Five gymnasts from Madison Gymnastics Center (MGC) in Rexburg — Level 10 gymnasts Charity Hepworth, Payton Lerwill, Logan Havas and Jose Tarrillo and Level 9 gymnast Sam Cameron — qualified for the USA Gymnastics Development Program National Championships, to be held in Daytona Beach, Florida. That group will head to the national competition on May 11-16 to compete with the top development program gymnasts in the nation.
After COVID-19 ground all USA Gymnastics sanctioned events to a halt early in 2020, the gymnasts at Madison Gymnastics Center were hungry for competition in 2021. For months, they kept up a grueling schedule of 15 hours of practice a week, which includes time spent working skills on each of the events but also a variety of conditioning exercises from sets of 20 rope climbs to hundreds of burpees.
This competition season began in January with a series of meets in locations ranging from Idaho to Utah to Arizona, which prepared the team for the men’s Region 2 meet in Seattle on April 9-11 and the women’s Region 2 meet in Helena, Montana on April 15-18.
This year, Madison Gymnastics Center took a large contingent to the men’s regional competition with Level 10 gymnasts James Smart, Payton Lerwill, Jose Tarrillo, and Logan Havas, Level 9 gymnasts Sam Cameron, Seth Thompson, and Sam Ward, Level 8 gymnast Tristan Weilacher, Level 7 gymnast Braydon Barton and Level 6 gymnasts Jeremy Lamoreaux, Rowan Barker, and Porter Ward all competing in the Junior Olympic competition, plus Peter Smart and Cutler Bosh in the Junior Development competition.
The women’s junior development team sent Level 10 gymnast Charity Hepworth, Level 8 gymnasts Alexis Pena, Liv Hacking and Sarah Cameron, Level 6 gymnasts Blaykli Peterson, Maddie Clark, Liberty Watson, and Laityn Sessions to the Region 2 meet in Helena.
The women’s team also sent Anne Jackson, Ruth Jackson, Jane Jackson, Ashlyn Carlson, Lizzie Lamoreaux, Atlee Roundtree, Savannah Hansen, Addison Landon, Sophie Shaw, and Kylie Shaw to the Xcel program Regional championship in Boise on April 23-25.
Gymnasts from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington met at the regional competitions to see which top gymnasts from Region 2 would advance to the national competition.
MGC’s gymnasts did well, with gymnasts placing in the top 5 on individual events forty-three times and nine gymnasts placing in the top five all around.
At the end of the men’s regional meet, Sugar-Salem junior Payton Lerwill and Sugar-Salem senior Jose Tarrillo, Idaho Falls freshman Logan Havas and Madison eighth-grader Sam Cameron placed high enough to represent MGC at the USA Gymnastics Development Program National Championship. And in the women’s regional meet, Madison senior Charity Hepworth also qualified for nationals.
Head Coach and co-owner Justin Packard points out that while anyone watching these gymnasts compete can clearly see the level of skill they exhibit, what spectators may not realize is that it “takes a lifetime of work to go to nationals.” Many of these gymnasts have been training long hours since they were four or five years old to reach this level.
This type of success comes from years of hard work for gymnasts and coaches. Justin and Courtney Packard purchased Madison Gymnastics center in 2007, and since then, they have built it up into a gym that consistently produces gymnasts that qualify for nationals.
The gym has sent 14 gymnasts to nationals, some of them qualifying multiple years. Even though the gym is far from a big city, its gymnasts have gained serious recognition.
"What I’m proud of," Packard said, "is that when we started, it was great just to have gymnasts qualify for nationals, but now we are competitive with gymnasts from big cities all across the country. Now we are planning on medaling.”
In recent years, Madison Gymnastics Center has had gymnasts medal at Nationals in particular events as well as in the all-around, and they plan on this year being no different.