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8:34 PM Mon, Dec. 10th

Trio taking Kingman All Starz to another level

Tribbett, Mecom, McFarland almost Division I caliber gymnasts

RODNEY HAAS/Miner <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Brooke McFarland works on a tumbling routine at All Starz Academy May 27. McFarland is one of three gymnasts at the academy competing at Level 9, one level shy of the maximum Level 10.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

RODNEY HAAS/Miner <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Brooke McFarland works on a tumbling routine at All Starz Academy May 27. McFarland is one of three gymnasts at the academy competing at Level 9, one level shy of the maximum Level 10.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

KINGMAN - Sydney Tribbett was a real monkey growing up, climbing on everything she could lay her eyes on. So it was no surprise that her mother, Lisa, decided to put her in gymnastics.

Now 15, that monkeying around could pay Tribbett's way through college in the form of an athletic scholarship.

"When I started I wasn't good. I didn't think I would get this far either; I kept doing it because I liked it," Tribbett said.

Tribbett, along with Briana Mecom and Brooke McFarland, are now competing in Level 9 of 10 levels a gymnast can compete at in the USA Junior Gymnastics Olympic program.

For the three, Level 9 also puts them one step closer of gaining a scholarship to an NCAA Division I university.

Division I schools tend to only recruit level 10 gymnasts, according to Brandee Proffit, program director for All Starz Academy.

"If they continue at this level, they will make it to Level 10 no problem, and then they can get into a really good college," Proffit said.

NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from actively recruiting athletes until their junior year in high school. However, the girls have participated in camps put on by Arizona State and the University of Arizona gymnastics coaches.

"I went to (the UA) summer camp last summer, and I'm going again this summer," said Tribbett, who attended the Wildcats' camp with her sister Madeline, a Level 8, and wants to attend college there.

While Tribbett knows where she wants to attend college, for the others, the thought has yet to cross their minds. That's why Proffit will start sending videos to coaches beginning their junior year along with helping them attend a workout for gymnasts at high levels where different college recruiters will come and start scouting.

For Mecom, 14, the ideal college would be away from Arizona.

"I want to go and explore something new that I haven't done before," she said. "A change of scenery and change of environment."

Mecom started gymnastics when she was 11 months old and has been competing at Level 9 for two years. She is eager to make the next step up.

"I'm looking forward to doing the harder tricks," Mecom said.

Mecom's skill runs in the family. Her mother, Raelene, is the team coach at All Starz Academy and competed at Level 10 nationals. Briana Mecom also looks like a gymnast.

"She has always had the perfect build, a very small frame, very strong and very flexible, so she has the three most important aspects going for her," Proffit said. "Those three areas generally make a gymnastics' champion."

McFarland, on the other hand, is quiet and shy, which according to Proffit is a good thing.

"She doesn't waste much time talking when she has something to say," Proffit said.

"She takes her time with her skills, she really thinks things through, she makes sure she knows she's ready, and when she does it, she does it beautifully."

The 13-year-old McFarland started gymnastics when she was in preschool. While she also plays soccer, her first priority is gymnastics.

"I want to go to college and do college gymnastics," said McFarland, who someday wants to go to school at Iowa and become a doctor because, she said, "blood and stuff doesn't gross me out."

Currently All Starz Academy has 260 kids participating in gymnastics compared to some larger gyms that have more than a 1,000 kids along with more state-of-the-art equipment.

Because of this advantage, the larger gyms tend to have more high-level gymnasts and therefore more college athletes, according to Proffit.

That makes what All Starz Academy is going all that more impressive.

"Coming from a program our size, to be able to have four of them (at a high level) is a big accomplishment," Proffit said. "It's nice to go to the bigger meets and to be able to be right in there with the big, high-power clubs."

Having high-level gymnasts coming though the program is nothing new for Proffit, but in years past the gymnasts would go onto other sports. However, this trio has said they are committed to sticking with gymnastics and enjoying all the benefits that will come with it.

"We are excited," Proffit said. "We've been watching these kids since the time they were young, and we saw the potential, but we've had that before.

"We've had lots of kids with great potential but you have to keep going with it year to year. So far they are doing great, so it's pretty exciting."