22 Aug 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships | Who To Watch – Senior Women Competitor Play by Play
Starring in San Jose
Your 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships All-Access Pass!
By Ashlee Buhler and Brittany Buhler with Christy Sandmaier contributing
Game On! Just one year out from the Paris Olympics, the storylines dominating the headlines for the U.S. women and men are markedly different from what we saw at the conclusion of the 2022 U.S. Championships in Tampa. Starting in San Jose, an epic battle for the top spots heading into the Olympic Year will begin to play out live as the pressure rises and insurmountable excitement builds.
Not. Done. Yet. Captivating the fans (and the media) around the world this summer has been the official return to competition by seven-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles and 2020 Olympic All-Around Champion Suni Lee. With only five positions up for grabs for the 2023 World Championships in Antwerp this fall and five for that elusive Olympic ticket, what we’re about to see is perhaps the most competitive and exciting field for the U.S. women we’ve ever seen. It’s certainly the most decorated.
Last year in Tampa, Konnor McClain took the title with Shilese Jones finishing a close second. Jones would go on to take All-Around silver at the 2022 World Championships, stamping herself as a new star and one to watch for Team USA, while McClain would stay home sidelined with injuries. McClain has since decided to head to LSU a year early, but told us her plan is still to train for Paris 2024. (Her competition schedule for 2023 is uncertain.)
The star-studded women’s lineup also includes 2020 Olympic floor gold medalist Jade Carey, who will remain at Oregon State to compete and train for the Games, Olympic silver medalist and UCLA star Jordan Chiles who is performing her best gymnastics ever, and 2022 World team gold medalists Skye Blakely, Leanne Wong and Lexi Zeiss (alternate), who also captured the All-Around title at the 2023 Winter Cup. Returning to the Elite field after a stellar freshman season for Florida is Kayla DiCello who looked better than ever as a Gator. And be sure to keep your eyes on first-year senior Tiana Sumanasekera who took three golds at the recent Pan American Championships, as well as powerhouse Joscelyn Roberson, who is having the season of her life.
Who will take the titles in San Jose? Fasten your seatbelts. Because there has never been a better time to be a gymnastics fan than now.
Here we break down the field and take a closer look at the senior women we have on our “Must Watch” list at the 2023 Xfinity U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
(World Champions Centre)
Vitals: DOB: March 17, 1997 Hometown: Spring, TX
- 7-time Olympic Medalist
- 25-time World Medalist
- 7-time U.S. All-Around National Champion
Simone Biles is back. And she means business. For the first time since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the 7-time Olympic medalist and 25-time World Championships medalist returned to the competition floor at the 2023 Core Hydration Classic and looked as if she never left, coming away with the top score of the day on vault (15.4), beam (14.8) and floor (14.9). Her score of 59.100 in the All-Around is not only the highest All-Around score put up by any gymnast this year, but edged out silver medalist Leanne Wong by five points. In San Jose, Biles will be looking for national title number eight. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching to see if she adds any more difficulty to already impressive repertoire. Most notably, we’re wondering what Biles will do for her second vault. If she sticks with the Yurchenko double pike, the Amanar will be out of the question (due to being from the same vault family). The Cheng will likely be her go-to, but we’d be stoked to see her eponymous vault again (half on, layout double full off).
Vitals: DOB: February 4, 2005 Hometown: Frisco, TX
- 2023 Core Hydration Classic: 2nd Bars; 3rd Beam
- 2023 Winter Cup: 1st Beam
- 2022 World Championships: 1st Team
- 2022 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around & Floor
- 2021 Winter Cup: 1st Beam
For Skye Blakely the goal at the U.S Championships is to keep her name in the conversation for Paris among an incredible field that only continues to grow deeper. Blakely boasts one of the highest beam D-scores in the entire country (her D-score was a 6.4 at the recent Core Hydration Classic), which could be a big advantage for her, but she also has a powerful Yurchenko double which could round out a team final lineup beautifully, and a bar routine that showcases her stunning technique that is worthy of remaining in the conversation. With so much depth and competition in the U.S., Blakely could help her case by showing consistency as an All-Around gymnast. If she can do that – watch out because her potential is limitless!
