© John Cheng

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 23, 2019 – After performing two of four routines, 2018 Pan Am Championships hoop silver-medalist Lili Mizuno of Northbrook, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, and Jenna Zhao of Burr Ridge, Ill./Vitrychenko, sit atop the senior and junior elite all-around rankings at the 2019 Rhythmic Challenge at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Ind. Sunday is the final day of competition that determines the rankings for the junior and senior U.S. National Teams. The Level 9-10 Invitational is being held in conjunction with the Rhythmic Challenge.

In the Senior Challenge, Mizuno had a two-event score of 37.400, putting her ahead of 2018 Pan Am Championships all-around champion Nastasya Generalova of Los Angeles/California Rhythms, and 2018 U.S. all-around silver-medalist Evita Griskenas of Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, in second (34.450) and third (34.100), respectively. On the junior level, Zhao posted a two-event tally of 29.800. Esther Kiseleva of Wayne, N.J./Liberty Academy earned a 28.700 for second, followed by Isabelle Richardson of Las Vegas, Nev./Eurogymnastics in third. In the Group Challenge, the U.S. Senior National Group, which trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, had the top score for five balls at 17.950. The members of the group are: Dasha Baltovick of Highland Park, Ill.; Isabelle Connor of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Ugne Dragunas of Darien, Ill.; Connie Du of Deerfield, Ill.; Elizaveta Pletneva of Caldwell, N.J.; and Nicole Sladkov of Vernon Hills, Ill. Kristina Sobolevskaya of Deerfield, Ill., is the alternate.

Sunday’s competition schedule is listed below.

Sunday, Feb. 24
9 a.m. – Level 9 Invitational, Groups 3, 2, 1
12:45 p.m. – Group Challenge (elite level)
1:25 p.m. – Level 10 Invitational, Groups 2, 1
3:15 p.m. – Junior Challenge (elite level)
3:55 p.m. – Senior Challenge (elite level)

Open to the general public, a nominal admission fee will be charged.

Rhythmic gymnastics is characterized by grace, beauty and elegance combined with dance and acrobatic elements, while working with the apparatus in a choreographed routine to music. The five apparatus used in rhythmic gymnastics are rope, hoop, ball, clubs, and ribbon. Rhythmic gymnasts may compete individually or as a group. The choreography must cover the entire floor with intricate apparatus handling, dance combinations, jumps, leaps, rotations, and balance difficulties. Each movement involves a high degree of athletic skill. Physical abilities needed by a rhythmic gymnast include strength, power, flexibility, agility, dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination.

Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. The organization is committed to creating a culture that encourages and supports its athletes and focuses on its highest priority, the safety and well-being of the athletes. USA Gymnastics has already taken specific, concrete steps to strengthen its safe sport policies and procedures. The organization’s disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and gymnastics for all (formerly known as group gymnastics). For more complete information, log on to usagym.org.