Local TRC gymnasts reach regional, state and national championships

Ryan Noonan at the National Championships in Oklahoma City.
(Copyright Ryan Noonan)

TRC Gymnastics had a successful season sending multiple athletes to regional and state championships.

The gym, with locations in Solana Beach and Sorrento Valley, sent gymnasts Evelyn Gindt, Rylee Smith and Kensi Barrick to the XCel State Championships in San Diego. Gymnasts Amira Catori, Penelope Giaretta, Ai Ishida, Mila Jodat, Elenna Eiller, Nora Ellis, Sayde Robbins, Eva Fabbri, Reese Smith, Lana Smith, Veronika Calimlim, Chloe Page, Kallie Schaffer and Ryan Noonan competed at the Southern Cal State Championships in Costa Mesa and moved onto Regional Championships for their levels held in Sacramento, Long Beach and Reno.

Several of the girls had podium appearances in their events at regionals, with Lana Smith winning the all-round title at Level 6/7.

Taking fourth overall at state and fifth overall at regionals, Solana Beach resident Ryan Noonan was TRC’s first gymnast to qualify for the National Championships in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Ryan has been doing gymnastics at the TRC gym since she was a 3-year-old toddler. Her attraction to the sport came as a surprise to her parents, who own Noonan Family Swim School in Del Mar.

The 17-year-old will be a senior at Santa Fe Christian in the fall and has already committed to the University of Kentucky for gymnastics.

Since 2020, Ryan has been competing at Level 10, the highest level in the gymnastics Junior Olympics program. But that lost pandemic year didn’t really count as there were no competitions and the 2021 season remained “super strange” with only mini mock meets held in the gym.

The 2022 season was her first real year of Level 10, setting her up to compete in college.

At this year’s state championships she finished in second on bars and fourth all-around. She went on to compete at regionals in Reno and tied for fourth in vault and claimed that fifth all around title. From regionals, only the top seven girls qualify for nationals.

“It was a very high-pressure meet because I knew what was on the line,” Ryan said. “But I was very much prepared for it.”

In her lead-up to regionals, she had done a bunch of conditioning. The TRC South gym added exercise bikes this year and Ryan road it a lot to build up her leg strength and cardio for floor, her weakest event. The gymnasts practice for 20 hours a week, five days for four hours, but for a couple days a week Ryan came in early to do extra stretching and conditioning on the bike.

“I felt just physically ready, probably the best shape I’ve been in and everything just clicked as far as the skills,” she said. “I went out and hit four solid routines and I got my highest score of the season at regionals.”

Ryan would end up topping that score at nationals, where she finished in the top 30 in the country.

“It’s a very different meet than the rest because you’re competing on a regional team at nationals, it was a different mindset,” she said. At nationals, she was competing not just for herself but for the whole team and they were all cheering each other on: “I just had so much fun.”

There is no real off-season in gymnastics but she still spends all the hours in the gym, working on new skills. She will enter her senior year relatively stress-free with her college already set.

“I’m excited, I’m going to a great program,” she said of Kentucky, a top 10 program in the country for gymnastics. “They’re definitely going to push me to get better.

TRC gymnast Lana Smith.

TRC gym’s other top finisher this season was Lana Smith, who came in second at the Cal State Championships and went on to win the all-around title at the Level 6/7 Regional Championships in Sacramento: “That was my best meet i’ve ever done,” Lana said.

The 15-year-old has always been strong on vault and floor but this season she has been most proud of her improved success on team and bars. She had personal best highest scores in three events at regionals: vault, beam and bars.

“When I won I couldn’t believe it, but I was also really proud of myself for achieving under pressure and having fun,” she said.

Lana’s father is in the Navy so she has moved around a lot. She started gymnastics when she was five years old in Italy—she last trained at a gym in Okinawa, Japan before moving to San Diego and coming to TRC last year. “Everyone was really friendly and welcoming,” she said of her helpful coaches and the gymnasts who quickly included her in everything.

With the competition season over, Lana said she will be working on her skills as she moves up to level 7, particularly her skills on beam.