The Gymternet is excited to introduce you to another group of new kids you’ll see at the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic. You’ve already met twelve new elites, and here we 14 more that can be included in that bunch.
Many of these young ladies were still competing L9 just a year ago while others are older, more experienced J.O. gymnasts who happen to be giving junior elite a whirl for their first time.
1. Kaitlin DeGuzman (Metroplex)
Like you can see in her beam routine above, Kaitlin is a super clean little gymnast with excellent form, especially on bars, beam, and floor. Last year, she placed fourth in the all-around at L9 Westerns while also bringing home gold on bars and silver on beam; earlier this year, she became the J.O. national beam champion in her division while also earning an all-around bronze. Born in the Philippines, Kaitlin will turn 14 tomorrow!
2. Anastasia Webb (Illinois Gymnastics Institute)
15-year-old Anastasia qualified for international elite at the SCEGA competition in March. Her difficulty’s a bit low, but I love her fight on beam and her turns on floor…and her floor music (the variation of “Dark Eyes” used by Rebecca Bross in 2010) is one of my favorites. She will compete at Classics with her teammate, Makenzie Sedlacek.
3. Abigail Matthews (Cincinnati)
Abigail arrived at Cincinnati Gymnastics for the 2013 season, and quickly became the 2013 Ohio state bars and beam champion, events on which she shows real potential (her mount and one-armed bhs to loso are lovely). She’s attempted elite a couple of times, and this year finally earned a qualifying score of 51.75 at the American Classic. The 14-year-old has already committed to the University of Oklahoma for the 2017-2018 season.
4. Hannah Joyner (First in Flight)
This first-year L10 was the 2014 regional all-around, vault, and beam champion before going on to place 8th at nationals. Hannah qualified to Classics at the Elite National Qualifier at the ranch in May, and still needs to earn her score for the P&G Championships. The 13-year-old already has some pretty big skills on vault and floor, and also has a huge Hindorff on bars and a bhs-bhs-layout series on beam.
5. Olivia Dunne (ENA Paramus)
The baby of the group, Olivia is just eleven years old! Her coaches say she has what it takes to go to the Olympics, and though she’s still six years away from Tokyo, she considers it her biggest goal. Bars and beam are her favorite events, though I think she moves excellently on floor. When she was in L4 in 2010, she was featured in USA Gym’s Faces in the Gym, showing she’s come a long way in four years.
6. Adriana Popp (Girls Co-Op)
I remember 12-year-old Adriana from last year’s U.S. Challenge, where she competed what was probably the most difficult beam routine in her session. Though she scratched vault in 2013, she finished 5th in the U.S. Challenge all-around in 2012. Her gymnastics remind me a bit of Shawn Johnson’s, and once she gets her nerves under control, I think she could be dynamite.
7. Shania Adams (Buckeye)
Shania moved to Buckeye Gymnastics shortly before her L7 season. With Buckeye she progressed quickly, reaching L10 early this year before qualifying elite this summer. The 12-year-old is very powerful and has some solid beam work; though she’s only competing a full on vault at the moment, she has trained a DTY and it looks very strong!
8. Madison Rau (Cypress)
Madison began training L10 in 2013, and shortly after, she also qualified to international elite as a Hopes 12-13 gymnast, getting the opportunity to compete at the U.S. Challenge that summer. Since then, 12-year-old Madison has made tremendous strides, earning a 51.85 at the SCEGA qualifier and placing first on beam with a 14.15. She also won vault and floor at the Houston National Invitational this year.
9. Kailey Gillings (Stars)
15-year-old Houston native Kailey began competing L10 last year, ending her season with a 12th place beam finish at J.O. nationals. She moved to Stars over the summer and so far in 2014 has placed 11th all-around at J.O. nationals, qualified elite, and committed to the University of Arkansas! Though her elite difficulty isn’t super high, she is very clean on all four events.
10. Rachael Flam (Stars)
Rachael, who turned 15 earlier this month, began competing L10 in 2011 and since then, has earned tons of titles, including the 2013 J.O. national vault title, the 2014 J.O. national bars title, and the all-around title at this year’s Nastia Liukin Cup. Rachael considers bars her favorite event (her dismount is a full-twisting double layout!) and she looks up to Aly Raisman for always having a great attitude.
11. Elena Arenas (Georgia Elite)
Elena, who began competing L10 in the middle of the 2013 season, initially qualified to elite as a Hopes gymnast, placing 7th in the all-around and winning silver on beam at the U.S. Challenge. This year, she placed 10th all-around at J.O. nationals and earned a 52.1 at the American Classic, one of the highest scores for first-year junior elites. The 12-year-old’s parents own the gym in which she trains.
12. Victoria Nguyen (Chow’s)
Victoria’s life after 2013 is something of a mystery, so I can’t wait to see what Chow’s newest prodigy has in store for us this summer. She did very well as a L9 last year, winning two all-around golds and one silver in the three invitationals she attended, and remained undefeated on floor all season, earning a 9.9 at the IGI Chicago Style meet. The 13-year-old will miss 2016 Olympic eligibility by just 21 days, beating Lexie Priessman for the ‘least fortunate birthdate’ award.
13. Caitlin Smith (Paramount Elite)
13-year-old Caitlin had a strong L9 season in 2013 before qualifying to Hopes and placing 11th in the U.S. Challenge. This year, she placed 20th at the American Classic, performing especially well on beam and floor, where she shows great promise (she falls on her Onodi in this video, but it looks like a great skill for her).
14. Makenzie Sedlacek (Illinois Gymnastics Institute)
Makenzie is one of two 11-year-old gymnasts competing at Classics this summer. She initially qualified to Hopes at the SCEGA qualifier, but got her junior elite score at the ranch earlier this month, earning a 51.4 in the all-around. Her beam looks especially strong when she hits, while her floor and vault are pretty clean as well.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins