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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Five spots. Five plane tickets to Rio. Thats whats up for the ta
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Five spots. Five plane tickets to Rio. Thats whats up for the taking at the U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials in San Jose this weekend. From afar, thats the story, the tension.But up close, the reality is far less dramatic.Entering this weekends competition, which began Friday night at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, and continues Sunday evening, four of those five spots were considered to be all but locked up by three-time world champion Simone Biles, 2012 Olympic floor champ Aly Raisman, reigning Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas and 16-year-old newcomer Laurie Hernandez.That leaves one spot for an athlete who can contribute a high-scoring bar routine -- the weakest event for the collective four women named above -- during the team competition in Rio. And because the team selection is based on the discretion of national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and a selection committee, a gymnast doesnt need to place in the top five at trials in order to make the team. Instead, the final decision is based on more intangible criteria that includes past results, consistency in practice, and how the athlete fits into the team dynamic.That fifth and final spot will likely go to one of two women: Madison Kocian of Plano, Texas, the 2015 co-world champion on bars, and Ashton Locklear, the bars champion at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships and 2016 U.S. national champion in that event.At the start of Fridays competition, the potential for either gymnast to make the team seemed almost identical. Both women own recent titles on the apparatus at international competitions and consistently put up the highest scores on bars of any current American gymnasts. Either would give a strong U.S. team an even greater advantage to win gold in Rio.In San Jose, Locklear was the first of the two women to compete on bars, in the second rotation, and she made a strong statement to the selection committee that her name should be called Sunday night. Her score of 15.750, the best of the night until that point, was higher than her winning score at nationals in June, higher than her score at Pac Rims, and higher than Kocians winning score at the World Championships.Im really confident, Locklear said. Ive done so well at past competitions and won so many times, and I feel like Im building a good record for myself.If shes named to the team, Locklear would be the first Native American gymnast to compete for the U.S. at the Olympics. A member of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest in North Carolina, Locklear wears a Lumbee pin on the strap of her competition bag and carries a dream catcher with her that was given to her by a member of the tribe.Its a great feeling knowing theyre cheering for me back home, Locklear said. Its very unique and it means the world to me that I have their support.Locklears score set the bar in San Jose. But Kocian says she didnt notice.I didnt see [Locklears] score before I competed, Kocian said. I try to focus on myself. Thats all you can control. What she does doesnt affect what I can do. If I let my mind wander to anyone else, you dont have 100 percent focus on yourself, and thats when you start making mistakes.In the next rotation, as Locklear prepared to mount the balance beam, the only other event in which she competes, Kocian completed her bar routine and was also awarded 15.750. It was a tie. At least in the literal sense.The scores dont really matter to the selection committee right now, Kocian said. Its what you have been doing in practice throughout the week and your consistency. After tonight, my confidence has increased.Soon after the crowd celebrated Kocians score, Locklear fell from the beam.I dont think I fell once this week in training, so its frustrating coming into a competition like this and falling, Locklear said. I have to turn the page. Beam is not my specialty, and that is not what they are looking at me for. I showed them that I have a good bars routine, and Ive had good bars in the past. They know I have a good record.But so too, does Kocian, who backed up her impressive bar routine with solid performances in each of the other three rotations and finished sixth in the all-around. Kocian also competes a bar routine with a higher difficulty score than Locklears, which leaves more room for mistakes -- and for improvement.They tied on bars, but [Kocian] had some other routines that could be useful in a team situation, Karolyi said. Right now, she is placing well in my eyes.Still, Locklear believes if the selection committee focuses not on her fall on beam -- where she is unlikely to be asked to contribute in Rio -- but only on her strength and consistency on bars, she has a legitimate shot at the final spot.Its the little things, she says. There were a couple handstands I missed, and my dismount might have been a little low. I could have done better.As the Lumbee Tribe watches from North Carolina, shell have one final opportunity to do so on Sunday. Kendall Fuller Super Bowl Jersey . 