Future NCAA stars shine bright at Level 10 JO Nationals

By: Casey Shearns

5/18/18

The 2018 Level 10 JO Nationals were full of future NCAA gymnastics stars, many having already committed to their programs of choice. We broke down which schools had the most commits finishing in the top of their division at this year’s national championships and gymnasts to look out for that will be joining their NCAA teams next year.

The UCLA Bruins celebrate with their trophies after winning the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/UCLA Athletics

Michigan had one of the most impressive showings, with three of the all-around champions having committed to the Wolverines. The Senior F all-around winner, Natalie Wojcik, will be competing for the Wolverines next season, and should be a great all around addition for the team. Wojcik placed second on vault, with a 9.850, and second on the uneven bars with a 9.700, showing her value on multiple events.

Another commit that will be competing for Michigan next year is Abby Brenner, who placed fourth in the Senior F division as well, and posted a top five vault score with a 9.750. The Wolverines also have some great gymnasts coming up in the next few years, including Senior C all-around champion Gabryel Wilson and Senior A all-around winner Carly Bauman. Wilson will be joining the team in 2020, and had a dominant performance at JO Nationals, winning first on floor with a 9.725 and second on the uneven bars and vault for a huge 38.900 all around score. Bauman will be joining Michigan in 2021, and looks to be a promising bars and beam worker, winning first on both events with matching 9.725s.

Utah had quite a few commits finishing at the top of their divisions as well. Future Utes Cristal Isa and Adrienne Randall ironically tied for fourth place in the Senior E division, both finishing with 38.300 all around score. Both will be joining Utah for next season. Isa took first place on the uneven bars in the division as well, scoring a 9.700, and looks to be a great candidate for the Red Rocks bar lineup next season.

It also looked as if Utah commits dominated the Senior B session, with four out of the top ten finishers heading to the Utes in the future. The second all-around finisher in Senior B, Jaedyn Rucker, will be joining Utah in 2020, and her 9.800, first place winning vault will be exciting to watch in NCAA. Ninth all-around finisher in Senior B, Hunter Dula, will be joining Utah early, and will be there for next season as well. Dula finished fourth on the uneven bars with a 9.675. Utah has even more to look forward to in 2020 with Senior B fifth place finisher Jillian Hoffman coming in as well. Hoffman also earned second on floor with a 9.65.

A constantly improving Cal team looked to have a bright future last weekend. The Senior E second place all around finisher, Milan Clausi, will be joining the Golden Bears next season. Clausi looked impressive all around, with a first place finish on balance beam with a 9.7 and second place vault finish with a big 9.800. One of the most impressive all around performances of the weekend came from Cal commit Andrea Li, who scored a huge 38.850 to win the Senior B all-around title. She also earned on of the the highest uneven bars scores of the weekend with a 9.800, and finished second on balance beam with a 9.650. Although she won’t be competing until 2021, she looks to be quite an exciting prospect for Cal.

More great Cal commit finishes came from Navaeh DeSouza, who finished fourth all-around in the Senior C division and will be joining the Golden Bears in 2020, and Kennedy Quay, sixth place Senior A all-around finisher and the second place vault finisher, will be heading to Cal in 2021.

Nebraska has a lot to look forward to next season, with some great performances from next year’s freshman Huskers. Abigail Johnston earned second all-around in the Senior F division, and won first place on balance beam and second on floor to help a team that has a lot of depth already. Joining the Huskers next year as well is Sarah Hargrove, the seventh place all-around finisher in the Senior E division, and third place finisher on the uneven bars. Kaylee Quinn, who won second on floor with a solid 9.700, will be joining the team next year as well. For the future, seventh and eighth place Senior A all-around finishers Kinsey Davis and Meilin Sullivan will be heading to Nebraska in 2021.

Florida commits had some nice performances as well, particularly in the Senior D division, where three out of the top ten all-around finishers were future Gators. They will have the second place all-around finisher in Savannah Schoenherr joining the team next season, who also won the uneven bars title with a 9.750 and a 9.800 on vault. Florida will also be getting Leah Clapper, a former elite who finished ninth place all-around as a Senior D. Another top Florida finisher in Senior D was Peyton Richards, who finished fourth all-around and will be joining the Gators in 2020.

LSU commits that had solid performances this weekend included MSO Gymnast of the Year top ten finisher, Bailey Ferrer. Ferrer has announced she will be heading to LSU early and will be joining the Tigers for next season, LSU’s only incoming freshman. Next in line for LSU is Kai Rivers, who will join the team in 2020. Rivers finished third all-around in the Senior D division and placed third on floor with 9.600, and will be exciting to watch for in the future. They can also look forward to former elite Elena Arenas joining the Tigers in 2021.

Georgia had been hitting their stride toward the end of the season this year, and will have some exciting new names coming up in the future. Another MSO Gymnast of the Year top ten nominee, Rachael Lukacs, will be joining the Gym Dogs next season. Lukacs certainly looked college ready, finishing seventh all-around in the Senior F division and taking first on vault with a 9.875 and first on floor with a 9.675. She should be a great help for Georgia, especially on vault. In the future, Georgia will also be getting Soraya Hawthorne, who finished fifth all-around as a Senior D. She won vault with one of the highest scores of the whole meet, scoring a 9.900. She will be joining Georgia in 2020, and it looks as if the Bulldogs will have quite a strong vault lineup in the future.

Alabama certainly looks to be strong in the coming year, as the highest scoring all-around champion for the whole meet, Makarri Doggette, will be joining the Crimson Tide. Doggette earned a massive 38.975 all around score, winning first on all four events in her division. Things look bright for the Crimson Tide in 2020, when the extremely capable all around gymnast joins the team. Another top finisher heading to Alabama in 2020 is Maitlyn Waligora, who finished third all-around in the Senior C division with four solid scores. As for next season, the Tide will be joined by Asia DeWait, who earned fifth on vault as a Senior E with 9.750 on the event, and looks to be promising for Alabama’s vault lineup.

