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02/23/2022 11:00 PM

Flickinger’s a Freshman Phenom for Hand Gymnastics

Morgan Flickinger is having an amazing freshman campaign that saw her finish first in the all-around at the SCC Championship for the triumphant Tigers. Photo courtesy of Morgan Flickinger

Morgan Flickinger is a rarity when it comes to the sport of gymnastics. Only a freshman, Morgan was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the SCC Championship after finishing in first place for the all-around, while helping the Hand girls’ gymnastics team take home the conference title.

Morgan started participating in gymnastics when she was two. Now, in her first year of high school, Morgan has already become one of the top gymnasts in the state of Connecticut.

“My mom put me in the sport when I was just two years old,” says Morgan. “When I was old enough to understand it, I realized I was having fun and enjoyed the sport. My favorite part of the sport is the team aspect. I love the feeling of competing while my team is cheering for me.”

Morgan’s performance at the SCC Championship was nothing short of sensational. Morgan posted an overall score of 36.15 on her way to winning the all-around, taking first place in two of the four events and finishing no worse than third in any event.

Morgan claimed first place on the beam (9.2) and the floor (9.1) at the conference meet. She also placed second for the vault (9.15) and finished third on bars (8.7).

“My favorite moment as part of the team was when I nailed a great floor routine at SCCs. As I walked off the floor, every one of my teammates gave me a high-five and excessive cheers,” Morgan says.

“The more time in the gym I spend, the better I can perfect my routines,” she adds. “To improve my routines, I can add upgraded skills, which gives me a higher start value score.”

Head Coach Kelly Smith feels thrilled to see Morgan succeeding so much as a freshman. Smith says that Morgan, who recently moved to Connecticut from Memphis, Tennessee, is performing highly difficult routines with apparent ease in her debut season.

“We’re incredibly lucky her family chose Madison and that she joined our program, but it’s not just her gymnastics that Morgan brings to the gym. She’s a hard worker, she’s calm and cool under pressure in competitions, and she’s a great teammate,” says Smith.

“Morgan often scores the highest, but no matter what, she is high-fiving and cheering on her teammates, congratulating them, and commending them on their performances,” Smith adds.

Morgan credits Coach Smith for helping make her move to Madison that much easier. Morgan enjoys working with Smith and appreciates her commitment toward helping all of the Tigers improve.

“My coach works very well with me. She makes sure to make time for all of the gymnasts, even if they aren’t competing,” Morgan says. “She gives me corrections that I am able to understand and to think about during my skills. Each correction from Coach Kelly makes me a better gymnast.”

Morgan has dedicated herself to gymnastics and spends six days a week training in the sport. When Morgan’s family moved north, she realized the major differences in terms of the COVID-19 safety protocols and how it would be more difficult to train the way she wants.

“When I moved to Connecticut, there were many more rules, so I was worried about my gym closing and not being able to practice,” says Morgan. “I’ve fully committed myself to gymnastics, which makes me train six days a week during high school season. With all of this training and hours, I do not have time to do another sport.”

The good news is that Morgan has been able to enjoy a happy and healthy season as a member of the Hand gymnastics squad. After helping the Tigers win SCCs and go undefeated for the regular season, Morgan is looking forward to the State Championship and expects to see continued success with her teammates.

“The regular season has just finished, which means it’s time to start training hard for the state meet,” Morgan says. “In the team sense, we have won every single one of our regular-season meets. This is a huge accomplishment for our team, and we are excited to compete at states.”