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First Stop, Tampa! 2022 U.S. Championships Senior 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!

In a normal four-year Olympic cycle, the new journey would have started exactly one year ago, but all eyes were on the gymnasts vying for Olympic berths after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Games by a year. Instead of spotlighting the incredible, rising talent of the next generation in 2021, we celebrated our incredible Olympians and their historic achievements. Suddenly under the lights and deemed eligible for an Olympics three years ahead of schedule, the first year seniors felt more like underdogs under extreme pressure finding their place than they did rising stars making their mark. 2022 finally feels more like their time — the very first page of an abbreviated Olympic chapter. Now is their time to shine. 

For the Olympians and World team members of the last quad, the new journey starts here, too. The Olympic buzz has calmed and the athletes ready to give things another go have re-focused and re-charged. Olympic floor gold medalist Jade Carey and 2021 World All-Around silver medalist Leanne Wong had stand-out NCAA seasons and either could very well win in Tampa if they compete all four events. 

Wong won the recent U.S. Classic despite a fall going for the Bhardwaj on bars, with her trademark artistry and focus on full display. She’s upgrading, including a second vault, and her beam is better than ever. But what we loved most about Wong in Salt Lake was seeing a new lightness and fun on the Elite floor with her personality shining – quite a contrast to the pressure she was feeling last year to be sure. With four hit routines, Wong could take the title. 

Carey looked better than ever in her rookie NCAA season with Oregon State, adding a touch of personality and flair to her already stellar sets and capturing three perfect 10s during the season. She also finished fourth in the All-Around and second on bars at the 2022 NCAA Championships. If she competes all four events and her full difficulty on vault and floor, Carey could easily walk away with her first national All-Around crown.

Still, this is the first major step for Wong and Carey in their next chapter as well, as they balance life as student-athletes and Elites for the first time with a strong field of challengers very hungry for the women’s title. 2020 Olympic team silver medalist Jordan Chiles is coming off a bit of an up and down freshman year competing for UCLA, but if we’ve learned anything about Chiles, she’s a competitor and any time she’s on the floor, she’ll be in the mix. The perfect combination of fire and consistency is what got Chiles to Tokyo, and if she has it in Tampa, a podium finish is very, very possible. 

With seven-time U.S. Champion Simone Biles’ competitive status still a question mark, the door is also definitely wide open for a new star to emerge. Could it be 2020 Olympic alternate Kayla DiCello, who hasn’t looked beyond these Championships as far as her Elite career, Skye Blakely, Konnor McClain or Shilese Jones? We can’t wait to see how it all plays out!

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Overall, the lineup for Championships features a roster of Olympic talent, those who didn’t quite make their mark trying for Tokyo, and a refreshing mix of exciting, new faces all of which will make for a thrilling competition in Tampa where there is no clear-cut winner. New stories are about to be written and we’re right here for all of it! 

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

Jordan Chiles (UCLA/World Champions Centre) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Spring, Texas

April 15, 2001

Where She Stands Out: The Wild Card of the women’s field, Chiles has tremendous all-star potential but on vault and floor she’s undeniable! She can fly on every event and if she shows full difficulty, Chiles could surprise here.

Career Highlights: 

  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics: 2nd Team 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 3rd All-Around & Vault 
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around, Vault & Floor; 2nd Beam 

Notable: Fresh off her freshman season at UCLA, 2020 Olympic team silver medalist Chiles has said her sights are set on Worlds this year and has been seen in the gym training exciting potential upgrades including a Moors and a 1.5 through to arabian double front! If she takes the floor in Tampa, Chiles is sure to be a crowd favorite!

Jade Carey (Oregon State University/Arizona Sunrays) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Phoenix, Arizona 

May 27, 2000

Where She Stands Out: Vault and floor are Jade’s events, but definitely don’t sleep on her All-Around potential! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 2nd Bars 
  • 2020 Olympics: 1st Floor; All-Around & Vault Finalist 
  • 2019 World Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Vault 
  • 2017 World Championships: 2nd Vault & Floor 

Notable: Coming off a stellar freshman season at OSU, Olympic floor champion Carey could very well find herself at the top of the All-Around podium with her improved technique (especially on bars and beam) and soaring confidence. We saw her performance level rise a few notches in NCAA, can she keep the same momentum going in Tampa?

Leanne Wong (University of Florida/GAGE) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Overland Park, Kansas

September 20, 2003

Where She Stands Out: With such pristine form across the board, it’s hard to find a weak event for Wong. However, beam and floor are real bright spots for her because she can let her beauty and grace, and performance quality shine through! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st All-Around, Vault, Beam; 3rd Floor 
  • 2022 NCAA Championships: 2nd Team 
  • 2021 World Championships: 2nd All-Around; 3rd Floor; Beam Finalist 
  • 2020 Olympics: Alternate 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 3rd Floor 

Notable: From the World stage to the college ranks, Wong is thriving and hasn’t slowed down since last summer! With her improved consistency at Florida, Wong will be a favorite for the title in Tampa. She proved that just a few weeks ago at the U.S. Classic where she won the All-Around crown with some upgraded routines! (Leanne now has a second vault, a Bhardwaj on bars, and is bringing back the Arabian double front pike on floor!)