MSO Gymnast of the Year top ten nominee Chloe Widner will be heading to Arizona in 2020. Widner finished sixth all-around and earned third on vault with a big 9.825. Arizona has struggled in recent years, so a consistent gymnast like Widner will be a big help for the Wildcats.

Reigning NCAA champion UCLA has never been the strongest on vault, so the Senior E vault champion Sekai Wright joining the Bruins next year is exciting news for Bruin fans. Wright scored a 9.850 to win the event, and also earned third on floor with a 9.675. For the future, fourth place all-around finisher and uneven bars champion in Senior A Colbi Flory, a former MSO Gymnast of the Year winner, will be heading to the Bruin’s already strong bars lineup in 2021.

College Recruiting Corner: 5 Tips in Developing Your Unique Brand as a Prospective Student-Athlete

By: Tom Kovic

5/17/18

The college search for prospective student-athletes is an “individual” quest. A winning strategy for one prospect could be a losing strategy for another. I think we can all agree that when it comes to recruiting, the “blue chip” kids are going to be found… it’s just a matter of when. That aside, the majority of the prospects navigating the college search are NOT blue-chip kids and should execute a personal plan of attack that includes “gray areas” of recruiting.

 

Prospects should identify distinctive characteristics that help separate them from the rest of the pack in a competitive group of college bound athletes. Below are five Tips in Developing your Unique Brand as a Prospective Student-Athlete.

The LSU Tigers celebrate after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa/LSU Sports

Personal Brand Defined

A Personal Brand is simply developing and maintaining a character, mission and purpose that identifies and differentiates you from other prospects. Your personal brand is not something you whip up in a weekend… it is a life-long commitment to shaping and reinforcing your personal core values.

College coaches are not implementing rocket science strategy when recruiting prospective student-athletes and considering the tremendous volume of interest, they need to establish clear and simple operatives that will streamline the collegiate recruiting process.

An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in the increasingly competitive college recruiting arena. Your brand is your personal commitment to college coaches that tells them what they can expect from you. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and how people perceive you.

Operatives

Defining your personal brand can be daunting, but consider the following operatives that will get you started:

·       What is your college goal?

·       What strengths do you bring to the table as a prospective student-athlete?

·       How do teachers, coaches and teammates view your core values?

·       What personal qualities do you have that are outstanding and unique?

Remember, college coaches are looking at three standout qualities in prospects: Impact athletes, quality students, and boys and girls who bring a robust integrity component to the team.

Tell it like it is

It is one thing to present your brand to college coaches in a positive light and an altogether different strategy to boast. College coaches are grounded, common-sense, gut thinkers who, at their core, are the “salt of the earth.” They have an uncanny ability to “read” prospects and families quickly and with laser focus accuracy.

Commit to sharing an optimistic but honest self-assessment with college coaches. Athletic statistics should especially be accurate and convey a realistic measure to your athleticism. Be prepared to back up everything you share with college coaches… be true to your brand and be prepared to deliver!

Create a Statement

Do your homework and learn the strengths and weaknesses of the college programs you are considering. Roughly identify their future needs in an effort to offer your unique “fit” into the existing system. Don't rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Using a personal mission statement to identify your ideal college match and how you plan to impact a worthy college team can be a powerful tool in identifying your brand. Look at the bigger picture and offer your vision of a true student-athlete experience that identifies academic excellence, a brilliant athletic experience, and in an ideal socio-cultural environment.

Be Proactive

I encourage prospects to make every effort and commitment to organize important information regarding the recruiting process and execute well-designed plans. Avoid waiting for college coaches to initiate contact with you. Control your playing field and provide the coaches with regular updates that will raise their awareness of you.

 

Develop timelines that will target general events in the beginning of the college search (making unofficial visits, updating your database, and attending competitions) and continue to follow-through with more specific events (compiling a video and player profile, communicating with college coaches, and making official visits, etc.) as you advance. This will establish your willingness to help the college coaches evaluate you and increase your chances in hitting communication targets moving forward.

 

Make a deliberate effort to identify unique qualities that separate you from the rest of the pack of prospective student-athletes and you will be well on your way to developing your personal brand. Take time to self-reflect and perform a detailed analysis of who you are and what you offer as a potential “true student-athlete.” Do what you do best and train and compete at the highest level to raise the bar of awareness of college coaches.

Tom Kovic is a former 19-year college coach at The University of Pennsylvania and Founder/Principal Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting. The Victory Advisement Team provides individual advisement for families and prospects in navigating college recruiting.

 

For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

Copyright © 2018  Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

Dominant performances from future NCAA stars highlights JO Nationals day two

By: Hannah Lerner

5/13/18

There was certainly no lack of talent or difficulty in Sessions four, five, and six of Level 10 JO Nationals on Sunday. This includes Alabama commit Makarri Doggette, who earned the highest all-around score in all the sessions combined.

Makarri Doggette

In the Junior D session, Lali Dekanoidze from Southeastern won the all-around title with a 38.500, the beam title with a 9.675 and tied for third on bars with a 9.600. Legacy Elite’s Ella Cesario came in second in the all-around with a 38.350, tied for second on vault with a 9.700 and tied for third on floor with a 9.600. Mya Lauzon from Metropolitan won third in the all-around with a 38.275 and tied for third on beam with a 9.600. Danielle Sievers from All American Gymnastics won floor with a 9.650. Docksiders’ Hailey Merchant tied for first on bars with Pearland Elite’s Tessa Volpe, scoring a 9.625 and All Olympia’s Chalyn Walker brought home the gold on vault with a 9.750.

In the Senior D session, Buckeye’s Makarri Doggette swept the podium, winning first on beam, floor and the all-around and tied for first on vault and bars. She scored a 9.625 on beam, 9.700 on floor and 38.925 in the all-around. She shared the vault title with Southeastern’s Hallie Thompson, both scoring a 9.850. Georgia Elite’s Savannah Schoenherr earned second in the all-around with a 38.450 and shared the first place bar title with Doggette, scoring a 9.750. Twistars’ Kai Rivers placed third in the all-around with a 38.425 and tied for third on bars and floor.

