Welcome to the live blog for the first day of the senior women’s competition at the 2019 U.S. Championships, held in Kansas City, Missouri!
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9:58 pm. DAY 1 STANDINGS
1. Simone Biles, World Champions, 58.650
2. Sunisa Lee, Midwest, 56.900
3. Jade Carey, Arizona Sunrays, 56.100
4. Riley McCusker, MG Elite, 55.700
5. Leanne Wong, GAGE, 55.400
— Trinity Thomas, Florida, 55.400
7. Jordan Chiles, World Champions, 55.350
8. Morgan Hurd, First State, 55.050
9. MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights, 54.900
— Grace McCallum, Twin City Twisters, 54.900
11. Kara Eaker, GAGE, 54.650
12. Emily Lee, West Valley, 54.500
13. Shilese Jones, Future, 53.800
14. Aleah Finnegan, GAGE, 53.250
15. Faith Torrez, Legacy Elite, 53.150
16. Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite, 52.400
17. Sloane Blakely, WOGA, 39.950
9:53 pm. Grace McCallum FX: Double double, quite low, steps out of it. Front layout to front double full to front tuck, a bit buckled but she got all three around. Good on her leap series after that. Full-in was pretty low and her ankles look pretty crunched but she’s fine, and she finishes with a double tuck, her strongest pass of the routine!
9:52 pm. Morgan Hurd with a 55.050, hurts my soul that she could’ve had a mid 56 but hey, everyone had kind of a bonkers day today. Except Sunisa Lee and Jade Carey who were like YOU COUNTED US OUT FOR THE ALL-AROUND PODIUM, HUH?
9:51 pm. Trinity Thomas with a 55.400!!!!! Amazing. I’m living for NCAA queens coming back to elite like it’s nothing.
9:48 pm. Morgan Hurd FX: Super solid on the double double, little hop back. Looks improved from Pan Ams! Front layout to…oof, she kind of balked and just did a barani which is rough. Then a double layout to her knees. I’m sad, that opening pass was golden, and the double layout usually is too, that second pass must have mentally effed her up. Hit the double pike at the end well, just a hop to the side.
Riley McCusker with a 55.700 today, Emily Lee with a 54.500.
9:47 pm. Trinity Thomas BB: We cut into this a bit late and I wasn’t typing during most of it but everything I saw was good. One-arm bhs into a loso, great. Tried to connect two transverse jumps, big wobble at the end of that series with her leg coming up, but a great save. Hit the double full dismount a little low with a hop.
9:45 pm. Riley McCusker UB: Stalder full to Maloney to Tkachev, very nice. RIcna to Pak to Chow half, beautiful. Toe-on to blind change, UGHHHHH, doesn’t get it all the way around and pops right off. UGH. She was trying to get the handstand perfectly on the bar. I hate when that happens. Back on to repeat the blind change into the half-in double back with a hop. 13.500 (6.0 D, 7.500 E)
Jordan Chiles with a 55.350!!!
9:43 pm. Faith Torrez FX: Full-twisting double layout is a bit short, takes a big step forward. Tour jeté full, great. Excellent double layout with a hop back. Switch leap to switch half. Front tuck through to double tuck, hop back. Double pike a tiny bit buckled at the end. 13.000 (5.2 D, 7.800 E)
Sunisa Lee with a 56.900 all-around!!!! GIRL. Statement.
9:42 pm. Jordan Chiles BB: Full turn, and then hit her triple flight series with a tiny bobble. Front aerial to straddle jump to back handspring, good. Solid transverse jump. Side aerial to split jump to wolf jump, a little low in her split. Switch leap. Opts to not connect out of it. Side somi, tiniest bobble. Low-ish but stuck double pike. Her sets are so low but she still gets everything around with literally no problem. 13.300 (5.2 D, 8.100 E)
We missed Sunisa Lee on bars!!!! 14.750 (6.3 D, 8.450 E)
9:41 pm. Leanne Wong with a 14.050 on bars to finish with a 55.400 today! Not bad considering the floor drama.
