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Simone Biles Takes her Third National Title at P&G Gymnastics Championships

Simone Biles became the first woman since Kim Zmeskal to win three consecutive all-around national titles with a lead of nearly five points with a two night total of 124.100.

This is the second round in the qualification process for the world championship team. The first was the Secret Classic last week. This competition determines the national team for both juniors and seniors and from there, the selection committee (the committee includes national team coordinator Marta Karolyi) will choose the team from athletes invited to a selection camp. This competition is the chance the girls show Marta and the rest of the selection committee that they're ready to make the team.

However, not all went as smoothly as hoped. Night one was a day that normally really consistent athletes faltered. Simone managed to come out on top at the end of night one, but that wasn't without a fight. She started her night on bars. Bars is not her best event, but she's still better than most people are on their worst event. It's weak because she doesn't have the start value that she does on all her other events. Whatever, she glides through that routine without a major error. She does a straddled tkatchev and a piked Tkatchev and ended with a stuck full in. She has nice swing and great height and amplitude on her releases. She scored a 15.150.

The problems started on beam. The beam must have had oil on it or something, because no one seemed to hit beam with any sort of zest. Simone was no exception. She had a balance check on her triple wolf spin to start off with and then she had a good balance check on her Barani. After that, she flew through the routine without any problems and stuck her dismount. She scored a 14.8, almost a half point lower than her beam routine at Classics.

In the past two years, Simone has only fallen on floor once and that was at Classics in 2013 and then she went on to win the title at the P&G Championships and went on to win her first world all-around title. Championships isn't the place where anyone expected Simone to fall, but it happened. On floor, she hit her full twisting double layout and her Biles and her double double. But her last pass, her full in, she fell. She didn't have the height that she usually gets and she fell flat to the ground.  NBC cameras panned over to her talking to Aly Raisman after it happened. Aimee Boorman, her coach, must have asked her if she was tired and she said very clearly, "I wasn't that tired." That was so unlike Simone. She got a 14.9, which isn't terrible, but for Simone standards, is not as high as she can score.

Once she got to vault, floor was a distant memory. She did the best Amanar of the meet (out of all three of them), stuck her landing, huge amplitude, super distance. Exclamation point. Bam. 16.250

The second day of competition was a different story for Simone. After a day of rest, she came back with renewed vigor. Starting on beam, she once again wobbled on her Barani, but didn't let that phase her. She kept on going, hitting every single element, including her full in dismount, which she stuck with no problem and scored a ridiculous 15.9.

Floor is Simone's swan song. On night one, she'd fallen on her full in dismount, not tonight. She hit every pass with bounding energy and infectious enthusiasm which earned her a 15.850. In the video below, notice that everyone in the arena has gathered around the floor to watch her.

By now, Simone had obliterated any hope that her competition could even dream to overtake her. Vault, she busted out her Cheng and stuck it and she nearly stuck her Amanar (only a tiny hop) and got a perfect score 16.300 (keep in mind USA gymnastics had a 0.1 stick bonus in place, and the vault is worth a 6.3 in the CoP). At this point, she could have done a half bar routine and still won. But, to seal the deal, she glided through her bars and hit with a 14.95, only visible issue was a leg separation on a toe on full.

This is why she is a three-time national champion and many time world champion in the all-around, on beam and floor. She picks herself up after a disappointing first day and keeps going. Her smile and enthusiasm is infectious. Even if you're not a big fan of the USA, you can't help but love Simone. Her bright, bubbly personality shines through on every event. Could she do another three peat in Glasgow? It's hard to predict the future at this point. But if she keeps doing what she does, it's very likely that she will. Every year, she's upgraded and added new skills to every event. Her talent seems to know no limits

Coming in second was Maggie Nichols who scored a two night total of 119.150.  She earns her Twitter handle (@MagsGotSwag12) as a badge of honor since Maggie keeps getting better. At this point, she is as much as a lock for that Worlds team as Simone.  On night one, She started on vault with her Amanar, which was clean and high. She only had a small step on her landing and scored a 15.8. She managed to get through her night relatively unscathed, although she had some errors on beam but she kept her cool and dismounted with her upgraded full in. However, she took out that dismount on night two

