Elite and NCAA Gymnast Training Updates—Part 21


Full Twist contributor Anna Rose Johnson recently caught up with some elite, Level 10, and NCAA gymnasts to discuss their training, future goals, and more.

Molly Rae Arnold, Jordan Chiles, Grace Harrison, Ashley Hiller, Kaitlyn Lyle, Erin Macadaeg, Thea Michovsky, Emily Muhlenhaupt, Hannah Sangwin, Sachi Sugiyama, Anna Tempero, and Caroline Versluis provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.


Molly Rae Arnold is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Gleason’s Gymnastic School in Eagan, Minnesota. At the 2015 Level 9 Western Championships, she placed sixth in the all-around. “My training has been going great!” Molly Rae told Full Twist. “I feel very confident.” Her next competition will be in December.

Molly Rae, who is coached by Beth Ann Cavanor, described her gymnastics goals: “One of my short-term goals is to upgrade my skills and make them look good. One of my long-term goals is to get a college scholarship and do Division I gymnastics.”

Her favorite event is floor exercise, and she told us, “My favorite skill is a double back because I can do it on three events.”


Jordan Chiles is a U.S. junior elite artistic gymnast who trains at Naydenov Gymnastics in Washington. She is a member of the U.S. Junior National Team and placed 4th in the all-around at the 2014 P&G Championships. “My training has been going good,” Jordan told Full Twist. “I have had a couple of injuries that I have had to work through. I am excited to be healthy and training hard.”

Jordan is hoping to debut some new skills this year, including “a new dismount and connections on bars.” She is also planning to introduce some new floor passes, a “new beam dismount and connections and a pretty big vault. I hope to be ready in time to show them.”

The next competition on Jordan’s schedule is the Secret U.S. Classic on July 25th. “I can’t wait,” she told us.

When asked what she would like to tell the Full Twist readers, Jordan responded, “I am thankful to [the readers]. I am working hard and I hope to get my braces off in July!”



Grace Harrison is a senior elite artistic gymnast from Isle of Man. She competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and placed 5th in the all-around at the 2014 Northern European Championships. “Training in 2015 has been going really well for me,” Grace told Full Twist. “I moved to Loughborough University in September 2014, and have been adapting my training to the demands of my degree. I am really enjoying the new challenges as a student athlete, and I am seeing great improvements in my training and mindset. I have really enjoyed training with a great group of people here at Loughborough.”

On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Grace explained, “My short-term goals are to compete at the Northern European Championships. I am hoping to place well [in the] all-around and qualify to event finals. My long-term goals are to be selected for the Isle of Man team for Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and improve on my 21st AA placing from 2014.”

Grace told us that she has recently spent a lot of time working on tidying and upgrading her uneven bars routine. “I have also been working on increasing my difficulty on floor, with a few new tumbles in progress,” she noted. “I have also focused on refining my artistry on beam and floor, in order to meet the strict demands of the new CoP in this area.”

Grace said, “One piece of advice I would give to any gymnast is to really take the time to enjoy gymnastics. Try to not become so caught up in the pressures of competing that you forget to have fun during the process. At the end of the day, it will be the memories that you make along your journey that will stick with you. Work hard, have fun, and the results will follow.”



Ashley Hiller is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast who trains at Stars Gymnastics in Houston, Texas. She recently competed at the 2015 J.O. National Championships. “My training has been going really well!” Ashley told Full Twist. “I am currently maintaining my skills that I already have, and playing around with a few new skills!”

In July 2014, Ashley committed to the University of Florida. “My short-term goal is to be in the best shape I can be going into college,” she explained. “My long-term goal is to be able to help out the Florida Gators any way I can in the years to come!” Her next competition will be in January.

“I’ve had setbacks throughout my gymnastics career, but don’t let anything stop you!” said Ashley. “If you can dream it, and put your mind to it, anything is possible!!”



Kaitlyn Lyle is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Airborne Gymnastics in California. She competed at the 2015 J.O. National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. “My training has been going very well,” Kaitlyn told Full Twist. “I’m so excited for summer to begin because that means I can work new upgraded skills.”