In the Junior E session, GAGE’s Alexis Jeffrey won the all-around with a 38.325 and the bar title with a 9.750. IGI’s Makenzie Sedlacek took second on vault with a 9.750 and shared the second place all-around title with Brestyan’s Stephanie Berger, scoring a 38.175. Phenom’s Haley Tyson and La Fleur’s Jordyn Paradise won floor with a 9.600. Legacy Elite’s Erika Penamante won beam with a 9.625. Rylie Bright from Denton won vault with a 9.825.

In the Senior E session, All American’s Karley McClain placed first in the all-around with a 38.550. Olympus’ Milan Clausi placed first on beam with a 9.700 and took second in the all-around with a 38.525. Clausi and Twin City Twisters’ Olivia Trautman shared the vault title, scoring a 9.800. Trautman also took the gold medal on floor with a 9.725. Cristal Isa from Gymcats won bars with a 9.700 while Sekai Wright from American Gymnastics Academy placed first on vault with a 9.850.

In the Junior F session, Kyla Burns from Xtreme won the all-around with a 38.350 and the bar title with a 9.675. Azarian’s Sarah Clark took second in the all-around with a 38.275 and tied for second on beam with RGA’s Talia Little, scoring a 9.650. Byers’ Courtney Blackson placed second on beam with a 9.650 and third in the all-around with a 38.250. Arizona Sunrays’ Quinn Smith placed first on vault with a 9.825 and La Fleur’s Julianne Fehring took first on floor with a 9.650. Denton’s Isabel Mabanta placed first on beam with a 9.675.

Natalie Wojcik

In the Senior F session, Stallone’s Natalie Wojcik, a future Michigan gymnast, placed first in the all-around with a 38.775 and earned a silver medal on vault with a 9.850. Wojcik tied for second on bars with Gymcats’ Shylen Murakami, scoring a 9.700. American Twisters’ Abigail Johnston placed first on beam with a 9.675 and second in the all-around with a 38.625. Johnston tied for second on floor with Fuzion’s Mia Quigg, scoring a 9.650. Lakewood Ranch’s Derrian Gobourne placed third in the all-around with a 38.600 and won the bars title with a 9.750. Rachael Lukacs from North Stars won vault with a 9.875, floor with a 9.675 and tied for second on beam with San Mateo’s Madison Dagen, scoring a 9.650.

Top Level 10s shine with impressive performances at JO Nationals

By: Mary Fay Carr

5/12/18

This weekend the best Level 10 gymnasts in the nation gathered in Cincinnati o compete at the 2018 JO Nationals. The gymnasts competing at nationals qualified to the meet through the regional competitions and represented their respective regions in competition this weekend.  

On Saturday there were three sessions of competition. In the first session the Junior A and Senior A age divisions took to the competition floor to fight for a national title. In the Junior A age division, Amari Drayton of Olympic Hills was crowned the national champion with an all-around score of 38.325. Additionally, Drayton claimed the bars title with a 9.600, placed second on floor with a 9.600, and third on beam with a 9.575. Kailin Chio of Gymcats placed second in the all-around with a 38.200 and second on beam with a 9.600. Ui Soma of San Mateo placed third in the all-around with a 37.925 and first on beam with a 9.675. In the Junior A age division, Region 3 placed first, Region 1 placed second, and Region 6 came in third in the team competition.

 

In the Senior A age division, Carly Bauman, who will be attending Michigan, tied with Kiya Johnson, who will be attending Georgia, in the all-around with a 38.625. Bauman also won the bars and beam titles with 9.750s on each, while Johnson won the floor title with a 9.600. Haleigh Bryant, who was a favorite to win the Senior A division, placed third all-around with a 38.550 and first on vault with a 9.900. Bryant is committed to LSU and is expected to be a star in NCAA gymnastics. As for team results, Region 4 placed first, Region 3 placed second, and Region 8 placed third.  

In the second session of JO nationals, gymnasts in the Junior B and Senior B age divisions competed. Gabriella Disadore of GAGE won the Junior B all-around title with a 38.300. Disadore also placed third on beam with a 9.625 and fourth on bars with a 9.625. Gabby Gladieux of High Point placed second with a 38.200 and also placed second on bars with a 9.650. Lillian Lewis of San Mateo claimed the third place title with a 37.925 and was crowned the national champion on beam with a 9.725. The gymnasts representing Region 3 won the team title in the Junior B division, while Region 8 placed second, and Region 7 took third.  

In the Senior B age division Andrea Li, who will be attending Cal, was crowned the national champion with a 38.850. Li also won the bars title with a 9.800, the floor title with a 9.725, and placed second on beam with a 9.650. Jaedyn Rucker, who is committed to Utah, placed second all-around with a 38.675. Additionally, Rucker earned the vault title with a 9.850 and placed second on floor with a 9.650. In third place all-around with a 38.425 was Sierra Brooks, who will be attending Michigan. Brooks also took second on vault with a 9.825.

Finally, in the third session of the Saturday competitions was the Junior C and Senior C age divisions. Faith Torrez of Legacy Elite placed first all-around in the Junior C division with a 38.525. Torrez also placed first on bars with a 9.600, first on beam with a 9.725, and second floor with a 9.625. In second place all-around with a 38.425 was Karis German of WCC. German placed first on vault with a 9.800 and second on beam with a 9.575. Naya Howard of Ocean Tumblers placed third all-around with a 38.275. Howard became national champion on bars with a 9.600, and placed third on both beam and floor with a 9.550 and 9.575, respectively.  

 

In the Senior C division Gabryel Wilson, who will be attending Michigan, placed first with the highest all-around score of Day 1, a 38.900. Wilson also placed first on floor with a 9.725, second on vault with a 9.850, and second on bars with a 9.700. Helen Hu, who is committed to Missouri, placed second in the all-around with a 38.875. Additionally, Hu placed first on bars with a 9.750, first on beam with a 9.775, and second on floor with a 9.675. In third place with a 38.500 was Matilyn Waligora, who is attending Alabama. Waligora also placed third on floor with a 9.650.  

