Brenna Dowell Returns to Elite Gymnastics.

Brenna Dowell at the 2014 P&G National Championships. Photo by John Cheng via USA Gymnastics.

Brenna Dowell has some unfinished business to take care of. After finding herself the alternate on the World Championship team in 2013, Dowell trained towards 2014. However a round of injuries and setbacks left her just short of her goals once again, when she was named the non-traveling alternate for the 2014 World Championship team. Rather than continue to train towards future world teams and the 2016 Olympics, Dowell decided to retire as an elite gymnast and begin her college career.

Going from elite in October 2014 to NCAA in January of 2015, Dowell had a very successful freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. She was a regular in the lineup for the Sooners on VT, UB and FX. She ended the season as the 2015 runner up on floor, the Big-12 Floor champion and the Big-12 Newcomer of the Year.

According to, Oklahoma’s head coach K.J. Kindler announced this week that Dowell has decided to take a break from her NCAA career. She will defer for a year to return to elite gymnastics and chase her dreams for a place on the 2015 World Championship team.  “This decision was the toughest choice I have ever made,” Dowell said to “My family and I prayed about it a lot, and I just felt like I had some unfinished business in the elite world.”

Dowell is a strong all-around gymnast, and brings a high level of difficulty to vault and bars. With the additions of Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, as well as new senior Bailie Key to an already intensely competitive elite environment, Dowell has her work cut out for her. But it is work that she seems ready to do in order to pursue her dreams.

“We know that this was a very difficult decision for Brenna, but at the end of the day it came down to chasing that dream,” Kindler said. “We want Brenna to have no regrets and that means pursuing this opportunity to compete for the United States at the highest level in this Olympic year. We will be cheering loud for her from Norman and will look forward to her return to Oklahoma in the fall of 2016.”

No word has been released yet as to when Dowell will return to national team training camps or compete for the first time in 2015. The 2015 World Gymnastics Championships are Oct. 23 to Nov. 1, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Lexie Priessman Announces Retirement from Elite Gymnastics

Lexie Priessman at the Secret US Classics in 2013. Photo via USA Gymnastics

Lexie Priessman, a four year national team member and junior National Champion, announced her retirement from elite gymnastics yesterday. After an incredibly successful junior career, Priessman has spent the last two years dealing with injuries that have prevented her from competing. Instead of continuing to pursue her elite career, she has decided instead to begin her college career at LSU this fall. “I wanted to take the time personally to let all of you know I have chosen to head to college in the fall… I am so happy with my elite career and how it went, but now it’s time to move on and make some amazing memories in college gymnastics,” Priessman shared on Instagram.

Priessman made her debut as a 13-year-old at the 2010 Nastia Liukin Cup where she won the all-around. She went on to have an incredibly successful junior career, dominating on vault and floor. As a junior, she won or placed second on vault in all but one competition both in the US and internationally, competing an amanar that tied with McKayla Maroney’s in 2010.

Priessman enjoyed similar success on floor. After 2011, she won or placed second on floor in every US competition she entered. On top of her incredible power, Priessman had great showmanship on the floor. She brought a great deal of energy and charisma to her performances. She brought that same energy to the rest of the competition, brightening the entire arena with her smile and positive attitude. Priessman culminated her junior career by winning the 2012 Junior National all-around and floor titles.

The gymnastics world awaited Priessman’s senior debut with much anticipation. After such a successful junior career, she was expected to be one of the USA’s top seniors in 2013. She came out with a bang, bringing a new, mature floor routine with an incredibly high level of difficulty.

But the rest of the story did not unfold as expected. Back in 2010, Priessman had dislocated her toe during training. Instead of having surgery, she spent the next few years training and competing with a toe held together mostly with tape. “My toe would pop out nonstop because I tore every ligament in it,” Priessman said in an interview with Pressbox, “I would lean to the ride side of my foot to try to protect my toe, and then I would start hurting the rest of my foot.”

Between the Secret US Classics and the P&G National Championships, the pain became too much for Priessman to continue training on without surgery. The surgery took her out of competition for the rest of the year, dashing her hopes of making the World Championship team. In October of 2013, she committed to LSU, however made it clear that she was continuing to pursue her Olympic dreams.

After rehabilitating her toe, Priessman made another huge decision and left Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. Citing the need for a change, she left the gym where she had trained her entire career. She went to Perfection Gymnastics School to train with Enrique Trabanino, who had trained her at CGA when she was younger.

