February 2016 National Team Camp Underway

2:16 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

February 2016 US National Team Camp is underway. This camp will serve multiple purposes as we journey down the Road to Rio. For Maggie Nichols and Gabrielle Douglas, it will be their final verification prior to the American Cup. For Mykayla Skinner, this will be her final verification prior to the Glasgow World Cup. Nia Dennis, originally scheduled to attend the Stuttgart World Cup, will not attend due to an Achilles tear. No athlete has been listed as a replacement at this time although in an official press release, USA Gymnastics mentions that the March 12-15 will serve as a Stuttgart qualification along with Jesolo Trophy selection.

The Olympic year proves to be an exciting one with more US gymnasts being sent to international competition than in the past. Some of the Rio ineligible juniors will attend the International Gymnix competition in Montreal. At the moment, Jordan Chiles, Deanne Soze, Maile O'Keefe, and Gabby Perea are scheduled to compete.

Notably missing from camp are Jazmyn Foberg, Rachel Gowey, and Bailie Key. All 3 athletes could definitely earn a spot on the Jesolo team and Key or Foberg would make excellent choices for the Stuttgart World Cup so we will wait and see if they are back for the March camp. There's no word at the moment as to whether the athletes are missing due to injury, illness, family emergency or other issues. Kyla Ross, who recently announced her retirement, is also not present at the end of the lineup.

There is no word at this time on whether we'll have videos from this camp. In the past, we've had videos from the January camp but with the Summer Olympics coming close, it's unclear if Team USA wants to keep some upgrades to mystery or if the production of these videos will be through different outlets, like the recent Today Show interview or with NBC's Olympic media.

Often after camp, athletes are added to the national team, lineups for meets are changed, athletes may withdraw or new athletes may be added. Hoping the athletes have a great verification!

Below are the athletes in height order.
Amelia Hundley, Cincinnati
Maggie Nichols, Twin City Twisters
Ashton Locklear, Everest Gymnastics
Madison Desch, GAGE
Aly Raisman, Brestyan's
Gabrielle Douglas, Buckeye
Brenna Dowell, GAGE
Hannah Joyner, World Champion Centre, 2001
Madison Kocian, WOGA
Trinity Thomas, Prestige, 2001
Alyssa Baumann, WOGA
MyKayla Skinner, Desert Lights
Gabby Perea, Legacy Elite, 2002
Emily Gaskins, Palm Beach Gymnastics
Christina Desiderio, Parkettes
Maile O'Keefe, Salcianu's, 2002
Emily Schild, Everest Gymnastics
Lauren Hernandez, MG Elite
Norah Flatley, Chow's Gymnastics
Deanne Soza, Arete, 2001
Jordan Chiles, Naydenov, 2001
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Brandy Johnson's
Simone Biles, World Champion Centre
Elena Arenas, Georgia Elite, 2001
Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams, 2002
Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams


An Ode to Kyla Ross

10:14 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Photo by Christy Ann Linder
Edit by me :)

By now, you've seen that Olympic Champion Kyla Ross has decided to retire from elite competition. She will continue in the fall at UCLA but we will so longer see Kyla on the road to Rio.

It's a bit heartbreaking.

Not for any particular reason other than the fact that we won't be able to see her beautiful gymnastics again on the elite stage. Ross has a remarkably successful career with multiple titles to her name - World All Around Silver and Bronze medalist, World Champion in the team event in 2014, and Olympic Champion in the team event in 2013. That's without naming her individual world medals on uneven bars and balance beam and her multiple national titles.

Kyla has always been known for her consistency. Even as a junior, it was her consistency and attention to detail that kept her high in the rankings. In 2012, Kyla was that missing piece to the Olympic team - a strong all arounder, great on uneven bars and beam, and a great option for floor exercise especially after McKayla Maroney's injury.

What is there to say about Kyla?

Kyla is beautiful.
Her gymnastics is beautiful.

