Kiya Johnson, Chloe Widner, and Bella Salcedo each claimed titles at the ninth annual Nastia Liukin Cup and then again at Texas State Championships the following week.
COPPELL, TEXAS — Three gymnasts from Texas Dreams in Coppell, Texas won event titles at the prestigious Nastia Liukin Cup in Hoffman Estates, Ill., before going on to win all-around and event titles at the Texas State Championships.
Kiya Johnson of Desoto and Chloe Widner of Frisco competed in the senior division at the Nastia Liukin Cup held on March 2, placing fifth and 14th, respectively, after showing solid performances in a talented field of gymnasts that earned spots at this exclusive meet after a two-month series of qualifying events throughout the country.
Johnson, 16, put up her best work on the uneven bars and floor exercise in her third Nastia Liukin Cup appearance. In addition to her strong all-around finish, Johnson also won the bars title with a 9.700 while also placing third on floor. This was the second appearance at this meet for Widner, 17, who also had two top-five finishes, putting up a powerful and tidy vault to place fifth there before winning the title on floor, edging out Johnson by just half a tenth for the gold.
In the junior division, 15-year-old Bella Salcedo of Grand Prairie placed seventh all-around, also showing a clean vault to grab the title with a score of 9.800, but her floor was what made people take notice, with her elegant dance and beautiful choreography helping her to a fourth-place finish just half a tenth back from the top spot.
This year’s Nastia Liukin Cup was the ninth in the competition’s history, and the alumni have gone on to become some of the best gymnasts in the world. Three-time Olympic champion Gabrielle Douglas placed fourth all-around in her appearance at the first Nastia Liukin Cup in 2010, and the seven other gymnasts from Texas Dreams who have competed here over the years have gone on to earn collegiate scholarships at Division I NCAA programs.
A total of 36 gymnasts represented Texas Dreams Gymnastics at this year’s State Championships, hosted by Texas Dreams on March 17-18 for gymnasts competing in levels nine and ten, the two highest levels in USA Gymnastics’ Junior Olympics program. Texas Dreams gymnasts collected a total of 18 state titles and qualified 34 gymnast to Regional Championships, more than any other gym among the seven states that comprise Region 3.
Widner won the all-around title in the level 10 Senior B2 division with a 39.025, the highest score among all 361 competitors across all divisions and levels. She also scored a “perfect 10” for her flawlessly executed vault to win that title on top of the event titles on beam and floor, nearly sweeping the competition with her second-place finish on bars the lowest finish for her at this meet.
Johnson also dominated in her division, Senior A1, winning the all-around, vault, and bars titles in addition to placing second on beam and floor, while Salcedo placed second all-around in the Junior C2 division, winning the vault title while placing third on bars, beam, and floor. Also winning titles in level 10 were Colbi Flory on beam, Caroline Herry on floor, Taylor Ingle on bars, Madison Raesly on beam and floor, Lyric Walker in the all-around and on beam.
Other level 10 competitors for Texas Dreams included Londyn Daniel, Addison Davis, Claire Feick, Sude Item, Momoko Iwai, Victoria Loomis, Gabrielle McLaughlin, Lindsey Moffitt, April Nava, Aspen Terrell, Avery Walters, Kaylee Wilson, and Riley Wilson.
Cecily Rizo posted the top level 9 all-around score for Texas Dreams, earning a 37.650 to place fifth in the tough Junior B1 division. Rizo also placed second on vault and fifth on bars and beam for a strong finish in her second season as a level 9 competitor, qualifying easily to Region 3 Championships.
Winning titles in their respective level 9 divisions were Kailen Smalls and Lara Burhans on vault, while Alison Ritch took home the title on beam. Smalls was a top-five finisher on all four events in addition to placing third all-around, while Burhans also placed third all-around and Ritch was second all-around and on floor.
Other level 9 competitors for Texas Dreams included Ava Andrews, Alyssa Bogdan, Amanda Croff, Caleigh Hollingsworth, Leanne Jojo, Katie Morgan, Morgan Price, Marina Queijeiro, Matis Rains, Kati Rice, and Blythe Terrell.
Going forward, the Texas Dreams gymnasts will continue the season with a focus on the Junior Olympic National Championships for level 10 competitors, to be held May 11-13 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and on the Level 9 Western Championships, to be held May 4-6 in Sandy, Utah.
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 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.texasdreams.com or call 972.471.2345.