McCusker close to Biles in bars, and that will have to do
By JIMMY GOLEN
Aug. 20, 2018
BOSTON (AP) — Riley McCusker came within one-tenth of a point on the uneven bars of preventing a Simone Biles sweep at the U.S. gymnastics championships.
With the Olympic champion turning in another dominant performance, that will have to do.
"Second to Simone is kind of like being first," McCusker said after taking silver in the bars and third overall Sunday night at nationals. "Simone's amazing, and she's in another league, almost."
Biles finished with a score of 119.850, about half an event better than reigning world champion Morgan Hurd, who was second in the all-around at 113.300. McCusker was third at nationals for the second straight year, at 112.750.
McCusker, 17, finished first in bars last year. But that was when Biles was in the middle of a two-year sabbatical, and McCusker was on the mend from a four-month shut-down of her own because of foot and wrist injuries.
"It definitely feels a little different this time," McCusker said.
Biles finished first in every discipline at the new Boston Garden this weekend — and most of them weren't close. She won the vault by 2.275 over Jordan Chiles, the beam by 1.450 over Kara Eaker, and the floor exercise by 0.850 over Jade Carey.
Only in the bars did she seem almost beatable.
"I'm really excited about my performance on bars," said McCusker, who added that she was planning to add a Stalder Pike to her routine before worlds that will give her the potential for a higher score.
Asked if she thought that just maybe there was a chance of catching Biles, McCusker let out a laugh and a tentative, "yeah."
McCusker ended the first day of the competition in third place and improved in every event except vault (where she posted identical 14.100s). It wasn't enough to catch Hurd.
"Day 1, I was just shaking off some nerves," McCusker said. "Today, I wasn't as nervous."