Meadville High School’s gymnasium is locally known as “The House of Thrills.”
However, this weekend it will be transformed into the House of Leaps, Flips and Twirls as the Meadville Family YMCA Twisters gymnastics team welcomes nine other programs and upward of 275 athletes for what may be the largest gymnastics competition the area has ever hosted.
“To my knowledge,” said YMCA Gymnastics Team Director Kristoph Kocan, “Meadville has not hosted an invitational or any meet of this magnitude.”
The invitational consists of three sessions today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and one session on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Along with Meadville, participating teams include Titusville; Franklin; Corry; Oil City; Warren; Brookville; Greensburg; Lakewood, N.Y.; and a split squad representing Bradford/Olean, N.Y.
The gymnasts will compete based on skill level, starting at Level II and advancing all the way up through a masters division. The upper divisions will be showcased today around 5 p.m.
Each level of competition consists of four events — vault, uneven bars, balance beam and the floor exercise. The sum of all four events will be used to determine the gymnast’s overall score.
Gymnasts can earn medals for each event and their overall score. And teams can win banners for each level based on the top scores for each team in the respective events. Gymnasts can also qualify for state and national competitions at the meet.
“We have never had a proper space to hold an invitational before,” Heidi Mosbacher-Albaugh said via email. She coaches the Twisters along with assistants Alexis Albaugh, Dave Cox and Corrina Cox.
“The use of Meadville High School has made this dream a reality,” Mosbacher-Albaugh said.
The Twisters have reportedly wished to host an invitational for several years. However, there wasn’t enough room at either the YMCA’s facility in downtown Meadville, nor at the Twisters’ practice facility at East End Elementary School.
“We basically just needed a venue,” Kocan said. “I told the parents, ‘If you really want to hold one, we’re going to have to rent a space.’ So we reached out to the high school and Jon Frye, the athletic director, really came through for us.”
The parents then went out in search of sponsors to help defray the costs of renting both the venue and the gymnastics equipment, which was procured from Cornerstone Gymnastics in Cochranton.
“The parents went to quite a few local business looking for sponsors,” Kocan said.
“We have had an over pouring of donations to our team to help offset some of the costs,” Mosbacher-Albaugh added.
According to Kocan, most of the area invitationals take place in smaller gymnasiums. “They have seating for 300, at most,” he said.
The hope is that the size and the room afforded by “The House of Thrills” will make the Meadville invitational a popular annual destination.
“I think the other teams’ parents that are coming will be pretty impressed with the size of the gym and the facility,” Kocan said. “We’ve got 260 or 270 coming this year. We think that after people come and see how big this venue is and how much room we’ll have, we hope to have 350 the next year.
“We’re trying to wow them.”
Pete Chiodo can be reached at 724-6370, ext. 275, or by email at email@example.com.
You can go
The Meadville Family YMCA Twisters gymnastics team holds an invitational at Meadville Area Senior High School that consists of three sessions today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and one session on Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.