DYER | They were into gymnastics well before the "Olympic bump" took up all the seats on the bandwagon.
Still, Alicia Pinchok and Jessica McReynolds are up to date with sport's most celebrated celebrities.
"Gabby Douglas!" Alicia and Jessica said in unison when asked who their favorite gymnast was.
"But I never got to meet her," Alicia said of the only gymnast to win golds in the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.
Maybe someday people will be pining to meet Alicia and Jessica. By way of their performances at the Hoosier Cup, Dec. 9 at the Indiana Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, they both were selected to the Level 7 State (Indiana) Team Challenge, a six-person squad that will compete at the National Judges Cup, to be held Jan. 5 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Alicia, 12, of Crown Point, placed first in all-around at the Hoosier Cup after placing first in the floor exercise and uneven bars, and third in the vault.
Jessica, 11, of Lynwood, placed third on the balance beam.
"I just decided to give it a try and take a class," said Alicia, who started gymnastics when she was 6 years old. "I liked it from the start."
Jessica started gymnastics when she was 5 after her older sister signed her up.
"I was doing cartwheels around the house, and she thought I could put it to better use," Jessica said.
Alicia and Jessica are both members of Midwest Training, which is based at Midwest Training and Ice Center in Dyer. Overall, Midwest Training had an impressive showing at the Hoosier Cup as its Level 4 team placed first, Level 3 team placed second and Level 5 team placed third.
"We're doing real well," said Midwest gym manager Judy Redmond. "We've picked up some upper-level gymnasts from other places, especially after (a local gym) closed, but we've always had a good base of younger gymnasts, and that has continued to grow."
Though Midwest has had a strong trampoline and tumbling program since its inception, its artistic gymnastics program didn't get off the ground until more recently.
"We've got five good coaches," Redmond said while mentioning that senior coach, Viktor Vysotski, will accompany Alicia and Jessica to Daytona.
Redmond is also a coach, and a judge at competitions.
"Being a judge helps me become a better coach," Redmond said. "I tell my gymnasts that if they do something that would make me use my pencil as a judge, I'm going to let them know about it.
"It's like giving them a dollar's worth of pennies, but taking a few for every mistake they make. Whoever keeps the most pennies at the end is the winner."