July 2011 - Twenty-three members of the Boca Raton based Rising Stars Girls Competitive Gymnastics team had an amazing showing at the AAU Gymnastics National Championship, earning 88 medals. The girls, in levels 2 through 7, competed at ESPN Disney’s Wide World of Sports on July 1-3, where nearly 1100 gymnasts from around the country vied for medals on vault, uneven bars, balance beam, floor, and the combined All-Around placement.
This year, the team had several remarkable individual achievements: most notably a score of a perfect 10.0 on the floor exercise by Erin Wiegman in level 2.
“We are back from the National Championship and boy did our team have a great showing!” exclaimed head coach Julie Willmott. “Erin’s 10.0 was a great moment. We also had two girls sweep the gold medals in their age groups, earning the top scores in all four events and the all-around.”
Willmott, who also owns the gym, continued, “Regardless of placements, it was a fabulous experience for us all. Nearly every girl achieved personal best scores in at least one category – several had their best meets ever. The other coaches and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort the girls exhibited! It was a fantastic meet for them and us.”
The gymnasts competed in levels 2 through 7 (with 7 being the most difficult), and were divided by age for awards. In all, the team brought home 23 gold, 15 silver, 11 bronze, and 39 copper medals. “We have a great group of girls on the team,” Willmott explained. “While the main purpose of a team is competition, things like making friends and self-esteem are also important. Our philosophy is to develop the whole child, not just create great gymnasts. Many of our gymnasts are also dancers, soccer players, divers, and, of course, they all go to school. Despite having other activities, the girls perform extremely well against other gyms, as these National results show.”
The team had four all-around gold medalists: Erin Wiegman in level 2, Sofia Davila in level 3, Dianna Sierra in level 5, and Ashley Grandovic in the intermediate optional division. Both Sofia and Dianna also earned gold medals on all four events.
The other gold medalists were Erin Wiegman (level 2) on bars, beam and floor; Johanna Holloway (level 7) on vault and bars; Ashley Grandovic (intermediate optional) on beam and floor; Jackie Denker (level 4) on vault; Elizabeth Willmott (intermediate optional) on bars; and Olivia Wessel (level 2) and Rebeca Davila (level 3) on floor.
The all-around silver medalists were Jackie Denker and Kaitlyn Cunningham in level 4, and Elizabeth Willmott in the intermediate optional division. Additional silver medals were awarded to level 4 gymnasts Caroline Lord on vault and bars, Jackie Denker on bars and floor, Carmen Curren on vault and beam, Jennifer Parkinson on beam, and Kaitlyn Cunningham on floor; level 5 gymnast Hannah Willmott on beam; and intermediate optionals Lindsay Lord on vault, and Elizabeth Willmott on beam and floor.
Bronze medals went to Carmen Curren (level 4) for all-around and bars; Olivia Emord (level 4) for vault; Kaitlyn Cunningham and Hannah Roskin (level 4) and Ashley Grandovic (int. opt.) on bars; Haley Szabo (int. opt.) on beam; Ellie Rafalski (level 2), Caroline Lord (level 4) and Taylor Bethmann (level 7) on floor; and Johanna Holloway (level 7) all-around.
The team also brought home 25 copper medals for placing in the top half +1 of the four individual events, and another 14 copper medals for the All-Around. The copper medal winners not already mentioned above included Ashley Kelly (level 2), Madison Barrett (level 3), and Emily Willmott (level 5).
“We strive to build self-esteem by finding ways for our girls to succeed, and that confidence carries over to home and school,” Willmott continued. “When one of these girls falls off the balance beam in competition (it happens), she doesn’t cry and feel sorry for herself. Instead, she hops right back up on that four-inch wide beam and keeps going until she’s finished what she came to do. When I see one of our gymnasts persevere through a mishap like a fall, she earns my admiration. And I know we coaches have accomplished something important. Whether her score is a 9.2 or a 7.2, she has determination. It will serve her well in life.”
The Rising Stars team is coached by Julie Willmott, Nataly Parkinson, Cassandra Lobe, Amy Ducy, and Jared Canaan. Faith Willis is the team floor exercise choreographer.
Rising Stars will be hosting its sixth annual Fall Festival invitational meet in November. Meanwhile, the gym is host to a summer camp and recreational classes for toddlers through teens year round, and has open gym every Saturday night. Call 561-998-4225 or check out their site at www.risingstarsgym.net for information and full meet results.
Pictured, left to right:
back row: Emily Willmott, Dianna Sierra, Haley Szabo, Elizabeth Willmott, Ashley Grandovic, Carmen Curren, Lindsay Lord
middle row: Sofia Davila, Olivia Emord, Taylor Bethmann, Johanna Holloway, Rebeca Davila, Hannah Willmott, Hannah Roskin, Jackie Denker
front row: Jennifer Parkinson, Ellie Rafalski, Madison Barrett, Caroline Lord, Kaitlyn Cunningham, Erin Wiegman, Ashley Kelly.
See related Story at the Palm Beach Post: http://youthsportsdaily.palmbeachpost.com/gymnastics/2011/07/18/rising-stars-gymnastics-team-shines-at-national-meet/