© Brian Kincher

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – (Apr. 20, 2012) – The U.S. women’s group composed of Hannah Silverman of Clarksville, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club, Christina Antoniades of Eldersburg, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club and Emily Ruppert of Baltimore, Md./Emilia’s Acrobatic Gymnastics Club are sitting in fifth place halfway through the qualification round of the World Age Group Acrobatic Gymnastics Championships at Walt Disney World.

The trio earned 27.75 points from the judges for their dynamic routine, finishing just a little more than a point behind a Russian group that scored 28.5 points in the 12-19 age group category at their first World Championships. "I felt it was a strong performance and I think we did very well," said Antoniades, 16. "It’s everything I could have dreamed of, really," Silverman, 12, added.

Ruppert, 18, who enrolled in community college near her home this year so she could continue training with her partners, said the result has energized them for the second half of the competition, where they will perform their balance routine. "We feel really confident and happy," Ruppert said. "We’ve worked really hard, and we’re trying to medal. We did our absolute best and we’re in a great spot right now." The top eight teams in each of the five acrobatic gymnastics disciplines after Saturday’s qualification round will compete in Sunday’s team final.

The other U.S. women’s group in the 12-19 category — Jordan Jones, Potomac of MD./Xtreme Acro, Mackenzie Meyer of Silver Spring, Md./Xtreme Acro and Daphne Kirschner of Rockville, Md./Xtreme Acro — are currently ninth overall, having received 27.35 for their dynamic exercise. "We weren’t really expecting to come out number one," Jones said, "but I think it does make us more confident. Finals was our goal coming in."

Women’s pair Lillian Robertson and Jessica Renteria, both of San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio were awarded 26.95 points for their balance routine, putting them 10th overall among 18 pairs in the 12-19 age category. "We came to place in that top eight," Renteria said. Of the group’s performance, their first at a World Championships, she remarked: "It felt awesome…it was life-changing, almost." Kennedy Swanson of Blue Springs, Mo./Acro Explosion and partner Mariah Cockshell of Lee’s Summit, Mo./Acro Explosion scored 25.7 for their balance routine, putting them 15th overall with one routine still to be performed.

Other U.S. placements at the halfway point of the qualification include mixed pair Joshua Miles of Temecula, Calif./Realis Gymnastics and Kiley Boynton of Riverside, Calif./Realis Gymnastics, who are currently 11th out of 17 pairs in the 12-19 age group after their balance portion.

In the 11-16 age group, the U.S.’s Kathleen Davis and Maren Merwarth, both of San Antonio, Texas/Acrobatic Gymnastics of San Antonio, scored an impressive 27.65 for their performance, with their clubmatesTaylor Mayo and Katarina Partalas not far behind with a 27.55. The pairs are currently ranked fourth and sixth, respectively.

Trio Rachel Zorn, Holland Koller, and Sophia Handel, all of Annapolis, Md./ 1st Class Gymnastics, scored a 27.3 for their dynamic routine, are currently tied with Australia for seventh in the 12-19 age division.