The U.S. Championships 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. Championships in Anaheim, Calif., this 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; tied for sixth all-around in her senior debut at the U.S. Classic this summer
2017 Scores 52.750 (U.S. Classic)
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 52.350 (U.S. Classic)
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; went on to win the bronze all-around medal and silver on beam in her elite debut at the U.S. Classic in July
2017 Scores 52.900 (U.S. Classic)
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, winning gold on all three events she competed, and then won gold on vault and floor at the U.S. Classic in July
2017 Scores 14.35 VT, 13.75 BB, 13.95 FX (U.S. Classic)
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 kaz full and an Amanar, which could get her a worlds medal this year. She also has HUGE tumbling on floor, with one of the highest difficulty scores in the world. She’s almost certainly a lock for worlds.
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 52.850 (U.S. Classic)
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 has an Amanar, and the rest of her events have typically been pretty balanced, with floor generally a fan favorite. She didn’t have the best meet at classics last month, but showed she was super strong on the skills and events she did hit!
LEAH CLAPPER
Leahs-Headshot-website-background-4_1200.jpg Age 17
Hometown Ann Arbor, MI
Gym Gym America
Experience 12th all-around at this year’s U.S. Classic
2017 Scores 49.050 (U.S. Classic
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 50.850 (U.S. Classic)
51.850 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Frida missed her all-around qualifying scores this year and will only be competing vault and bars at nationals. She has big difficulty on both, and could score especially well on bars if she hits!
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 13.75 UB (U.S. Classic)
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 national team this year, though she hasn’t quite been ready to show what she can do just yet, so hopefully nationals is where she really comes alive. 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 52.750 (U.S. Classic)
What to Watch Emily looked much better this year compared to last year, thanks to a move back to Mary Lee Tracy! She nearly got onto the podium at the U.S. Classic, but a repeated entry element on bars meant she missed a pirouette requirement, knocking her D score down by about a point to keep her out of the medals picture. Keep your eyes on Emily’s super difficult bars and her beautiful work on floor.
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 13.65 BB, 13.85 FX (U.S. Classic)
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. Floor is probably my favorite of hers because she is so incredibly good at performing the heck out of a routine, 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 13.2 VT (U.S. Classic)
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! She had to miss out on most events at the U.S. Classic due to illness, but we hope she’s back to full strength in Anaheim.
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 13.6 BB (U.S. Classic)
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 if she shows she’s at her old standards. She’s also working at a much higher level on beam, which could make her a better team choice for the U.S. going forward.
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 13.45 UB, 13.0 BB, 13.3 FX (U.S. Classic)
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. She had lots of struggles at the U.S. Classic last month, having just come back from injury, so this could be one of those things where we could see her win a national title, or we could see her not even come close to the podium.
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 13.25 VT, 13.75 UB, 12.1 BB (U.S. Classic)
What to Watch Marissa hadn’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 she’s had a lot of interruptions in her career but it’s always great to see her back. She’ll be competing vault and bars in Anaheim, though obviously bars is where she’ll be doing her best work.
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, and she also won the silver all-around medal at the U.S. Classic in July
2017 Scores 53.100 (U.S. 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 and won the U.S. Classic senior all-around title in Hoffman Estates last month
2017 Scores 54.950 (U.S. Classic)
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 17
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 14.55 UB, 15.35 BB (U.S. Classic)
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 (and her new routine is fabulous). Ragan also has a DTY on vault, and her bars have improved tremendously over the years, making her sets one of the strongest in the country even though it’s technically her ‘weakness.’ Not anymore! This is kind of Ragan’s year. All she has to do is hit.
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 52.650 (U.S. Classic)
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 the change of scenery REALLY helped bring her back to a high level, and she made no big mistakes at all at the U.S. Classic. 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 Surprised to win the bronze all-around medal at the U.S. Classic in July; competed on one day of nationals last summer but ultimately withdrew due to injury
2017 Scores 52.900 (U.S. Classic)
What to Watch Kalyany has a SUPERB DTY on vault, showing so much power and precision, and I also enjoy her work on beam.
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 13.9 UB, 14.0 BB (U.S. Classic)
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, though she didn’t end up competing this event or vault at the U.S. Classic, where she won the bronze on both events she did compete — bars and beam. She’s not a standout on either one of those, but is tidy enough to get by with some lovely skills!
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 51.500 (U.S. Classic)
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, but sadly we won’t get to see her floor at nationals as she qualified only on the other three events!

