5 NCAA Stories To Follow At The Cancun Classic

2019 is here, and so is the NCAA gymnastics season! Many NCAA teams begin their seasons this weekend, and FloGymnastics is bringing live coverage of the Cancun Classic, where Iowa State, Michigan, Rutgers, and West Virginia will open their seasons January 4. Not only is it the first meet of the season for these four teams, but there are other stories to follow for each team as they compete in Mexico.

1. Olivia Karas' return to competition

Michigan senior Olivia Karas hasn't competed in an official meet since February when she suffered a season-ending injury at Maryland. Prior to her injury, Karas was one of the Wolverines' top gymnasts on every event. She has a career high of 9.900+ on every event and has an all-around career high of 39.625. 

At Michigan's preseason exhibition, Karas competed vault, bars, and beam and earned 9.800+ scores on vault and bars but faltered a bit on beam for just a 9.600. The Cancun Classic presents Karas with her first opportunity to officially compete since her injury and improve on her routines from the Wolverines' preseason exhibition. She has been stellar for Michigan in the past, but only time will tell when she can return to her pre-injury gymnastics.

2. Iowa State's large freshman class

The 2019 Cyclone women's gymnastics roster consists of 20 gymnasts, almost half of whom are freshmen. With nine freshmen, the Cyclones will surely rely on many newcomers this season. It takes time to transition from club to NCAA gymnastics, so it will be interesting to see how many freshmen make the Iowa State lineups and how they do in their NCAA debuts.

3. Umme Salim-Beasley's debut as Rutgers head coach

Many NCAA coaching changes have happened in the past two seasons, including former Temple head coach Umme Salim-Beasley taking over the reins at Rutgers starting this season. Salim-Beasley was an assistant coach for the Scarlet Knights from 2012-2015, so she may have some familiarity with the program and some of the gymnasts. However, for the past three years, she helped the Temple women's gymnastics team make history, including setting a program-high RQS and resetting the school record team score twice.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2014-2015, Rutgers hasn't been able to finish higher than ninth out of 10 teams. But under her leadership, she hopes to elevate the program.

“Everything that we're doing with the program now is nothing like what I was a part of when I was an assistant coach," she said. "So we really are bringing something fresh and new to this team that they've never experienced before.” 

The Cancun Classic is the first opportunity for the Scarlet Knights to show that they are a new, different, and better team and program than before.

4. West Virginia's increased difficulty on floor

According to Mountaineers assistant coach Kaylyn Millick, they've "upped (their) difficulty for the 2019 season," including multiple E passes. Floor was West Virginia's second-best event last season, finishing at No. 28. With harder routines, the Mountaineers have the potential to score higher, compare to higher ranked teams, and improve their overall ranking on the event. But what also comes with higher difficulty is risk. Will the E passes be worth the risk, or will it end up hurting their execution and scores?

5. Big Ten preview

Two of the teams competing at the Cancun Classic are Big Ten schools. Michigan and Rutgers will meet directly at least two times this season, first at the Cancun Classic and in late February at Elevate the Stage Toledo. The Michigan Wolverines are the reigning Big Ten champions, and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights finished ninth at the 2018 Big Ten Championships. So this meet can offer a perspective of the entire range of gymnastics from the Big Ten, which is the largest gymnastics conference with 10 teams.


Related:
Cancun Classic Offers Unique Opportunity To Start Season
Wolverines Start Strong At Exhibition Meet

World Champions Lead Field At Khabarovsk T&T World Cup

Many reigning world champions and world medalists in both trampoline and tumbling are set to compete at this year's penultimate FIG T&T World Cup in Khabarovsk, Russia, Sept. 22-24. In fact, almost all reigning world gold medalists will be in Khabarovsk this weekend, so they will surely be ones to watch.

Sophie Marois & Ana Derek Ones To Watch At Guimaraes World Challenge Cup

The 2019 Guimarães World Challenge Cup will run from Sept. 19 until Sept. 22. This four-day competition is set in Portugal and will stream on FloGymnastics for PRO members based in Canada during the two final days of competition.

France, Russia & Ukraine Top Paris World Challenge Cup

After two days of jam-packed competition at the 2019 FIG Paris World Challenge Cup, Russia led the medal count with six, followed by France and Ukraine. Other countries that earned medals include Croatia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Spain, and Taiwan/Chinese Taipei.

15 Invited To U.S. Women's World Championships Selection Camp

Press release via USA Gymnastics

Olympians Headline Paris World Challenge Cup

The 2019 FIG Paris World Challenge Cup has a competitive field featuring many Olympians and World Championships medalists from all over the world, meaning there are several talented athletes to watch for at this meet. 

Ukraine Wins 9 Medals At Szombathely World Challenge Cup

More than 10 different countries saw its gymnasts stand atop the medal stand at the 2019 FIG Szombathely World Challenge Cup, but Ukraine led the way, claiming nine medals. Other countries that earned multiple medals include Great Britain, Israel, Japan, host country Hungary, Slovenia, and Spain.

Camilla Feeley Earns USA First WCC Rhythmic Medal Of The Season In Portimao

The fifth and final rhythmic gymnastics World Challenge Cup of the 2019 season is officially over, and the competition was a successful one for many parties. Multiple different countries got gymnasts onto the podium, making it one to remember for fans of many teams.

Portimao Hosts Final Rhythmic World Challenge Cup

The last of five World Challenge Cup rhythmic gymnastics competitions is this weekend. Held in Portimão, Portugal, the fifth and final WCC competition in this series will take place Sept. 6-8. Rhythmic seniors will compete as individuals and groups to see who can top the podiums in this southern beach town.

Gymnasts To Watch At The Szombathely World Challenge Cup

More than 100 gymnasts will be competing in the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Szombathely, Hungary, Sept. 6-8. Headlining the men's and women's fields are Olympians Oleg Verniaiev and Roxana Popa, but there are other gymnasts who will be ones to watch and contend for medals.

Home Team Shines At The 2019 Kazan Rhythmic World Challenge Cup

After three days of competition at the Kazan Rhythmic World Challenge Cup, Russia took first place in nearly every single category of competition. Being the host country and historically dominating the podium at rhythmic competitions, Russia was expected to perform well, and they delivered.