Simone Biles Flies High Above the Rest at the 2015 P&G National Championships


Simone Biles once again put her name in the history books, earning her third consecutive national title, with a two-day combined score of 124.1 and a out of this world 63 all-around score on the second day. The race for second and third was tight and changed throughout the night, but Maggie Nichols who shone from start to finish, managed to claim the silver with a 119.15. Aly Raisman grabbed the bronze with a 118.55. Key followed closely for fourth with a 118.35 and Douglas rounded out the top group with a 117.95.

Biles began the nights with a 61.1 all-around, a 1.4 lead over Nichols. Douglas, Raisman and Key all followed closely at just over a point to 1.2 behind. There was a full house at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the crowd was electric. The one at a time format made sure each gymnast got their due.

Rotation One began with Nichols on bars. She started her evening out with a bang, showing off her light, flowing bar routine with a stick to boot for a 14.8. Ross was up next on vault, delivering a double twisting yurchenko, but landed with her chest quite low for a 14.55. Douglas followed suit on bars, delivering a strong routine on her best event with just a small hop on landing. Biles started the night out on beam. This event has been a trial for her this week, but she overcame her earlier jitters with one of her best beam routines ever, including a stick on her dismount scoring an out of this world 15.9.

Raisman also got started on her best event, rocking the entire arena with her sky high tumbling, and hitting two solid floor routines in a row (minus a blip on her split half to end) for a 15.5. Key finished up the top group on beam as well. Redeeming her fall yesterday, she hit a great routine for a 14.55. At the end of the rotation Raisman had moved up a spot to third, overtaking Olympic teammate Douglas.

Rotation two kicks off with four big hitters in a row. Starting with Raisman on vault. She threw her amanar and landed with a locked knee but seemed to be ok, scoring a 15.35. After a great warm-up, Kyla fell on her dismount once again on bars, earning a 14.05. Douglas had a good beam routine with a few wobbles to earn a 14.2. Biles completely redeemed herself on floor, sticking her last pass for good measure for a whopping15.85.

Ashton Locklear nailed her bar routine, scoring a 15.45. Key took the floor with her tuxedo ringmaster leo to perform an enchanting routine that earned a 14.7. Nichols was last up on beam, where she competed a solid beam routine earning a 14.65. At the end of rotation, Raisman had gone into second, overtaking Nichols by .35.

Key led off rotation three on vault with a double twisting yurchenko. She has a fairly large hop on the landing but is beautiful in the air for a 15.2. Skinner hits her packed floor routing two nights in a row, earning a 14.8. Next up are Gowey and Kocian on bars, both trying to show their contributions to the team as bars specialists. Gowey scored a 14.7 and Kocian scored a 15.6 for her gorgeous bar routine. Nichols danced her way through her high tumbling floor routine for a 14.15. Biles followed her on vault, rocking her amanar for a sky high e-score of 9.9 and a 16.3.

Raisman was up on bars, where she did one of her cleaner bar routines for a 14.1. Ross looked to redeem herself on beam, showing a solid routine with a stuck dismount scoring a 15.25. Douglas finished out the rotation rocking her floor routine and improved by almost point from night one for a 14.8. At the end of the rotation Biles was in the lead followed by Raisman, Nichols, Key and then Douglas, all separated by eight tenths.

The last rotation was a battle for the podium, led out by Nichols on vault. Nichols hit a great amanar for a 15.85. Douglas vaulted a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop for a 15.15. Biles finished out one of her most dominant nights of competition on bars, where she earned a 14.95, totaling a 63 all-around for the night. Raisman followed on beam, needing the beam routine of her life to hold on to second. She was solid, scoring a 14.95, but it was not enough to hold on to second. Ross hit her tumbling passes on her floor routine, but missed a lot of her leaps and looked tired at the end, earning a 13.8. Key ended on bars, with a beautiful routine, just one overbalanced handstand to score a 15.3, pulling up into fourth. Alyssa Baumann finished out an incredible night of competition with her beautiful beam routine for a 15.05.

Biles won her second national championship on vault, with Skinner for the silver. Kocian took the bars title followed by Locklear, then Key. Biles won another title on beam, with Baumann taking the silver and Ross the Bronze. Raisman won another floor national title followed by Biles for silver with Key and Skinner tying for bronze.

At the end of the night, Aimee Bowman was named coach of the year, Biles was named athlete of the year and Raisman was named sportsman of the year. The national team named on this night were the top six in the all-around Simone Biles, Maggie Nichols, Aly Raisman, Bailie Key, Gabby Douglas and Madison Kocian. Also added to the team were Nia Dennis, MyKayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann and Kyla Ross.

