“I didn’t win too much until I reached about Level 5. Then there was one meet I took first, and that’s when I really started to realize I could take the sport somewhere.”
But just two seasons ago, Manning feared his career could be over.
“During my sophomore year I was hurt really badly and missed the season,” said Manning. “It was the first floor routine of the first meet of the year. I landed short and shattered my tibia right above the ankle. I thought I was done.
“But once I was cleared I started to get back into the gym and it started to come back. It was like starting all over again and I loved it. It was like learning the skills for the first time and it ignited a new fire and inspiration.”
Manning was certainly back in fine form last winter. In addition to All-Scholastic MVP honors, he finished second in the all-around at States, grabbing championships in the parallel bars, and pommel horse.
He then turned to his club team, training out of Interstate Gymnastics in Methuen, advancing all the way to the Junior Olympic Championship in Cincinnati.
“That was huge,” he said. “Making it there was definitely one of my greatest achievements.”
All of those accomplishments have led major college programs to take great interest, with Ohio State and Penn State the two finalists.
“Penn State called me recently and said they would love to have me on their team,” he said. “I am leaning towards Ohio State because I’ve visited there and really liked it. But I am going to visit Penn State first before I make any decisions. It makes me feel like all of my hard work is paying off.
“I am also waiting to see if I am accepted to the Naval Academy. I have always wanted to serve my country, and if I am accepted I would probably go there. But that is very tough.”