Night two, she just needed to stay consistent. She had some small errors, on floor, she went out of bounds on her first pass, a tucked double double. Maggie must be taking "keep your cool" lessons from Simone as she kept going and didn't acknowledge her mistake. There is a point in her floor routine where  the music slows down and she pauses and does a scale and her flexibility is just effortless.  Not only is she becoming powerful, but her grace and flexibility comes through with her confidence. I'm really excited to see what the future holds for this gymnast, in and out of elite (she's committed to the University of Oklahoma),

In third place, returning Olympian Aly Raisman.  Aly like everyone else, had a rough night one. She fell on her flip flop flip flop to two foot layout to split jump. She didn't have enough momentum to make that connection and she fell. On floor, she went out of bounds on her first pass, her one and a half step out to double Arabian to front layout. At the end of night one, she was in fourth behind Gabby Douglas, but managed to usurp Gabby on night two and come home with the bronze. Night two, she hit her beam after she took  out the leap after her two foot layout. Aly has Simone level start values on both those events, a 6.7 on floor and a 6.4 on beam. On vault, both nights, she locked her knees landing her Amanar and stepped out of bounds both nights.

Gabby Douglas is maintaining her mission to be the first American female Olympic champion to make a second Olympic team (shout out to Nastia for correctly identifying that on air on night one). She wasn't immune to the curse of the night of many mistakes, mainly on the beam with that wobbly beam set both nights. She's only doing a DTY on vault, which is fine, because at this point, not everyone and their dog is doing an Amanar and if she were to make the team, she could contribute just fine with a clean DTY. She has her skills on bars, that's for sure. Since Gabby has grown, her lines look so elegant and long. Her endo work on the low bar is to die for.  She came in fifth place after two nights of competition. So not so shabby for the Dougie. If she stays consistent through the selection camp, she should be on that world team.

Then there was Kyla Ross. Oh the heartbreak. I can't go on any further without discussing it. Kyla, who is usually very consistent, just ... wasn't. I don't know how else to explain it. She's recently added a Bhardwaj (full twisting Pak Salto) and she fell on it during classics. This time, she hit it, both nights. But both nights, she fell on her double front dismount. She was having trouble hitting it in podium training even with taking skills out of her routine. On beam, night one, one she had a huge balance check on her switch ring. On floor, she put her hands down landing her double back. Night two, she didn't put her hands down, but she landed with her chest practically between her knees. She had issues during the Secret Classic. Most of us thought she'd be ready to go by this time.
This Tumblr post will accurately explain my feelings:

On the bright side, there was Bailie Key who has taken over the senior ranks with the same vigor from when she dominated the junior ranks. Bailie wore her coach, Kim Zmeskal's leo from 1990 US Nationals, perhaps as a good luck charm? She came in fourth with a 118.350 (only two tenths behind Aly Raisman). Bailie wasn't immune to the bad juju of night one. She put her hand on the beam on her flip flop flip flop two foot layout series and then wound up going over time.  Night two went much better. This night, Bailie wore a tuxedo leotard. Tim Daggett said it was supposed to be for her "circus" floor routine, the ringleader and night one, she was to be a performer. It was obvious she felt better being the ringleader than a mere performer, since she stood up straighter and committed to the performance better than on night one (because she would rather be the boss than the worker).

Brenna Dowell - more heartbreak. She was so good and consistent and amazing during NCAA season. How did she go from hitting her bar routine every week to only hitting 1/3 of the time? She hit her bar routine on day one (aside from a slightly funky pak). But day two, she falls on her dismount. Why, Gym Gods, why? WHY BRENNA WHY? She's such an amazing bar worker and her routine is so innovative and original.  If she could just pull out NCAA season Brenna, she would make the team!

Additional thoughts -
MyKayla Skinner still can't vault with two hands, and I'm sorry, but you're confusing Ireland for Scotland with the green leo and shamrocks. Two different countries honey, brush up on your geography.

Nia Dennis has some ridiculous heights on her uneven bar releases. Want her to put that Arabian back in her beam routine.


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