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Vault

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Photo by Christy Linder

MG Elite Battles it Out for Junior Gold at the the 2015 P&G National Championships


Laurie Hernandez of MG Elite finally took her own junior national title, defeating defending national champion and teammate Jazmyn Foberg by one tenth. She scored a two day-total of 117.50 for the gold. Foberg put up an incredible fight, with her strongest all-around showing yet, scoring a 117.40. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams wowed the crowd on floor and beam, taking bronze with a 116.45.

The juniors entered into day two with Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite the surprise leader in a bid to defend her national title with a 58.35. She held the lead over teammate Laurie Hernandez who trailed by six tenths. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams followed by five tenths in third.

In the first rotation, Foberg led off on vault with her strongest vault yet, a double twisting yurchenko that rivals any of the seniors, scoring a 15.2.  Hernandez followed up with a strong vault of her own, scoring just below her with a 15.1. Smith started on beam, where she delivered a rock solid beam routine worthy of a senior world team finals, scoring a 15.2. Aloyna Shchennikova scored a 14.35 on bars. The three leaders continued to distance themselves from the rest of the field in this rotation, but the order remained the same.

Smith was the highlight of rotation two, bringing down the house with her floor routine that is so full of personality, charm and sky high tumbling to earn a 14.65. Hernandez did her best bar routine yet, stuck landing and all for a huge score of 15.2. Foberg answered with a huge bar routine of her own, scoring a 14.65. However, it was not enough to stay in the lead, as Hernandez pulled into the lead by half a tenth!

Rotation three began with Jordan Chiles on floor, who put together a strong routine after a rough go on beam in rotation two. Christina Desiderio did a beautiful beam routine. While neither was able to break their way into the top three, they solidly held their places in fourth and fifth. Foberg was up first of the top three. She had a super solid go on beam, earning a sky high 9.0 escore and a 14.7. Smith put up a tight, clean vault for a 14.9. Hernandez answered with a 9.0 escore of her own and a 14.7, staying in the lead.

The last rotation in an eight rotation battle for gold begins with Foberg on floor. She tumbled more cleanly than ever before, but went out of bounds twice. Still, she improved her score from night one by three tenths for a 14.5. Smith did an excellent bar routine with a stuck landing to cap off her amazing competition and a 14.3. Hernandez needed to improve her night one score by one tenth to tie. She answered the challenge with a 14.55 to take the National Title. Chiles ended the night with a solid vault and in fourth.

The individual events had a few others make their way into the top three. Jordan Chiles won vault and Emily Gaskins took the bronze. Alyona Shchennikova took the bronze on bars and Christina Desiderio took the bronze on floor. The top three all-arounders took all the other medals. Results below with full results on pgchamps.com.

Laurie Hernandez, Jazmyn Foberg, Ragan Smith, Jordan Chiles, Christina Desiderio, and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf are the new Junior National Team as the top six finishers. Others may be added in the future.

What an epic way to end these three epic junior careers. They are all three eligible for the Rio Olympics next year and definitely made their mark today.

Watch the entire competition, it’s totally worth it!

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Photo by John Cheng

Amelia Hundley Withdraws from Nationals


Amelia Hundley came into Nationals off of a successful outing at the Pan American Games. After a decent night on day one, it has been reported that she is withdrawing from competition with a slight meniscus tear. Updates will be added if more information comes out.

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Earlier, Hundley did an interview with Athletes in Action, where she talked about how her faith and family helped her work through injury as she prepared for the P&G National Championships. It seems she will once again need to rely on these things.

A Night Full of Surprises- Day One Recap of P&G National Championships


The first night of competition for the P&G National Championships was quite a roller coaster, reminiscent of the 2011 National Championships. Three of the top five girls had falls, including a number of falls from girls that were so unexpected, everyone’s jaw dropped. Probably the only two things that went as expected were Simone Biles leading at the end of the night and Maggie Nichols having a fantastic night of competition. Most everything else was fair game to give gymnastics fans quite an emotional ride. And that was after the fan favorite fluff showing the National Champions over the years.

Biles walked away from the night leading the standings, but had a rough night of competition. That being said, most gymnasts would give everything to have a 61.1 on their best night. She began the night with one of her best bar routines, scoring a 15.15. She had a rough day on beam in podium training, but she was able to stay on in competition. However, she had a few significant wobbles, leaving her with a 14.8. Biles moved on to floor, where she showed her characteristic power and charm throughout, until the very end where she landed her easiest tumbling pass on her hands and knees. Even with a fall, she has the second highest floor score, a 14.9. The true test of a champion is seeing how they come back after a mistake. Biles has rarely been tested this way, and she passed with flying colors. She ended her night on vault, where she stuck her sky high amanar, a feat she is usually only able to do in warm up, scoring a whopping 16.5.

