Biles to Compete All-Around at the U.S. Classic

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Simone Biles

This afternoon, USA Gymnastics released the finalized roster for this year’s U.S. Classic meet, which will be held on July 28 in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the headliners on the list is 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles, who will be making her return to competition for the first time in almost exactly two years with the goal of earning spots at nationals, on the national team, and on this year’s world championships team.

While Biles initially stated that she’ll only compete bars and beam at the U.S. Classic, she took to Twitter today letting fans know that she’ll actually be doing the all-around, a sign that her comeback is much further along than even she and her coaches thought. With former WOGA coaches Laurent and Cecile Landi now leading Biles and the rest of the team at World Champions Centre, the gym owned by Biles’ family outside of Houston, this will also be the first time we get to see Biles compete without longtime coach Aimee Boorman by her side, which will add to the excitement and intrigue of her comeback.

Technically, Biles has not qualified to nationals, and had she competed only a couple of events at classics, she would’ve only qualified on those two events, though I’m almost positive based on her speedy addition back onto the national team this year, she probably could have easily worked out a petition allowing her a ‘free pass’ to nationals based on how she looked at the most recent training camp.

I doubt the national program would hinder anyone with her talent and ability from being able to contend for the all-around title at nationals if they’re not fully ready a few weeks earlier at classics, especially with the national team camp situation this year taking away all of the opportunities to verify. This year, there were only two verification camps, one held in the lead-up to the world cups and the other held in April to choose the Pac Rims and Pan Ams teams.

In a normal year, there would be two additional opportunities held much closer to the summer season, including a camp in May and then a final verification in early July, held in conjunction with the American Classic. Most of the country’s top gymnasts with previous high-level elite experience who were unable to contend for international team spots earlier in the year would hold off until this point to attempt to qualify, and would then use the U.S. Classic a couple of weeks later as a practice meet before the big event.

But this year, with no verification camps held in the three months leading up to the U.S. Classic, those who have been dealing with injuries, like Riley McCusker, or who opted out of the earlier verification camps to focus on upgrading and staying healthy for the latter half of the year, like Emma Malabuyo, only had the two classic meets this month to qualify.

Malabuyo is already qualified to nationals as an all-arounder but McCusker only earned her two-event score at the American Classic this year, and I can guarantee that if something goes wrong or otherwise limits her from being at her full potential in Columbus, we’re absolutely going to see her petition for an all-around spot at nationals, and I guarantee she or anyone in her shoes with a history of being a high-level contender would absolutely have that petition granted, especially given the circumstances.

But while I think Biles would’ve been allowed to compete the all-around at nationals no matter what, I’m glad she’s playing by the rules and making it legit without taking any special favors. Competing for the first time in two years under the pressure that comes with having a goal for that meet — even if the goal of earning a 52.000 in the all-around is the easiest goal she’ll ever face in her senior career — will only serve to further validate what has already been an impressive return, based on training videos. If there is anyone still questioning whether she is going to pull this off, this is a real statement about just how ready she is.

In addition to Biles, 2017 world all-around champion Morgan Hurd is also set to compete, as are 2016 Olympic alternate and reigning national champion Ragan Smith and 2017 world silver vault and floor medalist Jade Carey. All three have been back in some shape or form this year, with Hurd winning the American Cup before going on to win the silver all-around medal at Pac Rims, Smith winning the silver at the meet in Jesolo, which she attended with her club, and Carey returning to competition at last weekend’s American Classic, where she debuted her elite bars set in addition to also showing off beam.

Emma Malabuyo, Smith’s club teammate who won the all-around, beam, and floor gold in her senior debut at Jesolo, will also compete here in her first U.S. appearance at the senior level. Both Smith and Malabuyo are pre-qualified to nationals — Smith thanks to her participation at worlds and Malabuyo from her score earned at the Junior Japan meet last autumn — so neither will need to use the U.S. Classic to qualify to nationals, but It’s important to note that others who competed internationally with their clubs this year, like Olivia Dunne at Jesolo and several WOGA gymnasts at Gymnix, won’t be able to use these meets to obtain their national qualifying scores.

Other senior national team members competing here who are already qualified for nationals include Jordan Chiles, this year’s vault and floor champion at Pac Rims, and Grace McCallum, the Pac Rims all-around champion. Not competing in Columbus are Margzetta Frazier, Maile O’Keefe, Trinity Thomas, and Ashton Locklear, with Locklear out due to injury this season, while the other three all qualified to nationals through world cup performances earlier in the season.

Like Malabuyo, there are also several current members of the junior national team who will be competing domestically for the first time as seniors, including Audrey Davis, Kara Eaker, and Adeline Kenlin. Eaker qualified to nationals at the American Classic, where Davis also competed in the all-around though fell short of reaching the required score, and instead qualified on two events, so she’ll need to improve on that performance in Columbus. Kenlin, meanwhile, got her nationals score at the April verification camp, which is also where Gabby Perea — who will miss this meet — qualified in her first all-around performance in over a year after suffering an ankle injury last spring.

2018 Pac Rims and Pan Ams junior all-around champion Jordan Bowers will headline the junior field at the U.S. Classic alongside all of her national teammates, including Pac Rims team members Kayla DiCello (who also won the junior title in last week’s American Classic) and Sunisa Lee, and Junior Pan Ams team members Leanne Wong, Tori Tatum, and JaFree Scott. Sydney Barros, a national team member who was expected to compete at Pan Ams until she was sidelined by an injury sustained at Jesolo, rounds out the junior national team members set to compete.

