Well no American Cup in 2021 means no Nastia Cup right!!!! Wrong! The tradition of watching the United States win another American cup is over or at least halted for now but the excitement and anticipation of watching 36 level 10 athletes compete in pink and black continues. This years Nastia Liukin Cup took place as part of the new Men’s and Women’s Winter Cup (for many years a men’s only event held in Vegas) on podium in the Indianapolis Convention Center. The convention center has never looked better in my opinion and it was a cool stage for this 2021 cup.
Region 5 qualified 5 athletes to this years Nastia Cup, 2 seniors and 3 juniors. The two seniors Nikki Smith (EuroStars) and Tory Vetter (Universal) have both competed at Nastia Cup in the past. Tory Vetter was the 2018 junior champion while Nikki made her first appearance at last years cup. In the junior age group, we had Gabby Van Frayen (Gym Xtreme), and two JPAC athletes Lauren Harkins and Bailey Stroud, all three competing in their first cup.
The meet began with Gabby Van Frayen up first on beam and despite her save on her flight series came away with a solid routine and a good start to her competition. As Gabby was finishing her routine over on vault Nikki Smith was performing one of the best Yurchenko 1 1/2’s she has done this season so far and received the third best score among all competitors with a 9.775.
The second rotation ended with Gabby and Tory Vetter going back to back with solid floor routines that went 9.675 and 9.625 respectively. Though both routines had some extra rotation on their opening double pikes, each settled into the performance and finished off very strong.
In rotation 3 we were treated to the bar swing of our two JPAC athletes Bailey Stroud and Lauren Harkins. Lauren who performed a beautiful front double full on floor in rotation 1 had super solid routine despite a few form issues on her bar to bar skills but finished up with a great stuck 1/2 in 1/2 out dismount and a 9.5. Bailey, who scored a 10.0 on bars at the Buckeye Classic, had a beautiful routine which features her counterswing 1/2 from high to low. The construction of the is routine is one of the aspects that makes it stand out. Her 9.65 was the 4th best score amongst the junior competitors.
In the final rotation, Gabby muscled through her bar set a bit but stuck her 1/2 in 1/2 out dismount to break 38 and grab 3rd place in the all around with her 38.075. Nikki went last on floor in the first flight of 5 competitors and tumbled her way to a 2nd place 9.725 floor score and landed in 5th place in the all around with a 38.375.
This was a great tune up for the upcoming championship portion of the level 10 season with states only a few weeks away. Congrats to all five of our Region 5 athletes and we look forward to what is instore in coming months for these athletes. Way to represent our Region and always remember we are REGION 5!