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.

All-Around

Alicia Boren (Florida)

YearSenior
Career High: 39.725

As a junior, Boren competed in the all-around for the Gators, scoring a 39.0250 or higher in every meet. She's been a consistent all-around competitor since she arrived at Florida in 2016 but hasn't scored a 9.900 or higher on every event in a single meet for an all-around score of 39.600 or higher since February 2017. As a powerful gymnast, her scores tend to be higher on vault and floor, but she's able to maintain her status as a strong all-around gymnast with clean, hit routines on bars and beam. 

Sarah Finnegan (LSU)

Year: Senior
Career High: 39.775

Finnegan's junior season was her first in which she was a consistent all-around competitor for the Tigers; however, she also competed all-around at a couple of meets during her freshman and sophomore years. She's excellent on bars and beam and has grown to be a great competitor on floor. On vault, she's capable of clean, near-perfect vaulting but only competes a Yurchenko full, and at a 9.95 start value, that hurts her maximum scoring potential a bit. Finnegan is capable of earning near-perfect scores on every event, which helped her earn the title of SEC All-Around Champion and NCAA Raleigh Regional All-Around Champion last year.

Amelia Hundley (Florida)

Year: Junior
Career High: 39.625 

The former Cincinnati Gymnastics elite began her collegiate career as a consistent all-around competitor but then decreased her number of all-around performances last season. Regardless, Hundley remains a top all-around gymnast in the SEC. She competed on bars in every meet last season and earned her best scores on that apparatus, including multiple 9.900s. Hundley is good on the other three events; she usually scores in the 9.800 range but can go into the 9.900 range at her best, making her a solid all-around gymnast. 


Mollie Korth (Kentucky)

Year: Junior
Career High: 39.625

After just one year as a Wildcat, Korth made a name for herself in the world of NCAA gymnastics and has maintained her status as one of Kentucky's as she enters the second half of her collegiate career. Although she's best on vault where she scored a 9.900 or higher more than half of the time, she can score in the 9.900 range on bars and floor, as well, and did a few times last season. What prevents Korth from earning higher all-around scores is beam, on which she has yet to earn a 9.900. But when Korth is excellent on vault, bars and floor and hits beam, her all-around performance is at the top of the conference.

Sydney Snead (Georgia)

Year: Senior
Career High: 39.525

Snead competed in the all-around in every meet last season as well as a few times in 2017. Her best event is floor, where she earned a perfect 10.0 last year, but she also earned scores in the 9.900 range on vault and bars. Oftentimes Snead is either very consistent in her scores on all four to earn a good, solid all-around score or has three good events and one great event to score her best. So her status as a top all-around gymnast comes not necessarily from her ability to score high but her ability to hit, which is makes her reliable and competitive.

Vault

Alicia Boren (Florida)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.950

With the graduation of Alex McMurtry, Boren is quite possibly the Gators' best vaulter. Her Yurchenko 1.5 is powerful and gets a lot of height and distance. Boren knows how to control the tricky blind landing and even scored a 9.9375 on her Super Six vault last season. She was First Team All-American on the event last season after the NCAA Championships semifinals.

Kennedi Edney (LSU)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.9875

Although she's become a strong all-arounder for the Tigers, Edney's best known for her strong vault and floor. She has a great Yurchenko 1.5 that has earned multiple near-perfect scores. Her vault gets good distance, but she does tend to bend her knees a bit in the air. It's a hard vault to stick because of the blind landing, but Edney does a good job at keeping the hops/steps to a minimum. After earning a 9.900 for her vault at the 2018 NCAA Championships semifinals, she earned First Team All-American status.


Lexi Graber (Alabama)

Year: Sophomore
Career High: 9.950

The Alabama sophomore already has a regional title to her name on vault. Her vault scores were a bit all over the board last season, but most importantly, her early-season 9.775s improved to 9.800s and 9.850s, and she began perfecting her Yurchenko 1.5 towards the end of last season to earn 9.950s. She has nice form in the air and is capable of sticking that blind landing.

