on March 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Upstate gymnastics team holds their own at Tiger Paw Classic

CLEMSON – Headlined by Marissa Kerwin’s second place all-around and Talene Amirkhanian’s third place, Upstate Gymnastics had a strong showing in Saturday’s third session of the Tiger Paw Classic.

“This session is very stressful because its level nine and ten and they want to perform really well,” Upstate’s owner and coach Maureen Williamson said. “I really felt like they pulled it together. I feel like the level tens did really good bars, good vault. They did well in everything for the most part. This is a very hard competition because we had competition from many states. I was very proud of them.”

The session got off to a bit of a rocky start for the 17-year old Kerwin, a level ten athlete. Her first event was the beam, and she struggled, managing only a seventh place finish.

Understandably, nerves may have been a factor for the Central native.

“They were nervous because all their friends were here watching,” Williamson said. “This is their home. The first event they were very nervous. The tens were nervous on beam.”

If there were any nerves for Daniel High School’s Amirkhanian, a level nine, she didn’t show them in her first event.

Amirkhanian tied for first place on the vault, posting a score of 8.850.

“Last year was a very bad meet for me here,” the gymnast said. “I was like ‘can’t get any worse.’ So I was okay this year, I wasn’t too nervous.”

Amirkhanian kept up her strong performance, taking second place in the bars and third on the floor.

Like her teammate, Kerwin settled her nerves. She went on to finish fifth on the floor, third in the vault, and tied for second on the bars, finishing only .050 off of first place.

Amirkhanian and Kerwin were not the only Upstate gymnasts who left their mark though. Fifteen year old Sydney Roe, a level nine, took home first place in the vault and also captured a third place on the beam.

Amber Hansen, a 15-year old level 10, finished fourth in the bars and fifth on the vault.

Janie Miles, who at 12 years old was the youngest Upstate competitor during the session, had a fifth place finish on the vault.

The night was not only highlighted by the gymnasts flying throughout the gym, however.

Prior to the start of the session, Williamson was honored for her overall contributions to South Carolina gymnastics.

After giving a lengthy speech regarding her accomplishments, Clemson mayor Larry Abernathy awarded her a $25,000 check that went towards the newly founded Maureen Williamson Women’s Gymnastics Scholarship Fund.

“I was just flabbergasted,” Williamson said. “And the mayor Clemson is a very wonderful man and he gave a very moving speech. It’s just really good to feel like you do something worthwhile. It’s not just gymnastics. I see that in every coach that’s here; how they treat their children and how they teach them lessons.

:It’s not just doing a back flip. I’m just glad to be a part of that.”

That, coupled with a march-in for the gymnasts that features no lights, music, highlights on the jumbotron, and flashlights given to everyone in the packed crowd, exemplifies perfectly why this event is so special.

“The march in was absolutely awesome,” Amirkhanian said. “They usually don’t do that at other meets. It was just run so smoothly and organized very well.”

Overall, it was a day to remember for Williamson, Kerwin, Amirkhanian, and the entire team. However, it was also a pretty good day for gymnastics as a whole.

“It was really something,” said Williamson. “It was just amazing.”