Gymnast Katherine Wood performs a floor routine. Leah's Gymanstics, where Wood trains, will hold the first USA Gymnastics Sanctioned event in Saline County, the Saline County Holiday Invitational, Nov. 23 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County.

Leah's Gymnastics will put on the Saline County Holiday Invitational, the first USA Gymnastics sanctioned event in Saline County, Nov. 23 at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Saline County Riverside location. 

The first session will begin at 8 a.m. and the event should end around 6 p.m. 

According to meet co-director Tara Shelton, the event will include levels one through five with athletes ranging in ages from 5 to 13. There are 50 athletes competing from Saline County. 

Shelton said these athletes work out 12 hours a week to prepare for the sport. 

The owner of Leah's Gymnastics, Leah Hudspeth, said between coaches, officials, athletes and spectators, she expects close to 1,000 people to come into Saline County for the event. She is excited to have people come in and see Saline County. 

Hudspeth said she wants the community to know what many people outside of outside the count already know, which is Saline County some top-class gymnasts. 

She has been in gymnastics for 37 years. She decided to put in a bid to hold the event and was approved. 

She would like to make it an annual event that will be even bigger next year. 

The Clubs location was chosen because Hudspeth said it is state-of-the-art and can accommodate the event's needs, including stadium seating, room for all the apparatus, space for vendors and a place to put a stage to hold awards. 

Shelton said there will be two of each apparatus. Athletes will compete in vault, bar, beam, floor and all-around both individually and as a team. 

The top athletes for each age level for each category will get medals that looks like a snow globe, to go along with the holiday theme. The highest scorer will get an engraved snow globe. Hudspeth and Shelton believe that will be one way the event will stand out from other invitationals. 

Along with Shelton, Toby Barentine will serve as meet director. All staff at the event will be USAG certified. 

The sponsors for this first event are Everett Buick GMC, Allied Glass, Arkansas Professional Hearing Care, Crye-Leike Realtors, Fairfield Inn & Suites, First Security Bank, Flowers and Home, Jones Heating and Air, PlayTown and Stated Apparel.

Shelton said the athletes pour their hearts and souls into this sport and she would love to see the community come out and support them in Saline County. 

Participation is by invitation only. 

Admission to the event will be $10 for adults and $5 for students at the door. 

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