News Department

Morris County-based North Stars Gymnastics Level 10 team clinches 13th state championship

Kelly named N.J. Optional Gymnast of the Year; Kelly and Walker win all-around state titles

BOONTON, NJ (Morris County) —North Stars Gymnastics Academy captured the Level 10 New Jersey State Championship team award and two of its gymnasts earned first place all-arounds in their respective age groups at the annual competition held this year at Will Moor Gymnastics in Mount Laurel.

The club’s Olivia Kelly also received the New Jersey “Optional Gymnast of the Year” award.

Sponsored by the USA Gymnastics New Jersey chapter of the national USA Gymnastics Womens Development Program, the Level 10 State meet included a junior division up to age 16 with 31 athletes, and a senior division up to age 18 with 34 athletes. Level 10 gymnastics is the highest level of competitive club gymnastics under the USAG Optional division.

Since 2012, North Stars Gymnastics Academy has dominated the women’s artistic gymnastics field in New Jersey by winning every Level 10 Team State Championship title. It secured another back-to-back State Championship with a team score of 115.9250 this year, defeating 17 other clubs. Just eight clubs qualified for the State team award, which is comprised of the top three all-around score getters, according to USAG-NJ.

The North Stars’ Level 10 team is coached by Head Team Coach Ashley Umberger, Faith Baranowski, Heather Moroz, Shenice Martin, Melissa Jones and Brielle BenoskiAdditionally, North Stars Gymnastics’ Levels 8 and 9 also won their team New Jersey State Championship title with several gymnasts earning the top all-around award and individual event wins.

At the State meet, North Stars had 10 Level 10 gymnasts (ages 13 to 18) qualify for the Region 7 Gymnastics competition, which represents the top qualifying state championship gymnasts from six states including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. USAG Gymnastics is made up of eight regions throughout the nation. Regionals is scheduled for April 13-14 in State College, Pa. The top score getters at Regionals will move on to the U.S. Womens Gymnastics Development Program Level 10 Nationals in Daytona, Fla. on May 10-12.

“Individually, our athletes exemplify grit, perseverance and excellence. Together, they are a formidable team,” said North Stars Gymnastics Academy Head Team Coach, CEO and part owner Ashley Umberger, a former two-time U.S. National Womens Gymnastics Team member. “North Stars’ gymnasts demonstrate determination, resilience and unwavering dedication to their academic studies and sportThey inspire each other and their competitors to push beyond limits. No goal is too big for our athletes.” 

Gymnasts can score up to a perfect 10 for each of the four events: uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and vault, achieving a maximum all-around score of 40. They had to earn a 34 all-around score (cumulative score from all four events) at the New Jersey State Championship, a 35.00 pre-qualifying score from the season, or a 9.0 or higher at the State meet in an individual event (IES) to receive a bid to Regionals, according to USAG-NJ.

North Stars Level 10 All-Around and Individual Event Winners

Olivia Kelly, 17, of Mahwah, (Bergen County) high school senior at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program, earned the number one spot among all 65 Level 10 athletes in New Jersey with a 39.0250 all-around score.

Also, Kelly tied the N.J. State L10 Sr. B beam record with a 9.775 and broke its floor exercise record with a 9.775, according to USAG-NJ.

The N.J. State Committee affiliated with the USAG-NJ presented her with the prestigious annual “Optional Gymnast of the Year” award for 2023. The University of Missouri women’s gymnastics team commit and Barbados Women’s Gymnastics National Team member earned:

Beam: 9.775, first place

Floor: 9.775, first place

Vault: 9.775, first place

Bars:  9.700, first place tie

AA: 39.025, first place

Alana Walker, 17, of West Orange (Essex County). A high school senior at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program, member of the Jamaica Womens National Gymnastics team and Stanford University womens gymnastics team commit, won first place all around for her age division. She earned:

Beam: 9.650first place

Floor: 9.475

Vault: 9.725, first place

AA: 37.650, first place

Kai Mattei, 17, of Melville, N.Y. (Suffolk County) Sr. A 

Bars: 9.300, first place

Floor: 9.675, first place

Leah Higgins, 13, of Boonton (Morris County), Jr. A

Floor: 9.650, first place

North Stars Level 10 Championship Team 

(Junior Division)

  • Mariyah Aranbayev, 15, of Jamaica Estates, Queens, N.Y., sophomore at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program, Jr. B division, AA 3rd place, 38.150
  • Stella Fischer, 14, of Bridgewater (Somerset County) freshman at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program, Jr. A division, AA 3rd place, 37.5
  • Leah Higgins, 13, of Boonton (Morris County) 7th grade at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program, Jr. A division, AA 2nd place, 37.8
  • Sophia Rocca, 14, of Blairstown (Warren County) 8th grade at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program.
  • Emma Roppatte, 15, of Essex Fells (Essex County) freshman at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program.

 (Senior Division)

  • Giorgia Carroll, 18, of Warren (Somerset County), senior at Oak Knoll School in Summit, N.J. Will attend Boston University.
  • Olivia Kelly, 17, of Mahwah, (Bergen County), senior at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program.
  • Kai Mattei, 17, of Melville, N.Y. (Suffolk County), junior at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program.
  • Jessica Schmitz, 18, of Wayne (Passaic County) senior at Wayne Valley High School. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse commit.
  • Alana Walker, 17, of West Orange (Essex County), senior at North Stars Gymnastics Academy homeschool program.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Back to top button