The P&G Championships have concluded in Anaheim, Calif., and we still have a hundred questions. To help keep everything straight, we’ve put together a review of the meet.
For NCAA fans, it was great to see one of our favorite college rivalries played out through the junior session of nationals. Utah commit Maile O’Keefe sailed through the meet, putting on arguably the most impressive performance of the whole competition. Her pair of 57s were slightly inflated by the U.S.’s domestic bonus system for sticks, but the two point margin over her nearest competitor represents the level of dominance she showed. UCLA was represented by Emma Malabuyo, who was equally phenomenal on day one but let a few stumbles and a fall on beam hold her scores back during finals. Between the decorated elite careers these two are expected to have and the three years that they will overlap in college, we’ll see them face off many more times.
In the senior division, Oklahoma commit Ragan Smith strolled to her first national title and a near-guaranteed World Championships spot after an error-strewn first day. Riley McCusker (Florida) rallied after a difficult classic to put together a very convincing performance in the third spot, winning bars and counting an out of bounds on floor as her only major error. Fan favorite Jordan Chiles (UCLA) overcame a fever on day one and a fall on her day two Amanar to nail her other three events and wrap up the silver medal.
In the specialist picture, Ashton Locklear still didn’t compete her full difficulty on the uneven bars, finishing in second on that event behind McCusker. Jade Carey of Oregon State struggled on her Amanar on both days, but competed an exceptional floor routine on the second to score the highest mark on the event of the whole year. Michigan commit Alyona Shchennikova had a hard weekend, including a fall on bars that sets her back in the worlds team picture, and Morgan Hurd (Florida) avoided major errors on all but one of her routines but overall looked quite shaky.
The National Team
The national teams as named this week represent a diverse collection of future college teams; only UCLA and Florida are represented more than once. Oklahoma, Oregon State, Iowa, Georgia, Utah and Cal each have one future student-athlete on the junior and/or senior teams.
The top six all around gymnasts automatically qualify to the national team. For the seniors, these six included Smith, Chiles, McCusker, Trinity Thomas, Margzetta Frazier and Hurd. Specialists Jade Carey and Ashton Locklear were also added.
Alyona Shchennikova is the most notable absence from the national team. However, she and Emily Gaskins (Alabama) were invited to the worlds selection camp.
For the juniors, the automatic qualifiers were O’Keefe, Malabuyo, Kara Eaker, Adeline Kenlin (Iowa), Leanne Wong and Audrey Davis (Georgia). Gabby Perea (California), who has been out of the all around recovering from an injury, was added as well. Standout juniors Jay Jay Marshall and Sunisa Lee did not make the team after the conclusion of the national championships, but we can expect new members to be added through year—especially in January, when all but one of the current team will turn senior.
O’Keefe and Malabuyo have also been selected for the Japan Junior International, which will take place next month.
The Worlds Picture
Final decisions about the worlds squad will be made at the selection camp, which will take place next month.
Smith is expected to compete in the all around, and it’s also likely that we’ll see Riley McCusker on the team, but it’s uncertain whether she’ll compete as the second all arounder or as a specialist.
Locklear could still contend for a spot on bars as she has been reported saying she expects to bring her in-bar skills back for the camp. Carey still seems like a frontrunner for a vault/floor spot, but given her struggles on her Amanar this weekend and her lack of experience, she’s still vulnerable. Trinity Thomas received strong scores on three events this weekend and could be a dark horse with a strong camp performance.
Jordan Chiles is rumored to be preparing a Lopez as a second vault, which could establish her as a competitor to Carey’s specialist spot or even strengthen her argument for an all around position. However, Carey also has a few tricks up her sleeve with a double-twisting double layout on floor that she is prepared to throw out in Montreal should be make the trip. Hurd is also a plausible second all arounder, but both her and Chiles will need to demonstrate better consistency at the selection camp.
Keep checking NCAA Gym News for continued coverage of these future NCAA gymnastics stars.
Article by Rebecca Scally