The Liberty County YMCA gymnastic team competed in its first official meet Oct. 30 at Summit Gymnastics in Savannah and coach Karissa Thomas said the team accomplished an amazing feat by placing third in a six-team field.
Thomas said her gymnasts worked through their jitters by participating in an Oct. 16 mock meet offered by coach Vanessa Kuhns from Leaps and Bounds Gymnastics in Jesup."It was such a great experience for them," Thomas said. "It helped so much to prepare them for what a real meet would be like and it gave them some practice at learning how to control their nerves and support their teammates."
At Saturday’s real meet, the girls hit the uneven bars and later competed in the beam, floor routines and finished up with the vault. Thomas said her team worked together to help shake off the nerves during tense moments.
"They pulled together as a team and really encouraged each other," she said. "Sometimes routines don’t go as you plan … Gymnastics isn’t like other sports where you lose a game and you have days to practice again and make changes before you compete again. At a gymnastics meet, you compete on one event and then 10 minutes later you have to compete again on another event. You have a very short amount of time to pull yourself back together after a skill or routine doesn’t go the way you had in mind. I am so proud of the girls for pulling together and being so encouraging and supportive to each other."
Gymnasts Jada Branch and Brianna Austin fared especially well and also provided leadership, Thomas said.
"Jada had an awesome meet, scoring a 9.15 on vault, an 8.8 on bars, an 8.55 on beam and a 9.0 on floor, earning a second place finish all around at 35.5," Thomas said. "Brianna also was stellar with a 9.125 on vault and a 33.075 all around. Jada and Bri are the oldest girls on team and have really taken the lead in being the big supporters and really lead the way in being encouraging and supportive teammates."
The coach said Makeida Pickens excelled on the vault, scoring an 8.95; Madison Steyer scored an 8.8 on the vault, 8.15 on the bars and an 8.45 on the floor routine. Thomas said Steyer jumped for joy after finishing her beam routine without a fall.
Nicole Parrish scored an 8.8 on the vault and an 8.6 on floor. Hailey Montes took third place on the vault in her age group with an 8.925.
"(Montes) was pretty nervous, but she really pulled it together and finished the day with a big smile on her face," Thomas said.
The coach said there was a handstand contest after the meet with more than 30 girls competing at once.
"Soon after the announcer said ‘go,’ many girls were already down again, but there was a clump of Liberty Gymnastics red, white and blue still standing," she said. "In the end, Jada and Nicole both won two different handstand contests. I was so proud. Especially after remembering what their handstands looked like three months ago. The girls on Liberty Gymnastics team have grown so much. They have become great gymnasts and amazing teammates and I am so proud of them."
For more information on the Liberty County YMCA Gymnastics team, call the YMCA at 368-9622, stop in the front office at 201 Mary Lou Drive, Hinesville, GA 31313 to pick up a brochure or go to www.libertygymnastics.webs.com.