‘My blood runs Bruin blue, and I cannot wait to continue this journey.’ (Chris Waller)
1. UCLA’s long-awaited announcement is no secret anymore: associate head coach Chris Waller was promoted to head coach. The internal hire was not much of a surprise, although it seems that several prominent coaches were interviewed for the job on the side. Mr Waller is an Olympian, an NCAA champion with the Bruins and as a club coach, he helped Mohini Bhardwaj (later a UCLA Bruin herself) to a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. He has spent the past seventeen years coaching the Bruins and helped them win four NCAA Championships (2003, 2004, 2010 and 2018).
2. After promoting co-head coach Tom Farden to head coach, Utah engaged in some more hiring this week: Arkansas associate head coach Garrett Griffeth and his wife and 2004 Olympian Courtney McCool Griffeth left Fayetteville for Salt Lake City. Mr Griffeth will become Utah’s new assistant coach, while Courtney McCool will be a volunteer assistant coach and choreographer. The couple spent two years at Arkansas and the three prior years at Texas Woman’s. They are both Georgia graduates, where Courtney McCool competed from 2007 to 2010. I cannot wait for Utah’s choreographies next season!!!
3. People come and people go… As a consequence of the new hiring at Utah, their assistant coach Robert Ladanyi left for Nebraska, where he was named assistant coach. Mr Ladanyi used to be head coach of the Romanian Junior National Team before moving to the U.S. In the NCAA, he spent ten years at Florida, two years at Denver and the past two seasons at Utah. He will be a big contribution to the coaching staff especially on vault and floor.
4. Michigan sophomore Anne Maxim, who transferred from Michigan State after her freshman season in 2018, was surprised with a one-year scholarship for her junior year. Anne competed for the Wolverines on vault and bars in 2019. She scored a career-high 9.900 twice on bars and posted a career-high 9.8625 on vault when it counted the most, at National Semifinals.
5. UCLA junior Gracie Kramer was presented with UCLA’s prestigious Kristen Maloney Heart of a Champion Award. I cannot think of a more suitable recipient!
6. UCLA senior Macy Toronjo announced on Instagram that she will be back for a fifth year! Macy’s career as a Bruin was marred by injuries and did not compete at all in 2016 and 2018. Her best season was 2017, when she competed regularly on floor and posted a career-high 9.950. In 2019, she competed on bars and floor a couple of times with excellent results.
7. Oklahoma’s Maggie Nichols is the winner of the 2019 Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics. This was Maggie’s third consecutive nomination and her first win. The other nominees were OU’s Brenna Dowell, UCLA’s Kyla Ross and LSU’s Sarah Finnegan. Maggie is only the second Sooner to win the award for gymnastics, after Kelly Garrison won it in 1987 and 1988.
8. There were a couple of surprise transfers this week. UIC standout Alisa Sheremeta will be transferring to Missouri to continue her gymnastics career after the closure of the Flames’ programme. Arkansas junior Michaela Burton also announced to everyone’s shock that she will be transferring to Pittsburgh for her senior year. Speculation followed…
9. The NCAA outperformed itself this week, posting a lot of gymnasts’ interviews taken at the NCAA Championships. Arkansas sophomore Sophia Carter explains what the Razorback family means to her; Florida sophomore Alyssa Baumann talks about the Gators and her future career; Kentucky senior Sidney Dukes reads a letter to her younger self; Nebraska junior Taylor Houchin reads a letter to the Husker family; Arizona State sophomore Cairo Leonard-Baker explains what the Sun Devils mean to her; and Arkansas senior Hailey Garner reads a letter to gymnastics.
10. Commits of the week: Ella Zirbes to Utah (2023-24), Jordyn Lyden to Minnesota (2023-24) and Trinity Macy to Pitt (2020-21).
Routine of the week
She has the Heart of a Champion – Miss Gracie Kramer!