Elle Mueller and Ella Kate Parker Crowned Nastia Liukin Cup Champions

It was a great day to be named Elle/a inside the Kentucky International Convention Centre in Louisville, where crowds gathered for the 14th edition of the Nastia Liukin Cup. Oklahoma signee Elle Mueller clinched the senior title, ahead of last year’s champion Avery Neff, a Utah signee, and Oklahoma commit Ella Murphy. In the junior field, Ella Kate Parker, a former elite in the class of 2026, won the competition, beating Ella Fine and Morgan Reihl, also class of 2026 athletes.

As It Happened: The Senior Competition

Rotation 1

Mueller started off on the balance beam—perhaps the hardest event to begin a competition. She had a solid routine, which included a front somersault, a switch-leap half to beat jump, and a stuck double-twist dismount, the highlight of the routine (9.675). Neff started her competition on bars, where she had a clean routine, which included a Gienger to bail and a stuck double layout dismount. It was not her cleanest nor her most difficult set, and only got a 9.575 from the judges, but represented a solid start for the defending champion. Murphy also began her day on bars, where she showed off the most beautiful lines, as well as a super difficult Komova II to Pak salto (9.700). 

Two other Oklahoma commits in the class of 2025, Mackenzie Estep and Kamila Pawlak, impressed on floor. Estep showed off some tight and difficult twisting passes (9.825)—reminiscent of Alabama standout Lilly Hudson—while Pawlak showed off her big full-twisting double pike to open her routine (9.600).

The top score of the first rotation came on vault, where Michigan signee Jahzara Swaby-Ranger impressed with a big Yurchenko one and a half with only a small hop forward.

Rotation 2

In the second rotation, Mueller showed off her power and elegance on floor where she opened with a full-in and performed a nicely choreographed routine (9.825). Neff had a solid routine on beam, showcasing a fouetté turn and her unique side aerial to two feet. A stuck dismount put her back in contention (9.675). Murphy had another stunning routine on beam, which included a back handspring to layout step out, layout step out series and a ring jump, a rarely seen skill (9.700).

Over on vault, both Estep (9.700) and Pawlak (9.650) landed solid Yurchenkos one and a halfs, allowing Estep to take the lead. Also on vault Kentucky commit Gabby Van Frayen performed a stuck Yurchenko full, while on bars, fists were thrown into the air after LSU commit Nina Ballou stuck her double layout dismount.

At the halfway point, the entire podium was made up of Oklahoma gymnasts, with Estep (19.525) leading over Mueller (19.500) and Murphy (19.400).

Rotation 3

In the third rotation, Mueller set herself up for victory with a stuck Yurchenko one and a half on vault, the best of the competition (9.875). Neff had a standout performance on floor scoring a 9.900, the highest score of the meet on any event. Murphy opened her own floor routine with a stuck double tuck and again showed off her beautiful lines and toe point (9.800).

On bars, Estep and Pawlak competed two solid routines that kept them in contention, both scoring 9.625.

With one rotation to go, Mueller led the way, followed by Murphy, with Neff and Estep tied for bronze.

Rotation 4

Opening the final rotation, Mueller kept her nerves at bay on bars, competing a difficult Chow to Pak salto, and a stuck double layout dismount. The routine scored a 9.800, the highest score of the competition on bars, and was enough to claim victory. Behind her, Neff struggled a bit with her landing on vault, overpowering her first attempt at her Yurchenko one and a half and under powering the second. Her effort, though, was enough to put her in second (9.750). Murphy competed a solid Yurchenko full on vault and held on to third (9.550).

Estep had an unfortunate fall in an otherwise spotless beam routine, finishing in ninth place. Pawlak posted the highest score of the day on beam, a 9.750, and finished her competition in fourth place.

As It Happened: The Junior Competition

Rotation 1

Parker began her afternoon on bars, where she performed a difficult routine, including a straddled Tkatchev, a Pak salto, and a double-layout dismount. The routine wasn’t deduction free but was a solid effort (9.250). Fine started on vault, where she scored a 9.375. The broadcast didn’t show any of her routines, so we apologize for a lack of further comment. Reihl started on bars, where she showcased a beautiful Maloney, an equally well-performed Pak salto and some amazing handstands (9.475). 

The top score of the rotation came on vault, where Keria Cameron showed off her super powerful Yurchenko one and a half for a 9.750.

Rotation 2

In the second rotation, Parker showed off her elite experience and skill range on beam, where her routine included a side aerial to LOSO and a switch ring. She scored a 9.775, the highest score of the day on beam by any gymnast, both senior and junior. Fine posted a 9.400 on bars and Reihl a 9.575 on beam. Cameron competed a beautiful routine on bars, which included a Maloney to Pak salto and a double-tuck dismount in combination (9.400).

At the halfway point, Cameron retained the lead (19.150), ahead of Parker (19.025) and Reihl (19.000).

Rotation 3

In the third rotation, Parker performed a well-executed floor routine, which started off with a very difficult triple twist (9.550). Reihl performed a solid routine on floor, with amazing form and landings (9.425), while Fine posted a 9.150 on beam. With a fall on beam, Cameron took herself out of contention for the title.

With one rotation to go, Parker sat in first, Reihl in second and Camryn Shepard in third after a solid routine on bars (9.275).

Rotation 4

In the final rotation, Parker stuck her Yurchenko half to win the junior title (9.500). Fine performed an excellent routine on floor (9.675), and Reihl completed her day with a solid routine on bars, which earned her the bronze medal (9.425). 

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Article by Talitha Ilacqua


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