In club gymnastics, gymnasts compete all year to qualify to state. At state the top competitors qualify to regionals, and from there, only a select few gymnasts move onto nationals. Because of these intense qualifications, Junior Olympic (JO) Nationals is a competition of the best club gymnasts each year, and so much talent is showcased there.
Gymnasts will compete individually for event and all-around titles. Here are four of the best level 10 competitors we will see May 18-19, what they have accomplished so far this season, and what they will likely compete at nationals.
1. Ava Piedrahita
Team: Hill’s Gymnastics
Division: Junior D
Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Ava Piedrahita won the Junior D division at the Region 7 Regional Championships, scoring a 37.950 all-around. Her 9.750 and 9.700 on bars and floor, respectively, helped her all-around score stay high, and she took home the event titles on both of those events as well. She tied for fifth on beam with a 9.400 and 11th on vault with a 9.100, which will be an area she would want to improve on heading into JOs.
Ava has improved greatly this season, fixing form along the way and tightening up skills to score higher and higher as the season goes on. She will graduate high school in 2022 and is committed to Penn State University. She has had a successful season so far and has experienced competing on a national stage, which will likely help her with competition nerves. At the 2019 Nastia Liukin Cup, she took third all-around in the junior division.
Piedrahita competes an unusual vault, a Omelianchik, which is a round off half-on, front pike off. On bars she has a jam-packed routine, with a Tkatchev, Pak, and a full-in dismount. On beam she shows a back handspring, back layout series and a switch leap, split jump, standing back tuck combination. Floor is a strong event for Ava, where she competes a full in, a round off 1 ½ twist to a front 1/1 twist, and a double tuck. She has many unusual skills that we don’t see too often competed in club gymnastics, which makes her routines fun to watch.
2. Kiley Rorich
Team: Southeastern Gymnastics Center
Division: Junior B
Home State: North Carolina
Kiley took first all-around in the Junior B division at Regional Championships in Region 8. She scored a 38.125, giving her a 0.225 lead over the second-place finisher. She also took first on vault, where she scored a 9.650. Her other scores and places were a 9.625 on bars, giving her fourth; a 9.325 on beam where she tied for eighth place; and a 9.525 on floor, where she tied for fifth. She also placed first all-around at state this year with a 38.150, showing her consistency and ability to compete under pressure, something that will come in handy at nationals, as the pressure will be on.
Kylie is known for having incredible form and few deductions on that aspect of her routines. She also does not lean too much on one event and instead is known as a true all-around gymnast. On beam particularly she shows great precision and control, mounting with a press handstand and holding positions for a few seconds, with her routine only getting stronger from there. On beam she competes a punch front, back handspring back layout, and a double twisting dismount. Her floor passes consist of a punch front round off-back handspring-double back, double pike, and a 1 ½ twist to punch front. She vaults a Yurchenko 1/1.
3. Haley Mustari
Division: Junior A
Home State: Oklahoma
In her very first level 10 season, Haley Mustari took first place in the Junior A division at Regional Championships. She competes in Region 3 for Dynamo gymnastics and scored a 38.050 to take first all-around. She also took first on beam and floor, scoring a 9.575 on both events. Her bars score was not far behind, with a 9.525 that gave her fifth place. She also scored a 9.375 on vault, giving her ninth place. She has been consistent in her meets this season, also taking first all-around at state with a 37.000 and taking first or second on every event. She improved from state to regionals by more than a full point and is on trajectory to continue to do well with her season and place at nationals. She will graduate high school in 2025.
Haley competes a Yurchenko 1/1 vault that is not always consistent but has greatly improved over the course of the season, and her bars ends with a huge double twisting, double back dismount. On beam she competes a back handspring-back layout-back layout series, an Onodi, and a round off full dismount. On floor she shows a front handspring double full and round off back handspring 2 ½ twist.
4. Naya Howard
Team: Ocean Tumblers
Division: Junior D
Home State: Virginia
Naya Howard took second all-around at the Region 7 Regional Championships to qualify for JOs in the Junior D division. She scored a 37.725, her second highest all-around score this season. Howard also placed on bars and floor, taking second on bars and third on floor, scoring a 9.625 on both events.
She took second all-around at state this season, scoring a 37.700. She took the first-place titles on vault and bars with a 9.600 and 9.675, respectively, as well as second on floor with a 9.700. She is not a newcomer to the J.O. Nationals competition, which will give her an advantage coming in. She has competed at nationals the last two years, which have been her only chances to qualify to nationals as she started competing level 10 in 2017. In the 2018 competition she took third all-around in her age division with a 38.275 and tied for first on bars with a 9.600.
She vaults a Yurchenko full and has a difficult routine on bars including a Shaposhnikova and a full-in dismount. Her beam shows off a back handspring-back layout-back layout series, a side aerial, and a 1 ½ dismount. On floor she competes a punch front-round off-back handspring-double back, double pike, and a double piked full-in.
Any of these gymnasts and more have a huge chance of doing well at this upcoming nationals. We wish them all the best of luck and cannot wait to see the incredible talent showcased at this competition!