I will always miss her beautiful double twisting Yurchenko where she had a cat like sense of finding the landing. Uneven bars always served as Kyla's claim to fame where a beautiful Jaeger and floaty double layout earned her a spot in multiple international event finals and even a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships. With Kyla fully extending through her shoulders, I suddenly was able to appreciate a bail to handstand. Something I never thought was humanly possible.

On beam, I will miss her switch ring! Though it can certainly stay in her NCAA routine. I already miss her switch ring to back tuck but her height on the leap is phenomenal. Like her DTY, Ross has an uncanny sense of sticking her double tuck dismount. On floor, we had the joy of seeing Kyla's Phantom routine... multiple times. Then, after some artistry training and a few inches added to her already long stature, Ross grew into this mature dancer that seemed to emote through every movement and every breath. Her double arabian to stag was amongst my favorites.

On February 22, Kyla Ross announced her retirement. "Deciding to retire from elite gymnastics has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life, but I feel my time as an elite gymnast has come to an end. I truly love the sport of gymnastics and I am so fortunate to have been able to accomplish my dreams with the help of USA Gymnastics and all of its staff. I would like to thank everyone for all of the amazing support I have received during my entire elite career. I would especially like to thank Martha (Karolyi) for pushing me to be the best gymnast I could be for the past eight years. Having the opportunity to represent the U.S. through gymnastics has been an experience I will always cherish. I hope to still inspire young gymnasts as I transition to collegiate gymnastics and this next chapter in my life."

Prior to the 2015 World Championships,  Ross withdrew herself from contention. After an unsuccessful showing at the 2015 P&G Championships, it seemed unlikely that Ross would be named to that team. She then went to camp in January but found that her heart just wasn't in the right place to make a run at a second Olympic Games.

Next for Ross is her freshman year at UCLA. Kyla Ross initially deferred her acceptance to UCLA to train for Rio. Now, she gets to look forward to her collegiate career, a dorm life, and a likely major in biomedical engineering. "I’ve been excited to try some, not necessarily new skills, but skills I haven’t done in a while." This retraining of old skills often happens with elite gymnasts transitioning to NCAA. It was most recently mentioned with Brenna Dowell, how there are some skills that have to be relearned whether it's sticking a FTY or 1.5 TY or a sole circle on uneven bars. Maybe she's working some front tumbling passes on floor. When I had the opportunity to interview Kyla and witness a practice a little over one year ago, she was working a triple turn and also a wolf turn (maybe double?) on floor along with the front tuck half on beam. Who knows if these will make an appearance in the future.

One thing that is certainly exciting is that the end of Kyla Ross' elite career is only the start of her collegiate career. At UCLA, Kyla will certainly fit in well with her fabulous vaults. With the new NCAA code of points rewarding 1.5TY and DTY, it begs the question of whether or not she'll go for the higher vault or just stick FTYs left and right. While her dismount on uneven bars seemed to cause some trouble due to her new height, she has all the skills. I don't understand the nuances of NCAA gymnastics uneven bar rules but hopefully she can change the bars to a height/distance that's manageable. I will personally beg Miss Val for Kyla to keep her switch ring on balance beam. We're all probably most looking forward to what Miss Val will choreograph for Kyla on floor exercise.

So, Miss Kyla Ross, we'll miss you in elite gymnastics. We'll miss spotting you at the end of camp picture lineups. We'll miss you being the veteran on the team leading by calm, cool, collected example. We'll miss knowing that your beam was the one we could most likely breath through. But we're excited. Excited for what the future holds both in gymnastics and beyond.

Best of luck, Kyla!!


Gymnastics Injuries 2016 Jan-Apr

7:57 PM Arabian Punch Front 10 Comments

The end of this list is in sight! This list hurts my heart. Not to mention it's the Olympic year so every injury is triple-y as heart breaking because of the stress it places on Olympic dreams. Le sigh.

