Several gymnastics athletes from the DeSoto County area will be in competition at the USA Gymnastics regional level in the next few weeks.
They are part of the ConXion Gym in Hernando and Director of Gym Operations Emily Lay said the 20 gymnasts set to compete for regional honors marks a vast improvement from last year.
“This is the largest group that ConXion has ever taken to regionals,” said Lay. “We jumped from one last year to all of the athletes we have this year. The athletes are talented but we have a great coaching staff here at ConXion. I came on here this year and we changed the direction of the program, so it has done well.”
The competitors compete at different levels but are not necessarily determined by age level. ConXion athletes qualified in Levels 7, 8, and XCEL. Levels 7 and 8 will compete in Chattanooga, Tennessee between April 26-28 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. XCEL qualifiers will compete in their regional meet at Hickory, North Carolina May 3-5 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center.
“They qualified at their state competition earlier in March,” Lay said. “The top all-around athletes in the vault, beam, bar, and floor exercise combine all of their scores to get an all-around score. The top all-around of a certain percentage got to go to regionals. Regardless of age group, they had to be the top athletes in their level.”
Much like you see on television at the Olympics, these athletes had to show excellence in their performances to score high. Lay said there are several things judges look for in each event.
“They have to have perfect form,” she said. “They have to have straight legs, pointed toes, they have to have straight elbows when they do a floor routine, they have to draw you in, have good artistry, they have to tumble high and stick their landings. It’s all of those things that you see in gymnastics.”
ConXion athletes who will be competing at regionals include Chloe Williamson, Peyton Corbin, Riley Garrison, Nakayela Hammond, Carrie Grace Rowe, Alana McGowan, Sage McCallum, Zoey Campbell, Ayden Claire Lehman, Emilynn Wiersma, Maddy Grissom, Emma Mokry, Eva McElhaney, Elissa Speck, Kacy Rafnson, Avery Harris, Sarah Reber, Haley Wright, Catherine Clark, and Makayla Todd.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.