The start of 2014 seemed like it was a do-over, a time for Priessman to finally enter into the world of senior gymnastics and shine. Happy and ready to get back into things, she came to the 2014 Secret US Classics ready to compete. Then, in podium training, she injured her ankle. The injury once again required surgery, and took her out for the rest of the year.

Through her injuries, Priessman kept her spirits up. She often posted on social media with her positive perspective on life. “I’ve accomplished and learned more about myself through all these injuries then when I was healthy” she said on Instagram.

Determined towards her dreams of making the Olympics, Priessman continued training and rehabbing with plans of deferring her college scholarship until after the 2016 Olympics. However, yesterday, Priessman announced on instagram that she has decided to retire as an elite gymnast and head to college this fall.

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I wanted to take the time personally to let all of you know I have chosen to head to college in the fall. As you know the last two years for me as an athlete has been extremely difficult with all the injuries I have been going through. I have been working very hard in the gym everyday to get back to 100 percent to compete again. Unfortunately, I hit some bumps that I wasn’t planning on hitting. I thought about all of the adversity I have been through and as I always say God has a plan. I have decided to go to college in the fall and begin a new chapter in my life. I want all of you to know I cant be more grateful to have been a member of the USA National team for four years. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to travel the world and help our country win gold medals. I will miss all the training camps and the knowledge everyone has taught me but more importantly help me become the young lady I am today. I am so happy with my elite career and how it went, but now it’s time to move on and make some amazing memories in college gymnastic 💜 #GEAUXTIGERS

With her team attitude, charisma and incredible talent level, Priessman will be a welcome addition to LSU and college gymnastics.

USAG Announces the Pan American Games Training Squad

USA Gymnastics announced the eight gymnasts named to the 2015 Pan American Games training squad. Nia Dennis of Buckeye Gymnastics, Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Felicia Hano of Gym-Max, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati, Lauren Navarro of Gliders, Emily Schild of Everest and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta. Navarro was also added to the womens National Team.

Five gymnasts will represent the USA in the women’s artistic gymnastics competition at the games in Toronto, July 11-15. The members of the training squad will spend the rest of the month at their home gyms putting the final touches on their competition routines. They will return on June 29 for the final selection camp to determine the five-member team.

Each and every international competition is an opportunity for the gymnasts to both gain experience and prove themselves to Marta Karolyi and the US women’s team selection committee. The forming of this team is a careful balance of sending gymnasts who will best represent the US, while giving opportunities for other gymnasts to gain experience in an international competition and prove that they can contribute on a world stage. Some of the USA’s top veteran gymnasts are not represented on this team for this reason.

The Pan American Games run from July 10-26. The artistic gymnastics competitions will include an all-around, team and individual apparatus competitions. The US is sending gymnasts to compete in all forms of gymnastics, including men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, trampoline, and rhythmic gymnastics. Schedules of competition and more information can be found on

June National Team Camp – Pan Am Training Team To Be Selected

This month’s National Team Training Camp include’s the initial selection for the team who will represent the USA at the Pan American Games (to be held in Toronto from July 10-26). The five day camp ran this week at the Karolyi Ranch, and will culminate in the announcement of the eight-woman training squad for the games today at 1pm EST. The members of that squad will return at the end of the month, for the final selection camp to determine the five-member team.

Training session at the June National Team Camp. Photo via USA Gymnastics.

The gymnasts attempting to be be named to the Pan Am training squad spent the week finalizing the construction of their routines, and verifying these almost full routines with the National Team coaches. They also worked on continuing to refine their execution and artistry and testing their physical abilities. They will spend the rest of the month training at their home gyms to come back with full competition ready routines for the selection camp.

Victoria Nguyen, Aly Raisman and Norah Flatley hanging out at camp. “My girls 💗” via Aly Raisman Twitter

The seniors in attendance who are not vying for the squad, as well as all of the juniors are at a different phase in their training. They only verified half routines, wanting to peak at full routine competition readiness closer to the National Championships. They also worked on execution and artistry, as well as physical abilities testing.