Kim Janas of Germany was doing well rehabbing an ACL tear but unfortunately hurt her elbow so it out for a bit longer now. It's unclear how long it will take her to get back considering whatever advances she made on bar will have to be held at the moment. Wyomi Masela of the Netherlands is a new addition to the list. Following the 2012 Test Event/Olympics, Masela was struggling with motivation. When I finally heard she was thinking about coming back, she then had a back injury. Now she has a torn Achilles. I'm not sure if she's competed this quad but this injury will certainly test her.

The second torn Achilles for the month goes to USA's Nia Dennis. Her junior to senior transition wasn't the easiest but we started to see sparks of the old Nia Dennis after her gym change. Unfortunately, this injury could put her out of the running for the Olympic team. Nia's best claim, however, is that she was a strong uneven bar worker and should her rehab be going well, she could potentially make it back on uneven bars but it's a risk. She posted on snapchat that she'll be back so, despite the injury, her smile hasn't wavered.

Best of luck to the athletes this year!!!

Note about the list:
The list consists of national team members that have had some injury that keeps them out of competition. (c) indicates gymnasts that have returned to national team camp or control competition but not yet to a "public" competition.
Retirement means retirement from elite competition. Some athletes may go on to do NCAA or compete for their local/provincial team but maybe not on a national/international level.

Updated April 24, 2016


Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Tyesha Mattis GBR??? (Mar)
Carlotta Ferlito ITA??? (Mar)
Ekaterina Sokova RUS??? (Mar)
Fan Yilin CHNShoulder pain (Mar)Apr 2016
Pauline SchaeferShoulder pain (Mar)Apr 2016
Larisa Iordache ROUFinger fracture and surgery (Mar)
Nina Derwael BELHand injury (Mar)
Viktoria Komova RUSBack injury (Mar)
Kim Janas GERACL tear (May '15)
Elbow dislocation (Feb)
Mary-Anne Monckton AUSACL tear (Mar)
Aleeza Yu CANKnee injury (Oct '14)
Ankle injury (Feb)
Feb 2016

Tabea Alt GERKnee injury (Mar)Apr 2016
Maggie Nichols USAMeniscus surgery (Apr)
Roxana Popa ESPMeniscus surgery (Mar)
Nia Dennis USAAchilles surgery (Feb)
Wyomi Masela NEDAchilles surgery (Feb)
Maartje Ruikes NEDAchilles injury (Feb)
Norah Flatley USAAnkle injury (Feb) ?
Laura Jurca ROUAnkle fracture (Mar)


Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Ruby Harrold GBR??? (Mar)Sep 2015
Axelle Klinckaert BEL??? (Mar)May 2015
Teal Grindle GBRShoulder injury (Mar)Nov 2015
Yao Jinnan CHNShoulder surgery (Feb)Apr 2016
Ashton Locklear USAShoulder surgery (Mar)Aug 2015
Sabrina Vega USAShoulder surgery (Mar)Jul 2015
Marta Costa ESPShoulder surgery (May)
Youna Dufournet FRAShoulder surgery (Jun)Mar 2016
Anna Pavlova AZEElbow injury (Apr)retirement
Aliya Mustafina RUSBack (Sep)Apr 2016
Kelly Simm GBRBack (Dec)
Lisa Ecker AUTKnee injury (Apr)Oct 2015
Yesenia Ferrera CUBKnee injury (May)? retirement
Elsa Garcia MEXKnee injury (Oct)Feb 2016
Giulia Steingruber SUIKnee injury (Oct)Mar 2016
Chantysha Netteb NEDKnee reoperation (Mar)Mar 2016
Diana Bulimar ROUKnee surgery (Jun)Sep 2015
Raer Theaker GBRKnee surgery (Jun)
Elbow surgery (Nov)
Sep 2015
Alessandra Thompson RSAKnee surgery (Jun)
Anastasia Grishina RUSTorn meniscus & broken patella (Apr '14)
ACL tear (Mar)
Feb 2015
Sep 2015
Gabby Jupp GBRACL tear (Mar)Mar 2016
Jonna Adlerteg SWEACL tear (Apr)Feb 2016
Kim Bui GERACL tear (May)
Rebeca Andrade BRAACL tear (Jun)Mar 2016
Lauren Mitchell AUSACL tear (Jun)Mar 2016 (c)
Carlotta Ferlito ITAFoot injury (Feb)Mar 2015
Larisa Iordache ROUFoot injury (Mar)Sep 2015
Laura Waem BELFoot injury (Mar)Sep 2015 (c)
Isa Maassen NEDFoot injury (Jun)Dec 2015
Catherine Lyons GBR jrStress fracture (Jun)
Koko Tsurumi JPNAchilles tear (May)Nov 2015
Catalina PonorAchilles surgery (Oct)Mar 2016
Lara Mori ITAAnkle injury (Mar)Sep 2015
Julie Croket BEL??? (Mar)
Ankle sprain (Sep)
Oct 2015
Mira Boumejmajen FRAAnkle injury (Mar)retirement
Alla Sosnitskaya RUSAnkle injury (Apr)Sep 2015
Marta Pihan-Kulesza POLAnkle injury (May)Oct 2015
Noel van Klaveren NEDAnkle surgery (May)Sep 2015 (c)
Felicia Hano USAAnkle injury (Jul)retirement
Arianna Rocca ITAAnkle injury (Sep)Feb 2016
Ana Maria Ocolisan ROUElbow surgery (Feb)
Ankle injury (Oct)
Jun 2015
Mar 2016
Iosra Abdelaziz ITAFoot surgery (Jan)
Martina Rizzelli ITAMetatarsal fracture + surgery (Sep)Feb 2016
Nina Derwael BELToe injury (Nov)Mar 2016
Vanessa Ferrari ITAMedical - mononucleosis (Mar)Apr 2015


Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Elisa Cherino GERFractured cervical vertebrae (Mar)FB; site
Miriana Almeida MEX??? (Aug)May 2015
Sandra Collantes PER??? (Sep)retire - NCAA
Anne Kuhm FRACollarbone (Jan)Feb 2015 (c)
Mar 2015
Kirsten Beckett RSAShoulder surgery (Aug)Jun 2015
Peyton Ernst USADislocated shoulder + surgery (Aug)Apr 2015 (c)
Ida Gustafsson SWEShoulder injury (Aug)
Rebecca Tunney GBRElbow (May)Sep 2015
Bailie Key USA jrElbow (Jul)Oct 2014 (c)
Mar 2015
Ayelen Taribini ARGDislocated Elbow (Sep)*May 2015
Madison Kocian USAWrist surgery (Nov)Mar 2015 (c)
Yuna Hiraiwa JPNBroken Finger (Sep)Apr 2015
Elisa Meneghini ITABack (Oct)Mar 2015
Aliya Mustafina RUSBack (Dec)Jun 2015
McKayla Maroney USAKnee surgery (Feb) + medical
Jade Barbosa BRAKnee surgery (Aug)Jun 2015
Diana Bulimar ROUKnee surgery (Aug)Mar 2015
Cintia Rodriguez ESPKnee surgery (Nov)Jul 2015
Vanasia Bradley USA jrTorn ACL & meniscus, broken patella (Jun)Jan 2016
Nadine Jarosch GERTorn ACL surgery (2013)
Torn ACL surgery (Jul)
Janine Berger GERTorn ACL surgery (Aug)Sep 2015
Maria Paula Vargas ESPTorn ACL & partial meniscal tear (Sep)Jul 2015
Laura Longueville FRATorn ACL surgery (Oct)
2nd surgery (Mar '15)
Kristyna Palesova CZETorn ACL, meniscal tear, ligament tear (Nov)
Roxana Popa ESPTorn ACL & meniscus (Dec)Oct 2015
Laurie Hernandez USA jrFractured wrist (Jan)
Torn patellar tendon & dislocated kneecap (Jun)

