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8-Year-Old Carroll County Girl Tumbles to National Acrobatics Competition

Sydney Harris said she is "awesomely nervous" about competing at Nationals on July 30.

Bottom left is Malia O'Neill, Sydney Harris, Samantha Ruckert on top. (Photo Courtesy Melissa Harris)
Bottom left is Malia O'Neill, Sydney Harris, Samantha Ruckert on top. (Photo Courtesy Melissa Harris)
While other third graders are enjoying summer camp, taking vacations and relaxing, 8-year-old Sydney Harris is twisting, tumbling and flipping her way to a national acrobatics competition in Kentucky.  

Sydney, who is going into third grade at Carrolltowne Elementary School in the fall, has been tumbling since she was 3. She trains at Emilia's Acrobatic Gymnastics Club (EAGC) in Columbia, Md. and has also been dancing at Savage Dance Company in Sykesville for two years. 

Sydney said she is "awesomely nervous" about the upcoming competition. 

Sydney and her teammates -- she is part of a trio -- have been training rigorously for the competition which will take place in Louisville, KY July 25 through July 31. Sydney's level 6 trio will compete on Tuesday, July 30 against teams from all over the country, according to her mother, Melissa Harris. 

Acrobatic gymnastics combines strength, agility, flexibility and balance.  The routines, performed on the same spring floor gymnasts use for floor exercise competitions, incorporate partner balances, tosses, catches, dance and tumbling elements, all choreographed and done to music, according to an article in the Washington Post

Sydney said she just completed a two-week intense training camp in which the entire team trained for seven hours a day, five days a week. 

"I work as hard as I can. I put a lot of pressure on myself and want to do my best at Nationals for my team and for myself," Sydney told Patch.

Sydney competes at the 12-14 age group with the other two members of her trio -- Samantha Ruckert, 8, from Baltimore County, and Malia O'Neill, 11, from Howard County. She competes at the 12-14 age level because the oldest girl in her group turns 12 within the competition year. 

Sydney won't be alone in her journey to nationals. The entire EAGC Acro Team will be attending the national competition this year, including Century High School's Chrissy Antionades, who will be vying for a spot on the Junior National Team with her Elite Trio.  

Sydney's mom, Melissa, attributes Sydney's success to her being "physically fit and mentally strong."

"While the practices can be grueling, and the competitions quite intense, Sydney seems to thrive in all of this," Melissa said. "She sees her hard work pay off when they are on the floor in their fancy leotards and the music starts."

The trip to Kentucky will be a family affair, Sydney will be accompanied by her parents and her 6-year-old brother. Melissa said that as long as Sydney is enjoying acrobatics, her family will support her. 

"It's clear that she loves the combination of tumbling, dance, and overall artistry that the sport of acrobatics provides as an outlet," Melissa said. "We don't know what the future holds, but we are willing to support her as long as her love for the sport remains strong." 

What does Sydney see in her future? More tumbling. 

"I want to become an elite level acrobat and be on the national team one day," Sydney said. "In the near future, I want to learn a a double pike like the older girls at EAGC." 

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