The NCAA Weekly|30 September

1. LSU’s angel and inspiration Gracie Zaunbrecher passed away last Monday after a nearly two-year fight with cancer. Head coach D-D Breaux said: ‘The team has suffered a heartbreaking loss. Our whole program fell in love with Gracie two years ago. It has been an amazing journey of faith, love, courage and belief in God.’ Our thoughts are with Gracie’s family and the whole LSU community.

2. Michigan published this week the fascinating story of their latest transfer, sophomore Anne Maxim. Anne was a freshman at Michigan State last year and had a brilliant season, but she felt MSU was not her home. She decided to apply to Michigan, which seemed a better fit for her, because three members of her family are MU alumni. Her grandfather, Edward Maxim, graduated from there in 1941. Her uncle, Bruce Maxim, did his undergraduate, graduate and doctorate studies at UM and is now a professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UM Dearborn. Her father, Chris Maxim, is a 1976 UM alumnus. Anne gave up her gymnastics scholarship and walked on the Michigan team, but she believes this is the best decision for her. ‘It feels so natural’, said Anne. ‘I have so much pride in this school, and it’s honestly such an honor and a privilege to be here. I can’t think of a better place to be. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I don’t take any day for granted. I never expected my journey to bring me here, but it was obviously meant to happen.’

3. Freshmen across the country keep impressing in training. Nebraska’s Adnerys De Jesus showed off a beautiful double layout on floor and teammate Kaylee Quinn a Gienger on bars. Georgia’s Sami Davis is training a gorgeous switch leap to switch leap half on beam. Utah State’s freshmen showed off parts of their bars routines. Shylen Murakami is training a half pirouette to straddle Jaeger to shoot-over, and teammate Caitlin Kho is training a Maloney to Pak salto. SEMO’s Anna Kaziska is training a free-walkover to split jump on beam. UCLA’s Norah Flatley showed off a beautiful straddle Jaeger on bars, and teammate Sekai Wright a powerful double layout on floor. Cal’s Maya Bordas showed off a straddle Jaeger to overshoot on bars. Arkansas’s Amanda Elswick is training a switch leap to switch leap 3/4 on beam and an insanely high FTY on vault. Sac State’s Nicole Nebel showed off a beautiful Gienger on bars. Cal’s Milan Clausi is training a long series on beam: front Toss to beat jump to BHSO to LOSO. And Florida’s Trinity Thomas is training an insane Biles (DLO half out) on floor!

4. Here are the updates from the sophomores. Oklahoma’s Anastasia Webb is training a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault, after competing an  Omelianchik last year. Both vaults are worth a 10.0 start value. Ohio State’s Jenna Swartzentruber is training a Maloney to Pak salto on bars and teammate Morgan Lowe a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. UCLA’s Pauline Tratz is training a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. Arkansas’s Kailey Gillings is training a BHSO + LOSO + LOSO on beam. Teammate Sophia Carter showed off a new one-and-a-half-twist into full twist on floor, and some gorgeous floor and beam choreography. Florida’s Alyssa Baumann showed off a more consistent Onodi to BHSO + LOSO on beam, and is training a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. Oregon State’s Savanna Force is training a full-in on floor, while teammate Colette Yamaoka is training a Maloney to bail on bars.

5. Meanwhile the juniors… Oklahoma’s Bre Showers is training a rare Chen on beam. Ohio State’s Olivia Aepli is training a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. Kentucky’s Hailey Poland upgraded her beam dismount to a beautiful Gainer full. UCLA’s Macy Toronjo impressed with a big double layout on floor and teammate Gracie Kramer is back training a Yurchenko 1.5 on vault! Finally, Denver’s Maddie Karr is training a hop full pirouette on bars.

6. The seniors are also on fire. BGSU’s Julia Beyer is training a beautiful back handspring step-out to layout to two feet on beam. Kentucky’s Katie Stuart is training a Yurchenko 1.5 – Kentucky is rocking vault this pre-season! Oregon State’s Mary Jacobsen is training a double front half out dismount on bars, and teammate Lacy Dagen a double layout on floor. Arizona State’ Kaitlyn Szafranski is training a full-in on floor. Ohio State’s Jamie Stone is training a piked Jaeger on bars. And LSU’s McKenna Kelley has her double layout on floor back!

7. Illinois put together a nice beam montage from their first practice session. Rae Balthazor showed off a BHSO + LOSO; Julia Hutcherson is training a gainer BHSO + layout stepout series; Kylie Noonan is training a triple series: BHSO + BHSO + LOSO; Nicole Biondi is training a switch leap to split jump 1/4; Rachael Donovan performed a free-walkover and Shaylah Scott a front Toss.

8. Michigan State sophomore Lea Mitchell was busy this summer upgrading her routines on all four apparatuses. On vault, she is successfully landing a Yurchenko 1.5. On bars, her routine consists of a Maloney, a Ray, a overshoot and a double layout dismount. On beam, she is training a free cartwheel, a free-walkover to split jump, a split jump to split jump 1/4 and a triple series: BHSO + BHSO + LOSO. Finally, on floor, she is training a new full-twisting double back, in addition to a double pike, a double tuck and two twisting passes: a front full to front layout, and a front layout to front full. At the end of the montage, the video said: ‘God’s not finished with me yet.’

9. UCLA’s senior Stella Savvidou also has a vlog. In the latest episode, she showed her and her teammates’ experience at the Woodward retreat. It is a more personal and intimate take on the camp. Enjoy!

10. Here are the commits of the week: Shyan Phillips to San Jose State (2019-20), Lilly Lippeatt to LSU (2022-23), Audrey Manivong to Lindenwood (2020-21), Alyssa Beaulieu to New Hampshire (2021-22), Skye Kerico to Georgia (2022-23), Taylor Jensen to BGSU (2019-20) and Adela Stonecipher to Stanford (2019-20).

Routine of the week

Lexie Priessman wrote about Gracie on Monday: ‘The special moment of you standing on the floor before my last tumbling pass because I needed that extra strength and YOU gave that to me.’

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