1. Alabama alumna and former National Team member Peyton Ernst announced that she too was a victim of Larry Nassar. She decided to reveal it as part of her healing process to move on. As with all other survivors, we commend her for her bravery and support her.
2. Peyton’s teammate and best friend Bailie Key, who just completed her sophomore year at Alabama, medically retired. This is very sad news but not entirely surprising. Even though I was hoping that Bailie would pull a Peng Peng Lee and end her career at Alabama with a blast, it was also very clear that she and her coaches were focussing on her physical and mental health, as they should, and that it was time for her to move on. She will stay in Tuscaloosa and complete her nursing degree and she will be remembered as one of the best gymnasts of the past quad.
3. UCLA completed their new coaching staff. The new head coach Chris Waller announced that UCLA alumna Kristina Comforte was hired back at UCLA as associate head coach, former volunteer assistant coach Dom Palange is back as assistant coach and choreographer BJ Das is the new volunteer assistant coach. Kristina Comforte is a former gymnastics standout, who competed for the Bruins in 2006-08. In 2006, as a freshman, she scored a perfect 10.0 on vault and was the NCAA vault runner-up, while in 2008 she was the NCAA uneven bars runner-up. Dom Palange was a volunteer assistant coach at UCLA in 2014-16 and coached beam and floor. BJ Das is a Los Angeles-based dancer, choreographer and former collegiate gymnast for the University of Washington. She spent the last season at Utah, where she choreographed the Red Rocks’ floor routines.
4. In coaching news, LSU’s associate head coach Jay Clark was promoted to co-head coach. He responded to the news by saying that: ‘I am truly honored to continue on the tradition and legacy that DD has built here in Baton Rouge. I am grateful to D-D and our administration for this tremendous vote of confidence.’ Mr Clark is considered one of the top bars coaches in the NCAA, as well as one of the top recruiters in the country. LSU is indeed welcoming a star-class in the fall, including J.O. National Champions Kai Rivers and Kiya Johnson, as well as (news!) Kamryn Ryan, who switched her commitment from Alabama to LSU.
5. Speaking of recruits’ changes of mind, according to her Instagram, it appears that Olympic alternate and world champion Ragan Smith will be joining Oklahoma this fall, instead of deferring college until 2020, as she had previously announced. This would be great news for the Sooners, though it would also mean that yet another Texas Dreams gymnast is about to retire from elite without having the career she deserves. In other change-of-heart news, Maryland sophomore Emilie Leblanc announced that she will be transferring to Utah for her final two seasons. I’m very excited for her!
6. In big recruitment news, fan favourite Laney Madsen announced that she verbally committed to UCLA. Laney’s path to gymnastics is unusual, in so far as she began her career as a cheerleader and took up elite gymnastics only in 2014. In 2019 she both made her international gymnastics debut representing Bulgaria and won a World Championships title in cheerleading. In other big news, Italy’s Clara Colombo will become the first Italian gymnast to compete in the NCAA – she will join Nebraska in the fall! Clara recently finished sixth in the Serie A1 and in 2014 she competed internationally at the Jesolo Trophy and at Gymnix. She decided to try out the college experience, because she is still passionate about gymnastics but also wants to continue studying. I’m so proud of her, hopefully she will be a pathbreaker for more Italian gymnasts to join the NCAA in the future.
7. UCLA was also up in the gymternet news as they are starting to show off some potential upgrades on floor. Freshman Norah Flatley and sophomore Nia Dennis both showed off two very straight double layouts, while junior Felicia Hano played around with a double double.
8. Some news from Canada. SEMO sophomore Alana Fischer will represent Canada at the Universiade in Naples this summer. Among results from Canadian Level 10 National Championships, Denelle Pedrick, currently at Central Michigan, won gold on floor and showed off a huge DTY on vault. Among future NCAAs, Chloé Lorange, who is still uncommitted (!!!), won the all around (here she is on beam), while Emilie Hong, who is also still uncommitted (!!!), scored a perfect 10.0 on vault. Among the elites, Haley de Jong spoke to the press and revealed that she is very excited to be joining Georgia in the fall, while UCLA commit Brooklyn Moors unveiled a brand-new beautiful floor routine.
9. A couple of excellent Level 10 gymnasts turned elite. Olivia Ahern of River City Gymnastics achieved her qualifying score at the latest Developmental Camp, while Ariel Posen of MG Elite, who is committed to UCLA for 2022-23, qualified at the Parkettes Invitational. They were both delighted.
10. Arizona State’s volunteer assistant coach Kristina Baskett was promoted to assistant coach. Ms Baskett was a former Utah gymnastics standout (2006-09), most notably winning the NCAA uneven bars title in her freshman season. She has volunteered at ASU for the past two seasons.
Routine of the week
One of Bailie Key’s best ever beam routines at the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships.