Oregon State gymnastics season ends with flips, turns

Beaver Women’s Gymnastics team runs up to congratulate fellow Beaver gymnast on March 1 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon.
Beaver Women’s Gymnastics team runs up to congratulate fellow Beaver gymnast on March 1 at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon.
Taya Etzell

Gymnastics offseason has begun and Beaver gymnasts are looking over their accomplishments from last season as they prepare to grace Gill Coliseum once again this winter.

The team posted a final overall record of 15-11 and a Pac-12 record of 4-3.. When competing at home they possessed a record of 7-1, accompanied by a 2-2 away record and 6-8 in neutral territory. They finished with an overall season score of 196.838 and a National Qualifying Score of 197.085 which sent the team to regionals.

“Overall I think we had a very solid season. We were a little inconsistent more than we normally like to me but I think the team got better and improved and worked really hard the whole year,” associate head coach Micheal Chaplin said.

The Beavers had high expectations going into the season with a possibility of winning nationals.

They had multiple stretches throughout the season winning three competitions in a row. They were even able to take down high-ranked powerhouses such as the University of Arizona Wildcats, University of California at Los Angeles Bruins and University of Utah Utes.

Junior transfer Sage Thompson was in her first season with the Beavers after transferring from the Utes, and made an immediate impact to the team’s overall scores, adding a new standard to the uneven bars event for the team. Oregon State was ranked 21 on the uneven bars in the previous year and jumped to seventh in the following season.

“It’s always fun to travel and go to other people’s home turfs because everyone has a different energy, there’s different equipment and scenery and sometimes you see old teammates or old friends. Overall I think Gill (Coliseum) is the most fun to be in,” Thompson said.

There were some losing stretches for the Beavers, especially later in the season. Even so, the team felt the coaches looked after them and never wavered in their level of confidence in the team moving forward.

“I love (the coaches’) approach, because they always take it as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to learn because it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it,” Thompson said.

The momentum of the season was halted by multiple injuries to starters junior Lauren Letzsch, senior Sydney Gonzales and sophomore Ellie Weaver. Letzsch and Weaver did not participate throughout the season, while Gonzales suffered a season-ending achilles tear that she shared via Instagram. This resulted in a noticeable impact on beam that has been previously a high scoring event for the Beavs.

The Beavers last season had an average beam score of 49.565 ranked fourth in nationals, which this year dropped to 49.235 ranked 25.

“That hurt that event, that’s usually one of our top events. We also had some graduations. Madi Dagen was one of our top beam (gymnasts) and she graduated. So there were a lot of holes in that particular event. I think that is why we struggled a bit there,” Chaplin said.

There were plenty of people willing to step up that kept the dam standing strong even in the face of adversity–Thompson, freshman Sophia Esposito and junior Jade Carey.Jade Carey gives Sophia Esposito a pep talk before she competes her beam routine at the Oregon State University v. Brown gymnastics meet at Gill Coliseum on January 21st, 2024.

Jade Carey gives Sophia Esposito a pep talk before she competes her beam routine at the Oregon State University v. Brown gymnastics meet at Gill Coliseum on January 21st, 2024.

Carey has been an icon at Oregon State and in the gymnastics world after she won an Olympic gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She continues to serve as the team’s top prospect, becoming the No.13 GymBeav to complete GymSlam, earning at least one perfect 10 in each event by the end of the 2022-2023 season.

Esposito was an incoming freshman who debuted the spotlight quickly in her first home meet this season, where she posted a 9.900 on beam. She continued as a regular high-scoring contributor in all-around and earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after her first season as a Beaver.

In that same meet against Brown University where she posted this score the Beavers acquired their highest team score of the season at 197.575.

“Sophia Esposito is another one, a freshman who did a great job stepping in and doing a great job on beam,” Chaplin said.

This season marked the 49th consecutive year the team has made the postseason regional competition. They faced off against Louisiana State University, University of Minnesota, then Brigham Young University, where they ended their postseason run.

While the team as a whole could not compete after regionals, Carey continued to give the Beavers something to cheer for by qualifying for the national championship. As the lone OSU participant, she placed second all-around in floor, third in beam, eighth in vault and tied for 18th in bars.

“She did great. It was exciting to have her there representing (OSU) at the national championship and for her to have a super successful meet and finish second all around,” Chaplin said.

“We had a little watch party and so everyone as a team watched her on TV,” Thompson said.
“But we all got to watch her and cheer her on.”

After this season the Beavers are sending off senior Ariana Young. The other senior, Gonzales is currently working on recovering from her injury and returning for another year.

“Ariana Young is the only one that is gonna be done and move on, Sydney Gonzales was the one that was injured, she might be using a COVID-19 year. She has the ability to come back, so she decided to stick around and we are excited about that,” Chaplin said.

Going into his 28th season, Chaplin insists that they are already making preparations and adjustments for next year, whether that be in focus on certain events or the recruits that will be joining the team.

“Beam is an event where we think we are gonna be a lot better because we get people back and we’ll be stronger. Down the road the other big difference is vault,” Chaplin said.

All gymnasts are already back in the gym and preparing for the 2024-2025 season with all coaches and athletes excited to have a new shot to make an even deeper postseason run.

“I think this year just added a lot of fuel to our tank and we are really excited to get out there next year and hone in on all the details we need to do better. I think everyone is really motivated and really ready to just tackle the challenges that may come along,” Thompson said.

The 2024-2025 gymnastics schedule is being constructed and is nearly locked in. The first scheduled event will be the Oregon State Orange and Black Meet, which will be hosted in Gill Coliseum on Dec. 16.

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