Here’s the list of U.S. gymnasts who are scheduled to compete at the upcoming City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy, on March 23rd-24th. I’m going to give my thoughts on the team and what to expect from them. (Katelyn Ohashi is not competing due to a slight back injury.)
- Simone Biles
- Brenna Dowell
- Peyton Ernst
- Amelia Hundley
- Bailie Key
- Maggie Nichols
- Lexie Priessman
- Kyla Ross
This list is more or less what I expected, although I thought that world champion Sabrina Vega and first-year senior Madison Desch would make the team. (It’s my understanding that they have both been to U.S. training camps this year.) I also thought that Polina Shchennikova would make the team, since she was suddenly added to the junior national team in December 2012. I assumed that this meant there was an international assignment planned for her in the coming months.
Another question: why are there only two juniors (Bailie Key and Amelia Hundley) on the team? Last year the U.S. sent a group of 14 girls to this competition, six of whom were juniors. This year we have only eight girls altogether! However, last year Brenna Dowell, MyKayla Skinner, and Brianna Brown were part of a “Mixed Group” team that also included Jessica Mattoni of Italy. If this is the case again, the “Mixed Group” is where we might see Vega, Desch, and/or Schennikova competing. (In 2011, the USA sent 13 gymnasts to Jesolo, and only one, Bridgette Caquatto, was a Mixed Group representative.)
Hopefully Kyla Ross will be fully recovered from the bruised heel that kept her out of the American Cup. If she is prepared to do the all-around, she will make a strong case for defending the prestigious title (she won last year). I can’t wait to see how she adjusts her routines for the new Code!
In 2012, Bailie Key finished third in the AA (55.650) and second on floor exercise (14.200) and vault (14.900). She has a wonderful Yurchenko double twist and a fabulous floor routine. She looks right in contention to reclaim her medals. Also, Bailie will not be a senior until 2015, which is the perfect timing for Rio!
Bailie’s Texas Dreams teammate, Peyton Ernst, who is also on this roster, tied for seventh all-around in the junior division at the 2012 U.S. Championships. On night two, Peyton reached a difficulty value of 6.4 on balance beam, which is world class! This girl definitely has a lot of potential, which you can see by the all-around total she posted at those Championships: 109.550. For comparison, the winning junior—Lexie Priessman—scored 116.400.
Speaking of Lexie, there will likely be a great deal of expected of her, since she is the reigning U.S. junior champion. She trains at Cincinnati Gymnastics alongside teammate Amelia Hundley, who also made this Jesolo team. Both girls contributed to the U.S. domination at the 2012 Pacific Rim Championships, where they made strong cases with Lexie’s 57.800 and Amelia’s 57.600 all-around totals. Lexie, who has a tremendously difficult and dynamic floor routine, is on track to make the 2013 world team, whereas Amelia, who has lovely lines on uneven bars, will not become age-eligible until 2014.
Simone Biles will almost certainly continue to make a strong case for herself as international contender for the quadrennium. My only concern is the whirlwind schedule she’s been on! She participated in a national team camp from February 23rd-26th, and then went to the American Cup on March 2nd, then had another camp from March 14th-18th, and now has this competition!
Brenna Dowell won last year’s Mexican Open in October and did very well on the senior stage throughout 2012. She participated in the Olympic Trials, finishing ninth all-around. She trains at GAGE and has very clean, pretty gymnastics (especially on balance beam)!
While Maggie Nichols may be an unknown name to some, she’s been on my radar since her 11th-place finish at last year’s U.S. Championships, where she scored 53.550. She is powerful, with an artistic flair and great flexibility. She trains at Twin City Twisters, and her favorite event is balance beam. (And on March 17th, she was added to the U.S. senior national team.)
So, this rounds out my assessment of the U.S. team for the City of Jesolo Trophy. It’s bound to be a fascinating competition! In the past it has been a great opportunity to pinpoint up-and-coming talent and get a feel for how the current stars are doing. What other international meet can boast that its senior division winners have been Kyla Ross (2012), McKayla Maroney (2011), and Aly Raisman (2010)?!
Article by Anna Rose Johnson
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