On Saturday, May 18, six out of the twelve age groups competing at the JO National Championships completed. The JO National Championships features the top level 10 gymnasts in the nation, and the gymnasts competing had to qualify from their respective regions’ Regional Championships.

The competition kicked off on Saturday with the Junior A and Senior A divisions. For the Junior A gymnasts, the youngest of the competition, Elle Mueller of Twin City Twisters (Region 4) won the all around title with a 38.100 as well as the beam title with a 9.750. Coming in second was Metroplex’s (Region 3) Katelyn Jong who also tied for the bars title along with Haley Mustari of Dynamo (Region 3) who took fourth all around. In third all around in the Junior A division was Camie Winger of All American (Region 1). Lily Bruce, whom gymnastics fans saw compete at the Nastia Liukin Cup in March, won the vault title with a 9.825, and Paityn Walker of Head Over Heels (Region 1) won the floor title. Region 1 came out victorious in the Junior A team competition with Region 3 coming in second, and Region 7 coming in third.

Region 1 Junior A athletes

Also in the first session were the Senior A athletes. Taking home the all around title as well as tying for bars title was former elite gymnast and future Cal Berkely Bear Madelyn Williams of San Mateo. Tying Williams on bars was future teammate to Williams, also a future Cal Berkely Bear, Sage Thompson of All American. Coming in second to Williams was Moorea Linker of La Fleur’s who will be joining the Oklahoma Sooners in the fall of 2021. Linker also won the vault and floor titles. Victoria Henry and Kendall LaPlante tied for third place all around. In the team competition, Region 8 won the title, Region 1 came in second, and Region 7 in third.

Taking part in session two of the day were the Junior B and Senior B athletes. Future Utah Ute, Ella Zirbes of Flips won the Junior B all around title with a huge 38.725 as well as the bars title with a 9.750. Zirbes qualified Junior Elite earlier in the year and will definitely be one to watch as the elite season begins. World Class’ Jamison Sears and Southeastern’s Madison Ulrich tied for second in the all around with a 38.300 with the two also tying for the beam title, and Sears winning the floor title. With multiple podium finishes and a great competition, Region 4 won the team title for the Junior B session with Region 8 coming in second and Region 7 coming in third.

Madison Ulrich salutes after her beam routine at the 2019 Nastia Liukin Cup
Photo: John Cheng

Taking the floor at the same time as the Junior Bs were the Senior B athletes. The Senior B result were close with the top three gymnasts all separated by just one tenth of a point. Coming in first was RGA’s Talia Little who won the title with a 38.325 as well as the bars and beam titles. Former elite, Maddie Johnston of Hill’s came in second in the all around, and La Fleur’s Julianne Fehring came in third and won the vault title. Just like the all around competition, the team competition was fierce as well. Region 5 won the team title, Region 3 came in second, and Region 6 took third.

Wrapping up the competition for the day were the Junior and Senior Cs. The Junior C competition was quite wide open from the beginning with anyone able to rise to the top to take the title. In the end, it was World Champions Centre’s Caitlin Smith who won the title. First State’s Zoe Middleton came in second, and Paige Zancan of Hill’s came in third. With two gymnasts in the top 3 in the all around, Region 7 took the Junior C team title with Region 5 coming in second and Region 3 in third.

The Senior C competition was quite possibly the most exciting session of the day with multiple gymnasts who could have taken the title on any day. It was future LSU Tiger, Kiya Johnson who came out victorious with a massive 39.275 in the all around. Johnson also won the beam and floor titles. Another future LSU Tiger, Haleigh Bryant took second in the all around also with a huge score at a 39.050. Bryant also won the vault and bars titles. Metroplex’s Chae Campbell, a future UCLA Bruin, took third all around with a 38.875. Region 3 came out on top for the Senior Cs as Region 8 came in second and Region 4 in third.

Kiya Johnson on floor at the 2019 Nastia Liukin Cup
Photo: John Cheng

Tomorrow, the Junior and Senior D, E, and F athletes will compete and more JO National Champions will be crowned as well, and the Super Team Champions will be named.

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