by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Gymnastics national champion Jessie DeZiel of Rogers has been added to Team USA for the Pan American Games slated for this month.
DeZiel, 18, is a 2011 Spectrum High School graduate, member of Twin Cities Twisters of Champlin, and a prize recruit of the University of Nebraska.
“It’s a big accomplishment for me,” said DeZiel, in a Nebraska web site article. “I feel really honored to be with all those talented gymnasts. It’s really cool to be with them and watch them, because I’ve always looked up to them for inspiration.”
DeZiel will compete in floor, beam and vault at the Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct. 24-28. Her teammates include Olympic all-around champion Shawn Johnson along with current USA stars Bridgette Caquatto, Brandie Jay, Shawn Johnson, Chellsie Memmel and Bridget Sloan.
DeZiel captured her second Junior Olympic national all-around title in May at Level 10, then earned elite status at a camp in Houston for the right to against Olympic-level gymnasts. She placed 13th at the Cover Girl Classic in Chicago in July, then 17th at VISA Nationals held in St. Paul at the Xcel Center in August.
She was not among 11 gymnasts who made the national team at the VISA meet but was invited to Karolyi Ranch, an Olympic training site, in Huntsville, Texas, for camps Sept. 5-10 and Sept. 17-21.
She performed well enough there to be one of 10 added to the national team headed by Marta Karolyi.
“We’re so excited and proud to have an athlete representing the United States,” said Nebraska coach Dan Kendig, in the Nebraska web site report. “She has worked really, really hard for this. This is a pretty special group of athletes that will be down there representing the United States. I feel like she is going to get a lot of experience from this whole thing and we’re excited for her.”