ASU gymnastics sisters have one more year of competing together

Ashley and Kaitlyn Szafranski are preparing for their final collegiate season together

Only 15 months apart in age, two Sun Devil gymnasts and sisters, junior Ashley Szafranski and senior Kaitlyn Szafranski, will embark on their last season together at ASU this year.

The sisters are originally from Orefield, Pennsylvania. Ashley and Kaitlyn Szafranski were home-schooled growing up, and they have trained side-by-side in the same gym since they were two and three years old. 

“We were always in the gym together, even in the little mommy-and-me classes,” Ashley Szafranski said. “We went to a gym in Delaware until I was 10, and then went to Parkettes (a highly-touted gymnastics training center). That’s where we really grew a lot in our gymnastics careers." 

By their early teen years, Ashley Szafranski said both siblings shifted to elite competition, which is the the highest level you can go before ascending to the collegiate ranks.

In 2011, Ashley Szafranski earned Junior International Elite honors, and she competed in the U.S. Classic that same year. From 2013 to 2015 she was named a two-time regional bar champion and a three-time junior olympic national qualifier.

Simultaneously in 2014, Kaitlyn Szafranski won the Pennsylvania State Championship in bars floor and the all-around events. 

By 2015, Kaitlyn Szafranski had branched away from her sister and enrolled at Louisiana State where she scored a 9.75 at the Lady Luck Invitational and 9.775 at the Texas Woman’s competition her freshman season. 

“My first years at LSU were a great learning experience," Kaitlyn Szafranski said. “I wasn’t able to compete a whole lot down there, but I think watching the other girls, I was able to grow a lot and learn what college gymnastics was about.”   

The two seasons she was at LSU, the team finished as an NCAA national runner-up

“After my sophomore year, I hadn’t competed at all,” Kaitlyn Szafranski said. “I wanted to be able to do that my last year and get to experience college gymnastics that way.”

As her sophomore year quickly came to an end, she started looking for other opportunities. 

“Ashley (Szafranski) was already out here (at ASU). She told me it was the best time ever,” Kaitlyn said. “Growing up in (Junior Olympics) it’s different. You don’t really love to compete, it’s a lot more stressful and here, you are competing for something so much bigger than that.”

Although the only program they compete in together is bars, they managed to earn career-highs of their own.

In her Sun Devil debut, Kaitlyn Szafranski went from a 9.650 in her first meet on bars against Stanford, to a career-high 9.775 against the University of Arizona. 

“I think watching some of the girls down there (at LSU) who were Olympians that had been in super stressful competitions and watching their mindset was kind of something I was able to transition over when I came here,” Kaitlyn Szafranski said. 

Even though the gymnastics season doesn’t start for a couple more months, the team is currently busy training together coming off of a season where they reached the NCAA Regionals for the first time in four years.

“Having her here is very helpful for me,” Ashley Szafranski said. “She knows me better than anyone so when she sees me struggling on something, she just looks at me and knows what I’m thinking."

Kaitlyn Szafranski expressed a similar sentiment.

"I think we are able to watch each other do gymnastics and give corrections in a way that each other understands better just because we have done it together for so long," she said. 

Upon graduating at ASU this year, Kaitlyn Szafranski said she plans on finishing her gymnastics career and she will look for physician assistant programs on the east coast.

"We started here together back when we were two and three," Kaitlyn Szafranski said. "Being able to end 20 years together is something I thought would never happen when we started."

Reach the reporter at or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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