The 2016 edition of Junior Olympic Nationals, or J.O. Nationals, held May 7-8 in Fort Worth, Texas was the biggest yet.
With 684 competitors, which I believe is a record, there were even more divisions added this year. The gymnasts were split up into 12 age groups (compared to 8 total last year): 6 junior groups and 6 senior groups arranged A-F, with A denoting the youngest gymnasts and F denoting the oldest. There were 7 athletes per group for each of the 8 regions. Plus, there were an additional 12 gymnasts because of ties in the qualifiers.
For the record, the regions are:
Region 1 – Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah
Region 2 – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
Region 3 – Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming
Region 4 – Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Region 5 – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio
Region 6 – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Region 7 – Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
Region 8 – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
Below are my favorite routines from this year’s competition. The whole playlist can be viewed here.
Sloane Blakely – Beam, Junior A
Junior A? Wow! This routine would’ve been eye-catching if it came from one of the older girls. It’s even more impressive coming from one of the youngest gymnasts at Nationals.
Wynter Childers – Floor, Senior F
I talked about Wynter a bit in my post last year. This was her last J.O. Nationals. She’ll be a freshman at Alabama for the upcoming season. She stands a decent, if not good, chance at making at least a couple lineups, particularly floor and vault.
Cassidy Keelen – Beam, Senior F
Speaking of incoming college freshmen, Cassidy will be at Cal starting with the 2017 season. I look forward to seeing more of her gymnastics. She had me from that gorgeous split half.
Kyana George – Floor, Senior D
All the yaaasss for this routine. Great tumbling and presentation!
Lauren Little – Bars, Junior A
Another little one (pun intended). Sometimes it’s hard to pick out a standout bars routine from the younger gymnasts because many are similarly constructed. Lauren’s had a decent amount of difficulty and it was really well executed (especially the Pak salto and double layout). Plus, she had some of the best handstand positions I saw.
Rachel Dickson – Bars, Senior F
Yep. I can imagine that routine in the Georgia lineup next season — and I probably won’t have to imagine it come January.
Jaymes Marshall – Vault, Junior A
A 12-year-old with a Amanar that isn’t terrifying. Actually, it was pretty good. Twelve. Nope. Haven’t found the words yet.