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40 gymnasts advanced to May's Elite Qualifier from last weekend's Junior Level 9 Classic; National Team athletes also in action
posted on 04/22/2021

2006 age group winners: Kirin Kimura, Rachel Lu, Nayenne Pollini Ashenaffi

INDIANAPOLIS, April 22, 2021 – The 2021 USA Rhythmic Junior Level 9 Classic and Regional Team Championships took place last weekend at DeltaPlex Arena in Walker, Mich. The top-40 all-around finishers across all age divisions have advanced to the Elite Qualifier, which will be held May 13-15 in Birmingham, Ala. These gymnasts have also earned a Level 10 designation. An additional 55 Level 9 gymnasts qualified from the event to the 2021 USA Gymnastics Championships in St. Louis in June.

Participating gymnasts also competed for regional bragging rights with the six highest all-around scores from each area counting toward their team totals. Region 1, represented by gymnasts from California and Nevada, earned top honors with a combined 306.350. Region 3, which spans the Midwestern states, finished in second place with a 294.250, and Region 2, which featured gymnasts from Oregon and Washington, was third with a 282.400.

In addition to the Level 9 competition, Rhythmic Senior National Team members were in action with Lennox Hopkins-Wilkins of Puyallup, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics (79.950), Alexandria Kautzman of Westlake Village, Calif./California Rhythms (79.450) and Nerea Francis of North Miami Beach, Fla./Bessonova’s School (77.800) rounding out the top three. Hopkins-Wilkins notched the high score on hoop (21.500) and ball (21.550). Daria Merkulova of Grayslake, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center topped the field on clubs with a 20.550, while Kautzman led the way on ribbon. Erika Rusak of Auburn, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics was the lone Junior National Team member in attendance, posting a 73.400 across all four disciplines. The Senior National Group also performed.

Level 9 gymnasts competed in the hoop, clubs and ribbon apparatus and were paced by Lauren Kramer of San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics who finished with a 53.700. She was followed in the standings by Sophia Volkov of Morton Grove, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center (53.400) and Victoria Gonikman of Corcoran, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic (52.800). All three competed in the 2007 division. Valentina Moya of San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics posted the high score on hoop with a 19.350, while Gonikman claimed the top spot on clubs with a 20.050. Jaelyn Chin of Aventura, Fla./Bessonova’s School topped the field on ribbon with a 16.950.

The top-three finishers in each Level 9 age division are listed below.

  • 2009: Sophia Zyman, Iliana Rhythmic Gymnastics, 49.250; Isabella Chong, Burlo Gymnastics, 47.450; Aleksia Khilkevich, Isadora 44.250
  • 2008 (January-June): Natalia Ye-granda, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 50.050; Olivia Fisher, Rhythmic Art, 45.950; Layla Kaim, La Luna, 42.350
  • 2008 (July-December): Valentina Moya, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 50.200; Natalie Shtirmer, Liberty Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 48.250; Maria Serper, Evergreen Rhythmics, 47.300
  • 2007 (January-April): Lauren Kramer, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 53.700; Deanna Georgieva, La Luna, 51.500; Defne Yavuz, Bravo Rhythmic Gymnastics, 48.800
  • 2007 (May-August): Sophia Volkov, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center, 53.400; Victoria Gonikman, NorthWest Rhythmic, 52.800; Medeine Vilutyte, Rhythmic Academy of Marin, 49.000
  • 2007 (September-December): Jaelyn Chin, Bessonova’s School, 51.150; Alexandra Ebert, NorthWest Rhythmic, 49.750; Lauren Cao, Nely’s School of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 49.050
  • 2006 (January-April): Kirin Kimura, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 48.700; Liza Odikadze, MG Rhythmic Academy, 43.950; Caroline Lupul, M&N Rhythmic Academy, 43.000
  • 2006 (May-August): Rachel Lu, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 51.800; Emily Beznos, Burlo Gymnastics, 49.200; Katie Tang, Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics, 49.200
  • 2006 (September-December): Nayenne Pollini Ashenaffi, Rhythmic Academy of Los Angeles, 51.400; Sloan Tyler, Iliana Rhythmic Gymnastics, 46.950; Leilani Mount, NorthWest Rhythmic, 45.250