The NCAA Weekly|21 October

1. 2000 Olympian and UCLA alumna Tasha Schwikert came forward this week to reveal that she too is a victim of Larry Nassar. In an interview to ABC News, Schwikert revealed that she was abused more than 100 times between 2000, at the Olympic Training Camp, and 2005. She said: ‘Never in a million years would I think the doctor who is supposed to be treating me, and helping me, is telling me this medical advice, which is really just manipulation… to get me to believe that what he’s doing is legit.’ Schwikert also revealed that in 2017 the then president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, manipulated her into writing a statement in favour of the organisation and of Larry Nassar. Schwikert refused to write anything positive about Nassar, but drafted a piece about USA Gymnastics, which was then posted by the latter on social media. ‘Up until that point’, Schwikert explained, ‘if anyone asked how my gymnastics career was, how the Olympics was, you’d smile and say it was great — life was glamorous. It kind of reminds me of social media, when everyone posts the best five percent of their life, but no one wants to talk about the other 95 percent. It’s like everything is great, and you move on because it’s easier to portray that your life is glamorous, [that] you’re doing great and you’re fine.’ Penny was arrested this week and is accused of tempering evidence concerning the Larry Nassar case. Tasha’s younger sister Jordan Schwikert, also a former U.S. National Team member and UCLA alumna, also revealed that she was abused by Nassar more than fifteen times, starting when she was fourteen. ‘To even think about it, it just makes me so disgusted inside’, Jordan said. ‘I don’t even want to imagine that it even happened. But when I was little, I would try to put it past me.’ Tasha and Jordan Schwikert were members of the UCLA gymnastics team together from 2004 to 2008.

2. Nebraska’s head coach Dan Kendig has announced his retirement, effective immediately. After the sudden news, associate head coach Heather Brink stepped into the role as interim head coach. Kendig’s sudden departure may be linked to recent issues concerning student-athletes’ welfare. The Nebraska administration indeed explained that Kendig decided to retire after being approached with some potential NCAA compliance issues. The allegations, however, have not been confirmed nor commented upon. Kendig successfully coached the Nebraska gymnastics team for twenty-five years. It led the Huskers to sixteenth conference titles and twelve Super Six appearances, including the latest one in 2018. Kendig said: ‘I have had the great fortune of coaching at Nebraska for more than two decades and have cherished every moment of that time. My greatest memories will be the opportunity to work with so many talented and high-achieving young women who have excelled in the gym, in the classroom and in the community. I have worked with many great people at Nebraska and developed countless life-long friendships. I am proud of what we accomplished and have been blessed with great assistant coaches and student-athletes through the years. I want to thank the great people of Nebraska for the wonderful memories.’

3. Despite the coaching changes, Nebraska keeps looking super strong in training. On floor, senior Megan Schweihofer is training a full-in and freshman Adnerys De Jesus a double layout. On beam, sophomore Megan Verceles-Carr showed off a BHSO + LOSO, while freshman Megan Thompson a BHSO + BHSO + LOSO. On vault, Adnerys is training a big Yurchenko 1.5. Finally, on bars, junior Taylor Houchin showed off beautiful lines in her full pirouette to Tkatchev.

4. LSU had their first intrasquad of the year, and things look very promising. Among the highlights, senior Sarah Finnegan stuck her double layout on bars; sophomore Sami Durante showed off a Jaeger on bars, and a BHSO + LOSO series on beam; junior Kennedi Edney showed off a gorgeous Yurchenko 1.5 on vault, a Hindorff on bars and a free-walkover to split jump on beam; junior Ruby Harrold performed a one-and-a-half twist into front layout on floor; sophomore Christina Desiderio showed off a double layout on floor and a Gainer full off beam; and redshirt junior McKenna Kelley is back, training a double layout on floor, a front pike on vault and a back handspring to LOSO on beam.

5. Oregon State showed off some very nice training updates this week. On beam in particular, sophomore Lexie Gonzales performed a front Toss to BHSO, freshman Madison Dagen is training a switch leap to switch leap half, and another freshman Kristina Peterson showed off a unique creative mount on balance beam – to be seen! On vault, sophomore Savanna Force is training a Yurchenko 1.5 into the pit.

6. Minnesota is a team on the rise. On bars, junior Ivy Lu performed a gorgeous Maloney to Pak salto, sophomore Lexy Ramler a Maloney to Pak and a Van Leeuwen, and sophomore Hannah Willmarth a Ray and a bail handstand. On beam, freshman Kaitlyn Higgins showed off a solid BHSO + LOSO series; another freshman, Abbie Nylin, is training a triple series: BHSO + BHSO + LOSO; and sophomore Ona Loper stuck her one-and-a-half twisting dismount. On floor, Ona is also training a front double twist.

7. UCLA has a recent history of weaknesses on vault, which almost cost them the national title last year. This, however, could soon come to an end – the Bruins are looking incredible on vault in training. Juniors Felicia Hano, Kyla Ross and Gracie Kramer, and freshman Sekai Wright are all performing solid Yurchenkos 1.5, with Sekai’s being the best. Sophomore Kendal Poston is training a solid front pike half out, and freshman Margzetta Frazier is performing a big DTY. Wow!

8. Florida also looks on fire on vault! Freshmen Trinity Thomas and Nya Reed performed two stunning Yurchenkos 1.5, and senior Alicia Boren is officially performing a consistent double-twisting Yurchenko!

9. Miss Val was the latest guest on the radio show To The Pointe. She discussed her new book, her decision to step down as UCLA head coach, the upcoming gymnastics season and much more. Enjoy!

10. Here are the commits of the week: Ariyana Agarwala to Penn (2019-20), Kiersten Belkoff to Penn (2020-21), Kassidy Howell to Kentucky (2019-20), Kaytlyn Johnson to LSU (2021-22), Cami Weaver to Arkansas (2021-22), Lydia Test to SEMO (2020-21), Grace Costello to William & Mary (2020-21), Maya Perez-Lugones to Southern Utah (2019-20), Alexis Jeffrey to UCLA (2020-21), Kaleigh Cleveland to Pitt (2021-22).

Routine of the week

UCLA’s Tasha Schwikert on floor exercice at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships.



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