MILWAUKEE – Annia Hatch won her first Individual Event gold medal at a U.S. Championships and, more importantly, made her bid for the All-Around title on Thursday at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Milwaukee, Wis.
Hatch (Stars/West Haven, Conn.), who celebrated her 25th birthday on June 14, scored a 9.650 on the vault for the gold. The vault specialist finished third on the event at the 1996 World Championships as a member of the Cuban National Team.
“Gymnastics doesn’t end when you turn 17,” said Hatch, who at 25 is the oldest of the U.S. National Team members. “You can go until you feel like you can’t do it anymore. It’s such a fun sport. It’s worth it.”
Hatch also finished first in the All-Around prelims with a total of 37.475 to lead 15-year-old Hollie Vise of Dallas, Texas (WOGA) at 37.375.
Vise, who won the Junior uneven bars and balance beam titles a year ago, proved she can do it at the Senior level as well. Vise won the beam with a meet-high mark of 9.725, and finished tied for second on the bars at 9.500.
2001 World uneven bars bronze medalist Katie Heenan (Capital GTC/South Riding, Va.) topped fellow D.C.-area native and current World bars champion Courtney Kupets (Hill’s Gymnastics/Gaithersburg, Md.) and Vise, 9.575 to 9.500. In the process, Heenan regained the uneven bars national crown that she held in 2001.
Heenan’s teammate, Ashley Postell (Burke, Va.) won Capital GTC’s second gold of the night on the floor exercise. Postell, the current beam World Champion, scored a 9.450 to hold off 2001-2002 floor Junior national champ Tia Orlando (Parkettes/Souderton, Pa.) at 9.375.
The U.S. All-Around title is determined using 50 percent of Thursday’s All-Around preliminary score plus 50 percent of Saturday’s All-Around Final scores.
The 2003 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, June 19-22 at the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Midwest Airlines Center, is the most prestigious national gymnastics competition of the year, featuring the top stars in the sport vying for coveted national All-Around and individual event titles.
Also up for grabs are automatic berths on the U.S. National Team headed to the 2003 World Championships, Aug. 16-24 in Anaheim, Calif.
The U.S. Championships will be televised by NBC Sports. The women’s Senior Event Finals will air at 2-4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, followed by the women’s Senior All-Around Finals at 3-5 p.m. EDT Sunday.
Competition continues Friday, June 20 with Junior Rhythmic All-Around Finals at 9:45 a.m., Junior Men’s All-Around and Event Finals at 1 p.m., Senior Rhythmic All-Around Finals at 3 p.m., and Senior Men’s All-Around Prelims and Event Finals at 7 p.m.
U.S. Gymnastics Championships Individual Event Finals Medalists
V – 1, Annia Hatch, West Haven, Conn., 9.650. 2, Kristina Comforte, Burr Ridge, Ill., 9.550. 3, Katie Lieberman, Lake Forest, Ill., 9. 475.
UB – 1. Katie Heenan, South Riding, Va., 9.575. T2, Courtney Kupets, Gaithersburg, Va., 9.500. T2, Hollie Vise Dallas, Texas, 9.500
BB – 1, Hollie Vise, Dallas, Texas, 9.725. 2, Ashley Postell, Burke, Va., 9.625. 3, Nina Kim, Houston, Texas, 9.600.
FX – 1, Ashley Postell, Burke, Va., 9.450. 2, Tia Orlando, Souderton, Pa., 9.375. T3, Courtney Kupets, Gaithersburg, Va., 9.350. T3, Alicia Sacramone, Winchester, Mass., 9.325.