9:40 pm. Emily Lee FX: Full-twisting double layout, a little piked down at the end and she takes a step OOB, but awesome upgrade. 2.5 to front full, good, little bounce back. Switch ring to switch half. High stuck double tuck. Popa. Double pike stuck cold. Great routine! 13.550 (5.4 D, 8.250 E, -0.1 ND)
9:39 pm. Kara Eaker with a 54.650, Shilese Jones with a 53.800.
9:38 pm. Sloane Blakely BB: Got a bit messy in her wolf turn. Nice standing arabian! Switch to switch half, little bobble into her loso. So extended on everything. Front handspring to front tuck with a little shuffle. Slight check on her jump series. Front aerial to split ring jump, little bobble and some foot form. Side somi, little break at the hips. Step back on the double tuck. 13.400 (5.6 D, 7.800 E)
9:37 pm. MyKayla Skinner with a 54.900 in her all-around return, which is just so incredible. Three months. She did that in three months.
9:36 pm. Kara Eaker UB: We once again jumped into bars really late and it was almost over by the time I could start typing. Good routine from what I did see, though! 13.600 (5.5 D, 8.100 E)
Jade Carey with a 56.100 AA which is INSAAAAANE. I really did not see her breaking a 55 but she was SO AWESOME today. Gabby Perea with a 52.400.
9:35 pm. MyKayla Skinner BB: Rolls too quickly through the candle mount, doesn’t hold it in handstand. Bhs tuck full, little check. She smiles after like yeah I’m a badass. Side aerial into her jump series. Switch leap to switch half, really short on the switch half, to back tuck. Transverse split jump half is only at about 140 ish, another transverse jump after that, solid on her turn series. Super high double tuck. Splits aside that was great. I can’t believe this woman. 13.550 (5.6 D, 7.950 E)
Aleah Finnegan with a 12.000 on bars to finish with a 53.250 AA.
9:34 pm. Jade Carey UB: I wasn’t typing during any of this but was watching it. Good routine, just little form things, but overall very solid, and this was a really great day for her! 13.300 (5.2 D, 8.100 E)
9:33 pm. Simone Biles with a 58.650 AA, kind of a “meh” day for Simone but still better than anyone else will score because GOAT. And only Simone can debut a triple double on floor and a double double off beam on the same day she has a “meh” day elsewhere.
9:31 pm. Gabby Perea FX: Tucked full-in, good! Front tuck through to 2.5, steps into an arabesque. Switch to switch full. Solid double tuck. Tour jeté full. Double pike, good. Very nicely done routine for her.
9:30 pm. Simone Biles BB: Triple wolf turn goes a little wild but she takes the wheel. Front aerial to split jump to straddle jump, good. Bhs loso loso, little check. Switch to switch half to back pike, little stumble. Great side aerial. Transverse split jump half, break at the hips, chest down a bit. Sissone to wolf jump. Dismounts with…will we get the double double?! Lots of prep…OMG YESSSSS AND IT WAS HELLA BRILLIANT OH MY GOD. 14.950 (6.6 D, 8.350 E)
9:26 pm. ROTATION 3 STANDINGS
1. Simone Biles 43.700
2. Morgan Hurd 43.000
3. Jade Carey 42.800
4. Riley McCusker 42.200
5. Sunisa Lee 42.150
6. Jordan Chiles 42.050
7. Trinity Thomas 42.000
8. Leanne Wong 41.350
— MyKayla Skinner 41.350
YEP SKINNER AND WONG TIED GOING INTO THE FINAL ROTATION, BLESS 2019.
9:21 pm. Morgan Hurd BB: Excellent standing full, her chest position is SO high. Side aerial, solid. Beautiful and super solid bhs loso. Front aerial to split ring jump. Switch to straddle jump to split jump. This is looking REALLY good. Full turn, slight check. Little bobble on her switch ring. 14.150 (5.7 D, 8.450 E)
So remember my preview where I was like I never expect Morgan to make the nationals podium because she’s always pacing for worlds? Well…ya girl looks worlds ready right this second. I feel like missing the all-around and event finals at Pan Am Games was subconsciously her plan, because she looks bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
9:19 pm. Sunisa Lee VT: DTY, a little scrappy and short, but really solid considering she hasn’t competed vault in almost six months. Step back. She looks kind of happily surprised with herself. 13.850 (5.4 D, 8.450 E)
9:18 pm. Faith Torrez is going on beam right now and we’re watching the logo. AND SHE GOT A 14.050 (5.8 D, 8.250 E).
