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.

Secret US Classics Junior Results and Recap


The arena was ablaze with sparkling leotards as the juniors took the stage at the Secret US Classics. After an exciting competition, Lauren Hernandez of MG Elite topped the podium with a 58.45. Ragan Smith of Texas Dreams won the silver with a 57.70, while reigning national junior champion Jazzy Foberg of MG Elite followed behind her for the bronze with a 57.40. Hernandez led the entire meet, while Smith built up her scores with consistency and topped it off with a fantastic floor routine to take the silver. Foberg was also strong throughout the meet, however stumbles on her floor landings kept her just out of reach of the silver.

Rotation One

Jordan Chiles went for her new amanar vault, the only junior attempting this difficult skill, but touched her hand down to prevent herself from falling backward. She ended the rotation in third with a 14.6. Ragan Smith also started on vault, scoring a 14.7 with a clean double twisting yurchenko. Grace Quinn tied her for second in the first rotation with a beautiful double twisting yurchenko of her own.

Hernandez started on bars as did reigning national champion Foberg.  Foberg was up first, and floated through her 6.0 bar routine for a 14.1. But Hernandez stole the show with her high flying releases and stuck landing for a 15.0, leading after the first rotation.

Rotation Two

Laurie Hernandez on beam during podium training at the Secret US Classics. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp

Jordan Chiles did a beautiful bar routine, but did not match Hernandez’s difficulty on bars and ended up with a 14.1. Foberg got through beam with just a few small wobbles, hitting her skills nicely for a huge 14.65, the highest score on beam to this point. Hernandez got up next, performing with her usual style and attack but had a large step back on her landing, leaving her with a 14.2. The rotation ended with Hernandez in the lead with a 29.2, Foberg in second 28.75 followed closely by Chiles with a 28.7.

Rotation Three

Ragan Smith in podium training. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Chiles performed a beautiful beam routine, but fell on her back tuck. She finished the routine strong, but a 13.6 was low enough to just knock her off the podium at the end of the rotation. Foberg competed some impressive tumbling in her floor routine, opening with a full twisting double layout and a tuck double double for her second pass. She has some rough landings, and earned a 13.85, which was not quite enough to keep her in the top three. Christine Desiderio steped into the top three with the highest floor score of the meet at this point, earning a 14.85. Smith competed three solid routines in a row, and her consistency plus her incredible beam routine including a standing piked full earned her a 14.1 on beam moved her up in the standings. Hernandez wowed the crowd with her incredible floor performance, and was nearly flawless until her last pass when she stumbled back a bit and went out of bounds. However, a 14.35 kept her well in the lead. At the end of rotation three, Hernandez led with a 43.55. Ragan Smith moved into second with a 42.70. Desiderio was followed with a 42.65. Foberg and Chiles fell to fourth and fifth.

Rotation Four

Foberg and Hernandez side by side through it all. Photo by Christy Linder Sharp.

Only four tenths separated second through fifth places heading into the last rotation, and the competition was tight. Foberg and Hernandez were on vault, usually highest scoring event. Smith and Chiles were on floor and Desiderio was on bars. Foberg led off with a high double twisting yurchenko for a 14.8. Hernandez did a clean double twisting yurchenko with a small hop, earning a a 14.9,the highest vault score in the meet and enough to keep her solidly in the lead. Ragan Smith took the floor with her charming and charismatic routine, opening with a sky high double layout, a one and a half stepout through to a triple twist, a double arabian and a stuck double pike. She scored the highest floor score of the meet, a whopping 15.0, which kept her in second place. Desiderio fell on bars, knocking her off the podium. Chiles finished up the meet on floor where she fell on her opening pass. She finished up well, but three falls in one meet kept her from the podium.

Full Results at SecretClassic.com. Top scores in the all-around and each event are below.

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Felicia Hano Injured During Podium Training- Withdraws from Secret US Classics


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Felicia Hano is injured on vault during podium training. Photo courtesy of Christy Linder Sharp.

Felicia Hano, training partner with Kyla Ross at Gym-Max Gymnastics in Costa Mesa, CA, injured herself today during podium training for the 2015 Secret US Classics. Though no official update has been given, the most recent update of the start list for tomorrow’s competition no longer has Hano on it.

The rotation was wrapping up and most of the gymnasts had left the vault. Hano remained, trying to get in a good vault after struggling through the rotation on her second vault. She was attempting a full twisting laid-out tsukahara. She landed short and immediately went down and rolled to her side, grabbing her right leg. Her coaches came to her aid and she sat up while they examined her. It is not yet clear what injury she sustained, though it is likely a knee or ankle injury.

Hano, a former trampolinist, made her senior debut in elite gymnastics last year at the US Classics, where she placed seventh on floor and 10th in the all-around. She went on to the P&G National Championships where she placed seventh on floor. She was also selected as a replacement for the Pan American team last year and was added to the US National team. The 2015 Secret US Classics would have been Hano’s first competition of the year.

