Noma’s New Number 1 – EA Sports Today

Pierce Lawler gives Noma’s School of Gymnastics the #1 ranked gymnast Xcel Gold in the nation

Noma Meeker, coach and owner of the Noma School of Gymnastics, helps top gymnast Pierce Lawler stretch before starting his training routine.
Pierce Lawler (AL) 38.925 To jump 9.750
Natalie Steenken (AZ) 38,650 Bars 9.775
Gracie Hepner (IL) 38.550 Shine 9.750
Blair Crawford (NC) 38.525 Stage 9,650
Elianna Asomani (TX) 38,500 All around 38.925
Lawler competes for Noma’s School of Gymnastics in Anniston.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Noma has another one.

For the second time in four years, Noma’s School of Gymnastics has a number 1 all-around gymnast in the country.

Pierce Lawler scored a 38.935 in the Crimson Classic season opener last weekend to post the nation’s highest Xcel Gold score and highest all-around score in the uptown school’s 42-year history. by Noma Meeker.

NSG gymnast Pierce Lawler talks about what it means to have the top score in the country in her division this week.

It eclipsed the 38.875 that Kaziah Williams scored in 2018, which was the fifth best score in the country that year. Earlier this season, Williams posted a 38.850 that tied her for first with a girl from Texas.

Lawler’s score is currently 0.275 points ahead of Natalie Steenken of Gold Medal Gymnastics in Chandler, Arizona, the current No. 1 XG team in the nation. Saltos de Noma are ranked #2.

“It’s always the best feeling (to have a No. 1) and then you just want to go back to the gym and improve,” Meeker said. “Really, we’ve been the team to beat at Compulsories and at Xcel for a number of years. We are a small venue, we don’t have a lot of kids, but what we do is very detailed and very intensive.

“There are thousands of Xcel kids in the country, so if you’re even in the top 100, that’s a big deal. But being No. 1 and No. 2 as a Gold team, even for a week is amazing.

USA Gymnastics uses an online data system called to track gymnasts across the country at each individual meet – think track wrestling or milesplit (track) for gymnastics – so national rankings are seamless .

Lawler and the Soltos won’t face off again until they travel to the Cramton Bowl multiplex in Montgomery in two weeks, so the standings could change when they return to the mat. But for now, they can enjoy the view from the top knowing there are challengers around every turn and lots of hard work to stay there.

Lawler’s winning routine started on the vault (his favorite apparatus) and kicked off with a solid 9.750. When she moved to the bars and blocked the landing, she began to feel good about the day. When she went to the balance beam, the most demanding and strongest of the routines, and landed her full turn and first step, she was confident she had a good score.

The No. 1 ranking is something the 9-year-old third-grader from Donoho is still trying to figure out.

“I know I’m training really hard to be able to do this, but after my scores came in, I was really happy with myself because I don’t usually do this well,” she said. “But I was really happy with myself that I did what my coach told me to do.”

Its success does not surprise Meeker.

“Pierce has a great work ethic,” she said. “She’s not a very big child, but she works very hard; she doesn’t cheat on any of her numbers. She likes things to be correct and as perfectly as she can. And to top it off, she’s a great competitor.

“You have to have that no matter how hard you train every day. When you get to this competition, you have to be mentally strong, and it’s for its age.

Lawler, the daughter of Anniston orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Lawler, has been doing gymnastics since she was 2 years old. She has loved the sport for more than good scores.

“What I love the most is how much it teaches me,” she said. “I learned to have good sportsmanship and to be good not only in the gym, but outside of the gym and life.”

It brought a big smile to Meeker’s face visible even through her COVID face mask because those are the threads she built her school on.

She opened her gym at 19th and Wilmer in 1980 “to meet the need” of an underserved athletic community. She began coaching the sport in 1970 at the Anniston YMCA at a time when there were only a few clubs in the state and during her time produced two Top 5 teams at the Y Nationals.

Nine-year-old Pierce Lawler concentrates on his routine during a balance beam workout.