Foberg claims first U.S. junior title
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By Jo-Ann Barnas
PITTSBURGH – It didn’t matter that she couldn’t figure out why. All Jazmyn Foberg knew was that she was less nervous than before – and she didn’t want the feeling to end.
“Maybe it was because I got all of the kinks out the other day,” she said with a shrug.
If you would have asked Foberg a few days ago what her goal was heading into the P&G Gymnastics Championships, she would have said to make her first junior national team.
On Saturday, she did that and more.
Foberg, who trains at Monmouth Gymnastics in New Jersey, won the junior women’s all-around title by holding off hard-charging Nia Dennis and others in one of the deepest junior fields in years at Consol Energy Center.
Competing in her first-ever championships, Foberg finished with a two-day total of 114.950 points, .450 ahead of silver medalist Dennis (114.50) and 2.400 over bronze medalist Norah Flatley (112.550).
“I’m proud of myself – first to be here, and then winning,” said Foberg, who claimed individual gold on uneven bars. “On my last vault, I felt pride and relief.”
Dennis, who was fourth at last year’s P&G Gymnastics Championships in Hartford, might have won the title had it not been for two errors on beam. She fell on the same Arabian that she missed Thursday, and also didn’t complete a flight series of two skills connected.
“My Arabian – again,” Dennis said, rolling her eyes. “I was coming off bars and I felt strong. I don’t know. I took off a little early.”
Dennis won individual gold medals on vault and floor exercise. She also claimed the bronze medal on uneven bars.
“I’m really honored to be on the national team,” she said.
Dennis, who trains at Buckeye Gymnastics in Westerville, Ohio, will turn senior next year. Three weeks ago, she welcomed a new training partner to the gym: 2012 Olympic women’s all-around champion Gabby Douglas.
“I got, like, five texts from her this morning,” Dennis said. “And then I saw her this morning as I was heading out of the hotel and she gave me a big hug.”
Flatley smiled as she talked about moving up from fourth to capture the bronze medal. She shrugged off her fall on beam, her second event.
“It was hard to look past it, but I was proud that I did,” said Flatley, who claimed an individual silver medal on bars.
Jordan Chiles of Vancouver, Wash., who won junior title at Secret U.S. Classic earlier this month, made one of the biggest comebacks of the meet. She moved up to fourth place – and claimed a spot on the junior national team – after finishing 19th on the first competition day. Her two-day total: 111.600.
“I feel amazing,” she said.
Foberg, Dennis, Flatley and Chiles were joined by fifth-place Alexis Vasquez (111.150), Emily Gaskins (110.800) and Bailie Key in being named to the U.S. junior women’s national team. Key, the 2013 U.S. junior champion, didn’t compete in Pittsburgh because of injury.
One of the happiest gymnasts was Vasquez, who was contending for a spot on the junior national team at last year’s P&G Championships in Hartford, Conn., until she came undone on uneven bars.
“I was around in fifth and everything was going great until I did one of my worst bars and fell, like, three times,” she said. “It was funny; I was kind of having flashbacks of it today. But I’m glad I came back strong here.”
Vasquez conquered her bar demons with ease. She scored a 13.450 for her routine Saturday, good for fifth. She also finished first on balance beam.
Liang Chow, who coaches Vasquez and Flatley, said he’s impressed by the strength of the women’s junior program.
“Our system is going very well,” said Chow, who coached Douglas to all-around gold in London. “The energy, you (could) feel it tonight, it’s unbelievable.’’