Photo by Amanda Chou


The 2018 NCAA season is still months away, but it is never too early to start knowing the incoming freshman class for each team. This is both a way to begin thinking of potential lineups, and a way to get to know less well-known gymnasts and their routines.

Stanford had a disappointing 2017 season, ending only twenty-eighth in the national ranking. The Cardinals’ future, however, looks bright. Stanford just appointed former Cardinal standout Tabitha Yim as new head coach, and is welcoming one of the most accredited freshman classes in the nation for the 2018 season.

In honour of Tabitha Yim’s home return, here is a breakdown of the new Cardinal recruits.

Stanford said goodbye to four great seniors: Rachel Daum, who was a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic, and had career highs of 9.900 or better on vault, beam and floor; Danielle McNair, who has career-highs of 9.900s on both vault and bars; Nicolette McNair, Danielle’s twin sister and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2014, who had career highs of 9.900 or better on vault, beam and floor; and Hailey Spector, who missed most of the 2017 season due to injury, but had a floor career-high of 9.925.

Stanford has welcomed seven new freshmen: Kyla Bryant, from Lake Oconee, Georgia; Rachel Flam, from Huston, Texas; Grace Garcia, from New York City, New York; Taylor Lawson, from Macungie, Pennsylvania; Lauren Navarro, from La Verne, California; Catherine Rogers, from Sandy, Utah; Caroline Spertus, from Los Angeles, California.

KYLA BRYANT

Kyla Bryant trained at Georgia Elite Gymnastics. She was a three-time Junior Olympic qualifier (2014, 2015 and 2016), and won medals at all three of them. In 2014, she was second on floor and eighth in the all around. In 2015, she was third in the all around and on beam, and fourth on all other three apparatuses. And in 2016, her best year, she won the all around, bars and floor. In 2016, Bryant also competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup, where she won bars and was tenth in the all around.

Bryant is an exceptional all arounder, and is renowned for her amplitude and difficulty. On vault, she performs a FTY. On bars, she has pretty lines, good handstands, and competes a Tkachev, a beautiful Pak salto and a huge full-in dismount. On beam, she competes a BHSO + LOSO, a switch ring, a front tuck and a huge dismount, two back-handsprings into double tuck. Finally, on floor she shows off plenty of power and personality. She performs a double layout, a front tuck indirectly connected to a double pike and an open double tuck – wow! She reminds me of a mix between Alabama’s Aja Sims and Cal’s Toni-Ann Williams!


RACHEL FLAM

Rachel Flam trained at Stars Gymnastics Training Center. She is a six-time Junior Olympic qualifier, from 2011 to 2016. In 2012 she was second on vault and fourth on bars. In 2013 she was first on vault and fifth on beam. In 2014 she won the bars title. In 2015 she won gold on vault and tied for fourth place on bars. And in 2016 she won both the all around at the vault titles, and was third on beam and on floor (tied). She competed twice at the Nastia Liukin Cup, in 2016 and 2017. In 2016 she was third in the all around, second on beam and tied for third on vault. In 2017 she was tenth in the all around, third on floor and tied for gold on vault. Flam also competed as an elite gymnast during the 2014 season, and was both at the Secret U.S. Classic and at the P&G championships.

Flam is another exceptional power athelte. On floor, she has plenty of difficulty: a double Arabian, a front pike indirectly connected to a double pike and a huge double pike to end. On beam, she performs a BHSO + layout to two feet, a switch leap to switch leap half, a front tuck and a very difficult double pike dismount. On bars, she competes a Jaeger and a very hard full-twisting double layout dismount. Finally, her vault is a Yurchenko half on front pike, which is worth a 10.0 D-score.


GRACE GARCIA

Grace Garcia trained at NYC Elite. She competed at the J.O. National Championships in 2015, where she tied for eleventh on floor exercise. Also in 2015, at the New York State Championships, she was second on vault and sixth in the all around. And at the Region 6 Championships later that year, she won gold on vault. In 2016 she competed at the Little Boston Invitational, where she tied for gold on beam, was second on bars and seventh in the all around and floor.

Garcia is the third power athlete of the field, and will contribute greatly especially on floor and vault. On floor, she performs a full-in pike, a one-and-a-half twist into front pike and a double pike. And on vault, she solidly competed a super difficult Tsukahara full!


