by Chris O’Neal

Three area junior athletes competed in the Women’s 2016 Junior Olympic Level IX Western Championships in early May, the only team in the tri-county area to qualify to compete.

Eighth-grader Sara Ulias of Oak Park, sixth-grade student Alyson Peragine of Mountain Meadows Elementary in Moorpark and Amy Elsenbaumer, sophomore at Ventura High School, traveled to Missoula, Montana ,to compete at the Championships held April 29 through May 1.

Ulias recorded a personal best score of 9.275 on the vault, 9.40 on the floor and finished in sixth place, finishing in seventh place for the uneven bars and 17th in the all-around competition.

Peragine placed seventh in the floor event with a score of 9.35. Elsenbaumer traveled with the team as an alternate but did not compete.

The three athletes train at Thousand Oaks-based Victory Gymnastics Academy, which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in June.

“This was the first time these team members have competed in a national competition. We are so proud of their hard work and dedication, and are thrilled for them to compete with these other exceptional athletes,” said Howard Laguna, Victory Gymnastics Academy CEO. “Our Athletic Director Ray Jiang and our entire staff work closely with all of our gymnasts to refine their skills and mentor them so they reach their highest goals.”

Jiang joined Victory in 2005 and has brought athletes to the USA Gymnastics Nationals 10 times. Jiang, formerly of the Chinese National Team, also brought two boys to compete at the highest level, Level X, at the Men’s Junior Olympic National championships May 4 through 8 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

“Gymnastics builds strength, flexibility, coordination and agility and promotes overall well-being and physical health,” said Jiang. “It creates a solid foundation to launch into other sports and, when used as cross-training, can boost performance.” 

For more information on Victory Gymnastics, visit