10 Outstanding Routines That Defined the 2021 NCAA Gymnastics Season
It's hard to single out the best of the best when you're talking about performances in collegiate gymnastics. There's so much talent, near-perfection, and excitement that courses through the veins of the sport and its show-stopping athletes. But this season, which came to a close after last weekend's NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships, has been nothing short of entertaining and empowering. It's what gymnastics fans needed after a 2020 schedule that was cut short.
As a devoted fan and former gymnast, I've put together 10 of my personal favorite routines from the 2021 season, which you can find ahead. The list includes performances on all four events (vault, bars, beam, floor), and you might recognize some viral moments from this year. Yes, there are countless others I wished to add, but we'd be here for hours if that was the case. Prepare yourselves for fun dance moves, stuck landings, pointed toes, and incredible athleticism. Plus, if you're looking for more highlights, check out this separate roundup of floor routines set to popular songs.
Nia Dennis's 2021 Floor Routine For UCLA
Nia Dennis went viral last year for her floor routine that paid tribute to Beyoncé's Homecoming documentary. This time around, the UCLA senior continued to pay homage to Black culture with choreography that incorporates a raised fist and stepping, for example. It's also set to songs from Black artists. She calls the routine "The Culture," and she told the Los Angeles Times simply, "I aspire to inspire."
Lynnzee Brown's Perfect-10 2021 Bar Routine For University of Denver
Lynnzee Brown scored a 10.00 for this bar routine on March 20, clinching the University of Denver's very first Big 12 Championship title (and her own first perfect 10 on bars). If that stuck double layout dismount doesn't say it all, I don't know what does! She scored another perfect 10 on this event a few weeks ago.
Natalie Wojcik's 10.00 2021 Beam Routine For University of Michigan
Natalie Wojcik, a junior, is the 2019 national champion on this event, and you'll see why. Her 10.00 routine on Feb. 15 features a perfectly-executed tumbling series of two back handspring stepouts to a layout stepout and a stuck dismount: a roundoff into a layout with one-and-a-half twists. The way she flows across the beam is absolutely beautiful — and congrats, Michigan, for your NCAA Gymnastics Championship win on April 17!
Emi Watterson's Perfect-10 2021 Bar Routine For UC Berkeley
Senior Emi Watterson scored a perfect 10 for her bar routine on March 6 all while wearing a mask. She told POPSUGAR that though the University of California, Berkeley's gymnastics coaches did not require their gymnasts to wear masks as they competed, she was used to sporting one during practices. It was the school's second-ever perfect score on bars.
Margzetta Frazier's 2021 Floor Routine For UCLA
Junior Margzetta Frazier's Janet Jackson-inspired floor routine was one of the highlights of the 2021 collegiate gymnastics season. UCLA choreographer BJ Das even included bits of choreography from Jackson's music videos. If you haven't already seen it, it's a must-watch full of personality and skill.
Haleigh Bryant's 10.00 2021 Vault For LSU
Freshman Haleigh Bryant was one of LSU's shining stars this season, and she scored two perfect 10s on vault. She does a front handspring front pike half, and she earned the title of NCAA vault co-champion over the weekend. This particular perfect-10 vault is from March 5.
Chae Campbell's 2021 Floor Routine For UCLA
Freshman Chae Campbell has been an asset to UCLA this season with her outstanding performances in the all-around. Packed with high-flying tumbling (watch her stick her double tuck mid-routine!) and music that makes you want to move, her floor routine is the real standout. She has a presence on the floor that draws you in and keeps you captivated.
Maile O'Keefe's 10.00 2021 Beam Routine For University of Utah
Maile O'Keefe, a sophomore at the University of Utah, scored a perfect 10 on beam on Jan. 30 (she went on to receive co-champion national titles on floor and bars over the weekend). Her aerial to back layout stepout is rock-solid, and she looks nothing but confident.
Trinity Thomas's 10.00 2021 Floor Routine For University of Florida
University of Florida junior Trinity Thomas scored two 10.00s on floor this season, and here is one of them in all its glory. Her massive double layout that she opens up with is one of the best in collegiate gymnastics (the height and the landing really are impressive), and she showcases her flexibility, power, and graceful dance moves.
Allison Zuhlke's Original 2021 Vault For Towson University
Allison Zuhlke, a freshman at Towson University, has a vault called the "Zuhlke" that's named after her in USA Gymnastics's Junior Olympic Code of Points. According to the Baltimore Sun, she debuted an upgraded version of it, what her coaches are referring to as the "Zuhlke 2," this season in the NCAA. It's extremely difficult and involves a front handspring onto the board (entrees onto the board are usually roundoffs) with a tsuk full in a tucked position off the table.