Phoenix Superstars baton twirling team competes at national event

From left to right are Phoenix Superstar members: Sarah Ewart, Abbey Ruffell, Madelynn Cleis, Madelyn Barndt, Madysin Hewitt, Gabi Anaya, Heidi Ruffell and Becky Hewitt. (Submitted photo)

The Phoenix Superstars baton twirling team competed in America’s Youth On Parade this past month where the team earned top rankings among several events.

The week long national competition was at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana and is considered the “world series of baton twirling,” according to a press release.

Six members of the Arizona Twirling Athletes, a non-profit youth organization for boys and girls ages 6-19, attended the event with their director Becky Hewitt of Phoenix and assistant coach Sarah Ewart of Gilbert.

For the third year in a row, the Superstars finished in first place in the Twirling Team Category by winning the Junior Beginner Twirl Team Division. The Superstars beat out 30 other participating teams across the U.S. The Pre-Teen Twirl Team placed ninth.

Madelyn Barndt, 15, and Gabi Anaya, 11, finished first in their respective divisions of the Intermediate Flag while Abbey Ruffell, 15, took first in the in the Novice Flag Division.

A total of six twirlers won 22 medals, placing them in the top 10 twirlers in the country in their respective ages and divisions, a release states.

Ms. Hewitt has been coaching the youth in Arizona for over 45 years and this event is always the highlight of the year.

In early June, she directs a camp in Litchfield Park to begin their training and then the following six weeks the youth practice three times a week for five hours a day.

Her students compete in many individual solo events including one-, two- and three-baton juggling, strut, show twirl and flag as well as twirling on Duets and Twirl and Dance Twirl Teams.

In September the Arizona Twirling Athletes will be offering learn to twirl classes at five local schools in the Valley.

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