Leanne Wong wins all-around at U.S. Classic

The world all-around silver medallist and Shilese Jones went back and forth at the event in Salt Lake City

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

2021 world gymnastics all-around silver medallist Leanne Wong won the U.S. Classic title Saturday (30 July) at the Maverik Center in the Salt Lake City area.

She and Shilese Jones, who finished 10th all-around a year ago at the U.S. Olympic trials, were neck-and-neck through out the competition with Wong ultimately prevailing.

Wong posted a 54.400 for the gold medal with Jones tallying a 54.050 for silver. Katelyn Rosen was third at 52.500.

"I think it went pretty well. It was a good start," said Wong afterward. "Just building my endurance for [U.S.] championships."

Jones and Wong were tied after the opening rotation, each earning scores of 14.400 for their double-twisting Yurchenko vaults.

The second rotation saw Jones surge ahead after a stellar performance on the uneven bars. She executed a stalder full pirouette, stalder Shaposhnikova to Tkatchev opening sequence and dismounted with a nearly stuck double front for a 14.500.

That routine, Jones said, was the highlight of the event for her in her first domestic event since last year's Tokyo trials.

"Just getting back on the podium floor was amazing itself," she said.

Meanwhile, Wong slipped off the bar on a full-twisting Pak salto, a new element for her, and scored just 12.850.

"I tried my new Pak full, I think just got a little ahead of myself," explained Wong. "I'll do it better next time."

At the halfway point, Jones led by 1.650.

But the ever perilous balance beam was next and Jones opened the door for Wong, as she came off the beam on both her opening element and her acrobatic series. Jones scored just 11.500.

Wong seized the opportunity and delivered a clean, poised routine. Her 13.550 gave her a .400 cushion heading to the floor exercise.

In the final rotation, Wong earned a 13.600 for her floor routine despite an error on her third tumbling pass where she performed just a tucked front half out of her back two-and-a-half twist, instead of a planned front full. Her other tumbling passes were tucked double-double, Arabian double pike to stag jump and a double pike.

Jones need better than 14.000, a big score on the floor exercise, to take the title away from Wong. But despite an excellent routine set to Sia's "Elastic Heart," Jones came up just short at 13.650.

Earlier in the day, Jayla Hang won the junior women's all-around title, which was contested over two competitive sessions. Hang earned a 52.800 to hold off silver medallist Hezly Rivera (52.450). Audrey Snyder was third at 51.450.

Competition at the U.S. Classic continues Sunday with the men's event.

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