Gymnasts tumble around South Mississippi

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Organizers call it the largest gymnastics meet in the state, and they say it's impact is being felt, both inside and outside the gym. This weekend hundreds of girls from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida are competing in the first ever Southern Classic in Biloxi. The influx of so many visitors is a welcome boost to the local economy.

The pressure is on and the excitement runs high. Hundreds of girls who've spent months practicing their routines are in the middle of competition and hoping for the perfect score on the beam, uneven bars, vault and floor.

Caroline Pearson is one of the competitors.

"I've never been to an out of state meet before so it was my first time so I thought it would be a good experience and it's been fun so far," Pearson said.

"You get to see how the bigger girls are doing," said competitor Montana Pritchard. "You get to look up to them and all that stuff. "

The gymnasts here at the Southern Classic range from beginners to some of the best the Southeast has to offer. Competition organizers say when all is done, 625 athletes and their families from four states will leave with a taste of what South Mississippi has to offer.

"It brings a lot of people to the area," said organizer Cindy Wallace. "A lot people who have come this weekend already have enjoyed it and really loved being here."

Wallace says competition has been a boost to the local economy.

Wallace said, "They stayed at a few of the hotels that were our host hotels, and those were full. The restaurants, they've given us coupons and stuff that they've used. So yes, I know that they've been outside the gym."

Wallace says this was the first Southern Classic but not the last. Plans for next year are already underway. Organizers say our area is about to make the leap to becoming a gymnastics destination. The Southern Classic competition wraps up on Sunday.