The 2019 Nastia Liukin Cup came right down to the wire in the senior division with Alabama signee Makarri Doggette squeaking out a win over fellow graduating seniors Jillian Hoffman (Utah) and Kiya Johnson (LSU). Uncommitted gymnast Gabrielle Gladieux picked up the junior title. Here’s your run-down of the results by future college team.
Makarri Doggette (‘19) finally picked up a Nastia Cup title on her sixth attempt, scoring a decisive 38.975 that included first place finishes on every event but floor. Her scores seemed a little wonky—she had a great score on bars despite clipping her foot on the ground, but only finished tenth on floor despite a great routine that included a near-stick on her pike full-in.
Frankie Price (‘21) overpowered her final pass on floor and made a few other nervy errors, but her incredible Texas Dreams technique shined through across all four events. She also tied for sixth on beam.
It wasn’t Auburn’s day. Signee Cassie Stevens was uncharacteristically wobbly all meet, and a disaster floor routine where she underrotated two passes and sat the third left her on the bottom of the senior field. Hailey John (‘22) had a fall on floor and a difficult bars routine and landed 17th in the junior rankings. Both are usually much better than their showings here.
Sage Thompson (‘21) missed a combo pass on floor, but still strung together a solid day and impressed with her beautiful toe point. She also picked up second on bars with an incredibly difficult routine that includes two separate release combinations. Andrea Li (‘20) made a few small mistakes, including some uncontrolled landings on floor, that kept her in a still-impressive eighth place.
Raena Worley (‘19) had a fantastic first three events, finishing second on floor and leading the senior field after three events, but a pirouette error on bars put her at a disadvantage in the last rotation. She ultimately finished fifth.
Kiya Johnson (‘19), a former junior champion, was confident across four events to finish third. Interestingly, she attempted both a Yurchenko full and a Yurchenko double full on vault. The double full came in short and she ultimately used the score from the full; both start from a 10.0 in J.O.
Lindsay Bacheler (‘21) looked a little nervy and didn’t match her impressive scores from earlier in the season, but she did register a solid 37.750 and impressed with her performance quality.
Signee Gabby Wilson has one of the top level 10 scores of the 2019 season, but a series of small technical errors kept her off the podium here. The sometimes-odd nature of her mistakes—which included some awkward overrotated landings on her difficult floor leaps—makes us wonder if the extra bounce of the podium played a role.
Sierra Brooks (‘20) finished fourth with a 38.725, showing off spectacular tumbling and two Yurchenko one and a halfs, both of which had more power than she needed.
It wasn’t a perfect meet for Mya Hooten (‘20), but she put in a sparkling performance on floor, earning a 9.800 and third place on the event with a gorgeous full-in and great dance.
In-state signee Hallie Thompson’s incredible twisting on floor never fails to impress, and her great Yurchenko one and a half on vault was good for fourth place and is incredibly exciting for the Tar Heels. A lower score on a slightly chaotic bars routine held all around total back, but she still has the technique there to be useful in college.
Recent commit Makenna Smith (‘22) wowed with two double Arabians—on floor and off bars—and was able to finish eighth despite falling on both her Omelianchik attempts.
Legacy Elite’s Faith Torrez (‘22) had minor technical questions across four events but impressed with her difficulty, including a standing full on beam, to finish seventh.
Both Hill’s athletes at the Cup are committed to Penn State, and the Nittany Lions have a lot to be excited about. Madeleine Johnston (‘20) dropped back from elite this season, and level 10 suits her. She looked clean and confident, scoring over 38 despite having to put her hand down on a double turn on beam. Ava Piedrahita (‘22) has some cleaning to do before she’s ready for college lineups, but she can be very precise and performed confidently on the big stage.
Jillian Hoffman (‘19) surged in the last rotation to win floor with a 9.900 after nearly sticking both her double layout and her double back. She finished second in the senior division in the last year of her J.O. career.
Orlando Metro’s Abbie Thompson (‘20) is a big catch for the Mountaineers, and she finished 12th here despite a fall on beam. She had a near stick on her Yurchenko full on vault and very precise landings on floor.
Uncommitted Athletes to Watch
Only one gymnast in the senior field is still uncommitted. Mya Lauzon, a high school junior from Metropolitan in Seattle, finished ninth in the all around with a 38.225. No. 17 Carina Jordan from World Champions Centre was previously committed to Florida, but there are questions about her current status after she was spotted on a visit at Utah just a day after this meet.
Last year’s junior champion and runner up committed within a few months of their standout meets, and we’re hoping for the same with this year’s leading pair. Gabrielle Gladieux and Madison Ulrich are both from North Carolina and were the only two juniors to crack 38.
Article by Rebecca Scally
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