Kelly Griffin flips her way to Junior Olympic Nationals

Kelly+Griffin+flips+her+way+to+Junior+Olympic+Nationals

By Erin Lynch ’18 and Camryn Ragland  ’18              

Kelly Griffin ’20 entered the tension filled gym, packed with parents, spectators and college coaches, for the 2017 Junior Olympic Nationals. Griffin prepared herself for a full day of competition on four events: vault, beam, floor and bars.  

 

After the events concluded, Griffin explained that “ the competition was exciting and exhausting at the same time!”

 

The stakes were high considering level 10 is the highest level in the Junior Olympic program, which is just under the elite level, according to the Women’s Junior Olympic National Champion website.

 

Griffin had prepared for 12 years by training with Olympian, Alicia Sacramone, and 2008 All Around Olympic Champion Nastia Liukin’s mom.

 

To qualify for the Region 6 team that Griffin would be representing at Nationals, she needed to score a 35 or higher out of 40 at the regional competition. Griffin scored a 37.650, which placed her in first at the competition, as well as on the team that she traveled to JO Nationals with.

 

JO Nationals took place in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 6-7. The atmosphere was “intense” explained Griffin. Numerous college coaches from throughout the country were in attendance for the meet. However, this high pressure situation did not affect Griffin’s results.

 

“I finished Junior Olympic Nationals in 10th place All Around and 5th place on Vault,” Griffin said.

 

Her impressive fifth in the nation on vault came from a score of a 9.725, her personal best on that apparatus according to mymeetscores.com.

 

Her success does not come as a surprise considering Griffin trains five days a week, four hours a day. Her friends have noticed her large commitment to the sport.  

 

“We do know she has practices almost everyday and is very committed,” Luke Roehm, one of Griffin’s friends, said. “She gives up a lot of social time for practice but she manages to balance two very well.”

 

Griffin further elaborated on the sacrifices she makes. “I do feel that I miss out on things with my friends due to my intense gymnastics practice schedule, but over the years I have realized that the benefits far outweigh what I miss out on,” Griffin explained.  

 

Griffin began her career in Westport at the Westport/Weston YMCA where she competed with fellow students, Kylie Cohen ’20, Cate Casparius ’19, Alexa Mysel ’19, Tess Jacobs ’20 and a few other graduates.

 

“Kelly’s presence [at the gym] added amusement and enjoyment to each and every practice. Not only do people look up to her because of her skills, she is also a great friend,” Cohen said.

 

Jacobs agreed and added, “[Kelly] always had a smile on her face and her skills contributed to the mindset of the other team members by giving them an example of a dedicated, and hard working gymnast,”

 

Though her career began in Westport, it has brought her to the Connecticut Academy of Gymnastics in Wallingford, Connecticut where she trained for JO Nationals.

 

A lot of time went in to Griffin advancing to the current degree of talent she is at. It takes typically six months for a gymnast to perfect a new skill that will be performed in competition.

 

But, that six month period is actually what drives her passion. “My favorite part about gymnastics is perfecting a new skill and competing because I love showing what I have worked so hard for,” Griffin said.

 

Griffin plans on continuing gymnastics through the collegiate level. She explained that she will continue to train hard and keep pushing herself because “the feeling you get when you achieve those goals is addictive.”