Hampton teen wins gold medal at USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics, has sights set on college
Don't assume gymnast Shealyn Luksik, 15, of Hampton aspires to compete in the Olympics.
“My goal is a college scholarship,” said the 5-foot-3-inch ninth-grader.
Shealyn recently became a national champion in gymnastics after winning the gold medal in the uneven bars competition at the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics on May 8 in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I just have a passion for it, so it's a lot of fun,” Shealyn said about gymnastics.
Shealyn also finished among the top 10 contestants in all-around competition at the national event.
“The thing that makes Shea stand out is that she's very internally motived. Shea works hard for Shea,” said Lindsey Stancil, 34, of Cranberry, Shealyn's trainer.
“What I do is assist Shea. I coach her on technique, but the drive to be the best comes from her,” said Stancil, a former North Allegheny High School gymnast and owner of X-Cel Gymnastics in Cranberry, where Shealyn trains three days per week.
Shealyn qualified to compete in the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics after she became a regional champion in bars, beam and all-around competition in April.
The daughter of Rick and Stephanie Luksik, Shealyn excels on the uneven bars, where competitors use a variety of hand releases as they twist, turn and move their bodies between two bars suspended 5-foot-6-inches and 8-foot-2-inches above the ground.
“You get nervous, but you have to stay positive, because your attitude determines how you're going to do,” Shealyn said. “You have to stay focused, too.”
Shealyn said she doesn't worry about falling or collapsing upon landings.
“In the gym, you practice falling, so you know how to fall safely,” she said. “I have been battling some knee injuries, but I just have to work on my leg strength, and keeping it healthy. My right leg subluxates. My right kneecap slightly dislocates.”
Shealyn juggles classes in geography, health, biology, geometry, English and metal jewelry making at Hampton High School with twice-daily, nearly three-hour training sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at X-Cel Gymnastics in Cranberry.
“I did home school for three years, but I decided I wanted to go to the high school,” Shealyn said. “Gymnastics has really taught me to manage my time.”
Shealyn first tried gymnastics as a toddler at Jewart's Gymnastics in Hampton.
“My parents just decided to put me in classes, because I had so much energy,” she said. “I guess I was jumping on couches.”
Deborah Deasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.