Though Biles led the standings at the end, this night belonged to Maggie Nichols. Shining on every event, she posted a 59.7 and led the first three rotations. Starting on vault, Nichols threw her newly debuted amanar, and looked like a veteran. Scoring a 15.8, the same as she did at Classics, she is quickly making her way to be a staple in a world vault line-up. Showing the same consistency on bars, she scored a 14.95, again the same score as at Classics. Nichols moved to beam, where she successfully debuted her new incredibly difficult full twisting double back dismount for a 14.4. She ended her night on floor, where she looked like she was having the time of her life and enchanting the crowd, earning a 14.55.

Gabby Douglas just held on to the third spot, but had a very consistent night to earn a 58.7. Douglas has not returned to her previous level of difficulty, but she is showing a mental toughness and consistency that she didn’t have in 2012. She also started on vault, where she showed a clean DTY that showed lots of room for an easy amanar and scored a 15.1. She moved on to show an easy swinging, high flying bar routine for a 15.3. Douglas went on to beam, and showed another consistent routine for a 14.45. Douglas finished on floor, where she had a lot of wobbles out of her turns and jumps, but managed to hold on to third with a 13.85.

Aly Raisman and Bailie Key each followed by just a half a tenth to finish fourth (58.65) and fifth (58.6) respectively after both having issues on beam. Raisman fell on a jump connection after landing a little off on her layout and Key put her hand down on the beam on the same skill. However, they both had great nights on every other event. Kyla Ross had her own “worst nights” with a fall on her bars dismount (but she made her Bhardwaj) and putting her hand down on floor to finish 12th.

Other notable mentions were the top three girls on bars, who all may have potential to contribute to a world team. They each delivered hit bar routines that go a long way to making their case. Gowey also added a great beam routine, showing she can be used on both events if needed. Alyssa Baumann scored the highest beam score, delivering a 15.1 and was the only one to break a 15. MyKayla Skinner showed great improvement from Secret Classics, and put in a solid performance on each event. Brenna Dowell also had a great night, making her way back to her former elite level. Nia Dennis also put in one of her best performances, landing in the top three scores on vault and beam.

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VAULT

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BARS

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BEAM

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FLOOR

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Preview of P&G Championships – Seniors. What They Have to Prove.


In history past, the National Championships outcome determined many things, including a place on the national and world teams. However, these days it is just an important stepping stone. Ok, maybe a boulder that gets you halfway across the river sized stepping stone, but still, just a step. For today’s gymnast, the selection for a spot on the national and world stage is a journey rather than a result of one important competition. So for each gymnast, the weight of their performance at this competition on their chances for a spot on the national or world team, the size of step this competition is for them, depends on where they are at in their journey. Let’s take a look. (As we look all pics are from Christy Linder’s Facebook page… you’ll want to check it out!)

Just Stay on Course

Right now, there appear to be three ‘lock” positions on this year’s world championship team, Simone Biles, Gabby Doublas and Aly Raisman. Biles has absolutely nothing to prove.  She could fall in the river (or on each event) multiple times, and it just wouldn’t matter. Her only job is to stay healthy and continuing on being one of the most amazing gymnasts in history. Douglas and Raisman don’t have a whole lot to prove either. At both Jesolo and Secret Classics they have shown that they are still able to hang with the best of the best, and are on track to be at the front of the pack come world team selection camp. Barring injury, these three seem to be locks for this year’s World Championship team, and they just need to stay on course to not just make the team, but most likely win more World Championship medals.

Simone Biles finishing vault at the P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Gabby Douglas flying high on bars at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Aly Raisman is sharp on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Step it Up a Little Notch

The next three girls Maggie Nichols, Kyla Ross and Bailie Key seem to be the most likely to take the last three World Championship team spots. They are all strong all-arounders and could definitely contribute to the team on any event if needed. Nichols is probably the surprise leader of this group. Nichols is strong on all four events, and could easily lead off team USA in any one of them. Her super clean amanar vault makes her a huge addition to USA’s vault line-up, and the combination of the two factors make her very close to a lock on the team. However, she is still climbing the ranks and proving herself, so it will be key that she hits at this competition.