Aly Raisman and Simone Biles at camp. Photo via Aly Raisman Twitter

The camp is headlined by five members of the gold medal winning 2014 U.S. Women’s World Team: Alyssa Baumann of WOGA; Simone Biles of World Champions Centre; Madison Desch of Great American Gymnastics Express; Kyla Ross of Gym-Max; and MyKayla Skinner of Desert Lights. Ashton Locklear of Everest and Madison Kocian of WOGA are still recovering from injury and was not in attendance. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman of Brestyan’s American Gymnastics is also at the camp, however Gabby Douglas had a slight foot injury and did not attend, but is expected to return at the end of the monthaccording to USA Gymnastics Facebook Page. Those not in attendance will have the opportunity to petition on to the training squad.

The complete camp roster is:

Alyssa Baumann, WOGA
Simone Biles, World Champions Gym
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov
Madison Desch, GAGE
Christina Desidero, Parkettes
Nia Dennis, Buckeye
Norah Flatley, Chow’s Gymnastics
Jazmyn Foberg, MG Elite
Margzetta Frazier, Parkettes
Rachel Gowey, Chow’s Gymnastics
Felicia Hano, Gym-Max
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite
Amelia Hundley, Cincinnati
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson
McKenna Kelley, Stars Gymnastics
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams
Lauren Navarro, Gliders
Victoria Nguyen, Chow’s Gymnastics
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters
Abby Paulson, Twin City Twisters
Grace Quinn, Texas Dreams
Aly Raisman, Brestyan’s
Kyla Ross, Gym-Max
Emily Schild, Everest Gymnastics
Polina Shchennikova, TIGAR
Megan Skaggs, Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams
Deanne Soza, Arete

National Qualifiers and Results from the 2015 American Classic and May Elite Qualifier

The 2015 American Classic was held this weekend at the Karolyi Ranch. The first of two qualifiers for the P&G National Championships, the American Classic is an important stepping stone for many gymnasts. The 2015 May Elite Qualifier was help in conjunction with the competition, allowing gymnasts to both qualify for elite and for nationals.

Nineteen gymnasts achieved the necessary scores to qualify for nationals, either in the all-around (54 for seniors, 52.5 for juniors) or for seniors as an event specialist (a three-event score of 41.25 or a two-event score of 28.0). Six additional gymnasts who did not make the scores for nationals earned a high enough score (53 for seniors, 51.5 for juniors)  to move on to the 2015 Secret US Classics, where they can try again to qualify for nationals.

At the American Classic, Colbi Flory of Texas Dreams took the gold, scoring a 56.7. Deanne Soza of Arete scored a 56.6 for the silver. Emma Malabuyo of Texas Dreams and Morgan Hurd of First State tied for bronze with a 56.5. Pictures and posts on Instagram celebrate the achievements.

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Taylor Lawson took the all-around for the seniors at the May Elite Qualifier with a 53.6. Kylie Dickson of All-Olympia came in second with a 52.3 followed by Samantha Durante of Georgia Elite for third with a 51.6.

Gabby Perea of Legacy Elite won all-around for the juniors with a 55.2. Kaitlin DeGuzman of Metroplex took second with a 53.2 and Alyssa Al-Ashari of Twistars came in third with a 52.75.

The gymnasts who qualified to the 2015 P&G National Championships are (American Classic competitors in bold):

Elena Arenas, Bishop, Ga./Georgia Elite
Rachel Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA
Aria Brusch, Forest Park, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics
Christina Desiderio, Hackettstown, N.J./Parkettes
Olivia Dunne, Hillsdale, N.J./Eastern National Academy of Paramus
Colbi Flory, Rockwall, Texas/Texas Dreams
Margzetta Frazier, Erial, N.J./Parkettes
Megan Freed, Bethlehem, Pa./Parkettes
Morgan Hurd, Middletown, Del./First State
Shilese Jones, Covington, Wash./Buckeye Gymnastics
Emma Malabuyo, San Jose, Calif./Texas Dreams
Maile O’Keefe, Las Vegas, Nev./Academy of Gymnastics-Salcianu
Alyona Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./Tigar
Polina Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./Tigar
Deanne Soza, Orem, Utah/Arete
Abigail Walker, Carrollton, Texas/Texas Dreams
Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite
Kaitlin DeGuzman, Metroplex
Alyssa Al-Ashari, Twistars

The gymnasts who qualified to the 2015 US Secret Classics are:

Shania Adams, Plain City, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics
Taylor Lawson, Parkettes
Kylie Dickson, All Olympia
Chae Campbell, Metroplex
Jaylene Gilstrap, Metroplex
Tori Tatum, Twin City Twisters

The full results are (via USAG):

American Classics- First of Two National Qualifiers

This Saturday, May 30, the 2015 American Classics will be held at the Karolyi Ranch. The meet is the first of two qualifiers for the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships. The USA Gymnastics’ national championships, to be held in Indianapolis, Aug. 13-16 are the pinnacle competition for gymnasts in the USA, and an important stepping stone to qualifying to the World Championship team. In the past, rising stars have made their debut at this competition. Last year, Jasmine Foberg won this event. She went on to win the 2014 Junior National title.

