HAGERSTOWN, MD. – With skill and drive, two local competitive gymnasts excelled during an out-of-state competition that involved more than 100 competitors.
Union Elementary School’s Channing Gillum and Madilynn Smallridge recently traveled with the Elkins Tumble Time team to Hagerstown, Maryland, where both excelled in the Frosty Frenzy Meet. The USA Gymnastics-sanctioned event occurred on Jan. 5, and competitors were judged on their skills in the areas of vault, bars, beam and floor exercises.
Ten-year-old Channing placed first all around for level gold with a first place in vault and floor and second place on beam. Madilynn, 8, placed third all around, leaving with level bronze for her age group. She placed second in vault; fourth on floor and bar; and fifth on beam.
Despite their young ages, both Madilynn and Channing have quite the experience under their belts.
Madilynn began gymnastics at age 5, training at G3 in Weston. By 2018, she began training at Tumble Time in Elkins with their competitive gymnastics team.
“They are fantastic with our children,” said Bridget Smallridge, Madilynn’s mother. “We are very blessed to be a part of this team/family organization.”
Madilynn’s first competition was in early December 2018 in Charleston at the Big Dog Invitational, where she placed fourth overall for her age group.
Channing has been participating in gymnastics for roughly a year-and-a-half.
“She was flipping and climbing all over everything, constantly bored, so I knew she needed an extracurricular activity,” said Channing’s mother, Melanie Gillum. “I put her in ballet, but the teacher said she needed something higher energy. So, we found competitive gymnastics, and from that day, she fell in love.”
Now, Channing is in her second year of competitive gymnastics.
“Last year she started as a level silver and won West Virginia State Vault champion and placed second overall at States,” said Melanie.
With the Peace Love Competition approaching in February, Channing will be training multiple times a week.
“Two times a week until right before competition and then will move up to four days before the meet,” Melanie explained. “They will practice their routines and condition.”
Madilynn will not be participating along with her team in the Parkersburg competition, as the family will be out of town. However, she will be on the floor for the Hollywood Nights Meet scheduled for Feb. 16-17 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“She is preparing by being at our gym two to three days a week and working hard to win a first-place medal to bring home,” said Bridget.
Despite the hard work that comes along with gymnastics, both girls enjoy the sport and the friendships that have been made with Tumble Time.
“My favorite things are meeting new friends and seeing how my hard work has paid off,” said Channing.
“My most favorite thing about gymnastics is having great friends that support you,” said Madilynn. “My most favorite thing about competing in competitions is the beam and the vault and floor. It makes me feel excited when I see my score and hear my family and teammates cheer for me.”
With talent and ambition, the two girls are making strides in the gymnastics world; however, it’s the support of family, friends and the community that make the hard work worth it.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help your child find a sport they thrive in. It’s a very structured sport, and Channing has taken it all in and has become a great gymnast with the help of her coaches,” said Melanie. “Even when not at the gym, you can find her working on her skills.”
Melanie added she hopes Channing continues to love and work hard at the sport.