LSU Looking To McKenna Kelley & Bailey Ferrer For New 1-2 Punch

Now that first official practices are underway at many schools, we’re continuing our series on the new additions to NCAA gymnastics team rosters, highlighting the LSU Tigers today. 

Fortunately for the Tigers, the team have only lost two major contributors this year — Myia Hambrick and Erin Macadaeg, who both graduated. Hambrick has left big shoes to fill, having competed in the all-around for the team and being one of the Tigers’ top competitors on every event, particularly on beam and floor. Macadaeg is another loss from the beam lineup. In fact, the lineup started with Macadaeg, followed by Hambrick, so the team will have to come up with a new first two to start their beam rotations.

Interestingly, LSU has added only two freshmen this year: Rebecca D’Antonio, who is currently listed on the roster and is a walk-on, and Bailey Ferrer, who is not on the roster yet but is expected to join in January.

Check out the new additions and anticipated returns you can look forward to this year from the Tigers.

The Freshmen: A Louisiana Native & A Former Elite

D’Antonio is currently the only freshman slated on the LSU roster at the moment, a walk-on from New Orleans who trained at Cypresse Pointe Gymnastics. She has some high-level skills in her pocket, including a front tuck on beam and a piked Jaeger on bars. 

You can see a video of some of her training from the summer of 2017 below:

Video via Rebecca D'Antonio

The other freshman, due to start in January 2019 (a year early), is Ferrer, who most recently trained at Gymnastics USA with Ray Gnat, father of LSU great Ashleigh Gnat. Ferrer was a former elite athlete who competed in the junior division at the Secret U.S. Classic and P&G Championships in 2014. She switched gyms a few years later, training at the J.O. level until she reached college.

When we saw Ferrer compete at J.O. Nationals in 2017, she showed off incredible power on floor. In fact, Ray Gnat said in an interview with The Advocate that to watch her “reminds me of McKenna Kelley, all that tumbling and vaulting power, with great personality.” In 2017, Ferrer was competing a big double Arabian, back 1.5 to front layout, and double pike. 

Check out her routine below:

Video via USA Gymnastics

Ferrer is also a solid beam worker, and will likely have a Yurchenko 1.5 vault to add to the mix, so it’s possible the team will be looking to her to fill some of the empty spots left by Hambrick. 

The Return of McKenna Kelley & Other Lineup Considerations

Another gymnast to factor into the mix for this season is McKenna Kelley, who was out all last year with an Achilles tear. Assuming she is back to full strength come January, we can expect to see her back in the floor lineup, where she contributed high scores in her first two seasons with the team. She was also training a new vault before her injury, so it will be interesting to see if she continues with this. 

In terms of other lineup considerations, there are a few gymnasts who contributed on one or two events last year who have potential to do more. One is Ruby Harrold, who mostly competed bars and vault last year. She competed floor a couple of times, and this is one event that she could contribute a lot on if she’s consistent. Her high score last season was a 9.900. 

The other gymnast to consider for the floor lineup is sophomore Sarah Edwards, who competed a fun routine last year for much of the start of the season, but did not appear in lineups toward the end. She’s capable of a lot of power so she’ll likely be hoping for a spot back in this lineup. 

Another question mark is senior Lexie Priessman, and how many events she will be contributing on this year. She only competed floor toward the end of the season, and dropped vault, which she had been competing at the beginning, but was a mainstay in the bars lineup. Much of this has to do with how much her body can take, but she’s capable of putting up huge numbers on both vault and floor, and the coaches will likely want to see her in both lineups if possible. 

We got a glimpse of LSU’s first day of practice in this brief clip below:

What's The Difference: The Tkatchev Family

You know those skills where the gymnast swings around the high bar, lets go of it, flies impossibly high in the air with her legs perfectly positioned and her toes perfectly pointed and then catches it on the other side? Those are the Tkatchev skills, a family of skills done on the uneven bars with a seemingly exponential number of names and nuances. Here’s the gym-nerd’s guide to knowing your Tkatchev from your Ray, Galante, Ricna and all of the rest of them, because knowing those tiny, tricky differences makes watching gymnastics even more of a delight. 

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Individuals To Watch In 2019

The SEC is known for having the top gymnastics teams in the NCAA, and with that comes some of the top individual gymnasts. Now that the NCAA Championships will only include eight teams instead of 12, some teams that are used to contending and advancing to NCAAs will end up sending only individual gymnasts to the national postseason. Therefore individual competition may be more competitive than ever before, especially in the ultra-competitive SEC.

2019 Cancun Classic Offers Michigan A Chance To Bond, Start Season Strong

The Michigan women’s gymnastics team couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off its 2019 season. The Wolverines will join Iowa State, West Virginia, and Rutgers at the Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico, on Jan. 4.

6 Ways For Gymnastics Coaches To Better Prevent Injuries

For any high-performing gymnast, injuries are essentially inevitable. But there are ways that gymnastics coaches can approach their training program — both physical and mental — that can help prevent the injuries that are potentially avoidable, and to create an environment where gymnasts are both safe and empowered. We spoke to some of the country’s top coaches to get their philosophies, their methods, and their strategies.

SEC Gymnastics Preview: Traditional Powers LSU, Alabama, & Florida Reload

As always, the Southeastern Conference is loaded with talent — traditional powerhouses like Florida and LSU, but many more top teams in the nation. This year you'll be able to catch a few of these teams, and much more, right here on FloGymnastics. But before we can start watching the meets, let's dive into each team's standing, who they added and lost, and what may be to come in the 2018-2019 season.

Big Ten Power Michigan Starts Their Gymnastics Season Strong At Exhibition

The University of Michigan Women’s Gymnastics team is usually the team to beat in the Big Ten, and if their exhibition meet on Saturday, December 2, is any indication of how their year will go, this season will be no exception. The team squared off with three other Michigan teams at 2 PM in the Crisler Center, marking the fifth year in a row Michigan has competed against Eastern Michigan for an exhibition meet in this location. The Wolverines competed against Central Michigan as recently as last spring but has not faced off against Western Michigan since 2011.

USA Gymnastics Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

USA Gymnastics has filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. USAG posted the news in a press release along with a post outlining frequently asked questions.

10 Gymnastics Skills From The Past That Aren't Performed Anymore

In gymnastics, it’s no secret that skills go in and out of style faster than you can say “Tsukahara.” Between upgrades that make simpler skills obsolete, changing trends, and banned skills, gymnastics fans know the skills they love seeing performed today will likely become irrelevant down the road.

5 Of The Most Common Gymnastics Injuries & How Best To Prevent Them

We’ve all heard the horror stories: the pop! from a too-short vault, the head-first crash from a beam dismount, the terrifying falls from a release skill on bars. But the majority of gymnastics injuries — 65–70 percent of them, in fact — aren’t dramatic; they happen from years and years of over-use. 

NCAA Gymnasts To Watch At Elevate The Stage Birmingham

Just over one month is left until the NCAA gymnastics season begins, and teams all over the country will compete weekend after weekend in dual meets, quad meets, and even meets on podium — like Elevate the Stage. The 2019 NCAA season includes two Elevate the Stage events with the final one happening in Birmingham, Alabama.