By John Powers
Her goal was simple in its ambition. "I was just looking forward to hitting eight-for-eight clean routines," Leanne Wong said. On Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships at Boston’s TD Garden she came close enough that she claimed the U.S. junior women’s all-around title and added her name to the list of contenders for the squad for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"Next year I’ll be a senior and I’ll have to work up to making the world team and hopefully I can get to Tokyo," said the 14-year-old from Overland Park, Kans., who won floor exercise and placed second on vault and uneven bars for a total of 112.250, more than a point ahead of Kayla Di Cello. "I need to upgrade all my routines and clean up all the skills I have."
Wong, who won last month’s GK U.S. Classic crown, came here as the favorite and carried a lead of half a point into the finale. "The first day was a great start and helped me feel confident going into the second day," she said.
After opening with a 13.450 on balance beam, Wong scored 13.400 on floor and 14.750 on vault to open up a 1.70-point gap on the field. "I had three solid events," she said. "All I needed was one more."
Wong’s steady 14.250 on bars kept her comfortably ahead of Di Cello (111.200), who won vault with a 14.900 effort to break a three-way tie for second. "Today I was really happy with how I did," said Di Cello, who was 26th at last year’s nationals. "I felt more confident coming into this meet than I did last year."
Placing third (111.050) was Sunisa Lee, who won on bars and tied for second on beam. "I’ve been training a lot more, getting really consistent," said Lee, who was eighth last year. "Just focusing on one thing at a time and making myself better."