Ocean Springs High School gymnast sets the bar high

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Ocean Springs High School freshman Sarah Edwards practices gymnastics four hours per day for five days in a week.

All that dedication has pushed Edwards to become a level 10 gymnast, which is the highest level someone can reach.

"Most people have already quit by now or left to do cheer or something," Edwards said. "It takes some focus and determination to get to this point."

"She maintains a 4.0 GPA, she plays the violin and she's active in church," Edwards' coach Amanda Zeigler said. "You can't ask anything more from an athlete to put their heart and soul into their gymnastics every single day."

When she's not working out and conditioning to be in the best shape, she practices the violin on the weekends and attends her local church.

The 15-year-old picked up a first place award in the all-around competition at state, along with first place on floor and third all around at regionals.

She excelled even more on the national stage in Battle Creek, Mich.

"It was actually colder in Mississippi than it was when we went there," Edwards said. "It was different. I walked off the floor with a 9.5 and placed second. I was so excited."

"When she placed second at Easterns on floor, I almost cried. No lie," Zeigler said. "To see her up there on second place with half of the nation competing and the only girl from Region 8 on the stand in the all around, it was something that I'll never get again."

Region 8 consists of eight states in the southeast. Along with Mississippi, the states that consist of Region 8 are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Because no university in Mississippi offers gymnastics scholarships, Sarah's dream after she graduates from high school is to earn a scholarship to either LSU or Alabama.

While the Olympics is not out of the question for someone with such a bright future, being selected as one of five gymnasts to represent the United States every four years is a daunting task to try to achieve.

However, with a 4.0 GPA, the ability to create her own winning soundtrack and spinning her way to the highest level of gymnast at the young age of 15, there's only one thing she might need to improve, and it has to do with the way she's been spinning vehicle tires.

"I did get my [driver's] permit," Edwards said. "I was so nervous. My hand was shaking. I drove home from church and the parking spot was in our driveway, [but] I was in the grass. My dad took a picture of it."