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  • Writer's picturePenny McNees

NCAA Gymnastics Mean Girls Super 16 Preview

The Mean Girls Super 16 in Las Vegas opens up the 2024 NCAA Gymnastics season on January 5th and 6th. The Mean Girls Super 16 will feature four teams in four sessions. In each session, there will be a team, all-around, and event champions. This will be a very competitive season opener with seven of the teams being ranked top-10 in the pre-season poll. 

The first session features #10 University of Denver, #21 University of Washington, #26 University of Illinois, and San Jose State University. 

Rylie Mundell and Jessica Hutchinson. Photo courtesy of @denver_gymnastics/Instagram

University of Denver

The University of Denver has 11 gymnasts from last year's squad, including Jessica Hutchinson and Rylie Mundell, who will be huge contributors to this Denver squad. Hutchinson can contribute big numbers on every event with 2023 season highs of 9.925 on vault, 9.95 on bars, and 10s on beam and floor, and will look towards continuing this success in the 2024 season. Mundell contributes on every event for Denver but has had the most success on vault and bars. Consistency is Mundell’s secret weapon on these events, only scoring below a 9.8 twice on vault and scoring a 9.825 or above on every bar routine competed in the 2023 season. With Hutchinson and Mundell leading the way, Denver should walk away from this session as the winner. 

University of Washington

The University of Washington is going to be led by Skylar Killough-Wilhelm. Killough-Wilhelm has been a staple for Washington in the all-around with career highs of at least a 9.9 on each event. Head Coach Jen Llewellyn the past two seasons has brought a new life to the Washington gymnastics team and that is expected to continue in her third season at the helm. Washington is the team to look out for in this session to upset Denver.

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois has many strong returners from last year's squad, including graduate students Mia Takekawa and Mia Townes. Takekawa, the second-team all-American from 2023 shines on multiple events, but especially the balance beam. On beam last season, Takekawa had 10 scores out of 13 routines competed score a 9.9 or better. Townes towards the end of the 2023 season was a very consistent gymnast for Illinois on three events and will look to continue that in the 2024 season. 

San Jose State University 

San Jose State University is the underdog in this session being the only team not ranked in the pre-season poll, but they can upset Illinois and Washington if all the pieces fall the right way. SJSU is led by 2023 MPSF Gymnast of the Year Lauren Macpherson. Macpherson competed in the all-around for SJSU in every meet in the 2023 season and stood out on the balance beam. On beam, Macpherson scored a 9.825 or higher on every single routine she competed, including a season-high 9.95. SJSU has multiple returners like Macpherson who can put up competitive numbers on each event. It will be interesting to see how SJSU does in their new conference, the Mountain West Conference, but don’t be shocked when SJSU has a great 2024 season. 

The second session features #1 University of Oklahoma,  #6 University of Michigan, #9 University of Kentucky, and #11 Michigan State University and this session is arguably the most competitive of the Mean Girls Super 16.

University of Oklahoma

The back-to-back NCAA champions are the favorite to win the second session. Head Coach KJ Kindler has another stacked and talented team this year. There are so many talented gymnasts to highlight on this team including Jordan Bowers, Audrey Davis, and Danielle Sievers. Bowers finished the 2023 regular season as the fifth-best all-arounder with an all-around high score of 39.750 and received a 10.0 on the uneven bars and floor, and is expected to exceed these numbers in her Junior campaign. Davis was the queen of the bars for OU scoring a 9.95 or higher 10 times out of 16 routines competed and scored a 9.8 or above on all 16 routines. Davis also contributed high scores on vault, balance beam, and floor. Sievers is a three-event consistency queen, scoring a 9.825 or above on every single routine competed on vault, uneven bars, and floor. With Bowers, Davis, and Sievers, along with Ragan Smith, Katherine LeVasseur, and Faith Torrez, the rest of the Oklahoma squad is gearing up for another dominant season. 

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is going to be the biggest threat to Oklahoma in this session. Sierra Brooks and Gabby Wilson are both returning and are both lethal in all four events. Brooks' best event is arguably floor, scoring a 9.9 or higher in the 2022 and 2023 seasons. As an all-arounder for the Wolverines, Brooks can and will put up very high scores in all four events. Wilson is another gymnast who can put up a big all-around score but tends to shine on the vault and floor with 2023 season highs of 9.975 on each event. Michigan has what it takes this season to pull multiple upsets, and this session could easily be the first one.

Hailey Davis. Photo courtesy of @ukgymnastics/Instagram

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky has its best returning all-around gymnast in Raena Worley. Worley in the 2023 season competed in the all-around in every meet and finished 11th in the regular season standings with a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 39.625. Worley can put up big scores in all four events for Kentucky and will be relied on during the 2024 season. Another Kentucky standout is Hailey Davis. Davis excels on the floor exercise, with reaching a season-high 9.95, three times in the 2023 season, and did not score under 9.8. Kentucky is another team that can potentially upset Oklahoma, along with Michigan.

Michigan State University

In the past two seasons, Michigan State University has significantly improved finishing the 2023 season ranked #11, after finishing #56 in the 2021 season. Two athletes who have contributed to that success have been Skyla Schulte and Nikki Smith. Schulte and Smith both put up very high scores for MSU, consistently scoring above a 9.8 on all events, including a 9.975 on floor for Schulte and a 10.0 on vault for Smith. What is scary for the competitors is that Schulte and Smith aren't the only gymnasts on the squad that can put up these big numbers. Michigan State could also easily pull an upset, making the second session, a session not to miss.

