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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

KINGSLAND — Regan Bentley races down the runway and makes a well-timed leap high above the floor with a powerful vault off the double mini-trampoline. At the peak, she’s a good 15 or 20 feet off the ground before she executes a flip and lands on waiting floor mats.

She holds her hands straight out, smiles, turns and jogs back to the line from where she started.

“This is power tumbling,” said Meredith Lewis, one of the coaches and co-owner of Tuck ’N Tumble in Kingsland. “It’s very athletic, like gymnastics, but it’s different in several ways.”

Though a little more than two years old, the Kingsland TNT program recently brought home six national medals from the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games on July 24-27 in Des Moines, Iowa. The TNT competition team, consisting of six girls, competed in the three power tumbling disciplines — floor, trampoline and double-mini trampoline — against a field of about 800 competitors from across the country.

Along with Bentley, the competition team consists of Annie Street, 13; Ellie Lewis, 9; Keihana Palmares, 8; Rachel Fry, 7; and Jodyn Gosselin, 6.

Kingsland TNT recently brought home six medals from the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games.
Regan Bentley was part of the Kingsland TNT squad that recently brought home six medals from the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games.

“To take six girls there and come back with six medals, that’s quite an accomplishment,” said Zane Lewis, a coach and co-owner of Tuck ’N Tumble. To land a medal, a competitor must finish in the top 10. Street earned a second place in the floor exercise in her classification, the highest medal the Kingsland TNT brought home.

Though similar to gymnastics, power tumbling is a different sport. The floor shares the same name as its gymnastics cousin but without the dance portion.

“The (tumble) floor would be the gymnastics floor passes,” Meredith Lewis said. “The power tumbling floor doesn’t have the dance in the routine.”

The other two disciplines are the trampoline, which is stunts on the device, and double-mini trampoline, which is similar to the gymnastic vault but the athlete launches onto a small trampoline.

The competitors are classified in competition based on their skill level, but that can be different for each discipline. So, Zane Lewis explained, a girl can compete on the floor in a higher classification than in the trampoline or double-mini trampoline unlike gymnastics in which the athlete competes in the same classification across each discipline.

“I think it’s better for the girls because they compete at the level of their ability for each event,” Meredith Lewis said.

While TNT fields a competitive team, the Lewises don’t limit the program to that level of athlete. They developed the program for both recreational and competitive athletes. And those who start out as recreational can always try out for the competitive team if they chose.

Zane Lewis said one of the reasons he and his wife started TNT several years ago was because when they looked around Kingsland, there really wasn’t anything for kids, especially girls, to do. The advent of youth football gave the boys an outlet, but it wasn’t until TNT came along that girls really had an option.

Though TNT offers classes during the summer (currently 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays), it adjusts the schedule once school starts. Meredith Lewis explained the school year usually brings out more girls, so more classes are needed. And students don’t need any experience.

“As long as they can stand in line and wait their turn, we can work with them,” she said. The Kingsland TNT Power Tumbling competitive season starts up again in November. The club will host monthly competitions with a gym from Elgin and possibly another gym making the trip to Kingsland for the meets. And the Kingsland facility is also the site of the Texas state power tumbling meet. This past spring, more than 300 youths attended the state meet in Kingsland.

While power tumbling might not be as well known as gymnastics (even though it is an Olympic sport), its popularity is growing. Meredith Lewis said the sport has a strong following in northern states, but Texas and the southern states are catching on.

“We’re doing what we can to grow the sport,” she said.

Go to www.tuckntumble.com, call (817) 597-6558 or email meredithslewis@gmail.com for more information. The Tuck ’N Tumble gym is located at 136 Real St. (behind the church at that address.)

daniel@thepicayune.com