Texas Dreams Confident on Road to Nationals
On Saturday, six gymnasts from Texas Dreams Gymnastics in Coppell competed at the U.S. Classic, the final stop on the road to national championships.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. — Texas Dreams Gymnastics had an impressive showing at the U.S. Classic over the weekend, hitting all routines and winning six medals along the way, the most for any gym at the event.
Chris Burdette and Kim Zmeskal Burdette coached a group of six athletes to the annual Chicagoland meet, which serves as both the final qualifying meet to U.S. national championships as well as a warm-up competition for gymnasts who have already qualified to nationals.
2016 Olympic alternate Ragan Smith of Lewisville pre-qualified to nationals as a member of last year’s Olympic team, so her focus at the competition was getting a feel for two new upgrades in her uneven bars routine, which is now one of the most difficult sets in the world.
Smith, 16, had an outstanding performance both there and on the balance beam, winning the gold medals on both events and scoring an especially high 15.350 on beam, the highest beam score in the world so far this year. Smith is planning on competing all four events at nationals, and after winning the American Cup title earlier this year, she is a favorite to win the all-around crown.
Also competing at the senior level were Abigail Walker of Carrollton and Deanne Soza of Coppell.
Walker, 15, qualified to nationals at the American Classic last month, but put up a strong showing to finish in the top ten all-around.
Soza, also 15, earned her nationals score with a beautiful performance on all four events. Originally from Utah, this was Soza’s first national-level competition with Texas Dreams. After struggling last season, she returned to competition for the first time in over a year with a level of confidence and consistency that she credited entirely to her new coaches and program.
At the junior level, Emma Malabuyo of Flower Mound won gold in the all-around with routines that showed off both her high levels of difficulty as well as her immaculate execution. 14-year-old Malabuyo, who won four medals internationally in Canada and Italy earlier this year, also picked up the gold medal on floor and the silver medal on beam and will go into nationals as a strong contender for the junior national title.
Annie Beard of Dallas and Sydney Barros of Woodstock, Ga., also competed in the junior level, with both gymnasts in their first year at the elite level.
Beard, 13, had previously qualified to nationals and so competed only on beam and floor to get some practice in on both events, winning the bronze medal on floor while also looking clean and polished on beam.
At 12, Barros is the youngest and newest member of the team with the least experience, but she also had a solid competition, placing 18th all-around to earn her nationals qualifying score with beam a standout event for her.
The Dream Team will spend the next two weeks training and preparing for nationals, where they’ll be the largest club team at the meet, and could once again earn several national team spots. In addition, Smith and Malabuyo are both frontrunners for the senior and junior national all-around titles, respectively, and going forward Smith will hope to earn a spot on the four-member world championships team while Malabuyo will aim for one of two openings at Junior Japan International, one of the most prestigious junior-level competitions in the world.
The U.S. national championships, also known as the P&G Championships, are set to begin at the Honda Center on Anaheim, Calif., on August 17.
About Texas Dreams Gymnastics
Texas Dreams Gymnastics has a long history of training the nation’s most talented gymnasts. Owners Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and Chris Burdette and their staff operate from an enormous 36,000 square-foot arena. Zmeskal-Burdette is the USA’s first world champion gymnast, and she is also an Olympic medalist and International Hall of Fame member.
Texas Dreams is renowned for innovative and inspired coaching and training in all gymnastics trends and techniques. The gym has a record of developing talented athletes at every age level, and has a history of placing elite gymnasts on the U.S. national team every year. For more information about Texas Dreams, please visit www.texasdreamsgymnastics.com or call 972-471-2345.