All in all, the first day of competition at JO nationals brought success to many gymnasts and proved to be very promising for many colleges that are anticipating the JO gymnasts that will be added to their roster in upcoming years.

 

College Recruiting Corner: The team approach- managing college athletic recruiting

By: Tom Kovic

5/10/18

The team approach during the college athletic recruiting process can maximize efficiency and minimize individual pressure and stress as families navigate a potentially daunting effort. Forming a trustworthy group of individuals who play specific roles during the recruiting cycle will increase your chances of reaching pre-set goals.

Suggested Team Players:

• Prospective Student-Athlete

• Parents

• High School Coach

• Club Coach

• Guidance Counselor/College Advisor

• Personal Mentor/Advisor

 

The Oregon State Beavers gymnastics team huddles at a meet in Corvallis, Oregon/Oregon State Athletics

By selecting the team approach, the responsibility in effectively executing your recruiting plan is equally distributed to the area experts. All assignments should be clearly identified, and communication between team members should be often and consistent. This will help streamline the complete operation of the project and assist the family in avoiding any confusion that could contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection, and potentially poor choices.

Suggested Team Areas of Responsibility:

• Financial aid/scholarships

• Admissions

• Target calendar

• Research (schools, majors, athletic programs, rankings)

• Video, website and profile development

• Planned communication and contact log

• Campus visits

• Standardized test preparation

• Organizing communication “role play”

• Researching college profiles and determining potential “match.”

If a family is well organized for college athletic recruiting and with a detailed plan of action, they will be prepared to clearly define individual assignments, area responsibilities and pre-determined deadlines for the team to meet in moving the college recruiting process forward.

The Team Leader

Designate a team leader who basically “runs the offense” and is responsible for maintaining consistent communication between team players and providing bi-weekly progress reports. Consider using an Excel organizational chart whereby the team leader can manage the list of “things to do” with relative ease. The team leader should forward regular progress reports that are simple, informational and easy to understand.

A “team” meeting is a great way to “launch” the initiative and an excellent first step in developing group cohesion. Schedule the meeting before the start of the prospective student-athletes sophomore year. Plan to meet at a location that is convenient for all team members to attend. If your team consists of players who live outside the region, schedule an online meeting.

The meeting should be highly organized and include a PowerPoint presentation that will create a seamless explanation of the complete recruiting process. The general plan should be broken down into specific responsibility areas, with the intention that each team player leaves the meeting with a clear understanding of and appreciation for their role in the process.

College athletic recruiting has become extremely competitive and the family who prepares proactively and carefully will have the better chance at success. Surrounding the prospect with a group of people who offer strength in designated areas of the process will only help lighten the workload for the family and increase efficiency in what is becoming an overwhelming task.

The team approach presents a streamlined effort and it develops confidence in the prospective student-athlete, who realizes, appreciates and welcomes a caring group of people who have his/her best interests in mind.

Tom Kovic is the Founder and Lead Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. For further information, visit www.victoryrecruiting.com.

Copyright © 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

US women own the medal podium with dominant Pacific Rim Championships event finals showing

By: Casey Shearns

4/29/2018

As international elite competition season begins, we got a look at both the new and established on their best events in the 2018 Pac Rim Championships event finals. Although the reigning world all-around champion Morgan Hurd had to withdraw from her event finals due to an injury sustained during the team and all-around final, the US still had a great showing on the medal podiums in Medellin.

Morgan Hurd and the US women’s gymnastics team at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships in Medellin, Colombia/USA Gymnastics

Jordan Chiles took home the event title on vault, scoring an average 14.188 for her two vaults. Chiles has always been strong on vault, and certainly benefits from it in both domestic and international competition. Teammate Grace McCallum followed in second place with an average score of 13.975. McCallum is a somewhat new face to the US senior elites, but she has proved to be quite impressive, winning the senior all-around title ahead of one of the top US gymnasts right now, Morgan Hurd. She recently has been establishing herself as a contender to be one of USA’s top elites with strong international performances like these. In third place was Sophie Marois of Canada with an average of 13.688.

Hayley De Jong of Canada won the title on the uneven bars, scoring a 12.625. De Jong also came in third in the senior all-around competition, and is looking to be a great asset for Canada in the future. She was followed by and Jimena Moreno of Mexico in second with a 12.375, and Kate McDonald of Australia in third with a 12.025. The US’ Grace McCallum also qualified to the uneven bar final with a solid routine Saturday, but suffered an error in the beginning of her routine to take her out of contention in the final competition.

Talia Folino of Australia won the balance beam title with a 13.175. Team Australia looked much improved in this competition compared to previous years after gaining a new national coordinator, Mihai Brestyan, former coach of US Olympic champion Aly Raisman. Paulina Campos of Mexico took second with a 12.275, and Jordan Chiles earned third with a 12.175. Grace McCallum also qualified for beam finals and scored an 11.275.

Chiles also won first on on floor exercise final with a 13.650. She was again followed by US teammate Grace McCallum, who earned second with a 13.600. Third place went to Hayley De Jong of Canada with a 12.900.

In the junior competition, the US juniors had a strong showing in event finals as well, placing on each event. Kayla DiCello took home both the vault title with a 14.525 and the uneven bars title with a 13.625. Sunisa Lee earned a 12.850 on balance beam for second place on the event. Lee also earned second in vault and floor finals, scoring a 14.375 and 13.225 respectively. All-around champion Jordan Bowers earned a 13.725 for the floor title for the US.

US women dominate Pacific Rim Championships, taking home team and all-around golds

By: Mary Fay Carr

4/28/2018

The highly anticipated international elite gymnastics competition, the Pacific Rim Championships, began this weekend in Medellin, Colombia. Going into this meet the US women were a strong favorite to win the team competition, and they did not disappoint, as the team and all-around competition on Saturday saw the US win gold with a 218.850. Canada finished second with a 203.400 and Australia placed third with a 197.550.

