Area gymnasts qualify for regionals
Franklin County Times
Six area gymnasts have qualified for the U.S. Men's Region 8 Gymnastics Championships, which are being held this weekend at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville
Steven Thebus, Jason Arterburn, Forrest Lyon, Glenn Lemley, Douglas Glenn and Taylor Daniel are competing against gymnasts from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina for regional titles and, among the upper levels, for a berth at U.S. Nationals in May.
All six gymnasts train at Madison's Southern States Gymnastics, which won the bid to host this year's competition.
"I cannot recall a time when a men's gymnastics competition of this caliber has been held in Huntsville," said Susan Lemley, an assistant coach at Southern States. "Hosting a meet this size and at this level has been an exciting and exhausting adventure."
Thebus and Lyon are the only two team members who currently qualify for Level 10, which is the highest level of competition.
"Steven Thebus is in his second year as a Level 10. He qualified for nationals last year, and he has been working hard to get there again this year," Lemley said. "Forrest Lyon is our other Level 10. This is his first year to compete at this level, and we expect great things from him. He, too, is vying for a spot at nationals."
Coach Glenn commented on the strong points in each of his team members.
" Thebus is a high flyer with lots of air – watch for his double somersaults and you'll see some big power tumbling," Glenn said. "Lyon is very strong and likes to flip big – watch for his strength on rings.
"Taylor Daniel (a first-year Level 8) is our young star on the rise who likes to tumble and vault. He has learned a lot of new skills this year, and we look forward to seeing him show them off."
Arterburn, Lemley and Glenn each compete in Level 6.
"No one on the team has more drive to improve themselves than Jason," coach Glenn said. "Glenn Lemley has come a long way this year, and has become the Level 6 team anchor. Douglas is a first year Level 6, and is our most tenacious competitor. He pulls out all the stops at a competition."
Gymnastics is a rigorous sport that requires 20 hours per week at the gym year-round but the team members enjoy the challenges.
"I enjoy the technical aspect of gymnastics," said Lyon, who chose gymnastics among other sports. "It is a lot more challenging than any other sport."
Glenn enjoys the social and competitive aspects of gymnastics, while Arterburn, 14, was hooked after watching the sport during the Olympics.
"The first time I saw gymnastics was during the Olympics in 2000," Arterburn said. "When I saw gymnasts soar 10 feet in the air and flip and spin multiple times before landing safely on their feet, I knew gymnastics was the sport for me.
"The coolest thing about gymnastics is the strength, flexibility, body awareness, endurance and other physical benefits. You do not have to be that good of a gymnast to notice these benefits, either. [Gymnastics has] helped me succeed in every other sport I have tried."
In the USA Gymnastics (USAG) Junior Olympic structure, competitive levels 5 through 10 can qualify to compete at regional championships based on their performance at their state championships.