20 College Women's Gymnastics Teams to Keep Your Eye on in 2023

20 College Women’s Gymnastics Teams to Keep Your Eye on in 2023

The 2022 college women’s gymnastics season was one for the history books. Regional Championships were held between March 30th and April 2nd with eight college teams advancing to the NCAA Semi-finals on April 14th – Oklahoma, Utah, Minnesota, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Michigan, and Missouri. 

The top-two teams from each semi-final – Oklahoma, Utah, Florida, and Auburn – advanced to the NCAA Championships, held inside Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas in mid-April. Oklahoma reigned supreme, winning their fifth National Championship since 2014. They were followed by Florida, Utah, and Auburn. 

As for the individual results, we saw Trinity Thomas (Florida University) take home the floor title, uneven bars title, and all-around title – behind Sunisa Lee (Auburn University) and Megan Skaggs (Florida). Lee also took home the balance beam title, while Jaedyn Rucker (University of Utah) won the vault title. 

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Breaking Down the Top College Women’s Gymnastics Teams for 2023

20 College Women's Gymnastics Teams to Keep Your Eye on in 2023
via Instagram (@gatorsgym)

While the 2022 college women’s gymnastics season was full of excitement, that was more than seven months ago. By now, college women’s gymnastics teams and gymnasts are zeroing in on the 2023 season ahead. Over the past month, teams have already started unveiling their 2023 schedules. 

Teams will begin their journey to Regionals and Nationals in early January with meets running through March. Regionals will begin on March 28th with Denver, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Oklahoma acting as the host sites. Much like in year’s past, the National Championship will head to Fort Worth, TX. 

There’s a lot to look forward to this year as we see several college women’s gymnastics stars return for what we assume will be another dominating season for many – one of those being Trinity Thomas, the defending all-around champion. Let’s take a look at our way-too-early team rankings for the 2023 season.

20. Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been coached by Jenny Hansen since 2015. The team has won six Big Ten Conference championships (most recently in 2021) and four NCAA Tournament appearances (most recently in 2022). They’ve only won two Regional championships – once in 1981 and again in 1982.

The 2022-23 schedule contains meets against Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Boise State, and Arkansas – as well as the Big Five meet, scheduled for February 25th. They have four women returning for a fifth season, including Abbie Nylin, Maddie Quarles, Tiarre Sales, and Ali Sonier

19. Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illinois Fighting Illini have been coached by Nadalie Walsh since 2018. She’s entering her fifth season as head coach and has already led her team to the NCAA Regionals three times – the only time she didn’t was during the COVID-19 season, which was canceled. Her teams are always ready to compete.

The Fighting Illini 2022-23 schedule has meets against Missouri, Arizona, Rutgers, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State, and Michigan State. They’ll also compete in several multi-team meets – including the Big Five Meet and some that include LIU, Temple, NC State, Kentucky, Ohio State, ISU, and Kent State.

18. Stanford Cardinal

The Stanford Cardinal have been coached by Tabitha Yim since the summer of 2017. She has helped rebuild the women’s gymnastics program at her alma mater and is welcoming the No. 2 ranked class of 2023 recruits. The future is bright as they look to build upon an impressive campaign a season ago. 

The Cardinal 2022-23 schedule has meets against San Jose State, Arizona State, California, Arizona, Washington (in back-to-back weeks), Oregon State, and UCLA. They’ll also compete in the Metroplex Challenge and a four-team meet that pins them up against California, Ohio State, and Utah State. 

17. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes have been coached by Meredith Paulicivic since 2017 – she’s entering her sixth season as head coach of the program and is the fifth head coach in program history. The team is coming off one of its best seasons ever, breaking team records on the uneven bars and floor exercise in 2022. 

They also tied the beam record and achieved the second-best score in program history when they scored a 197.525 against Kent State. They went 7-3 overall last season and 4-1 in the conference – ending the season on a four-meet win streak before placing fifth in the Big Ten Championship and third in Regionals.

16. Denver Pioneers

The Denver Pioneers have been coached by Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart since the 1999 season – she’s entering her 25th season as head coach of the program. The former WCGA National Head Coach of the Year has led her team to 23 consecutive Regionals and has made five NCAA Nationals appearances. 

