By Jim Sullivan
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket freshman Jackie Kutcher spends an awful lot of time on the bars and in the gym.
A Level 9 gymnast at Gymnastics and More in Woburn, Kutcher had a gold-winning all-around performance competing against over 30 girls in the Little Bigger Invitational Feb. 22 at Winchester High School.
“I just love the feeling of it,” Kutcher says of working the bars. “Like when you get a new skill, it’s a great feeling. You feel like you’re flying.”
Kutcher has been flying since she was 5 years old. Now 14 and standing 5-foot-1, 120 pounds, she was born for gymnastics and harbors Olympic hopes. She tied for sixth on vault with an 8.7 at the Little Bigger, fourth on beam (8.675), first on floor (9.275), first on the bars (8.825) and first in the all-around (35.475).
“I was really happy because it made my confidence go up more,” Kutcher said. “It just kind of encourages me to practice more.”
Kutcher lives for the gym. That flying feeling took over her at 5, and she hasn’t looked back.
“I got it right away,” says Kutcher. “But it also built as I got better.”
She worked at her craft five days a week, four hours a day, for the first nine years and recently amended her training schedule, bumping it up to six days a week. She works with a team of four coaches: Nelu Albu, Dan and Jen Scannel and Briana DiPinto, the latter of whom says she is impressed with Kutcher’s dedication to the sport and claims she is capable of going to Level 10.
“Jackie is an extremely hard worker,” DiPinto said. “She comes in six days a week, which is not something everybody does. She’s incredibly dedicated, and she truly wants to become a better gymnast. She will do whatever you ask her to do.”
Kutcher also hopes to either pitch or play first base for the Sachems in softball soon, but she’s not sure she can work it into her schedule.
“Sometimes I do have a day free,” said Kutcher. “But not really.”
When she does have a little free time, Kutcher likes to spend it with her gymnastics teammates Sarah Bradley from Burlington and Amanda Ugoriji from Cambridge.
“Outside of the gym, whenever we can, we definitely like to hang out,” said Kutcher.
“She’s fun,” said Dipinto. “She has a funny personality. She gets along with everybody in the gym (and) she always comes into practice with different stories about whatever happened in school that day.”
Now Kutcher’s free time is waning once again as she is gearing up for her fifth Massachusetts State Championships appearance March 23.
“I think I can do very well,” Kutscher said. “The bars are definitely my strength and my floor. My skills are definitely coming together a lot better.”
If she does well enough at States, Kutcher will head to the Regional Championships and finally Eastern Championships, where half of the country’s best gymnasts come together to compete. It’s a lot of pressure for such a young lady, but she says it’s what she was built for.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Kutcher. “But it’s something that I love. So it’s something I can handle.”