The Definitive U.S. Classic Senior Guide

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A companion piece to our junior guide, below you can find a list of every single senior who will make an appearance at the U.S. Classic in Hoffman Estates, Ill., next week, including who they are, what they’ve done, and what you should know about their best skills and events.

SHANIA ADAMS
11807224_886510001397220_7089752072178179952_o.jpg Age 15
Hometown Plain City, OH
Gym Buckeye Gymnastics
Experience Current national team member who has competed at two P&G Championships, placing 4th all-around and winning the bronze on beam as a junior last summer
2017 Scores N/A
What to Watch Shania is a super consistent and well-rounded all-arounder with every event as good as the others, but if I had to pick, I’d probably go with beam or floor. She’s a dynamic performer on both.
ELENA ARENAS
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.43.30 PM.png Age 15
Hometown Bogart, GA
Gym Georgia Elite Gymnastics
Experience First-year senior with three-P&G Championships under her belt, including a 7th place bars finish in 2014 and 11th all-around last summer
2017 Scores 53.150 (American Classic)
What to Watch Throughout her career, bars has been most consistently impressive for Elena, who competes a few inbar skills and a big double layout dismount. She also has a solid DTY!
LUISA BLANCO
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.47.05 PM.png Age 15
Hometown Little Elm, TX
Gym WOGA
Experience First-year elite who won silver in the all-around at J.O. nationals this year, her first year in level 10
2017 Scores 53.900 (Parkettes Qualifier)
What to Watch Luisa is exceptional on beam, where she has incredible style and does a great job working in high-level dance skills, like a switch ring to sheep jump combo. She’s also a beautiful floor worker.
JADE CAREY
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.48.47 PM.png Age 17
Hometown Phoenix, AZ
Gym Oasis Gymnastics
Experience Won the vault gold and all-around bronze at last year’s J.O. nationals; made her elite debut at the American Classic earlier this month
2017 Scores 14.7 VT, 14.05 BB, 14.05 FX (American Classic)
What to Watch VAULT. Jade got a tucked Kasamatsu full vault named for her in the J.O. code of points last year, and now competes a tsuk double and an Amanar, which could get her a worlds medal this year.
JORDAN CHILES
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.50.32 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Vancouver, WA
Gym Naydenov Gymnastics
Experience Junior all-around champion at last year’s City of Jesolo Trophy; three P&G Championships appearances including vault champion in 2015
2017 Scores 13.35 UB, 12.5 BB (American Classic)
What to Watch Jordan is a fabulous all-arounder. Her top scores always came in on vault, where she had an Amanar, and the rest of her events have typically been pretty balanced, with floor generally a fan favorite. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen her at full strength after missing nationals due to injury last year and then undergoing a coaching change, so her first meet back might be more about getting her feet wet than going for big scores.
LEAH CLAPPER
Leahs-Headshot-website-background-4_1200.jpg Age 17
Hometown Ann Arbor, MI
Gym Gym America
Experience 13th all-around at last year’s U.S. Classic, where she missed her nationals qualifying score
2017 Scores 52.100 (American Classic)
52.250 (KPAC Cup Qualifier)
51.300 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Leah’s difficulty is a bit low compared to other seniors, but she performs very well on beam and floor, looking NCAA-ready on both.
FRIDA ESPARZA
Frida Vegas Pic 2017.jpg Age 16
Hometown Pittsburgh, CA
Gym Head Over Heels
Experience 24th all-around at P&G Championships last year, and she was a J.O. bars champion in 2015
2017 Scores 51.850 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Frida is lovely to watch on beam, where she is training a side aerial to layout stepout and a switch to switch half to back tuck.
MARGZETTA ‘MARZ’ FRAZIER
frazier2016classics.png Age 17
Hometown Erial, NJ
Gym Parkettes
Experience Three-time P&G Championships competitor who placed 4th all-around at last year’s U.S. Classic, her first senior meet
2017 Scores 14.25 VT (American Classic)
53.150 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Marz recently unveiled an Amanar at the ranch, and she’s been upgrading the rest of her routines like crazy, so she could be someone who sneaks onto the team this year. I also love her powerful, aggressive bars!
