After a long and grueling spring elite season, several elite qualifiers, the American and US Classics, and plenty of hard work and preparation, the US Gymnastics Championships is finally here to crown a national champion in Boston. With last month’s GK US Classic finalizing the field for the national championships this week, the best junior and senior elite gymnasts in the U.S. will be competing in Boston, with the top gymnasts in the country also striving to make their case for a spot on the World Championships team in November in Doha, Qatar.
Here is a look at all the top names and contenders for nationals this week in Boston:
Shania Adams – Buckeye
First year senior Shania Adams started her season off with a bang at the American Classic where she took second all around. Adams was a member of the 2016-2017 Junior U.S. National Team, and finished seventh on bars and floor at the GK U.S. Classic three weeks ago.
Sloane Blakely – WOGA
Sloane Blakely earned her qualifying score for the US Championships at the GK US Classic last month in Columbus. Blakely was first in the all-around at the Auburn Elite Qualifier with a 53.7500. Blakely shines on vault with a very clean Yurchenko full but this WOGA gymnast shined in Columbus with a near-perfect balance beam set last month at Classics. Blakely will be looking for a highly-coveted spot on the US National Team this week in Boston.
Luisa Blanco – WOGA
Luisa Blanco of WOGA began her elite career last year at the US Classic, where she placed second on beam and third in the all-around. This year, Blanco competed at the WOGA Classic, where she earned a bronze medal on beam, and at International Gymnix, where she qualified for the bars and beam finals. Blanco is one to watch on beam where she performs difficult skills with immense beauty, however, she is also strong on floor and a solid all-arounder.
Simone Biles – World Champions Centre
Rio 2016 Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles had an amazing comeback at the GK US Classic last month, winning first all-around with an astounding 58.700, the highest all-around score in the world this squad.
Biles enjoyed a full year break after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, coming back with a vengeance to place first on vault, beam , and floor, also finishing tenth on her new bars set. Biles, a three-time World all-around champion has a very strong skill level on floor where she will competes her signature tumbling pass, the Biles, along with multiple other difficult passes, such as the insanely hard Moors, which she debuted last month in Columbus. If Biles remains healthy and keeps her current level up, she is a lock for the US worlds team in November in Doha.
Jade Carey – Arizona Sunrays
Jade Carey is now competing as an all-arounder in her second year of elite competition, having added a bars routine to her elite repertoire. She had a great international elite debut at the 2017 World Championships last October in Montreal, winning silver medals on both vault and floor. These are still her standout events, though bars and beam can also be strong routines when she hits. Currently, Carey has the second highest floor difficulty in the world with a 6.1 D-score. She is also the strongest contender in the United States to make a vault final at worlds. Her prior international experience makes her a good choice for this year’s worlds team in Doha.
Jordan Chiles – Naydenov
Not many people would have predicted that Jordan Chiles would walk away from her first senior US Championship with a silver medal in the all-around. Since that day about a year ago she has kept her name in the conversation, winning the all-around bronze medal at the Stuttgart World Cup earlier this year as well as winning three gold medals at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships. Chiles really excels on the power events, vault and floor, and is aiming to compete two vaults in Boston. Although she only competed a Yurchenko double full at the US Classic, Chiles is capable of doing an Amanar — a vault that she will need to keep up with the likes of Simone Biles and Jade Carey if she hopes to make the US worlds team.
Audrey Davis – WOGA
Audrey Davis became a member of the US Junior National Team last summer when she competed at her first US Championships and placed sixth in the all-around. Davis has struggled with consistency throughout 2018, however, she had her best meet of the season last month at the US Classic where she placed sixth all-around with a 53.750. Davis stands out on bars where she competes a beautiful one-armed full pirouette connected into a piked Jaeger. She also is capable of a Nabieva, a laid-out Jaeger.
Olivia Dunne – ENA Paramus
As one of the most promising US juniors last season, finishing ninth at nationals last year, Olivia Dunne has had big expectations in 2018 for her senior debut and she’ll be hoping to continue reaching those at her first US Championships as a senior. Olivia made her senior debut internationally earlier this year at the City of Jesolo Trophy, showcasing her beautiful brand of gymnastics, particularly on beam and floor, finishing 16th all-around in Italy.
