4. Oklahoma- Jade Degouveia, Alex Marks, Maggie Nichols, Brehanna Showers
Nichols’ name jumps out immediately, and her skill alone could vault a signing class to the top. So now you’re probably asking, “Why is Oklahoma fourth?” Because a team is only as strong as its weakest member. Not that Degouveia, Showers and Marks (who’s joining the team in January 2016) are weak, but collectively, the classes as a whole above them are better. We all know Nichols’ accomplishments: 2015 world team champion, individual bronze medalist on floor, national runner-up to Queen Simone Biles — the list goes on and on. Degouveia will bring the grace Oklahoma is known for. Showers will bring the power lost by Haley Scaman and Keeley Kmieciak. And Marks is expected to add depth to a Brenna Dowell-less roster in 2016.
3. LSU- Kennedi Edney, Ruby Harrold, Ashlyn Kirby
Known for her success with Great Britain on the world stage and unique bar skills, Harrold is undoubtably the star of LSU’s signing class. But do not overlook Kirby and Edney. Kirby, younger sister of former Gym Dog Whitney, is a two-time qualifier to J.O. nationals, placing in the top 10 in the all around in 2015. Edney is the dark horse though. She’s finished first in 12 of the 13 all around competitions she’s entered, including the past two J.O. national championships, past two national vault titles, the 2015 national bar champion and 2014 national beam champion. She also received not one or two or even three 10.0s on vault but FOUR perfect marks. Oh, and she’s a former elite.
7. Utah- Missy Reinttadtler, Mykayla Skinner, Kim Tessen
2014 world champion and vault bronze-medalist, Skinner leads Utah’s class after signing in the fall of 2014 and deferring to train for the Olympics. While her form isn’t always the prettiest, she does have exciting skills that the Red Rocks’ 15,000 fans will love. Reinstadtler is a former junior and senior elite while also having success on the junior national level. And Tessen finished in the top 10 in the all around, vault, beam and floor at nationals in 2015 after fighting back form injury that kept her out of the big competition since 2012.
8. Georgia – Rachel Dickson, Jordyn Pedersen, Sabrina Vega
Pedersen will be the fifth Canadian recruited to Georgia in the last four years. She represented Canada at world championships in 2014 and placed eighth all around at Canadian nationals this summer. Vega also has experience on the world level as she won a team gold medal with the U.S. in 2011. However, she only competed two events this year at the U.S. Classic after being off the elite scene since 2012. Dickson has qualified to J.O. nationals four times and placed 12th last year.
9. Auburn – Kendal Moss, Katie Becker, Gracie Day
Auburn gains two top J.O. gymnasts from Everest Gymnastics with Becker and Moss. Becker has qualified to J.O. nationals three times and placed eighth this year. Moss qualified to the Nastia Liukin Cup in 2013, but only competed two events most of the 2015 season. Day finished fourth at J.O. nationals last year and won floor.
Honorable Mention: NC State- Alexis Beucler, Melissa Brokker, Alexa Phillips, Paris Phillips
Beucler, a former elite and Georgia recruit, leads quite a strong class for N.C. State. She stepped down from a strong junior elite campaign due to injury and has been consistent at the J.O. level since. Brooker, another from well-known Southeastern, is just as strong as her club teammates and has experience at the national level as well. Finally, the Phillips twins round out an unexpected strong group for the Wolfpack and will join the team in January for the 2016 season. Alexa is the stronger of the two but both are consistent performers, especially on vault and floor.
We also seriously considered Oregon State, Stanford and Arkansas, but the top 10 just stood out from the rest. The strength of the elites as well as the Junior Olympic competitors is by far the best the sport has seen in years — maybe even ever.
10. California – Rachael Mastrangelo, Cassidy Keelan
Mastrangelo is a top level 10 from Southeastern and placed 15th at J.O. nationals last year. She has a really nice Yurchenko one and a half and a triple twist on floor. Keelan comes from Texas Dreams and competed in the Nastia Liukin Cup last season where she placed second on vault. She also finished second all around and on vault at 2015 J.O. nationals.
Days until the 2017 National Championships