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In The News

Reynolds Becomes Programs First College Bound Athlete
Liberty Gymnastics Academy
By: Chris Geinosky

Liberty Tribune Article
Liberty Tribune Article

2013 Champions and Qualifiers
Liberty Gymnastics Academy
By: Chris Geinosky

Gym Dandies

Phillips makes history for gym
Edge Gymnastics Liberty
By Chris Geinosky
POSTED: 9:33 am CDT May 3, 2012

Contributed photo/Christy Schram
Sarah Phillips, a South Valley Junior High School eighth grader, heads to nationals this weekend in Boise, Idaho.
Thanks to the work of Sarah Phillips, Edge Gymnastics Liberty has its first national qualifier.

Phillips became the first athlete to advance to nationals in the gym s brief six-year history since opening its doors in Liberty in 2006. The South Valley Junior High School eighth grader will compete at the Level 9 Western Championships this weekend in Boise, Idaho.

I was really excited to know I was the first one here to make nationals,  Phillips said. I ve been working really hard, and I m glad all that work paid off. 

Phillips punched her ticket to the season finalé at the Region 4 Championships two weekends ago in Minneapolis, Minn. Only the top 12 placers qualified for nationals, and Phillips finished 10th at the region, which included competitors from seven states  Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Megan Johnson, a seventh grader at South Valley Middle School, won the Level 8 uneven bar title at the regional meet. That made her Edge s second regional champion in as many years.

I accomplished a lot,  Johnston said. I was really happy when I won. It was a good moment. 

Edge had many more of those. In fact, all nine of the regional qualifiers medaled at the meet.

Some of the big highlights included Danielle Koger s runner-up finish on the vault and in the all-around. Jessica Cordle placed second on the beam and third in the all-around, and Grace Angles added a second-place finish on the floor.

For us being an up and coming gym, these are some great accomplishments,  optional head coach Lauren Holm said. These girls work hard in the gym every day, and they completely deserve what they got.

We had more people going to regionals this year than we ever had in the past. You can tell that our program is moving up with the help of the girls. To have it turn out so well is awesome. 

Actually, the positive results started to roll in a month earlier at the Missouri state championship meets, the Levels 3-5 state competition held in Columbia and the Levels 6-10 in St. Louis. Edge had 12 athletes combine for 23 state titles.

Isabel Zimmerman, Piper Baldwin, Josie Smith and Claire Rogers each won all-around crowns. The other state champions included Kaiya Cozad, Meghan Fullerton, Maddy Larson, Jennifer LeHew, Grace Allen, Grace Cantrell, Ashlynn Ackfeld and Phillips.

Sportswriter Chris Geinosky can be reached at 389-6654 or cgeinosky@npgco.com.

