The 2016 Level 9 Eastern Nationals were held April 28-May 1 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Unfortunately our Media Team was not able to attend the competition, so we asked coaches, parents and athletes to send us videos, pictures, updates and for the All-Around Champions to fill out our Region 5 National Champions Q&A.
Lets meet graduating Senior Kendra Benak from Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan! Kendra was the 2016 Senior 8 Level 9 Eastern National All-Around & Uneven Bar Champion! Kendra will graduate from High School this June and head off to SEMO on a full gymnastics scholarship!
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! How does it feel to be the 2016 Level 9 Eastern National All-Around Champion
I feel Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored and Deeply Loved to be the 2016 Level 9 Senior Eastern National All-Around & Uneven Bars Champion!
All through warm ups I was relaxed and excited to be competing in my last JO National Championship Meet. Our rotation started on floor. I was a little off on my 1st tumbling pass, but the rest was solid, placing 4th. Moving onto vault, all of Region 5 coaches said what a great vault I had, taking 2nd place. I didn’t get nervous until bars when timed warm ups could been better, but I was determined and I did the best routine of my career for 1st place! 2016 Bars Champion! My coach said that I could not have done a better routine! I knew going into my last event, beam, that it would be make it or break it! Like in the past 2 previous years at Nationals if I would have stayed on beam I could have won, so I knew I
had to stay on beam, and I did! for a 6th place finish on beam and a 1st place All-Around finish!!!
What do you normally do between events to stay focused and read for the next event
I pray between events and I take one event at a time. I think of my key words for each skill for that event to stay focused and ready for the next event.
Tell us about the atmosphere of the meet compared to regular season meets you have been too.
The atmosphere of the meet is exciting! Being the only Level 9 at my gym I usually compete alone at regular meets, so it is nice to have team encouragement.
What is it like being part of Region 5 at Eastern Nationals?
This is my third year competing and being part of Region 5 Dream Team at the Level 9 Eastern Nationals. I have been blessed to lead the National Team the past 2 years by placing 1st at Regionals. I am amazed at how we come together to form this National Team with high fives and words of encouragement for us to do our best and I am also grateful that our Region 5 Team has won 1st Place Team for all 3 years!
How has your experience been here at Nationals? What have you been doing besides competing?
My experience at Nationals has been amazing! After arriving Wednesday to be here for team workouts on Thursday we have done low key activities; like shopping, visiting the Virginia Aquarium, the Cape Henry Lighthouse, explored the boardwalk, pier, beach and relaxed in our pool & hot tub at our hotel on the Ocean
When the meet is over what is or what was the first thing you did to celebrate your win?
The first thing I did to celebrate winning Nationals was I went swimming in the Ocean, after having a strawberry-banana Maui Wowi and then I relaxed in the hot tub!
Other than becoming National Champion, what was one highlight of the meet for you?
Anything crazy or funny happen during your competition?
I don’t know if it was crazy or funny, but we noticed the floor was crooked during warm ups, so I helped the Region 5 coaches straighten it!
How does Region 5 compare to the other Regions out on the competition floor? what sets Region 5 apart?
My experience from the past 3 Nationals as to what sets Region 5 apart is our ability to come together as a team and support each other. Coaches and teammates are always encouraging even if one person doesn’t do their best in an event. Region 5 is Strong, Solid & Dependable.
Who inspired you the most during your competition or day? What did they say to you? How did you get amped up and motivated to compete?
Well my family and I always pray together before every meet and then I usually pray with my coaches. Today my Coaches Jennifer and Betsey Van Deinse inspired me the most at the meet. Jennifer told me 3 things: stay calm, be steady and solid. And all I need is faith the size of a mustard seed to believe I could do it! My faith gets me through this sport. We all prayed that this would be the year that I would win Nationals! I give God all the praise and glory and His blessing fall down on me!
Check out Kendra’s All-Around Winning Routines here
For more Coverage from Level 9 Eastern Nationals Click Here