Tonight, the U.S. national champion, national team, and invitees to Worlds Trials will be decided, with four current or future Gators hoping to be among those lucky few.
Night 1 yielded great results for three of those four – Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely, and Leanne Wong were 2-3-4 behind the great Simone Biles after four routines. Tonight, they’ll try to replicate that success, and if they’re successful, they should all make national team and be invited to trial for World Championships.
Kayla DiCello stands much further down in the standings at No. 19, but she did post the fourth-highest floor score despite her troubles on bars and beam. She’ll want to hit at least bars at her full potential tonight, if not also beam, if she wants to be in contention for World Championships. As far as national team, it feels unlikely she’ll get an automatic berth, but there are often spots available on an individual basis, awarded by the High Performance Staff.
They’ll be fighting back a deep, talented field of Biles and a slew of current and future NCAA athletes. UCLA’s Jordan Chiles, Oregon State’s Jade Carey, and Auburn’s Sunisa Lee should all be names our regular readers recognize, and some future household gymnastics names will also be present. Joscelyn Roberson and Kaliya Lincoln are both in contention for World Championships and are future Arkansas and LSU athletes, respectively.
There are also a few younger, still uncommitted athletes with the potential to make at least the national team, including Tiana Sumanasekera and Amelia Disidore, the latter of whom has an older sister joining the Gators this year. Though coaches Jenny Rowland and Owen Field are on the floor to coach Wong and certainly focused on her, it’s hard to imagine the success of these uncommitted athletes has gone unnoticed by their keen recruiting eyes.
For Night 2, DiCello and Blakely will start on floor, competing back to back, and Wong and Jones will start on beam. It all starts in just a few short minutes on Peacock at 6:30pm ET, and the NBC broadcast will start on a delay at 7pm ET. I’ll be blogging from the Peacock broadcast, for clarification, just in case the NBC one is different!
6:34pm: We’re starting with Rotation 1!
Biles, VT: Looks like she may forgo the Yurchenko double pike tonight – her ankles are heavily taped. Just the Cheng tonight, has to pike down a little to land it, just a little slide on the landing. Still, a 14.85 is an enormous score!
Chiles, VT: Yurchenko double full, twisting is pretty clean, legs come apart a little toward the end but just a little bounce back on the landing.
Jong, BB: She was No. 9 coming into tonight. Standing full, lands a little low but very securely. Side aerial, stumbled and fell, oof. Gets back up for a standing layout stepout-layout stepout – much better. Wolf turn is steady. Switch leap to pike jump, strong positions in the air. Double pike dismount, single step back on the landing. Not what she needed.
Lincoln, FX: This will be a showstopper routine, y’all. I can’t wait to see her with NCAA choreography, even if it is at LSU. Double double to open, goes OOB. Full-twisting double layout, good body position, landing well controlled. Triple wolf turn, well controlled. Front full through to double back, stuck! Good for her! That’ll raise her stock in the Worlds picture.
Jones, BB: Mount is cleaner tonight. Standing arabian is excellent! Back handspring-back handspring-2 foot layout, very steady. Side aerial, solid. Her extension is really lovely through her choreography. Switch leap to sissone, good positions in the air. Double pike dismount, lands nearly upright, just a little step back. 14.3! That’s a Worlds final kind of score.
First commercial break as we let the second half of the rotation take a touch warmup. DiCello and Blakely will be back-to-back on floor to start off, and Wong will close out beam.
DiCello, FX: Double double to open, very nice! That’s a new skill she’s added back. Finesses her wolf turn, should still count fine? Split full, that’s clean. 1.5 to front full, that’s from her collegiate routine. Leaps in her dance passage are gorgeous, great extension. Double pike is stuck! That’s the way to start tonight!
Roberson, VT: Cheng – that’s a Yurchenko half-on, layout 1.5 off – cleaner leg form than Night 1! And just a small step on the landing.
