Morgan Case ~ Photo by "Papa" Razzi Sports Photography
By Jeannie Gregory
The 2018/19 Rams gymnastics team is gearing up for the kick off to their season, which is the annual Rockford Flip Flop Invitational, that takes place at Rockford High School, Saturday, Jan. 5. The team is well-known in the state of Michigan for their prowess in gymnastics – accomplishing the incredible feat of three-peating for State Titles in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Last year wasn’t bad, either - the team claimed the OK Red Title, their MHSAA Regional, and was able to capture an impressive third place in the MHSAA State Gymnastics Finals.
The team’s coach Michelle Ankney, who enters her second year at the helm, is excited to start their campaign. Who can blame her? She is returning plenty of talent and power from last year’s team. As a matter of fact, she has a blockbuster team.
Her roster features four gymnasts who had a big year last year. In the MHSAA State Finals, the team earned these places in the individual events: Morgan Case: Floor – 1st, Vault – 2nd, Beam – T5, Unevens – T16; Reagan Ammon: Unevens – 2nd, Vault 6th, Beam – T16, Floor – T10; Ashley Faulkner: Unevens – 1st, Floor – 2nd, Vault – T18; Chantel Lokers: Beam – 4th, Unevens – T8, Floor – T15. Also, in the All-Around competition, Case landed 2nd, Ammon placed 5th, and Faulkner earned 6th.
Reagan Ammon ~ Photo by "Papa" Razzi Sports Photography
Ankney was able to list off each athlete’s strength, and interestingly enough, each was different. Perhaps that’s why the team is so strong.
“Reagan brings a combination of leadership, powerful skills, and consistency to the team,” she shared. “Morgan brings a lot of big skills and power to the team, and Chantel brings a lot of consistency to the team. She is consistent in working hard. She is consistent in competition. She can be depended on. And, Ashley has a lot of fearless in her. She is always willing to try new skills.”
She continued, “These four will help lead the team by using their unique gifts. They will also be supported by athletes such as Nicole Curtis, Averi Nixon, and Taylor Cullen. We are also excited to welcome freshmen Joey Giar, Sydney Taylor, Ainsley Jehnzen, and Jordan Rogers to the team. I think everyone on the team would agree that we all need to be working together. The energy of the team is dependent on every member. Together, we are hoping to accomplish our goals.”
Chantel Lokers ~ Photo by "Papa" Razzi Sports Photography
The annual Flip Flop Invitational is always a fun way to start the team’s campaign – proving the old adage, “There’s no place like home.”
I think we all enjoy having our first competition be a home competition,” explained Ankney. ”We are familiar with the equipment, and it is always fun to have a home crowd supporting us. I think it is a time where the team comes together.”
With plenty of practice – and experience to help them prepare for the season, the team is now counting down the days to get through December.
“We are gearing up for the season by trying to bond together as a team, practice some new skills, and work on consistency across all the events,” concluded Ankney. “We know it is going to be a tough season, but we are excited to get it started. We want to see where the season takes us.”
A sure bet is back to the MHSAA Gymnastics State Finals.
To see more Rockford sports photos go here.
Ram Ashley Faulkner claims first in the uneven bars in the MHSAA Gymnastics State Finals in 2018. ~ Photo by "Papa" Razzi Sports Photography