Last season, she watched freshman Momoko Iwai win the Big 12 beam title, Jessica Hutchinson win Big 12 all-around title, and Rylie Mundell win Big 12 bars title – all three of whom will be back this season. She also watched Abbie Thompson make her National Championship qualification on beam. 

15. Arizona State Sun Devils

The Arizona State Sun Devils have been coached by Jay Santos since the 2017 season – he’s entering his seventh season as head coach of the program. Santos has led his team five-straight seasons finishing in the top 25, including finishing the 2022 campaign as No. 22 in the nation. His team is consistently good. 

In fact, his team managed to score at least 196 points in all but one of its meets. The team achieved a score of at least 197 three times, including a 197.800 – which was the seventh-highest score in campus history. They look to improve on a 6-4 overall record last season and 5-2 record in the Pac-12 conference. 

14. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Arkansas Razorbacks have been coached by Jordyn Wieber since the 2019 season – she’s entering her fourth season as head coach of the program. You might recognize her from her days in the Olympics with Team USA – she won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics as a member of the ‘Fierce Five.’

Wieber led the Razorbacks to a 6-9 overall record last season – including a horrendous 0-7 record in the SEC. Keep in mind, they were going against some of the best teams in the country. They still managed to make their 18th consecutive Regionals appearance and second consecutive Regionals Final. 

13. Kentucky Wildcats

The Kentucky Wildcats have been coached by Tim Garrison since the 2012 season – he’s entering his 11th season with the program after a decade of success. When he arrived on campus, the team’s all-time highest score was 196.375. Since his arrival, they’ve topped or matched that score 46 total times. 

Garrison knows how to get the most out of his gymnasts. He coached the team to an 8-3 record last season – all three losses coming within the SEC. They start their 2023 season on January 8th vs. Ohio State and end the season with meets against Florida, Auburn, and Illinois between Feb. 24 and Mar. 11. 

12. UCLA Bruins

The UCLA Bruins have been coached by Janelle McDonald since 2022 – she joined the program in May after spending time as an assistant coach for California. She joins a team with a rich history – winning 20 conference championships, 23 Regional championships, and seven National Championships all-time. 

Their most recent title came in 2018 – which was also their last Super Six appearance. They also won a Regional championship and Conference championship in 2019. We’re excited to see how UCLA performs with a new head coach leading the way – one with more than two decades of coaching experience. 

11. Oregon State Beavers

The Oregon State Beavers have been coached by Tanya Chaplin since 1998 – she’s entering her 26th season as head coach of the program. Chaplin was a six-time All-American at UCLA, so she understands what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level, but she was also a three-time member of Team USA. 

The five-time Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year is known for her ability to get the most out of her gymnasts in the floor and beam routines – her choreography is next-level. She led her team to a 10-3 record last season and went 7-0 at home. They start their 2023 campaign on January 14th vs. California.

10. California Golden Bears

The California Golden Bears have been coached by Justin Howell since the 2012 season, later adding his wife, Elisabeth Crandall-Howell, as a co-head coach in 2018. Together, they’re building quite the program at California – with Justin already becoming the winningest coach in California campus history. 

Howell was named the 2016 NACGC/W National Coach of the Year and is also a six-time Regional Coach of the Year, and three-time Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year. He has led the Golden Bears to seven consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and he’ll likely make it eight-straight this season. 

9. Missouri Tigers

The Missouri Tigers have been coached by Shannon Welker since the 2014 season and is entering his 10th season as head coach of the program. He continues to build the program into one of the newest powerhouses in college women’s gymnastics. I expect them to continue their climb this season. 

The Tigers finished the 2022 season with an 11-4 overall record – all four of their losses coming in the SEC. Three of those losses came in a row against No. 12 Kentucky, No. 4 Florida, and No. 7 Auburn. They play those same three teams in a row in 2023 on February 3, February 10, and February 19. 

8. Michigan State Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans have been coached by Mike Rowe since the 2018 season and is entering his sixth season as head coach of the program. He’s a former member of Michigan State’s cheer squad and graduated from the school in 1985. He spent a few years as an assistant coach before the promotion.

Rowe led the 2022 Spartans to a record-breaking season. They eclipsed the 197.000 mark five times and broke the overall team score record three times – including doing it in the Regional Finals with a 197.650. They also set records on the vault, bars, beam, and bars – now they need to continue that momentum!