BUILDING CHAMPIONS: Young athletes make most of summer at Liberty gym

Edge Gymnastics Liberty
By Chris Geinosky

It may be the middle of the summer. The athletes may be months removed from the conclusion of the 2011 competitive gymnastics season and still have plenty of time before thinking about 2012.
None of that seems to matter at Edge Gymnastics Liberty. Approximately 30 of the facility s top-end gymnasts  and 70 competitive athletes in all  have been busy at work during daily practices throughout the dog days of the summer.
This is totally the offseason. Honestly, this is one of most important times of the year,  Edge owner/operator Christy Schram said. This is when they get their new skills, and this is when they have the opportunity to move up a level. During the offseason is probably where they re driven the most to succeed because they can challenge themselves by learning new skills. 
Apparently the athletes themselves recognize that as well, considering the high participation numbers this time of the year. And the numbers just seem to keep growing at Edge, where in its sixth year of operation in Liberty, the gym has seen continued growth in its competitive program.
Despite the fact that it s the offseason, higher level optional gymnasts  Level 7 through 10  put in 20 hours of practice per week, while the lower level compulsory gymnasts  Level 4 to 6  spend plenty of time in the gym as well. But the long hours don t seem to deter these dedicated athletes.
This is what I love to do,  said Audrey Azpell, Level 5 state balance beam champion and sixth-grader at South Valley Middle School. A lot of my friends are here, and I love my coaches. I just love every minute of being here, and I don t want to miss it. 
The summer months also represent the most important time of the year for an athlete s conditioning. Although the athletes continue to work on their individual event skills, this is the time to build the foundation of the long, lean muscles necessary to successfully participate in the sport, as well as trying to sculpt quick-twitch muscles.
We re working legs, arms and abs, and there s a lot of shoulder strength involved, too. That s why the summer is really important,  Schram said. If you miss conditioning, you lose strength. If someone was to miss a summer or take a summer off, they would not make it to the next level. It s just this simple  if you take the summer off, you can t do gymnastics at a competitive level. 
Of course, that doesn t mean a gymnast couldn t still be successful. The Edge s own personal exception to the rule is Level 8 regional floor champion Maddy Schlegel.
Although the Liberty North High School sophomore took a couple seasons off from the sport, Schlegel went on to claim a championship at the seven-state USA Gymnastics Region 4 Championships this past spring in Des Moines, Iowa. As a Level 8 athlete, Schlegel could not qualify for nationals, meaning she attained the highest goal within her reach.
When I came back and won regionals, I was a little bit surprised,  Schlegel said. It means a lot to me. After sitting out for two years, I didn t think I would be as strong as I was. I owe the coaches a lot for helping me. 
Schlegel isn t the only one. The Edge staff, which received a Missouri State Coaches of the Year Award in 2010 and is led by head coach Jessica Smalley, produced nine Missouri State Champions this year in addition to the gym s regional champ  Eryn Williams (Level 9 vault, uneven bars and all-around), Megan Mulligan (Level 6 floor), Kaitlyn Lewis (Level 5 all-around), Taylor Boeke (Level 5 beam), Taylor Brice (Level 5 floor), Azpell (Level 5 beam), Ashlynn Ackfeld (Level 5 floor), Emily Scholl (Level 4 uneven bars, beam and all-around) and Olivia Schmitt (Level 4 uneven bars and all-around).
When the gym opened its doors in 2006 in Liberty, the program had fewer than a dozen low-level competitive gymnasts and a large number of athletes who had no previous gymnastics experience. It s safe to say Edge has come a long way in five short years.
The facility has molded its young athletes from scratch and has developed Level 9 performers the past two years. Edge staff members envision the program having a Level 10 gymnast  a rarity for a local gym  by the 2013 season, and eventually becoming a college-scholarship producing gym.
We re interested in the overall well-being of the athletes,  Smalley said. While we want to make them the best gymnasts we can, we also want to turn out responsible young ladies when they re done with the sport.  & We re getting stronger all the way through our levels. In the future, we re hoping these girls will be our first scholarship gymnasts out of here. 
Sportswriter Chris Geinosky can be reached at 389-6654 or cgeinosky@npgco.com.

BUILDING CHAMPIONS: Coach brings vast experience to the table
Edge Gymnastics Liberty: Jessica Smalley
By Chris Geinosky
POSTED: 3:47 pm CDT July 20, 2011
Edge Gymnastics Liberty does not have any Olympians in its gym.
But what it does have is one former athlete who competed against Olympians. Jessica (Washburn) Smalley, the head coach of the competitive team at Edge, took the floor against many of the gold medal winners in the team all-around competition  Shannon Miller, Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes, Amanda Borden and Dominique Moceanu  during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
She was that close to making the Olympics,  Edge owner/operator Christy Schram said while pinching her index finger and thumb together. Jessica doesn t talk about it much unless the kids ask, but it s alright. We do the talking for her around here. 
A former member of the U.S. Elite Junior National Team and Senior National Team during her own youth competition days in the early 1990s, Smalley made her one and only national television appearance during the 1993 Olympic Sports Festival in San Antonio. Smalley went on to compete collegiately at Auburn University and soon after turned her attention to the coaching side of the sport.
Smalley has been coaching since she was 16 years old. She has been with Edge since the facility opened in Liberty.
She made us as a coaching staff incredibly gifted,  Schram said of the mild-mannered Smalley. She brought all her knowledge, her drills and her know-how to the rest of us. She has boosted the skill level. It s a shame that not more people know she s here with us. 
Sportswriter Chris Geinosky can be reached at 389-6654 or cgeinosky@npgco.com.

Copyright © by Edge Gymnastics Liberty All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-10-25 (6851 reads)

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