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Biles coasts to 2nd straight national gymnastics title

| Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, 10:54 p.m.
Simone Biles performs on the beam at the P & G Gymnastics Champtionships on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Simone Biles performs on the beam at the P & G Gymnastics Champtionships on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

The only way Simone Biles was going to walk out of Consol Energy Center with anything but gold around her neck and a second consecutive women's national gymnastics title Saturday night was going to be if she completely fell apart.

That didn't happen.

So dominant had the reigning national and world champion been throughout the U.S. Gymnastics Championships that even a hop down off the balance beam in her final rotation of the night didn't hurt her overall score enough to matter.

The tiny 17-year-old from Spring, Texas, dominated the senior field again, leaving everyone else to battle for silver and bronze and the remaining spots on the U.S. national team. Biles finished with 122.550 points, easily topping 2012 Olympian Kyla Ross, 17, who started in fourth place following a disappointing Day 1 but rebounded to capture silver with 118.300 points. Maggie Nichols, 16, took bronze in the all-around with 117.900 points.

There have been seven back-to-back U.S. women's champions since 1998, including Biles. She joins Kristen Maloney (1998-99), Tasha Schwikert (2001-02), Courtney Kupets (2003-04), Nastia Liukin (2005-06), Shawn Johnson (2007-08) and Jordyn Wieber (2011-12).

Despite the huge lead and little chance she would place anywhere other than first, Biles said afterward that she just goes out to have fun. While winning gives her confidence, she doesn't much think about it.

“I don't focus on that, so it doesn't matter to me if I'm last place or first,” she said.

Asked if winning by such a large margin meant she was good, Biles conceded a little.

“I would never say that myself, but I guess I'm good,” she said.

Biles also won gold in vault and the floor exercise, tied for silver on the beam with Alyssa Baumann and was fourth in uneven bars. Ross won gold on the beam with 12,424 in attendance for the final day of women's competition.

USA Gymnastics announced its national team at the end of the meet. They are Biles, Baumann, Ross, Nichols, Madison Desch, Brenna Dowell, Amelia Hundley, Madison Kocian, Ashton Locklear and Mykayla Skinner. Worlds are in October in China.

Because of injuries and the Olympic cycle, only eight women competed in the all-around competition. Only Ross, who won silver at nationals in 2013, was considered to be strong competition for Biles, and she fell twice on Day 1. Biles entered the night 3.15 points ahead of Nichols, who held a slight lead over Baumann, in third place. Ross was in fourth.

Biles was the first competitor on the floor exercise, where she excels. She was her usual explosive, powerful self and all but locked up the individual gold.

The same went on vault, where she again performed the most difficult maneuver of the night on the apparatus, called an Amanar.

The only real blemish on Biles' evening was in her final rotation on the beam, where she had to check her balance before ultimately hopping off and having to get back on to finish. She was all smiles when it was over, however, knowing the gold was still hers.

Ross showed from the beginning that she had put Day 1 behind her. She started on the floor, where she fell on her opening tumbling sequence on the first day.

She altered her skill set slightly on the first pass for Day 2 and executed it.

Uneven bars were next, and Ross again redeemed herself after going to one knee on her dismount on Day 1, a landing she said she had done a thousand times before. This time she was otherwise back to form and again improved her score by more than a point.

“It was definitely a big load off my shoulders,” Ross said of her comeback performance. “It definitely makes me a lot more happy.”

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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