Nastia Liukin Cup Series Feature Stories

Mackenzie Brannan
Reagan Campbell
Rachel Daum
Sydney Doggette
Samantha Partyka
Drew Watson

Emily Gaskins
Ashleigh Gnat
Charity Jones
Alex McMurtry
Mariah Peterson
Lexy Ramler

Miranda Cabada
Bridget Dean
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf
Lindsey Lemke
Ashton Locklear
Jenna Swartzentruber

Alicia Boren
Felicia Hano
Alexis Mattern
Hannah Miller
Kendal Moss
Emily Schild

Bailey Ferrer
Alma Kuc
Kari Lee
Kaytianna McMillan
Lauren Ramirez
Aja Sims

Brianna Brown
Kiera Brown
Kyana George
Amanda Wellick

Click on the athlete's name for her bio

Miranda Cabada

By Erica Rath

Miranda Cabada from Fontana, Calif., competes for Winner's Academy of Gymnastics. Miranda is 12 years old and is in the seventh grade. She started gymnastics seven years ago when her parents thought it would be a good idea to get her involved. Unlike many other gymnasts, her parents were not gymnasts themselves, and Miranda is the only family member that competes in the sport.

The Cabada family also includes Miranda's younger brother, who plays baseball, and her older sister, who competes in swimming.

After spending most of the day at school, where she likes to study math, Miranda heads to the gym where she trains for about five hours.

She enjoys competing in the floor exercise because she can have fun doing it. Heading into 2013, Miranda set the goal of qualifying for the Nastia Liukin Cup, and she reached that goal, making it the proudest moment in her career so far. She has set another goal for the Cup, which is to place in the top three in the all-around.

Outside of the gym and while she isn't in school, Miranda likes to bake. She said she likes to make cakes and cupcakes the most.

Miranda enjoys gymnastics because she likes having the ability to flip and tumble, which many people cannot do. She admits she has had fear before trying something new, but she likes the challenge.

Bridget Dean

By Lauren Ely

Kim Dean always knew her daughter would be a gymnast.

"I have three kids," Dean said. "You could just tell by her body type."

Bridget Dean, 14, began training at a gym at age 7, but she had already mastered a back handspring.

Out in the front yard, Dean and her mom would practice in the grass. Once she stuck the landing to her back handspring, her mom enrolled her in classes.

Between different knee, back and foot injuries, Dean was out of competition for nearly two years. The 2013 Sand Dollar Whitlow Invitational was the first meet back, and she qualified for the Nastia Liukin Cup.

Before the injuries, Dean trained at national team workouts and internationally at the elite level. She says the CoverGirl Classic is her most memorable moment competing.

"Just being on podium," Dean said. "It's really cool to walk up the stairs to salute and to be above everyone."

Dean would like to continue her path as an elite gymnast. The Fort Myers, Fla., native trains at Orlando Metro Gymnastics nearly eight hours a day, fitting school in between training. Bars and beam are her favorite events to compete, and if you watch Dean before a beam routine, she's likely wiping off all the chalk. She has to or it distracts her.

One day, Dean hopes to join the national team and make it to the Olympics, but she knows it will take big-time commitment.

"It takes a lot of effort, commitment and passion, and if you don't have, it's not really worth it," Dean said. "I love gymnastics. I'm appreciative of my mom, who got me into it, and hopefully, I can make my goals."

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf

By Erica Rath

Sydney Johnson-Scharpf is from Groveland, Fla., where she trains at her mom's gym. Global Gymnastics was founded by Olympian, Brandy Johnson-Scharpf, who competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Since retiring as a competitive gymnast, Brandy has been coaching aspiring athletes, including her daughter, Sydney.

Sydney has practically grown up in a gym. She had kidney surgery as a 3-month old, and had to go to work with her mother every day. Twelve years later, Sydney has dreams of her own. She wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and become an Olympic gymnast, too. Later this year, she will attend an elite qualifier that would help put her on the path to fulfilling that dream.