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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14 thoughts on “The U.S. Championships Senior Guide

  1. I am hoping for a podium of 1) Ragan Smith; 2) Morgan Hurd; (3) Victoria Nguyen. Sadly I think Riley will not make it. It she hits she is in the top 3, but I just don’t see it happening. I think she will end up either 4th or 5th AA. I also hope Locklear can hit bars and win big. I’m hoping to see a score in the 15’s or high 14’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly the podium I want too! Although, I’d be okay if Trinity was 3rd and Victoria was 4th. Interchangeable to me. Trinity has been looking so good and she’s been kind of overlooked. Based on podium training, I also don’t think Riley will hit. And she’s only doing a full on vault right now so she’s at a disadvantage already, but if she hits, like you said, top 3.

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      • I don’t think Riley will hit – BUT – with that being said, I don’t really expect Morgan, Ragan, Victoria or Trinity to hit 8/8 either, so if all the top contenders count falls, I do think Riley could still make it on the podium. Riley looks like she really struggled on those release skills on bars, and Morgan looks like she’s still struggling with her standing full – I’d love Trinity to sneak in with clean sets.

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        • Then again Laurie also struggled on release skills in podium training and warmups, and then would hit the crap out of her bar routine two seconds later. They’re two different people,
          and Riley has had 2/3 disastrous competitions this year so we’ll see.
          The one thing that will knock her down the standings even if she does hit is the fact that seniors get penalized for vaulting fulls domestically.

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        • Ragan is locked in on 1st. She would probably have to fall at least twice to miss the podium. If she hits all her routines she could score over 58+ both days, likely with some overscoring though. She is a lock for the world team. Only injury can derail her.
          VERDICT:LOCK
          Riley should’ve been clearly in second with 8/8. However her downgrade to a FTY on vault drops her difficulty by 1 point (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MiYku4JpKk). She’s also watered down her beam, so she should lose a couple tenths in difficulty there. Her beam actually looked pretty good at Podium Training. At the Podium training, Riley crashed her bars dismount once, lunged forward and put her hands down another time. She also missed a catches on her Downie and her Ricna. She also arched over on a handstand. But despite that the severe inconsistency of the other girls may still allow her even 2nd if she hits well. She can probably still score over 56+ with all hits. She has good chances for a bar specialist spot if Morgan proves to be a better all-around choice.
          VERDICT: >50% Chance
          Morgan has had the difficulty all year, in fact she has the execution too. Now with Riley’s downgrades, she actually has a 0.7 difficulty advantage, in contrast to her former 0.5 disadvantage. But her balance beam falls and touches are proving to be hard to work through. She fell twice at Sttutgart and touched the beam once at Classic. She looks really good on the other 3 events though. It’s quite agonizing. If she hit’s she could go 57+ both days if she hits. She has fairly good chances for some sort of BB and/or FX specialist spot is she can prove she can hit beam and go 14.4+ both days. She needs to score probably at least 14.1+ both days on FX to be a specialist contender. She could go for either.
          VERDICT: >50% Chance
          Alyona could potentially medal like Classics. Her bars, floors and vault are fairly consistent. Her beam however has given her problems. She fell at Classics and Jesolo. If she hits 4 for 4, she could actually pass 56 both days. If she doesn’t fall on anything, she should be in the mid 55’s and 1 point lower with a fall. Alyona could make the team if she proves better than Ashton on bars. She has decent chances.
          VERDICT ~30-40% Chance
          Victoria has one way onto the team. Hit beam. Her all around scores are acceptable, but she almost certainly won’t be going for all-around. She probably needs to score 14.5+ to go. Her other events are all lacking. She’s hit 1 out of 3 routines this year and she’s currently injured. However she could potentially score in the mid-55’s both days with hits. Of course she could get a mid 53 just as easily. She has low chances at making EF.
          VERDICT 5%
          Trinity Thomas. She is held back by her FTY. She has strong UB, BB, and FX skills. Her balance beam is very clean. Her uneven bars is also decent. If she cleaned up her floor she could be in the upper 55’s. Currently she’s probably at a low 55 for all hits. Her disadvantage is she currently has no event where she could EF. She is unlikely to be selected for worlds.
          VERDICT 15%
          Marz Frazier has a ton of upgrades in various progress. She has an Amanar and a 6.1 potential D-Score on bars. She could easily score into the 55’s with hits. She is unlikely to make the world team with no consistent EF-worthy event.
          VERDICT 10%
          Now comes Jordan Chiles. She has improved a ton on uneven bars. She NEEDS to hit beam both days with 13.6+ scores and hit floor to be in any sort of contention
          VERDICT 10%
          Jade Carey blows my mind. WOW! She came out of nowhere. She looked like a VT specialist at the start of the season, but now she seems to also be a contender on FX. Her BB also is pretty good.
          VERDICT LOCK
          Ashton Lockear has good chances. She is definitely EF-ready on UB. However some of the upgrades she showed at Classic indicate she could be in the picture for BB if she hits.
          VERDICT 60%