Dunne of ENA Paramus was limited to only bars two weeks ago at the GK US Classic, performing a downgraded routine for a lower score, but after petitioning to nationals this week in Boston, she’ll be one to watch for her lovely form in her gymnastics and possibly a National Team spot.
Kara Eaker – GAGE
A potential dark horse for the US worlds team this year, first-year senior of GAGE Kara Eaker has some of the best balance beam skills in the world right now, owning one of the highest scores in the world so far this quad on the event. Eaker’s beam work features beautiful, perfect form on all her elements, plus impressive difficulty and connections, making her a must watch on this event. While she fell on beam last month at the GK US Classic, Eaker took home the gold at the American Classic and will be a potential contender for the national championship on beam and also a high all-around finish in Boston.
Margzetta Frazier – UCLA
After skipping the US Classic a few weeks ago in Columbus, Margzetta Frazier is trying something new- doing elite while an NCAA gymnast. Frazier, formerly of Parkette’s, began training as a freshman at reigning national champions UCLA earlier this month, and the current US Senior National Team member will be looking to contend for a spot on the worlds team later this year.
“Marz,” as she is known, made her international debut this spring at the Birmingham World Cup, claiming silver all-around from a brilliant performance on top of gold on bars, another silver on floor, and a bronze on the vault. Frazier will be looking to bring her solid, consistent gymnastics across all four events to a very deep US squad this fall.
Jaylene Gilstrap – Metroplex
Last year, Gilstrap suffered a horrific elbow injury which required surgery. Unfortunately, she missed out on her final season as a junior. As if coming back from an injury wasn’t hard enough, Gilstrap also had to improve her difficulty in order to match up with the other seniors. Gilstrap qualified to championships as a three event specialist, and posted execution scores all above an 8.0 at the GK U.S. Classic. Although Gilstrap is out of contention for an all around medal, she is beautiful to watch on the three events she will compete: vault, beam, and floor.
Morgan Hurd – First State
Reigning world all-around champion Morgan Hurd will be vying for a podium finish at nationals this year. At US Classic, Hurd finished third all-around behind Simone Biles and Riley McCusker after impressive bars and floor routines.
She was one of three gymnasts to debut the insanely difficult Moors, a laid-out double-double, on floor and did so with great success. Hurd will be looking to improve her usually beautiful beam at nationals after an unfortunate fall on a front tuck last month at the US Classic. With a hit meet, expect to see Hurd placing high on most events as well as the all-around, solidifying her case to go back to worlds and defend her all-around title.
Maddie Johnston – Hill’s
A first year senior, Johnston will be competing in her third US Championship this week. Johnston has always been an under the radar competitor, but is generally a solid competitor on all four events. In addition to competing in the GK US Classic three weeks ago, Johnston also competed in the American Classic at the beginning of July. There in Salt Lake City, Johnston had one of her most impressive performances and brought home a silver medal on vault and a bronze in the all-around.
Shilese Jones – Future
Shilese Jones has had a breakout senior year! Although it will be her first time on the U.S. Championships senior stage, Jones could likely become a member of the National Team after two nights of solid competition. Jones began her 2018 season with vault, floor, and all around wins at the American Classic in Salt Lake City, UT. Three weeks later at the GK U.S. Classic, against some tougher competition, Jones had a fantastic fourth place all around finish. Great on all four events, and with a strong double twisting Yurchenko, Jones will definitely be one to look out for on the all around podium.
Adeline Kenlin – IGN
First year senior, Adeline Kenlin, was expected to compete bars at the US Classic but pulled out last minute due to a nagging heel injury. Her most recent all-around meet was at the City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy where she placed seventh all-around in her senior international debut. Kenlin is most known for her difficult beam routine packed full of connection bonus for which she won gold at the April verification camp with a big 14.100.
Emma Malabuyo – Texas Dreams
Emma Malabuyo of Texas Dreams has been one to watch since she became an elite gymnast. Malabuyo had an extremely successful career as a junior elite, winning titles both nationally and internationally, and has continued to shine as a senior in her first year, despite dealing with injuries. Malabuyo is the strongest on beam and floor, however, can also be an all-around threat when in full health. She has great potential and is likely to be a top contender for the 2018 worlds team if healthy.
