DES MOINES, Ia. — Haylee Weiss and Braxton Higgins both performed at the top of their respective levels last week at the USA Gymnastics Championships.
With plenty of experience to fall back on at top-tiered competition, it gave both an opportunity to excel. Weiss gave two first-place performances
“Overall, I thought it went really well,” coach Josh Wright said. “We had some nervous performances, some people didn’t quite (perform how) they wanted, which is typical at the national championships. (They need) more practice performing under that kind of pressure, but I was really proud of everyone.
“To be able to come out with some golds and a bronze (medals) is awesome, (it’s) best in the country for this year, so it’s a huge honor.”
Weiss came away as the national champion in the double-mini trampoline as well as in the syncronized routine. Her performance on the trampoline itself garnered a 10th-place total.
Higgins took the top billing in the Youth Elite 13-14 trampoline competition, placing third with his double mini routine and was fourth in his syncro effort.
“They definitely had a good shot,” Wright said. “They needed to do what they’ve been trained to do — what we’ve been practicing. It’s a tough sport, it’s easy to get off on, but they were able to get everything done nice enough to be number one.”
The other three competitors from Emporia suffered some setbacks in their first taste of the national limelight.
Brady Wilson took 31st in the Open Elite classification in the double mini, while Olivia Carlson was 16th on the trampoline in the Level 8 13-14 category. She was 51st in the double mini of the same level and Allisyn Weiss wasn’t able to compete due to injury.
Wright said the two first-timers’ lower standing came down to a few small blips in execution, not at all the effort.
“He started off really well, he just overshot one of his passes, went a little too far,” Wright said of Wilson. “(He) was going for it hard, he just went (about) 12 inches too far, basically.
“A little bit of lean the wrong way makes it not work. I’m glad he was there ... he was not holding back in his performance, which was the main thing I’m looking for.
“(Carlson) overshot one of her passes too, which threw her off ... but then came back with an awesome second pass. It was a little bit (about being) nervous on the first one, came back and did an awesome second routine. I couldn’t have been happier to see that. It’s hard to get right back up after you just finished and try to perform after being a little shaky.”
Then came the waiting game for Wright and Higgins as they sought final word whether the Emporian will be selected to potentially take part in the World Age Group games, an international competition in Tokyo this winter.
The USA Championships were the third and final of Higgins’ qualifying meets for the chance to reach the highly-touted meet in Japan.
“He was really trying to earn his spot and I’m hoping he did,” Wright said. “That’s a lot of pressure on that last time, knowing that’s the final competition and having to perform well.”
Late Friday, it was revealed that he indeed did qualify for the World Age Group games. More will be said of this in a future edition of The Gazette.
The group collectively, according to Wright, regardless of placement got to see and learn about their sport as well as themselves throughout the week.
“They got to see olympians and people who were trying to make the world championship team,” he said. “They got to be a part of all the best the United States has to offer and they were able to be in that competition with them. It was a pretty great opportunity.
“Everyone showed up, ready to go (and) did their best. We’re learning and growing along the way. It helps them become stronger individuals, which is a big part of the whole competition process. You really have to earn their places. It’s extremely tough competition. Those lower levels have a lot bigger group, so it can be overwhelming.”