Ross and Key are both known for the same things- clean lines, clear heads and consistency. However, the issue for both is that they don’t bring in high enough scores to overcome the four mentioned above. While it is unlikely that any other girls will overtake them in the all-around, there are a handful of girls that can contribute higher scores on an individual event. For Ross to maintain her place as a bars and beam specialist, she will definitely need to show progress towards her newly upgraded bars routine. Both girls will need to score high and hit with consistency.

Maggie Nichols strutting her stuff at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Kyla Ross showing what she is made of at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Bailie Key on beam at the P&G National Championships podium training. Photo by Christy Linder.

Show Your Specialities

There are a few other girls who have an outside chance of making a worlds team because of one or two events if they are able to consistently and significantly outscore one of the girls above. Numerous combinations of the girls above could make a strong bars line-up for a worlds team, but it is not a sure thing that any of them would medal in an event finals. Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear, Rachel Gowey and Brenna Dowell would all like to fill that gap. While each of them need to make a strong showing on at least one other event, it is CRUCIAL that they each hit a strong uneven bars routine. From Locklear, who placed fourth at last year’s uneven event finals at the World Championships but has been injured ever since, to Gowey and Kocian coming back from longer injuries, to Dowell making the switch back from NCAA, each gymnast has a rich resume and a strong ground to stand on, but a lot to prove.

Madison Kocian on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Ashton Locklear on bars. Podium training at P&G Championships, photo by Christy Linder.

Rachel Gowey on bars. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder.

Brenna Dowell on floor. Podium training at P&G National Championships. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Alyssa Baumann was on last year’s world championship team as well, and is a standout on balance beam. While team USA will have a STRONG balance beam line up, again it is less likely for them to top the podium on this event. If Baumann can come in with one of the top beam routines, she might be able to make a case for her spot on the worlds team. However, this would be a VERY tall feat for her.

MyKayla Skinner was another member of last year’s world championship team, but if ever there was a year where you cannot rest on your laurels, it is this year. With Raisman and Nichols in the mix, Skinner has dropped a notch in her contributions on floor and vault. She will need to perform the routines of a lifetime on both events to show that she still has a place on the world team.

Step Up to the Plate

Amelia Hundley has mostly hit when it has counted, and has shown that she can come back and give it her all at the recent Pan American Games. Hundley is a strong all-arounder, and can definitely deliver on bars and floor. However, to keep pace with the other girls who could contribute either as an all-arounder, a bars specialist or a floor specialist, Hundley will have to deliver some of the best routines she has ever performed. As will Madison Desch. Desch was an alternate at the 2015 World Championships and was recently selected to compete at the Pan American Games. Looking like a lock for the all-around, Desch fell on beam and ended up second. While Desch is a strong gymnast, she just needs to show higher scores and more consistency than in the past.

Nia Dennis has been a gymnast that many have expected to top the podiums at this point in her career. Undeniably talented, Dennis could be in the mix. However, her consistency has always been an issue. A recent gym change could be what Dennis needed to move from talented but inconsistent to a contender. If Dennis wants a place on this year’s world team, she will have to reflect that in her competition.

Emily Schild is the picture of clean lines and technically perfect gymnastics. She has been stepping up to every challenge given to her this year, unfortunately, her scores are just not on par with the rest of the field. The same can be said of beautiful to watch Lauren Navvarro and Polina  Shchennikova. Both round out the senior field with gymnastics you don’t want to miss, but often is.

With One Year to Go, The Road to Rio Starts at Next Week’s P&G National Championships


Gabby Douglas at the 2015 Secret U.S. Classic. Photo by Christy Linder

The 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships bring an incredible amount of excitement, as the depth of the women’s field continues to grow. Among the women currently competing are eight world championship medalists and three Olympic medalists. Between them, they have won 21 World and Olympic medals, the World team titles in 2011 and 2014 and the team gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2012. This year also brings the current World Champion head to head with the current Olympic Champion at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Aug. 13-16.

Simone Biles of World Champions Centre, the reigning two time World all-around champion, will seek to defend her National title and tie Kim Zmeskal for three consecutive National all-around titles. Looking to make their own mark will be returning Olympic all-around champion Gabrielle Douglas of Buckeye and Olympic medalist Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, competing in their first National Championships since the Olympics. Biles and Douglas went one-two in the recent Secret U.S. Classic competition.

Fellow Olympic medalist Kyla Ross of Gym-Max will be competing, along with junior standout Bailie Key of Texas Dreams, who will be making her senior National Championship debut. Maggie Nichols of Twin City Twisters will also take the stage, as she seeks to make the podium at nationals after finishing third at the recent Secret U.S. Classic.

