Skinner In, Smith Out at National Team Camp


Ragan Smith

The June national team camp begins Friday, June 14 at EVO Athletics in Sarasota, Florida, and in addition to serving as a way to prepare athletes for the upcoming season, it will also act as the selection camp for junior world championships as well as one of the selection meets for the Pan American Games.

This camp marks the elite return for 2016 Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner, who is taking a hiatus from her collegiate career to contend for spots at this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympic Games. Skinner, who recently posted videos of her progress with her Amanar and Cheng on vault, is the only non-national team senior at this camp, getting a special invite after showing readiness in video updates.

All five members of the 2018 world championships team will also be at camp, including Simone Biles, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum, and Kara Eaker, and Jade Carey – who currently leads the way on vault and floor for individual apparatus qualifications – will also be one of the 17 seniors on the list.

I’m also really excited to see Trinity Thomas back in the elite world after finishing up a stellar freshman year in NCAA, young seniors Leanne Wong and Sunisa Lee, and Emma Malabuyo back in top shape after missing much of her debut senior year due to injury. Also attending are Sloane Blakely, Jordan Chiles (who recently moved to World Champions Centre), Aleah Finnegan, Shilese Jones, Gabby Perea, and Alyona Shchennikova.

Missing, however, is Ragan Smith, who recently updated her Instagram bio with the ambiguous “OU 2019” after several of her Texas Dreams teammates commented “we’ll miss you so much next year!” on one of her posts. Apparently, Smith’s mom confirmed via Instagram DMs to fans (lol) that she’s opted to start college a year earlier than expected, as the variety of foot/ankle injuries that have plagued her since 2017 have made it difficult for her to train consistently at the elite level.

It’s a bummer that things didn’t work out quite as she planned with her elite career, as her one non-alternate season ended in the most unfortunately timed injury ever at worlds in 2017, but Olympic alternate is a huge accomplishment in itself, and hopefully not pushing through for another season will allow her the time she needs to heal and have a healthy NCAA career.

As for the juniors, all eight national team members as well as three invited gymnasts will attend to challenge for spots on the junior world championships team. The nominative roster, released a couple of weeks ago, included standouts Konnor McClain, Kayla DiCello, Skye Blakely, and Olivia Greaves as the top four options for the three available spots.

While I think McClain and DiCello are locks, that third spot could very well be up for grabs depending on how well everyone hits this weekend. However, Greaves recently upgraded her vault to a DTY and she has the top junior bars set in the country when she hits, and Blakely has looked fabulous in competition this year, so it should be between these two for the last spot and the alternate role.

The all-around champion at this weekend’s trials will automatically be named to the three-person team, and the athlete selection committee will select the two additional athletes as well as an alternate who will travel with the team. Also in contention are national team members Ciena Alipio, Sophia Butler, Lilly Lippeatt, and Kaylen Morgan along with invited gymnasts Sydney Barros, eMjae Frazier, and Lyden Saltness.

Reportedly, additional age-eligible juniors will also be attending the trials for worlds and have shared this information on Instagram, but a full list hasn’t been confirmed by USA Gymnastics.

For the senior Pan Am Games selection, this camp will be one of several ways interested athletes can work towards a team berth. In addition to camp, gymnasts can also opt to compete at the American Classic in Salt Lake City later this month, and the selection committee will choose eight women from between the two selection meets to be considered for the team. The eight women in consideration must also compete at the U.S. Classic in Louisville next month, and the five-person Pan Am Games team will be named at the conclusion of the U.S. Classic on July 20.

The junior world championships trials and Pan Am Games selection meet will happen on Friday, July 14, and camp will continue with training sessions and physical abilities testing throughout the weekend, concluding on Monday afternoon. A full list of attendees is below.

