Rising Fort Mill High School freshman Olivia Thomas did not let a broken thumb get in the way of her twirling success.
Thomas, 14, placed fifth in the Junior Grand National two-baton, sixth in three-baton, eighth in advanced strut and eighth in rhythmic during the America’s Youth on Parade, or AYOP, contest July 26 through July 30 at the University of Notre Dame.
“After having a broken thumb and a sprained ankle leading up to nationals, I was just very excited to be able to compete,” Olivia said.
“I was proud to represent the state of South Carolina and super excited to see my twirling friends from around the country that I get to see once a year.”
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Thomas also represented South Carolina in the Junior Miss Majorette of America pageant, placing 24th out of 62 girls, said her mother Stephanie Poe-Thomas. On May 14, Thomas was crowned Junior Miss Majorette of South Carolina in Pawley's Island. There, she also won the Palmetto Cup, reserved for the most outstanding twirler in South Carolina.
Thomas was also recognized with the Shane Downey Leave a Legacy Award, honoring the most entertaining twirling performance, during that competition, Poe-Thomas said.
“There's always a lot of nerves leading up to a competition or when you're at a competition, but when you get there and you're in the moment, your training takes over,” Olivia said. “I'm hopeful that next year will be even more successful.”
Thomas also competed in the Drum Majorettes of America Nationals at Wingate University in Wingate, N.C., July 16-July 20. She won the Junior Advanced National All-Star Twirler title for her performances in solo, two-baton and three-baton and was runner-up in the Junior Miss Drum Majorette of America contest.
Rising Nation Ford High School freshman Brennika Debus, 14, also represented the state in July.
In May, Brennika won the 13 to 15 year old South Carolina Intermediate Pageant, qualifying her to compete in the Baton Twirling Nationals at Notre Dame, said her mother Melissa Debus.
There, she placed 21st overall in her age and skill division, Debus said. That ranking factored in her 13th placement for modeling, 16th for x-strut and 30th in solo.
Debus, who started twirling at 5 years old, also placed 19th overall for x-strut, 41st overall for solo and seventh overall for two-baton, her mother said.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley declared July 26-July 30 Baton Twirling Week for the state.