-By Cary Shuman
They’re the best in the state at the age of eight.
Two eight-year-old students at the Winthrop Gymnastics Academy captured individual state championships at the 2011 state meet held at Groton Middle School.
Eliza Brown and Danielle Carter took home Level 4 state titles and the accompanying first-place trophies by outperforming 63 other gymnasts in their respective events, vaulting and floor exercise.
Eliza took first place in the vaulting event with a solid score of 9.4 out a possible 10.0 It was a doubly happy day for Eliza, who was celebrating her eighth birthday on the day of the meet.
Eliza impressed the judges with a well-executed front-handstand-to-her-back maneuver on the vault. Brown has been training as a gymnast for four years under the direction of Tami D’Itria, coach of the Winthrop Gymnastics Academy team.
“It’s an excellent achievement to be a state champion but she worked hard in the gym to get it,” said D’Itria. “She’s a really good athlete and I’m very proud of her.”
Eliza thanked her coach for teaching her the vaulting techniques that resulted in a state championship performance.
“She’s really nice and teaches me well,” said Eliza, who also plays basketball.
It’s been a memorable run athletically for the Brown family. Eliza’s father David, a Winthrop Police officer, is the head coach of the Winthrop High boys basketball team that won the state championship at the TD Garden. Brown is an inductee in the Westfield State College Hall of Fame for his basketball-playing accomplishments.
Danielle Carter prevailed over the large field of competitors in floor exercise, achieving a score of 9.15 for her routine.
Danielle demonstrated her wide-ranging gymnastics skills with a series of handsprings, jumps, and turns, all complemented by her dancing talents.
“I knew she had the ability to do really well in the state meet,” said D’Itria. “She’s a natural.”
D’Itria said, “It’s feel great” to have two state champions crowned from Winthrop Gymnastics Academy. “Their hard work paid off. We had other gymnasts on our 10-member team who also placed at the meet.”
D’Itria, a former Division 1 college gymnast at Northeastern University, said that gymnastics is a good, healthy activity. “It gives you strength, flexibility, endurance and helps you in all sports,” said D’Itria.