Gymnasts flip into Nationals
May 22, 2012 • jenna roach, bear facts sports writer
Filed under Sports
Two students back-flipped and tumbled their way to earning a chance to compete in this month’s national competition.
Sarah Townsend, senior, and Noelle Harada, sophomore, participated in Nationals for girls’ gymnastics, which took place in Virginia on May 9 through May 12.
This was Townsend’s fourth Nationals meet and Harada’s second. Townsend practices at Legacy Elite in Carol Stream, and Harada practices at Libertyville Gymnastics Academy. They both represented region five, which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio.
“[Nationals] was really fun. I got along with the girls well, and the meet was really fun . . . It was my last [Nationals] so I just wanted to enjoy it . . . I made a lot of good memories,” Townsend said.
Harada earned a 36.025 all around score at Nationals and Townsend earned a 37.0. Region five as a whole earned second out of eighth place at the meet.
Townsend and Harada had to earn a 32 out of a possible 40 points at any USA Gymnastics sanctioned meet to qualify for State, and then a 34 at State to qualify for Regionals. Townsend and Harada each earned sixth place in their respective categories at Regionals. The top six girls from each category at Regionals made it to Nationals. They each had to compete on the vault, beam, bars, and floor in each meet.
“Regionals was definitely the most stressful meet of the year because so much was at stake for making Nationals and you always want to do your best and you don’t want to mess up or fall because you put so much effort and training into making it to Nationals. It’s pretty stressful, but I perform well under stress, so it all turned out pretty good,” Townsend said.
Although the competitive nature of Nationals was an important part of the trip, there were more factors that made the trip memorable, according to the girls.
“[Nationals] was very fun because we roomed with the other girls so you got to know the girls a lot more. You hung out with them, and at the meet everybody cheered for each other… I feel like region five is really into teamwork and team bonding . . . It was really a fun experience,” Harada said.
Although Nationals is an honor, the girls said earning a trip there was hard work. Townsend and Harada practiced an average of four hours a day, five to six days a week for their entire season. However, Townsend appreciates how prepared the practice has made her.
“[Competing] went pretty well. I made one small mistake [on beam], but I did really good on the other three events . . . This was the best I’ve done out of the four years that I’ve gone [to Nationals],” Townsend said.
Harada agreed that practice paid off for her because she has advanced from an alternate last year to being on the team this year.
“Last year when I was at Nationals I was the first alternate. I didn’t even compete at Nationals; I competed in the NIT meet, which is like Nationals for alternates. I didn’t even compete on bars last year though . . . My performance this year shows me that I’ve improved a lot,” Harada said.
After Nationals is over, Harada will continue gymnastics at Libertyville Gymnastics Center, and Townsend earned a half-ride scholarship to Iowa State for next year.
“[Nationals] was bittersweet,” Townsend said. “I was sad that it was my last meet, but I’m excited to go off to college and start a new part of my life. ”
Nationals is not the only way LZ students succeeds at gymnastics. Natalie Amadio, senior, earned a full-ride scholarship to Northern Illinois University for gymnastics.
“I think NIU is going to be really fun. All the girls [on the gymnastics team] seem really close. And since our school doesn’t have a [gymnastics] team I’ll be able to do gymnastics for the school that I’m going to, which will be nice,” Amadio said.
Amadio currently practices at Libertyville Gymnastics Academy. She talked to the Illinois State University coach, the Eastern Michigan coach, and the Southern Utah coach in addition to the NIU coach about scholarships. She was also considering being a walk-on at either Michigan or Iowa, but she liked NIU the best.
“I met with the coach a few times and I really liked him because he reminds me of the coach that I have now,” Amadio said. “And I met all the girls on the team and they were all really nice to me. And I liked the campus. So when he offered me the scholarship, I just accepted it.”