2015 Secret Classic Thoughts: Juniors


I know, I know – it’s been way too long since Classics and I’m just now getting to part 2.  Hey, look on the bright side – at least I got around to it before nationals!

Diving right in, I just have to say that I’m so, so happy that Laurie Hernandez won.  I’ve been a huge fan of hers for years (as you can see from the post I did a while back highlighting her floor – that was over a year and a half ago, holy crap) so I’m very excited that she has been able to recover from injury this strongly.  She absolutely NAILED her bar routine and her floor was as great as ever.  I think it’s worth noting that she only finished .6 behind olympic champ Aly Raisman (albeit with a fall) and would have placed 6th in the senior competition by 1.5 points.  She could absolutely be a factor for Rio 2016 and I’m crossing my fingers that she can stay healthy and continue to improve.

Ragan Smith had quite a good competition topped off by an incredible floor routine.  Lauren from The Gymternet called her “a teeny tiny Aly Raisman“, which seems a fairly apt description.  I have to admit that Ragan hasn’t been on my radar much before this, so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her at nationals and throughout the rest of the season.  I’m interested to see how she and her coach handle her training and upgrades within the next year, as she is age eligible for Rio.

Jazmyn Foberg showed a great beam routine and a good vault but didn’t have the best day on her other two events, leaving her in third.  If I’m remembering correctly, she was pretty dominant last year but seems to have possibly had some setbacks this year – has she been injured?  I can’t remember.  Anyhow, there will definitely be some fierce competition between her, Ragan, and Laurie at nationals.

Can we just talk about Deanne Soza for a minute?  Her comeback has been incredible.  If you didn’t know, Deanne dealt with a very serious eye infection earlier this year that left her temporarily blinded, and at the time it was unclear how much of her vision she would be able to recover.  Even without this amazing story, I would have been blown away by her bars.  I’m so sad that she didn’t hit her dismount because she was GORGEOUS for the rest of the routine.  Seriously one of my new favorite bar workers!  She stays so tight and has a beautiful toe point.

Another junior who caught my eye on bars (and beam) is Gabby Perea.  While her difficulty isn’t quite there on bars, she also has lovely form.  On beam she has some crazy hard skills, including a standing full!  I will be very interested to see what skills (and nerves) she brings to nationals.

I have to say that I didn’t catch any of Morgan Hurd’s routines live, although I went back and re-watched them later.  I remember her from her first Nastia cup, and she looks so grown up and confident now!  Even though she was a little jittery on beam, she has some unexplainable presence on that even that really catches my attention.  She is absolutely lovely on bars and her floor, although lacking a little in difficulty, has some very nice touches.  Even though she’s currently not in the top tier of juniors, I just have a feeling about this one.  I don’t think we’re seeing nearly all of the potential she has and I think she will be a big factor in a few years as a senior.  Definitely one of my absolute favorites.

Shilese Jones’ floor exercise is reminiscent to me of the first routine of Simone’s that caught my attention.  Although she’s a little rough around the edges at the moment, I think that she is definitely one to keep a close eye on throughout the next couple of years.  She has some amazing tumbling with the potential for even more.

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf is someone who I always watch due to an unending sense of loyalty that resulted from me seeing her floor routine from this meet several years ago (floor starts at the 2 minute mark).  Although she has improved tremendously over the past year, I do have to say that unfortunately I feel that none of her floor routines so far have quite lived up to the potential I feel that she has.  As odd as it is, that level 9 routine is my favorite of hers so far!  I haven’t given up hope, though – I’m still waiting to be blown away by a similar routine at the elite level.

I believe that all I saw of Maggie Musselman was her beam, but she had gorgeous lines there.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her other routines at nationals.

General thoughts:

  • Wow, Texas Dreams has about eleventy juniors in this competition and they all look like they’re about 4’0″.
  • Per usual, Laurie Hernandez’ leo looks fantastic on her solely because of the fact that she’s Laurie and she’s amazing and not through any virtue of the leo itself.
  • I’m really happy with the lack of injury/scary skills on the junior side of the competition this year.
  • I find it interesting that Twistars has basically dropped off the face of the planet since Jordan Weiber’s retirement.  Alyssa Al-Ashari was their only gymnast, junior or senior, and she placed 25th.
  • I also find it interesting that out of 37 juniors, 36 competed all 4 events (Megan Freed scratched floor) while only 11 of 18 seniors did the same.  I like the emphasis on being proficient in the all-around.
  • Janky wolf turns… janky wolf turns everywhere.

Overall, these are just the gymnasts who caught my eye enough for me to remember a couple of weeks later – I know this only highlighted a few juniors out of a huge field.  If you were impressed by the performance of anyone I missed or if you have thoughts on anything I mentioned, definitely leave a comment!  I love reading other people’s takes on both specific routines and individual gymnasts in general.


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