Eight girls win state gymnastic titles

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Gymnastics Academy brought back a slew of titles after eight young gymnasts won state championships at the state competition in Albuquerque.

Members of the Farmington Gymnastics Academy Junior Olympic and Xcel teams pose for a photo on Saturday at the FGA.

FGA's competition team consisted of 32 gymnasts for the state competition. Sixteen girls came away with either silver or bronze finishes to go with the eight girls who combined to win 12 titles.

The Junior Olympics division of competition is broken down into different levels based on experience and age.

In Level 3, Jennifer Gonzales won the all-around title while Katelyn Keeling and Hailey Baker won in the vault and bar, respectively.

Kaitlyn Hazell cleaned up at the competition, winning state titles in the Level 4 all around, vault, floor and beam events.

Madison Espinoza won titles in the bar and all around for Level 6.

In the Xcel division, Madisyn Kannard won the vault, Kylie Westbrook took the floor and Keira Sword captured the bar title.

The gymnasts who are part of the FGA's competition team travel to Albuquerque and Santa Fe for all their competitions. The team hits about 10 competitions between October and the state event held at the end of March. But during the offseason, from April through September, Frankie Reddy, the owner of FGA, said the team practices a few days a week.

"We basically start new drills and build new skills for the next year. So, these guys go year round," Reddy said. "They practice Monday through Thursday, three hours per day. They put in a lot of time."

With so much time being put into gymnastics, Reddy said members of the FGA often have to choose if they want to pursue a spot on the Junior Olympics team or play other sports.

"If you're going to do the competition, you have to choose. It's either gymnastics or another sport because the girls have to practice so much," Reddy said.

Reddy said the long hours put into the sport can burn the Junior Olympics team members out, which is, in part, why the FGA has incorporated the Xcel program. Xcel allows members to get the experience of large competitions while providing time to explore sports and activities outside of gymnastics.

"It's not as hard core as the Junior Olympics program," Reddy said. "You definitely have to have a passion for it. It's fun and an amazing sport, but it requires a lot of time and dedication."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.