These Union County YMCA gymnasts earned honors during the recent national meet. Mary Calvert (left) was first on the floor exercise (9.375) and fifth on the vault (8.5) during Level 8 competition. She placed eighth all-around with a score of 67.5. Mallory Case (right) was second on the floor exercise (8.725), third on the bars (7.95), fourth on the vault (8.45), sixth on the balance beam (7.075) and sixth all-around (32.2), also in Level 8. Both earned Xcel Gold status.
The Union County YMCA gymnastics program has grown in numbers and success during the past 15 years.
A look at the program’s performances at the annual national championships attests to that.
The YMCA team first began competing at the nationals in recent memory in 2004, shortly after Amber Calvert took over as the head coach.
“I began teaching a single recreational class at the YMCA in January of 2003,” said Calvert. “I became the head coach in July of 2004 and the first meet I ever coached was at the 2004 YMCA Nationals in Hatboro, PA.”
That first season at the nationals saw a single local gymnast compete.
The numbers grew by a slight margin over the next two seasons when the event was held respectively in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Hanover, Pa.
There was a five-year break in which no local gymnast competed in the nationals.
From 2011 on, however, many Union County athletes have competed in the meet that has been held twice in Toledo and in other states such as Georgia, Florida, Kansas and California.
During the past eight years, local gymnasts have earned more than 100 medals and several top three places.
Gymnasts who have placed in the top three at the nationals during that time are as follows:
-Level 4: Mary Calvert, second, vault; Level 5: Ean See, third, balance beam; Emily Haundenschield, first on bars, floor exercise and all-around, third on beam; and Emma Romine, first, beam.
-Level 4: Jacquelyn Witt, third on bars and vault; Brooklyn Weller, third, vault; Level 5: Olivia Zimmerman, first, floor.
-Level 5: Carley LaDu, first, floor.
-Level 7: M. Calvert, second, beam.
-Level 4: Bella Grimm, third, vault; and Mallory Case, second beam and floor, Level Xcel Gold status.
-Level 3: Ariana Alejo, third, beam.
-Level 3: Lili Kravencko, first, bars, second, floor; Level 4: Leah Gross, first bars; Monica Lamb, second vault; Sara Weigand, second, bars; Level 6: Lily Eck, second beam and floor; Level 8: M. Calvert, first floor, qualified for Level 8 finals and named Xcel honors; and Case, second, floor and third, bars, Xcel honors.
Amber Calvert believes gymnastics is a growing sport in Union County.
“I think it will continue to grow with the 2020 Olympics next fall,” she said. “It’s an exciting sport that takes a lot of time and commitment.
“However, we try to balance this and make it fun, while allowing our girls to participate in other activities such as cheerleading, track and field, softball, 4-H and Girls Scouts.
“The girls continue to promote the sport through their enthusiasm,” said Calvert. “We work hard, but have fun in the process.”
The YMCA program has been a solid feeder system for the Marysville High School team, which Calvert also coaches.
“Of the 40 girls who have gone through our YMCA program since I’ve been coach, 33 have gone on to compete for the high school team,” she said.
The coach also believes there is a good future for the sport, both on the YMCA and MHS levels.
“Gymnastics is a sport that once you have a love for it, that love never goes away,” said Calvert. “We want to share our own love of the sport with others in the community.
“My favorite time of year is July when we host a recreational camp,” she said. “During the camp, the girls on the competitive team come in and serve as junior camp counselors. They get to show the campers first-hand the skills, while sharing their enthusiasm for the sport. “
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