Cambridge YMCA gymnastics team shines at national meet

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The Cambridge YMCA Gymnastics team has had many successful trips to competing at the Gym C YMCA National Gymnastics Championships under the guidance of veteran coach Cheryl Matthews.

This year’s event was held at the SeaGate Convention Center and hosted by the YMCA of Greater Toledo in June and featured over 150 teams and 5,000 young gymnasts.

“We’ve always done well at nationals,” Matthews explained. “It seems like we’re getting better every year, but we just haven’t been able to crack that Top 10.”

That dry spell is now over as the Cambridge YMCA Tier 6 team (10-14) of Alonna Allen, Jade Tippel, Sophia Johnson, MaryBeth Yoder and Paisley Williams took second place with a score an impressive 111,475. Allen and Tippel also finished as individual national all-around champions.

Matthews, who led the Cambridge program for 34 years, was surprised and delighted with the performance of her daughters.

“After the girls won regionals in April, I thought they had a real shot at a top-10 finish at nationals,” Matthews explained. “But I didn’t know it would be second place, it’s just exceptional. We could never come close to that.

Gymnasts wait their turn and watch their teammates practice floor routines and tumbling at the YMCA.

“Not only that, but we’ve had six national all-around champions and won 27 titles in total,” added Matthews. “And that’s extremely difficult to do in a national competition. I’m so, so proud of all the girls, they just did a great job.”

Briella McVay (Tier 2/Child B Division), Cruz Engstrom (Tier 2/Junior Division), Madilynn Rogers (Tier 2/Senior Division) and Kaylin Volz (Tier XP/Junior Division).

“These girls train all year round,” Matthews said. “They have a week off at Christmas and a week off before school starts, so 50 weeks a year they train.”

These workouts take place from 4-7:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and it’s an intense workout.

“They come to train and they work from the minute they arrive until the minute they leave,” Matthews continued. “They are allowed to have a drink, but we don’t sit down, they don’t have a snack break. They train and work all the time.”

Matthews’ coaching staff includes his daughter Brittany Matthews, as well as McKenna Schramm, January Parrish, Sadie Williams, April Chilson, Kim Blasenhauer and Tecarrie O’Brien.

“My coaches are doing a great job with the girls,” Matthews said. “They take care of all the lessons at the YMCA and couldn’t do it without them. They do a great job with the girls.”

Now that they’ve broken into the Top 10 at nationals with a second-place finish, the next goal is to win a national championship.

“I guess the national championship is the next step,” Matthews said. “They are very competitive girls, and I don’t think they will settle for second place again.”

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