2002 Gymnastics Season Preview
Dec. 7, 2001
On paper, it might look like the Oregon State gymnastics team has some big shoes to fill after looking at what the team lost from last year.
Be careful when reading into those numbers, because it's not quite what it appears.
True, the Beavers lost four talented seniors who performed nearly half of OSU's routines at the NCAA Championships last season, filling 10 of the 24 lineup spots at nationals.
And, yes, this year's roster does have seven freshmen who have the talent but lack important experience at the collegiate level that last year's seniors had.
But, in actuality, the Beavers really only need to fill two or three of the spots in the lineup. All-American sophomore Tanya Ricioli and senior Jerra Lopez both suffered season-ending Achilles' tendon injuries a year ago. With the absence of the two all-arounders last year, the Beavers were without eight key routines that they should have back this year, making the task of filling the departed seniors' 10 lineup spots not nearly as challenging and crucial as it might seem.
'When you first look at the roster, it looks like we've lost 10 routines, but because we didn't have Tanya and Jerra last year, we gain seven or eight routines back right there. So, while it looks like we've lost a lot of depth, mostly what we've lost is the experience those four seniors had. We have a few more inexperienced people on the team this year,' coach Tanya Chaplin said. 'You never know how freshmen will compete. It's always an unknown how they'll adjust to college life and competing at the collegiate level. They've been very strong so far.'
OSU also will benefit from having sophomore Lindsay Nelson back at full strength and ready to compete for additional lineup spots. Nelson likely would have been an all-arounder last year, but an early season ankle sprain kept her out of floor lineup for most of the year.
Chaplin said the returning gymnasts all look stronger than ever, and their experience and hard work are rubbing off on the freshmen.
'There's been tremendous leadership from the upperclassmen. They've really been there for the freshmen, providing support and taking them under their wing,' Chaplin said. 'They're showing them a great work ethic and showing the freshmen their experience.'
And the freshmen have been challenging the upperclassmen as well by bringing some difficult skills into the gym. Chaplin said that's forced the returnees to push themselves to upgrade the difficulty in their own routines, knowing that the rookies could bump them out of the lineup.
That challenge ultimately will make the team better as it strives to achieve its goal of breaking into the Super Six, Chaplin said.
'Our depth has increased a great deal, and that often can improve a team's consistency. You know that if you aren't doing your job, there's someone right behind you to take your place,' Chaplin said. 'That means they are working on every little detail and trying to be very consistent to earn a spot in the lineup. That competitiveness is a real plus for any team.'
While the loss of first team All-American vaulters Katrina Severin and Lara Degenhardt is significant for the Beavers, vault coach Michael Chaplin is almost certain OSU will have a stronger vault team all-around this year.
Because of last year's injuries, the Beavers were without half of their original vault lineup just a month into the season. With those athletes returning, the Beavers could regain a 10.0 vault from Ricioli and a 9.90 vault from Lopez, while Nelson has been able to upgrade to a 10.0 vault after an ankle injury forced her to compete a less difficult 9.80 vault a year ago.
'Even though we lost our top two vaulters, I think we'll be stronger. With the return of Tanya and Jerra and the inclusion of the freshmen, I think we'll be able to score a 49.00 more consistently than we did last year,' Chaplin said.
In fact, Chaplin said the Beavers could possibly have five 10.0 vaulters this season. Annie Campbell has been solid in preseason, and Chaplin expects her to be the leader of the vault team this year.
Freshman Heather Justus took third at J.O. Nationals last year, performing a handspring pike front worth a 9.90.
Also watch for freshman Daylee Ingalls, who was fourth at J.O. Nationals last year. She performs a Yurchenko layout front half, the same vault Severin competed last year.Freshman Thï¿½rï¿½se Videan was 11th at nationals, performing a handspring pike half, the vault Degenhardt was known for.
Of all the events, the Beavers have the most depth on bars, with 14 of the 15 gymnasts working the event as the team aims to increase its difficulty on the apparatus.
'Our number one goal has been to improve our dismounts. After losing Jerra and Tanya last year, we only had one person performing a 'E' dismount (the most difficult). When we got to the end of the season, that was affecting our scores because we didn't have the difficulty,' said Dick Foxal, OSU's bars coach. 'This year, we have seven people who are working on 'E' dismounts, so that should help us a lot.'
Elizabeth Jillson is expected to lead the bars team this year. Even though a knee injury kept her from competing a difficult dismount a year ago, she still ranked among the nation's top gymnasts on the event. She was just one place shy of All-American status last year, and now that she's recovered from off-season knee surgery, she's upgraded her dismount and is expected to be even stronger on the event.
Also returning from last year's lineup are Campbell, Nelson and Soni Meduna. With Lopez and Ricioli back as well, the Beavers should have a solid lineup on the event once again.
Videan appears to be the rookie most capable of breaking into the bars lineup, and freshman Heidi Goehring could also be a strong force on the event if she can work through shoulder problems that have hampered her in preseason.
Half of last year's beam lineup was comprised of seniors, but once again Chaplin is quick to point out that with Ricioli and Lopez back, she really only needs to fill one spot, and that's a sigh of relief for the coach.
'Beam always seems to be the make it or break it event. That's why I like having theexperience of our returnees and only having one spot to fill in the lineup,' she said.
Campbell is expected to lead the team after narrowly missing All-American honors last year, when she finished one place shy of earning that status.
Ricioli is capable of big things on the event as well. In 2000, she scored a career-high 9.90 and placed third on beam at the NCAA Regional meet. Lopez has come back from her injury looking stronger on the event.
Despite a preseason wrist injury that limited her training early on, Elaine Yoder should also be back on beam this year after being one of the team's most consistent performers on that event last year.
Nelson is back as well, and Chaplin said she's been one of OSU's most consistent beam workers so far this season.
There are also several freshmen who could break into the lineup, although Chaplin said there is a notable difference between the veterans and the freshman early on.
'You can see the experience of the returners on this event. All the returners look much stronger and more confident on this event from last year,' Chaplin said. ' We are seeing the freshman gain more and more confidence as the preseason progresses.'
Floor is similar to beam in that the Beavers lost three seniors, but the team gains three routines back after last year's injuries. Ricioli, an All-American on the event in 2000, Lopez and Nelson all were in the floor lineup early last season until the injury bug hit.
Ricioli is back in full strength and is doing the same tumbling she was doing before the injury last year. Lopez has added more front tumbling to her routine and upgraded some skills, while Nelson has regained strength in her ankle that has made her stronger on floor.
Campbell and Meduna, both regulars in the floor lineup last year, have upgraded their tumbling and will look to keep their spots.
Yoder, another regular in last year's lineup, has been forced to train only dance during most of the preseason due to her wrist injury. The next few weeks will determine whether or not she will be able to come back from her injury to full strength on this event.
The likely candidates to challenge for lineup spots, at least early on, are Goehring, Videan and Justus, although several freshmen are capable of making the lineup.
'Heidi has an incredible air awareness that we lost with Severin. Thï¿½rï¿½se is very powerful. She adds a double layout and some combination tumbling that will be a nice addition to our lineup. Heather adds a lot of the power that we lost when Lara Degenhardt graduated. She is just naturally powerful,' Chaplin said. 'The four other freshmen are also very strong on floor, and it will probably take the next couple months to determine who makes the floor lineup.'