Grace McCallum – Twin City Twisters
Although this will only be McCallum’s second time at the U.S. Championships, she has proven herself to be a solid competitor and has become quite the elite veteran. Following the verification event at LSU in February, McCallum was added to the U.S. National Team and went on to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships. Even though it was Grace’s first international competition, she handled it like a professional and came home with the all around gold. McCallum didn’t have her strongest performance at the GK U.S. Classic, but we have high hopes for her at championships as we know her potential.
Riley McCusker – MG Elite
No one had a more impressive showing at last month’s US Classic than Riley McCusker, reminding the entire gymnastics world of her immense talent, beautiful form and execution, and massive difficulty on both bars and beam. After not competing for nearly a year due to injury following last year’s nationals, MG Elite’s McCusker came back with a bang two weeks ago in Columbus, finishing second all-around in nearly beating reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles, winning the uneven bars title, and also taking a silver behind Biles on the balance beam.
While McCusker reminded us just how beautiful and brilliant her gymnastics can be at her best, the key for her will be consistency- consistently putting up performances like she did in Columbus. If McCusker can continue to execute her uber-difficult bars and beam sets here in Boston, she’ll be a major threat for a spot on the worlds team come November in Doha.
Alyona Shchennikova – 5280 Gymnastics
A second-year senior elite, Alyona Shchennikova’s best event is bars, where she could definitely contribute on a World Championship team. She currently has the fourth-highest bars score in the world this year with a 14.900 achieved last month at the US Classic. However, she can struggle with consistency on beam and floor. Her vault, where she performs a Yurchenko double full, has become much stronger and more reliable over the years. Showing that she can consistently hit routines will be important if Shchennikova is to be part of this year’s five-person worlds team.
Ragan Smith – Texas Dreams
Ragan Smith enters the competition as the reigning US national champion. While defending her all-around title is unlikely with Simone Biles back in action, Smith should still easily find herself on the podium if she hits clean sets on both days of competition in Boston. Perhaps the biggest battle of championships will be for second place as Smith, Malabuyo, Hurd, and McCusker all have similar maximum scoring potentials. For Smith in particular, fans can expect to see a brand new floor routine in Boston as well as her typical rock-solid beam work that helped earn her the bronze medal on that event a few weeks ago at the GK US Classic.
Deanne Soza – Texas Dreams
After petitioning to nationals from just missing the qualifying score at the US Classic last month, Texas Dreams’ Deanne Soza will be looking to make a splash at championships this summer. Soza is another very talented Texas Dreams athlete, a first year senior, and she has plenty of talent to make herself an under the radar threat in Boston this week.
Trinity Thomas – Prestige
A US National Team member from Prestige Gymnastics in York, Pennsylvania, Trinity Thomas is competing for the first time this summer after skipping the GK US Classic. Thomas will also be attempting to compete both as an elite gymnast for the US as well as in NCAA this season as a freshman at Florida.
Thomas has a tremendous skill set on floor with a pass that very few have ever been able to successfully compete. Trinity competes a two-and-a-half double layout in her floor routine.This 17 year-old has been the floor champion in 2016 at the City of Jesolo Trophy as a junior as well as recently earning the silver in the all-around at the Tokyo World Cup this spring.
Madelyn Williams – San Mateo
If you’re looking for a gymnast with beautiful lines and grace, Madelyn Williams is it. Williams is just a second year elite, but carries herself extremely well. Her best event being bars, Williams posted a 13.900 for fifth place at the GK U.S. Classic. Although her difficulty scores on the other three events are low, Williams generally has very good execution which will boost her overall score.
Sydney Barros – Texas Dreams
Coming back from an unfortunate ankle injury at the City of Jesolo Trophy meet this past April, Barros could likely be a contender for the U.S. National Team if she is solid on all four events. At the April verification event, prior to the City of Jesolo meet, Barros was added to the Junior National Team and selected to compete at the Junior Pan American Championships. Barros had to pull out of the competition due to her injury, but we are hoping she is fully healed and is back to her full potential at these championships.
Skye Blakely – WOGA
Skye, the sister of fellow WOGA gymnast Sloane Blakely, has been working some major upgrades this summer. Blakely shines on the vault, where she posses a big Yurchenko double full and is training an Amanar. Blakely also possess a piked double-arabian on floor and a double layout.
Skye placed sixth all-around at the GK US Classic with a 53.200 while also taking third on vault. Blakely also took bronze at the American Classic with a 53.400 and taking home gold on vault with a 14.200 and silver on the uneven bars with a 13.950.
