By Anna Rose Johnson
Who will prevail at the 2018 U.S. Championships, being held in Boston August 16-19?
Feature Photo by Grace Chiu
With Olympic legend Simone Biles (World Champions Centre) returning to the national stage this summer, we can expect to see a dominant performance from this Olympic legend. Armed with new skills and fresh off her competition hiatus, Biles could certainly be crowned the next U.S. Women’s All-Around Champion, regaining the title she previously won four years in a row (2013-16)! Biles most recently won the U.S. Classic in decisive fashion last month, winning by over a point and capturing the gold on beam and floor!
Biles biggest competition? Reigning World All-Around Champion Morgan Hurd (First State Gymnastics). Although she suffered an injury at the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships in March, Hurd returned in brilliant fashion at the U.S. Classic, placing third despite a fall off balance beam. We can’t wait to see her in Boston, showcasing her beautiful finesse on each apparatus!
Reigning U.S. All-Around Champion Ragan Smith (Texas Dreams) will compete in her biggest domestic competition since her injury at 2017 Worlds and subsequent comeback in Jesolo this spring. With her classic, powerful style on beam and eye-catching choreography on floor, Smith is definitely on our list of favorites for the AA title. Plus, her 6.0 D-score on beam is currently one of the highest D-scores in the U.S. on the apparatus!
Competing as a three-event specialist last year, 18-year-old Jade Carey (Arizona Sunrays) has added uneven bars to her repertoire, debuting a new routine on the apparatus at the recent American Classic (4.8 D-score) and placing her in the hunt for an all-around medal. Indeed, Carey finished 10th in her first all-around outing at the U.S. Classic, scoring a 52.650. Carey and Biles—both of whom compete two different vaults—will likely battle for the gold on the event at championships, and they could also medal on floor exercise as well.
Riley McCusker (MG Elite) recently made her comeback at the American Classic in July, scoring well on bars (13.500) and beam (14.000), the only two events she competed. She certainly upped her game later that month at the U.S. Classic in Chicago, winning the all-around silver and the uneven bars gold with a stunning 15.000!
More talented all-arounders to watch? Last year’s silver medalist Jordan Chiles, who placed third at the 2018 Stuttgart World Cup, first-year senior Emma Malabuyo, whose lyrical floor routines always make us smile, and Trinity Thomas (second at the 2018 Tokyo World Cup).
Others in the mix? 2018 American Classic winner Shilese Jones (her double-double is superb!), 2018 Birmingham World Cup silver medalist Margzetta Frazier, WOGA’s Audrey Davis, 2018 PacRim champion Grace McCallum, GAGE’s Kara Eaker (a D-score of 6.7 on beam!), first-year senior Adeline Kenlin, Legacy Elite’s Gabby Perea and fan-favorite Olivia Dunne.
Note: Maile O’Keefe withdrew from the senior competition as she is still recovering from an injury.
On the junior front, look for 14-year-old Kayla Di Cello to challenge for the gold! The junior American Classic champion has both high D-scores and plenty of elegance to her credit, and we’re looking forward to seeing her progress on the road to 2020. Other juniors in the hunt for gold include Jordan Bowers, Sunisa Lee, Tori Tatumand Leanne Wong (who recently won the U.S. Classic).
It’s going to be a thrilling week! Enjoy!
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Anna Rose Johnson writes about women’s artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. She loves Whippets, brownies, and full-twisting double layouts. Her writing portfolio can be viewed at: https://annarosejohnson.contently.com