Caitlin Kennedy and Rashonda Cannie may be polar opposites in personality and favorite events but the two gymnasts do share at least one similarity – both athletes are good enough to have placed in top spots of the 2007 USA Gymnastics Level 9/10 Texas State Meet and advanced to nationals.
The two competed in their most stressful meet this year when they traveled to Dallas for a nationals qualifier this weekend. Both advanced to nationals with Kennedy placing fourth all-around and Cannie coming in fifth in total points.
"It was a stressful meet, but very rewarding," said their coach, Mark Walsh.
Kennedy, 16, of Temple, was named state champion of the Texas meet on the balance beam as well as in the all-around competition for Level 10. She scored a 9.65 (out of a possible 10 points) on beam and had a total all-around score of 37.575 (out of a possible 40 points). She also finished second on the floor with a 9.625.
Cannie, a senior from Harker Heights, placed fourth on the vault with a 9.7, fourth on floor with a 9.625 and fifth all-around with a total score of 37.525.
Kennedy and Cannie have trained at Texas Tumblers in Harker Heights and have been gymnasts for 10 and nine years, respectively, under Mark and Kim Walsh.
"They're like our parents," said Cannie. "We spend more time with them than we do our parents."
Mark says that it's like the two work full-time jobs with overtime by going to school and then training approximately 20 hours a week.
"It takes an enormous amount of discipline and desire," said Walsh. "Both of them are focused, with their eye on the end result, which is to make and be a successful Level 10 gymnast.
"Both of them commit to working as hard as they can."
Cannie says that gymnastics is a fun way to pass time.
"We slave here every day, five times a week, and to be able to show family and friends that this is what I do is rewarding," said Cannie.
Cannie said the vault is her favorite event because it is "sheer power, and not so much grace" because she can give it everything she has and come out on top.
"She's everything I'm not," Cannie said, pointing to Kennedy.
Kennedy's favorite event is the beam.
"You have to balance and be graceful," said Kennedy.
According to their coaches, both girls have the talent to perform at the collegiate level.
Texas Woman's University has shown interest in having Cannie join their team. The Division II school has won six of the last eight championship meets. Cannie is also interested in Illinois.
Kim Walsh says that this year is the most important year for Kennedy as most recruiters begin scouting gymnasts in their junior year.
The national meet is May 19-20 in Mason, Ohio.