Mexico’s three most successful gymnasts over the past two quads — 2012 Olympian Elsa Garcia, 2016 Olympian Alexa Moreno, and Ana Lago, the second pick both years — are all continuing to train as gymnasts, but all are in various stages of hiatus and injury recovery, so the focus right now is on rebuilding the national team.
At a national team selection meet in Mexico City over the weekend, 16-year-old Nicolle Castro continued to show why she’s one to watch going forward with her gold medal performance earning a 51.700.
Castro reached the senior level in 2016, but was kind of overshadowed by the country’s Olympic selection process, where Moreno and Lago were the stars. She ended up nearly sweeping Mexican Championships, held a month before the Games without either of the country’s top gymnasts, and then went on to take the gold medals on vault and bars at the Pan Am Championships in the fall.
These events remain Castro’s best, and she posted the top scores on both with a 14.0 on vault and a 13.05 on bars, where she’s capable of going above a 14 with a hit routine, though she unfortunately fell on her Jaeger in this performance. She also had a few archy handstands, including on her clear hip in her Maloney to clear hip to stalder full, as well as on a handstand before her Ricna to pak.
She’s not as strong on beam or floor, and this weekend counted a fall on beam on her front aerial, though the rest of the routine was solid, especially on her fantastic double pike, earning a 12.35. On floor, she opened with a solid tucked full-in, and nailed the landings on both her double tuck and double pike before finishing with a front full to stag for a 12.3.
I can’t wait until we get a fully hit day from Castro, who is definitely the future of this program. And once team competitions kick back into gear, a Mexican team with Castro joining Garcia, Moreno, and Lago has potential to be their best ever, so let’s cross our fingers and hope this all works out.
New senior Jimena Moreno was second with a 50.850. She actually had a great day with no falls, but her routines are a little simpler than Castro’s, so she was unable to catch up. On bars, she hit her Maloney to pak, Jaeger, and Tkachev well for a second-best event score of 12.7, her beam was solid enough, with just a large wobble on her switch ring, for a 12.55, and she posted the third-best score on floor with a 12.45, where she competed a double pike, double tuck, double full, and front full.
Karla Vielma placed third with a 49.600, posting the third-best scores of 13.6 on vault and 12.6 on beam. I didn’t see any of her routines, but it looked like she struggled on bars and floor based on her scores.
My favorite little Louise Lopez ended up in fourth place after a rough performance on bars, where she caught a Tkachev and pak, but then struggled a bit on the low bar, taking a couple of extra swings before eventually hopping off. She got back on for her double tuck dismount, and showed pretty nice lines throughout, but the mistakes led to a disappointing 9.75.
Lopez more than made up for that on beam and floor, though. She posted the top scores on both, with a 13.15 for a routine that included a bhs loso, front aerial to split jump, side aerial to two feet, and a double tuck dismount, and then a 13.0 on floor for her double pike, 2½, double tuck, and front full.
I’ve been following Lopez since she was nine years old, and you could tell even then she was going to one day be a star. I love seeing her now at this higher level. With a hit bars, she probably could’ve taken the silver here, so like Castro she’s another one with tons of promise, especially having just turned 14. She is already at a super impressive skill level, and yet has tons of room to grow.
In fifth was Paulina Guerra, another new senior. Guerra struggled on bars and floor, but had a great beam for a 12.7, the second best score of the day, and totaled a 48.850 in the all-around.
Rounding out the top eight were Cassandra Loustalot and Miriana Almeida tied for sixth with a 48.300, and Yael Ganon in eighth with a 48.000.
The competition served as a selection for the Central American Festival, with this weekend’s national championships also going into selection consideration. The festival, to be held at the end of June in Guatemala, is a qualifier for next year’s Central American and Caribbean Games.
Full scores from the selection are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins