Haydens International Gymnastics Academy was the site of last month's 2003 Men's Georgia State Gymnastics Championships, and the Haydens Class 5 team put the home-gym advantage to good use.
Haydens edged Cartersville Gymnastics 160.2-159.55 to take the Class 5 state title.
Despite the fact that the Class 5 team from Haydens had captured the Class 5 state crowns seven of the past eight years, Cartersville presented a real challenge, especially since all but one member of the Haydens team were in their first season at the Class 5 level.
Haydens had the motivation to keep the winning tradition alive.
"At the beginning of the season I told the guys they had the talent to be state champions," said Brian Shelt, who coaches the Class 5 team at Haydens. "It was just a matter of getting the work done to be at that level."
The Haydens Gymnastics 2003 Georgia State Mens Regional Qualifiers are Timothy Carroll (from left), 17; Clayton Coleman; Kelson Lumpkin, 15; Christian Croft, 10; Ricky Schlichter, 13; Kenny McCullen, 12; Jonathan Lilly, 10; Caleb Bell, 11; Ben Meyers, 11; and Alex Hill, 9. Not shown: Will Eastman and Trey Godfrey.
Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
Year-round training paid off, as the gymnasts picked up steam during the competitive season, which began in January.
Along the road to state, Cartersville and Haydens were neck-and-neck at most meets, and that's the way things played out in the end, with Haydens picking up a hard-earned victory.
"The guys put it together at the state," Shelt said. "The close competition with Cartersville this year helped push the guys to be as good as they were at the end of the season. They rose to the occasion."
All-around Class 5 champions for Haydens were Jonathan Lilly (8-9 age division) and Kenny McCullen (12-plus). Lilly won individual event titles in floor exercise (9.3), pommel (9.2), rings (9.05) and high bar (8.6), while McCullen was first in floor exercise (9.4) and rings (8.55).
Haydens' Class 5 individual champions also featured Alex Hill (8-9, vault 9.40) and Christian Croft (10-11, rings, 9.15, plus second place in the all-around standings).
Will Eastman and Trey Godfrey also contributed to Haydens' drive in the Class 5 state meet, and were among 14 athletes from the Columbia County gym to qualify for the Regional championships, which will be April 11-13 in Marietta.
Thanks to the strong showing at state, Haydens dominated the all-star team selections. Lilly, McCullen, Godfrey, Timothy Carroll, Clayton Coleman, Ben Meyers and Larry Williams will compete for the Georgia Team at the Regional competition.
Other individual event state winners, and their classes, were: Class 7 -- Connor Wingrove (6-7, vault, 9.20) and Jonathan Luke (8-9, rings, 9.55); Class 6 -- Khalil McCullen (7-9, vault 9.40) and Ben Meyers (10-11, floor, 9.40, and high bar, 9.00); Class 4 -- Ricky Schlichter (12-plus, floor, 8.70); Class 3 -- Luke Wilby (14-plus, high bar, 6.60); Class 1 -- Clayton Coleman (16-18, pommel, 7.20).
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