Nothing went through Jazmyn Foberg's mind as she flipped and twisted through the air with the biggest accomplishment of her young gymnastics career dangling in the balance.
In a sport that can be as mentally taxing as it is physically demanding, particularly when dealing with the sometimes shaky psyches of 14 and 15 year olds, everything was how she hoped it would be. She was in a state of total calmness, armed with the reassurance that if she performed her routine as she should, she would be a champion.
As her feet landed on the mat Saturday at Consol Energy Center, after a brief hop backward on her dismount, Foberg's mental state was no longer steady. After all, she knew there was a top step on a podium awaiting her.
With a score of 14.95 on the vault, Foberg finished another strong day of events to claim first place in the junior women's all-around at the P&G Gymnastics Championships.
As Foberg -- who entered the second day of competition as the leader -- stood near the platform of her first event of the day, she was approached by USA Gymnastics national team coordinator Marta Karolyi. Foberg, 14, stood before one of the sport's larger-than-life figures and listened as Karolyi instructed her.
"Do the same thing you did yesterday," she said. "Don't be any better or any worse."
Ultimately, it was advice Foberg was able to heed.
"I just feel so happy right now," Foberg said. "I'm so grateful everything went well."
The New Jersey native had a two-day combined score of 114.95, allowing her to edge second-place Nia Dennis by 0.45. Norah Flatley rounded out the top three with a score of 112.5.
As it was the first day, Foberg's consistency was crucial to her success. Aside from a below-average showing on the balance beam, she didn't post a score lower than 14.1 in any event Saturday. Only once in the two-day competition did she score lower than 14 in an event, making her the only participant to do so.
Dennis led the all-around with two events remaining, but after performing an Arabian -- a half turn followed by a front flip -- she was unable to stay on the 4-inch-wide beam early in her routine.
Though she ended her day with an outstanding effort on the floor routine -- one that gave her a 15.1, by far the competition's best score in the event -- the point differential between her and Foberg was simply too much after her miscue on the beam.
"I'm really proud of myself," Dennis said. "I came back really strong on bars, too, and floor. I'm just really happy right now."
It's hard to blame Dennis for not being disappointed.
By virtue of finishing among the top six competitors in the all-around, she made the U.S. junior national team, a group that also included Foberg, Flatley, Jordan Chiles, Alexis Vasquez and Emily Gaskins.
Dennis also had the highest combined two-day score in two of the championship's four events, the vault and floor exercise. Foberg finished first on the uneven bars and Vasquez won the balance beam.
For Foberg, Saturday was the apex of a 15-month period of participating in national junior competitions. Until recently, she hadn't given much serious consideration to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Now she sees it as a distinct possibility, especially given her latest feat.
But regardless of how her young -- albeit promising -- career turns out, Foberg will always have that moment when she launched herself off the vault and everything came together.
"I knew my routines and I felt confident in myself," she said. "I just knew I could hit all of them."
NOTE — Taylor Lawson of the Parkettes, a group based in Allentown, Pa., withdrew from the competition after a concussion on her balance beam routine.
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.
First Published August 24, 2014 12:13 AM