The U.S. Classic Junior Guide

The U.S. Classic is this coming weekend and there are a total of 48 juniors on the list. We know you’re probably wondering who at least half of them are, so we’re back with our definitive guide to every single junior you’ll see compete in Columbus.

Listed in alphabetical order, get to know all of the young ladies from the veterans at 15 all the way down to the 12-year-olds competing elite for the first time.

CIENA ALIPIO
. Age 14
Hometown San Jose, CA
Gym West Valley Gymnastics
Experience Finished 9th at this year’s American Classic, a big upgrade after placing 21st at last year’s nationals. As a Hopes gymnast, she was the national beam champion two years in a row.
2018 Scores 51.300 (American Classic)
What to Watch Ciena has excellent and polished skills on all four events, so it’s hard to pick, but she does really great things on floor with both her clean tumbling and lovely dance, with her leaps (she has a tour jeté full, split full, and switch ring to switch half!) especially strong.
SYDNEY BARROS
Age 13
Hometown Woodstock, GA
Gym Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Experience After finishing 23rd at nationals last summer, Sydney stunned at camp this spring when she finished 4th all-around and won floor. She was added to the national team and earned a spot at Junior Pan Ams, but an injury in Jesolo has kept her recovering since April.
2018 Scores 53.550 (April Verification)
What to Watch Sydney has always been great on beam, but as she’s growing up, she’s becoming super powerful and one to watch on vault and floor, especially now that she has a DTY! Her vault earned a 14.467 in Jesolo, and had she not been injured, she would’ve been a frontrunner for an all-around medal there.
ANNIE BEARD
Age 14
Hometown Dallas, TX
Gym Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Experience Annie finished 10th all-around at nationals last summer and in 2016, she was the J.O. national all-around champion in the Junior A division. We haven’t seen her compete in nearly a year, but given her history and how great she looked last year, I’m sure we’ll be in for some strong gymnastics from her this year.
2018 Scores N/A
What to Watch Annie has a DTY on vault and fabulous skills on beam, and to top it all off, she’s a joy to watch on floor, with tons of energy, expression, and a genuine connection between her movement and the music.
LOVE BIRT
Age 12
Hometown Wyoming, DE
Gym First State Gymnastics
Experience Recently finished 25th at the American Classic, and qualified to nationals last year where she finished 27th at just 11 years old. At her elite qualifier this year, Love won beam with a 13.950!
2018 Scores 49.000 (American Classic)
49.000 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch Love has a tremendous ability and talent on beam, where she’s capable of major difficulty for her age, but her floor is super engaging as well and she has some solid tumbling, including a front layout to front double full.
SKYE BLAKELY
Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 11.53.17 PM Age 13
Hometown Frisco, TX
Gym WOGA
Experience An injury in Skye’s first level 10 season back in 2016 kept her out for over a year, but turns out she didn’t need the experience — when she returned to the competition floor as an all-arounder, it was at back-to-back international elite meets, where she placed 6th (WOGA Classic) and 15th (Gymnix) with super strong scores. At the American Classic this month, Skye was one of only a handful of juniors to earn her nationals score, winning the bronze medal and making herself one of the top newcomers this year.
2018 Scores 53.400 (American Classic)
51.900 (WOGA Classic)
51.518 (Gymnix)
What to Watch Skye has the kind of bars you’d expect from a WOGA baby and some big skills and awesome opening choreo on beam, and at the American Classic, she unveiled a great DTY on vault.
JORDAN BOWERS
Age 15
Hometown Lincoln, NE
Gym Solid Rock Gymnastics
Experience After making her first attempt at elite when she was just 11, Jordan has had quite the journey over the years but she is THE junior queen of 2018. From 13th at nationals last summer to the Pacific Rim and Junior Pan Am all-around champ in 2018, Jordan is a frontrunner for the title in Columbus, assuming she does all four events.
2018 Scores 54.750 (Junior Pan Ams)
54.350 (April Verification)
53.600 (Pac Rims)
50.950 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch She’s sincerely does not have a bad event, so if I had to pick one I’d go with floor if only because she’s a triple threat there with great tumbling (and potentially big upgrades to come!), superb dance elements, and a sassy style that shows shades of McKayla Maroney.
SOPHIA BUTLER
Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 11.58.13 PM Age 14
Hometown Houston, TX
Gym Discover Gymnastics
Experience A Hopes kid over the past two seasons, we noticed Sophia with her big skills at Hopes Championships last summer, where she became the vault and bars champion in addition to winning bronze in the all-around, and we are so excited to see her in elite. After qualifying elite in Orlando, Sophia stood out as one of the top juniors in the international session at the WOGA Classic this year, but unfortunately some falls at the American Classic kept her from earning her nationals score.
