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McClain Claims First Senior All-Around Crown

By Ashlee Buhler

If you rewind the clock to this time last year, Konnor McClain was a completely different gymnast. That’s an assessment she agrees with herself. After podium training she told the media she felt calm and excited to be here. “I feel like everything has changed for me,” she said. And you could see it on the competition floor. 

The last year has been anything but easy for McClain: A gym switch, injuries, illness, and the loss of her father and grandmother in December. In Frisco she proved just how resilient she is, competing with a newfound confidence and composure, and coming away with the first All-Around title of her young senior career.

Sporting a leotard she designed herself, with her late father’s initials “MM” stitched on the back, the highlight of McClain’s day came in the final rotation on beam. It was arguably one of the best routines she’s done in her career. With a solid standing full, floaty layout series, and beautifully extended leaps, she all but owned the beam. Her Yurchenko double twist was also top-notch. With plenty of height to spare, McClain said an upgraded vault is in the near future. “We stuck with the double today, but [the Amanar] is coming in the future–definitely with the vault I did today.” 

But perhaps the biggest win of the day? “I’ve never felt so happy or positive during a meet before, thanks to my coaches,” McClain said “Whatever they say to me, it just works.” 

In second place was Skye Blakely, who returned to competition after an elbow injury at the 2020 Olympic Trials. Blakely was solid from start to finish, with all scores 13.150 or higher. Coming into the meet she said her goal was to “perform well, have fun, and feel good about myself.” She certainly has a lot to feel good about after today! 

eMjae Frazier rounded out the podium despite a scary fall on bars in the last rotation. Frazier had a great day, starting the meet on beam with a routine that exuded calm confidence. Her strong suits, floor and vault, were stellar for scores of 13.7+. She was first heading into the final rotation and perhaps the excitement got the best of her. 

“I just need to tell myself not to get ahead of myself,” Frazier said after the meet. “It’s easy to get excited near the end. That was my biggest challenge but I’m happy with how I did today.” 

With their performances, McClain, Blakely, and Frazier earned automatic berths for the DTB Pokol Team Challenge which will take place March 18-20 in Stuttgart. Two more athletes will be selected following the Winter Cup. 

It’s a launching pad for all three to be sure. And officially their time to shine.

Top 5 All-Around Scores: 

  1. Konnor McClain: 54.300 
  2. Skye Blakely: 53.700
  3. eMjae Frazier: 53.150 
  4. Ashlee Sullivan: 52.850
  5. Katelyn Jong & Nola Matthews: 52.650

Look for more on the Women’s Winter Cup in the March/April issue of Inside Gymnastics. magazine!

Photos by Lloyd Smith for Inside Gymnastics

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