Gymnasts earning high marks

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By Dan Johnson

Long hours.

Bumps and bruises.

Drilling the same exercises over and over until they become second nature.

Such is the life of a gymnast, and for the kids that participate in the Evergreen Eagles’ program, it’s one worth living.

“It’s emotionally draining at times,” said 17-year-old Mandy Flesche, who practices six days out of the week. “One day you’ll be really good and the next day, it’s gone. But at the end of the day, what we do is very rewarding.”

Flesche, along with teammate Bethel Lindsley, recently qualified for the USAG Regional competition, held in Wichita, Kan.

“These meets are more intense than high school,” said Lindsley, a junior at Evergreen High School. “Everyone is on the same level and has been competing for a long time.”

Lindsley began her gymnastics career at age 6, although some in her family insist it was much earlier.

“My mom always jokes that growing up I would never walk anywhere; I was always doing handstands or cartwheels,” Lindsley said.

Flesche also has a long background in gymnastics. She’s been involved in the sport since the tender age of 2, and growing up she tried to pattern herself after her older sister, Marnie, a high school state champion in the bars.

“She was such a hard-worker,” Mandy said of her sister. “Neither one of us have much in the way of natural talent, so we have to work really hard for everything we get.”

While Flesche and Lindsley are now veterans of the game, Ryker Eagen and Coleson Stodghill are still in their infancy stage.

Eagen, 8, and Stodghill, 10, both qualified for regionals based on their performance at last month’s state tournament.

Stodghill, who qualified by a slim seven points, had mixed emotions leading up to regionals.

“I’m nervous and excited,” Stodghill said. “I’ll be competing in all the events.”

Stodghill’s favorite event is the rings due to his shoulder flexibility and strength.