U.S. Juniors Sweep Gold at Pan Ams

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Katelyn Jong

After winning all-around gold and leading the team to victory at the Junior Pan American Championships over the summer, Katelyn Jong has done it again, claiming her second international all-around title of the year while helping the U.S. juniors to the top of another podium at the Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia.

Jong hit every event but beam, where she had a great routine going until she got to the double pike dismount, which she sat. But the rest of her day was solid, and despite her beam fall, the rest was good enough to secure her a spot in the apparatus final, with her layout stepout to back pike a highlight.

Kailin Chio finished second with a 52.500 to claim the silver medal, also falling on beam (on her side somi), but otherwise looking great, especially on bars, where she showed a Chow to Pak, stalder full to Maloney to Gienger, Khorkina, and stuck full-in for a 13.350. She also had a strong Yurchenko 1½ and a solid floor routine, and qualified into both the bars and floor finals.

Close behind her in third was Madray Johnson with a 52.250, though Johnson wasn’t eligible to win a medal due to the two-per-country rule in play. She had a strong vault, and looked clean on both bars and beam to reach both finals, though her floor routine was a little behind, and held her back from the podium.

Tiana Sumanasekera earned a 49.550, falling on bars, which is normally a weakness for her. She could’ve made up some ground on beam, but she unfortunately missed her layout series here. But she was excellent with a huge Yurchenko double on vault, and she also hit floor well, showing a double layout, huge double tuck, 1½ to front full, and double pike for a 13.0.

In the middle of the dominant U.S. all-arounders was Canadian junior national champion Aurélie Tran, who was able to take advantage of the two-per-country rule knocking Johnson out, putting her in place to get the bronze with a 50.700. The only representative for Canada at these Games, Tran competed an excellent Yurchenko full on vault, and also did strong work on bars and floor.

Rounding out the top eight were Andreza Lima of Brazil in fourth with a 48.650, her teammate Gabriela Rodrigues in fifth with a 48.600, Marianna Malpica of Mexico in sixth with a 48.550, Daira Lamadrid of Colombia in seventh with a 48.000, and Mariangela Flores of Mexico in eighth with a 47.800.

The U.S. gymnasts also won all four golds during apparatus finals, with Sumanasekera getting the vault title, Johnson winning bars and beam, and Chio taking floor. Though she didn’t win any of the titles, Jong won silver medals on vault, beam, and floor, and Chio also added a bronze on bars to her collection.

On vault, Sumanasekera performed a Yurchenko double full with a hop back, and a Yurchenko full with huge air and two small steps back for a 13.950 average, while Jong competed the same combo, getting a great landing on the double and hopping back on the full, averaging a 13.933. Lima ended up edging out Malpica for the bronze by less than a tenth, showing a Yurchenko full with a solid landing and a handspring front tuck with a small hop for a 13.083, while Malpica had a Yurchenko full that was a little low but got tons of distance, and a Yurchenko layout half, averaging a 12.766.

Johnson was impressive on bars, showing a stalder full to Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, straddle Jaeger, and full-in for a 13.433. Tran had a nice Chow to Pak, van Leeuwen, high piked Jaeger, and toe-on to double tuck; despite some minor ankle separations, this was one of the better routines in the field, and she won the silver with a 13.100. Chio, meanwhile, slipped off after her stalder full to Maloney, but she was very clean throughout the rest of the routine, including on her Chow to Pak, repeated Maloney to Gienger, and solid dismount. Even with the fall, a 12.2 was good enough for bronze, narrowly ahead of Rachel Rodriguez of Costa Rica, who had a low-difficulty but excellent routine with a Jaeger, bail to toe-on to toe shoot, blind full, and double tuck.

The beam final was a tough one, but Johnson fought through a couple of tiny adjustments and stumbles to win with a 12.866. Her front aerial to split jump to back handspring was especially lovely, and she had just a step on her double tuck dismount. Jong had to grab the beam to steady herself after landing the standing full, but she hit the rest – two wolf turns, a punch front, layout stepout to back pike, switch leap to pike jump, and double pike dismount – very well, earning a 12.7 for silver. Lima got her second bronze of the meet with a 12.333, performing a side aerial to back handspring, front aerial to split jump, and double tuck with minor form errors throughout.

Finally, Chio showed an excellent full-out, triple full, 2½ to front pike, and double pike on floor to earn a 13.333 for the gold, ahead of Jong, who had a few hops in her routine – including on her double double and full-in – but was still excellent enough to take the silver medal with a 13.000. I was thrilled to see Flores pick up the bronze here, showing beautiful work throughout her routine and hitting a double pike, 1½ to front full, and 2½ for a 12.333.

The U.S. juniors were also dominant in the MAG competition, winning the team gold by more than four points ahead of Brazil, while Vahe Petrosyan won the all-around with a 77.100 and Tobias Liang won the bronze with a 76.350. Liang also won gold on floor with a 13.366, David Shamah won pommels with a 12.666 and p-bars with a 13.100, and Petrosyan picked up a silver on high bar with a 12.6.

Luciano Letelier of Chile was an exciting one to watch in this meet – in addition to winning silver in the all-around with a 76.500, he also made three finals, and won a second silver medal on floor with a 13.166. Jabiel Polanco of the Dominican Republic won rings with a 13.133, Ricardo Torres of Mexico won vault with a 13.633 average, and Diogo Paes of Brazil won high bar with a 12.866.

Full results from the WAG and MAG competitions are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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