2018 Scores 53.400 (WOGA Classic)
52.100 (Orlando Qualifier)
48.400 (American Classic)
What to Watch Sophia is a trickster on beam, where she has a layout full as part of her triple acro series, an Onodi, a front aerial to split ring jump, and a double pike dismount. She definitely has some cleanup areas but I love kids who push the limit and that’s Sophia!
KAILIN CHIO
561262 Age 12
Hometown Henderson, NV
Gym Gymcats
Experience Kailin, the youngest U.S. Classic competitor this year, made her debut as a Hopes gymnast last year, winning the silver medal in the 10-11 division at championships before winning the elite qualifier all-around at Desert Lights this January. She competed at the American Classic a few weeks back, but bailed in the middle of her vault and ended up flat-backing a non-salto Yurchenko, taking her all-around score down significantly.
2018 Scores 52.850 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
46.950 (American Classic)
What to Watch She’s a true bars-and-beamer right now, with lovely lines and pristine technique in all of her work, but these two events are where she can really make it stand out.
CLAIRE DEAN
claire Age 14
Hometown Oakland, CA
Gym Head Over Heels
Experience After a 4th-place finish at Hopes Championships last summer, Claire made the move to elite this spring, looking great at both qualifiers and then falling short of her nationals score at the American Classic by just over a tenth.
2018 Scores 51.350 (Auburn Qualifier)
50.850 (American Classic)
50.500 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch As a gymnast without super strong difficulty on any of her events, Claire manages to stand out with her fab execution. I especially love the amplitude she gets in her leaps — she has one of the best switch leap to switch half series that you’ll see on beam!
KAYLA DiCELLO
Age 14
Hometown Boyds, MD
Gym Hill’s Gymnastics
Experience Kayla wins for best glow-up over the past year, entering the junior elite scene with a nationals berth, but placing just 26th out of 28 all-arounders, she didn’t seem like one to become a major threat this year. But she nearly swept the junior division at the WOGA Classic when she returned in February, and then her second-place verification finish in April earned her a national team spot. She won the silver all-around and gold vault and bars medals at Pac Rims and then a few weeks ago, she became the American Classic Champion with the highest score of her career.
2018 Scores 55.300 (American Classic)
55.250 (WOGA Classic)
54.300 (April Verification)
53.851 (Gymnix)
53.100 (Pac Rims)
What to Watch I don’t think Kayla is actually a standout on any event, and I mean that in a good way. She is the kind of all-arounder who does every single event incredibly well without relying on any one apparatus to carry her through (though adding a beautiful DTY to her arsenal a few months ago certainly didn’t hurt)!
AMARI DRAYTON
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.23.12 AM Age 13
Hometown Lakeway, TX
Gym Olympia Hills
Experience Amari is about as new to the scene as they come! Going from level 7 to training Hopes in just over a year, Amari also remained dominant on the J.O. scene while beginning her elite career, winning the Junior A all-around title at nationals this year with a score that came close to matching most of the top college-bound seniors. Her elite difficulty is still a bit too low to really make her a contender right now, but give her time — she’ll be up there!
2018 Scores 51.100 (Auburn Qualifier)
49.650 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
48.600 (American Classic)
What to Watch Bars and beam are definitely the most promising for Amari at the moment…but she also has a lovely FTY and great foundations on floor, making for a truly well-balanced all-arounder.
ADDISON FATTA
Age 13
Hometown Wrightsville, PA
Gym Prestige Gymnastics
Experience Addison came onto the Hopes scene in 2016 and then had a super successful 2017, earning a spot at nationals where she placed 28th all-around. A fall on floor at the American Classic kept her from advancing to nationals, though she had an otherwise strong meet, placing 17th and improving on what we saw from her last summer.
2018 Scores 49.900 (American Classic)
What to Watch I absolutely love her floor. Her twisting is insane, opening with a triple full and then following that up with a 2½ through to double full! And she’s super tight while doing it, making for an overall fabulous set.
ALEAH FINNEGAN
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.31.32 AM Age 15
Hometown Lee’s Summit, MO
Gym GAGE
Experience The baby sister of 2012 Olympic alternate Sarah Finnegan, the question of when Aleah would go elite has been on everyone’s minds for years, and after a solid J.O. career — she was the Junior B national champion in 2017 — she finally made the jump this year. Aleah missed out on getting her score at the first two qualifiers she attended, but thankfully the third time was the charm, and she ended up killing it at the American Classic, placing 6th all-around, winning the bronze on beam, and earning her nationals score.
2018 Scores 53.300 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
52.250 (American Classic)
48.650 (Auburn Qualifier)
48.650 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch Obviously beam. Her difficulty there isn’t that great, but like her sister, it’s where she shows great poise and control, with her floor also something to take note of.
