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Juneau's gymnasts soar at 2012 state championships

Posted: March 29, 2012 - 11:12pm
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Naomi Welling competes on the uneven bars during the recent 2012 State Gymnastics Championships at the Wess Fago Sports Arena in Anchorage.
Naomi Welling competes on the uneven bars during the recent 2012 State Gymnastics Championships at the Wess Fago Sports Arena in Anchorage.

The Southeast Alaska Gymnastics Academy (SAGA) recently sent a strong contingent of Juneau athletes to compete at the 2012 State Gymnastics Championship meet.

Coached by Beth Landvatter and Alexis Howard the gymnasts had earned a qualifying score at a USA Gymnastics sanctioned meet, in order to advance to State. Juneau’s qualifying meet was held last month.

The State Championships for girls were held March 23-24 at the Wells Fargo Sports Arena, Anchorage, and for boys March 16-17 at Denali Gymnastics Academy, Wasilla.

The girls competed in compulsory levels 3-6, and the team’s most advanced participant, Naomi Welling, competed in the optional category, at level 7 and after the meet had advanced to a level 8. College gymnasts are considered level 10 and Olympic competitors are level 10 elite.

Several of the Juneau gymnasts made multiple trips to the podium for medals against teams that were larger in size.

At Level 3, Abigail Booten took 3rd in Vault and 4th in the all-around; Ruchi Haight placed 6th in the all-around, Jr. B division.

In the Sr. A division, Sage Walker took 2nd place in the all-around, 2nd on Beam and 3rd on Floor, while Keelyn McDonald placed 4th in the all-around, 2nd on Floor and Uneven bars.

In the Sr. B division, Karmen Funderburk disrupted an Anchorage sweep with her 3rd place finish in the all-around, 2nd place Beam and 3rd place Bars and Floor.

At Level 4, Sydney Strong took first on Beam and Floor, and in the all-around in Jr. A division. Strong also took 2nd in Vault and 3rd on the Uneven bars, garnering her the most individual medals for the Juneau team; Rayna Gehring placed 6th in the all-around in the Jr. B division; and Megan Lujan placed 4th in the all-around in the Jr. C division.

At Level 5, Molly Brocious had a 7th place finish in the all-around Jr. A division; Cadence Campbell finished 8th in the all- around for Jr. B; Julianna Kawakami finished 4th in Sr. A division all-around; Renee Winn won silver on Bars and took 5th in the all-around in Sr. B; and Anna Whisenant finished 7th in Sr. D.

At Level 6, Lena Kawakami took 3rd on Vault and placed 9th in the all-around in Level 6, Sr. A division.

At Level 7, Naomi Welling had a successful meet as Juneau’s sole “optional” competitor, with podium finishes on Bars (3rd), Beam (2nd), and Floor (3rd). Welling took 3rd in the all-around in Sr. A division. Welling has qualified to participate at a regional championship later this year in either Washington or Idaho.

Another notable achievement at the girls’ meet was a 3rd place Team finish in Level 3

Most of the Juneau gymnasts scored high enough to pass to the next level, which means new, more advanced skills and routines in the future.

The boys’ meet also yielded impressive results for Juneau.

Kaden Harris took 2nd place in the all-around, as well as 1st place on Floor and High Bar. Harris’ scores qualified him to advance to Regionals in Boise, Idaho next month as well.

Crispin Campbell placed 2nd in the all-around, with a win on Vault; and Ammon Kawakami took 3rd on Vaults and finished 8th in the all-around.

“I’m so proud of all the kids,” SAGA coach Beth Landvatter said. “They have worked hard this season and I could see so much progress at the meet. The parent group did an excellent job in their support role organizing travel which made it so much easier for me to concentrate on coaching.”

The Juneau gymnastic athletes practice at least 12 hour per week, four days per week, and 12 months a year.

The team will turn its focus to preparing for a May meet against the Whitehorse. The Juneau gymnastics team will also perform in the Thunder Mountain High School dance team’s show tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m.

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