The latest of the national elite qualifiers – and the final qualifier prior to next weekend’s Winter Cup – was held at the Metroplex Challenge in Texas this weekend, where seven gymnasts earned the optional scores required to become elites.
Katelyn Rosen of Twin City Twisters, who previously earned her three-event score at the Vegas Cup, had the best performance in the senior field, earning a 51.300 to bump her up to an all-around spot at the Winter Cup, American Classic, and U.S. Classic. Rosen also posted the top scores on every event but bars, earning a 13.35 on vault, 13.3 on beam, and 12.95 on floor.
In second place was Skylar Draser of Parkettes with a 50.650, also surpassing the required all-around optional score thanks to top-three scores on every event, including a 13.35 on vault and a 12.9 on beam.
Lauren Little of Everest and Adriana Consoli of Pearland Elite placed fourth and fifth with scores of 48.900 and 48.300, respectively, and while their all-around scores were below the cutoff, both had particularly strong work on bars, which combined with their vaults helped them sneak in with the two-event score. Little, who won bars with a 13.25 and also earned a 12.85 on vault, was a tenth over the required 26.0, while Consoli, who had the second-best bars score of 13.2 along with a 12.8 on vault, reached the two-event score exactly.
Third-place Paityn Walker earned a 49.850, missing the all-around cutoff of 50.500 by about six tenths and also not reaching either the two- or three-event scores, but I’ve heard that the international elite committee recently decided to lower all of the elite and hopes qualifying scores, with the senior score going down to a 49.5 and the junior score down to a 48.5, in which case Walker is in. I’ve reached out to USA Gymnastics for confirmation, but if correct, it means there will be several elite- and hopes-level gymnasts who competed at the first five qualifiers this year who would retroactively qualify.
Michelle Pineda of Metroplex, who previously earned her qualifying score at the Buckeye Classic, won the junior division with a 50.850 thanks to strong performances on beam and floor, giving her some nice practice before she attends next weekend’s Winter Cup.
Her teammate, Zoey Molomo, tied Twin City Twisters’ Gabrielle Hardie for second all-around with scores of 50.450, while Alicia Zhou in fourth place also earned her junior score with a 49.800. Taylor McMahon of Texas Dreams posted a 49.150 for fifth place, but if the junior score is lowered to a 48.5, she’ll also get in.
Molomo had the top scores on vault with a 13.95 and on floor with a 12.85, while Hardie posted the top bars score of 12.65, and McMahon had an incredible beam set, earning a 13.7.
In addition to Walker and McMahon potentially becoming elite if the qualifying score is lowered, we’ll also see GAGE juniors Malea Milton and Eveylynn Lowe – who had scores of 49.350 and 49.250 at last week’s Dragon Invitational – get in, along with junior Sydney Snyder of First State, who had a 48.850 at the Vegas Cup.
Payton Chandler of Metroplex won the Hopes 13-14 competition with a 47.400, becoming the sole qualifier in her division, though if the qualifying score is lowered from a 47.0 to a 45.0, it means second-place Paityn Adams, also of Metroplex, and third-place Aaliyah Oglesby of Precision will also get in with scores of 46.350 and 45.600.
Finally, in the Hopes 11-12 division, Lailah Danzy earned the top score of 46.000, while Isabella Anzola of Georgia Elite finished second with a 44.500, getting the exact score needed to qualify…though again, if the score here is lowered to a 42.500, we’ll see another four gymnasts getting in, including Brianna Heath of Pearland Elite with a 43.600, Sophia Buechler of Midwest with a 43.550, Aaliyah Campos of ESBA with a 43.250, and Vivienne DeWater of Omaha with a 43.050.
The lowering of the qualifying scores would largely benefit Hopes contenders. Under the current standard, there are only 19 qualified across both the 13-14 and 11-12 age divisions, a very low number considering the top 36 gymnasts each year – 18 from each division – qualify to Hopes Championships. But with the scores potentially being lowered by two points, we could see around 10 gymnasts added into the field from previous qualifiers, in addition to the six here, nearly doubling the field.
Article by Lauren Hopkins