The 2015 U.S. Women’s National Junior Olympic Championships is heading to Des Moines, Iowa, May 15-16. Held in the Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center, the championships showcases the country’s top Level 10 Junior Olympic gymnasts and is expected to attract nearly 500 gymnasts. Level 10 is the highest level in the Junior Olympic program, which is just under the elite level. The Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament is scheduled for May 17 and has an expected field of nearly 200 gymnasts. Based on available records, this is the first time the event has been staged in the state of Iowa.
“The Junior Olympic National Championships is the pinnacle of the women’s Level 10 season,” said Luan Peszek, vice president of women’s gymnastics for USA Gymnastics. “Competing in this event is the highlight of most of these gymnasts’ careers, and fans and spectators will be treated to some great gymnastics during the three days.”
The Des Moines Area Sports Commission and Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute are the local organizations working with USA Gymnastics on staging the event.
“The city of Des Moines, along with the families at Chow’s Gymnastics and myself, is very excited and honored to host the 2015 U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships,” said Liang Chow of Chow’s Gymnastics, who coached Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Gabrielle Douglas. “We will be busy over the next year planning a safe and successful event. This event will bring the very best Level 10 gymnasts from all over the country to Des Moines. I hope this great event will help many of these young athletes to continue competing at the collegiate level and for some of the athletes to become an elite gymnast and an Olympian in the future.”
“We are elated USA Gymnastics has selected Greater Des Moines as host of the Women’s National Junior Olympic Championships in 2015,” said Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and Des Moines Area Sports Commission. “With strong community support and outstanding facilities, our vibrant city will offer memorable experiences for the gymnasts and their families, coaches and fans.”
The Junior Olympic National Championships is the culmination event for the competitive season. The competition features eight age divisions (Junior A, Junior B, Junior C, Junior D, Senior A, Senior B, Senior C and Senior D), which are determined by birth date. These gymnasts are vying to become Junior Olympic national champions in the all-around, as well as in all four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.
USA Gymnastics has eight regions, and the top seven gymnasts from each region’s Regional Championships advance to nationals. The winning regions will also be determined at the conclusion of the competition. The top four all-around athletes in each age division also qualify to the 2015 Junior Olympic National Team and are invited to attend a National Training Camp at the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch, a U.S. Olympic Training Site, in Huntsville, Texas.
The competition schedule is: May 16 – 11:30 a.m., Junior and Senior A, and 5 p.m., Junior and Senior B; and May 17 – 11:30 a.m., Junior and Senior C, and 5 p.m., Junior and Senior D. Champions are determined for each session.
The U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships is one of the national championships of USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body in the United States. Many Junior Olympic champions have gone on to make the U.S. National Team and represent the United States in international competition and/or to compete in collegiate gymnastics. Many of the country’s top gymnasts are former participants in the Junior Olympic program, including 2012 Olympic team champions Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross, 2009 World vault champion Kayla Williams, 2008 Olympic team silver-medalists Shawn Johnson and Samantha Peszek, and 2004 Olympic team silver-medalist Courtney McCool, to name a few.
The Junior Olympic NIT was developed to allow an additional 192 athletes an opportunity to compete at the national level and features gymnasts who ranked eighth and ninth in the all-around in each of the eight age divisions at the Level 10 Regional Championships (provided they achieved a minimum all-around score), plus any Regional individual event champions who did not qualify to the Junior Olympic Nationals or the Junior Olympic NIT in the all-around.
The states that comprise each region are: Region 1 -- Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah; Region 2 – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington; Region 3 – Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming; Region 4 – Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin; Region 5 – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio; Region 6 – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont; Region 7 – Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia; and Region 8 – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and group gymnastics. For more complete information, log on to www.usagym.org.