Blakely, FX: Double double, puts her hands down – that’s a full point off, ouch. OOB on her double layout – this is not the start she needed. Wolf turn is fine. Dance passage clean. Not performing the choreography as well as Night 1, her head’s not in the game right now after those errors. Front tuck through to double tuck, and OOB again – ouch. That may allow Wong to overtake her.
Carey, UB: Tkachev to start is fine. Maloney to Bhardwaj, nice! Good save on her transition back to high bar, fingertip catch, wow. Sticks her dismount! A better start for her than Night 1 as well.
Wong, BB: Side aerial to switch leap, doesn’t connect but does do the wolf jump full. Back handspring to layout stepout, very steady – I hope that’s the end of her issues with that series. L turn to full turn, good connection there. Switch ring, lovely position in the air. Side somi, nice and solid. Front aerial to split jump to straddle jump, those connections should be good. 2.5 twist dismount is good!
1. Biles: 74.15
2. Jones (UF): 71.05
3. Wong (UF): 69.05
4. Chiles: 68.85
5. Lincoln: 68.05
6. Blakely (UF): 67.9
7. Roberson: 67.5
8. Sumanasekera: 66.85
9. Zhou: 65.9
10. Disidore: 65.8
We have merged with the NBC broadcast now so they are repeating some routines – or Biles’s vault, at least – but I will not be repeating info here because this is a bit silly. Just show the whole meet and start on time, gymnastics can draw the viewers!
In rotation 2, DiCello and Blakely will go to vault, and Jones and Wong will go to floor.
7:08pm: Rotation 2!
Lincoln, VT: Yurchenko double full, pretty big slide back, a little wild.
Matthews, FX: Full in to open, just steps out of bounds, ouch. Front full through to 2.5 twist, very clean in her twisting form. Dance passage is lovely. Really selling the choreography, I love it. Wolf turn is fine. Double back to finish, has to pull it around just a little but lands fine. What a creative routine!
Miller, UB: Inbar full to Komova, very difficult skills and she hits them well tonight. Jaeger is clean. Piked Tkachev to pak salto, lovely. Great final handstand on the high bar! Double layout dismount, just a little hop forward – muuuuuch better than Night 1! Definitely raises her as a question in the Worlds picture.
Wong, FX: Double double is stuck to open! Very nice! And she sticks her double layout – she is on fire tonight! Double L turn combination is solid. Whip half to front full is well controlled, and she sticks her double pike. Okay, Adrian is going to be thrilled about that. She really is doing the best gymnastics of her life right now – 14.0!!!
Blakely, VT: Yurchenko double full, very clean in the air, bounce back. Hopefully that gives her some mojo back after the floor disaster.
Chiles, UB: Toe full, solid pirouette. Piked Tkachev and she overcooks it – misses the bar! Goes to rechalk and remount. Completes the skill this time, to a pak salto. van Leeuwen to Gienger is good. Blind change to piked Jaeger, clean. Sticks her double layout! Not what she wanted but definitely recovered well.
Aaaand we’re showing the Shilese Jones fluff piece again – I’m gonna cry! Love that she’s doing this for her dad. Florida can wait as long as it needs to for her to go for that dream for her dad.
Jones, FX: Starts with a wolf turn, pretty steady. Double double, a little short but covers well. Triple L turn, goooorgeous. That’s quite difficult. Front full through to double back, almost looked like she winced with her right ankle? That’s not a good sign. Full in, that looked much more secure. Another excellent routine for her – if this is her at 75-80%, I can’t wait to see what 100% looks like!
Biles, UB: Weiler half to Maloney, pirouette on the high bar is good. Piked Tkachev to pak, quick connection there. Van Leeuwen is clean. A little short of vertical on her last pirouette, but sticks her dismount! Well done.
