(photos by JB) When the Juniors took the Podium for the 2016 Secret US Classic, Jordan Chiles was hot out of the gate, throwing a 15.65 on vault to start with, and leading by more than a full point ahead of second place after only two rotations. But she lost her lead in the third rotation by sitting down her dismount on beam after a decent though not stellar routine, and then sealing her fate by stumbling out of bounds twice on a sloppy Floor Exercise.
A steady, consistent performance by WOGA’s Irinia Alexeeva (left)–whose lowest E score of all four events was 8.45 on Floor–won the day, just edging out Emma Malabuyo (who was just as consistent in execution) by just .05. Gabby Parea took third AA, a half point back, while Chiles fell all the way back to fourth AA.
Alexeeva’s biggest problem now is the low start value on her vault–just 4.9, which was actually the same difficulty as Gabby Perea, who managed to take third. Execution helped both(Alexeeva 8.95 and Perea 8.85), but even with that, both place outside the top fifteen on Vault.
Morgan Hurd of First State (just a few miles down the road from me) had a good day, taking first on Floor Exercise (which was not a strength last year, but she’s added .3 to her routine with no loss of execution), and second on bars, but a fall on Balance Beam took her out of the running for All-Around, and she eventually took 5th AA. She’s upgraded her vault since 2015 as well, adding a full twist to her Yurchenko, and her well-executed DTY got her into the top ten on that event Saturday. Even so, Hurd needs to keep steadily upgrading, as she’ll be a senior next year, though her senior placements in 2017 and even 2018 aren’t terribly important if gets plenty of international experience, and she’s on a very good trajectory for 2020.
Emma Malabuyo threw a 14.7 on vault and a 14.8 on Beam, and was the most consistent of the day, being the only one to place in the top ten on all four events.
Jaylene Gilstrap of Metroplex won Bars, but was no higher than 33rd on the other three events. Colbi Flory of Texas Dreams did not have a good day, as 19th on BB was her best placement of the day (25th overall), and Olivia Dunne of ENA Paramus was only slightly better, with a 13th-place tie on FX her best placement (24th overall). Both of these gymnasts have one more year as juniors after 2016, so some major upgrades in difficulty (they are both about a total of 2-3 full points behind in start value compared to the top five finishers, and their execution even of these lesser routines is a point or two lower).
Megan Freed of Parkettes was wildly inconsistent (surprise), placing eighth on V and tied for tenth on BB, but struggled mightily on UB (scoring a lowly 11.7, good for 39th) and FX (11.75, 43rd), placing 33rd AA.