Louisville gymnasts compete on national stage
Two local gymnasts compete in the national spotlight. WDRB caught up with them and their coach, ahead of the teens' biggest competition to date.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two local gymnasts compete in the national spotlight this weekend. WDRB caught up with them and their coach, ahead of the teens' biggest competition to date.
Home videos of Anna Kaziska and Lauren Bannister capture their passion from a young age. Both started gymnastics at two years old. "I watched figure skating and gymnastics and I fell in love with it right away," Kaziska said.
At 16 years old, practice has paid off. "We go five days a week, four-and-a-half hours each day," Kaziska said.
In 2015, Kaziska, a junior at Fern Creek High School, competed on the national level for the first time.
"She just rocked that beam. And I remember when she stuck the dismount, just being kind of overwhelmed with emotion, both in the journey she had been on. That season was a trying year for her," said team director Jason Button. "She struggled with some fear and some injuries and it was sweet to take that moment in stride."
That earned her a full college ride. Then, last month, despite a broken leg, she took first in regionals.
"It's a blessing. It's an honor because Kentucky's such a small state in region five and I'm honored to be able to represent," Kaziska said.
Lauren Bannister also placed.
"It's considered one of the strongest regions in the country. Most of the Olympians come out of region five," Button said.
Bannister, a freshman at North Oldham High School, hopes to follow in Kaziska's footsteps at nationals.
"Only having two people from Kentucky, that's a big deal," Bannister said.
The two are representing their region and competing individually against others in every state across the country in Indianapolis. College coaches will be front and center.
"I'm a little nervous. This is the biggest event I've been to," Bannister said.
However, their team director just wants them to have fun. "Enjoy that moment because it can be fleeting and it could be a great moment for them to look back 10, 20 years later and remember that excitement, not the nerves, not the mistakes, but the excitement from being there and the great moments they had while there," Button said.
He also hopes they take the lessons they've learned along the way. "Watching them grow up into these young women that have learned confidence and have learned how to make goals and face challenges and learn how to communicate because once you get to this level, you have to communicate back and forth. It can't be just us telling them what to do. Those lessons have infinite value," Button said.
Kaziska competed Saturday. She placed tenth all around, tenth on bars and second on floor, a career high. Bannister competed Sunday. She scored a 9.5 on vault and 9.35 on floor. She placed 21st on Vault, 27th on floor and due to weak bars and beam she dropped to 49th in AA.
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