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Young baton twirler steals the show

Four-year-old Jessica Morlan attended her first twirling competition in Barnwell, S.C., on Feb. 27. Even though she was the youngest twirler at the competition, Jessica won the title of "Novice Twirling Princess "as well as a first place in her solo, first place in modeling, and fifth place in her strut.

Jessica has had a baton in her hand practically since she was born. She has participated in group twirls with the Sparklers for the past two years and began working on a competition solo this year. Jessica's mother, Becky Morlan, grew up in the world of baton competition and traveled to the World Nationals in Notre Dame throughout high school.

Once when she saw UGA Feature Twirler, Karissa Wimberly, perform at JanFest, Jessica told her mother she wanted to be just like her and do all those cool tricks. Jessica's mother, who is also the director of a local twirling group "The Sparklers" and director of the middle school and high school auxiliary teams, is doing what she can to help Jessica's dreams come true. The two have set a goal for Jessica to work hard enough to earn a title and be able to compete at the World Nationals.

Coach Katy Fleming Tracey, from the Athens area, has helped coach Jessica by creating her solo, modeling, and strutting routines. Jessica practices with her mother every day. Jessica's solo has different sections that are judged during performances. The sections consist of horizontal spins, vertical tosses and spins, rolls, and finger twirls. Jessica just turned four in December and has wonderful control and twirling skill for her age. In her competition age category, she competes with six-year-olds.

After attending her first competition and winning a title and four medals, Jessica is ready to do it again. She plans on attending several more competitions this year and hopes to improve more and more after each one. Jessica also will perform her solo routine in Hawaii when she travels there with the Bulldog Brigade during spring break.

Web posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010

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