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Highlights from first qualifier give way to work to be done for the next two

There remains plenty of work to be done - but now the gymnasts representing Jungle Gym - LVX have a starting point from which to work.

And quite a good one at that.

With several competitors returning from the first women's artistic (WAG) qualifier in Orangeville a few weeks ago with noteworthy highlights, the Kelly Lake Road crew will turn their attention to the two remaining meets which determines those who will participate in provincials in April.

Some of the key takeaways from Qualifier #1 were as follows:

Camille Landry (Level 6) - third place on floor in her first ever optional meet

Caileigh Ryan (Level 7) - improved her bar score by more than a full point in less than three weeks

Kiersten Anderson (Level 6) - score a 9.00 on bars for the first time in the optional stream

Elliot Norquay (Level 6) - performend her round-off from the beam for the first time ever in her gymnastics career

Avery Hofford (Level 6) - hit here cast to handstand on bars

"The main key is to get my shoulders over and really push down on the bars to get that power," explained Hofford, a 15 year-old grade 10 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School. "I didn't hit it exactly vertical, but I did it well enough that I wasn't deducted."

Like so many others, it's all part of the developmental process, though Hofford points to an extremely core passion at the root of where her progress stems from in a sport that she first started when she was just two.

"The competition is not just about the competitiveness for me," she suggested. "I think I just really enjoy doing the sport. That was my drive to get into competitive (the competitive stream). I always wanted to get better."

"I think I am pretty competitive as a person - but the sport itself was more of a drive for me."

It's a feeling that apparently sticks with the talkative teen both in meets and in those hours and hours of practice sessions that precede them.

"It takes a lot of time to get here," said Hofford. "Hitting those new skills is big - but just being here is such a great time. My coaches are great and I always have fun at practices."

That said, it's clear that the bars speak to her - for some reason, far more than any other discipline.

"With bars, there's kind of a rhythm," she stated. "Once you get that rhythm, it makes the bars so much more fun. You can do so much with it."

While there are areas that need refinement - "I'm working on those little spots that need to get fixed" - Hofford is hopeful that he 2023-2024 season follows a somewhat similar trajectory to the one she followed one year ago.

"Last year, my first qualifier didn't go great - but my last two were better."

Hofford and her team will get a chance to do it all over again early in 2024, knowing what now needs work.

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