DELANEY FISHER
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.38.31 AM Age 13
Hometown Flowery Branch, GA
Gym Georgia Elite
Experience Delaney is one of the handful of kids that tons of people know from YouTube, so despite this being her first year on the elite scene, she’s already pretty well-known. After failing to qualify elite last year, Delaney moved to Georgia Elite and got her optional scores with a 5th-place finish at the KPAC qualifier in March. She then placed 4th in her division at J.O. nationals before officially moving up to elite, but she missed the American Classic due to a minor finger injury, so this will be her first major meet at this level.
2018 Scores 50.750 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch Like many of the juniors here, Delaney doesn’t have a true standout event, but is fairly balanced as an all-arounder. She has gorgeous lines, which are most evident on bars, and I find her floor quite entertaining as well (bonus points, she used to have a Harry Potter routine).
EMJAE FRAZIER
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.49.05 AM Age 14
Hometown Erial, NJ
Gym Parkettes
Experience The younger sister of Margzetta, éMjae missed out on qualifying last season, but she had a great showing at the Auburn meet in May, finishing 9th and winning the bronze on bars to follow in her sister’s footsteps as the newest Parkettes elite.
2018 Scores 50.800 (Auburn Qualifier)
49.750 (American Classic)
49.700 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch I LOVE her floor, specifically her NCAA-ready 1½ to front layout to split jump, but she has a great attack on bars with her toe full to Maloney to Tkachev and a big double layout dismount.
GABBIE GALLENTINE
Age 15
Hometown Iron Station, NC
Gym Everest Gymnastics
Experience This is Gabbie’s second year at the elite level. She didn’t qualify for nationals last year, but came within four tenths of qualifying at this summer’s American Classic, where she placed 15th, and she also finished 16th out of 60 competitors in the Gymnix Challenge this year, where she also made the bars final.
2018 Scores 51.900 (Buckeye Qualifier)
51.234 (Gymnix)
50.600 (American Classic)
What to Watch In true Everest fashion, bars is easily Gabbie’s top event, where her beautiful lines and solid control lend themselves nicely to her difficult connection series, and she has a great full-twisting double layout to boot.
ELIZABETH GANTNER
511332 Age 13
Hometown Indianapolis, IN
Gym Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center
Experience Elizabeth is one of the “totally brand new” elites this year, qualifying at Auburn with a fantastic performance, though she had several falls at the American Classic (three that I saw) and ended up placing last with a score much lower than what she’s capable of. But what I loved about her at this meet was that after she finished her last event, bars, she didn’t look destroyed or upset like many of the other kids…she looked annoyed about her most recent fall, but overall seemed to have an incredible attitude about the situation, which is so amazing at this age.
2018 Scores 51.500 (Auburn Qualifier)
46.050 (American Classic)
What to Watch Her beam and floor are both super tidy, and she reminds me a bit of Lilly Lippeatt in her mannerisms. Without huge difficulty, she can really focus on the little things, and her super clean tumbling and incredible landings on floor were major standouts for me in Salt Lake City.
KARIS GERMAN
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.59.29 AM Age 14
Hometown Spring, TX
Gym World Champions Centre
Experience After competing as a Hopes gymnast last year, Karis had a standout level 10 season in 2018, winning multiple titles including the vault title in her age division at J.O. Championships where she also finished second all-around. Karis earned her nationals score at the American Classic, where she finished 10th.
2018 Scores 52.500 (Orlando Qualifier)
51.200 (American Classic)
What to Watch Karis has tons of power but also has the benefit of getting to a great bars coach at an early age, so she’s one of those rare few who is a standout on bars and floor. Look for her beautiful and big double layout on both events!
TRISTA GOODMAN
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.01.38 AM Age 14
Hometown Henderson, NV
Gym Salcianu Elite
Experience Trista missed out on getting her elite scores last year, but then crushed it at the KPAC qualifier in March, where she was third overall and on bars. She had a fantastic meet at the American Classic, but her D scores are all a bit low, keeping her unable to advance to nationals.
2018 Scores 51.550 (KPAC Qualifier)
49.750 (American Classic)
48.650 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch Beam is probably where Trista has the greatest potential at the moment, with a punch front the highlight of her routine! She also has a lovely triple full on floor, and though she has a few cleanup areas in her routines, she overall has an excellent confidence and command of the arena.
ZOE GRAVIER
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.03.22 AM Age 13
Hometown Holmdel, NJ
Gym MG Elite
Experience Zoe moved to MG Elite as a level 9, and a year later she was the Junior A vault champion and silver all-around medalist at level 10 nationals. NBD. She got her optionals score for classics at the Brestyan’s qualifier and then at the American Classic, she got exactly the all-around score needed to make nationals.
