Six U.S. Gymnasts Reach Elite at Magical March Qualifier


Lyden Saltness

At the penultimate U.S. qualifier for 2023, six gymnasts earned their elite statuses to qualify to the American and U.S. Classic competitions this summer, including four seniors and two juniors, most of whom have been working toward this goal all season.

Paloma Spiridonova of WOGA topped the senior competition with a 51.150, a four-point improvement compared to her first attempt in Las Vegas earlier in the year. After spending the past two years dealing with injuries, this competition marked an important step in Spiridonova’s comeback, especially as she hit all four events to easily surpass the 50.000 all-around requirement to reach the senior level. However, Spiridonova is rumored to be submitting a change-of-nation request to represent Bulgaria en route to the 2024 Olympic Games, so while she’s eligible to compete elite in the U.S., it may not be where we ultimately see her later this season.

While no other seniors earned all-around scores here, a few athletes did well enough on a couple of events to qualify as specialists, including Avery Moll of Buckeye on vault, bars, and floor, Avery King of WOGA on vault and floor, and Lyden Saltness of Midwest on vault and bars.

Moll was second all-around with a 49.750, falling just a few tenths short of qualifying as an all-arounder after struggling on beam, but her work elsewhere was strong, including a 13.45 on vault to lead that apparatus, as well as a 13.1 on floor to place second there. King also got close, earning a 49.200 in the all-around to finish third, but she put up the top floor score of 13.15 as well as a 13.0 on vault to just sneak in on those events. Finally, Saltness only competed three events, and while her beam was a miss, she had the top bars score of the meet with a 13.55, which combined with a 12.6 on vault helped her surpass the 26.000 requirement for two-event specialists.

In the junior field, two gymnasts who had previously attempted elite ended up earning their all-around scores, including Ally Damelio of San Mateo, who had the top score of the competition with a 51.050, and Jazlene Pickens of Buckeye, who was third-best with a 49.500 (in between them was Adele Ossi of Parkettes, who had previously qualified at WOGA).

Damelio had the best scores on beam with a 12.35 and on floor with a 13.2, and she also posted the third-best scores on vault and bars, while Pickens had the second-best score on bars with a 12.45.

Just missing out on junior elite was Kirsten Santana of Girls Co-Op, who earned a 48.200, but at 14, she was age-eligible to qualify to the Hopes 13-14 division, joining Quinn Harris of Cincinnati, Iyla Adkins of Gymnastics Olympica, Khloe Lazaridis of Parkettes, and Aaliyah Campos of East Bay. Additionally, seven gymnasts qualified to the Hopes 11-12 division, including Melora Johnson of Bull City, Ansley Stevens of Cincinnati, Tiraia Ballard of Capital, Brianna Heath of Pearland Elite, Jannah Smithson of World Class, Savannah Weinland of Performance Gym, and Stevie-Rose Mack of Performance Gym.

Full results from the competition are available here, and you can view the list of all gymnasts who have qualified to elite and to national championships on our elite tracker.

Article by Lauren Hopkins


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