Elite and NCAA Gymnast Training Updates—Part 24


While we’ve been having some down time since an amazing week at the World Championships (and also extremely busy) 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.

Mary Beth Box, Megan Verceles Carr, Georgia Carslaw, Carina Chalmers, Kendal Moss, Bria Northrop, Kennadie Ursenbach, Kellie Wanamaker, and Rose Woo provided us with thoughtful insights into their training.


Mary Beth Box is a senior competing in NCAA gymnastics at the University of Georgia. At the 2015 NCAA Championships, she competed in the floor exercise event final. “My training has been going very well,” Mary Beth told Full Twist. “I am physically and mentally stronger going into this preseason than previous ones, and I feel as if I’m already further ahead in my training than where I was this time last year. Overall, this makes me feel really prepared going into officials. So far, I believe I am positioned for my best preseason and year yet.”

On the subject of her goals for 2016, Mary Beth explained, “Ultimately, to win NCAAs as a team. Within that goal though, and alongside Brandie Jay and Brittany Rogers, we want to accomplish the small milestones that lead us to truly contend for the national championship on the night of Super Six. Individually, my goals are to consistently contribute on every event that I’m working this season, compete Sunday at event finals, and exhaust every ounce of gymnastics capabilities I have within me.  In essence, I want to end this season with no regrets and the peace of mind that I gave it my all.”

Mary Beth noted, “I am excited to hopefully debut a few new skills for the 2016 season. I plan on incorporating my double front back into my floor routine and front aerial to scale on beam. In addition, I have been spending a lot of time on bars so potentially, there’s a whole new event up my sleeve.”

When asked what she’d like to tell the Full Twist readers, Mary Beth said, “There is something truly special about this year’s team. Our work ethic is different, the chemistry is natural, and it genuinely feels like family.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been with some of these girls longer, maybe it’s a tribute to the freshmen who seem to effortlessly fit in…either way, I’m thrilled to go into my last preseason and season surrounded by these talented ladies. Be ready for new faces in lineups and a great season from the Gymdogs.”


Megan Verceles Carr is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast from West Valley Gymnastics in California. She has competed at J.O. Nationals for the past three years. “My training has been going well,” Megan told Full Twist. “I am excited for the upcoming season to start and to compete my new skills I have been working on.”

Megan’s short-term goal is to make it to the Nastia Liukin Cup, while her long-term goal is to compete in college gymnastics. “I don’t think I am going to do elite,” she noted. “I like the idea of elite because I love gymnastics, but with being a junior in high school it is hard to make time.”

She is currently working on several new skills. “I am working on a round-off layout double twist dismount off beam, a yurchenko 1 ½ twist on vault, and a round-off 1 ½ punch front full on floor to put in for this season,” she explained. “I am also working on a blind change double front dismount off bars.”

Megan added, “One bad day at the gym does not define you as a gymnast. Come back the next day and prove to yourself how good you really are.”


Georgia Carslaw is a senior artistic gymnast and a member of the GBR Disability Gymnastics Team. She has competed in—and won—the Special Olympic Games for the past two years. “I started gymnastics in a beginner’s class when I was around 6 or 7 and I loved it,” Georgia told Full Twist. “I was selected for the disability competitive squad at the City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club when I was about 8 and have been training around three or four times a week ever since. I first trialed for the British squads when I was about 10 but didn’t make the team. I think I found [it] too stressful as sometimes my autism means I find it difficult to adapt to new surroundings and coaches. However I kept training and eventually I became British junior open champion and trialed again for the British team and this time I made it. I loved going to squads at the national training centre in Lilleshall and going to camps and competitions all over the UK. I traveled to Jersey, Wales and Northern Ireland and met lots of new friends and people who faced the same challenges as me.”

Coached by Angela Turner at the City of Glasgow Gymnastics Club, Georgia has had some brilliant achievements in gymnastics. She explained, “In 2013, I competed in at the Special Olympics National Games in Bath and won the overall title and was then picked for the team for the European Games in Antwerp where I had a great competition and won overall senior gold at level 4 (the highest category of Special Olympics). I had a great few years and became senior British Champion (class 1) 3 times and just defending my title again in September. My proudest achievement is being selected for the GB team for the Special Olympics World Games in LA in 2015.”

