Practice Report: 12/18/15
The Alabama Crimson Tide met in Coleman Coliseum on this date for a mock meet on three events, followed by a vault run-through back in the practice gym. Here are some of the highlights and potential line-ups that we may see on each event:
Alabama was rocking this event with the first three gymnasts up - Mack Brannan (So), Keely McNeer (Jr) and Carley Sims (Sr) - each of these gymnasts nailed their release moves (straddle Jaeger, Hindorff, Tkatchev), had consistent vertical position on their handstands and bail to handstand transition moves, and stuck their dismounts respectively (double layout, double layout, tuck full-in). Next up was Kiana Winston (So), who arguably has the best body lines, toe point and fluidity in her movements from high to low bar - she rocked a huge toe-on toe-off to Ray release but was a tad too high on top of the low bar during her pak salto transition and had to execute an additional glide under the low bar without breaking her rhythm/pace but this execution error obviously would have been hit hard by the judges in a meet. Kiwi also had a small hop on the landing of her double layout. Finishing out for the Tide on this event - Angelina Giangroce (Fr) and Katie Bailey (Jr) - the freshman showed beautiful toe point, extension throughout but fell on her Tkatchev release, had a hop on her double layout dismount. Bailey had a great anchor routine going - great rhythm from start to finish - high straddle Jaeger release but landed the full out dismount a little too low and bent at the knees and her momentum that low into the mat forced her backwards onto her bottom which would have resulted in a full 5/10ths deduction along with execution error deduction on the dismount that led to the fall.
Alternate position routines were next thrown by junior Mackenzie Valentin (nice pike Jaeger release) who was a little labored in her kip to handstands and the transition from high to low bar - she did not attempt the double front (tuck) dismount during this mock meet. Finishing up on bars was freshman Amanda Huang, former JO Level 10 standout on this event (finished 2nd at nationals in 2014, 3rd in 2015). She executed a terrific routine of a pike Jaeger, followed immediately by a free hip circle back to handstand on the high bar - nice transition of a bail to handstand from high to low bar to a straddle toe-shoot from low to high bar. She struggled a bit with her new dismount - a tuck full in - jarred landing head and chest down a bit - requiring her to take a step. She previously threw a double layout dismount in JO competition but the coaches want more variety in the team's bars dismounts, hence this change for Amanda's routine. We anticipate that the coaches will find a way to get this routine into the line-up as soon as possible even if this requires having Amanda resume her original dismount should she demonstrate more consistency with the DLO versus the TFI.
Junior Aja Sims started the mock meet off in fantastic style with her new floor routine - tumbling was high and precise on landings (double pike to open, double tuck to close) - no obvious deductions in her superb leap series. Freshmen Angelina Giangroce and Avery Rickett followed with solid routines of their own to classical and jazzy music respectively. Good opening double pikes for both, with a double tuck to close by Giangroce and a Rudi by Rickett. Mack Brannan mainly did a dance through on her opening pass (double front Arabian later in actual competition) in the fourth position to preserve the ankles - double pike was executed for her second pass, check hop forward on landing - ended with a solid 1 1/2 through to a front layout. Seniors Lauren Beers and Carley Sims anchored the event with dynamic new music and dance. Both will open with a double layout and close with double pikes. Beers looks almost ready to roll in the first meet on this event and will likely forego the double layout until later in the season at Florida. Sims has been meet ready on this event for a good while and seems to really enjoy the new music and dance for her senior routine.
Alabama looks to have tremendous quality depth on this event in 2016. For this mock meet, the Tide coaches were able to put up eight strong routines without senior anchor Lauren Beers or steady junior Katie Bailey and freshman phenom Ari Guerra throwing their innovative routines into the pot.
