Biles Dominant in Return, Owns 2018 US Classic

gymnast Riley McCusker on balance beam
Riley McCusker put in a strong performance to take second all-around.

(all photos are mine) In her first competition since the 2016 Rio Olympics, Simone Biles of World Champions compiled an astounding 58.7 score to handily take the all around at the 2018 GK US Classic July 28 in Columbus, Ohio. And if not for an unexpected fall as she absolutely attacked the uneven bars, she would have swept all four events and set some kind of record for combined score.

MG Elite’s Riley McCusker came closest to challenging the formidable Biles, taking UB (15.0) when Biles’ fall provided an opening, and performing consistently well on all four events to accumulate an AA score of 57.5, an excellent performance but more than a point behind first place.

gymnast Morgan Hurd doing a switch ring leap on floor exercise
Morgan Hurd of First State took AA bronze, with a fall on BB hurting her overall score

Morgan Hurd of First State took third AA (including third on both UB and FX and fifth on VT), and might also have challenged Biles if not for a fall on balance beam in an otherwise excellent routine. The quality of her performance is clear when you consider that even with the fall, she earned a 7.9 execution score. I am tempted to describe the fall on this

event “uncharacteristic,” but she also fell on beam at the American Classic, and I recall seeing her fall from beam more than once as a junior. When she hits on BB, Morgi is hard to beat, but staying on the beam often seems to present a challenge.

gymnast Jordan Chiles on balance beam
Jordan Chiles had a pretty good day, but fell on bars.

Jordan Chiles (Naydenov) had pretty good results, with fourth on vault, sixth on FX, tied for eighth on UB, but a fall on beam made for seventeenth on that event, and eighth all around.

Emma Malabuyo of Texas Dreams (which as a team had a rather disappointing day) skipped UB and FX and fell on beam to place 15th on that apparatus, but managed seventh on vault with a 14.3. Malabuyo’s gym-mate Ragan Smith skipped FX, but took third on BB, eighth on vault and eleventh on UB, which would be very satisfactory results indeed, if her name wasn’t Ragan Smith.

I was looking forward to seeing Olivia Dunne (ENA Paramus) compete as a senior for the first time (first time for me to see her as a senior, that is, not her first time competing as one), but an ankle or achilles injury caused her to skip all events except to bars, which is probably her weakest event. On this day, with the ankle tightly wrapped, her UB routine was really quite good, although to protect the injury her dismount was a simple layout, and her score of 12.85 was good for fifteenth on UB. But even with that watered down dismount, she limped noticeably off the podium and immediately iced the ankle. Dunne petitioned to nationals

gymnast Ragan Smith on balance beam
Despite a few bobbles like this one (and one BIG balance check), Ragan Smith earned third on BB, but skipped FX so didn’t figure in the AA.

because of the injury, and hopefully she will be recovered by then. I first saw her compete at the 2013 Parkettes Invitational, when she was a level ten at only ten years old, and even then I saw something special about her, with a grace and elegance to her movements often lacking in today’s matter-of-fact technicians, young and old. With an October birthday, Livvy will still be just fifteen at nationals, and can look forward to many years of competition ahead.

gymnast Olivia Dunne mounts the uneven bars
Olivia Dunne was nursing an ankle injury, and competed only on bars. Despite a watered-down single layout dismount and a score good enough for just 15th on UB, everything Dunne does is simply lovely to watch.

Complete start lists and results for the 2018 Hopes & US Classic can be found here:

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