2018 Scores 51.000 (American Classic)
50.750 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch Skill-wise, she’s not a huge standout on anything yet, but I like that they’re taking things slowly with her, as she’s still super young. I absolutely love her floor routine, where she performs well and has some awesome tumbling, including a great whip to double tuck.
OLIVIA GREAVES
448479 Age 14
Hometown Staten Island, NY
Gym MG Elite
Experience In her first year as a level 10 gymnast last year, Olivia missed out on nationals, but then she came back this year to win the WOGA Classic and earn a coveted spot at the Nastia Liukin Cup, where she placed 10th before getting her elite optional score at the KPAC qualifier a week later. At the American Classic, she easily got her nationals score with a beautiful performance that saw her finish 4th all-around in addition to winning the bars title and adding a bronze on floor.
2018 Scores 53.800 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
53.300 (American Classic)
51.650 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch Olivia is absolutely gorgeous on bars, where her skill level is also fantastic for a first-year junior. She has a Ricna to Pak, van Leeuwen, and beautiful stalder work, and while her floor isn’t quite as difficult, I love what she brings to her many cool choreo moments.
HANNAH HAGLE
Age 14
Hometown Chireno, TX
Gym Texas East Gymnastics
Experience Hannah finished 24th at nationals last summer in her first season as a junior elite, and though we haven’t seen her much this year outside of an early qualifier, she’s capable of solid scores for her level.
2018 Scores 47.900 (Orlando Qualifier)
What to Watch I’m mostly excited to see if Hannah can bring some new bars upgrades this season (she’s been working on some tricky connections!), but beam has generally been what I pay attention to most when she’s competing.
MAEVE HAHN
Age Turns 15 on July 29, the day after the meet!
Hometown Lake Wylie, SC
Gym First in Flight
Experience Maeve finished 24th at the U.S. Classic last summer and 40th at this meet in 2016, but she has yet to make it to nationals so we’re crossing our fingers and hoping the third time is a charm!
2018 Scores 50.750 (KPAC Qualifier)
47.500 (Buckeye Qualifier)
47.000 (American Classic)
What to Watch Beam is her most consistent and it’s where she has the strongest skill level, but I think bars is where she tends to look the most lovely.
SELENA HARRIS
Age 14
Hometown Henderson, NV
Gym Gymcats Gymnastics
Experience Selena made her elite debut last year and was had a strong enough showing to make it to nationals, where she finished 17th. Prior to that, she made waves as a level 10 gymnast, winning the bronze medal in her division at J.O. nationals last spring.
2018 Scores 50.600 (American Classic)
What to Watch Her NCAA-ready Yurchenko 1½ is a MUST-SEE at this meet! But don’t think she’s all about power…Selena has some dance combinations on beam and floor that’ll make even the Netherlands drool.
ALEXIS JEFFREY
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.06.06 AM Age 15
Hometown Warrensburg, MO
Gym GAGE
Experience A level 10 since 2015, Alexis finally made the jump to elite happen this year with excellent performances at both the KPAC and Auburn qualifiers. She was a last-minute addition to the American Classic after dealing with injuries, and a few mistakes — including losing major SV on bars after missing her Jaeger completely — kept her just 30th overall, far below her potential.
2018 Scores 52.150 (Auburn Qualifier)
50.500 (KPAC Qualifier)
47.450 (American Classic)
What to Watch I’m going with beam, if only because she does a standing punch front (meaning she doesn’t run to punch into it), a total badass move in a routine that’s otherwise pretty solid.
KAYTLYN JOHNSON
Age 15
Hometown Lantana, TX
Gym Denton Gymnastics Academy
Experience Kaytlyn won the bronze in her age division at J.O. nationals last year before qualifying to elite. She finished 33rd at the U.S. Classic in 2017, and then got some awesome experience at the Top Gym Tournament in Belgium, where she won the bronze all-around medal competing alongside her club teammates.
2018 Scores 51.250 (Orlando Qualifier)
49.950 (Auburn Qualifier)
What to Watch Vault is Kaytlyn’s greatest talent. Her FTY has always been pretty much perfect, and she’s been working a double that’ll hopefully see the competition floor soon!
LEVI JUNG-RUIVIVAR
Dhj1vbRUcAAQj46 Age 12
Hometown Woodland Hills, CA
Gym Paramount Elite
Experience At 10 and 11, Levi competed as a Hopes gymnast, placing 6th all-around and winning the silver on bars at last summer’s Hopes Championships. This season, she got her elite optional score super early on, finishing third at the Desert Lights qualifier, and then she stunned at the international session of the WOGA Classic, placing 5th and winning another bars silver. At the American Classic, Levi finished 7th all-around and also got her nationals score after a beautiful and fully hit performance.