Junior Keely McNeer led off with a pretty much flawless routine until a slight shoulder shift on the landing of her 1 1/2 twisting dismount on up but looks terrific on the beam in general - she just needs to get her feet wet in a first competition. She stuck the 1 1/2 twisting dismount chest high. Junior Aja Sims looked solid as well with only one balance check on her flight series (bend to her left at the waist, quickly repositioned herself). She was followed by a strong routine from sophomore Kiana Winston who had a small hop only with the double tuck dismount (excellent amplitude). Senior Carley Sims executed a very confident routine of her own in the fifth position, highlighted by a split 1/1 jump and a front kickover to beat jump as well as a solid flight series of a bhs to loso. Sophomore Nicki Guerrero anchored in the sixth position with a super confident routine that included a bhs to lo to lo and a 1 1/2 twist dismount (small hop forward on landing). Freshman Angelina Giangroce was first up in the alternate position - she struggled with a few balance checks on her tumbling and leap elements but has great lines and toe point/extension. She dismounts with a bhs to 1/1 twist. Freshman Amanda Huang stole the event with an exceptional, well-focused routine - she worked high on her toes from start to finish and overall showed much better rhythm and pace with a front aerial to Korbut, bhs to loso and and switch split leap to sheep jump combination. She stuck the 1 1/2 twist dismount to the delight of her teammates who were cheering her on loudly.
Vault runs were thrown back in the practice gym- from the results, Alabama anticipates the following depth chart in no particular order at this time: Mack Brannan and Nicky Guerrero (1 1/2 Yurchenkos), Lauren Beers (Y 1 1/2 and 1/1), Carley Sims, Katie Bailey, Kiana Winston, Abby Armbrecht, Keely McNeer, Jenna Bresette, Amanda Huang, Mary Sanders (Y 1/1), and Kenzie Valentin (Omelianchik).
During the 12/13/15 practice, we saw more routines that will factor into the line-up early up in the season:
Ari Guerra - look for her on the floor exercise (double layout to open, double tuck to close) and balance beam possibly in the opening meet at UCLA. Her confidence and bright affect have been wonderful to observe over the past few months in practice - she really sets the positive tone for her freshman teammates.
Jenna Bresette - she is recovering from elbow surgery in the off season but is practicing full routines on vault and beam and has her choreo mapped out on floor. She will be a strong contributor potentially to the Tide's depth as the season progresses. Lots of confidence and refined execution skills.
Abby Armbrecht - along with beam, look for Abby in the vault line-up (Y 1/1). She is working to build her endurance on the floor exercise (music is The Race) and uneven bars.
Mack Brannan - the talented sophomore will likely nab the fourth position on floor for the Tide (2nd Team All America in 2015) and possibly will anchor vault (1 1/2 Yurchenko) and lead off on uneven bars in 2016. She also will provide quality depth on balance beam.
Katie Bailey - she will factor in the all around again for the Tide in 2016 with new music now on floor exercise (double front Arabian to open) and a Yurchenko 1/1 vault (looking very strong on this event).
Amanda Jetter - Jett has a new floor routine with dynamic music that she really seems to enjoy performing. She will also be in the uneven bars line-up for the Tide.
Aja Sims - along with floor and balance beam, the junior is working her way back into the bars line-up after off season shoulder surgery.
Mary Sanders - she has the best crowd-pleasing choreo on floor but must master the tumbling for the full package. Look for her on the balance beam this year, as she has improved significantly on this event. Vault could also be in the picture (Y 1/1).
Jennie Loeb - still working on building her endurance on the floor exercise and the uneven bars. She showed good skills on the balance beam at Ghosts vs Goblins.
Kiana Winston - we expect her to be on all four events in 2016, not necessarily in the same meet - how her knees hold up will be the key. So far she is looking equally strong on every apparatus.
Mackenzie Valentin - the junior walk on will factor as a solid back-up on floor (double layout and double front E passes could potentially be thrown in the same routine) and is close to mastering a new vault (Omelianchik) that will provide more 10-valued options for the Tide since the Y 1/1 has been reduced to a 9.95 in full potential scoring value for 2016.
Avery Rickett - the freshman walk on from Texas will help the Tide out first on the balance beam (nice switch split leap to switch split leap combination, bhs to loso, hitch kick to side aerial) and on the floor exercise (final pass must be mastered first - a tough front through to a Rudi that may include an extra element eventually of a loso).
Look for one more report after the 1/3/15 practice as we prepare for the January 10th meet at UCLA. Roll Tide!