Del Mar gymnast Ryan Noonan recently won the level 8 all-around gymnastics title at the 2018 Level 6-10 Southern California Section State Championships, held at the San Diego Town and Country Convention Center March-16-18. Ryan, who is a 12-year-old sixth grader at Santa Fe Christian School, earned her title by handing in confident performances in all four events—the vault, bars, beam and floor.
Her top score came in the vault, where she finished first with a score of 9.6. It was a huge accomplishment on the exercise she said she is often the most stressed about. On vault, she scored high on her Yurcheko vault, doing a round-off into a back handspring off the vaulting table, completing a flip and sticking the landing. She also placed third in beam in the competition.
“My goal was just to hit four solid routines and see where I ended up,” Ryan said. “It was kind of crazy because there were a lot of really good girls out there, who might be better at bars and beams. I had no idea that I would actually win state.”
Ryan competes for the TRC Gymnastics Tigers and has been doing gymnastics at the TRC gym in Solana Beach since she was a 3-year-old toddler. Her attraction to the sport and determination to keep working harder to reach the next level came as a surprise to her parents, Monica and Jeff, who own Noonan Family Swim School in Del Mar. She tried swimming, but it just didn’t grab her like gymnastics.
“I think I always knew I wanted to be a gymnast,” Ryan said. “It just spoke out to me and it’s just always kind of stuck.”
Ryan spends 22 hours a week in the gym, with just a couple days a week off training— it’s like a part-time job in addition to her full-time job as a student. She currently competes at level 8 and her favorite event is the bars.
Ryan is almost finished competing at level 8, her last time will be at Level 8-10 Western Regionals in Reno on April 13-15. She is hoping to build on her success last year when she won the level 7 championship at regionals, as well as to build on this season’s accomplishments.
“I definitely want to improve on floor and bar. I usually pick two events to improve on,” Ryan said. “I really want to improve on floor because I feel that I’m hitting solid floor routines but not above and beyond. I want to definitely get my floor score up and do really amazing. And in bars, I want to beat my vault score.”
While the season will end in April, her training will not as she works out year round with her TRC coaches Darryl Davis and Pam Durnin.
“I definitely want to thank them because they pushed me to be my best and try hard on every exercise and skill even if I’m tired. They’re really important to me,” said Ryan of her gymnastics family. “I also want to thank my teammates who helped me be my best as well. They are always there to help me get through fears and to laugh with. I look up to the older girls, they are great role models.”
Ryan said she plans to continue to compete through high school and college—she has been able to attend UCLA gymnastics meets where one of her favorite gymnasts, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian competes. Watching those college meets gets her excited about what could lie ahead for her in the sport.
“I really want to thank my parents and brother too because they are great supporters when I get home,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s mom, Monica, said that even though she and her husband couldn’t keep their daughter in the pool, they are very proud of her commitment and accomplishments in gymnastics as well as in school, where she receives straight A’s—“I couldn’t ask for anything more than that,” she said.