GVSU gymnastics club has strong national showing
Tucker, Lasecki earn sixth-place finishes for Lakers
GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Gymnastics
Two members of the Grand Valley State gymnastics club reached the podium at the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) national competition held in Sacramento, California from April 14-16.
Austin Tucker and Nicole Lasecki both finished in sixth place in their respective events. Tucker competed in the vault event final, while Lasecki competed in the all-around event final.
“I really made gymnastics a priority this year,” Tucker said. “My goal was to achieve a medal at nationals and it happened, so I couldn’t be happier. I had some rough meets throughout the season, but I really buckled down and made the most of my practices as we reached nationals.”
Eight Laker gymnasts competed in preliminary competition to qualify for the national competition. Along with Tucker and Lasecki, Emma Powers, Kaylee Lorentzen, Jessie Perry, Sara Curtis, Ashley Mitchell and Ryan Schmuck all competed in prelims.
“The team did really well at nationals this year,” said club co-president Morgan Ryder. “I have been on the team for the three years that I have attended Grand Valley and this is the first year out of those three years that we have had anyone on the podium during event finals, which is pretty amazing.”
The club is a conjoined team of men and women. In a female-dominated sport, the men have shown they can compete as well at a high level.
“It’s definitely a unique experience,” Tucker said. “Many people don’t see the difference between the men's and women's sides of the sport, but for us it's night and day. I like to joke that I joined gymnastics to get all the girls to myself, but when I'm the only guy stuck in a car with seven girls on the way to a meet or am trying to get in the bathroom while they are getting ready, I begin to wish I was in a more male-dominated sport. That being said, I'm very grateful for my teammates.”
The club practices three nights a week at the Grand Rapids Gymnastics Center located in Ada, Michigan, about half-hour away from the Allendale campus. The gym was heavily occupied as finals competition approached the Lakers.
“As nationals were approaching, team members were in the gym a bit more frequently to make sure they were all the way prepared,” Ryder said. “Every member of the team comes from very different gymnastics backgrounds. Every person works extremely hard.”
As a small club on campus, the team flies under the radar. The club has nothing to lose, which allows it to perform more freely with less stress.
“This whole year has been different,” Lasecki said. “We were a lot smaller of a team, and lost a decent amount of people from last year and so we have a few new people this year. At meets is where we really bonded. There is no atmosphere quite like the competition floor at a gymnastics meet."
The success at the NAIGC national competition will bring momentum for the club in coming years. The club appears at Campus Life Night and Rec Fest, and hopes to continue to grow and make the team larger within the upcoming years.