When Jordan Andreoli completed her uneven bars routine and the scoreboard flashed 9.50, Jordan and her coach, Andy Klunder, were beaming with joy.
Jordan’s score held up at the USA Gymnastics Region 1 Level 7 Championships in Long Beach, and the Santa Barbara Spirals Gymnastics Level 7 team member was crowned regional champion.
Her performance was one of many stellar efforts turned in by Spirals team members at the regionals earlier this month and the state championships in April. Spirals gymnasts earned 20 medals between the two big meets.
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“We peaked our athletes at (regionals),” said coach Klunder, who also serves as the director of Spirals Gymnastics. “We happened to peak them at the right time. All the kids performed at their very, very best.”
It’s been a terrific two months for the Spirals Level 7 gymnasts. The team finished 12th out of 126 gyms at the State Championships in San Diego and turned in good marks at the highly competitive regionals — Region 1 is considered the strongest of nine regions in the country. The meet drew 7,100 athletes from Southern and Northern California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
The high level of competition brought out the best in Spirals gymnasts. Maile Ise achieved her highest mark ever in the floor exercise with a 9.70 and Taylor Trider scored a 9.525.
“Of all these athletes, I would say 90 percent of our scores were in the nines,” said Klunder, who is assisted by Lisa Miller. Miller handles floor exercise and beam while Klunder works with the girls on vault and beam.
Lillian McKenzie scored a personal best in the all-around (combined score of four events) with a 37.00. That’s an average of 9.25 per event.
“She’s been scoring in the mid-35s and 36s. The kid just competed in the meet of her life,” said Klunder.
The Level 7 team consists of Maile Ise, Jordan Andreoli, Lillian McKenzie, Jessica Norman, Taylor Trider, Taylor Crawford and Angie Bohn.
The girls work hard at their sport, putting in 20 hours a week, year round at UCSB’s Rob Gym.
“All that time and training pays off with those marks,” said Klunder. “You can see the reward on their faces. That’s the reward for the coaches, when the kids are so thrilled they’re proud of themselves for achieving something like that. These girls — a lot of them — didn’t think it was it was possible to achieve those scores, and they step up and actually hit those scores competing with the top gyms in the U.S. and the top athletes.”
Klunder says the Level 7 gymnasts are fast-track athletes who have skipped levels of competition. “A few years ago, they were Level 3. In the last two years, we’ve moved up four levels with these athletes. Four girls (Jordan, 13; Maile, 12; Jessica, 10 and Taylor, 12) will try to jump to Level 9 next season.”
At Level 9, they’ll start to compete for national titles.
Klunder is impressed with the dedication and hard work his young gymnasts put in to get better.
“These kids over the course of the last couple of years have developed a work ethic, time management skills and everything to do this,” he says. “Their natural desire to want to do this is really where it’s at. We push the kids a little bit, but for the most part they’re self-motivated; they want it more than we have to push them. So the desire is there.
“For the athletes, we, as coaches, can’t make them want it. These are kids that want it.”