by Anna Rose Johnson
It’s been a whirlwind weekend so far in Newark! Last night we watched a group of extremely talented Level 10 gymnasts compete for glory at the Nastia Liukin Cup, and the American Cup unfolded in exciting fashion this morning.
Yul Moldauer, the winner of the 2017 Winter Cup, clinched the men’s American Cup victory in stylish fashion. His floor exercise was a picture of brilliance (he stuck nearly every pass), while his pommel horse was a bright spot for USA.
Moldauer finished 0.232 ahead of Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev, the 2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist. Verniaiev had some amazing highlights in Newark, including a 15.033 on parallel bars, his best event.
USA’s Akash Modi rounded out the men’s medalists with an 84.398 (he also tied Verniaiev for the best score on parallel bars). Defending American Cup champ and Olympic champion Ryohei Kato of Japan had a challenging competition with a fall on high bar (11.066), but he performed a beautiful vault for a 14.500. He ultimately finished sixth in the all-around behind Bart Deurloo (NED) and Eddy Yusof (SUI). Wei Sun of China, Sam Oldham of GBR, and Lukas Dauser (GER) completed the field.
Ragan Smith, an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, captured her first American Cup with a 56.099 all-around total. She hit a tidy routine on uneven bars (14.400), and her immensely popular “Addams Family” floor routine was a treat to watch. Despite a fall on balance beam, she finished almost two points ahead of runner-up Asuka Teramoto of Japan.
Teramoto showcased a dramatic and lyrical floor routine for a 13.066, while Melanie De Jesus dos Santos of France won beam and finished third in the all-around. German veteran Kim Bui finished fourth with her perennially artistic performances, and USA’s Riley McCusker counted a few falls in her senior debut to place fifth. McCusker’s brand-new floor routine, which she described to us as “kind of like a sassy ballerina,” is beautiful—you can’t miss it:
Xie Yufen of China finished sixth, while Tisha Volleman (NED) and Emily Whitehead (AUS) placed seventh and eighth. Ninth was Olympic bronze medalist Amy Tinkler (GBR), who scratched from floor exercise.
NASTIA CUP – JUNIORS
The eighth-annual Nastia Liukin Cup was held last night, with Carly Bauman of Chow’s winning the junior title with a strong total of 38.425. Bauman’s best routine of the night was definitely uneven bars, where her easy swing and flawless dismount yielded a score of 9.700. Bauman, a University of Michigan commit, also competed at the Nastia Cup in 2015.
Southeastern Gymnastics, a prolific J.O. gym based in North Carolina, produced the second- and third-place finishers in the junior division (Rose Casali and Lali Dekanoidze). Everest Gymnastics’ Gabrielle Gallentine, an aspiring elite, placed fourth.
Twistars’ Kai Rivers secured the senior gold with a remarkable 38.650. Her best score of the day was a 9.825 for this powerful floor routine:
Defending Nastia Liukin Cup champ Rachael Lukacs of North Stars finished second in Newark. A four-time Nastia Cup competitor, Lukacs will join the University of Georgia gymnastics team in 2018. Andrea Li of Legacy Elite, younger sister of 2012 Olympic alternate Anna Li, won the all-around bronze and tied for the top score on uneven bars (9.575).
This wonderful weekend of gymnastics continues tonight with the Elite Team Cup, a “premier event [which] features nine men’s Regional Teams, each consisting of six junior elite gymnasts and one senior elite athlete,” according to USA Gymnastics. A livestream of this meet will be available here, starting at 6 pm ET.
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