Five local teens have qualified to compete in the 2022 World Championships and World Age Group (WAG) Competitions in Trampoline & Tumbling in Sofia, Bulgaria November 16-19.

They were among multiple USA Elite gymnasts who competed in the qualifying tryouts at the 2022 USA Gymnastics Championships held in Des Moines, Iowa in June. Two athletes, Morgan Kessler and Miah Bruns, won the national championship in their divisions.

Morgan Kessler (18)  from Katy won the National Championship in Tumbling-Intermediate Elite. Morgan began taking gymnastics lessons when he was six years old because, “I was always a very active kid and needed an activity to keep me occupied.   I like competing in tumbling  because I love to demonstrate both power and grace.”

Miah Bruns (18)  defended her 2021 title to win the 2022 Senior Women’s Tumbling National Champion again.  According to Miah, “This year, I achieved one of my biggest dreams, which was to represent Team USA at the World Games this July. The World Games is the Olympics for non-olympic sports.  After this year, my goal is to continue training for the next World Games in 2025 in China.”  

Conroe was well represented, too.  Jordy Maldonado began gymnastics training when he was ten years old. “My medical doctor recommended it. The doctor thought the sport would help me cope with my ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder).  Jordy started focusing on tumbling and trampoline about two years ago, but he has done well enough to compete in trampoline at the Intermediate Level.  He placed second in synchronized with his partner Syler Buck.  Jordy also placed sixth in the Individual Trampoline event.

Do you think the sport helped you with your ADHD?

“Yes, it helped me get a lot of energy out and it helped me learn to focus.”

There are several other gymnasts going through their routines at the same time. How do you maintain your concentration when you compete?

“I have to focus.  I listen to music while I’m waiting.   Then,  just before my turn, I pray.  I like it when people cheer when I’m performing. That helps.”

Alec Pelezo (17) from Magnolia placed eighth in the Power Tumbling -Elite Category in Des Moines, Iowa, and ninth in the event in Italy.  He also  ranked tenth in Double Mini-trampoline, the Senior Elite division in Des Moines.  Alec said , “I like tumbling because of how fast the pace is.” Alec is a senior and, after high school graduation, he wants ”to continue the sport and go to junior college in order to keep competing.”

Isabella Pansano, from The Woodlands, placed third in Trampoline as a Junior Elite, and she placed fifth in the Double-Mini category.  “I like the Double-Mini because it’s fun,” Bella said.

Fourteen-year-old Cole Bianca,  from Spring,  placed third in the Youth Elite category of Tumbling. “I’ve been taking gymnastics lessons since I was four.  I was always flippin’ around.”

Fifteen-year-old London Hunt of Spring competed in tumbling as a Junior Elite Female and placed fourth.  “I like competing in tumbling because it’s fun.”

Tasha Williams ranked second in the Senior Women’s Tumbling in Italy.  She also ranked second in the same event in Italy. She and Miah Bruns came from Illinois to train with Jeffrey Brown. Tasha is hosted by Dr. Marixa Maldonado, a medical doctor in Conroe.  “Jordy’s mother has hosted several students at their home in Conroe so they can reach their potential.” 

Four athletes also competed May 25-27 in Rimini, Italy, for the Aere World Cup Championships in Tumbling and  Double Mini-trampoline.  The group remembered that it was a difficult venue to compete in “because the weather was hot and the building we competed in was not air-conditioned. “

London Hunt (15) of Spring competed in tumbling as a Junior Elite female and placed fourth. She began taking gymnastics lessons when she was eight years old and describes herself saying, “I am very competitive.  I like competing in tumbling because it’s fun.”

London is also impressed with the leotards Coach Brown designed for the team.  “Mine’s pink.  I got to choose the color. “

Why do you train at WCC?  What do you like about Coach Jeffrey?

The gymnasts train at the World Championship Centre in Spring, Texas. (Think Simone Biles.) Jeffrey T. Brown and Amanda Bianca (Cole’s mother) are the team’s  T & T coaches.