2018 Scores 52.300 (WOGA Classic)
52.200 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
52.000 (American Classic)
What to Watch It’s impossible for someone this young to embody regal elegance in literally everything she does, and yet…there’s Levi. Whether she’s on bars, beam, or floor, Levi is absolutely breathtaking. Her switch ring to ring leap on floor followed by a beautiful choreo section is probably my favorite, but I’m also absolutely obsessed with everything she does on beam, from her amplitude and extension to her commanding presence and confidence, she is literally stunning.
ALONNA KRATZER
profile-246062-alonnakratzer-001 Age 15
Hometown Suwanee, GA
Gym Top Notch Training Center
Experience Alonna, who has four seasons of level 10 competition under her belt, finally got her elite scores this year, and she had a solid American Classic meet, where she finished 13th all-around, coming just two tenths away from earning her nationals score.
2018 Scores 51.700 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
51.450 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
50.800 (American Classic)
49.050 (Orlando Qualifier)
44.000 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch Her bars are SUPERB! She has it all there — difficulty, confidence, rhythm, and a great attack that saw her finish 6th on this event in Salt Lake City, where she had a great piked Jaeger, Church to Pak, and a high stuck full-out dismount. She also has one of the better double pikes off beam you’ll see in elite.
SUNISA LEE
Age 15
Hometown St. Paul, MN
Gym Midwest Gymnastics
Experience Sunisa got everyone’s attention with some great beam and floor choreo during her 2016 debut, but she didn’t stop there — she was added to the national team early in 2017 and traveled to Montreal where she won the silver on bars at Gymnix, though some mistakes on day one of nationals left her in just 8th place. This year, she nearly swept the KPAC national qualifier and the April verification camp, winning the all-around at both, but then falls on bars and beam at Pac Rims kept her off the all-around podium there (but she still picked up silver medals on vault, beam, and floor).
2018 Scores 56.000 (KPAC Qualifier)
55.500 (April Verification)
51.450 (Pac Rims)
What to Watch What NOT to watch?! Sunisa has D scores that break a 6.0 on both bars (Nabieva to Pak to Maloney to Gienger, anyone?!) and beam (a casual two major acro series), she added a brilliant DTY on vault this season, and she opens floor with a double layout before competing an arabian double front, both of which are fab. Consistency isn’t always on her side, but when she hits, she’s hard to beat.
LILLIAN LEWIS
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.11.59 AM Age 13
Hometown Dublin, CA
Gym San Mateo Gymnastics
Experience One of the brand newbies this year, Lillian had a fantastic first-year level 10 season, becoming the J.O. national beam champion in addition to placing third all-around. Two weeks after nationals, Lillian went to her first-ever elite qualifier, and surprised to finish 8th overall, a massive feat given her lack of experience! At the American Classic, she landed her double arabian on one foot and tried to continue into her choreo, but then ended up ending the routine early and scratching vault, so we hope she’s back and in good health this weekend because she’s had quite the fast-paced intro to elite this year and I think we can see big things from her in the future.
2018 Scores 51.050 (Auburn Qualifier)
What to Watch Lillian has a lot of great qualities on beam and floor. Her difficulty isn’t really strong enough to take her anywhere just yet, but her foundations are insanely good, which is evident in the J.O. and elite compulsory scores she got on these events.
KALIYA LINCOLN
tumblr_otu4nod7I61rpkobco1_1280 Age 12
Hometown Mountain House, CA
Gym Airborne Gymnastics
Experience At the Hopes Championships last year, Kaliya, just a level 9 at the time, stunned with brilliant routines to win the 10-11 title with a score that would’ve qualified her to nationals had she been competing at the junior level. Her optional scores came easily for her at the Desert Lights qualifier this year, and then she won the bronze all-around in the junior international session of the WOGA Classic, where she looked fab on vault and floor. Unfortunately, Kaliya missed her Jaeger completely at the American Classic, losing major SV in addition to taking the fall, which kept her from earning her nationals score after an otherwise great day.
2018 Scores 52.550 (WOGA Classic)
52.450 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
49.750 (American Classic)
What to Watch Kaliya’s beam and floor are both superb. On beam, she has a tremendous fight on top of her many difficult elements, and her double arabian on floor is absolutely beautiful.
LILLIAN ‘LILLY’ LIPPEATT
Age 13
Hometown Mason, OH
Gym Cincinnati Gymnastics
Experience After finishing 7th at last year’s Nastia Liukin Cup, Lilly went into her first season as a junior elite with great results, finishing 15th at nationals at only 12. This year, she was 7th all-around and won the bronze on beam against mostly seniors at Gymnix, and then attended the April verification camp, where she also finished 7th.