There are many avenues for gymnasts to qualify to the P&G Championship. The most common is by earning a 54.0 (seniors) or a 52.5 (juniors) in the all-around at the American Classic or the Secret U.S. Classics, which will be held later this summer. For event specialists, senior athletes can also qualify by earning a three-event score of 41.25 or a two-event score of 28.0 at either of these events.

The complete roster for the American Classic is as follows.

Shania Adams, Plain City, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics
Elena Arenas, Bishop, Ga./Georgia Elite
Rachel Baumann, Plano, Texas/WOGA
Aria Brusch, Forest Park, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics
Christina Desiderio, Hackettstown, N.J./Parkettes
Olivia Dunne, Hillsdale, N.J./Eastern National Academy of Paramus
Colbi Flory, Rockwall, Texas/Texas Dreams
Margzetta Frazier, Erial, N.J./Parkettes
Megan Freed, Bethlehem, Pa./Parkettes
Anna Huber, Rochester, N.Y./Rochester Gymnastics Academy
Morgan Hurd, Middletown, Del./First State
Shilese Jones, Covington, Wash./Buckeye Gymnastics
Hannah Joyner, Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre
Adeline Kenlin, Iowa City, Iowa/Iowa Gym-Nest
Alaina Kwan, Cypress, Calif./AOGC
Emma Malabuyo, San Jose, Calif./Texas Dreams
Maggie Musselman, Crownsville, Md./Hills
Tienna Nguyen, Allen, Texas/Zenith
Maile O’Keefe, Las Vegas, Nev./Academy of Gymnastics-Salcianu
Adriana Popp, Easton, Pa./Girls Co-op
Lexy Ramler, St. Michael, Minn./Kidsport
Madison Rau, Cypress, Texas/World Champions Centre
Makenzie Sedlacek, West Chicago, Ill./IGI
Alyona Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./Tigar
Polina Shchennikova, Evergreen, Colo./Tigar
Deanne Soza, Orem, Utah/Arete
Trinity Thomas, York, Pa./Prestige
Abigail Walker, Carrollton, Texas/Texas Dreams
Anastasia Webb, Morton Grove, Ill./IGI

Who’s Who in 2015 – The New Seniors

Continuing our look at the current national team members, today we will look at the new seniors.

Bailie Key – All-Around; Uneven Bars

Bailie Key at the 2015 Jesolo City Trophy. Photo by Philippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Key has dominated the junior ranks over the past two years, winning every competition she entered with a great margin to spare. She does not have an incredible stand out event, but rather is incredibly clean and strong on all four events. She placed second to Simone Biles in the all-around and to Kyla Ross on uneven bars at the recent City of Jesolo Trophy.

Nia Dennis – All-Around; Uneven Bars, Floor

Dennis had a strong junior career, placing at the top of the field in numerous competitions. However, she has yet to make her senior debut due to injury. Dennis is a strong all-arounder, as well as incredibly powerful on floor and has a great bar routine as well.

Emily Schild – Vault, Floor

Emily Schild at the 2015 City of Jesolo. Photo by Philippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Schild showed incredible promise in 2013, but battled injury in 2014. She made her international debut at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy. Her strongest events are vault and floor.

Megan Skaggs

Megan Skaggs, training at the City of Jesolo. Photo by Philippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Skaggs has been in the top ten over the last few years in the junior division, especially on floor. She finished eighth in her senior debut at the all-around at the recent City of Jesolo Trophy. She has gorgeous form and catlike landings.

The 2015- 2016 JO National Team

The Junior Olympic program is an important stepping stone to NCAA and elite level competition for gymnasts all around the nation. Des Moines, Iowa played host to this year’s U.S. Women’s Junior Olympic National Championships. The top four all-around gymnasts in each age division automatically qualify for the 2015-16 U.S. Women’s Junior Olympic National Team. These are gymnasts to keep an eye on to make a splash in the elite and NCAA scenes.

