Ashley Albrecht is determined to go out with a bang.
The Leading Edge Gymnastics Academy member and senior at Cascade High School is representing Leading Edge for the final time this weekend when she competes at the 2017 Junior Olympic National Championships in Indianapolis. Because of that, Albrecht is motivated to do something special.
“I’m super excited,” she said prior to departing for Indianapolis. “This is my fourth (national championships) and I have goals that I hope to make.”
Albrecht has been a member of Leading Edge since she was 4 years old, so nearly her entire life has been spent at the gym that is now located near Boeing in south Everett. She’s been the club’s shining star, reaching nationals each of the past four years. Following nationals, she gets ready to depart for the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she has a full scholarship to compete in gymnastics.
“It’s pretty rare that you find a gymnast who is pretty fearless and comes in every day with a smile on her face,” Albrecht’s coach, Casey Rigby, said. “It’s a very rare thing, so her personality will be missed next year when she goes to college.”
But Albrecht wants to leave Leading Edge with one final memento before she departs — a podium finish at nationals.
Albrecht heads to nationals full of confidence. The powerhouse tumbler qualified by winning the Level 10 all-around at the 2017 USA Gymnastics Region 2 Championships on April 7-9 in Boise, Idaho. At regionals she dominated her division, not only winning the all-around with a score of 37.300, but also finishing first on the vault (9.525), the balance beam (9.400) and in the floor exercises (9.625).
“I performed well on every event but (uneven) bars,” Albrecht said of regionals. “But I was pleased with my other three events.
“I thought my floor routine was my best,” Albrecht added. “I stuck all my tumbling passes and just sold my routine.”
Now it’s off for a fourth bite at Level 10 nationals. Albrecht made progress in each of her previous trips to the national stage, cracking the top 10 in her division last year when she finished 10th in the all-around with a score of 37.675. This year, she doesn’t just want to take another step, she wants to make a leap.
“My goal is to score a 38 and place in the top five,” Albrecht said. “I was in the top 10 last year, which is pretty good for me, and I was close to a 38.”
Albrecht has an additional advantage upon reaching the national stage: her temperament. Most gymnasts at major events remain tense and nervous during competition. Not Albrecht. Her coaches marvel at the way she remains loose and goofy in even the tensest of competitive circumstances.
“It seems stressful, but it’s really not,” Albrecht said of performing in the pressure cooker of nationals. “It’s actually quite calming sometimes. I know all the numbers that I put into practice (25 hours a week year round) help me to perform.”
But will it be enough to help her reach her goal of finishing in the top five this weekend?
“I think she’s very capable of being in the top five,” Rigby said. “Nationals is every gymnast in the country, every Level 10 in the country competing for this huge title. So getting on the podium is a huge deal, and I think top five is well within her reach.”
And if Albrecht is able to pull it off, it will be the perfect ending to what’s been a storied career with Leading Edge.
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