LEWISTON — Neither Dylan Tanguay nor Josh Abrams believed they had achieved their goal last weekend.

The two gymnasts were competing for an opportunity to advance to the Junior Olympic National Championships in Long Beach, California next month.

Tanguay made it that far last year but was sure he’d cost himself a chance in the first event last week in Massachusetts.

“In my first event, the rings, I totally bombed,” said Tanguay, a junior at Lewiston High School. “The way it’s designed, we have to do everything perfectly. I didn’t do that in the first event. I almost threw my meet away after the first event.”

Abrams was equally jittery about his chances. He had never qualified before and still recalled the devastation of missing out last year.

“I knew I had a chance of making it, but at the awards, I was really nervous,” said Abrams, a sophomore at Poland. “I didn’t think I had made it.”

Both had reason to be concerned, but both had reason to celebrate when the final results were announced. In the 14-15 age group, the top 10 advanced to the Nationals. Abrams finished ninth.

“When they called my name, I was ecstatic,”  said Abrams. “It was the best day of my life.”

In Tanguay’s 16-18 age group, the top 18 advanced and Tanguay finished 16th.

“I thought it was going to be a lot harder than last year, and it was,” said Tanguay, who credits his coach, Josh Chasse, for a pep talk that kept him going after his early struggles. “I was going against a lot of kids that were 18 years old. I’m 16. So they had two years on me. I was nervous.”

When Tanguay learned he had made to Long Beach, he started crying. People around him felt sorry for him because they thought he was disappointed from not making it.

“The fact that I’m here two years in a row makes me feel like I really deserve it,” said Tanguay. “That it’s not a fluke. I’d almost proved it once I did it.”

It’s the second consecutive year that two Andy Valley gymnasts have reached the national stage. Tanguay and Max Soifer made it last year in Nashville.

Chasse says both boys have matured physically and mentally over the last year and that has helped them improve significantly.

“It was something that’s only been attainable because of their own personal perseverance and motivation,” said Chasse.

The Junior Olympics are the first week in May. Having already been there before, Tanguay is hoping for a little more out of the experience.  The athletes compete in all events the first day and the top scorers advance to the following day.

Tanguay was just glad to have the experience of last year. Now he hopes to take that experience and go further this time. He wants to enjoy the event, but he also wants to produce results as well.

“If I don’t make it to the second day, my day won’t be ruined,” he said. “I’ll still be happy that I made it this far. But if I do, that’s obviously huge, making the second day. I’m really going for a little more, but if I don’t, I’m not going to act like I failed.”

Abrams has a slightly different perspective. It’s going to be his first introduction to such an event and first trip to California.

“I’m not as nervous as I was going into the regionals,” said Abrams. “I’m pretty much just happy and excited to be going to it. I want to hit every event as clean as I can. If I do that, I’ll be very happy.”

Chasse says he’s trying to keep the boys sharp and focused until May, but he’s also trying to keep them loose and healthy during that time as well. The goal is to find the right balance to prepare them for the Nationals without burning them out.

“The competition there is going to be very good,” said Chasse. “So we’re not going there expecting to win anything.  Our pressure has been to compete week after week and see ourselves progress steadily throughout the season and then see if we could qualify again.”

He has different goals and expectations for the two boys, competing in different divisions.

“For Josh,  it’s his first experience,” said Chasse. “I want him to just go there and have some fun and enjoy it. For Dylan, I’m putting a little more pressure on him. We have a second set goal for him, to see if he can qualify for the second day.”

Andy Valley Gymnastics is currently holding a bottle drive to help with the costs of the trip to California. People can support the boys’ efforts by taking returnables to the Roopers on Minot Avenue in Auburn and donating the bottles to the Andy Valley Gymnastics account.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.