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Busy Panther has a lot going for her


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 15, 2001

TAMPA -- Everything came together for Lauren Companioni this year.

The Plant senior recently won her second consecutive state gymnastics title, signed a scholarship with LSU (one of the top 10 NCAA gymnastics colleges in the country), locked in on a 5.2 weighted grade point average, was selected as a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society and was selected prom queen.

"This has just been an absolutely fabulous year," she said. "LSU has a great gymnastics program."

Companioni has been training in gymnastics since age 5. Her sister, Lisa, a junior with the North Carolina team, also is a Level 10 gymnast and former state champion.

In addition to winning the all-around title, Companioni also won the gold for floor exercises. But none of it came easy. Time management and work have been a daily activity. She trains after class for three to four hours every school day. When preparing for a big meet, she often practices on Saturdays.

Then there are the weekend meets, which usually involve traveling; though the recent state championships were in Tampa. After practice, there was dinner, shower and plenty of studying.

"I have never known any other way of life," she said. "So I learned to make the best of my time, and I was fortunate to get positive results in my sport and studies. The prom queen selection was a real surprise. I really don't have a lot of time for social activities, but I do have a lot of friends."

Companioni said her goals at LSU are somewhat similar to her high school goals.

"I will probably go into some field of medicine," she said. "But I also want to help LSU win an NCAA national championship."

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