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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 8, 2012

A stately dismount for Marini, and the Levy sisters from Guilderland

COLONIE –– Gymnastics moves may seem impossible to the untrained eye, but it’s routine for the gymnast.

Guilderland athletes Hailey Marini, Jaclyn Levy, and her twin sister, Claire, have made gymnastics such a routine in their lives that its something natural for them. At the State Meet on Saturday, the girls felt comfortable.

Marini and the Levy sisters didn’t just make the elite group –– they thrived.

“It’s a real challenge,” said Marini, a sophomore, who competed in all four events, finishing 13th overall in the state with a score of 35. “You have to have the right mindset. It’s all about the mind.”

Jaclyn Levy competed on the vault and on the uneven bars and Claire, making states for the first time, qualified for the uneven bars. With the same outfit, body type, hair, and make-up, the two juniors are hard to tell apart.

“People get our names wrong a lot, even our own teammates,” said Claire, or was it Jaclyn? “Sometimes, we won’t even bother to correct them.”

Head Coach Brenda Goodnight said that States is like a party for all the gymnasts, but she was really impressed with the girls’ focus on Saturday. “They did what they wanted and a lot more,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better performance.”

Marini told The Enterprise that she finally connected on the balance beam, staying on her backhand springs. She scored an 8.875 for 17th place. Marini’s best score of the day was 8.975 on floor exercise for 14th place.

“This is awesome,” Marini said. “I’m happy.”

Not many gymnasts do a Tsukahara vault at the high school level, but Jaclyn Levy does. This vault consists of a half-turn off the springboard onto the vault stand, then a thrust backwards, usually into a back salto or layout. It’s named after Mitsuo Tsukahara, who first performed the move in 1972.

“It’s pretty difficult,” said Jaclyn Levy. “Doing a flip requires a lot of strength and power, but it’s worth a higher value, so that’s why I do it.”

Claire Levy’s uneven bar routine is a little short on time, but full of energy. Judges base the score on form, difficulty, composition, and technique. State scoring is usually more precise.

“I did really good,” Claire Levy said of her score of 8.15. “I did better here than at sectionals. Who can say that?”

Gymnasts try for perfection, but it has to be fun, too.

“I try really hard, and I do get frustrated,” said Claire Levy. “Even if I do bad, I love doing this.”

Goodnight said that such a good day required follow-up with some ice cream. “They love to have fun, so that makes everything more fun,” she said.

If judging were based on smiles and joy, then Marini and the Levy twins would receive perfect scores.

“This makes me feel really good about myself,” Jaclyn Levy said. “I have passion for it.”

— By Jordan J. Michael

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