COLUMBIA — Adrianne Perry was in a familiar place during the summer of 2004 — the gym. At her training center, Great American Gymnastic Express in Blue Springs, Perry and many other gymnasts were working hard to prepare for the upcoming season and eventually nationals.
As many gymnasts do, Perry was trying out different moves and techniques, hoping she could implement some in her routines. She also wanted to create her own skill.
Practicing on the floor one day, she did a move she thought could be performed on the balance beam — a front aerial (a no-hands cartwheel) with a half twist (in mid-air). If she could perform this move successfully, she would then have to land on a four-inch wide suede-covered piece of wood.
For the move to be considered her own, Perry would have to perform it successfully at the 2005 Level 10 Nationals. Until then, she worked tirelessly to perfect the skill, and when the event arrived she performed it successfully. It became known as “the Perry” and is now certified in the Level 10 gymnastics skills glossary.
“I definitely think it’s probably my biggest accomplishment in gymnastics besides getting a full-ride (scholarship) to attend the University of Missouri,” Perry said. “I have, framed in my room, the page that the skill is on. I am very proud of it.”
Now a junior, Perry will showcase “the Perry” and other skills at the NCAA Gymnastics National Championships starting today in Athens, Ga.
In her first two seasons at Missouri, Perry qualified for the National Championships, placing as high as 14th in the all-around her freshman year and 22nd last year. Now with two trips under her belt, Perry hopes her experience will help her succeed the third time.
“I know exactly what to expect,” Perry said. “I feel much more relaxed this year and I feel more confident in my ability to hang with the top dogs.”
With a record of 12-7-1 against national championship qualifying gymnasts this year, Perry is ranked 20th in the country, and her name is starting to be recognized across the country.
“It’s been a gradual process knowing deep down inside myself that I am just as good as them,” Perry said. “I feel like now that my name is starting to get out there, judges are starting to recognize ‘this girl’s legit.’”
To help her succeed, traveling with Perry to the championships is fellow junior gymnast Alicia Hatcher. The two went to Blue Springs High School together and trained at GAGE. Associate head coach John Figueroa said having Hatcher traveling to Athens will help Perry relax.
“It’s very important for ‘A’ to have a teammate with her because ‘Hatch’ is her support and was with her last year at the National Championships in Utah,” Figueroa said. “We’re trying to make sure she’s comfortable and has someone to relate with besides the coaching staff.”
Perry is reluctant to set any lofty goals, even laughing at the thought of winning the all-around. With great humility, Perry said she just wants to hit all four routines and if she does, All-American in the all-around should be in her future.
Figueroa said that for Perry to attain All-American status, she has to treat the championships like any other meet.
“She has to go back to her daily training in the gym,” Figueroa said. “She’s got to work on her visualization and breathing techniques that have helped her beat some of the top gymnasts in the country.”