News Department

North Stars Gymnastics Academy wins 12th consecutive Level 10 New Jersey State Championship

Mahwah and Flemington Teens Capture All-Around State Titles

BOONTON, NJ (Morris County) North Stars Gymnastics Academy clinched the Level 10 New Jersey State Championship team award and two of its gymnasts earned first place all-arounds in both age groups on Friday, March 24 at the annual event held this year at Epic Gymnastics in Manasquan.

Sponsored by the USA Gymnastics New Jersey chapter of the national USA Gymnastics Women’s Development Program, the Level 10 State meet included a junior division up to age 16 with 32 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. Only elite is higher.

Since 2012, North Stars Gymnastics Academy has dominated the field by winning every Level 10 State Championship title. It secured another back-to-back State Championship this year by defeating 17 Level 10 teams from throughout the Garden State with a team score of 115.075. The top three individual score getters from each division and from each of the four events, are calculated to determine the Level 10 State team award. The athletes are coached by North Stars National Team Head Coach Ashley Umberger, Faith Baranowski, Heather Moroz, Ivan Taskova and Melissa Jones.

In total, North Stars had 13 gymnasts (ages 12 to 18) qualify as Team New Jersey for the upcoming Region 7 Gymnastics annual Level 10 meet, which represents the top qualifying state championship gymnasts from six states: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. USAG Gymnastics is comprised of eight regions throughout the nation. Regionals is scheduled for April 13-16 at The Virginia Beach Sports Center, Va.

It is an honor to win the New Jersey Level 10 State Championship award once again. We are beyond proud of our athletes. They gave it their all and their hard work showed,” said Umberger, a former two-time U.S. National Women’s Gymnastics Team memberThey put on quite a show and held their own among stiff competition from throughout the state.”

Athletes 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. The gymnasts had to earn a 34 all-around score at the State meet or a season competition all-around score of 35 to receive a bid to Regionals.

Olivia Kelly, 16, of Mahwah, (Bergen County) N.J., Class of 2024, took first place all-around in the Level 10 Junior Division. She is a member of the Barbados Womens National Gymnastics team, who is vying for a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics, and a University of Missouri womens gymnastics team commit.

Karina Lankamer, 18, Flemington, (Hunterdon County) Class of 2023, won first in the all-around Level 10 Senior Division. The Hunterdon Central Regional High School senior is a Central Michigan University womens gymnastics team commit.

Olivia Kelly (Junior Division):

  • Bars:  9.625, first place
  • Beam: 9.475, second place
  • Floor: 9.400, fifth place
  • Vault: 9.800, first place
  • AA: 38.300, first place

Karina Lankamer (Senior Division):

  • Bars: 9.625, third place
  • Beam: 9.550, first place
  • Floor: 9.650, second place
  • Vault: 9.475
  • AA: 38.300, first place

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, North Stars is continuing its legacy of training world-class gymnasts including 36 who have gone on to compete elite, more than 100 on full athletic scholarships and Ivy League placements in the NCAA, nine for the U.S. Womens National Gymnastics Team, and currently for the Barbados and Jamaican women’s artistic gymnastics national teams.

The top seven all-around winners in each age group at the Level 10 Regional Championship in Virginia Beach next month will compete as part of the “Region 7 Team” from May 12-16 at the U.S. Womens Gymnastics Development Program Level 10 Nationals in Oklahoma City.

Photo: North Stars Gymnastics Academy’s Level 10 U.S. Gymnastics Women’s Development Team won the New Jersey State Championship last weekend against 17 other club teams from throughout the Garden State. The win marks the gym’s 12th consecutive State title.

Bottom row (kneeling) Left to Right:

  • Amy Gordon of Montville (Morris County)
  • Emma Roppatte of Essex Fells (Essex County)
  • Leah Higgins of Boonton (Morris County)
  • Alana Walker of West Orange (Essex County)
  • Teigan Flanagan of Warren (Somerset County)
  • Alessia Rosa of East Hanover (Morris County)
  • Mariyah Aranbayev of Jamaica, N.Y. (Queens)
  • Stella Fischer of Bridgewater (Somerset County)

 Top Row Left to Right:

  • Coach Faith Baranowski
  • Coach Heather MorozJessica Schmitz of Wayne (Passaic County)
  • Madison Vitolo of Basking Ridge (Somerset County)
  • Karina Lankamer of Flemington (Hunterdon County)
  • Olivia Kelly of Mahwah (Bergen County)
  • Giorgia Carroll of Warren (Somerset County)
  • Alexa Chuy of Scotch Plains (Union County)
  • Coach Melissa Jones
  • National Team Head Coach Ashley Umberger
  • Coach Ivan Taskova

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.

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