7. Michigan Wolverines

The Michigan Wolverines have been coached by Bev Plocki since the 1990 season and is entering her 34th season as head coach of the program. She has secured 847 wins since joining Michigan – an incredible number, considering Sheri Hyatt is the next closest head coach with 51 wins for Michigan. 

Plocki led the Wolverines to their first ever National Championship in 2021 and were Regional champions last season – as well as Conference Champions. For a school with 26 Conference Championships, 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, and 14 Regional Championships, expectations are always going to be high.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been coached by Ashley Johnston since 2022 – she took over as head coach in May and will be entering her first season as Alabama head coach in 2023. She has a history with the program, as a 10-time All-American and two-time National Champion at Alabama herself.

Alabama has a rich history when it comes to gymnastics. They’ve won 10 Conference Championships, 32 Regional Championships, and six National Championships – making 39 NCAA tournament appearances and 33 Super Six appearances. Johnston will look to use her experience to exceed her high expectations. 

5. LSU Tigers

The LSU Tigers have been coached by Jay Clark since the 2020 season – he’s entering his third season as head coach of the program, but has been an associate coach with LSU since 2012. He’s nationally recognized as one of the best recruiters in college women’s gymnastics – a quality trait to have. 

He’s also known as one of the best coaches when it comes to the uneven bars. He’s hoping to lead the program to their first National Championship in 2023 after two-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. He would also like to snag an SEC Championship, which LSU hasn’t won since winning three straight in 2017-2019. 

4. Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers have been coached by Jeff Graba since the 2010 season – he’s entering his 13th season as head coach of the program and is credited with putting the team on the map. Last season, he led the team to their first Four on the Floor appearance and 28th NCAA Tournament appearance. 

At the 2022 NCAA Championships, Auburn finished in fourth place. They were led by Sunisa Lee (39.625), Cassie Stevens (39.450), and Sophia Groth (39.3375). Derrian Gobourne and Aria Brusch also performed well for Auburn. All five of those women will be returning to the team in 2023. 

3. Utah Utes

The Utah Utes have been coached by Tom Farden since the 2016 season – he spent four years as co-head coach and the past three years as sole head coach. In the past three years alone, he has led Utah to back-to-back Pack-12 Championships, two Regional championships, and two third-place finishes. 

His team finished just 0.450 points behind first place at the 2022 NCAA National Championships. They were led by Grace McCallum (39.5625) and Maile O’Keefe (38.3125), but also had strong showings from Abby Paulson, Jaedyn Rucker, Kara Eaker, and several others. They should be even better in 2023.

2. Florida Gators

The Florida Gators have been coached by Jenny Rowland since the 2016 season – she’s entering her eighth season as head coach of the program. She consistently has her team in the top-four in the country and is known for producing some of the greatest gymnasts year-in and year-out. She’s a special coach. 

The Gators finished just 0.1125 points away from first place at the 2022 National Championships. Trinity Thomas (39.8625) won the individual all-around title – as well as the floor and uneven bars titles. Her perfect 10.000 on the floor was the only perfect-10 among the top-four teams. She’ll be back in 2023.

1. Oklahoma Sooners

The Oklahoma Sooners have been coached by K.J. Kindler since the 2006 season – she’s entering her 18th season as head coach of the program. Since 2014, she has led the Sooners to five National Championships (2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2022). They’re the team to beat as defending champs. 

The Sooners performed exceptionally well at the National Championships last season. They didn’t have any one gymnast compete in all events, but had five different ladies compete in three of the four events – they each scored at least 29.525. They’ll have another capable team of all-stars during the 2023 season.

Who Are the Top College Women’s Gymnastics Stars in 2023? 

I hope you’re prepared for another exciting season as we see some of the biggest and brightest college women’s gymnastics stars represent their university and city. As we mentioned above, one of the NCAA’s biggest stars – Trinity Thomas – announced her return to Florida, which is exciting in its own right.

She’ll be looking to repeat as all-around champion, but there will be some resistance this year – as there is every season. For example, Natalie Wojcik and Sierra Brooks from Michigan are in the running, as are the former Olympians in college – Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, Jade Carey, and Jordan Chiles

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We’ll also get to see the addition of several exciting freshman – including Selena Harris at UCLA and Morgan Price at Fisk. And if you’re looking for a good storyline to follow this season, Fisk University has you covered as they become the first HBCU Intercollegiate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team ever.

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