Team USA sent its top four juniors to the 2017 International Gymnix in Montreal, Canada this past weekend. The four juniors the US sent were 2016 P&G Championships AA Champion, Maile O’Keefe, Sunisa Lee, Emma Malabuyo, and Gabby Perea. It was O’Keefe and Lee’s first international assignment and proved to be a learning experience for not just them, but Malabuyo and Perea as well. Although these talented US girls had some uncharacteristic falls and mistakes, Team USA still managed a clean sweep in the team, all around, and event finals competitions.

Saturday, March 11 was the Junior Team Cup and All Around Competition. Team USA started on beam, and although there were some uncharacteristic mistakes, Maile O’Keefe was the highlight of the rotation with a gorgeous beam routine to earn a 14.600 (6.1 D score). The US girls still managed to post the highest team beam score of the night. Next up, on floor, Sunisa Lee dazzled us with her tucked double double and double layout; for a second year junior, Lee has some extremely impressive tumbling. Emma Malabuyo showcased an exciting routine which even included some fun belly laughing choreography. As usual, Malabuyo performed beautiful leaps and tumbling. O’Keefe and Perea both had clean and impressive routines and tied for a 13.900 on floor. O’Keefe’s new routine for 2017 featured a gorgeous double arabian, sassy dance, and beautiful leaps and turns. Perea also displayed beautiful dance as well as a tucked full in as her opening pass. On vault, Lee performed a full twisting yurchenko, and Malabuyo, O’Keefe, and Perea performed double twisting yurchenkos. Lee posted a 13.900 (4.6 D score), Malabuyo a 14.767, O’Keefe a 14.634. and Perea a 14.4 (all a 5.4 D score). Team USA finished up on the uneven bars. The highlights of this last rotation were Perea’s beautiful routine, and Lee’s hit routine after a tough past 3 rotations. O’Keefe and Malabuyo had uncharacteristic mistakes, but they were clearly small errors that won’t be a problem in future meets. Perea scored a 14.400 (5.9 D score) and Lee scored a 13.734 (5.7 D Score). Team USA finished with a 166.603 team score for first place – 2 points higher than second place finishers, Italy. Maile O’Keefe took home the all around gold with a 55.934, Gabby Perea finished second with a 55.700, Emma Malabuyo finished fourth with a 54.135, and Sunisa Lee finished fourteenth with a 50.201.
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photo: Andrea Leask

The top 8 gymnasts on each event – with the 2 per country rule in effect – made event finals which took place on Sunday, March 12. Maile O’Keefe and Emma Malabuyo qualified for vault finals, Gabby Perea and Sunisa Lee qualified for bars finals, O’Keefe and Perea qualified to compete in beam finals, and O’Keefe and Perea also qualified to compete in floor finals. Event finals for the USA girls started on floor. Both O’Keefe and Perea competed clean routines similar execution to what they competed in team and all around finals. They both posted the same score (13.675) which was the top junior floor score, but because of the tie breaker, Perea took home the gold, and O’Keefe the silver. O’Keefe and Malabuyo went on to compete on vault for the vault final. Both O’Keefe and Malabuyo performed beautiful double twisting yurchenkos as well as a full twisting yurchenko as a second vault. Malabuyo scored a 14.388 average for first place, and O’Keefe scored a 14.100 average for second. On to bars, Lee and Perea both performed gorgeous routines with unique skills. One exciting skill being Lee’s layed out yurchenko. As a perfect “redemption” for a tough meet the night before, Lee posted a 14.125 for the silver, and Perea posted a 14.600 for the gold. Team USA wrapped up their Gymnix competition with beam event finals. Perea had a beautiful routine with a few slight wobbles, but other than that a great routine. O’Keefe was off on her aerial triple series and fell on the first layout. However, O’Keefe finished strong with her routine and scored a 12.575 for the bronze. Perea scored a 13.825 for the gold.
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photo: USA Gymnastics

2017 International Gymnix showed major promise for Team USA’s junior athletes. Each of the girls had at least one remarkable routine. This will for sure be an exciting year for the US juniors who all have a bright future ahead.

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