A full list of seniors and juniors to expect at the U.S. Classic — held July 28 in Columbus, Ohio — is below, as is the roster for the Hopes Championships, which will be held a day earlier. An asterisk (*) after a gymnast’s name denotes someone who has already qualified to the U.S. Championships, to be held in Boston this August.

SENIORS
Shania Adams, Buckeye*
Stephanie Berger, Brestyan’s
Simone Biles, World Champions
Sloane Blakely, WOGA
Luisa Blanco, WOGA
Jade Carey, Arizona Sunrays*
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov*
Audrey Davis, WOGA*
Olivia Dunne, ENA Paramus
Kara Eaker, GAGE*
Jaylene Gilstrap, Metroplex
Olivia Hollingsworth, World Champions
Morgan Hurd, First State*
Madeleine Johnston, Hill’s*
Shilese Jones, Future*
Adeline Kenlin, Iowa Gym-Nest*
Emily Lee, West Valley
Isabel Mabanta, Denton
Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams*
Grace McCallum, Twin City Twisters*
Riley McCusker, MG Elite*
Alyona Shchennikova, 5280*
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams*
Deanne Soza, Texas Dreams
Madelyn Williams, San Mateo*
JUNIORS
Ciena Alipio, West Valley*
Sydney Barros, Texas Dreams*
Annie Beard, Texas Dreams
Love Birt, First State
Skye Blakely, WOGA*
Jordan Bowers, Solid Rock*
Sophia Butler, Discover
Kailin Chio, Gymcats
Claire Dean, Head Over Heels
Kayla DiCello, Hill’s*
Amari Drayton, Olympia Hills
Addison Fatta, Prestige
Aleah Finnegan, GAGE*
Delaney Fisher, Georgia Elite
eMjae Frazier, Parkettes
Gabbie Gallentine, Everest
Elizabeth Gantner, JPAC
Karis German, World Champions*
Trista Goodman, Salcianu Elite
Zoe Gravier, MG Elite*
Olivia Greaves, MG Elite*
Hannah Hagle, Texas East
Maeve Hahn, First in Flight
Selena Harris, Gymcats
Alexis Jeffrey, GAGE
Kaytlyn Johnson, Denton
Levi Jung-Ruivivar, Paramount Elite*
Alonna Kratzer, Top Notch
Sunisa Lee, Midwest*
Lillian Lewis, San Mateo
Kaliya Lincoln, Airborne
Lilly Lippeatt, Cincinnati*
Lauren Little, Everest
Mallory Marcheli, Stars Houston
Konnor McClain, Revolution*
Sydney Morris, First State*
Brenna Neault, Precision
Lauren Pearl, Brestyan’s
Katelyn Rosen, Mavericks
Lyden Saltness, Midwest
Abigail Scanlon, Capital
JaFree Scott, GAGE*
Ava Siegfeldt, World Class
Victoria Smirnov, Shooting Stars
Ui Soma, San Mateo*
Calvary Swaney, First in Flight
Tori Tatum, Twin City Twisters*
Leanne Wong, GAGE*
HOPES 12-13
Skylar Draser, Infiniti Elite
Savannah Goveia, Everest
Ava Harper, Georgia All-Stars
Riley Harris, World Champions
Sydney Jelen, Legacy Elite
CJ Keuneke, TIGAR
Rayna Light, Golden City
Amber Lowe, Everest
Lily Pederson, Flips
Joscelyn Roberson, NE Texas Elite
Jamison Sears, World Class
Chavala Shepard, Hopes and Dreams
Lundyn Vandertoolen, Olympus
Clara Wallace, Xtreme
Jaelah Warner, World Class
Mahleea Werline, Aftershock
Mya Witte, Genie’s
Ella Zirbes, Flips
HOPES 10-11
Baylie Belman, WOGA
Kylee Bromley, First State
Carsyn Coleman, Precision
Sophia Dennis, Capital
Kaitlynd Kastl, Metroplex
Myli Lew, San Mateo
Zoey Molomo, Metroplex
Camryn Nelson, Will-Moor
Rafaela O’Neill, Airborne
Ella Kate Parker, NE Texas Elite
Michelle Pineda, Metroplex
Autumn Reingold, Olympica
Hezly Rivera, ENA Paramus
Ava San Jose, Paramount Elite
Tiana Sumanasekera, San Mateo
Lucy Tobia, Parkettes
Kaela Yee, Leyva
Alicia Zhou, Love Gymnastics

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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17 thoughts on “Biles to Compete All-Around at the U.S. Classic

  1. Is Malabuyo not qualified through the Japan meet last fall? (I thought thats what the chart on USAG said, that fall 2017 nat team assignments count?)

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    • Oh, she could be…usually by ‘fall’ meets they mean worlds and later but I think that’s because there’s rarely anything between nationals and worlds? I’d imagine since it was a meet she was assigned to post-nationals it would count!

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      • That makes sense, thanks! Yeah by what it says, I would think yes + the decision by TD to have her not verify even though she was healthy during the spring would make more sense.

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        • Yeah, that fully makes sense. I was questioning at first, especially since they brought Sydney Barros to camp, but it totally makes sense that Emma and Ragan were all set so they didn’t bother bringing them.

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  2. I just looked up predictions for Simone’s D scores (thanks sporteverywhere and the rest of the gymtubenet). Her AA D potential is 2.2 points ahead of the other top Americans. 2.2 points!! Sure this assumes she has an Amanar and can make *all the beam connections* but even with some adjustments for this, her potential is dominating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is Maile O’Keefe healthy? Haven’t heard much from her since American Cup, but was excited to see her progress as a senior…

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  4. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: I’m not crying, you’re crying | The Gymternet

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