(World Champions Centre)
Vitals: DOB: April 15, 2001 Hometown: Vancouver, WA
- 2023 NCAA Championships: 1st Bars & Floor; 2nd All-Around
- 2022 World Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Vault & Floor
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 3rd All-Around, Bars & Floor
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 3rd All-Around & Vault
- 2020 Olympics: 2nd Team
Jordan Chiles was a bit of a late bloomer in the field of U.S All-Around talent last quad, but with Olympic team silver and World gold in 2022 now part of her resume, Chiles’ gymnastics and confidence has only soared to new heights. Clean and consistent is the name of the game for Chiles in San Jose and with her Olympic teammates Simone Biles and Suni Lee making their returns to the Elite stage, Chiles is certain to push herself even more and strive for the All-Around podium once again.
(Oregon State University)
Vitals: DOB: May 27, 2000 Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
- 2022 World Championships: 1st Team & Vault; 3rd Floor
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 1st Vault; 2nd Floor
- 2020 Olympics: 1st Floor
- 2019 World Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Vault
- 2017 World Championships: 2nd Vault & Floor
- 2017 U.S Championships: 1st Vault; 2nd Floor
There’s no question that Jade Carey is one of the best in the world on vault and floor – she has the World and Olympic medals to prove it! However, the All-Around podium both domestically and internationally is something that has always eluded her despite consistently being a name in the mix. In a field that only continues to grow deeper, Carey will hope her difficulty and unwavering consistency will propel her to the All-Around podium for the first time in her career in San Jose.
Vitals: DOB: March 9, 2003 Hometown: St. Paul, MN
- 2022 NCAA Championships: 1st Beam; 2nd All-Around
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd All-Around & Beam; 1st Bars
- 2020 Olympics: All-Around Champion; 2nd Team & 3rd Bars
- 2019 World Championships: 1st Team; 3rd Bars; 2nd Floor
- 2019 U.S. Championships: 2nd All-Around & Floor; 1st Bars
Earlier this year fans weren’t so sure when Suni Lee would compete again after learning it was a kidney issue that cut her NCAA season short. However, the Olympic All-Around Champion seems to be back and better than ever, placing second on beam at the recent Core Hydration Classic and earning her two-event qualifying score to the Xfinity U.S. National Championships. (Lee can petition to compete in the All-Around at this meet if she chooses.) In San Jose and beyond we’ll be on the lookout for some of the exciting new upgrades including a Li Ya to Ezhova on bars and a double twisting tucked gainer off beam (a skill that would bear her name in the code of points should she compete it at the World Championships later this year)! Suni recently shared that her kidney has limited her time in the gym, so whether or not she does All-Around this quad remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt she can keep her name in the mix with her exquisite bar work alone.
Vitals: DOB: July 26, 2002 Hometown: Auburn, WA
- 2022 World Championships: 1st Team; 2nd All-Around & Bars
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 1st Bars & Floor; 2nd All-Around
- 2022 Paris World Cup: 1st Bars; 2nd Floor
- 2021 Winter Cup: 2nd All-Around; 3rd Bars & Floor
You couldn’t ask for a better finish to the story that was Shilese Jones’ 2022 season. With all the adversity she faced came a calmness and sense of confidence that allowed Jones to have her most successful season to date. Shilese will look to upgrade her routines on every event (watch for her stalder Nabieva to Bhardwaj on bars) and maintain the consistency that she showed last year in order to continue solidifying herself as one of the best in the world!
