This year's competitive gymnastics season for Level 10 concluded on Saturday night with the 2017 Junior Olympic National Championship. Fifteen gymnasts from North Stars represented Region 7 at Nationals, allowing North Stars to have more gymnasts competing in the meet than any other gymnastics club in the country. For the weeks leading up to Nationals, the gymnasts zoned in on their training and it was revealed through their routines at the meet. By the weekend’s end, three gymnasts from North Stars had qualified to be part of the J.O. National Team and one gymnast was crowned J.O. National Champion.
Annually, the J.O. National Championship features gymnasts who placed in the top seven all-around for each age group at their corresponding Level 10 Regional Championship. Many of the sport’s highest-level gymnasts, including past Olympians, are former J.O. National Champions. This year, more than 675 gymnasts competed at Nationals. The meet was held May 6-7, 2017, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. and was hosted by USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics is the governing body for gymnastics in the United States and is headquartered in Indianapolis.
The meet was comprised of twelve different age divisions, separated by birth date. Competing gymnasts who placed in the top four all-around for their age division qualified to the 2017 J.O. National Team. Each member who qualified to the J.O. National Team was then invited to visit the U.S. National Team Training Center at the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, and attend a National Training Camp.
The gymnasts from North Stars who competed at Nationals this year were Simone Banen, Kaylee Quinn, Ava Caravela, Nicola (Nikki) St. Louis, Emma Itoh, Tiara DeTommaso, Rachael Lukacs, Alonza Klopfer, Ellen (Ellie) Wylie, Yolanda Nodarse, Danielle Liska, Olivia Orlando, Olivia Raymond, Samantha (Sami) Davis and Sophia Restaino. Many of these gymnasts earned high scores at the meet and placed within the top five on one or more event.
Davis placed fifth on the vault and tied for fourth place on beam. Klopfer, Lukacs and Nodarse all tied for fifth place on beam for their age group, while Itoh tied for fourth place on vault. Quinn placed fourth on vault and was named J.O. National Champion on floor for her age group after executing a near flawless routine.
Klopfer finished fourth all-around for her age group, and thus, qualified to the J.O. National Team. Her teammates at North Stars, Davis and Lukacs, also finished fourth all-around for their age group and qualified to the J.O. National Team this year. Davis and Lukacs have both qualified in previous years, but for Klopfer, it was a first-time achievement.
“It was one of my goals this year and I was so happy to accomplish that,” said Klopfer. Another highlight
from Klopfer’s meet was sticking her full-twisting Yurchenko vault and receiving her highest score of the season on the event.
For Klopfer, Nationals was the final meet before heading off to compete on a collegiate level for the University of Alabama. Although she competed strongly throughout the meet, the graduating senior described the night as “emotional.”
Toward the meet’s end, Klopfer huddled with her teammates and coaches, Tony Gehman and Ashley Umberger, as the coaches explained how proud they were of the North Stars 2017 graduating class. “All of us seniors couldn’t help but cry bittersweet tears. So many great memories were reflected and I won’t ever forget any of them,” said Klopfer.
The complete list of Level 10 graduating seniors from North Stars includes Ellen (Ellie) Wylie, Danielle Liska, Yolanda (Yoli) Nodarse, Alonza Klopfer, Rachael Kaplan, Ashley Foss, Isabella Even-Chen, Miranda Mornhineway and Megan Smith.