It was a near-repeat of three weeks ago at the GK U.S. Classic in Columbus – different city, different arena, higher stakes – yet Leanne Wong and Sunisa Lee still performed with impressive difficulty and remarkable consistency.
This time around in Boston on day one of the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, Wong and Lee went 1-2 in the all-around standings, out-classing and out-pacing the junior field to lead going into the second and final day of competition on Sunday with scores of 56.400 and 55.900, respectively.
For Wong, the junior all-around champion in Columbus, it was more of the same consistent, well-executed gymnastics, hitting on all four events for the leading all-around total of 56.400, a point higher than her first-place finishing score at the U.S. Classic last month.
Wong began her second career national championships meet on the vault, performing her very clean and powerful Yurchenko double full for a 14.600, good enough for second place on the event after today. Wong has immense potential on vault, already training the extremely difficult Amanar vault at her gym, GAGE, leaving the 14 year-old’s future prospects extremely promising.
On the uneven bars, Wong kept up her consistent performance, easily making it through her routine for a very strong 14.350, also leaving her in second on the event heading into Sunday. Balance beam saw Wong’s only minor wobble of the day, scoring slightly lower for a 13.600, however, the GAGE star picked up right where she left off and delivered a very strong and powerful floor routine for a competition-leading 13.850 to cap off another brilliant and clean day of gymnastics from the 14 year-old.
Following just behind Wong by half a tenth in the all-around standings was Lee of Midwest Gymnastics. As arguably the best and most talented junior in the country, Lee owns extremely high difficulty scores, particularly on bars and beam, and as she proved today in Boston, when she hits, she’s hard to catch up to.
The 15 year-old Lee got her competition started on vault, scoring well on her solid Yurchenko double full for a 14.250. To no surprise, Lee absolutely shined on her signature events, hitting her plethora of uber-difficult release moves and connections on bars for a massive 14.800, good enough for first on the event by some margin, and she continued this on beam where she hit cleanly-executed her difficult triple series to take the lead on this event as well with a 14.050.
The only struggle for Lee on the day, and what separated her from Wong in the all-around, was her lower floor exercise score, where some short landings on her tumbling passes and a fall on her wolf turn series cost her for a 12.800, giving Wong the coveted lead going into day two of nationals on Sunday.
Kayla DiCello of Hill’s also put together a solid competition to put herself in title contention as well, sitting in third all-around after a solid day left her with a 55.250. DiCello really set herself apart from the rest with her great vaulting, besting Wong and Lee on the event with a very nice and clean Yurchenko double full for a 14.750 for first after day one. DiCello also sits in fourth on the uneven bars, where a nice 14.200 helped her all-around standing out as well.
Sitting in fourth and fifth are two future stars, Skye Blakely of WOGA and Konnor McClain of Revolution, with all-around totals of 54.800 and 54.500, respectively. Blakely, the younger sister of WOGA senior elite Sloane, sits in second on the floor exercise while McClain is tied for second on beam and stands alone for third on bars. After impressive day one performances for both of them, a highly-coveted U.S. National Team spot looks very possible for these two rising stars.
The second and final day of junior women’s competition at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships will begin Sunday at 1:30 PM ET time from TD Garden in Boston, with the next junior national champion and junior U.S. National Team, comprised of the top six all-around, to be finalized Sunday combining both the day one and day two all-around totals.Tags: Kayla DiCello, Konnor McClain, Leanne Wong, Skye Blakely, Sunisa Lee, United States, US Championships