9:16 pm. Leanne Wong VT: Super solid DTY. Really clean work in the air, small hop back.
9:15 pm. Emily Lee BB: Punch front, little shuffle, into her split jump to straddle jump, nice. Bhs bhs layout, leg up but good. Switch to switch half, good. Hit her bhs loso with no real problems. Transverse split jump half, solid. Front aerial to stag ring jump. Good double pike, small step. Good!
9:14 pm. Kara Eaker VT: Yurchenko 1.5, her leg form looked a little better than it was at Pan Ams, and she still has a super solid landing! 13.650 (4.8 D, 8.850 E)
9:13 pm. Jade Carey VT: Goes for the Amanar, and it looks MUCH better than when we saw her warming it up at classics! Some little things in the air and a step on the landing but that was pretty great.
Jordan Chiles UB: Huge piked Tkachev, she can prob do a Nabieva, she was so open in that pike, Tkachev to Gienger, great! Toe-on to blind change, a little muscled, to piked Jaeger, solid. Bail to toe shoot, blind full to full-in, small hop. Damn, Jordan! 13.550 (5.3 D, 8.250 E)
9:12 pm. Jade Carey VT: Cheng, wild legs in pre-flight, hips are a bit rough in the air, but a solid landing. 15.000 (6.0 D, 9.000 E)
9:11 pm. MyKayla Skinner UB: Weiler half, has the same issue as Trinity where she is a bit muscly going down into it, to big Maloney (leg form) to Tkachev (a little close), Ray to Pak, some leg form on both, van Leeuwen, leg form again is a bit nuts. Arches a handstand before her toe full to Fabrichnova. She’s gonna get hammered on her E but MY GOODNESS that is a ROUTINE and she’s SO HAPPY to just get through it, her face says it all. 13.000 (5.6 D, 7.400 E)
So I was under the assumption MyKayla didn’t qualify to bars because she didn’t compete them at classics, but I’m guessing she qualified all-around at the camp she attended in June.
9:08 pm. Gabby Perea BB: Wolf turns, she did a 2.5 and a double I believe. Standing full, almost into the jump series, her straddle jump was super short. Slight check on her bhs loso. Switch leap to switch half, some leg form in the latter. Front aerial, doesn’t swing her leg through all the way and wobbles a bit. Split leap, really low back leg, to side somi. Hit a transverse jump after that, and then she dismounts with a double full with a hop. 12.800 (5.4 D, 7.400 E)
We missed Aleah Finnegan’s vaults…her DTY got a 14.500 (5.4 D, 9.200 E, -0.1 ND).
9:07 pm. Simone Biles UB: Weiler half, a little late, missed connection to the Maloney to Tkachev, toe full to piked Tkachev to Pak, good, clean van Leeuwen, Fabrichnova is slightly short with her chest down and a hop. Lots of little things in there tonight but she’s a fighter. 14.050 (6.1 D, 7.950 E)
9:05 pm. Grace McCallum BB: Ugh, we cut in right as she was falling off on her flight series. Front aerial, crooked and a wobble, sissone to full turn. Stuck the double tuck. 13.050 (5.5 D, 7.550 E)
Riley McCusker VT: DTY, pretty great for her! Just a little step forward. She doesn’t get as much height as most others but she’s getting better at making up for that. 14.450 (5.4 D, 9.050 E)
9:04 pm. Trinity Thomas UB: Weiler half, gets stuck at first but then keeps going with no problems into the to toe full to Maloney to clear hip to huge Tkachev to Pak, BEAUTIFUL. No idea how she did all of that so well after that first mistake. Van Leeuwen, and a beautiful double layout stuck on her toes with her chest a bit forward. 14.200 (5.6 D, 8.600 E)
9:01 pm. ROTATION 2 STANDINGS
1. Simone Biles 29.650
2. Morgan Hurd 28.850
3. Jordan Chiles 28.500
4. MyKayla Skinner 28.350
5. Sunisa Lee 28.300
6. Grace McCallum 28.200
7. Jade Carey 27.800
— Trinity Thomas 27.800
8:55 pm. Leanne Wong FX: Dos Santos to stag, perfect honestly. Triple full, some leg form and she over rotates, jumping the landing around by another half rotation. Switch ring to L hop full. 2.5 to front layout, good. Popa. Hops around her double L turn into a full pirouette. Has a balletic leap after that. Triple full…oh crap. That second pass that I thought was a triple full hopped around was actually supposed to be her 3.5. But there’s no way it can be credited as a 3.5 unless the judges are drunk, so she’s going to get that as a triple and lose the value for the triple at the end. 12.700 (4.8 D, 7.900 E)
Yep, that’s exactly what happened with the 3.5/triple. UGHHHH.
