LSU Commit Konnor McClain Wins 2022 Winter Cup

LSU commit Konnor McClain, in the class of 2023, won the Winter Cup with a 54.300 ahead of Florida commit Skye Blakely, also in the class of 2023 (53.700), and California signee eMjae Frazier (53.150).

McClain struggled on her full pirouette on bars but put up strong performances on the other three events. She competed a Yurchenko double twist on vault, a full-twisting double layout and a double layout on floor—both improved from last year—and a fantastic beam set, where she posted a big 14.600. There, she hit both her standing full and her layout to two feet.

Blakely had the chance of overtaking McClain going into the final rotation, but a shaky beam routine made her settle for silver. She still had a solid day, highlighted by a good double-twisting Yurchenko on vault and a double layout on floor.

Frazier was leading the field going into the final rotation, but a scary fall on her Nabieva to Pak salto on bars prevented her from taking the lead. Still, this was a strong competition for her; she showed some upgrades and better landings than last year and looked more confident than at the world championships in October. Her Silivas on floor was especially satisfying to watch.

First-year senior Ashlee Sullivan finished fourth with a 52.850. It was a big result and improvement for the young gymnast in the class of 2025, who finished tenth at the junior Winter Cup last year.

2021 U.S. junior national champion Katelyn Jong (c/o 2024), also in her senior debut, was fifth with a 52.650, tied with Nola Matthews, another first-year senior in the class of 2025. Alabama signee Karis German was seventh (52.050) and Levi Jung-Ruivivar, in the class of 2024, was eighth (51.900).

Other NCAA commits who competed at the Winter Cup included Sydney Barros (51.800), Katelyn Rosen (50.500) and Ciena Alipio (50.200), who are all committed to UCLA, Addison Fatta (51.250), an Oklahoma commit, Zoe Miller (50.350), who is committed to LSU, Skylar Draser (48.950), who is committed to Florida, Lauren Little, who is an Alabama signee and didn’t compete on floor, Kaylen Morgan, who is a Michigan signee and competed only on beam.

Ella Kate Parker, in the class of 2026, won the junior competition with a 52.450, ahead of Ella Murphy (51.850) and Hezly Rivera (50.650). Parker caught fans’ attention for competing her vault with her leotard in her mouth, a move that apparently allows her to have a correct head placement down the runway. Despite a fall on bars, Parker edged the rest of the field by over half a point thanks to very strong performances on beam and floor. On beam, she impressed with a free cartwheel to LOSO to LOSO, and on floor with a full-in and a triple twist.

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Article by Talitha Ilacqua

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