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2021 Dothan Compulsory Team
State Championship Interviews
December 9th 2021 - 2021 Dothan Compulsory Team
Less than a year after United Gymstars & Cheer moved into a Dothan gym and began operations, the compulsory team finished with high marks in the recent state meet in Tuscaloosa.
“These kids went in with the expectations of what I wanted from them and they delivered,” gymnastics trainer Meagan Peacock said. The team finished in second place overall in Level 4 and fourth in Level 3 out of more than 20 teams at the Alabama Compulsory State Meet. The Gymstars also had three first place individual state champions.
“They’ve competed at other places before, but this is the first time we’ve competed as United as a whole,” Peacock said of the team. United also has a campus in Montgomery and the organization is established as one of the leading gymnastics schools in the state.
Peacock spoke on the dedication of the students in preparing for team competition once the gym opened under the United name in February.
“The hours jumped up and they just devoted themselves to it,” Peacock said. “The thing about gymnastics is it’s really hard to do anything else (other activities) with this sport. They have to give up those weekend trips and those slumber parties to be able to do this and do it well, and they have.
“We try to keep it very competitive so when we do go against those Birmingham teams that we work the same amount of hours as them so we can keep it at the same level, because we want to be that same caliber.
“Most of these kids do four-hour practices. It’s definitely a commitment, but they love it. We try to keep it fresh; we try to keep it fun. They got to work upgraded skills throughout the season just because they were so ready for when they competed at this level.” Emma Lott and Amelia McRae each earned first place medals in Level 4 in their age divisions. Lott, a 13-year-old, took first in bars, beam, floor and was second on vault, while McRae, who is 10, was first on vault, bars and second on beam and floor.
“She went there and kind of crushed it,” Peacock said of Lott. “I’ll never forget our first meet, I kind of knew where we were in our ranking and she was our last one to go on beam. “Typically you can’t say to a child, ‘Hey, I need you to get up there and do your best because you’re team is depending on you’ because they’ll crack under pressure. Not Emma. She went out there and knew what was on the line and she did it anyway.” Lott has high aspirations.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics,” Lott said of her future goals. She is strong physically and has worked hard towards that end.
“Mostly, my coaches always tell me I have good form and my good shape,” Lott said of her strengths. “A lot of power, definitely.”
“It did surprise me, because there were a lot of girls,” Lott said. “So you’re like, ‘Am I’m going to win, or what’s going to happen?’ You never know.”
McRae finished strong with her floor routine in winning all-around.“I wish I could take credit for it, but she’s just a really good dancer,” Peacock said. “One of the things at state is when we went, they were judging extremely hard on floor. I mean, she just killed it. The presentation and the artistry are just all there.” McRae enjoys all aspects of the competition.
“I do really well at floor because I like to dance around and tumble,” McRae said. “And I like to do bars because it’s fun – like jumping to the high bar and catching it. “On vault I got the highest score that I have gotten this season. On beam, I did probably the best I’ve done in a long time. I did pretty good on floor. Not as good as I’ve done, but pretty good.”
She is proud of the state results. “It feels really good, because there was this other girl that me and her were really close in competition, and I was like, ‘Oh no, I don’t know if I’m going to get first.’ Then when they called my name out, I felt very good. “We were ready and our coaches helped us a lot. They helped us all season long.”
In Level 3, Lucy Hall led the way with a first place finish on vault and third on floor. “She’s kind of good at all of it; that’s why she won the all-around,” Peacock said. “The nice thing about Lucy is she’s just kind of competitive in all of it. “In gymnastics you’ll have event athletes and then every once in a while you’ll get an all-around athlete and those are really hard to come by. Lucy is one of those. Like, she doesn’t just do bar and beam well, or just do floor and vault well, she does it all well.”
Hall felt she was well prepared for the meet.“I felt like I had a good chance to win because I listen to my coaches,” Hall said. “I like being with my friends and I like my coaches.” As for getting better, Hall simply said, “You don’t cheat on your conditioning.”
Other competitors for United Gymstars who placed in the state meet in Level 4 were Layla Rogers (third in state, first on floor) and Mary Zetta Hovey (first on bars). In Level 3 were Reagan Spence (first on vault, third on beam) and Emily Barfield (second on beam, third on vault). In Level 2 were Harper Brewer (second on vault, second on bars) and Katherine Walker (second on floor, third on vault).