Gymnast heading to national progam |

Gymnast heading to national progam

Charles Whisnand column

It’s impressive enough that 10-year-old Krysta Palmer can do one press hand stand, a typical move of strength and flexibility used by gymnasts.

But at the USA Gymnastics Talent Opportunity Program regional testing in Sacramento, Palmer did 10 press hand stands — all without stopping or falling.

It was moves like these that qualifed the Jacks Valley Elemetary School fifth grader for the TOPS national testing program. Palmer will participate in the national program Friday through Sunday in Indianapolis.

From the more than 2,000 participants, only 300 gymnasts qualified for national TOPS testing. During the testing, 20 gymnasts from each age group to make up the TOPS national team.

Those who qualify for the TOPS national team will be invited to attend a training camp in December in Houston at Karolyi’s Gymnastics, home of well-known gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi.

Palmer competes for Starz Gymnastics in Reno. Among the tests in the regional testing included rope climbing, push-ups and pull-ups.

“I am so pleased to have Krysta qualify to national testing,” said her coach, Derrick Moellenbeck. “She trains 20-25 hours per week on top of her school work load and it just shows that hard work pays off. She is very dedicated and highly motivated to succeed.”

Nearly half of the current national team, 18 members, were TOPS national team members.

Palmer began the 2002 season as a level 7 gymnast and won the all-around title at the Crystal Cup in Sandy, Utah. Her scores were: Vault, 9.15, fourth; uneven parallel bars, 9.05, second; balance beam, 8.9, second; floor exercise, 9.225, second; all-around, 36.325, first.

She competed for the remainder of the season as a level 8 gymnast. At the state championships in March in Las Vegas, Palmer had an all-around score of 35.75, which qualified her to attend regionals in Mesa, Ariz. She placed fourth in the bars and fifth in the beam at state.

Despite competing with an injured shoulder, Palmer finished with an all-around score of 35.31 at regionals. Palmer has since moved up to compete at levels 9, 10 and junior elite.

Palmer has been competing in gymnastics for 4 1/2 years. “She used to shimmy up the doorway and that type of stuff,” said her father, Mitch.

Mitch said her daughter would climb all over everything, including the swing set. “She never used to go out to the swing to swing,” he said.

Palmer has gotten straight As this year and her father said gymnastics helps with her school work since it’s such a mental sport.

“It really goes hand-in-hand with the sport, I think,” said Palmer about gymnastics and excellent grades.

Palmer said she’s also learned how to mentally handle her failures when she misses a move.

“You just get a correction from the coach and then you think about it and fix it,” she said.


Eight-year-old James TenBroeck is another top young athlete from the Carson Valley competing on the national level as he recently won the title at the Western United States Tennis Championships in San Diego.

The event featured participants from seven states and British Columbia. TenBroeck was the only person from Nevada who qualified to compete. He didn’t lose a set in the tournament while cruising to the championship in the division for 8-year-olds.

One of the coaches in attendance said he had never seen an 8-year-old play so smart.

In his first-round match, TenBroeck defeated an opponent from Southern California, 6-3, 6-0.

He beat an opponent from Washington, 6-0, 6-1, in the second round.

In his third match, TenBroeck went up against the No. 3 seed from Oregon and won 6-4, 6-0.

In the finals, he faced an opponent who had knocked off the No. 1 seed, Brian Galon from Hawaii. TenBroeck rolled to a 6-2, 6-1 win.

TenBroeck will travel later this month to Austin, Texas, to compete with the super-elite, top-16 players in the nation. The winner will walk away with a national No. 1 ranking.

Other than being born with natural athletic ability, some of the keys to TenBroeck’s success in tennis have come from starting to play the game at the age of 3. To date, he has taken more than 700 local tennis lessons.

TenBroeck also credits the local grip-manufacturer “Off The Front” for some of his recent success.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.