Every year during the Championship Season I put together a few different Top 10 Lists to sum up the weekend. This weekend was the first stop on the road to Nationals (Easterns & JO), the Michigan State Meet is always a must see event with high flying gymnastics, beautifully choreographed routines, awesome “Level 10 Hair” and of course a crowd to rival any football game. So, after spending all day at the Level 9/10 Sessions of the 2016 Michigan State Meet, I have compiled my Top 10 Highlights list below. Please enjoy!
Oakland Gymnastics always makes every meet feel like a football game, they are always yelling, cheering, waiving signs and pom pons in the air. The effort is usually led by Region 5 super fan Dyan Ali, you can’t miss her in the crowd cheering, waiving her pom pons and leading the “We are OAKLAND cheer”. Another one of my favorite Oakland traditions is the senior fatheads that the parents make for their graduating seniors, they have done this for a few years now and it is fun to see them in the crowd and they are an awesome keepsake for the girls.
9. Meet Hosts and Venue
When it comes to putting on the perfect state meet, the venue and the host gym are very important. In my 20+ years of gymnastics I have been to a lot of state meets and I have defiantly seen some great venues and some not so great venues. This years state meet was hosted by Midland Gymnastics at Northwood University in Midland, this is one of my favorite places to have attend a meet. The Hatch Student Center is very bright, very spacious and very convenient. The rest rooms are easily accessible, there is plenty of parking, a concession stand for patrons and of course plenty of viewing space. The MGTC staff and parent volunteers also did an amazing job at making sure the meet ran smoothly and efficiently, there was only one minor glitch in the day, but that was not the fault of the staff or venue technology is to blame. The parents were also very friendly and knowlegdable at the jobs they were assigned too. So, thank you MGTC for putting on a great meet as usual!
8. Water’s Edge Leotards
I wanted to bring some attention to Water’s Edge’s Leotards, they are by far my favorite leotard I have seen all season. However, they are not eligible for my Top 10 Favorite Leo’s of Region 5 because they do not have any competing Level 10s to represent them at Regionals. So, I decided to add them to this list because everyone needs to see these amazing leo’s! They are absolutely stunning and defiantly different, I love the ombre body and all of the jewels. This leo is also perfectly fitting for Water’s Edge, because when you look at it it reminds you of being by the water.
7. Grace Kaiding’s Floor Tumbling, Dominique Militello’s Dance & Anne Maxim’s Vault
Star’s & Stripes Never disappoints in the tumbling department, these kids from Clarkston can tumble! Grace Kaiding’s floor routine was absolutely stunning with her super high tumbling passes to stuck landings and her impressive jumps, after watching this routine I immediately new she needed to go on this list! You can defiantly see why she is the 2016 Floor State Champion. Video
Dominique Militello of Bay Valley Academy has one of the most stunningly beautiful floor dance I have ever seen in my life. Dom embraces this sassy piece of music and shows off her incredible dance ability. I truly have an uncomfortable obsession with this routine, (good thing I personally know Dom or that would be weird). Video
Anne Maxim from Olympia has always been one of my favorites to watch especially on vault. Anne has one of the most unique vaults being performed at Level 10, while most girls chose the Yurchenko entry vaults, Anne does a Tsuck entry, onto the table with a layout half off, also known as the Phelps (Video). Anne performs this vault almost better than its creator, 1996 Olympic Team Gold Medalist and Region 5 Alum Jaycie Phelps, it is refreshing to see such a unique vault done at this level of competition and done extremely well. Anne’s Vault Video
6. GTC Level 9s Doubles Backs on Floor
GTC has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years, but they are now reemerging as a powerhouse level 9 team. The girls from GTC dominate the floor with their large amount of double backs. Not many level 9s in general are throwing double backs on the floor in competition, but GTC has a handful of girls performing them and performing them super well. They make this list because I have not seen a team with so many doubles on floor at level 9. Also, I would like to make mention of GTC’s Head 7-10/Elite Coach Amanda Allen, she is unbelievable to watch in action, she is very hands on with the girls and I believe there is nothing is can’t spot! What a great female coach role model!
5. Stuck Landings
I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of stuck landing all round the gym at both Level 9 & 10. When flying high through the air, it is something hard to stick the landing at the end of a routine or tumbling pass because the girls sometimes just have so much power, but this weekend there were so many great stuck landing moments. It feels great to hit that landing at State Meet at the end of a routine, because sometimes that landing is the difference between 1st and 5th.
4. Level 10 Hair
One of my favorite parts of watching competitions is to see the style and swag presented by each gym and gymnast. Each gym usually has their own unique trademark, BVA has the leg warmer and flower for the hair, Olympia has their bows that say “Olympia”, MEGA has their pink bows and of course Hunts has there “Hunts Hair”.
This is the part I love!! I love when the teams have the “Level 10 Hair” or “Hunts Hair” as I dubbed it in the 2014 Highlights. For some this may be a messy look, but I just love it! I love how fun the hair is and when the girls add the bows, ribbons and under braid to it. It is so different, I used to wear my hair like this when I competed. I know that the buns are a cleaner look and many of the teams go with this look, but for me its the “Level 10 Hair” that I absolutely LOVE!!!
