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Determination, skill and courage drive Hunt’s gymnasts to succeed

Mar 07, 2018 11:59AM

Level 8 gymnasts continue to prove they are some of the greatest gymnasts from around the state, including one who is 10 years old.

Hunt’s Gymnastics in Midvale has a lot to be proud of, including the level of quality of their athletes. 

Last year, they had several level 7 gymnasts, who all have moved into level 8 competitions after a phenomenal year in 2017 (competitive levels range from 2-10). They won most of their tournaments during the January to March season taking first at the Missy Marlowe Wasatch Cup at The Salt Palace. They also competed in Park City, Las Vegas and Reno.

Hunt’s Gymnastics, located just north of 7200 South along 300 West, was started by Paul Hunt. Hunt has coached in Utah since 1974 and was the coach of Utah’s first Olympic level gymnast. He has coached many state, regional, and national champions. Many of Hunt’s gymnasts receive college scholarships for gymnastics, including many to the University of Utah. 

Hunt’s daughter, Jessica, is the manager of Hunt’s Gymnastics Academy. She has been involved in gymnastics her entire life. Jessica has been coaching gymnastics at Hunt’s Gymnastics Academy since she was 14 years old. In 2007, Jessica joined an acrobatic team called The Xtreme Team. They performed at all the Utah Blaze football home games. 

As for the gymnasts, this year, they’ve already had their first meet in Salt Lake City. The team will be traveling to Palm Springs, Colorado Springs and Las Vegas this season to compete in  competitive meets with teams from around the country.

The team is composed of athletes as young as 10. Hayli Westerlind doesn’t seem to let being so young stop her from showing the world what she has to offer. She qualified for the National TOPs Testing in Houston, Texas in October and is currently training elite. TOPs (Talent Opportunity Program) is a talent search and educational program for female gymnasts ages 7-10 and their coaches. During the months of June and July, these gymnasts are evaluated on their physical abilities at the state or regional level. The top gymnasts with the highest scores qualify to Nationals. 

The Elite Program is designed to provide competitive experiences for athletes aspiring to the National Team or the Pre-Elite Training Squad. The National Teams (Senior and Junior) are selected from the USA Championships each year. These athletes represent the United States in international competitions.

Jessica Hunt says the girls’ commitment to gymnastics is helpful, but there are other components that make these gymnasts excel.

 “They’ve got the heart, the drive, they’ve got the talent and we just try to push them as hard as we can without breaking them. We don’t want injuries,” Hunt said. “There’s a good balance here of expecting the best but not over the top.”

 Hunt says it is the girls’ courage that sets them apart.

 “They’re fearless, which is awesome for gymnastics. They’ll try anything you put in front of them,” she said. 

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