The Colquitt County varsity gymnastics team traveled up 319 to the Tift County Invitational on Wednesday and although the Lady Packers were not able to compete for a team score, they improved since the Thomas County meet, and had some first-time competitors hit some highlights.

Not having Meghan Merritt, Brooke Robinson and Betsy Booth, Colquitt was able to put in some girls who would not be able to compete with those three in the lineup.

Merritt, Robinson and Booth were preparing for their upcoming USAG state meets.

Senior Saige Frazier scored and 8.1 on vault. Frazier is so long, that her vaults are unique to see. She is working hard to have her vault a high 8 or 9 by Area in April and is showing great determination.

Senior Amber Ross competed on three events; vault 8.1, beam 8.1, and bars 6.6. She improved her beam score 1.5 from the Thomas County Meet. This was a personal best for Ross.

“It’s great to see how she is improving,” coach Patti Merritt said

Sophomore Tiffani Lassetter competed on vault for the first time scoring a 7.0. She also improved her beam score .7 with a 7.7.

“It’s exciting to see her confidence built up on beam,” Merritt said. “She again completed her series of back walkovers on the beam and stuck a beautiful front tuck dismount.”

Sophomores Anna Hartley and Ann Marie Vallomthail both competed for the first time on one event each.

Vallomthail competed bars scoring a 6. 5.

“She has a beautiful routine, but like Ross, she is missing some difficulty and bonus,” Merritt said.

Hartley competed vault scoring a 7.6. Merritt said Hartley has worked  hard on her vault since the season began in January.

The Colquitt County middle school team competed for the first time this season on Wednesday.

Again, there was no team score given. Missing from this pack of eighth-graders was Sammie Phillips, who was preparing for her Level 8 state meet this weekend.

Allison Fagan, a returning middle school team member, has recently come back into the gym after being out of her USAG season for six months with foot injury.

She was the only Lady Packer gymnast to compete all around (32.7).

Fagan proved that she can be competitive despite her time out. On vault she scored a 8.2; bars 7.6; beam 8.6, and floor 8.3.

“She naturally has beautiful form on every skill and every even,” Merritt said.

She was nervous going into this meet as it was her first time competing in a year, Merritt said.

“Nerves and beam are not something that go together, but she managed to pull a great routine with no falls,” Merritt said.

Also returning to the middle school team this year is Clara Gene Vines.

She competed vault and bars. Pm vault she scored 8.2 and on bars a 7.0.

“She has improved tremendously on bars since last year,” Merritt said, adding that Vines is a hard worker and she was not surprised that she was able to improve.

Also returning to the middle school team is Auburn Williams.

She competed vault, scoring a 7.8.

“With a little more time in the gym, Williams will be an asset on vault as she is working on more difficulty,” Merritt said. “She has a natural talent and I look forward to her competing all around by our meet April 1.  

Jaycee Ellenberg is new to the middle school team this year.

Ellenberg competed vault only, also scoring an 8.1.

“I was proud of Jaycee and her vault,” Merritt said. “She has come a long way to get a vault so quickly in the season.

“This was a huge accomplishment for her.”

Merrit said Ellenberg is also working on floor and should be ready to compete it by the April 1 meet.

The other newcomer to the middle school team is Brooke Porter.

She competed bars, scoring a 6.6, and beam, scoring a 8.1.

Porter is working hard to get more difficulty on bars and beam and then eventually compete on all four events, Merritt said.

“She has nice form on beam, which is a great help with her score since she does not have the difficulty yet,” Merritt said. “Her confidence will definitely improve the more she competes.”  

Being the only school in the area that has a middle school gymnastics team, these eighth-grade girls will be a big addition to the high school program next year and the many years to come, Merritt said.

“They are all hard workers and determined competitors,” she said.


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