The 2014 Secret U.S. Classic, to be held August 2 in Hoffman Estates, Ill., marks the final qualifying competition for this year’s U.S. national championships. The Gymternet’s Complete Coverage Guide has everything you’ll need to follow along – including what it is, who’s competing, when it’s going down, and where to watch.
What’s It All About?
Traditionally, while officially acting as a qualifier for those who have yet to earn a spot at the P&G Championships, many gymnasts who attend do so in order to get back into competitive shape before nationals. While the newer elites have competed at recent qualifiers and in many cases throughout the entirety of the 2014 J.O. season, established elites sometimes go months – or even close to a year – without hitting an arena. Expect a few of the seniors to ease their way into the season with either slightly downgraded routines or by competing only an event or two instead of the all-around.
Even though this meet seemingly gets the season off to a slow start for the U.S. ladies, don’t let this fool you. Gabby Douglas in 2012 and Simone Biles in 2013 struggled through Classics before both ultimately scratched vault, leaving their outcome looking grim – yet two months after their respective U.S. Classic meets, Douglas became Olympic champion and Biles became World champion. There’s a great saying in theater – “a bad dress rehearsal means a good opening night” – and that’s how this competition works in a sense. It allows gymnasts to get their feet wet, to struggle a bit, and to get the bumps and bruises out of the way when it doesn’t really matter.
Though you shouldn’t expect perfection at Classics – that will come later on, with the gymnasts peaking at Worlds if all goes according to plan – you will still be in for an exciting event and some incredible gymnastics. Highlights will include…
- Simone Biles returning to competition for the first time since she became the world champion. She was supposed to come back first at the American Cup and then at Pac Rims, but a bum shoulder unfortunately kept her out. She is currently planning on doing all four events.
- A challenge for the all-around title by Kyla Ross and Brenna Dowell, both of whom are hungry for gold after Ross became the ‘silver princess’ with her three silver medals at 2013 World Championships while Dowell picked up a silver of her own at this year’s American Cup.
- Potential for a dark horse win. Look out especially for Madison Kocian and Mykayla Skinner, who have come far as all-arounders – Kocian came in second at the June verification at the ranch while Skinner won the May verification and came close to nabbing the all-around title at Jesolo until she fell on her pet event, floor.
- Long-awaited senior debuts from a few promising gymnasts, including Priessman’s former teammate Amelia Hundley as well as gorgeous bars/beam worker Nica Hults, who could very well make a case for herself as a specialist for the Worlds team if she stays consistent this summer.
- Amazing junior talent. The top dogs are all here, including powerful Nia Dennis and lovely Norah Flatley, but we’ll also be treated to the international elite debuts of the next generation. Most of the little ones have some incredible standout skills and routines they hope will put them on the map for years to come.
All information related to the competition is below, with a collection of all relevant articles on our meet coverage page.
Who Will Be There?
19 seniors and 52 juniors will compete, as USA Gymnastics announced last week. Due to the large amount of juniors who have entered the competition, nine juniors will compete in the senior session, though their scores will still count for their own age group. For competition order, be sure to check the start lists.
Senior competitors include:
|Alyssa Baumann||Rachel Gowey||Ashton Locklear||Kyla Ross|
|Simone Biles||Felicia Hano||Maggie Nichols|
|Madison Desch||Veronica Hults||Samantha Ogden||Mykayla Skinner|
|Brenna Dowell||Amelia Hundley||Macy Toronjo|
|Madison Kocian||Melissa Reinstadtler|
Junior competitors include:
|Shania Adams||Rachael Flam||Adeline Kenlin||Grace Quinn|
|Norah Flatley*||Lexy Ramler|
|McKenna Appleton||Jazmyn Foberg*||Taylor Lawson||Madison Rau|
|Elena Arenas||Molly Frack||Abigail Matthews||Makenzie Sedlacek|
|Rachel Baumann||Margzetta Frazier||Alyona Shchennikova|
|Megan Freed||Maggie Musselman||Megan Skaggs|
|Aria Brusch||Emily Gaskins*||Lauren Navarro*||Caitlin Smith|
|Jordan Chiles||Kailey Gillings||Victoria Nguyen||Ragan Smith*|
|Delanie Harkness||Marissa Oakley||Deanne Soza|
|Nia Dennis*||Morgan Hurd||Maile O’Keefe||Olivia Trautman*|
|Christina Desiderio||Sydney Johnson-Scharpf||Abby Paulson*||Alexis Vasquez|
|Olivia Dunne||Shilese Jones||Gabby Perea|
|Bailey Ferrer||Hannah Joyner||Adriana Popp||Anastasia Webb|
* Will compete in the senior session
** These athletes have withdrawn from the competition. More information:
- As of July 23, Bailie Key has withdrawn from the competition following a “minor arm procedure.”
- As of July 24, Vanasia Bradley has withdrawn from the competition after reportedly tearing her ACL.
- As of July 25, Grace Waguespack has withdrawn from the competition, though the reason why is unknown.
As of July 30, Emily Muhlenhaupt has withdrawn due to fracturing the growth plates in her knees.
- As of July 31, Ari Agripedes has withdrawn due to a broken toe, sustained after tapping her foot on the bar earlier this week. She will sit out the Classic in order to rest, but should be back in time for Championships.
- As of August 1, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Peyton Ernst, and Emily Schild have been removed from the start list for the U.S. Classic, though the reason for their withdrawal is unknown.
- As of August 1, Lexie Priessman has withdrawn from the competition after sustaining an injury during her beam dismount at the evening podium training session. She was taken to the hospital and her status is as of yet unknown.
When is the Secret U.S. Classic?
The competition will be held on Saturday August 2. The juniors will compete at 2 pm and the seniors compete at 7:30 pm.
Podium training for the Classic will be held on Friday August 1, with juniors training at 9 am and seniors training at 11 am.
Additionally, the U.S. Challenge featuring Hopes athletes aged 10-13 will happen on Friday August 1 at 3:30 pm.
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.
Where Can I Watch?
If you find yourself in the Chicago area, why not get tickets? Junior session, senior session, and the all-day package are all available through the Sears Centre Arena.
Can’t make it? Don’t worry! Everything will be online! USA Gymnastics will feature live streaming coverage of podium training, the U.S. Challenge, and the junior women’s competition on secretclassic.com, while the senior women’s competition will air on Universal Sports TV (there is usually a streaming feed for this on UniversalSports.com as well, though you will need to log in with your cable provider, so I’m not sure if it will be available internationally).
Article by Lauren Hopkins