Desmond, O’Neill win 2019 U.S. Hopes Championships all-around titles
posted on 07/19/2019

© Lloyd Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky., July 19, 2019 – Nicole Desmond of Wind Gap, Pa./Parkettes National Gymnastics Center, and Rafaela O’Neill of San Jose, Calif./Airborne Gymnastics Training Center, won the 10-11 and 12-13 year-old division all-around titles, respectively, at the GK Hopes Championships, which features young, aspiring female gymnasts who are just below the elite level, at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. The GK Hopes Championships, which has two age groups, 10-11 year-olds and 12-13 year-olds, is the culmination of the Hopes season. On Saturday, July 20, many of the country’s top elite female gymnasts will take over when they compete at the 2019 GK U.S. Classic in Louisville, Ky., at 1 p.m. (juniors) and 6:30 p.m. CT (seniors). Also, eight women are pursuing berths on the five-woman U.S. Team for the 2019 Pan American Games, which begins on July 24.

O’Neill garnered the 12-13 year-old all-around gold medal by scoring a 51.600 total. Lily Pederson of White Bear Lake, Minn./Flips Gymnastics was the silver medalist (51.200), with Katelyn Jong of Allen, Texas/Metroplex Gymnastics on her heels at 51.000. WOGA’s Ashlee Sullivan of Richardson, Texas, and O’Neill tied for the vault (13.400) crown. Jong claimed the uneven bars title (12.700), and O’Neill also brought home the balance beam gold (13.250). Pederson grabbed the floor exercise gold (13.000).

In the 10-11 division, Desmond won the all-around title with her 49.050. Zoey Molomo of Allen, Texas/Metroplex Gymnastics edged past Shanell Valles of Spring, Texas/World Champions Centre, and Izzy Stassi of North Royalton, Ohio/Five-Star Gymnastics Academy of Ohio, who tied for third, 48.650 to 48.400. Molomo won vault (13.850) and Desmond took top honors on the balance beam at 13.250. The uneven bars title went to Hailey Avellar of Seattle, Wash./Auburn Gymnastics Center (12.100), with Ella Kate Parker of West Monroe, La./North East Texas Elite Gymnastics, nabbing the floor exercise gold (12.350).

With athletes competing on the junior and senior levels, the GK U.S. Classic is the last opportunity for female gymnasts to qualify for the 2019 U.S. Championships, the national championships for men’s and women’s gymnastics. Gymnasts who have already qualified to nationals use the GK U.S. Classic as a final tune-up for the U.S. Championships.

A livestream of the junior session of the GK U.S. Classic will be available on the USA Gymnastics YouTube Channel. The Olympic Channel will broadcast the senior session of the GK U.S. Classic live at 7 p.m. ET on July 20. The competition will be simultaneously webcast on OlympicChannel.com, NBCSports.com (cable log-in required), the Olympic Channel app and the NBC Sports app.

2018 World and 2016 Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles of Spring, Texas, and her team gold-medal World Championships’ teammates Kara Eaker of Grain Valley, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express, Morgan Hurd of Middletown, Del./First State Gymnastics, Grace McCallum of Isanti, Minn./Twin City Twisters, and Riley McCusker of Brielle, N.J./MG Elite, headline the senior field. Also competing in the senior division are 2019 World Cup gold-medalist Jade Carey of Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Sunrays, 2019 American Cup champion Leanne Wong of Overland Park, Kansas/Great American Gymnastics Express, and 2016 Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Gilbert, Ariz./Desert Lights Gymnastics.

The eight women vying for the Pan Am Games Team are: Sloane Blakely of Frisco, Texas/WOGA Gymnastics; Eaker; Aleah Finnegan of Lee’s Summit, Mo./Great American Gymnastics Express; Hurd; Shilese Jones of Westerville, Ohio/Future Gymnastics Academy; Sunisa Lee of St. Paul, Minn./Midwest Gymnastics Center; McCusker; and Wong. The process for selecting the team is detailed in the selection procedures.

The GK U.S. Classic competition schedule is 1 p.m. ET for juniors and 6:30 p.m. ET for seniors on July 20. Single-session tickets for the GK U.S. Classic on July 20 are $35-$45 for the junior session at 1 p.m. and $39-$59 for the senior session at 6:30 p.m. All times are Eastern and subject to change. Tickets for the GK Hopes Championships range from $20-$30.

Tickets may be purchased at the KFC Yum! Center Box Office or ticketmaster.com. For information on club sales or group tickets, call Kelsie Hall at 502.690.9029. The KFC Yum! Center, in partnership with the Louisville Sports Commission, is playing host to the weekend’s events.

Past senior Classic all-around champions include Biles, 2018, 2014-15; Olivia Courtney, 2009; Mattie Larson, 2010; Ashley Priess, 2006; Aly Raisman, 2016, 2011-12; Kyla Ross, 2013; Alyona Shchennikova, 2017; Bridget Sloan, 2007; and Ashley Stott, 2008.