Mollie Korth (Kentucky)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.950

Korth also vaults a Yurchenko 1.5 and has nearly perfected it, landing and all. In addition to good distance and a strong block, Korth knows how to find the landing for this tricky vault and even stuck it with her chest up at the 2018 NCAA Championships. She also does a good job of keeping her legs together and straight while in the air. Korth's vault from NCAAs last season made her a First Team All-American on the event.

Drew Watson (Auburn)

Year: Sophomore
Career High: 9.925

This former J.O. Nationals vault champion became an NCAA Regional vault champion last season with her Yurchenko 1.5. Her long lines are on display when she vaults and she keeps her legs together and straight and is able to get pretty good distance.

Uneven Bars

Samantha Cerio (Auburn)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.925

Cerio is a two-time NCAA qualifier and represented Auburn on bars both times, in 2017 and 2018. Last season, she advanced to NCAAs by becoming a regional bars champion. Her routine includes a unique combo of a hip circle to 1/2 turn to Jaeger. She has good handstands and a nice double-tuck dismount.

Sarah Finnegan (LSU)

Year: Senior
Career High: 10.000

Although bars wasn't an event Finnegan was known for as an elite, it's become one of her best events as a collegiate gymnast. The event shows off Finnegan's excellent form and lines and impeccable toe-point. Her routine includes a Ray and a straight double layout she can easily stick. She does a good job at hitting her handstands as well, which is an important aspect of bar routines.

Hailey Garner (Arkansas)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.975

Although she earned her near-perfect career high of 9.975 just last season, Garner actually started off 2018 a bit rough on bars with three scores below 9.600. However, she shook it off after a few meets and her scores began to climb all the way to the program-best 9.975 at the end of the 2018 regular season. Her routine includes a full pirouette connected directly to a Gienger to bail and a full-in dismount. She has great form throughout her set and doesn't have leg separations, maintaining a nice, clean line throughout.

Rachel Gowey (Florida)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.950

A staple in the Gators' bars and beam lineup for two years, Gowey has proven herself to be a reliable and high-scoring competitor. Coming from Chow's Gymnastics, it's no surprise she has great lines and form and no trouble hitting her handstand. Gowey has a great swing that helps her bar routine look smooth and effortless. She does a Ray, Pak salto and a nice, stretched double layout dismount. 


Lexie Priessman (LSU)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.975

After countless injuries and surgeries throughout her gymnastics career, Priessman has become a superb bars competitor for the Tigers, even winning the 2017 SEC uneven bars title. She's dynamic on the event where her routine includes a Tkatchev to Pak salto and a double layout dismount she has no problem sticking. Her form is great on the apparatus, keeping her toes pointed and legs together.

Balance Beam

Alyssa Baumann (Florida)

Year: Sophomore
Career High: 9.975

This WOGA alum has always been known for her excellent presentation and form on beam, and it's already shown in just one year as a Gator. In 2018, Baumann earned the SEC beam title. Her routine includes a lovely Onodi, a great back handspring layout step-out series, hit splits in the switch-leap-to-split-jump combo and a 1.5 dismount that she can stick. 

Sarah Finnegan (LSU)

Year: Senior
Career High: 10.000

Beam has always been an event Finnegan has excelled on, thanks to her wonderful presentation and great form. It's no surprise she's reached perfection on the four-inch apparatus, even with a difficult wolf turn at the start of her routine and a side somi towards the end. Even if she's a bit off on her back handspring layout step-out series, she's able to adjust herself to stay on, the mark of a true veteran. During her switch leap to switch leap 1/2, Finnegan hits 180 and shows off her toe-point. And though she didn't stick her aerial to Gainer full dismount at Gym 101 this week, Finnegan is certainly capable of sticking that dismount without error.

