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TRUE GYM DANDY.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Jami Lanz stayed close to home for her first appearance on the national gymnastics scene.

As an eighth-grader, Lanz finished in a tie for seventh place in the Junior B session of the 2001 Junior Olympic Nationals at the Moshofsky Center. She placed 10th in the floor exercise and uneven bars during her first Level 10 national meet.

Lanz returned to nationals two years later in Colorado Springs, Colo., and finished fourth on both the vault and uneven bars.

"It felt a lot more important that time," Lanz said. "It felt a lot bigger, but really it was the same thing. When it was in Eugene, all my family was able to come and I was sleeping at home and then there you're sleeping in a hotel."

Last year, the pressure was even greater at the nationals in Kissimmee, Fla.

"That was even more important, because that is when colleges started watching you on everything," Lanz said. "Last year at nationals is when I started to make college contacts. Then you send them a video and they look for you at competitions.'

Lanz finished sixth in the vault at nationals and caught the eye of many of the nation's top collegiate gymnastics programs. The Churchill senior was recruited by Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Washington and Missouri before the she signed a national letter-of-intent with Oregon State in November.

Lanz, who trains at the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics (NAAG) in Springfield, will join the Beavers in the fall.

"It's a small community, small college, close to home and I really enjoy their coaches," Lanz said. "Their program is really good."

OSU coach Tanya Chaplin is a former student at NAAG under Linda Mulvihill, who now coaches Lanz. Mulvihill took notice of Lanz as soon as she started competing, in the third grade.

"She had a lot of energy right away," Mulvihill said. "She was always the first one ready to start and always eager to do the hard things and conditioning."

Lanz had previously played soccer and was an ice skater before she elected to focus on gymnastics. She won a sectional title during her first year of competition and was hooked on the sport. She started traveling to regional events in sixth grade and reached Level 10 in eighth grade.

"Once you win, you're like `I want to do that again,' " said Lanz, who has traveled to Brazil, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico for international events.

Lanz is a 16-time Oregon state champion with four titles in all-around, four on the bars, three on the vault, three on the floor and two on the beam. She has won 13 regional titles.

Lanz, whose best events are the vault and floor exercise, trains year-round for her season that started this past weekend at the National Judges Cup in New Orleans.

Lanz won her second straight all-around title (16-and-over) at the meet with a 37.175 score. She was first in both the beam (9.5) and floor (9.525), fourth in the bars (9.0) and fifth in the vault (9.15). The academy placed third overall in the team competition.

Lanz, who practices from 2:30 to 7 p.m. five days a week, spends 30 minutes per day on the vault, tumbling and floor exercises, and an hour on the bars and beam in addition to strength and conditioning work.

The Oregon School Activities Association stopped sponsoring girls gymnastics in 1983, so prep gymnasts must make a name for themselves through club sports.

South Eugene juniors Casey Jo Magee and Kira Oldham-Curtis also compete at NAAG along with Becky Colvin, a sophomore at Springfield. Magee was 10th in the all-around (16-up) in New Orleans, while Colvin was fourth in the all-around in the 15-and-under division.

Magee, who has competed at the past four Junior Olympic Nationals, won the state and regional all-around championships last year. Now she heads into her junior season when colleges will begin to take note.

"I just need to start to make a tape and start to think about what colleges I want to go to," Magee said. "I want to try to get like (Jami) and make it so I can get to college."

Mulvihill said recruiters who stopped by to see Lanz last year also noticed her younger teammates.

"When the coaches left they said, `Wow, Jami is great and we'll be back next year to watch Casey Jo and the others,' ' Mulvihill said.

Magee has been involved in gymnastics since she was 5 years old.

"The kids that really like it stick with it and compete at Level 4 and then Level 5 and work their way up," Mulvihill said. "If they stick with it, they have a great chance of getting a college scholarship. There are a lot of colleges that offer women's gymnastics, but not quite so many for men."

Magee is best on the balance beam and uneven bars.

"Casey Jo has a good calm whereas Jami is very dynamic and powerful," Mulvihill said. "Casey Jo can really focus and concentrate, she is really fabulous on the beam and very good on the uneven bars. She has a really good swing, good body lines and good positions. She's a totally different athlete than Jami, but just as outstanding."

Unlike their classmates who play soccer, basketball or softball, Magee and Lanz head off-campus every afternoon to practice a sport that does not bring as much notoriety around school.

"Mostly it's just people I'm friends with that know what I do," Magee said. "Not many people in school know because soccer and basketball, those are school sports, but since gymnastics is a club sport, they don't really know about it."

Lanz said some of her Churchill classmates are becoming familiar with her success.

"Throughout high school, they have kind of figured it out," she said. "At first it was like, `What is that, what's gymnastics?' '

Lanz will compete next at the Seattle Sports Festival on Jan. 29. Next month, she's off to meets in Chicago and Portland before returning home for the Emerald Team Challenge on March 12.

The state meet is in Bend on March 19 followed by regionals in Whitefish, Mont., in April and nationals at Ontario, Calif., in May.

"I'd like to get a top-10 finish at nationals and hopefully place in the vault again and the floor," Lanz said.

Then it's off to Corvallis where Lanz joins fellow recruits Brooke Barclay of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Tasha Smith of Auburn, Wash.

"We've all three gotten to be good friends throughout the years," Lanz said. "We all went on our recruiting visit together. We all committed and when we found out, we called each other and it was really fun."

Lanz follows the tradition of former OSU all-Americans Chari Knight, Heather Bennett and Katrina Severin, who all trained at the academy.

"Jami is a charismatic performer that will captivate the fans in Gill (Coliseum) and will make an immediate impact on all four events," Chaplin said. "We are confident that she will have the same success the former outstanding NAAG gymnasts have enjoyed at Oregon State."

CAPTION(S):

Jami Lanz, who won her second straight all-around title last weekend at the National Judges Cup in New Orleans, trains at Springfield's National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics and next fall will be flying the colors of Oregon State. A 16-time state champion, Jami Lanz also has competed in Brazil, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Thomas Boyd / The Register-Guard Churchill's Jami Lanz looks to follow in the tradition of former Oregon State all-Americans Chari Knight, Heather Bennett and Katrina Severin, all who trained under NAAG's Linda Mulvihill, as did the Beavers' head coach, Tanya Chaplin.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Well-traveled Churchill senior sticks close to home for college choice
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 11, 2005
Words:1291
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