National Team Members & Top Elites Headline 2018 American Classic

The 2018 American Classic will take place Saturday, July 7, in Salt Lake City, and provide an opportunity for gymnasts to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Championships in August. Junior and senior elites will be competing and be aiming to reach a certain score in either the all-around, on three events, or on two events in order to qualify. Seniors must score a 52.0 in the all-around, 39.75 on three events, or 27.0 on two events. Juniors must hit a 51.0 in the all-around. 

This year, the event will take place at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on University of Utah’s campus, alongside the Hopes Classic competition. We’ll be treated to a live stream by USA Gymnastics, who will broadcast all four sessions, with the junior elites starting on Saturday, July 7 at 11 AM MT and a second session with juniors and seniors at 4 PM MT. Hopes athletes will compete the day prior.

This will be an exciting competition to watch with so many top elites competing, including several national team members. You can view the full roster HERE, and we’ve summarized some of the top athletes to watch out for below.

National Team Competitors: McCusker Upgrades

Three seniors and five juniors will be competing from the current U.S. national team. World silver medalist Jade Carey will be competing, and it’s possible we may see her in the all-around, since she has been seen training bars recently. 

The two other seniors we’ll see at this competition are Riley McCusker and Grace McCallum. McCusker has been slowly coming back from injuries, though she did compete at the National Elite Qualifier meet in late June on bars and beam only. In a recent interview with Inside Gymnastics, McCusker commented that she’s planning to upgrade bars with a new connection, to include new skills on beam, and to add a double layout on floor.

Meanwhile, McCallum has had a strong start to her 2018 season so far, coming off of a gold medal team and all-around finish at the Pacific Rim Championships. 

On the junior side, we’ll see Audrey Davis, Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Adeline Kenlin, and Tori Tatum. Eaker recently had a fantastic showing at the Auburn National Qualifier, where she placed first in the all-around with a 54.0 and first on beam and floor. Her beam score totaled a huge 15.1. 

In addition to the current national team members, a few gymnasts from previous national teams will also be competing, including Alyona Shchennikova, Shania Adams, and Deanne Soza.

The New Elites: J.O. Champs On The Scene

A total of 28 gymnasts qualified elite this year, with many of them competing at this year’s American Classic. A few of the top all-around gymnasts include junior Amari Drayton from Olympia Hills, who placed first in the all-around in her group at J.O. Nationals this year. She is particularly strong on bars, where she competes a toe-on 1/2 to Jaeger in addition to a Pak. Other strong bar workers include juniors Sydney Morris from First State and Lyden Saltness from Midwest. Both gymnasts have tough skills in their routines, including a piked Jaeger and Pak.

World Champions Centre’s Karis German is another top all arounder set to compete. She placed second in the AA in her group at J.O. Nationals and placed first on vault with a huge score of 9.8 for her Yurchenko full. Gymcats Kailin Choi also placed second in the AA for her group at J.O. Nationals and second on balance beam with a crazy difficult routine. Her routine includes a round-off, back handspring mount, a back handspring to two layout step-outs for her series, and several dance combinations. San Mateo’s Lillian Lewis is another one to watch on beam. 

She scored a huge 9.725 at J.O. Nationals for the beautiful routine below:

Video via USA Gymnastics

Lewis’ teammate, Ui Soma, is also one of the top beam workers in the group, and also took first place on the event for her group at J.O. Nationals. Her routine includes a double wolf turn and a back handspring, back handspring to layout to two feet. 

On floor, look out for Airborne’s Kaliya Lincoln, who competes a full-in as her opening pass and a front tuck through to double tuck as her second pass. GAGE’s Aleah Finnegan is also beautiful and powerful on floor, and she recently took home the gold medal for her performance at the Brestyan’s National Qualifier. Mavericks’ Katelyn Rosen is one to keep an eye on as well on this event. She took first place in her group at J.O. Nationals, scoring a big 9.625. Like Lincoln, her two opening passes are a full-in and front tuck through to double tuck.

The College Commits: Gator Nation

Although many of the gymnasts competing at the American Classic are young and not yet committed to a school for collegiate gymnastics, there are a fair number who have verbally committed or signed a National Letter of Intent. Florida has the most gymnasts competing — McCusker, due to start for the 2019-2020 season; Shilese Jones, due to start for the 2020-2021 season; Sloane Blakely and Gabrielle Gallentine, due to start for the 2021-2022 season; and Sophia Butler, due to start for the 2022-2023 season. 

Following Florida is Utah, who will see three gymnasts compete at their future home stadium. Soza and Jaylene Gilstrap will join the Utes for the 2020-2021 season, and McCallum is set to join for the 2021-2022 season. 

Other schools with commits at the meet include Michigan, Denver, Auburn, Oklahoma, Alabama, Penn State, Iowa, Cal, UCLA, Georgia, LSU, and Oregon State.


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