9. Price, heading to the 2014 Olympics for Canada, was named the First Star after posting wins in three starts with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .971 save percentage. Mecole Hardman Super Bowl Jersey . -- Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings were back at practice for the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday despite being hampered by hamstring injuries. . Any real chance at payback wont come until the playoff. Still, Pittsburgh knows its taut 3-2 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night is a pretty good place to start laying the groundwork. "They are a very good defensive team," Penguins forward Brandon Sutter said. Christian Okoye Super Bowl Jersey . Miller finished in two minutes, 6.09 seconds, one day before the first medal race on the Alpine schedule. The 36-year-old American also turned in the top time in Thursdays opening training session. Derrick Nnadi Super Bowl Jersey .Y. - Jerome Samson scored once in regulation and again in the shootout as the St. FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots needed a big play, and Tom Brady delivered -- again.Brady connected with Chris Hogan for a 79-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to help the Patriots to a 30-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the fourth NFL quarterback with at least 450 career touchdown passes. He also threw just his second interception of the season.LeGarrette Blount rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries, passing 1,000 yards for the first time since his rookie season with Tampa Bay in 2010.The Patriots (11-2) have won four straight games and eight of their last nine as they continue to inch toward their eighth straight AFC East title.It was a big game for us, Brady said. You play at home in December on Monday night against a great defense, it was important for us to come out and play well. We knew it was gonna be a 60-minute game.The Ravens (7-6) had won two in a row. They now face a challenging route to the playoffs with two of their last three on the road.Joe Flacco did his best to keep Baltimore in the game, finishing 37 of 52 for 324 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The 37 completions set a franchise record.The Patriots led 23-3 before the Ravens turned back-to-back New England fumbles on special teams into touchdowns.New England still had a 23-17 lead in the fourth quarter when the Ravens drove to the Patriots 12 before Flacco was sacked by Rob Ninkovich, forcing Baltimore to settle for a field goal.The Ravens entered the week with the NFLs top-ranked defense, giving up just 296.1 yards per game. But the Patriots defense shined early on, limiting the Ravens to just three points and 142 yards in the first half.The Ravens rushed only four times for 7 yards in the opening 30 minutes, and were just 3 for 8 on third downs.FUMBLED AWAYThe Patriots appeared to be in control after Martellus Bennetts 19-yard touchdown reception made it 23-3 with 8:45 to play in the third. But Cyrus Jones couldnt get out of the way of Sam Kochs 53-yard punt. It brushed off his foot as it fell to the tuurf and was picked up by Chris Moore on New Englands 3.dddddddddddd The Ravens scored two plays later.The Patriots then gave Baltimore another gift on the ensuing kickoff when returner Matt Slater lost the ball after a hit by Patrick Onwuasor. Shareece Wright recovered for the Ravens, and Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Dixon.I think there were some plays I wish we all could have had back, Brady said. But theyre a competitive team. They force you into some errors. It was great to finish the game with the ball in our hands. We always love doing that.QUOTABLEIts something that we preach about, through the whole OTAs, camp, preseason and all that. We want to eliminate big plays. We had a bust, Ravens linebacker Zach Orr said of Bradys touchdown to Hogan. If you miss an assignment, Tom Brady and those guys will exploit that to the max.BLOCKEDPatriots linebacker Shea McClellin showed off his athleticism in the first quarter by hurdling the Ravens line and then blocking Justin Tuckers 34-yard field goal attempt. It was part of a big first half for McClellin, who was also involved in five total tackles in the opening 30 minutes.SCORING DEFENSENew Englands defense was the first unit to get on the scoreboard. After Ryan Allens punt was downed on the 1, Dixon was swarmed in the end zone and brought down by Malcolm Butler for a safety.It was the Patriots third safety of the season -- a franchise record. They also got one on Oct. 9 against Cleveland when Browns quarterback Cody Kessler fumbled the ball out of the end zone and the following week when Donta Hightower sacked Cincinnatis Andy Dalton in the end zone.INJURIESRavens: CB Jimmy Smith left in the first quarter with an ankle injury.UP NEXTRavens: Host the Eagles Sunday in their final home game of the regular season.Patriots: Play two of their final three on the road, beginning Sunday with a trip to Denver.---For more NFL coverage: and ' ' '

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