CHARLESTON, W. Va. — Not many tumblers can claim they’re the best in the nation, but there’s one Rochelle girl who has that honor after emerging victorious at the 2019 USTA Nationals in Charleston, West Virginia this past weekend.
12-year-old Alexandra Neece took on over 40 tumblers in her division at the national championships, scoring 40 points across two passes to win the title by 0.2 points. Neece totaled 20 points on her first pass, landing in a tie for second place behind Amelia Ranson (20.3). Neece added 20 more points on her second pass, and the second effort was enough to launch her over Ranson and Carley Hillebrand, who finished tied for second with 39.8 points.
“I’m happy, excited and proud,” Neece said. “I do back handsprings really well, and I want to get better at doing my full twist. My coach, Mary Wright, has helped me get better, and she’s taught me how to believe in myself.”
Neece trains out of All the Wright Moves in Byron, where coach Mary Wright teaches tumbling classes to young athletes. Tumbling is one of several gymnastics sporting disciplines, and it’s an ability that combines skills from trampoline gymnastics and artistic gymnastics. Tumbling passes are performed on a long spring track, with each tumbler performing two passes per competition. Each pass combines unique skills before ending in a strong dismount.
“I’ve been tumbling since I was in third grade,” Neece said. “This is my first year on the team. My friend brought me to a class one day, and I really enjoyed the experience. The competitions are really fun, and I like practicing with my friends.”
Coordination, finesse and fearlessness are all necessities for tumblers to piece together strong routines on the track. For Neece, winning the national championship this past weekend quickly became her favorite memory since taking up tumbling a few years ago.
“I remember one day when I was doing a whip back, two-and-a-half tuck and I fell on my back,” Neece said. “That was a scary experience for me. But winning nationals is definitely my favorite memory.”