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Iowa Events Center to host 2022 Rhythmic Challenge and Invitational March 12-13; Competitions will stream live on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics
posted on 03/11/2022

DES MOINES, Iowa, March 11, 2022 - Current National Team members will be joined by top developmental athletes from across the country this weekend at the Iowa Events Center, as the elite rhythmic gymnastics season gets underway in Des Moines. The Rhythmic Challenge and Rhythmic Invitational will run concurrently Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13 and will stream live on FlipNow Powered by USA Gymnastics.

Performances at the Rhythmic Challenge will influence Junior and Senior National Team ranking and assignments for upcoming international events. Olympian Evita Griskenas (Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center) headlines a young and ambitious senior field that includes her 2021 World Championships teammate Lili Mizuno (Northbrook, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center) as well as 2020 Olympic alternate Lennox Hopkins-Wilkins (Puyallup, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics). Reigning U.S. junior all-around champion Nayenne Pollini Ashenaffi (Reseda, Calif./Rhythmic Academy of Los Angeles) is set to make her senior debut, as is her 2021 Junior Pan American Games teammate Sarah Mariotti (San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics).

In the junior competition, current National Team members Milana Abayeva (Brooklyn, N.Y./Isadora by Matchpoint), Jaelyn Chin (Aventura, Fla./Bessonova's School), Megan Chu (San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics), Victoria Gonikman (Corcoran, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic), Gemma Gow (Newton, Mass./Rhythmic Stars Gymnastics Academy), Rin Keys (Porter Ranch, Calif./Burlo Gymnastics), Lauren Kramer (San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics) and Erika Rusak (Auburn, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics) will look to make their marks at this early juncture in the season.

Rhythmic Challenge junior and senior group titles will also be up for grabs. Routines have been updated for the new 2022-24 Code of Points, with revamped difficulty rules and an increased weight on execution and artistry.

The Rhythmic Invitational will welcome some of the nation's top Level 9 and 10 gymnasts spanning the junior and HOPES age groups. The event serves as an opportunity for these up-and-coming athletes to gain experience on a national competition stage and receive feedback from top-tier judges.

The full competition schedule is listed below in eastern time. Individual gymnasts will perform on hoop and ball on Saturday with clubs and ribbon to follow Sunday. Junior groups will show five ropes on Saturday, while senior groups will debut five hoops. On Sunday, junior groups will compete in five balls with senior groups set to show three ribbons and two balls. FlipNow subscribers can stream the event live at FlipNow.tv or on the app.

Saturday, March 12

  • 10:30-11:10 a.m. ET: Junior Group Challenge Competition
  • 11:20-11:50 a.m. ET: HOPES 2010-2011 Invitational Competition
  • 11:50 a.m.-1:00 p.m. ET: 2009 Invitational Competition
  • 1:55-3:15 p.m. ET: 2008 July-December Invitational Competition
  • 3:15-4:35 p.m. ET: 2008 January-June Invitational Competition
  • 4:50-6:10 p.m. ET: 2007 July-December Invitational Competition
  • 6:10-7:30 p.m. ET: 2007 January-June Invitational Competition
  • 8:30-8:45 p.m. ET: Senior Group Challenge Competition
  • 8:45-9:35 p.m. ET: Junior Challenge Competition
  • 9:35-10:45 p.m. ET: Senior Challenge Competition

Sunday, March 13

  • 10:30-11:10 a.m. ET: Junior Group Challenge Competition
  • 11:20 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET: 2009 Invitational Competition
  • 12:30-1 p.m. ET: HOPES 2010-2011 Invitational Competition
  • 1:50-3:10 p.m. ET: 2007 January-June Invitational Competition
  • 3:10-4:30 p.m. ET: 2007 July-December Invitational Competition
  • 4:45-6:05 p.m. ET: 2008 January-June Invitational Competition
  • 6:05-7:25 p.m. ET: 2008 July-December Invitational Competition
  • 8:25-8:40 p.m. ET: Senior Group Challenge Competition
  • 8:40-9:30 p.m. ET: Junior Challenge Competition
  • 9:30-10:40 p.m. ET: Senior Challenge Competition

Rhythmic Challenge participants are listed below by division.

Junior Group
Diana's Rhythmics Junior Group, Diana's Rhythmics
IK Junior Group 1, IK School of Gymnastics
IK Junior Group 2, IK School of Gymnastics
Isadora Junior Group, Isadora Rhythmic Gymnastics
Liberty Academy Junior Group, Liberty Academy
NSR Junior Group 1, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
NSR Junior Group 2, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
Zara Rhythmic Junior Group, Zara Rhythmic Gymnastics

Junior Individual
Milana Abayeva, Brooklyn, N.Y./Isadora by Matchpoint
Jaelyn Chin, Aventura, Fla./Bessonova's School
Megan Chu, San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics
Victoria Gonikman, Corcoran, Minn./NorthWest Rhythmic
Gemma Gow, Newton, Mass./Rhythmic Stars Gymnastics Academy
Rin Keys, Porter Ranch, Calif./Burlo Gymnastics
Lauren Kramer, San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics
Erika Rusak, Auburn, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics

Senior Group
National Prep Group 1, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
National Prep Group 2, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
VA Senior Group, Vitrychenko Academy

Senior Individual
Lily Avila, Highland Park, Ill./Vitrychenko Academy Corp
Stella-Luciana Ceo, Los Angeles, Calif./LA Ritmica
Evita Griskenas, Orland Park, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
Lennox Hopkins-Wilkins, Puyallup, Wash./Evergreen Rhythmics
Alexandria Kautzman, Simi Valley, Calif./California Rhythms
Victoria Kobelev, Ormond Beach, Fla./Rhythmic Art
Sarah Mariotti, San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics
Daria Merkulova, Grayslake, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
Lili Mizuno, Northbrook, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center
Nayenne Pollini Ashenaffi, Reseda, Calif./Rhythmic Academy of Los Angeles
Katie Tang, San Diego, Calif./Emerald City Academy of Rhythmic Gymnastics
Jenna Zhao, Hinsdale, Ill./North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center