Lee, BB: Triple wolf turn to start, pretty even keeled. Front aerial to split jump to back handspring, made a small adjustment at the end there and hardly bobbled – lesser athletes would’ve fallen. Switch leap to switch half to ring jump, great 180 splits. Handspring-layout stepout-layout stepout – stays on tonight! Small bobble but much better than a fall. Split jump to split leap, gorgeous. Gainer tuck full dismount off the end, just a small adjustment. That’s the kind of routine you take her to Worlds for, especially if she can pair it with a world-class bars routine that she’s training.
1. Biles: 88.2
2. Jones (UF): 85.2
3. Wong (UF): 83.05
4. Blakely (UF): 82.15
5. Lincoln: 81.95
6. Chiles: 81.8
7. Sumanasekera: 79.65
8. Fatta: 79.55
9. DiCello (UF): 79.35
10. Roberson: 79.3
DiCello quietly making her way back up the standings! She and Blakely will be on bars, while Wong and Jones go to vault.
John Roethlisberger saying he heard 18 will be invited to Worlds Selection camp! That feels like a lot for a 29-member field.
7:44pm: Rotation 3!
Wong, VT: Yurchenko double full, just a little movement on the landing – college stick territory.
Blakely, UB: Really nailing these handstands. Piked Tkachev to pak salto is excellent. Stayed patient with the toe full on the low bar, made sure to go over the right way, transition back to high was clean. Double front dismount is clean! 14.4!
Jones, VT: Yurchenko double full, just a small hop back. Lots of good distance, nice stretched body position. 14.4 as well for her.
Carey, FX: Full-twisting double layout, little bounce on the landing but didn’t look out of bounds. Double double, fought to stay in but had to keep her chest a little low. Dance series looked clean, good positions in the air. Front layout through to double back, sticks that cold! Double tuck to finish, bouncy again and does go OOB this time. Still, should be a strong score.
Roberson, BB: Standing full, very confident. Switch leap to switch half to back tuck, definitely short of 180 on the half there. Side aerial-layout stepout-layout stepout, hesitates to put her foot down but doesn’t bobble. Onodi, doesn’t connect, split to sissone. Straddle jump from side stand, does not hit 180 there either. Double pike, lands a little crunched over, single step on the landing.
Just finished a commercial break – we’re back now!
Sumanasekera, BB: Candle mount, much like DiCello. Handspring-handspring-2 foot layout, very secure. Mixed series is strong, connections are quick into the korbut (handspring swingdown). Switch leap to split half, doesn’t connect into the ring jump. Side aerial to wolf jump, another bobble and missed connection into another jump. Double pike dismount is stuck! Her difficulty score will not be nearly as high as night 1 with all those broken connections.
Biles, BB: Switch leap mount to switch half to back tuck, strong. Wolf turn is much better than her first night. A little short of 180 on one of those connects jumps. Handspring-layout stepout-layout stepout, super secure. Side aerial is clean. Full in dismount, stutter step backward. Just incredible – she’s so casual about it but that’s a difficult routine. Going to get her ankle taped now before floor, that ankle is definitely bugging her.
Chiles, BB: Beyonce playing in the arena, that’s her jam. Handspring-layout stepout-layout stepout, oh no! She turns around and bobbles trying to save it but can’t, has to hop off. Gets back on. Front aerial to split jump, clean. Side somi, another big bobble. Switch leap to sissone, those are nice. Side aerial, steady. Switch side, gets good amplitude on that. Double pike, hop forward. Yeah, she’s frustrated. Lots of fight in that routine but that’ll cost her.
8:12pm: Just a couple miscellaneous routines from earlier in the third rotation:
Lincoln, UB: Not her best event, falls on her first release skill. Still, if she makes Worlds, it won’t be for this. Tkachev to pak salto, was really far from the bar but made it happen somehow! Van Leeuwen is okay. Taking lots of swings here to wind up for just a double back dismount – that’s a bummer.
Zeiss, VT: Yurchenko 1.5, stuck cold! That’s huge – LSU will take that.
8:19pm: Rotation four, here we go!
