Watch intro videos shown in the venue at the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup
By Evan Reller
Katie Bailey didn't start gymnastics as early as most girls. She was five years old when she first stepped onto a mat.
Bailey, 15, is a home-schooled high school sophomore, which allows her a level of flexibility with her time that many gymnasts don't have. She trains at High Point Gymnastics Academy in her hometown of Kernerville, N.C.
Bailey qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships in 2009 and 2010. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup by finishing second in the all-around at the Flip Fest Invitational, a part of the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup Series.
Bailey has set an example for the other girls at her club.
"I think I'm a good leader," Bailey said, who was a member of the 2005-06 National Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs) Team. "At least, that's what I've been told. I like having the younger girls look up to me and being able to help them get better."
Bailey's short-term goals are to compete at a high level for four years in college. She is currently being recruited by the Universities of Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
By Kate Guerra
If you're having a bad day, Alina Cartwright would be an excellent person to be around. The positive, easy-going 17 year-old will go out of her way to crack a joke that will get you laughing.
Cartwright is a part of Legacy Elite Gymnastics in Carol Stream, Ill. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the WOGA Classic in Frisco, Texas. Her biggest accomplishments thus far have included winning the vault and all-around at the 2009 Level 9 Eastern Regionals and finishing eighth in the all-around at the 2010 Junior Olympic National Championships.
Cartwright, who lives in Naperville, will be attending Michigan State University on a full gymnastics scholarship. She attributes her success to always keeping an open and positive attitude. One of her challenges in gymnastics has been learning to adjust to the increasing difficulty of her routines and realizing that not everything will come to her easily.
In her spare time, Cartwright enjoys partaking in her passion for photography. She likes seeing scary movies with her friends, but won't see anything with too much gore or icky special effects. A senior at Neuqua Valley High School, she is already starting to feel the effects of senioritis and is eager for graduation and the path in front of her.
By Kate Guerra
When Maile'ana Kanewa was a toddler, she used to love watching gymnastics on television. Her parents enjoyed it as well – until their daughter started trying to imitate the challenging and often dangerous skills the gymnasts were performing. They quickly enrolled her in formal classes at The Gymnastics Academy in Duluth, Minn., with coach Mark Waterhouse.
Kanewa is a 17 year-old high school junior who moved to Minnesota from Hawaii at a young age. She is very proud of her Hawaiian heritage and used to teach community hula dancing classes. In October, she verbally committed to the University of Oklahoma, receiving a full gymnastics scholarship.
In 2009, Kanewa finished eighth in the all-around competition at the Junior Olympic National Championships. She won the all-around competition at the 2010 WinterFest, where she also took first in vault, balance beam, uneven bars and floor exercise. She qualified for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup at the Wisconsin Dells (Wis.) Gymnastics Vacation Classic, where she was second in the all-around.
Vault and floor are her favorite events because she sees them as the power events. She recently performed a one-and-a-half Yurchenko layout on vault for the first time, and throws a full-in on floor. Kanewa's gymnastics inspired her little sister to also begin competing, and she is very proud of her younger sister's achievements thus far.
Kanewa feels that her greatest strength is her strong work ethic. Qualifying for the Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup was one of her greatest goals this year, and she is very excited to meet Nastia Liukin in March. She has never competed on podium before,and is very honored to have qualified for the event.
By Evan Reller
Kelsey Lawless, nicknamed Pumpkin, is an 18 year-old from Lyndhurst, Ohio. She has been involved in gymnastics since she was five, although the cartwheels began a couple of years earlier. A senior at Beaumont High School, Lawless trains at Elite Gymnastics Academy.
She considers her ability to perform under pressure the best part of competing. Lawless trains at least four hours per day. Keeping up with academics is tough but being a gymnast has kept her motivated. She has learned to stay organized and manage her time responsibly. Motivation and a strong work ethic are her greatest strengths.
In 2010, Lawless finished first in the all-around, vault and balance beam at The Cup. In 2011, she won the all-around, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise at the Battle of Champions. Lawless also took top honors in the all-around at the Rock n' Roll Classic, qualifying for the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup.
Despite the demands of training and competition, Lawless finds time to teach gymnastics at Elite Academy and volunteers at both the Montfair Nursing Home and the Athletic Department at her old grade school.
Lawless is planning to go to Kent State University in the fall, where she hopes to compete.
By Evan Reller
Maggie Nichols, or 'Mags' as her friends call her, is from Little Canada, Minn., near Saint Paul, where she trains at the Twin City Twisters gym. She became hooked on gymnastics when her mom put her in a preschool tumbling class at age three.
Nichols parents, Gina and John, have always been supportive of her gymnastics. She typically trains after school each day for four-and-a-half hours and keeps up with her studies on the bus while traveling to and from meets.
A seventh grader at Parkview School, Nichols, 13, considers beam her favorite event and she's hoping to make it to Nationals.
Maggie considers meeting new people one of the best parts of gymnastics competitions. She also plays softball, and she enjoys spending time with her friends and her dog. Her brother, also an athlete, plays basketball.
Nichols' top three performances have been at the IGI Meet, the Sand Dollar Meet and last year's Nationals. In 2011, she placed third in the all-around in the IGI Chicago Style Meet, as well as eighth on the uneven bars and ninth on the balance beam.
By Evan Reller
When Matalasiaufalga "Asi" Peko was three, her mom enrolled her in a gymnastics class because she had way too much energy and needed an outlet. She excelled and has been at it ever since.
Now 16, Peko is a junior at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nev., and part of a very athletic family. Her father, Tony, played football and her mother, Heather, ran track, both for the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. One of her brothers just signed to play football for Navy and her other brother practices Kung Fu.
Peko trains at Brown's Gymnastics in Las Vegas. She loves the thrill of performing and competing with excellence. She has created her own special move called 'the Peko.' Her favorite events are the bars and beam. She trains for 4 to 5 hours per day. Peko hates to accept defeat and feels that mental toughness is essential for a true competitor.
Peko feels good grades are a must. In her spare time she enjoys shopping and hanging out with her friends.
She qualified for the for the 2011 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup when she swept the titles at the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. At the 2011 Lady Luck Invitational, Peko won the uneven bars and tied for first on vault. In 2008, Peko placed sixth all-around at the U.S. Classic and finished second on vault and floor at the Visa Championships, making the Junior National Team. She has competed at the Junior Olympics Nationals four times since 2006.
She has made a verbal commitment to the University of California – Los Angeles for 2012.
USA Gymnastics is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of gymnastics in the United States, consistent with the Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act, the Bylaws of the United States Olympic Committee and the International Gymnastics Federation. The mission of USA Gymnastics is to encourage participation and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of gymnastics.