2018 Scores 52.635 (Gymnix)
52.050 (April Verification)
What to Watch Lilly is so tidy, effortless, and precise in everything she does, she reminds me of one of the pixies of the 80s and 90s. Her beam and floor are particular highlights, with her adorable choreography a great match for her personality.
LAUREN LITTLE
Age 14
Hometown Mooresville, NC
Gym Everest Gymnastics
Experience After missing out on elite in 2015, Lauren more than made up for it with back-to-back nationals appearances the following years, finishing 16th last summer. This year, she won the all-around at the Buckeye qualifier and then had a great showing at Gymnix, placing 7th on bars and looking solid in the all-around, though she came up three tenths short of qualifying to nationals at the American Classic earlier this month.
2018 Scores 52.650 (Buckeye Qualifier)
51.667 (Gymnix)
50.700 (American Classic)
What to Watch I love that Lauren is someone who can shine on two very different events, going from a solid DTY right over to a beautiful bars set, showing an unexpected but perfect mix of power and grace on both.
MALLORY MARCHELI
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.14.47 AM Age 15
Hometown Richmond, TX
Gym Stars Gymnastics – Houston
Experience Though Mallory missed out on both making J.O. nationals and qualifying elite last year, she came back determined in 2018, accomplishing both of these goals. Mallory finished 26th at the American Classic with a performance that was clean and confident across the board, but while she’s super solid, her difficulty holds her back a bit.
2018 Scores 50.550 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
48.950 (American Classic)
48.200 (Auburn Qualifier)
48.150 (KPAC Qualifier)
What to Watch Honestly, her confidence and “don’t give up” attitude are what draws me in with Mallory. I love when someone who might not be a top contender keeps trying and ends up finding success. Mallory looked like she was having a blast at the American Classic, and she was strong, clean, and controlled on all four routines.
KONNOR McCLAIN
Age 13
Hometown Cross Lanes, WV
Gym Revolution Gymnastics
Experience Konnor won the Hopes Classic (10-11 division) in 2016 with a score that would’ve put most juniors to shame, but she had one of the most dramatic U.S. Classic meets in her first junior season last summer, putting up an incredible beam routine but then sitting her double pike at the end to just miss out on making nationals. This year, she came back with a vengeance, placing second at the Buckeye qualifier before stunning on beam and floor at Gymnix and then winning silver all-around at the American Classic earlier this month, getting her nationals score to make the U.S. Classic a little less dramatic this time around.
2018 Scores 53.950 (American Classic)
52.000 (Buckeye Qualifier)
51.534 (Gymnix)
50.250 (April Verification)
What to Watch BEAM. I mean, everything, but really, BEAM. Konnor is the only gymnast not from the Chinese program who can do a layout so perfectly you know it’s her from across the room. She also has a standing full, fantastic extension on her leaps, and a big double pike so you know she is NOT playing around.
SYDNEY MORRIS
tumblr_otu489snq31rpkobco1_1280 Age 14
Hometown Bowie, MD
Gym First State Gymnastics
Experience I knew of Sydney before I knew anything about her gymnastics thanks to her massive YouTube and Instagram following. When I saw her compete at Hopes Championships last summer, I was instantly obsessed with her Austin Powers floor routine that showed off so much of that fun personality her fans get from her popular vlogs. A move to First State this year improved her skill level and ability dramatically, helping her qualify elite and earn a J.O. nationals spot, where she won the silver medal on bars. Her solid performance at the American Classic saw her finish 8th all-around to earn her nationals score after a fantastic day.
2018 Scores 51.900 (American Classic)
51.100 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch Sydney’s floor is absolutely entertaining but she’s getting to be quite the fantastic bars and beam kid. Her bars are especially tidy, and she has a great piked Jaeger, Pak, and toe full to full-in dismount.
BRENNA NEAULT
48fdb0c057a9f9fdbd3550c1612566d4 Age 14
Hometown Alta Loma, CA
Gym Precision Gymnastics
Experience In her first season as a junior last year, Brenna finished 30th at the U.S. Classic and didn’t qualify to nationals, but she has made many improvements since then, and I’d love to see her hit when it counts to make it to nationals this year.
2018 Scores 54.200 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
50.700 (Auburn Qualifier)
50.100 (KPAC Qualifier)
49.750 (American Classic)
What to Watch Brenna is all about the long lines, and while she’s still fine-tuning how to make them really work for her, on bars and floor especially she ends up with a natural elegance that many would die for.
