by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Jessie DeZiel of Rogers has captured the national all-around championship in gymnastics — again.
“I didn’t expect to win again — there were different girls this year in my age group and it was tougher,” said DeZiel, 17, a Spectrum High School senior and member of Twin Cities Twisters club.
DeZiel was even better than last year, though, scoring 38.825 to win the Senior C division Saturday in Long Beach, CA. She won floor exericse as well, while placing second on vault, tying for third on uneven bars and placing fifth on balance beam.
“That was my second-best meet ever,” said DeZiel. “State this year was my best.”
(“C” division refers to her age group, 16-17).
DeZiel scored 38.90 in state competition March 19 at North St. Paul High School. That sent her back to nationals, which she won last year with 38.10 and was bars champion, too, in Dallas.
DeZiel, headed for one of the nation’s top college programs at Nebraska, has been a Level 10 gymnast — the top rung other than Elite, which is the division for OIympic contenders — for five years.
“She was absolutely phenomenal,” said Mike Hunger, her TCT coach. “It was a perfect ending to a phenomenal career. She had the meet of her life. A lot of coaches there said it was the best performance they had seen by a Junior Olympic athlete.”
DeZiel was in eighth place after bars and beam, and the field was very strong, the kids who are about to join college teams.
She came through on floor, scoring 9.8 with clean tumbling, good landings and elegant dance.
“It was the prettiest floor routine I’ve ever seen,” said Hunger.
Her first pass had a pike full twist double back, her second had a roundoff back handspring and 2 1/2 twist punch front, and her third had a double pike. She then nailed down the AA title with a huge layout yurchenko vault with double twist.
“I started on bars and hit them pretty good,” she said. “On beam, I stayed on. It was a little wobbly but I got a good score. Then my floor was the best I have every done. And on vault I had the two doubles.”
Finishing behind DeZiel were Oklahoma recruit Haley Scaman, Alabama recruit Kaitlyn Clark, and former world champion and Alabama signee Kayla Williams, in second, third and fourth, respectively.