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GymDawgs Ready To Begin 2021

Jan 20, 2021

Meet Notes

SEATTLE - A new year brings a new look for the Washington GymDawgs, who will return to action after the 2020 season was cut short. Washington was ranked #11 in the country at the end of 2020. The 2021 season will begin this Saturday, January 23, at 2:00 pm against Oregon State in the first action of this year's all-Pac-12 schedule.

This year, Washington will have six newcomers on the team as well as three returners making their first competitive appearances. Amara Cunningham, Allie Smith, and Geneva Thompson will be Washington's core returners, bringing years of experience and leadership needed to help the young GymDawgs find their way in the difficult Pac-12. Also back are Morgan Bowles, Isa Weiss, and Talia Brovedani, who will break into the lineup this year after missing most of the 2019 season and bring just as vital of experience to the team along with the other returners. New to the GymDawgs this season are Katie McNamara, Cathy Eksteen, Skylar Killough-Wilhelm, Gabi Wickman, Lauren Thomas, and Taylor Russon.

There will be a new head coach for the GymDawgs as well as Ralph Rosso steps up from an assistant role to serve as interim head coach this season. Even with the new head coach, the staff has plenty of continuity: Rosso will be in his fourth year at Washington, while assistant coaches Chad Wiest and Baely Rowe are in their fifth and third years, respectively.

Thompson earned First Team All-Pac-12 on vault in 2020 and will be a strong force for Washington's vault, bars, and floor groups. She worked primarily on vault and bars in 2020 and routinely racked up high scores: on vault, Thompson had three scores of 9.900 or higher and on bars she reached that mark twice. Thompson has never had a vault score under 9.800 in her career.

Smith had her first season with the GymDawgs cut short due to injury in 2020, appearing four meets on vault. In those four meets, Smith was impressive, with one score of 9.800 and another of 9.875.

Cunningham competed on vault and floor in 2020, her second year with Washington. She had scores of 9.800 or higher in nine of ten meets and had a score of 9.800 or higher on both vault and floor seven times.

Washington's trio of Weiss, Bowles, and Brovedani haven't had much collegiate competitive experience thus far, but all have at least one year with Washington under their belts and are ready to contribute. Neither Bowles nor Weiss competed in a meet as freshman last season, but will look to break into the rotation this year. Brovedani is entering her third year with Washington and had worked her way back to full health just before the 2020 season's abrupt end. She made one competitive appearance, as part of the bars rotation at Denver in the season's final meet. Brovedani has also competed in exhibitions on beam for Washington.

The newcomers for Washington have plenty of talent and impressive resumes coming into their first collegiate season. A two-time JO Nationals qualifier, McNamara won Regional championships on floor and a SoCal State championship on all-around before coming to UW. Russon finished in fourth in the country on beam at the 2019 JO Nationals and is now ready to be a vital part of the GymDawgs. In 2017, she finished second in the country on bars and in 2016 she won a national championship on beam.

Eksteen has won Texas state championships on bars and all-around, earning JO Nationals trips in the process. She has also competed internationally, at the South African Nationals and at the World Championships in Canada. Killough-Wilhelm finished second in the country on bars at the 2019 JO Nationals, where she also finished in the nation's top five on beam, floor, and all-around. In 2018, she finished top five on vault, bars, beam, and all-around at JO Nationals.

Wickman is a four-time Regional champion and Washington state champion on bars. Three times she has been in the nation's top ten at JO Nationals. A Colorado native, Thomas has made it to JO Nationals once, in 2019. Six times she earned Colorado state top-five finishes and four times she has qualified for Level 10 Regionals.

Make sure to follow the GymDawgs on Twitter with the username @UWGymnastics and on Instagram at uwgymnastics.