USA Women Win Team Gold and Qualify in Top Spots – Full Recap and Results from the Pan American Games


After three subdivisions of competition have been completed, the US women easily claim the team title for the fourth straight time at the Pan American Games. Scoring a 173.8, USA’s talented team won the gold by over seven points. Canada and Brazil both put in valiant efforts, with Canada edging out Brazil for the silver with a 166.5 to Brazil’s 165.4 for the bronze. The US men also won gold, making it the first time in 20 years that the US men and women have claimed the team title in the same year.

USA Women take gold at the 2015 Pan American Games. Photo by Grace Chaui via USA Gymnastics.

Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati Gymnastics, Emily Schild of Everest Gymnastics and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta made up the gold medal winning team. Each gymnast performed admirably, leading to the top score on all four events. Read here for a full recap.

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The first of the individual events begins tomorrow with the men’s and women’s all-around finals. Hundley and Desch qualified in the top two spots for the women’s all-around final. Hundley, scoring a total of 57.65 put up solid routines on every event, with all four scores counting toward the team victory. She posted the highest score of the entire competition on vault, and the second highest event scores on beam and floor. Desch was brilliant on floor, posting the highest floor score of the meet, and the third highest on both bars and vault. However, she slipped off the beam while performing a high difficulty move, losing her lead and ending the meet with a 57.3. Ana Gomez Porras of Guatemala qualified in third just behind Desch with a 57.2 Separated by just 4.5 tenths, the competition for the all-around title will be fierce.

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The U.S. women will compete in three individual event finals held July 14-15. None of the US women vied for the Vault final. The vault and uneven bars finals will be on July 14, while the balance beam and floor exercise finals will be held on July 15.

VAULT 

Cuba’s Marcia Videaux Jimenez qualified in the top spot with a 14.95 average score, competing two vaults with over a 6.0 start value. Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico was close behind with a 14.75 average, competing slightly less difficult vaults but scoring higher in execution. Yamilet Pena Abreu of the Dominican Republic rounded out the top three with a 14.5 average. She was able to put her feet down before sitting down on her insanely difficult Produnova (handspring double front) vault, making it into the vault final.

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Uneven Bars

Gowey led the bars qualifications with a beautifully executed 14.75 routine. She did not make one of her planned connections, giving her opportunity to score even higher in event finals. Hudley qualified behind her with a 14.5. Desch qualified in third, but did not advance to the finals due to the two per country rule. Jessica Lopez Arocha of Venezuela rounded out the top three with a 14.3.

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Balance Beam

Flavia LOPES SARAIVA of Brazil edged out Gowey for the top spot on beam with a 14.55 to Gowey’s 14.5. Lopes had a one tenth edge in difficulty, while Gowey scored just a half tenth higher in execution. Ana Gomez Porras of Guatemala qualified in third with a 14.35. With just a two tenth spread, this may be a tight competition! Skaggs qualified in fifth with a 14.05 as the second US qualifier.

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Floor Exercise

Desch qualified into the floor finals with the top score of 14.65. She performed a beautiful executed routine that led the field by five tenths in difficulty as well.  Hundley qualified in second into her second event final, earning a 14.3. LOPES SARAIVA rounded out the top three with a 14.2. Ellie Black of Canada also scored a 14.2, and with only a four and a half tenth spread from second to eighth, this may be another close final!

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Check out the full schedule and results on the official Pan American Games site, toronto2015.org. Full replays of events are being uploaded to the Pan American Games youtube channel. Competition will resume tomorrow with the men’s all-around finals at 12:45 pm EST. The women will take the stage at 6:50 pm EST. Competition for both events can be seen live on ESPN3.

All scores are taken from the official Pan American Games site, toronto2015.org.

USA Women Shine in Pan American Qualifications and Team Finals


Team USA for the Pan American Games at podium training. Photo by Grace Chaui via USA Gymnastics.

The first round of competition for the 2015 American Games started today in Toronto. The women began their Pan Am journey with the team finals and all-around and event finals qualifications in the first subdivision. They will have to wait through two more subdivisions for the results. Madison Desch of GAGE, Rachel Gowey of Chow’s Gymnastics, Amelia Hundley of Cincinnati Gymnastics, Emily Schild of Everest Gymnastics and Megan Skaggs of Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta make up the team.

The format for the team competition is four up, three count. The USA started on floor with Schild, Skaggs, Hundley and Desch. Schild led off with a strong effort, scoring a 13.75.  Skaggs went up next, and performed an artistically beautiful routine but struggled on her landings, almost putting her hand down on her last pass. She scored a 13.4. Hundley opened up her first competition in 2015 with a brand new routine that earned a 14.3. Desch finished up with the strongest routine of the rotation scoring a 14.65. Team USA earned a 42.7 on their first event.  Desch and Hundley took the top two spots from America on floor, giving them both the opportunity to qualify for event finals.

