Gymnastics Lane takes 12 to nationals in New Orleans

Last year, coaches Angie Villarreal and Liz Copeland took six gymnasts to nationals in Orlando, Florida.

It was the first time Gymnastics Lane in Seymour had representatives at nationals since before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Now this year, they have doubled that number as Villarreal and Copeland will be taking 12 gymnasts to nationals in New Orleans, Louisiana, this weekend.

“It’s super exciting, especially because I consider us a smaller gym in the state, so to be able to double our numbers and add some is exciting,” Villarreal said.

Most of the girls who went to nationals last year will be making their return this weekend.

With the experience of last year, Villarreal believes those girls are more determined this time around.

“Last year, the girls that went, it was new to us,” she said. “Those girls that are returning aren’t going for the experience this time. They are going to be competitive and to place high.”

The 12 individuals representing Gymnastics Lane in New Orleans are Lyla Croquart, Kinley Beard, Haley Shipp, Kyla Mellencamp, Emma Brooks, Gabby Phillips, Aubree Vojkufka, Nev Cockerham, Mia Dailey, Piper Hawkins, Gillian Bumbleburg and Mina Croquart.

The youngest age in that group is 7, while the oldest is 18.

The variety in ages speaks to the program being run at Gymnastics Lane.

“We have a pretty competitive program here, and I just try to make it so they can do what they want with it,” Villarreal said. “If they want to be competitive and eat, sleep, breathe gymnastics, they can. I also have athletes that want to be basketball players or volleyball players and also do gymnastics. We make it so kids can do both.”

One of the gymnasts who has a chance to do something special at nationals is Beard.

Beard, who is going into fifth grade, also was at nationals last year. On her path to New Orleans this season, she won the state title on floor and also made the Midwest Regional team.

“She was one of our younger ones last year that did go to Orlando,” Villarreal said. “This year at state, she went with her game face on and brought home the state title on floor, did the same at regional and also made the Midwest Regional team. She will be competing for the Midwest, and her numbers will go toward the Midwest team, and she is looking to get that title on floor at nationals.”

Beard said her favorite events to do are beam and floor. On her floor routine, Beard said she performs a roundoff, back handspring, back tucks and front tucks.

When asked to describe the music she uses during her floor routine, she said, “Sassy.”

Beard said she was happy when she won the state title on floor, and what she likes the most about gymnastics is “that you get to go out to different places and compete.”

As much as Beard hopes to win nationals on floor, she also wants to have fun in New Orleans.

“Swimming and playing with my friends,” she said of what she’s looking forward to doing.

All of the Seymour gymnasts will be in New Orleans by this weekend.

Villarreal and Copeland land in New Orleans later today at 1 p.m. and will get to practice with the older kids at 4 p.m.

The older gymnasts will be competing on Sunday and Monday, while the younger gymnasts will be competing next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nationals is being held at the New Orleans Convention Center.

Before everyone got on a plane to head to the Crescent City, all of the gymnasts got to ride the firetrucks around Seymour earlier this week to celebrate their accomplishments.

“It was a lot of fun,” Villarreal said. “So many thanks to the Seymour Fire Department and Seymour Police Department for escorting the girls. It’s fun for them just to get recognition. It was really exciting for the girls, and they had a lot of fun.”

After competing in nationals, the season will officially end, and everyone will get to take a few weeks off before they begin training again in mid-July.