In addition to Biles and Ross, the remaining 2014 World Champion team gold medalists will all be competing: Alyssa Baumann and Madison Kocian of WOGA, Ashton Locklear of Everest Gymnastics and MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights. Joining them will be the five members of the women’s team that recently won the team gold at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Ont., Canada:  Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati Gymnastics, Emily Schild Everest Gymnastics and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta.

These athletes will be vying for spots on the National Team as well as invitations to the 2015 World Championship selection camp. With only one year left to the Olympics, every competition is significant in building each gymnasts resume as they make their bid for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

In addition to the incredibly exciting senior competition, will be an equally intense junior competition. Many of this year’s juniors will be eligible for Rio next year, and they will be looking to carve out their own spots on this year’s National Team. The junior women’s field includes reigning U.S junior champion Jazmyn Foberg of MG Elite and her teammate Lauren Hernandez who has taken gold in both junior competitions she has competed in this year, including the Secret U.S. Classic.

The junior women will take the floor for the first day of competition on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. followed by the seniors at 7 p.m. They will compete again on Saturday, Aug. 15, adding the two day total to determine the national titles. The juniors will again be at 1 p.m. and the seniors at 7:30 p.m. The full roster is listed below.

For more information go to pgchamps.com.

2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships women’s field
(by state; name, hometown, state/club, division)

Arizona
MyKayla Skinner, Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights Gymnastics, senior

California
Lauren Navarro, La Verne, Calif./Gliders-Charter Oak, senior
Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo, Calif./Gym-Max Gymnastics, senior

Colorado
Alyona Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./TIGAR, junior
Polina  Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./TIGAR, senior

Delaware

Morgan Hurd, Middletown, Del./First State Gymnastics, junior

Florida
Emily Gaskins, Coral Springs, Fla./Palm Beach Gymnastics, junior
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Groveland, Fla./Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics, junior

Georgia
Elena Arenas, Bishop, Ga./Georgia Elite Gymnastics, junior
Megan Skaggs, Marietta, Ga./Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta, senior

Illinois
Gabby Perea, Geneva, Ill./Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC, junior

Iowa
Norah Flatley, Cumming, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, junior
Rachel Gowey, Urbandale, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute, senior

Kansas
Madison Desch, Lenexa, Kan./Great American Gymnastics Express, senior

Massachusetts
Alexandra Raisman, Needham, Mass./Brestyan’s American Gymnastics, senior

Maryland
Maggie Musselman, Crownsville, Md./Hill’s Gymnastics, junior

Minnesota
Maggie Nichols, Little Canada, Minn./Twin City Twisters, senior
Abby Paulson, Coon Rapids, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior
Tori Tatum, Chanhassen, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior
Olivia Trautman, Champlin, Minn./Twin City Twisters, junior

Missouri
Brenna Dowell, Odessa, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express, senior

New Jersey
Christina Desiderio, Hackettstown, N.J./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center, junior
Olivia Dunne, Hillsdale, N.J./Eastern National Academy of Paramus, junior
Jazmyn Foberg, Bayville, N.J./MG Elite, junior
Margzetta Frazier, Erial, N.J./Atlantic Coast Gymnastics, junior
Lauren Hernandez, Old Bridge, N.J./MG Elite, junior

Nevada
Maile O’Keefe, Las Vegas, Nev./Academy of Gymnastics – Salcianu Gymnastics, junior

North Carolina
Ashton Locklear, Hamlet, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, senior
Emily Schild, Huntersville, N.C./Everest Gymnastics, senior

Ohio
Shania Adams, Plain City, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, junior
Aria Brusch, Forest Park, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, junior
Nia Dennis, Westerville, Ohio/Legacy Elite Gymnastics LLC, senior
Amelia Hundley, Hamilton, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics, senior
Shilese Jones, Westerville, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, junior

Pennsylvania
Megan Freed, Bethlehem, Pa./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center, junior
Trinity Thomas, York, Pa./Prestige Gymnastics, junior

Texas
Rachel Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, junior
Alyssa Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, senior
Simone Biles, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, senior
Colbi Flory, Rockwall, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Bailie Key, Montgomery, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, senior
Madison Kocian, Dallas, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics, senior
Emma Malabuyo, Flower Mound, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Grace Quinn, Arlington, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Ragan Smith, Lewisville, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior
Abigail Walker, Carrollton, Texas/Texas Dreams Gymnastics, junior

Utah
Deanne Soza, Orem, Utah/Arete Gymnastics, junior

Virginia
Gabrielle Douglas, Virginia Beach, Va./Buckeye Gymnastics, senior

Washington
Jordan Chiles, Vancouver, Wash./Naydenov, junior