Jordan Bowers – Solid Rock
With some of the highest difficulty in the junior division, Jordan Bowers will be a strong contender for the junior national title. Earlier this year, Bowers won three gold medals at both the Pacific Rim Championships and the Junior Pan American Championships. At the most recent US Classic, she struggled with the landings on an upgraded floor routine, resulting in a third place finish in the all-around. Often compared to London 2012 Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney thanks to her style and grace, if Bowers can stay on her feet both days of competition, she very well could be the next US Junior National Champion.
Sophia Butler – Discover
This may only be Butler’s first year as an elite, but she is ready to hit the U.S. Championships stage. At the GK U.S. Classic three weeks ago, Butler tied for ninth all around and third on floor. Butler has solid difficulty across the board, especially for being a first year elite. Depending on her consistency, she will sometimes compete a BHS + BHS + Full twist as her beam series which is quite amazing to watch. Even if she doesn’t make the National Team this year, she will definitely be one to watch in the future.
Kayla DiCello – Hill’s
Kayla DiCello is another name to watch for in Boston. With an all-around gold medal from the American Classic in her back pocket, DiCello also has a great shot at winning the all-around title if she can hit eight for eight over two days of competition at nationals. So far it appears consistency is one of her strong suits, so she will look to use that to her advantage if the other top contenders falter.
Aleah Finnegan – GAGE
We are lucky to be blessed with another Finnegan on the elite stage! This will be Aleah’s Championships debut as a first year elite. After qualifying elite at this year’s Brestyan’s Elite Qualifier, Finnegan has since competed at the American Classic and GK US Classic. At both classic competitions, Finnegan had solid meets and even improved her all around score at the GK US Classic.
Like her sister Sarah, Aleah is known for her beautiful lines and precision. At both the American Classic and US Classic, Finnegan posted execution scores above an 8.0 on both beam and floor. While she stands out on the artistic events, Finnegan also packs a punch with her power and performs a Yurchenko double full on vault. It may only be her first elite season, but after finishing seventh all-around at the US Classic, you may see Finnegan marching out in some new Team USA apparel by the end of the competition this weekend.
Karis German – World Champions Centre
Karis German, a junior from World Champions Centre, had a strong 2018 season as a level 10 and impressed at JO Nationals earlier this year. German finished tenth all-around at the American Classic where she qualified to the US Championships. German also competed last month at the GK US Classic, where she tied for seventh all-around and placed second on floor, one of her strongest events. German has lots of power which she utilizes on floor, however, she’s also a great bars worker.
Olivia Greaves – MG Elite
First year elite, Olivia Greaves is your typical MG Elite gymnast with gorgeous lines, beautiful gymnastics, and tons of potential. Although she had a couple of mistakes on bars at the GK U.S. Classic, bars Olivia’s standout event and showed us her capability at the American Classic in early July where she won the bars title with a 14.200. Even though bars wasn’t Olivia’s best event at the U.S. Classic, she still showed her immense amount of talent on floor where she posted a 13.050 for third, and beam where she had a 8.650 execution score. If Greaves hits, she will definitely be a contender for the top 6 and to make the U.S. National Team.
Alexis Jeffrey – GAGE
Alexis Jeffrey is another first-year GAGE elite. Earning her championships qualification score at the GK US Classic, Jeffrey is an underdog junior, but could definitely make her way on to the podium at nationals. Because she is a first year junior, Jeffrey’s difficulty scores aren’t as high as some of her competitors, but her execution is what will put her in the running for any podium finishes. Jeffrey’s posts her highest D score on the uneven bars with a 5.2, and combined with a solid execution score, boosts Jeffrey’s all around score.
Levi Jung-Ruivivar – Paramount Elite
A first-year junior elite, Levi Jung-Ruivivar shows beautiful lines and flexibility on all her events, especially beam and floor. She has fluid bars work with some big skills there as well. Jung-Ruivivar of Paramount Elite also has lovely extension on her leaps, expressive dance in her floor routine, and well-executed tumbling. Even with a lower difficulty on vault, four hit routines at nationals could land her in the top eight juniors, potentially earning her a spot on the US Junior National Team.
