Day 1 of the 2017 JO National Championships was a mixture of high and low moments. Here are some of the top highlights and moments from the meet yesterday!
Kai Rivers, SrA Twistars USA, wins her 2nd JO National title (38.525) and picks up two individual event titles (Vault 9.875 & Bars 9.700) at the same time! Kai went big this year winning every major meet she entered.. Nastia Liukin Cup, Michigan State Meet, Regionals & JO Nationals. She did not miss a beat on her road to the Senior A All-Around Title.
Senior A Payton Richards of Aerial is the Carly Patterson of Region 5! The resemblance of these two athletes is uncanny. When I watch Payton perform I can definitely see Carly Patterson, they both have the same lightness about their gymnastics. Payton, like Carly, makes everything she does look effortless and beautiful. Payton tied for 2nd in the All-Around (38.425) she also took 1st place on the beam (9.525) and 2nd on the Vault (9.650).
For the Junior A’s this was their first time at the big show! These talented young athletes gained lots of experience and made lots of memories at their first JO National Championships. Regionmates Sydney Jelen & Elizabeth Gantner tied for 3rd place on the balance, while Avery Grant finished 8th on the floor exercise grabbing her first JO Nationals Medal.
In the Senior B session Makarri Doggette of Buckeye went big on the floor exercise in the last rotation hitting a huge 9.750 to take the National Floor title en route to the 2017 National AA Title ( 38.750), to add to her collection she also picked up a National Title on the Vault (9.850). Anyone who has watched Makarri compete knows that she always brings a great show, a great crowd and her famous pandas! Doggette (Buckeye), Rachel DeCavitch (Gym World) & Anna Kaziska (Champion-KY) sweep the top 3 spots on the floor podium scoring 9.75, 9.70 & 9.70 respectively. The Senior B’s took third in the team regional competition.
For the Junior B’s Ella Cesario, in her first JO Nationals finished 5th in the All-Around. Just out of the top 10 in the all around finishing 11th was Naperville’s Madeline Crosse with a respectable 37.625 however finished tied for 7th on bars with Nikki Beckwith from Buckeye with a 9.55. Skyla Schulte, 2016 Level 9 Eastern National all around champion finished in a tie for 3rd on bars while Legacy Elite’s Erika Penamante finished 6th in the balance beam.
Region 5 has a tradition of winning at least 1 age group every year since 1990, well the Junior C’s accomplished that task today by taking 1st place as a team! Junior C Alyssa Al-Ashari also took the top spot on the Uneven Bars with a huge 9.725. Haley Tyson scored a spot on the JO National team, by finishing 4th in the AA. Hannah Nam placed 3rd on Balance Beam and finished 9th AA. Avery Balser from Buckeye, competing for Region 2, finished 6th on the Uneven Bars.
The Senior Cs who got off to a rough start on their first two events found redemption on bars & beam with everyone hitting their routines. Colby Miller (Perfection) rocked the house on bars with a massive 9.80 en route to the National Bar Title, she certainly erased the memory of vault & floor with that routine. Sarah Hargrove finished 3rd AA, 3rd on Beam and 3rd on floor with a pair of 9.60s.
One of my favorite parts about the meet today was the “Cheer Sticks” that Brett Wargo (Twistars) came up with for the girls. The “Cheer Sticks” were popsicle sticks with different event cheers on them that the girls would pick out of a cup, the cheer that was chosen was the one they did as a team before each event. Doing it this way made it super fun not only for the girls, but for everyone around us. Brett made some of these corky cheers up at Region 5 Championships and carried them over to Nationals. Cheers like “Swing like a pendulum on a grandfather clock”, “Stick like you forgot to grease the cookie tray”, “Rock Solid” and my personal favorite “Swing like a Capuchin Monkey”. Many coaches from other Regions commented on these cheers, they were kind of confused by them, but thought they were pretty sweet. After we started cheering, more of the other Regions started coming up with different phrases and cheers to say.
Go big and make it count! Alyssa Keller (All-American Flames) only competed the first two events today finally making a full floor routine in competition. Keller moved over to the vault and started out with her usual Tuck Tsuk 1/1, which she nailed, Keller then decided to take a risk and go for a brand new vault that she has never before competed! What a better place to through a new vault than JO Nationals. Keller sprinted down the run way hit the table & BAM full twisting layout Tsuk landing a bit off to the side, but on her feet. Unfortunately, doing the big skills for the first time comes with risk & Alyssa ended up injuring her ankle and had to scratch the rest of the competition, however she hit the two events she did compete and went out doing an incredible new vault for the first time successfully. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery! I cannot wait to see that vault more regularly next season from Alyssa.Flashing Glasses! Region 5 certainly stood out today with our hot pink flashing glasses! It was super cool to see the girls enter the floor with the glasses flashing, making them stand apart from the rest of the Regions on the floor.
One of the best parts of the entire competition was Tom Knoll! Tom is literally “the voice” of gymnastics! He is such a fun meet announcer, he clearly makes every moment a laugh and a good time! It was kind of fun to hear him picking on Region 5 Alum Amanda Borden about getting kicked off the floor by him one year because she lost her credential. The jokes he made about that moment were hysterical! He is so animated, he made each coaches meeting and each session very fun.
I also want to give huge props to the athletes of Region 5 & the gymnasts of DeVeau’s all who came out to watch the meet today! The atmosphere and the cheering section on the Senior side for insane! Team Unity, Team Spirit & Team Cheering certainly is a priority for Region 5! Towards the end of the Senior C age group it was like a football game inside the convention center!
After Day 1 Super Team Results:
Quotes from the competition:
Kai Rivers on staying in bounds today “Usually I can see the line in my double layout, but today I closed my eyes”
Claire Gagliardi cheering for her teammate Anne Kaziska “Lets go Anna! Right on the Money”
Jake from Gym Academy of Rockford “Region 5 is like a shark coming out of the water to destroy you”
Follow us on social media for coverage of the 2017 JO Nationals & stay tuned for more from the Indiana Convention Center tomorrow as Junior/Senior D-F take the floor!