By Caroline Medley
We are back with our Big 10 potential lineup analysis series! Today we take a look at the Penn State Nittany Lions, who will be looking to improve on their 25th place finish in the 2016 regular season. Losing no seniors and gaining three solid freshmen, their depth should easily increase, but they’ll need more than that to crack the top 20.
On vault, the Lions should return two 10.0 start value vaults. Briannah Tsang has a stellar Yurchenko 1.5 that earned her a 9.9 last year, and now that she’s healthy, Emma Sibson should return her handspring pike half as well. In addition, Kiera Brown, Sabrina Garcia, Mason Hosek, Jessica Jones, Gianna LaGuardia, Chanen Raygoza and Oni Timothy will all be expected to return Yurchenko fulls. However, none of them scored above a 9.875 all season. So if the team wants to up their vault scores, they’re going to want to clean things up. The biggest issue is form on landings — a lot of gymnasts are piking down early to try to stick. Focusing on height in the block will give them more time to finish their twist, and then they can go for the stick. Incoming freshmen Kristen Politz and Mikayla Waddell should also expect to contend for lineup spots with their fulls. Both are former state or regional vault champions, so they could definitely surprise come January.
Bars will see the return of six regular contributors: Brown, Garcia, Jones, Raygoza, Tsang and Nicole Medvitz. All of them regularly scored in the 9.75-9.85 range and were fairly consistent, though all of them could raise those scores with some finer attention to detail. Freshman Tess McCracken could also hope for a lineup spot with her long lines and powerful Tkachev. Here, the Lions only have seven potential contributors (maybe eight as LaGuardia made a few lineups, though inconsistently) to fill six slots. If anyone gets injured, bars could potentially be a tight event for Penn State.
Days until the 2017 National Championships