The Trinity GEMS Levels 7 to 10 gymnastics teams competed Jan. 16 to 21 at the New Orleans Jazz Invitational and brought a lot of hardware home with them.
Megan Greenfield won the Level 10 all-around title with a score of 37.075.
GEMS coach Chris Riegel said Greenfield’s score, early in the season, was a sign of things to come.
“This is the earliest that [Greenfield has] scored a 37,” Riegel said. “To hit that in her third week, she’s on pace to surpass anything she’s done in the last two years. She went down and dominated that meet.”
Greenfield dominated the all-around, winning the floor exercise, vault and balance beam.
“[Greenfield’s] doing what the best Level 10s are doing on floor and vault,” Riegel said. “She’s a half notch above everybody on beam.”
Greenfield, who will compete for Northern Illinois in the fall, also led the Level 10 team to a team championship with Christine Liautaud, Chloe Rehberg, Miranda Saathoff and Clare Collins.
Saathoff picked up the other individual championship for the GEMS by winning the uneven parallel bars. Liautaud was second in both the all-around and the bars, and Rehberg was second on floor. Collins was third in the all-around to give the GEMS a medal sweep.
With several team members nursing injuries, Riegel said that made the win even more impressive. And the team showed some independence because Riegel had to devote most of his time to the Level 8s, who were competing at the same time.
“I was really pleased to see how they rallied together,” Riegel said. “They handled everything like the seasoned veterans that they are. They were doing so well, I just started sitting back and enjoying them.”
And the different perspective also gave Riegel an opportunity to see his team as a fan, not critiquing every little move.
“They put on a gymnastics show,” Riegel said. “To see how far ahead they were of comparable Level 10s, I guess as a coach I’m realizing when their ‘on’ all four events, they’re pretty darn good.”
Liautaud will compete for the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Having two of his gymnasts already making commitments is both a challenge and a blessing to Riegel. It eases the pressure somewhat, as long as they don’t lose focus.
“It certainly relaxes them a little bit, but you definitely have to guard against it,” Riegel said. “At Level 10 and as traveled as they are, they can handle whatever kind of pressure is put on them.”
A total of 55 gymnasts, family and coaches made the trip. Next week we’ll look at the Level 8 and 9 teams that also competed at New Orleans.
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com.