Maddie Desch takes the top score on floor. Photo by Grace Chaui during podium training via USA Gymnastics

Skaggs, Schild, Desch and Hundley were all up again for Vault. As commentator Elfi Schlegel put it, team USA put on a vault clinic. All four girls performed solid double twisting yurchenkos, with scores that built along the line-up. Skaggs earned a 14.9, Desch a 14.95, Schild a 15.05 and Hundley led the team with a 15.1. A 45.1 event score put team USA at 87.8 at the half-way point.

The line-up on Uneven Bars was Skaggs, Hundley, Desch and Gowey. Skaggs started off the event with a solid bar routine earning a 13.75. Hundley came up next with a solid routine chocked full of release moves and a tiny hop on landing for a 14.5. Desch performed a beautiful bar routine. Her release moves floated through the air with a beautiful swing in between for a 14.45. Gowey anchored the team with a very strong routine for her first outing in 2015 scoring a 14.75. Gowey and Hundley were the top two USA scores and team USA finished the event with a 43.7.

Gowey dominates bars. Photo by Grace Chaui during podium training via USA Gymnastics.

The USA ended on balance beam, with Hundley, Skaggs, Desch and Gowey competing.  Hundley led off with a solid routine with just a few wobbles for a 13.750. Skaggs went up next with a nice flowing routine but had a deep bend on her dismount for a 14.05. Desch brought out a beautiful routine and but fell on a difficult hand-spring step out, hand-spring two feet to layout full, scoring a 13.25. Gowey ended the competition with a true Chow style routine- slow and steady, nary a wobble, with beautiful fluidity to score a 14.5. USA earned a 42.3 on beam, and Gowey and Skaggs were the top scoring Americans.

Rachel Gowey is gorgeous on beam. Photo by Grace Chaui during podium training via USA Gymnastics.

Team USA leads after subdivision one with a 173.8. Hundley and Desch are currently one-two in the all-around with a 57.65 and a 57.3 respectively, which is impressive for Desch with a fall. Hundley and Gowey are both in the running for two event finals, with Desch and Skaggs each in the hunt for one. Final results will be determined after two more subdivisions, including Canada and Brazil.

Amelia Hundley qualifies in first into the all-around from team USA. Photo by Grace Chiu via USA Gymnastics.

Full replay videos are being uploaded to the Pan American Games youtube channel. The Women’s all-around final will be held tomorrow at 6:50 pm EST. You can watch live on ESPN3. Official Results of subdivision one via Toronto2015.org:

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Lauren Mitchell’s Run on Rio Likely at an End


Lauren Mitchell at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Photo via WAIS.

Lauren Mitchell, the first Australian female gymnast to win a gold medal at the World Championships, was back on the Road to Rio. After dealing with a shoulder injury following the London Olympics, Mitchell went back and forth on continuing on as an elite level gymnast. In 2014, she decided to return to training and just see what happened.

According to The West Australian Sport, Mitchell set her sights on Rio in May. “I was really in limbo for a very long time so it’s only probably been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really kind of stepped it up and said, OK, give it one more crack,” Mitchell said “I had the AOC athletes’ commission meeting last week and just listening to everyone talking about it again kind of re-motivated me.”

And all was going well. Mitchell was named to the team who would compete at the World University Games in Korea, opening today. In a training session on Tuesday night before she was to depart, Mitchell injured her knee.  Today, the Western Australian Institute of Sport released an update that confirmed Mitchell has a serious injury.

Mitchell has suffered ruptures to both the anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments of her right knee. Scans confirmed significant damage to her ACL and PCL and Lauren has been in consultation with her medical and support team in determining the best course of action for her rehabilitation – a process that is still on-going.

Lauren wishes to stress that she has yet to make a decision on her gymnastics future and will hold-off on an announcement until after her treatment has been determined.

Mitchell took to Instagram today to express her emotions in the situation.

Thank you to everyone for their tremendous amount of overwhelming support over the last few days. It’s been a tough week, and at the moment I’m focusing on proper recovery as my main priority. But what can I say.. when I do something I like to do it well 😕 Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength, no matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experiences are, if we loose hope…That’s our real disaster – Dalai Lama
#feelingthelove #notanidealsituation#nothingdonehalfassed#justkeepswimming

An injury of this magnitude usually takes a year to recover from. This makes it next to impossible for Mitchell to make the 2016 Olympics. Though she has not yet made a decision on her future in gymnastics, it is likely that a decision has been made for her regarding the Olympics. It is obvious that she will handle the situation with the class and determination she has always shown.

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 SoonerSports.com, 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 Soonersports.com. “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.

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 http://www.toronto2015.org.

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