Balko places sixth at regionals, qualifies for Level 10 nationals

Apr. 12—FAIRMONT — The first day of regional gymnastics has come and gone, and a member of Fairmont's own Mountain Magic Gymnastics team has qualified for the national stage. Level 10 senior Sophia Balko placed sixth all-around and placed in three events to advance to nationals.

"No one deserves this more than her," Mountain Magic coach Gary Rafaloski said.

The top seven finishers at regionals advance to the nationals, according to Rafaloski. Balko placed sixth with an all-around score of 37.65, her highest all-around this season. Rafaloski said she was a half of a point behind the fourth place finisher.

Balko, a Kent State University commit, achieved this finish by placing in three of her four events. She placed fifth on the vault with a 9.6, sixth on the bars with a 9.5 and sixth on the floor with a 9.475. She also scored a 9.075 on the beams to put herself at 11th for that event.

Mountain Magic competes in the USA Gymnastics Region 7. Five members from three teams qualified for regionals after the West Virginia states meet. These members are Level 10 members Balko, Anna Bowsher and Allie Howell, Level 9 member Markley White and Level 8 member Brooke Naternicola.

These gymnasts competed with equal level gymnasts from across the region, which includes West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. This year's regionals are held at the Nittany Valley Sports Center in State College, Pa.

The Level 10 nationals will take place at Daytona Beach, Fla. from May 9-12 at the Volusia County Ocean Center.

Reach Colin C. Rhodes at 304-367-2548.