Photograph: Sydney Soloski/Instagram
The 2018 NCAA season is still months away, but it is never too early to start knowing the incoming freshman class for each team. This is both a way to begin thinking of potential lineups, and a way to get to know less well-known gymnasts and their routines.
Utah said goodbye only to one senior this year, Baely Rowe. What a senior, however – Rowe was an All-American on beam, and contributed on all apparatuses, anchoring both bars and beam for the Red Rocks.
Utah does not have a huge roster. In 2017 they only had twelve gymnasts, of which two, Sabrina Schwab and Kim Tessen, suffered season-ending injuries very early in the season. The new freshmen are then expected to compete immediately as the new season starts and to contribute on multiple apparatuses, possibly in the all around. The two newcomers seem to be entirely capable of fulfilling the requirements. Utah’s two incoming freshmen are Alexia (Lex) Burch, from Sparks, Nevada and Sydney Soloski, from Calgary, Canada.
Lex Burch trained at Flips USA Gymnastics. She competed at the J.O. National Championships in three consecutive years (2015–2017). In 2015, as a junior, she won the all around and floor exercise titles, was fourth on beam and tied for eighth on vault. In 2016, as a senior, she won silver on floor, was sixth on balance beam (tied) and seventh in the all around. Finally, in 2017, she finished fourth on beam, and tied for fifth on floor and tenth in the all around. In 2015 she also competed at the Nastia Liukin Cup, where she finished fifteenth in the all around.
Burch is an all arounder. She competes a solid FTY on vault. On bars, her routine includes a Jaeger, a shootover to the low bar and a high full-twisting double back dismount. On beam, she performs a very difficult 360-degree leap jump. On floor, she has great amplitude and good tumbling passes. She performs a double pike, a full twist linked to a front layout and a Rudi. With some competitive experience at Utah, she could easily replace Baely Rowe as a key all arounder for the team.
Sydney Soloski trained at the Calgary Gymnastics Centre as an elite gymnast. In 2015 she competed at Elite Canada, where she won a silver medal on floor, and finished sixth on beam and seventh in the all around. In 2016 she was selected to represent Canada at the International Gymnix Senior Cup, where she placed fourth with the team and nineteenth in the all around. In 2016 she also competed internationally at the Ljubljana World Challenge Cup. There, she won silver on floor, bronze on beam and was fourth on bars.
Soloski is another potentially strong all arounder, but excels particularly on beam and floor. On beam, she has great poise and confidence. She competes a full turn with the leg held horizontally, a free-walkover to sheep jump, a switch ring leap and a full-twisting front dismount. On floor, her best apparatus, she shows off her power with a sky-high double layout, a two-and-a-half twist and a double back tuck. I can’t wait to see her in the lineup alongside MyKayla Skinner!
Good luck to the future Utes!
Related: Meet the 2018 UCLA Freshman Class
By Talitha Ilacqua
(A previous version of this article was published on WOGymnastikA)