed in 2018, including graduating seniors.

Again, these are in no particular order. Also, I cheated a bit and there are actually 13…oops.

Megan Skaggs (Florida)

Like many of Florida’s gymnasts, Megan is a former elite, but her name isn’t as well known as many of her teammates. In 2018, she was dependable on all four events whenever her team needed her, but she was definitely not talked about as much as some of her teammates.

Sydney Snead and Rachel Dickson (Georgia)

Ok, I cheated and have two people here, but I thought it made more sense to keep schools together, so here we are.

Both Sydney and Rachel have been critical all arounders for Georgia in their time there, but neither one of them have been in the national spotlight in the way that other SEC gymnasts have. They also are often overshadowed by Sabrina Vega and other notable Georgia gymnasts.

Kelley Hebert and Alexis Brown (UC Davis)

Both Kelley and Alexis have been stars at UC Davis. Kelley holds the school record in the all around (39.525) as well as a tie for the beam record (9.925) and floor record (9.95), and Alexis also shares the school record on beam. Like many gymnasts from smaller name schools, both are not as nationally recognized as they should be.

Shani Remme (Boise State)

Shani has been a solid all around contributor for Boise State over the last three season, qualifying to NCAA nationals as an individual all three years. Once again, she doesn’t have the same national attention as other gymnasts of her caliber do.

Cami Drouin-Allaire and Jillian Winstanley (George Washington)

Both Jillian and Cami have been a lot of the reason George Washington has had successful seasons over the last few years. Cami has qualified to NCAA nationals three times, which is a school record. Both of them are among the best gymnasts that have come out of George Washington.

Mary Jacobsen (Oregon State)

Despite only being a junior in 2018, Mary was the most experienced competitor on a young Oregon State team. She is able to contribute on vault, bars, and floor whenever needed and has provided consistency, hitting 96 of 100 routines.

Lisa O’Donnell (UW-Whitewater)

I couldn’t make a list of underrated gymnasts without including someone from a division 3 school. While division 3 obviously doesn’t get as much attention as division 1, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some really talented gymnasts. Lisa in particular has a front double full on floor and a big Tkachev on bars.

Haley Brechwald (Pitt)

Even though she has only completed one season of NCAA, Haley has already established herself as one of Pitt’s best gymnasts ever. She holds 3 of the top 10 Pitt all around scores ever and played a big role in Pitt qualifying to regionals for the first time since 2013. Even with all of Pitt’s success in 2018, Haley is still not talked about all that often.

Lexy Ramler (Minnesota)

Another former elite, Lexy was a rock for Minnesota in her first year, with no falls and only 3 scores below a 9.7. Unfortunately, since Minnesota is not a team in the spotlight, she’s not one of the former elites who is super well known.

Mary Elle Arduino (Towson)

While she usually competes the all around for Towson, she is primarily known for her beam, where she has a career high of 9.95. Again, being from a smaller program, she isn’t super well known in the NCAA gymnastics community.

 

The Worlds Team Dilemma

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 4.33.39 PM

It’s probably a little bit premature to be looking to the world’s team before classics has even happened, but hey, I enjoy speculation. I’ll write an updated post after classics/nationals after we get a better sense of who looks strong on which event.

Note: Trinity Thomas is enrolling at Florida for summer classes, so I’m assuming that she’s done with elite (at least for the time being) and did not include her in this article. Update (6/27/2018): Trinity has announced that she is trying for the world team. More on her in my next update.

The Locks

Simone Biles

Ok, so it may be jumping the gun a little bit to consider someone who we haven’t seen compete in almost 2 years as a lock for the worlds team, but it’s Simone Biles, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume that, barring injury, she’s going to make the team. Her training videos have looked amazing, and if she even looks half as good as she did in Rio, she’s on the team.

Morgan Hurd

Despite being the reigning world all around champion (albeit surprisingly) I wouldn’t have considered her a lock a few months ago, but she’s looked great so far this year (minus that scary fall on beam at Pac Rims), even better than she did at worlds last year. She’s solid on all four events, so she could help the team anywhere, and she would likely contend for event finals on both beam and floor. Plus it doesn’t seem right to not let the reigning world champion at least try to defend her title.

The Contenders

Riley McCusker

We haven’t seen much of Riley lately, which I’m assuming is because she’s still recovering from her injury. At this point, it’s hard to say whether she will realistically contend for the world’s team, but if healthy, she could definitely help out the team on any event (most especially bars and beam). We’ll just have to wait and see what she shows up with at classics.

Gabby Perea

Like Riley, it’s hard to say where Gabby stands since we haven’t seen her compete in so long, but she will be a solid all around option if healthy. She only competed bars at nationals last year, but even if that’s all she competed this year, it might be worth it to take her to worlds anyway. She has the potential to compete one of the most difficult bar routines in the world, and would be a threat for an individual bars medal.

