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First Stop, Tampa! 2022 U.S. Championships Junior Women’s Preview

By Ashlee Buhler  with Christy Sandmaier contributing

New stars will emerge, new champions will certainly be crowned, and history will be written as the next generation of Team USA begins their journey toward a lifelong Olympic dream. It all begins in Tampa, Florida at the U.S. Championships!

The junior division will provide a look at the rising talent of the U.S. team, the majority of which is eligible for the Paris 2024 Olympics. This competition is the next big leap in their journey. 

Tiana Sumanasekera is a favorite for the title, despite this being her first U.S. Championships. With her stellar international success in the last year, including winning four gold medals at the 2022 Pan American Championships, it’s hard not to consider her a favorite for the title! There is also Ella Kate Parker, who has won the All-Around title at the last two Winter Cups and is now training alongside the Elite army that is WOGA. Could this be her year? Or will it be Jayla Hang, who won the 2022 U.S. Classic with an incredible performance that combined difficulty with clean precision?

Also in the mix will be Audrey Snyder, who placed 3rd All-Around at the U.S. Classic, and Dulcy Caylor, who made one heck of a debut by winning the All-Around title at the 2022 Pan American Championships! 

No matter the outcome, it’s sure to be a thrilling competition in Tampa where the title is anyone’s for the taking! And a little taste of what is in store for the future! 

***

We break down the field and take a closer look at the athletes we have on our ‘Must Watch’ list for Tampa! 

Ella Kate Parker (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

West Monroe, Louisiana 

January 9, 2008 

Where She Stands Out: Ella Kate works the beam with the confidence of a senior and is very charming on floor as well! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team; 3rd Floor 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around & Beam; 2nd Vault 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd Beam
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around; 2nd Beam

Notable: With upgraded routines on all four events, her captivating personality, and a recent gym switch to WOGA Frisco, Ella Kate is a favorite to win the All-Around title in her second junior U.S. Championships! 

Tiana Sumanasekera (West Valley Gymnastics School) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Pleasanton, California 

September 15, 2007

Where She Stands Out: Tiana puts on a clinic on how to execute leaps to perfection on beam as well how to rock a double layout with flawless toe point and your legs pasted together. Also keep your eyes on her Yurchenko double, which she vaults into the rafters!  

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 1st Team, Vault, Beam, Floor; 2nd All-Around
  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 1st Team, All-Around, Vault, Beam, & Floor
  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team & Vault; 2nd Beam
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Vault & Floor; 2nd Beam

Notable: After missing out on qualifying to the U.S. Championship in 2021, Tiana has had tremendous international success at the tail end of last season and so far in 2022. She’s now a heavy favorite for the title in Tampa and what a story that would be!

Check out our interview with Tiana! 

Hezly Rivera (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Plano, Texas 

June 4, 2008 

Where She Stands Out: Hezly shines on beam, where she currently has the highest D-score (5.7) on that event in the junior division. Her new Yurcheko double on vault and double layout on floor are also super clean! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st Beam; 2nd All-Around
  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 3rd All-Around 

Notable: Hezly is rising quickly through the junior ranks! In her first year of Elite, she’s already impressing with her medal placements (3rd All-Around at Winter Cup, 2nd All-Around at the U.S. Classic)! If you factor in her recent upgrades (she’s added over 5 tenths of difficulty on each event for a total of 2 points and 7 tenths since Winter Cup), Hezly is coming into Tampa hot! 

Madray Johnson (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Dallas, Texas 

July 16, 2007

Where She Stands Out: Madray is very polished on bars and beam and has excellent basics that will allow for plenty of upgrades in the future! (We can easily see that double tuck beam dismount becoming a full twisting double back some day!) 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st Bars; 2nd Vault 
  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 1st Team; 2nd All-Around, Bars, Beam & Floor 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd All-Around & Bars; 3rd Beam
  • 2021 Junior Pan American Games: 1st Team, Bars & Beam 
  • 2021 Junior Pan American Championships: 1st Team & Beam; 2nd All-Around & Bars

Notable: In just one year, Madray has quite a bit of experience under her belt which could bode well for her chances upgrading her silver medal for last year’s Championships to a gold medal. 