Georgia told us that she trained “really hard” in the run-up to the Special Olympics both with the British team and her coaches in Glasgow. “We knew it would be a lot tougher that my previous competitions because there were a lot more seniors competing at the highest level than there are in Europe. I loved being in America and seeing all of LA, but I was nervous after podium training when I saw the big group of gymnasts I was competing against. There were girls who were really good from the USA, Uruguay, Malta and Russia in my level so I knew I had to have a clean competition as some of their skills were harder than mine. I had an amazing competition with 8 clean routines in classification and finals – the only gymnast in the competition who was able to do this. I was amazed to find out I have won overall gold in the highest level and classification in the world! Everyone cried – my mum and my brother, my coaches and all of the 50+ supporters who had come over to LA to support everyone at the Games. I was proud I was able to hold my nerves in such a packed, busy competition which was held [at] UCLA. I ended up with gold on floor and beam, bronze on bars, and silver on vault.  I was then asked to perform my floor routine (which was made especially for the Games and was set to Scottish ceilidh music) at the gala alongside superstars such as Kyla Ross.”

Georgia’s training has been going well since the Games. “It has been nonstop with competitions this year and I had the British Disability Championships at the end of September where I defended my title,” she noted. “I also competed in the Waveney Disability Open and the Scottish Disability Championships. I am going to start training some new skills for 2016. It takes me quite a long term to learn new skills and I want to have more difficult routines. I have a double spin on floor but would like to do a triple. I also would like to do my low down spin on beam. I am working on adding a twist to my handspring vault and a long upstart to my bar routine as well as a new dismount.”

She told us that she would like to be selected for future international competitions for British Gymnastics and the Special Olympics. “I will find out soon if I have qualified for the Disability Masters in April where we compete alongside the GB mainstream seniors in a massive arena in Liverpool,” she added. “This was amazing last year to be competing at the same time as names such as Dan Purvis, Max Whitlock, Louis Smith and Becky Downie and helped raise the profile of the disability gymnasts. Hopefully I will qualify for that and the Scottish Masters in February. I would love to go to another World Games but it is 4 years away so lots of competitions to consider before then.”

Georgia’s team performed a display at the 2015 World Championships as an opening act during the finals weekend. Beforehand, she remarked, “I think this will be good to show the audience what disabled gymnasts can do and I can’t wait to meet all the gymnasts.”


Carina Chalmers is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast who trains at World Class Gymnastics Center in Illinois. She competed at the 2015 Region 5 Championships. “Training has been going great,” Carina told Full Twist. “My skills are coming along and I am looking forward to this competition season. I am really excited about my new floor routine that was choreographed by former University of Alabama gymnast Ashley Sledge.”

On the subject of her gymnastics goals, Carina told us, “My short-term goal is to represent Region 5 at Easterns. My long-term gymnastics goals are to reach my full potential in the sport and compete on the collegiate level.”

Carina said she is “definitely” working on some new skills, including the following: On beam; front aerials, side somi, back handspring layout and round off 1 ½ dismount; bars; bail, toe hecht, toe hands, Tkatchev, front giants, and double layout dismount; floor; front layout to front full, double back salto; vault; yurchenko layout, yurchenko full.

“I really want to [try elite],” Carina explained. “Especially after attending the 2015 Secret Classic. I saw myself being able to compete at that level. The problem is that there were no elite development programs in my area until a few months ago. Before [that], the closest elite gym was 4 hours away.”

Carina added, “Whatever you do, don’t give up on your dreams. A few years back, I suffered from a mental block. I stopped tumbling backwards and was told by my former coach that my gymnastics career was over. I continued to follow my dreams and here I am today being interviewed by Full Twist!” She also remarked, “Gymnastics is an amazing sport.  Please follow my journey by visiting carinachalmers.com from time to time.”



Kendal Moss is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast who trains at Everest Gymnastics in North Carolina. She has competed in two Nastia Liukin Cups, and she is committed to Auburn University. “Training has been going very well so far this year!” Kendal told Full Twist. “After recovering from an Achilles injury, I realized how much I took gymnastics for granted before and now realize that any day spent in the gym is a good day!”

Kendal’s short-term goals for gymnastics include staying healthy before college and having fun competing her last year of club gymnastics. “My long-term goals are to compete for Auburn University next year and help the team make Super Six again,” she remarked. “I’m working on some new releases on bars and a sheep jump on beam. Other than that I’m trying to perfect the skills in my routines to have a solid year.”

17-year-old Kendal explained, “I do not plan on doing elite gymnastics, however a few of my teammates are elites! [Her teammates include Ashton Locklear and Emily Schild.] I tried the elite path a while back but I ended up wanting to stay Level 10 and have fun with it!”

Kendal added, “To the Full Twist readers, my advice to you is know that everything happens for a reason! Use things like injuries and other setbacks to light your fire and make for an even better comeback. Enjoy every day of gymnastics while you can because it’s not a lifetime sport and there will be one day when you wake up and won’t be heading to the gym.”