The US women’s gymnastics team celebrates after winning the gold medal at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships in Medellin, Colombia/USA Gymnastics

The US sent six athletes to compete in Medellin, three juniors and three seniors: Morgan Hurd, Grace McCallum, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Bowers, and Kayla DiCello. In the senior division, McCallum won the gold with a 54.850, while Hurd, the reigning world all-around champion, took silver with a 53.300, and Martina Dominici of Argentina took the bronze with a 51.050. However, because Argentina is not in the Pacific Rim, Dominici was not eligible for a medal and Hayley De Jong of Canada took the bronze instead with a 50.150.

The US managed to take the gold in the senior all-around, as first-year senior Grace McCallum had a very strong competition, hitting all four events and qualifying for each event final. The all-around favorite Morgan Hurd, had a disappointing finish in second place after a scary fall on beam which scored a 10.400. Unfortunately, she was unable to recover from the low score in the final rotation to clinch gold, however, she managed to compete a solid floor routine that qualified for event finals and landed her the silver medal.

Despite qualifying for both the bar and floor finals, Hurd will not be competing as a precautionary measure after her fall on beam. Stuttgart World Cup bronze medalist Jordan Chiles did not compete in the all-around, but managed to hit vault, beam, and floor while nursing an injury. Chiles qualified into both the vault and the beam finals.  

Jordan Bowers performs on the floor exercise for the US at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships in Medellin/FloGymnastics

In the junior age division, Bowers took gold with a 53.600, DiCello took silver with a 53.100, and Zoe Allaire-Bourgie of Canada took the bronze with a 52.200. Bowers, in her international debut, was extremely successful and managed to overcome a fall on beam to perform one of her best floor routines yet. Bowers qualified for the bars and floor finals.

DiCello also had a strong competition which earned her second place, however, also had a small mistake on beam in her wolf turn. Dicello qualified for the vault, bars, and beam finals. Junior favorite Sunisa Lee finished fourth in the all-around after struggling on bars with her immense difficulty, however, Lee qualified for the beam and floor finals.

Eighteen to nineteen gymnasts qualified into each event final based on their scores from the all-around and team competition. On vault, the seniors that qualified were, Marcia Videaux, Ayelen Tarabini, Ana Mendez, Charlotte Ryan, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Denisse Grijalva, Hsiu-ju Chuang, Sophie Marois, Hayley De Jong. The juniors that qualified were, Imogen Patterson, Hillary Heron, Sunisa Lee, Kayla Dicello, Kate Sayer, Miriana Perkins, Sabrina Cortes, and Zoe Allaire-Bourgie.  

On bars, the seniors that qualified were, Martina Dominici, Simona Castro, Kate McDonald, Yurany Avendano, Grace McCallum, Hayley De Jong, Morgan Hurd, Maia Fishwick, and Jimena Moreno. The juniors that qualified were, Abigail Magistrati, Sidney Stephans, Zoe Allaire-Bourgie, Miriana Perkins, Kayla DiCello, Paula Arevalo, Jordan Bowers, Marisa Miranda, and Emma Spence.

On beam, the seniors that qualified were, Martina Dominici, Isabella Brett, Grace McCallum, Victoria Kayer, Paulina Kampos, Jordan Chiles, Jimena Moreno, Talia Folino, Sophie Marois. The juniors that qualified were, Abigail Magistrati, Brissa Portillo, Sunisa Lee, Sabrina Cortes, Emma Spence, Elena Chipizubov, Kate Sayer, Kayla DiCello, and Zoe Allaire-Bourgie.  

On floor, the seniors that qualified were, Marcia Videaux, Martina Dominici, Charlotte Ryan, Hayley De Jong, Ginna Escobar, Paulina Campos, Luciana Alvarado, Grace McCallum, Morgan Hurd, and Victoria Kayer. The juniors that qualified were, Luna Fernandez, Kate Sayer, Paulina Vargas, Daniela Briceno, Elena Chipizubov, Emma Spence, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Bowers, and Zoe Allaire-Bourgie.

The Pacific Rim Championships conclude on Sunday with the final day of competition featuring all event finals for juniors and seniors in Medellin.

Three Considerations for Building a Powerful College Athletic Recruiting Mission Statement

By: Tom Kovic

4/26/18

College coaches are brilliant recruiters and look for three key components when evaluating prospects. Firstly, they look for strong students who meet and exceed academic eligibility and admission standards. Secondly, they are looking for direct impact athletes who thrive at their position and help drive the team to higher levels. Finally, they desire self-aware young men and women who bring strong character components to the table.

The 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships were held in St. Louis/NCAA

Building a Powerful College Athletic Recruiting Mission Statement can help “identify yourself” and elevate your position on a college coach’s radar. Below are three considerations for developing your statement:

College goals

When you share your college mission statement with a coach it should be powerful and display a high level of self-awareness. Sit down as a family and identify critical operatives that your ideal college choice will possess. Primary on the list and the glue that binds a definitive college vision should be the quality of the academic experience.

A good college coach and exceptional educator should not be recruiting you just for the next 4 years, but for the next forty years. A caring coach desperately wants you to impact his program on the athletic side, but he also wants you to thrive academically and position yourself for future advancement. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression… make this point stand out.

Athletic Contributions

The athletic part of the equation may appear simple, but considering you likely have a long list of athletic accomplishments, you want to streamline these accolades into a clear and vigorous statement to how you plan to impact a college sports program.

There is a fine line between being cocky and confident and you want the coach to believe in your personal conviction at  face value. Create a bold statement that combines your current athletic skill set with an elegant confidence that you have not nearly met your full potential.

Leadership

College coaches are looking for the best and the brightest prospects to help drive their program to higher levels, but they are putting a greater premium on the inner makeup of the prospect. Coaches are looking for boys and girls who display loyalty, dedication, perseverance and a diligent approach to their everyday lives. They are no doubt seeking direct impact athletes on the team, but they desperately want kids who will become “strong links in the team chain.”