(World Champions Centre)
Vitals: DOB: February 8, 2006 Hometown: Texarkana, TX
- 2023 Core Hydration Classic: 1st Vault; 2nd Floor; 3rd Beam & All-Around
- 2023 Pan Am Championships: 1st Team & Floor; 2nd Vaut & Beam
- 2023 Cairo World Cup: 1st Vault & Floor; 2nd Beam
- 2023 Winter Cup: 1st Vault; 2nd Beam & Floor
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 2nd Vault
- 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Vault
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st Beam; 2nd Vault (Jr. Division)
Joscelyn Roberson seems to have hit her stride and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon! Roberson currently boasts the highest international score on floor in the world (14.150) and showed major upgrades at the Core Hydration Classic including a Cheng that scored a 14.650 – the second highest score in the world currently on that event. The biggest factor that has kept Roberson off the All-Around podium as a senior is the uneven bars. However, an increase in difficulty on that event at the Core Hydration Classic allowed Joscelyn to lead after session 1 and sneak onto the podium, taking home the bronze even with a fall on bars! Continued attention on execution and consistency on all four events could bode well for Roberson’s chances of a repeat performance in San Jose and beyond!
(World Champions Centre)
Vitals: DOB: September 15, 2007 Hometown: Pleasanton, CA
- 2023 Pan American Championships: 1st Team, All-Around & Beam; 2nd Floor
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 1st Floor, 2nd Vault (Jr. Division)
- 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Vault & Floor; 2nd Beam (Jr. Division)
- 2022 Pan American Championships: 1st Team, All-Around, Vault, Beam, & Floor (Jr. Division)
Tiana Sumanasekera was arguably one of the most successful juniors on the scene last year, making a splash on the international stage and taking home countless gold medals. But as every gymnast knows, it’s about how you convert all that potential into the right mix of difficulty, execution, and consistency when you enter senior ranks. Thanks in large part to her gym switch to WCC last year, Sumanasekera is seeing improvements on bars that have provided a nice boost to her All-Around scoring potential. Upgrades on beam and floor (she recently added a double double) are what Sumanasekera hopes will push her over the edge and onto the podium in San Jose. With a strong competition, she has a huge opportunity to stamp herself as a contender for Paris!
Vitals: DOB: January 25, 2004 Hometown: Boyds, MD
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 3rd Beam
- 2021 World Championships: 3rd All-Around
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd Floor
- 2020 Olympic Alternate
- 2020 American Cup: 2nd All-Around
After a stellar freshman season with the Florida Gators, DiCello has decided to put her collegiate career on pause in order to chase her Olympic dreams. At the recent Core Hydration Classic, Kayla’s best finish came on beam and floor where she placed 7th with scores of 13.2 and 13.15 respectively. A fall on bars, one of her stand out events, kept her from contending for a spot on the All-Around podium, however, it’s important to remember that DiCello has only been training at the Elite level since early May when she made the switch back to her longtime club gym. How much difficulty she brings to San Jose and how that stacks up against the rest of the field will be a good indicator of where Dicello fits the puzzle heading into the Olympic year.
(University of Florida)
Vitals: DOB: September 20, 2003 Hometown: Overland Park, KS
- 2023 Core Hydration Classic: 2nd All-Around
- 2022 World Championships: 1st Team
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 1st Bars
- 2022 U.S. Classic: 1st All-Around, Vault & Beam; 3rd Floor
- 2021 World Championships: 2nd All-Around; 3rd Floor
- 2020 Olympic Alternate
- 2019 American Cup Champion
Leanne Wong has been on a roll, especially since she stepped foot on campus in Gainesville. But as Paris approaches, Wong can’t let up. One of the most beautifully artistic gymnasts in the field, Wong’s consistency will be key, particularly on events like bars and beam where Team USA could use her calm composure and stellar execution. At the recent Core Hydration Classic, Wong looked relaxed and ready to make a statement, taking home the silver in the All-Around and solidifying her spot among the best in the U.S. heading into San Jose. Last year in Tampa Wong wasn’t at full strength, but still captured the national title on bars. In 2023, she’ll be pushing for more!
