GODFREY - Alyson Jennings, a 14-year-old gymnast from Godfrey's own Mid-Illinois Gymnastics, competed in the U.S. Tumbling and Trampoline Association Nationals held in Lakeland, Fla., last week.
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The USTA Nationals were held last week from Monday through Thursday.
Not only did Jennings compete, but she took home a national championship.
She took first place in the 13-14 Advanced Division with a score of 62.9.
After dealing with multiple injuries during her gymnastics career and having to get through the COVID-19 Pandemic, she said that winning the national championship was a really big deal to her.
"I felt like everything had paid off," she said.
Head Coach Kristen Bower was proud of Alyson.
"This wasn't her first rodeo," Bower said.
"She's just a really great kid. She helps us coach as well as tumble. All of the kids look up to her," she added.
This indeed was not Jennings' first appearance at the USTA Nationals. According to her, she's been a few times taking eighth place her first year, first place another year, and also second place before finally coming in first again in 2022.
Alyson is a sophomore at Edwardsville High School and is a straight-A student according to Bower.
Winning championships runs in the family as a matter of fact. Alyson's triumph comes just a week after her older brother, Kayden, helped take home the Class 4A State Championship for the Tigers' baseball team. Alyson went up to Joliet to cheer her brother on.
Alyson has been tumbling since age four at the Mid-Illinois Gymnastics and Dance gym in Godfrey. She now gets to move up into the Elite and Level 9 Division.
"It'll be fun," she said about moving up to a tougher division.
Alyson mentioned that she had a lot of fun while in Florida. She said the team got to go to Busch Gardens the day after to celebrate the occasion before flying back.
Jennings started training again this week and according to Coach Bower, her event schedule for next year should come out sometime in August.
Alyson wants to continue her gymnastics career in college. She plans on attending Lindenwood University so that way she can stay relatively close to her family.
Believe it or not, Jennings wasn't the only gymnast to win a national championship from the Mid-Illinois gym.
Cheyanne Moore took first place in the sub-novice eight-year-old division.
Other gymnasts did well as Noelle Brown took 3rd pace in the nine-year-old division. Onyx Obermeyer took 5th and Anabel Rojas placed 6th in the eight-year-old division. Cecilia Peters finished 7th and Blakely Kinkel finished 9th in the sub-novice division. Kinsley Scott finished 7th in the intermediate division.
Mid-Illinois Gymnastics took 16 girls down to Florida, however, not everyone had podium finishes. Averee Blevins, Lillian Calame, Melaena Edwards, Sofia Moehn, Stella Moehn, Hailey Ryrie, and Brooklyn Wood all qualified for the USTA Nationals but did not place in any of their events.
All in all, it was a successful trip for coach Bower and her girls. Bringing back two national championships is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of.