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Rec Sports Spotlight: Local gymnasts excel at states

The weekend of March 25-26 was an important one for a group of local girls who compete for Westminster-based Carroll Gymnastics. The young gymnasts traveled to Waldorf for their most important meet of the year, the Maryland-USA Gymnastics Level 6/7 state championships.

Hunter Broman, at Level 6, had the best performance of a gymnastics career that began when she was two. The 14 year-old youngster finished second in the state in her age group. The most advanced gymnast of the local contingent, 13 year-old Kyra Martindale, finished fourth in her group at Level 7.

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Several other Level 6 members of the local gymnastics travel troupe also finished well up in their respective age groups, each of which numbered about 20.

"They all came through in the end. They shined. As a group, they did very well," Carroll Gymnastics Director Cathy Phillips said.

Girls' gymnastics has 10 levels. The gymnast must master more and more skills and movements as she reaches successively higher levels. Wendy Bloom, who coaches Carroll Gymnastics' Levels 6/7 teams, liked her girls' chances at the upcoming states from the very beginning.

Her girls were all veterans - they had competed and succeeded in gymnastics meets this year, including years past. They were used to the competition. In addition, most of them had been to state championships at least several times and they were used to the pressures at that level.

Knowing her athletes had both the talent and experience, Bloom felt that her most important job was getting her girls to be calm and to focus on their routines.

"I told them to relax and do exactly what they do in our own gym at home," Bloom said. "I said that this meet was being held in a friendly gym that was a lot like ours, small and intimate. This was a lot like a local meet."

Bloom noted that while Broman had been a consistent performer this year, she has struggled on the bars as long as Bloom has coached her.

However, the youngster didn't struggle this time. She scored an 8.95 on the bars to finish second in her group in that phase of her routine which also included vaulting, floor exercises and moves on the balance beam. She was second in her group with her score of 9.30 on the beam.

Her final all around score of the year was her second place 36.52.

The Level 6 group finished 17th out of 30 teams present and Bloom, who has coached for five years, said it's about usual for those girls.

Martindale, the only Carroll Gymnastics Level 7 competitor to go, had already done very well this season and Bloom said she placed in the top three in every meet this year.

States would be no exception.

At Waldorf, the 13 year-old had an outstanding 9.225 on the bars and 9.0 on floor exercises en route to her fourth place 36.175 all around. Bloom explained that 12-year-old Ryan Byrnes, who was fifth in her Level 6 age group, had been a top five finisher in a number of her meets this season.

"She has worked hard all year, and she has been very consistent," Bloom said.

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Rachel Herman took sixth place in her Level 6 group. The Manchester Valley junior has risen quickly in the sport. She has competed less than two years but was able to finish ahead of many who had worked longer. Phillips said she is very impressed with Herman's progress in such a short period of time.

"She didn't even have a full year at Level 5 before moving up," Phillips said. "She has worked very hard, and you can see the love for the sport the girl has."

Tara Hornung was sixth in her Level 6 age group at Waldorf, but had to fight sickness to get there in the first place. Hornung struggled through her routine a bit as she suffered a few miscues, but she didn't let that affect her performance, Bloom added.

"Tara came to practice all week even though she was sick," Bloom said. "She was sick the night before and came to the meet, anyway and she had to be in Waldorf eight in the morning."

Cassie Gilden and Hannah Shipton also competed at Level 6. Carroll Gymnastics also fields competitive gymnastics teams at Levels 3 and 4.

The state championships for Level 3 are April 22-23 and Level 4 competes for state championships April 29-30.

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