Four local gymnasts head to nationals

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Just by looking at the walls inside the Gymnastic Academy of Rockford, you can see how successful the place can be and now they may be adding to their championship collection.

Emily and Paige Kirkham will be traveling to Lansing, Michigan later this month for the Level 9 Eastern Championships while Kaitlyn Higgins and Dani Petrousek are going to Indianapolis in early May for the Junior Olympic National Championships.

All four teens will be competing in vault, bars, beam and floor.

This is not the first time at nationals for Higgins and Petrousek who say they hope their experience will give them an edge.

"It's always so much fun," said Petrousek. "I know that it's going to be a blast. I know all of the girls that I will be competing against in my age group so I'm just expecting it to be awesome and I'll just go out there and go big."

"I'll just be more confident in my skills and my training and knowing what it's going to be like this year instead not knowing what's going on, but this year I have some experience," said Higgins.

Paige Kirkham qualified last year and finished seventh in her age group and will be joined by her sister, Emily, for her first trip.

The two say it's going to be a little more relaxing having a familiar face by their side.

"To go together, it's a very special experience to be at nationals even if were not the same age," said Paige. "We won't be at the same time, but we still get to be there and cheer each other on."

"For me to watch her go was very hard, but this year since we're going together it will be more special," said Emily. "I've heard what she said about it and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. And to have a familiar face in the crowd is definitely helpful because you don't really know anybody in your age group, you're all from different gyms so to have somebody there is definitely helpful because they know you better than anybody."