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Ohashi Takes Command of Junior Division
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Two-time defending junior champion Kyla Ross struggled in places while 2010 runner-up Katelyn Ohashi soared to the first-day lead in the women's junior championship. Ohashi (WOGA) went four-for-four, finishing with a spectacular 16.10 (7.0) on balance beam, where she finished with a roundoff piked full-in dismount. During the routine she followed a standing Arabian with a back handspring and nailed her trademark pass of flip-flop step-out, flip-flop, layout full twist. For good measure, she also performed an Onodi-front aerial-sheep jump combination.

Ohashi posted a 60.95, while Sarah Finnegan (GAGE) tallied 57.90. Ross was third with 57.50, having put her hands down on a double pike floor dismount. She also lost .70 of D-score on vault when the judges devalued her Amanar to a double twist.

Ohashi said her day went the way she had hoped, but that "there's always room for improvement." And despite her 3.05 lead, she knows she hasn't won anything yet.

"I can't get that ahead of myself," said Ohashi, adding that victory would mean everything. "It's my goal for this year."

Finnegan scored between 14.30 and 14.55 throughout the afternoon, with the latter coming on floor exercise in the closing rotation.

Ross, who has grown since her win in 2010, finished strong with a beautiful balance beam set but knows she has work to do Saturday.

"The day didn't really go as planned," she said.

Lexie Priessman (Cincinnati), fourth (56.45), hit an excellent Amanar but fell off beam, where she dismounted with a tucked full-in. She also had to cover a missed full pirouette on bars.

"It was not my best [all-around effort], but pretty good," she said.

Kennedy Baker (Texas Dreams) and Brenna Dowell (GAGE) tied for fifth with 56.30.

Notes

• Katelyn Ohashi dismounted bars with a double-twisting double tuck, but the twist was initiated on the second somersault.

• 25 gymnasts are in the junior women's field, and Texas Dreams, coached by Kim Zmeskal and her husband, Chris Burdette, has the most entries (7), followed by GAGE and Cincinnati (3 each).

• Lauren Martinez mounted beam from the side by jumping to a split, without using her hands for support.

• Kyla Ross vaulted an Amanar but was only given credit for a double twist (5.8). Although she had to step to the side, and eventually presented herself off the landing mat, it appeared that she completed the 2.5 twist.

McKayla Skinner and Lexie Priessman both vaulted excellent Amanars.

• During bars warm-up Ohashi had a scary peel-off on an elgrip-Endo, but she was OK and finished her turn.

• Priessman fell off beam but dismounted with a full-in. She and Ohashi were born in 1997, making them ineligible for London 2012.

•Peyton Ernst did her floor routine to a lively rendition of the Led Zepplin classic, "Stairway to Heaven."

• Kennedy Baker mounted floor with a 1.5 twist through to tucked Arabian double front. Second pass was a high piked Arabian double front.

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Read complete coverage of the Visa Championships in the September issue of IG.

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