By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
HARRISBURG -- Where can you find some of the best athletes in America outside of the Olympics?
The State Games of America held earlier this month in the Harrisburg-Hershey area would be one opportunity. Against some of the top athletes in the nation, a number of locals succeeded, including several members of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA Bounders gymnastics squad and Keanna Delp, a bowler from Mifflinburg.
The Greater Susquehanna Valley Bounders may have some young members on their team but that did not stop them from finishing high across the board.
The Bounders sent a slew of young gymnasts to the State Games of America and reached the podium in many different age groups.
The experience rubbed off on the squad who cannot wait to compete again according to head coach Sue Visnosky.
"The overwhelming size of it all was daunting for some of them but they were thinking that this was sort of like the big leagues so they have the feeling that they are equivalent to the big leagues," Visnosky said.
Braylen Crawford certainly turned in a performance worthy of a large event.
Crawford competed in the Level 1 All-Around competition, bringing home a gold medal along with Berry. Crawford tied for first in the balance beam with Isabella Kadryna while two of their teammates, Ella Kerris and Madison Lahr, tied for third for a bronze medal. Crawford grabbed tied with Janna Berry in the floor exercise and split first with Kadryna on the vault along with a fourth-place finish on the uneven bars to grab the title.
Also in Level 1, Berry tied with Crawford on the beam and tied for second on the uneven bars with Chloe Bostian. Laney Clark grabbed a silver on the uneven bars while Bostian and Ruby Christian tied for bronze.
The Bounders swept the floor exercise podium with Anna Krebs grabbing the silver and Bostian, Christian and Lahr tying for bronze.
In the Level 1 All-Around, Christian was consistent in each event to bring home a silver medal behind Crawford.
Like Crawford, Krystyn Mummey used a solid performance in every event to grab the Level 3 All-Around title. Mummey won on the uneven bars and took third on the beam to propel her to a win.
McKenna Zellers grabbed a gold in the uneven bars and a silver in the floor exercise in Level 3.
In Level 4, Amelia Wary took home a gold in the all-around and a bronze on the vault. Kayla Pietkewicz won the vault and tied Emily Moyer for bronze in the floor exercise. Julianna Huffert finished second in the vault for a clean sweep by the Bounders.
In all, Bounders gymnasts brought home 34 total medals including 15 gold medals.
"I think (the State Games) will improve their work ethic and dedication to the sport and their cohesiveness," Visnosky said.
Many athletes that succeed in their sport start at a very young age and Mifflinburg's Keanna Delp is no exception.
The incoming freshman at Mifflinburg started bowling when she was 3 and is starting to reap the rewards of a life in the lanes.
Delp grabbed a silver medal at the State Games in the 12-15 Female Handicap division. In a handicap event, a percentage of each bowler's score is added to their final score in an attempt to level the playing field. Delp finished the qualifying round of the event atop the leaderboard with a total of 1,421 pins after ending with an 1,103 with a handicap of 318.
In her first game, Delp bowled a 232, the highest single round in qualifying.
"Starting off (with a 232), I was excited," Delp said.
In the six qualifying round games, Delp broke 200 pins three times to earn the top seed in the step-ladder final.
In a step-ladder final, the lowest seed plays the second-lowest, the winner plays the third-lowest and so far until the top seed faces the remaining, meaning Delp had to wait to bowl.
In the final, Delp was edged out for the gold medal by four pins, 243-239.
Despite the tough loss, Delp did not let the defeat affect her.
"I'm proud of myself for being second," Delp said.
She plans to bowl in high school and try and continue the success she has had at the State Games.
"I think from being in the big tournaments, my nerves will be calm," she said.