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High School Gymnasts Compete In State Meet

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Harmonie Chang, Sophia Freda, Amelia Axelrod and Julia Balogh and their gymnastics coaches. (Not pictured: Grace Schulke)

Verona High School does not have a gymnastics team, but that didn’t stop five VHS girls from competing in a statewide gymnastics meet this past weekend and coming away with medals.

Amelia Axelrod, Julia Balogh, Harmonie Chang, Sophia Freda and Grace Schulke train at Tumble Techs Gymnastic Academy in Fairfield. The club is part of the Jersey Optional Gymnastics Association (JOGA), a league of independent gymnastics clubs that follows the same rules as high school gymnastics, so that gymnasts can compete in both club and high school gymnastics. The state competition included 21 gyms from across New Jersey, and took place at Everest Gymnastics in Galloway. 

Chang, a senior, competes at JOGA’s Level 2, its second-highest skills grouping. She placed second on bars, sixth on balance beam and floor exercise, seventh on vault and fifth all around.

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Axelrod, a junior, is a Level 4 gymnast. She placed second on balance beam, seventh on vault, ninth on floor and bars, and sixth all around.

Balogh, a sophomore, also a Level 4 gymnast, was state champion on vault and placed fifth on bars and floor, ninth on beam and fifth all around.

Freda, another sophomore and Level 4,  was state champion on floor, third on balance beam, fifth on vault, 12th on bars and seventh all around.

Fellow sophomore Schulke rounded out Verona’s Level 4 contingent. She placed second on balance beam, sixth on vault and bars, seventh on floor and second all around.

The girls dedicate anywhere from nine to 12 hours a week to training at Tumble Techs  all year long, and they have been doing so for years. During COVID they kept themselves in shape with daily Zoom conditioning sessions so they would not lose their muscle and they would be able to gain their skills back quickly when they returned to the gym. They are coached by Dana Frack, Alexandra Niles and Sara Wynne. 

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