Alexi Speas competes with the best in the West

 

Four days a week, year-round, Park High School freshman Alexi Speas, 15, of Livingston, hops in the family car and heads over the hill to Bozeman.

 

Alexi Speas, 15, is one of the top gymnasts in the West.

 

Alexi brings her homework — she’s a straight A student — and her dinner to eat during the drive with her mom, Bonnie Speas, or sometimes her dad, Ryan Speas.

Their destination is Lone Mountain Gymnastics, where Alexi trains for more than three hours on the beam, the bar, the vault and the floor.

Alexi is one of the top gymnasts in the West, classified as a Level Nine.

She has broken her arm and a finger, both during gymnastics. 

Alexi’s family has moved around a bit in the years since she was born in Boise.

But the past three years, Alexi has been competing at a high level, and the teenager seems to have everything put together in the sport.

“I’m a Level Nine. There are 10 levels and then Elite, which is the level the Olympians compete in,” Alexi said. “I’m trying for Level 10 next year, and my goal is to train hard enough to get a scholarship for college.” 

She has her sites set on Brigham Young University. 

“I do some of the skill that the athletes in the Olympics do, but the whole thing with that is you have to be pretty close to perfect if you’re going to be in the Olympics, and you have to be in the top six in the whole United States,” Alexi laughed, “and I’m not that good.” 

Her modesty notwithstanding, Alexi is good.

Recently, while competing with her Lone Mountain team from Bozeman, she placed second at the state competition in Missoula, and her team placed first.

 Alexi scored a 35.2, high enough to advance to the regional competition in Helena, which includes Montana, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska and Idaho. She landed in the top 12 of her age group. That mark qualified her for the 2014 Level 9 Western Nationals in Boise this weekend.    

“Honestly, all along I’ve had like points where I’ve wanted to quit, but my parents would always tell me to just stay in it for just a little bit and wait for two months and if you still have the same feeling that you want to quit then that’s OK,” Alexi said, “and after the two months the rough part would be over and it would be fun again.” 

When Alexi was 5 or 6 she tried soccer and was pretty good, her father remembered. 

“She was smaller than the other girls on the field, so she would wait for the ball to pop out of the pack and had the speed to take the ball all the way to the goal for a score,” Ryan said. “She would then run over to her mother and ask if she could sit down now.”

Alexi also tried diving for a time, and there was some interest in dance, but in the end gymnastics has always been the main focus.

When she was 8 she began competing in all four events: bars, beams, floor and vault. She enjoys bars and beams the most. 

Unfortunately, Alexi’s father and older sister Haylee, a senior at Park High, won’t be able to make the trip to Westerns this weekend. 

Haylee, the musician in the family, landed the lead role as the fiddler in the Park High and Sleeping Giant Middle School production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opens this weekend at the Shane Center. But Ryan said they have family in Idaho Falls who plan to make the trip to watch Alexi compete.

So Alexi, along with her mother, will be heading over the hill to Bozeman one more time this week on Wednesday evening. But they won’t be stopping until they reach their goal. 

Look out, Boise, Alexi’s back to score big again.

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Shawn Raecke may be reached at photo@livent.net.