© Diane Bidermann

by Jessica Howard

After a decade of chasing a National Championship title, 20 year old Julie Zetlin of Bethesda, Md has finally achieved her lifelong dream of becoming America’s leading lady of rhythmic. “I’ve waited 10 years for this. It’s been a long, long, bumpy ride, but I’m finally here” said Zetlin after her solid victory. After finishing six points ahead of the nearest competition in the all-around and winning three event golds, Zetlin’s fiery attitude, dynamic maturity, and mesmerizing presence on the floor gave her a solid edge over her competition. But the young talent coming up behind her demonstrated a potential depth for the U.S. team leading into next years Olympic qualification that we have not seen in ages.

Making a huge splash in her senior division debut, 15 year old Shelby Kisiel of Missouri City, Texas/ North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics had judges and spectators alike in awe of her savant-like physical ability. With a unique fusion of amplitude and a dynamic skill set, there is no question that this girl is the one to watch.

In the fight for third, a few major mistakes shook up the senior rankings and determined who would go into World selection with the upper hand. Taking the bronze was Olga Pavlenko of Brooklyn, N.Y./Isadora. Pavlenko showed off a unique fluidity of body movement, and made fewer major mistakes, allowing her to overtake the statuesque JoAnna Arnold of Evanston Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics and Anastasia Torba of Loma Linda, Calif./ Allegro Rhythmic. Rounding out the Senior National Team were Nicole Chillingworth of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif, Hannah Walter, Angola, N.Y, and Claire Skach, Portland, Ore.

Building on a medal filled international season, the Junior competition was a showcase of unbelievable talent and range. Even with the absence of Polina Kozitsky, who was in Singapore for the Youth Olympic Games, the girls were left with no room for error if they wanted to secure their place.

Winning her second Junior National title, Rebecca Sereda of Staten Island, N.Y steamrolled over the competition, finishing more than nine points ahead, as well as claiming two event golds. North Shore Rhythmics’ Jazzy Kerber of Highland Park, Ill. finished with the silver after overcoming some early mistakes, and used her impeccable technique to show that not only is she competitive, but that she has started the transition from young talent to serious contender for future championships. Rounding out the top five were Alexis Page of New York, N.Y./ Aviator Sports and Recreation, Cindy Lu of Blaine, Minn, and Aria Rodli of San Diego, Calif.

Led by a veteran gymnast who walked away as National Champion, the contenders for the 2010 Visa Championships varied widely in form and ability- some showing their burgeoning new talent, others, finally seizing their long awaited chance to make the National Team. With World and Olympic competition only a heartbeat away, both of these groups competed together and gave us a brief glimpse of what could be a very bright future.