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Practice makes perfect

2 Greenwood gymnasts qualify for regional competition

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Macy and Kathryn

Two Greenwood gymnasts — Kathryn Warren, 12, and Macy Lamb, 11 — say they are excited to not only represent their hometown but also the state of Mississippi in an upcoming regional gymnastics competition.

Aubrey Whittington, Outer Limits gymnastics’ owner and instructor, said she’s never had a gymnast advance to the regionals. Now, she has two.

“It’s been a long time coming for them, and I’m just ecstatic for them,” said Whittington.

Kathryn and Macy will travel to Hickory, North Carolina, and compete from May 2 to 5. Mississippi is included in an eight-state region, and the Greenwood gymnasts are on a team of eight representing the state.

“We’re happy we made it together,” said Kathryn.

Macy said she and Kathryn both feel proud to be on the state team.

“No one has ever made it from this gym — we’re the first two,” she said. “Instead of one, two of us made it from just one gym. There have been a lot of people who have tried.”

Kathryn and Macy advanced to regionals after a state meet held in Vicksburg in March.

The girls are in a division called gold, which is determined by skill level. The divisions include bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond.

Kathryn and Macy competed in four categories — vault, bars, beam and floor.

“Then, you have the fifth category called all-arounds, and that’s when you add them all up,” said Whittington.

A perfect all-around score would be 40.

Kathryn scored 37.4 out of 40, and Macy scored 37.025. Both girls got first overall in their age divisions.

Whittington said that everything came together for Kathryn and Macy at the state meet.

“It was just like it was meant to be,” she said. “They had no bobbles, they didn’t leave out anything, and they were so graceful and so confident.”

The state gold team was selected from the eight highest scores. Kathryn was third out of the top eight, and Macy was sixth out of the top eight.

Whittington said there were more than 75 gold competitors from across the state.

“They got to be honored for all of their hard work,” said Whittington.

Kathryn said her sister told her that she had made the state team, but she did not believe her until her name was called. Kathryn said she was shocked and excited. Then, Macy’s name was called, and both girls celebrated.

“We screamed,” said Macy.

Whittington said she has “never seen such sheer joy on that stage.”

“They were in shock, and the parents and I were in shock,” she said. “They were jumping and hugging.”

While the other girls in the top eight were happy about the honor, their reactions were subdued compared to the two Outer Limits gymnasts.

“They were leaping on the stage and just having the best time,” said Whittington. “It’s such an honor for not only one, but we had two.”

Kathryn, a sixth-grader at Pillow Academy, is the daughter of Jeff and Brady Warren.

She’s been taking classes at Outer Limits since she was 4 years old and began competing at 8. Her favorite apparatuses are floor and beam.

“Something that I like about gymnastics is that everyone thinks sports has to have a ball in it,” Kathryn said. “Then, when you show them videos of Olympians, they are like, ‘wow.’”

Macy, a fifth-grader at Pillow Academy, is the daughter of Andrew and Shelbi Lamb.

Macy started taking classes at Outer Limits when she was 3 years old and began competing at 5.

She enjoys floor the most and likes learning new skills to incorporate into her routines.

“When you learn to do it and you’re like, ‘Yes, I can put this in the routine now,’” Macy said. “It’s fun to make up routines.”

Gymnastics can be considered one of the toughest sports. Practice is hard work, attention to detail is important, and gymnasts have to be tough mentally and physically.

“It is so unique and demanding,” said Whittington. “You have to have grace, flexibility and strength, and a lot of conditioning.”

While practicing or learning new skills, falling down — sometimes from the beam or bars — is not uncommon.

“You cannot make a gymnast; they have to want it,” said Whittington. “They have to come, and they have to put in the hours. I’m there to help, but if you don’t want it and you’re not willing to pass through that uncomfortable stage, you’re not going to make it.”

Although Kathryn and Macy have had falls, Whittington said they get right back up.

“They are just determined, and that’s what it takes,” Whittington said. “It’s their perseverance and dedication and repeated willingness to get up after you fall. That’s what it’s all about.”

Macy and Kathryn both said gymnastics has taught them to never give up.

“If you fall, you’ve got to get back up and do it again and try harder the next time,” Macy said. “You’ve got to keep going.”

The girls are training at Outer Limits for regionals. They said they are looking forward to the upcoming competition and getting to know their state teammates.

“One thing that I am looking forward to is just having the experience of going, because some people don’t get to make it, and we get to go there and have fun,” said Kathryn.

Whittington said the state team is lucky to have Kathryn and Macy as members.

“Both of these girls love the sport. ... They want to pay attention to details,” she said. “Everybody wants to do a back handspring. Anybody can do a back handspring with a little training. But it’s the beauty of one done correctly. That’s what makes a difference.”

If the Mississippi team of gymnasts advances in regionals, it will compete in nationals.

“Kathryn and Macy are not just representing Greenwood and Outer Limits, they are representing Mississippi,” said Whittington.

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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