Kayla DiCello (Hills Gymnastics)

Hometown/Birthday: 

Boyds, Maryland 

January 25, 2004

Where She Stands Out: DiCello can be one of the top All-Around gymnasts in the country but really stands out on floor. Not only is her tumbling difficult, but she really knows how to minimize landing deductions! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2021 World Championships: 3rd All-Around; Beam & Floor Finalist 
  • 2020 Olympics: Alternate 
  • 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd Floor 
  • 2020 American Cup: 2nd All-Around 

Notable: DiCello is headed off to Florida in the fall and while her future in Elite isn’t guaranteed, her performance at the Pan American Championships (team silver, floor gold) has us excited for the possibility of a run for Paris 2024!

Check out our interview with Kayla!

Konnor McClain (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Las Vegas, Nevada 

February 1, 2005

Where She Stands Out: With a 6.1 D score that currently tops the field on beam, McClain works with a lightness and ease that is refreshing to see. (Her two feet layout series is simply perfection!) 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 1st Team, All-Around, Beam & Floor 
  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team & Beam; 2nd Floor 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around & Beam; 3rd Floor 
  • Member of 2021 World Championships Team 

Notable: McClain pulled off her Winter Cup win with a rhythm break on bars and just a layout as her final pass on floor. With full difficulty and potential upgrades (she told us after Winter Cup she’s training an Amanar on vault) a healthy McClain can put up a good fight for the title in her first senior U.S. Championships if she stays consistent and shows the magic we know she’s capable of.

Check out our interview with Konnor! 

Katelyn Jong (Metroplex) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Allen, Texas

July 28, 2006

Where She Stands Out: Katelyn has good difficulty on beam (check out her standing full and standing loso+layout) but also has really strong tumbling on floor! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Winter Cup: 5th All-Around 
  • 2021 Junior U.S. Championships: 1st All-Around & Bars; 2nd Floor; 3rd Vault 
  • 2021 Junior Pan American Games: 1st Team & All-Around; 2nd Vault, Beam & Floor
  • 2021 Junior Pan American Championships: 1st Team, All-Around, Vault, Bars; 2nd Beam

Notable: Coming into your first senior U.S. Championships as the reigning junior champ might sound like a lot of pressure, but Katelyn tells us it has helped her confidence! With a few upgrades in the works, including a Maloney half on bars, Katelyn will be in a good position to contend for the podium.

Check out our interview with Katelyn! 

Skye Blakely (WOGA) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Frisco, Texas 

February 4, 2005

Where She Stands Out: Skye has a jam-packed beam routine that she makes look light and effortless! (We can’t get enough of her front handspring+front tuck combination!) Plus, she has great tumbling on floor! (Look for an upgraded opening pass: a full twisting double layout!) 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around & Floor; 3rd Floor
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st Beam 
  • 2020 Gymnix: 1st Team & All-Around; 2nd Vault, Bars & Beam; 3rd Floor 

Notable: Blakely has the makings to be one of the best gymnasts in the country if she can find her groove on the competition floor! Since her elbow injury last season, Blakely told us she’s working hard to regain her confidence and upgrade her routines. If she has a solid showing in Tampa her potential is off the charts with an All-Around gold very much in reach.

Check out our interview with Skye! 

Shilese Jones (Ascend Gymnastics Center) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Auburn, Washington

July 26, 2002 

Where She Stands Out: Pay attention to her explosive Yurchenko double, flawless pirouettes on bars (nobody hits a handstand like Shilese!), her standing Arabian on beam (so much height!) and her sky high tumbling (hello 1.5 twisting double tuck!) 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st Bars; 2nd All-Around & Floor 
  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 1st Team; 2nd Bars; 3rd Beam
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around; 3rd Bars & Floor 
  • 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials: 3rd Vault 

Notable: Don’t count out Shilese! Despite not having any World or Olympic experience, Shilese is one of the most polished gymnasts in the field and looks determined to finally make her mark at the top in 2022. She showed flashes of absolute brilliance at the U.S. Classic where she took second and with major upgrades in the works (such as an Amanar on vault and a Stalder Nabieva on bars), and a solid competition, we have to think this is finally her time to shine!

Joscelyn Roberson (North East Texas Elite) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Texarkana, Texas 

February 8, 2006

Where She Stands Out: Joscelyn throws all the big tricks in the book on beam and floor (her loso+bhs+layout mount sequence on beam is incredible) but is also one of the few U.S. gymnasts at the moment who is performing two vaults (she upgraded to a Mustafina at the U.S. Classic) which already makes her a standout.

