QCHS junior heads to nationals

Kennedy Bowen, a former state gymnastics champion, has qualified for the USAG Development Program National Championships.
Posted on 05/06/2021
Kennedy Bowen By Gary Weckselblatt

Kennedy Bowen, a junior at Quakertown Community High School, has qualified to compete in the USAG Development Program National Championships, formerly known as Junior Olympics Nationals, May 11-16 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Kennedy achieved this milestone by winning the Region 7 gymnastics meet last month at The Miller Center in Lewisburg. Region 7 includes competitors from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

“I was in shock,” Kennedy said of her reaction to reaching nationals. “I couldn’t believe it.”

She has rebounded from a broken leg in 2017, a year after winning the state championship in 2016. Pennsylvania, because of COVID-19 restrictions, did not hold championship events in 2020 or 2021.

“We’re just so proud of her,” said Gina Stallone Amrich, Kennedy’s coach the last three years. “To make it to nationals, to be in the top seven in her age group is just amazing. Especially with her being injured. Her comeback has just been wonderful.”

Mrs. Amrich, who watches Kennedy train 20 hours a week, said she has seen Kennedy blossom in the last three years. “Previously, she was very shy and not as positive as she is now,” Mrs. Amrich said. “It’s a pleasure to watch her now. She knows she can do it because she believes in herself.”

Gymnastics has always been a part of Kennedy’s life, according to her mom, Melissa Bowen. “Since we were part of the ‘Mommy and Me’ program when she was 1, she was hooked,” Mrs. Bowen said. By the time Kennedy was in first grade, she was competing.

Competitive gymnastics takes a lot of commitment and dedication. Kennedy practices four hours a day at Stallone Gymnastics in Fleetwood, a one-hour drive each way. There’s also school, homework and a part time job.

“She has managed to balance it all,” Mrs. Bowen said. “It’s a lot of dedication and long hours. She tries to really stay on top of her schoolwork. We’re very proud of her. She’s gotten some great support from her teachers. That is just such a wonderful thing. We’re thankful for that.”

With this significant time commitment, Kennedy said QCHS counselor Doug Detweiler has helped her schedule classes to pursue her passion for gymnastics and meet her academic goals.

"Kennedy has utilized her flexibility to balance the time demands for school and sport, and has learned throughout her life to be self-disciplined in order to achieve her goals," Mr. Detweiler said. "By combining her brick and mortar classes with cyber classes, Kennedy has been able to be a successful student."
 
Laurie Christine, a QCHS art teacher, said “It's been a pleasure and inspiration to have Kennedy in my Intro to art class. As I've gotten to know her, I found out about her incredible talent as a top notch gymnast. On Mondays, after weekend competitions, I eagerly wait to see the videos of her performances. It is inspiring and is so impressive that someone so young has such a tremendous amount of dedication and self discipline. I have marked Kennedy's upcoming trip to Daytona Beach to compete in the Junior Olympics Nationals on my calendar and will be cheering her on from afar! Go Kennedy!”

Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, a gymnast at Cheltenham High School and at the U.S. Military Academy, said he is “thrilled to see how well Kennedy has performed. I am so proud of what she has been able to accomplish. It’s very inspiring.”

Kennedy’s goal is to obtain a college scholarship and compete at the collegiate level. Temple, North Carolina State, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan have each contacted her. “I haven’t set my eyes on one school yet,” she said.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.
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