8:52 pm. Kara Eaker FX: We missed the beginning. Caught it at the triple full, beautiful! 2.5 to front full is effortlessly gorgeous. Switch ring to switch full. Dobule pike, a bit buckled with a hop back. What we saw was mostly excellent. 13.650 (5.4 D, 8.250 E)
8:51 pm. Faith Torrez UB: Toe full, a little late, Maloney, huuuuge back swing, into a huge Pak, van Leeuwen, minor leg form, blind change to piked Jaeger, good air but she just can’t grab the bar, fall. 😦 Back on for a bail, leg sep, to Ray. Dobule layout, a little whippy, but solid landing. 11.500 (5.2 D, 6.300 E)
8:50 pm. We missed Shilese Jones on bars, I just realized…she got a 12.850 (5.6 D, 7.250 E).
8:49 pm. Emily Lee UB: Clear hip to toe full to Maloney to Pak, flexed feet on the Pak and caught it really close, had to pause on the bar. Van Leeuwen after, some form stuff, piked Jaeger was really low and long but she caught it, and a great double layout dismount. 12.650 (5.3 D, 7.350 E)
8:47 pm. Jade Carey FX: Moors, great! Little hop back. Full-twisting double layout, also excellent. Hop L turn to switch full, ish. Double double, loooove her kick-out of that. Always appreciate a good kickout. Tour jeté full. Finishes with a front tuck through to full-in, very low with a step forward. Overall great, just that last pass. 14.300 (6.3 D, 8.000 E)
Sloane Blakely VT: Saw her in the background, kind of a big step out of it, a Yurchenko 1.5 I believe. 13.900 (4.8 D, 9.100 E)
8:46 pm. MyKayla Skinner VT: This is her second vault, I still don’t see the score for the first but will update when I do. Does the Cheng for the second and it’s pretty freaking great?!
For the Amanar she got a 14.650 (5.8 D, 8.950 E, -0.1 ND).
Gabby Perea got a 13.000 on bars (5.7 D, 7.300 E).
8:45 pm. We missed MyKayla Skinner on vault and Gabby Perea on bars. I’ll update with scores in a second!
8:44 pm. Aleah Finnegan FX: Double double, she does it SO easily, it’s hard to believe it’s a new skill for her as of a month ago. Arabian double front, SO clean. Just a little seated. Hop back. Switch ring half, ish. Really nice 2.5 to front layout. Switch ring to tour jeté half, just a flexed foot in her ring. Front double full, excellent landing. Wonderful job! 13.550 (5.4 D, 8.150 E)
8:43 pm. Simone Biles VT: For her second vault she does the Amanar, just takes a step forward out of it, really great.
