After the coronavirus pandemic led to the early end of the NCAA 2020 gymnastics season and the end of the academic careers of many leading athletes, ten long months of uncertainty hung over the upcoming campaign.
Our reporting on the NCAA gymnastics season starts Friday the 8th. January, with four games on the SEC network, ESPNU and the ESPN application. Clock
So we are at the beginning of the 2021 season. Although some teams have not yet announced their full program and there are still questions about how the season will unfold, we know that some exceptionally talented gymnasts are ready to compete.
No one can replace Maggie Nichols from Oklahoma or Kayla Ross from UCLA, but these gymnasts will try to put themselves in the spotlight.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Erin Long/University of Florida
Synopsis: Selected ten times for the U.S. team, including 2020 First Team All-Around, Bars, Beam and Floor; 2020 TRC Gymnast of the Year; 2019 TRC Vault Champion of the Year; 2019 TRC Rookie of the Year; current U.S. National Team member.
Thomas is the only NCAA gymnast currently on the U.S. national team, and she left no doubt about the reasons for her remarkable 2020 campaign.
She scored perfectly four times (twice on beam, once on floor and beams) and was the only university gymnast to do so in three different events in 2020. She set the Florida record with a total of 39,825 in the all-around competition and was one of only three to achieve the maximum of five All-American awards. She finished the season ranked n°1 on the floor, n°2 on the all-around and the beam and n°4 on the bars.
Today, two years after his academic career and after his greatest rivals, Nichols and Ross, graduated, the Trinity Thomas era has officially begun. And with the Gators entering the season as the top team in the country, it can be really, really fun to watch.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Don Liebig/UCLA
Synopsis: First All-American team on bars in 2019; four times All-Pac-12; 2018 NCAA team champion; former American national team member.
Dennis almost broke the internet last season with his Beyonce Homecoming style floor routine. After scoring 9,975 in a game against Utah in February, a clip of that game was seen more than 20 million times on YouTube and earned him a spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
To quote Stefan from Saturday Night Live, that routine was everything. Dennis wrote his name in the air, twisted his hair, put (rightly) the crown on his head, hit the ogo and…. Oh yeah… she made a forehand to double her first pass. Her flawless tumbling combined with her infectious energy made her a gymnast to watch in the post-season and a candidate to compete in the national championships. Of course he shouldn’t be, but he’s now entering his last university season, and with the loss of a highly decorated senior class last year, it’s now Dennis’ team. After scoring at least 9.95 points on all devices in her career, she should be a factor for the Bruins’ number 7 in every encounter and all-around.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Whitney Williston/LSU
Grade 12, LSU
Synopsis: Three times 2020 All-American team (all-around, jump, ground); 2020 SEC Rookie of the year.
It’s hard to believe that Johnson hasn’t played a full season in the NCAA yet, given what she’s already achieved. In her first year she won the all-around competition in six of the nine events in which she participated and won a total of 22 titles. She earned two perfect scores of 10.0 (vault and beam) and became the ninth gymnast in USL history to score 9.95 or higher in all four events. Did we mention this was only their first season?
She finished the year in second place. Place on the floor, 4. Place on the safe and 6. Place in the open competition, as well as first place in each post-season test. She hasn’t had the chance to prove herself in the NCAA yet, but this season she has to do so with the Tigers (no. 3) and further consolidate her place among the best gymnasts at collegial level.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Tim Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos/Getty Images
Summary: 11-time All-American, including first team in 2020 at vault and event; co-champion of the Big 12 on the floor in 2018; Big 12 Rookie of the Year in 2018; NCAA team championship in 2019.
The first three years of his career in Oklahoma, Webb was overshadowed by his famous teammates Nichols and Brenna Dowell. But she has established herself as one of the best gymnasts on the collegiate scene thanks to her art and consistency in all four events.
After ending the 2020 season in second place nationally in diving and fifth overall, Webb will now be the face of the Sooners program and finally get the recognition it deserves. With a perfect 10.0 on beam in her first season against her UCLA rival, she has proven that she is more than capable of moving up to the plate when her team needs her most.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Christopher Mitchell/University of Minnesota
Synopsis: 2019 NCAA All-Around and Bars runner-up; 13-time All-American, including 2020 First Team All-Around, Bars and Beam; two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Year.
