The 2016 UCLA gymnastics team. Photograph: UCLA Gymnastics
Nine former elite gymnasts are joining college gymnastics this autumn.
Brenna Dowell – Oklahoma
Brenna Dowell, 20, from Kansas City, Missouri.
Brenna joined Oklahoma in 2014, but then decided to defer her NCAA scholarship, in order to have a chance to make the US world and Olympic team. Despite not making the Olympic team, Brenna made the World team in 2015, where she had a tumbling pass named after her, a double front pike. She was also an alternate at Worlds in 2013. Brenna is known for her intricate bars work, but she is also an excellent floor and vault worker, and will certainly help Oklahoma in their quest to defend their NCAA title.
Rachel Gowey – Florida
Rachel Gowey, 19, from Urbandale, Iowa.
Rachel had an elite career marred by injuries, which always prevented her from being in top form at crucial moments. In 2013, however, she was competing an Amanar vault, as well as a triple twisting dismount on beam. In 2015, Rachel was selected to represent team USA at the Pan American Games, where she won gold with the team and on bars. Rachel’s best apparatuses are bars and beam, but she will also be able to strongly contribute on all four events.
Felicia Hano – UCLA
Felicia Hano, 18, from San Gabriel, California.
Felicia competed both as an elite gymnast and a trampolinist. She was a senior member of the US Gymnastics National Team in 2014 and 2015. During a training session in preparation for the 2015 Secret US Classics, however, Felicia sprained her ankle on vault, and withdrew from that competition and the following P&G Championships. Since then, Felicia has competed level 10 gymnastics, and will continue to do so at UCLA, where she will contribute mainly on floor and vault.
Ruby Harrold – LSU
Ruby Harrold, 20, from Bristol, England, UK.
Ruby was a member of the fierce GB Team that won bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. She is also a two-time European silver medallist with the team (2014 and 2016), and a two-time Olympian (2012, where she was an alternate, and 2016). Ruby is one of those British gymnasts who decided to move across the pond to compete in college gymnastics. She is bringing to LSU great bars skills and a huge cheerleading personality.
Amelia Hundley – Florida
Amelia Hundley, 18, from Hamilton, Ohio.
Amelia was initiated to the world of gymnastics by her mother, who is a professional tumbler. Amelia competed for team USA at the 2015 Pan American Games, where she won gold with the team, silver on floor and bronze on bars. She also competed all the way across the 2016, and had one of her best ever meets at the US Olympic Trials in July. Amelia is a strong all around gymnast, and will bring a lot of consistency and positive attitude to the Gators.
Madison Kocian – UCLA
Madison Kocian, 19, from Dallas, Texas.
Madison is an Olympic and world champion. She is a member of the Final Five, who won gold at the 2016 Olympics. In Rio, she also won silver on bars behind Russia’s Aliya Mustafina. Madison is also a three-time world champion: twice with the team (2014-2015) and one on bars (2015, where she tied with three other gymnasts). After the Olympics, Madison said in an interview that she has achieved everything she wanted in her elite career, and is ready to start a new chapter of her life at UCLA. She will hugely contribute on bars, but don’t count her out on the other events too!
Maggie Nichols – Oklahoma
Maggie Nichols, 19, from Little Canada, Minnesota.
Maggie is a world champion. She was selected to represent team USA at Worlds in 2015, where she won gold with the team and bronze on floor. Maggie was the only American gymnast to compete on all four events during the team final. In 2016, Maggie won silver at the American Cup, behind Gabby Douglas, but her Olympic preparation was marred by a knee injury. She came back strong, but did not reach her top form. After the Olympic Trials, Maggie declared in an interview that she was retiring from elite gymnastics, as she felt her body was going through too much pressure and the risk of injuries was too high. Maggie is an extremely strong, clean and precise gymnast, who will fit perfectly into the Oklahoma system, which is based on reliability and perfection. Good luck, Maggie!
Kyla Ross – UCLA
Kyla Ross, 19, from Aliso Viejo, California.
Kyla is an Olympic and world champion. She was the youngest member of the Fierce Five, who won gold at the 2012 Olympics, as well as the only member not to turn pro before the Olympics. Kyla is also a five-time world medallist. She won one gold medal (team, 2014), three silver medals (all around, bars, beam, 2013), and one bronze medal (all around, 2014). Kyla retired in February 2016, saying that she did not have enough motivation to go through the Olympic selection process again. Renowned for her reliability and solid routines, she will be a rock for UCLA this year!
MyKayla Skinner – Utah
MyKayla Skinner, 19, from Gilbert, Arizona.
MyKayla is a world champion and an Olympic alternate for the 2016 team. MyKayla competed at Worlds in 2014, where she won gold with the team and bronze on vault. She was also an alternate in 2015. MyKayla is a powerful gymnast, who is not afraid of trying crazy skills. She can compete a Moors on floor, as well as an Amanar and a Cheng on vault, and a full-in dismount on beam. During a pre-Olympic interview, MyKayla said she felt exhausted and that she might take the first semester of university off, and start in January 2017. It is actually still unclear whether MyKayla will go to Utah this academic year at all. We will keep you updated!
By Talitha IlacquaAdvertisement