Ella Murphy (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Frisco, Texas

March 1, 2007 

Where She Stands Out: Similar to her WOGA teammates, Ella is a beamer! Check out her lovely triple series and the extension on her leaps! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around; 3rd Beam
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 4th Beam

Notable: Ella’s strong execution and attention to detail could be what propels to her first U.S. Championships podium finish! 

Azaraya Ra-Akbar (World Class Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Columbia, Maryland

July 1, 2007

Where She Stands Out: Azaraya has great air awareness which helps her stick those landings on floor! Keep your eyes peeled for the full twisting double back she does with plenty of amplitude in her second pass. 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Winter Cup: 3rd Floor; 5th All-Around
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 5th Floor 
  • 2021 American Classic: 3rd Floor; 4th All-Around

Notable: As she gears up for her second season of Elite, Azaraya is a vessel of potential just waiting to be unleashed! 

Jayla Hang (Pacific Reign Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Bellevue, Washington 

January 9, 2008

Where She Stands Out: Watch out for her HUGE Yurchenko double twist on vault and lovely work on beam! Her standing loso + loso is pretty great, as is her super high double tuck dismount which she practically walks into! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st All-Around, Vault; 3rd Floor 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 3rd Floor; 5th All-Around
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 5th Floor 
  • 2021 American Classic: 3rd Floor; 4th All-Around

Notable: Jayla’s impressive 52.800 from the U.S. Classic would have placed her 3rd in the senior division! No big deal! 

Simone Rose (Pacific Reign Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Bellevue, Washington 

July 9, 2008

Where She Stands Out: Simone doesn’t have the most difficulty in the field but she stands out on bars and beam where clean lines are a must! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 3rd Bars & Beam
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 5th Floor 
  • 2021 Hopes Classic: 3rd Beam 

Notable: Simone didn’t do All-Around at the recent U.S. Classic, but should be in the mix for a national team spot and maybe a medal or two with hit performances across both days of competition! 

Dulcy Caylor (World Champions Centre) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Coppell, Texas  

December 2007

Where She Stands Out: Dulcy is lovely on beam! (Check out her triple series and the excellent extension on her leaps!) 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 1st All-Around; 2nd Vault; 3rd Beam
  • 2022 Pan Am Trials: 2nd Bars; 3rd All-Around 

Notable: Dulcy was a pleasant surprise at the Pan American Championships where she walked away with three medals, including the All-Around gold. Considering she only qualified to Elite three months prior, the potential for this one is off the charts! 

Zoey Molomo (Metroplex Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

McKinney, Texas  

July 11, 2008

Where She Stands Out: Zoey has major amplitude on her leaps/jumps and tumbling on floor! Plus she has a really nice Yurchenko 1.5! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Pan Am Trials: 1st All-Around, Vault, Beam; 2nd Bars; 3rd Floor
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 2nd Vault
  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 2nd Vault & Floor 
  • 2019 Hopes Championships: 1st Vault; 2nd All-Around 

Notable: Zoey did incredibly well at the Pan Am Trials, posting an All-Around score of 54.100. Unfortunately Zoey did pull out of the Pan American Championships but watch out for her in Tampa! 

Audrey Snyder (First State Gymnastics) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Annapolis, Maryland 

April 11, 2008

Where She Stands Out: Audrey is lovely on beam, showing great flexibility and a smooth rhythm from one skill to the next! On floor, she opens with a piked full in, which is done with really clean form! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 2nd Beam; 3rd All-Around 
  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 1st Team; 5th Bars 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 5th Bars
  • 2021 Hopes Championships: 1st Beam; 2nd All-Around 

Notable: It was mentioned on the U.S. Classic broadcast that Audrey is the only junior not getting a deduction for her leaps on beam!

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics; Photo of Dulcy Caylor by Ricardo Bufolin 

For more:

First Stop, Tampa! 2022 U.S. Championships Senior Men’s Preview

U.S. Junior Champ Katelyn Jong Ready For The Jump To The Senior Ranks 

August 2022 Issue Preview!

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