YMCA gymnasts prepare for tournament

May 17—The Meadville YMCA gymnastics team will be hosting a state-level tournament this weekend at the David V. Wise Center at Allegheny College. The tournament begins Saturday, with Level 3 kicking off the competition at 8:30 a.m.

The Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 and Xcel Silver teams of YMCA Meadville will be competing this weekend.

The Level 2 team is hoping to continue their recent success after winning their third state championship in a row last year.

"We're hoping for a fourth one," said Level 2 coach Betsy Tautin. "We had 11 girls medal at states on the eastern side, so we're hoping for some medals on the lower levels as well."

Even with the pressure of going into a big event to win a fourth title, the Twisters feel no pressure at all. They've been practicing two days a week all year. Now it's just about putting practice to competition.

"It doesn't phase them," said Tautin. "They come in here and have a good time, there's no pressure. They have a lot of experience, so it's about having fun and doing what we've been doing all year."

Unlike other sports, gymnastics is year-round. There are no seasons like in other sports, which makes the dedication they show all the more impressive.

"There's a lot of dedication," said B. Tautin. "At such a young age I don't think people realize it's a year-round sport, they think it's like any other sport with seasons."

The Twisters' Level 4 team is competing as well. At this level, things become a little more difficult.

"Level 4 is a tough level as a lot of different skills get introduced," said Level 4 coach Mike Tautin. "We've come a long way from where we started. A lot of these girls are in Level 4 for the first time, so we have brand new skills they haven't seen before and it takes a lot of work to learn them."

With all of the new skills needed to compete at this level, practice makes perfect, and the Twisters have come a long way since the beginning of the year, putting them in a good spot to win medals at this tournament.

"At the beginning of the year, I had to do a lot of spotting, but now I do very little spotting because they have most of the skills," said Mike Tautin. "They should do well. We've had good results in our league, so it should be interesting to see how we match up against the eastern side of the state."

High expectations and a bigger tournament, especially one hosted at a college venue, come with a lot of pressure.

"We're using a college venue," said Mike Tautin. "So when they see the bigger venue and bigger stands and more spectators they get a little more nervous, nerves kick in."

The tournament will run through Sunday, with the last of Level 2 beginning at 12:30 p.m. Awards ceremonies will be held immediately after each session.

Trevor Teubner can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at