Five youth gymnasts from Gillette qualified for regional meets at their respective competition levels at last month’s Wyoming state gymnastics meet in Cheyenne.
Chaylin Stephens and Ashley Rogge qualified for the Region 3 Level 8 regional meet in Estes Park, Colorado, and sisters Addison Doherty and Ariana Doherty qualified for the Region 3 Level 7 regional meet in Plano, Texas. Kendall Kennedy qualified for the Region 3 Level 6 regional meet but decided not to go, coach Terra Evans said.
Evans has owned the Gillette Elite Gymnastics Center for six years. Her club features gymnasts from several different age groups and levels of competition. Gymnastics are placed in different levels based on skill level with level 8 being the highest.
Stephens and Rogge already competed in the Level 8 regional meet earlier this month. Stephens finished 51st and Rogge finished 54 individually out of several hundred participants, Evans said.
“They did good,” Evans said. We’re always competing against the really big states in our region, so you’re competing against gyms from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. Considering our girls have to compete against those girls, I think they did great. ”
Rogge and Stephens finished second as a team at last month’s Wyoming state competition. Gymnasts qualify for regionals through the state competition and are scored based on overall performance in bars, beams, vault and floor events, Evans said.
Addison and Ariana will compete in the Level 7 regional meet next weekend. The competition will run Friday-Sunday in Texas. The sisters finished third at the state meet in Cheyenne.
Evans limits her athletes to nine hours per week in the gym but gymnasts from other states can practice all the way up to 30 hours per week. Evans plans to buy new equipment for her gym to teach her athletes skills to prepare them for regional competitions in the future.
Gymnastics was cut as an official junior high and high school sport after the 2010 season. Evans has not heard of any recent pushes to sanction the sport in schools again but said avenues still exist for gymnasts to be seen by college coaches in the recruiting world.
“Colleges start looking at you at levels 9 and 10,” Evans said. “It’s kind of the same route as baseball here. You send videos in to coaches and see what happens. ”
Interest in the sport usually dwindles around the junior high ages once kids realize the sport is not offered through the school. But gyms like Evans’ gives kids in the community the opportunity to pursue the sport through a different avenue outside of school.
“It’s really important to keep the sport going,” Evans said. “There is no high school or junior high so for us to compete with the bigger states we just need to find ways to keep these kids past junior high. We have girls staying longer and longer. The better we become, the more likely they will be willing to stick around. ”
Like any Wyoming sport, gymnastics requires plenty of travel. Evans took her team to competitions in North Dakota and Arizona this season.
“They always embrace the competition,” Evans said.