The national team members, by age division, are listed below.

Junior A
Alyssa Al-Ashari – Twistars USA
Kelsey Knox – Dynamo Gymnastics
Chae Campbell – Metroplex Gymnastics
Tori Tatum – Twin City Twisters

Junior B
Kai Rivers – Twistars USA
Makarri Doggette – Buckeye Gymnastics
Madilyn Quarles – Twin City Twisters
Matilyn Waligora – Olympia Gymnastics Academy

Junior C
Rachael Lukacs – North Stars Gymnastics Academy
Abigail Brenner – Twin City Twisters
Alexandria Ruiz – ACE Gymnastics
Karrie Thomas – American Twisters

Junior D
Alexia Burch – Gymnastics Nevada
Lauren Foley – WOGA
Catherine Rogers – Epic Gymnastics
McKinley Pavicic – Salcianu Gymnastics

Senior A
Kennedi Edney – Precision
Kynsee Roby – Triad
Kyla Bryant – Georgia Elite
Lynnzee Brown – Great American Gymnastics Express

Senior B
Wynter Childs – Spearfish Gymnastics
Cassidy Keelen – Texas Dreams
Jade DeGouveia – American Twisters
Gracie Day – Aerial Athletics

Senior C
Macy Toronjo – Texas Dreams
MaKenna Merrell – All American Gymnastics
Maddie Karr – Twin City Twisters
Olivia Karas – IK Gymnastics

Senior D
Alicia Boren – North Stars Gymnastics Academy
Kirah Koshinski – Northeast Gymnastics Academy
Emma McLean – Stars and Stripes Gymnastics
Sarah Means – Gymcats Gymnastics


New Rules for 2020 Olympic Selection Process

The Federation of International Gymnastics announced decisions about the future of Olympic gymnastics. Under the new system, the number of gymnasts in the team competition will be reduced from five gymnasts to four, opening up 24 extra spaces for male and female gymnasts at the Olympic Games. These spaces will be filled by those who qualify as all-arounders or event specialists through a qualification system that will be independent of the team selection process by each individual country. These changes will take place beginning in 2020.
According to Steve Butcher, chair of the Men’s Technical Committee, “the team format will be four gymnasts, four compete on each apparatus, and three scores count. The best countries will be able to qualify up to two individual gymnasts also through World Cups, Challenge Cups, and Continental Championships. There are many other formulas for AA gymnasts to qualify outside of the teams. The final details are still to be worked out, but the format is now set.
In one view, the total number of gymnasts per country has the potential to increase. The number per team will decrease to four, but two additional gymnasts will be able to qualify for potential all-around or event finals slots. Potentially, more specialists will be able to qualify, and this will give opportunities to countries without qualified teams to still qualify individual gymnasts.

The FIG released a Q&A regarding the decision here.

Who’s Who in 2015- The Returning Olympians

The 2012 Olympians

Jordyn Weiber has officially retired from elite level gymnastics. And Kyla Ross never left. That leaves three of the Fierce Five to discuss their possible impact in 2015.

Aly Raisman – All-Around; Beam, Floor and possibly Vault

Aly Raisman, 2015 City of Jesolo Floor Finals. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Raisman returned to competition for the first time since the 2012 Olympics at the City of Jesolo Trophy in March. She showed incredibly strong training sessions before the competition. In the qualifications, she posted the third highest score on beam, even though it was not nearly as strong of a routine as she had shown in training. Though she has been training and amanar, she just competed a double twisting yurechenko. It was a clean vault that showed definite potential for her amanar in the future. She seems to have improved on bars. She also qualified for event finals on floor,and ended up with the bronze medal on the floor and in the all-around.

Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas. Photo by Filippo Tomasi via USA Gymnastics.

Douglas also made her competition comeback appearance at the 2015 City of Jesolo Trophy. She came in fourth in the all-around and tied for third on beam and bars and fourth on floor. Douglas looked great in training, and her progress in training seems to be in an incredibly positive direction.

McKayla Maroney

Maroney has disclosed on social media that she has struggled both with adrenal fatigue and depression over the last year. She has also talked about her fear of getting injured again. Though she continues to refer to her training, and her dreams of competing in the 2016 Olympics, it is unclear on where she is actually at in her training and if she will return.