Nov 2014 (c)
Maggie Nichols USADislocated kneecap (Aug)Jan 2015 (c)
Mar 2015
Tyesha Mattis GBR jrAnkle (Mar)Dec 2014 (c)
Mar 2015
Wendy de Jong NED jrAnkle (Jul)Mar 2016
Lauren Mitchell AUSAnkle (Oct)May 2015
Giulia Steingruber SUIKnee bone bruise (Mar)
Ankle ligament sprain + 2 stress fractures (Nov)
May 2014
Mar 2015
Gabriella Douglas CANAnkle surgery (Aug)Feb 2015
Rachel Gowey USAAnkle break (Aug)Nov 2014 (c)
Jul 2015
Maelys Plessis FRAAnkle stress fracture (Sep)retirement
Lexie Priessman USAAchilles tendon strain ('13)
Torn fibular ligament (Aug)
Mary-Anne Monckton AUSTorn peroneal tendon (Oct)Apr 2015 (c)
Jul 2015
Evgenia Zhukova RUSTorn Achilles (Apr)retirement
Valentine Sabatou FRATorn Achilles (Sep)retirement
Francesca Deagostini ITAFoot injury/fracture (Jun-Aug)Feb 2015
Elisabeth Seitz GERFoot injury (Aug)
Foot surgery (Nov)
Sep 2014
May 2015
Giorgia Campana ITAFoot injury (Nov)Feb 2015
Simone Biles USAShoulder (Feb)Jul 2014
Louise Vanhille FRAElbow (Mar)Nov 2014
Alyssa Baumann USAElbow (Aug)Sep 2014
Kyla Ross USABack (Jan)Mar 2014
Mariya Livchikova UKRTorn ACL (Aug)retirement
Loan His FRA jrHyperextended knee (Jun)Nov 2014
Carlotta Ferlito ITACalf strain + medical issue (Mar)Sep 2014
Sophie Scheder GERSprained ankle + 2 torn ligaments (Mar)May 2014
Maria Paseka RUSSprained ankle (Sep)Nov 2014
Ksenia Afanasyeva RUSAnkle surgery (Apr)Nov 2014
Viktoria Komova RUSAnkle surgery (Apr)Aug 2014
Maria Bondareva RUS jrSwollen ligaments in ankle (Apr)May 2014
Rebeca Andrade BRA jrToe injury (Jul)Nov 2014


Name (Country)InjuryReturn to Competition
Sabrina Vega USAShoulder surgeryNov 2014 (c)
Chantysha Netteb NEDACLFeb 2015
Katelyn Ohashi - USAShoulder surgery + BackJan 2015
Julie Croket - BELElbowAug 2014
Sarah Finnegan - USAElbow surgeryJan 2015
Enus Mariani jr - ITABack injury (May)Nov 2014
Eythora Thorsdottir - NED jrBackOct 2014
Gabby Jupp - GBRTorn ACL at Europeans; surgeryAug 2014
Kim Janas GER jrACL; surgeryOct 2014
Lisa Ecker AUTR PCL and meniscusAug 2014
Luo Peiru - CHNAchilles & fractured kneecapretirement
CĂ©line van Gerner - NEDAnkle surgerySep 2014
Adrian Gomes - BRAretirement
Koko Tsurumi - JPNAchillesNov 2014


Adjusting to Gymnastics Again: Just Keep Swimming, Fish

6:13 PM Arabian Punch Front 3 Comments

A little over one year after the Gym-Max Family interview, we had the chance to sit down with gymnast Felicia Hano, World Trampoline and Tumbling Medalist and former USA Gymnastics National Team Member, as she approaches her first competition after returning from injury.

Hello Fish! Many in the gymnastics community are wondering as to how you are doing and what the recovery process was like, so let’s begin!

