The long offseason has come to an end, and gymnastics season has finally arrived. The Oregon State Gymnastics team will kick off their season with a trip to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers this Saturday. But before that happens, we got some previewing to do!
Heading into this weekend’s matchup, the Beavs and Panthers gymnastics squads have only met once before in 1979 at an AIAW Championship that the Beavs won, so there isn't much history to look at for this meet. However, if last season is any indication for either of these squads, Oregon State will have a favorable matchup heading into the start of the season. The Beavs finished last season as the 11th ranked team, and go into this season ranked 12th in the nation. Pitt, meanwhile, finished fifth in their conference standings, and currently sit at a ranking 41st overall in the NCAA rankings.
After a promising Orange and Black exhibition, this young Oregon State squad faces their first live competition of the season. This roster is led by 2 seniors in all-around gymnast Shireen Khamedoost and the lone returning All-American on the team, Dani Dessaints. The 2 ladies have combined for 74 career routines and will look to lead the Beavs by example on Saturday. As pointed out in the most recent article of OSU: The Ocho, Dessaints is the Beaver gymnast to watch in this meet, as she now stands as the face of the program and the leader of this team after an impressive junior season. She is the star of the vault event for any team whenever she steps on the mat and has a very impressive routine on the balance beam event as well. Not to mention the fact that Dessaints has also been working on the uneven bars this offseason, so it will be interesting to see her routine in that event.
In addition to these senior, OSU boasts 3 juniors that all provided meaningful events to the Beavers 2017 postseason run. These juniors include Mariana Colussi-Perez, Mary Jacobsen, and McKenna Singley. In addition to these returning juniors, OSU also added the talented Lacy Dagen to the roster after Dagen transferred following 2 injury-marred seasons with the Florida Gators.
After the 2 seniors and several juniors, the overall experience of this squad drops off dramatically. As it stands, less than half of the Beaver roster competed in a meet for the team last year (9 of 19 ladies, if you’re counting). However, that doesn’t mean we are hopeless. Several young gymnasts feature a lot of talent, including freshman Kaitlyn Yanish, who boasts a highly anticipated floor routine that includes a double layout. Halli Briscoe, Savanna Force, Lena Greene, Lexi Gonzales, Niya Mack, Jamie Law, Maela Lazaro, Colette Yamaoka, and Alyssa Minyard are all freshmen who are looking to contribute their first collegiate competition routines.
There’s a lot of unknowns about the youth of this roster, but there also lies a plethora of optimism in the potential of this team. This Saturday against Pitt will be the first true test of the year for this talented squad of young ladies looking for another postseason run. It’s an exciting time to follow Oregon State Gymnastics, so be sure to watch the start of the season this Saturday at 3:00 pm PST on WatchESPN.