With the 1992 Olympic Trials scheduled for the Baltimor Arena next spring, the state of Maryland took another step in promoting gymnastics, playing host to the first Level 8 regional meet Friday through yesterday at Arundel High School.
More than 300 gymnasts from six states met for the United States Gymnastics Federation's 1991 Level 8 Optional Women's Regional Championships, sponsored by Maryland Gymnastics.
Level 8 competition allows gymnasts to perform optional routines, rather than a set of specific maneuvers, for the first time and is three steps below the highest level.
Maryland Gymnastics, which merged with Docksiders Gymnastics for the purpose of sponsoring all levels, is a parent-run, non-profit group in Millersville. The group sponsors 17 girls in Level 8.
Leslie Adlam, a parent volunteer with Maryland Gymnastics, said the sport helps the girls manage their time.
"They know it takes a certain amount of time to practice their moves," Adlam said, "so they have to budget their practice time and their schoolwork."
Stacy Jewett, 12, a member of Maryland Gymnastics-Docksiders, finished first in the all-around for Session II with a score of 36.10. It was her second 35-plus score, which means she will move to Level 9 competition in her next meet.
Jewett, who has been in gymnastics since she was 4, did well on the balance beam, where she executed a flip that she had tried in competition only twice.
Other locally sponsored girls who finished high were 14-year-old Kim Merryfield (Fit N' Fun in Gaithersburg), who took third place with a 35.35 in Session I, and Maryland Gymnastics' Amy Langendurf, who scored a 34.85 to finish ninth in Session II.
In Session III, Umme Salma Salim of Fairland Gymnastics in Laurel finished seventh with a 35.34, and Chrystal Bennett and Shelly Hernandez, both representatives of Hill's Angels in Gaithersburg, finished eighth and ninth, respectively, with scores of 35.40 and 34.95.
Cheryl Thompson, from Fit N' Fun, took seventh in Session IV, with a score of 35.45.
In Session V, Michelle Cole (Rebounders, Timonium) took second with a 35.75, Amy Walton (Maryland Gymnastics) placed fourth with a 34.75 and Joanna Swerczek (Fairland) finished ninth with a 34.50.