How are you doing currently?
I’m doing pretty well. Training has been good. I’ve been getting my skills back and it’s been a hard process and a [healthy] process.

Are there certain skills that you’re really glad you’ve gotten back?
Definitely, tumbling! I missed tumbling the most. Getting that back was my main priority because I knew if I could get that back then I could get everything else back.

Can you go through step-by-step as to what happened during Podium Training at Classics?
Training started really well that day; I started with Yurchenko double-full, and those were pretty solid. Then I moved on to my second vault. My timing wasn’t right, the punch wasn’t right and my block wasn’t good but I still wanted to keep going. I was the last one on the rotation and I was really tired by the end. Howie said “No, don’t do anymore, we have another workout,” and I said “I need to do one more. I need to try one more and make it good,” and you know that last one got me. Landed short, I didn’t get enough block and propulsion off the table and I just came down a little too short. My ankle kind of crunched and rolled in and out and… it just wasn’t very good.

You had to be taken to the hospital immediately. What was the initial assessment because I heard it was knee but I also heard it was the ankle?
I saw the video too and at first it did look like I hurt my knee but it was my ankle. When I got to the hospital, they took some X-Rays and looked at it and their first conclusion was that it was a sprain. So they told me to keep it in a splint and check in with my doctors when I got home. So that’s what I did, I got home, went to the doctor… and they put me in a boot.

At the time you were getting physical therapy?
I got the MRI and they told me that I tore a bunch of ligaments in my ankles. They said I could try to fix it with physical therapy and see if that would help get the tightness back into my ligaments, but unfortunately, that didn’t work, so I ended up getting surgery [October 2015.] My doctors wanted to take a more conservative approach [with the physical therapy] because they didn’t want the wear and tear on my body especially since gymnastics is a very demanding sport. They didn’t want the surgery to mess with anything else and said to try physical therapy first and then to go from there if I needed surgery.

Is there something which has resonated with you throughout this recovery process? I know it’s hard to talk about but…
(Laughs) no, it’s okay! I’ve definitely learned a lot from this experience… a lot of perseverance and just never giving up, that has stuck with me throughout this whole recovery process. Just because if I would have given up, I wouldn’t be training now and wouldn’t be where I am today. I would say always working hard. Hard work will get you there.

Has it made you believe more in yourself?
It definitely has, putting a lot of trust in my abilities and myself and my talent because when I got surgery I was really upset and didn’t want to talk about it. It was a really hard time and I wasn’t going on social media, I just didn’t want to talk about it. It definitely pushed me and made me rediscover why I love gymnastics so much. When I got hurt and couldn’t do gymnastics, it made me realize that I need this sport and I love it so much.

If you were to give advice on how to stay resilient through a process like this what would you say?
Well my family, friends, coaches and teammates are definitely a big part of that and kept me motivated and try to keep me positive because they would see me having a rough day. For example, about two weeks ago, I was having a hard time getting my timing on bars and I was just so frustrated but my teammates helped me push through, “It’s okay Fish...just give it some time and you can do it, you’re good.” Without them I don’t think I would be where I am.

Is the NCAA factor a strong point too? Has Miss Val said anything in particular?
Definitely, that’s my biggest motivation right now, getting ready for college. I don’t want to let my team down. So I’ve just been working really hard in the gym and Miss Val has definitely helped with that. She has been so helpful and motivational for me; we talk almost on a daily basis keeping her informed and updated on everything. We set up a game plan of my recovery and my coming back. Miss Val has certain things she wants me to do and Jenny has certain things she wants me to do and they both help me get there to full recovery.

Can you share with us if it’s a week-by-week or skill-by-skill process?
Well, with Jenny it’s a week-by-week and with Miss Val it’s overall. Miss Val wants me to focus on getting my ankle really strong and rehabbing that. Not wanting [me] to come back too fast because I could injure it again but just working on flexibility and strength and my weaknesses. You know I started doing Hot Yoga, so that was her recommendation and I love it so much!