TAYLOR LAWSON

Taylor Lawson trained at Parkettes, one of the most ancient and well-renowned gyms in the United States. Lawson competed at the J.O. National Championships in 2016, where she tied for third on floor and was fourth in the all around. In 2016 she was also the Pennsylvania State champion on floor exercise and bronze medallist on vault, as well as Region 7 champion on floor and bronze medallist in the all around. In 2017, Lawson competed at the Pink Invitational, where she won gold in the all around and on all events but beam, where she was second, and at the Pennsylvania State Meet, where she was second in the all around and on all apparatuses but bars, where she was third. Lawson also competed as an elite gymnast in 2014 and 2015. In 2014 she competed at both the Secret U.S. Classic and the P&G Championships, while in 2015 she competed only at the Secret U.S. Classic, where she was tenth in the all around and eleventh on beam.

Lawson, as a former elite athlete, has plenty of skills to choose from on all apparatuses. On floor, she is capable of competing a full twisting double back, a double Arabian, a one-and-a-half twist into double tuck and a double pike. On vault, she competes a FTY. On bars, she performs a Maloney to switch over to the low bar, a Jaeger and a difficult double Arabian dismount. She has good form and handstands throughout. Finally, on balance beam, she can compete a stunning and very high standing Arabian, a switch leap to switch leap half, a front tuck, a back tuck, a Johnson leap, a BHSLO + LOSO series and a double tuck dismount.


LAUREN NAVARRO

Lauren Navarro trained at Charter Oak Gymnastics. A member of the 2015 U.S. senior national team and an alternate to the 2015 Pan American Games team, Navarro competed four consecutive years both at the Secret U.S. Classic (2013-2016) and at the P&G Championships (2013-2016). She finished sixth in the all around at the 2016 Secret U.S. Classic and eighth on beam at the same competition in 2015. She also won bronze on beam at the 2014 P&G Championships. Navarro competed her 2017 season as a Level 10 gymnast. She qualified to the J.O. National Championships, where she won the beam title, was second in the all around, tied for second on floor and for fourth on vault.

Navarro is another exceptional all arounder with an elite foundation. On floor, she competes a sky-high double pike, a one-and-a-half twist into front layout and a double tuck. On balance beam, she competes a BHSO + LOSO + LOSO, a front tucked somersault, a free-walkover and a double tuck dismount. On bars, she competes a Tkachev into Pak salto, a Yao transition, and a full-in dismount. On vault, she currently competes a FTY, but she is capable of a DTY!


CATHERINE ROGERS

Catherine Rogers trained at All American Gymnastics. She is a three-time J.O. national qualifier (2014-2016). Her best results came in 2015, when she won bronze both in the all around and on vault. In 2017 she competed at the Utah State championships, where she won gold on beam, tied for gold on floor, and won bronze in the all around and on bars. She later competed at the Region 1 Championships, where she tied for third both on vault and on beam, and was eighth in the all around.

Rogers, like Caroline Spertus (below), is not as much a power athlete, but an elegant and poised gymnast. Her best apparatus is beam, where she competes a BHSO + LOSO, a switch leap half, a full turn with the leg held horizontal, a free-walkover, a free-cartwheel and a double twist dismount. Her performance is very poised and her form is beautiful, she is a real beamer! Rogers is also a good floor worker. She competes a double tuck, a beautiful switch ring, a one-and-a-half-twist into front layout, a double twist and a double spin with leg held horizontal. She has excellent choreography and presentation.


CAROLINE SPERTUS

Caroline Spertus trained at Broadway Gymnastics. In 2013, as a Level 9 gymnast, she won gold on floor at the Region 1 Championships and silver on beam at the Level 9 Western Gymnastics Championships. Spertus turned Level 10 in 2014, and competed at the Region 1 Championships, where she finished seventh on beam. She achieved the same result in 2015, while she dramatically climbed the rankings in 2015, winning silver on beam. In 2017 Spertus competed at the Lady Luck Invitational, where she won the beam title.

Spertus’s best apparatus is also beam, where she presents some very original work. She competes a cat leap into switch ring, a BHSO + LOSO and a switch leap into front layout dismount. On floor, she performs a double pike, a beautiful switch ring, a front layout into front layout and a double tuck.


Good luck to the future Cardinals!

Article by Talitha Ilacqua
Axact

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