Given a choice between a blue-chip prospect whose statistics are off the charts, but a potential “loose cannon” on the inside of the team and a solidly skilled athlete who offers the prodigious potential to lead the team from the inside, most college coaches will support the latter candidate nine times out of ten! Team leadership offers intangible growth at the core of the program but it also builds consistent team momentum… the ship always remains on course.

Below is an example of a balanced mission statement:

“I envision my college years to be an all-around personal growth period where my goal

is to explore my interests in orthopedic medicine, while positively impacting a worthy college

baseball team. I will apply myself not only as an athlete but as an integral team leader. I am

confident that my work ethic, determination, leadership ability, and time management skills will

position me to be a successful student-athlete." Most importantly, I will conduct myself with

honor and respect, knowing that the way I carry myself reflects my team, my coaches and the

university I attend.”

The final draft of your mission statement should be intrepid, confident and well-balanced. Give coaches every reason to believe you are looking for a quality education that will position you strongly upon graduation. Drive home the point clearly and confidently that you have the athletic tools to impact a worthy college program. Finally, establish yourself as a team player and extend your loyalty and respect to the coaches as a prospective student-athlete who is the “complete package.”

 

 

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the current President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.

 

Copyright © 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

UCLA inch-perfect to win seventh national championship, edging out defending champions Oklahoma in Super Six

By: Thomas Cluck

4/21/2018

In the last team final of the Super Six era, it was a legendary, storybook finish for a legendary program as the UCLA Bruins entered perfection to edge out two-time defending champions Oklahoma. Amdists a raucous, passionate Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, all six teams on the floor brought their total best, one-upping another to incredible performances, with the third-ranked Bruins coming out on top in the end to claim their seventh national championship in program history with a huge team score of a 198.0750.

“I've been doing this at UCLA for 35 years and I have said the last few months and have said repeatedly the last few weeks that in all of my time we've had tremendous, tremendous teams and tremendous, not just athletes, but student-athletes and people. Just human beings. Which is the reason I feel I have the greatest job in the world. But this team truly is the easiest team that I've ever coached,” said Bruins head coach Valorie Kondos Field.

“This time last year we said if we need, if we want a different result we've got to do things differently and what started that was me and our coaching staff just getting real with them about getting physically fit as you individually can get as making choices outside of the gym, those of a champion. And on and on and they did it. They decided to do it at literally last April and they've been consistent with it and because of that we my job has been so easy this year. This is a this truly is a dream team,” concluded the legendary Bruins head coach.

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the national championship at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team final in St. Louis/UCLA Athletics

The Bruins brought the difficult gymnastics, flawless execution, and stunning performances required to win a championship against this caliber of teams and the title-winning performance came across all four events. Starting on the floor exercise, UCLA showed off their intricately-choreographed routines, energizing the crowd with a 9.900 from Felicia Hano and a near-flawless 9.950 from national floor champion Katelyn Ohashi.

UCLA finessed the landings to post an impressive number on vault too, where Anna Glenn’s beautiful Yurchenko full went 9.8875 before Napualani Hall anchored the rotation with a powerful Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.875 to keep the Bruins competitive going into their best two events.

After a bye before bars, the confidence and calm of Bruins head coach Valorie Kondos Field really seemed to set in, with four stunning bars performances coming from JaNay Honest with a 9.900, Madison Kocian with a 9.9375, Kyla Ross with a 9.9500, and Peng-Peng Lee with perfect 10.0 to catapult the Bruins up the standings and into a potentially winning position.

While normal teams would have cringed at the prospect of seeking to win a national championship on the beam, the Bruins unique, uber-talented lineup embraced the challenge full-on, heading into their best event ready to put it all on the line. Despite a fall midway through from Kocian, UCLA owned the pressure and the challenge, with Grace Glenn and Brielle Nguyen putting up scores of 9.9375 and 9.8750, respectively.

The final half of the Bruin beam lineup seized the moment with flawless gymnastics, as Ohashi wowed with a 9.950 and Ross kept up her impeccable night scoring a huge 9.9875 to set up anchor Peng-Peng Lee to win the national title. Under the pressure of competing for the national championship, sixth-year senior Lee ended her gymnastics career with utter perfection, scoring her second Perfect 10.0 of the night to send the Bruins soaring to their seventh national title in the illustrious program’s history. Lee’s routine couldn’t have been better and the storybook ending to her legendary gymnastics career and to this NCAA gymnastics season couldn’t have been scripted.

“I did not know what score I needed to win, I didn't even know we had a chance of winning at that point to be honest. So I said you know what, this is going to be the last beam routine in my life life being Raquin ever. I'm just going to soak in every single moment. I'm going to take a deep breath and just look in the eyes look at the judges and just take my time and as soon as everyone starts cheering I thought I got a 10.000, personally, and then I looked at the scoreboard and I saw UCLA on top and I am still in shock,” said an ecstatic Peng-Peng Lee.

“We had our mind set on a national championship the whole year and to know coming back after the vault rotation on a bye. We got our heads back in the game and we said this is what athletics is all about. It's about the fight. And so I knew somehow, somehow in my head we were going to pull it off I just didn't know how we would pull it off.”

The UCLA Bruins celebrate after winning the national championship at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team finals in St. Louis/UCLA Athletics

“We have so much respect for their coaching staff, for their athletes. A lot of them grew up together have been through a lot of the same things together but. They're there. They're an opponent that reaps class. Oklahoma's made us better because the last two seasons, my staff and I we get together after the championships. We have to do something different,” explained Kondos Field.

“I can't say enough about K.J. (Kindler) and Oklahoma. They're, you know. They've made us all better.”

The Bruins were no doubt pushed to their limits to earn this national championship, edging out the winners of the last two years, Oklahoma, for the trophy. The Sooners didn’t put a foot wrong the entire competition either, coming out impressively on the beam, where they too recovered from a mid-lineup fall from Nicole Lehrman with impressive routines from Anastasia Webb and Maggie Nichols for 9.9125s.

