HAA athletes jump-start 2017 season with good showing in Rio Rancho

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The gymnasts of High Altitude Athletics (HAA) had a great start to the 2017 season at their first meet Jan. 6-8 in Rio Rancho. The girls competed at G-Force Gymnastics Academy's Gravitational Invitational and were pitted against other gymnasts from the top gyms in the Albuquerque area.

Made up of young student-athletes ages 6 and up, the standard choreographed routines are scored on a scale of one to 10 – much like the gymnastics viewed on television during Olympic coverage.

HAA’s Level 2 Team, which includes the youngest gymnasts on the team, scored well in all three of the events. Juniper Nykamp scored on the bars (8.45) and placed sixth in the all-around competition. McKenna Coffman took gold on the balance beam (8.8) and placed fifth all-around. Sofia Amdur took third place on the vault (8.1) and also scored on the bars (8.6) and on the floor (8.05). Amdur took the silver in the all-around in a field of 10 competitors.

In Level 3 competition, June Allalunis earned gold on bars (8.9) and floor (9.15) and bronze on the beam (8.45). She placed second in the all-around. Jazmin Noble placed second on the vault (8.95), bars (9.0) and floor (9.05). She took the gold in the all-around. Riley Tucker showed her skills on bars (8.6) and finished in second place. She placed fourth in the all-around. Kiana Romero-Weaver scored well on the floor (8.85) and place fifth in the all-around.

Carissa Sanchez, HAA’s only Level 4 gymnast, had a great showing on the vault (8.55) – earning bronze and placing sixth in the all-around.

Members of Team Level 5 also scored high on bars. Alexis Etzel placed second on bars (9.125) and third in the all-around. Beatrice Burton took the bronze on bars (8.65), balance beam (9.075) and floor (8.8). She placed fourth in the all-around. Violet Kirshbaum scored on the balance beam (8.725) and took seventh in the all-around. Collectively, HAA's Level 5 also brought home a second-place team award.

HAA's Level 6 competitors, also known as the "Optional Team," fared particularly well on the vault. Tatyana Quintanilla competed out of session, but she scored on the vault (9.0) and on the floor (9.2) . Brandy Lee scored on the vault (8.7) and placed ninth in the all-around. Ciara Salazar scored on the balance beam (8.8) and came away with a fourth place in the all-around. Zeana McMains scored on the vault (9.0) and the balance beam (9.075). McMains was fifth in the all-around.

The two HAA Level 8 gymnasts had standout performances on the day. Alyx Mastor placed first on bars (9.425) and third on the balance beam (8.65) and floor (9.0). She placed fourth in the all-around. Jackie Jagers placed first on the floor (8.8) and second on bars (8.9). Jagers earned the gold in the all-around.

HAA’s first-ever Level 9s, Abby Gunther and Ciara Murphy, each had a great showing. Gunther scored on the bars (8.05). Murphy scored on the vault (8.95).

Xcel gymnasts sweep the podium

HAA's Bronze Team frequented the podium with outstanding performances from its members. Tirzah Ortega placed first on the bars (9.75) and the balance beam (9.4), second on the vault (8.8) and floor (9.1). Ortega earned the gold in the all-around. Ava Collignon placed third on balance beam (9.2) and placed fifth all-around. Eleanor Rael earned gold on the bars (8.95) and the floor (9.4). She placed third in the all-around. MairiJane Cook scored on the balance beam (9.05) and finished seventh in the all-around. Christina Gutierrez grabbed first place on the vault (8.55) and third on the bars (8.9). She came in fourth in the all-around. Bonnie Minter took the silver on the vault (8.8) and balance beam (9.3) and the bronze on the bars (9.6). Minter placed second in the all-around. Catalina Quintana placed third on the vault (8.85) and bars (9.2) and second on the balance beam (9.5). She took the bronze in the all-around. The Bronze Team also brought home a first-place team award.

HAA’s Xcel Silver Team also dominated the podium at G-Force. Isobel Quintan-Nielsen came away with gold on the balance beam (9.1) and floor (9.1) and the silver on the vault (8.9) and the bars (9.15). She earned first place in the all-around. Chloe MacHardy placed first on the balance beam (9.3) and third on the vault (8.45). MacHardy finished in fourth place in the all-around. Kailey Kelly claimed first place on the balance beam (9.5) and third on the bars (9.4) and floor (9.2). She took the bronze in the all-around. Mireya Sanchez grabbed the gold on the bars (9.7). Sanchez also came in first on the vault (9.05) and floor (9.25). She ended up with the silver in the all-around. Zillah Prato scored on the the bars (9.05) and placed sixth in the all-around. Monique Jordan was third on the balance beam (9.2) and placed seventh in the all-around. The six Xcel Silver girls also took first place as a team.

Part of HAA’s Xcel Gold Team also competed. Jaelynn Gonzales placed third on the vault (8.5) and second on the floor (8.9). She finished fifth in the all-around. Natalya Quintanilla took third place on the floor (8.75) and sixth place in the all-around. Sofia Abrums brought home the silver on the vault (9.0) and the bars (8.8). Abrums also earned the bronze on the balance beam (8.8) and came in second place in the all-around.

Up next for team HAA is a competition at Precision Gymnastics Academy in Albuquerque Jan. 20-22. The gymnastics season runs from January through March and includes end-of-season state and regional competitions.

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