Nine Gymnasts Qualify Elite at Brestyan’s

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Kaylen Morgan

The Brestyan’s Las Vegas Invitational held over the weekend also hosted the second U.S. national elite qualifier of the year, and with a total of 27 gymnasts competing in the elite optional sessions, nine ultimately earned their scores to qualify both to the elite level as well as to the American and U.S. Classic meets to be held later this year.

All four of the seniors who qualified – Kaylen Morgan in first with a 52.750, Alonna Kratzer in second with a 51.500, Lauren Little in third with a 51.100, and Lyden Saltness in fourth with a 50.650 – have previously competed at the elite level and were using this meet to re-qualify. Additionally, newcomer Makenna Smith, who was fifth here with a 48.800, didn’t reach the required score, though she previously qualified at the Metroplex meet in January.

It was a great meet for Morgan, who also topped the field on vault and beam, looked strong on floor, and showed room for improvement on bars. Bars was Kratzer’s best event, and I’m excited to see more of her here in the future, while Little was also excellent here, posting the highest apparatus score of the meet with a 13.900 while also doing well on beam.

Little, who has struggled on vault over the past couple of years, continues to be unable to bring in the points she needs there to do well as an all-arounder, which is surprising as she used to have a really strong Yurchenko double. She has room to increase her score there by at least two points, so hopefully this is something that will go a bit more smoothly for her in the coming months so that she can also get her qualifying score for national championships.

Saltness has huge skills but struggles with consistency, but while she missed out on qualifying at Metroplex, she just managed to squeak past the required total here thanks to really solid work on beam and floor. She had some issues getting through bars, but now that she no longer has to worry about qualifying, she can hopefully focus on tying all of her skills together, because she’s a very exciting gymnast and could be quite the one to watch for the next quad if she can get her skills under control.

In the junior competition, Katelyn Jong, who got her elite qualifying score at Metroplex, led the field with a 53.750 while posting the top scores on vault and bars, in addition to the second-best score on beam, and the third-best score on floor. It was an excellent day for the 13-year-old, who was the bronze medalist at Hopes Championships last summer, but seems more than ready to step into the junior elite level in 2020.

Lucy Tobia, who missed qualifying at Metroplex, was second here with a 51.650, while Autumn Reingold, who had previously qualified, was third with a 51.500. Also qualifying were Amber Lowe in fourth with a 51.200 and Lexi Zeiss in fifth with a 50.850, with Lowe putting up an especially excellent beam routine – she had the highest junior score of the day with a 14.000!

None of the other all-arounders here had previously qualified, but they still have a number of additional chances this season, so hopefully they’ll be in a better position later this season. Also in the junior field here was Kaliya Lincoln, but after getting a 10.400 on uneven bars, she withdrew from the remainder of the competition, though she’s one of the ones who had already qualified in January, so this won’t affect her at all.

In addition to the elite-level competitors, a total of 55 gymnasts also attempted to qualify at the Hopes level, with 11 reaching the required score of 48.500 in the 12-13 age range, though no one qualified in the 10-11 group.

Zoey Molomo, second all-around in the 10-11 age group at last summer’s Hope Championships, was the best Hopes gymnasts here, earning a 51.800 to get the gold about a point ahead of Tiana Sumanasekera in second with a 50.700. At Metroplex, where both previously qualified to Hopes 12-13, Sumanasekera got the gold three tenths over Molomo, so I hope we see these two continue to go head-to-head throughout the season.

Others who had already qualified this year included Gabriella Van Frayen (fourth with a 50.300) and Kaela Yee (ninth with a 48.600), while Presley Duke (third with a 50.600), Michelle Pineda (fifth with a 50.150), Jessica Schaffer (sixth with a 49.500), Payton Chandler (seventh with a 48.850), Haley Mustari (eighth with a 48.650), Hailey Avellar (ninth with a 48.600), and Ariel Collum (11th with a 48.500) all reached their scores here for the first time.

Most notably missing out on her score again was last year’s Hopes 10-11 champion Nicole Desmond, who has an excellent skill level on vault and floor, but is a bit behind on bars, and also had mistakes both there and on beam this weekend.

In the Hopes 10-11 division, Zaven Cooper was the top competitor with a 45.550, followed by Tyler Turner with a 44.300, and Joelie Berelc with a 44.250.

Full results are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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