We are now 11 days away from the US Classic, the…second most interesting domestic American competition of the summer?…not counting selection camp…? Anyway, get excited. Classic is the meet where we get to see the upgrades for the 2019 season, and that’s very important. Classic podium training day should basically be a national holiday.
The rosters are out for the junior and senior events, and while they’re short on surprises, they’re worth breaking down.
Kayla Di Cello*
This junior field of 38 is the smallest field for US Classic so far this quad but is typical of junior fields in the second-to-last year of a quadrennium—at which point those who will turn senior by 2020 either know they’re in the mix or have realized they’re not and are just going to live their life and do the L10-to-NCAA path. Meanwhile, many of those who won’t be seniors until the middle of next quad aren’t really sweating it yet, so you have this momentary quadrennial dip.
The nine members of the junior national team will all be in attendance, and it is worth watching how the four members of the junior worlds traveling squad compare to the group that competed at American Classic, where Ciena Alipio came out on top.
There’s a basic six right now in terms of the best US juniors—that six being Di Cello, Blakely, McClain, Barros, Alipio, and Greaves—but they’re juniors, which means any kind of tier classification is especially amorphous and can be broken up at any time.
Those denoted with an asterisk have already achieved the score of 51.000 (the number necessary to advance to nationals) at either camp, an international meet, or American Classic (as have Mya Witte and Love Birt, who are not on the roster here). Everyone else is looking for a 51.000 at this meet in order to qualify to the national championship.
After the false start of a senior field that was American Classic, this is a serious group. We have all members of the senior national team present and accounted for except for Ragan Smith, who has officially confirmed that she’s ready to be done with this and is going to Oklahoma in the fall, and Alyona Shchennikova, who tore her Achilles at the most recent national team camp and is out for the year.
The training squad for Pan Am Games is all here (Blakely, Eaker, Finnegan, Hurd, Jones, Lee, McCusker, and Wong), and the official team of five will be decided following this competition. It’s not going to be an easy team to make. I’d like to see Lee and Wong on that team, both because they’re probably part of the best-scoring team of five and because they’re the new seniors in contention for worlds. It’s worth giving them another opportunity to show their competitiveness. Put them with Hurd, McCusker, and Eaker from worlds last year and you haven’t got a bad group at all, though there’s something to be said for what Shilese Jones could add to that team on vault and floor depending on how she looks on those pieces at classic.
The status of MyKayla Skinner’s elite routines will of course be a serious point of focus, especially how she compares to Jade Carey on her strong events. Trinity Thomas is on the list, continuing her simultaneous elite/NCAA quest. We haven’t seen full-strength Gabby Perea in a loooonnng time, and…maybe? I want to see how Faith Torrez compares to the big girls after her breakout performance at American Classic. OK, yes, I’m excited.
The seniors are looking for a score of 52.000 to advance to nationals, and those denoted with an asterisk are the ones who have already done so…that we know of. We did not get scores from the June national team camp, for instance, which did have a full verification option, so more athletes may have broken 52.000 AA (or achieved a two- or three-event score) and we just don’t know about it. Like a fun little mystery. Except not fun.