3. Floor Choreography
In the past there have only really been a few gyms that have kids with amazing floor choreography, but this year that was not the case, it seemed like many gyms had girls with amazing floor routines and great choreography. I am not a fan of cookie cutter routines, I like to see floor routines with brilliant dance, routines that tell a story and girls that show them off to the extreme. There is defiantly a difference between “doing” your floor routine and “performing” your floor routine and at the Level 9/10 state meet there were so many girls with great choreography really performing their routines with passion and expression and I absolutely love that about this sport. I love seeing the dramatic performance, I love being drawn into the floor routine. Below are some of my favorites
2. Senior Class of 2016
Every year I conduct a senior farewell video, however this year the plans did not go so smoothly, but I did get a chance to speak to the graduating seniors and find out who they are, where they are going and what their favorite color is. This year there were 21 graduating seniors, it is great to see the drive and determination these young ladies have to continue in their sport through high school and follow the dreams that they have set for themselves past high school and JO gymnastics. There is a lot of talent graduating this year and they will certainly missed not only by Michigan Gymnastics, but Region 5 Gymnastics as well.
Rachel Dickson-MEGA (UGA), Brehanna Showers-R Athletics (OU), Jade Brown-Twistars USA (Kent State), Karen Howell-Olympia (Illinois), Samantha Roy-Hunt’s (UofM), Taylor Buis-Champion USA (WMU), Amanda Arnold-Twistars USA (EMU), Lucy Jones-Twistars USA (Pitt), Nina Martucci-AGA (Ball State), Rita Koenigbauer-Hun’ts (AirForce), Danielle Bisbikis-MAG (WMU), Lexi Evans-Hunt’s (Wisconsin-Oshkosh), Jessica Bernardo-Oakland (Wisconsin-Oshkosh), Evelyn Patient-Splitz (Cornell), Alyssa Schiller-Splitz, Alyssa Wiggle-Oakland, MacKenzie Miller-Oakland, Brittany Lewis-Twistarts USA, Alyssa Malak-Stars & Stripes, Skylar Swifink-Radiant Sportz and Taylor Jangda-Radiant Sportz.
Watch the Class of 2016 recognition and highlights
1. Twistars 31 Year Team Domination
I do not think there has been a gymnastics dynasty quite like Twistars USA, expect maybe the Soviet Union, Twistars is the most dominate force in USA JO Gymnastics. When you walk into John & Katherine’s gym in Diamondale Michigan you are welcomed by the large Twistars mural on the wall and numerous giant banners hanging from the ceiling illustrating just how successful this gymnastics club has been since it first opened its doors, in July of 1996. However, the Twistars Legacy started long before John & Katherine opened their Diamondale club, 12 of those 31 Dominating Level 10 years belong to the club were John first called home and trained 1996 Olympic hopeful Katie Teft. Great Lakes Gymnastics was the precursor to the Twistars USA we now know and love.
Every year it gets harder and harder to narrow and entire day of moments into my top 10, especially because each session I witness some pretty great moments on the competition floor and off. So, here are my honorable mentions for the Level 9/10 Michigan State Meet.
In the last few years Splitz Gymnastics in Canton, Michigan has gone through a number of changes coaches, kids etc… it was great to see Splitz this season show up with an entire level 10 team and a great looking level 10 team. The girls from Splitz Gymnastics, have been doing great this season and made the top 3 here at State Meet take the 3rd Place Team Award!, they have some very talented young ladies and they could possibly qualify 100% of their team to JO Nationals. I see a bright future for Splitz Gymnastics!
Samantha Roy’s Leadership
Every team has a team leader or a team captain someone who is there to take care of the girls, mentor them, give them that last minute pep talk, pump them up before the meet even starts and say a few words once the meet is over. The team leader does what the coach might not be able to, they are on the same level as their teammates and they are the ones who set the example and the tone for competition and training. Not since Grace Williams from Twistars have I witnessed team leader like Samantha Roy from Hunt’s Gymnastics. I have witnessed on numerous occasions Sam taking control of the team, sitting them down in a circle before the meet and getting them ready to go. There was a moment in Chicago that I walked by her speaking with her teammates, I stopped for a few minutes to listen to what she was saying and I really wish I would of had my camera with me because it was a moment that needed to be captured and shared. Senior Saturday Interview, Leadership Skills
Unique Bar skills
I love so see different and unique on the competition floor. At the 9/10 State Meet, there were three very unique bar routines that stuck out because of the different type of skills being performed. Hayley Dyell (Level 9) from Water’s Edge had a different bar release transition Video, Maggie Rott (Level 9) from R-Athletics had a unique dismount Video and Anna Dayton (Level 10) from Twistars USA is one of very few Level 10s performing a Weiler Kip Video. It is very refreshing to see different skills being performed, I like different and unique in routines.