The best junior and senior elite gymnasts in the country are all in Boston this week in search of a national championship with the U.S. Gymnastics Championships beginning Friday. However, there’s lots of younger gymnasts we’d like to see pushing for spots at nationals over the next few years as they become top elite athletes.
The 2018 GK Hopes Championships had plenty of talent on display with the top 10-11 and 12-13 aged gymnasts competing for the title of best Hopes gymnasts. Here are the top Hopes gymnasts we’d like to see at the U.S. Championships in the coming years.
Lundyn VanderToolen – Olympus
The winner of the 12-13 all-around title at the Hopes Championship in Columbus, OH a few weeks ago, VanderToolen is a future star of the sport for sure. VanderToolen of Olympus Gymnastics shined this season as a Hopes gymnasts, also winning the uneven bars title in Columbus and placing third on floor exercise. VanderToolen would be a favorite to qualify to nationals in her first year as a junior elite, and with excellent execution, a very strong bars set, and improving difficulty, it’s hard not to see why.
Lily Pederson – Flips
A definite future elite star of gymnastics, Pederson finished fifth all-around last month at the Hopes Championships and she took home the silver all-around in the 12-13 divison as well at the Hopes Classic in Salt Lake City. Pederson shined a month ago as a Hopes star, also finishing third on floor at the Hopes Classic and she took home a bronze on beam at the Hopes Championships. Pederson has some very impressive difficulty for a Hopes gymnast on beam and floor and her execution will make her one to watch in 2019 in the elite season.
Baylie Belman – WOGA
Baylie Belman has the talent and grace in her gymnastics to make a splash soon, possibly qualifying to nationals next season. Belman finished second all-around in the 10-11 division at the Hopes Championships, with her incredible balance beam skills particularly standing out as she won second on the event and also third on beam and floor at the Hopes Classic. Belman still has many years to increase her difficulty across all four events but watch for her not just on beam, but in the all-around too, in the years to come.
Myli Lew – San Mateo
Another supremely talented young 10-11 Hopes gymnast, Myli Lew had a very impressive rise from Level 9 to the top of Hopes this season, finishing third at the Hopes Championships a few weeks ago. Lew also showed very impressive skills and clean form on the uneven bars, winning the event title in Columbus and also finishing second on floor there. Lew shined earlier in the season as well, winning second all-around at the Hopes Classic with golds on bars and beam, showing her huge promise and talent to make nationals when she goes elite in the coming years.
Ava San Jose – Paramount Elite
A beautiful, graceful young gymnast, Ava San Jose of Paramount Elite has major promise for the future of her junior elite career. San Jose soared at the Hopes Classic in early July, taking the all-around title there a silver on the balance beam. San Jose’s beautiful artistry in her routines was rewarded again at the Hopes Championships, putting together a very strong floor routine to win first. With the artistry and talent San Jose has, particularly on beam already, she is sure to be one to follow possibly at nationals in the coming years.
Hezly Rivera – ENA Paramus
She may have just turned ten this year, but Hezly Rivera of ENA Paramus has some big things coming. If you follow ENA Paramus on Instagram, you will see that Rivera is already working numerous upgrades for the 2019 season. In her first season of Hopes, Rivera brought difficulty scores of 4.70 and 4.60 to beam and floor, respectively. Rivera’s standout event this season was floor, and she finished first at the classic and third at the championships on this event. If Rivera were to qualify to the U.S. Championships next season, she would be one of the youngest if not the youngest competitor in the arena. However, don’t let her age fool you; you can never count Hezly Rivera out.
Mya Witte – Genie’s
Mya Witte of Genie’s Gymnastics brought the highest amount of difficulty to this year’s Hopes Championships with a combined D score of 18.700 and a huge 5.5 start value on beam. However, it’s not just Witte’s high level of difficulty that sets her apart. At the Hopes Classic, Witte won the beam and all around titles with scores of 13.300 and 51.300, respectively. While Hopes scores don’t perfectly convert to elite scores due to Hopes modifications, if Witte brings some upgrades to her 2019 season and hits her routines, she should have no problem qualifying junior elite.
Amber Lowe – Everest
Everest’s Amber Lowe has the double threat: she is consistent and has solid difficulty scores. Lowe finished third all around in the 12-13 division of this year’s Hopes Championships and placed in the top six on all four events. She was also the only gymnast at the Hopes Championships to put up two scores of 13.00 or greater. While Amber will need to upgrade in order to have a good chance of qualifying next year, her execution scores will definitely aid her in the process.
Alicia Zhou – Love
2018 Hopes Championships 10-11 champion, Alicia Zhou of Love Gymnastics, is all about execution. While Zhou didn’t have nearly the highest difficulty scores this season, her execution is what won her the Hopes Championships title. On three of the events at championships, Zhou put up execution scores of 8.5+. As long as Zhou keeps up her beautiful execution, she should be able to upgrade her skills with ease and make them look gorgeous.
Skylar Draser – Infiniti Elite
Infiniti Elite’s Skylar Draser impressively went from finishing 14th all around at the Hopes Classic to earning a silver medal at the Hopes Championships. Draser showed off her form and consistency by being the only gymnast at the Hopes Championships to earn execution scores of 8.0+ on every event. In addition to placing second all around at championships, Draser also finished in the top five on every event proving her to be a solid competitor across all four apparatuses.Tags: Alicia Zhou, Amber Lowe, Ava San Jose, Baylie Belman, Hezly Rivera, Hopes Championships, Lily Pederson, Lundyn VanderToolen, Mya Witte, Myli Lew, Skylar Draser, United States