SAGA gymnasts garnish 62 medals at state championships

Whisenant, Gehring and Booton win all-around distinction

Juneau’s Southeast Alaska Gymnastics Academy (SAGA) took 22 athletes, ages 6-15, to the 2013 Alaska State Gymnastics Championships, held March 22-23 at Chugiak High School, in Eagle River.


Over two hundred gymnasts from seven other gyms around the state competed in the two-day competition. The SAGA girls’ team totaled 62 individual medals: 16 gold, 26 silver, and 20 bronze.

SAGA gymnasts Anna Whisenant, Bridget Gehring and Abigail Booton won all-around championships for their respective age divisions. All-around competition is comprised of four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise.

Whisenant, 15, competed at compulsory level 6; winning gold for the Sr. 13B+ division with a score of 35.5. Whisenant won gold medals on the uneven bars and floor exercise, and a silver medal on balance beam and received special recognition from the judges for one of her advanced skills.

Gehring won her division (Sr. 11+), competing at level 3, with an all-around score of 37.3, with gold medals on beam and floor. Gehring just outscored teammate Audrey Welling, who took the silver in the same division, scoring 36.9.

Booton, level 3, won the 8 year-old division, with four gold medals on vault, beam, and in the all-around, and a tie for first on uneven bars, with teammate Kaidence Bernaldo. Booton’s scored 36.825 and silver medalist Bernaldo a 36.45.

Head Coach, Alexis Howard, says of the meet, “We are very proud that so many of our girls finished on the podium in the all-around,” SAGA head coach Alexis Howard said. “They won medals in a lot of individual events and that is an impressive accomplishment, too, but to put up four clean, strong, routines and place in the all-around in a talented field is a nice reward for the many hours these kids spend training in the gym.”

Seven other SAGA gymnasts landed on the podium for the all-around: Kate Debuse and Lillian Bernaldo took silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the Jr. 9-10 division for level 3; Kara Strong won silver for 6-7 year-olds, also at level 3. In the level 4 meet, Karmen Funderburk won silver in her Sr. 11B division in level 4, while Jeanne Lin Muller garnered a bronze in the Sr. 12+ division. Competing at level 5, in the 8 year-old division, Sydney Strong and Molly Brocious captured silver and bronze, respectively, and Megan Lujan won bronze in the 9 year-old division.

“We were slightly concerned we would have to pay over-weight baggage fees, coming back with all those medals,” SAGA coach Beth Landvatter said. “But in all seriousness, the team did extremely well. The other gyms around the state do not see our girls very often, so it is nice that we could show up and compete at such a high level.”

The SAGA gymnasts will travel to the Alaska-Yukon Invitational meet at Polarettes Gymnastics Club in Whitehorse, Yukon, on April 20. SAGA will also host a meet in May.

Following are the All Around scores for SAGA gymnasts:

Level 3 - Kara Strong (age 6-7) 32.525; Abigail Booton (age 8) 36.825; Kaidence Bernaldo (age 8) 36.45; Solveig Wolter (age 8) 33.05; Ruchi Haight (age 8) 31.45; Kate DeBuse (age 9-10) 35.5; Lillian Bernaldo (age 9-10) 35.25; Bridget Gehring (age 11+) 37.3; Audrey Welling (age 11+) 36.9.

Level 4 - Keelyn McDonald (age 9c) 34.45; Karmen Funderburk (age 11B) 34.975; Jeanne Lin Muller (age 12+) 34.5.

Level 5 - Sydney Strong (age 8) 35.175; Molly Brocious (age 8) 34.625; Megan Lujan (age 9) 34.425; Rayna Gehring (age 9) 32.35; Madeline Handley (age 13B+) 31.65.

Level 6 - Cadence Campbell (age 10B) 32.75; Julianna Kawakami (age 11) 30.825; Reneé Urriuta-Winn (age 12-13A) 30.575; Anna Whisenant (age 13B+) 35.5.

Level 7 - Lena Kawakami (age 13-14) 31.65.

Competing teams included SAGA, Arctic Gymnastics Center (Anchorage), Denali Gymnastics (Wasilla), Gynastics Incorportated (Fairbanks), Excel Gymnastics (Palmer), Anchorage Gymnastics Association (ANCH.), River City Cheer and Gymnastics (Soldotna), and Ketchikan Gymnastics Club (KTN).

Team points:

Level 3- AGA 112.325, SAGA 111.925; Level 4 - AGC 112.75, EG 111, GI 109.325, AGA 108.45, DGA 105.3, SAGA 103.925; Level 5 - AGC 112.575, EG 107.75, DGA 107.675, GI 107.525, SAGA 104.625, AGA 100.75; Level 6 - DGA 108.2, AGC 107.1, GI 106.925, AGA 105.225, EG 104.9, SAGA 99.75; Level 7 - AGC 110.9, DGA 109.775, AGA 108.25, GI 107.025, EG 103.425; Level 8 - DGA 108.2, AGA 105.225, GI 104.5; Level 9 - AGA 103.575; Level 10 - no team comp.


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