          Basically Ragan Smith and Jade Carey are locks. The 2nd AA spot is almost certainly between Riley McCusker and Morgan Hurd. If Morgan Hurd is selected for AA, then Alyona and Ashton’s chances will drop significantly. If Riley McCusker is selected, Alyona and Ashton’s chances will increase and Morgan’s will tank
          The last spot is the most up for grabs.
          -If Morgan gets 2nd AA, then the last spot will likely be an UB+possible BB specialist. Ashton and Riley will be primarily in contention, with Alyona farther out.
          -If Riley gets the 2nd AA spot the last spot is totally out there. Morgan could go for maybe FX and BB, Ashton and Alyona could go for UB. Victoria also has a small chance as a BB specialist.

          So to sum it up Ragan Smith and Jade Carey are locks. Riley seems slightly more likely than Morgan. Ashton could go. Alyona has the least out of the major contenders.

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        • James that is a great summary of where we are! I would just point out that, with Jade going for VT/FX almost certainly, the only available specialist spot is UB/BB. Thus, even if Riley gets the AA spot, the specialist will still go to Ashton or another bars worker. Morgan’s only shot is really to justify herself as the second all arounder.

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        • It’s just in the general podium training video:

          USAG did post one beam routine from Riley too, if you click on USAG and the click on videos.

          I agree that Riley didn’t look great on bars, but at US Classic she did do a lot better in competition than podium training so who knows what to expect. I do think that only having a FTY will hamper her though, especially with the 0.2 additional drop on D score at USAG events for the FTY. I’m glad she is sticking with the FTY though as her DTY was scary enough earlier in the year and the FTYs she was doing in podium training did not look like she could safely add another twist.

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        • I watched the live stream, she actually looked pretty good aside from bars – those 3 tkatchevs were giving her a lot of trouble, I don’t think I saw her complete all 3 successfully a single time. Seems like horrible routine construction to me, and Laurie seemed to struggle with that too..Maggie needs some new tricks.

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        • TY – What are you talking about? I just watched her podium and she performed each release great. She however face planted on the dismount, landed on her knees.

          Like

    • I still say if Riley doesnt do well here, but then camp comes and SHE WINS it again… lol it wont matter 🙂 She also stated she is only doing a Yurchenko full… so… Locklear also said she isnt doing her full difficulty. Still healing her shoulder etc

      Like

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