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7 gymnasts qualify for regionals

Four girls and three boys from Suncoast Gymnastics Academy qualified for regional championships after peak performances in last weekend's state meets.

Level 10 gymnasts Rachel Rose, Jamie Burnette and Jessica Bagwill, along with Level 9 competitor Heather Peterson, will advance to the USA Gymnastics regionals April 26-27 in Greensboro,N.C. Kelly Haggerty (Level 9) also competed in the state meet, March 22-23 at Melbourne Community College.

Meanwhile, Ben Oblander and Joe Goodmok qualified in Class 1, as did Class 2 gymnast James Dellevacchia, for the USA Gymnastics regionals April 11-13 in Atlanta.

Those who competed in last weekend's state meet at Clearwater Central Catholic but who will not advance to the next round were Giovanni Giarratana, Stephen Songhurst, Glen Shipe and Hollis St. John.

Rose, Burnette and Bagwill return to the regionals. Last year, the duo from the Port Richey-based academy were the youngest from Florida to reach the nationals. Rose, 12, placed 50th at the nationals tournament in Atlanta and Burnette, 11, finished 87th.

"Rachel competed the strongest at the state meet. She was extremely aggressive and confident," Suncoast Gymnastics coach Arnold Gwinn said of Rose, who took second all-around in the state meet with a personal-best score of 36.95.

Rose also had a second on uneven bars, third on balance beam and fourth in floor exercise.

"With her strength and aggressiveness, she should do well at the regional championship," Gwinn said.

Burnette won a state title with 9.35 on vault. She added a third in floor exercise and wound up sixth all-around.

Bagwill, 16, missed the state meet with an knee injury, but earned enough points during the regular season to compete in the regionals. Gwinn expects her to heal in time for the regionals.

Peterson placed third all-around at Level 9 with a personal-high 36.05. The 10-year-old, who transferred from a Tampa gym last summer as a Level 8 gymnast, added a second on uneven bars and third on balance beam. Those scores were good enough to place Peterson 13th among 123 competitors at the state meet.

Haggerty, 12, just missed qualifying for the regionals, coming up short by one-quarter of a point.

As for the boys, Oblander, 17, took first on the pommel horse and fourth on high bar. Goodmok, 15, had fourths in floor exercise and on vault. Dellevacchia, 16, had a fourth in floor exercise and fifth on vault.

The boys team was guided by assistant coach Jay Woods and new head coach Ron Marston, whom Gwinn hired in December.

"He stepped in at a very high-level coaching position and has been able to take these boys to the state championship," Gwinn said of the 33-year-old Marston.