1. It was a fantastic GK U.S. Classic competition this weekend (results)! Simone Biles did her Simone things and won the all around, vault and floor as expected, but the rest of the field did amazing as well. Let’s start with the current/former NCAA gymnasts. MyKayla Skinner, who’s left Utah to pursue her Olympic dream, was impressive, bringing back her Amanar on vault and a BHLO + tucked full on beam. And Florida sophomore Trinity Thomas competed on bars and beam, and WOW – she scored over 14 on both events and she looked very solid. Future NCAA gymnasts also impressed. Florida commit Riley McCusker was second in the senior all around competition. Particularly stunning was her new beam routine. Third was Utah commit Grace McCallum (2022). I thought that beam was her standout apparatus too. Fourth was another Utah commit, Kara Eaker, who won beam, but impressed on all four apparatuses. Fifth was Leanne Wong, who struggled a bit on bars and floor, but performed a fantastic DTY and an even better beam routine. Leanne is still uncommitted, I wonder what her final choice will be… Florida commit Morgan Hurd (2021) was sixth, after struggling a bit on beam and floor. She won bars, however, with a very clean routine. I cannot wait to see her, Riley and Shilese Jones (2021) all competing on bars for the Gators. Shilese may not be as polished as the other two in her elite skills, but she has the potential to become an extraordinary collegiate gymnast. LSU commit Aleah Finnegan was seventh, an extraordinary result for her, considering that she hasn’t been an elite gymnast for more than one year. Her beam dismount will become a fan favourite in Baton Rouge. Oklahoma commit Faith Torrez was eighth. Faith is an impressive gymnast and she will do fantastic in college. Her full-twisting double layout on floor was stunning!
2. Among the juniors at the GK U.S. Classic (results), Konnor McClain proved to be the best junior gymnast in the U.S., stunning with a flared DTY on vault and with a super difficult beam routine (standing Arabian, standing back full, triple series…). Lucky will be the team recruiting her! Second was UCLA commit Sydney Barros (2024), who had a terrific competition, which started with an excellent floor routine, continued with a full-twisting double layout dismount on bars and ended with the most precise beam routine of the competition. Third was Florida commit Olivia Greaves (2023), who won bars with a big 14.200. Fourth was Skye Blakely, who struggled a bit on bars, but won floor. Fifth was Ciena Alipio, who performed another stunning beam routine. Both she and Skye will make extraordinary NCAA gymnasts. Sixth was another Florida commit, Sophia Butler (2023). She impressed me so much on all four apparatuses, barred injuries, she could have a successful elite career before joining the Gators.
3. The future of U.S. elite and NCAA gymnastics competed at the GK Hopes Championships on Friday, ahead of the GK U.S. Classic. In the 10-11 category, Nicole Desmond won the all around with a 49.050, followed by Zoey Molomo (48.650) and Shanell Valles and Izzy Stassi tied for bronze (48.400). The 12-13 category witnessed the discovery of a new rising star, Rafaela O’Neill, who won the all around with four great performances (51.600). I was particularly impressed with her bars, she swings with stunning maturity for her young age. Second was another rising star, Lily Pederson, who finally hit four for four, including her amazing beam (51.200). Third was another gymnast with a bright future ahead of her, Katelyn Jong (51.100). These three athletes really performed their best gymnastics when it counted the most. Also to be mentioned, stunning floor choreographies by Chloe Cho, Carly Weiberg, Ella Kate Parker (to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue!), Rafaela O’Neill herself, Shanell Valles and Lucy Tobia; crazy difficult beam routine for Ashlee Sullivan (STANDING ARABIAN, triple series, Onodi, double tuck dismount) and a gorgeous double Arabian on floor for Carsyn Coleman.
4. Getting ready for Classics, here is some footage of the GAGE gymnasts on beam: Leanne Wong, Utah commit Kara Eaker, LSU commit Aleah Finnegan and UCLA commit Alexis Jeffrey. In the meantime, in Arizona, former Utah gymnast Mykayla Skinner showed off a full pirouette to Fabrichinova off bars!!!
6. International friendships update: Florida commit Morgan Hurd and Russia’s star Angelina Melnikova share the same birthday. Last week they wished each other happy birthday in their respective languages. Cute!
7. It has been announced that a film based on the Oklahoma gymnastics team will be made and that they are looking for actors. Check it out, that could be you!
8. William and Mary sophomore Samantha Sakti has announced that she will be transferring to UCLA. Samantha did particularly well on floor in her freshman season. Watch here her debut routine against Towson, where she scored a 9.925.
9. Arkansas head coach Jordyn Wieber was a guest in TEDx Talks, where she explained how she turned her devastation (not qualifying to the AA final at the 2012 Olympics) into inspiration to help the USA win the team gold medal two days later.
10. Coaches updates: Arkansas standout Amanda Wellick has been named assistant coach at Utah State. And Jay Villegas, who has 40 years of experience of coaching gymnastics, has been named assistant coach at Brown.
‘Early Survivor of Larry Nassar Speaks Out for the First Time’, Time – Link
‘Did this Student Deserve Admission to UCLA’s Renowned Gymnastics Team?’, Los Angeles Times – Link
‘The Most Important Steps: How Sam Cerio Overcame her Horrific Gymnastics Accident’, ESPN – Link
To listen to:
Routine of the week
Florida sophomore Trinity Thomas made the NCAA proud this weekend!