Three Gem City Tumblers Earn Individual Gold and Team Gold at Nationals

The GCGT Tumbling Team competed in the 2024 USTA National Championships this past week. We had four days of competition over the six days of the event. We had 22 athletes attend after having 27 qualify at the State meet earlier in April.

This year’s National Championships was held in Louisville, Kentucky. We are coming home with some serious hardware too, including THREE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS and a FIRST PLACE TEAM AWARD for Sub-Novice Boys Division!

Our National Champions are: Ruby Akerson, KK Vazquez-Epperson, and Isla Ufkes. Hunter Buehler and Kayden Hill won a team National Championship; they beat out six other teams to take the title for best sub-novice boys team in the whole nation!

Day two of competition was a day of making history for Gem City’s Tumbling Team. Our two advanced level female athletes, Ruby Akerson and KK Vazquez-Epperson, became NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! A massive accomplishment for them personally and something for the whole Gem City family to celebrate and take pride in. These are the fifth and sixth national titles earned by GCGT tumblers at the advanced or elite level since our founding in the Fall of 2006. Previous advanced or elite national champions from Gem City include Hope Cernea Huff, Brooks Scholfield, Maggie Schutte, and Ashlyn Akerson. Ruby, KK, congratulations and welcome to the club. See picture below!

Here is a quick run-down of how tumbling Nationals works.

For the advanced and elite athletes, there is a day of preliminaries, which means they have to qualify for finals by placing in the top ten. Then, finals is the next day and only requires one tumbling pass (an eight-pass), not two passes like prelims and every meet prior in the season. Scores from day two are added to day one scores. All three of GCGT’s advanced athletes qualified for finals this year!

Now, one more thing that can be confusing, are flights. There are so many athletes at Nationals, so they are broken up into flights. Each level and age division has a number of flights to make up the overall standings. Each level and age division can have multiple flights (maximum of 10 per flight). At Nationals, each athlete is ranked within their flight immediately after competing. Then, after all flights are done competing the final scores are tabulated and the final standings are awarded on the awards podium.

For example, you may place second in your flight and then turn around and place 6th overall. (That is why some of our pictures show our athlete holding their place during flight awards and then their final placing doesn’t match that particular picture.) There can be a lot of waiting for some of our athletes. If they are in flight one of seven, then they have to wait hours for their final placing. If you have only one flight, then the meet progresses a lot quicker for that group!

With all of that being said, our team (Coach Zeke especially) had some longer days in Louisville! But we are happy that everyone traveled safely, tumbled well, and had a good experience. We hope you enjoy looking through the pictures. We have some athletes moving up in level, so we will be working hard to take another big group to the 2025 Nationals, which are being held in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Here are the results from Nationals 2024:

Day 1, Monday, June 17


Ruby Akerson 1st in flight 🥇
1st of 20 going into finals
Adv girls 15-16 Leads by .3

Kaylin Vazquez-Epperson 1st in flight 🥇
1st of 15 going into finals
Adv girls 11-12 Leads by .3

Christian Klingele 3rd in flight 🥉
3rd of 4 going into finals
Adv boys 15-16

Day 2, Tuesday, June 18


Ruby Akerson- Adv
1st of 20

KK Vazquez-Epperson-Adv
1st of 15

Christian Klingele – Adv
4th of 4 🏆


Morgan Venvertloh- Int
3rd of 19 🏆🥉

Dorothy Boehmer- Int
16th of 48

Hadley Trowbridge-Int
29th of 39

Mayvee Miller- Int
31st of 46

Day 3, Wednesday, June 19


Isla Ufkes
1st in flight 🥇
1st overall of 21

Sierra Bergman
5th in flight
6th overall of 29 🏆

Ellisyn Stratman
4th in flight
7th overall of 22 🏆

Ryli Zahringer
2nd in flight 🥈
10th overall of 22 🏆

Mae Pittman
8th in flight
13th of 30 overall🏆


Niah Vazquez-Epperson
2nd in flight 🥈
4th overall of 21 🏆

Esther Vazquez-Epperson
3rd in flight 🥉
6th overall of 21 🏆

Jamie Burton
2nd in flight 🥈
6th overall of 30 🏆

Day 4, Friday, June 21


Hunter Buehler
2nd in flight 🥈
3rd overall of 13 🏆

Kayden Hill
3rd in flight 🥉
3rd overall of 10 🏆

Grace Stokes
2nd in flight 🥈
9th overall of 63 🏆

Payton Palmer
3rd on flight 🥉
15th overall of 63

Vivian Kuchy
5th in flight
19th overall of 40

Lyza Carlin
6th in flight
14th of 70

Jennalee Waschenbach
5th in flight
14th of 70


Hunter Buehler
Kayden Hill
1st of 7 teams 🥇🏆

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