LAUREN PEARL
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.20.23 AM Age 15
Hometown Milford, MA
Gym Brestyan’s American Gymnastics
Experience As a level 10 gymnast since 2015, Lauren has tons of experience at this level, qualifying to J.O. nationals three years in a row, winning the beam title in 2017 and then nabbing the vault silver and beam bronze this year. Going elite seems almost to be a “why not” whim for Lauren, who made her first attempt at qualifying at the Brestyan meet a month ago, where she finished 4th all-around to easily get her scores. She missed the American Classic, so she’ll truly be jumping right into the fire at such a big meet like this, but her tremendous J.O. experience should more than prepare her for the task.
2018 Scores  51.950 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
What to Watch As her J.O. nationals scores might suggest…vault and beam! Lauren has an explosive NCAA-9.9 FTY, and her beam is fantastic, showing shades of Aly Raisman with a usually solid triple flight series, punch front tuck, side aerial, powerful jumps, switch side, and fantastic double pike.
KATELYN ROSEN
maxresdefault Age 13
Hometown Boerne, TX
Gym Mavericks at Artemovs
Experience As a Hopes gymnast for two seasons, Katelyn showed great potential, winning the silver all-around medal in addition to the floor title at Hopes Championships last summer before qualifying elite in Orlando this February. Unfortunately, Katelyn struggled on pretty much all of her events at the American Classic, placing 33rd, so hopefully she’ll have a much better outing this weekend.
2018 Scores 50.750 (WOGA Classic)
50.650 (Orlando Qualifier)
46.800 (American Classic)
What to Watch Katelyn brings some big skills throughout most of her routines, but I like that she’s taking advantage of her great power on vault and floor, which tend to be her strongest. She already has a double layout on floor, and the rest of her tumbling is super upgrade-able.
LYDEN SALTNESS
.Dcn0htNU8AAD00- Age 13
Hometown Forest Lake, MN
Gym Midwest Gymnastics
Experience The 2018 J.O. national bars champion in her age division, this year was Lyden’s first attempt at elite, and after a few near-misses, she finally made it happen at the Auburn qualifier in May, where she placed 6th all-around. Lyden looked likely to get her nationals score at the American Classic after a great day, but two falls on her final event, beam, held her back to 24th all-around.
2018 Scores 51.250 (Auburn Qualifier)
50.100 (KPAC Qualifier)
49.950 (Buckeye Qualifier)
49.250 (American Classic)
46.150 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch Lyden has a promising Yurchenko 1½ on vault and she’s at a great difficulty level on beam, where she has a tuck full series, triple wolf turn, punch front, and double tuck dismount.
ABIGAIL SCANLON
Age 15
Hometown Sterling, VA
Gym Capital Gymnastics
Experience Abigail has qualified to nationals two years in a row, finishing 24th last year. At this year’s American Classic, she had lots of excellent moments, finishing 18th.
2018 Scores 50.050 (Brestyan’s Qualifier)
49.850 (American Classic)
What to Watch Beam and floor for sure. Her twisting elements on floor are especially nice, and she builds up some solid difficulty with combination passes, and on beam she’s so fluid in pretty much everything she does.
JAFREE SCOTT
Age 14
Hometown Independence, MO
Gym GAGE
Experience JaFree finished 13th at nationals last year, her first year as an elite gymnast, and she was added to the national team this year with her 5th-place finish in the all-around at the April verification camp. She earned a spot on the Junior Pan Ams team, but unfortunately, a last-minute ankle injury kept her difficulty down and she was only able to perform two events, so hopefully we’ll see her healthy and back to full strength this summer.
2018 Scores 53.000 (April Verification)
What to Watch I love JaFree’s fun and upbeat choreo on floor, but she has high points in all of her routines, and she has the potential for really difficult work on beam when she hits.
AVA SIEGFELDT
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.26.31 AM Age 13
Hometown Hampton, VA
Gym World Class Gymnastics
Experience Ava finished 14th at last summer’s Hopes Championships, and then this year, got the exact score needed to qualify elite in Orlando, where she also posted the highest overall beam score across all age divisions and sessions. She competed at J.O. nationals for the first time this spring, finishing 4th on vault, but then falls on bars and beam at the American Classic held her back to 29th place.
2018 Scores 50.500 (Orlando Qualifier)
49.150 (KPAC Qualifier)
48.950 (Buckeye Qualifier)
47.650 (American Classic)
What to Watch Beam and floor are definitely Ava’s strong suits. She has a lovely and floaty two-foot layout series on beam, and while her tumbling isn’t super difficult on floor, she’s clean at pretty much everything she does.
VICTORIA ‘VIKA’ SMIRNOV
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.28.12 AM Age 13
Hometown Hickory, NC
Gym Shooting Stars Gymnastics
Experience After a strong introduction to the elite program with a 22nd-place nationals finish in 2017, Vika hasn’t been around much this year aside from an early-season qualifier where she finished 7th and won the bronze on beam with a lovely routine.
