May 26—Gracy Mowers described it as intense, yet also fun and relaxing. There were times when all eyes in the Estero Recreation Center were on her, others where she got to bond with her new teammates.
When it was over and she returned to her Middleton home from Florida this past weekend, she could breathe deeply and take in the satisfaction that comes with being a national champion.
Competing at the two-day National High School Gymnastics Association’s Senior Invitational Championships in Fort Myers, Mowers was crowned the all-around national champion at Level 10 with a score of 38.7750. The Yellow Jackets gymnast and four-time Salem News Gymnast of the Year at Masconomet Regional High School was one of 20 seniors there representing Team Massachusetts against other top 12th graders from across the country.
This came on the heels of taking part in the USA Gymnastics Women’s Development Program National Championships for Level 10 athletes in Daytona the previous weekend, where she finished third in in vault (9.75) and fourth in floor exercises (9.275).
“The competition was really good and I’m happy with how I performed,” said the 18-year-old Mowers, a National Honor Society student who will graduate from Masconomet in a few weeks and continue both her studies and gymnastics career at the University of New Hampshire starting in August.
Mowers said the first of the two days was a team competition, where the gymnasts could compete in any events that they chose; how they performed would determine who moved on to the second day of competition, which were the event finals. She selected the all-around and sparkled, taking first place on vault (9.475) and floor (9.725) while claiming second on the uneven bars (9.825) and fourth on balance beam (9.5).
“I was really happy with my beam scores, especially on Friday,” she said. “It’s been my struggle even this year, so being able to hit it both days in a row was one of my happy moments.”
Knowing that her all-around score from Friday would be used and that she’d already won the individual championship, Mowers said she used Saturday’s performance to take it all in and enjoy the experience. At the same time, she wanted to work on her routines while pushing away the nerves that came with everyone watching each of the 15 gymnasts when they performed individually.
“That’s what it will be like in college, so I used that time to try and get used to it,” said Mowers, whose Saturday scores were 9.65 on vault, 9.425 on bars, 9.5 on beam and 9.8 on the floor.
Three of her Masconomet teammates — Alexa Budrow, Sarah Aylwin and Charlotte Losee — were also part of the Massachusetts contingent in Fort Myers, but most of the other gymnasts and all four coaches were people she got to meet for the first time.
“I wasn’t sure how the dynamic would be, but by the end we were all sisters,” said Mowers.
The previous weekend in Daytona, Mowers fared extremely well in what she called “the biggest competition there is for Level 10 gymnasts” such as herself. She was there with her parents, Jana and Mark, and had qualified for the event as one of the top seven gymnasts from the New England Regionals.
Having spent the better part of a year-and-a-half working to master a 1 1/2 Yurchenko on the vault and adding a double layout to her floor routine, Mowers felt a surge of self-satisfaction with her showing.
“The competition was insane,” said the 5-foot-7 Mowers. “For the most part my entire team was Division 1 (college recruits).
“I was happy with how I performed, especially after being there in 2019 and I didn’t place in anything. So to come back with upgraded skills and put it all together in my last club competition before college, I was very happy.”
Now, said Mowers, she’ll have some time to rest, heal her body and take a few beach trips after a long season of gymnastics before she gets back to her training, getting stronger and gearing up for college athletics. She’s enrolled in the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at UNH.