Alexandra Devine – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Gymnastics is one of the most challenging and demanding sports.  It requires a lot of time and energy from its athletes. It is a commitment that athletes must stick with to achieve success.

LRHS juniors Natalie Thomas and Estee Goltsman, have made the United States Gymnastics (USAG) Development Program Nationals, which take place on May 12 through May 14 in Oklahoma City, OK. Both Thomas and Goltsman compete as level 10 gymnasts at Lakewood Ranch Gymnastics.

Thomas has been a gymnast for 12 years and Goltsman for 11 years.

To qualify for Nationals, gymnasts must go through several competitions. The first step is an invitational and they must score an all-around 32.00. That score is an 8.0 average per the four events – vault, bars, beam, or floor. Gymnasts who meet these scores will qualify for states.

At states, a gymnast must score an all-around of 35.00 to qualify for regionals.

At regionals, a gymnast must place in the top seven in their age group to qualify for Nationals. The age groups can vary from 18 up to 35 people.

If a gymnast does not qualify through placing in the top seven at regionals, a gymnast can specialize in one of the four events. If the gymnast earns one of the five highest scores at regionals in an individual event, they can qualify for Nationals.

“I received the alternate position for the all-around. This means I was the runner-up and qualified for the individual event on the vault,” said Thomas.

Goltsman  said, “I qualified to Nationals with a 37.75 in the all-around.”

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Both gymnasts have spent a lot of their time and energy on gymnastics and they appreciate everything that gymnastics has given to them.

Thomas said, “This sport has taken so much of my time, and it has become a major part of my life. At the gym, we are creating friendships and bonds with both the coaches and our teammates that are going to last a lifetime.”

Goltsman said, “The sport has been a huge part of my life, and I have made so many great relationships with coaches, teammates, and other gymnasts that I am very thankful for. I am excited to see what I will be able to accomplish in the future.”

To be successful at one of the most demanding sports, practice is key and extremely important to get the best results at competition time.

“We practice five days a week from three and a half to four hours each practice. This is 18+ hours a week. Gymnastics is a year-round sport, so we have been training since last June for these competitions,” said Thomas.

Goltsman said, “We practice throughout the entire year for five days a week. Practices can be around four hours long. Prior to our state meet, we attended five invitationals, not including the two in-house meets that we had.”

In her future, Thomas wants to continue gymnastics after high school. “I am currently researching what colleges would be a good fit for me. Nationals is one of the biggest gymnastics competitions and it is set right in front of a stage of top colleges. So, I will see what happens when I get there!”

Goltsman plans to continue gymnastics following high school and is already in the recruiting process for college.