In a field devoid of many of the country’s senior pool, the Hungarian juniors managed to shine at the Master Championships over the weekend, with Bianka Schermann defeating 2017 European all-around silver medalist Zsofia Kovacs to win all-around gold in addition to taking the titles on vault and floor as well as the silver on beam and the bronze on bars.
14-year-old Schermann is still pretty new to the elite scene, kicking off her career this year with a few small meets local to the Hungarian area before earning a spot on the EYOF team in July, where she surprised to place ninth all-around and seventh in the floor final.
Schermann already has pretty great difficulty for her age and despite her lack of experience, she’s a super confident competitor, falling on beam in the all-around, where she earned a 51.700 to edge out Kovacs by just over a tenth, but otherwise looking solid both there and on all four events in finals.
In the vault final, Schermann averaged a 13.4 with her Yurchenko full looking especially nice. She had especially clean performances on bars, earning a 13.2, and on floor, winning the title with a 13.0, and while she was a bit shaky with some elements on beam, she showed the second-highest difficulty in the competition with a 5.2, and still managed to reach a 12.866 on the event with the mistakes to secure the silver medal.
After shockingly failing to make the all-around final at worlds this year, Kovacs is still a bit downgraded on vault and bars and isn’t in top condition overall, largely due to a nagging injury that’s been holding her back since Euros. She hit her Yurchenko full and an easier-than-usual bars set in the all-around, but struggled on beam with some form breaks and was a bit weak in her tumbling on floor, bouncing out on her opening double pike and again on her 2½ to punch front, finishing her day with a 51.550 to take the silver medal.
I believe Kovacs was planning on attempting a Yurchenko double in the vault final, but fell and was only credited with a 1½, which she competed alongside a tsuk layout to average a 12.699, enough to win the bronze by 0.033 even with the fall. She came back strong to win the titles on bars and beam, though, showing fewer connections on bars than usual and dismounting with just a double tuck, but looking tidy throughout to earn a 13.533, and her beam was actually one of her better sets, complete with a switch leap to switch half to straddle jump and a great double tuck dismount. On floor, she had tumbling issues similar to those in her all-around performance, but her 12.4 was enough for the silver, and considering the time of the season and her overall weaker condition, it was a fairly strong meet for her.
One of my favorite up-and-coming juniors, 14-year-old Zoja Szekely, ended up with the all-around bronze with a 49.150, showing a few mistakes on beam and floor but killing it with her epic new bars set. She competed a toe half to piked Jaeger, toe full to Tkachev, Maloney to Gienger, and clear hip to full-in for a 13.7 in the all-around competition and a 13.466 in the final, where she got the silver medal less than a tenth behind Kovacs. The upgrades bring her to a 5.5 D score, the highest on any event at this competition, and she still has so much room for improvement and even bigger skills there, it’s going to be so much fun to watch what she can do going forward.
Another super promising junior, Mirtill Makovits, placed fourth all-around with a 48.900. Makovits has competed at a few small junior meets this year, medalling on beam at the Olympic Hopes Cup, and while her difficulty is still a bit low overall, she shows tremendous potential and is a fun competitor to watch on beam and floor, generally her strongest events, though she struggled on floor this weekend and didn’t make the final.
She did make every other final, though, getting two more fourth-place finishes on bars with a 12.533 and on beam with a 12.133, with clean sets on both, and she finished sixth on vault with low-difficulty but solid sets averaging a 12.316.
Dalia Al-Salty, who competed at worlds this year, placed fifth with a 48.350, and a bunch of juniors rounded out the top ten, with Dorka Szujo in sixth with a 47.050, Greta Mayer in seventh with a 46.850, Hanna Szujo in eighth with a 46.450, Lilla Csasztvan in ninth with a 45.750, and Emma Horvath in tenth with a 45.100. The normally fabulous Csenge Bacskay, a member of this summer’s EYOF team, ended up 11th with a 44.400 after major struggles on bars and beam, though she had great performances on vault to win the silver with a 13.266 average, while Mayer got the beam bronze with a 12.766 and Csasztvan got the floor bronze with a 12.233.
It was great seeing Dorka Szujo back in action after missing most of 2017, her last season at the junior level. Szujo, 18th in the all-around final at junior Euros last year, struggled on pretty much all of her events except vault this weekend, getting a 13.2 for her super clean Yurchenko layout in the all-around competition, but falling or showing major mistakes on her other three events on day one and then also falling in the bars final, where she finished last with a 10.8. Her difficulty on bars and floor is okay, though, and with a little more time back in the gym and on the competition floor, she could be a solid contributor as a senior next year.
The all-around field saw a couple of international guests finishing outside the rankings, but had their scores counted, Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia would’ve been fourth with a 48.950 and Agnes Suto-Tuuha of Iceland would’ve been seventh with a 47.950. Mokosova had a great competition on every event but bars, while Suto-Tuuha, who was born in Hungary, hit all four events for a solid end-of-season competition.
The other guest who competed was Olivia Cimpian, a first-year senior who competed for Romania until she decided to begin training in and competing for Hungary this summer. As an update, in case you missed it, the Romanian federation has agreed to release her, but I believe there is still a waiting period related to citizenship in some change-of-nation requests with the FIG, so she’s in a kind of limbo at the moment until all of her ducks are in a row, and she’s still working on getting her routines back to a competitive standard.
Cimpian competed all four events in Hungary this weekend, and I think I was most impressed with the improvements she made on vault and bars. In Romania, she had been competing a Yurchenko double she was nowhere near ready to compete, with her form and landings often looking quite scary, but this weekend she showed a clean, flared, and nearly-stuck Yurchenko full, a nice change until she finds the power needed to get her double back. On bars, she still had some form issues with leg separations and handstands, and she only competed a front flyaway dismount, but she seemed much more confident there than she has been in recent meets, hitting a toe full, Maloney to Pak, and toe half to piked Jaeger.
Her beam was a little shaky and tentative, with a fall on her mount, but she got back up to hit a back handspring to a wobbly tuck full, a side aerial to split jump half, a front aerial to split ring jump, a switch ring, a sideways split jump half, and a double full dismount. She had weak extension on some skills, but with a little work it could be the best beam Hungary has seen in years, and it also featured an awesome walkover into super cool low beam choreo, so I’d consider this one a win even with the mistakes, and she showed some equally creative work on floor, where her tumbling wasn’t particularly strong (she had a tucked full-in, 2½ to front tuck, double tuck, and double full) but considering all of the changes she’s faced in the past six months, it was a great set to mark her return to competition.
In addition to seniors like 2017 European vault bronze medalist Boglarka Devai and her Euros teammate Noemi Jakab not competing this weekend, top junior Nora Feher — who is dealing with a shoulder injury — also sat this one out, but she’s another who will absolutely help elevate this team to new levels in the future, coming off of a strong season where a highlight for her was an eighth-place all-around finish at EYOF.
I’m continuously impressed with the improvements we’re seeing in the Hungarian program, and even though it’s the end of the season when everyone’s injured and exhausted and ready for a winter nap, there was still so much to get excited about from this group of young ladies, who will actually have depth in the next couple of years, a great thing as they’ll face the task of fighting to qualify an Olympic team spot in 2019.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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