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 2nd Vault 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Vault; 5th Beam 
  • 2021 Junior U.S. Championships: 1st Beam; 2nd Vault; 4th All-Around 
  • 2021 Winter Cup (Junior): 1st Beam; 2nd All-Around; 3rd Floor 

Notable: Major upgrades are in the works for the first year senior that would bring her to a 6.4 D-score on beam and a 5.8 D-score on floor if she brings them all to Tampa and hits it! Roberson will need to capitalize on her best events (floor and vault) and hit her difficulty on beam to overcome a potentially lower score on bars to stay near the top of the All-Around standings.

Nola Matthews (Airborne) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Gilroy, California 

September 20, 2006

Where She Stands Out: Bars are Nola’s forte thanks to her immaculate lines and toe point. Also keep your eyes on Nola’s expressive floor choreography! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 2nd Bars 
  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team; 3rd Bars
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Bars; 5th All-Around 

Notable: You might just want to add Nola to your list of contenders for Paris! Her 5.9 D-score on bars is among the top in the country but don’t sleep on her All-Around potential. She’s working upgrades on every event and in May she told us she’d love to get a few more “big” international assignments.

Check out our interview with Nola! 

Levi Jung-Ruivivar (Twin City Twisters) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Woodland Hills, California 

May 3, 2006

Where She Stands Out: Artistry and lines. It’s no secret that strong toe point and technique are Levi’s strengths, so naturally she strands out events like bars and beam!

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 DTB Pokal Cup: 1st Team
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 5th Bars; 8th All-Around 
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 1st Bars; 6th All-Around 

Notable: Levi told us she’s working hard to upgrade her routines, particularly on the power events to make her All-Around program more competitive! Keep your eyes out for an upgraded vault and potentially two new floor passes (a double layout and a whip to double back)!

Check out our interview with Levi! 

 

Elle Mueller (Twin City Twisters)

Hometown/Birthday: 

Ham Lake, Minnesota 

December 15, 2005

Where She Stands Out: Thanks to her clean lines, Mueller really stands out on bars and beam! (Be on the lookout for her upgraded Ezhova+Chow II+Ricna combination!)

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 2nd Team 
  • 2022 Jesolo Trophy: 1st Team; 8th All-Around
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 3rd Bars 
  • 2019 J.O. National Championships: 1st All-Around & Beam; 3rd Bars

Notable: Mueller has had a very busy year representing Team USA in Italy and Brazil, we can’t wait to see how that experience translates to her first U.S. Championships! 

Lexi Zeiss (Twin City Twisters) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Omaha, Nebraska 

November 4, 2005

Where She Stands Out: Zeiss is a very powerful gymnast who has shown lots of promising floor upgrades in training including a double layout, double double, and 2.5 twist to front full! Plus she loves to perform and you can definitely see that when she’s out on the floor! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 Pan American Championships: 2nd All-Around & Team; 3rd Beam 
  • 2022 Winter Cup: 6th Floor 
  • 2021 Winter Cup: 8th Vault 
  • 2021 Nastia Cup: 2nd Beam; 4th All-Around & Vault 

Notable: The Pan American Championships was Ziess’ first international assignment ever but you would never know it with the way she performed! Although she was the most inexperienced on the team, Zeiss didn’t count a single fall during the entire competition and walked away with three medals! With clean performances with some potential upgrades in Tampa, Zeiss could be a surprise for the podium! 

Katelyn Rosen (Twin City Twisters) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Boerne, Texas

July 27, 2005

Where She Stands Out: With powerful tumbling, clean landings and a beautiful artistic style, Rosen is the complete package on floor! She is beautiful on beam too, so watch out for her on that event as well! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st Floor; 3rd All-Around
  • 2021 American Classic: 2nd Floor 
  • 2018 J.O. National Championship: 1st Floor 

Notable: Rosen’s gold and bronze from the 2022 U.S. Classic is the first medal of her career at a “big” domestic Elite meet. We hope this is just the beginning for this star! 

Olivia Greaves (World Champions Centre) 

Hometown/Birthday: 

Staten Island, New York

May 5, 2004

Where She Stands Out: Bars have long been Olivia’s bright spot (she had a 5.9 D score in 2021) but she’s fun to watch on floor as well! 

Career Highlights: 

  • 2021 Winter Cup: 7th Bars
  • 2019 U.S. Championships (Junior): 1st Bars; 3rd All-Around
  • 2019 Gymnix International: 1st Team; 2nd All-Around, Vault, Floor  

Notable: Olivia Greaves is back and ready to compete in Tampa after tearing her ACL at the Swiss Cup in November 2021! While it’s been awhile since we’ve seen her compete, but if Greaves is feeling healthy, she could be a surprise contender for the World Championship team later this year for her bars alone! 

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

For more:

2022 U.S. Championships Junior Women’s Preview 

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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