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Secret Classic - A Gym Hangover Recap

The US Secret Classic concluded last night. There was returning favorites and new challengers and old familiar faces who rose to the occasion.

It's a year out from the Olympics, and really, this is the time where it counts. Team USA is deeper, which makes the field more competitive. The USA could have several Olympic teams. This meet is the start of the "season" for Team USA. From here, the girls will compete at the P&G Championships in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks, from there, a selection committee will chose from a pool of girls at the Worlds selection camp, which they will be invited to depending on their finish at Championships.

Here are some highlights from the meet.

Simone Biles won the senior all-around title for the second year in a row with a huge 62.500.  After missing last year due to injury, Laurie Hernandez won the junior title with a 58.450, also scoring her highest score in competition, a 15 on the uneven bars.

Simone is on fire of course. She topped the rankings with top difficulty and top execution scores. Her weakest event of the night was probably beam. Only perhaps because she had the misfortune of starting her night on beam. She had a few jitters and wobbles, but overall, a good routine. She's upped her D score on beam to an impressive 6.7, adding a barani and her skills were huge up till her full in dismount where she nearly went out of view of the camera on that skill it was so high. Simone really doesn't have any place where she could upgrade more, but she could still improve her execution (even though it was near perfect on several events). At this point, she's definitely a lock for the Worlds team, but it will be a matter of her getting through championships and world selection camp without any major issues.

In addition to Simone, Maggie Nichols had her A game back on. She's improved her execution, consistency, difficulty, everything from last year.  Maggie was so consistent and it's obvious last year did her good (Besides her Jesolo mishap,  which was technically 2015, but I digress).  Talk about consistency, she placed third at last year's Secret Classic and P&G Championships. She proved she has the chops to make it on the international scene when she helped Team USA win the gold at the Pan American Championships. If she stays the course, and stays consistent through Championships, there is no doubt she will be on the Worlds team.

MyKayla Skinner did not have a good classic meet. She started off on beam and fell on her back handspring to tucked full series. Then went to floor and put her hands down on her last pass, a double back. By the time she got to vault, she was ok, still having issues getting both hands completely on the vault on that Cheng. Surprisingly, her best event was bars. Most of the time when she's on bars, I'm holding my breath until it's over. This time, I stopped holding my breath pretty quickly. She had nice swing,  nice amplitude on her releases. This was not her best meet, but, she's historically been very good at hitting when it counts, so we'll see.

For her official senior debut on home soil, Bailie Key had a good meet. She placed fifth behind Aly Raisman and for missing all of last year due to injury, she's in good shape.  I think she's got more to offer. She didn't debut her Amanar this competition, which is probably a strategic play on behalf of her coaches.

Returning to competition for the first time since the Olympics, Fierce Five members, Gabby Douglas, the returning Olympic All-Around Champion, and Aly Raisman, the returning Olympic floor champion. Gabby finished second all-around with a 60.500. Both Gabby and Aly look fit and strong. They're not 100% where they need to be just yet (there's still P&G Champs and Worlds selection camp to come).  But that's a good thing, they need time to fully peak.

Gabby is strongest on the bars, no surprise since this has always been her strong event. She's grown quite a bit, so she's not the wispy little thing she was, but her lines are long and beautiful. She's got the execution, with the third highest bars execution score with an even 9 (Madison Kocian scored a 9.15, Bailie Key scored a 9.0). She said in her post meet interview she is planning to upgrade, so we'll see how she does.

Aly seems to have most of her difficulty if not all of it back. She's competing her Amanar on vault, although she's landing to the side, and stepping out. On floor, Aly perhaps tried to do too much too fast when she sat down a front tuck she'd added out of her Dos Santos (pike double Arabian).


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