EMILY GASKINS
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.57.01 PM.png Age 17
Hometown Coral Springs, FL
Gym Cincinnati Gymnastics
Experience Former national team member who has competed at four P&G Championships, winning bronze on vault in 2015
2017 Scores N/A
What to Watch With a coaching change after her 2014 season, many of Emily’s skills deteriorated, but now she’s back with Mary Lee Tracy and will hopefully be on the right path once again. Skills aside, Emily is always one to watch on floor, where she has great dance skills and genuinely loves to perform.
MORGAN HURD
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.59.17 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Middletown, DE
Gym First State Gymnastics
Experience Current national team member who has competed at three P&G Championships, winning the bronze on bars and placing 5th all-around last summer; made her international debut this year winning bronze all-around at the Stuttgart World Cup
2017 Scores 53.900 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
53.265 (Stuttgart World Cup)
What to Watch Morgan is a total package gymnast, showing power on vault and floor, beautiful lines on bars and beam, and an exquisite performance quality. Beam is probably my favorite of hers, but bars is where she tends to excel.
SYDNEY JOHNSON-SCHARPF
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.01.44 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Groveland, FL
Gym Brandy Johnson’s Global Gymnastics
Experience Former national team member who has competed at three P&G Championships, placing 6th all-around in 2015
2017 Scores 54.150 (Reykjavik International Games)
What to Watch Ever since she was a little kid, Sydney has been known for her super sassy personality shining through in her floor performances. She’s a pretty good tumbler, too!
ASHTON LOCKLEAR
alocklear.jpg Age 19
Hometown Charlotte, NC
Gym Everest Gymnastics
Experience National team member since 2014, Olympic alternate in 2016, two-time U.S. bars champion, 4th place on bars at world championships in 2014
2017 Scores 14.55 UB (City of Jesolo EF)
14.75 UB (City of Jesolo QF)
What to Watch This is an obvious one: BARS! Ashton has lovely form and tons of tricky connections, which could get her on the worlds team again this year.
LANEY MADSEN
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.06.07 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Temecula, CA
Gym Gym-Max Gymnastics
Experience Placed 5th at the Brestyan’s elite qualifier earlier this year; was invited to national team camp in 2014 thanks to a skills video before she had ever competed at the elite level
2017 Scores 50.800 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Laney is known for her transition from cheerleading to gymnastics at age 13, where she quickly made progress thanks to her insane power. She absolutely shows that off on vault and floor, but her technique isn’t quite there yet, which holds her back a bit.
RILEY McCUSKER
392351.jpg Age 16
Hometown Brielle, NJ
Gym MG Elite
Experience Current national team member who won silver in the junior all-around at last year’s P&G Championships in her first year in elite; made her international debut this spring at the American Cup, going on to win gold all-around at the City of Jesolo Trophy
2017 Scores 56.600 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
52.966 (American Cup)
What to Watch Riley is lovely on bars, where she shows clean lines, strong technique, excellent fluidity, and big skills.
VICTORIA NGUYEN
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.08.11 PM Age 16
Hometown West Des Moines, IA
Gym Chow’s Gymnastics
Experience Current national team member who won the silver all-around medal at the London World Cup in April; competed at 2014 P&G Championships, winning the bronze on floor
2017 Scores 53.832 (London World Cup)
54.550 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
What to Watch Victoria has an insane beam set, with a ton of big difficulty and valuable connections that make her really stand out, but the riskiness of her skills can make her somewhat inconsistent.
MARISSA OAKLEY
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.12.23 PM Age 18
Hometown Huntersville, NC
Gym Everest Gymnastics
Experience 15th all-around at P&G Championships in 2014
2017 Scores N/A