Maile O’Keefe

As the reigning junior national champion, Maile was one of the new seniors expected to make a big splash this year. While she’s had a lackluster season so far, if she can get back into the swing of things in time for classics, her potential on all 4 events, especially bars, could help her challenge for a world’s spot.

Jade Carey

Jade is probably the closest to a lock of all these contenders, especially with her recent bars upgrades. The main reason I didn’t put her in the lock category is because, with Simone back, her strong Vault and Floor may not be as critical (or then again, it might be, see more below).

Ragan Smith

If Ragan shows up to Classics at the level that she was before worlds, then I would probably consider her to be a lock for the team. The only time we’ve seen her this year so far was at Jesolo, where she was amazing on beam as usual, but her lackluster vault and floor still leaves her as a question mark. We’ll just have to wait and see what she does this summer.

Emma Malabuyo

Emma is another new senior that has been highly anticipated. Like Ragan, we’ve only seen her at Jesolo so far, but she appears to be living up to her hype. Her only disadvantage is the fact that her strongest events (beam and floor) may not fit into the team’s needs, especially if Ragan Smith is back to her usual level.

The Others

These are other gymnasts to watch out for, but they don’t seem to be the most likely candidates for the world’s team at this point.

Grace McCallum

Grace is a new senior who has flown under the radar, but she does have 2 vaults and big potential on floor. Unfortunately, she probably falls behind both Simone and Jade for a vault spot and behind several others for a floor spot.

Jordan Chiles

Jordan is great on all 4 events, but she hasn’t shown to be in the top three on any event,  which does not bode well for a spot on the team.

Correction (6/19): Forgot to mention that she also has 2 vaults, with one of them being the amanar, but her 2nd vault doesn’t have the difficulty that both Simone and Jade have.

Margzetta Frazier

Like Jordan, she’s great on all 4 events, but isn’t in the top three on any event.

The Needs of the Team

Assuming Simone and Morgan are locks, the other three members will need to fill the holes. Simone and Morgan both have event medal potential on beam and floor, and Simone has medal potential on vault (duh). Simone also has an amanar (or at least we assume she will), and, while Morgan does not, her clean DTY can also help the team. Bars is the event that is neither Simone’s nor Morgan’s strongest, but they could both contribute in qualifications and/or the team final (just probably not as the anchor).

The first obvious hole in the team is on bars. This is where Maile, Gabby, and/or Riley would come in. All three of them have event final medal potential, and can also contribute on the other three events if needed. My guess is that at least one of these three will make the team.

In my opinion, the biggest dilemma for the team right now is whether or not a second strong bars worker is needed or if another strong vaulter is needed. Like I said before, both Simone and Morgan are good on bars, but neither are locks for a team final spot on bars. Pretty much everyone on the team has a good DTY, but it still would be nice to have another high difficulty vault to go along with Simone’s. This is where Jade could fit into the picture. If it seems more necessary to have another strong vaulter, then Jade would make the team. If it seems more necessary to have another strong bars worker, than another one of Maile, Gabby, or Riley would make the team.

The fifth spot could pretty much go to anyone, but my guess is it will go to either Ragan or Emma because they both have big potential in the all around as well as on beam and floor.

Possible team setups

The way I see it, there are two ways to go about setting up the team. This is based on the dilemma I mentioned above: is bars or vault more important?

Note: Since some of the gymnasts are essentially competing for the same role on the team, I abbreviated the spot by their first initials (RE for the Ragan/Emma spot for example) to make things clearer.

Team 1 (favors the bars):
Simone, Morgan, Ragan/Emma (RE), two of Maile/Gabby/Riley (MGR)

Vault: (anyone), anyone, anyone, Simone (pretty much everyone can do a decent DTY, so any of the team members could fill these spots, with Simone as the anchor)
Bars: (Morgan/RE), Simone, MGR, MGR
Beam: (MGR), Morgan, RE, Simone
Floor: (MGR), Morgan, RE, Simone

The major disadvantage to this setup is the fact that Morgan and the Ragan/Emma spot can’t both do the all around.

Team 2 (favors the vault)
Simone, Morgan, Jade, Ragan/Emma (RE), one of Maile/Gabby/Riley (MGR)

Vault: (RE/Morgan/MGR), RE/Morgan/MGR, Jade, Simone
Bars: (RE/Morgan/), RE/Morgan, Simone, MGR
Beam: (MGR/Morgan), MGR/Morgan, RE, Simone
Floor: (RE/Morgan/Jade), RE/Morgan/Jade, RE/Morgan/Jade, Simone

This team seems more balanced overall but is probably a bit lacking in bars potential (depending on what kind of bars Simone shows up with), compared to countries like Russia.

So there you have it, the world’s team dilemma. It’s still too early to tell who will make the team, but this gives us a pretty good idea of what to watch out for at classics and nationals this summer.