Malea Milton, Eveylynn Lowe, and Annalisa Milton
The fourth U.S. elite qualifier of the season was held at the WOGA Classic in Frisco, Texas over the weekend, where a total of nine athletes either earned or re-earned their elite scores, including four seniors and five juniors, while an additional 21 gymnasts qualified to the Hopes levels.
Most of the seniors who met the score standard here have already qualified, including Eveylynn Lowe of GAGE in first place with a 51.600 and the top score on floor with a 13.0, Christiane Popovich of Midwest in third with a 50.100, and Malea Milton of GAGE with a three-event score of 38.250 and the top score on vault with a 13.55. Both Popovich and Milton had their all-around scores before the season even started thanks to their performances at nationals last summer, while Lowe qualified at the Vegas Cup back in January.
The only first-time senior qualifier here was Annalisa Milton of GAGE, who unfortunately had to scratch nationals in 2022 due to a last-minute injury. Milton finished second all-around here with a 50.650 total in her first competition since last year’s U.S. Classic, where she finished fifth all-around and won the floor title. She’s not yet on the list for the Winter Cup this coming weekend, but her score here will qualify her, and hopefully she’ll get to make her senior elite debut on Saturday alongside her twin sister and other teammates.
All five juniors who earned their scores here were first-time qualifiers this season, with some trying at nearly every meet so far before their persistence paid off in Texas. Qualifying in first was Carly Weinberg of Buckeye with a 50.050, followed by Adele Ossi of Parkettes with a 49.750, Camie Westerman of Hills with a 49.600, Gabriella Pierson of WOGA with a 49.300, and Lailah Danzy of Pride with a 49.100.
Ossi had the best junior scores of the day on bars with a 12.45 and on beam with a 12.1, while Danzy topped vault with a 13.6 and floor with a 12.9.
Two of the gymnasts who attempted the junior level here fell short, with Ally Damelio of San Mateo earning a 48.700 while Amy Gonzalez of All American earned a 46.250, and since both are age-eligible for the Hopes 13-14 group, they’ll be able to use these scores to drop down a level. Meanwhile, in the Hopes 13-14 field, top all-arounder Sophia Buechler of Midwest earned her junior score with a 49.000, also posting the top Hopes-level bars score with a 12.8, so she’ll be able to bump up to the junior level if she so chooses.
The others in the Hopes 13-14 field to earn scores here included Paityn Adams of Metroplex with a 48.300, Emlyn Thomson of Hills with a 47.950, Grace Wickham of WOGA with a 46.850, Delilah Zepeda-Orth of 5280 Gymnastics with a 46.700, Sadie Goldberg of Gym X-Treme with a 46.400, Vivienne DeWater of Omaha with a 46.150, Isla Lazzari of City Club with a 45.600, Celia Frith-Carvalho of Bull City with a 45.350, and Finley Young of Metropolitan with a 45.150.
In addition to Buechler leading bars with a 12.8, Zepeda-Orth had the top score on vault with a 13.0, Adams was best on beam with a 12.0, and DeWater topped floor with a 12.6.
Daisy Lesperance of Bull City led the Hopes 11-12 field with a 49.700 in the all-around in addition to putting up the top bars score at this level with a 13.25. Following behind her to also earn scores in this division were Nancy Cuoco of WOGA with a 47.350 and the best beam score of 12.5, Bria McClain of Pearland Elite with a 45.500, Danica Sedacca of Gymnastics Olympica with a 45.400, London Thomas of WOGA with a 45.250, Olivia Mhire of WOGA with a 45.100, Charlotte Henk of J&R with a 44.800, Annabel Melnyk of WCEG with a 44.000, and Maya Kosarikova of California Gym with a 43.650.
Though she missed out on qualifying here by about half a point, Brianna Heath of Pearland Elite gets a mention for topping the field on vault with a 13.0 and on floor with a 12.4. She has typically been much stronger on these apparatuses compared to bars and beam, and they’re nearly carrying her to where she needs to be, but she’ll and the rest who have yet to make it will get another two opportunities to qualify later this season, at the Magical March competition in Virginia from March 10–12, and then at the Parkettes meet in Pennsylvania from June 2–4.
Full results from the WOGA qualifier are available here, and don’t miss our elite tracker, where we’re following the elite- and national-level qualification meets all season to see who’s qualifying where. As we go into the Winter Cup, there are 42 seniors and 28 juniors eligible to compete at the elite level in 2023, and only the six members of last year’s world championships team have qualified to nationals already, with the Winter Cup the first opportunity for the other 64 to make it.
Article by Lauren Hopkins