toward the top

GREENFIELD — They are three girls among thousands in pursuit of the same dream.

Paige Casper, Danielle Nosek and Jacey Vore each began their gymnastics training as toddlers. And so did thousands of other girls.

Paige Casper, Danielle Nosek and Jacey Vore currently practice upwards of 24 hours per week. And so do thousands of other girls.

Paige Casper, Danielle Nosek and Jacey Vore dream of one day winning a college scholarship for their years of relentless efforts. And so do thousands of other girls.

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But earlier this month, the trio vaulted themselves ahead of the pack.

At a national meet in Kissimmee, Florida, all three of the Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center gymnasts finished in the top 10 of the all-around competition at their respective levels.

Fisher’s Vore clinched third in the overall competition at the Level 9 Eastern Championship National Meet as a Junior 1; Carmel’s Casper claimed ninth as a Junior 4; and Greenfield’s Nosek won the Junior 6 national championship.

“Those girls have been coming here since they were six and seven years old,” said JPAC co-owner and coach Jaycie Phelps, a member of the USA’s Magnificent Seven gymnastics team that won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. “It’s been fun to watch them grow and to see their years of hard work beginning to pay off.”

Casper, 13, Nosek, 14, and Vore, 11, have been training at Phelps’ and fellow owner Dave Manus’ athletic center in Greenfield — located across from the Indianapolis Regional Airport on 600 W — since its opening in 2010.

The girls are members of an elite club that won state championships at eight levels this year and attracts budding gymnasts from all across Indiana’s borders and even a few outside them.

While JPAC serves the recreational level, most of the center’s patrons are there in pursuit of what Casper, Nosek and Vore are after: college scholarships.

As of today, JPAC boasts six gymnasts with verbal or signed commitments to major collegiate programs, including Ohio State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Utah, among others.

Casper, Nosek and Vore hope to follow in their teammates’ footsteps.

“They all come here (to JPAC) because they know it is necessary,” Phelps said. “The world of gymnastics is cutthroat and intense. There are only so many spots.”

College is their end goal. But the road onto university campuses is paved with much smaller objectives.

For Vore, competing in the Level 9 national tournament is Florida, let alone finishing third in its all-around, was nearly an impossibility.

According to Phelps, she suffered a “complete meltdown” while competing on the uneven bars at the state tournament.

She fell three times and scored about a seven, greatly endangering her chances of attaining a high enough score to qualify for nationals.

With only one event left, the balance beam, she would have to ace it order to earn advancement.

“If you know anything about gymnastics, you know the beam is what usually breaks people,” Phelps said.

Not Vore.

Instead, she “rocked a beam set,” scored a 9.5 and won a qualification to the Level 9 nationals for the first time in her career.

To Phelps, Vore’s experience is not only a testament to her skill and character but an excellent teaching moment for the rest of her club about mental toughness.

For Vore, the experience gave her the self-assurance that she has the talent to fulfill those long-term plans she has mapped for herself. And it means she know that if she ever struggles again, she has the wherewithal to withstand any setback.

“If I ever struggle again,” Vore said. “It will be a lot easier to come back from it because I have done it before.”

For the future Mt. Vernon Marauder, Nosek, as well as Casper, the national meet was about taking the next step.

Each had competed at the Level 9 championship the year before, and while proud of that accomplishment, neither finished in a spot they believed was on par with their skillset. In 2014, Nosek came in sixth and Casper 21st at their respective levels.

With Nosek’s title and Casper jump into the top 10, each took another giant bound toward their ultimate goal.

“Winning a national title definitely helps get me on colleges’ radars,” Nosek said. “Now I’m moving up to Level 10 this year, with harder skills and harder competition, but I’m ready for it.”

Vore and Casper will be joining her at the next level. And pretty soon, Phelps suggested, all three could join the ranks of their college-bound teammates.

JPAC Gymnasts

Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center gymnasts Paige Casper, Danielle Nosek and Jacey Vore recently competed at the Level 9 Eastern Championship National Meet in Kissimmee, Florida. Each finished in the top 10 in the all-around competition at their respective levels, including Nosek, who won the Junior 6 national championship. Vore clinched third in overall at the Junior 1 level, and Casper claimed ninth at the Junior 4 level. 

Name: Paige Casper

Age: 13

Hometown: Carmel

2015-16 School: Carmel High School (10th grade)

Sport: Gymnastics

Years at JPAC: 5

Years training: 10

Favorite event(s): Floor exercise, vault

Top finish at Eastern Championship: Ninth in all-around; second in vault, floor exercise

Gymnastics idol: Jordyn Wieber (member of gold-medal winning Team USA at 2012 London Olympics)

Dream college(s): University of Illinois, University of North Carolina

Name: Danielle Nosek

Age: 14

Hometown: Greenfield

2015-16 School: Mt. Vernon High School (10th grade)

Sport: Gymnastics

Years at JPAC: Five

Years training: 11

Favorite event(s): Uneven bars

Top finish at Eastern Championship: First in all-around; third in vault, balance beam

Gymnastics idol: Aly Raisman (captain of gold-medal winning Team USA at 2012 London Olympics; floor exercise champion)

Dream college: Any Southeastern Conference school

Name: Jacey Vore

Age: 11

Hometown: Fishers

2015-16 School: Fishers Junior High School (seventh grade)

Sport: Gymnastics

Years at JPAC: Five

Years training: Nine

Favorite event(s): Uneven bars, floor exercise

Top finish at Eastern Championship: Third in all-around, vault and uneven bars

Gymnastics idol: Shawn Johnson (member of silver-medal winning Team USA at 2008 Beijing Olympics; balance beam champion)