If there is one team that has certainly upgraded its roster from last year to this, it is UF. Granted, don't let any uber gym fan see or hear you make a comment about them being a legitimate threat. We are all well aware that UCLA is going to double pike their way to another national title with Val's signature choreography. Even if you get bored of tribal drum beats, you will be moved by the recitations of John Wooden quotations. Now that we will pretend that even Olivia Courtney, Brittani McCullough and Sam Peszek have the toe point of Nastia, we should clearly note that just like Kristen Maloney, their form has improved by leaps and bounds at UCLA (even if her foot was still annoyingly flexed on that wolf jump.)
If Suzanne Yoculan was still coaching, we would already be hearing about the vaults UF will be throwing and how many E tumbling passes they were doing. She would be telling the media about the importance of Double Layouts, even if she said that last year was all about execution.
Now, it is important to note that the UF coaching staff is having Corey Hartung-like-gasms over Alaina Johnson, her bars, her dance, her skills and her consistency. She is said to be tumbling and swinging bars like a dream. Suzanne would've already nominated her for SEC Freshman of the year if she was donning red and black. Jeremy Miranda has given her a supposedly stunning new floor routine to a mix from "The Twilight Zone" and it better not disappoint.
Brittney Noble is strong on VT, UB and FX. She is capable of a 1.5TY and may throw it. She will hopefully show some consistency on bars after the girls threw away a title at home during the first rotation of the Super Six. We have hope that the rest of the girls will remember the sting and the twinge in their hearts in order to motivate themselves like Mother Russia.
Now, one of Rhonda's life blessings involves Kytra and Macko going for the World Team. Worlds are in mid October, which means that these girls didn't spend their senior years of high school drinking, having sex and learning what it means to be socially normal. They will show up in shape and the two months after Worlds will allow them to heal whatever bang ups and bruises they have because they need to be ready for battle come January. Mr. Miranda is already sweating over just what to give Kytra in order to erase from our minds the horror that is her elite floor routine. *Shudder.*
Both Kytra and Macko will likely be in the contention for All-Around spots and used on all four events at time, but they definitely have enough girls to have the luxury of resting some. That could be quite important for Macko's knee, as it is a chronic pain in the ass that they'll simply have to manage. Macko better learn to stay on beam quickly, because they'll need to depend on her. After watching Macko blow her key event at Nationals, I have concerns that she may be this year's Marissa King during Super Six Finals.
Speaking of Marissa, she spent this summer training hard, competing at British Nationals and will compete at the upcoming Commonwealth Games. While one might worry about her getting injured, British women tend to have sturdy Jayne Torvill bodies. She should be fine and eager to prove herself. Hopefully she will have an inferiority complex and feel a need to bust out 9.95s at every opportune moment like Courtney Kupets. Marissa will still be busting out some serious skills, but hopefully they'll limit the madness on beam, as she does an impressive set that usually winds up being loaded with unnecessary half-tenth deductions. If they don't, Miss Rhonda will be hearing from me.
Ashanee Dickerson is back and will be a solid all arounder at first. Hopefully whatever fear she has about Kytra taking her anchor position and role as the team's black diva will motivate her to upgrade vault like she's been working on.
Maranda Smith will provide a key leadership role on the team. She has won before and will be a stabilizer on vault, bars and floor. We certainly hope that we don't have to witness any beam routines from her.
Nicole Ellis will provide depth and back-up on vault and bars. Elizabeth Mahlich will likely see action again on bars and beam. Dali will add depth to vault and beam. Alicia Goodwin will see action on bars and will likely do beam. As for Randy Stageberg, she looks to be having a repeat of last season. Making the floor lineup looks to be her only hope of any competition action. Liz Green will probably do beam, but it will be difficult for her to keep her spot in the floor lineup this year.
Probable Lineups are difficult for this team because Macko and Kytra have yet to form their college routines. They will probably start on a few events and add as the season goes along.
Dickerson/Noble/Mahlich/King will occupy the first two spots.
Given the depth, we will likely see a lot of toying with the lineup. Kytra and Nicole Ellis are also in contention. Kytra is not a great bar worker as an elite, but she does have the potential of being better on bars when her routine is shorter. Much will determine on the level of emphasis placed on being an All-Arounder or AA star verses being a highlight on specific events. The coaches could really sub in AAers during the easier meets to test a lot of different gymnasts. Exhibitions will also be key. Rhonda's inner Karolyi should make for some stiff competition in the gym. Sadly, Adrian can not change his Romanian heritage and the UF bars lineup will be unable to escape that dark cloud.
It will be difficult to replace the stabilizer that was Zaiser on beam. Given Macko's bars prowess and name, they will likely be tempted put her in the beam lineup. As we've seen this summer, Macko competing on beam involves a great deal of white knuckling for the viewing audience. She is one I would not trust to rely on when the team ends on beam. I already am anticipating ripping her a new asshole when she inevitably costs them a dual meet.
The first three spots will be between Hunter, Goodwin, Green and Macko. I ultimately see Green being a leadoff.
UF's vault and floor lineup bring back memories of Gym Dog power lineups past.
Noble/Macko (Noble could really see more action than Macko given the latter's knee.)
Johnson (She was scoring 9.9s in JOs. Her being third up tells you how good their lineup is.)
Kytra- Highest and most difficult tumbling. Has to go last.
It will be another season of Where's Randy?!
Noble/Caqutto/Smith for the first two spots.
Johnson (Her vault is cleaner than Kytra's.)
King (Depending on which vault she does and what kind of day she is having, she's 9.7-9.95)
Florida needs to win this year or next. The late additions of Macko and Kytra could keep the team from peaking too early, as has been their problem in years past. If they hit, they should easily walk away with another SEC Title. Now that they've proven themselves as the SEC power, they will hopefully take it as just another meet to check off the list. In the past, they've won SECs (or nearly won) and had nothing left four weeks later. Should they solve that problem. the Gators will be giving the Bruins a run for their money.
The motto for this year should be: Don't fuck up bars and beam too badly and don't draw floor as the first rotation! If they can manage that, we'll all be Gator Chomping in April.
As always, we ask the girls to make sure they aren't accidently shoplifting, having blonde moments or allowing their boyfriend to store stolen weapons and ammunition in their apartment.