Young tumbler takes AAU gold medals

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By Alice Du Pont

As a little girl Megan Haire loved to tumble, flip and do head stands. Her parents, Scott and Deloris Haire, thought they'd better channel that energy into something safe and productive. She could still do what she liked but under the supervision of professionals.

The couple sought out Murkerson's Gymnastics School in Bainbridge, Ga. three years ago and enrolled Megan.

    There, the family met owner Melynda Murkerson, who became Megan's coach. The hours of training have begun paying off.

    Two weeks ago, Megan brought home the gold. As in National AAU competition. She won gold metals in the 11-year-old, level 2 division in three categories: uneven bars (9.800), balance beam (9.875) and floor routine (9.750). She came in second in the vault category with a score of 9.750. While the balance beam is her least favorite during the competition in Orlando she exceeded her personal best.

    Overall, she had a combined score of 39.175 out of a possible 40 points which landed her in first place in her age group. The event was held at the Walt Disney World/ESPN Worldwide Sports Complex. Young people from 30 states competed. Almost 60 competed at Megan's age and level of skill.

    "This is my first year competing but I wasn't nervous or anything. My goal was to do better than I did at state," she said.

    In April Megan came in second at a state meet where she earned enough points to be allowed to enter the nationals.

    "I didn't like it very much," she said.

    Her mother said she feels the setback gave Megan the catalyst she needed to win at nationals because she doesn't like to lose.

    "I think that's what gave her the determination because she was a little upset. We had to coax her to smile to take pictures when it was over." Deloris Haire said.

    The Hutto Middle School rising 6th grader, has been back in the gym only once sine the meet.    She will take a few days off and return to the Monday and Wednesday practices getting herself ready for next season.

    "I never get tired," she said of the practices that await her this fall.

    Megan's parents say she is very focused and that's why, they believe, she is good at the sport. Also, the family has a rule that academics come first and it grades falter, everything else is out.

    "We also feel that the extra curriculum actually enhance academic performance," Deloris Haire said.

    Megan has progressed to the point that next year she will move up to level 3 which is a more difficult and challenging level.

    "I'm ready," she said.