Why do you train at WCC?  What do you like about Coach Jeffrey?

Tasha Williams said, “My father owns gyms in Illinois and is a coach himself, but I had big goals.  I wanted to make Senior Elite.  I wanted to make the national team, and I wanted to make World Cup in Italy in 2022.  I did all that. My goal for 2023 is to make World again.”

Miah said, “The reason I train at WCC is because of Coach Jeffrey and the facility.  I moved away from home in Crete, Illinois,  in order to be coached by Jeffrey and follow my dreams.”

Her host family is Dr. Amelia Robinson and Joshua Johnson.  Dr. Robinson is the principal of the Academy at WCC, which helps the gymnasts balance school with their intense training hours.

“It’s a compressed school day, with a small student-teacher ratio.  This allows each student to receive direct and tailored help in order to maximize their learning abilities.  My season never ends, because I’ve been an international athlete for eight years, so I compete in more world and WAGS meets than most people,” Miah explained. “I go home to Illinois at Christmas. Otherwise, my family comes to see me at meets.”

Morgan Kessler drives two hours each day from Katy. “I always wanted the opportunity to pursue an elite gymnastics career at a facility that could support my needs as an athlete.  Jeffrey is so understanding and supportive.  He has helped me get to where I am today and has allowed me to grow as both an athlete and a person.”

London appreciates, “The way coach pushes me to be my best.”

Alec said, “He always supports me, even when I’m having a bad time. “

Jordy said that he likes, “The way they encourage me and push me every day to do my best.”

How did you learn about Coach Jeffrey?

The group agreed with Miah, who said, “We knew him from meets and other events for about eight years.  We knew his reputation and athletic ability, so when we heard he’d started coaching full-time, we got in touch with him. “

Jeffrey had won five national titles and competed for the United States in South Africa.  He has been a member of the USA Gymnastics National Team since 2001 and has competed in Canada, Belgium, Russia, Belarus, two World Cups and two World Championships.  In addition to his achievements in tumbling and trampoline, Jeffrey trained in tap, jazz, and ballet dance for ten years. He also performed with Walt Disney World as a tumbler in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.  Jeffrey also performed stunts, dance, and acting roles for Universal Orlando, Sea World, and Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba.

Describe a typical weekday; what’s your routine?

The gymnasts are in home-school programs offered at WWC that allow them to practice 25 hours a week.  They are up by 7:00 AM and off to the gym for practice from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM.  They do lunch and school work from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, then it’s back to practice from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.  Afterwards, they finish up any needed school work, have supper with the family, play with the pets, watch television,  and get to bed by 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM.

What is your favorite thing about going to competitions in other states or countries?

Miah: “Meeting all the gymnasts from around the country and world.  When traveling to  international competitions, I enjoy getting to experience and learn about the different cultures.”

Morgan: “Seeing all of my friends from across the nation; traveling to new locations.”

Alec: “Getting to experience new cultures.”

London: “Seeing different parts of the world; spending time with friends and competing.”

Cole: “Getting to see friends from other states…but I don’t like the plane rides.”

Isabella: “Meeting people from everywhere.”

Do you have any role models in your sport?

Cole’s role model is Elliot Browne from Great Britain.

Isabella admires Lina Sjoberg, “Because she is a good Double Mini athlete.”

Miah admires Jia Fangfang from China because, “She is one of the best women power tumblers, and I aspire to be as good as her one day.”

Alec and Morgan both admire Kristoff Willerton of Great Britain.  They say, “His tumbling style inspires me.”

Who knows? Maybe one day a young gymnast will be regarding one of these athletes as their role model.   Oh, wait.  One already does.

According to London Hunt, “My role model is Miah, my teammate, because she is the best women’s tumbler in the world.”

And the results confirm it: Miah Bruns won the 2022 World Cup Tumbling championship in Italy. She then won the silver medal for Team USA at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama in July of this year.

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