Local gymnasts Katherine Magill and Lilly Pruett have spent most of their lives pursuing the grace, strength and mental fortitude it takes to be an elite gymnast - on Tuesday they will get a chance to show what they've learned on a national stage.
The two Gold Country Gymnastics products will compete at the 2012 United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs National Championships in Weston, Fla. with hopes of bringing home top-five finishes.
"I'm hoping they win it all," coach Kara Bennett said. "I have high hopes for them. They have worked really hard this year and come so far. Hopefully we can get a great end to the season."
This will be Magill's second trip to the national competition. She took fourth overall in the Platinum Division in 2011 while battling a 103-degree fever.
Magill, 16, said she is just now getting over an illness but is ready for Tuesday's competition.
Now heading into her final year at Nevada Union, she has been competing in gymnastics competitions since she was 6 years old.
"It's my life," she said. "I was born to do gymnastics. It's just in my blood."
Magill will compete in the Premiere Division this year, the highest division in USAIGC competition and said she wants another top-five finish.
Pruett, 14, will compete in the Platinum Division at this year's nationals and said she was excited for the event. The Magnolia valedictorian and soon-to-be NU freshman is no stranger to pressure situations. At the age of 10, she won the Level 5 Indiana State Championship.
Magill, whose parents own Gold Country Gymnastics, said she will compete in all four events; the vault, the beam, the bars and the floor exercise.
"Bars have always been my favorite," she said. "I've always been a swinger. I like to do bars. It's the most fun. The beam - I'm getting a lot stronger on. I've put in a lot of hard work, and it's become one of my stronger events."
As for what makes Magill so good at those events: "My passion," she said. "My amount of love I have for this sport. I think my strength definitely helps, but mainly it's my passion."
To achieve her goal of another top-five finish, Magill said she knows what she needs to do.
"I have to go in and hit," she said. "Go aggressive and hit all four events."
Pruett, whose father was a gymnast in college at the University of Miami, Ohio, said her best events are the floor exercise and the vault, though she will compete in all four events.
Bennett attested to Pruett's prowess on the her two best events.
"Lilly is strong on vault and very strong on floor," Bennett said. "Power and grace make her good."
Pruett said she is going into the competition with low expectations but expects to do well on the vault.
No matter how they fair at the national competition, both girls said gymnastics is just part of who they are and it has made them better people.
In her spare time, of which she has very little, Magill likes to hang with her friends and go to the river, but most of her time is devoted to training, working and maintaining her 4.0 GPA. Pruett spends her free time playing the piano, singing and painting.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4232.