Marissa Oakley Phenom Gymnastics:
Marissa is a relatively new face to the world of elite gymnastics, since she only earned the status of an elite gymnast last year, at the age of 15. After competing level 10 since 2010, Marissa clearly had plenty of confidence and competitive experience and she was very well prepared when it was time to compete at the sport’s highest level. She had a very succesful 2014, finishing 11th AA and 8th on beam at Secret Classic, beating experienced athletes like Emily Gaskins and Ragan Smith. She also gave us a great performance at nationals, where she finished 15th in the All Around, after having only one fall on bars. Her coach describes her as the most hard working gymnast she has coached in the last 20 years and she praises her drive, focus and dedication. Oakley, who has committed to the University of Georgia, suffered a small growth plate fracture earlier this year, but she still is going to have her senior debut at the Secret Classic. Her best even is probably the uneven bars, where she performs a piked jaeger, a gienger and a spectacular double double dismount. She has good basics and a promising routine to build on and I’d love to see her upgrading. She also has an excellent beam routine, which includes a back handspring connected to two layout stepouts, a front aerial + sheep jump, a switch leap + switch half + back tuck combination and a 2.5 twists dismount. She doesn’t show any extremely difficult tumbling passes, but her 2.5 + front tuck is excellent and she has one of the most beautiful ferraris I’ve ever seen on floor and she is a graceful dancer with lovely choreography. Her vault is a full twisting yurchenko. She has trained impressive skills, like double twisting yurchenko, a maloney, a forward pirouette, a triple full and a full in on floor.
Lauren Navarro Gliders-Charter Oak
Lauren, who has been an elite gymnast since 2013, achieved one of the biggest accomplishments of her career when she won a bronze medal on balance beam at last year’s junior nationals, beating athletes like Norah Flatley, Nia Dennis and Jordan Chiles. Besides that medal, she was 9th All Around and 6th on bars at Classics and 11th AA at nationals so 2014 was definitely a very succesful year for her. She said that her biggest goals are to make the national team and earn a scholarship. This year, and before even having her senior debut, she achieved the first of those dreams. She was added to the senior national team and she was one of 8 athletes who were competing for a spot on USA’s team for Panamerican Games. Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected to go to Toronto, but even being part of the discussion and being named a national team member must have been a good way for her to start her senior career. She is an elegant gymnast who excels on balance beam. Her routine includes a lovely split mount, a back handpsring + layout step out + layout stepout flight series, a front tuck into a beautiful wolf jump, a lovely switch leap + johnson combination and a double pike dismount. She is also strong on bars, where she performs a maloney, an endo half, a tkatcev + pak connection and a full in dismount. She really needs to work on her execution on this event, but her lines are gorgeous and her toe point is to die for. She is also capable of a double twisting yurchenko. This vault was a bit messy and low that year so I hope to see her performing it better as a senior. Lauren is also a joy to watch on floor, where she’s capable of a full in, a double pike and 2.5 twists. Her choreography and her leaps are fantastic and she is very graceful and expressive.
Nia Dennis, Legacy Elite
Nia is one of the most talented first year seniors in the world and one of the few newcomers who could really make an impact on a team as strong as USA. She has been a member of the junior national team since 2012, and she was the AA silver medalist at last years nationals despite falling three times. She has also performed at international competitions, like the Jesolo Trophy and the Pacific Rim Championships. She has a fantastic level of difficulty and she has been producing world class scores since she was 14. Her double twisting yurchenko on vault is one of the most powerful ones out there and she has been trying to upgrade it to an amanar. Her bars routine includes sky high releases, she performs one of the best standing arabians the world has ever seen and she has very difficult tumbling, like a Double Layout and a double arabian. With her power, her clean execution and her good flexibility and artistry, Nia would be pretty close to the perfect gymnast if she wasn’t so terribly inconsistent. It’s rare to see her hitting four out of four in one competitions, and even though she could get away with that as a junior, thanks to her difficulty level, there’s much less room for error now, that she is a senior. The biggest proof of that is that she did not make the Panamerican Games team while athletes with much less difficulty and potential represented USA instead of her. Hoping to improve her consistency, Dennis, decided to leave Buckey’s gymnastics, where she has trained for her whole life, and start training in Legacy Elite. She has been there for very little time and it will be interesting to see how this will affect her performances. Nia missed the first half of the season due to an injury and we know very little about her progress so I’m really excited to see how she does.
