Abbey Thornton has taken her gymnastics skills to a different level, level ten to be exact. That is the highest level a gymnast can attain, there is an elite level which you have to qualify for. Thornton plans on competing in gymnastics at the collegiate level which would make her the first Valley City gymnast to do so in 34 years, something that the senior at Valley City high school has not lost sight on and she hopes it starts a trend. “I do think about that. I don’t know if it has sunken in quite yet, but it’s just kinda crazy,” Thornton says. “Hopefully it builds more and more after this because I know we have a good group of girls here in Valley and I’m hoping they can step it up and do the dreams that I had.”
With her third place finish in the All-Around at the North Dakota State USA Gymnastics (USAG) meet in Minot, Thornton qualified for the Region 4 Championships which will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this weekend.
At the state competition, Thornton was seventh in the vault with a 8.625, fourth on the bars with a 7.975, third on the beam with a 8.900 and seventh on the floor with an 8.800. Her All-Around score was 34.300.
To illustrate how diffucult scoring is at this level as compared to the high school level, Thornton said if she did the type of routines that she did at the USAG State competition at the high school level, records would have fallen. “I think I would have broken my own record again,” Thornton said. “Because I’ve cleaned up so much from last year, I feel that is where I go a lot of deductions for high school, was I wasn’t very clean and not really developed then you realize how important that is. So I would say high 38’s for that score and not just 34.”
In 2022, at the state high school gymnastics competition, Thornton posted a Hi-Liner record in the All-Around with a 38.25 which placed her third in the competition. She missed being state champ in the All-Around by less than a half point.
Thornton is eyeing competing in gymnastics at the collegiate level and competing at USAG meets around the country have prepared her for what comes next. “Like last year at high school I’d be like pretty amazed by some of the skills they were doing and I would be like ‘wow that was really good.’ “Then you go to a USAG meet and you see like the girls that are going to OU (Oklahoma University) and Utah they’re already committed there and you are just like wow that is crazy.” Thornton continues “I think it motivates you a little bit more to be able to watch them bacause then you are like wow I really want to look like that one day, so then you go back and work harder because that is what you want to do.” For Thornton, being a college gymnast is somehtig she has thought about for a long time. “I always kinda wanted to do college gymnastics but its not like a real actual thought,” Thornton said. “And then I would say around my freshman, sophomore year, I was like wow that would be a really cool experience and then last year I was like yeah if I want to do that, I’m going to have to go to USAG and then it actually happened.”
At the Region 4 Championships, Thornton’s rotations will start with the floor, followed by the vault, the bars and finish up on the beam, which was her best event at the state competition.
In order to move on from the Regional, you need to score a 35 and be in the top seven to qualify for Nationals which are in Oklahoma City at the end of May.
The states that make up Region 4 are Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.