Simone Biles, World Champions
Sloane Blakely, WOGA
Jade Carey, Arizona Sunrays
Jordan Chiles, World Champions
Kara Eaker, GAGE
Aleah Finnegan, GAGE
Morgan Hurd, First State
Shilese Jones, Future
Sunisa Lee, Midwest
Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams
Grace McCallum, Twin City Twisters
Riley McCusker, MG Elite
Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite
Alyona Shchennikova, 5280
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Trinity Thomas, Florida
Leanne Wong, GAGE
Ciena Alipio, West Valley
Sydney Barros, Texas Dreams
Skye Blakely, WOGA
Sophia Butler, Discover
Kayla DiCello, Hill’s
eMjae Frazier, Parkettes
Olivia Greaves, MG Elite
Lilly Lippeatt, Cincinnati
Konnor McClain, Revolution
Kaylen Morgan, Everest
Lyden Saltness, Midwest

Article by Lauren Hopkins

25 thoughts on “Skinner In, Smith Out at National Team Camp

  1. My opinion, based on what we’ve seen, is she won’t ever compete elite again. She has only shown a few individual skills in video updates, nothing more. I’d love to be wrong, but it’s getting pretty late for us to still not be seeing more from her.


    • I agree. I would love to be wrong, but I think her comeback is more for her sponsors. Good for her- get every penny you can! but sad for us. She deserved a much longer senior career.


  2. I would definitely peg Skinner to return more than Hernandez at this point. If it’s true that Skinner are able to land her amanar and cheng upright as well as being able to land her moor, we are going to have one hell of a fight between her and jade carey for the 2019 team because they are so similar….

    They won’t have to fight for 2020 since carey and skinner are aiming for different position… but regardless, skinner is definitely a possible thing on the national team if she is able to keep most of her skill

    Really sucks for Ragan, but then again i would rather her be able to now at least do some NCAA rather than ending up like ashton locklear too injured to even do NCAA anymore..


    • Yeah but you don’t realize Jade automatically has a spot if she keeps doing what she’s doing, and McKayla has no chance for that spot in the apparatus cups because she only has like 4 opportunities next year so even if she wins gold at them Jade still wins, so there will be no battle McKayla will get the spot that Jade would have got and Jade gets the apparatus cup spot! Simple πŸ™‚


      • I guess i should clarify that they won’t be fighting “each other” for 2020 since they are not going for the same spot in 2020.

        They will be in a hell of a fight for 2019 worlds team though if mykayla is that far into her comeback.


        • I think Jade is def the stronger of the two. Jade is way stronger than Mykayla on floor. Also, Mykayla has to figure out how to get a front flipping skill back in her floor routine and I have no idea what she’ll do about that. She doesn’t have the power to do anything too difficult.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I believe Ashton Locklear went pro (sponsored by Nike), so she wouldn’t have been allowed to do NCAA anyway. But your point stands, it’s really sad when an athlete has to stop competing because of injury.


    • I think she definitely enjoy the return to elite maybe a lot more so than someone like brenna. She’s like made for the elite COP. I can’t recall anyone else in recent history that’s kind of like her in actually liking the elite COP compared to NCAA…

      I really hope some of that NCAA execution will get carried over…..


    • If Skinner does well at camp, I have a feeling they might send her to Pan Am since she’s the only one without international experience this year.

      I wonder what her bars and beam routine would be like. She did post a video of her doing the candlestick mount (like mccallum).


      • Yeah, I’m thinking the same about Skinner and Pan Am Games. I know she’ll probably want to go to nationals, and it might be a tiny bit too soon for her to get to Pan Ams, but if she’s ready they might as well send her.


        • pan am and nationals are around same time? if they are i guess it could be a toss up for her. I mean she did have a ton of international experience in her prior outing anyway so it’s not like she would be missing out much not going to pan am anyway.


  3. Montrehell really was cursed. Ragan, Larisa, Rebeca and Kohei were all top contenders who got injured and all are still dealing with injuries almost two years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well Ragan never got surgery like she really needed, so that was really the biggest mistake she could have ever made. Then she pushed herself in 2018 to return to competition when her body was not ready in a year that really didn’t matter. She should have gotten surgery, kept her fitness and endurance up, and gotten necessary rehab. That in place she would be in a different scenario right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lauren Hernandez still no camp? Why does that irritate me? lol So she wont be at classics, then no nationals, she has never even been on a Worlds team, she is just gonna skip and try for another Olympics? Why does this irritate me? lol


  5. I was never a fan of Ragan’s so I can’t say I’ll miss her gymnastics, but I will say that I’m extremely relieved she isn’t going to break herself chasing another Olympics and will instead go off to NCAA where her body won’t take such a beating. This is definitely the most sensible decision for her. Wishing her the best as a Boomer Sooner.


  6. Pingback: Morning links: Utah’s MyKayla Skinner joins national gymnastics team at camp – Salt Lake City Businesses

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