COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Kate Jeffress (Rockville, Md.) kept alive her bid to become the first rhythmic gymnast to go from junior to senior national champion in one year by retaining the all-around lead at the conclusion of preliminaries at the 1998 U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.


With two of the highest scores of the meet, a 9.600 on ribbon and a 9.575 on hoop, Jeffress tallied a 38.075 all-around total, giving her an edge of .375 over defending national champion Natalie Lacuesta (Wilmette, Ill.), who logged an all-around score of 37.700 with 9.500 in both ribbon and hoop. Meaghan Muller (Roswell, Ga.) jumped up into third place at the end of prelims with a score of 36.975.

Lacuesta’s 9.500 in clubs was the only thing that kept Jeffress from sweeping all four individual event gold medals, a feat she achieved at last year’s Nationals in Houston on her way to the junior national title. Should Jeffress take the senior crown on Sunday, it will mark the first time a rhythmic gymnast has gone from junior to senior national champion in one year. The feat has been accomplished in women’s artistic gymnastics twice in recent years: by Dominique Moceanu in 1995 and Vanessa Atler in 1997.
The top 12 athletes in the division will advance to finals competition on Sunday. The preliminary scores will carry over as 30 percent of the final score to determine placement and membership on the U.S. National Team.
In senior group competition, Jeffress helped her Rhythmflex club to the lead at the end of preliminaries with a score of 35.000, just ahead of Atlanta International Rhythmic Gymnastics Club with a 34.800. Rhythmic Edge of Carmel, Ind., was third with a 28.150. In junior group, Illinois Rhythmics posted a 32.850 to lead over Rhythmflex with a 32.050 and Scherba’s Sports Center at 28.250.
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1998 U.S. Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships
U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 5-7, 1998

Senior Division (top 12 from preliminaries advance to finals on Sunday, June 7)
1, Kate Jeffress, Rockville, Md., 38.075. 2, Natalie Lacuesta, Wilmette, Ill., 37.700. 3, Meaghan Muller, Roswell, Ga., 36.975. 4, Alexandra Chernenko, Culver City, Calif., 36.750. 5, Ellie Takahashi, Torrance, Calif., 36.563. 6, Kassy Scharringhausen, Duluth, Ga., 36.500. 7, Suzanne Pearson, Lakewood, Colo., 36.150. 8, Angela Pawlicki, Lincolnwood, Ill., 36.050. 9, Camille Branton, Atlanta, Ga., 35.388. 10, Elizabeth Kawana, Honolulu, Hawaii, 35.200. 11, Stephanie Croyle, Harvard, Mass., 34.863. 12, Amy Ng, Rockville, Md., 34.738. 13, Lindsay Numedahl, Grand Forks, N.D., 34.688. 14, Jenna Powell, Lakewood, Colo., 34.363. 15 (tie), Masha Krakovskaya, Los Angeles, Calif., and Kimberly Nguyen, Walnut Creek, Calif., 34.125. 17, Michelle J. Chang, Novato, Calif., 34.038. 18, Trisha Wiltbank, Sherwood, Ore., 33.913. 19, Omkara Kenney, San Rafael, Calif., 33.863. 20, Darina Brezhneva, Beverly Hills, Calif., 33.701. 21, Katherine Betts, Fulton, N.Y., 33.613. 22, Megan Speer, Sugar Land, Texas, 33.464. 23, Mauriah Kraker, Milwaukee, Wis., 33.301. 24, Leanna Poulin, Monument, Colo., 32.713. 25, Melissa Becker, Shelby Township, Mich., 32.313. 26, Taya Campagna, West Linn, Ore., 31.738. 27, Jessica Chou, Portland, Ore., 31.276. 28, Alicia Albe, Germantown, Md., 16.850 (did not compete Saturday).

Non-Citizens (ineligible for finals)

Tatyana Brikulskaya, Staten Island, N.Y., 38.025. Natasha Lojevsky, Rockville, Md., 35.000. Izolda Beleskeviciute, Atlanta, Ga., 32.301.

Individual Event Standings (top 10)

1 Jeffress, 9.450. 2, Muller, 9.350. 3, Lacuesta, 9.200. 4, Pawlicki, 9.125. 5, Chernenko, 9.100. 6 (tie), Pearson and Takahashi, 9.050. 8, Scharringhausen, 8.988. 9, Branton, 8.788. 10, Nguyen, 8.613.

1, Jeffress, 9.575. 2, Lacuesta, 9.500. 3, Chernenko, 9.350. 4, Scharringhausen, 9.325. 5, Muller, 9.225. 6, Takahashi, 9.200. 7 (tie), Kawana and Branton, 9.100. 9, Croyle, 9.050. 10, Pearson, 8.950.

1, Lacuesta, 9.500. 2, Jeffress, 9.450. 3, Muller, 9.150. 4, Pearson, 9.100. 5, Chernenko, 9.050. 6, Takahashi, 9.038. 7, Scharringhausen, 9.013. 8, Pawlicki, 8.925. 9, Numedahl, 8.900. 10, Ng, 8.800.

1, Jeffress, 9.600. 2, Lacuesta, 9.500. 3, Takahashi, 9.275. 4 (tie), Muller and Chernenko, 9.250. 6, Scharringhausen, 9.175. 7, Croyle, 9.163. 8, Pawlicki, 9.075. 9, Pearson, 9.050. 10, Kawana, 9.025.

Senior Group Competition (standings after prelims, finals on Sunday)

1, Rhythmflex (Johanna Shoemaker, North Potomac, Md.; Virginia Ledgerwood, Chester, Va.; Stefanie Croyle, Harvard, Mass.; Natasha Lojevsky, Rockville, Md.; Alicia Albe, Germantown, Md.; Kate Jeffress, Rockville, Md.), 35.000. 2, Atlanta International Rhythmic Gymnastics Center (Shannon Clark, Atlanta; Kassy Scharringhausen, Duluth, Ga.; Natalie Way, Atlanta; Camille Branton, Atlanta; Mauriah Kraker, Milwaukee, Wis.; Eleanor Low, Atlanta), 34.800. 3, Rhythmic Edge (Michelle Bardos, Carmel, Ind.; Ema Gantcheva, Indianapolis; Maya Gantcheva, Indianapolis; Margaret Nelson, Carmel, Ind.; Ronni Woodrum, Carmel, Ind.; Lynda Kappelman, Indianapolis), 28.150.

Junior Group Competition (standings after prelims, finals on Sunday)

1, Illinois Rhythmicss, (Elizabeth Bradford, Wilmette, Ill.; Alexandra Dubovik, Northbrook, Ill.; Valeria Kharina, Skokie, Ill.; Marissa Pierce, Highland Park, Ill.; Brenann Stacker, Lincolnshire, Ill.), 32.850. 2, Rhythmflex (Victoria Jones, Rockville, Md.; Erin Jeffress, Rockville, Md.; Lisa Welshinger, Rockville, Md.; Alexandra Diaz, Washington, D.C.; Helen Sigalov, Chevy Chase, Md.), 32.050. 3, Scherba’s Sports Center (Irina Korosteleva, San Francisco, Calif.; Nina Chubrikova, San Francisco, Calif.; Julia Baskin, San Francisco, Calif.; Helen Dreyman, Walnut Creek, Calif.), 28.250.