Around Town: GEMS Levels 8, 9 take 2nd at invite

The Trinity GEMS Levels 8 and 9 gymnastics teams both placed second at the New Orleans Jass Invitational from Jan. 16 to 21 at the New Orleans Convention Center.

Ashley Resch won the All-Around for the GEMS in the Level 8 10- to 12-year-old division with a 36.625 score. Resch also won the uneven parallel bars (9.250) and floor exercise (9.250), was second in vault (9.050) and fourth in balance beam (9.075).

“She went down and dominated that meet,” GEMS coach Chris Riegel said.

Resch was competing in just her third Level 8 meet. She started training at GEMS in Lake in the Hills in late summer as a Level 6. Riegel said it was clear that Resch had the talent and ability to move up.

“It took me a week or two to realize [Resch] could do Level 7,” Riegel said. “As soon as I saw her athleticism the objective became to do one Level 7 [meet] and go right to Level 8.”

The progression was quick as Resch placed second in her second meet as a Level 8

“I saw it in the gym,” Riegel said. “I saw the potential starting to gel as soon as she got a little more experience.”

The move up in levels is a huge jump for gymnasts because optional levels start at Level 7. Optional gives the gymnast and coach the ability to choose routines and music suited to gymnast’s style, skill and ability. Levels 1 through 6 are compulsory levels where competitors all do the same routine.

“It’s a completely different world,” Riegel said. “[Resch is] definitely a star in the making.”

Resch’s success is even more remarkable given her diminutive size.

“People look at her on the floor and just start giggling,” Riegel said. “We could not be happier. She became a little star down there.”

Also in Level 8, Mackenzie Goad won the balance beam (9.075) and was fourth in the all-around (35.450), Reagan Gnewuch was third in the floor exercise (9.050) and Katy Cash was fifth in the uneven parallel bars.

Riegel said it won’t be long before this quartet of Level 8’s will be competing at the highest level.

“I couldn’t believe how they performed,” Riegel said. “By the time they’re 12, 13, 14 years old, they’ll be Level 10’s.”

For the Level 9, 11 and 12 division, Katarina Schmid won the vault (8.950), was second in the floor exercise (8.050), third in the uneven parallel bars (8.650) and fourth in the balance beam (7.900) for a second place all-around finish with a 33.550 score. Leayla Liebich won the uneven bars (8.875) and third in the balance beam (8.100) to finish fourth in the all-around (16.975). Liebich did not compete in the vault or floor events.

Alexa Schyvinck won the balance beam (8.600) in the Level 9, 13 and 14 division, was second in the vault (9.150) and floor exercise (8.875) and fifth in the uneven bars (7.500) to finish third in the all-around (34.125).

At Level 7, Reece Samuelson won the floor exercise (9.525) in the 8- to 9-year-old division and was fourth in the all-around (35.375).

Algonquin native finishes second: Algonquin’s Kirby Kelly finished second in the women’s halfpipe competition at the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Qualifiers on Sunday in Seven Springs, Pa.

The 17-year-old earned $1,200 for the finish. By winning, she qualified for the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, Colo., from Feb. 25-March 2.

•Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at


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