By Sofia Scekic
Men’s and women’s gymnastics were also among the teams to pen recruits. The reigning NCAA champions signed five while the women’s side signed four.
Taylor Burkhart, Nick Kuebler, Ian Lasic-Ellis, Luke McFarland and Khoi Young, the Cardinal’s group of five commits, give head coach Thom Glielmi one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. All five are current or former USA Junior National Team Members, adding to the likes of two-time junior MPSF Gymnast of the Year Brody Malone and sophomore CGA Rookie of the Year Brandon Briones.
Burkhart, a Morrison, Colorado native, has won eight events in national competitions since 2015 — most recently winning the all around, parallel bars and vault at the 2019 U.S. gymnastics championships in Kansas City, Missouri and competing in the 2020 Winter Cup Challenge. In international competition, his team finished first in the 2018 Junior Pan American Championships in Argentina, while his top finish was fourth on the horizontal (high) bar. Gleilmi said to GoStanford that “his horizontal bar routine has skills only a handful of people in the world are able to compete.”
Kuebler most recently won the floor and horizontal bar events at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships and has also been competing at the national level since 2015. He finished second in the all around at the 2019 championships to future teammate Burkhart and owns 13 top-three finishes in national competition to date. Glielmi told GoStanford that Kueber “is one of the most artistic gymnastics we’ve seen in a long time” and will look to contribute to the Cardinal immediately.
The pommel horse and rings specialist Lasic-Ellis from Dover, Maryland has competed in 10 national competitions and three international competitions since 2014. With 17 top-three finishes to his name in national competitions, he also won the still rings event at the international 2020 RD761 Gymnastics Invitational in Katy, Texas and his team finished first at the 2017 University of Calgary International Cup in Calgary, Canada. His most recent national win came on the parallel bars at the 2019 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships in Reno, Nevada.
East Hartland, Connecticut native McFarland has also been a mainstay in national competitions since 2016, competing in 10 over the last five years. He has earned a spot in each Men’s Junior Olympic National Championship between 2016 to 2019, winning the vault at the 2018 edition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Most recently, he competed at the 2020 Winter Cup Challenge and Elite Team Cup, both in Las Vegas, while finishing second with his team in the latter.
Young, the final member of the Cardinal’s 2021 class is from Bowie, Maryland and was called “a tremendous all-around gymnast” by Glielmi. He has finished in the top three in national competitions 12 times since 2016 and won the pommel horse three times at the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, the 2019 Men’s Junior Olympic National Championship and the 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships. He also won the all around at the 2018 National Qualifier in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the Junior Division. Internationally, he finished second in the all around, on the floor, on the pommel horse and with his team at the international 2020 RD761 Gymnastics Invitational. Glielmi also highlighted Young’s strength on the vault, saying “he is also capable of doing one of the most difficult vaults being competed in the USA” and there are “no limits for his trajectory” to the top of the gymnastics world.
After a season cut short just before the Pac-12 Championships due to COVID-19, in which the Cardinal finished ranked No. 26 nationally at season’s end and posted a national qualifying score of 195.990, head coach Tabitha Yim ’08 has officially signed four standout athletes who will join the team next year. Anapaula Gutierrez, Jimena Gutierrez, Brenna Neault and Katya Sander bring a wealth of national and international competition experience to the Cardinal and will look to complement current Cardinal standouts like senior Kyla Bryant as they continue their run of success under Yim.
The Gutierrez twins, who hail from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, competed for multiple years for Mexico at the Mexican National Championships as well as the 2019 Pan American Games. Anapaula also competed in the 2019 World Championships and will bring six Mexican national titles, all won in 2018 and 2019, with her to the Farm. Jimena is the 2016 Mexican National vault champion and also finished second in the same event in 2019. Yim described Anapaula as “outstanding on all four events” and “a real crowd pleaser featuring routines packed with difficulty and unique combinations,” while calling Jimena a “fierce competitor…[and] a strong leader known for her resilience, work ethic and positive attitude.”
Rancho Cucamonga, California native Neault competed in the 2018 USA Championships, placed second in the all-around at JO Nationals to earn a spot on the JO National Team in 2019 and qualified for the Junior International Elite in 2017. She is also a Southern California all-around, bars and beam state champion in 2019. She told GoStanford that she chose the University because she “fell in love with the academic opportunities, campus life and immediate connection with the team.”
Sander is also a three-time JO Nationals qualifier from 2017-2019, finishing fifth on the beam in 2019 and third on the bars in 2018. The Goshen, Kentucky native, who attended high school in Ohio and also competed for Perfection Gymnastics School in Ohio, won the all-around, bars and beam at the 2019 Ohio state championship. Yim said she is “known for her artistry” and “has exquisite lines and presentation that will be rewarded at the college level, and her spunky personality will make her a fan favorite at Stanford.”