Gymnast hits national spotlight


When Mila Noopila started doing gymnastics at age 3, she probably wasn’t thinking about competing nationally. But this spring, that’s exactly what Noopila, now a 15-year-old has done.

The sophomore-to-be at Las Cruces High School trains at Elevate Gymnastics and Athletics under coach Bridget Scholljegerdez. In the past few weeks, Noopila competed at the Level 9 state meet in Albuquerque, the regional meet in Topeka, Kansas, and at the Western Nationals in Boise, Idaho.

In Albuquerque, March 25, was one of only two competitors to advance to the Level 9 regionals. At Region 3 in Topeka, gymnasts from seven different states – New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Wyoming – were vying for seven positions to go to the Western Nationals.

Unfortunately, Noopila finished eighth, .025 points away from a secured spot. As a consolation, she was ranked the first alternate.

But on Tuesday, May 2, the Noopilas received a phone call. Another gymnast could not attend, and would Mila be able to be in Boise to compete Saturday, May 6?

An excited Mila said, “Yes!” Her parents worked out who would go (It would be mom, Marie Noopila) and how they would manage pricey, short-notice airline tickets.  

In the all-around competition, gymnasts compete in four disciplines: uneven bars, balance beam, floor, and vault. Noopila does all four events but, according to her mother, “Her two best events are uneven bars and balance beam.”

The younger Noopila proved her mom right at the Western Nationals, finishing fifth in the uneven bars and eighth on the balance beam among about 35 other gymnasts. With her other two event scores factored in, Mila was a 14th-place finisher in the all-around.