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Biles dominates Day 1 of P&G Gymnastics Championships

| Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, 10:18 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Simone Biles competes in the floor exercise in the senior women’s preliminaries during the P&G Gymnastics Championships on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

In some ways, Simone Biles is an average teenager, staying up late talking to her friends, texting pictures of the pizza she just ate and dreaming about getting her first car.

In Biles' case, however, those friends are Olympians Kyla Ross and Gabby Douglas, and that car may just be a gift from her parents if she wins a second consecutive gymnastics world title this year.

At 17, Biles is the reigning U.S. and world champion, and she showed that Thursday. She dominated the first day of the senior women's competition at the P&G Gymnastics Championships at Consol Energy Center.

Biles, who has a higher degree of difficulty in her routines than most of her competitors, opened her national title defense with a commanding performance and leads going into Saturday's final day with 61.800 points. She had the top score on every apparatus except the uneven bars, where she was fifth.

“I think I did pretty well,” Biles said. “Some of the stuff I still have to go clean up and practice, so we'll see how that goes, but other than that, I'm pretty proud of what I did.”

In second place is Maggie Nichols, 16, of Little Canada, Minn., with 58.650 points followed by Alyssa Baumann, 16, of Plano, Texas, with 58.400 points.

Ross, 17, who was the youngest member of the 2012 Olympic team and Biles' closest competition coming in, is in fourth place with 57.950 points.

“I'm not really sure what happened. I just know I wasn't able to hit my routines and be consistent,” Ross said.

Ross and Biles started on the balance beam. Both performed well, but it was Biles who came out on top with a 15.700 to Ross' 15.200.

“I wasn't nervous about that being my first event because that's what I start on at the gym every day,” Biles said. “But I was nervous because I was last, and just waiting and waiting and waiting makes me antsy.”

From there, they moved to the floor, where Biles thrives. Ross sat down on her first tumbling pass, and it cost her, but there were no such mistakes for Biles. The 4-foot-8 dynamo didn't disappoint the crowd of 7,529. She seems to defy physics and logic when she launches into her flips and twists, and her score of 15.650 led Mykayla Skinner, who came in second on the apparatus with a score of 14.900.

The vault was next, and Ross' vault wasn't enough to beat Biles' difficult Amanar, which she nearly stuck. It earned her 15.900 points.

Through three rotations, Biles held a big lead with 47.250 points. Skinner sat in second with 44.600 points, and Ross was in third with 44.000 points.

The final apparatus was the uneven bars, which is a strength for Ross and Biles' weakest exercise. Ross went to one knee on her dismount, however, while Biles stuck the landing to cement the top spot.

“I knew that it was a new (tumbling) pass (on the floor exercise), so I really need to work more consistently with that,” Ross said. “But then going into bars, I've done that dismount for so long. I really want to come back a lot stronger on day two and just show my normal consistency in all of my routines.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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