The floor exercise saw continued consistency from Oklahoma, with Brenna Dowell joining Webb and Nichols with powerful, dramatic routines for scores of 9.9375, 9.9250, and 9.9625, respectively. Nichols, who was crowned the NCAA all-around champion yesterday, kept up her impeccable night with a 9.9375 that was replicated by Dowell on the vault, putting the Sooners in a winning position heading into the bars on the final rotation.

Hoping to round out another consistently impressive competition for the national title on bars, Oklahoma couldn’t have done any better to help their championship hopes, with Bre Showers and Dowell going 9.9000 and 9.9125, respectively before Nichols closed out the Sooners’ competition with a flawless routine for a 9.9625, putting Oklahoma’s score at a 198.0375, just missing out on their third consecutive national title.

Natalie Brown celebrates after performing on the balance beam for the Oklahoma Sooners at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Super Six team finals in St. Louis/Sooners Sports

The Super Six competition was the most fiercely fought ever, with the third and fourth place teams not too far behind. The Florida Gators finally put it all together for their best meet of the season with a 197.8500 featuring stunning bars and floor performances. Just getting edged out by Florida for third was LSU, who finished fourth with an incredibly impressive performance for a 197.8375, courtesy of impeccable performances on vault, bars, and floor.

Finally, finishing fifth was Utah, who struggled to hit to their potential particularly on their best events of vault and floor, finishing with a 196.900, overcoming Nebraska, the upset story of this NCAA gym postseason, who finished sixth with a solid 196.800 to round out the truly super six teams.

Oklahoma soars into Super Six with Florida and Utah close behind in semifinal two

By: Jess Stephans

4/20/18

The top three seeds in semifinal two, Oklahoma, Florida, and Utah, finished as the top three in the second semifinal of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, earning all three teams a coveted spot at tomorrow’s Super Six team final.

The reigning national champions Oklahoma Sooners started out a little slow on beam, but a 9.95 from sophomore star Maggie Nichols in the anchor position brought them back on track to be just behind Florida after the first rotation. The Sooners then took the lead back after a floor rotation that scored a 49.5875, and they held the lead for the remainder of the meet. Senior AJ Jackson and freshman Anastasia Webb put up huge scores of 9.925 and 9.9375 in the fourth and fifth spots, and Nichols anchored with a near-perfect 9.9625.

Maggie Nichols performs for the Oklahoma Sooners on the floor exercise at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/Emily Howell-Forbes

The Sooners expanded their lead on vault, with junior Brenna Dowell sticking her Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.9375, and Oklahoma ended on the uneven bars with their best rotation of the night, scoring a 49.6125. Junior Nicole Lehrmann scored a 9.9500 in the fifth spot to lead into Nichols, and she closed out the semifinal for Oklahoma with a Perfect 10.0, giving her an eighth 10.0 this season and 15 overall in her career. The Sooners finished with a 198.05, their ninth score of 198 or better this season and easily posted the highest score of the day from both semifinal sessions.

“Starting on balance beam was new for us. We haven't done that this year. We kind of had a mixture of super aggressive strong routines and then a little nervous coming out and we get to start again tomorrow. So I'm glad that we at least have had that practice today and can learn from it and be more aggressive tomorrow there. But I think once the beam was over they felt very free and performed very well from that point forward they seemed really to loosen up a lot,” described Sooners head coach KJ Kindler.

“They got into a groove and settled in much better the last two bar routines in our lineup were their two best of the season. There's no doubt about it. So it was great to end on that note I'm really consistent floor and vault. We didn't make a switch today. I mean very pleased overall we were pushed you know pushed by the teams on the floor and. It was good. Now we're ready to get some rest,” concluded a satisfied, but still hungry Kindler.

Florida was consistent across all four events to finish second with a 197.5875, and the Gators were led by a trio of all-arounders in Alex McMurtry, Alicia Boren, and Amelia Hundley. McMurtry was the highlight for the Gators on both vault and bars, scoring a 9.9375 on vault and a 9.9500 on bars. Rachel Gowey came up big for Florida on beam, scoring a 9.125 for a near-perfect routine, while freshman Alyssa Baumann anchored on floor for a huge 9.9500.

“Yes it really is an honor to be here and to make it to Super Six you lived to compete another day and that's what we're all looking to achieve. The Gators did a very good job tonight. They had a solid performance started off bars quite well. Little details we've been working on we're paying off tonight. Beam was a little rough, but not everything is going to be perfect every night and again we live to compete another day,” commented Florida coach Jenny Rowland.

Alyssa Baumann performs for the Florida Gators on the floor exercise at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis/Emily Howell-Forbes

Utah also had a consistent competition, finishing third with a 197.1375 to advance to Super Six, holding off the fourth place Cal Golden Bears in the final rotation. The Utes were led by sophomore MyKayla Skinner, who scored above 9.900 on every event to finish second in the all-around competition.

“I felt like at the started the meet a little tentative, a little tight on vault.  We didn’t really stick a vault. I told them to relax a little bit more and it was a great bar set for us. Balance beam our second kid up had an uncharacteristic fall and then things tighten up a little bit and we went into a little bit of a survival mode. With that being said they didn't they didn't quit or throw in the towel. Came out of that bye then and floor they really did the floor like they were with command and confidence. I was super happy with that. And we live to play another day so we're excited and happy to be amongst all these great teams,” said Utah co-head coach Tom Farden following the meet.

Cal finished fourth with a 196.5 after a strong meet across the board, and senior Toni Ann Williams was a star on all four events. Washington finished fifth with a 196.25, and they were led by all-arounders Evanni Roberson and Hailey Burleson. The Kentucky Wildcats rounded out the pack with a 196.0625, and sophomore Mollie Korth had an incredible meet, scoring a huge 39.5000 in the all-around and sticking her vault cold to end Kentucky’s meet with a 9.925.

The individual all-around competition was exciting as always, but Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols cruised to the title with a 39.8125 after winning two event titles and scoring 9.9000 or better on all four, while Utah’s Skinner also surpassed 9.9000 on every event and tied for the vault title to finish second with a 39.725. Senior Elizabeth Price of Stanford concluded her stellar gymnastics career with a thrilling all-around performance that included a Perfect 10.0 on bars, scoring a 39.675 to finish third.

