Kenyadah Prime returned to the Moultrie YMCA gymnastics team to revive a gymnastics career that had been totally sidetracked by several season ending injuries.
As a popular TV character used to say, “It’s great when a plan comes together.”
The Lowndes High senior had the meet of her life at the 2012 USA Gymnastics Region 8 Level 9 Championships that were held at the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto, Fla., on April 13-15.
Competing with other high school seniors from eight states, Prime took home four gold medals, including that of the all-around champion. Her all-around score of 37.425 was a career best, as were her 9.725 on vault and 9.475 on floor. Her fourth region championship was earned by scoring a 9.275 on beam.
She missed a clean sweep of the top individual honors when her 8.95 score on bars placed sixth.
“The results might have been a lot different if Kenyadah had not somehow stuck her layout on beam after a very crooked takeoff from her handspring,” said Coach Allen Harden.
“When she dismounted the beam and they flashed that 9.275 score she went on to floor and vault with a lot of confidence. That was the key moment in this meet.”
She will join the other top six all-around athletes in her senior 8 age group as the team that will represent Region 8 at the USAG Level 9 Eastern National Championships in Landover, Md., on May 4-6.
The last time Prime had been healthy enough to qualify for a region championship meet was when she was in the eighth grade.
Elbow, leg and Achilles tendon injuries left the talented athlete with little satisfaction and not much meaningful hardware to show for her efforts and her many comebacks. Her perseverance and courage were rewarded when she climbed to the top of the awards podium four times to receive gold medals.
Although she has been off the radar for college programs, she still hopes to attract some late interest that would allow her to fulfill her dream of competing at the next level. A strong showing at nationals after her domination of the region meet could do the trick.
Coach Bob Swadel said, “Kenyadah walked into our gym early last December and asked if she could come back to her Moultrie team for her senior year. We have a very young team this year and we were facing a season without Meghan Merritt who needed surgery to fix her ankle. The senior leadership and toughness Kenyadah could bring would help a lot.
“She has been totally focused and bought into our plan for her return to competition 100 percent. I am so happy for her, and for her parents who have supported her on every step of this journey.”
Aubrea Callanta took home two medals from her first level 9 regional meet.
Competing in the senior 1 age group, she placed tenth on vault (9.1) and tenth on beam where she scored an 8.775.
She scored an 8.75 on floor and a 7.6 on bars but did not place. Her all-around score was 34.225.
Sterlyn Austin was the youngest competitor in the meet and she did not go away empty handed. Her 9.125 score on vault earned her a ninth place medal in the junior 1 age group. She also scored 8.6 on floor, 8.45 on beam and 8.025 on bars, and 34.20 all-around, but did not place.
Callanta and Austin had each qualified for level 8 regionals and were multi-event medalists last year. They were also instrumental in helping the Moultrie YMCA win the 2011 YMCA Level 8 National Championship.
Callanta will join Prime, her Lowndes High teammate, at the 2012 GHSA Area Meet next weekend.
Austin will compete next at the “Red, White and You” home meet to be held at the Donald A. Blevins Gymnastics Center at the Moultrie YMCA on April 28.