Junior Gabriella Celona performing her floor routine. Photo by Sandra Li.

On February 2nd, Malden High School’s gymnastics team competed in a league meet against ten other teams from various cities across Massachusetts including Beverly, Winthrop, and Essex. The meet was held in Middleton at the Yellow Jackets Gymnasium.

Leading up to the league meet, the team had been doing their regular practices frequently with a particular emphasis in training the seniors, who would be taking center stage in the competition.

Malden’s first event was on the uneven bars. In bars, competitors have to heavily focus on their upper body, especially their arms and core strength. Gymnasts who competed in this event were seniors Kevin Phan and Quang Nguyen.

In Nguyen’s performance, he was able to do a long hang kip for the first time, which is a challenging skill that would be performed on the high bar. In terms of how he can improve on his routine, Nguyen stated that “[he] could have pointed [his] toes and kept [his] legs straight throughout the routine because gymnastics is a sport of grace and beauty, so movements with grace are needed.

Senior Kelly Zhou performing on the beam. Photo by Sandra Li.

The next event was the Floor routine. For Floor, competitors need both the willingness to dance and also the commitment to leaps and tumbles. To compete in the Floor, competitors also need to commit to performing your routine well with a positive mindset. Gymnasts who performed in the event were Phan and junior Gabriella Celona.

Phan states that “the only challenges that [he] faced were the pressure before going onto the floor to perform. Other than that, it was all in [his] head and going through [his] routine as best [he] could.” Phan adds that “[he] felt incredibly nervous and pressured to do [his] routine during the league meet, just because there were a total of at least 10 different teams present and a large number of spectators. [He] was very nervous to mess up or to do something wrong in front of everyone, therefore [he] was determined to do [his] best.”

Next came the beam and vault events. Both events competed at the same time for Malden. For beam, senior captain Tyler Risteen and senior Kelly Zhou performed. In beam, you have to keep your balance in mind. Before competing, Zhou says that “[She] was nervous but also reassured because [she] knew it was a big meet so not a lot of people will be paying attention to [her] so [she] can just perform feeling less anxious.”

She continues on saying  that “[she] does not like heights and it took [her] a long time to get used to the high beam and not freak out when [she] looks down but [she] did feel excited knowing that [she] has the ability to accomplish that.” For Risteen, she recalls that “[She] fell on a skill that [she] usually lands, so [she is] going to work harder on that.”

As for the Vault, freshman Alyson Kwong and Phan competed in the event. In Vault, “[competitors] really need to be able to run, put in effort, be powerful and put in speed” as Kwong states. When describing the excitement of each competition, Kwong says that, “[she] felt such a relief because [she] usually compete in all of the events and just being able to do one of [her] favorite events made [her] feel good.”

Finally, the judges totaled up the scores and awards such as medals were given out to the competitors. As for Malden High School’s Gymnastics team, they were able to receive a sportsmanship award.

Despite Malden not winning any medals, coach Katie Bowdridge, Risteen, and the rest of the team were still very pleased and optimistic about the results.

Risteen mentions that “league meets are always fun, because it is just a bunch of gymnasts and [the team] get[s] to see a lot of different levels of skills, seeing the really elite gymnasts.”

For Bowdridge, she says that “[the team] has improved from the beginning of the season until now and [they are] still trying to add different skills to [their] routine and clean things up but each meet they have improved on their team and individual scores.”

And so, Malden High School’s gymnastics team will continue to work hard and is looking forward to ending their season with diligence and grace.

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