Kaitlyn, whose favorite event is beam, discussed her gymnastics goals: “My short-term goals are to stay healthy, work on my form and get many new upgraded skills for next season. My long-term gymnastics goal is to get a scholarship to a great gymnastics and prestigious university.” Her next competition will be in January 2016.

The 13-year-old explained that she was training for elite in early 2015, “but throughout my season, I realized I currently needed to just focus on Level 10,” she explained. “I don’t know if I will come back to it, but I still have a few years to change my mind and reach elite.”



 Erin Macadaeg is an NCAA gymnast entering her sophomore year at Louisiana State University. “Training has been going well!” Erin told Full Twist. “Since I am home for the summer, I have been getting into gym and training every morning.

“I have set my focus on competing collegiately and on my academics, so I haven’t really considered returning to elite,” said Erin, who competed in the senior division at the 2013 P&G Championships.

Erin’s gymnastics goals for the upcoming 2016 season are “to improve on my consistency and compete all four events this coming year.” She added that she is currently working on double layouts on floor exercise and uneven bars.



 Thea Michovsky is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast who trains at Gymnastics Zone in California. At the 2015 Level 9 Western Championships, she placed eighth in the all-around. “My training has been going well!” Thea told Full Twist. “New skills are in the making!”

The 14-year-old told us, “My short-term goal is to go Level 10 and my long-term goal is to get a scholarship to college gymnastics.” Thea noted that she doesn’t think she will try elite.

“My next competition won’t be for a while,” she explained. “We just finished season, so somewhere in December/January.”

Thea added, “I love the sport of gymnastics. It has brought me so many opportunities. I am very happy and proud to represent the Gymnastics Zone team at J.O. competitions.”



Emily Muhlenhaupt is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from Colorado Aerials Gymnastics. She placed eighth in the all-around at the 2015 J.O. National Championships. “Training has been going really well except I broke my foot [in early June] on a front aerial on beam!” Emily told Full Twist. “I believe my next competition will be in January of 2016.”

Emily, who is sixteen, explained her gymnastics goals: “Some short-term goals are obviously to get healed and back in the gym as soon as possible. Long-term goals are to have fun with the sport and make new friends, and I would really like to get on [the] podium at J.O. Nationals.”

In 2014, Emily qualified to the Secret U.S. Classic, but did not compete due to an injury. “I do not think I will return to elite,” she stated. “I had a lot of fun at elite but it deteriorated my body and I would really like to compete for a college team one day.”

Emily described the new skills she was working on prior to her recent injury: “I was working on [a] Tkatchev and shaposh half on bars; on floor I was working double layout and full-ins, [on] beam I was working front aerials side flips, new series combos, etc., and on vault a yurchenko 1 ½!”

She shared some excellent advice. “If I could tell the Full Twist readers anything,” said Emily, “it would be to have fun and enjoy your childhood while you can. You are only a child once so live life to the fullest and have fun. No regrets!”



Hannah Sangwin is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast from Cascade Elite in Washington. At the 2015 Level 9 Western Championships, she tied for 15th in the all-around. “My training has been going well, for I have been working on cleaning up my basics and I have been working on many upgraded skills,” Hannah told Full Twist.

“My short-term goals are to get some of my Level 10 skills,” the 12-year-old remarked. “I have been working Geingers on bars, yurchenko layout fulls on vault, double backs on floor, and a side aerial dismount on beam. My long-term goal is to do college gymnastics.”

Having recently finished her post-season with Regionals and Westerns, Hannah is now preparing for 2016 season.  “While gymnastics takes up most of my social life, I still get some advantages that other kids may not have,” she noted. “Other gymnasts can agree that gymnastics has supplied them with great teammates, friends, and great qualities like discipline and time management as well as physical and mental strength. So what you give to the sport, you will get in return.”



