GVSU club gymnastics captures NAIGC National Championship

D'Angelo Starks

The Grand Valley State club gymnastics team traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, last week to participate in the NAIGC National Championship. 

This is the first time in program and school history that the team has qualified for Nationals as a team. In their first National Championship final appearance, they managed to leave Texas as the NAIGC National Champions. 

The team went into Nationals as they do every season and participated in the preliminary rounds in order to try to qualify for the final round. The team had a strong season leading up to the National Championship, and they were feeling great going in to the preliminaries, but they didn’t feel great after finishing their routines. The Lakers knew their execution could have been better, and they didn’t expect to go any further than that. 

Although their confidence never wavered, the team was still surprised to see that they qualified that Friday night. GVSU was the last team of four to qualify in their preliminary division. GVSU finished with a score of 106.9, trailing behind only Boulder Gymnastics at the University of Colorado, NAIGC Alumni and the University of Texas, which narrowly eliminated Bowling Green State, which scored 106.15.

President of the GVSU gymnastics club, Emma Powers, talked about the team’s mindset after making it to finals. 

“We told the team, ‘We’ve got to do it; we have to go out there and do the best we could,’ and we did,” Powers said. “We went out there and we hit all of our routines, and we had the meet of our lives.”

In the end, GVSU finished on top to win the National Championship, but it did not come easy. The second-place team, Boulder Gymnastics at the University of Colorado, finished with a team score of 108.925, and GVSU finished with a score of 108.95. The team won by .025 to take home the National Championship. 

Sophomore Melissa Mattson was the top individual performer for the team. She finished third in the country in the vault and brought home a bronze medal. 

Powers said it was exciting to hear their names called as champions. 

“We were sitting in awards, and they called third with a score of 107-something, and then we are like, ‘Okay, maybe we will get second,’” she said. “Then, they announced the next score, and it was only .025 behind us. And then we knew we won, and we got to go up and get our banner, which was really exciting.” 

The gymnastics club is a little different from other clubs because generally clubs have a coach who do most of the organizing and orchestrating, but in this club, most of that is done by the president and the members of the board. As the president, Powers is in charge of meet registration, coordination with other club teams around the state, staying in contact with club sports in order to make sure the team is being run properly and making sure practices are run smoothly. This has been Powers’ job for two years, and in those two years under the same board, the club has seen immense growth. 

“When I joined the team as a freshman, there was seven of us; we were just a scrappy little team from Grand Valley,” she said. “Over the past two years, Kaylee Lorentzen (vice president), Morgan Ryder (treasurer), Jessie Perry (secretary), Nicole Lasecki (fundraising) and myself all really worked our butts off to make it possible. Last year, we had our first men’s team, and we had 20 girls on our team, too.”

This season will be the last for Powers and the rest of the board, as two are graduating and the rest are stepping away from gymnastics. The club is holding elections for new board members on Thursday, April 19. Powers feels confident that the club is going to be in good hands. 

“We have a really good group of girls that are going to be juniors,” Powers said. “Luckily, we are only juniors, so we can stick around to help guide them through the process and work together to keep up the momentum we’ve created over the past couple years.”