Jordan Chiles (Photo thanks to Becca Reed)
The elite session at the WOGA Classic this year was a bit watered down with no international athletes flying in to compete, but thanks to Texas having its own hotbed of top elite talent right there at home, the meet was just as fantastic as ever, and perhaps even more so, thanks to the return of U.S. national team member Jordan Chiles.
This was Chiles’ first meet since nationals in 2019, yet with 18 months away from the competition floor, she was composed and in control. Despite coming up short on a couple of passes on floor, she was able to easily walk away with the all-around title by more than two points with a 55.450, on par with the scores she brought in two years ago.
Chiles started her evening on bars, where she looked to be pretty much at her best, catching a piked Jaeger, toe full to Tkachev, piked Tkachev, Pak, and Maloney to Gienger before hitting a full-in dismount, earning a 14.4. She stayed focused for beam, hitting a side aerial to two layout stepouts with just a slight adjustment, followed by a front aerial to straddle jump to back handspring, full turn, effortless side somi, switch leap to switch half, transverse straddle jump half, sissone to wolf jump, and huge double pike dismount with a hop back for a 14.3, with her scores on both of these events her best this quad.
Though she looked great in her tumbling while warming up floor, and nailed her opening full-in double layout with ease, she unfortunately came up just a little bit short on her Dos Santos, landing it back on her heels to sit it. She followed that pass with a front double full that she was supposed to punch out of, but she looked like she had a similar problem that Sandra Izbasa had in the last pass of her Olympic event finals routine, where she double-bounced on the landing of her 2½, making a punch pretty much impossible because the momentum stops you in these cases instead of rebounding you forward. Chiles did have the quick thinking to go into a handstand when she punched forward, so she saved herself a hard fall, but the two falls counting in this routine meant she’d get just an 11.9 here, a blow when it’s obvious she’s capable of so much more.
Chiles wrapped things up on vault, showing beautiful rotation and perfect form in the air on her Yurchenko double, which she landed with a large bounce back to get a 14.85. Despite the floor errors, with the rest of her day such a fantastic one, she secured a sweet all-around victory, and put up the meet’s best scores on vault, bars, and beam.
Her gym, World Champions Centre, was the only club with seniors in the competition, but despite a few errors from each competitor, they looked like a world class international elite team, and the four of them legitimately could have qualified a team to the Olympics in 2019. Behind Chiles, first-year senior Zoe Miller won the silver medal with a 53.050, recent transplant Olivia Greaves – making her senior debut here after being unable to compete in 2020 – won the bronze with a 51.850, and Amari Drayton, who qualified to senior elite last year, was fourth with a 51.650.
Miller had a solid competition, putting up the second-best scores on beam and floor, where she opened with a huge double layout and also showed off a powerful front tuck to double back to earn a 13.0. She had a fall on her straddle Jaeger on bars, but overall had a lovely routine with some great inbar and stalder work as well as a strong double layout dismount.
It was great seeing Greaves back for the first time since joining WCC last year, and despite some mistakes and a few downgrades for the time being, I think there were several improvements already evident in the work she was doing. She started with a gorgeous bars set, showing a stalder full to Chow half, piked Jaeger, Downie to Pak, van Leeuwen, and high, clean double tuck dismount, and her form deductions were minor here, with the biggest probably coming from her split legs on her Pak.
After getting a 14.35 on this event – the second-highest score behind Chiles – Greaves moved to beam, where she fell out of her triple wolf turn at the start, but stayed on the beam, continuing with a double wolf turn, front aerial, super clean back handspring to layout stepout, switch leap to split leap, transverse split jump half, split ring jump, sissone to wolf jump, side aerial, and just a layout dismount. Her leaps were divine, and she was mostly super solid, aside from the break on the triple wolf turn and a wobble out of her transverse jump, which was a little short. She got an 11.95 today, but once she puts everything together, she has the makings of an incredibly strong routine.
With Chiles’ falls, Greaves stepped in as the floor champ, earning a 13.1 with a double layout, tucked full-in, front tuck through to double tuck, and a double pike to finish, also again showing stunning work in her dance elements. She unfortunately finished on a low note, dropping kind of half-heartedly out of her Yurchenko full to her hands and knees to earn just a 12.45, landing it almost as if she knew she didn’t have a prayer of holding it up, but I think she had more to be happy about here than to regret, and this seemed like the perfect competition for her to get her feet wet after what I’m sure was such a tumultuous year with the pandemic and moving halfway across the country to change gyms in the wake of everything that happened with MG Elite.
Finally, Drayton showed her best work on vault, where she had a 14.75 for her explosive Yurchenko double, and on bars, where she earned a 14.05, hitting a toe full (where she actually stayed in handstand!) to Chow half, toe half to piked Jaeger, Ricna, Pak, van Leeuwen, and high double tuck, showing only minor leg form errors throughout. She came up a little short on her flight series on beam, falling there and then sitting her double pike dismount, so her score of 10.4 was much lower than what she’s capable of, but she came back with some impressive floor work, including a solid opening double layout, for a 12.45.
In the junior competition, national team member Katelyn Jong of Metroplex won the gold with a 50.700, while a pair of WOGA gymnasts took the silver and bronze, as Madray Johnson finished with a 50.300 and Ella Murphy came in clutch with a gold-medal beam set as the final routine of the day for a 50.050 total.
Jong, who made her international debut at Gymnix last year, was excellent on bars, where she topped the field with a 13.75, and floor, scoring a 12.7, and it was thanks to her generally strong work that she was able to overcome a weak beam routine to still come out in first place. Johnson showed a lot of clean work throughout her performance, especially on floor, where she earned a 12.7, while Murphy, who won the junior title at the Biles elite qualifier a couple of weeks ago but came up about a point shy of qualifying elite, was excellent on both beam and floor.
Rounding out the all-around competition here were Michelle Pineda of Metroplex in fourth with a 49.750 after posting the second-best vault score of 13.75; Claire Pease of WOGA, who just recently qualified to the Hopes 11-12 division, in fifth with a 49.450; Paloma Spiridonova of WOGA in sixth with a 49.400, posting the top floor score of 13.2; and Adriana Consoli of Pearland Elite in seventh with a 48.600.
Metroplex’s Zoey Molomo competed every event but bars, and she had a great day, putting up a 14.0 on vault to lead the field there, while her 13.35 on beam was the second-best score on that event, and Avery King of WOGA competed on beam and floor, with a 12.6 on beam the third-best score of the junior session there.
Article by Lauren Hopkins