After two subdivisions of the team final round at the 2015 Pan American Games, the United States women hold onto their big 173.800 to 158.500 lead above Mexico. Colombia is now situated in third place with a 155.950 followed by Venezuela in fourth with a 155.000 and Argentina in fifth with a 152.650.
The Colombian women relied heavily on all-arounders Yurany Avendaño and Ginna Escobar as they sought to upend Mexico, and though they came close, not having team leader Catalina Escobar there would hurt them in the end.
Both Avendaño and Escobar finished in the all-around with scores of 51.450, currently good for 7th and 8th in the all-around race. Avendaño earned a 13.7 for her big FTY on vault, and hit her beam – including a front handspring to Korbut, back tuck, side somi, and double tuck – for a 12.45. We didn’t see her floor, but she had a solid 13.3 there, and then brought in a 12.0 on bars.
Escobar, meanwhile, posted a 13.8 for her vault and a 12.8 on bars, where she had a nice giant full to Gienger, an awesome Shang, and a full-in with a step. On beam, she earned a 12.45 and then on floor, a 12.4 after taking some messy stumbles out of several of her passes, including a 2.5 that went out-of-bounds.
These two aside, the team had a fantastic bars set from Marcela Sandoval, who earned a 13.2 for her toe-on, Tkatchev, bail to toe shoot, and full-in with a step; Sandoval also had the team’s best score of 12.5 on beam. Bibiana Velez struggled on beam with a fall on her bhs loso that missed the apparatus completely and then she sat her dismount, but she posted a 13.9 on vault and a 13.0 for her clean bar routine. Finally, Lizeth Ruiz, stepping in for Catalina Escobar, hit her FTY for a 13.7 and then posted a 12.45 on floor after hitting a double pike, double full, and double tuck.
With star Jessica Lopez working on only two events, the rest of the Venezuelan women picked things up and fought like mad to nearly come out on top of the struggling Colombia. Ivet Rojas, their all-arounder, earned top scores of 14.0 on vault and 13.0 on floor to land in 9th at the moment with a 51.2, while Katriel de Sousa, Eliana Gonzalez, and Paula Marquez each put up a dependable score or two, including a 13.65 for de Sousa on vault and a 13.9 for Gonzalez on her lovely FTY.
Lopez has been dealing with nagging injuries and was unable to contribute on vault and floor, leaving them an athlete short on the latter, forcing them to count an 11.6. Lopez apparently struggled through training all week and ESPN commentator Elfi Schlegel sounded like she feared for Lopez today, worrying about whether she could hit bars or beam at all.
But Lopez pulled through as always, easily posting the team high on both. On bars, she hit her piked Tkatchev to pak with some form issues on the latter, a Maloney to clear hip full to Tkatchev, a Jaeger, and a clean double front with a step for a 14.3, which should easily get her into the final there. On beam, she hit her switch leap, a solid bhs bhs layout, a front aerial to sheep jump, side aerial, and double full dismount with a hop back, downgraded from her usual 2.5 but a smart move if she wants to save her knee – which was heavily taped – for Worlds.
Argentina struggled with falls throughout their day, and had to count a couple of low scores here and there, though they had an excellent performance from the always reliable Ayelen Tarabini, currently 6th in the all-around with a 51.6. Tarabini didn’t look thrilled with her tsuk half on vault, on which she stumbled out-of-bounds for a 13.3, but she was solid on bars hitting her bail to clear hip to toe shoot, Tkatchev, and double back straight out of the handstand for a 12.3.
Unfortunately, Tarabini did have a fall on beam, weirdly on a switch leap to wolf jump, normally an easy combination for her. That aside she was excellent here, showing a check on her punch front but hitting a beautiful switch half, front aerial to side aerial (though I doubt the connection was credited there), bhs loso, and a big double tuck for a 12.2. She then killed it on floor, earning a 13.8 after hitting a big double front, a double pike, a punch layout full, and a double tuck with a small hop.
Ailen Valente also looked very nice on floor, coming through with a big double tuck and a step out-of-bounds on her double pike for a 13.15, and she posted a 13.75 on vault, the highest of their session. Her scores of 12.0 on bars and 11.75 on beam, however, were not counted into their team total and she finished 11th at the time in the all-around with a 50.65.
Aside from these two, Camila Ambrosio had a big clean FTY with a hop back for a 13.6 on vault, and Merlina Galera had the team high score on beam with a 12.45 after hitting her switch leap mount with a stumble, a switch leap to split leap, bhs back tuck, switch side, front aerial, and double tuck. She did put her hands down on her side aerial so could’ve been much more impressive here, but still did solid work outside of that skill. Finally, Maria Stoffel added a 12.0 on bars and her 11.6 on floor after sitting her double arabian wasn’t counted.
The big story of the second subdivision didn’t come from the team final race, however. Ana Sofia Gomez, the 19-year-old who made a name for herself at the 2011 Pan Am Games after winning all-around silver and beam gold ended up looking absolutely fantastic here, posting a 57.2 in the all-around to currently find herself in third place.
From one event to the next, Gomez looked unstoppable. Beginning on bars, she showed a Maloney, Ray to Gienger, Jaeger, bail to toe shoot, and stuck full-in for a 14.25. On beam, she stepped it up a notch with a 14.35 after hitting her bhs tuck full, side aerial to split jump, side somi, front aerial with a pause before the wolf jump, and a double pike with a step.
On floor, Gomez showed a tucked full-in, a triple full with excellent rotation (though she does cross her ankles in the air), a stuck 2.5 to front tuck, and a double pike to earn a 14.0. She finished her day on vault with a beautiful and clean DTY, earning a 14.6 after a slight hop back on the landing. If she hits this way in the all-around final tomorrow, she absolutely has the ability to add a second Pan Ams all-around medal to her collection.
Finally, Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico managed to edge out Yami Peña for the top spot in vault qualifications thus far. She nailed her tsuk double full for a 14.9 and then hit her front handspring tuck 1.5 with a small hop for a 14.6, averaging a 14.75 to finish two and a half tenths above Peña.
The third and final subdivision begins at 7 pm EST and will feature team competition from Brazil, Canada, and Cuba, all of which have a shot to finish on the podium. Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Panama, and Trindad & Tobago will all feature individual competitors. Keep an eye out for the energetic Isabella Amado of Panama on beam and floor!
Article by Lauren Hopkins