In the women’s event, Edmunds leads after the short program, with Gold in second place and Wagner in fourth at St. Paul, Minn.
The U.S. will send three women to the World Championships in Boston in March, with the team named after the free skate and only the U.S. champion guaranteed a spot.
Edmunds, the youngest American competitor at the Sochi Olympics across all sports at age 15, seeks her first national title. Gold eyes her second and Wagner her fourth.
Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea were the surprise top performers in the pairs short program Thursday, topping defending champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim.
In the short dance, favorites Madison Chock and Evan Bates took a slim lead over Olympic teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani.