Li, Lukacs headline 2017 Nastia Liukin Cup field

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 27, 2017 – Defending champions Andrea Li of Aurora, Illinois/Legacy Elite, and Rachael Lukacs of Hillsborough, N.J./North Stars Gymnastics Academy, headline the 36-gymnast field for the eighth annual Nastia Liukin Cup this Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ET at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Featuring 18 junior and 18 senior Level 10 Junior Olympic gymnasts, the Nastia Liukin Cup will showcase gymnasts from 18 states. Fourteen athletes are making return trips to the Nastia Liukin Cup, which is held the night before the AT&T American Cup (March 4 at 11:30 a.m. ET).

Three former Nastia Liukin Cup champions are set to compete in Newark. After winning the 2016 senior title, Lukacs is making her fourth-straight appearance at the Nastia Liukin Cup. Li, last year’s junior champion, is making her second trip to the Cup and will also compete in the senior age division. 2014 junior co-champion Rachael Flam of Houston, Texas/Stars Gymnastics, returns for her third Nastia Liukin Cup and will look to challenge the defending champions.

Makarri Doggette of Pickerington, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics, is back for her fourth appearance at the Cup. Three senior athletes are competing in their third Nastia Liukin Cup: Flam; Abby Heiskell of Waxhaw, N.C./Southeastern; and Cassie Stevens of Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Sunrays.

Carly Bauman of West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics, and Lali Dekanoidze of Charlotte, N.C./Southeastern, are making their second trip to the Nastia Liukin Cup and will compete in the junior age division. Five senior level gymnasts are also competing in their second Cup: Nevaeh DeSouza of Fairfield, Calif./Dream Xtreme Gymnastics; Li; Rylie Mundell of Parker, Colo./Colorado Gymnastics Institute; Kai Rivers of Franklin, Mich./Twistars; Gabryel Wilson of Ypsilanti, Mich./Michigan Academy of Gymnastics; and Natalie Wojcik of Douglasville, Pa./Stallone Gymnastics

Tickets for the 2017 Nastia Liukin Cup are $40 for reserved seating and $30 for general admission. For groups of 10+ people, tickets are half-price – $20 reserved or $15 for general admission. Groups also can purchase tickets for both events for $25 reserved or $20 general admission. All ticket prices are plus applicable fees. Tickets may be purchased through ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and at Prudential Center’s box office. For more information, go to nastialiukincup.com.

Fans who cannot make it to Prudential Center can watch the action live on NBC Live Extra online at nbcsports.com/live-extra or on mobile devices; follow the event on Facebook (facebook.com/usagymnastics) and Twitter (#NastiaCup); or via live scoring at myusagym.com. NBSN will provide tape-delayed coverage starting at 11:30 p.m. ET.

2017 marks the second straight year Newark’s Prudential Center is hosting both the Nastia Liukin Cup and on the following day, the 2017 AT&T American Cup, an International Gymnastics Federation World Cup event that features some of the world’s biggest names in gymnastics.

Gymnasts who compete in the Nastia Liukin Cup will receive a Nastia Liukin-designed leotard and a warm-up from GK Elite; two tickets to the Nastia Liukin Cup; and the opportunity to meet Liukin and participate in a team photo.

Named for 2008 Olympic all-around gold-medalist Nastia Liukin, the Nastia Liukin Cup was first held in 2010 in Worcester, Mass., and a portion of the proceeds from the Nastia Liukin Cup benefits the Nastia Liukin Fund, a charitable fund in partnership with the National Gymnastics Foundation (www.usagym.org/foundation).

Past sites for the Nastia Liukin Cup are: 2016, Newark, N.J.; 2015, Arlington, Texas; 2014, Greensboro, N.C.; 2013 and 2010, Worcester, Mass.; 2012, New York City; and 2011, Jacksonville, Fla.