2018 Scores 49.900 (Buckeye Qualifier)
What to Watch Vika is super talented with difficult skills on beam, where her skill level and ability skyrockets, but I also love her performances on floor, where her choreo is definitely something to note.
UI SOMA
tumblr_otu3wdZnaX1rpkobco1_1280 Age 13
Hometown Belmont, CA
Gym San Mateo Gymnastics
Experience Last year, after wrapping up a great level 9 season with the Western Championships all-around title, Ui became the all-around and beam champion in the 12-13 age division at Hopes Championships. This May, she won the Junior A beam title at J.O. nationals, where she also finished third all-around, and then two weeks later she got her elite scores with a fantastic performance at the Auburn qualifier, where she finished second behind U.S. national team member Leanne Wong. Ui was one of the junior standouts at the American Classic, putting up four great routines to finish 5th while winning the bronze on floor and also earning her nationals score, making her one of the top elite newcomers this season with big potential going forward.
2018 Scores 53.700 (Auburn Qualifier)
52.500 (American Classic)
49.700 (Desert Lights Qualifier)
What to Watch It’s all about perfecting the little things for Ui, whose feet are never anything but 900% pointed. She is textbook at absolutely everything she does, but beam is where she truly shines, with beautiful connections, solid acro, and a great double pike dismount.
CALVARY SWANEY
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.32.14 AM Age 13
Hometown Gastonia, NC
Gym First in Flight
Experience Calvary, who goes by Cally, had a great meet at the Hopes Championships last summer, where she placed 6th all-around. This year she qualified elite on her first attempt at the Buckeye meet, and then she placed 23rd at the American Classic with promising routines on all four events, though she balked her beam dismount taking her difficulty down considerably.
2018 Scores 50.650 (Buckeye Qualifier)
49.450 (American Classic)
What to Watch I love Cally’s beam more than anything. She has a couple of great acro/dance combos there and an incredible triple flight series. She also has a fab double layout off bars!
TORI TATUM
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.36.11 AM Age 15
Hometown Chanhassen, MN
Gym Twin City Twisters
Experience Tori is one of the most experienced juniors here this weekend, first qualifying to elite back in 2015, making nationals on her first time out. With three U.S. Championships under her belt coming into the 2018 season, Tori finally got some international experience this year, first competing at Jesolo with her club, where she placed 7th all-around and made three event finals before then stepping up from alternate to key member of the Junior Pan Ams team. In Buenos Aires, her vault and floor helped the team to the gold, and she also had some individual success there, finishing 4th all-around in addition to winning the gold on vault and the silver on floor.
2018 Scores 52.600 (Junior Pan Ams)
52.300 (Jesolo)
48.350 (April Verification)
What to Watch Vault and floor for sure. Tori’s DTY is unbelievably good, and the 14.8 she earned at Pan Ams is 4th-best among every single vault score earned internationally in the entire world in 2018. Her floor tumbling is also rock-solid and super clean, helping her get by without a ton of difficulty.
LEANNE WONG
Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.37.14 AM Age 14
Hometown Overland Park, KS
Gym GAGE
Experience Leanne won the J.O. national all-around title in her age group last year, and a few weeks later, she earned her elite qualification score before then winning the all-around at the American Classic. Her strong nationals performance, where she was the vault champion and the floor bronze medalist, led to a national team spot, and she was named to this year’s Junior Pan Ams team where she won bronze in the all-around before then snagging three silver medals in event finals, on every event but floor.
2018 Scores 55.700 (Auburn Qualifier)
52.950 (Junior Pan Ams)
52.050 (April Verification)
What to Watch Leanne has one of the most gorgeous DTYs in the world right now, and she’s also technically perfect in pretty much everything she does. All of her events look great because even though she doesn’t have the greatest difficulty on any event, she easily gets by thanks to her brilliant execution.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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12 thoughts on “The U.S. Classic Junior Guide

  1. Jafree Scott, What to watch : Her beautiful arm lines. Her amazing height and extension on her leaps. Her great flexibility. The height on her standing arabian on beam. and her front tuck! She def has something special.

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  2. Good luck to all the juniors. I am excited to see a glimpse of the future stars. My picks for future greatness: Leanne Wong, Lilly Lippeatt, Kaliya Lincoln, Levi Jung-Ruivivar, Sophia Butler and Love Birt. I also love Jordan Bowers and hope she doesn’t fizzle out before she turns senior. Even with all the troubles that USA gymnastics is having right now, it is nice to see that there are still future little Simones out there ready to pass the torch. Future looks bright!

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  3. Pingback: The U.S. Classic Senior Guide | The Gymternet

  4. Pingback: The U.S. Classic Senior Guide | species specific

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