Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Local gymnast signs with Illini

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Kelsey Joannides signed a National Letter of Intent to University of Illinois, but she’ll remain flexible about it.

The Frederick High senior and Level 10 gymnast earned a full-ride scholarship with the Illini.

‘‘I chose Illinois because it felt like a home away from home,” Joannides said in a press release from Illinois. ‘‘The entire team makes me feel so welcome as a part of their gymnastics family, and I could tell right away that they were a very tight knit group.”

Joannides, who competes with the Frederick Gymnastics Club, was the first alternate for the 2007 Junior Olympics. She’s qualified for the Level 10 Region Qualifier five times. In 2007, she took fourth on the vault and bars, and was seventh on the floor.

Illinois head coach Bob Starkell said that Illinois was fortunate to sign Joannides, calling her a true all-around gymnast with no weak events.

‘‘The combination of power, beauty, flexibility, and cleanliness will make her a great NCAA gymnast,” Starkell said. ‘‘Her work ethic will be a true asset both in and out of the gym. She has continually progressed over the years and we are excited for her to begin her gymnastics career at Illinois.”

Joannides also won the Level 10 state all-around and vault championships in 2007, while taking runner-up on beam and floor. She was Distinguished Maryland Scholar Honorable Mention, but is undecided on her major.