Early July has seen exciting competition as several U.S. sports crowned national champions. From the mat to the trampoline, here are Team USA’s latest national champs.
Olympian Nicole Ross won her first foil national title over six-time champ Margaret Lu at the USA Fencing National Championships & July Challenge in St. Louis. In men’s saber, Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer also earned his first national title over Ziad Elsissy. In men’s epee, it was two-time Olympian Soren Thompson over Youth Olympian Justin Yoo. Another first-time champ was Anna van Brummen in women’s epee. Former youth national champion Geoffrey Tourette won in men’s foil. Finally, in women’s saber, it was Maia Chamberlain taking the title over Aleksandra Shelton.
Olympian Laura Zeng continued her dominance in rhythmic gymnastics with her fourth consecutive U.S. all-around title on Saturday in Greensboro, North Carolina. With the win, Zeng became the first American to take four titles in a row since Sue Soffe captured six in a row from 1976-81. Zeng also won individual titles in the clubs, hoop and ribbon earlier in the weekend, while Evita Griskenas won ball.
Olympian Kanak Jha made history in joining Sean O’Neill as the only men to win three U.S. singles titles, taking down Olympian Yijun Feng in the final in Las Vegas. He also won this year’s men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles with Krishnateja Avvari and Amy Wang, respectively. Having just turned 18, Jha will also complete in October’s Youth Olympic Games. While Jha is no stranger to the men’s national final, it was a pair of newcomers in women’s singles. Juan Liu won her first national title over Angela Guan. A former member of the Chinese national team, Liu won the 2012 U.S. Open.
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The USA Taekwondo National Championships took place July 2 through July 9 in Salt Lake City. Flyweight winners were Kiana Chai Chong in the women’s bracket and Philip El-Chemali in the men’s. In featherweight, it was Desirae Rolaff and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Terrence Jennings. Blanca Quezada won the women’s middleweight title and Alasan Ann won the men’s. Finally, in heavyweight, it was Taylor Ramirez taking the women’s title and Jonathan Healy won the men’s.
Savannah Thompson overcame a 2016 Olympian, a top up-and-comer and sore legs to claim the women’s trampoline title on Saturday in Greensboro. Thompson, a 2012 Olympian, is four months into a comeback after five years off and admitted she was a little sore going into the final. That didn’t stop the 25-year-old Thompson (nee Vinsant) from posting the top score. 2016 Olympian Nicole Ahsinger was second, and rising star Alyssa Oh, who will compete at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, placed third. Jeffrey Gluckstein won the men’s title, his fifth individual U.S. championship.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.