Morgan Price makes a heart with her hands.

The Dismount: USAG Nationals

History in the Making

USAG nationals was the backdrop to loads of history-making this weekend. Morgan Price became the first athlete from an HBCU to be named all-around national champion. Freshman Kyrstin Johnson of Talladega smashed the team’s records on vault with her huge Yurchenko one and a half en route to the team’s first-ever 39-plus all-around performance. Did we mention she also took the vault national title? With both of these athletes being underclassmen, the future of HBCU gymnastics is bright. 

West Chester qualified to the competition’s team final for the first time in program history, Lindenwood closed the team final with a HUGE 49.375 on bars for a new program record and TWU approached its vault record with 49.175. Needless to say, some big gymnastics occurred this weekend and USAGs should not be underestimated. 

The Unofficial History Books

Although Southern Connecticut may not have qualified a team to the USAG Nationals, the qualifiers who competed would’ve notched a cumulative floor score of 49.050. And that would be good enough for a top-three team score; but since we’re talking individuals, this won’t be found in the history books.

Going out on Top

This weekend was a bittersweet end for the Lindenwood gymnastics program which has become a dynasty of USAG gymnastics programs over its 12-year history. The Lions competed with joy, featured the best back-flop routine celebrations and came away with their fifth USAG national team title. With the amount of adversity this team has faced this season, it would’ve been easy to fold under the weight of it all. Instead, team 12 cemented its legacy in gymnastics history, following the lead of the Lions that came before them. 

Flying High

Air Force’s Maggie Slife, sorry missed a tiny detail, Air Force freshman Maggie Slife competed in the Berkeley regional last weekend, looking like an absolute natural in a high-pressure environment. Although she may not have landed on the podium with an all-around medal, she showed she’s able to quickly pivot and added a little over three tenths to her score a few days later. 

If this is her freshman season, there’s nothing between her and the stars. 

Looking Toward 2025

Texas Woman’s looks poised to continue a tradition of MIC dominance in USAG competition. Beyond that, though, there are a lot of questions. How small will this competition shrink if, as rumored, the Ivy League pulls out altogether? And will NAIA schools Fisk and Talladega ever become eligible? 

The other thing we can’t neglect as we look toward the future is the transfer portal. Numerous former Lions are expected and/or rumored to be looking to continue their gymnastics careers elsewhere. Could MIC or USAG rivals capitalize? 

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Article by Allison Freeman, Rebecca Scally, and Tavia Smith

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