Photograph: Emily Schild/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.
The Gymdogs said goodbye to four seniors, who were the backbone of the Georgia team. These were Ashlyn Broussard, who competed regularly on vault and beam; Morgan Reynolds, who had turned into an all arounder, as well as an inspiration, in her senior year; Rachel Schick, who was the anchor on bars and beam; and Beth Roberts, who contributed on vault and floor. The other senior, Lauren Johnson, will be back as a redshirt senior.
At the end of last season, the Gymdogs also controversially lost their five-year headcoach, Danna Durante, who was fired after failing to lead her team to the Super Six. She will be replaced by former Georgia star Courtney Kupets-Carter, who will be joined, awkwardly enough, by legendary former Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan, as voluntary assistant coach. All eyes will be on the Gymdogs next year!
Georgia has welcomed four impressive new freshmen: Ashley Foss, from Pompton Plains, New Jersey; Madison McPherson, from Bishop, Georgia; Marissa Oakley, from Oswego, Illinois; and Emily Schild, from Huntersville, North Carolina.
Ashley Foss trained at North Stars Gymnastics Academy. She was a U.S. elite gymnast from 2012 to 2013 and in 2015. In 2012, as a junior, she finished thirteenth in the all around and eighth on floor at the Secret U.S. Classic. Two weeks later at the Visa Championships she finished fourteenth in the all around and ninth on balance beam. In 2013 she competed during Day 1 of the P&G Championships (former Visa), finishing fifteenth in the all around and fifth on floor, but was unable to compete in Day 2 due to injury. She missed the 2014 season due to injury too. In 2015 she re-qualified to elite, but was unable to compete at the championships due to other injuries. In 2016 Foss decided to compete as a Level 10 gymnast. She qualified to the JO National Championships, where she won the beam title, and finished tenth in the all around and fourth on the uneven bars.
Foss’s best apparatus is beam. She has beautiful form and pointed toes, and competes some very difficult elements, including a back-handspring with full turn and two back-handsprings into double-twisting dismount. Her confidence on beam is very good news for the Gymdogs, who have had serious trouble on beam these past two seasons. Foss is also a very good floor worker. She can perform a full-twisting double back, a two-and-a-half twist, a one-and-a-half twist into double twist and a double pike. Finally, Foss can perform some impressive elements on bars too, including a Komova II and a Chow transition, a Jaeger and a double layout dismount.
Madison McPherson trains at Georgia Elite Gymnastics. She had a standout season as a Level 10 gymnast in 2015, and, after missing the 2016 season due to injury, she came back strong in 2017 for her last season before moving to college. In 2015 she was crowned Georgia State champion on the uneven bars, as well as taking second (tied) on vault and third in the all around. At the National Gymnastics Challenge in March 2015 she had an impressive victory sweep, winning all events and the all around title. Coming back from injury in 2017, in February she became vault champion at the Made in the USA Gymnastics Invitational, where she also won bronze on floor and in the all around. A week later she competed at the Chattahoochee Challenge, where she won vault and floor and was third in the all around. McPherson finished her season at the Region 8 Championships, where she won bronze on vault.
McPherson has very good potential on all apparatuses. On vault, she trains a FTY. On bars, she has a very high full-twisting-double-back dismount. On beam, her series is a BHS + LOSO, and has some interesting combinations, including a back tuck to split jump. Finally, on floor she can compete a high double pike, as well as a two-and-a-half twist.
Marissa Oakley trained at Phenom. She was a standout young athlete as a junior, becoming a Level 10 gymnast aged 10, and competing at her first J.O. National Championships in 2011, when she was only 12. She competed at the J.O. National Championships from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, she tied for second on the uneven bars and for third on the balance beam, and finished fifth in the all around. In 2014, she tied for third on beam and for eleventh in the all around. In 2014, she also qualified to elite, and competed at the Secret U.S. Classic, where she took eighth on beam and eleventh in the all around, and at the P&G Championships, where she finished eleventh on bars, thirteenth on floor and tied for fifteenth in the all around. Oakley qualified for the Secret U.S. Classic also in 2015, in her first year as a senior, but had to withdraw due to a leg injury. Oakley came back to elite in 2017. She tied for fourth on bars at the U.S. Classic, and for bronze also on bars at the P&G Championships.
Oakley has the potential to become an outstanding NCAA gymnast. On vault, she has a brilliantly high FTY, which will score very high and has the potential to become a one-and-a-half. On bars, she has beautiful lines and handstand positions. She can perform a high piked Jaeger, a Stalder Tkachev to Pak salto, a Maloney into Gienger and a full-in dismount. On beam, she is very solid and can compete a rarely done triple series, BHS + LOSO + LOSO. Finally, on floor she has pretty form and a sky-high double pike.
Emily Schild trained at Everest Gymnastics alongside Olympic alternate Ashton Locklear.
Schild is a former U.S. elite gymnast. After taking nineteenth place at the Nastia Liukin Cup in early 2013, Schild qualified to elite, and competed as a junior at the Secret U.S. Classic, where she tied for third on vault, and at the P&G Championships, where she tied for eighth also on vault. After missing the 2014 season due to injury, she came back strong in 2015. She made her international debut at the Jesolo Trophy, where she won gold with the team, and was selected to represent the U.S. at the Pan American Games, where she helped her team win gold. Later in the year she competed at the P&G Championships, where she finished eighth on the uneven bars. In early 2016 she competed at the Jesolo Trophy, where she won gold with the team and bronze on vault. Later in the year, she competed for a place in the Olympic team. At the Secret U.S. Classic she finished fifth in the all around, and at the P&G Championships she took thirteenth place. This qualified her to the Olympic Trials, where she finished thirteenth in the all around and tied for seventh on vault.
Schild could be an all arounder for Georgia. She is a very good vaulter, she can compete a very high DTY, it would be great if she decided to keep it. On bars, she has a lot of difficulty, and picking her best elements, she could stand out on this apparatus as well. She has outstanding handstands, and as an elite, she could perform the super difficult combination Komova II + Pak salto + Maloney + shoot-over to the low bar + transition to the high bar, as well as a Jaeger and a double layout dismount. On beam, she competes the classic series BHS + LOSO, as well as a front tuck and a switch-leap into switch-leap-half. Finally, on floor, she can perform two E-level passes, a double Arabian and a full-twisting double back.
Good luck to the future Gymdogs!
Related: Meet the 2018 Alabama Freshman Class
Article by Talitha Ilacqua