Gymnasts' efforts worth the wait

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Gymnastics is not a sport that is mastered after one or two practices.

It takes time.

Just ask the five gymnasts at Gymstar Fun N Fit Gymnastics, who practiced for nearly two years before being able to compete.

Kayla Tomlin, 8, Jessica Prather, 10, Nastassija Voyich, 10, Megan Prather, 8, and Katie Rice, 8, have been practicing twice a week for two hours a day since Gymstar started almost two years ago.

This spring, they competed in two EAGLES competitions and qualified for the EAGLES state meet this weekend in Colorado Springs.

"I like the challenge (of gymnastics)," Jessica said.

EAGLES is a league started in Colorado with the focus on helping beginning gymnasts receive more attention. The acronym stands for Elementary Artistic Gymnastic League and Educational System. EAGLES hosts several "fun meets" for the beginner levels and offers competition at levels 4 and 5 and optional A and optional B. USA Gymnastics -- the governing body for gymnastics -- has gymnasts compete from level 3 to level 10.

Gymstar owner and coach Kelly Davidson said that EAGLES allows for younger gymnasts to compete earlier.

"With more gymnasts competing it generates more interest for us," she said. "The USAG is planning to open its competition to lower-level gymnasts but I don't know if Colorado will adopt it."

To qualify for the state meet, a gymnast must have a combined score of at least 32 in his or her overall routine. All five Gymstars qualified easily.

The best scores the rookie gymnasts earned in either the Steamboat Springs meet (May 28) and Grand Junction (June 3) were: Tomlin earned an overall 35.25, Jessica Prather earned an overall score of 35.15, Voyich earned a 34.6, Rice scored a 34.4 and Megan Prather had a 34.2.

"I was half and half nervous but not," Megan said. "The point is to have fun, and we did that."

Davidson said she would have another group of gymnasts move up to EAGLES next year.

"It's gratifying for me to have girls who started here get to the point where they can compete," Davidson said. "It lets me know I'm teaching the right things."

The higher-level Gymstar gymnasts have also been competing in EAGLES. Heather Jenkins scored a 37.2 overall and had a 9.55 on the balance beam. Jordan Porter earned a 34.15 overall with a 9.0 on vault and balance beam. Clara Tomlin qualified in the vault and beam with scores of 8.6

The Optional A gymnasts will compete on Friday and the Level 3 gymnasts will compete on Sunday.

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