8:41 pm. Simone Biles VT: I hate talking about hair and leos but I do notice them and I just noticed that Simone’s hair is absolutely GORGEOUS tonight. Cheng, huuuuge, but her bounce back is literally six feet LOL. She got more distance on her hop than most get on their actual vaults. Okay, in the replay it’s like three or four feet. But literally only Simone. 15.300 (6.0 D, 9.300 E)
8:40 pm. Riley McCusker FX: Tucked full-in, skids the landing, step OOB. Front double full to punch front to stag, pretty good. Switch full. Double pike, hop back. Beautiful leap series after that. Double tuck, skids it again, similar landing to her opening pass. 13.250 (5.3 D, 8.050 E, -0.1 ND)
Saw some of Grace McCallum on bars in the background but not much. Stuck her dismount though! 13.500 (5.9 D, 7.900 E)
8:39 pm. Trinity Thomas VT: Yurchenko 1.5, just a hop forward, good power there. Actually looks better than most of her NCAA vaults. 14.050 (4.8 D, 9.250 E)
A reminder that anything below a DTY gets a 0.2 penalty in the U.S. senior meets because…for no reason.
8:38 pm. Jordan Chiles VT: DTY, maybe a little soft in her hips overall, but she’s SOOOOOO powerful. Really good landing too. 14.750 (5.4 D, 9.350 E)
8:37 pm. Sunisa Lee FX: We jumped in for her 1.5 to front full, little hop forward. Switch ring to tour jeté half. Clean double tuck, little hop forward. I want to see the first half!
8:35 pm. Morgan Hurd UB: Komova II to stalder full to Tkachev, great. Ricna to Pak, excellent. Ray back up to the high bar. Toe half to front giant half, and a toe full to full-in, I’ll give her a college stick as she holds the stick for a half second before stepping out into her salute. VERY good. 14.400 (5.9 D, 8.500 E)
8:34 pm. We’re one rotation in and I still am mind-blown at the level of competition in the U.S. this year. It’s honestly so insanely good.
8:32 pm. Somehow Peng Peng Lee screaming “HURRY UP TAKE YOUR PANTS OFF” is still preferable to Macready.
8:30 pm. ROTATION 1 STANDINGS
1. Grace McCallum 14.700
2. Shilese Jones 14.650
3. Faith Torrez 14.600
4. Riley McCusker 14.500
5. Morgan Hurd 14.450
6. Sunisa Lee 14.350
— Simone Biles 14.350
8. Emily Lee 14.150
8:27 pm. Kara Eaker BB: Switch leap mount into a split ring leap, the ring leap is a bit wonky. Full L turn, slightly overdoes it. Front aerial to split ring jump to back handspring into her skippy dance. Queen. Side aeiral loso loso, some bent knees, and she just slips off the side, UGH. She looks SO bummed and just mad at herself. Split leap to side somi, wobbles, break at the hips. The nerves are showing. Switch ring to back handspring to Korbut. Switch to switch side, excellent. 2.5, a little overrotated with a hop.
8:24 pm. MyKayla Skinner FX: Moors, she looks better extended already but the second flip is still a little soft. SHE STUCK IT THOUGH. Front tuck through to tucked full-in, step back. L hop full to switch full, a little short in the split. Double double, chest down a bit but super solid landing. Hit another leap after that, tour jeté full maybe, and then got through her double L turn with a little shuffle in the middle of it. 2.5 to finish. WOW. I’M CRYING AGAIN. THESE NCAA QUEENS, THOUGH. 13.700 (5.7 D, 8.000 E)
8:22 pm. Jade Carey BB: Front aerial to split jump to straddle jump, good. bhs loso into a layout, quite piked and she’s tentative on the landing, wobbles and adjusts. Split leap to side aerial, then she does a leap out of it, a…tour jeté I think, she lands it a little funky though. Switch to switch half to back tuck, a little iffy in the leap positions. Gainer back handspring into a switch side to transverse split jump half, she has SO much beam originality, I love it. Hit the double back dismount pretty solidly. Good routine! 13.500 (5.6 D, 7.900 E)
8:19 pm. Simone Biles FX: Still can’t get over this Sweet Charity music. Triple double, well, she went for it! But she’s a little wild and unsure of the landing, ends up putting her hands down. I feel like if you’re doing a triple double you’re allowed to put your hands down if you want. No problems on the Biles to stag. Or on the front full to full-in, CASUAL. Switch to tour jeté full, good. Nails the double double at the end, just a tiny bounce back. Really love that she’s cleaned up her landings a ton. 14.350 (6.7 D, 7.650 E)
8:18 pm. Aleah Finnegan BB: Kind of low and wonky on her arabian, has to correct quite a bit. Bhs loso loso, super solid there. Switch to split ring jump, clean. This leo is gorgeous. Punch front, excellent. Front aerial, looks like she’s about to connect it but decides not to. Side aerial to bhs to 1.5, love that dismount series so much. 13.200 (5.0 D, 8.200 E)
8:17 pm. We missed Emily Lee on vault, she got a 14.150 for her DTY.
8:15 pm. Trinity Thomas FX: Switch full into the corner. Biles!!!! Omg. TRINITY!!!! Finally. All I’ve wanted. Double layout with a little bounce back. God she has gotten so good at performing. Switch ring to tour jeté full, little bobble on that landing. Front layout to front double full to sissone, DAMN. I cannot believe this girl. Double wolf turn. Dobule pike stuck. MY GODDDDDDDDD. GOODBYE. Okay, cried a little at that. It was so much more than I ever could have dreamed. 13.750 (5.5 D, 8.250 E)
8:13 pm. Riley McCusker BB: Super clean triple wolf turn, and then a really nice double as well. Split leap to front aerial to huuuge straddle jump, super solid. Bhs bhs layout, some leg sep and she kinda landed it on one foot but really held on. Switch leap to switch half to Korbut, a little short in the half. Side aerial, great. Double tuck, hop back. Excellent!! Not as good as her classics routine but still right up there. 14.500 (6.0 D, 8.500 E)
We missed Shilese Jones on vault, 14.650 for her DTY! She did a second vault as well.
8:12 pm. Jordan Chiles FX: Her set into her opening double layout was really low but she had no problem getting it around super well. I missed the entry into her next pass, either a front double full or back 2.5 into a front layout. Good 1.5 through to double tuck! I loooove her music at this part. She has a Lion King routine FYI. Excellent double pike to finish. MY GOODNESS JORDAN. That was wonderfully done. 13.750 (5.3 D, 8.450 E)
8:11 pm. Gabby Perea VT: Lovely FTY, super solid landing. 13.150
8:10 pm. Sunisa Lee BB: Hit her opening wolf turn, then a split jump to sissone to front aerial, perfect, and her leo is to die for. Hit her layout series easily, just a little scoot back, then a switch into a great switch half to back tuck, little bobble. Side aerial loso loso, balance check but she just adjusts her upper body to correct. Double tuck, chest a little low with a step forward. 14.350 (6.2 D, 8.150 E)
8:09 pm. Grace McCallum VT: Floaty DTY, not tremendous or anything but really good and clean. Hop back. 14.700
8:08 pm. Sloane Blakely FX: So they’re going one at a time ISH. We missed part of this routine, jumping in at the double pike after Morgan finished. Skidded the landing on the double tuck at the end. 12.650
8:07 pm. Morgan Hurd VT: DTY, one of her really strong ones! Great in the air, just a hop back. 14.450
8:06 pm. Leanne Wong BB: I think we’re going one at a time! AMAZING. Switch leap to straddle jump, nice. Bhs loso loso, very solid. Chest maybe a bit down on the second loso. Full L turn is perfect, but a little slow into the pirouette after. Both great on their own though. Front aerial to split ring jump into another acro skill that I literally saw and instantly forgot (!?!?!? a back tuck maybe I honestly can’t for the life of me picture it but I think there was a wobble?), then hit an aerial and a side somi. Good triple full dismount with a hop to the side. Honestly looked so calm and steady. 13.950 (5.8 D, 8.150 E)
8:05 pm. Faith Torrez VT: Really powerful DTY, pretty great in the air, just a lunge back. 14.600
8:04 pm. Competition should start any second now!
8:00 pm. Unlike the juniors, USA Gymnastics won’t be able to upload routine videos until after the broadcast, but there are only three events going at a time, so we probably (hopefully) won’t miss too much…at least not on the international stream.
7:58 pm. Touch warm-up and t-shirt throwing now. My favorite. I’m watching the international feed tonight, btw…thanks TunnelBear.
7:56 pm. Athletes are marching out now!
