HOUSTON – A one-two finish from stars Edward Mesa (Cooper City, Fla.) and Daniel Leyva (Miami) helped South Florida’s Universal Gymnastics earn the national club title for gymnasts age 12-13 last night at the Men’s Junior Olympic National Championships, continuing through Sunday at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

Mesa and Leyva scored 56.80 and 56.375, respectively, almost two points ahead of third-place Josh Wilson of Dallas (54.625).
“I think this is all a big team effort,” said Universal coach/owner Yin Alvarez. “I push them. They push each other. They work hard. I work hard. They love gymnastics. I love gymnastics. We love what we do and I think that shows.”
Second went to Texas team WOGA, based in Plano, a Dallas suburb. WOGA, best known for being the home of women’s Olympic champion Carly Patterson, won the 14-18 age group title last night, solidifying their spot as one of the USA’s top clubs for both boys and girls. Buffalo Grove (Illinois) was third, the same spot they finished in last night’s Level 10 competition.
“It’s an outstanding accomplishment,” said WOGA coach Sergei Pakanich said. “Boys gymnastics in Texas is just growing now, very fast. The [2004] Olympic success is definitely the reason. These young boys now are training very hard to keep that going, to follow in Paul Hamm’s footsteps and continue what he started.”



“I’m so proud because, for most of my gymnasts, it’s their first National Championships,” Pakanich added. “They’re 11 years old and performing like veterans.”

The top local team, Houston-area Cypress Gymnastics was sixth, led by Chris Stehl, currently 13th overall with a 52.80.
The Universal athletes also helped their Region 8 team (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee) to an easy victory, almost six points ahead of second and third place teams from Region 1 (Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, California) and Region 3 (Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas), respectively.
Today, the top 36 gymnasts in each age group (12-13, 14-15 and 16-18) will compete for all-around honors. Also on the line, 14 U.S. Junior National Team spots for the 12-13 age group and berths to August’s Visa Championships for the top, age-eligible Level 10 gymnasts.Tickets are available at the George R. Brown Convention Center box office for $10 per day.
For those that can’t attend, real time online scoring will be available at ww.meetscoresonline.com.
For more information visit www.jonationals.com/ or contact event media coordinator Susan Williams at [email protected] (media inquiries only).