Bailie Key, Texas Dreams
Bailie is probably the most well known American new senior. She has been a member of the junior national team since 2011 and proved that she is the absolute best junior gymnast in the world in 2013, where she won every single competition she entered, including the national championships. The only reason why she didn’t defend her national title in 2014 is that she did not compete because of an injury. At the age of 16, Bailie already has plenty of international experience since she has competed at the Jesolo Trophy, the Pacific Rim Championships, the Japan International and the Mexican Junior Cup. She already made her senior debut at the Jesolo Trophy earlier this year, where she showed elegance, power and consistency and won a silver medal in the All Around. She is an excellent All Around gymnast, with fantastic difficulty and execution on every event. She is hoping to upgrade her vault to an amanar, and this seems to be giving her a bit of trouble, but even if she doesn’t manage to do that, she still has a beautiful clean double twisting yurchenko. She already upgraded her bars routine, which includes a ricna + pak and a chow + bail + stalder full combination. Her beam routine could already challenge for world medals, since she performs a standing arabian, a switch ring, two back handsprings into a layout and a double pike. On floor, she shows lovely choreography and strong and clean tumbling passes, like an arabian double front and an 1.5 step out into triple. She has been working on upgrades, like a downie, a Double Layout and a Dos Santos, that I would love to see her performing. People seem to think that Bailie’s debut could have been better, but I think they had unrealistic expectations from her. Lots of fans said that she was the only person who could potentially challenge Simone, even though she never had the difficulty to do that, and now they think she’s not living up to her potential because she doesn’t come close to Biles’ AA total. The truth is that so far, Bailie has done very well and for the time being, it looks like she is one of the strongest contenders for USA’s world team and one of the country’s best All Arounders. Hopefully she will continue being succesful at her first classics and nationals as a senior.
Lexy finished 17th at last years nationals. Despite not being one of the top athletes of the competition she got plenty of attention for her unique gymnastics. This girl is a daredevil, she’s fearless and she attacks every apparatus. The event that made her famous is the uneven bars, where she is one of the few people in the world who perform a bhardwaj and a comaneci salto. In a world full of pak saltos, bails, tkatcevs and jaegers, her original flight elements are a breath of fresh air and her routine is so refreshing to see that fans seem to be willing to forgive her for her legs separations and form errors. Ramler, who has committed to University of Minnesota, is also promising on balance beam, where she’s capable of a front aerial + sheep jump combination and a layout to two feet, which is a bit questionable. Her double pike on floor is so high and open that it looks like she could pull a Double Lay out in the future and she also has a triple full and some great choreography. On vault, she performs a high full twisting yurchenko and it looks like she has the height to add an other twist in there in the future. Unfortunately, things haven’t been easy for her in the last year. Her gym caught fire and suffered severe damage at the end of 2014. This was obviously absolutely heartbreaking for Lexy and all her teammates and coaches but she seems to be determined to compete. She participated at the American Classics, where she posted solid scores on bars and beam but had a very rough time on bars, scoring only a 10. Hopefully, she will manage to perform well at Classics and earn the necessary score to qualify to nationals.
Taylor Lawson Parkettes
Taylor is a talented athlete to come out of Parkettes. She has been an elite for a while but unfortunately she did not really get to shine during her junior career. According to her coach, she had missed lots of national championships she could potentially be a part of because of injuries. She managed to get to her first nationals last year, but she wasn’t able to finish her competition and only competed on beam during Day 2, where she had a rough routine. She is a powerful gymnast, with some impressive skills. Her full twisting yurchenko on vault is very powerful and I could definitely see her upgrading it to a double very soon. On bars, she doesn’t have the most fluid swing we’ll see but she is capable of a maloney, a high jaeger and a full in dismount. The highlight of her gymnastics is her standing arabian on beam It’s so high and well controlled, it can compete against Dennis’ and Komova’s. Her routine also includes a switch leap + switch half combination and a high double tuck dismount. On floor, she starts her routine with a powerful double arabian and is also capable of 2.5 twists and a double pike.
Kylie Dickson, All Olympia
After a succesful level 10 career, Kylie moved to All Olympia, in order to train under the great coaches Artur Akopyan and Galina Marinova and maximize her chances to become an elite gymnast. After competing level 10 for the first half of the year, Kylie earned the status of a senior international elite and is set to have her first elite competition at Chicago. She is actually beautiful on bars, where she performs an endo 1/2, a chow and a lovely tkatcev. Her floor is also very nice to watch. She starts with an impressive front tuck + double pike combination, she performs 2.5 twists and she has the beautiful artistry and choreography we’ve come to expect from All Olympia through the years. However, after having problems on those two events in the qualifier, she made it to Clasiscs as a vault and beam specialist. On vault, she scored a 14.7, which indicates that she upgraded her full twisting yurchenko to a double. On beam, she has a strong routine, which includes a front tuck, a front aerial, a switch half and a 2.5 dismount. Her leaps really are lovely and she shows lots of potential on this event. Here is Kylie’s website.
All pictures are from USA gymnastics’ facebook page unless stated otherwise