Sunisa Lee – Midwest
Junior phenom Sunisa Lee is still coming back from injury but is expected to show full difficulty once again at nationals. Lee has scored as high as a 56.000 in the all around this year. Even with downgraded routines at the US Classic, Lee finished fifth all-around, winning the balance beam title with a layout dismount due to injury. Lee’s difficulty is hard to match even for the seniors, especially on bars and beam. Her bar routine includes a huge Nabieva to Pak Salto combination and a piked jaeger, totalling a 5.8 in difficulty. She also consistently nails her two flight series on beam, making her a big contenter for the gold there as one of the top juniors in the country.
Lilly Lippeatt – Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy
One of the most promising juniors for the US, Lilly Lippeatt has continued to rise the ranks as a junior elite, nearly making the US Junior Pan American Games team as an alternate. Lippeatt did not compete at the US Classic, but she will be one to watch in Boston at nationals with her lovely gymnastics. Lippeatt has a very impressive and difficult uneven bars set and her floor routine features some difficult tumbling passes, training a piked full-in and a double back. Lippeatt of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy could be a dark horse for a spot on the US National Team at the end of this competition.
Konnor McClain – Revolution
For Konnor McClain, this competition will be all about gaining experience and hopefully landing a spot on the US Junior National team. McClain has all the makings of a superstar, she just needs put a solid meet together and prove what she’s capable of. Currently, she has one of the highest start values on beam in the country and she leaves very little for the judges to take away when it comes to execution. McClain placed second all-around last month at the American Classic, but a bloody nose kept her from doing all four events a few weeks ago at the U.S. Classic. If she can stay consistent in Boston, she will have a great chance of finishing on the podium.
JaFree Scott – GAGE
Dealing with an ankle injury this season, we are hoping to see JaFree Scott compete all four events during this week’s US Championships. Scott is a second-year elite, and was named to the US Junior National Team during the verification event at World Champions Centre in Texas this past spring. Scott went on to represent Team USA at the Junior Pan American Championships, but an ankle injury only allowed her to compete bars and beam.
Scott only competed uneven bars at the GK US Classic, but put up a beautiful routine for a 13.650 and fifth place. Scott’s combination of power and grace is what makes her a great all-arounder, and we hope she has the chance to show all four events this week.
Ui Soma – San Mateo
Also a first-year junior elite, Ui Soma has already shown she can do big things, winning the all-around and beam titles at the 2017 Hopes Championships. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see her compete at the US Classic due to injury, but she is expected to come back strong for the National Championships this week. At the Auburn Elite Qualifier earlier this year, she showed a beam routine including a triple series and seamless connections that scored a 14.500.
Soma also has great attention to detail on uneven bars, where her routine includes a big piked-Jaeger. Soma’s confident and clean gymnastics could place among the top six juniors at nationals and earn her spot on the US Junior National Team.
Tori Tatum – Twin City Twisters
Finishing fourth all-around last month as a junior at the GK US Classic, Tori Tatum will be looking to build upon that impressive result in Columbus and solidify herself as one of the top juniors in the country. Tatum of Twin City Twisters will be looking for another impressive performance at nationals this weekend in Boston to challenge the top junior title contenders, but with her powerful brand of gymnastics, Tatum could break in for a podium finish.
Leanne Wong – GAGE
Junior Leanne Wong is coming off of a huge all-around win at the US Classic where she totalled a 55.350, over a point higher than the second-place finisher. Wong also took the vault title with a stuck-cold Yurchenko double full and the floor title with a routine featuring a big double arabian and a triple-full twist. Wong shows the classic GAGE lines and poise on all of her events and can expect to find herself on the podium at the end of the meet, if not at the top spot like she did less than a month ago.Tags: Adeline Kenlin, Aleah Finnegan, Alexis Jeffrey, Alyona Shchennikova, Audrey Davis, Deanne Soza, Emma Malabuyo, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey, JaFree Scott, Jaylene Gilstrap, Jordan Bowers, Jordan Chiles, Kara Eaker, Karis German, Kayla DiCello, Konnor McClain, Leanne Wong, Levi Jung-Ruivivar, Lilly Lippeatt, Luisa Blanco, Maddie Johnston, Madelyn Williams, Margzetta Frazier, Morgan Hurd, Olivia Dunne, Olivia Greaves, Ragan Smith, Riley McCusker, Shania Adams, Shilese Jones, Simone Biles, Skye Blakely, Sloane Blakely, Sophia Butler, Sunisa Lee, Sydney Barros, Tori Tatum, Trinity Thomas, Ui Soma, US Championships