EL DORADO — It was a showcase of strength, balance, flexibility and grace last weekend as All Star Gymnastics hosted the 2012 Acrobatic Gymnastics Regional Championships at Union Mine High. Acrobatic gymnastic teams from all over California converged on the Snake Pit, competing in the partner categories and skill levels.
Acro-gymnastics — short for acrobatic gymnastics — is a competitive partner sport that incorporates a number of elements into an acrobatic routine. Athletes perform with a partner or in groups to deliver a routine that showcases incredible strength, balance, flexibility, coordination and rhythm. Competitions are broken down into categories that group athletes into brackets based on age and skill levels ranging from 4-to-Senior Elite.
Routines are also broken down into three categories: balance, dynamic and combined. What type of routines performed by the gymnasts are decided by skill level. Performances are judged on a 30-point scale and judging is highly technical as one-hundredth of a point can mean the difference between first and third place.
In addition to being the stage for the region’s “best of the best,” the regional championships also served as a qualifying opportunity for the national championships, held this year in Detroit, Mich. All Star Gymnastics qualified their entire team as the local squad came away with a medley of awards and achievements to boast about.
Elisabeth Lewis, Tatiana “Ta” Dimugno and Katie Massey came away with a first place finish in the Level 8 Women’s Group 17-years-and-up age bracket, earning a combined score of 52.333 with their two routines, edging out the second-place team by a over one full point.
In the Level 8 Mixed Pair 17+ group, Alara Pearce and partner Nick Fitzgerald put forth an incredible effort en route to their second-place finish with a total score of 51.233 points — a mere .234 points out of first. The Pearce-Fitzgerald duo absolutely dominated in their dynamic routine, earning the only score above 26 in their entire category, but fell a hair shy of 25 points in their balance routine, creating the 1/5-point differential that prevented their gold medal.
“All of our kids have done absolutely phenomenal,” co-head coach Ashley Hansen, 24, said of her team. “They’ve been great, and we are very proud of all of them.”
Hansen elaborated on the growth her squad has seen this season, and expressed pride in the progress the All Star Gymnastics’ acro gymnastics team has made with the coaching of co-head coach Tina Frazier, 27, and assistant coach Megan Vaughan, 21.
“We focus on each set of skills by level,” Hansen said. “Depending on the level and ability of each athlete, we will work to improve on specific skills, whether it’s a dynamic skill or more of a balance skill, we work on each specific part of it. Practices are usually nice and focused that way.”
The Level 4-7 Pair Group of the Year, All Star’s Emma Fitzgerald and Jarrett Darrah took home gold for their 26.7 point combined routine, a brilliant performance that incorporated incredible holds by Darrah and fancy footwork by the young Fitzgerald. The duo ended up earning High Score of the Meet honors for their performance, along with their teammates Dainelle Nicolay and Danielle Fitzgerald who seized first in the Level 5 Mixed Pair for the 12-14 age bracket.
“I think one of the hardest moves for me is when I do a sort of round-off and (Jarrett) catches me,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re trying to get a 27 now, that’s our goal.”
In the Level 7 Women’s Pair for ages 12-14, Emily Massey and Summer Ward had two consistent routines, earning them a bronze on the day, while the Level 6 Mixed Pair in the 17+ group of Cassidy Riley and Connor Meggs earned gold alongside Level 6 Mixed Pair, 12-14 group teammates Amanda Vilas and Jack Pearce who also took first in their category.
All Star Gymnastics took home team honors in the Level 5 and 7 categories, scoring highest in both, while the trio of Lewis, Dimugno and Massey combined with the efforts of Pearce and Fitzgerald in the Level 8 bracket was good enough for a silver medal result. All Star Gymnastics placed fourth in the Level 6 team scoring as well, and a special honor was bestowed upon assistant coach Megan Vaughan as she was selected to receive the award of Region 1 Rookie Coach of the Year.
For All Star gym owners Michael and Andria Van Ry, hosting the regional championships may have been a daunting task, but both expressed extreme gratitude toward the supportive booster organization and all those who helped make the meet possible.
“This event has been a great success for us,” Andria said. “We could not have done it without the help of our boosters. They have been absolutely wonderful in helping make all of this happen, and we’re very happy and proud to have hosted the regionals here this year.”
Brandon Anicich can be contacted at email@example.com