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Franklin’s Hess Wins USA Gymnastics State Title

Staff Sports Writer
Emmalyn Hess is only 14 years old, but she already knows what it’s like to compete for state and regional championships.
The 14-year-old gymnast is an eighth-grade student at the Annie Sullivan Middle School in Franklin, and she’s been training for the last three years at the Mass. Elite Gymnastics Academy in Millis. Representing the academy, which is sanctioned by USA Gymnastics, Hess competed against 188 gymnasts and won the level-7 state championship in the all-around competition on April 1 at Fitchburg High School.
The all-around competition includes the scores from four events — vault, floor exercise, balance beam and bars. Hess earned scores of 9.375 in vault; 9.775 in floor exercise; 9.65 in balance beam; and 9.375 on bars. Her winning score was 38.175.
Competing three weeks later at the regional tourney on April 23 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Hess battled for the Super 7 crown against the six all-around state champs from Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York. She finished third out of 12 in the Super Senior age group with a score of 37.45, and that number also earned her a No. 30 placement in a field of 159 gymnasts in the level 7 overall competition.
Winning the state all-around championship is an achievement Hess won’t soon forget.
“At first, it was a shock that I was the state champion,’’ she said. “Then, I realized how cool it was.’’
Hess, who started gymnastics as a two-year-old in a recreation program in Winston-Salem, N.C., before moving to Franklin, relied on a variety of skills and emotions to capture the state title.
“The key was having confidence and believing in myself,’’ she noted. “All the training at the Millis academy and all the hard work and my passion for gymnastics paid off. Good technique also plays a role.’’
Hess also listed five attributes that she believes were instrumental in her finishing No. 1. “Time management is important, and I know that self-discipline, perseverance, dedication and passion also played a role.’’
Hess admitted, however, that she battled some nervous moments before capturing her state title. “It was nerve-wracking at first, and my nerves got going just before I began to compete,’’ she said. “I convinced myself to settle down and to be calm.’’ 
Hess’ parents (Kristen and Chad) not only were proud of their daughter’s achievements at both the state and the regional venues, but they were also “in awe of her accomplishments.’’
“Emmalyn trains 20 hours a week at the academy, attends school, does her homework and also participates in strength and conditioning drills and yoga,’’ her parents emphasized. “At the regional, she competed against the best gymnasts from seven states. We’re pleased at the way she handled some anxious moments and proud of the way she performed at such a high level.’’
An honor-roll student, Hess will enter Tri County Vocational as a freshman in the fall and is committed to courses that will focus on health careers. “My goal after high school is to compete in gymnastics (all-around category) in college,’’ she said. “Penn State is a Division 1 college that has an outstanding gymnastics program.
Hess’ said she was pleased with her efforts at the regional, which attracted gymnastics fans from the six New England States and New York.
“I felt I was well-prepared and I definitely was excited to be competing at a high level,’’ she said. “After winning the state meet, I was comfortable and confident about going to the regional, but every meet is different and anything can happen, like falling or not jumping effectively out of a tumbling pass.’’
The month of April was pressure-packed but also exciting and enjoyable for Emmalyn Hess. And, if she continues to demonstrate an intense desire to excel in the next four years, she just might become an all-around gymnast at Penn State University.