Panama City Beach Gymnasts Going to Nationals

Published: Apr. 23, 2023 at 9:33 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Now, I’m sure we’ve all heard “stop doing that, you’re going to hurt yourself”, from our mothers at some point in our life. However, most of our responses where to go find something else to do, but there’s the select few who didn’t stop, they just changed locations.

“Well when I started I was doing flips in like the yard and my parents were like, “you can’t be doing that, so you got to be doing it somewhere safe”, so they put me in gymnastics and I’ve loved it”, said 17 year old, Nationals qualifier, Aiden Kester.

And that love comes in tons of different facets. Through the competition, the continued process of getting better and the other athletes.

“Being able to see my friends at practice every day and being able to meet new people at the competitions and learning all the new things I can do and just working with my body to make the best of it”, 16 year old Cody Williams said. Williams also a Nationals qualifiers.

“I just love being in the air, flipping, doing things other people can’t do”, Kester said.

For both Cody and Aiden, qualifying for nationals, means a lot as it has been one of the ultimate goals of their long careers, careers spanning 17 years in the gym combined.

“Felt pretty good because this is my first time going to nationals. I’ve been working my butt off to make it there and well, I’m here, I’m there”, said Kester.

Cody earned his spot in style too by becoming the state and regional champion in the floor routine. And he’s hoping the exposure at nationals helps lead to future collegiate plans.

“The amount of hours and work I put into it over the years has shown at the competition and I’m able to say that I did better than all the other kids in my region on floor. It means I’m able to go to the national competition,which will mean, there’s a lot of colleges that go to the national competition that will go an watch so they can build their own teams and hopefully get like a college scholarship or something”, Williams said.

And though coming home with gold is the goal, the boys say they aren’t feeling major pressure, they’re just excited for the opportunity and to be able to put their skills on display on a massive stage... or matt or bar... or rings

“Just to be there will be a really cool experience, it being my first time going, it’s just going to be phenomenal”, Kester said.

This year, Nationals is out in Oklahoma City and will draw in over 17 hundred athletes ranging from 12-19 years old... all I’m saying, the gyms better have their chalk orders in bulk.

Nationals is set for May 9th-12th.