By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The top gymnast in the country is back here, in her home state of Minnesota to compete this weekend.

Maggie Nichols is the top NCAA gymnast. She’s in Minneapolis with her college gymnastics team the Oklahoma Sooners to compete in regionals.

Nichols feels at home at Maturi Arena, home of the Gophers.

“Since I was young I’ve been coming to the U of M to watch them compete so it’s finally going to be me out there competing,” Nichols said.

Nichols led the Oklahoma Sooners to a national title her freshman year. Now the sophomore says her team has grown stronger.

“We put in the numbers in the gym, put in the extra hours, gone the extra mile so I’m just really excited for our team to go out there and show them what we’ve been doing in training and to stay on top,” Nichols said.

Personally, she said she’s matured as a gymnast since her days training at Twin Cities Twisters.

“Really known my body a little bit more. I know how to get as strong as I can, get more consistent, I think I’ve grown mentally stronger too,” Nichols said.

She chooses to focus on being positive, with messages she often shares on social media.

“I want to brighten people’s day. I don’t know what they’re going through, they could be going through good times, bad times, so if they read that quote it could make their whole day or make them smile. I always try to spread positivity,” Nichols said.

Six cities are hosting regionals this weekend. Nichols says her prayers were answered when her team was named to Minneapolis.

“It’s so amazing to be back home. I’m so excited to compete in front of my family and friends, old teammates,” Nichols said.

NCAA gymnastic regionals begins Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Maturi Pavillion.

You’ll recall Nichols of Little Canada identified herself in January as the first to report the ongoing sexual abuse by USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Hundreds of victims have come forward including Olympians Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Nassar is serving life in prison.


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