Ever since Spirit Week ended, freshman Bennet Huang has been known throughout much of Palo Alto High School as the freshman who flipped, twisted and turned during his class’s Spirit Dance.

But what the audience didn’t see was his passion and dedication for gymnastics.

Huang began gymnastics at the age of three, but his journey began in a strange way.

“I started [gymnastics] at the age of three or four, and it was because my mom said I was too hyper,” Huang said. “For me, [gymnastics] is [something I] want to continue. Just as like any [other] sport, you just want to keep [participating].”

Huang’s devotion to gymnastics has led him to many successes.

“Usually I spend a little over twenty hours a week [practicing gymnastics],” Huang said. “I attend a gym in Pleasanton, so it’s about another hour drive there and back.”

In part due to the effort he puts into practice, Huang has excelled in many gymnastic events. At an early age, Huang had earned recognition at the state level. In addition to winning a multitude of state championships since the age of eight, Huang also qualified for the national team this past year.

“I’ve won four state championships,” Huang said. “I won the all around [competition] at [the State Championships] in Levels Five, Six and Nine.”

Levels Five and Six are the divisions for athletes between the ages of eight and ten, while Level Nine is the the division for athletes ages 13-14.

Huang is currently a member of the United States Junior National Team in the Level Nine division. To determine the national team’s roster, gymnasts compete at the national trials for the top fourteen spots. Throughout the selection process, the gymnasts are evaluated based on overall performances at state championships, as well as their ability to perform at individual events. Huang qualified for the national team because of his best events — the floor routine and the vault.

“My favorite events are the floor and vault; those are also my best events,” Huang said. “At the last [Junior Olympic] National Championships, I got second place in the all-around competition. I [also] got first in the nation on the floor [routine] and third on the vault and [parallel] bars at the Junior Olympic National Championships.”

Huang plans to continue gymnastics and hopes to compete on an international scale. Similar to many students at Paly, Huang plans on continuing to juggle his school and sport commitments with a positive mindset.

“[To many, gymnastics] is considered the hardest sport in the world, so I will continue and push through even when it’s hard,” Huang said. “[Balancing both school and gymnastics] was a little rough at first but I’ve been able to balance my schedule very well; I just have to be on top of myself.”

At Paly, Huang has gained the attention and recognition of many students due to his performance at the end of Spirit Week during the freshman class’s Spirit Dance. Huang’s main role in the dance was to perform flips and other high flying moves across the freshman class’s float; the moves are similar to what he executes in his typical gymnastic floor routines.

Although the accompanying music to the dance experienced technical difficulties, Huang was able to perform his flips flawlessly throughout the multiple runs. Junior Noah Hashmi was personally impressed by Huang’s execution of flips.

“Seeing the freshman do the flips the first time was amazing enough, but to see him repeatedly perform the flips through the technical difficulties during the dance was astounding,” Hashmi said. “His flips were extremely cool and his endurance and willpower were quite clearly evident, by the fifth time he did his flips. His flips were, in my opinion, a highlight of the freshman spirit dance.”

Huang has proven himself to be a talented gymnast, one who is capable of making the national team and impressing the entire school with his talents.

“[In the future] my goal is to hopefully make the Olympic [Gymnastics] team in 2020,” Huang said.

Who knows, we may see him competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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