The third session features #13 Oregon State University, #18 University of Minnesota, #24 Southern Utah University, and #31 Brigham Young University.

Oregon State

Oregon State is expected to win the third session with their all-around star, 2020 Floor Olympic Champion Jade Carey, and the transfer from the University of Utah in Sage Thompson, who is expected to contribute in the all-around for the Beavers. Carey in the 2023 season scored a 10.0 on every event and had meets where she scored multiple 10.0s in the same meet. She finished ranked number one in the regular season in the all-around and floor exercise. Thompson the transfer from Utah is going to be a new weapon for the beavers. Thompson showed a strong all-around performance in the Orange vs Black meet and will be utilized by the Beavers in all four events in the 2024 season.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota is going to be in good hands with returners Gianna Gerdes and Mya Hooten. Gerdes consistently competes in the all-around for Minnesota and excels in the floor exercise. In the 2023 season, Gerdes scored a season-high 9.95 three times on floor. Like Gerdes, Hooten also shines on floor. Hooten received two 10.0s on the floor and only scored under a 9.9 once in the 2023 season. Hooten also puts up big numbers on vault and the uneven bars. With Gerdes and Hooten leading the way, Minnesota can put up a high score in the season opener and will be the biggest challenger for Oregon State in this session.

Ellie Cacciola. Photo courtesy @suugymnastics/Instagram

Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University is a very young team with only six upperclassmen compared to 17 underclassmen, of which 12 are freshmen. SUU is going to look up to Ellie Cacciola to lead the team this season. Cacciola is a three-event gymnast competing on the vault, balance beam, and floor exercise, boasting 2023 season highs of a 9.9 on vault, 9.925 on beam, and 9.875 on floor. It will be interesting to see how such a young team does competing in the Mean Girls Super 16.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University, like Southern Utah University also similarly has a young team with nine freshmen on the team. For BYU, two standout gymnasts are Elease Rollins and Sydney Benson. Rollins shines on the balance beam for BYU, with a 2023 season high of 9.975 on the event. In addition to the balance beam, Rollins also puts up solid numbers on floor. Benson shines on vault and floor with 2023 season highs of 9.9 on both events. Benson also contributes on the uneven bars for BYU. Like SUU, it will be interesting to see how BYU does in the season opener.

The fourth session features  #5 University of California, Los Angeles, #7 University of California, Berkeley,  #8 University of Alabama, and #17 Auburn University. This session will also be extremely competitive and is a must-watch session.

Chae Campbell. Photo courtesy @uclagymnastics/Instagram

University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles is gearing up for another strong season and has returners Selena Harris and Chae Campbell to lead the way. Harris had an outstanding freshman year for UCLA competing in the all-around. Harris had season highs of 10.0 on vault, 9.975 on uneven bars, 9.975 on balance beam, and 9.95 on floor. She will look to match and improve on these numbers in her sophomore season. Campbell shines on the vault and floor for the UCLA squad with 2023 season highs of 9.95s on both events and can add major scores for the Bruins on uneven bars and balance beam as well. UCLA is expected to walk away with the win for the fourth session.

University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is going to be right on UCLA's heels in this fourth session and is led by Andi Li, eMjae Frazier, and Gabby Perea. Li has shined in the all-around for Cal, especially on the uneven bars. Li scored a 2023 season high of 9.975 three times and also scored a 9.95 on the event six times in the season. Frazier also competes in the all-around and shines on floor scoring a 10.0 on the event in the 2023 season. Frazier's older sister, Margzetta Frazier will also be competing in the fourth session with UCLA, so eMjae will be fueled to beat her older sister. Perea is a bar and beam standout for Cal with 2023 season highs of 9.975 on both events. California is going to be a force in this session and could upset UCLA.

University of Alabama 

The University has a very talented team and two standouts are Luisa Blanco and Makarri Doggette. Blanco can contribute in the all-around for Alabama but where she stands out is on the balance beam. Blanco scored three 10.0s on the event during the 2023 season, including two of those occurring in back-to-back weeks. When competing in the all-around, Blanco can put up very high scores on all four events. Doggette excels on the uneven bars and scored a 10.0 during the 2023 season on the event. Doggette also regularly competes vault for the Tide and also occasionally competes balance beam and floor. Alabama is another team in this session to be on the upset lookout.

Auburn University

For Auburn University Olivia Hollingsworth and Cassie Stevens are commanding the all-around. Hollingsworth last season went from competing only balance beam for the tigers to competing in the all-around and she excelled. Hollingsworths' best event during the 2023 season was floor exercise, scoring a career-high 9.95 on the event. Stevens is another strong all-arounder for Auburn putting up very consistent and high scores including a 9.975 on vault and a 9.95 on beam. Auburn is the underdog team of this session, but if everything goes their way, they could upset teams in this fourth session.

The Mean Girls Super 16 is being held at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be streamed on the Mean Girls Super 16 Gymnastics Championships YouTube Channel.

January 5th

Session One - 4 p.m. EST

Session Two - 10 p.m. EST

January 6th

Session Three - 3 p.m. EST

Session Four - 9 p.m. EST


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