Almost half of the 45 gymnasts who competed in the junior and senior optional elite sessions of the Brestyan’s National Qualifier held in Las Vegas this past weekend have earned the scores required to qualify to the American and U.S. Classic meets later this year.
Gymnasts who didn’t qualify through last year’s national championships or who won’t have a chance to qualify internationally or at national team camp verification must attend one of five national qualifiers held this spring.
The new code of points brings updated qualification scores in the U.S. women’s elite program, with seniors required to reach a 51 all-around score, 39 three-event score, or 26.5 two-event score, while juniors much reach a 50 in the all-around. This weekend, seven seniors and 13 juniors reached those scores.
In the senior division, Abby Paulson of Twin City Twisters placed first with a 54.5 after an excellent meet, where beam was a standout for a 14.15. Margzetta Frazier of Parkettes, who caught our attention with her many awesome upgrades posted to social media over the past few months, placed second after a solid DTY and excellent bars set, earning scores of 14.75 and 14.2, respectively. She struggled a bit on beam and floor, however, which limited her overall, though her 53.15 was more than enough to reach the next level.
New senior Frida Esparza of Head Over Heels was third with a 51.85 after hitting a beautiful FTY, and Leah Clapper of GymAmerica just snuck past the all-around qualifying score with a 51.3, with floor a standout for her.
The other seniors to qualify were Laney Madsen of Gym-Max, Abigail Walker of Texas Dreams, and Olivia Trautman of Twin City Twisters. Both Madsen and Walker competed all-around, but Madsen’s 50.8 and Walker’s 50.35 fell just tenths short of the 51 requirement. Both were able to scrap their bars scores, however, to just get past the three-event qualifying score of 39. Although they only technically qualified on three events, they’re allowed to move forward and compete all four events at classics, but going from classics to nationals, gymnasts who only reach the two or three-event scores can only compete those two or three events at nationals.
Trautman, a former junior national team member, ended up not competing bars at all, showing a solid DTY for a 14.55 and great work on floor for the top score of 13.5 there, in addition to reaching a 12.25 on beam.
Konnor McClain, who won last year’s Hope Championships in the 10-11 age division, won the junior title with a 52.9, with her only big mistakes coming on beam, her event with the greatest difficulty at a 5.7 start value. McClain, who turned 12 at the beginning of the month, has had a YouTube following since she was just four years old, and more recent videos show her training big skills far beyond her years. At this point, McClain doesn’t even know what city she’s setting her Olympic sights on, as she isn’t eligible until the 2024 Games, but even this early on she’s absolutely one to pay attention to going forward, especially as she regularly outscores gymnasts with several years on her (her score here would’ve put her third in the senior division).
In second was newbie Grace McCallum of Twin City Twisters, who showed great difficulty on vault for a 14.25 and clean routines on bars and beam to post a 52.6 total. She was followed by Kayla Di Cello of Hill’s in third with a 52.3 (beam was a standout for her) and newbie Selena Harris of Gymcats in fourth with a 51.75 (her bars were superb).
Other Classics qualifiers included Anna Huber of Rochester in fifth with a 51.65, Abigail Scanlon of Capital in sixth with a 51.6, Anya Pilgrim of Hill’s in seventh with a 51.35, Lilly Hudson of Florida Elite in eighth with a 50.8, Kaytlyn Johnson of Denton in ninth with a 50.7, Brooke Butler of Midwest in tenth with a 50.5, Maeve Hahn of First in Flight in 11th with a 50.35, Sienna Robinson of Salcianu Elite in 12th with a 50.3, and Ciena Alipio of West Valley in 13th, getting the exact score she needed to just sneak in.
Of these, it was great seeing Huber back in action. She was one of my favorite newcomers back in 2015, showing low-ish difficulty but tons of promise. This weekend, she had a rough time on beam, but posted the top scores on vault (where she has a DTY) and bars as well as the fourth-best score on floor. With a hit beam, she likely would’ve been at the top of the podium, so I’m excited to see how she competes later this season.
I was also impressed with Alipio’s meet-winning beam, which earned a 13.8 for what was a brilliantly-executed set.
Also of note is Sunisa Lee of Midwest, who had the top floor score of 13.6 and the second-best beam score of 13.7. Lee, who qualified to this year’s classics via nationals last year, competed all events but bars in an effort to get an early start in the season as she continues preparing for this summer’s meets.
Of those who didn’t qualify, many are still eligible for Hopes competition, which is separated into the 10-11 and 12-13 age groups. But for those who are still hoping to reach the junior international elite level, they still have a few more chances coming up.
Four more national qualifiers remain in the 2017 season, including the Orlando Metro qualifier from February 25-26, the KPAC Cup qualifier from March 9-10, the Parkette’s qualifier from May 25-26, and the final qualifier held at the ranch on July 6.
From there, those who have earned their qualifying scores can go on to compete at the American Classic on July 8 and/or the U.S. Classic from July 27-29, where they will attempt to earn scores that will qualify them to nationals.
Full results from the Brestyan’s national qualifier are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins