2014 P&G U.S. National Championships Senior Preview and Predictions


Fourteen seniors took the floor today for podium training in preparation for the 2014 P&G U.S. National Championships. The championships kick off tomorrow with the junior women at 1p.m. EST in the CONSOL Energy Center – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The seniors take the floor later that evening at 7:30p.m.

An already thin field was stretched a little thinner as Rachel Gowey fractured her ankle during training and was forced to withdraw. Only eight of those competing are currently planning on competing in the all-around. Apart from the prestige of winning a national title, the gymnasts will be looking to make a case for being named to the Pan American Games team immediately following the competition, and/or invited to the 2014 World Championships team selection camp to be held in September.

Simone Biles of World Champions, Kyla Ross and Felicia Hano of Gym-Max, Maggie Nichols of Twin City Twisters, MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Madison Desch of GAGE, Alyssa Baumann of WOGA, and Macy Toronjo of Texas Dreams are the gymnasts who will be competing for the coveted title of 2014 U.S. National Champion. 

Barring major disaster or injury, the title is all locked up. Current World Champion Simone Biles proved two weeks ago at the Secret U.S. Classics that she is in a league of her own. In today’s training, Biles had a few shaky go rounds on bars and missed the last skill in her tumbling series on beam once. She also had some quite large hops in her tumbling. However, none of these are things that will likely show up in her performance tomorrow or affect the outcome of the meet. The reigning US National Champion, Biles looks, healthy, happy and ready to defend her title.

The silver medal is firmly in the grasp of Kyla Ross, 2012 Olympian and 2013 World All-Around silver medalist. At Classics, Ross led the rest of the field by 2.5 points and if she puts in her normal steady performance it is hers for the taking. Ross looked calm and collected on the podium today, with her normal (how does such fluidity and steadiness ever become normal) solid performance.

The real battle will be for the bronze. Defending bronze medalist Brenna Dowell of GAGE is still recovering from an earlier ankle injury and will only be competing bars. So the third spot on the podium is wide open. Maggie Nichols took this honor two weeks ago at Classics. Her strong and steady performance then, and today in podium training, give her solid ground to make a bid for the podium. MyKayla Skinner comes into the meet with some of the most difficult gymnastics. However she often takes huge deductions on execution and has a hard time getting through her ridiculously hard floor routine without a fall. If Skinner is able to put together eight clean routines, she may just take the spot. She will be looking to prove her consistency on floor and vault as these are the events she would most likely be used on in a team setting. Skinner looked great on beam during training, but struggled on vault. She got through all the skills in her floor routine, but took a really long rest in the corner to do so.

Amelia Hundley has been a standout throughout her junior career, and she will want to make a statement at these championships. Hundley is one of those super dependable, consistent gymnasts you want on your team. Her exciting floor performances and strong bar routine help her make a case to be on the world team. A strong showing at nationals will be an important step for her.

The rest of the field are unlikely to find their way up onto the podium. Madison Desch and Alyssa Baumann are competing in the all-around, but will be looking to make a case to make the Pan American and World Championship teams as specialists. Desch is beautiful on bars and brings in a well-rounded performance everywhere else. Baumann is a stand out on beam. Though they will be focusing on hitting all eight routines, these events will be crucial. They both looked clean and solid on their pet events during training today.

In addition to the all-around, some of the gymnasts will just be competing on a few events. Injuries prevent Madison Kocian of WOGA, Ashton Locklear of Everest, Brenna Dowell of GAGE and Veronica Hults of Texas Dreams from competing on all four events, but these gymnasts will be looking to win titles on individual events as well as show the selection committee why they should be considered for a spot on one of the upcoming international assignments.

Madison Kocian has put up the highest bar score of the U.S. women on an international stage this year. She will be looking to contribute at the Pan American Games and the World Championships on bars. She will also be competing on beam, an event she could be called on if needed.

Ashton Locklear burst onto the scene two weeks ago at Classics with her whopping bar score of 15.7. With gorgeous lines and dreamy fluidity on both bars and beam, Locklear will be hoping to make these teams as a specialist. She is a first year senior, and was out with injury for most of last year, so she is still largely unproven on the competition stage.

Brenna Dowell has been one of the USA’s top gymnasts over the past year, and is usually a strong contender in the all-around. However injury has kept her out and right now she is trying to prove that her bars are worth bringing to a world stage. At Classics her bars bordered on disaster, but during training today she looked much improved and ready to compete her very difficult bar routine. She hopes to compete in the all-around by the selection camp next month.

Last but not least is Veronica Hults. Hults brings in beautiful gymnastics with beautiful technique and form. Her junior career was plagued with injuries and her senior career is starting out the same. However, Hults is beautiful on bars and beam and could definitely contribute to the US team on these events.

Predictions : just for fun. Tell me who you think!

All-Around

  1. Simone Biles
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Maggie Nichols

Vault

  1. Simone Biles
  2. MyKayla Skinner

Bars

  1. Ashton Locklear
  2. Madison Kocian
  3. Kyla Ross

Beam

  1. Kyla Ross
  2. Simone Biles
  3. Alyssa Baumann

Floor

  1. Simone Biles
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Amelia Hundley

Pan American Games Team

Maggie Nichols, Amelia Hundley, MyKayla Skinner, Madison Kocian, Alyssa Baumann, Ashton Locklear, and Madison Desch

World Championship Team

I think that all the competitors, minus Hano and Toronjo, will be invited to the selection camp. The selection for the team will not take place until that camp. I am sure that many things will change between now and then, but my predictions are:

Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Brenna Dowell, Ashton Locklear, MyKayla Skinner and Maggie Nichols.

  • Vault- Biles, Dowell, Ross (Nichols, Skinner)
  • Bars- Locklear, Ross, Dowell (Biles, Nichols)
  • Beam- Ross, Biles, Locklear (Skinner, Dowell)
  • Floor- Biles, Ross, Nichols (Skinner, Dowell)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s