What to Watch Marissa hasn’t competed since 2014 after getting injured on her Fabrichnova dismount on bars in warmups for the U.S. Classic two years ago. Shortly after that, her family moved and she ended up at Everest, so with bars always her standout event, I’m so excited to see how she’s looking now.
ABBY PAULSON
Ut_HKthATH4eww8X4xMDoxOjBrO-I4W8.jpeg Age 16
Hometown Coon Rapids, MN
Gym Twin City Twisters
Experience Current national team member who has competed at four P&G Championships, with 10th all-around her best finish; made her international debut this spring, winning floor gold and all-around bronze at the City of Jesolo Trophy
2017 Scores  13.650 FX (American Classic)
55.800 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
54.500 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Abby is super tidy on beam and floor. She’s also generally very consistent, allowing her lower-difficulty routines to sometimes stand out among the girls with big skills but lots of mistakes.
ALYONA SHCHENNIKOVA
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.15.13 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Evergreen, CO
Gym 5280 Gymnastics
Experience Current national team member who has competed at three P&G Championships, winning the bronze on bars in 2015; made her international debut this year at the City of Jesolo Trophy
2017 Scores 54.500 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
What to Watch The uneven bars is where Alyona shines, showing off insane combinations like her opening inbar full to Komova II to Tkachev to pak to stalder to Chow half (DEEP BREATH).
RAGAN SMITH
6ESpvOM.jpg Age 16
Hometown Lewisville, TX
Gym Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Experience 2016 Olympic alternate and national team member since 2013 who has competed at four P&G Championships, winning bronze all-around as a junior in 2015; has five international meets under her belt, and was this year’s American Cup champion
2017 Scores 56.099 (American Cup)
What to Watch It’s all about beam and floor for Ragan, who has a fun combination of big skills and snazzy choreography that always gets fans clapping along. Ragan also has a DTY on vault, and her bars have improved tremendously over the years.
DEANNE SOZA
56cdee95b0852.jpeg Age 15
Hometown Coppell, TX
Gym Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Experience Former junior national team member who won silver in the all-around at International Gymnix in 2016; has competed at four P&G Championships, placing 5th on vault in 2015 and 6th on beam a year earlier
2017 Scores N/A
What to Watch Deanne has some of the best technique out there, but in recent years, has really struggled with her mental game. After last year’s disappointing nationals, she made the switch to Texas Dreams, and we’re hoping the change of scenery will bring her back to a high level. She’s great on all four events, but her beam is my favorite when she hits.
KALYANY STEELE
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.19.43 PM.png Age 16
Hometown Colorado Springs, CO
Gym Colorado Aerials
Experience Won the bronze on vault at the U.S. Classic last summer, qualifying to P&G Championships, where she had a great first day but didn’t compete in the finals
2017 Scores N/A
What to Watch Kalyany had a SUPERB DTY on vault last summer, showing so much power and precision.
TRINITY THOMAS
trinity-thomas-profile.png Age 16
Hometown York, PA
Gym Prestige Gymnastics
Experience Current national team member who has competed at two P&G Championships, placing 6th all-around in 2016; has competed at the City of Jesolo Trophy two years in a row
2017 Scores 14.150 UB, 13.700 BB (American Classic)
53.100 (City of Jesolo Trophy)
What to Watch On floor, Trinity has some insane power and incredible tumbling ability, making her super fun to watch there.
ABIGAIL ‘ABI’ WALKER
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 6.23.46 PM.png Age 15
Hometown Carrollton, TX
Gym Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Experience Recently won the bronze all-around medal at the American Classic; competed at P&G Championships once as a junior, placing 18th all-around in 2015
2017 Scores 51.700 (American Classic)
50.350 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Like many Texas Dreamers, Abi is at her best on beam and floor, where she shows both her highest difficulty levels and also her most impressive performances.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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31 thoughts on “The Definitive U.S. Classic Senior Guide