Sachi Sugiyama is a former NCAA gymnast at the University of Michigan. An AAI Award Finalist, she concluded her memorable career in April at the 2015 NCAA Championships, and we caught up with her to find out what’s been doing lately. “I [am] just taking a spring class,” Sachi told Full Twist. “[The class is] typography, where we learn all about type. Such as word, letter, and line spacing, use of color, hierarchy and visual comprehension and interest. I learned a lot, a bit frustrating at times, but I think the class is valuable for any type of media marketing. I am also continuing to design leotards for Michigan Gymnastics and Michigan Gymnastics camp as well as TIGAR in Colorado, and Gymchix. I just returned home for the summer, but I will still keep in contact with Gymchix and Michigan for leotard collaboration.”

When asked if she if might continue to compete in gymnastics, Sachi replied, “No I [will] not. I plan to just play around in the gym and to work out to stay in shape. I have competed my last season as a competitive athlete. I loved it so much, but my career is over and my body needs a rest. I plan on volunteering with the Michigan gymnastics team in the fall while I am finishing up my fifth year of school.”

Sachi said, “Michigan has opened up so many doors for me in my creative future. I want to reach other to other gyms and colleges to continue to design leotards as well as maybe get into sports graphics and promoting teams. I enjoyed making graphics for our team throughout this season and working with our media relations guy, Brad [Rudner] to create update graphics for meets and accomplishments. I loved my four years as a Michigan gymnasts and couldn’t [have] asked for a better ending. Our team improved every year and I grew so much as a person. I have received a chance of a life time and the experience was breathtaking.”



Anna Tempero is a senior elite artistic gymnast from New Zealand. She was a member of the 2014 World Championships team, and retired from gymnastics shortly afterward competing in Nanning. “Basically I retired because I thought I had done everything I wanted to in gymnastics and I decided to move on a little bit,” Anna told Full Twist. “But once I hadn’t done any training for a couple of months I really missed it and realised that maybe I wasn’t quite finished with gymnastics. Also my club team in Blenheim was planning a trip to Singapore to compete in an annual competition and I thought that could be the best send-off for me after another year of competing.”

The 20-year-old explained that her training has been going well. “I’ve only been training about two months now so I’m just at the stage of regaining my fitness and getting back all of my old skills,” said Anna. “At this stage I haven’t been working on any new skills, just getting myself back to where I was at the end of last year. It has been fun being back in my old gym and training with my original coaches as well.”

On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Anna told us, “My short-term goals are just getting all my routines back. At this stage I don’t have any long-term goals in particular. Just to enjoy competing the sport we all love. The thought of competing at Worlds one last time has crossed my mind but I haven’t made a decision on whether or not I want to carry out that goal.”

Anna offered some advice to Full Twist readers: “Just enjoy the sport, it’s an incredible sport and is a lot of fun. Make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Obviously you need to work hard to achieve your goals but don’t let the pressure of not achieving them ruin your enjoyment of the sport. I find when I’m more relaxed and enjoying a competition I will compete better. Good luck everyone!”



 Caroline Versluis is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast who trains at Gymnastix Training Center in Buford, Georgia. At the 2015 Region 8 Level 9 Championships, she placed 16th in the all-around. “Training has been going great!” Caroline told Full Twist. “I train Mondays through Fridays during the week; I went to a camp at Auburn University, and have a bar clinic this weekend with trainers from the national camp. I am halfway through the summer practices and working on getting new skills to compete this upcoming season. One of the skills that I’m working on to add to my bar routine is a pak salto. I am also working a round-off back handspring 2 ½ twist on floor. I am looking forward to starting routines and cleaning up my skills to prepare for this season.” Caroline’s next competition will be on December 7th.

“My short-term goals are to overall have a consistent season and to make Easterns,” the 15-year-old explained. “My long-term goal is to compete gymnastics in college.” She mentioned that she is focused on training for Level 10 and college and will not try elite.

Caroline added, “This is my first year contacting college coaches for recruiting. I write about my experiences at Gymnastprofiles.com. If you want to stay up-to-date please check out my profile at Caroline.gymnastprofiles.com.”

Stay tuned for Part 22, which will include updates on Youna Dufournet and Laney Madsen!

Image via USA Gymnastics on Facebook.

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