2014 Nationals are officially underway! So exciting to see all the seniors back out there after Classics!
Obviously the excitement tonight came from Simone Biles, who performed every routine like she could do it in her sleep. Biles started on beam, hitting a huge set for a 15.7. Her floor was nothing less than expected. Though it was a bit hard to hear the music over the feed, her routine was exciting as always. Every single one of her passes (double double, double layout half out, double layout, full twisting double back) could be someone else's opening pass, which never fails to amaze me. My personal favorite is her second pass, the Biles, because the half twist looks so effortless that I almost forget it's there! Her vaults were sky high and beautiful as always- her form looked even better than usual tonight. She easily hit bars, though brought in only a 14.55 for a much lower score than her other events. Biles finished with a huge all around score of 61.3, putting her in the lead by more than three points! I'm looking forward to seeing Biles dominate again on night two.
I was happily surprised by Maggie Nichols' performances tonight. I've heard a few people around the gymternet saying that she's kind of an Aly Rasiman, hitting solid routines and able to step in where needed. I wasn't ever a huge fan of Maggie's but after tonight I'm starting to really like her! None of her events stand out a lot, but she got in the 14.5 range for all except vault, where a pretty sturdy DTY earned her a 15.05. Kyla's errors opened the door for her to take the silver medal and it looks like she's working hard to take that opportunity!
I was actually shocked by Kyla's errors- a fall on her whip-double arabian and putting her knee down on her double layout bars dismount. Her opening beam routine was a bit shaky as well, although her lines were beautiful as always. Besides those errors, Kyla looked clean and graceful as usual. I'm betting she'll come back incredibly strong on Saturday looking to take back her silver medal.
Another standout performance was Ashton Locklear on bars. She had the highest score of the night with a 15.85 (6.6/9.25). Her legs look are so long, making her swing look so beautiful. She has huge combinations that look effortless. It's really fun to see some actual competition for the bars title between Locklear, Kocian, and likely Ross on night two!
There are a few things I think will be exciting to look out for on night two. I'm really excited to see Kyla come back with a vengeance to claim her silver- I think she's going to work hard to make bars, beam, and floor absolutely perfect. I'm also excited to see how Nichols will handle the pressure of being in second. Brenna Dowell's lone bar routine should also be a highlight- she hit really well tonight for a 15.4 and I think she'll make even more improvements in execution for night two!
Although there's not any competition for the title, it was still fun to watch tonight, and I'm looking forward to an exciting Saturday night!