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Gymnastics at its highest level, 7-10, began this month.
The Tampa Bay Turners entered their first girls optional meet, the Flip and Fun Invite in Melbourne, last weekend. Four individual all-around awards and 13 other top-seven all-around results were earned by the St. Petersburg club.
"The girls started off even a little better than we expected," Turners coach Brad Harris said. "It was more difficult to prepare with the holiday breaks.
"Since the national calendar has been pushed up, we had to begin earlier in order to be ready for that," he said.
All-around winners for TB were Kirsten Chmielewski in Level 8, Alyssa Harmon Level 9 and Jessica Beckman and Kaylene Sattanno Level 10.
"I trained hard for this meet, and in spite of the holidays, I came in every day," Sattanno said.
"I did well on the uneven bars and think it's a natural event for me. At nationals last year, I was third on bars."
Sattanno won the bars event and was second on vault and third on balance beam in the Melbourne invitational.
Beckman, a junior at Boca Ciega High, won the beam and floor exercise and was second on vault and bars.
"I was gearing up for it and hoping to do well," Beckman said. "It's everybody's goal to hit four-for-four events, and I did.
"The beam is my favorite. At nationals last year, I had two different skills named after me, which was exciting. One was for a dismount on vault and the other on bars.
"This year, I hope to make the national team, which -- although I made it to the national competition last year -- I missed making the team by .025 points," Beckman said.
Joining Chmielewski in Level 8 with top all-around scores were Alyssa Collins (second), Ashley Sullivan (third) and Alyssa Adrian and Jordann Windschauer (tied for fourth).
Harmon, a second-year Level 9 gymnast, won beam and floor in the Melbourne meet.
"The first meet was a little tough, but it got easier as I got started," Harmon said. "After beam and floor, I thought I might have a chance to win the whole thing."
"Now, I'm ready to train and make it to regionals and Eastern Nationals again. I made it last year in my first time in Level 9, which was very special."
Jenny Citrin was second in Level 9, Brianne McKeon third, Lauren Jones and Sarah Brownlee tied for fifth and Lisa Taylor and Natalie Mera tied for sixth.
This weekend, about 30 of LaFleur's optional gymnasts are competing in the Greater New York Invite at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.
"We're really looking forward to this season," said Melody LaFleur, coach and co-owner at LaFleur's of Largo.
"We've never had an optional team this large before. With close to 40 girls altogether in the program, it will be interesting to see how it develops."
The Turners will have their third annual Optional Invitational on Saturday-Jan. 20 at the Bayfront Center.
Level 7 through elite gymnasts from more than 20 clubs will begin competition at 8 a.m. Saturday.
For information, call 522-2867.
MORE GYMNASTICS: LaFleur's of Largo claimed the Level 4 State Championship last month and was led by all-around winners Carly Tidwell, Amanda Condreay, Mikayla Mann, Amanda Oliveira, Christine Miles, Jessica Griswald and Michelle Watts.
Shelby Hilton was first all-around for the Tampa Bay Turners and joined by runners-up Kylie Moran, Melissa Tobin and Nikki Brown. Moran, Tobin, Brown, Shannon Russo and Rachael Pearce captured individual event titles.
The Gemini School of Gymnastics scored two all-around championships from Joette Amundaray and Anna Yatskar. Emily Sayas was second all-around.
Yatskar, Emily Tongee and Amundaray were crowned individual event champs. In the AAU Level 3 State Championship, LaFleur's Amanda Maxwell, Megan Covert and Cassandra Bickler finished first all-around to lead the club to a crown.
Kristina Murphy was second, and Morgan O'Malia, Alyssa Archiletti and Shannon Hill were third.
Other event medalists were Brittany Hill, Ariel Douds, Meredith Reagin, Jennifer Moser, Krystina Frederick, Haley McHugh, Stephanie Jefford and Mallory Leary.
SWIMMING: The Clearwater Aquatic Team finished first among 16 clubs in its Jingle Bell Invitational at the Long Center.
St. Petersburg Aquatics was second, West Florida Lightning Aqautics eighth, Tampa Bay Aquatics ninth and Dunedin Aquatic Club 10th.
Meet high-point winners were Kaitlin Frehling (SPA) in 10-and-under, Megan Romano (SPA) 11-12 and Jose Crescimbeni (CAT) 11-12.
DAC's Aubrey Haas was fifth in 8-and-under and older brother Justin was third in 10-and-under. Wes Stearns (CAT) was second in 10-and-under.
In senior boys, CAT's Jay Carpenter, Grant Johnson and Clay Bullock finished 2-3-4.
Event winners included SPA's Frehling, Romano, Tracy Rorer, Kelsey Krauss, Yasemin Taskin, Cameron Chambers, Brenno Varanda and Joseph Eberhard; CAT's Kassie Schmidt, Caitlin Warner, Erin Hill, Stearns, Crescimbeni, James Taddeo and Jay Carpenter; and WFLA's Kyle Duffee.
SOCCER: Local teams were prominent in last month's Shoot Out Tournament hosted by the Dunedin Stirling.
Dunedin's under-9 boys Kilmarnock first-division squad beat Manatee 2-1 in their final. The Clearwater Chargers under-11 second-division team edged Temple Terrace in overtime 3-2.
Countryside Lightning dominated the under-12 girls with a 6-0 victory over Hillsborough, as did Strictly Soccer's under-14 club over Hernando.
The Azalea Eagles outplayed Dunedin's under-16 boys Montrose squad 3-0. Other local runners-up included Countryside under-9 boys second division, Dunedin's under-11 first-division Aberdeen, East Lake's under-11 and under-16 girls, Palm Harbor Nighthawks under-12 boys and Dunedin under-15 Hibernian.
ICE SKATING: Clearwater's Emilie Nussear and partner Mathew Gates won gold medals in the dance competition of the Eastern Sectional Figure Skating Championships in Pennsylvania.
Seminole's Daniel Raad will compete in the novice men's division in this month's U.S. Championships.