Sydney goes to a private school, but heads out early in the day to get as much time in the gym as she can. When she was little, she used to take dance classes which is why she loves performing in the floor exercise where she gets to dance and tumble. Floor may be her favorite event, but she is proudest of her 9.9 on the beam at Regionals.

Sydney likes to push herself, hoping to improve the most in her bars.

Outside of the gym, Sydney loves to learn about robotics, and hopes to study robotics engineering in college. She also describes herself as crafty, and loves to look for things to make on Pinterest.

Lindsey Lemke

By Erica Rath

Lindsey Lemke is a 17 year old high school junior from Holt, Mich. She trains there at R Athletics Club under Daniel McCarty.

Since she was a sophomore, Lindsey has been committed to the University of North Carolina. Receiving a scholarship for her gymnastics accomplishments is what she had been working for her entire career. She looks forward to her time at school where she wants to study sports medicine, so she can stay in the athletic world.

Lindsey started dancing when she was a toddler. She danced at the same gym that a the gymnastics team practiced and remembers pining over the girls tumbling and flipping through the window. She went home and told her mom that she wanted to stop dancing and start doing gymnastics. She has been for 10 years.

Each of Lindsey's smaller goals has added up to reach her big goal of earning a college scholarship. One of those smaller goals was to make the Junior Olympic national team, which she did and competed for them in 2011. She placed fourth that year and also scored high enough to qualify for the region 5 All-Star Team. "Hard work pays off," she said after discussing the various achievements in her career.

Each day, Lindsey attends her public school, taking four classes and finishes two online on her own time. She spends most of her time at the gym perfecting her craft. She still has more goals to reach including becoming an all-around gymnast at UNC.

Lindsey has an older brother, who played hockey in high school. She is looking forward to the Nastia Liukin Cup to compete against familiar faces and on a podium.

Ashton Locklear

By Erica Rath

Ashton Locklear competes for Everest Gymnastics in Hamlet, N.C. She is 15 years old and has been in the gym since she was 2 years old.

Ashton is one of three girls in her family. Her sister started gymnastics when they were younger, and Ashton remembers watching from the sidelines, wanting badly to get involved. Eventually, her parents enrolled her in the gym, and she has been training every day since.

Right now, Ashton is homeschooled and enjoys studying algebra. She loves everything about the sport of gymnastics and, unlike most teenagers, enjoys the hard work and long hours of training because she likes to see the payoff. In fact, she sees herself owning her own gym one day because she wants to stay in the gymnastics world.

Qualifying for the Nastia Liukin Cup is one of the highlights of her career. She also made it to a National Team Camp, which she also pointed to as one of her proudest moments.

Ashton loves to compete in the uneven bars because she believes it to be her strongest events.

Outside of the gym, Ashton likes to draw and swim. She looks forward to the Cup, so she can put into use some new skills in order to work toward becoming elite.

Jenna Swartzentruber

By Erica Rath

Jenna Swartzentruber is from Centerburg, Ohio. She competes for Buckeye Gymnastics Club under Kittia Carpenter. Since she was two years old, Jenna has been in the gym. She was one of those toddlers with all the energy, and since her siblings were involved in gymnastics, her parents enrolled Jenna, too.

She is now 13 years old and her brothers and sisters have moved onto other sports. Her brothers compete in cycling and track and field, while her sister competes in horseback riding. In her spare time, Jenna likes to ride horses, too. She also plays a little soccer.

Two years ago, Jenna made it to her first Junior Olympic Nationals. She remembers being very exciting and was pleased with herself for making it that far. She is now focused on becoming elite and qualifying for the national team.

Jenna likes being on the bars because she enjoys feeling like she is flying. The feeling of hitting her routine is the best, she said.

Qualifying for the Nastia Liukin Cup is exciting for Jenna. She sees Nastia as an encouraging role model in her sport. In preparing for the Cup, Jenna is focused on the things she does best, trying to perfect what she already does well.

Gymnastics mean a lot to Jenna, and she hopes to make a career in the sporting world by studying physical therapy in college.

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