 Bria Northrop is a U.S. Level 10 artistic gymnast who trains at Fuzion Gymnastics Center in Kearney, Missouri. At the 2015 J.O. National Invitational Tournament, she placed 10th in the all-around and third on floor exercise. “Training has been going awesome,” Bria told Full Twist. “Over the summer I was practicing 25 hours a week where my focus was on strength training as well as learning new skills. I also attended several training camps such as the Missouri Optional Clinic, Region 4 Optional camp, and Triad’s High performance camp. Our fall workout schedule has started and I am now in the gym 21 hours a week and my focus has switched to cardio training and putting my skills into routines.”

The 17-year-old explained her gymnastics goals: “To me, my short-term gym goals are to work hard every day I am in the gym and to improve each meet. I’d also like to place [in the] top five at Regionals and make it to Nationals this year. My long term goal remains to compete gymnastics for a Division I school beginning [with] the 2016-2017 season.”

Bria has been training some new skills, including a double layout dismount on bars and continuing to improve her Geinger connected to bail. “On vault I am training a yurchenko full, and on beam I am training a gainer pike swing down and a wolf jump + front tuck. On floor my passes are currently a double pike, whip ½ front full + front tuck, and a 2 ½ twist + front tuck.”

Bria’s next competition will be a mock meet in December to help prepare for her first meet of the season, the Texas Prime Meet in January.

“I’m super excited and confident to be going into my last year as a J.O. Level 10 competitor,” she enthused. “I find it amazing that this will be my 15th year in gymnastics so far and I love the sport now as much as when I first stepped on the mats. It’s crazy to see how much I have accomplished in the past years and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me!”


Kennadie Ursenbach is a U.S. Level 9 artistic gymnast who trains at Mountain West Gymnastics in Boise, Idaho. She placed 9th in the all-around at the 2014 Region 2 Championships. “My training is going very well,” Kennadie told Full Twist. “I have been out of gymnastics for a year and a half now with a pretty good wrist injury. I am now back to gymnastics full time! I also am getting my strength and technique back since my injury.”

The 13-year-old stated that her short-term gymnastics goal is to be able to compete this year. “Last year was a bummer not being able to compete with my teammates, due to my wrist injury,” she told us. “I am striving to maintain a healthy, injury-free body. My long-term gymnastics goal is reaching the collegiate level of gymnastics.”

Kennadie is training several new skills now that she is recovering from her injury. She described them for us: “[On] vault: yurchenko layout, bars: cleaning up my pak salto, double pike dismount, toe on toe off into immediate toe shoot to high, blinds, and getting my cast to handstand back from not being able to do bars for a while. [On] beam: gainer backhand spring to flick lay, standing gainer flick lay, getting my stalder press mount back, tour-jete ¼, and cartwheel gainer 1 ½ twist dismount.”

Kennadie used to be on the path of elite gymnastics when she was around 7-9 years old and participating in the TOPS program. “I was still taking the elite path until last year, when I decided I want to take the J.O. path,” she commented. “I feel that I maybe could take a shot at elite, but I feel elite consumes your young life. I think I could handle the intensity, but that elite gymnastics is not in my interest.”


 Kellie Wanamaker is a junior competing in NCAA gymnastics at the College of William and Mary. She had been on the Arizona State roster since 2014, but she transferred for the 2016 season. “Training has been going really well,” Kellie told Full Twist. “I’ve been working really hard on endurance and putting all my skills together into routines.”

Kellie’s main goals for the 2016 season are to compete bars, beam, and floor consistently. “I’ve never gotten to compete floor in college, so that would be really exciting and fun to do,” she elaborated. “Also, [I’d like to stay] healthy and strong throughout the season so that I can perform well and help out the team.”

She is not currently putting any new skills in her routines, but she’s working on getting some old skills back. “Things such as competing my jaeger on bars and putting tumbling together for a strong floor routine,” said Kellie.

“I would just say [to readers] that if there is something that you want to do, go out and do it,” Kellie remarked. “You may get knocked down, but you just have to get back up and work harder than the time before. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because only you have the power to accomplish your ultimate goals. Set your goals and go after them every single day. If you believe it, you can achieve it.”


Rose Woo is a member of the Canadian artistic gymnastics junior national team. At the 2015 Canadian Championships, she placed third in the all-around. “Training has been a little hard for me for the past few weeks now,” Rose told Full Twist. “I injured my back…and I’m kind of in a recovery phase. But the good news is that I could do a little bit more than I was doing a few weeks ago.”

Rose told us that her main goal is to go to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and her next competition will hopefully be in January.

“I worked on new skills this summer but I got injured so I think that the goal is to come back strong and healthy for this upcoming year,” Rose explained. “Keeping my routines clean and consistent. I may upgrade connections on beam but nothing too hard.”

Rose’s advice for the Full Twist readers is “to always believe in your dreams and to keep working hard.”

Many thanks to all the gymnasts for participating in the Training Updates! Stay tuned for Part 25, which will include an update with Vanessa Ferrari!

Photo credit: Georgia Carslaw

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