The 2019 NCAA game was expected to be a battle between Nichols and Ross, and few expected Ramler to be at the top two decorated stars. That’s exactly what she did for one of the best performances in the history of the program – her grades on the bars and on the all-around were the best for a Minnesota gymnast at the national championships – and she finished second behind Ross with a 39.6625, behind Nichols, and was also second on the bars.
Ramler scored 10.0 on beam for his first career in 2020 and ended the season ranked No. 1 nationally on this measure. Now a senior, with Ross and Nichols College behind him, Ramler begins the new season as a key contender for the World Championship title in April.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Brittany Evans/Denver Track & Field
Synopsis: 2019 NCAA Indoor Co-Champion; 10 times All-American, including first All-Around team until 2020; 2019 Indoor All-Big 12.
Lynnzie Brown led Denver to her fourth consecutive NCAA title in 2019 and also became the second NCAA champion in Denver’s history with her dynamic floor program. Brown and the Pioneers had high hopes for the 2020 season before a devastating Achilles tendon crack interrupted their season in February. Nevertheless, she finished the season in 7th overall and 20th place on the floor and parallel bars.
Brown is healthy and ready for his final season – and even premiered in September with Getting Jiggy White It. In an effort to complete his academic career and represent Haiti at the 2024 Olympics, Mr. Brown will try to get Pioneers No. 8 back on track and make the school even more historic.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Isabella Russian/University of Utah
Summary: 2020 second All-American team on beam; 2020 first All-Pac 12 team on beam; former American national team member.
A former two-time American junior doubles all-around champion, expectations were high for O’Keefe in her first season, but she struggled in her first three events, unable to outperform a 9,875 in one event and scoring 9,775 or less in five events. Eventually she found her rhythm and showed flashes of genius. She was twice the Pac-12 rookie of the week, scored a 9,975 twice, won five tournaments and went 30 for 30 in her races.
Today, with a season (usually complete) under his belt and his adaptation to the university level, O’Keefe is on his way to become the top Aboriginal player on the team and lead the fourth-seeded Utes to what they hope will be another Pac-12 title and their first NCAA title.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Amy Sanderson/ZUMA Press
Synopsis: 2019 NCAA team champion; six-time All-American; two-time All-Big Ten selection; 2019 Big Ten Rookie of the Year.
Some gymnasts come to university and struggle with the weekly stress of the competition or the new environment. Wojcik certainly wasn’t one of those gymnasts. To say she had a successful season in her first year would be an understatement – she won the Big Ten titles in both the all-around and floor events, had a perfect 10.0 on vault, was named five-time conference gymnast of the week, helped elevate the Wolverines to the Big Ten, and, most importantly, was the NCAA log champion.
Wojcik continued what he started in his second year with a performance that was the best of his career in all respects, except vault (it’s hard to place in the top 10) and eventing. The Wolverines enter the season in fifth place and Wojcik and his team are looking for their seventh Big Ten title and do more damage to the national championships.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Don Liebig/UCLA
Synopsis: Two-time All-American with Bullion; two-time All-Pac-12 (2019 and 2020 Bullion); former member of the American National Team.
During his first two seasons with the Bruins, he was often overshadowed by older and more experienced teammates. 2021 could be a decisive year for Frazier. In the first three games of 2020, Frazier took part in UCLA and finished second twice – and was overwhelmed by the soul and disco routine that was popular with fans. An ankle injury has limited her to parallel bars for the rest of the season, but she has proven that she is ready to go where the Bruins need her, and she could give Dennis a run for his money this season when it comes to the team’s viral moment.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Joshua R. Gately for ESPN
Second year student, Oklahoma
Synopsis: Two-time All-American 2020, including first team on bars; two-time Big 12 (bars, bar); 2020 Big 12 Rookie of the Year; former American national team member.
An All-American champion of 2017 and a member of the 2018 World Championship team, Smith was already a legitimate superstar in the sport and last year he was named the most famous rookie. Even in a team full of depth and talent, it wasn’t long before she made the transition from elitist to competitive and immediately became a contender.
She won nine events – three on bars, four on beam, one on floor and all-around – and finished the year ranked seventh nationally on bars. With Webb she will have to take the place of Nichols this season, and Smith should be more than ready for that moment.
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