  1. Pingback: Giro pelo Esporte! – Parallelas

  2. SO excited for jade carey (and helps that we’re name twins) and alyona. disagree on ragan’s floor, though- it’s a great routine for a 13 year old, but feels awkward from someone her age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but even so, the crowd tends to really go for it. Like, full on clapping along and going nuts. Trust me, no one in an arena is thinking “this girl is 16 doing a song meant for a 13-year-old??? AWKWARD!”

      Like

        • Yeah, I agree. I actually love routines that are a little cutesy and don’t think they necessarily have to be for little kids. West Side Story also isn’t like, a cutesy kid song…people love it because they recognize the music from the movie/musical and they enjoy this take on it. Yes, some of the choreo is a little young, but Ragan looks young and can pull it off. I wouldn’t have someone like Catalina Ponor doing that same choreo but Ragan looks roughly 12 and that style fits her whole look/appeal. Some older gymnasts can pull off the cute/sassy thing and even make it funny, like, I can picture Chuso doing that routine and having fun with it and the audience looooving it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Actually gymnastics is almost the only sport that a sassy girl like Ragan has advantages. Big girls can do atletism , basketball, volleyball, sports that a girl like Ragan would be bullied amd discriminated. So let it be gymnasts with their natural strengh of bringing movements in favor of physics laws, little are giants there! Maybe only this sport. And yeah, public loves it !

          Like

        • I just wish Someone would reincarnate Ludmilla Tourischeva and do choreography that she did. Tourischevas 1976 Olympic AA floor routine is my favorite floor routine of all time. I never get tired of watching it over and over, just for the choreography and expression. It’s exquisite.

          Like

        • I think it’s a great routine for her, but the way she performed it at the American Cup made ME feel awkward. It just didn’t seem like she enjoyed performing it anymore. Kinda like she was over it. I’m anxious to see her do a different floor routine, whether it be more mature or still young and cute.

          Like

      • Hahaha she has lots of really fabulous skills, but yeah, her toe point has always been rough and each year I’m like “maybe she’s cleaned up!” but…nope! It’s okay, I still love her.

        Like

    • Not surprised that nowadays gymnasts are picked from cheerleading program, with code favoring the overscore of vault snd tumbling skills, and underscoring bars and beam and reallt artistic skills. Gymnasts are each day more cheerleaders with the poor requirements artisticskills on floors. In my opinion, it us sad to ser it. Gymnastics turning to be a cheerleader tumbling competition😩

      Like

      • Actually, Laney wasn’t ‘chosen’ from cheerleading…she was a cheerleader who said she wanted to become an elite, and so she joined the Gym Max program with that goal. She’s gotten pretty far, but when you see her at classics, you’ll see why she won’t be very successful, and you’ll probably appreciate gymnastics a bit more. There’s a VAAAAST separation between skills in cheer and skills in gymnastics, and Laney exemplifies all of that.

        Like

        • Hey Lauren,

          I’m curious what you’ve observed about Laney’s skills. I consider myself a fairly avid fan, but I perhaps lack the keen eye you have.

          I went back and watched some of her instagram videos and do notice a pre-2017 Skinner-esque toe flex/general sloppiness. Is that what you mean? Do you think, like Skinner, she has enough tumbling to make up for it with semi-sufficient scores. Also, do we know if she has an Amanar?

          Thanks!

          Like

  3. it still astounds me that Ashton is the oldest this season at 19. it seems like just yesterday she was the “wait, who now on bars?” at classics haha!

    Like

  4. My ideal podium
    AA
    1.Morgan Hurd(possible but she’d have to nail everything)
    2.Riley McCusker
    3.Ragan Smith

    VT
    1. Jade Carey

    UB
    1.Riley McCusker
    2. Alyona Schennikova
    3.Morgan Hurd

    BB
    1.Victoria Nyugen
    2.Ragan Smith
    3.Riley McCusker

    FX
    1.Morgan Hurd
    2.Ragan Smith
    3.IDK maybe Abby Paulson or Jade Carey

    Like

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