Thirteen-year-old tumbler Alexandra Neece focused on executing her routine and blocking out the crowd as she looked to follow up her championship performance from two years ago during the 2021 United States Tumbling Nationals in Rochester, Minnesota this past month.
With her family in attendance, Neece scored 18.7 points on the first of her two tumbling passes, which included a whip back, two handsprings and a back tuck. The Rochelle tumbler followed with 19.1 points on her second pass, which features either a roundoff or a barani, six back handsprings and a back tuck. Despite a minor deduction for her first landing, Neece finished with 37.8 points to take second place in the 13-14 Intermediate Girls Division.
“I’m proud of myself and I know I could have finished first, but I had a tiny step on my first landing,” Neece said. “I stayed straight and spaced my flips out perfectly. I was a little nervous, but I tried to stay focused while competing and I tried not to be distracted by the crowd… I was really happy that all of my family members were there to watch me. Because of COVID-19, we were worried that we were only going to be allowed one spectator to watch me compete.”
Tumbling is a gymnastics discipline in which athletes perform a series of acrobatic skills down a long sprung track, a type of flooring that absorbs shock and gives athletes a softer feel. Each pass comprises several elements in which the tumbler jumps, twists and flips while placing only their hands and feet on the track. Tumblers are then scored based on difficulty and form.
Neece, who won the 2019 USTA Nationals in the 11-12 Novice Girls Division, finished second out of 38 tumblers in the 13-14 Intermediate Girls Division this year, landing only 0.6 points behind champion Ava Nolan. Neece, who has been tumbling since third grade, will be working on some new skills for next year as she prepares to move up to the next difficulty level.
“I will be working on my full twist, my punch front forward flip and my layout back flip,” Neece said. “I might try out for the USTA Elite Team which would be a cool experience. I think that practicing four to six hours per week will help me reach my goals… I enjoy the feeling of flipping, but I mostly enjoy having the opportunity to practice with my friends.”