“Today I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.  I wanted to help the team qualify for Super Six, so I just wanted to go out there and have fun, which I did,” explained all-around champion Nichols.

“I have been working really hard in the gym and fixing all the little things like landings, form and all of that.  It was really awesome to go out there and hit one of my best routines, so I want to do it tomorrow too.”

“This team has put in the numbers in the gym and we’ve worked our butts off for this, so I can’t wait to go have our hard work pay off.  It is going to be something special,” concluded the sophomore star for the Sooners.

Multiple individual champions came out of this session, with the Sooners’ Nichols winning the all-around with a huge 39.8125. McMurtry of Florida, Skinner of Utah, and Dowell of Oklahoma all tied for the vault title with 9.9375s. Nichols and Price of Stanford scored Perfect 10.0s to tie for the uneven bars title and Nichols tied Katelyn Ohashi of UCLA for the floor exercise title, while sixth-year senior star Peng-Peng Lee claimed the national title on the balance beam to round out the individual titles.

The entire NCAA Gymnastics season comes down to tomorrow night with the thrilling Super Six team finals, featuring Oklahoma, Florida, UCLA, LSU, Nebraska, and Utah back again at the Chaifetz Arena Saturday night in St. Louis.

UCLA squeezes by LSU to win semifinal one while Nebraska upsets for final Super Six spot

By: Tom Kovic

4/20/18

Third-seeded UCLA snuck by LSU to win session one of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships. Led by semifinal one all-around winner Kyla Ross (39.6375), the Bruins notched a very solid 197.5625. Second seed LSU, seeking the program’s first national title, finished in second place less than one-tenth behind (197.475). The Nebraska Cornhuskers secured the third qualifying spot with a team score of 197.0125 in the first of two national semifinals today at the Chaifetz Arena.

 

Georgia (196.6875), Alabama (196.625), and Arkansas (196.425) rounded out the team competition finishing fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, marking an end to their seasons.

 

For UCLA, Bruin gymnasts were first place winners in semifinal one on four out of five individual events. Sophomore stalwart Ross posted the highest score on the uneven bars with a 9.950 while sixth year-senior Peng-Peng Lee topped all beam competitors in the first session with a nearly-flawless 9.9875, helping her to the national title on the beam. Junior Katelyn Ohashi won the floor exercise title with a massive 9.9625 and Ross secured the top all-around score from semifinal one with a 39.6375.

Katelyn Ohashi performs on the floor exercise for the UCLA Bruins at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/Emily Howell-Forbes

The Bruins began the day on vault and were a little slow out of the gates notching only 49.1875. After their first bye, the team rebounded brilliantly on bars, notching a 49.375. The beam was the marquee event of the session for the Bruins and the highest team score of the session, a huge 49.5375. Ross, Lee, and Ohashi placed first, second, and third respectively and UCLA closed out the meet with an impressive 49.4625 on the floor to top the standings after the first session.

 

The biggest challengers to UCLA in semifinal one, the LSU Tigers were rock solid on every event and neck and neck with the Bruins from start to finish. LSU recorded impressive individual event totals of beam with a 49.225 despite a mid-lineup fall from freshman Christina Desiderio, floor with a 49.4, and vault with a 49.35. The team uneven bars total of 49.5 was a new LSU postseason record and the highest team total on the bars of the entire session.

 

Myia Hambrick performed near impeccably on floor scoring a 9.9500 for third place in the individual standings. In addition, the Tigers took three of the top six places on bars from semifinal one with Ruby Harrold going 9.900, Lexie Priessman 9.9125, and Kennedi Edney 9.9375 to lead the team in a dominant uneven bars performance.

 

Lexie Priessman performs on the floor exercise for the LSU Tigers at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships/LSU Athletics

“It being the third straight year, it’s the first time we’ve done 3 straight years. We just felt like this meet we wanted to be a little be more laid back and not put so much pressure on our kids. Last year we felt like we put too much into this night. Hoping that we can represent the university and the fans. I just can’t say enough great things about the support I’ve gotten from the program over the last eight years… it has just been phenomenal. And three years back to back and Super Sixes is is pretty wonderful,” commented an excited Tigers head coach DD Breaux.

“And I tell the media at home that if good wishes and wishes of good luck and we're praying for you... If all of those things plus hard work will win a national championship we'd have been winning him a long time ago. So we're happy to be in this early session and to be able to go home and have a little bit of recovery and come back tomorrow hopefully fresh and ready to be fighting Tigers tomorrow. And congratulations to Dan and Val because this is the final Super Six and I hope we call are great four something really cool.”

An annual and feisty NCAAs contender, The Nebraska Cornhuskers grabbed the third and final spot in Saturday’s Super Six team finals. After a bye to begin, the Cornhuskers started bars a little wobbly notching an aggregate 49.0625. They rebounded brilliantly on the final three events however, scoring a 49.3375 on beam, 49.3375 on floor, and 49.2375 on vault to lock up another Super Six spot for the program.

 

Individually, Taylor Houchin posted the highest score on vault from session one with a 9.900 and both Houchin and Grace Williams were impressive on the beam as well with 9.8875s. Sienna Crouse was equally up to task, posting a big 9.9000 on floor.

“We knew that this was the final Super Six and that’s very special. I remember last time I did a phone call to a friend of mine, Isabelle, from back in the day. I remember it being ‘97 in Florida the first time we made it. It was an unbelievable feeling. The year before we miss it by .025 and I didn’t think it was possible to get closer that year,” said Nebraska head coach Dan Kendig.

“Tied for third and I’m thinking oh God, here we go again, but we won the tie breaker. Tonight was just as exciting. I’m proud of our team, our coaches, our support staff and everybody at the University of Nebraska. What a great day to be a Husker!”

 

UCLA, LSU, and Nebraska will compete in the NCAA Super Six team finals at 7 PM ET on Saturday in St. Louis. The final three teams to compete Saturday night will be determined during semifinal two. Both the second semifinal and the Super Six will be broadcast on ESPNU.


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