Background information

  • Nastia Liukin. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Liukin’s total of five medals tied the U.S. gymnastics record for most medals in one Olympic Games, held by Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Shannon Miller (1992). Liukin’s Olympic medals are: gold – all-around; silver – team, balance beam and uneven bars; and bronze – floor exercise. Liukin was the third of five U.S. women to win the Olympic all-around crown. She also won nine World medals in her career. Liukin has graced many magazine covers and appeared on various shows, including “Gossip Girl,” “Make It or Break It,” and the feature film, “Stick It.” Liukin was a contestant in the 2015 spring edition of “Dancing with the Stars” and was the grand marshal for the 2015 Indianapolis 500. She currently serves as a gymnastics analyst for NBC Sports. Liukin was coached by her father, Valeri, who has four Olympic medals from 1988 including two gold.

  • AT&T American Cup. The 2017 AT&T American Cup, a FIG World Cup event, is one of the most prestigious international invitational events and features an all-around format. The list of former champions comprises some of the sport’s best-known names, including Simone Biles, Jordyn Wieber, Nastia Liukin, Jonathan Horton, Bart Conner, Paul Hamm, Shawn Johnson, Shannon Miller, Carly Patterson, Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar.

  • Prudential Center. Prudential Center is a world-class sports and entertainment venue located in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Opened in October 2007, the state-of-the-art arena is the home of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) three-time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall University’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball program, and more than 200 concerts, family shows and special events each year. Ranked in the Top 10 nationally by Pollstar, Billboard and Venue’s Today, Prudential Center is recognized as one of the premier venues in the United States, and welcomes more than two million guests annually. For more information about Prudential Center, visit PruCenter.com and Facebook, and follow @PruCenter on Twitter.

  • USA Gymnastics. Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. Its mission is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in the sport. Its disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and Gymnastics for All (formerly known as group gymnastics). For more complete information, log on to www.usagym.org.

2017 Nastia Liukin Cup field
Listed alphabetically by state

Jaedyn Rucker, Mesa, Ariz./Desert Devils
Quinn Smith, Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Sunrays
Cassie Stevens, Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Sunrays

Nevaeh DeSouza, Fairfield, Calif./Dream Xtreme Gymnastics
Kennedy Quay, San Diego, Calif./SCEGA

Rylie Mundell, Parker, Colo./Colorado Gymnastics Institute

Mia Falcone, Eustis, Fla./Brandy Johnson’s
Teagan Torgerud, Atlantic Beach, Fla./Orlando Metro

Megan Skaggs, Marietta, Ga./Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta

Andrea Li, Aurora, Ill./Legacy Elite
Anastasia Webb, Morton Grove, Ill./IGI

Elizabeth Gantner, Indianapolis, Ind./Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center
Jacey Vore, Fishers, Ind./Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center

Carly Bauman, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics
Sophia Groth, West Des Moines, Iowa/Chow’s Gymnastics

Kai Rivers, Franklin, Mich./Twistars
Gabryel Wilson, Ypsilanti, Mich./Michigan Academy of Gymnastics

Abigail Mueller, Rochester, Minn./Classic Gymnastics

Lynnzee Brown, Raytown, Mo./GAGE

Cristal Isa, Henderson, Nev./Gymcats

New Jersey
Rachael Lukacs, Hillsborough, N.J./North Stars Gym Academy
Nicola St. Louis, Annandale, N.J./North Stars Gymnastics Academy

New York
Nicole Riccardi, East Northport, N.Y./Infiniti Elite

North Carolina
Rose Casali, Weddington, N.C./Southeastern
Lali Dekanoidze, Charlotte, N.C./Southeastern
Gabrielle Gallentine, Iron Station, N.C./Everest Gymnastics
Abby Heiskell, Waxhaw, N.C./Southeastern

Makarri Doggette, Pickerington, Ohio/Buckeye Gymnastics
Lillian Lippeatt, Mason, Ohio/Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy
Emma Pritchard, Ashville, Ohio/Gym X-Treme
Gillian Rutz, Lebanon, Ohio/Perfection Gymnastics School

Natalie Wojcik, Douglasville, Pa./Stallone Gymnastics

Abigail Brenner, Allen, Texas/Metroplex Gymnastics
Rachael Flam, Houston, Texas/Stars Gymnastics
Colbi Flory, Rockwall, Texas/Texas Dreams
Mikayla Magee, League City, Texas/Pearland Elite