Last month 15-year old Zionsville resident Madison Hargrave reached the penultimate achievement in her young gymnastics career.
On May 11, she traveled to Hampton, Va. to compete in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament.
Hargrave placed in two events by finishing in the top 10; she placed seventh on the vault by scoring a 9.65 and was 10th on the floor with a 9.5. She also placed 16th in the balance beam and finished 24th in the all-around.
“It’s a really big deal in gymnastics,” Hargrave said about nationals. “I’ve never gone before, and I’m just excited for my hard work to have finally paid off and to have finally made nationals.”
The Guerin Catholic freshman has been tumbling ever since she could remember. At age 4, her mother signed her up at Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, and she has learned under coach Marvin Sharp her entire life.
“I started when I was about three, and I’ve just been doing it ever since; I loved it and I kept with it,” Hargrave said. “I love the whole atmosphere of the sport and the reward of once you learn a new skill.”
Hargrave is classified as a level-10 gymnast, which is the highest level one can achieve at her age before reaching the elite Olympic group. Her invitation to nationals came in April when she participated at regionals.
Per the regional rules the top seven advance. From her vault, bars, beam and floor performances, she tallied a final score of 36.3 — good enough for seventh place.
“Floor was my best event and it was my last event,” Hargrave said. “I just wanted to go out and give it my all and just see what happens; I had fun with it.”
The regional she competed in is one of eight in the country and included gymnasts from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
“It’s one of the strongest regions in the country, notoriously difficult to get out of,” coach Marvin Sharp said. “She did a really good job.”
Hargrave placed fifth in beam, tied for fourth in the floor and tied for 20th with the bars. The bars had never been her strongest event according to Sharp, but she has started to buy into what Sharp is teaching.
“(She) made some really big advances just kind of at the last minute, a few weeks before regionals,” Sharp said. “She really made an effort to make a change on bars and that helped her in the regional meet.
“She did just what she needed to do to get herself in that final spot.”
Sharp characterized this year as a ‘stepping stone year.’ While some coaches and scouts have already taken notice of her abilities on the floor, there are bound to be more as she furthers into her career.
“I think this experience will help motivate her to even do a little more next year,” Sharp said. “The next couple of years will be her big years.”