CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A West Chester girl preparing for the end of her senior year of high school is also prepping for a major competition.
Grace Harrell will graduate from Summit Country Day and then attend Penn State and join the gymnastics team. She has been tumbling since she was three years old.
She is one of seven female gymnasts in a five-state area to compete at the highest level in her gymnastics competition.
Grace is heading to the 2021 USA Gymnastics Development Program National Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. After that, she will go to Penn State to join the gymnastics team.
“As I was looking around for different colleges and where I wanted to continue my gymnastics career, I wanted to go somewhere where they wanted me just as bad as I wanted to go there,” explains Grace. “And I think Penn State fit that match perfectly.”
Harrell trains 20-25 hours a week, five days a week, with the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy in Fairfield.
She has suffered through a broken femur, a broken toe, and other injuries to make it to the national competition.
“One thing I would say about Grace is she always enjoyed and always wanted to go back and always wanted to be in the gym,” says Grace’s mom, Crystal Harrell.
Crystal says it was easy to tell from a young age that Grace could have a future in gymnastics.
“Grace has always been consistent in terms of loving the sport and just wanting to do it,” says Crystal.
Grace hopes at Penn State she will continue to excel in the sport but is also looking forward to the camaraderie of being on a team.
“I just hope to continue to do what I love and have fun doing gymnastics with people who also love the sport,” Grace says. “And I just hope to do my best and help the team out any way I can.”
Grace says no matter what happens at the national competition, she hopes others can see the hard work and dedication she has invested most of her life.
“I just want them to know that hard work pays off over time,” says Grace. “And to keep pushing through adversity, even when it’s hard, and just to treat your teammates and others with kindness and generosity because good things come back to you.”
Grace is undecided on her major at this time but is thinking she will study communications or business.
She will compete in Daytona Beach, Florida on May 16, and then attend summer school at Penn State in June.
Grace’s twin sister, Hailey, is hoping to also be a student-athlete at Howard University on the track team. The twins will be a few hours apart when they go to college.
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