Texas Woman’s Surprises as Division II National Champs

As we’re enjoying NCAA Championships this weekend, we also seriously have to talk about the USAG Championships (again, not to be confused with JO Nationals) that happened last weekend. I was able to watch all three days and it was an incredible meet. I must commend the host school, Seattle Pacific, with their excellent stream and commentary! I was able to see all four events, and the best part? FREE.

To review, USAG Championships features teams that have fewer than six athletic scholarships, so that includes your Division II teams, your Ivies, Air Force, and Centenary (which is technically Division III but is not a member institution of the NCGA).

The first day of competition had two semifinal sessions. Qualifying as teams to this meet were Bridgeport, Cornell, West Chester, and Air Force in session one, and Lindenwood, Texas Woman’s, Yale, Brown, and host Seattle Pacific in session two. The top two teams in each semifinal — which ended up being Bridgeport, Cornell, Lindenwood, and Texas Woman’s — advanced to team finals, held on Saturday.

The all-around competition was part of semifinals, and scores were combined between sessions. Majesta Valentine of West Chester, who had a huge lead in the RQS all season, was crowned national all-around champion with a 39.2! Lyanda Dudley of Cornell was second (39.075), and Maya Reimers of Bridgeport was third with a 39.025.

Full results from semifinals are available here.

The team final on Saturday was one of the best meets I’ve watched. Beautiful, high-level gymnastics that you would never know was 75% Division II athletes, tons of energy, exciting, and some serious plot twists.

I had pegged Lindenwood to win it. I thought maybe Bridgeport could squeak in, since both teams went back and forth from week-to-week during the regular season rankings pretty much always holding on to the first and second spots. Bridgeport had the highest score of anyone in the semifinals with a 195.575, and Lindenwood was close behind with a 195.100, qualifying ahead of Texas Woman’s by nearly a point.

But as you all know, anything can happen in gymnastics! Texas Woman’s came out of nowhere and won the meet with a HUGE 196.125. Division II, people! And when I say out of nowhere, I mean it.

Lindenwood and Bridgeport tied for first after the first rotation, and then Lindenwood moved to vault, where the team had to count a fall. After two, they had dropped to fourth. Bridgeport was ahead going into the last rotation, but they went to bars, a comparatively weak event for them, and TWU went to vault, where they are quite strong. And that’s when I was literally screaming watching TWU nail vault after vault and end up winning by over six tenths. Lindenwood fought hard on beam and put up some beautiful sets, but it was not enough to catch Bridgeport or TWU.

The final scores were Texas Woman’s with 196.125, Bridgeport with 195.500, Lindenwood with 195.375, and Cornell with 194.950. Despite finishing in fourth, Cornell’s score was a new school record, which is super exciting for them!

TWU was led by Mallory Moredock on vault (9.825) and beam (9.875). Schyler Jones also contributed a 9.875 on beam as well as a 9.8 on vault and a 9.9 on floor. Bria Northrop hit a huge 9.925 on floor, and Alyssa Kelly led the team on bars with a 9.825. TWU impressively broke 49 on both beam and floor.

Bridgeport had several scores at 9.9 or higher from Kim Stewart on vault (9.925), Carol Chiles and Brianna Comport on beam (9.9), and Randi Cutolo and Comport on floor (9.9). Bridgeport had THREE events that scored 49 or higher, but bars really did them in.

Lindenwood was led by Kierstin Sokolowski, posting the highest team score on all three of her events: 9.85 on vault, 9.9 on bars, and a 9.95 on beam. If you’re not a fan of “Kiki” yet, you should be. Katey Oswalt led the Lions on floor with a 9.9, and Lindenwood hit 49 on both beam and floor.

Cornell hit a 49 on floor, counting all scores of 9.775 or better, led by Elana Molotsky’s 9.85. Kaitlin Green was stunning on both bars and beam, scoring a 9.9 and a 9.875, respectively. Lyanda Dudley led the team on vault (9.75) and all contributed 9.825s on bars and floor.

Full team final results are available here.

Individual event finals were held on the final day of competition. Gymnasts earned a spot to compete here based on their scores in semifinals (top six in each semi plus ties). Scores here were a little funny, because in the team competitions, there were four judges, and the high and low scores were dropped, with the middle two averaged. At event finals, all four of the judges’ scores were averaged.

Kierstin Sokolowski’s near perfect Yurchenko full earned her the title (9.9375, which means there were judges on the panel who did give her a perfect score), followed by Mallory Moredock (9.875), and Kim Stewart (9.8625).

Kaitlin Green won both the bars and beam titles, with scores of 9.9. She is absolutely beautiful on those events, so please check her out. Thomara Powell-Brown of Bridgeport and Anya Olson of Brown tied for second on bars with a 9.85, followed by Megan Ryan of Yale with a 9.825.

Centenary’s Ashley White was second on beam with a 9.875 (remember what I said about Centenary technically being Division III!), with Joy Gage of Cornell in third (9.85).

Darian Burns of Seattle Pacific tied with Brianna Comport for the floor title with 9.9s. I’m so thrilled that Brianna has a national title, because she did not even qualify for beam finals after not having her best day on beam in prelims. You guys have also got to check out Burns. If you like Beyonce, or Hallie Mossett of UCLA’s floor routine, you will love her (and she is only a freshman, so you’ll have plenty of time to fangirl over her in the coming years). Kim Stewart was third here with a 9.875.

Full event final results are available here.

Article by Sarah Keegan


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