Young duo shines at national gymnastics tournament

Rey Castillo By Rey Castillo

Aug. 21, 2017 at 10:18 p.m.
Updated Aug. 22, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Aleisa Popp, 7, of Inez, front and Noah Lowry, 11, practice their trampoline routines at Gymagic in Victoria. Both combined for three gold medals at the Stars and Stripes National Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

Aleisa Popp, 7, of Inez, front and Noah Lowry, 11, practice their trampoline routines at Gymagic in Victoria. Both combined for three gold medals at the Stars and Stripes National Championships in Tulsa, Okla.   Nicolas Galindo for The Victoria Advocate

A sign above the entry to Gymagic reads, "Every child is a story yet to be told."

After combining for three gold medals at the USA Gymnastics Stars and Stripes National Championships in Tulsa, Okla., on July 20-23, Aleisa Popp and Noah Lowry have begun telling theirs.

Popp, 7, brought home gold in Level 7 trampoline and bronze in double-mini trampoline.

"I felt nervous about going out there and competing," Popp said. "But I felt really good about it."

Gymagic coach Ashten Linney knew Popp had what it took to deliver a performance that would put her over the edge.

"Aleisa is only 7 and she's competing at Level 7, which is unheard of," said Linney, who has coached at Gymagic for 14 years. "She will not be left behind; she fights to keep up with everybody. Coming in last or in second is not an option for her."

Lowry, 11, won gold medals in trampoline and double-mini trampoline. He also placed eighth in tumbling.

Since starting the sport less than a year ago, he's done nothing but impress.

"Nationals were scary at first," he said. "But once I got out there, it was really fun."

His hard work inside of the gym has proved to be the reason for his early and quick success.

"I go to seven practices a week and I work pretty hard," Lowry said. "I'm in a transition right now to go up some levels, so I'm working on different skills and doing a lot of drills."

"He's very new and a natural talent," Linney said. "He has great body awareness; he's grounded, calm and much focused."

Six others competed at nationals with Lowry and Popp. Madalyn Fry, Raylei Carlson, Alexis Kincaid, Natalie Lill, Azilee Leita and Sarah Hagan.

"If they become great gymnast, that's a bonus," Linney said. "If they can become great people, follow instructions and be respectful, then we've done our job."

With the guidance of his coaches and friends, Lowry believes he can get even better in time.

"I thought I did OK," he said. "Tumbling wasn't my strong point, but I was happy. Coach Linney means a lot because she's the one that normally works with some of the lower levels. She doesn't let us get hard on ourselves, and she motivates us. She's also strict on us, but it's a good feeling because she's coaching and doing her job."

Popp isn't sure what the future holds, but she's certain she wants to continue having fun.

"I don't know yet," she said. "It just feels good to be out there."


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