7:55 pm. Again, in lieu of a legit preview, I’ll write a few thoughts here before this gets underway.
So like, Simone Biles is going to win gold here. Are you shocked? I know you are. As for the rest of the podium, based on what we saw at the U.S. Classics and Pan Ams, it’s going to be impossible to predict.
The clear frontrunners for medals are Riley McCusker, Leanne Wong, Grace McCallum, Morgan Hurd, and Kara Eaker, and I’d also be including Sunisa Lee in that mix, but because she’s been dealing with injuries this year and hasn’t competed the all-around since early March, she’s my runner-up as someone who at full strength would absolutely fit into the mix, but in her just-coming-out-of-injury strength, she might not.
I don’t think Morgan will be a huge threat for the podium right now if everyone else hits. Morgan never really peaks until worlds, which is great because I really love everyone arguing about how she shouldn’t be on the worlds team based on her sixth-place nationals finish, and then she gets to worlds and becomes one of the most-decorated gymnasts. Just Morgan things. I trust her process and don’t expect the podium for her here, nor do I think whether or not she’s on it will have any effect on where she stands for Stuttgart.
Riley is ramping up to something big right now. Her confidence has been building this season, and though she had a few mistakes at Pan Ams, I think they can all be chalked up to being exhausted, not to nerves. I don’t know if we’ll see her have a perfect competition here, though I’d really love for her to step it up even more and just blow everyone away, but I think Riley is probably my favorite for silver here if she has a good weekend.
I’m not as confident about bronze, mostly because I think Kara, Leanne, and Grace all have the potential to finish in a pretty similar place score-wise, so it could just be about the “little things” for this crew. Leanne and Grace both have a few things that I think can be worked on, and with Kara looking so incredible this summer, I think she might outscore them if they all hit. Leanne and Grace have the Yurchenko double, but Kara more than makes up for the deficit with her beam scores, and Kara has also been a bit tighter than both of them on floor, even though I think Leanne and Grace are actually stronger as floor workers.
As for Sunisa, I’m not going to count her out completely, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on her by calling her a podium threat when she might have a few hiccups to work through. Similar to Morgan, I think she’ll maybe hold back a bit here and then really come to play when it’s time to make the worlds team, and “holding back” for her means some of the craziest bars and beam sets in the mix, so like…you should still be very excited about her.
Jade Carey will compete all four events, though she’s not likely to finish at the top of the all-around pack with her weaker bars and beam. She’s looking at likely vault and floor silvers behind Simone, though, and if Simone doesn’t do two vaults – she only trained the Cheng at the public podium training – then Jade is a favorite for gold there, though MyKayla Skinner also has an Amanar and a Cheng, so it’s actually going to be a pretty exciting vault field this summer.
MyKayla will be hoping to continue with a strong beam effort after showing us some massive improvement in Louisville, and she’ll also be looking to show a better grasp on her floor endurance, and fellow NCAA stud Trinity Thomas likely won’t be a major threat here, but she’s always one to put up really solid and beautiful routines.
Others ‘in the wings’ are Sloane Blakely, Jordan Chiles, Aleah Finnegan, Shilese Jones, Emily Lee, Gabby Perea, and Faith Torrez, and I want to call attention to the fact that I think this is the best nationals field that I’ve probably ever seen. Usually there are a few stragglers who just happened to sneak in, but in addition to the top contenders here, these seven are all capable of big scores and standout events. Sloane and Emily are beam queens, Jordan is uber powerful on vault, Aleah is killing it on vault and floor, Shilese has become such a steady and reliable all-arounder, Gabby is brilliant on bars when she’s at a hundred percent, and Faith is stunning on beam and floor.
Literally any of the 17 gymnasts at nationals this year could go to Stuttgart and fit right in among the best gymnasts in the world. I’ve never said that about a senior U.S. Championships field before, and I probably won’t be able to say it again. It’s going to be bittersweet to see such talented and deserving athletes not making the national team or being involved in the worlds selection process. Like the U.S. Classic, this meet has the potential to be even more exciting than a major international all-around final, and everyone here this weekend should be beyond proud to have gotten this far.