Abby Milliet (Auburn)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.925

This former elite led the Auburn Tigers last season on beam with seven event titles, including a regional beam title. Her gymnastics is polished, and that shows on beam. She begins her routine with a risky front tuck mount and also has a tricky split-jump-to-sheep-jump combo. Her back handspring layout step-out acro series is dynamic, and her cat-leap-to-Gainer dismount combo is rather unique.

Sabrina Vega (Georgia)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.925

The 2011 World Champion has been great for the Gymdogs on three events, beam being one of them. She competed on beam in every meet last season and has been great on the apparatus since her elite days. Vega begins her routine with a sissone mount and does a good job at really finishing every skill, from her back-handspring-layout-step-out series to her cat-leap-front-aerial combo. She's poised and doesn't rush into her skills, allowing her to hit her leaps and execute her aerial Gainer full dismount well.

Britney Ward (Missouri)

Year: Junior
Career High: 9.975

Ward competed beam for the entire 2018 season for the Tigers and earned All-SEC honors on the event after scoring a 9.900. She's got a nice triple series and a good switch-leap-pike-jump combo. A cat-leap-side-aerial combo and roundoff 1.5 dismount round out her beam set. Overall, she excels at hitting her combos and minimizing deductions to be one of Missouri's top beam workers.


Floor Exercise

Alicia Boren (Florida)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.950

Boren is explosive on floor where she not only has big tumbling but has also come out of her shell to perform and put on a show when she steps onto the mat. She opens with a great, stretched out double layout, has great form and keeps her legs nice, straight and together during her combo pass, and finishes with a double tuck. The Gator all-arounder also has nice leaps and jumps, which is an important but overlooked part of her routine. In addition, she has good control on the landings to help her minimize deductions.

Sidney Dukes (Kentucky)

Year: Senior
Career High: 9.925

Dukes was excellent on floor for the Wildcats last season, scoring a 9.900 or higher for half of the season. She brings great energy to the floor when she competes, which is great for NCAA meets. Dukes' routine opens with a double pike, followed by a beautiful front full to front layout. She even does a fun combo of a front aerial to illusion turn before finishing with a great double tuck. On her leaps, she has good extension and is controlled on her landings. So even though her tumbling isn't the hardest, she has clean, controlled tumbling that can score big.

Sarah Finnegan (LSU)

Year: Senior
Career High: 10.000

Floor was actually the first event Finnegan earned a perfect score on, and with her fantastic form and lovely dance, it's easy to see why. She begins with a 1.5 through to 2.5, followed by a nice, open double tuck and finishes with a lovely double pike. What makes her stand out on this event is her excellent form, which also shines during her leap series, and clean tumbling as she points her toes even during her double pike and double tuck. In addition, she knows how exactly how to move with her floor music and perform, which is important when it comes to NCAA competition.

McKenna Kelley (LSU)

Year: Redshirt Junior
Career High: 9.975

Kelley is returning to competition after missing all of the 2018 season because of a ruptured Achilles. Before the injury, Kelley was a great competitor for the Tigers on vault and especially floor. Her previous tumbling passes included a big double layout she could stick cold, a pretty open tucked full-in and a front tuck through to tucked double back. Her most recent routine from Gym 101, however, didn't have tumbling as big or difficult since she's returning from injury. Kelley still has a nice double layout to begin but has a front layout to front full and a double tuck to finish. It looks like she's making good progress and is getting back to where she was before. Perhaps as she gets back into competition, she may upgrade her passes.

Sydney Snead (Georgia)

Year: Senior
Career High: 10.000

Snead has been a great all-around competitor for the Gymdogs but has reached perfection on floor. She opens with a nice controlled double tuck, followed by a front 1.5 to straddle jump, and finishes with a beautiful double pike, complete with pointed toes. Her leaps also show off her great lines and form. Last season, she had some low scores on floor but earned a 9.900 or higher four times. The rest of her scores were mostly in the 9.800 range, so when she hits and really focuses on those details, Snead can get fantastic scores on floor for the Gymdogs.


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