Roberson, FX: Double twisting double layout – that’s a Moors, the hardest tumbling pass being competed this weekend. Full twisting double layout for the second pass, a little short there but stays in bounds. Front through to double tuck, again a little short but covers better this time. Double pike to close, more secure this time. That’ll be a strong score for her!
We’re getting far more commercial breaks tonight than Night 1… I am not a fan.
Lee, VT: Just a Yurchenko full, the least difficult vault being competed here – but they’re playing it safe for the kidney right now. Very clean, straight down the middle, nice stretched body position.
Jones, UB: Great opening handstand. Stalder full is strong. Chow to Tkachev is great. Piked Tkachev to pak salto, great amplitude and well controlled. Transition back to high bar is good. Double front, goes for the stick but can’t quite hold it, takes a step forward. Still, a huge 15.0 for her will absolutely make her a favorite for Worlds.
Biles, FX: Opens with a full-twisting double layout, just a little bounce in place. Front full through to double double, stuck. No big deal. Wolf turn is clean enough. Dance passage is lovely, great extension through her leaps. Biles I – a double layout half out – is great, she stays in bounds tonight! Double layout to finish… you know, in college, that an opening pass for only the strong floor workers? Just incredible. An absolute legend.
Chiles, FX: 1.5 through to full in to open, that’s fun! Double layout is stuck! Taking energy from Biles for sure. Dance passage is clean, maybe fudges the rotation on the last element? Front through to double back, saves herself from going OOB by the tiniest little shift of her ankles. Double pike to close it out – that’s a much better way to end her night!
We’re at the halfway point of this last rotation – Wong, Blakely, and DiCello all yet to come.
Wong, UB: Jaeger is great, good amplitude. Bhardwaj transition, that’s great. Maloney to pak salto, doesn’t connect, van Leeuwen is fine though. Double layout, just a little shift backward. What an incredible meet for her. 14.0, she’ll finish third!
Carey, VT: Starts with a Cheng, really well done – cleaned up her leg form from Night 1 too. They didn’t show her second vault, but I’m hearing from Twitter it was also great.
DiCello, BB: Candle mount, solid. Triple wolf turn, quite steady. Switch leap full? That’s new. Handspring-layout stepout-layout stepout, bobbles but stays on. Switch leap to switch half, positions are fine. Front aerial, breaks connection to the subsequent jumps. Side aerial, another big bobble but stays on. Double pike, step forward. Looks like she’s favoring an ankle as she comes off? Hopefully just a sting. That’ll be much better than Night 1, but not quite the lights-out she might have wanted.
Blakely, BB: Triple wolf turn to open, a little scary but doesn’t have a major break. Standing full, quite confident. Front handspring to front tuck – no one else is doing it like her! Switch leap to switch half, maybe a little shy of 180? Front aerial to split jump to back handspring, very quick connections. Side aerial is clean. Double pike dismount, big lunge back but saves herself from stumbling. That’ll be a good score – should keep her in top contention despite her issues on floor. 13.7 – she’ll finish in fourth!
2. Jones (UF)
3. Wong (UF)
4. Blakely (UF)
8T. Sumanasekera and DiCello (UF)
Jones becomes national champion on bars and takes bronze on floor, and Blakely takes silver on bars and beam.
Jones, Wong, and Blakely should automatically get berths on the national team, and I think DiCello will too? I think it’s top 8 who get named immediately.
As far as Worlds Trials are concerned, these top 10 should all get invited, as well as Carey, Lee, and Lincoln for sure. Roethlisberger had said he heard 18 earlier in the meet, and if we add Matthews and Miller, that’s everyone who scored a 14+ on at least one event on one day. That’s a little more conservative at 15 total, but personally I think that covers all the bases – although I’m not on the High Performance Committee!
That’s all from San Jose (and my couch) this weekend. We’ll have updates to come once the Worlds team is named, and if any Gators are on the team (seems likely), I’ll have some kind of coveragefor y’all, whether it’s live or recaps.