So how strong are your arms now?
Oh My Goodness they’re stronger than I thought they were going to be! When I had my boot on my cast, I was doing lots of ropes, lot of arm conditioning, lots of upper body conditioning. When I came back from bars I was surprised at how well it went!

What skills can you currently do?
I can do almost all my skills again which is really exciting, just a few skills like the higher level skills, I’m not quite there yet, but all my level 10 skills I have back. Like double twist on vault, I’m not there yet. I tried double layouts the other day onto a resi-mat….and I made it and I was like WOOH!

What skills were you planning on doing at Classics?
I was planning a few upgrades and I was really excited and was disappointed I didn’t get to show everybody.
Bars: I wasn’t planning on competing bars.
Vault: I was planning on debuting my second vault but I mean that didn’t work out too well. It was supposed to be Tsuk full but I learned it as a Kasamatsu, like what the boys do in a way, it’s just a different technique.
Floor: On floor I was going to do whip double layout. That was one of the biggest upgrades I had, (smiles) and then if it was good I would connect it to a split jump. I was planning on competing the Biles at Championships.
Beam: Arabian was in the works and front tuck half. It just wasn’t quite ready for competition season yet. (On whether we will see it in the future?) Hopefully!

Which is your favorite skill and which has taken you the longest to learn?
I think double layout is my favorite skill because it just feels like you’re flying once you get it good and you know in the air that it’s good and you’re just like ahh this is so cool!
Bars: Level 10 was fine for me, but elite was definitely the hardest for me... It’s a lot of skills and a lot of connections so putting the routine together that was the hardest for me.
Longest: The Biles, it probably took me a day to learn it but here’s the thing, it’s the timing. It’s so tedious. You have to work on it and work on it just to get the punch right, because you think double layout, and the Biles, they look pretty similar, except the Biles has a half turn. But no, it’s so much more than that. The punch is a little bit different; you rotate a little bit different and plus the timing of the half-twist is really crucial and you want to make it a safe landing because it’s really easy to hurt your knee on that skill. So that has probably taken me the longest to perfect.

When you have a skill in mind, how much of it is Jenny and Howie pushing you and how much is it you wanting to do it?
I’ll bring up an idea and if they say “Oh yeah, you could do that,” then they’ll let me learn it and try it but if they don’t think that it fits me then they’ll say “Uh, maybe we should take a step back.” But, they’re definitely really open-minded when it comes to learning new skills and they know how my body works and what skills are good for me and which skills I should stay away from. The second vault they felt that I could do really well. During podium training, they didn’t push me at all, they said, “okay, maybe you should be done.”

It seems like you have a really good relationship with them in terms of communication of them
Yeah, we’re always really open with each other and we can always talk about it.

There is an upcoming meet for you, Chris Waller’s Heart of a Champion. Tell us a little bit more.
I can’t wait to compete because [many] have not seen me compete since 2014. I’m really excited to compete because I haven’t competed in California in a really long time, at a local meet, so my friends and family can come watch me compete.

What skills and events will you competing? Are you going to be doing elite skills or level 10 skills?
Mixture of both. Mostly just Level 10 skills because I don’t want to throw anything too difficult. For sure, Bars and Beam; vault maybe, we’ll see. (on not competing floor) I just feel like my ankle wasn’t ready for that yet, the hard landings, so I just didn’t want to push it. I was hoping it could be all four, but it’s just not going to be [at] this meet.

Thank you for being a great sport and sharing your recovery process with us, Fish. We had a great time catching up with you!

Special thanks to KRAppreciation for the images.


NCAA Gym Month 1 Recap

5:35 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Chris Parent/LSUSports.net

The first month of NCAA Gymnastics 2016 is done and what a month it has been! We've had six perfect 10s. SIX. This certainly makes for an exciting season. We've also had quite a few gymnasts that have returned from injuries and are making huge contributions to their respective teams.

