Olivia Karas is one of the freshman we are most excited about this season! Liv, as she calls herself for short, trained at IK Gymnastics in Illinois and was a powerhouse level 10 who had lots of success during her JO career. She's a three time JO National qualifier with her highest finish being in 2014 when she won the all-around and vault titles. In 2015 she placed 4th all-around and claimed the vault title yet again. She's also a two time Nastia Cup qualifier, placing 3rd all-around and 2nd on vault in 2015. With the yurchenko full being devalued starting this season, many teams have been forced to learn new vaults that start from a 10.0. Luckily for the Wolverines, Liv has consistently competed a yurchenko 1.5 for the last two years and should be a staple in their vault lineup. Liv also comes to Michigan with some big tumbling- on floor she does an arabian double front (which she has also competed in the piked position and it's amazing!) and a beautiful whip to double twist. It's also noteworthy that on beam she does a standing layout step out (that she plans to connect to a split jump) and on bars she dismounts with a very unique toe on front pike- which we love! The Wolverines are lucky to have her for the next four years!
Katelyn Ohashi- UCLA
One of the biggest names joining the NCAA this season is Katelyn Ohashi. Katelyn is best known for being one of the top elite gymnasts in the country during the 2012 quad and was considered by many to be a contender for Rio until injuries took her out of the game in 2013. Luckily for UCLA, she's healthy now and should make a great impact on all their lineups, but especially on beam. Katelyn was the beam queen during her elite days and once had a start value as high as 17.3 (which easily could have won her a World or Olympic gold medal if she was able to compete.) Ohashi was known for her beautiful lines and signature back handspring layout full. Prior to coming to UCLA, Katelyn trained at WOGA and was a national team member from 2009-2013. She is the 2011 Junior National Champion and won the American Cup in her only competition as a senior elite in 2013. We can't wait to see what Katelyn will accomplish at UCLA!
Sarah Finnegan- LSU
Another big name joining the NCAA this season is Sarah Finnegan. It's been a long time since we've seen Finnegan compete- her last major competition was the 2012 Olympic Trials where she was named an alternate to the 2012 Olympic team. Finnegan was a national team member from 2010-2012 and trained at GAGE for most of her career. In 2012 she won a silver medal on beam at the Visa Championships and took home three medals from the Jesolo Trophy meet in Italy. (Gold with the team and bronze on floor and in the all-around.) The anticipation is building for Finnegan's competitive return this season. She will likely be a key contributor in the beam and floor lineups; the two events she's known for and we can only hope she'll still compete those gorgeous wolf turns!
Lizzy Leduc- University of Illinois
Balance Beam - Lizzy Leduc ---- WoW!
Posted by Asia Gymnastics on Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Leduc, who was originally committed to LSU, is a huge pickup for Illinois. From 2009 to 2010, Lizzy competed as an elite in the United States- qualifying to the Visa Championships in both of those years and stealing the hearts of many. In 2011, she decided to drop down to level 10 after spraining both of her elbows. She sat out the next two seasons with injuries and finally returned to competition in 2013- placing 4th all-around at JO Nationals. In 2014, Lizzy became the Texas State and Regional Champion and placed 2nd all-around at JO Nationals. In 2015 she began competing internationally for the Philippines. At the Southeast Asian Games she helped the Philippines team to an historic 3rd place finish. Individually she finished 6th all-around and qualified to beam and floor event finals. Lizzy is a powerful gymnast and could contribute on all four events for the Illini. We're super excited that she decided to come to Illinois because she can really be the star of that team.
Alicia Boren- University of Florida
Alicia Boren is a tank and I fully expect her to dominate in college gymnastics. To start, she's a four time JO National qualifier and a four time JO National Champion. Yes that's right...she has consecutively won the last four JO National Championships. She's also a three time Nastia Cup qualifier. At the 2015 Nastia Cup, Boren won the vault, beam, and floor titles. A fall on the bars kept her from completely sweeping the competition, but she still managed to place 5th all-around which is very impressive. Alicia competes a yurchenko 1.5 on vault with ease and ends with a full-in on floor. She's definitely a powerhouse and is going to do so well in college!
Lexie Priessman- LSU
Lexie Priessman is another former elite standout who is ready to shine in college gymnastics. A junior National Champion in 2012 and a national team member from 2010-2013, Lexie's promising elite career came to an end after dealing with a string of injuries. She left her long time coach Mary Lee Tracy in 2014 and announced her retirement from elite in June of 2015, confirming that she would be joining the Tigers this season. The gymnastics world first fell in love with Lexie when she won the inaugural Nastia Liukin Cup back in 2010 and was touted as one to watch for on the road to Rio. Throughout her elite career, Lexie competed at various international competitions and competed difficult skills such as an amanar on vault, a full-in dismount off beam, and a double double and laid out full-in on floor. Although she hasn't competed since 2013, Lexie can do big things at LSU when she's a full strength.
Emma McLean - University of Michigan
Emma Mclean is the second member of the Michigan freshman class and she is going to be another great one! Emma, who trained at Stars & Stripes Gymnastics in Michigan is a three time JO National qualifier and a 2015 Nastia Liukin Cup qualifier. Her best performance at JO Nationals was in 2015 when she placed 2nd on floor, 4th on vault, and 3rd all-around. Emma is a powerful gymnast and will probably make the biggest impact in the vault and floor lineup. (Check out the height on that first pass!)
McKenna Kelly- LSU
LSU brings in another big name this season and it's the daughter of 1984 Olympic Champion Mary Lou Retton. Mckenna Kelley is a two time JO National qualifier, placing 5th all-around in 2013 and 1st on floor in 2014. Mckenna tied for first all-around at the 2014 Nastia Cup and began her quest towards qualifying elite. She attended several national team camps in 2015 and showed videos of some big upgrades done with ease on her Instagram. (She posted videos of her doing a double double and a laid out full-in on floor and a standing arabian and standing full on beam.) Unfortunately, she struggled to pass her elite compulsories and never made it to elite status, but Mckenna is super talented and will make a great college gymnast for sure.
Haylee Roe- University of Illinois
Haylee joins her Metroplex teammate Lizzy Leduc at Illinois this season. Roe is a five time JO National qualifier and is the level 10 Illinois State Champion in the all-around and on bars and floor. Roe's highest placement at JO Nationals was in 2014 when she placed 3rd all-around. We have followed Haylee's career for a long time and we're super excited to finally see her compete in college this season!
Peyton Ernst- University of Florida
Peyton Ernst is another former elite who trained at Texas Dreams under World Champion Kim Zmeskal. Ernst competed at the elite level for four years and was on the national team for two. At the 2013 Secret Classic she placed 2nd all-around and 1st on beam. She also competed at several international competitions such as the Tokyo World Cup where she placed 2nd all-around. Peyton is a beautiful gymnast to watch and will compliment the Florida team very well.