(Twin City Twisters)
Vitals: DOB: November 4, 2005 Hometown: Omaha, NE
- 2023 Winter Cup: 1st All-Around
- 2022 World Team Alternate
- 2022 Pan American Championships: 2nd Team & All-Around; 3rd Beam
Lexi Zeiss started 2023 with a bang by winning the Winter Cup, delivering a dominant performance and building upon the momentum she created in 2022. Ziess will need upgrades in order to keep pace with the rest of the field, but has a definite advantage with her unwavering consistency and calm confidence when she competes.
Vitals: DOB: November 23, 2004 Hometown: Wrightsville, PA
- 2023 Pan American Championships: 1st Team; 2nd Bars
- 2023 Winter Cup: 2nd Vault
- 2022 Szombathely World Challenge Cup: 1st Vault; 3rd Bars
Keep Addison Fatta’s name in the mix. With upgrades planned on vault, bars and beam (including a Cheng), and new-found consistency and confidence from her international assignments, Fatta, who is committed to the University of Oklahoma, could very well shake things up in San Jose if she hits.
Read our interview with Addison! Click here!
Vitals: DOB: September 20, 2006 Hometown: Gilroy, CA
- 2023 Pan American Championships: 1st Team & Bars
- 2023 Winter Cup: 3rd All-Around
- 2022 Winter Cup: 1st Bars
The uneven bars is where Nola Matthews shines! With one of the top D-scores in the country (5.9 last year in Tampa), Matthews has the ability to keep her name in the conversation for Paris with a solid showing in San Jose. At the recent Core Hydration Classic, Matthews hung around the podium on several events, placing 4th on bars and in the All-Around, as well as 5th on floor. Landing on the podium in San Jose could be a game changer in her quest for Olympic team contention.
(World Champions Centre)
Vitals: DOB: November 11, 2005 Hometown: Spring, TX
- 2023 Core Hydration Classic: 1st Bars
- 2023 DTB Pokal: 1st Team & Bars
- 2023 Winter Cup: 1st Bars
A fully healthy Zoe Miller could be a secret weapon for Paris! This year Miller has grabbed gold on bars at the Core Hydration Classic and Winter Cup (6.4 D-score) but also has serious All-Around potential. (Her double layout on floor is SO good!) As she continues to gain experience, work on consistency, and upgrade her routines Miller could certainly find herself in the mix. A few podium finishes in San Jose would only help her case!
Vitals: DOB: July 16, 2007 Hometown: Dallas, TX
- 2022 U.S. Championships: 1st All-Around & Beam; 2nd Bars; 3rd Floor (Jr. Division)
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 2nd All-Around & Bars; 3rd Beam (Jr. Division)
- 2021 Junior Pan American Games: 1st Team, Bars & Beam
- 2021 Junior Pan American Championships: 1st Team & Beam; 2nd All-Around & Bars
There’s a lot of pressure that comes with entering the senior ranks as the reigning U.S. Junior National Champion but there’s no doubt Madray Johnson has star potential, particularly on bars and beam, which will hopefully be a big confidence boost in San Jose. After her win last year Madray said her plan was to upgrade all her routines but especially floor, which will be crucial if she wants to be in the conversation for a podium finish. If not for an All-Around finish, watch for her to be in the medal mix on bars and beam. (Her full twisting back handspring is one of our favorite skills!)
Vitals: DOB: July 28, 2006 Hometown: Allen, TX
- 2022 Szombathely World Challenge Cup: 1st Floor
- 2021 U.S. Championships: 1st All-Around & Bars; 2nd Floor; 3rd Vault (Jr. Division)
- 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
Don’t count out Katelyn Jong! We all remember Jong’s dominance as a junior, but she still has some work to do in the senior ranks if she wants to be in the conversation for Paris. Jong had a great performance at the recent Core Hydration Classic where she finished fifth All-Around, but will need upgrades if she wants a shot at the podium in San Jose. Where Jong can keep herself in the mix is on bars (5.9 D-score) and beam (5.6 D-score), where her skill selection (tucked standing full, standing loso+loso) help her to stand out from the rest!
Photo credit: Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics
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