Aiming for nationals: freshman Tristan Caudill competes in the VIP Classic gymnastics tournament

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Maddy Truka

Freshman Tristan Caudill practices a handstand in a field. Caudill pushed to try new things even when they seemed intimidating. “My coaches always tell me ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable,’” Caudill said. “A lot of what you’re going to do is stuff that you will not be comfortable with, but if you don’t get comfortable with that, you’re not going to progress at all.”

Working on moves like double flips and twists, freshman Tristan Caudill attended the VIP Classic Trampoline and Tumbling (T&T) competition Feb. 27 to March 1 in hopes of qualifying for nationals.   

Caudill started T&T in fourth grade after being influenced by his older sister Abby Caudill. 

“My sister started cheerleading in sixth grade. She was doing tumbling lessons and she really liked it,” Caudill said. “I always liked doing flips. My sisters and I all did gymnastics lessons for a year, but I was the only one that actually stuck with it.”

Tristan excelled and was recommended by his coach for the competitive team in fifth grade. He was moved up a few levels in difficulty to level nine and competes once a month and practices twice a week.

“We generally have two practices a week for everybody. If you’re a level seven or up, then there is a practice on Sunday that you can go to work ahead level-wise and those are really beneficial. After the first one I went to, I went up two levels on the trampoline,” Caudill said.

The criteria for nationals requires the gymnast to hit a qualification score and compete at two competitions prior to the state and regional competition.

“I [have] wanted to go to nationals ever since I started. It seems like it’d be super cool to go there and compete against all the people and see how you do,” Caudill said.

Caudill placed second in trampoline and first in double mini at the tournament.

“It would mean a lot to me to meet my goals and possibly even win at nationals if I’m going. The qualification score is pretty tough so even hitting that score is good,” Caudill said. “Once you hit the score, you’re only going up against people who are not going to be sloppy and not be making a lot of mistakes. If I beat them and do really good, that would be cool.”