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.
2017 was Olympian Elise Ray’s first season as head coach of the Washington Huskies and it was a remarkable one. Washington tied UCLA for third place at the Pac-12 Conference Championships in March, and later qualified to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1997. There, they had a fantastic semi-final, and missed qualifying to the Super Six by only half a point.
The Huskies said goodbye to three excellent seniors: Kaitlyn Duranczyk, who contributed significantly on the uneven bars and balance beam; Janae Janik, who competed sporadically on bars and consistently on beam; and Alex Yacalis, who was an asset on vault and floor exercise.
To replace them, Washington has welcomed three talented freshmen: Jennifer Oh, from Plano, Texas; Geneva Thompson, from Edgewood, Washington; and Hannah Willmarth, from Boulder, Colorado.
Jennifer Oh trains at WOGA, the famous gym that produced Olympic champions Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin and Madison Kocian, as well as such NCAA stars as Katelyn Ohashi (UCLA), Kocian herself (UCLA) and Natalie Brown (Oklahoma).
Oh started competing as a Level 10 gymnast in 2014. That year she finished eighth on both vault and floor exercise at the State Championships. 2015 was a great year for Oh. At the State Championships she won gold on the uneven bars and bronze in the all around. At the Region 3 Championships she won the floor exercise title and was fourth in the all around, and qualified to the J.O. National Championships, where she finished forty-third in the all around. In 2016 she won gold on beam at the Region 3 Championships, as well as taking second on floor and in the all around. She later requalified to the J.O.s, and had an outstanding competition, winning bronze in the all around, and tying for fifth both on the uneven bars and on floor exercise. In 2017 Oh competed at the Kim Zmeskal’s Texas Prime Meet, where she finished sixth on vault, seventh on floor and ninth in the all around, and at the Chow’s Challenge, where she finished seventh on the uneven bars.
Oh is an all arounder and has potential to score very high on all four events. She is a very stylish floor worker, with beautiful presentation and choreography. She competes a double tuck, a one-and-a-half twist into front pike and a Rudi to leap jump. On bars, she has very beautiful lines and good amplitude, she performs a high Jaeger, a shoot-over to low bar and a full pirouette into a double-tuck dismount. She is also a very solid and beautiful beam worker. She competes a cat leap to side-somi, a BHS + LOSO series and a switch-leap to full-twisting dismount on the side of the beam. Finally, on vault she can perform very clean FTY. She could become a real asset for Washington next year!
Geneva Thompson trains at Metropolitan Gymnastics. She is a three-consecutive-time Junior Olympic qualifier (2015, 2016 and 2017). In 2015, she tied for fourth place on vault and for sixth place on the uneven bars. In 2016, she again took fourth place on vault, and tied for fifteenth on balance beam. Finally, in 2017 she won bronze on vault and tied for fifth on balance beam. In 2017 she also competed at the Region 2 Championships, where she had an outstanding competition, winning all four events and the all around title. In 2017 she also won the all around, the vault and the floor titles at the Charity Choice Invitational, where she also won beam, at the SCEGA California Classic, and at the Battle in Belvue, where she also won the bars title.
Thompson also has potential as an all arounder. She is a powerful gymnast on vault and floor. On vault, she competes a very high FTY, but she is also training a DTY. On floor, she can perform both a double layout and a full-twisting double back, as well as several twisting elements. On bars, she competes a shoot-over to the low bar and a double tuck dismount, but she is capable also of a piked Jaeger. Finally, Thompson is also a solid beam worker. She competes a BHS + LOSO series and has some very pretty lines on her leaps.
Hannah Willmarth trains at Airborne Gymnastics and Dance. She has competed as a Level 10 gymnast since 2014. That year, at the Colorado State Championships, she finished sixth on floor, seventh in the all around, ninth on vault and bars and tenth on beam. The following year, at the same competition, she won bronze on the uneven bars. In 2015 she also competed at the Region 3 Championships, where she tied for eighth on bars and finished fourteenth on both floor and in the all around. In 2016, at the Colorado State Championships, Willmarth had a fantastic competition. She took second in the all around and on vault, third on bars and beam and fifth on floor. At the Region 3 Championships she tied for third on floor, was fourth on bars and sixth in the all around. In 2016 she also qualified to the J.O. National Championships, where she finished eleventh on the uneven bars. In 2017, she competed at the Colorado State Championships, where she tied for second on floor, for third on bars and was fourth in the all around. At the Region 3 Championships, she finished ninth on bars and tied for twenty-second in the all around.
Willmarth excels on the uneven bars, where she has beautiful lines and difficult elements. She competes a Maloney directly linked to a shoot-over to the low bar and a double-tuck dismount. She is also a very elegant floor worker. She competes a double pike, a double tuck and a one-and-a-half twist into front pike. On beam, she competes a very interesting LOSO into leap jump, a BHS + LOSO series and a one-and-a-half twisting dismount. Finally, on vault she competes a very straight and elegant FTY.
Good luck to the future Huskies!
Article by Talitha Ilacqua