Little stars have big success at young age
By Kyle Salomon,
Every young athlete’s dream is to be a state champion, but earning that title at the young ages of 7 and 8 is usually an impossible task.
For Mustang elementary students Kenley Dillon and Jessica Bullock, that impossible task is a strong reality.
Both young stars are the two-time defending state champion gymnasts at their respective age levels.
Kenley is 8 years old and is a second-grader at Mustang Centennial Elementary, and Jessica is 7 years old and attends Mustang Valley Elementary as a first-grader.
The two best friends have been doing gymnastics for the past three years. Two of those three years have been on the competitive level.
Kenley and Jessica train at Dynamo Gymnastics in Oklahoma City. Both girls are ranked No.1 in the state in their age levels.
Jessica is ranked in America’s Top 100 on the bars and the beam for 7-year-old gymnasts. Both Kenley and Jessica have lost just one time in the previous two years.
Both Kenley and Jessica’s parents knew they had to get their daughters into competitive gymnastics when both girls were tumbling around the house with all of the energy in the world.
“We loved to do flips,” Kenley said.
Jessica agreed with Kenley.
“We wanted to do flips all of the time.”
Kenley and Jessica compete in all four events in youth gymnastics, which include the bars, the beam, the floor and the vault events.
Both Kenley and Jessica said their favorite event is the bars. However, Kenley’s best overall event is the vault and Jessica’s is the beam.
Both girls love to joke around and have fun, but they know when it is time to get serious.
The training Kenley and Jessica have to go through for their gymnastics is more than a lot of high school athletes endure in high school sports.
“We do a lot of running,” Kenley said.
The girls go through 45 minutes of conditioning before every gymnastics practice. In their previous season, Kenley and Jessica would work out at Dynamo three days per week for three and a half hours every session.
“We jog a lot,” Jessica said.
Their workload is going to increase starting in June with the new season as each girl will have five days per week of practice and 20 hours total in workouts.
Both girls are coached by Sarah Hale and Kristin Smith of Dynamo Gymnastics. Kenley and Jessica said they love their coaches, but they push them really hard a lot of the time.
Dynamo Gymnastics is known for putting out top-level performers as three members from the national champion University of Oklahoma gymnastics team all trained at Dynamo growing up.
Kenley and Jessica both said they want to continue with gymnastics and improving their overall skill set. They want to expand their abilities and become the best gymnasts they can be.
“I want to get better at my back-hand tucks,” Kenley said.
One thing Kenley and Jessica both said they would like to see happen in the next couple of years is Mustang High School get a gymnastics program. Both girls said it would be an awesome experience getting to compete for their high school.
“I would really like that,” Jessica said with a big smile on her face.
In their free time, Kenley and Jessica enjoy being normal 7- and 8-year-olds. They both like to play with their American Girl dolls and read. They enjoy spending the night at each other’s houses and riding their bikes together.
Despite being very young, both girls have accomplished tremendous feats, but if they continue to progress the direction they are heading right now, they will accomplish many more impressive things.