What are the chances? An eventful regional championship meet in Dad's small hometown of Helena, Montana? We couldn't believe it either.
The Independent Record, Helena's newspaper, reported it as the largest meet in Montana history. And the venue (Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds) was only about a mile from Dad's childhood home, the very place where our family spends Thanksgiving every year. Any regional championship is a big deal, but for us, this meet was an exciting homecoming. Three of Jon's sisters traveled home to support Alyssa, and my parents also made the trek to watch her compete.
This meet conveniently fell during our spring break and we arrived in Helena on Wednesday evening. Thursday morning, before a scheduled team workout at the meet venue, the girls went for a ride at the Great Northern carousel.
They were the only ones there so each of them snatched the brass ring, which means a free ride.
But they would have to hold on to that free ride for later because Lys had to get to workout.
Most teams wear matching workout leos for their regional training session. It's tradition for our gym to give the girls a new leo just for this occasion. (Coach Lauren made them matching bows, too.) Here are the AGC level 8-10s in their new Regionals workout leotards, getting ready for their training session:
Some fun action shots:
After workout, the girls wanted to use their free carousel rides, so Lys invited several teammates to go along. We visit this Helena feature every time we come to town. It was almost surreal to have so many friends from home there.
The girls then got ready for our team dinner. Since we were headed to Jon's stomping grounds, I thought it would be fun to arrange a dinner for Alyssa's level 9 team. A couple of weeks before the meet, I started calling restaurants in the area. The gathering slowly evolved and I eventually found myself planning a dinner to include all the gymnasts, some parents and coaches, too.
I knew I wanted a location that was uniquely Helena and I happened upon Care Taker's Cabin.
The second oldest building in Helena, it was an historic cabin that has been turned into an intimate dining experience. The restaurant holds a maximum of 35 people so our team easily filled the place. The food was great and it turned out to be the most perfect private event. The girls had a blast.
Team AGC--Levels 8-10
Back row from left: Nikki, Tenley, Kendal, Beth Ashley, Alexis, Savannah, Ali and Kayla
Front row from left: Shilese, Emily, Gracie, Sam, Maison, Emily, Alyssa and Karlei
Not pictured: Haley
I got little notebooks for each of the girls to write good luck notes to each other.
The set-up could not have been more perfect. The girls had this little room of the cabin all to themselves and the adults had a small room just through that doorway on the left:
On Friday morning, the competitions began. First up was the level 8 team competition. At level 8 only, the top eight scorers from each of the six states representing region 2 come together for a fun and rather raucous showdown. Two level 8's from AGC were on Team Washington. As spectators, we were encouraged to wear Seahawks gear.
The gymnasts wore the most adorable Seahawks-inspired leos and carried Seahawks logos during their march-in. The meet is run in college format, which means scores are a bit inflated. But both AGC girls did really well and little Karlei even earned a 10.0 on beam and floor. She was amazing!!
Team Washington won handily and then it was time for the serious competitions to start. After a quick bite at Staggering Ox, the girls had fun decorating cars to show team pride.
Then we went back to the meet venue to cheer on our level 10's. All the while, Natalie and Caleb were playing with their Canadian cousins who had come to visit and watch Lys compete for the very first time. My kids adore their cousins and they were the perfect distraction from so much gymnastics.
Alyssa competed on Saturday. She's never entirely forthright with her emotions so it was impossible to tell how she was feeling as her competition was getting ready to begin. If she was the slightest bit nervous, her typical cover-up masked it perfectly. I, on the other hand, was nearly physically ill.
She had a large group of supporters in the stands and I hoped she'd be able to perform her very best. Also, I desperately hoped she would be able to qualify for her very first Western Championships--which is the next and final step in a season for a level 9 gymnast.
Lys got to hold the Washington banner for march-in:
She had a great meet! She went 4/4, hitting all her routines. I love watching her do her thing.
Her all-around score--a season high--and 5th place all-around finish easily qualified her for Westerns. There she will meet the top level 9 gymnasts from the Western side of the United States. She got fitted for a Region 2 leotard and warm-ups that she will wear for the competition. She also received a new backpack, t-shirt, shorts and some headbands. Exciting stuff!
Helena holds lots of memories for our family. Now we've added a few gymnastics ones to the mix. This will likely be the only time in her gymnastics career that she will compete in Montana. How special that it was in Dad's hometown!
Congratulations, Lys! We're unbelievably proud of you!