USA Sports - a gymnastics facility with locations in Gilroy and Hollister - had gymnasts entered into the 2011 Harvest Moon Invitational in Emeryville, Calif. over the weekend and recorded its best scores en route to its highest team finish of the season at the event hosted by Head Over Heels (HOH) Gymnastics.
"The competition in Northern California is very tough," said USA Sports head coach and owner Melinda Lawrence. "To finish in the top three at a meet with this caliber of gymnasts is quite an accomplishment. I'm very proud of our team."
USA Sports' Level 4 team finished third with a total score of 109, behind perennial powerhouse teams, Mountain View Twisters (113.725) and Burlingame Accel (110.650). The local Level 5 team also marked its best performance with a fourth-place finish (105.350), placing behind meet hosts HOH (111.425), Twisters (111.175) and Accel (105.350).
Gilroy's Ellie Pickford led the Level 4 team with second-place finishes in the all-around (36.40), a personal best, and balance beam (9.075). Gilroy teammate Marcella Mantilla also posted a first-place finish on balance beam (9.15). Sophia Lemons, of Hollister, added a second-place medal on uneven bars (9.275) to help boost the team to the top-three finish.
For the Level 5s, Hollister teammates, Catharina Ji and Felicia Markfield led the team. Ji won floor exercise (8.95) and placed third on uneven bars (9.275). Markfield was second on vault (8.725) and third in the all-around (35.225). Gilroy's Sloane Angst, competing in her first meet of the season, placed third on both vault (8.70) and floor exercise (8.70).
Angst's outstanding outing qualified her with a 34.725 total score for next month's Zone Competition. She joins Gilroy teammates Aubrey Kaho (34.00), Mantilla (33.175), Sloane Pace (33.375), and Hollister teammates Ji (35.325) and Markfield (35.225) on the postseason roster. A 31.00 all-around score in a USA Gymnastics sanctioned meet qualifies a gymnast for the Level 5s' first postseason meet, Zones.
USA Sports' Level 4 team also qualified two more gymnasts - Hollister's Sophia Lemons (34.625) and Gilroy's Audrey Kaefer (34.50) to the postseason roster.
They join Gilroy teammates Lauren Dean (35.175), Stacy Gaddis (35.00), Marcella Mantilla (34.70), Kaitlyn Pappas (34.85), Pickford (36.40), Jaden Regallo (35.225) and Sonte Stewart, (35.50), who already qualified in one of the first three meets. Minimum qualifying score is 34.00 for the Level 4 State Championships in November.
The team's final competition before Zone and State Championships will be the Emerald City Invite, hosted by the Twisters, Oct. 22.