Catelyn Branson - Gymnastics - Arkansas Razorbacks

Catelyn Branson

A familiar face will help lead the Gymbacks next season as Catelyn Branson (Orel) has rejoined the staff as an assistant coach.

Branson has spent the last three seasons as the Lindenwood University head coach. She was named the 2024 Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) South Central Region Coach of the Year and the Midwest Independent Conference (MIC) Coach of the Year and after she led the Lions to their fifth USAG national championship and seventh MIC title.

She also guided the Lions to a national rank of 44th – the highest since 2019, a new team record score of 197.075, and new team bars (49.375) and individual bars (9.925) and floor (9.975) records. Lindenwood saw seven athletes earn a total of 14 USAG All-America honors this season, and nine All-MIC nods were received by five Lions.

This year’s national title was the second for Branson at Lindenwood, as the Lions went back-to-back and took home the crown in 2023 as well. Two Lions also earned individual national titles last season: Nya Kraus on beam and Kaylee Cooper on bars. Branson coached 10 athletes to 16 All-MIC honors in 2023, with Kraus and Madison Rrush sharing the conference beam title.

Branson’s potential was seen immediately in St. Charles. In her first year, 10 athletes were named USAG All-Americans and then-junior Gayla Griswold qualified to the 2022 NCAA Gymnastics as an individual on vault, the first Lindenwood gymnast to ever earn a spot at the event in program history. The Lions came in third at the 2022 USAG national championships and second at the MIC championship in Branson’s first appearances.

Last December Lindenwood University announced that gymnastics, along with nine other athletic programs, would be discontinued following the 2023-2024 academic year.

Prior to taking the helm for the Lions, Branson spent two seasons at Arkansas, including the first under Wieber in 2020. In her time with the Razorbacks, she primarily coached beam and served a lead choreographer for beam and floor.

In 2021, the Gymbacks were ranked as high as third on beam throughout the regular season and spent seven of 11 weeks within the top five on the event, with a final NQS of 49.338, 11th-best in the country and fifth-best in the SEC. The Hogs claimed at least a share of seven beam titles over the regular season and saw 16 total beam scores of 9.900 or higher, and Kennedy Hambrick was named a Second Team WCGA All-American on beam with an NQS of 9.938.

The floor team was also extremely strong in 2021, as the Gymbacks logged the then-second best score in program history of 49.575 in back-to-back weeks, and were ranked second in the country on floor for four weeks during the regular season. Arkansas went 9.9+ in 45 percent of its floor scores in 2021 and ended with an NQS of 49.506 on the event. The Gymbacks scored an SEC Championships high of 49.425 on floor that season and Sophia Carter earned All-SEC honors. Arkansas finished the 2021 slate at the Tuscaloosa regional final and checked in at No. 13 in the country.

In the Gymbacks’ first season with Wieber’s staff, including volunteer assistant Branson, Arkansas was steadily ranked in the top 20 on beam and top 10 on floor until the schedule was cut short due to COVID-19. The Hogs checked in at No. 18 overall in the final week of competition.

Branson was an all-around gymnast for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 2016-2019. In that time, the Huskers had three top 10 finishes, including a trip to the 2018 NCAA Super Six, and won a Big Ten regular season title in 2017. She was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, the 2017 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Recipient, and a 2016 WCGA Scholastic All-American. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nebraska in May of 2019.