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Ohashi Dominant in Her First Junior Title
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

First-day leader Katelyn Ohashi (WOGA) cruised to an easy victory over two-time defending champion Kyla Ross (Gym-Max) in the junior division of the Visa Championships. Ohashi had one fall (sheep jump on balance beam) but was near flawless on the other events. Even with the fall, her 120.95 two-day total was well clear of Ross, who tallied 117.65. (During today's session Ross edged Ohashi, 60.15-60.00.)

"It just means the world to me that I finally did it," Ohashi said of her victory.

Ohashi placed second a year ago, when she had trouble handling the high level of difficulty in her routines. And even though she has added more skills since, she looked much more polished.

"I was never this confident," said Ohashi, who added that she was helped by the book "Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence."

Ross opened the meet with a clean Amanar vault (Yurchenko-2.5 twist), which had been devalued on Thursday to a double-twist. Everything else was clean and precise, but she just lacked the difficulty to challenge Ohashi, despite her advantage on vault. (Ohashi vaulted a double-twisting Yurchenko). Still, Ross said she did not feel like she took a step back this year, and that she doesn't see a rivalry growing with Ohashi.

"She definitely is one of my competitors, but we're close friends," she said.

Sarah Finnegan (GAGE) earned third place over Cincinnati's Lexie Priessman, 115.30-115.10. Amelia Hundley (Cincinnati) was fifth with 112.05, and Brenna Dowell (GAGE) was sixth (111.60).

Priessman vaulted a high, precise Amanar to win that event, while Ohashi won uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

Both Ross and Finnegan will be eligible for the 2012 Olympics, while Ohashi and Priessman, both born in 1997, will be too young.

NOTES

• Spotted in the audience: Russians Georgy Grebenkov and wife Lyudmila Yezhova and their young daughter, Elizaveta. The couple coach at Elite Gymnastics Academy in Burnsville, Minn.

• Impressive on floor: Tiny Simone Biles (Bannon's) for her effortless tumbling (high double layout) and Amelia Hundley (Cincinnati) for her confident expressive quality. Also, Elizabeth Price (Parkettes) did an extremely high double layout mount. McKayla Skinner (Desert Lights) mounted with a tucked double-double and dismounted with a tucked full-in. (She also vaulted an Amanar.) As a team, Texas Dreams had the most interesting floor music.

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

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