By Jo-Ann Barnas – Special to USA Gymnastics
ARLINGTON, Texas – Maddie Karr’s eyes were moist, but the smile on her face told a different story. Far different.
A year ago, the gymnast placed 15th in the senior division at the Nastia Liukin Cup.
“Dead last,” said Karr, 17, who trains at Twin City Twisters in Champlin, Minn.
Here’s perseverance for you: On Friday night, Karr won the Nastia Liukin Cup’s senior all-around title. Her score of 38.275 was .025 better than Anna Glenn (38.250) of Charlotte, N.C./Southeastern Gymnastics. Olivia Karas of Chicago/IK Gymnastics took third (38.200).
“Oh, my goodness,” Karr said. “A year ago, I had two falls on beam and floor, but when I left (the competition) I knew I could do better because I expected more out of myself. I wanted to win when I came back.”
Karr didn’t finish first on any of the four apparatus at AT&T Stadium, but she scored solid enough on each to give her the win.
She opened with a 9.475 on uneven bars and felt her confidence growing after her 9.400 on balance beam. She delivered clean tumbling passes on floor exercise (9.575) and was beaming after hitting her Yurchenko one-and-a-half on vault. Her 9.825 tied her for the second-best score on that event of the night.
Kiya Johnson of DeSoto, Texas/Texas Dreams, claimed the junior division title in the all-around by holding off Shaylah Scott of Plano, Texas/Metroplex. Johnson scored 38.275; Scott took second with 37.875.
On the last rotation, Scott’s floor exercise music had just started as Johnson mounted the balance beam. Both gymnasts delivered solid routines: Johnson scored an event-best 9.625 to Scott’s 9.550.
Alexa Al-Hameed of Ames, Iowa/Triad Gymnastics took third with 37.600.
“I didn’t do too well here last year – third from last,” said Johnson, 13. “After vault I kept looking at the scores. I saw I was first and I wanted to stay there. I’m so happy.”