We had 3 perfect 10s in one meet by Florida - Alex McMurtry on uneven bars, Bridget Sloan on balance beam, and Kennedy Baker on FX. An early perfect 10 was from Nina McGee of Denver on the floor exercise where she does not hold back in the least. The 2 perfect 10s on vault have been from Ashleigh Gnat. For the most part, it seems like scoring has been appropriate this season though these tens were not created equally. Some with bent knees, short landings or leg separations, but the accomplishment of these athletes can't be ignored. I truly enjoyed Ashleigh Gnat's DTY at Metroplex, the height and distance she gets is phenomenal (under gymnastike, here is her 10 from a home meet against Kentucky). Kennedy Baker's double arabian has been amazing since her elite days and continues to be.

Some of the highlight stories of this first month have been elite gymnasts making comebacks. Two elites that have been out for nearly 2 years following surgeries are Peyton Ernst (Florida) and Lexie Priessman (LSU). Ernst has been quick to help the Gators on beam where her flexibility is a huge asset. Priessman has made the Tiger lineup on the uneven bars but the coaching staff is hopeful that she will be able to add more events as time goes on. Priessman was one of the elites that competed the coveted Amanar vault. She has shown her FTY already and could potentially add more difficulty since the current college code rewards that.

Two other spectacular stories are in Sarah Finnegan, also of LSU, and Kaitlyn Hofland, an Ohio State Buckeye. Finnegan has been a star for the Tigers on both UB and BB. She has recently added floor exercise and adding vault will make her a true all around threat. The Tiger vault lineup, however, is probably one of the toughest to break into. We'll see if she remains in the vault lineup as she scored a 9.775 just recently and LSU currently has 2 strong all arounders. Finnegan, an alternate to the US 2012 Olympic Team, is recovering from an elbow surgery that nearly took her out of the sport entirely. She is back now with continued passion for the sport. Hofland is a Canadian elite gymnast that really caught my eye after the 2012 Olympics. She attended World Cup meets and graced many with her flexibility and unique skills on balance beam. Hofland did decide to start her career as a Buckeye in the 2014-2015 season, however, multiple injuries kept her out of her first season as she decided to redshirt that year. She is finally healthy enough to compete and is now competing vault, uneven bars, and balance beam for her team with a recent career and season high score of 9.925 on beam.

Honorable mention goes to Ariana Guerra of Alabama who had Dana Duckworth (and maybe me) in tears after her first floor routine back from back surgery!

The "team on the rise" for me is currently Arkansas. They have had a loaded season so far with wins against #4 Alabama and #9 Auburn. They are ranked in 9th place currently (week 5), 7th on vault, and 10th on floor. Star all around gymnast Amanda Wellick is ranked 8th on vault with Sydney Dillard ranked 17th on beam. They're a young team with a lot of potential. They show great quality vaults with great blocks and form in the air, with continued progress to having more stuck landings. They show great variety on uneven bars and beam. My one critique is on floor where some routines are perfect and really draw you in and others still seem to have a bit of step step pose choreography associated with them though that is certainly not the majority. As a whole, this team is phenomenal and, at the moment, they're my dark horse for the Super Six.

Super Six picture - right now is very blurry. I do think the championship is Florida's to lose. I'd say Florida and Oklahoma will make it to the Super Six. Then Utah is likely. UCLA is proving to be very strong and they're also showing depth we haven't seen in years. The floor lineup, for example, has changed multiple times, but they haven't really missed a beat. Replace one gymnast with a new 9.925. Sure! Why not?! We'll see what happens as the season progresses and we see the return of injured gymnasts to more event lineups. Alabama is also making a strong surge and could certainly make the Super Six if they continue to progress as they have been.

What do you think? Which was your favorite 10? Who has your favorite comeback story? What does your Super Six picture look like right now?