Last weekend, 454 gymnasts competed at the 2017 Junior Olympic Level 9 Eastern National Championship. Together, the J.O. Eastern Championship and the J.O. Western Championship concluded the 2017 competitive season for Level 9. Six gymnasts from North Stars shined brightly at this year’s Eastern Championship and contributed to Region 7 having the highest team score for their age group.
The Eastern National Championship was held at The Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Lansing, MI. Saturday, April 28, marked the beginning of the three-day long meet. Qualifiers were selected based on their all-around standing at Regionals in April. Those who placed in the top seven all-around for each age group at the corresponding Regional Championship for Regions 5-8 qualified to compete at Eastern Nationals. North Stars, along with all other competitive gymnastics clubs from New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania, make up Region 7.
This year’s Eastern National qualifiers from North Stars were Madison Vitolo, Isabel Lin, Emma Loyim, Emily Castiglia, Hannah Loyim, Alyssa Dillon, Delaney Sniffen and Raine Smith. After weeks of training and preparation, each of these gymnasts entered the arena on Sunday ready to face their competitors. Many of the girls hit their routines and scored highly on one or more event, including a first, second and third place sweep on the uneven bars by Emma Loyim, Emily Castiglia and Hannah Loyim.
For Emma Loyim, 14, it was a weekend to remember. This year was her first time competing at the Level 9 Eastern Nationals and after giving it her all on every event, she was crowned All-Around Champion for her age group, scoring a 37.900. “Winning Nationals was my biggest goal this season and I was really happy that I achieved it,” Emma Loyim explained.
One of the biggest highlights from Emma Loyim’s meet was her performance on the uneven bars, the final event. “I knew I had to do a great routine to win the all-around,” she said. The hours of intense training and repetition finally paid off in that moment. “I nailed my routine with a stuck landing and I was super excited,” she added. The score was a 9.675, her highest score of the meet.
Competing alongside her sister, Hannah Loyim, sparked a great deal of emotion. “It made me twice as nervous, but I knew she would go out there and do amazing,” Emma Loyim explained. To keep each other calm and confident, the sisters gave pep talks to one another throughout the meet.
Reflecting on her season, Emma Loyim noticed her individual improvement at every meet leading up to Nationals. She also noticed the bond that grew between her and her teammates. “The level 9 team was super supportive of each other and we had a lot of fun competing together,” she said.
North Stars coaches Ashley Umberger, Tony Gehman and Faith Baranowski trained and physically prepared the Level 9’s prior to each meet, including Eastern Nationals. To ensure that the they were mentally prepared, Sport Psychologist at North Stars, Traci Stanard, was available for the gymnasts to make appointments with. The preparation and support helped aid in a successful, safe competitive season. As a team, the Level 9 gymnasts placed first at every meet they competed in this season.