Brenna Dowell was just one of the girls Thursday afternoon at the Great American Gymnastic Express training center in Blue Springs.
The Odessa High School senior, who recently signed a letter to compete in gymnastics at the University of Oklahoma, joined a wide variety of youngsters at an afternoon practice session under the watchful eye of GAGE coach Al Fong.
But Dowell was anything but “one of the girls” this past weekend at the AT&T American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., where she placed second in the all-around among an elite field in which she and all-around winner Elizabeth Price were the lone U.S. representatives.
The field included eight women and nine men representing 11 different countries. The American Cup is the only major international gymnastics competition held in the United States.
“It’s the meet where stars are born,” Fong said, “and Brenna was a star at the meet. She did a great job. The competition was just incredible, and she really added to her resume and continues to make a name for herself.”
She placed second on the vault and third on a bar routine that left Fong and the judges dazzled (see it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=027FE8v6i3s).
“You have to see it,” Fong said, “it was just amazing.”
Price scored 15 or more points in two of her four events and finished with 59.666 points to top Dowell (57.532).
“Elizabeth is a great gymnast,” Dowell said when asked about the competition. “I knew that every gymnast there would be one of the best in the world, and I am thankful that I was able to perform as well as I did.
“I think my bar routine was the best it’s been, and I’m happy with my vault.”
Dowell said she didn’t know for sure she would even be going to the American Cup until shortly before the meet, because she was an alternate.
“Simone Biles aggravated an old injury at training camp (in Texas), and she told me I better get ready to compete,” Dowell said. “Whether I am an alternate or a member of the team, I am always going to be ready. It was really a thrill to compete and do so well.
“Now, I have other goals. I want to be a part of the Pacific Rim Team in April, and I want to compete in five classics and championships this year and be a part of the 2014 World Team in October.”