By David Fong
TROY — As is so often the case in life, mother knew best.
“I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was 5 years old,” Troy gymnast Lizzy Deal said. “My mom (Judy) was a cheerleader in high school (at Miami East) and she always enjoyed tumbling. She put me in gymnastics for the fun of it and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s something I love doing.”
A decade of gymnastics has paid off for Deal — a sophomore at Troy Christian High School who competes for the Troy High School gymnastics team — who will make a second straight trip to the state gymnastics meet in Columbus this weekend. Last year she went as a part of a Trojan team that captured a district championship; this year Deal will be competing as an individual.
“It’s exciting,” Deal said of making a return trip to the state meet. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking, because I won’t be going with my Troy teammates, but I’ll be going with a lot of my friends from my club team who qualified. A lot of girls from other teams are on my club team. We all practice together — we’re like one huge, happy family.”
Deal qualified for the state meet with her best showing of the season at the district meet. She placed third in the all-around (36.125), won district championships in the bars (9.125) and floor exercise (9.425), was sixth on the beam (8.950) and placed 14th on the vault (8.625).
“I had expected to do pretty well this season, but it felt like I had some things off in a few events,” Deal said of her season leading up to last weekend’s district meet. “It all just came together for me at districts. I guess I peaked at the right time. It just kind of happened for me. I’ve been doing a bunch of routines every day.”
Deal’s decision to compete for the Troy High School team has been a boon to the program. Many lifelong club gymnastics elect to forego their high school teams in order to focus on their club squads.
Once again, a prescient decision by her mother helped steer Deal in the right direction.
“My mom said to do (high school gymnastics) for one year,” Deal said. “I did it last year as a freshman and I loved it so much. I love my team. Everyone brings something different to the team. A lot of them are club girls who I’ve known for awhile. It’s different than club gymnastics, but I love it. I’m so glad I did it.”
Deal also is glad she got the opportunity to compete at last year’s state meet. She said she hopes to draw on that experience going into Saturday’s competition.
“I just need to hit all of my routines,” she said. “I’ve got to do what I’ve been doing — stay solid, stay tight. I think going over there last year will help me this year. I can still picture it in my mind, what everything looked like and where everything was. I’m looking forward to it.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong